Here are two books I found at a boot sale the other day, they are both going to help me with my next projects…

1. News Chronicle Needlework and Crafts

subtitled inside as “Every Woman’s Book on the Arts of Plain Sewing, Embroidery, Dressmaking, and Home Crafts”. A 340 page behemoth of a book with pretty much everything I’ll ever need to know about anything by the looks of things! It’s weirdly not got a publication date but it’s written in old money and inches so its pre 1971. It’s also got a secret pocket at the back with embroidery transfers in which I didn’t notice till I got home. Bonus.

2. Twinkle Annual 1977, Specially for Little Girls

of which I was one once and remember getting this comic from the newsagent on occasion. I love the illustrations and outfits in this annual and I think subconsciously my illustration style over the years has been influenced by them as I often draw girls with big hair and eyes, short dresses and big boots.

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I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo a few years ago and whilst there I discovered two amazing things (well three if you include the fact that dogs are wheeled around in prams dressed as babies).

    1. Daiso Harajuku on Takeshita Dori.

This shop is the Japanese equivalent of a 99p store known as a 100 yen store (and when I was there 100 yen was around 70 pence.) Now I love a UK 99p store but a Japanese one is extra special as everything in it has that extra sheen of ‘being foreign’ and therefore a little bit more cool (Although sometimes I find things lose their coolness at some point on the flight home). I took two trips to this store in the four days I was in Tokyo and spent £100 which as anyone good at maths will have worked out is …. errrrrr… 141 products? Somewhere in my photo album that is my computer I have pictures of all my spoils, one day I shall dig them out and share them with you.

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    2. Felissimo Catalogues.

I’d read lots of crafty blogs looking for tips on good places to shop for fabrics and bits and bobs before I went to Tokyo and while I didn’t manage to get to many of the shops I’d tracked down I did find something that blew my little crafty brain box! Whilst browsing in a bookshop two magazines caught my eye; Couturier and Minnk. They are both more catalogue than magazine but do have little visual (thank god as my japanese isn’t brilliant) step by step guides to the different crafts they are selling.

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Couturier is stuffed to the gills with different craft supplies ranging from papercraft to embroidery to jewellery taking in the more unique Japanese crafts of tiny ornate cakes made from felt and other delights whereas Minnk has more homeware and clothing.

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They both have simple stunning photography and are beautifully designed, I use them a lot not only to inspire me with craft projects but also in my design work.

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Thing is, I want all the stuff in them but can’t get my hands on any of it due to the small fact of, ooh about 6000 miles and a translation problem… UNTIL NOW! Recently I have discovered that Fellissimo the company behind Couturier and Minnk have put all their magazines on line so you can browse to your hearts content AND you can also buy things and have them shipped to your door. I feel there may still be a bit of a gamble with the things you order as there’s not that much English translation on the site so it might be hard to tell if you’re buying 1 or 100 cross stitch monogrammed hankies or if the paper doily is 10 cm or 10 meters but with products this beautiful will it really matter?

Go see for yourself… Right here… Go now!

I was born in a small village in East Sussex just outside the town of Lewes, which is kinda near Brighton. Growing up Lewes had good stuff… an outdoor swimming pool for the super hot summers of childhood, a dentist who was actually nice. Clothkits where my mum worked and possibly where my love of fabric and making things stemmed from. My best friend Rhiannon and an annual passion for dressing up in crazy outfits and burning things.

Now Lewes has great stuff. Every time I get the train back home I have to spend longer and longer in the town as there’s so many little shops of goodness springing up. I can’t document them all in this post so those below are ones I visited in the hour I had spare waiting for my parents to come and pick me up. I walked from the train station up Station Street and down Cliffe High street (with just a couple of detours)

Lewes has many many antique shops and flea markets, my favourites are The Lewes Flea Market on Market Street, Church Hill Antique Centre on Station Street with the awesome Dancing Fox Vintage – a mix of upcycled goodies, vintage trinkets and the odd handmade gift – and right down the bottom of town is the Tardis like Lewes Antiques Centre on Cliffe High Street

Turn left at the top of Station street and if you’re not distracted by the charity shops (pretty much as good as the flea markets) then the brightly coloured (inside and out) Kings Framers has a slightly random mix of soft furnishings, stationery delights and a full on bespoke framers and interior design service. If I had more walls in my house I would buy more things from this shop.

To me The Needlemakers (or The Candlemakers depending on who you ask) is the place where the renaissance of Lewes began. An old factory (that made needles or maybe candles) restored in the 80’s is now filled with small individual shops selling antiques, books, jewellery and other eclectic goodies. When I was younger I spent ages in Tizzs (now in the highstreet) the bead shop choosing individual beads at 2p a pop and a real treat was having a hot chocolate in the cafe. Downstairs now is Revive-all a rabbit warren of a flea/junk/antique/jumble shop with a lot of fine wartime clothing, memorabilia and books. Many many books…

Working my way down Cliffe High Street I always have time for Wickle. This is the shop where I always end up buying ‘things for my new house which doesn’t actually exist yet’ and ‘props for photo shoots that haven’t happened yet’. Below is what I left the shop with this time.

Totally have a use for a tiny milk jug in the shape of an elephant!

A visit to Lewes isn’t complete without a trip to Bills. What once was a simple greengrocers opposite Argos is now a Lewes institution. Still part greengrocers now it’s also a cafe, restaurant, deli and general store of foodie heaven.

So that’s it, my hour in Lewes, I could have mentioned so many more places like the cute organic and fairtrade kids clothes at Gossypium, the cool calm interiors and clothes of Flint and the kitchen gadget heaven of The Steamer Trading Cook Shop but you’ll have to discover them for yourselves …

So go go go and tell them I sent you (It won’t mean anything and people will just look at you funny)

I went to France with Ladies K & L. It was like being back at school and learning about the village shops and their keepers; Mme Gateau le boulanger, M. moules du poissonnier,  Martin, le pâtissier and M. saucisses du boucher.

Bon.