Waddesdon Manor

I recently went on a work visit to Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury in Hertfordshire, and thought I’d share about it here.

IMG_2527The main part of the Manor was built in 1883 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, as his country weekend retreat. The house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1959 and has been open to visitors ever since.

IMG_2510The house is incredibly ornate and is stuffed to the gills with the Rothchilds’ possessions: there are over 25,000 objects in the house’s collection and the majority of them are on display. It is in fact quite an overwhelming place to wander around – you could easily spend the entire day there and still not see everything there is to see.

IMG_2509When the Baron died he bequeathed a collection of nearly 300 precious art objects from Renaissance Europe to the British Museum. This collection is in the process of being moved to a new gallery in the Museum which was the reason for our visit. It will be worth dropping in to see the new display if you are in London from next February.

There was a temporary exhibition of linen folding by contemporary artist John Sallas. Linen folding is an almost-forgotten, spectacular art form that was extremely popular in German-speaking lands in the 17th century. It was used to make table decorations of great intricacy and beauty, both for display and for practical use. Different patterns were used to represent different families – you can see some of them in the image below. In the centre of the table is an incredible 1.5m-high fountain flanked by heraldic beasts, a 3m long snake and many animals, vegetables and architectural features – all original designs that would have graced the tables of courts and those of high society across Europe.

IMG_2506The gardens are lovely – many people go just to visit them (they are free, unlike the house). This ornate aviary was built in the late 19th century and is full of beautiful and unusual birds – including Rothschild’s Lobe-Billed Bird of Paradise.

IMG_2519Waddesdon is just under an hour away from London by train and is well worth a visit. If you go, don’t miss the incredible 8-foot topiary birds!

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Craft room ideas

We are about to start a renovation project on our house that will involve a small extension and a lot of refurbishment. The extension will house our kitchen which means that I will soon have my very own craft room – very exciting! I’ve been dreaming about and planning for this project for months and months now, and thought I would share some of these ideas here. So today, my plans for the craft room.

The house was built in the 1920s and our plan is effectively to ‘de-modernise’ it: to take it back more or less to the style that it would originally have been. I’ve been collecting inspiration images on pinterest – if you’re interested you can see them here. I love this miniature sewing shop, and this image, and this one – I think you get the idea!

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I found this gorgeous sewing machine cabinet on ebay a few months ago. The manual for the machine dates back to 1902. A local cabinetmaker customised it to fit my own sewing machine. It lifts up and down via an incredibly strong hydraulic mechanism – it works fantastically despite being over 100 years old. Here it is in the up position:

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Another ebay find that I’m very excited about is a 1920s oak habadashery cabinet. Finally somewhere to keep the stash that is both practical and pretty! I am looking forward to decorating this room and giving this furniture a proper home!

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Audrey in Unst cardigan

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The details:

Pattern: Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston, published in Twist Collective
Yarn: Posh Yarn Elinor Sport
Buttons:Brown buttons‘ from Loop

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I finished this cardigan in March – it was a pleasingly quick knit and is the second version I’ve made of this delightful pattern. It’s had loads of use already – you can probably see how the wool has pilled slightly, but only a little.

I followed the pattern exactly as written, apart from adding gathers to the sleeve heads for a slightly more vintagey feel.

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This is such a great pattern – it’s not at all surprising how hugely popular it is. If you browse through some of the finished projects on Ravelry it’s clear that it looks great on all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Oh, and, I can’t leave you without sharing a closer-up (albeit rather blurry) shot of my fabulous new yellow Fluevogs!

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A change of plan

Well. The dress/shawl plan for the weddings I’ve got coming up didn’t quite work out: let’s just say that the consensus from all around me was that a flapper dress + hips = not the best look…

So, on to plan B. I found a rather lovely fifties-style dress. (Fifties style dresses + hips = fabulous, hooray!). The dress is dark teal blue with a pattern of oriental gold flowers.

The shawl I chose is the excitingly named Lace Shawl from Vogue (I have to say that I really, really dislike the photo on Vogue’s page!) I’m making it using some long-stashed Wollmeise lace-garn (the colour is My Old Blue Jeans) with dark green-gold beads.

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Here’s a sample of the fabric (I’m still waiting for the actual dress). The shawl is more navy than teal but I like how they look together:

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So far, so good. Here’s hoping I finish in time!

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Princess and the pea shawl

I’ve got a family wedding to go to in a few weeks and found this rather lovely dress to wear at it.

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And these shoes, which I’ve had for a while, match perfectly. Flappertastic!

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I want to make a beaded shawl to go with it and, after much browsing, have decided to make the Princess and the Pea shawl by LilyGo. I confess, the name of the pattern may have played a part in my decision…

The yarn I’m using is Rowan Fine art in the colour Chiff Chaff.

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509 stitches cast on and half a row knit so far…

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