Sunday 29 August 2010

Written in haste.

This week's Poetry Bus challenge has been set by Karen whose blog is Keeping Secrets. She suggests we write about our early school memories. She has a picture of a bright yellow school bus on her blog, but as I recall our bus was blue. If I had the time, skill and patience I could probably google one up, but you'll have to imagine it. Some of us need better memories than others as those days are now well and truly in the dim, distant past. Here is my hastily concocted offering:

Ghastly dinners
horrid sums.
Liked reading, writing
and lovely chums.

Two scarey teachers
but others were sweet.
Remembering details
- too much of a feat.

The early memories
are mostly good
but not sour milk in summer
and soggy Yorkshire pud!

Enjoy the Bank Holiday, whatever you are doing - I've asked the sun to shine again.

Friday 27 August 2010

Pages for my next project.

I thought I had lost the ability to post photos - these colours are nothing like the real ones which are actually in dull golden greenish tones. It's unbelievable and took me three goes to find them in the picture library! The lavender coloured one is about the most accurate, and above are all six of the ones I have made so far and will need about another eight. I took a sheet of paper 14"x10" and collaged scraps of muslin, scrim, tissue paper and any other lightweight bits and pieces I could find, using acrylic matt medium. While that was still wet I sprayed them with various colour sprays allowing them to merge. They will be folded in half so the book will be roughly 7"x10".
The textures are quite nice and I have tried to merge them with one another.
I like this bit of printed curtain voile ..............

....................... and this scrap of handmade paper containing dried flowers. They will fit it with the herb theme.
I am being very naughty working this new project before finishing the last one, and should be making more trees to complete my Quarry piece.
I have had such a nice letter from one of my cousins who visited recently asking for copies of the photos I took. I have yet to learn how to print my photos but am assured it is very easy - it needs to be! Back to the grindstone/drawing board.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Locked out of my laptop and an overnight guest for the Poetry Bus.

There would have been a photo to accompany my contribution for the Poetry Bus, but since being locked out of my laptop for two days things are not quite as they should be. I had to make a trip to PC World to find out how to unlock it. The problem probably arose due to an update! I was not impressed, especially as it was most likely for something I am never likely to use. Every function seems to have been affected and needs resetting. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

This weeks challenge was to write about our first waking thoughts so here goes:-

Daylight is showing through the curtains - it must be morning.
No sunshine. Will it rain all day again? Will I get any gardening done?
I sense a little furry bundle in the small of my back.
I turn and see two bright eyes and pricked ears.
Ready for action, my overnight guest greets me fondly.
She started the night in her own bed on the floor.
We can't put her in the kitchen as that is the cat's domain
and doors must be left open for him to come and go freely.
She can't sleep in our bedroom as that too is the cat's domain!
So I join her in the spare room so she won't be homesick or lonely.
We both acclimatize to a whole new range of different sounds.
Now I hear rain falling - no romps in the garden
but we can cover up and go for a walk.

Our once tough-guy cat is almost 18yrs old and no longer agile, very thin (though he still seems to enjoy his food) and rather shaky. He looks bandy from the front and knocked kneed from the back, poor old chap. As his health and strength have declined I'm afraid he has become more pampered. Subsequently daily life, whilst not exactly revolving around him, is arranged to meet most of his fads and fancies. Poppy, the Jack Russell who is our overnight guest, knows he is boss but would love him to play with her. He is far too dignified and ancient to do that and would certainly put her in her place. We keep an eye on both of them to ensure that nothing untoward happens. You could be forgiven for thinking we are both a bit daft about animals.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

All Girls Together!

I've had such a lovely day today. Three of my cousins, who I haven't seen for 8 years, came for the day arriving for coffee this morning and leaving after afternoon tea for their two-hour-plus car journey home. It's amazing how we can seem to pick up where we left off, though there is still much catching up to do. I'm the one in dark blue in the photo above - we're all on the cuddly side! It fascinates me how different they are (two of them are sisters) but then my own daughters are all very different - and yet in some ways we have so much in common aside from our relationship to each other.
In this photo three of my daughters joined us - there was much reminiscing and shrieks of laughter as you might imagine, as well as one or two sad recollections. I looked on these cousins as the sisters I always wanted, being an only child. We definitely mustn't leave it so long before our next get-together and it's my turn to do the travelling next time.
I had set my alarm clock for 7.30 this morning but was woken at 5.30 by the cat - it's alright for him as he sleeps all day anyway but I didn't get back to sleep again. He'll be in trouble if he does it again. I'm off now for an early night - visibly wilting.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Last minute dash for the Poetry Bus.

This weeks challenge comes from Enchanted Oak who posted two photographs on her blog and suggested we choose one to write about. As I have been enjoying the summery conditions in my garden today and watching all the birds and insects buzzing about, I chose her picture of the boat moored under trees which to me is a very summery image.

The air is full of beating wings -
myriad busy flighted things,
from birds of many types and size
to dragonflies with bulbous eyes
and tiny moths abroad by day
to butterflies who never stay
to let me watch their aerial feats.
Our summertime brings all these treats.
When autumn comes, as well it must
and summer dreams are turned to dust
then washed away by winter's rain
the seasons pass - it's here again.

Friday 13 August 2010


and cardigans to you too, I hear you cry!

Earlier this year when I was feeling flimsy, I decided to unpick and reknit three cardigans which had been languishing in my wardrobe for ages because I didn't like them. I bought three new patterns and set to work. I wound all the wool from each section into one ball so I would know if I had sufficient yarn to complete it. I soon found with the one in the photo above, that I would not have nearly enough to finish it and had used all the yarn from the back of the original garment by the time I reached the armhole shaping. I searched several woolshops before finding something of similar weight and a suitable colour to blend with my first choice. I think I succeeded - the colours are closer than they appear in my photo. I like it anyway and it's as warm as a coat - possibly a sign that we'll have a mild winter this year and there'll be no cause to wear it! It was expensive the first time round and cost even more to find yarn to finish it, so I shall want my money's worth from it.

The second pattern was more co-operative and knitted up nicely, except that it fitted my daughter better than me - at least it went to a good home. I started work on pattern No.3 and all went well until I came to make the second front. I just couldn't get it right even after three attempts and much checking of the pattern. So, I unpicked it all AGAIN and knitted it up to the same pattern as the one I gave my daughter but in a larger size - you can see it in the pic above and I am wearing it now. It is fairly light so very useful and inspite of being a cheapish yarn, it looks quite nice and after all that messing about I have certainly had good knitting value out of it.

All of this brings to mind a cardy I made years ago - shown above - using the freeform knitting and crochet technique sometimes known as scrumbling. This is a great way to use up all those oddments - even short lengths - of wool and even embroidery threads. The idea comes from Jan Messent's book 'Wool 'n Magic' and advises that a template be made using heavy duty interfacing, so that the work can be pinned onto it to see how the shape is progressing. From memory, you start with knitting and cast on no more than 7 or 8 stitches, knit a square, cast off all but the last stitch then pick up and knit down one side and knit a few more rows. Cast off again, change yarn and start to crochet. It's a bit daunting at first but soon becomes great fun and the idea is to change yarns, colours, stitches and techniques as often as possible. I added a knitted dark navy welt, cuffs and collar to finish my jacket and because it is so colourful it goes with almost anything.
I found it really difficult to photograph these cardies. Lying them flat on the table or hanging them on coat hangers made them look awful and trying to be model and photographer made them fold and distort just where I wanted them to lie flat and smooth, but you get some idea of what they look like.
I am in thinking mode at present and nothing creative is emerging yet. Other bloggers are so prolific and seem to have lovely things to share every week. Perhaps I should make cards or ATCs to post here, but that would divert my thoughts from my next project.
Halfway through loading these pics, Explorer stopped working. As I had saved them as I went along I am hoping that I've only got one of each and not doubled up on the two that I had managed to load. I shall soon find out - fingers crossed.

Monday 9 August 2010

Running to catch the Poetry Bus.

Too busy for pictures today but a quick bit for the poetry challenge. Well actually mine isn't a poem, just a small collections of childhood memories really. We are asked to recall a favourite summer sensory memory this time. I have more than one but would have to start with the smell of tomatoes as you pick them from the vine. At the end of each summer, Grandad would clean out his greenhouse, pull up the haulms and we grandchildren were allowed to eat the tiny little fruits still hanging on. I can also remember the smell of his garden hut where the apples were stored. He also loved to have a bonfire and his fires always smelled lovely as they contained only garden refuse which was probably not suitable for the compost heap. Another sensory memory is of a newly tarred and gravelled road surface when the sun shines on it after rain. This takes me right back to junior school and the start of the autumn term - new school shoes and a nature walk!

Saturday 7 August 2010

Homemade trees and a few garden bits.

I had to make one or two extra trees to go fill both side edges of my quarry and this is what they look like, sideways on. The top is not quite finished - I think it needs a bit more greenery but may wait for advice from my group meeting on Tuesday.
The view from the other side. I'll photograph it again when it is completely finished.

The pond is restored, thank goodness, but I can't get the rocks and stones around the waterfall back into their original positions. You would think it would be straightforward enough, but somehow it isn't quite as good as it was before. I expect I shall be out there again before long shifting them about trying to improve it. I'm amazed at how much time I can waste fiddling about with it. It's nearly as time consuming as blogging!

Eighteen months ago nothing wanted to grow in this part of the garden, then our neighbours had the height of their conifer hedge drastically reduced and suddenly we had light here, and sometimes it even got sunlight too. What a difference it has made and until I did a bit of weeding and cutting back, it was a mini jungle.

This is my latest acquisition - a red plantain. It is such a handsome plant and the colour of the leaves is much richer than it appears here - the light is very poor today. I bought this plant because I hope to do a project on the nine sacred Anglo-Saxon herbs which are mugwort, plantain, watercress, nettle, betony, chamomile, crab apple, chervil and fennel, and thought it would make the project more interesting if I had them growing in the garden. I now have most of them and only need chervil, crab apple and watercress, and that is in a bag in the fridge! Is that cheating? I have a very lush looking nettle and was just about to dig it up when I realised it was a sacred herb so had better stay in place and keep the others company. Well that's my excuse anyway.
If you do any research on this subject you will find variations in the herbs on the list and may come across sweet cicely or vipers' bugloss in place of betony. The other eight are pretty constant no matter which source you work from but the 'mystery' herb has never been fully identified apparently. To add further confusion, the Druids had their own list of sacred herbs so there is another project waiting to be tackled after this one.
The sun is shining again so I might nip out and do a bit more gardening. I've been dodging the showers all day but the rain is very welcome.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Bugs, Bees and Trees.

I noticed this strange little thing on one of the sunflower leaves yesterday. It looks like a type of beetle at the front and a caterpillar at the back.
Here is another one. They are the same colour as the ladybirds which were on the flower itself. I have never seen them before and don't know whether they are goodies or baddies! To squish or not to squish - that is the question.

Can these tiny creatures really have eaten those enormous chunks out of my sunflower leaves?

If so, they should grow rapidly to an alarming size!

This thistle plant was badly infested with black fly earlier in the year and I had to spray it with soapy water to get rid of them. The plant looked a bit sad but the bees don't seem to mind at all. Each of the flower heads had two, three and sometimes four bees at a time on them.

I have been making trees again today - on and off. I get too stiff if I sit too long at it, so break off and do something else for a while.

I wondered what they would look like if I made little trunks and branches.

I quite liked them so made some more. I will try these out along the side edges of the artist's canvas in the hope of making it more interesting. If they don't work like that, I can always use them on cards.
We had a mild panic this afternoon. My husband noticed that the level of the water in the pond had dropped by several inches. We had no idea what caused it and all was normal just before lunchtime. The chap who put it in for us came to look at it and suggested the inlet pipe to the waterfall may have slipped and caused the water to leak out. So we had to dismantle it and take a look. There were four large frogs underneath it which could be the explanation - they are quite capable of knocking quite large plants off the ledges round the edge of the pond, which is why I fixed up wire coat hangers to hold the new plants in place, and could easily have moved the pipe. Well, I did say I wanted frogs in the pond but do think they could have shown more gratitude when I have provided them with a lovely new home! The pipe has had a clip fixed to stop it slipping back and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the level wont have dropped any further. If all is well in the morning I can replace all the rocks - if I can remember what went where - and top up the pond once more. I've just been out to check on the level and it hasn't dropped any lower since we looked at it three hours ago, so that is encouraging.