Thursday, 12 January 2017

Walk, Walk, Walk.....

Today I turfed out my hand dyed fabrics to see what I have left. Not a lot in reality.
The pile top right is for over dyeing. They either need pepping up or calming down, most of them are from my City & Guild days so a bit experimental. I'm sure they'll be back with the others before long once I've found all my white cottons and silks too. 

On Monday Ellie and I set off from the village at 8am for a walk. 


It was a beautiful, crisp start to the day and we had a lovely time but it did start getting greyer as the forecast had said it would. 

In this photo the faint hill in the very furthest distance, you can hardly see it in the middle there, is just about where we set out from. 


But 3 hours later and 7 miles further we made it to Badbury Rings. 

We walked down Ito the car park just as the heavens opened and John pulled up to take us home. It was the furthest I'd ever walked in one go! 

Tuesday I went to London to see the Opus Anglicum exhibition at the V&A.  My Southwest train took me to Clapham Junction and my ticket took me on to Victoria but the Southern Rail train part of the journey was on strike so I chose to walk it.  The map said 2.5 miles. My MapMyWalk said 3.4 by the time I had walked up the steps at the front entrance. 

The exhibition was really busy and it was hard to get close enough to a lot of the exhibits to see the minuscule stitching. It was still nice to see all the bits I had been looking at in my book over the past few weeks though. Silly thing that caught my eye was the huge size of some of the feet in the pictures! No photos allowed sadly.  After I had some lunch I wandered around a few of the other galleries for a couple of hours and then decided to walk over to Waterloo station as that would take me past quite a few of the sites of London starting with the Oratory and then Harrods which I haven't been to since the children were very small. Lots to see though and not just Buckingham Palace, Horseguards, St Stephens tower, now the Elizabeth Tower, and the Houses of Parliament but lots of really fancy fast cars going no where in the static traffic, dogs dressed up to the nines, street buskers, spray tans and piled on make up, suits of every colour and holiday makers wrapped up against the cold though I didn't think it was that chilly. Anyway that walk was 4.8 miles apparently so that, getting there and the walking around the museum totted up to just over 9 miles. I'm doing well!! 

Yesterday John and I did a bit of work on this little beauty. 
Only thing wrong with it was the paper didn't feed so we stripped the top carriage down, found a few missing parts in the works, gave it a damn good clean and it works really well now. It could do with some new feed rollers but we can do that another day. I'm over the moon with it. 

Tomorrow Ellie and I are off on another adventure but the snow is supposed to come. Nothing down here yet but it has been raining and now the sky is clear so it will be icy in the morning no doubt. I'm setting of early so I can go slow and steady. 

Red Sky in the Morning has a proper sleeve too now so that's finished and I've another piece on the go so if the weather does turn I've plenty to be getting on with. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Cosy in the Studio

Whilst coughing and spluttering I have managed some time in the studio where it's nice and warm.  At least this cold hasn't knocked me sideways into sleep recovery like the last one did when I lost two weeks! 

I put this quilt together.  It's 29 x 90 cms, or about 11 x 35 inches in old money. It needs blocking again to straighten it and I think I'm going to put a bit of stitch in the border too.  

Red Sky in the Morning
I've put some triangle corners on the back for hanging but I'm not too keen on them.  I usually have a standard sleeve which I split in two so it can be show hung on a batten as normal or on a single nail or pin in the middle like an ordinary painting.  These triangles don't give me the option of ever showing it under normal rules.  Won't be a long job to put the sleeve on though. 

I printed up some paper the other week with some shell stamps I carved from erasers. 


I've now used some of the paper in shell books.  This first one is Pectin Scallop Shells. 5.5cm or 2 inches across.

This is a very delicate and translucent pair of Saddle Shells. 10cm or 4 inches across.

Just right for writing seaside thoughts into. 

I went into Salisbury in the week to sort out some contact lenses, has to be easier to walk the dogs in the wet than in glasses!! It was really quite cold even in the city, - 4 when I left home out in the sticks, and I was really shocked at how many shops had thier doors open and these heat curtains blowing down instead. What exactly is wrong with having the door actually closed keeping the warmth in? Terrible for the environment let alone their bills.  Really daft.  

I'm off to change a hanging sleeve, have a great weekend! 


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Well Here We Are. 2017.

Happy New Year!!

I hope you've all have a good Christmas.  Ours was great but John did come down with the lurgy on Boxing Day.  He declared himself fit three days ago and I've been snivelling and sneezing since!

I made quite a few bits this year.  Olivia received a quilt.  Just a Jelly Roll Race but she can take it up into her playhouse and I or her mum won't be too precious about it.



Grandpups Remi and Polly also had their own quilts.

I made 2 more of these as part of a Secret Santa swap as well.  There have been moments of joy actually sourcing doggy themed fabrics in fat quarter bundles as they are so hard to come by!!

I crocheted Elsa a Margaret Button Cowl, pattern HERE, which was lovely to make and really comfortable to wear.

While I was at it I did a mini me one for Olivia.  I know this is my full size mannequin but it is small enough for a 3 year old.



I also knitted Elsa some mittens, again pattern HERE.  Nice and quick once you have reminded your brain to do Garter Stitch and not automatically go into Stocking Stitch as you have been knitting soooo many baby cardies in it!! I was pleased to hear that Gina Ferrari, whom I pinched the pattern from, also had a hiccup or two in that department!


I also restored this dolls house given to Elsa and Mike for Olivia.  It was in a bit of a state but came together nicely.  



A dog portrait I did for a friend was received and liked, always a relief.  The hardest thing with this one was that there were no decent photos to work from AT ALL!  We found one we liked the expression of but it was only a tiny snap of about 3 inches, any larger it pixelated.  I had to sort of make him up from several other photos too which is always a very dangerous thing to do when you're dealing with someone's beloved pet.  Up shot is, go and treat yourself to having some good photos taken if you're not very good at it yourself.  You won't regret it!!



Speaking of dogs, I had a lovely walk with Ellie and Willow on Wednesday at Hengistbury Head with 12 German Shorthaired Pointers, 2 Wirehaired Pointers, 2 Dachshunds, a Sighthound and Grandpup Polly the Rottie.  Here is a very brief moment of calm before Chris throws the ball again.

Today I started my 31 Days of Yoga with Adriene, thank you for the intro Jayne.  I did a 30 days back in the Autumn and loved it.  It's a good way to start the day stretching out from the night's sleep and finding that bit of focus and peace. If you want to join in the link is HERE.

Finally my word(s) for last year were Be Me and I think I managed to start that but it took most of the year to do it. I have finished the courses and won't be doing anymore of such intensity.  I don't need bits of paper to do what I love doing.  I have actually put my big girl pants on a couple of times and even managed to take myself off to Harrogate and will be going to London on my own later this month too.  I have also reminded myself that I do actually only do this creating for me, no one else, and that I don't have to put myself in such a panicky place thinking about all that is needed for things like the Open Studios.  If I don't feel I have enough to show then I don't have to enter.  That's fine.  It's not compulsory and there will be other things.  

This year I have chosen the word Determination. I can put myself forward if I want to.  I can do things I didn't think possible.  I can also lay things aside too, my decision.  I'm determined to not get het up about things, my views matter just like everyone's so I will state what I think rather than just let things build up inside.  I had 40 years of that.  I am lucky to have a wonderful husband who supports me in whatever it is I'm doing and is a very good sounding board too! 



I'm off the the studio to see what I can tinker with whilst trying not to sneeze over everything.  Have a peaceful day. 



Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Last of the Year

I picked up this little chest of drawers for £5 the other week.  It was in a bit of a state but you know how we all like little drawers!!! 

John cut the top off and replaced it with some oak and we added a plinth to the bottom. Because of some of the marks on it and the removal of the metalwork leaving unvarnished places I decided to ebonise it with some Black Polish.



I've lined the drawers with some soft bump and all my special, semi precious cabochons have finally found a nice new home. I'm rather pleased with it 

One thing I made for a friend for Christmas she has opened.  Only a little thing and it's a bit of an experimental piece.

Strangely while it was stitching out near the end it was still stitching but the needle stayed in the up position.  I'm not too sure if it's something wrong with my machine or the pattern as it seemed to happen in the same place each time.  In the new year when there is more time I will investigate further.  

And the sketchbook each day fell after day 9!!!!  No surprise there really.  Perhaps it's just the wrong time of year or I really am as useless as I know at using sketchbooks!!  I have this book...

...and I decided to randomly open it each day and take inspiration from the page.  Anyway, the efforts so far.  


I slash the pages down between the spirals so I can take the pages out to work on them and then slot them back in.  They are using all sorts of inks, pearl gels and pens I have around the studio that don't usually have much of an airing so that's a nice something to come out of it anyway.  Maybe I will pick it up again when I don't seem to be out of time!! 

It's that time of year to wish you all a Happy Christmas and creative New Year.  I seem to have a few interesting adventures ahead of me and I hope they turn out as well as they possibly could!! Keep creating!! 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Finished and a Trip

I finished the long piece. 100 x 30cm



It still hasn't a name but I'm working on it.  



Pleased with it over all and it will definitely be going in the exhibition in March.  


I finished the Drawing for Textiles course with Dionne Swift.  Wasn't too happy with this one.  I didn't find it inspiring and other things took priority.  Her Developing Sketchbooks one I did quite enjoy and found I came away with some things to take further.  Perhaps it was that the drawing was done very much in her scribbly style, one which I'm not a fan of, rather than pushing our own.  Still, you live and learn and if anything I can put it in the 'don't want to do that or that way again' box.  

Last weekend I took the train to Harrogate.  I managed a bit of a mooch around on the Saturday afternoon and met up with Hilary Beattie who had one of the galleries.  She soon raided some of my purchases. 

Unfortunately the fur was moulting everwhere and her black top was covered in it.  She was seeing what she would look like going grey like me.  

I finally saw the Hardhome Embroidery.  A great piece of colaborative work.


And the FoQ winner was there too done by Laura Kemshall.  Yes it's huge but other than that it's lots of programmed machine stitch on a printed photograph.  Not sure how I feel about it tbh. 

Anne Kelly was there with lots of her own work and several pieces done by others.  I really liked this piece by Leisa Rich called Mass Hysteria.

Also all the little insect pieces she had sent in including my glowworms which actually do glow in the dark. 

There really was lots and lots to see, I'm sure you've all seen or read about them after Ally Pally and Dublin too.  In between shopping on the Sunday I did stand sit with Hillary a fair bit too. 

We took it in turns and I think she quite enjoyed herself visiting others but she did manage to sneak a bit of playtime in, which she wasn't supposed to do in a gallery! If you know Hilary you know her joyous abandon when playing with her materials!! 

I've just read the latest Cloth, Paper, Scissors and seen the article by Robyn McClendon where she talks about her 360 days of collaging.  As you know I am pretty useless at these sketchbooks and there is no way I would be able to do 360 days worth!  However it is 1st December and if you remember last year I did the month of blogging challenge.  Well I thought I could just try to put something in my sketchbook for the 31 days of December.  It helped watching Hilary and seeing her books.  Yes I can do that!  Can't I?  I will let you know now and then!! 

Winter is finally here so keep warm and stay safe if you have it too! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Again in Limbo, But It's Good!

Feeling much better this past week thank you for your comments.  Speaking of comments, I do reply to all of you when you leave them.  If you haven't heard from me it maybe that you are a no reply blogger and it's not coming through to you.  You have to adjust your settings for that.  If you have changed from Blogger to Google + at any point the default settings will have turned back to not letting people see your email address.  Easiest way to check is to go to an old post of yours on your own blog, post a comment and when you have the email come through hit reply and see what is in the email address box. If that doesn't work or you don't have a blog you will have to look up changing it on Google. I also have a couple of you who I am not receiving an email from when you post. Not sure who that is down to but I do try and catch up with you eventually!!! 

When I finished my City and Guilds in 2012 I remember the feeling that the rug had been pulled, or more like the crutch had been swiped away.  Suddenly Laura Kemshall wasn't at the end of the line or email giving out her wonderful words of wisdom, support and encouragement.  Now having finished these Embroiderers Guild courses I've had a similar feeling but instead of a plummet I've had a soaring feeling!  Freedom! That doesn't mean I've been making too much but I have had a bit of a clear out in some areas, there have even been some listings on eBay.  I have also taken back control of my time and diary which is most precious of all.  I've also cleared some other deadwood activities which I was feeling were unprofitable for me.  I am now in charge again rather than running madly behind trying to catch up.  A good place to be.

I'm still working on the long panel piece, not too much to do now.  It's going on a panel 100 x 30 cm so a good size. 

Lots of layering of stitches and they all have to have a cohesive feeling to bring it together.  repetition hopefully will help with that. 

I've now pinned it to a roller embroidery frame so I can see where I'm going and what I've done.  There are also a few bits of copper wire so I didn't want them crumpled and they also won't fit in a standard hoop or frame hence the pinning instead.  The red here is a drawing pin! 

A couple of weeks ago we went to Lewtrenchard Manor for a couple of nights. It's a very interesting place, full of character and history and I spent a lot of time just looking and taking photos on my phone.  Every ceiling was different.

Even the paneling in our room had lots to see.  Next time we go we're taking one of the dogs with us!  Lots of places to walk there and right on the edge on Dartmoor.  


I'm now actually trying to put some of these down into my sketchbook!  Yes, you may gasp, me using a sketchbook! But only as a source of keeping the information together, this worm hasn't turned just yet.  


We even popped up to Ilfracombe and saw Damien Hirst's Verity.  She may be tall but not as big as I thought she was going to be.  It was a bit of a grey day and the picture won't lighten but you can look her up if you want to see better.  


Next week if off to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate! Quite excited and my list it growing.  

Back to trying to finish the panel today.  My wrists and thumb joints are complaining mightily, it's gloves on for most of the day, but not too much more to do now.  


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Well I'm Glad That's Over With!

October was an absolute write off!  The Thursday after coming back from London I woke up with no voice and that lasted three days.  That then went everywhere and I was knocked sideways by the most horrendous cold thing and was in bed for 12 days.  Never been so ill with just a cold!  Of course there's no use going to the doctor as there's nothing they can or will do so home remedies it was!  John makes a pretty mean hot toddy I must say. Just recovering from all that and my Hiatus Hernia rolled rather nastily which caused a bit of worry for a few days, but it's ok and no mad dash to hospital this time! And my cold has come back, but it feels normal this time thank goodness.  

Whilst all this was going on I missed going to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally and I was gutted!! I had a long list of to do's, plenty of galleries I wanted to visit and a few people to meet up with.  All passed and not even a sniff of those lovely halls!! I have now taken a huge leap and booked my hotel and a train ticket to Harrogate at the end of this month!! Scarey going all that way without my rock beside me but I know he will be following my on my Find my Friend thingy so with me in spirit.  It was wonderful when I went to Paris on my own knowing he was there in ther ether like my guardian angel. 

One of my Facebook groups raises lots of money for Pointer charities and it held a raffle some time ago which I won a prize of a painting of one of the dogs.  The lady who initially said she would do it backed out but I was thrilled to be told that Michelle Diprose, an amazing artist and also a mad Pointer owner, would be doing it instead. Look what she did of my boy Ruger!! Isn't it fantastic??!! 

I can't tell you how perfect it is and I am so, so pleased to have some of her amazing work especially of one of my own dogs.  

Being so ill does not add up to much in the way of creativity, lots of sleep but not getting on with things.  I did start a long piece for the exhibition next year.  It needs a lot more added to it but I had to do some for a photo for the Art Centre brochure coming out for the new year! 

I also used some of the boiled eco papers I made back in September to make a book. 

You probably saw the start of this if you follow me on Instagram. Link to me, incase you don't and want to. I'm not a prolific poster but things do make it there now and then.



It's 6 x 7 inches and will be for the exhibition too. 

Now days are drawing in as the clocks have pointlessly gone back I feel I'm fighting for time more and more.  I'm sure it will be all ok in the end but March is running towards me too fast!!! 

Oh and I finished my Embroiderers Guild Course, thank goodness.  I now have the Level 2 in Machine Embroidery.  I wanted to do the EG one rather than the City & Guilds one as it goes to Level 4 but the incompetence of my first tutor totally put paid to that idea!! Thank you Ms Howes for nothing!! 




Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Now, where Was I?

Still managing to plod on with the coursework, life and a few other bits! 

I cooked another batch of Khadi papers. 

This time I soaked half in iron water.  Well I crushed up a load of my iron tablets and let them steep for a while before putting the papers in, but it worked! 

The other half I soaked in vinegar water.  Much paler which is lovely as they could still be written on.  


I have been pre cutting the pages to size using my decal ruler as I like the deeper staining on the edges.  If I make up whole sheets there is often a white line if I cut them post dyeing.  Can't be avoided sometimes though!! They will be make up into more books soon.

I have also been experimenting with some doggy portraits.  

Normally I run a mile from backgrounds and I spend an absolute age making sure every single hair is represented. I've taken a turn to trying much softer approach with backgrounds my old pastel tutor would cringe at!  All rubbed in and smeared, but I'm loving them!! 

It started with the Shona portrait I did back in March but don't seem to have shown you on here!!  This beautiful old lady was a much loved member of a group of Pointer owners we are in and she sadly went over the Rainbow Bridge.  I just had the urge to capture her for her mum.  I really liked the faded look I'd given her. 



This is of Willow looking out of my bedroom window.  

And this is a friends dog Hobbes.


They are on 9 x 12 inch paper but I've, again, done them very softly and loosely. I also want to almost make them generic. The thought is to see how they reduce into card size and, so far, they seem to do so very well.  Apart from really liking the effect the time taken is also a lot less!  As long as I have perfection in the eyes the rest can hang from them and I'm happy with that. 

On Monday I had a fabulous trip to London with my friend Karren to the Tate Modern to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition.  It was wonderful!! I really enjoyed it.  And there were plenty of her paintings covering all her styles over the years.  I had gone wanting to see her grading of colour and tone up close and it was everything I had hoped it would be.  Devine! I'm glad I bought the book to continue perusing at my leisure.  

This week also saw my interview on the new Workshop on the Web Tumblr site HERE.  Excuse the huge photo of me at the beginning, I think Fiona was a little carried away!! It coincides with the article I wrote for them on making the Forest Floor pieces in my last post. 

I've taken to writing a Todo list and carrying it with me.  It started quite long but I've managed to strike off a few things.  Unfortunately I keep adding so I think I will now go and peruse the list to see what I can get rid of!