Wednesday 27 June 2012

Nearly There.

The last two pages finished. The colour is a bit washed out in these photos - the background above is a stronger blue/green than it appears here. I used tiny stitches to tack a torn frayed strip of dark red silk under a piece of gold trimming to the background and then added the main motif which is a rubbing made with Markal Stik on silk then quilted, only here and there, to suggest ageing and distressing then attached it to the muslin background with fine gold buttonhole stitch and partly edged it with a gold trim. Finally I attached the three little gold charms.

The symbols on this page are runes. There are various runic alphabets with differing numbers of characters. One version with 24 characters dates from 150 AD. A later Viking Age version has 16 characters. They were carved on wood and stone memorials and everyday objects as marks of ownership and were used as charms and curses, and for sending messages. I think these come from the earlier version.

I took my alphabet and information from Jan Messent's book 'Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery.

I worked it on fine needlepoint canvas painted gold with a sheer fabric over the top. I used blue Danish Flower Thread for the small characters and my own random dyed thread for the larger ones. Three narrow strips of metal cut from a tomato puree tube break up the rows of symbols - the central one is decorated with a row of automatic machine stitch worked with no thread in the needle or bobbin then stitched in place on the canvas. The other two slightly narrower strips are held in place each with a row of cross stitch.

A piece of torn medieval script is on the right and painted heat distressed torn nappy liner on the left. I finished it off with a metal button at each corner.

The pages are now stitched back to back in the right order and ready to be bound. I think I have even worked out how to make the cover and assemble the book. I just hope it works!

Saturday 23 June 2012

No wonder he looks so sleek!!

As I was relaxing after a spot of gardening this afternoon, I heard strange knocking noises and looked out to see this little chap having pinched some of the peanuts my husband puts into this feeder for the birds. The squirrels are very adept at emptying any of our peanut holders and often ruining them in the process, even the metal ones. My husband loves to try and outwit them but so far I think the squirrels are winning. This photo was taken through double glazing, hence the less than sharp image. Three more pages here and only two more to make.

I made the little tile (top left) with some kind of self hardening clay and when dry I rubbed it with gilding wax. The background is paper painted with acrylics and cling film pressed over the top while the paint is still wet. The text is a scrap of curtain fabric and the lower decoration is made with Paper Clay painted and rubbed with gilding wax.

This one appeared in an earlier post but was only partly made. I found a broken ear-ring and fixed it in the centre. The gold edging was not quite long enough but fits my theme perfectly as it has obviously suffered during all those years in a peat bog and begun to disintegrate at the right hand side. Worms and other creepy crawlies have also eaten away part of the text!!

The background is a piece of khaki green silk with gold metal squares, cut from an empty tomato puree tube, at each corner. I had three little metal charms and stitched them on top and a scrap of different text was tucked in behind the main motif which is formed by couching two rows of gold cord with two rows of green gimp cord between onto a piece of fabric paper. I have just this minute noticed a glaring mistake which will not be rectified at this late stage. I will leave you to find it for yourselves and I'll follow the Amish principle that only God is perfect, so my work will be quite acceptable! I stitched a gold button in the lower part of the motif to finish it off.

In the dry spells I shoot out into the garden and fill another barrowload with weeds and dead bits. Then when it is raining I do a few more pages of coursework and a bit more work on these pages. Sometimes I even get some housework done! I hope you are managing to find interesting things to do in this most uninteresting 'summer' weather.

Thursday 21 June 2012


I am having a lovely time reading all your blogs but for some reason cannot leave comments for you. Please don't think I am no longer interested. Hopefully Blogger will get it's act together and normal service will be resumed before long.

Monday 18 June 2012

A Summer Day!!

I actually sat in the sun and stitched this afternoon. I was sitting just to the left of the honeysuckle you see here and the warmth of the sun released it's perfume, and the bees were happily buzzing about in it. My idea of Heaven. However, if it is another fine day tomorrow I really ought to do some gardening - on the right day that's pretty heavenly too.
I have been working on more fabric pages for my book. I'm undecided about the one below. I love the Celtic Knot design but am not sure about the thread I am using. It was such a job getting it transferred onto the fabric. The background is painted Bondaweb ironed onto pale green cotton fabric with blue/green organza over the top. First I tried simply tracing the design but it wouldn't transfer onto the organza. Next I tried a transfer pencil but again the design resisted being transferred. Next I pinned the tracing onto the background and with a fine black pen almost scratched it through the tracing paper and onto the fabric. I'll keep going and see what it looks like when it is complete. Maybe a few touches of gold somewhere will help or I could paint over it and touch it up with gilding cream.

You've see this page before (a couple of posts back) but it has changed a bit since last time, and I think this arrangement is better. I was amazed at the time it took me to come to a satisfactory result. The principles of collage are so simple but it is so difficult to find just the right elements and then have them in the right proportions and positions.

I had originally intended to be as authentic as possible with the content of these pages, but quickly realised that I didn't know nearly enough about Anglo-Saxon England to do that, so I have opted for a flight of fancy and the stitched pages are imagined scraps of textiles which might have existed then.

I must find a way of ageing the edges of each page and maybe distressing the fabric to match the cover. I still haven't worked out how to bind the pages or fix them into the cover - I am hoping for a Eureka moment.

As the cover started off by spending about three months lying under the cherry tree in the garden, perhaps I should be brave enough to put the pages out there too!

Thursday 14 June 2012

Better than going to the Gym!

Yesterday morning while my husband was at the gym, my daughter and son-in-law took me to Uley Barrow, or Hetty Pegler's Tump as it is known locally. The Barrow dates from Neolithic times and in the 17th century Hetty Pegler was the wife of the landowner on which it stands and the locals gave her name to it.

It is tucked away in the corner of a field only a short way from the road. No proper parking area, no signs or facilities and totally unspoilt. This old stone wall is now the bottom of a hedge beside the footpath leading to the Barrow.

It is many years since I have seen so many different wild flowers in one place - it was like a wild garden.

The larger of the yellow flowers above are rock roses growing on the mound itself. There were signs of cowslips here and back in April it must have been a beautiful sight as it was smothered with them.

This is the entrance to the mound - quite small and you have to crawl inside. There are two chambers, also quite small. I didn't go in and left that to the 'youngsters'.

That's a very handsome piece of stone over the entrance. We were so lucky with the weather - it was the perfect day for an outing like this.

Behind the mound we came to this lovely wood where there were signs that it had once been coppiced regularly but now it rather looks as if things are left to their own devices.

The lowest branch of this huge ash tree has almost snapped right off but continues to sprout with life.

This is the same broken branch snaking away into the distance.

We walked back the way we had come, beside the oilseed rape, no longer vivid yellow but totally green. I had never been so close to this plant before and was fascinated by all the tiny green pods which turn a biscuity colour, then very dark brown or black when they ripen later in the year.

Wild flowers everywhere we looked...........

..................... and wonderful lichens and moss on many of the branches. I took loads of photos but have thinned them down for this post.

We were quite high up and the views in all directions were lovely.

There was another treat in store as when we got back to the car out came the camping stove and kettle and there was tea and a muffin each which we enjoyed while listening to a skylark and watching gliders from the local flying club trying to find the thermals. Perhaps not perfect conditions for them as one or two seemed to descend quite soon after getting up there.

I made a list of just some of the plants I had seen: Scarlet Pimpernel, Forgetmenot, Vetch, Herb Robert, Sorrel, Cranesbill, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Medic, Field Poppy, Daisy, Rock Rose, White and Red Clovers, Hedge Woundwort, Buttercup, Plantain, Cowslip. When the mound was first made there was probably a settlement nearby and I like to think of all those plants and more besides, being highly valued as food and medicine.

After our snack we then went on to Cam Peak which is a very steep cone shaped hill, and climbed to the top. Again we were surrounded by panoramic views of the countryside and could see across the River Severn and to the Malvern Hills. Taking the gentler path was still quite an effort but very worthwhile. I was so impressed by the views I completely forgot to take any photos! As this is already quite a long post, maybe that is just as well.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Life is just a .................

My husband came home with these when he went out for the papers this morning. They are so beautiful I just had to take a photo of them. Correction - they were so beautiful but didn't last long.

I have come to a halt with the cover of my book so have started on the pages. I thought it would be good to include some dye plants that would have been used in Anglo-Saxon times. Above is woad which gives a blue dye.

This is Dyer's Greenweed and below is Weld, both of which yield yellows and greens.

This last one is Madder which yields red dye from it's roots.

I am planning some collaged pages to go on the reverse of the main ones and below is the first of these. I have only placed the various bits and pieces on the calico page and the arrangement may change but it will be similar.

I had intended to be authentic and accurate with the content of this book but I have settled for a flight of fancy instead - far less demanding!

The sky outside my window is a very funny colour - it's blue!! - I should be outside. It is wonderful to see the sun again and the wind is dying down, thank goodness. I have spent the morning propping plants up and cutting others down where the wind has bashed them about so much.

Hope tomorrow is fine too, but that may be too much to ask.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Waiting for the sun to shine again.

Inspite of heavy rain overnight, the garden looks reasonably unscathed this morning and all these beauties are doing their best to brighten up a very grey and wet day. It stopped raining just long enough for me to do a bit of dead-heading and take these photos.

I can see this gorgeous clematis from the kitchen window.

This honeysuckle is just outside the back door and it's perfume is wonderful on a warm summer evening.

We planted this rose to form some shade cover for my favourite spot for sitting in the garden though I've hardly needed it. It has put on amazing growth this year and has dozens of flowers. The buds are almost orange, opening to a strong buttery yellow and then gradually fading away to cream.

It's not such a good year for these in my garden - there were three huge heads last year but only one this year.

This is a much smaller honeysuckle on the other end of the pergola. The best view is from above as all the growth and flowers seem to search for the sun.

I love these tiny pale pink flowers on the black elder. It grows far too big for our garden so we have to cut great chunks out each year. I now find there is a dwarf variety which would have been a better choice.

The clouds are tearing across the sky but there are a few lighter patches and I can actually see a bit of blue. Wishing you all a bit of blue, and have a good weekend.

Friday 1 June 2012

Lubilee Jubilee!! - Getting in the Mood.

We've hung up our bunting.......................................

and I've filled up the cupcake cases.............................. and hidden them away until I blow the whistle to start eating! ...............................

.............. but am saving these until the festivities really start.

Judging by the weather forecast we will be sitting indoors watching the televised events, drinking tea and eating everything ourselves!

As we drove between Gloucester and Ledbury yesterday, many of the villages along the main road were festooned with flags and bunting. It gave everywhere a very festive air.

I have released the tadpoles into the pond at last. They needed cleaning out almost daily and seemed quite traumatised by being ladled out of their home into a clean bucket, and then decanted back to their cleaned container so frequently. Most of them have grown all four legs so I hope they are too big now to be considered suitable for a newt's dinner. If I don't see dozens of frogs hopping about the garden later in the year, I shall feel entirely responsible for their early demise!

However you spend it have a lovely weekend whatever the weather in your part of the world.