Saturday, 26 February 2011

An Update.

This pic above should have appeared further down this post but for some reason didn't appear at all and I had to load it again. I am considering adding very small pieces of 'grass tufts' made on the machine with soluble fabric - they might look more natural. I shall position them at the base of the right hand stone.
Our new neighbours seem to have settled in and this is what greeted us this morning. The nest seems to have been strengthened and almost resembles a nest now. We have closed the bedroom window for the duration and hope not to wake up with a headache each morning!

The light was awful when I took these photos and it makes them look so grey and dismal, when in fact the colours are very gentle and subtle, but still quite pleasing. The one above has had no alterations as I quite like it as it is.

Again, this one might get the tufts of grass treatment and doesn't look nearly as dreary in reality as it does here. I feel that the stone on the left needs to be a little more integrated with the rest of the design. I'll see what I can come up with. It odd how much easier it is to see the shortcomings of each piece on here, when just looking at them doesn't do the trick.
Just over a week ago I bought a pack of Lily of the Valley roots/tubers or whatever they have. I took it out into the garden and prepared a space, opened the packet and gently shook out the contents, only to find dry compost and nothing else! I returned the pack to the shop and was given another and now have to wait for the ground to dry out a bit as we have had so much rain in the past few days - not heavy rain but semi-constant drizzle, and everywhere is so soggy. They should flower in May but will be rather late I fear if I can't plant them quickly. I know this pack is OK because I can see the roots through the inner bag.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A flimsy abode and a real treat.

My husband noticed a collared dove showing interest in this site. It is the view looking straight down out of our bedroom window. It would seem that a handful of twigs and one feather constitutes a collared dove's nest. Mrs. Dove has been sitting there but flies off if we open or shut the window and back door. As it is right above the back door and just below our bedroom window I think all the opening and shutting that goes on will prove less than restful for her. The nest is perched on the bracket which holds our satellite dish to the wall of the house. I don't fancy sleeping with the window closed for weeks while she hatches her eggs, so hope they find another site to build on.
We gave ourselves a treat yesterday and went to see The King's Speech. I found out for myself what everyone has been raving about - it really is wonderful and so moving. We hadn't been to the cinema for donkeys years and felt like dinosaurs or beings from another planet. Our out of town complex has 7 screens for a start, but we did like the VIP seats - very comfortable and worth paying a little extra for. You never know - we might go again one day!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

You've seen these before, but.....

I made these little landscapes about two years ago and in their original state I thought they were OK. However, looking at them again recently, I felt they were lacking something so I have tried to improve on them.

I added a couple of standing stones to the one above,

and a dead tree - bit of driftwood - to the next one.

Then three standing stones to this one. What makes you think I like standing stones? They definitely needed something extra and I am hoping this has done the trick. There are three more to tackle.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Making the best of another grey, cold day.

It's horribly dismal again today so I'm cheering myself up with this photo which I took two days ago. Just look at all those lovely little buds fattening up. In a few weeks time they should be a mass of cherry blossom - gorgeous.
Just below them, this little visitor was busy pinching the peanuts this morning. His first job of the day is to try to get the pin out of the base of the nutholder which means easy pickings as all the nuts fall onto the ground. But my husband has got it sussed, and fixed the pin so it can't be pulled out. They still manage to gnaw through the wire and make a larger hole sometimes.
As none of my new ideas want to be worked on just yet, I am revamping some old ones and trying to improve on the small fabric landscapes I made a little while ago. They are not quite ready to be seen yet, but I will photograph them and show you in a day or two. If they look good enough I will enter them into our exhibition as part of the North Somerset Art Trail in a couple of months.
According to folklore, we are supposed to go out and sit among the snowdrops this evening in the moonlight (there will be a full moon but it will probably be hidden by cloud) and soak up their purity. I shall probably be a couch potato hiding under my Snuggie!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Book cover and other bits.

I've had a lovely time stitching along the lengths of sari ribbon and then adding sequins. It is done very spontaneously - nothing was measured and I just placed things by eye. Looking at parts of it now, I must have very wonky eyes!
The camera has somehow deadened the effect and as I look at the real thing beside me, it shines and glitters in the light and the colours are so vibrant.

Our youngest daughter loves it so when she decides which book she wants to cover, I will make it fit.

I have some gold fabric with a metallic thread in it which will make the perfect lining and have in mind to make a slip on cover with the top and bottom edges bound with the same gold fabric.

At Christmas I received a tiny embroidery from Sara Lechner and she included an extra little face drawn onto the fabric label which came with it. I thought I would try my hand at incorporating it into a little piece of work and came up with this. I used the bonded paper napkin to felt technique, cut out one of the tulips and cut out the centre to make room for the face before hand stitching the hair and machining it all onto the background. Sara's designs are all exquisite - I think I have a long way to go.

My next project is inspired by this yarn which I must have had for at least 10years! I fell in love with it then couldn't think how to use it. I have an idea to create a background from woven strips of organza in rainbow colours and stitch onto it in a twisted coiled shape reminiscent of a Celtic knot design. The coiled part will be worked in running stitches using the rainbow yarn. Maybe!
All my talk of spring was obviously premature - it has been so cold today and inspite of central heating I was forced to do some baking this afternoon to keep warm! Now I shall have to eat the fruits of my labours. What hardship!

Friday, 11 February 2011

How to improve a dismal grey day.

After doing the weeks' shopping yesterday, we called in at the Rococo Garden in Painswick to take a look at the snowdrops. People come for miles to see them and there were two coaches as well as dozens of cars in the carpark. We arrived at about 1pm so headed straight for the cafe and a delicious bowl of homemade soup before going out into the garden.
It was raining gently all the time we were there and the paths were a bit slippery in places. The snowdrops are not fully out yet and will be good for another two or three weeks I think. The garden is situated in its own little valley with quite steep slopes in places.
I loved the colours of the dogwood stems and all the snowdrops growing up among them.

Couldn't resist a shot of these sheep which look so realistic. From a distance you wonder why they don't move!

I love these leaf sculptures which sit on metal tripods in the shallow water, but look as if they could float away at any moment.

A lovely mossy twisted tree root.

A view across the garden. In the middle distance is the kitchen garden where the owners grow crops to supply the cafe with fresh produce. There are vegetable beds surrounded by cordonned fruit trees. It should look wonderful by May or June and we hope to go back again to see it.

A closer look at these graceful arches. The original garden was laid out in the 18th century with a strong Italian influence. The chance discovery of a painting from that time enabled the present owners to recreate the garden as it might have been.

In many places the snowdrops are so thick you couldn't walk through them - they look like a blanket of snow.

At the top of one steep rise we came to this little temple and sat on the seat under that archway to shelter from the rain and get our breath back! It was so peaceful inspite of all the other visistors who seemed to melt away into various parts of the garden. We could only hear birds singing and the gentle patter of raindrops on the laurel leaves. To the right of this picture the path rises again and turns sharp left to go behind the temple and you can go into the room up there whose windows overlook the entire garden.

On my way round I noticed these little yellow flowers on the yew trees. They look as if they are growing on the laurel here as the branches grew into each other. I know yew has red berries later in the year but have never noticed any flowers. They look almost like miniature mimosa.

Among the snowdrops, here and there, grew clumps of these lovely aconites. I have tried to grow them without success but will have to have another go.

There were plenty of these tiny cyclamen too. I can grow these and they come back each year.

We came home having had quite a bit of exercise up and down all those steep paths, rather wet and with very muddy shoes, but looking forward to a return visit later in the year.
The man is cementing in some braces for the pergola this morning. I am trying not to notice where he has to put his feet as of course the posts are sunk in to the garden border. So far, so good - may be he likes gardening in his spare time!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Waste not, want not!

I cut and trimmed the other piece made from sari ribbon strips into squares and had some bits left over. Being a thrifty sort, I stitched these together to form another piece which you can see above. The stitching is very rough and needs more purposeful stitching to integrate the scraps - I will probably do this by hand. I bought the necklace from one of those cheap and nasty shops that sometimes has good things, and like the look of it against this background. The beads are a mix of metal glass, and are more colourful than the photo suggests - lovely amber and coppery shades with a few deep reds. The chain has the look of antiqued brass and there are leaf and apple shaped 'charms' here and there. I shall have a great time taking it all apart and working out which bits to use, but before I get that far ahead I must decide what I will make. Whatever it becomes, it might have an historical flavour and I would like to incorporate one or two ideas from the free online lessons which go with Maggie Grey's and Isobel Hall's latest book - 'Mixed Media - New Studio Techniques'.
I woke up feeling very lack-lustre this morning and soon became bored with that. I fetched the wheelbarrow and gardening tools and made a start on tidying the front garden. It's my favourite cure for 'dodgy' mornings and works every time for me providing the weather is co-operative and was my first gardening session of the year. I ran out of puff before I had been all the way round the garden but still managed to gather up two barrow loads of weeds and dead bits and have certainly done the bulk of it. The garden looks better and I feel better but I suppose you'd have to enjoy gardening for it to be effective. Assuming your days are not already mapped out for you, do any of you have a tried and tested remedy for dodgy mornings?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Can you tell what it is yet?!

Neither can I, but it will probably end up as a book cover.

Before I started to hand stitch, I machined a greek key design automatic stitch in pale gold metallic thread to hold one edge of each strip down.Then I found the brightest coloured contrasting threads I possessed and used them to work feather stitch and other simple stitches down the centres of each strip. These photos have deadened the colours somewhat - they really zing.
There are lovely burnt oranges and vivid purples in there which vie with each other so well.

I might add a sprinkling of beads and/or sequins when I have done enough stitching.

Although bulbs are coming up all over the place in the garden and I can see buds on a couple of clumps of daffs, I was impatient and just had to cheat and buy this little pot of small narcissussesses! (Optional spelling!). I will plant them in the garden when they have finished flowering so they can swell the numbers out there for next year. Hope you are all battened down well and safe from the strong winds. We watched one of the pergola posts swaying alarmingly in the breeze yesterday. My husband had to go out and brace it, and a man is coming out tomorrow to see what needs to be done to strengthen it. We had it built nearly 20yrs ago so it's done pretty well considering that every winter the bottoms of each post are regularly waterlogged. Twenty years sounds such a long time when you are embarking on something new, but those years pass by so quickly.

Friday, 4 February 2011

So far - so good.

I overlapped these strips slightly, using Bondaweb to secure them to a backing of lightweight flannel material. As it is white I don't want any to show through.
The colours deeper and richer than they appear here and I now have to chose what threads to use for the stitching. I think a bit of machining first to help secure the bonding and then quite a lot of hand stitching. Before I get to the hand stitching I may cut the piece up into four and rearrange the pieces so that the strips form a pattern.

The greens are far more prominent in this piece than they appear in my photos. I used a rather nice deep gold coloured fabric with a metallic thread woven into it, so there was no need to worry about covering the background completely. I rather like the way little glimpses are seen here and there, though in these photos the depth of colour and the glint of metal thread seems to be lost.
This pic gives a good idea of the variation in widths of the strips.

This little section looks very landscapey to me - I must be careful how I cut it up so as not to lose that effect.

I'm off to choose my thread colours while the light is still good.

I caught sight of these little gems as we were going out yesterday. They look rather insipid here but in fact are a gorgeous deep pink. Inspite of galeforce gusts of wind these little cyclamen seem quite unperturbed as they are so tiny and hug the ground. It sounds far more like autumn than approaching spring out there. The wind is roaring and screaming round the house and through the trees, and the birds are having trouble flying but a few have ventured out to feed in the garden. I daresay the weather will have settled down by the time they are starting to build nests. No sign of any squirrels today - they'd need safety nets to travel above ground without risk of losing their footing.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Faint stirrings of creativity?

Do you remember the hank of sari ribbon I posted about? I unwound it and separated each colour from the next, cutting off the bits where they were stitched together. They made such a colourful heap that I can't throw them away, and will have to find a use for them.
Even the unravelled threads are lovely - I've saved those too.
This is what the strips look like before being ironed - not very inspiring...............

.................... but when the iron has done it's job they take on new character. It takes quite a while and does get tedious, but it is very rewarding.

The average length of each strip is about 1 yard and their widths range from about half and inch to one and a half inches.

The colours are simply stunning and I can see two or three projects coming from this one hank.

I shall spend ages arranging and re-arranging the colours before I can start work. I love the ragged fringed edges they have and plan to bond some to a background fabric so that the edges overlap, then add hand and machine stitching. Lots to think about.