{How-To} Fleece Transparency – Painting with Wool & Light !

Do you remember the first time you saw coloured fleece ?

What IS that ?  Then you reached out & stroked it (everybody does)…

You wondered, “what do I do with it”?  The answer to that question depends on where you were when you discovered this natural wonder

Fleece Transparency How To = Handwork Homeschool Continue reading


Handwork Heroines ~ Meet Mine

Recently, I was reading an article in which a maker was asked, “Who inspires you?”.

It seems like a simple little question – but it kept rolling around in my head – so I started making a NEW list for myself.

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The Quintessential French Outdoor Shopping Experience …!!

Most of our village has already been marked off into hundreds of chalk rectangles.  The road barricades are standing at the ready (we’ve had some in front of our house since Wednesday) & the campers, vans & trucks are starting to slip in quietly hoping to get a good parking spot .  Oui !!  Tomorrow is the day of our annual Vide Grenier!

Vide Grenier - a vintage hound's delight!

Conveniently, vide grenier (which roughly translates as “empty attic”) rhymes with YAY!

That’s how I feel every year.  All I have to do is walk out my front door into a
second-hand, vintage-y, antique lovers’ extravaganza!

This will be my 6th time exploring the bins, buckets, tables & boxes but this ginormous event has been happening every single September since 1992.

It’s a cross between a treasure hunt & obstacle course (mustn’t trip over the old tools strewn across the alleys or knock over the pile of antique frames which teeters precariously on the edge of the wall along the river…).


Jugon les Lacs 5 AM on the morning of the Vide Grenier


We’re not the only ones who look forward to the excitement.  You know how kids are always trying to wake up in time to see Santa?  Seems, I had something similar going on when I took this picture last year.

It’s a bit dark (since it WAS 5 AM when I looked out the bedroom window to see what was going on) – if you look very carefully, you might just be able to see the first eager beavers arriving.

Oh, I guess I should say “ragondins” because there are NO beavers here… but close enough.  Suffice it to say, this is THE BIG ONE in our part of France.

Last year, I began a family tradition of saying what we’d each LOVE to find  –

THE 2014 Wish List –

My 10-year-old son – tools, tools & more tools
My 6 year-old daughter  – knitting things & doll clothes
My husband – tools, tools & more tools (& some good sausage)

Me – anything related to historic costume (18th & 19th century would be good),
delicious textile-y things (might have to add MORE lace to my stash) & of course,
more books for our homeschool!


here’s what we came up with last year… (click on the pics to see details!)

Arabella found –

Dressing Table or Craft Table Handwork Homeschool

A darling little dressing table (only needs a paint touch up & new crystal knobs)

18th century children small box Handwork Homeschool Doll

A small pill-box which she uses to pack her doll’s accessories in when she “travels”

Doll Furniture Antique Handwork Homeschool

This teeny dining set which was set out on a piece of cardboard in someone’s driveway.

Flower Fairy Alphabet Vintage Handwork Homeschool

A very early copy of a delightful book (yes, in English!)

My husband & Andrew spotted –

Vintage wood Plane Handwork Homeschool

This antique wood plane – they circled & re-visited it & another one just a bit bigger, all day. Finally, at the end of the day, the seller made his sale.

My 2 boys, are VERY selective so this was all they bought !

And, I discovered a few unexpectedly, great homeschool resources –

Cat in the Hat French English Dictionary Handwork Homeschool

An amazing French-English dictionary from Dr. Seuss  – the kids just sit & read it!

Roman Army Handwork Homeschool

A very interesting book I’ll be using for Grade 6 – never too early to stash things away!

Best Ever book of Castles Handwork Homeschool

This wonderful “best-ever” book of castles which will be great for Grade 6 as well.

I’m always amazed when I find English books tucked away & buried during these sales, but they’re there & I’m pretty much the only one looking for them !

As well as some inspiring things for me !

marie claire idees vintage issues Handwork Homeschool

Old as the hills, but these Marie Claire Idees magazines are always a good bet.  I paid as much for this entire stack as I used to pay for a single issue in Canada!

Jugon Costume Postcard Handwork Homeschool

I ADORE this postcard!  Until a few decades ago, every single town in France had a different “costume” & they were so proud of it, they made postcards to share it with others.  I have been searching for an image of a lovely “Jugonnaise” since I arrived here, 5 years ago ! (Note they did not wear any visible colour – black & white – even for the young women.)

I was trawling the postcard boxes (as I am also always on the lookout for more images of our house) & there she was.  I think the vendor was a bit upset that he hadn’t realized that it was there because he said it was very RARE (but that wasn’t until after he’d told me how much it was…) HA HA!  Too late my friend!

antique bone & mother of pearl buttons Handwork Homeschool

To add to the ever-growing button stash – a few bone buttons on their original cards & a nice collection of mother-of-pearls.  There’s a project in the offing, but you’ll have to wait a bit to see it.

French bobbin lacemaker antique postcard Handwork Homeschool

This dentellière ( lace maker) postcard from Le Puy was another great textile-related find.

According to legend, bobbin lace was created in 1407 in Le Puy en Velay (about 7 hours south-east of here) by a young woman named, Isabelle Mamour.  I discovered that they have an entire Bobbin Lace Learning Centre there.

(Note: I once took a week-long bobbin lace class, it is DIFFICULT but very beautiful.  The piece she has on her pillow would take me about 2 months of daily work to finish…)

The things you can learn because of a small postcard!

Elizabeth I Print Handwork Homeschool

You probably recognize this young woman, perhaps the orb & sceptre give her away?

Yes, my namesake, Elizabeth I.  This print (or etching?) was part of a set, but I sweet-talked her away from the vendor all by herself because she was the only one I really wanted!  (Oddly, she is just stuck to the back of a piece of glass by something that looks a bit like tortoiseshell wallpaper…).

I love how the artist (from the 20’s) gave her a flapper-air & made her so imposing & yet feminine at the same time!  She lives on my desk, behind my computer & is one of my muses.


Hand Carved Wooden Frame Handwork Homeschool

And the final piece of the day (for one must ALWAYS go back out for a last turn round the stalls in case something good has surfaced…. I discovered this hand-carved wooden frame.  Can you imagine anything more 18th century inspired?

It would have been amazing if it was really from then but, hey, 19th century is almost as good.  I have great plans for this & it’s in the “to make” queue, too.

You may be wondering what we’re hoping for this year?

THE 2015 Wish List –

My 11-year-old son – an egg basket to collect eggs from his new chickens
My 7 year-old daughter  -doll clothes, ballet inspired anything, glitzy jewellery
My husband – tools, tools & more tools (as usual & perhaps some tree climbing stuff)

Me  – well, that stays pretty much the same each time:

anything related to historic costume (18th & 19th century would be good),
delicious textile-y things (hoping for some toile de jouy or beautiful old satin bits)
& of course, more books for our homeschool!

Wish us good searching & happy finds!






PS  Here are a few more things we’ve found at previous Vide Greniers!

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Posted in FESTIVALS, HOMESCHOOL PROPS, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

My Children Have Special Needs & So Do Yours…


I believe every child has special needs & I like to focus on
the word SPECIAL when I explain what I mean.

Wet Felting Handwork Homeschool



The label “special needs” started being widely used when I was in grade school
(or at least that’s when I first encountered it).

In grade 5, my teacher paired me with a “special” needs girl so I could tutor
her during class.

Back then, I was incensed – why should I have to be associated with someone
“different” & why did I have to juggle listening to the teacher so I could learn
my own lessons while helping someone else at the same time?

Every night for a week, I complained to my mother (a former teacher,
who was thrilled that I had been chosen for what she saw as an important task)
who calmly told me that she would not call my teacher to express
any sort of disapproval.

And so… Continue reading