Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas Everybody

In the post-shopping and present-wrapping frenzy I've had a few productive interludes.  One of my friends asked me if I'd help her with her new hobby - crochet.  I agreed to help, despite the fact that I've only had one lesson myself and haven't picked up a hook for over a year.  Anyway, I had a quick practice, and in that time, and the four hours we spent together drinking tea, chatting; - oh and eating our way through a packet of chocolate biscuits - I managed these,
Enough for a cushion when I get round to stitching them together.
The following day I met the girls for our last coffee and knitting session of the year.  We met on Friday morning, and on Thursday at 9pm one of our number suggested we do a Secret Santa.  Nothing like being prepared, is there.  Of course, being the clever, resourceful women that we are, we all turned up with appropriate gifts and everyone seemed pleased.  I for one was delighted with my pressie - handmade festive lavender bags -
much too beautiful to only been seen at Christmas!
This afternoon I've been reading my friend Gina's blog with my Mum, who asked the question that all of Gina's readers want the answer to "Where does that girl get all her time from?"
So, not to be outdone, we decided it wasn't too late to make mince pies of our own.  Obviously we crafted our beautiful pies from pastry, made from scratch, and homemade mincemeat
And despite much rummaging in Mum's kitchen drawers, we couldn't find a star cutter so had to improvise.
(excuse the state of the baking tray, it was clean when we started)
Anyway, they turned out ok, and for asthetics, I decided to sprinkle them with a little icing sugar.  Except I was a bit heavy handed and a flurry of snow turned into a minor avalanche.
They tasted ok though, and after visitors this evening, half of them have gone already.
I'm afraid I can never aspire to be a domestic goddess like Gina, but that won't stop me having the occasional dabble.

Anyway, sorry I've been a bit of an irregular blogger recently, and even worse at replying to comments, but I really am delighted when I get them, so thank you, and I like to say ....

Have a very Happy Christmas xx

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Shoes

In my last 'catch up' post I didn't mention what we did at Spectrum last week, apart from eating and chatting.  Gina demonstrated how to make little 'petal bags' - based on a design in this lovely book by Jenny Rolfe. 
We used black and white fabric that we had previously printed ourselves, which were then machine embroidered.  I finished mine last night
I think they may be going into our 2014 exhibition, so for once I haven't left it until the last minute to finish them.  However, the odds of me remembering where I've put them in a year's time are negligible.

I've been out shopping with my friend Jill today - and she was under very strict instructions not to let me buy any more boots.  And she didn't.  However, while her back was turned and she was busy elsewhere in the shop, I saw these. 

Jill arrived back just as I was trying them on, and I justified them by claiming that they would make good "posh Christmas slippers".  Says me, who has otherwise turned a bit Bah Humbug recently.  In case you wondered what particularly drew me to them, here's a close up.
As you can see, very practical, and highly appropriate for a woman of my years. Not.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Still Here

I'm never really sure if anyone reads this, except my Mum, but it seems they do, as I have had a number of enquiries from friends, checking that I'm okay as I've not been on here for weeks.  So I thought I'd better write a quick post to say I am still here, I've just been a bit busy. 
So, a quick summary (with pictures) of what I've been doing and making since we last met ........

Two trips to visit my parents in Norfolk, with a lovely walk along the front at Hunstanton with my Dad, just as the sun was going down.  I think it's the first time I've EVER walked along there when it hasn't been blowing a gale, you can see how flat the sea was.

Then, a weekend in Whitstable with the girls, for a bit of shopping and pottering.  We went there last year, and it was so pleasant, we booked the same cottage again.
We visited the Turner Contemporary gallery at Margate and saw these by Maria Nepomuceno

and a visit to the little Museum in Whitstable.  I really liked these pieces made with wire, they look like 3d line drawings, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Apart from that, I've been beading.  

Good job I took a photograph of my little beaded flower, because I've lost it.  I remember where it was for ages, then I put it somewhere safe, and now I can't remember where it is.  I guess it will turn up sometime.

I made a cover for a photograph album, for my Mum's birthday, using vintage fabrics and buttons
I made this dress ....
I made the version with the full length sleeves, but they are VERY full and although I really like the dress, it's a bit too, er, 'sleeve-ish' so I think I am going to chop them off and make short sleeves instead.  
It's not my usual style at all, but I tried on a Ted Baker dress in a similar style and fabric (as a dare from a friend while we were out shopping) and although I really liked it, I wasn't prepared to pay that amount of money for a frock, so decided to make my own.  THAT way, if it languishes unworn in my wardrobe, it'll only have cost me 20 quid instead of 200.
Next, I made a skirt from a pattern in the Sew Serendipity book .  I like the style, and loved doing the frills, but not quite sure about my fabric choice.  If all else fails I can always cut it up the back, add ties and it's an apron!

We had a meeting of Spectrum on Wednesday - it was touch and go whether we got there due to the weather, but as we had all made things for our shared Christmas lunch, and as you know, I don't cook lightly, I braved the journey.  I'm glad I did, because by the afternoon it looked like this

We are planning our second exhibition for early 2014, and we needed to be 'on the way' with our first piece.  Which means more than just an idea in our head.  So, as I am working on wearable art, using fabric that I've printed myself, I thought I would get the first pattern sorted.  I drafted the pattern for an eight gored skirt, that flared out quite a bit at the bottom.  I thought I would try the pattern out for size, using some odd bits of  of curtain and upholstery samples that I'd been given years ago.  But, when I tried it on I decided I liked it, so I put a zip in it and tacked the hem. The girls at Spectrum seemed to like it, but when I tried it on again at home in front of the mirror, I decided that the combination of the upholstery fabric, and the flared out shape of the pattern, meant that I looked just a little bit like a standard lamp.
Not to be daunted, I tapered the pieces, and rehemmed it, and now, not only do I like it, but I've already worn it.  My first 'wearable muslin'!
I know why I was thinking 'lampshade' - it's because a week or two ago I had made this
using vintage linens again. Quite pleased with it, but if I made another one I think I'd line it in white cotton, to diffuse the light a bit more.
Oh and in case anyone thinks it's a bit wicked to cut up pretty tablecloths, I only do it with the stained or ripped ones; the perfect ones stay intact, honest.
I'll try not to leave it so long next time ....

STILL HERE - New Model Army

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Just a quick post today to recommend that if you can get to London sometime in the next few months, I urge you to go and see the current exhibition at the V & A.  It's had lots of press coverage in the past couple of weeks, so I've been really looking forward to it.

Yesterday was Preview Day, and as a 'Friend of the V&A' I got a personal invitation to go and see it before anyone else.  Well, me and several hundred other 'Friends' obviously.  
It's one of the best exhibitions I've seen, not just for the costumes - which were stunning -  from films as diverse as Taxi Driver, Titanic, The Birds, Indiana Jones, Gone With The Wind, Wizard of Oz, Superman, Shakespeare in Love, Mamma Mia, Cleopatra, Funny Girl, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffanys, Kill Bill - (oh I could go on) - but also for the stories behind the costumes,  interviews with Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, and with some of the designers and film directors. 
It was really well put together, very interesting, and it's made me want to watch all of the films again, just to see the costumes in action.
I think this was one of my favourites - Morticia's dress from The Addams Family
And of course, no exhibition of Hollywood Costumes would be complete, without these ...
In fact, the only way I could have enjoyed the day more was if they'd have let me try them on!  
Actually, if you want to see an original pair worn by Judy Garland in the film, you'd best be quick - I did hear on the radio that the owner was only prepared to allow them out of the US for 4 weeks.

One minor niggle - if, by some slim chance you were the rude and ignorant (albeit very self-important) woman  who took a phone call while in the exhibition, then proceeded to conduct a loud business conversation over the course of the next ten minutes, seemingly oblivious to all the the 'tuts' and cross-looking glances from other annoyed visitors - I'm proud to say that I was the one who grassed you up to the attendant.  

HOLLYWOOD - The Wallflowers

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Postcards From Paradise

Sorry, it's been a while again, but I've been away on holiday with my friend Angie.
A bit of a last-minute decision to get some much needed sunshine - following a recommendation from a colleague, to a place that I'd never heard of.  He said that it was very quiet and there was nothing there apart from a lovely long beach and some low key restaurants.  It sounded perfect, and turned out to be just as described!
The balcony view across the marina to the little fishing village was great, and ever changing
The beach was indeed long...... and wide ............and mostly empty
We did nothing for a week, apart from a few morning walks to the next resort for coffee and breakfast, and lazing on the beach in the sun, reading.  We had a few dips in the sea, although were slightly perturbed by the  giant jellyfish washed up on the sand
We DID take a bus trip to the nearest big town and had a wander around
and admired the little Square
I liked the reflections in this window
and the statue of this lady, who seemed to be celebrating music
Oh, and we just managed to stay awake long enough to see some beautiful sunsets 
A wonderful, relaxing week at a really lovely unspoilt and non-touristy spot.  

I expect you'd like to know the whereabouts of this little secret bit of paradise.
But then,  if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, would it?

Postcards From Paradise - The Goo Goo Dolls

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Excuse, Excuse

When I went for my guitar lesson last week, I had to admit that I probably hadn't picked the guitar up since my last lesson, about a month ago.
I did, however, take a list of other things I'd done, not by way of an excuse, but more to let my teacher know that I wasn't a lazy old dollop who just watched television all day. 
I was quite impressed with my list myself -

Watched lots of Olympics/Paralympics (ok, so that does count as couch potato stuff)
Visited the Olympic Stadium for athletics and been on the Emirates Airline Cable Car
Had a week in Norfolk
Had a weekend in Yorkshire, with a day at Leeds festival
Walked many miles practising for charity walk
Had two visits to Chiropractor to sort out my back before the long walk (and a reflexology session afterwards)
Walked the ten mile Starlight Walk and raised over £300 (thanks to all my lovely sponsors!)
Knitted a pair of socks, made a cushion and decorated tea towels with Pompoms. Obviously, this wasn't all essential work.
Read several books, including Death Message by Mark Billingham and Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor
Attempted to give blood, which they politely declined - enough iron for my purposes, but not theirs apparently.  Suppose I should eat more spinach and liver - ooh, unless there's iron in dark chocolate?
Been to weekly Yoga and/or Pilates classes
Had a big declutter with subsequent trips to the charity shop
Taken the sofa covers to the launderette.  Doesn't sound too time consuming does it?  But by the time they've dried, and you've managed to force them back onto the sofa, it turned out to be an all day job. It  was a bit like trying to fit yourself back into the jeans you had when you were 18.
Joined the RHS and visited Wisley
Been to work twice a week
Done lots of gardening
Tidied my studio.

Also, in addition to the above, and the usual boring stuff, I did a day's workshop run by Jean Power at my beading group, making beaded flowers.  Really pleased with the result and will make try and find time to make some more.
Finally, I went with my cousin Jean to do a one day glass fusing workshop with Karen Davies who runs
We went to her studio in Barnet, and had a lovely day learning various techniques, like cutting glass, and layering the pieces, which were later to be fired.  This is Jean pretending she's busy, but really just avoiding having her photo taken
She's making a glass panel for a door she hasn't got yet.
I made two pieces which when fired in a shaped ceramic mould will be dishes, the first one is on my usual theme
and the second was using very thin sticks of glass, which looked like coloured spaghetti
We had to leave them to be fired in Karen's kiln, but I went back and picked them up a few days ago, and I'm really please with how they turned out

Plus a little asymmetric glass pendant (yes, it WAS meant to be asymmetric) and a pair of cufflinks.  It was a really  lovely day, doing something a bit different to my usual textiles, and now we know the possibilities, I'm sure Jean and I will go back and have another go at glass fusing. 

I've got another guitar lesson tomorrow, and although I really have practised every day, I don't seem to make much progress.  I had initially seen myself as a kind of 'Erica Clapton' or maybe 'Marcia Knopfler'
At my current rate, I'll be lucky if I achieve 'Valerie Doonican'

Excuse, Excuse - The Seeds

Monday, 10 September 2012

Proud and Humble

There was only one place to be today - and it seemed that everyone in Britain was there ...
to wave, and cheer and clap
and to see the Olympians and Paralympians together
proudly showing off their medals ...

And when the athletes had gone by, there was still the fly past

Today, we can all truly be proud.

Proud and Humble - Imelda May