Saturday, 26 July 2014

This and that.

I came out of hibernation for a couple of hours this morning and before the sun appeared over the tops of the trees I did quite a bit of tidying around the pond.  It amazes me how the thugs of the plant life flourish and take over, sometimes choking favourite plants or growing right up through them.   They are relentless and should come with a warning sticker so that unwary customers at garden centres don't introduce them to small gardens.  There were many evictions and I rediscovered the glass 'waterfall' my daughter made for me many years ago.  She me gave the large glass bottle which had been an indoor garden in her flat and we laid a little stream of glass pebbles from it toward the pond.   I daresay by this time next year it will have all but disappeared again.  Some of the plants in the pond are just as thuggish and cutting them in half, or smaller, seems to encourage them even more.

I am hibernating indoors once more until it cools outside, and have been busy working on pages for my fabric book.   Machining this afternoon and looking forward to relaxing with hand sewing this evening.   I am so lucky - it's not a bad life.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hot off the Press.

And it is jolly hot today.   What a lovely summer we are having, but what a shame I can't go out in it!   I have  had the doors and windows open all day so I do get some fresh air. 
  I sampled various materials for making my figures and finally chose pelmet, or craft vilene.  It is firm and tough, can be stitched and painted or written on.   So far I have only placed the figures on top of each central panel and think I may have to secure them with a few tiny stitches as I don't really want to use glue.
Originally I had planned to make the figures very curved and flowing, but this was so difficult while trying to keep the essence of the rune shape, so I resorted to working with the accurate shape and have had great fun adding the various heads, tails and feet to each one.  I have also added a label to each page with the basic rune, it's name, it's meaning and the letter it represents.

Some of the pages have become very crumpled and I can't press or block them yet as I have had to pin them together in the order in which I want to join them.   I daren't remove the pins or I'll forget the order they must be placed in.  It has to be this order and no other as my measurements let me down and I spent a happy evening re-arranging them in pairs before I found acceptable pairings.   I have even had to cut half an inch off one page and rework a new border!  I blame the heat and humidity.

I haven't worked out how to attach them to their partners yet - they will be going back to back.   I think it will have to be done by hand as I can probably get away with a bit of fudging more easily than with the machine.  I'm becoming a very good fudger!
The further I get with this project, the more stressful it becomes.  We are in a love/hate relationship!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Drastic measures.

Our poor white lilac is overshadowed by a tall wooden fence and the conifers you can see in the background here.  It had become very straggly and the few flowers that we had this year were nearly all at the top.  I asked my husband if he thought it might be a good idea to cut it back quite drastically after flowering.  As he loves cutting things down he was very happy to oblige, and only a few weeks later we see lovely fresh new shoots sprouting all over it.   I wonder if it will bear flowers next spring or will we have to be patient? 

Elsewhere in the garden I am enjoying these gorgeous day lilies.  They are so velvety and such a wonderful colour - much richer than it appears here.

We have a classic stone birdbath but also a fibreglass imitation stone pool one which stands on the lawn.  When lifted to cut the grass today one of the residents was at home - sometimes there are two or three under it.  Feast on all the slugs little fellow.

A favourite visitor is this lovely thrush.  It was years before any came into the garden and I am so pleased that they have become regular visitors and that we sometimes get two or three at a time.  I have seen adults and young ones together so I imagine they must have nested close by.

Progress on the rune book is slow but steady.  It is taking ages to do all that machine stitching on each page but I think it is worthwhile.  It has been such a long time since I did any machine embroidery and I am very much out of practice but it is buying me time to work out how to make the runes themselves.

The heat and humidity have slowed me right down this week and I have hibernated when possible.  Last night's thunderstorm was interesting.  Some areas must have had a real humdinger but it wasn't very noisy here though the lightning was spectacular and it has been more comfortable today.

Shall I machine another page background or shall I just have a cuppa?  Maybe I shall do both.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

It's been quite a day.

This morning we stopped to take a look at the new motorway services which have recently opened on the M4 just outside Gloucester.   We have passed the site a number of times over the past year or more, wondering what was being built on such a large area.  The whole complex is built into a man made hill gently contoured to the landscape and is like a very modern Hobbit house!   I was struck by the tranquility and lack of noise when we got out of the car, even though we were only yards away from the motorway, and inside was just as peaceful, very spacious and stylish.  There is a large farm shop selling all kinds of local produce of excellent quality, though it is a bit expensive.   Breakfasts seemed very healthy, as did the light lunches but as we were there at 10.30am we couldn't see a lunch menu.  It was all a very far cry from the old style motorway service cafes I remember where all I felt safe to order was a cup of tea.

After we had done our weekly shop we came home down the A38 and stopped off at Frampton-on-Severn for lunch at the Bell Inn there.   Our son had recommended it and now we know why.   The inside has been modernised but is somehow in keeping with the age of the building.  I didn't like to take photos outside as there were quite a few people having lunch out there.

I don't quite know what has happened to my pictures but they have loaded in the wrong order.  Below is a lovely house just off the village green in Frampton and next to the village shop.

When we got home we found a houseful of offspring who had asked us not to put the double lock on when we went out as youngest daughter had left something behind and wanted to collect it.   All fibs!   They had to get us out of the way so that our son and son-in-law could unpack and assemble this lovely double garden seat with table for our 60th wedding anniversary.   As the actual date is at the end of September they thought we should have it early to be able to enjoy it in this fine summer weather.   We can sit in the shade like Derby and Joan!

Back to the Bell Inn at Frampton.   This was my lunch - scallops and black pudding with roasted tomatoes on a green salad - delicious and perfect as I can never eat a full meal at lunch time.
 My husband has no trouble in that direction and had fish and chips which the Inn is known for.

This must be one of the most elegant village shops in the country.  The whole village is full of wonderful houses from many different eras and in different styles though mainly Georgian.

Here we have the village pond, surrounded by lush plants obscuring the water.  In spring, before everything has put on so much growth, it is lovely to see the moorhens with their chicks dashing about.

I love the cricket pavilion and as I was taking this picture I wondered where the pitch was - perhaps behind the pavilion?

 Then I turned round and of course, it was right in front of me in the centre of the village green which is surrounded by more quaint houses and cottages.

I think it is time I christened that new seat and sat out there with a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Where does the time go?

As you can see, I haven't been idle and the pages for my book of runes are gradually taking shape.  Those above are almost ready to have various additions stitched in place - when I have worked out what they are!

At least half of the pages still look like this.

And will I have the patience and suitable threads to do all this machine stitching on all of them?   It is very pleasant to be doing this project with the knowledge that there are no deadlines or stipulations as to the design, and it has been so enjoyable to sit and work on it while recovering from a good gardening session or hiding indoors when it has been too humid for working outside.

I haven't yet decided how to join the pages.  They will be placed back to back and stitched together somehow.  I just hope my measurements have been accurate and that they are all the same size - we shall see soon enough!

 I have booked a place on another weekend course at Hawkwood College, near Stroud, in September.   The tutor is Frances Pickering again (she makes the most delightful and exquisite fabric and paper books) and I loved the course last year so much that I booked for this year straight away. We will be making books again but learning different techniques from those used last year.  All I know about this year's course is that we will be working in black and white plus one accent colour.  The theme is the written word - poetry, a special book, a favourite poet or just some words which have special significance.  It is all very intriguing and I am trying not to pack my bags already.

We have had some very helpful showers of rain in recent days but I know the things in pots will need some extra help, so I'm off to fill the watering can a give them a treat.

I hope to have at least one page completed soon - maybe next week?

Monday, 23 June 2014

New beginnings.

The idea for a new mixed media book came to me just before I went on holiday so I was able to sketch out a few ideas while I was away.   I am fascinated by runes which are an early type of alphabet.   At first I thought I would make the book historically correct and very rustic with each character formed from little pieces of driftwood.  Sadly there was nothing suitable on the beach near our holiday bungalow.  I then decided to have fun and place each runic character onto a colourful medieval style background and started to draw them instead.  Should they be on a plain background with decorative border or placed directly onto the patterned background?  Should they all be the same size and shape?

If they are going to have a medieval style background why not give them zoomorphic heads and tails?
The ideas keep coming and things keep changing.

 In the set of runes I am using there are 28 characters and I am working on seven different shapes for the backgrounds, using four of each.   I am enjoying myself choosing colours and designs for them.  The four coloured ones above are completed but those little quarter inch squares seem to get smaller the longer I spend working on them!

These are ready for further embellishment.   I had thought of woven ribbons and hand stitching to make them, but couldn't find the right colours in the widths I wanted, and that could have been very fiddly.

The background shapes will be cut out and may have a gold border - the runic characters will probably be cut out of gold card or gold painted paper and placed on top.   The next question is - should the runes be small enough to fit inside the background or allowed to stray over the edges?   The designs are evolving and decisions are being made as I go along.   I usually like to be able to visualise the finished article before I start work but I couldn't wait for that to happen this time.  

It has been so humid today that I have hibernated - my body seems to want to stop functioning in humid conditions.  Thankfully our house is beautifully cool with doors and windows open and curtains drawn on the sunny side.  The garden is as dry as a bone in spite of having been watered and on Thursday, when heavy showers are forecast for this area, it will sigh a grateful sigh of relief.  I might even go out and play in it myself.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Father's Day Treat?

I was sitting up in bed on Sunday morning, enjoying my first cuppa of the day at about 7.45am, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a hot air balloon's gas burners.   I looked out of the window and it obligingly came into view.
It seemed to be losing height rapidly and disappeared behind the roof of the house opposite us.  I hope, if it was a Father's Day treat, that he had started off really early to make it worthwhile.   I also hope he found a safe place to land as in that direction there is the A38, a plant nursery full of glass houses, a quarry and then the M4 to avoid.  At least he would have got home in time for a good breakfast!   There has been nothing in the local news about an emergency landing so I assume all is well.

It was a case of 'sun stopped play' today.  I had planned a lot of gardening jobs but the heat defeated me.  I did quite a bit out there but had to keep coming indoors to cool off.   However, the washing dried so all was not lost, and there is always tomorrow.