Funky fabric


I’ve been a bit quiet of late. That is mainly because I am pretty rubbish at finishing projects, preferring to balance several at once. So, while I have nothing finished to show you you, be assured that I am beavering away.


I just wanted to pop in to share my fab find from yesterday. A pair of pink geometric pillow cases, 20p each from a local church table top sale. I love these things, they are choc full of tat, but in amongst the glass kitchenware and foiled pictures of horses there are always a few gems, selling for mere pence. As well as the pillow cases I got some lace trimming, a crochet hook (I’m building up a stash for potential classes that I’m considering running), a tape measure for my key ring (great for sizing up potential yarn bomb targets), a couple of picture frames, a basket to make an Easter decoration, and some random crap to keep my kids happy. Sorry, am I boring you? Well, here’s a little music to wake you up and pay homage to my new fabric. Enjoy:

Happy Mother’s Day

Inspired by the book Subversive Cross Stitch I decided to turn my hand to a new craft this week. I haven’t done cross stitch since I was about 12 and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is. The only thing is it requires quite a lot of concentration and attention to detail, neither of which are my forte.

First up in my show and tell today is the frame I did for my mum. Now my mum reads this blog so I have to say nice things about her…but seriously, I don’t think I appreciate her nearly enough. Well I certainly didn’t before having my own children, and she raised 3 mostly on her own. She is funny, supportive and a brilliant grandmother. And to top it all off she just bought me an iPad 3 for my birthday. She spends money on this sort of thing rather than a pension or a mortgage, so I’m going to be paying her back one way or another someday… In the mean time I hope she likes this.


Next up is a card for my newly appointed step-mum. Between my rather bohemian parents I have had more step parents than I can often remember, but I think this one’s a keeper. She has none of her own children but has bravely taken on 3 children, 2 of who are teenage boys, and 2 grandchildren. I just wanted to mark the occasion for her. I hope she doesn’t think it is too weird.


Finally I have a card for a lovely aunt who is sadly going through horrific treatment for cancer. There is nothing we can do to really help so at the very least I wanted to make her smile. I just hope she appreciated my sense of humour.


And that’s all there is to say about that.

But happy Mother’s Day, not just to all you women with children, to step mothers, beloved aunts and women who care for anyone else.

Give away winner!

Ok, after all the yarn bombing excitement today I remembered that I had offered a give away. But first, I have been completely remiss in reporting my prize from another give away by So Resourceful. I recently received these lovely fabric dishes and zippered purse. I have yet found a use for them yet, it’s a case of not having anything special enough, and not wanting to just fill them with the usual crap! I’m absolutely delighted with them though, and suggest you all check out her blog for some of her other creations.


Anyway, to my give away. You can see all the entries in my custom made hat (duh! Just realising I could have used one of my new dishes!).

Not Betty as promised, but my beloved husband.

And the winner is….


Cassandra Parkin! Well done Cassandra! I will email you to get your details so I can send you Stitch and Sparkle!


Thanks for all the inspiration everyone. I have decided to go with the idea from Stitch This:

This is what I am going to stitch into my tiny frame, y'know, when I get around to it...

Look forward to showing you the end result!

Rainbow bright

Apologies for being a little quiet recently. I’ve been busy preparing my Valentine’s Day yarn bomb. That and working, looking after the children, Zumba etc. etc. but I just thought I’d post the picture above. Not because it’s a fantastic picture, the lighting could be better and it’s not very well composed. Nor is it meant to be a twee representation of my house, all clean lines, bright colours and wholesome pencils. Quite the opposite. Currently my table and kitchen floor are swimming in various pencils, crayons and de-lidded felt tips. No, this picture is a representation of my compulsion to put coloured things in rainbow order. Any coloured beads, pens or toys laying around must be arranged into rainbow order. It makes me happy…

I need your inspiration – a prize to be had!

A few months ago I posted about my charity shop finds, and one of them was this teeny tiny picture frame. I really want to cross stitch or embroider something in it, but I am lacking in inspiration, so I need your help. Something funny or ironic would be quite good, or just a lovely little picture of something. I have no idea so give me some of yours!

In return I am offering a book from my stash Stitch & Sparkle by Charlotte Liddle. It’s cute little book with ideas for colourful accessories. My favourite project is the peg dollies, which you can customise with lots of different outfits with scraps of fabric and ribbons.

Anyone who comments on this post with an idea for my picture frame will be in with a chance. Follow my blog or follow me on Twitter (@dillytante) for extra entries (but leave a comment to let me know that you have done so). It’s a fairly small book so I’m happy to post anywhere. Make sure you leave a blog/email/Twitter address so I can contact you. I will have Betty draw a name out of the Peppa Pig bowl hat on Valentine’s Day, so channel your muse and get posting but Midnight 13th February. Oh, I will actually stitch the one I like best put it into the frame. The aperture of the frame is 4×5.5cm, so I need big ideas that are small in execution.

Hurricane Iris

No finished projects to report today. Plenty in progress: a sausage dog commissioned by my friend for one of daughter’s friends; a Mei Tai sling for my brother and sister in law; teddies in various states of completion; some fingerless gloves for my mum.

We are all a bit bleary eyed today. The Scots are recovering from, what has been nicknamed, Hurricane Bawbag, and I hope people like the lovely and long suffering Gentle Otter are getting back to normal. We, however, are suffering the after effects of Hurricane Iris. Gorgeous, headstrong and bright; Iris is, like a hurricane, awesome and fascinating to watch yet leaves a trail of destruction in her wake. Instead of upended garden furniture, Iris leaves half eaten toast, Tupperware and wet wipes.

Iris has never been a great sleep. Tough to put down, and easy to wake, she didn’t sleep through until at least 9 months. Even now she will not reliably stay asleep. I think the emergence or a couple of nasty molars is causing her some bother at the moment.

Last night Hurricane Iris struck again, up crying at 2am. Our usual tactic is to leave her and see if she will go off on her own. It was clear this wasn’t going to happen, so I got up and fed her. She seemed in no hurry to go back to sleep. She usually either feeds to sleep or cries to sleep. Very occasionally you can catch her and put her down awake. This wasn’t one of those times. I went back to bed anyway, hoping that she would settle down. Like counting the seconds between lightening and thunder, you can measure how likely Iris is to settle down by counting between the cries. Cry…one…two…cry…one…two…cry…one…two…three…four…cry…this time six. Is it possible she is settling? We relax slightly, hoping now we can go back to sleep. No such luck, looks like we were just in the eye of the storm, where it is momentarily quiet, waiting to come out of the other side. This time it’s DH who braces the storm and tries to work miracles to quell its strength. 40 minutes of cuddles and the storm has finally calmed, or passed on to some other unsuspecting household.

Thank you, thank you…

Thank you, thank you so much <flaps hands at eyes>. I just can’t believe it. I really don’t deserve it, it’s just so unexpect. I just want to thank my mum, and my husband, my dentist <dabs eyes> to that very special person, you know who you are. Tom <clutches fist to chest> thank you for the words.


I’ve won an award, well, kind of. Party Spanner has nominated me for a Tell Me About Yourself Award. Apparently I’m meant to tell you seven secrets about myself, and then tell you about about some blogs that I like.

Well, the truth is, I rarely have secrets. I’m an open book. My postman knows as much about my life as my mother! So I will just tell you some little known facts about myself:


1) I had a phobia of trains until I was about 18

2) I can’t play any musical instruments

3) In the evenings sometimes make DH’s tea with a decaffeinated tea bag, as I think it will help him sleep better. He thinks he can tell the difference but he has never mentioned it

4) I got a B in one of my GCSEs but rarely tell anyone and stick to the story that I got straight As and A*s (well, all the rest were, and my Geography teacher didn’t like me)

5) When Betty was a newborn, I was addicted to Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica

6) I don’t chew baked beans, I just swallow them down. I don’t like the texture of pulses

7) I failed 3 driving tests


There, those are my deepest darkest secrets. And now for some blogs I like:

Free Your Parenting

Meme Rose

Attic 24

Planet June

Mum of All Trades

Facing up to things

Stitch This

Suburban Superwoman

Mostly craft blogs, and some very inspirational parenting blogs (and I don’t really ‘do’ parenting blogs as a rule). Do check them out. And once again, thank you, thank you so much. I’m just so blessed to be here – no, please don’t play the music!


Anyone else read books, magazines, blogs, about people finding darling item at thrift stores and flee markets and transforming them into wonderful object d’art and wonder how they manage it, when all you can find in your local charity shop are Primark clothes priced at more than they originally cost, and paintings of West Highland Terriers?

I think there are a few key aspects to successful charity shop shopping.


The first is you have to have a vision for potential. You have to be able to look at something that, when surrounded by willow patterned tea sets, cut glass knick knacks and football memorabilia, looks pretty naffola, and imagine it fitting perfectly in your country farm house kitchen. Try to think about how your find when you’ve given it a clean, lick of paint, or distressed finished.

Location, location, location

Certain items, when placed in the shelved alcoves of a spacious Victorian house, will look vintage/retro/shabby chic/homespun (delete as appropriate). But when placed on an Ikea shelf in a boxy new build will look like you’ve been raiding your parent’s attic; or in a 70’s house, will look like you just haven’t thrown anything away for 30 years. That’s not to say that you can’t do the thrifted look in a modern property but you have to be sympathetic to your surroundings and the rest of your possessions.

Do it with confidence

You may not have a beautifully restored Victorian property, and you may not wear vintage clothing (it’s hard to pull off delicate tea dresses when you’re built like a tea pot), but sometimes you just need to just wear or display your charity shop finds with confidence. Mix it up a little, adding vintage or vintage inspired accessories to simple outfits works well, but don’t go overboard, you don’t want to look like an extra from the House of Elliott. Plus, dedicating your whole life and wardrobe to a different era, is in my opinion, a little bit sad, and sometimes oppressive. Vintage/retro/homespun is very fashionable right now, and no longer unconventional. Retro blogs are ten a penny and technicolor Instagram photos have become clichéd. Always just buy things you really like and they will work for you. Jump on a bandwagon it will look contrived. Be confident in what you like. For example, I’m very jealous of MeMeRose’s tapestry Irises below



Good charity shop finds require dedication to the cause. You have to keep going, and really root around. This is where I fall down a lot, as I rarely have the time to go charity shop shopping, and am rarely without one of the children, both of whom lose patience fairly quickly (although the good thing about charity shops is that children are easily pacified with an on GI Joe or hideous cuddly toy for 20p!).

I have to admit that for all my good advice, I’m not that great at charity shop shopping myself. Firstly, I live in a boxy new build, where my previously shabby chic furniture (i.e. begged, borrowed and stolen) now just looks a bit, erm, shabby shit! Also, I just don’t always have the Vision that is needed. I just don’t have great taste! However I do often have the confidence to just try things. My husband states his most vivid memory of me before we went out was me in my fake fur coat which I wore at university! I am much more conventional now, especially since I turned 30 *sigh*. I’ve given away my zebra print knee-high boots, the fake fur coat was left in a nightclub (accidentally – but I never got it back). The Laura Ashley velvet trousers which I recently found in a charity shop are much more sensible. But I have recently found a few good finds which I will share (but hopefully in a non-smuggy “oh look, I happened to find vintage Chanel sofa which I quickly reupholstered” kinda way!).

The heart plate at the bottom actually has Flora printed on it underneath (as in the margarine) so it was obviously some give away. Not exactly vintage chic then, but I really liked it, which was the important thing. Inspired by the heart plate, I thought I should also keep it company with the heart-shaped dish. I just really like the way it has been shaped. We’ll probably keep Betty’s hair clips in it.

These vintage kilner jars weren’t actually from a charity shop, but from a woman at my knitting group who’s mother has recently had to go into a care home. She bought a big box of them and said to help ourselves. A lot of the women in the group are vintage fans (and pull it off so much better than I do!). I thought I would take a couple though, and maybe fill one up with origami hearts or something (no, I’m not heart obsessed really! They just look nice).

These vintage circular needles were also free from someone at my knitting group. I can’t knit very well, and that puts me off trying again, but these fab needles may just inspire me.

There is nothing like the satisfaction of finding a gem of a book in a second hand shop

Oh, I just LOVE second hand book shopping! These books were all from a charity book shop. For the measly sum of £5.20 I got Cath Kidston’s ‘Make’; The New Hite Report, a report on femal sexuality by Shere Hite; a random Womanguides Reading Toward a Feminist Theology by Rosemary Radford Ruether; Drina Dances in Exile by Jean Estoril (I was so pleased to find a Drina book in a charity shop, and one I don’t have – they were childhood favourites), and Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I can’t wait to share with my girls. Oh and last week’s copy of the Economist (20p!)!

This teeny tiny picture frame is going to look so cute when I stick a little cross stitch or something in it.

Finally, the piece de resistance, my new coat. My last coat also came from a charity shop, a 100% wool black tailored coat, but since having Iris it’s a little snug…so I was excited when I spotted this electric blue number. Drawn to it like a magpie, I was overjoyed to find it fit perfectly. This is one of those things that can look pretty old-lady-ish if you wear it timidly (you can wear it like me exclaiming to all who will listen “Look, I got it in a charity shop! Isn’t it fab?!”). I thought the label said Jacque Vert, proper old lady shop, but I didn’t care, I’d just wear it it with confidence as I loved it. But that was actually the label for the the shirt underneath. The coat was made by Dereta, which a bit of googling suggests is a department store from the 50s-60s, so it turns out it is real life proper vintage! Funny, since I couldn’t purposely spot a vintage item if it came up and smacked me in the face with a pair of Jackie O sunglasses! Another reason that I should limit my attraction to ‘vintage’ is that I bought this beautiful Merino coat which has been immaculately kept for possibly 50 years, and within two days the baby had smeared food on the collar which I desperately tried to scrub off with a baby wipe…

Remember, just pick stuff that you really like. Vintage just means old, retro just means old-fashioned. It doesn’t always mean good:

See the 25 Vintage Ads That Would Be Banned Today