Monday, 31 December 2007

Christmas time

Boo,Winston and Arnie were last seen heading off to their respective homes on Christmas Eve. They didn't look very happy at the thought of being parted.

I promised myself some creative time over the holiday period. I made some printing blocks from polystyrene cutting the shapes with a soldering iron. This is how Frances Pickering does it,and I have to say it works wonderfully. The soldering iron just glides through the polysytrene, although I did have to work by an open door because of the fumes!

Then I mixed up lots of transfer dyes and painted and printed several sheets of paper. I have a specific project in mind for these, but more of that at a later date.

I also made a photo album with the goodies I had purchased recently from Falkiners Fine Papers in Southhampton Row.

The album measures about 7 x 7 inches. Having had a quick demo from a very helpful assistant in Falkiners, I included a spacer for the photos.

I also made a little A6 sized notebook, which is ideal for popping in a pocket or a bag.

Now, if I could only find my house keys I could get the car out of the garage, and go and get some shopping! I have been looking for them since yesterday afternoon. They must be indoors as I opened the front door to come in. I am always losing things. Saturday I 'lost' the eggs in the fridge, sent Hubs out to the corner shop to get some and as he puts them away in the fridge, he immediately 'finds' the other ones. I have for years lost gloves every winter. The children always threatened to put them on strings for me, like little children have. Well this year I am pleased to say I haven't lost any. I just don't wear them any more!

What do other people regularly lose? Do tell as I am sure I can't be the only scatterbrain around.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, prosperous and creative New Year.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Busy, busy, busy!

I haven't had much time to put anything on my blog recently, so thought I would share some photos of things I have been making, and receiving!

Firstly I did a one day "Wired wonders" class with Ray Slater at the local branch of the Embroiderer's Guild. The day went fine until we had a demonstration on how to stitch the head. 12 of us peered very closely across the table at the two inch high head in an attempt to see exactly what we had to recreate. A head the size of a football would have been better for demonstration purposes! We could just not see. I actually felt like walking out at that point, and I wasn't the only one to feel so frustrated. Then we were told we could only borrow the sets of instructions during the class, as they were copyrighted for a forthcoming book. Despite this, I did continue with my doll at home, and although she isn't quite finished, she looks quite fun, I think.

Then I did a two day Transfer to Dye course at Art van Go with Frances Pickering, which was absolutely fantastic. She is so generous with sharing her techniques, ideas and suggestions. These are the two main books I created, also not finished. I have a great pile of UFOs as I am sure everone else does.

Then I went to the Louise Bourgeois exhibition at Tate Modern with my friend Z, enjoying the use of her company's corporate tickets. Whilst appreciating the techniques used for the sculptures, I found the whole exhibition seriously disturbing. A review in The Guardian newspaper mentions "sinister sculpture of body parts" and "heads built of flannel or tapestry that softly scream". I couldn't even bring myself to buy a postcard, so serious was I in not wanting to be reminded of what I had seen.

Christmas came a little early with these gorgeous gifts from Z. A concertina book, some Christmas fabric and a sweet hand stitched tree decoration.

In the post a few days later I received these from C. in Dundee, as part of a swap. The leaves are exquisite and have been free machined on water soluble.

Then a Christmas postcard sent through the post. This has given me a few ideas!!

Have a good weekend everyone. Only 11 days to go to Christmas!

Friday, 30 November 2007

I am so excited.

I am so excited. I have just heard that I have been accepted onto the course PG Certificate in Supporting the Dyslexic Learner in FE and HE at Middlesex University. The reason why I hadn’t got round to doing any stitching for the last few weeks is because, having no undergraduate degree, I had to write a 2500 word essay as part of the application process. I am really excited – a new career awaits!!
I did start my Christmas shopping on Wednesday, but this is all you get to see for now. No more details for now because, although, as far as I am aware, my family don't read my blog, they might just!

They are just wondering if it will be a white Christmas this year.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Three weeks since I last blogged.

Its been a very hectic three weeks and the sum total of my creativity has been one ATC, and that’s for a swap so I can’t put a photo of it here.

I did however manage a trip to London on Friday.

First stop was Falkiners Fine Papers in Southampton Row and I bought some book binding cloth.
The chocolate brown and burgundy ones are Japanese silk and have a gorgeous texture. Can’t wait to use them. I also bought some Japanese paper which is probably destined for a book cover.

The assistant in Falkiners was incredibly helpful. He even gave me a quick lesson on how to add the spacers to take the thickness of the photo when making a photo album and told me all about the different sort of glues that were used and their properties. I would recommend a visit there.

My friend Z and I had planned a trip to the V&A together but unfortunately she was ill. Hope you feel better soon Z. So I trotted along on my own and saw a number of exhibitions: Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft, Booker Prize Special Book Bindings and Collaborators: UK Design for Performance (Theatre designs - sets, costumes and more). They were all quite fascinating and some particularly intriguing.

In Out of the Ordinary the spots of paint on a paint spattered table were actually mother of pearl inlaid, and the spots of paints on the dust sheets were stitched. Many visitors walked straight past them without looking closely. A little girl of about eight told me quite indignantly that she had seen five people walk past without looking. It did take her to point out to me, however, that the nails in the walls were actually studded with diamonds. How many of us just walk past something and take it at face value without looking closer?

In the evening I went to the lecture with Kaffee Fassett, well known for his riotous use of colours in knitwear.

He was a great speaker, charmed the audience and enthused about his work on the slides. Apparently, he came to the UK in 1964, as a painter, intending to stay for three months and is still here. A chance trip to Scotland with a friend changed his life. He was inspired by the colours of the landscape, and a trip to a mill saw him buying wools with such names as granite and lichen. At that time he didn’t even know how to knit but on the train home he encouraged a female passenger to give him a 20 minute lesson. Later a cleaning lady showed him how to knit patterns using lots of different colours and a new career was born. A number of women in the audience were wearing stunning knitted coats, obviously inspired by him. He continues to be heavily involved in patchwork quilts, needlepoint, mosaics and painting.

He sees inspiration everywhere. He recommends always finishing a project, even if you don't like it at the time. I should take heed of that. I am a great one for starting things.

On Saturday, I had a fabulous surprise. A knock on the door and there was a delivery man with a huge box … for me! I couldn’t wait to open it up and there inside was this gorgeous plant arrangement with thanks for help with The Dress.

I was absolutely stunned. I often take in flowers for neighbours, they are never for me. Even on my birthday, the huge bouquet in the arms of the delivery man was for next door!

Well its off to work now. I hope its not another three weeks before I have time to blog again. Looking forward to a two day course with Frances Pickering next week.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Praise indeed!

I have managed at last to finish this book. The cover is made up of several layers. Using rust dyed fabric, I stitched lines with a twin needle, and threaded string through the channels. Names of people buried in the local churchyard were stitched along the lines, then painted Bondaweb, gold and copper foils were added, then lastly a layer of painted Tyvek. More stitching with a twin needle to emphasise the lines, and then zapped with a heatgun.

The pages have been stained with walnut ink and the edges painted in gold. The photo doesn't do justice really to the texture but my son actually commented Oh That's Nice! Praise indeed.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Doesn't time fly. We have now been in our house two years and I just love living in the country. This stunning view of the trees across the fields caught my eye as I was out walking the dog the other day. Just a couple of the tops were bright red and really stood out against the others.

I don't know what this tree is called but the sun was shining through the leaves.

Daughter and I did get round to putting out a pumpkin for Halloween.

And we made some delicious Pumpkin soup but that got eaten before I could take a photo!

Once again I haven't had time to do any stitching, but I did venture into the tiny cemetery in the village, about 200 yards from the Church. Its on the main route into the village. When there is a funeral the whole village stops because the funeral party walks from the church to the cemetery and then stands in the narrow road by the entrance whilst prayers are said. If you are driving up the road at the time, the done thing is to stop (obviously), get out of the car and then stand there quietly too.

I have been intrigued by the work on the gravestones, the range of motifs from anchors, to flowers, crosses and my favourite one so far: a man's hand holding a lady's - how romantic.
I tried to move the ivy aside but it was well and truly attached. I intend to go back and look more closely for the names and dates but I vaguely remember that this is one where they have worn off.
My friend P gave me some gorgeous photos she had taken in Chagford, Devon, of a Celtic cross. Hubs was away the another night and I sat up in bed drawing and exploring the shapes in my sketchbook.

I have decided that my personal challenge is to explore how to take my drawings into stitch. Actually not just to explore, but really do it! This is where I struggle. I stay within the comfort zone of my sketch book and kid myself that its lack of time that stops me taking it further.

Off to give the dog her tranquillisers. There will be a lot of fireworks around and she hates them. One year, she tried to dig her way into the bathroom (no idea why the bathroom) and tore her pads on the carpet gripper.

She will be 13 next week. Can't walk very far now but is still great company.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Why does it always happen to me?

I am always mesmerised by the wonderful skeins of assorted yarns that are available nowadays. They are definitely Must Have and/or Can't Live Without purchases and I am seduced into handing over my money.

As soon as I start to use them, however, they seem to become one huge tangle which is what happened yesterday to me. All I did was pull one thread out .....

I then had to spend ages sorting them out.

I knew my exercise bike would come in handy one day!Now the question is how to store them? What does everyone else do? Do you neatly wrap them individually onto little bits of card as soon as you get them, or do you struggle and swear (just a little bit) like me when you come to use them? Surely, there must be a solution somewhere in the middle?

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Wedding

The wedding went off fantastically yesterday. Everyone had a great time, and the bride and groom beamed all day. The Dress looked stunning.

The mother of the bride looked fabulous, even if she had previously remarked she would have rather gone shopping for a new pair of walking boots than a posh outfit!

Everyone knows that brides are meant to wear:

“Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”

Ever the individual, the bride decided on stripey blue socks for the “Something Blue”!

Transport for the day for the bridal party and guests was a wonderful old red London bus.
One of my favourite photos from the day was this one of some of the now defunct “baby sitting circle”, with some of the babies now very much grown up.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Barcelona vs Knitting & Stitch Show

The reason I didn't get to the Knitting and Stitch Show was because, although I had booked the time off work, Hubs fancied a City Break to Barcelona and I am not one to turn a holiday down.

We had a fabulous few days, staying right in the centre. Gorgeous weather meant we were walking around in tee shirts and eating outside. It was great to have such a choice of places to visit. I took loads of photos. I particularly loved Gaudi's use of curves. These were in one of his houses:

This was one of the laundry rooms. If you look carefully you can see clothes displayed on these sheer hangings. The clothes were actually holograms.

We went to the unfinished cathedral which was stunning. A few of my favourite photos:

Unfortnately, it was back to work on Monday, which we both found really hard after such a wonderful few days away.

Wednesday was great, however, as our newly formed stitchng group had our second day together. We now have a name: ZigZag. It was with gusts of laughter that we ruled out quite a few, including Gina's Babes. In Stitches came a close second but ZigZag won. I came away with two gorgeous ATCS from our swap but do you think I can find them at the moment to take a photo! No!

We continued with our goldwork using the machine, and I had a go with Lynda's braiding foot and her cording foot on my Brother machine. Decided I can't live without these, so have ordered them. Its great working with someone with a similar machine, especially as she actually teaches it. I have had this particular machine for about five years now, and am still discovering new things. The other day I used the overlocking foot with the side cutter to turn my daughter's trousers up. How quick it was! Note to myself: must be braver in future to have a go.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

On Friday, I had a wonderful evening at the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. There were four activities for us to have a go at. I managed three.

On the first table Lynne took us through making the Christmas decoration on the left. We were provided with everything, even the tassels.

Secondly, Sandie took us through some ideas to use for cards:- weaving fabric, crazy patchwork and much much more. Can't wait to have a go and use those card with precut windows that I have lurking in the cupboard.

Tricia then started us off on the wonderful Christmas tree on the right. Both decorations I finished at home, and it was great to have a bit of handstitching to do.

I took part in an ATC swap too and received this amazing card which was made from paper folding. Thanks Jo.

It was a fantastic evening and I came away buzzing with creative ideas. Many thanks to everyone involved.

Last week I braved the builders again and sketched part of the church. Its very old, with some parts of it going back to 1120.
This is one of the motifs on the gravestones in the churchyard. "In Memory of Mary Weatherhead"

I also came across five gravestones all in a row with skull and crossbones on them. They looked exceedingly creepy. I wonder if it means anything in particular. Anyone any ideas? Blogger wouldn't let me add this photo.
Using the outline of the Church as a motif I played with the shape in my sketchbook, and added ideas for turning it into a textile. I am pleased to say I have even used one of the ideas and created an ATC.
Last but not least, a picture of this morning's washing! More rust dyeing. Hate the green, it really isn't my colour, but the fabric looks very much like the lichen I have been seeing on the gravestones. Unfortunately, I can't make the Knitting and Stitch Show which starts at Ally Pally tomorrow. Look forward to hearing about it from everyone.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Experimenting with rust dyeing

I have had great success recently with rust dyeing using wire wool.

From left to right, the fabrics are butter muslin, cotton, silk and heavyweight calico. These were left for about 48 hours. Some gorgeous marks. Not sure if I can bring myself to stitch on them.

These were two fabrics I had dyed with Procion dyes previously.

The orange fabric, I only left for 24 hours with the wire wool as I couldn't wait any longer. The marks are somewhat paler as a result. Using the same wire wool throughout, I then tried it with brown fabric not really expecting any marks to show up at all and was quite amazed with the results. The brown fabric was an awful shade previously and now it looks quite amazing.

The wire wool has now truly disintegrated and can not be used again.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

A busy week.

I didn't get round to doing much last week, hence no blog. The reason, however, was because I managed to scratch my eye quite badly trying to retrieve a contact lens that had decided to fold itself up in the corner of my eye. Ended up going to the opticians and seeing two optometrists who both confirmed that by the time I saw them in the afternoon the lens was no longer in my eye! One of them did say though that the eye "looked a bit cross". Understatement of the year in my opinion. Felt very sorry for myself, so as Hubs was away, daughter and I popped out to the local Harvesters for dinner and some comfort food.

Sunday I spent helping friend to turn up The Dress ready for wedding on 20th October. I know all brides look stunning but she really does look stunning. I have known this young lady since she was two (now 24) and felt very privileged to be asked to help. I did make her do the actual sewing though ... I really didn't have the nerve.

This week I have made up for my lack of creation last week. I visited our local church and started drawing gravestones, and carried on bravely despite being given weird looks by the builders on the roof. I really got into the history of those buried. One family had lost three sons under 25.

I am not sure that you can see it clearly in the doorway picture on the right but the second door behind the locked, wrought iron gate says WELCOME. Some welcome indeed.

One of our monthly challenges was to make an ATC in the colour opposite our favourite one, which meant I had to use orange. I raided my stash and came across two orange fabrics from the very first swap I ever did, some years ago now. Thanks to Liz and Sheila. Then using some Supermend and transfer foil, I added some gold bits. Cut some shapes out and stitched them here and there, and hey presto not one but six:

This morning a friend and I spent some time experimenting with Transfer Dyes. I had painted the papers yesterday so just had to iron them off. These are some of the ones I liked best:

Transfer dye on kitchen towel:

Paper scrunched up before ironing and a fabric leaf shape as a resist.

Transfer dye on raised wallpaper:

This is my favourite one. Using a skeleton leaf as a resist, and then printing with the residue on the leaf. The holes on the left are from the iron - unintentional but looks really good.
I can't say I am enamoured of using polyester fabric, so had a go with some thin calico. Worked well I think.

Now to do some work.