Category Archives: Family

Beautiful Bird of Paradise


I’ve been neglecting my blog recently and I apologise. I’ve been so busy in my incarnation as Diane’s Puppets that I’ve hardly had time to breathe.

When I’ve managed to get a bit of time to sit down , I’ve been working on a very special piece. It is a coat I’ve called the Bird of Paradise. I think the name is self-explanatory.

Beautiful hand made coat for infants

She’s a beauty!

I’ve made her as a  present for my lovely granddaughter who turns two next week.

It’s made on a small crochet hook ( 2.5mm) so has taken quite some time to complete.

Detail of the fastening

Here is the back view:Based on a circle yoke

I could remake on commission if anyone is interested but due to the week’s labour that is involved, it would cost £80, but for that you would be getting a unique, one of a kind piece designed especially for your child.

If interested please email me at thebabyfairyfifi@hotmail.com

or pop over to my facebook page 

and leave a message.

I’m hoping my little tiger is going to love her magical coat.

 

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Living life in beautiful greys


I love bright colours. Anyone who knows me or who has stopped by this blog will know this. I’ve even written a blog post  in my party blog purely devoted to bright colours .

I’ve largely ignored the greys and the subtle as I’m so seduced by the vibrant , the hot and the punchy. I like stark contrasts and clash. It excites me.

Holding the towel, 3 studies

I’m aware that this penchant for contrast and bold relates directly to my character type. For years I lived life in black and white , in contrasts.

Looking at life in stark contrast

For many years, because of my upbringing, I believed that life was full of black and white choices, that there were good and bad. I was either a good girl

Good Diane

 

or a naughty girl,

Bad Diane

I was an angel or a devil. I never considered that there existed something in between called normal, and that the good and the bad aspect were just choices on the extremes of the normal spectrum. This blinkered belief system really limited my outlook on life and my behaviour causing me to become one of life’s ‘pleasers‘. I sought approval through being good, I had to be in the good zone otherwise I was bad. I thought of myself as ‘nice’, I found it hard to take criticism as I thought that all my actions were altruistic ( of course they weren’t) and that if I ever did anything for myself that would make me a selfish, bad person.

In the black and white world

Living in the black and white contrast world of the pleaser type personality is very frustrating. Trying to be good leads to frustration and resentment when others do not either recognise your intentions or take advantage of the pleasing behaviour and ask the pleaser to do everything and anything knowing that the pleaser is bound to say yes.

Self portrait at 23, called 23 and getting older. Hanging on to being good.

No isn’t a word a pleaser finds easy to say. Strike that, it is nigh on impossible.

So as a pleaser, you take everything on board, do everyone favours, say yes to all projects and the inevitable happens: breakdown. Anyone would become overwhelmed by this state, no one is capable of doing everything, especially not to the pleaser’s unusually high standards. When breakdown occurs, the pleaser snaps ( the black zone) The resentment that has built up over time breaks free and manifests as a massive fireball of anger which is hurled at the person who is being pleased, shocking them as they never saw it coming. The pleaser then feels guilty for this outburst and then instantly resorts back to pleasing behaviour again ( back in the white zone ) in order to pacify the recipient .

My eldest daughter Imogen expressing through photography

Not good huh?

This was me for years.

Until my back gave in.

My wonderful acupuncturist clearly recognised my character type and gave me a mantra to accompany my needle therapy. He told me to (shock horror!) start being selfish.

If I wanted to look after the world, I had to start looking after myself.

Then I discovered that the world wasn’t just black and white, but muted shades of grey. Most people lived in the grey zone and visited the white ( pleasing) zone and black ( anger) zone when it was appropriate to do so. I saw that saying NO became liberating, that people respected me more and started to press me less to do things. Life became easier. The resentment evaporated. I could do nice things for people without feeling that secret resentment underlying it, because I was doing nice things for the right reasons: because I wanted to!  There was no more veering from the white into black anymore, no more frustrated temper tantrum outbursts, but in its place was a new found self assurance and a sense of honesty that I had never felt before.

Grey is beautiful.

Muted grey beauty

Feeling whole

I still like a good contrast , but nowadays thankfully just in my aesthetic tastes.

So which zones do you live in? Grey or black and white?

Cushion love


My red cushion cover

I’ve been making stuff to sell on my folksy website for a while now. I’ve stopped looking at my own living room as I’ve been so busy with cushions for others.

Flower cushion

Granny square cushion

Another flower cushion

Until last Monday that is, when I really saw the state of my own cushions.

Oh dear.

Something had to be done. So I picked up my crochet hook and a few balls of my favourite colour yarn and this was the result.

Gorgeous granny squares

Back view

Detail

Crochet cushion

My first cushion cover for me! The warm colours go beautifully with my living room and I’m thinking of starting another to accent the colours in my fireplace.

Hand mosaic fireplace

The fireplace has its own story. It’s what comes from having a random selection of mosaic tiles and gems, a plain plastered fireplace and a creative urge! It’s a little haphazard, not terribly symmetrical but I like it. I’m looking forward to lighting a big fire in the winter time and watching light of the flickering flames dance in the eye of the gems and shards of broken mirror.

Until then I’ll bask in this strange October heat, 29 degrees of sunshine in October in the UK? It’s lovely, but just a little scary, don’t you think?

Granny’s Gift to Her Little Angel


I’ve been making something new for my little granddaughter, Erykah-Rose.

Baby Erykah-Rose.

Sleeping fairy

Tiny Erykah-Rose

She had a bit of a rough start, born with pneumonia ( very rare) and spent her first week of life on a ventilator. Whilst in intensive care the doctors realised she wasn’t doing the nappy thing like other babies. After tests the rare genetic disorder Hirschsprungs disease was diagnosed.  This meant that this sweet little angel had to return to hospital to have abdominal surgery to fix her defective bowel when she was just three months old. Before the surgery my brave daughter had to get used to three times daily rectal washouts in order to help her baby empty her belly.

Our little angel after surgery

Erykah-Rose bounced back with gusto. Now she poos like any normal child and the only thing she has to show for it is a thin silver scar across the bottom of her belly.

We are all so grateful to all the staff and surgeons at Kings College Hospital, London for fixing our precious angel for free , and with such care.  Long live the NHS!

Look at how she has grown!

I thought it was time that my little granddaughter had something special made for her.

This is my latest crochet project, all finished.  I hope she likes it!

 

Crochet shell dress with matching hat

Flower trim detail

Hat detail

picot edge detail showing shell motif

Back button fastening

I’m so proud of my strong and clever daughter for being such a brilliant mum despite her tender age.

And of course you know how much I love my darling Erykah-Rose.

 

Granny gets cross


Watch out, she's fierce!

 

Not feeling that sweet at the minute. I think it’s time for a rant, but on a Crafty theme though of course.

Here’s my issue. It may take a while to build, but bear with me.

Here I was getting all excited about the new wave of crafting. For years, knitting, sewing

A special dress made for a special granddaughter

and all things needlework and domestic crafts was considered stuff that old ladies did. It wasn’t fashionable at all. Just like drawing.

Granny square cushion

The skill of drawing too suffered similarly.  In the age of Conceptualism, where the idea was king, there was no room for representation or being able to draw what was in front of you.

Sleeping Imogen

I’ve been through the Art School system years ago, drawing served me well but I was left well aware that if I didn’t have an idea or concept behind the drawing that I wouldn’t be taken seriously as an artist, especially a woman artist.

Imogen sleeping

I would never get that chance anyhow because I became a mum.

Cutting the Cord. Welcome to the world Allegra

I’m a feminist, I know women are capable of doing all things equally given enough opportunity. But I’m also a human being and I know that juggling is best left to those people with real balls. To try and juggle an art career with motherhood would just end in tears: mine. I would be left  a half hearted artist and a lacklustre mother. So  I dedicated my time to bringing up my daughters and turned to craft.

I made bodies and people and heads. They were sewn by hand with fabric and it filled my creative urges.

Adolesence

Then I turned to entertaining children. My soft sculptures turned to puppets and Diane’s Puppets was born. My creative energies were poured into creating a business that would support my children in the years to come.

Mirror Mirror on the wall

London Children's Entertainer and Puppeteer Diane

Well fast forward a few years and I’ve now taken up crochet. I’m making kids stuff that is bright and funky.

Baby slippers

Bright beanies

Rainbow ball necklace

I thought because craft was now trendy again I would be able to hold my head up as a crafts person. But no. It seems like I’ve missed the boat again. Unless you are making something ironic ( crochet apple cosy anyone?)  or surreal ( crocheted mustache? ) it’s not what they want.

I should’ve known. Stitch and Bitch anyone? This common term for groups of women coming together to craft and chat is really offensive to me.

As a feminist, I’m anti bitch. Women should be coming together and working together as a force to be reckoned with. Bitching is not productive, it’s mean and nasty, and yes, like many other bad things, hellishly entertaining.

So in order for craft to be cool for the modern woman, in order not to feel like a 50’s housewife we have to combine craft with an edge?

My conceptual feminist collection of breast paintings at Shh!

How very disappointing. I’d find it much edgier to say yeah it’s needlework/crochet/ knitting and WHAT? I like doing it as a woman.

I’ve taught many a man to knit and crochet. They do it with style. Why can’t us women be comfortable enough to do the same?

I suppose now I’m a granny I just have to get on with my granny squares, sit in a corner and shut up. Oh wait, I like granny squares.

Granny square blanket in my bedroom ( with graffiti)

And I love being a granny.

Funny grandma!

 

I could start embroidering expletives on cushions. I know that would go down a treat.

Seriously, is that what it’s come to?

Okay.

Time for a cuppa.

 

Rant over.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday


All my own work.

Labour of Love


Aluminum crochet hooks

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just recently completed my biggest crochet project yet. I say biggest, which refers to it’s size ( approx 5ft diameter) but not for the amount of time it took me. This is what I love about crochet. It took three days from start to finish. This suits my impulsive, impatient nature right down to the ground. Ah bliss!

It is a rag rug for my youngest daughter’s kitchen floor. It was made from old t-shirts cut up into yarn and crocheted together using cluster stitches and single crochet and the biggest, fattest crochet hook I could find. When I ran out of t-shirts I ran off to my local fabric stockist in Electric Avenue in Brixton and bought a few metres of cheap cotton knit. I’d say it didn’t cost me more than £30 in total for the fabric plus t-shirts which I think is an absolute bargain.

So pretty and so soft.

I’m really pleased with the way it came out, recycling is so satisfying! What is also so wonderful about it is that my darling granddaughter Erykah-Rose has just started walking and she loves to play in the kitchen while mummy cooks, so this rug gives her a perfect soft, warm place to play while she is nearby mummy. It also gives her a nice soft landing for her bottom when she loses her balance. Walking is a tricky business when you’ve just turned one.

Thank you grandma!

 

My daughter reports that the rug also looks gorgeous too. I shall have to pop over to investigate myself soon.

So easy to do

Have a go yourself!

If you’re wondering how to make yarn from a t-shirt , here’s a brilliant tutorial that shows you how. How to turn a t-shirt into crochet yarn.

For those of you who are inspired to do a bit of crocheting yourself, here is a great list of free crochet rug patterns. If I can do it, anyone can!

 

 

Wordless Wednesday, except it’s Thursday…


Me, mum and my beloved Nan. RIP

 

Ah well, that’s what you get for living in the past.

Grandma to Grandma


Five generations apart. Wow.

Here is an adorable picture of my grandma with my grandchild. Yes I sat in front of my grandma as a grandma. Isn’t that amazing? Grandma Nel is 94 and is a wonderfully strong woman who was fierce as a younger woman but mellowed with age ,becoming someone with whom I connected very strongly .

We both share a love of needlework and it was my pleasure to finish off a cardigan that she had knitted for her Great-Great Granddaughter when we visited. Erykah-Rose is wearing a pink cardigan that Grandma Nel knitted for her previously.

Craft: the generation gap filler.

My darling granddaughter and her doting grandma: ME!

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