Retail therapy

I said I wasn’t going to post again until after my exams but I wanted to show off the packages that arrived this morning. I indulged in a little retail therapy while I was ill and everything arrived at once.

Gingham invaded

First up, some brilliant fabric from Voodo Rabbit. Steven showed me a post about their cushions on Boing Boing and, when I saw they had fat quarters of the fabric available in the their Etsy store, I just couldn’t resist. I bought a fat quarter each of “Gingham Invaded” in white on black and black on white.

Gingham invaded

I have no idea yet what I’ll do with this. Steven is talking about getting some for himself to make another dice bag. I’m somewhat tempted to order lots and lots of it from Spoonflower and make my own cushion covers or a quilt!

On a far less geeky note, I also bought a shawl pin from South4th on Etsy. I keep seeing their Ravelry ads and had been trying to resist but being ill lowered my resistance and I succumbed.

Shawl pin

I’ve wanted a new shawl pin for a long time but was looking for something small and reasonably plain, whilst still being pretty. The myrtlewood pin fits the bill perfectly. It’s beautifully light, the oiled finish is gorgeous and it looks great with my shawls. Unfortunately, all the shawl pictures I took were out of focus so you will need to wait for better pictures of that.

Now, back to the books!

My desk

Vintage shopping

Steven and I spent a lovely day last Saturday in Brighton. We wandered round and round and in and out of lots of little boutiques, galleries, and craft and design shops, which Brighton seems to have by the bucketload. We also hunted through lots of the antique-vintage-junk shops and came home with some interesting purchases.

I know it doesn’t look like much now (particularly in this photo) but I have big plans for this workbox. I’m going to strip it down, re-paint it, polish it up and replace the fabric lining. Once it’s done, I think it will look really good alongside the vintage sewing machine.

Vintage workbox

We haven’t decided where we’re going to hang this next find, yet. I think it would add a nice little touch of colour to our black and white bathroom and it would certainly be appropriate in there! Steven seems to be pushing for it go somewhere a bit more prominent but I’m not sure I’m up for that.

Vintage Ex-Lax advert

We also picked up a box of Christmas decorations. They are not terribly posh or fancy but they are a bit jazzier than our usual decorations and have really brightened up the tree.

Christmas baubles

Speaking of vintage decorations, look what else has found its way on to the tree this year:

Knitting Christmas decoration

Book review – Pattern Sourcebook: Japanese Style

A post-exam wander around the craft and design sections of the bookshops on Charing Cross Road today turned up a wonderful little volume entitled “Pattern Sourcebook: Japanese Style. 250 Patterns for Projects and Designs.” The book is a collection of Japanese pattern designs in nine different categories, including plants, creatures, geometry and, of course, waves.

Wave pattern

The book comes with a CD with JPEG and PSD versions of each of the patterns and, best of all, purchasing the book permits unrestricted use of any of the patterns for any purpose whatsoever without any further fees or need for acknowledgement or credit. Many of the patterns are set up so that they can be tiled in all directions.

Japanese cherry blossom pattern

There is a sentence or two accompanying each design with a short explanation of its origin or symbolism. The translation from Japanese is a little quirky at times but not enough to be distracting.

Japanese geometric pattern

The patterns are purely patterns and no instructions are given on how to use them but I’m already in danger of being overwhelmed by ideas for ways to incorporate the designs into knitting and quilting patterns.

Wave pattern

To sum up, if you’re interested in Japanese patterns and styles or just looking for a new source of inspiration, I can highly recommend this.


  • Title – Pattern Sourcebook: Japanese Style
  • Author – Shigeki Nakamura
  • Publisher – Rockport Publishers

Books, coffee, cake (not necessarily in that order)

While I’m on the subject of coffee, Steven and I found ourselves in the unusual position of having a free weekday afternoon recently and decided to spend it in town with three of our favourite things: books, coffee and cake so I thought it might be nice to share some of our recommendations for the best places to find these in central London.


London Review Bookshop: A brilliant bookshop with an amazingly wide range for the size of the shop. The London Review of Books is a fortnightly literary periodical, similar in format to the great 19th century periodicals, so the books are more likely to be sporting stickers saying “Radio 4’s Book of the Week” than “Richard and Judy’s Bookclub”. Bury Place, just round the corner from the British Museum.

Foyles: Europe’s largest bookshop (in terms of number of books stocked) has been on Charing Cross Road for over 100 years. Huge food/drink and poetry sections. They also have a secondhand/antiquarian department.

Quinto: the London outpost of the Hay Cinema Bookshop. One of the best secondhand bookshops in London. Charing Cross Road.

Any Amount of Books: Another excellent secondhand bookshop, although its prices tend to be higher than Quinto. Charing Cross Road.

Forbidden Planet: A must for sci-fi fans. As well as books, they also stock DVDs, games, action figures, t-shirts and much, much more. The only bookshop in London (that I know of) with a “Paranormal Romance” section. Shaftesbury Avenue.

Gosh! comics: A new discovery for us but one of the best comic shops we know of. Great range of stock from Disney and Tintin through to DC Comics, Dark Horse and many, many more.


Caffe Vergnano 1882: Not much seating but the coffee is great. Charing Cross Road.

Monmouth Coffee Company: Best coffee in London, according to Steven. Covent Garden & Borough Market.


The cafe at London Review Bookshop: Wonderful cupcakes and larger slices of cake. I highly recommend the Lemon Merinuge Cupcakes if they’re available; they were better than many full-size lemon meringue pies I’ve had. Tip – If you like your coffee milky but still tasting of coffee, get a double shot here.

Konditor and Cook: Brilliant cakes, biscuits, gateaux but their hot food is just as good at lunchtimes. Not all of the branches have seating; the Curzon Soho and Gherkin branches are two that I know that definitely do.