Wednesday, 28 February 2007

I am putting lots of images from my collection of vintage Ladybird Books on to Flickr at the moment. I have loved these books for years. This is from one of my favourite books, the 'Ladybird First Picture Book', illustrated by the great Harry Wingfield. The detail on the shoe is beautiful.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A huge stash of vintage wrapping papers, found at the local op shop. A lot of them have been used, and carefully saved, but nevertheless there are some great prints here!

Monday, 26 February 2007

How about this for a cute way to save your pennies? I found it on eBay recently and am very taken with the colours and illustrations.

I think I am feeling very homesick for England at the moment, as I seem to be drawn to everything British - see my posts below, and this gorgeous vintage children's book illustration found on Linzie Hunter's fab blog. And it doesn't help that I had a close encounter with a huge fat hairy Australian spider this morning when I went to empty the mailbox. Urrgh... give me kippers for breakfast any day!

Friday, 23 February 2007

In 1975, when I was six or seven, I would be so excited to come home from school on a Thursday each week, because it was the day that my Twinkle comic was delivered! Twinkle seems to be largely forgotten now, yet it was the most marvellous, funny and beautifully-illustrated comic (or 'picture paper' as it was called) of its day, and it ran from 1968 until the early 1990s.

As part of my one-woman crusade to bring Twinkle back into everyone's hearts, last year I made one-off pocket mirrors and fridge magnets for Lark, using some tatty annuals that I found at jumble sales and car boot sales. They sold really well in the shops, so it seems that the cute illustrations still appeal to young girls (or is it their mums?!).

I recently also started a Wikipedia entry on Twinkle, and if anyone has more information please add it or let me know.

And finally, this week I have started scanning my own treasured collection of Twinkle comics and annuals into Flickr. They look wonderful all together, and if you'd like to peek at them, there's a link on the right hand sidebar on this page. I will soon be adding some scans of my favourite characters, including Nurse Nancy, Jenny Wren and Witch Winkle!

I do like the old Little Golden Books but even better for me are the Little Elf Books published in the 1950s and 1960s by Rand-McNally. They have a small, pocket-book format, nice old-fashioned paper stock and the cutest illustrations. My favourite of all is Tommy's Tooth, about a boy who loses his first tooth. I think I like it because the boy looks just like my son and he wears cute stripey pyjamas!

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Why a cup of tea and not a pint of lager? Why Alice's Adventures In Wonderland? What about Peter Rabbit or Harry Potter and Doctor Who? If we include the double-decker bus, shouldn’t we include the black cab too?

ICONS: A Portrait of England is a fascinating web project exploring the icons that best represent English culture. You can nominate and vote for your favourite icons, and so far 33 have been accepted. These include Sgt Pepper, Blackpool Tower, the Mini, the English Weather, the Bobby and the Tube Map. The site has a history of each of these icons, and you can add your own thoughts and comments. Potential icons I have voted on include Chintz, Ladybird Books, Morecambe & Wise, NHS Glasses(!) and Donkey Rides on the Beach. What's your favourite English icon?

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

How exciting! Helen, who runs the Ladybird Fly Away Home website, has started a new blog for all of us who love vintage Ladybird Books.
A set of 52 gorgeous old flashcards, found for $2 at Camberwell Market in Melbourne:

I'm a sucker for vintage cards and teaching aids!
My friend Jackie recently took me to a wonderful shop that specialises in Japanese items, including shelves and shelves of vintage Japanese fabrics. We 'ooh'd' and 'aah'd' over the gorgeous prints for hours and made some amazing finds, including this beautiful petrol blue silk:

and this super-cool vintage children's fabric:

Jackie is truly a dedicated shopper, I always find great stuff when I'm out with her! At a garage sale this month, I also found a 1950s children's origami book from Japan, which is full of wonderful illustrations:

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

I've managed to find some great vintage kids items recently, here are my faves:

A vintage Fisher Price Ferris Wheel toy. I loved FP toys as a kid, and their charm has not waned. My boys can still spend hours playing with them, arranging and re-arranging all the Little People in the different scenarios!

A large stash of Little Golden Books with vinyl records

Three Jigsaws with stunning 1950s illustrations. I am going to have these blown up into posters for the boys' playroom

Friday, 16 February 2007

Spotted at print & pattern, another of my favourite blogs, this fabulous book on vintage and retro design.

I seem to be sat in front of my computer a lot at the moment, so it was a joy today to actually spend the day in my workshop, preparing orders and working on new designs for Lark. One of my favourite things to do is selecting and cutting images from old books for our Vintage Storybook Badges.

In January's edition of Easy Living magazine (UK) there is a really good article about the lack of guilt-free 'Me Time' once you have kids. One part made me laugh out loud and I just have to share it:

My friend Hannah believes competition for Me Time is the ultimate relationship grenade: "It must be the biggest cause of arguments between parents who have children." My extensive research shows that it has ever been thus. At my children's bedtime, my enjoyment of Topsy & Tim Go Fishing (published in 1963) is vastly increased by the lively subtext, as Mum and Dad battle to offload their offspring on to the other. On one page, Dad is hiding behind a newspaper, telling the twins that they can't go fishing because they haven't got nets. On the next page: "Mummy cut the feet from a pair of old stockings. She sewed these onto loops of wire and fixed them to two sticks. 'These are your fishing nets,' she said. 'Dad will take you fishing now.'" I'm guessing you're able to picture the look on Dad's face.

Who's never been guilty of this? Hee hee. I've scanned in a picture of Mum with her 'fishing nets' from my copy of the book. Doesn't she look pleased with herself for coming up with a great way to get some valuable Me Time? Good to know things haven't changed...!

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Look at this beautiful book, found on Amazon. It is a simple guide to teach children how to sew, and the best thing is that it's illustrated throughout with images from vintage children's books. Gorgeous!

I've just finished making a batch of these fabulously retro aprons for Lily & Agathe. They were inspired by a vintage apron that Tanya found at a flea market, with its own built-in pot holder. What a great idea! There are two designs, both made with vintage cottons, and we are packaging them with vintage recipe cards for Mother's Day.

When I feel like I've earned a treat, which is very often(!), I like to shop at Fred Flare. In my current shopping basket is this super Dollhouse Tote. It has little badges in the shape of furniture, which you can move around as you like!

Also, this cute Handy House sewing kit, I don't need one but I can't resist it:

And from the same range, this Mushroom Kitchen Timer!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Competitive, Me?

Ok, so I'm not the yummiest mummy at the childcare centre. Not the most-organised, the most well-groomed, not the coolest, youngest or the most 'in-the-know'. But if I say one thing for myself, I always put on a good show when it comes to cake-making and gift-giving. The personalised pocket mirrors I made for Christmas, with individual 'portraits' by the boys of their teachers, were very well-received.

So for Valentine's Day I have taken an idea from Matha Stewart Living and made little bags of red lollies for all of Jules' friends and teachers, with printed card tops. We filled the bags together (Jules thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, and ate half the sweeties). I'm pleased with how they came out. Jules told me 'Mum, you're the best maker in the whole world'. That's much better than being a yummy mummy, I think!

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Hand-knitted Doughnut Baby Rattles are now available in my shop.

I have also sent bags of the lifesize doughnuts out to some lovely shops including, I'm thrilled to say, Bear's End at Queenscliff, which is my favourite seaside town in Australia. Bear's End is an amazing children's shop on the main street, a tiny space which is literally crammed full of the most gorgeous finds. Go there if you get the chance!

Monday, 12 February 2007

I've been hooked on Scandinavian design since I holidayed in Copenhagen last summer, and I buy lots of clothes for my kids from Katvig, Ida T and other Danish and Swedish designers, usually from Nordic Kids in the UK. I sent them some pictures of the boys wearing their lovely clothes, and they've posted them on their website here!

Gorgeous spotty dress from Boden. I want one now, please!

I have just shipped a batch of my Cloth Book Baby Smocks to a shop in London. I couldn't resist posting a picture here. I love the pockets on these, taken from a 1950s cloth baby book.

I adore this 'softpainting' by Natascha. It is a collage of silkscreened felt and pretty cotton fabrics. She is an enviable artist and designer, and has a great blog too.

One of my best vintage discoveries recently has been the charming illustrations by Ed Emberley for children's books of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of his books are aimed at helping children (and grown-ups) to learn to draw. Here is one of my favourites:

Thursday, 8 February 2007

I have been feeling a little blue lately. My baby has started school, my house is constantly filled with tradesmen doing one thing or another, none of the rooms are finished, I've been feeling poorly myself, and yesterday, to cap it all off, the doctor said that Jacob needs to have an ultrasound as his persistent tummy ache could be a hernia (he's only 5!).

So it came as a surprise to have had a brilliant and very happy day today. Jacob went off happily to school and Jules and I did a bear hunt in the garden, looking for hidden teddies. The new floor in the living room and kitchen is nearly finished. I've received no less than six emails from various Lark customers to say that they love our stuff, and then... I go to the post office and waiting for me is the most beautiful parcel of goodies from Tanya in France!

She has put together an amazing box of Lily & Agathe treats for me, including vintage French children's books, an old seaside pail which will grace the boys' new bathroom, soaps that look like ice lollies, tiny knitted chocolates, a pretty doll, a brooch, sewing things, notebooks and lots of other lovelies. What a wonderful webshop, and what a super friend she is!

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Spotted at Mod*Mom, one of my favourite blogs. I will have to track down one of these fab journals asap now that I'm a 'school mum'!

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Jacob started school today!

Gulp... today was Jacob's first day at prep school. He is in a class of 20, a lovely school, and a very relaxed atmosphere. I know he will have fun. And his teacher is a very nice. But, sob, I cried my eyes out when we left him there. It seems only yesterday that he was a little bub, going everywhere with us!