Jan Constantine, Queen of Embroidered Cushions, has only gone and published another book. I know. And the good news is, in between scratching my mosquito bites, I’ve got hold of a copy to give to one lucky HomeShoppingSpy reader…

Love Stitching is full of decorative appliqué and hand-embroidery projects from Jan, featuring some of her best-selling designs for cushions, throws, wall hangings, aprons and bags.

While her first book (Heirloom Embroidery) focussed on traditional embroidery, Love Stitching takes a more modern approach, with bright colours and strong shapes in a series of graphic, bold designs. I like the anchor cushion project best:

To win Love Stitchingsimply leave a comment on this post including your email address and we’ll pick a name out of the (hand-embroidered) hat at 6pm on Thursday 4th August. There are some helpful Terms and Conditions, here. (In case you’re not feeling lucky, it’s published by Jacqui Small and costs £20. You can buy it here.) – Ellie 

Advertisements

Do you have a ‘Hamster Vorace’ or a ‘Lapin Lunatique’? Well, now you can warn people about your crazy pets with a French sign from lovely mail order shop, Willow and Stone!
Even if your pets are relatively sane, there’s plenty to amuse you. You’ll find antique glass bottles, cute buttons, vintage packaging for dried peas and beautiful buys from stockists such as Cavallini (bird wrapping paper / poster for £3!) and Price’s (retro candles). Based in Falmouth harbour, Cornwall, Willow and Stone is run by former Lassco antiques dealer Sarah Willshaw and her artist husband, Nick Williams. The accessories and gifts are gorgeous…

…but it’s the ironmongery that’s got me excited. Sad, I know. But if you’re renovating a house and looking for authentic period door furniture, this is the place to go. Rim locks, sash window catches, letter plates, door bells, finger plates, bolts, house number plaques, drawer pulls and escutcheons – it’s all here. If only I could say the word ‘escutcheon’…

Lovely knobs and knockers. (Apologies for tacky Carry On pun, but I had to include it to boost the Search Engine Optimisation. You’d be surprised.) – Ellie

We’ve been sweating around London today sucking up the Autumn/Winter trends and gathering all the latest shopping news to keep Ideal Home readers in the loop. Check out these gorgeous new products from H&M Home

I love this new keys cushion, and the new dark grey colour of last season’s SEL DE MER design.

Check out the cool cushions with ampersands, hotel-style signs and big blooms…and the new monochrome silhouettes bathroom range of towels, shower curtains and bath mats…

I like the harvest-themed kitchen textiles and table runners. But the one thing I can’t NOT buy is the pale grey linen dressing gown!

I think the H&M Home offering gets better every season! – Ellie


HOT SHOP: Double Merrick

April 26, 2011

In between careful applications of after-sun cream today, I have managed to reach my computer (despite the pain) and have been admiring the gorgeous buys in Merrick Angle’s little online shop, Double Merrick (his daughter Flora came up with the name – announcing that it sounded like her daddy, only better…)

Merrick’s a British illustrator, but now based in a ‘crumbly, vine-covered studio’ near Limoges, in rural France. Lucky him. Each month, he releases limited edition prints and accessories, all oozing quirky charm. They’re rather lovely. The ‘La Mer’ and ‘Le Ciel’ prints above are the latest additions – “Recall a time when travel meant more than low budget airlines and roll-on-roll-off ferries” – and don’t miss his new French sweet wrapper prints

Check out Merrick’s blog for new product releases and to follow his complicated relationship with Norma, “a Lovely Scottish lady”, who watches his blog: “like a Doberman watches a man wearing a ham vest”.

I love Merrick’s 1950s-style classroom wall charts of ‘La Lune’ et ‘Le Soleil’, and the ‘His ‘n’ Hers Meat and Cake’ aprons. If people in your house sneak off when there are chores to be done, drop an oh-so-subtle hint by whipping out (or whipping them with) one of Merrick’s tea towels:

They’ll soon get the message. Elsewhere, Merrick sells cute car bags, ideas notebooks, typewriter prints (swoon) and, my favourite print, ‘Clock in Bin‘.

I can’t wait to see what Merrick comes up with next! – Ellie

Cox and Cox: SUMMER 2011

February 7, 2011

So I’ve numbed my throbbing wisdom tooth pain with prescription painkillers and it’s time to take a five minute break from the never-ceasing-hamster-wheel AKA The Ship of Dreams. I’ll have a little gander at the lovely new Cox and Cox look book. Ok, so it’s A3, which means it doesn’t really fit into an A4 folder unless you fold it in half and crease all the pages, which is one of my Top Three OCD Pet Hates (along with books that aren’t sorted by colour – ongoing issue – and press releases with the subject line ‘SNEAKY PEAK’ instead of ‘PEEK’, thus implying some kind of secretive mountain…) – but, all is forgiven because the huge A3 Cox and Cox pictures are SO BEAUTIFUL. The bigger the better, as the actress said…

…enough of this drug-induced twaddle. Let’s look at what’s on offer. There are glass bell jars and elegant tin barn stars – remember Amish-chic? Le Trend De Puritan? You heard it here first. I know – the irony. They’d be LIVID. But they probably aren’t shallow enough to read a shopping blog…no offence, like…

I love these numbered cards – perfect for tables at a wedding reception , or just to sprinkle around your home in a decorative-yet-boyfriend-baffling way.

Keep your eyes peeled for graph-paper-patterned cotton ‘Doodle’ tablecloths you can draw on – presumably aimed at kids, granted, but I won’t tell if you won’t. Imagine the fun you could have…you could draw a chess board…you could play noughts and crosses surreptitiously under your napkin at boring dinner parties when friends-of-friends become intolerably dull droning on about politics or religion or whatnot and all you want to do is play Pictionary and get drunk…you could write nagging reminders to hopeless family members…you could even draw a plate and then put an actual plate on top of your plate picture. Like an invisible place mat. Crazy, I know. The possibilities are endless…

I particularly like these Japanese-print paper-wrapped votives – so pretty, even when your tealight’s not lit. I also like the delicate lace candle – made of wax with a sheet of antique lace embedded inside it, so when it’s lit, the pattern shows through – and the gorgeous Maroq garland…

Before I dash, there’s just time to sneak a PEEK at the best of the rest – including teeny-weeny Borrower-style cutlery napkin charms (get the look: raid the nearest dolls’ house) and the fabulous ‘Cheesy Feet’ pastry cutter. I kid you not. Over and out. – Ellie

Bus blind JOY

January 4, 2011

Just got to show you this…because various friends and family members don’t seem to be very excited about it. But I know YOU will understand! I’ve been hankering after a vintage London bus blind for years now. I can’t help thinking they’re ridiculously expensive in most shops, but after many a desperate ‘google’ search, I finally tracked down a lovely one on good old eBay. It wasn’t listed very clearly (crucially, the words ‘vintage’ and ‘bus’ were not in the title! Durrrrr) so it didn’t receive many bids…and we got it for twenty quid in the end. It was three metres long, so we trimmed off the best three sections and hung them in an alcove:

I know it’s shallow. But this makes me SO HAPPY. And, weirdly, it lists all of the London areas we’ve lived in, in order. ‘Twas obviously meant to be… – Ellie

Sulpher, so good

August 26, 2010

Sulpher is a chemical element with the atomic number 16. It’s an abundant multivalent non-metal, and it smells like rotten eggs. It also happens to be the key colour in the HOTTEST combo for autumn/winter 2010: sulpher yellow, charcoal grey and dirty teal…as illustrated PERFECTLY by the new Ferm Living collection:

I love all the geometric prints around this season – and did you spot those ceramic chemistry flask bottles? SIGH. Science-chic. It was my least favourite subject (on a par with Maths, natch) at school, yet now I am obsessed with the equipment. Oh, the irony. If only the acne-troubled me of the past had had the sense to put some beakers aside for future styling purposes, instead of spending the entire time trying to sneak in to Marylin’s night club.

Sulpher, charcoal and teal is all very lovely, but you don’t have to stick to the three big cheeses – mix things up with a bit of brown here and there, a splash of pale baby pink and some pale aqua blue…this is SUCH a flexible and, quite frankly, lickable palette!

These colours look so good with retro furniture. Loving the chunky knitted log baskets / bowls below, too. – Ellie