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  • Would you like to award someone special a knitted rosette? See the pattern to knit one here!

  • Little Squares Scarf, (quick pattern).

  • Little Squares Scarf, (step-by-step pattern, with lots of step-by-step photos).

  • How to sew up crochet or knitting with an invisible stitch, step-by-step tutorial

  • Sisterhood Crochet Blanket pattern for square.

  • step-by-step pattern for Sisterhood Crochet Blanket square. Makes crocheting this pattern a doddle for beginners!

  • step-by-step tutorial for some basic crochet stitches

  • Tara's failsafe cup cake sponge recipe

  • knitted slipper pattern

blogs I read

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« My sweet pink Roses. | Main | Opening Hen's gifts! »


Isabelle (France)

Hi Vanessa! What wonderful presents you got, this is such a lovely idea. I feel exactly like you when I receive a handwritten card or letter and I also love the idea of having a penpal, it does not matter how old you are, does it? I might actually look into that, that'd be fun.
Good luck with the blog award, I was vote 59 this morning :-) xx


What a lot of lovely stuff you have received. I used to have a penpal in Australia, but unfortunately, we have lost touch. I also like getting hand written cards and letters, it's so much more personal than email. I think it would be nice to have a penpal again, especially one who sent lovely gifts!

Gerry Hook

What a lovely penpal Hen is. Couldn't have happened to a sweeter gal than you.
BTW, I voted for your blog, TODAY I am #99
Have fun with your wonderful pink gifts.
Gerry in mid-Missouri

Beth P

What wonderful gifts from your very special pen pal. I love the coasters and apron, especially. You are indeed fortunate and I'm sure she feels the same way!


Just think how many smiles you have generated by publishing this post. Wonderful gifts.... I especially love the pinny. So unusual. x


Hi Vanessa,
I've just been catching up on your week. And what a week, or more like the after effects of the weekend!
I've just voted for you on the Dorset cereals, number 100!! Well done.
A favourite place of mine is Beamish. I must take my grandson when I'm in the UK, I'm sure he'd love it. We had a lovely time at Alston last year at the railway there, and the shop and the museum. Lovely times with little ones!


What a lovely idea, sounds like lots of fun x


i just have to tell you that i love all the colors in your posts!! your home looks like a very fun, colorful place to live, work and play in!!


Now THAT is an enviable package. Those dear little candles! The coasters are exquisite. The pinny though. Oh the pinny. You lucky lucky thing. Your correspondence has got off to a very beautiful start.

Kate Bruning

That is the best parcel ever!!! Those cupcake cases are the most gorgeous ones I have ever seen. There is nothing like a parcel in the mail. Our postie always laughs at me because we always get big packages for the farm in the mail and he loves to see my face crumple when I realise the parcel contains ear tags for the calves (he really is very nice and not at all sadistic).


How wonderful! I used to have penpals when I was young, but sadly over the years they stopped writing. Those were the days when you received a hand written letter. How much more special when you also receive handmade gifts.


Oh, Henhouse! I love her! Gorgeous apron!

I have a special place in my heart for Dachshunds. I love seeing them run, (glide) they look like they have a couple extra legs and their ears float!

PS Beautiful studio!


Oooh Vanessa, you've actually made everything in the parcel look better than they actually are, you closet photographer/interiors stylist, you! I can't tell you how nice it is to think that someone has liked the gifts I've given them because lots of (insane!) people just don't get the handemade thingy at all. I've really enjoyed looking out for little bits for you on my (many and varied) travels. I'm already thinking about the next one. It's almost like when you first have a boyfriend and you're a bit obsessed. Golly, now I'm sounding like a closet stalker!
Tooooo excited about next month, of course!
Love Hen xxx


P.S. You're the only person I know whom I thought might appreciate that yellow/turquoise edged ribbony thing (VV Rouleaux) which I've been hoarding, so I'm really glad it's made it into a photo .
Hen x


What a wonderful idea, I would love a pen pal I had one once as a child ...I love writing and recieving letters too...and lovely gifts as well...what a great idea...lucky you...Hen makes such wonderful things...have a lovely H


Oh God, I can't resist saying anything about those CK fabric bolts near your cupboard!!!!!!!!
Lovely!!!! That's my dream!!! lol


Oh, my! This is all so much fun!! Amazing photos, Vanessa, of such incredible gifts from a wonderful pen/gift pal!!! WOW!
Hey! I am #112! Isn't that a lovely number? I think so...

Give your doggies a smooch from me. ♥


HI Vanessa..

I have been penpalling for over 14 years - its such a lovely joy to receive a lovely handwritten letter in the mail and even more a joy to give some lovely gifts :) Its always fun to go shopping with your friend in mind :)

If you would like a penpal in Australia - be sure to let me know :)

You received a very special parcel from Hen :) Thankyou for sharing it :)


I was no. 113


love the pictures,the apron is amazing and the fairy cake cases.Voted this morning I was 115,well done,hope you get a lot more votes

Anna-Karin, Sweden

Love the presents! It's lovely to have pen pals!
When I was younger, I had so many pen pals. I still look for nice notepapers, then I remember that I haven't got pen pals any longer :(

Hope you win!
Anna-Karin xxxxxxx

sarah london

I was #124! pen pals are the best!


Where do people find all these lovely things, like the paper bun cases - or sorry, is that too old-fashioned a title, 'buncases', should I say 'fairy cake cases'?
I had penfriends when I was 15, a girl in Cupertino, California, the same age as me but that was where the similarity ended.. she living on the sunny coast me on the Irish Sea coast which can be chilly at times! The other was a Radio Caroline DJ... but I am not saying who as he is quite well known now, but we stopped writing when I hit 17 and REAL life and boys entered my life. I then took up writing letters again when I was 21, and still write to these two, by now very dear old friends! And have about half a dozen others... I love the feeling of selecting which pen to use, which coloured ink and stationery, though have to admit that most of the time this is confined to notes and short letters only, usually I write tomes, as you can see. I love receiving letters, but not many people want to be bothered with the writing... any like-minded souls out there?

The Curious Cat

Wow -I follow Hen House's blog -she's a cool lady. I love those coasters and apron - how did she make the coasters?! They are wicked - did she paint on the flowers herself or sew them on?! You are a very lucky penpal! xxxx

jane smallcombe

Hi Vanessa

I've just voted for you. I decided to check my e-mails whilst on holiday and couldn't resist catching up with you via your blog. Hugs, Jane x


What a lucky pen pal you are :D. I love the cupcake holders and that apron is incredible.


I had penpals as a kid until my teenage years got in the way. For the past 2 years I have been exchanging the most lovely letters with fellow knitters I met on Ravelry (also receiving some fabbie gifts!!).Mail thats not bills or junkmail brings big smiles..dont you agree?

Cath W

Hello Vanessa! Just back from an amazing week at the Green Man Festival in Wales, and catching up on my blog reading! I'm vote number 206 (is there no hash key on my Mac keyboard??!!) so good luck with the award !
Cath W
: )

Erica K

It's all so wonderful! I'm so glad you gals are blogging about your pen-pal adventures and sharing the fun with us! :D

Elizabeth D

Scrolling through, post by post, desperately searching for your tutorial on invisibly sewing crochet squares together. Will I find it? Or is it still on your to-do list? Must return to work right now (it's just 11:30 a.m. here in the eastern U.S.), so can't keep looking. . .

The comments to this entry are closed.

Hello and welcome!

  • Hello, my name is Vanessa Cabban, and I'm so pleased you've dropped by! I'm an artist and illustrator, working from home. I have two Miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas. I love being part of the blogosphere, reading your comments, and feeling like I'm part of a community. I hope you enjoy reading about my small world.

Books I have illustrated!

  • The Best Gift of All

  • Book and dvd,(narrated by Kevin Whateley), of Bringing Down the Moon

  • There's a House Inside My Mummy

  • The Magic Donkey Ride

  • Down in the Woods at Sleepytime

  • Dear Tooth Fairy

  • Dear Mermaid

  • No Place Like Home

  • Diamond in the Snow

  • Bringing Down the Moon