Saturday 31 December 2011


Here's hoping 2012 will be a good year for us all.

Signs of spring already!
I took these photos this morning. Whilst much of the cherry tree is still not in flower, more and more twigs are bursting into bloom about three months earlier than they should.

My primrose is also coming into flower though they get eaten by birds or insects. I have left it tucked up in it's blanket of leaves in case of cold weather to come. It will look much better later on, in Spring. Nice thought.

I can't believe I haven't posted for 10 days! I seem to have lurched between being frantically busy and total idleness. Time to get a grip and become more organised but no New Year resolutions - that way I don't have to feel guilty if I can't keep them!

Wednesday 21 December 2011


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Thankyou for all the 'virtual' friendship throughout the year and here's to more in 2012.

Joseph seems to have gone missing. I think he got fed up with all the visitors.

I couldn't decide ..................

which image ........................

to use, so posted a selection.

The calendar above was made for me by my son's Japanese friend. Each Sunday is subtly overprinted with a little sleeping cat and bank holidays have a green moon symbol. She drew the grids by hand and the kimono shape is that of an opened out kimono - the fabric is a gorgeous Japanese cotton print, and two little metallic butterflies finish it off. Everything is perfectly aligned and a little paper heart secures the hanging loop on the back.

Friday 16 December 2011

Caught in the Act!

I glanced out of the window this morning to see this -

then he saw me and I had to be quick to get a picture. It's not very clear as I had to take it through the window.

He's doing is bit to save the birds from overeating. My husband puts out peanuts, niger seed as well as a mix of other seeds, suet or lard, apples, bread, meal worms and sultanas. I worry that the RSPB will be after us for the rise in avian cholesterol levels and obesity!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

A New Breed?

Poppy stood in front of me for two or three minutes before I noticed her like this. There was too much talking going on and not enough fun and games.

She looks as if she is wearing a surgical mask in this photo.

And in this one she seems to have a deformed nose or a small shoe attached to her face.

Apologies for the poor photo but the light was awful and the wind kept moving this branch of pink cherry blossom. Only one part of the tree seems to be trying to bloom, so hopefully the rest of it will wait until the correct time.

I completed all the work for the first Module of my course today but have not photographed it yet, so can't post it. I will probably have time to do it on Friday - hopefully the light will be better for photography then but no guarantees.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Strange beings, a little friend and a welcome sight.

I can't believe that I am already working on the last chapter of Module 1 of my Sketchbook course. These strange faces are for chapter 9 and involved finding out about the work of the 16th Century painter Arcimboldo, who painted portraits with fruit and vegetables making up the features. Thank goodness I wasn't required to paint the face, but only had to create it from fruit and vegs. He even has designer stubble on his kiwi fruit chin! I quite like his sweet corn kernel teeth even if they are yellow.

This version, made up from fruit and vegs cut from magazine illustrations looks a bit sinister to me. It was a fun exercise to do and I never dreamed I would think of using carrots to represent hair.


I can't believe it is over a week since I last posted - I don't know where the time goes.

Today we had our little friend with us and in this photo I have just mentioned the word 'walk'. I think I got her attention! It is slightlty blurred as she swivelled her head round to look at me.

In a little wander round the garden, trying not to notice all the weeds that have been steadily growing throughout the autumn, I came across these Christmas Roses or white hellebores. They are well in bud and should bloom in time for Christmas. I have tried growing various hellebores for ages without success but in recent years they have been very obliging. This will be the first time the white ones have flowered for Christmas.

A more disturbing discovering was a spray of pink cherry blossom in the front garden - not due for three more months. I tried to get a photo but the light wasn't right. I do hope the tree will realise it's mistake and hang on till the middle of March when it becomes the main attraction.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The last two pages.

The final pages of my little book are completed. That little blob is a real bird on the lawn in the photo and please note the three bees to the right of my stitched flowers - hand drawn onto the fabric with fear and trembling - it's a pity they seem to be flying in formation. The two birds on the bird table were done in the same way. I am breathing normally again now!

I used a small rubber stamp for the butterflies on this page, inking only half the image for the sideways views, but I did draw the robin, trellis, foxglove and bumble bee disappearing into one of the flowers.

Here is my 'Silly Bird' brooch which I won in Maggie Grey's recent giveaway. It arrived in this morning's post, rather the worse for it's journey but I can nurse it back to fitness. There is a crease right across the card. Goodness knows what they do to our letters, but at least it reached me.

Also in today's post was this book. I do wish talented textile artists would stop writing books I just have to buy!! It is excellent value at £12 plus £2 postage and is full of great ideas. I know I shall use quite a few of them in the project I am hoping to work on next. If you are interested, it is available from the d4daisy website.

Thankyou Maggie, and thankyou Lynda.

Friday 25 November 2011

Strange fruit and vegs and other things.

I am at least three-quarters of the way through module 1 of the course I am doing and have been having a lovely time printing with apples and potatoes recently. I don't know if it is just the dull natural light or if my laptop needs adjusting as everything I post seems to look wishy-washy compared with it's actual colour although the colours look quite accurate in the camera.
I used a Brussels sprout and lemon to make other prints and was quite surprised by how well they worked. All the work will be posted on my other blog when I have completed the chapter.

At my group's December meeting we each take a handmade Christmas card, put them all in the middle of the table and take one each. I made mine this year from strips of sari ribbon sewn down onto a backing fabric with various decorative automatic stitches. I then cut out three different bauble shapes and stuck them onto a card and gave them a cord and gold ribbon bow. All I have to do now is remember to take it with me!

This is another page from my book and represents the line 'I think how lovely it will be when all my flowers are there to see'. This picture looks washed out too although the thread colours are reasonably accurate. I might need to carefully press each page when it is complete - all the handling is making it look more rustic than I intended!

I cheated with this page - 'the sky is full of butterflies' - and stuck on a variety of ready made butterlies. The smallest ones are tiny buttons with their shanks cut off and the others were a sort of decorative braid and all joined together in a long strip. I have painted over their original colours which weren't at all suitable but I'm not sure that what I have ended up with is suitable.

I have just had a nice surprise and learned that I have won one of Maggie Grey's Birdie brooches in her giveaway. I will post a photo of it when I receive it. I can't say I never win anything now, can I?

Saturday 19 November 2011

My little book is growing.

Four more pages. The one below suggests the line 'but nowhere are the one's I've sown'.
Followed by 'Instead the garden's full of thistles, daisies, clover, stinging nettles'.

Over the years, I have collected some very nice wild flower rubber stamps and used them for these two pages. I didn't have one for stinging nettles though - you'll have to imagine those. I tore rough squares of good drawing paper, applied gentle colour from Tim Holtz Distress Ink pads and stamped the flowers using the same inks but in a darker green. The daisy petals were coloured with a white gel pen and I used water soluble crayons for everything else. At least I drew the grass myself!! I pierced holes all round the edges of each piece of paper to make the stitching easier when I applied it to the page.

This pages precedes the other two in the book and so I should have loaded it to appear before them. I had problems loading them and am just pleased to find them on here at all. I made the little tree on water soluble fabric and hand stitched the commercial flowers in place and added a few bits of greenery.

I have broken my self imposed rule to work each page in correct order. This is the last page and I can't tell you how many times I tried to make a convincing looking chair! It's quite tricky getting sufficient detail to identify the object when working so small. This is the best effort to date, but could be superceded if a better one comes along.

There are four more pages to work on and they will be the most difficult I think, as they involve birds, bees and butterflies. One of these days I'll make life easy for myself and take up knitting squares for blankets.

Monday 14 November 2011

A small adjustment and hopefully a slight improvement.

I added another 'rock' in front of the very dark bit and a scattering of tiny dull beads. I think it is an improvement.
I realised when working on this, that I'd worked the previous stitched photos on slightly larger canvases but have none of those left. I'm trying to make use of the stuff I have and not buy more. The extra size gives a bit more room for additions and makes things much easier when adding the stitched elements. I must remember that in future.
A short post today as I have just posted on my other blog. I haven't been able to email my tutor yet as they have a malfunction in the email department. Hope it will soon be fixed.

Saturday 12 November 2011

This and That.

Not very impressive as autumn colours go, but only 24 hours before I took this photo almost all the leaves on our cherry tree were still green. I don't think I have ever known them to change colour in such a short time.

Another page of the garden book - albeit slightly wonky.

I like the idea behind this piece but I'm not sure it is right, and am having trouble arranging my rocks in the foreground. The two pieces jutting out to the far right are only pushed in place and I will have to fiddle around a bit before I am satisfied that they are in the right position. The dark mass is an unidentified piece of something picked up on a beach. My homemade rocks are painted pelmet vilene stitched in place onto an artist's stretched canvas. The photo had been stuck in place first. I am limited as to how far toward the edge I can stitch owing to the wooden frame of the canvas.

Friday 11 November 2011

You don't need a picture.

I came upon this poem in our local magazine and had read it recently elsewhere. I found it very moving, the moreso as it is written anonymously by 'one no longer fit and able to march'.


'Why do you march, old man
with medals on your chest?
Why do you grieve old man
for those you laid to rest?
Why do your eyes gleam old man
when you hear the bugler blow?
Tell me why you cry old man
for those days long ago.'

'I'll tell you why I march, young man
with medals on my chest.
I'll tell you why I grieve young man
for those I laid to rest.
Through misty fields of gossamer silk
come visions of distant times
when boys of such a tender age
marched forth to battle lines.

We buried them in a blanket shroud
their young flesh scorched and blackened,
in a communal grave so newly dug
in bloodstained gorse and bracken -
and you ask me why I march, young man.
I march to remind you all
that but for those apple-blossomed youths
you'd never know freedom at all.

His comrades rest in peace - I hope there are times when he knows peace.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

A few additions.

I have added a little tree in a pot to the first page of my fabric book, and a bit more 'planting' on the left of the photo.

I found just the right place for the mini garden tools on the third page. I have left page 2 unaltered and must now think up something to illustrate the others.

I added more hand stitching to the little landscape made on the embellisher with silk and wool tops, silk rods etc., on a knitted background, and mounted it in a box frame. I usually prefer textiles not to be under glass, but this particular design needs protection. There are two other pieces to be worked on but I don't quite know what to do with them yet. They will be landscapes too, but I want each one to have a different feel to it although they will all be made using the same techniques.

I thought you might like to see a close up of the stitching. The photos are not good as the light is awful today and I can't get on with my coursework which at this stage involves mixing and matching colours.

This is the top part of the design and even worse as it seems blurred to me - apologies for that. It actually looks better in reality!

Friday 4 November 2011

A little rustic book.

These are the first three pages - not complete yet, I may make small additions - of a little fabric book inspired by a poem written by one of my cousins who died recently. The pages are roughly 5 inches square and it will be a concertina book, not opening left to right but waterfall fashion so that the whole poem can be read at once.

I bought these tiny garden tools years ago - 10 or 12 maybe - and knew I'd find a use for them one day! I think the dibber might make a nice closure for the book and the trowel and fork will be added to one of the pages.

My Garden:

I have a garden of my own

and in it are some seeds I've sown

like cornflowers, pansies, pinks and stocks,

forget-me-nots and hollyhocks.

For weeks and weeks I've paid attention

to my garden, not to mention

all the watering required.

And so I'm feeling rather tired.

I think how lovely it will be

when all my flowers are there to see.

With colours yellow, pink and blue,

the air will all be scented too.

Ah, now at last my plants have grown

but nowhere are the ones I've sown.

Instead the garden's full of thistles,

daisies, clover, stinging nettles.

But what is this before my eyes?

The sky is full of butterflies.

They flutter down, they love my weeds

and so do all the birds and bees.

With butterflies red, white and blue,

with buzzing bees and songbirds too,

I sit and gaze all summer long.

Can next year all my seeds go wrong?

Jean Streader.

I know I ought to try and centre the poem but am to scared to try. I might lose the whole thing and have to start again, besides which it's lunchtime and I'm hungry!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

A beautiful afternoon.

It was just too good to be indoors this afternoon so we hopped in the car and drove a few miles to Oldbury-on-Severn to walk toward the river. The sun was brilliant and the lichen on all the trees and bushes was golden.

I was surprised at how many sloes there were everywhere.............

............. and still masses of haws and even a few blackberries. Plenty of food for hungry birds.

That's Wales in the distance, the Forest of Dean away to the right and the river Severn across the middle of my photo. More of the river was visible to the left of this view, but I couldn't take a picture as the sun would have been shining right into the camera. Also to the left is the yacht club and we were walking along the private road built for members cars and trailers which go to and fro. It is so quiet and peaceful - good to get away from busy roads and habitation for a short time.

There is a blot on this idyllic landscape - the power station - but it is a necessary evil I suppose and looks almost attractive on a misty morning rising out of the mist.

I just had to come down these steps and find out what was at the bottom.

I found this narrow pathway winding between the field boundary hedge and the bank on which the present road is made. I wonder how old it is. It was so dark and shady I thought this picture may not come out clearly enough, but I keep my camera on the auto setting and it has rather overcompensated and I have lost the sense of mystery . Where it looks so light at the top of the picture there was thick dark vegetation.

I looked over the gate at the bottom of those steps and there was this beautiful lady enjoying the lush grass. She is so sleek and looks in lovely condition.

This is St. Arilda's church perched on it's little hill. I went inside some years ago on a very windy day and it felt like Wuthering Heights up there. It seemed as if the church hadn't changed for a couple of hundred years.

A glorious tangled mass of dead stems and seedheads lining the path - I love them.

When we got back to the car I noticed this amazing tree stump. It looks as if things have been planted in the hollows at the top and it appears to be still rooted where it grew.

Back home for a cuppa.