Sunday 28 March 2010


I know it isn't very pretty, but for me this really does herald springtime. It's our first dollop of frogspawn and arrived two days ago. It began to wonder if the frogs had abandoned us - they are quite a bit later than usual this year.
This weeks Poetry Bus task is set by Rachel Fox and she suggests we choose a favourite word and write a poem around it. After changing my mind several times I finally settled for 'springtime' - I think it was the frogspawn that did it!


Long awaited time of year
when all is new, fresh and full of promise.
A time to lift the spirits and delight the senses -
each day bringing a new surprise.
The scent of flowers, and foliage after rain -
birdsong, the hum of bees and newborn creatures
calling to their mothers.
Fresh foods for jaded winter palates,
delicate textures of emerging leaves and flowers,
the welcome warmth of the sun
and everywhere, new growth to delight the eye.
All of this plus the knowledge that
summer will follow.
I am going in for the latest fashion in country style home decor - here is my latest accessory, sadly only on loan. You may have seen it before!!

Take a look in any countrystyle glossy magazine and in many of their features and adverts you will find an endearing dog lying on a bed, sofa, rug, carpet or flooring.

No matter where you display your accessory, your home will be enhanced.

To 'get the look' for your home, if you haven't already got a dog, borrow one today!! The light was quite bright outside which may account for my pictures turning out to be rather dark - sorry about that.

Thursday 25 March 2010

I bought this very pretty novelty yarn today (Sirdar Reflection) - it has all the colours of a summer garden. I think I could use it with an embellisher. I have moved up a notch from 'if' I get an embellisher to 'when' and am getting quite excited. Maybe next week I shall have more to tell. Across the road from the shop where I bought this yarn is a fabric shop where I also bought some calico and managed to leave behind a book of watercolour paper. I hurried back to collect it only to find the shop closed for lunch and that it was early closing day! As we were in Pershore which is miles away from where we live I had to push a note through the door saying I would collect it next time we were in the town. I could see the book on the counter through the door and was so cross with myself.
This is the result of spraying a sheet of paper with all four of the Cosmic Shimmer Mists I bought the other day. Individually the colours are quite bright and strong, but sprayed on top of each other a much more subdued effect is achieved. The camera hasn't captured the lovely lustre the sprays have. I used Peacock Green, Midnight Blue, Red Firefly and Golden Mint.

Yesterday I played with more of my birthday treats and began by making these coloured background papers using the Tim Holtz Distress Inks and sponging them onto the paper.

This is the largest stamp I have ever used and it takes a bit of practice to get a perfect image. The colours of the background have not come out accurately and appear a bit bland here. I love the stamp.

This is another large stamp and it has worked perfectly for me here, so I must be getting better at it! It's a bit of a cheat as it's a complete scene and needs no further decoration.
I was trying to create a little country scene here using several different stamps and all was going quite well until I forgot to check that there was no ink around the edge of the very small stamp I was using for the tufts of grass. Of course it smudged and ruined everything. I shall try again and want to draw in a few lines to help suggest the sense of distance between the small trees and the large one, and the foreground. I shall use this to practice on.

Two more that didn't make the grade. Watching demonstrators using rubber stamps it all looks so easy but like so many things, there is more too it than meets the eye. I'm supposed to be getting on with textiley things and not playing with rubber stamps so progress may be slow and erratic as I buckle down to produce at least a couple of pieces of work for the next group exhibition.

Monday 22 March 2010

What a Difference a Day makes!

These photos were taken yesterday, when it was sunny and almost warm. The forsythia is just about to burst into blossom -
as is the ornamental cherry tree.

These miniature daffodils are standing up well to today's wet and windy weather, while our one and only full size daff is lying on the ground.

All the yellow crocus have been eaten by the birds. Yes, I've spotted the dandelion too. It won't be there long!

These primroses have been in flower since just before Christmas and survived three lots of snow and weeks of hard frost. They are looking really good at present.

I planted the bulbs of these pretty little flowers years ago and can't remember what they are. There were just five or six to begin with and they have formed a lovely clump and come up every year.

Here are the rest of my birthday goodies, bought today on a trip into town with my two youngest daughters. It rained most of the day and it was my intention to treat us all to a nice lunch on the way home. To be fair we were rather late but the first course wasn't good and the dessert was so long coming I asked for a refund and we went without. At the back in the pic above are Cosmic Shimmer Mist sprays which contain mica in the pigment and give a lovely metallic sheen. There is a flower shaped paper punch, a small wooden stamp in the shape of a very lifelike sheep, a much larger unmounted stamp of wild flowers, three Sakura pens and three Distress Ink pads and .............
these three hanks of wool tops for needle felting and a sheet of stickers with a variety of greetings and sentiments as well as very realistic insects. At least the wool tops have a textile connection, or I might find myself drummed out of the group I belong to! If the other members read this post they will discover my secret life as a closet crafter!

Sunday 21 March 2010

What gets my goat?

I'll be out all day tomorrow so am posting my offering for the Poetry Bus Challenge today. TFE suggests we write about what makes us angry. I found it impossible to make this rant into a poem - I couldn't get a rhythm going and rhymes wouldn't come either - ideas came thick and fast and I could have gone on longer but it might have become just a boring list. (It might be boring anyway!).
What Gets my Goat?
Empty buildings left to rot
when there are so many homeless.
Fat Cat bonuses paid to bosses and
benefits paid to those who don't deserve them
while others in need get nothing.
Inadequate equipment for servicemen
when Party Conferences are held in luxury.
Farmers receiving less and less for their efforts -
forced to diversify when farming's what they do best.
Hospitals run by business managers
when they should be run by doctors and nurses.
Schools and the Police Force run by politicians
when they should be run by teachers and police.
Shops full of overpackaged goods
when we are drowning in refuse -
much of which can't be recycled.
Our ancestors would be horrified
by our poor husbandry of this country.
They struggled and fought so hard to improve it for us.
We've discarded their standards and wasted their achievements.
now we must pay the price.

No photos today - Olympus thingy is 'not responding'. It's been a glorious day here - I even had my lunch in the garden. The birds were singing and bees were buzzing. We can see the first birds nest of the year high up in a tree just the other side of our garden wall. It's a crows nest so when the eggs hatch I doubt we'll need to use the alarm clock! Do hope you had a lovely day too.

Thursday 18 March 2010

A Grand Day In!

It's been one of those weeks - nothing has quite worked out the way it was planned, but it has been good, nonetheless. This enormous bunch of beautiful alstromeria were given to me by our youngest daughter and her husband and the lovely beads below were from her older sister. They are most unusual, some of them are covered in fine fabric which looks a little like the wonderful Japanese patchwork fabrics, while others are cover with fine cord wound round the bead. There is a wooden one, opaque ones like mini crystal balls and metal ones.

I also had chocolates and gift vouchers as well as an indoor plant, and that was just for Mothering Sunday. Yesterday was my birthday and the gifts kept coming. I always feel sorry for my offspring with the two occasions coming so close together but I was showered with goodies and fuss on both days. These lovely handmade toiletries were from daughter No3 - I shall rival Cleopatra as I bathe in goats' milk, honey and oatmeal!
Daughter No2 gave me the beautiful slice of agate seen here on our windowsill - it looks wonderful with sunlight shining through it. Our son and his wife gave me a digital photo frame which is a bit scary as I have to find out how it works. The instructions look fairly straightforward so I might be able to do it myself.
Daughters 3 and 4 had planned to take me out yesterday, but life took over and prevented that so it has been postponed until next Monday - more treats to come. I stayed in instead and received a steady stream of visitors all day which was very enjoyable and in the evening my husband took me to our favourite country pub where the food is excellent, and we had a delicious dinner. I am just about to order part of his gift - Jan Messent's new book due out next month 'Celtic & Viking Embroidery'. It just goes on and on!

Monday 15 March 2010

Aboard the Poetry Bus and the Hellebore Bore strikes again!

This week our task set by TFE was to finish a poem which begins 'She was wearing Stella McCartney, I was drinking Stella Artois'. I have changed one word of this and my offering is as follows:-

She was wearing Stella McCartney
He was drinking Stella Artois.
She nearly fell off her five inch heels
as she sauntered into the bar.
She was obviously on the lookout
for a pickup with plenty of charm
but the guy she had her eye on
was eyeing her with alarm.
She engaged him in conversation
in a rather seductive voice,
hoping to gain his approval
and go home with the man of her choice.
It was doomed right from the beginning -
she didn't stand a chance.
He left with the chap sitting next to him
and neither gave her a glance.

I hoped so much that this hellebore would bloom as dark as this, and my hopes have materialised - isn't it gorgeous? There is quite a clump of them and I hope they'll seed themselves all over the place.

The white one here is the same flower I posted some time back and it still looks good. I am astounded that they survive the awful snow and frosts and still look beautiful. Maybe those conditions are what they like best. They are certainly a lovely reward after such a long and cold winter.

Still no daffodils yet but plenty on the way - they'll be worth waiting for and most welcome when they arrive.

Saturday 13 March 2010

A clutch of goodies.

I seem to have gone green! In reality the yarns shown above are greener than they appear here - the camera has muted them and they are actually lovely fresh greens. Even the Colinette yarn which looks blue in this pic, is a mix of natural shades of green. On the left is a variegated sock yarn, so that one is quite fine. The central wound ball is very soft and silky, slightly variegated with hints of ochre. Top right is a little pack of dyed raffia - not sure what I'll do with it yet. The silver mesh 'ribbon' is rather nice and will make a good addition for collaged cards I think. I would have liked it in gold too but there was none.
There should be a drumroll for this photo! I seem to have produced a design in a sketchbook, in colour too. I am not comfortable with drawing and usually prefer to get straight down to work with fabric and thread, but for this idea I needed to work it out and try to 'see' what I want to do. My inspiration came from Google Earth - I have had great fun exploring my locality and discovered that the noisy, dusty quarry a mile up the road looks fantastic from the air. There are actually three separate workings and I have taken bits from each of them for my design. There is a pool of water in one which is the most amazing deep blue and areas of texture in soft terracotta and buff tones. As yet, I have no idea how I will start on this project but think it might involve painted pelmet vilene cut with a soldering iron, to suggest the different working levels.
My other Google inspiration comes from our town's allotments which are about a mile away in the opposite direction. They are like an intricate modern tapestry seen from above. I see narrow textured strips, perhaps woven together to suggest the individual plots. The green yarns will come in handy for some of them and I may incorporate very narrow knitted strips or even fine canvaswork. Plenty to think about and lots of samples to be made, I'll keep you posted of my progress. It will be straightforward enough to create the shapes and textures, but making them into attractive pieces and finding a way of presenting them won't be quite so easy.
The sun is shining and it's almost warm out there this morning. I'm off to put some plants in, which we bought a few days ago. Happy Mothers' Day tomorrow to all you Mum's out there and a lovely weekend to everyone.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Lunch in Monmouth.

I fell in love with this bridge the first time I saw it many years ago. Today I remembered to take the camera out with me. We arrived at about noon so there was time for a quick forage round the shops before lunch and then we went down to the lower end of town to get these shots. I stood looking toward the town and main street to get this one, the plaque below is on the left of the bridge ........
.......... and this little door is on the right of the main arch. It is only in recent years that traffic has been diverted from using the bridge, so as to preserve it. We could do with some of those medieval builders today - there can't be many modern constructions capable of surviving for over 700years.

This little door is very narrow and the people who used it must have been a lot smaller than we are today - there can't be much space within that stone wall.

I'm sorry this picture is so dark - even though the sun wasn't actually shining, I was looking into the light. Here we are looking at the bridge in the other direction, with the town behind us. It's a pity that blue van was parked there, but it was obviously a working day for him and he had every right to be there. In reality the bridge appears taller and narrower - somehow the camera has foreshortened it.
I haven't started working on a new project yet but several things being thought about. I bought some lovely green yarns today and will post them maybe tomorrow. The light had gone by the time I thought about it this evening and photographing things in artificial light always seems to distort the colours. The group I belong to is having an exhibition in September and photos of work being entered are needed by May for publicity purposes so I had better get cracking!

Monday 8 March 2010

A bracing walk and a trip on the Poetry Bus.

We've had some glorious sunny days this week even though it is still very cold, with hard frosts each night. I just had to get out in it yesterday and go for a walk. Even this tree was wrapped in a nice warm mossy jacket.It's hard to believe that the A38 runs along the treeline in the distance in the photo below. Living as I do, surrounded by other houses, I love to look at this view and stretch my eyes into the distance.
I was very pleased to see this lovely furry bumblebee - he was enjoying the sunshine and braving the chilly wind. I hope he finds enough food to keep him going till it gets a bit warmer.

These primroses are the real thing, growing wild in a hedge and not in someone's garden ..........

......... likewise the snowdrops below.

I wasn't entirely surprised to see ice on the puddles at the side of the road - the water in our birdbath has been solid every morning for ages.
There's still a little way to go before we need to get the garden chairs out!

For this week's poetry challenge, TFE suggested we might like to write about trains or a train journey - failing that, we could write about anything we chose. My poem chose me and it is more or less what happened on Sunday morning:
Cocooned in warmth and comfort
still drowsy, I open my eyes.
The bedside clock says 7.00am
shadows of birds flitting past the window
are cast against the sunlit curtains.
It's going to be a lovely day - but
it will wait for me - I can luxuriate
a little longer.
Not so!
A furry weight alights on the foot of the bed
tramples me under paw
shoving his face into mine
purring loudly
whiskers tickling
paws treadling
proclaiming breakfast time.
I might as well give in gracefully -
he's very persistent and after all
it's going to be a lovely day.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Nature Rules - OK!

I just had to get a shot of this one yellow crocus in our neighbour's front garden. About 18months ago she did away with the lawn and flower borders to have extra hard standing for off road parking, and had the rest of the space covered in gravel. This crocus has done well to cope with all that upheaval not to mention the weedkiller and membrane before inches of gravel were spread on top. Such a cheery sight - I do hope she doesn't dig it up.

I found one or two treasures in our garden this morning, though you do have to look for them.
Spring is definitely on it's way, even if it hasn't quite sprung yet.

This clump of hellebores is coming on nicely and there is another nearby. I am hoping they'll get together and produce a further clump with different colouring.

This little viola will soon be surrounded by other spring flowers such as scilla, anemone blanda, tiny iris, etc.

The scillas are just about ready to pop - we only need a bit more sunshine.

I almost missed this one completely. It is in a pot tucked away in a corner. The colour is a wonderful deep rich purple which has come out as blue in this shot - it is really vibrant. It's such a lovely time of year with so much to look forward to.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Shooting the Moon, and other things.

My fascination with the moon continues and I just have to try to get a better shot whenever there is a full moon. This one is a bit too dark.....................
and this one is a bit too bright .. .....................

......................... but I am quite pleased with this one - I love to see it shining through branches.
I can't believe it has been a whole week since I posted - where does the time go? I've very little to show for it either - it has been a rather difficult week.
I have become a closet crafter and rubber stamper! It's harder than it looks to get an artistic result. I treated myself to Tim Holtz's book last week, which came with an ink blending tool along with one or two other goodies. It makes the job so much easier - I had such problems before, trying to get the inks to blend and just couldn't get the smooth result I wanted. All of the following backgrounds have three different shades or colours in them. If I was clever, I would know how to post them side by side rather than just having them in a long line.

I should have allowed more time for the background inks to dry before stamping the dragonfly on top - the image here is blurred where the dark ink has bled into the background.

This one is my favourite and I would love to find a way of getting this effect on fabric and then adding a bit of stitchery. I used about a dozen different stamps in this design. All the colours are a little more vibrant than they appear here.
I think I shall have to start making my own greetings cards - that way I would get plenty of practice, improve my skills and hopefully achieve something worthwhile at the same time.