Sunday 23 December 2012

A Christmas card from me to you.

Wishing you all a germ-free, stress-free and hopefully flood-free lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Friday 21 December 2012

A Prey to Temptation!

I have been very naughty and bought several hanks of this gorgeous yarn to make a cardigan/jacket.  I know it is not the time of year to be treating oneself but I saw the pattern months ago and fell in love with the yarn more recently.  I have visited it in the shop two or three times, given it serious thought and finally succumbed yesterday.
I am assuaging my guilt and extravagance with the knowledge that I am supporting the work of artisans in Uruguay who produce these beautiful hand-dyed yarns.    This one is a blend of merino wool and silk, and will be treated with the respect it deserves.   It is lovely to handle and a joy to knit with.  I just hope it fits when I have made it!
I can't remember the last time I found a pattern which was perfect for me.  This one comes pretty close, but I shall make it three or four inches longer and not have a zip fastening - I'll knit a ribbed band for each front edge to finish it off.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Trying to get in the mood!

An excessively overdressed tree!   We bought it years ago thinking we were saving real trees from being cut down.  Now, of course, it is considered greener to have a real tree but hopefully ours will serve us for a few more years even though bits have already started dropping off.  The sun was shining when I took this photo and much of the colour is lost.
The new tree lights are rather cold looking but I am gradually getting used to them and in reality it all looks better than it does in this pic.   There is a rather nice golden angel on the top but I seem to have cut her off.

There are still a few days to go, so hopefully I will have shrugged off my hibernation mood and feel ready to have a good time.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Testing, testing...Broadsword calling Danny Boy!

Owing to the fact that there is a picture here, we may have success with sorting out the gremlins.  And as you can see, the laptop has not been kicked out the window.  Jolly dee!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

No pretty pictures .........

........ maybe I could resort to colourful language instead! 

 With my daughter's help we deleted half of my posts - nearly 300 - in order to free up storage space but still ended up with the same message.  It looks as if I shall have to buy more space even though we can't figure out why this should be necessary.  We have emailed Blogger for an explanation and advice and must wait for a reply.  I just hope I can post on my other blog or I really will have a problem - I am ready to post my latest batch of work.

The drawing has gone better than I expected and I have done all that is required for the present and am feeling more relaxed about it.   They are all simple line drawings so far and the next step is to add tone, then after that the detail is added.  Not nearly so scary when the whole process is broken down into these stages and an excellent way to learn. 

I did a bit of gardening yesterday and cut down plants that have done their thing for this year.  I know that they look beautiful when sparkling with frost but they also look dreadful when soaking wet and blown about by strong winds.   There are still quite a lot of leaves to drop and we are continually sweeping them off the paths or vacuuming them up off the floor when they have been brought indoors on the soles of our shoes.   Someone is not as good at wiping his feet as I am!

Sunday 2 December 2012

I wish I didn't want to learn to draw!

I am exhausted and have only done two of the several drawings I need to do for my current batch of coursework.  I am enjoying it really, but drawing doesn't come easily to me and I have to concentrate so hard.  An awful lot of puffing and blowing goes on considering that drawing is such a sedentary pastime.  Maybe I should do some relaxation exercises before I start the next lot.

I had a little respite this morning and made a sticky gingerbread loaf and my Christmas cake both of which turned out far better than the drawings, so that was encouraging.  I had hoped to post a picture of them but am still being told that I am out of space and have used 100% of my 1GB quota, though my daughter checked things for me and doubts this.   I can load the photos from my camera onto my laptop, but it wont let me post them on this blog.   I shall have to consult my technical assistant again.

I don't know where the time goes at present and mentally feel as if I am back in September - can't believe it will be Christmas in just over three weeks time!   I hope it doesn't come as a shock!!

Hope to be back here soon and with photographs next time - fingers crossed.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Be careful what you wish for!

I was going to show a couple of photos of what greeted me when I opened the curtains this morning but apparently I have used up all my alloted photo storage space and must make arrangements if I want more, so sorry, but no pics until then.

After a few very wet days and more rain overnight we woke to find what closely resembled a small stream along the back of the house.   Now I have always dreamed of having a house with a little stream flowing through the garden but when I looked out onto murky water all over the patio and into the border it wasn't quite what I'd had in mind.  There are puddles in places where I have never seen puddles before.

It is almost mid-day and I've only just been able to do without the light on, but the clouds seem to have lifted and I do believe it has stopped raining at last.   If there is one mention of drought or hosepipe bans next year I shall laugh.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

I'm still here!

I have resorted to good old knitting while I try to come up with an innovative textile idea for my next project.   Inspiration is in short supply so I might have to start another cardigan and have seen some gorgeous yarn but it is very expensive and I would be so disappointed if the garment didn't fit or suit me when I'd finished it.  I could always unpick and reknit of course.   We will see if temptation gets the better of me.
I am knitting these socks for someone who is very disabled with MS and doesn't wear shoes any more but needs to keep her feet warm.   I love the instant cheat's Fair Isle pattern which appears - pity it only works on short rows.
This is another colourway of the wool used in the picture above - I seem to have blurred it and apologise for not noticing sooner.    I have never made socks on two needles before and it seems rather strange.  I prefer the four needle method but couldn't find a pattern and was too impatient to start work to look very far.

It's very wet and grey today so no gardening although, goodness knows, there is plenty to tidy up out there.   I'm sure it will wait for me.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Lest we Forget.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
the torch;  be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.

John McCrae.

Sunday 4 November 2012

All better this morning!

We had a little visitor yesterday and overnight.   Last night was very noisy with ever louder fireworks and poor Poppy was a quivering, panting nervous wreck.   However, as you can see from the above photo, this morning she is bright eyed and ready for anything again.  It does seem as if the bangs get louder each year, or is it just my imagination?   Someone is bound to have some fireworks tonight and we haven't even got to Nov 5th yet.  At least she will be back home with her mum and dad by then, and maybe won't mind the noise so much.

When I took her out for a walk this morning, the state of the paths was like this and it reminded me of when I was a schoolgirl.   At this time of year with all the wet leaves lying on the road, the buses had difficulty in getting up the hill to the village where I lived.   There was a nasty little bend just where the incline was steepest, and on more than one occassion most of the passengers were asked to get off the bus and walk to the top of the slope in the hope that the driver could get the wheels to grip the road and we could all get on again and continue our journey.    I remember one particular day when several of the strongest passengers went to the back of the bus and had to give it a push to get it moving again!   Just one of the joys of living in the country.   Most of us thought it was a great fun, but I dare say that Health and Safety wouldn't allow such frivolity these days.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

A Day of Mayhem!

I spent a lovely day today in the company of four of my 'babies', some of their babies and one of their baby's babies!   There were four generations of us.   It was total mayhem but great fun and the noise was augmented by one daughter's dog who was very excited to have the two little ones to play with.  I apologise for the poor quality of this photo - I couldn't stand back far enough to get a better picture and had to hurry so that one of the party could keep an appointment.

The day was largely unplanned and began simply enough when our eldest daughter asked if I would help her cut out a dress pattern.  Her daughter said she had the day off and could she come too - I suggested they stay for lunch - the news got round on the family grapevine and before I knew it there were 10 of us!  

My husband wisely retreated to somewhere quieter until the coast was clear.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Daylight robbery!

There's a lot of it about.  It would be handy if the squirrels all had name tags so we could count how many there are.  There must be dozens of them up and down the streamside walk here.  I know some people regard them as pests but they are very entertaining to watch, even if they do chew through the nut and fatball holders.
Early in the year they chase each other across the spars of the pergola.  Their sure-footedness and the speed with which they move is amazing.

A few autumn delights from the garden today.   These tiny crab apples are about the size of my thumb nail.

I love the seedheads of the clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' which follow after the little yellow lantern-like flowers.   This plant climbs to well over 20feet up into a nearby tree.

This is a type of sycamore and I am watching the leaves change colour almost daily.  In early spring they are a very dark reddish brown.

This hydrangea is very pink in summer and I think I like it's faded autumn colouring better.

It has been a very dull and damp day today and I thought it odd that these drops of moisture were only on the red leaves of this shrub.

A lovely burst of colour from this acer which grows in a neighbour's garden.  

More water droplets on a spider's web on variegated box.   You would think that the weight of the moisture might damage the delicate web which is so fine it is almost invisible.

The green tomato conserve is as good as I hoped it would be but I haven't yet tried the red tomato relish.  Maybe it should be left to mature for a while.  With the greenhouse now empty and the forecast of arctic air by the end of the week I spent the morning  lining it with bubblewrap and tucking up the geraniums and other tender plants.  I wonder if I will manage to keep them going through the winter.  The local garden centre will benefit next year if I don't!

Saturday 20 October 2012

Life is Just a Bowl of .........

............................ tomatoes!   Well three bowls actually.   I picked all of them this morning and sorted them into not ripe, becoming a bit ripe and definitely ripe.  The ones in the top photo will become tomato relish.
These will live on top of the freezer where it is warm and hopefully ripen.
And these green ones will be made into green tomato conserve which is a cross between a jam and a marmalade as it has oranges in it.  I first tasted it in France nearly 40 years ago and it is delicious so I am hoping to recapture that flavour - I haven't made it for years.  No doubt now that the greenhouse is empty and I can accommodate the geraniums and other tender plants, the weather will stay mild.

I can't believe it is over a fortnight since I posted on my blog.  I have been working hard on my coursework as I felt I was slipping behind though the timing is flexible.  I have finished the current chapter and almost completed the next one in the past two days.  Life got rather hectic and I lost my momentum for a couple of weeks but I am back on track now.

We took the scenic route through the Forest of Dean on our way home from shopping on Thursday and a young doe ran across the road a few yards in front of us.  What a treat!  I can no longer grumble that I have never seen a deer.  Needless to say I didn't have the camera with me, but she was gone in a flash and I wouldn't have had time to focus anyway.

No new textile work to show but I am turning ideas over and have high hopes of something good coming out of them.  I think it will have to be another book and this time the theme will be hares.  I think they are fascinating creatures - the only trouble is that I will need to be able to draw them.  That is scary and a big drawback but I have learned that if I really want to do something I can usually find a way of doing it.
It will just require lots of positive thinking and deep breathing!

Friday 5 October 2012

Yer Tiz!

Finished at last and I have since bought some buttons and sewn them on.   It's not exactly a fashion garment but is so snug and warm, and I am wearing it right now.   It's not a minute too soon either as I have been feeling decidedly yukky, on and off, since having that flipping flu jab last Saturday.   I have never had any reaction to the them in the past but this one is not being nice and I want someone to take it away.

I am nicely wrapped in my cardigan feeling rather like a very old bear who wants to hibernate in the back of her cave.   I've only got until next Tuesday when I host our group meeting and I'm looking forward to it, so Spring needs to come early for me!

Tuesday 2 October 2012

What happened to last week!

I haven't been idle even if I haven't been a good blogger, and came across this little needlecase when I was having a clear out the other day.   It came from my mother and I think may even have belonged to her mother.   It is almost threadbare and could be made of silk.
Some of the needles inside are the smallest and finest I have ever seen and still usable, though quite a few are slightly rusted and need a rub down with some fine sandpaper.

 It would be nice to know how old it is - my grandmother died in 1966 so it is definitely well over 60 years old and could be as much as 100 years old I suppose.  Such a tatty little object but a precious little treasure.

In between gardening - showers permitting - and clearing things out, I have been knitting.    Some years ago I found I had a lot of odd balls of wool some of which were really nice yarn.  I didn't want to get rid of them so decided to make a garment from them.  I played around with a pattern to create a sort of longline sweater which didn't turn out the way I wanted and it languished in the back of the wardrobe for ages.   I unpicked it recently and using a different pattern I have reknitted it into a jacket style cardigan.   I am on the second sleeve so not far to go now and if it turns out well I might treat myself to some really nice yarn to make a smarter cardigan.   The colour is richer than it appears here - think royal blue plus dark moody blues and a few lighter areas.

If I don't get back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis I shall be in danger of forgetting how to upload photographs!

Sunday 23 September 2012

A wet and dreary Sunday.

The perfect overnight guest who brings her own bed and bedding!  She likes to organise the bedding herself and is most particular about it's arrangement which means lots of scrabbling and trampling before it is just right.  We had a lovely walk yesterday afternoon in sunshine but this morning we both got quite wet though Poppy minded less than I did.   I had hoped to do more gardening today but the moment I set foot outside the backdoor it started raining and hasn't stopped since.  Good job I made the most of yesterday and even sat outside knitting later in the day though I did need a jacket on.

It's hard to believe that only a few days ago we were down in Somerset enjoying beautiful sunshine, and this was the reason for our visit.    I had picked up this booklet from Nature in Art two or three weeks earlier, not thinking that we would actually be going to Somerset.  The booklets themselves are very interesting, and I love looking at all the different types of art people are producing.  As I was leafing through the pages I spotted my tutor's name - Viv White - and realised that she wasn't as far away from us as I had imagined.
She lives in a delightful cottage in a lovely rural location and her visitors are in for a treat - her walls were covered with wonderful pieces of work featuring various types of birds, animals and trees.  We were spoilt with tea, coffee and delicious homemade flapjacks.
I bought several cards - the one above is a photo of a larger piece which I fell in love with and there were others in similar vein but this was my favourite.
I am well stocked up with cards but usually can't bear to part with them so my stock is growing!
I love these willows and the subtly collaged background.
I seem to have blurred this photo - again the background is collaged and the willows are machine stitched.
This lovely fabric cover conceals an A6 drawing book which can be slipped out when full and a new one put in it's place.   I couldn't resist it and when I came to pay for it Viv very generously gave it to me saying she gave a little sketch book to her students. 

 I have slipped behind a bit with my coursework so a bit of wet weather will give me a chance to catch up.  At this time of year when we get a lovely day it seems such a waste to spend time indoors.

Hope you are somewhere warm and dry today - I could do with the heating on but will make myself wait one more week. 

Wednesday 19 September 2012

I've been to the seaside today!

We had driven down to Somerset for quite a different reason then realised how close we were to Burnham-on-Sea so decided to go and take a look.   Above is the island of Steepholme in the Bristol Channel with the coastline of South Wales in the far distance.
To our right was this unusual little lighthouse, said to be the only one of it's kind in the UK.
It is proper seaside because there is a pier as well!
And to our left is this view of the wonderful sandy beach stretching far into the distance again.  It was a glorious day but quite chilly and no-one was in the water as the tide was right out and the sand is soft and very dangerous.  One or two hardy people were high up on the beach with small children but everyone was well wrapped up against the chilly brisk breeze.
I liked these textures made by the sand, water, and lichen on a fabricated stone wall.
I love this little weathervane on top of one of the shelters along the promenade.
Two locals out for a stroll .................
.................... and one old dear enjoying the sun.    I'll tell you about why we went to Somerset next time.

Friday 14 September 2012

Hereford Open Studios.

There is a lovely textile exhibition at Weavers Gallery in Ledbury this week and I saw it yesterday.   This little stumpwork piece caught my eye as soon as I entered and represents one of the local mills and some of it's workers.   I think that is right - I was very short of time as our lunch order had been forgotten and we sat for ages before being served, using up precious time which could have been spent making notes of the artists' names and with details of their work.   As it is, I was in a flap in case we went over our parking time and can't remember who did what or why!   The piece above was mounted on a stretched canvas approx.9"x9" and I hope if my photo enlarges you will be able to see a bit more detail.  I love it and think it is delightful.
This piece is entitled 'The stones of Lindisfarne'.   I love these densely stitched stone shapes.
These two pieces are part of the same work and mounted side by side in a long box frame.  The dark shapes are small pieces of slate with holes drilled in them so they can be stitched down onto the backing.
This is the first page of a wonderful fabric book dedicated to the city of Worcester.  I just love it.
This is the beautifully stitched cover.
And this is another page.
This beautiful hand-dyed felt scarf was in a glass case which is why the picture is a little blurred.  The colours of all the exhibits are much richer and stronger than they appear here.  
Next time I visit an exhibition I will be more organised and take my brain with me as well as the camera.

I spent ages trying to find a pattern I liked and in the end was persuaded to buy this one as it was right for the wool I had chosen and easily adaptable to give me the result I was looking for.   Each one I liked had the wrong neckline, or fancy sleeves or some other feature which wasn't suitable.   I didn't want a big collar, or a deep ribbed welt, or a fitted waistline and I my jacket to be longer.
Can you believe that this is what I ended up with from that pattern?  It looked much better over the Tshirt top I wore under it yesterday.   This morning I was chilly and had a sweatshirt on which makes it look bulky.  The colours are much nicer in reality too and it's very comfortable - best of all I actually like it!   I asked for my head to be cut off by the way.  I don't think I have a career in modelling ahead of me - maybe I should have just hung it on a hanger and photographed it that way.