Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quiet Pleasures

"Mrs. Bartle Grant" by Vanessa Bell, 1934, via here

What do you do when the days grow shorter, the weather gets cooler and and we are spending more time inside?  Do you have projects and hobbies that you like to do during fall and winter, soothing and peaceful activities such as needlepoint, knitting, or embroidery?  And have you noticed what a calming effect these crafts produce?   Just look at the expression on Mrs. Bartle Grant's face in the painting above.  She was the mother of the Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant and stitched all of the tapestries that he designed.

I have recently taken up needlepoint and am working on a big canvas that I bought in England two years ago.  The finished pillow will be a large one (huge!) and of course I bought two of them, thinking they were smaller and would make a great matched set.  What was I thinking!  This project will take me a long time to finish and so I plan to put it away occasionally and work on a smaller projects that I am more likely to finish in a shorter amount of time.   But I love doing it because no matter how frayed my nerves are or how stressful my day is, nothing calms me down and brings me back down to earth more quickly than working on my needlepoint project.

Here is the needlepoint kit I bought in England.  It is called The Shell Cushion and is a reproduction of a canvas designed by Vanessa Bell.

As you can see, I have made a little progress and am now ready to get back to work on this

This is the original pillow in the garden room at Charleston Farmhouse

In the meantime, I am also looking for a smaller project and would love to take a knitting class
Photo via here

I dream of cozy evenings knitting or doing needlepoint by the fireplace
Photo via here

I love this needlepoint canvas from Elizabeth Bradley

Some of my inspiration for working on crafts comes from my daughter Heather who is a talented knitter.  This blanket is one of her projects.  She has loved doing crafts since she was a little girl.  When she was 10 years old she made jewelry and formed "The Jewelry Club" with her girlfriends.

This photo was her inspiration for the blanket

She made this amazing scarf
via here

She has also taken up weaving

A close-up of one of her projects

 Some of her pieces are framed
All photos of Heather's crafts via L.A. in Bloom

I am beginning to think I need to start small; how cute is this knitted cover for a hot water bottle
Photo via here

And this tea cosy makes me smile, it might just be the perfect project to begin with 
Photo via here

Tell me, what crafts or projects do you like to work on now that the weather is getting cooler and we are all staying home more?  And do they bring a peaceful smile to your face?

I want to thank all of my blogging friends who expressed their support and condolences about my mother.  It meant the world to me.


  1. I would love to take up some kind of craft as a hobby. I can knit a little but usually start a project then give it up. I think my problem is that I want to be good straightaway, I should work on enjoying the process rather than the result. Love the blanket your daughter knitted.

  2. It's hard to believe that even in LA the desire to pick a warm and cozy craft is still part of our seasonal clock. I love your needlepoint design, it will be beautiful. I'm working on a knitted blanket. A very simple rib stitch in rich, natural colors. It's beginning to keep me very warm as it grows longer and longer. As I come inside for the cooler months I love having something to do while I catch up on my favorite shows and needlepoint and knitting are two of my passions.

  3. I discovered your blog just a few days ago via La in Bloom's entry on apple brownies. Since then I have been devouring the entries and feeling inspired by the cozy and artsy ambience of your lovely blog. Your needlepoint and knitting ambitions are making me want to take up abandoned projects again!

  4. Sunday, Your needlepoint project is both lovely and ambitious. I have often tried needlepoint but get frustrated when the canvas becomes warped. You probably know I love to knit. I put the needles down last spring; I am beginning to feel the need to pick them up again. I have always loved working with fibers. If I could only figure out how to read and knit at the same time I would be so happy.

    When teaching others to knit I usually have them begin with a scarf. Enjoy your project. Bonnie

  5. Well we actually sleep under quilts that I made, by hand, years ago. When that became to cumbersome, I switched to needlepoint. Then, on my first trip to Scotland, I visited Shilisdair Yarn Shop on the Isle of Skye and became totally entranced with the many colours and textures of wool. I was determined to learn how to use it all so on my return home, I signed up for serious knitting classes. Now I am a knitting fool and love it more than I can say! You are so right... I has enormous therapeutic effect! And it's so thrilling to wear a sweater you've knitted yourself! Take a class.... you will love it!

  6. Doing all kinds of arts and crafts is always perfect in the autumn and the winter, and this all looks great.
    I recently discovered your blog, and I must say I think you are a true inspiration. Thank you so much for the lovely posts and the amazing pictures, it is wonderfull.

    kind regards

  7. I'm about halfway through the same blanket (slightly different colors) that Heather made. It's very easy (just garter stitch) and no counting, which for me is very calming. If you want to learn to knit, there's a great place nearby, and it's very lovely to sit around a table with other women talking and knitting.
    As for needlepoint, I used to paint the stitchery canvases for my grandmother to make, and all the grandchildren have wonderful pillows that she did, all painted originally by me.
    Your pillows are spectacular, but I can see why you'd need to put them down and take breaks with easier and shorter projects.
    A good beginning project for a knitter is a scarf - highly recommend it.

  8. Those pillows will be so lovely when you finish them!
    I am terrible at crafts, sewing, etc. , but really wish that I could do the beautiful things that Heather does. I have a friend at work who is going to mentor me in knitting this winter, though, so perhaps one day I can make something recognizable!