Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Little Monster

Today I finished the first in a series of Little Monsters. This one's called Eric and he is an eco Halloween monster!

He is looking for a good home and is for sale in my etsy shop:

Bonne journée!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Joining together

I have been very preoccupied with the needs of others recently. I wrote a post about knit-a-square a while back and I have been absorbed in knitting for them. There was a July challenge - knit a whole blanket to keep a newborn warm and I decided that I would do that. It is taking me so long, it is now August! But it is satisfying, sitting, thinking, whilst making each stitch, about a baby who would be wrapped in the blanket soon. My five-year-old son asked me what I was doing and I explained that I was making a blanket for a baby in South Africa. He asked why they didn't already have blankets and when I told him that they didn't have money or families like we do, he said after a pause, "I have a great idea mummy, I could send some money to those children so they can buy blankets!". I was really moved that my little boy could not only empathise with these children who are so far away, but also realised that he could do something to help.

I thought that it would be good to look into sponsoring a child. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but my son inspired me to act. So I found a French charity called Un Enfant Par la Main (a child by the hand), and we requested to sponsor a little boy. We were so excited when the envelope arrived from the charity and we learnt that we were sponsoring Muthukumar from India. We have to wait a month before writing our first letter to him but we are looking forward to it.

I posted this on Facebook because the charity encourage you to invite others to sponsor a child. I had several comments in return, one from a friend who said that she sponsors a woman through Women for Women International. I looked them up. They are an amazing charity, based in the USA, who work with women who have survived war and their programmes help these women set up businesses and become strong members of their communities. I was so moved when I read the testimonies on the website. I am going to try to find a way to raise the money so I can sponsor a woman too. (Having already committed to sponsoring Muthukumar, it is difficult to find the funds to do both.) So, I have decided that money from anything I sell on etsy will go towards sponsorship with this organisation. So please take a look and see if there is anything you'd like to purchase!

Thank you and bon dimanche. x

Friday, 31 July 2009

My latest Etsy friend

Sorry for the long absence. Summer is always busy. So many people come to our village on holiday and so there are always parties and of course we are not on holiday so we find ourselves juggling work, visitors, parties...!

I am pleased to post today because I am bringing you work from Kerryn who has an etsy shop. She makes the most beautiful jewellery: necklaces, earrings, bracelets. She certainly has an eye for design and colour, choosing wonderful beads, some vintage. She lives in France, a bit further away from me than the shops I've previously featured, near Lyon. However, this is an area I know well as I used to live just south, in the lovely town of Vienne.

Kerryn says about her work:

"Hmmmm... when did my compulsiveness for handmade items start? When I was a child I remember fondly holding my grandmom's earrings that she had made herself in the 1940s. They were made from bread, rolled into tiny shapes to resemble flowers and then glazed into gorgeous colours. I spent many hours at her dressing table playing with her masterpieces made during war time. She also had a box full of 1940s Lucite Jewellery. I wish I still had that box....... the beads alone would be pure delight to play with now.

Then, I would sit for hours and watch my mom sew and draw, she would make all 30 costumes for the dance troupe! I guess that is where my patience comes from, and the love of watching something I make evolve from my own hands.

My own handmade journey started with paper mâché characters, painting wall murals in high school, I have attempted pottery, tile mosaic's, and even painted large hat boxes in folkart flowers. My latest artistic adventures have been making Lampwork Beads and dabbling with PMC/Art Silver Clay to make pendants and rings.

The jewellery designing started about 8 years ago when I was forced to sit still whilst pregnant (sitting still was easy, keeping my hands and mind still wasn't!!), and I haven't looked back since. I just love it, and the people I meet who start as customers / suppliers are now friends. I move globally every few years with hubby's job (like a nomad, but without the cattle!), and I am very fortunate to see this wonderful world we live in, and meet some amazing people who do have an effect on my jewellery designs... and of course my life!

My dear grandmom has recently had a stroke, she sometimes doesn't recognize me, but she always remembers those little gorgeous earrings she made from bread, all those years ago!

I am currently based in Lyon, France......... a very very beautiful part of the world."

So please take a look at this gorgeous shop. The pieces are very reasonably priced , so treat yourself or someone else today!


Helen x

Monday, 6 July 2009


I was recently looking for a charity project and I came across this website: http://www.knit-a-square.com/ It is a great idea. You knit a 20x 20cm / 8x8" square (or more than one) and send it off to South Africa where there are teams who sew them together into blankets for babies and children in need. Often these are orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. The initiative was started by Sandy. She says on the website:

They [the children] live in terrible poverty. They need love, shelter, food, education and warmth. Many children's charities are working hard to provide the first four. Charity knitting and crocheting can provide the last.

The website has a wealth of information about the children who are helped, the charities involved, instructions for the knitting and crocheting (you can also make hats and jumpers), there is a blog, a forum, a list of those who have made squares so far and much more. So please check it out.

I have started knitting some squares as you will see from the photo. I have also got my mum knitting again after about 20 years! This is such a great project because even if you are beginner knitter or crocheter you can make a square. You can make squares in acrylic or wool, it's also a great way to use up those odds and ends of yarn which you have lying around!

They are aiming for 400 000 squares (10 000 blankets) this year so they need YOU! Please spread the word and support this great charity.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Epilepsy and knitting

I use the website Ravelry.com which is a knitting community website where you can find free patterns, discuss your projects with other knitters, join groups and much more. A couple of days ago I noticed that there was a new group called "Knitters with Epilepsy and Seizure disorders". This was of interest to me, as I have epilepsy. As it is well under control I now live my life normally and rarely think about it. But I was shocked to read other people's experiences where they have had bad reactions from family, friends and strangers, from being told they were possessed to being thought of as mentally defective! It is shocking that in our enlightened and tolerant society there are still so many misconceptions.

For me, it all started just over 10 years ago when I had a stressful job and did lots of commuting. I was having a normal week, too busy, not much time to eat, not enough sleep and I was driving home on a fast dual-carriageway, going the maximum speed on the outside lane, overtaking a lorry. Suddenly I found myself in a ditch with people around me. I was very confused. The police arrived and then an ambulance. The first ambulance man who spoke to me asked me for his lottery numbers for the week. I didn't understand why. He said that it was my lucky week as I should have been dead. I was just so thankful that no one else was involved in the accident.

I was taken to Oxford's Radcliffe hospital for tests but no one really know what was wrong with me. I had been alone in the car and and so no one had witnessed what had happened to me. However, a few days later, at home with my husband, I had a seizure which he witnessed. It wasn't long before I saw a neurologist and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

I was told that I had had epilepsy all my life. However, up until that point my seizures only consisted of a feeling of "deja vu". I didn't lose consciousness or even have absences. Since I heard people talking about "deja vu" I thought that it was normal.

I was devastated. On a practical level I had lost all confidence to go out alone, I could no longer drive (one must be seizure-free for at least a year before getting one's licence back), was told not to contemplate having children whilst the search was on for the "right" medication.

After a difficult period of trying different medications with horrible side-effects, we finally found one that suited me and I have been seizure-free ever since. Even though I take medication everyday, it doesn't really affect my life. Now I can drive, work, I have two healthy children, I just get on with my life. But there is something in me which avoids telling people unless I have to, some fear that people will judge me, there is still a stigma attached to it. When I was first diagnosed, I remember telling someone that I had epilepsy and they said, "But you don't look like you have epilepsy", like I should have two heads!

So maybe being more open about this condition can help people understand. I will write more ...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Zen and the Art of Knitting

I have been reading "Zen and the Art of Knitting" and I am finding it very interesting. The idea that knitting can be meditative, that it can draw you out of your situation and towards something "other" is fascinating to me. The author, Bernadette Murphy, looks at the links between spirituality and creativity. She has researched very thoroughly through interviews with some interesting people. I feel that, as I work my way through it, it may feature again on my blog!

I was inspired to begin knitting (or I suppose I should say taking it up again after around 30 years, having learnt as a very young girl) by the birth of my daughter. I saw a gorgeous book of baby clothes which I subsequently received as a gift. They looked impossibly hard but with the encouragement of my mum I made a little cardigan, a bit misshapen but a great achievement! And I haven't looked back.

I do feel, when making something for a certain person, that I knit each stitch with love. And, perhaps in a fanciful way, I hope that they can feel that when they wear the item. We have, as a society, moved away from creating our own clothes, it is more convenient to buy what we need. I remember that when I was a child, sometimes the jumper knitted by grannie was a source of embarrassment among friends. I was really pleased to hear how my son's teacher complimented him on a lovely aran sweater made by a friend of mine and told him that jumpers made by hand with real wool were the best. What a great philosophy to learn from nursery school! When you actually make something yourself you then appreciate the efforts of others, how working out a pattern or inventing a design involves time and dedication.

What I am learning too is not to be impatient, that it doesn't matter if I have to unravel a piece to get it just right, that through each mistake or imperfection I am growing in understanding. Learning about the technique of knitting, that almost mystical art where just two stitches are used to create unlimited possibilities of design. Learning about myself and my impatience, my frustrations, my restlessness ...

By the way, I obtained the book through bookmooch.com which is the most amazing website. It is a system of book exchange and I have found that people are extraordinarily generous. This book came from the USA and from someone who couldn't afford to post it to me right away - of course I didn't mind - but she could have just said that it was too expensive to send to France and turned down my request. Instead she made a personal sacrifice and through that I am blessed.

Photo: a scarf I made especially for my mum

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Cocon on Etsy

Here is my second featured Etsy artist! I am so happy to be showing off the work of Cocon-a from Céret, France. I discovered Masami (who created the Cocon label) on Etsy when I was looking for a present for my sister-in-law and I found such a gorgeous bag, hand woven in red and white yarn. I didn't realise until later that we were "neighbours"!

When I received the bag, it was wrapped in the most beautiful packaging and finished to a very high standard. My sister-in-law loves it!

Masami not only makes bags but also adorable children's clothes, hats, mobiles and super cute quirky Cocon dolls. All of these designs are conceived by Masami and, as you can see from the photos, she has great talent.

On her blog Masami has a list of things she likes, among them: the dawn, the smell of the sea, hand-made chocolate ice-cream, jumping in virgin snow, things which have a history... I think that this, along with the piece Masami wrote about her work (below) speaks volumes about the poetic, gentle world of Cocon, the inspiration behind the creations and her attention to detail.

A world of freedom
I let my ideas come and they are carried on the wind,
this is how Cocon creations come to life,

I want each Cocon creation to hold good
and not drift away on the current
"Constant existence"
this is what I seek to achieve with the creations of my hands
through which my thoughts are imparted.

(Translated from French)

Masami's etsy shop is: http://www.cocon.etsy.com
She also has a blog (in French) here:
And her own online store here: http://cocon-shop-ete.blogspot.com/
(Look out especially for the Coin de Cocon where you will find sale items (yippee!) as well as vintage articles for sale: http://lecoindecocon.blogspot.com/)

Please have a look, I know you will be delighted by these charming items.

Bonne journée et à bientôt