Sunday 29 December 2013

There it was - Gone!

All that time preparing for Christmas and then it seems to pass in a flash.    But I have had some beautiful presents which remind me of that lovely time spent with our family.
I obviously have impeccable taste as the original painting of the above print is in Prince Charles' downstairs loo!   My husband bought me this and allowed me to choose it to be on the safe side.   I love it and if you look closely, in the bottom left corner you will see the Prince of Wales' feathers and underneath is the title of the painting 'The Hare Apparent'!

Among many other gifts was this beautiful Venetian glass pen from our son and daughter-in-law.  I hope you can see the gold flecks in the glass which make it look so elegant.   I am almost afraid to use it in case it rolls off the table and breaks.   It writes very smoothly,  but it would be interesting to try it with a calligraphy nib to see what other effects I could get.  
It has been a glorious day today but we are warned of further stormy weather to come.  So many have had their Christmas ruined by the power failures and flooding - they have my commiseration - I hope they find the strength to cope and that their lives will be back to normal before too long.   The same applies to those who fell foul of colds and flu or other infections.   We kept free of germs but lost our garden fence in the gales, so the first job of the New Year will be to get a new one installed.  I call that getting off light!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas to one and All!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.   I hope you are managing to stay free of the germs which abound at present and have not been blown or washed away by the awful weather we've been getting.   A section of our garden fence has collapsed but otherwise we are unscathed.

Have a lovely Christmas and I'll try to be a more frequent blogger in the New Year.  What makes me think that is almost a resolution and almost guaranteed to be broken?!!

Thursday 12 December 2013


I found the current issue of this lovely magazine on the shelves when out shopping today and grabbed a copy.  It is a firm favourite of mine among the plethora of other new publications which have flooded the market in recent years.   It has the most beautiful photography and is very informative with features on various arts, history, folklore, recipes, crafts and more besides.  It's pages are sprinkled with fitting quotations from poetry and prose by famous writers.  It has a sister magazine called Landlove which will be out next week and that is hard to resist too.   Sometimes I have to be even more indulgent and buy both.  For those of us who don't live as close to the countryside as we would like, they are just the thing.  I hope they don't go down the 'Country Living' path which was once a favourite but seems to have become the publication for those who have weekend cottages in the country and just play at it.

I attended my final meeting of the textile group I belonged to on Tuesday.  It was our Christmas meeting and we hired a local hall, each took a plate of food to be shared and had a wonderful lunch.   It was pre-arranged as to who would provide what, to ensure a balance of dishes, and so much nicer than going out to eat.  I shall certainly miss the companionship of fellow members but am quietly relieved to shed the commitment of producing work to exhibition standards.  

I shall still carry on making textile art and have plans for a couple more books going round in my head at the moment.  Currently I am making printing blocks for the online course I am working on.  I foresee a very colourful and messy time ahead.

All ready for Christmas?   Not long now, and don't panic - you're supposed to enjoy it!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

I'm still here.

The time between my posts seems to get longer and longer.   I suppose I have been busy but there doesn't seem to be much to show for it.   I am nearing the end of my online course and there is a lot of drawing in this last chapter which is quite time consuming, especially the time I spend avoiding getting down to work!  I am also making an altered book for one of our daughters but can't show you yet as it's a surprise for her birthday in April.  It is taking ages to complete but I'm nearly there and then there will just be the cover to do.   When that is done I shall put it away and then take a final look to see if anything more needs to be done shortly before I give it to her.

I have my little friend Poppy with me today and we have just been for a walk.   It's lovely out there between the squally hail and rain storms and the leaves are falling fast now.   When the sun shines the colours are beautiful.  
To get Poppy to turn her head like this I spoke very quietly to her and was saying 'Shall we put our coat and shoes on a go for a walk?   Shall we?'    'Shall we' seems to be the key phrase and engenders great anticipation of wonderful things to come.   I'm sure I never quite turn up trumps for her.   It was hard to get the best swivels as her head seems to be constantly on the move from left to right and back again, but these too are not far off the mark.  

I am still waiting for delivery of an order which ArtVanGo despatched on the day I ordered it, which was Monday 11th November.  I finally succumbed and treated myself to some Derwent Coloursoft crayons.  They will be ideal for the coursework I am doing at the moment.   Maybe I'll get them tomorrow - we will be out so that will mean a trip to the sorting office the following day to collect the parcel.   I think it is a bit hard on suppliers when they respond so promptly to orders, to have to advise their customers to allow at least 10 working days for delivery.   The postal charges keep increasing but the service doesn't.

I suppose I should start to get myself in the festive mood.  It seems to get harder every year but I always enjoy our family get-together on Boxing Day.   Note to self - write out 100 times:  I must not think Bah Humbug!   I must not think Bah Humbug!    I must not ..........

Friday 1 November 2013

I think it's finished.

The pictures go from front cover, through all the pages to the back cover of my fabric book.
I made the little spiralled panels from painted and gilded paper clay.  The clasp and hinges are painted Grungbord which is a product found in good craft shops.  All have been stitched in place.  I have posted some of the pages before so apologise for the repeats. 
Most of the images are made with foam print blocks and taken from a Dover book of medieval designs, one or two others are bits that I already had and seemed to fit the theme.   I am in danger of ruining things by fiddling but feel that some areas need a bit more definition.  I shall put it away for a few days and take another look to see what is wanted.

We had an interesting day yesterday.  After doing the weekly shop we were going to Pershore which is a very nice little market town just northwest - I think -  of Tewkesbury.  However, the car was making heavy weather of being driven so we headed for home along the A38 instead of taking the motorway.  Thank goodness we did, as not far south of Gloucester the clutch died on us, fortunately in a layby with a snack van in it.   I was looking forward to being taken out for lunch but that bacon sandwich went down a treat and we sat patiently doing our respective crossword puzzles as we waited for the AA and our son to come to our rescue.  Hopefully the car will be back with us by Wednesday but my husband's pocket will be quite a bit lighter!   You never know what the day will bring.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Arboretum photos.

It is not a good idea to spend the morning shopping and then go to the Arboretum.  We were both wilting a bit by the time we got there and I had no idea how much it has developed since we last went, probably 25 or 30 years ago!   The bit I remember is now referred to as the Old Arboretum and there are acres of lovely walks through amazing trees which just weren't opened to the public back then.   We didn't even get to the Acer Grove but someone told us the leaves would have taken on more colour in a week or two.  That is if there are any leaves left on any trees after the forecast storm.   We hope to revisit on a non-shopping day and will phone first to find out how things are.
There are photos crying out to be taken at every turn and I did find some colours.

I love the way shrubs and small trees are planted almost peeping out from behind a majestic giant.

Or they just light up a little glade where there is no other colour yet.

I don't know which tree has these enormous leaves.   If you look carefully you will see an ordinary oak leaf lying nearby.  The large leaf must have been at least a foot long.

The colour of this bark really glowed in the sunlight.

I couldn't resist a shot of these beautiful fungi.   I must find out what they are.

The book is nearly finished so I'll put it on my next post.

  Batten down the hatches everyone, and keep safe.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Another fortnight has passed!

Where does the time go?  I can't believe how long the gaps between my posts have become just lately.
As you can see I have been busy making more pages for my fabric book.  I'm not sure what the gentleman on the left in the above photo is doing, but it looks rather dangerous to me.

And I wonder if this one has toothache, poor chap.

I can't fathom what it is about their mournful expressions which appeals to me so much.   Usually I prefer happy faces but these are so quaint and quirky.

Now I must pluck up the courage to make the cover and bind the pages into it.

After a very doubtful start to today, it has turned into a lovely autumn day.  We are hoping to go to Westonbirt Arboretum tomorrow, weather permitting - I would like to take some photos of the glorious colours at this time of year.   Fingers crossed.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Patience is a virtue!

It's taken me three days to be able to upload these pictures.   I don't know what has been going on but I just have to go away and do something else until my laptop wants to play nicely again.
Anyway,  I though I'd share my lovely little crabapples which seem to be more colourful than last year when I think they were more yellow.  Maybe it is because the tree is beginning to mature.

I love the sun shining on these heuchera leaves - when it shines through them they look a lovely creamy ochrey colour and some are bordering on apricot.  

I sat out with a cuppa the other day, thinking that there can't be many more chances of doing so this year, and noticed this brilliant flash of red among the leaves at the base of my angelica plant.   I've grown it before but never noticed how red they are.

I have been cheating with this variegated wool which knits up like a faux Fair Isle pattern.   In this photo my camera has bleached out the lovely shades of blue which are much richer in reality.   The pattern said I would need 6x100grm balls of wool to make the garment but I found that in spite of making it a good 3 inches longer, I completed it using only 4 balls of wool,  so went back for 4 more in another colour.
Again, the colours are richer in reality.   It is such fun seeing the pattern emerge row by row, even if it is a bit like painting by numbers.

I've being doing a bit more to the book pages and the two here, above and below, are now finished I think.

This one is in the making ..............

........................ and here are some more printing blocks ready to complete the rest.
I must come up with a design for the cover.   I did think I might put the back view of the bishop on the back cover but haven't decided how to treat the front yet.   Too many ideas and too many decisions to be made.

It's a beautiful bright, but quite chilly, day here today - hopefully the nip in the air will wake me up as I've been feeling so lethargic lately.   It's not a good state to be in as the bright sunlight shows me that the windows need cleaning, the kitchen floor could do with yet another wash and various other surfaces need more than a lick and a promise.   Oh well - there's always tomorrow!

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Gardening, gardening and more gardening!

I have been trying to tame our mini jungle before the fine weather gives way to more wintry conditions and came upon this tiny forest of fungi.   Two days after taking this picture they had all disappeared - it was as if they had never been there.

Having evicted several clumps of weeds that pull up easily I was delighted to find these lovely little cyclamen.  I thought I had lost them all.

Looking out of the bedroom window this morning I saw that the honeysuckle is still doing it's stuff.  The bees will be happy and the birds will love the berries when the flowers have finished.

I took this photo through the dining room window.    I love this clematis but it is so untidy and hangs right down from the pergola.  It has climbed a good twenty feet into a tree the other side of our wall and I think I must cut it back drastically this year or it will outgrow it's strength.   

Our newest climbing rose is having one last splurge and has done us proud this year in spite of being so new.

I think this might be the last rose of summer.   Look at those leaves!   I must treat it for black spot again and if we don't have some proper rain soon I shall have to water the garden.  The weather has been marvelous but the soil is so dry.

I can't believe that it is a month since I went on that lovely book making course with Frances Pickering.   September has been such a busy month I had to be strong and put my book away and have only just started working on it again.   Progress is slow but I will post one or two more pages as they are completed.

Friday 20 September 2013

It's been another busy day.

I sowed several packets of seeds earlier this year and some of them were almost climbing out of their seed trays so today was the day for dealing with them, but just as I had begun to pot up these seedlings daughter no.3 arrived so we stopped for coffee and a chat which was lovely of course, but work came to a halt.
Most of the ones in these two photos are foxgloves - how many can one small garden cope with?!!  I started out planting them singly in the trough but was soon stuffing several in each pot or I'd have run out of soil and pots.  I think every seed in the packet must have germinated.   I had also sown honesty seeds which were growing into lovely healthy looking plants but a day later had been reduced to shreds by an army of tiny caterpillars.   Something had laid it's eggs on the underside of almost every leaf and they must have all hatched together.  I think the plants will survive although they look a bit battered and straggly now.

I got back to my potting again when my daughter had left but before long daughter no.4 and her husband arrived and as it was nearly lunchtime they stayed for a sandwich and cuppa and more chat.   Then after lunch our son turned up, so more chat and tea - but eventually I finished the job and just need to remember to check on them (the plants, not the offspring) and give them a drink now and then.  I wasn't expecting any of them (the offspring, not the plants) today, and love it when they drop in unexpectedly.

The other thing which has dominated my time recently has been reorganising my workroom.   I cleared a lot of stuff out some time ago but felt that better use could be made of the space and power points.  Below is my all important new blogging corner and - joy of joys - I no longer have to stand on my head to plug the laptop in or have to unplug something else first in order to do so.

The sewing area is in the centre of the room and I can walk all round the machine table which frees up  storage space under the worktop by the window.

I can spread myself out on this worktop - it's ideal for my coursework for which I like natural light.
I still have too much 'stuff' but am getting better at clearing out and more will be leaving for the charity shop shortly.   All of this came about after we had the shower-room updated.   The decorating will be finished tomorrow and new flooring goes down on Monday, after which I hope the house can return to normal.

There has been no time for creativity and I am longing to get back to work on my grumpy little Isle of Lewis men.   They are all waiting for me in the red box you can see in the basket on the worktop.  Maybe next week, after I have done another chapter of coursework.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Not a lot to show...............

............... for a long weekend but a great deal of looking, listening and sampling went on as I tried out new techniques on that lovely workshop at Hawkwood.
I had gone with the intention of using flowers as my design source but caught sight of the designs for the Isle of Lewis chess pieces on someone else's table and remembered they were in this book which I had taken with me.   No-one else was working with that particular design so I changed my plans, having wasted a morning making flower prints, and made a start on the chessmen.   I just love their mournful expressions.

I will be making more borders and may use the two square motifs as end paper designs.  The print blocks are made from Funky Foam which is a thin sheet of foam with a sticky backing.   It holds any firm impression made on it - I traced my designs directly onto the foam then went over them with a pencil pressed quite firmly to get a good clear result.   I will cut the foam as near to the design as possible then peel off the backing and stick each design to a piece of thick card trimmed to size.   Then I'll be ready to start work again.

These are my pages - just old sheeting dyed with tea.

Some pages will be patterned - this one has been dulled by rubbing over it with a Derwent Inktense block and brushing with a little water to spread the colour.   The image has been printed on plain fabric using colour from an Inktense block then bonded onto the patterned background.  The page will have a border of some kind down the right hand side.

This was going to be the cover for my book but I made the mistake of not making it larger than the rest of the pages to allow for their bulk, so it will have to be a page and another cover will be made to fit.

I must get on with my online coursework which is on hold while I try to restore partial order to the bedroom and shower-room.   We are having our shower-room updated and I turned a blind eye to all the bits on the floors and stairs last week but work came to a sudden halt on Thursday when the plumber found that the cistern and toilet unit were damaged when he took them out of their packing.    I decided I'd have a tidy house for the weekend and clear up again after Monday when he will be back to finish the job.   It never ceases to amaze me how far the disruption can spread when just one room is being decorated or worked on.

I am also trying to get the garden in order by autumn and plant the seedlings I am bringing on before the weather begins to get too cold.   They are supposed to be hardy and the weeds are all doing well in spite of my best efforts so a few more weed evictions will give me enough room to plant my new babies.   I had no idea I was running a hostel with full board and lodging for snails and slugs until evidence was discovered among the seed trays.   I try to be organic but I can't manage without slug pellets.

I don't really want the summer to end but of course it must, and there are benefits to having cooler wetter weather - no trudging up and down the garden with watering cans for a start.