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.

Monday 2 September 2013

A dream come true.

Hawkwood College is only about half an hour's drive from where I live and I have been trying for several years to find out how to get on one of these courses but they are very popular and always fully booked.    Quite by chance only a month ago I was looking at Frances Pickering's website and spotted a red box saying 'Stop Press News - due to cancellations two vacancies on the Late Summer Course'.   This was too good an opportunity to miss so I emailed straight away and got a place.
The house was once an elegant mansion but is now a little run down - it must have been very beautiful in it's heyday.   It has a lovely atmosphere and all guests are very well looked after.   This was the view from my bedroom window.
A longer shot here with the sun bleaching out the far distance.

There was little time for taking photos but I managed a quick half hour before breakfast on the first morning to wander round the garden and take these.
This tree was struck by lightning about a month ago but most of it seems to have survived.

There are lovely views all around.
 I spotted this little stone carved way marker along the drive...............
................. and took loads more photos of the magnificent trees everywhere.
Couldn't resist these stately cardoons.

Now for just a few of Frances' gorgeous hand made books some of which are really tiny.
She very kindly allowed us to take photos of them and gave me permission to put them on my blog.
Two of my 'neighbours'.
We had plenty of working space and a lovely airy studio to work in.
Our show and tell table at the end of the course.   My work is at the other end of the table and not quite fit for public viewing yet!   There was so much to learn and I wanted to absorb as much as possible, so I haven't produced as much as I would have liked but will put it in my next post.
Frances and her husband Jim looked after us so well, even providing a glass of wine with lunch and dinner each day, and keeping us supplied with anything we needed for the work we were doing if we hadn't taken the right things with us.

The accomodation was simple but very comfortable and the food was delicious.   It's a good job we were only there for a weekend or we'd need a slimming course to follow!   All in all a wonderful experience and, best of all, I've signed up for next year.