'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Thursday, 30 April 2009

When I said I’d rebind my book tomorrow …

I didn’t mean at 3 a.m. But that’s when I did it. I had meant to take ‘before and after’ photos, but I forgot until I had deconstructed the book.


So you will have to imagine a rather lumpy loop of beads down the left hand side.





I  used a long stitch binding from Alisa Golden’s ‘Creating Handmade Books’, although I modified it in the rebind, to make it a bit firmer.


The pages are made of various papers, mostly the wax batik technique from ‘Contemporary Textiles’. Unfortunately I cut the pages a bit small.


When I'd finished the book, inspired by the image I’d chosen for today’s achromatic picture, I mucked about with various free photo-editing programmes on the web.IMG_1288

This  was the image I started with –  a building at the Weald and Downland Museum.






Some time ago I changed it to black and white and used ‘Amazing Circles’ at Dumpr to do this.






I've posted before about the Hockneyizer. So I Hockneyized it. Looks a bit unstable now!







And then for good measure I Warholized it.







And I’ve just discovered picnik, which lets you do other interesting things with your pictures.  Like this.





IMG_6337This afternoon I set fire to things.These things to be precise. Some of the wax batik papers and some extras. I think Wensleydale thought I’d turned to arson in my old age.

Not, perhaps, what you ought to do when you’ve only had a IMG_6338few hours sleep.

This was another suggestion from Contemporary Textiles – Sue gave us a lot to do this time. [I haven't got round to the hammering yet.]

The burned papers became pages in this. [Lest you think I have been remarkably productive, the covers were already made.] The papers made me think of the sea so I used a stick binding [but it’s really a bit of beach-combed twine]  and some shells.



Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I had hoped …

to show you a finished book – but I’ve decided I don’t like the way I’ve bound it – so it will be rebound tomorrow.

branches 1

Here's an achromatic picture instead. This is another of the texture studies I did for C&G when we were looking at manipulated fabric.

Every time I look at it I wish we had an open fire!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Despite a forecast of rain …

we decided to go to Salisbury  anyway.


It didn’t rain -as you can see from this photo taken through the car windscreen  - I wasn’t driving!

The rain waited till we got home. fortunately. Then it decided to hail.

We went to Salisbury to visit 'Joined Together’ at the Arts Centre. I wanted to see Deirdre Wood’s textiles – but enjoyed the whole thing. The work of the three artists – Wood’s weaving, Nick Barberton’s carvings and Jonathan Garrett’s ceramics – complement each other very well.  There was a synchronicity of colour and shape in the pieces displayed which seemed to highlight the differences between the three media.

Curiously, I found the ceramics and carvings more inspirational for embroidery than the weaving – if you look at the link to Barberton’s work, the platters on the right could be quilted. And Garrett’s ‘Pi circles’ shown on his link, had wonderful surfaces and textures. It is not that I didn’t like Wood’s work – the weaving was exquisite and the result very sculptural – but for some reason it didn’t inspire me in the same way.

We first discovered the Arts Centre a few years ago and it has become our favourite place to go for lunch in Salisbury. It is a bit out of the way – which means it is usually quiet on a weekday – and the food is very good. IMG_6330And there is the bonus of interesting exhibitions as well.

After the exhibition there was time for a bit of retail therapy – boring essentials from Lakeland and an exploration of some of the charity shops I’d spotted on a previous visit but not had time to get into. I scored this book which I have taken borrowed from the library several times, and some dresses for Babybel as well as these, below.


The fishy  bag was not part of the deal but one of the benefits of a stash is that you can quickly knock up a replacement for nasty plastic bags – while using up some fabric  which you are not quite sure why you bought .




Today’s achromatic picture was not taken through the car windscreen looking out, but from the outside looking in – or rather at the reflections in the glass. [The car was not parked on its side at the time, I rotated the image to bring out the treeiness.] Love the distortion – and I do have this thing about trees. MMM – wonder if I could post a month of daily tree images?

Monday, 27 April 2009

More books

well, covers, anyway.


This is the poly satin I showed you yesterday – now with a bit of free motion quilting, and shortly to have some beads and – possibly – French knots.


This is tissue paper, unsuccessfully printed by the technique I described yesterday. The colour is either blue Quink or turquoise drawing ink from Colourcrafts. [Warning – do not go to this site if you are easily tempted by paints, dyes, pencils, pIMG_6312apers etc, at very reasonable prices. You have been warned. On your own head be it. And leave some for me.]

And they have a factory shop. Good job it’s in Sheffield.

But I digress. I crumpled the tissue paper, stuck it onto Vilene with Fuse FX and couched turquoise and white threads on to it. [Yes, I know I’m trying to give up Vilene. but it felt right today!] Then I added some beads and French knots. Is anyone else as addicted to beads and French knots or is it one of my little eccentricities?


Today's achromatic picture is those pebbles again. I like the way this version brings out the bands of shading across the image.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

She had fun, fun, fun …

O.K. – hands up – who started singing ‘till her Daddy took the T-bird away’? If you didn’t – commiserations on missing the best era for popular song ever.

Fun one

This website looks like fun to contribute to. Unfortunately we don’t have any photos of our wedding – chiefly because my uncle took them and never gave them to us – but we do have photos of our parents’ weddings. Maybe some of you fancy making a contribution? then you can join me in saying that you have something in the V&A!

Fun too

IMG_6300In the last Contemporary Textiles session we

1] splashed wax on paper - and then those who were organised

2] painted the waxed paper with black Quink and

3] ironed it off onto more paper – and then

4] painted the second piece with ink and

5] ironed it off onto more paper and

6] painted that with ink  – you get the picture.

I didn’t get round to this bit in class and I’ve been procrastinating about it ever since. But today I decided it had to be done – and it was fun. After I took the photo above  I experimented with other inks and paints – blue Quink worked, as you might expect, drawing ink was OK but resisted the resist, if you see what I mean – especially the silver ink. And fabric paint didn’t work, even heavily diluted.

The method did work with Quink on fabric but unexpectedly it worked better on thicker fabric – muslin and a very fine poly weren’t very successful.

Another thing i discovered is that you only need a little wax. Otherwise it goes everywhere and you end up with completely waxed paper.


This is black ink on poly satin. I used graph paper for step 3, and found that the grid on the graph paper resisted Quink  – but in lines not in squares.  Looks good, though.



However the most successful pieces were on handmade paper [as opposed to homemade paper – I didn't try that]

This is step 6 on a silky hand made paper.

And it’s going to count as today’s colour photo – this week’s colour, I’ve just decided, being black. Or white. Or both.

Fun three

Now I had lots of interesting bits of paper. So what did I do?

Made books of course.  ‘Only’ two so far. And they are very tiny ones …


Don’t ask me why Live Writer has decided to put that in portrait instead of landscape.

The top book is called ‘Waxing and Waning’ and the bottom one is ‘Which Way is Up?’ [The left hand side, as it happens.]



The graph paper didn’t resist the drawing ink like it did the Quink.

In Contemporary Textiles we made marks [holes!] with a nail or a screw punch - but I used some craft punches. Unfortunately my waning moon is only small.


I like punches because you can use both the hole and the paper you punch out. Here are two holes and a punched out bit.




Fun four – or maybe not.

This is what the discharged, Kantha’d on felt  and shrunk piece lookeIMG_6299d like when it came out of the washer.

It came out  darker than before – I suspect the colour in the black felt ran. With hindsight I should have used colour catchers. [How often do I say that? I wish my foresight  was as good as my hindsight.]

Also, it had shrunk quite a lot. I neglected to measure it before I washed it so i don’t know how much but it has lots of texture.

I was a bit disappointed initially but as I've played around with it, it has grown on me. i think it needs a few French knots and beads hidden in the folds, and maybe some linear stitches, and then it will be mounted as a panel. Possibly.

Don’t think I can make a book out of it, though.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Some paper, some stitch, – and a purple picture. Oh – and a rabbit.


Despite an insomniac night I've been quite productive today. At about 2 a.m. I decided it was about time I did something with this, which has been tacked to some felt for a few weeks now.

So it has been Kantha'd extensively and is currently in the washing machine being shrunk. Heaven knows what it will look like when it emerges from the washer.




I also played around with some more tile ideas in paper. [Can’t get them out of my brain.] These are postcard size.




IMG_6293   I decided it was time to get away from the stamps – so here are some in cut paper with doodles…







and cut paper without doodles. I used all the cut out bits as well – love those bird shapes in the corners. These tiles are getting more and more elaborate.





contemporary textiles2

This is a technique I got from a Jane Dunnewold article in QA or CPS. There are three separate images, collaged in Picasa.




The purple picture is another from Furzey Gardens – I think it’s a magnolia, but I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. I find those strange flowers on bare stems quite weird.





And the rabbit? The lady on the left decided she wanted to invite her new friend in to play and was quite miffed when we wouldn’t let her.

After a while it was only half a new friend but we still wouldn't invite it in.

She decided to think about the problem. In the sunshine. With her eyes closed. And while she was sleeping it off – er - thinking about the problem – the rabbit mysteriously disappeared. Odd, that.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sometimes it is impossible to think of a snappy title …

so that one will have to do.

It has been one of those days – a couple of bad things, and some good ones.

  1. The woman at the gym who has decided to convert me to her brand of politics had another go. Should I tell her that she would probably be more successful if she tried to convert the Pope to Islam – and that telling me how teachers are responsible for all the ills of the world is unlikely to help convert me? ‘Oh – I suddenly realise that all my working life has been a complete waste of time and I should have become a rep for a chemical company like you!’  *
  2. Despite an attempt by the City Council to conceal access to their cafe by closing the Tourist Information Centre and rerouting us up one flight of stairs and down another one – we had coffee there anyway. However as they have [temporarily] located the Information Centre in the cafe, I think there may be a number of lost tourists wandering round the Council Offices. I would say that this is probably a bad time to redecorate the place if it didn’t make me sound like madam in point 1…
  3. I got the thread I wanted to finish the rusty postcards and hope to get them in the post tomorrow.
  4. Here is today’s purple picture. IMG_6029 An azalea [ I think] from Furzey Gardens.

That’s cheered me up.






* P.S. I have nothing against reps for chemical companies in general – just one in particular. I just want to go to the gym and do my circuit in peace without being hectored.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Busy doing nothing …

or not achieving very much, which comes to the same thing.

I mentioned here that I had tried to rust some washers for a postcard swap [as you do] and been disappointed with the result.

I have to apologise to CheIMG_6283mtek Instarust because when we came back from holiday this is what they looked like.  Rustier.

The background, subsequently cut up for the postcards, is my favourite -  layers of paper ephemera pasted down [in this case to paper not fabric.] Then it  was brushed with gesso or emulsion paint, whichever came to hand, rubbed with oil pastels and Markel, painted with burnt umber watercolour, sprayed with Moonshadow mists – I was after a distressed look …

I decided I wanted some fabric layers on the cards. I have rather too much of some very boring calico which for some reason, long forgotten, I dyed brown in the washing machine. [I just did a colour association exercise from Dunnewold, Benn and Morgan’s ‘Finding Your Own Visual Language’, and almost all the words I came up with were negative. Starting with mud and going downhill from there. My subconscious is telling me I really don’t like brown.]

But I digress. I decided would try discharging the boring brown to see if that made it a bit less boring. And then I decide I would sort-of shibori it with buttons and elastic bands – proving that there is a use for boring buttons and the elastic bands from packs of spring onions. IMG_6281

Here it is pre-bleaching.






And this is the result. I found it hard to judge the effect of the bleach, so it is a bit overdone – but definitely less boring.

Unfortunately it is quite the wrong shade of rust for the – er- rust.

So I turned to the trusty scrap bag – or in my case, large size plastic box. The biggest size you can get without wheels. [I keep those for the wool stash.]

As I am a sad person I have my scraps sorted by colour in bags in the box. Why is it, that when I don’t like brown and I love purple, I have far more brown scraps than purple?

Unfortunately I neglected to photograph the fabricIMG_6286 I chose before I ripped it up – but this is the left overs. It is a piece of poly satin, sunprinted with fig leaves.   Suitably grungy and the right colour.

I stitched that down to the postcard bases, and added small, well frayed left overs from the  backing of this. And a bit of lace and ribbon which they seemed to need. I [blush, blush] glued the washers down – and decided it was time to find some threads to stitch over them. And came to a halt because I only had a little bit of the best one – a variegated  floss from Anchor. So that is all on hold until I can go shopping tomorrow. although if I can get perle in the same shade it will be perle not floss.

These cards are supposed to be in the US before the end of the month – apologies, Surfacers, I think they are going tIMG_6254o be late …

I can’t show you a photo until the cards have arrived at their destinations, so instead  here is today’s purple flower – which I think is a self-heal, photographed at the Red House Museum on Tuesday. Lovely delicate shades merging into each other.

Purple is definitely nicer than brown.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Just a short purple passage


A bed from Bournemouth, in the gardens which go down to the sea. I think the leaf on the left is amazing – who would think that you would find such a combination in nature!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

You wait ages for a textile exhibition …

and then three come along together.

So as they were geographically quite close to each other we decided to visit all of them in one day, especially as it has been a beautiful warm, sunny day, and we had a pleasant drive through the New forest to get there.

The nearest was this one at Forest Arts in New Milton. And it was stunning, especially when you consider the probable age of the students involved  [16-19] and the fact that some of them may not have studied textiles formally before last September.

The accompanying leaflet gave the students’ own comments on their work - they had been encouraged to think about the meaning and symbolism of their work, which didn't happen on our C&G course. I only wish it had. It was also good to see the work of their teachers exhibited as well, - Lorna Rebecca Miller,   Kate Reynolds and Sasha Hicklin – who are clearly good and inspirational teachers.

We went on to Highcliffe castle, where we had lunch sitting outside in the sunshine before going into the castle to see the exhibition by ‘Quattro’ – Linda Gleave, Linda Robinson, Dawn Thorne and Liz Heywood. And in Googling them i have realised that, as i suspected, i have seen their work before – at the 2007 Knitting and Stitching show where they exhibited as part of Studio 21 along with my Contemporary Textiles tutor, Susan Chapman

The Quattro exhibition was as inspiring as the Forest Arts one – 4 different artists working in very different ways and all fascinating. I liked it so much I bought a piece - ‘Gale’ by Linda Gleave, a wonderfully atmospheric piece, mostly paint with minimal machine stitching.

The third exhibition was by the New Forest Guild of Weavers, spinners and Dyers at the Red House Museum in Christchurch. In my view it couldn’t cIMG_6258ompete with the two other exhibitions – it is very small, the contents were much less to my taste, and not being a weaver or spinner I couldn’t appreciate the finer points of the work. But the museum has some interesting exhibitions [the display of wedding dresses is worth a look] and you can buy coffee from a machine. We sat in the sunshine to drink it and then walked round the pleasant gardens, with views of Christchurch Priory, before coming home. IMG_6265-1


Today’s purple picture also comes from the museum gardens  - I’m not sure what the flower is, but isn’t the veining beautiful?

Monday, 20 April 2009

Just a quickie …

after yesterday’s long post.IMG_1906

I realised that I had forgotten to include my daily colour photo – so here are some purplish  dahlias at Upton House in Dorset.

Although purple is my favourite colour I seem to have very few purple pictures – and what I have are mostly flowers. I suppose I could photograph my wool stash …

Sunday, 19 April 2009

What I did on my holiday - looong

Day One

Once again we went for a week in the Yorkshire Dales. With hindsight it was a mistake to pick Easter week when we didn’t have to, but the journey up was easier than we expected and after lunch the rain cleared and we arrived in beautiful sunshine.

Days Two and Three

By established tradition [the second time we’ve been] we didn’t do much on Sunday – extended to Monday as it was also a public holiday. As the Dales are popular places at weekends and public holidays, we stayed in the cottage in the mornings and went out for  walks in the afternoons. IMG_6235

Out of the cottage, across the footbridge over the disappearing river, and walk up the dale – no need to drive and try to find somewhere to park. The weather was beautiful and although there were  some other people about, for most of the time we had the dale to ourselves.



You can just see the end of the row of buildings, where the cottage is, in the centre of the photo.






IMG_6160 Of course, with all those stone walls, I found some lichen to photograph.





This is a collection I made on the walk.  You will notice a sample from the rare Dales blue sheep. Or it’s raddle. Love that word.




This is the village water supply. It is treated before we drink it , although it looks so clear anyway!




There is no mobile phone service in the dale,  and no wireless network to enable me to post to the blog. Fortunately there is satellite TV – and more to our taste, radio. And we came well supplied with books and, in my case, needlework. Choosing clothes?  – easy.  Jeans, t-shirts, the usual extras.  Choosing books?  - a trawl round a few charity shops produced a week’s reading. Choosing needlework? Bit more of a problem … Which knitting? Last time we came I brought something which didn’t work out, so I had to shop for emergency supplies in Embsay Mill in Skipton. Which embroidery? In the end I chose [shock horror] a printed canvas I bought BC&G when I didn’t design my own stuff. It didn’t come with any thread but I found enough in my stash for most of the colours. Not enough greens though, so I may need to shop for emergency supplies in Embsay Mill in Skipton …

Day Four


On Tuesday we had a combined shopping and culture trip – starting at Embsay Mill where I got my emergency floss. Unfortunately a few other things just happened to jump into my basket …


Then after a food and petrol shop in Skipton we set off for our culture fix. This was not as straightforward as it might have been. First we got lost in the middle of Skipton and headed off to the north east when we really wanted to go south. [Satnav owners, stop giggling – satnav is quite capable of leading people down a one car wide dead end – which is why we have two ‘No Through Road’ signs at the end of our road. Not that drivers take any notice. If satnav says go down this lane, it must be right!]

But I digress. A bit of old fashioned map reading got us heading towards Keighley. We spotted a likely space to stop for our picnic, and realised we’d left the sandwiches in the cottage. Oh well, there was bound to be a cafe where we were heading.

We drove towards Keighley, and the map suggested we needed to turn right into the town. But no, there was a big brown tourist sign telling us to turn left. So Wensleydale drove right round the roundabout and we continued on our way, looking for another brown sign. Was there one? No, of course not. This is Yorkshire – they’re careful with their money. If tourists want to know where to go they should buy maps or satnavs – or, as it turned out, trust their instincts. After a tour round most of Bingley, we found the route and managed to get to Hawarth - where the brown signs were either very small or non-existent. However we had a gut feeling that what we were looking for was high up so we followed the road up out of the village and eventually found what we were looking for.

In case you haven’t workIMG_6182ed it out already, this is the Bronte Parsonage Museum – former home of one of my favourite authors and her sisters – Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte. [My other favourite author is Miss Austen. Bet you guessed.]

The house is well worth a visit – quite small, very atmospheric, and very interesting. But no cafe!

So, rather than go down into Haworth to try to find a belated lunch, we bought some very nice Bronte biscuits, had a quick look round the church – which isn’t the one the sisters knew, that was demolished in the late 19th century - and headed for home. This time we decided to drive over the moors. Big mistake. The roads were very narrow, very twisty, and full of people going the other way, too fast and in the middle of the road. And the county council had been parsimonious with the road signs again.

But we made it – and ate our sandwiches about 5 hours late …

Day Five

Today we decided to go back to Fountains Abbey – our third visit. The journey there was quite exciting as almost all of Nidderdale seemed to be above the cloud base. At times it felt as though we were driving over a narrow bridge with nothing but cloud on either side. Fortunately the road was fairly quiet.

Fountains was free of cloud but amply supplied with children and dogs. We made sure that we actually went round the Abbey this time – on previous visits we had only managed to walk round the water gardens, and to visit the William Burges church in the grounds.


And guess what I found? Tiles! I had read about medieval mosaic tiles but never seen any. Lots of new ideas here …





Day 6

Today we took our courage in both hands and headed for Hawes. We first went to Hawes about 30 years ago when Cheese Major was in a pushchair and Cheese Minor was just about beginning to be thought about. It was a nice quiet place where it was easy to park, and we found a good cafe with local art on the walls.

We went back to Hawes last year – and hated it. The journey there was along a badly surfaced, twisty road that was very narrow in places and full of cars and vans going too fast. It was also unfortunate that we arrived at lunchtime, when the tour buses were disgorging their passengers to find their lunches and there were people who didn't know where they were going wandering all over the place.

But I had discovered there was a textile exhibition in the Dales Museum in Hawes – so bravely Wensleydale agreed to go.

In my genealogical researches I have discovered that Wensleydale has an ancestor who came from Langstrothdale, which happens to be the next dale up from the cottage and a back way into Hawes – so we decided to got that way. And it was beautiful. Sparkling streams, sheep, stone cottages, sheep, stunning views, sheep – you get the picture. It was also narrow and twisty in places but as there was little other traffic that was not a problem.

The exhibition was pretty good too – work by Ruth Lee, inspired by artefacts from the museum, mostly knitting sheathes and Dent gloves. It was clearly also inspired by the scenery of the dales. I knew Lee as a knitter so it was good to see her other work – felting, embroidery, and screen printing on to fabric. It made me wish I hadn’t junked my old knitting machine.

Then we went to Bolton Castle for tea. Earl Grey, fruit cake still warm from the oven, and a slice of Wensleydale. The cheese that is. It’s a Yorkshire habit to eat Wensleydale cheese with fruit cake, and well worth trying.


When we went to Bolton Castle last year I took an atmospheric photo of a tree against a lowering sky.

So here’s another one. Not quite as grey as it was last year - and it didn’t snow on the way home.

Day 7

Our last day, so we went into Skipton to buy some cheese and some fents, and to have lunch in out favourite cafe. Then, following on the genealogical theme, we went across the county border to Bolton-by-Bowland, where my grandmother was born. It is a beautiful little village, probably little changed since she lived there at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately the family only lived there for a short time before returning to Manchester – visiting her would have been much less of an ordeal than it was, if she had still lived there.

Day 8

The less said about our journey home the better. So I shall proceed to tell you about it. The weather was beautiful. The journey was straightforward until the dreaded words appeared on the M6 warning signs ‘Motorway closed ahead’.

I once complained that on the journey north we seemed to spend hours in the Midlands and flash through Cheshire in about 10  minutes. This had clearly tempted fate.

We left the motorway to avoid the closure – as, of course, did a lot of other people. I won’t say we saw a lot of my native county – but we had plenty of time to study what we did see, in great detail. And quite a lot of Staffordshire as well.  However we got home safely and only about an hour later than expected.