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

Dorothy Rowe

Friday, 30 April 2010

Fed up of the election yet?

Thanks to Margaret Cooter for the link to this lot. which may cheer you up a bit.

Apart from that bit of disillusioned cynicism – to paraphrase Margaret – it’s been a disappointing week. College was OK – I got qualified approval to go ahead with what I’m doing - ‘as long as I justify it and don’t just go for the obvious approach’ - [thinking – that’s difficult!] - but I am still waiting for the bits of textiles from Babybel and Co. Nagging has taken place, I admit it – which has been followed by a deafening silence.

They’ll probably never speak to me again now I have published this on the world wide web.

A digression

Why have people taken to referring to ‘the internets’ in the plural – does anyone know? Have I missed some stunning technological development or is it just an affectation?

Back to the plot

The second disappointment was an outing to an embroidery exhibition yesterday – not going to say which one, but it is a group whose work I've seen before and found quite inspiring. Not this time.

About half of the exhibitors had chosen to  show groups of very similar pieces – same shape, same size, same colours, same subject, same technique, same price – anything up to a dozen or more, rarely more than A4 in size. One larger piece would have looked great – lots of small ones meant that individual pieces got lost. Although each exhibitor had her own style and technique, the result was still very samey.

So I went and spent money in Hobbycraft instead. And had chocolate cake and coffee in Haskins.

Today I decided I wanted to make a bag. Of course, I have lots of bags – but there was an interesting looking pattern in a magazine I bought recently – again I’m not going to say which one – so I thought I’d try it. I spotted fairly quickly that the measurements given for the straps were wrong – a shoulder bag with straps 40cm long? – but I think some of the other measurements must have been wrong too, because the bag ended up long and narrow – even after I’d added a sort of yoke to the top to make it a bit deeper. It would make a great knitting bag if I hadn’t put long straps on it!

So that was a wasted day. Wensleydale said I  was developing my skills, but I’m not sure what skills I’ve developed apart from swearing, sulking, and trying to turn a sow’s ear into something closer to a silk purse [but not much closer…]

And of course, because it is a Bank Holiday weekend, the weather has turned cold and drab. Not that we go out on Bank Holiday weekends, but it would have been nice to sit in the garden and listen to the planes.

So a bit of disillusioned cynicism was exactly what I needed …

P.S. The BBC’s weather website says ‘chance of snow’ on Monday. They cannot be serious!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I’ve been sidetracked …

after coming across this tutorial for little felt purses. I have felt, I have zips, I have nothing better to do.*

* Not strictly true.

IMG_0754 So this is my first one – slightly modified from Julie's original, because my felt was quite thin so I lined it – which made it quite stiff and difficult to turn out - so I gave it external seams. Oh, and I worked the appliqué before I made up the purse.IMG_0757

Then my eye fell on Diana Lampe’s ‘More Embroidered Garden Flowers’ which has been sitting on my bookshelf for – er – quite a long time. Which led to this [unfinished] version.


Of course I don’t do representational embroidery, or flowers …

[Looks like Lampe’s book has been reissued, combined with her first book, under another name  although believe me I didn’t pay that much for it … ]



This is the third one under way. I have three more zips of a suitable size with felt to match – and then my inherited zip stash will be reduced to long zips for dressmaking  which I don’t do. Which I definitely don’t do, unlike embroidered flowers.

Now purse making may seem like procrastination, given that I have a 2D piece to make – but it isn’t really. Honest.

My rationalisation is that:

  1. I am waiting for the bits of textiles from Babybel and her mum and dad and can’t make my final design decisions until I get them – and
  2. tomorrow’s session is another ‘independent work and tutorials’ day and the things I can do to the 2Dpiece will fill the time while I wait for my tutorial.

But truthfully – it was lovely to sit in the conservatory, enjoying the sunshine and the view of the garden, and doing something just for fun!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

It’s the real thing …


and a bit scary. This is the base fabric for my 2D piece – freezer paper resists, bleach, anti-chlor and a rinse. Now all it needs is a bit of embellishing, some appliqué and a heck of a lot of hand embroidery.

I’ve already embellished two circles at the top to represent my parents – a bit of embroidered hankie for mum – the last person I knew who used real hankies – and a bit of tea towel for dad – who had a bit of an obsession about washing up…

Now I need to go back to sampling – trying out ways of embroidering the embellishing, and different techniques for the lines which will run top to bottom. Just need some good telly to listen to while I do it – unfortunately although ‘Wallender’ is on tonight it won’t do as I have to look at the screen to read the subtitles.

It was contemporary Textiles yesterday but we will pass over that in silence. ‘Textiles’ was stretching it a bit – think brown paper, string and wire – and although I liked what I did yesterday – I don’t today.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

It was the first class …

of this term yesterday. I thought that everyone else would be miles ahead of me, as I’d lost so much time over Easter.

Turned out I needn’t have worried – and as someone quite rightly pointed out, I'd started a lot of stitch samples because that was all I felt up to. [Notice I said started, not finished ...]

The session was ‘independent working’ + tutorials, and as I’d bagged first place for a tutorial the last time, I volunteered to go last this time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in the interim, but it turned out to be very  useful to have 3 hours or so when I couldn’t do IMG_0737anything else. [Apart from drink coffee, look at other people’s ideas, gossip, and eat lunch – although I did manage to resist the chocolate machine …]

I started by pootling around with some design options. I  decided the best was the one on the left, only with a space at the bottom, lines that didn’t overlap, and more of the empty circles – what I call ‘ghost circles’.

So if you can imagine it with those changes, a blue background and blue and cream circles and lines, you’ll get the picture.

Then I finished some of the stitch samples, including trying out colours other than blue and cream. Not a good idea.

IMG_0738 This is my favourite – heavily influenced by 50s embroidery and the Needlework Development Scheme.  [I can justify this – after the tutorial I can justify almost everything about  this design!]

A digression.

Over on Dog Daisy Chains, Jackie has been encouraging bloggers to produce a post in their own handwriting. I have resisted the temptation, because I am big-headed enough to assume that you, gentle reader, actually want to be able to read my words of wit and wisdom – and if I hand wrote them, you wouldn’t be able to. If I hand wrote them , I wouldn't be able to read them.

But there is writing on the sample above. so that is my contribution to hand written blogging.

Back to the plot.

After all my designing and stitching, I had clarified my ideas, so the tutorial was really a matter of confirming [and justifying] them – although I did get a few suggestions about how to add the bits and bobs of textiles from the family. Some nice things were said about the sample above and the work book - one advantage of having done C&G Creative Sketchbooks is that although I can’t draw, I can glue, or splash paint, ink and bleach around a book, and hope something emerges …

So I came away feeling quite motivated.

On the way home I visited Cheese Major and his partner, Ali - who has got herself into the Hampshire team, well done that woman!


‘Hampshire team for what?’ I hear you ask. Well, here's a clue – some of their contributions for the 2D piece. And if you can’t work out what that lot are for, here’s another clue. No, it’s not cricket.

At the moment I'm thinking of using some of the little bit of blue leather, which I think is a finger guard, and the blue bow string end I've bent into a heart shape, if that’s not too naff – but the feathers have a certain appeal, too.

IMG_0741After all yesterday’s excitement, this morning I made a full scale mock up, [C&G indoctrination] with some painted brown paper I prepared earlier.

Mmm – not a total success – but I did learn from the experience:

  1. discharging Brusho need much more concentrated bleach than discharging fabric. Dilute bleach just makes it go paler. Neat bleach from a bleach pen will make it go white, however.
  2. freezer paper doesn't come off paper anywhere near as easily as it does off fabric.

however, it has given me a better idea of what the piece might look like than the quarter scale sketches. I also tore the fabric 5 cms narrower because that was equivalent to 2 widths of the roller I put the bleach on with, rather than 2.5.

The bleached fabric has been rinsed, neutralised and washed and is currently drying – it’s looking good but I’ll have another look at it tomorrow and decide if it really is what I want. Otherwise I'll do another one – after all I still have 2.5 curtains to go …

Monday, 19 April 2010

When in doubt …

make a book. This time it isn’t procrastination. [No, really it isn’t. Honestly. Would I lie to you?]


For the 2D artefact  for the degree we have to keep a work book. This is my work book. Boring, isn't it?

You may be surprised that I am using an bought sketchbook – but when I started the 2D piece I didn’t know what it was going to be, so I didn’t know what sort of book it needed. [It is going to get a cover soon.]

This boring book is nearly full – you can see a bit of a sample sticking out at the bottom.IMG_0722

So I have spent the last couple of days making Workbook 2 – because now I now what sort of book I need. One like this.

Wensleydale says it looks like an old ledger – which wasn’t exactly what I was aiming at, but I did want something worn and tatty looking.

It is yet another mailer covered with old curtain [you are going to see a lot of those old curtains – I’ve got another 3 to use]. I whipped the edges because I wasn’t convinced that the curtain wouldn’t come unstuck. The apologies for tassels are where I joined on a new bit of string for the whipping– it took miles of the stuff.

I have also been playing around with more bits of old curtain and the remains of a tin of emulsion paint. These were made using a foam paint roller, either everyday4as it came, or wrapped in curtain lace, scrim or rubber bands. I also tried using freezer paper stencils as resists. [Yes, that is a hole in the piece top right. That’s how tatty the curtains are. And you can see how faded they are in the workbook cover.  Shame making, because we only took them down a few weeks ago …]

I’ve got a tutorial on Wednesday, so we will see how these go down with the tutor. I've done some more using bleach but they are still drying and not in a fit state to be photographed.

Friday, 16 April 2010

No news is good news …

at least this time. I haven’t posted for a while because not much has been happening at Cheese Acres. I’ve assembled all I need to hand in for the postponed Drawing Studies module net week, but not much embroidery has taken place since I completed the samples for the 2D module. I have done some knitting, but nothing very photogenic.

We have as much time as possible outside enjoying the peaceful [plane-free] sunshine. After seeing his consultant again this week Wensleydale has been provided with a pair of crutches, which he is having to get used to using again, about 50 years after he last used a pair.  However they have increased his mobility to a level which just about matches my post-chest-infection-from-hell stamina [hereinafter known as CIFH], so we have been pottering slowly round some of our favourite places before staggering into the nearest tea shop for medicinal tea and cake.

 april 2010

Today’s outing was to the Hillier Gardens, which is full of lovely spring flowers – small sample on the left. As you can see the sun was shining despite the Icelandic volcano dust which has kept the planes away. I have been warned that a book i ordered from the US may not arrive for a while – but hey, I can wait!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

At the risk of sounding …

as if I have any interest in football – which I haven’t – I have to say how pleased I am that Pompey won the semi-final of the FA cup. It is difficult to live in Hampshire without knowing about the trials and tribulations of the club over the last year or so, and to sympathise with the players and fans who have been shafted by a crap owner and the FA. And beating Spurs to do it must have added an extra sweetness to the victory. [Sorry, Spurs fans, but if you must employ Harry Redknapp…]

And that, I promise, will be the last mention of sport you will see on this blog before the Tour de France [unless, of course, Pompey beat Chelsea …]


To turn to more usual matters – I have finished the 4 make-it-up-as-you-go-along samples for the college session I missed. You can plot the course of my improving health by the elaboration of these samples – a very plain patch and darn [although I’ve jazzed them up a bit today], a more elaborate sample of eyelet holes  and a completely over-the-top sample of drawn thread work – which is one of my favourite techniques.

I wasn’t sure whether we were meant to add beads etc. – our G&G teacher always encouraged the addition of ‘beads and sequins’ but T doesn't mention them – but the darn and patch looked so boring I added some buttons. And then a few beads crept onto the other pieces.

I also got started on my portfolio proper this morning. I can’t remember if I mentioned that after I'd made my drawing studies portfolio we were encouraged to present the drawings in a ‘proper’ one. I bought a ‘proper’ one and all its associated bits, which arrived just before I fell ill, so all I've been able to do about it since is worry. However I felt up to getting started today, and although I haven’t finished [wrestling with A1 paper = working on the floor = back-ache] it all seems much more doable.

So soon I hope to get back to proper sampling for the 2D piece!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Embroiderer does some stitching shock!


This is the sum total of my stitching over the last two weeks – bet you’re impressed!

And it’s not even embroidery – but my cack-handed attempts at a darn [top, right side and wrong side] and a patch [bottom, right side and wrong side].

The college session I missed was one the subject of ‘holes’ and was linked to the ‘everyday’ topic. L. kindly sent me  a summary of what I missed – and the requirement seemed to be to make 4 samples of holes, or ‘repairs’ to holes.

So I looked through a few books to research darning and patching, and these are the result. What sort of sad person has ‘a few’ books on darning and patching, you may ask? A sad person who collects old needlework books, the old the better. And the older they are, the more likely they re to have a lengthy section on repairing textiles – For example Amy K. Smith’s ‘Needlework for Student Teachers’ [1897 edition] has 65 well-illustrated pages on patching and darning! [And some indication of what girls were taught in needlework lessons in those days – which is a bit of an eye opener.]

I’m sure Ms Smith would not approve of my efforts – but heck, this is supposed to be creative.

I have now started on the making holes bit – at the moment lots and lots and lots of eyelets. Sitting with my feet up, doing some gentle hand sewing and listening to Radio 3 is about all I’m capable of at the moment – although we did haul ourselves up to Brooklands Museum yesterday to see the family. We had a picnic in the car park while the men watched the cars at Mercedes World – although I will admit that Babybel,  Mrs Cheddar and I were quite taken with the formation driving by 4 neon coloured Smart cars. Then, as I didn’t feel up to going round the museum, Wensleydale and I came home, while the others looked at cars and planes and went on Concorde.And a good time was had by all!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The product of a fevered imagination?

Cheese Major mentioned on Facebook that he had ‘registered his interest in tickets for Lords in 2012’. I was a bit surprised as he has never shown any interest in cricket, but as he pointed out in condescending tones to his dense old mother – it is the location for the archery matches in the Olympics.

Cheese Minor suggested that combining cricket and archery might lead to ‘brighter cricket’ – and having nothing better to do I spent half an hour in the bath working out some ideas.

Of course I had to start with the name - ‘Crarchery’ is silly but ‘Acket’ seemed much more suitable.

It has always seemed unfair to me that in a cricket match there are eleven players from one side on the field – but only two from the other. So we send the remaining members of the batting side on as archers. Much fairer!

To begin with I thought the archers could line up either side of the wicket, rather like the wings of archers at the battle of Agincourt – but decided, given the comparative scale of a cricket pitch and a battle ground, they would just end up shooting each other

So I decided that just as the bowler tells the fielders where to stand, the batsmen could place the archers round the pitch to their liking.

Of course, direct firing at the opposite side wouldn’t be – er- cricket, so the archers would only be allowed to fire at the ball, between the time it hits the ground, and the time a fielder gets his/her hand on it. [Any archer who actually splits the ball with an arrow wins the entire match for his/her side.]

Now this may sound a little one-sided, but after all the archers are spread around the ground just like the fielders, so there is always a possibility of ‘friendly fire’ – and anyway, they should all wear body armour and helmets, like batsmen already do. And those brightly coloured pyjamas they wear these days should make them stand out nicely against the grass. [Mmm – may be a need for protection for the spectators – needs a bit of R&D there.]

I did wonder about allowing the fielders to ride horses – a touch of medieval battles/polo – but we English don’t like to see horses get hurt. And anyway it would be silly.

In the interests of history/mobility/beautiful wood the archers would use longbows. [Mmm – may need more R&D to produce armour and helmets suitable for archers.]

Of course there is a possibility that whichever side bats first always wins – but this is not a fully developed plan, I recognise that it needs some refinement. We could start by playing some short limited over/arrow matches, and then if there were enough players left – I mean, enough interest -  progress to longer matches.

What do you think? All suggestions for refinements gratefully received.

I was about to say that it’s a pity the French don’t play cricket - but then I remembered a nasty rumour, which can’t possibly be true, that the French archery team beat us in the last Olympics, so maybe it’s better we don’t introduce them to Acket. They might take it as a form of revenge for Agincourt and Crecy and all those other small medieval disagreements …

Off to do some sewing!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Got to admit it’s getting better …

I don’t cough so much, I have the beginnings of a voice, and today I ate a toasted hot Cross bun – definitely food with edges!

Not sure what happened to the first week of April, though …

Obviously while I was out of it somebody called an election.  What I stupidly hadn’t realised, until I looked at the heap of Party Political hogwash which the postman brought us this morning, was that we live in a key Tory target constituency – i.e. there’s a chance they could gain a seat  here. So they are going to try very very hard.

I must confess that I am a card carrying member of one of the three major British political parties. Not that I think ‘my’ party is that much better than the others, – or that they have a cat in hell’s chance of ever forming a government – [there's a give away] but they do share my values far more than either of the others.

Being a party member normally lets you off a lot of the hoohah – your own party doesn’t bother [apart from making sure you get out and vote], and the opposition doesn’t waste it’s time. But with talk of a hung parliament, I suspect that this time the Tories won’t let us off so easily.image

At the moment they are determinedly trying to persuade us that George Osborne [centre] will be a responsible Chancellor – someone who doesn't look old enough to be responsible for his own pocket money.

As opposed to Vince Cable [right]– the only major UK politician to see the financial crisis coming – and who, according to an old survey in the Times, is trusted more by Tory voters than GO.

And in the interests of balance – on the left, in fact if not in politics – some other feller.

Here endeth today’s party political broadcast – and I promise to try to avoid making any more.

In fact I may just go back to bed till it’s all over.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The good things in life …

  1. It is a beautiful spring day and my cherry tree is in blossom.
  2. I ate breakfast [OK, it was in bed.]
  3. I had a nap.
  4. I had a shower.
  5. I have clean hair!!!!! Not sweat-soaked spikes. [This post may get a little graphic.]
  6. I weighed myself. One of the [few] benefits of having no appetite fro 10 days is that you lose 4 kilos.]
  7. I got dressed. In clothes – not night clothes.
  8. I came downstairs.
  9. I ate lunch. At lunchtime. With two courses. [Soup and yoghurt.]
  10. I though about doing some homework to make up for the college session I missed.
  11. My finger nails are longer than they have been for years. Cheshire’s beauty tip – for beautiful nails, lie down all the time and don’t do anything. [I think the coughing is an optional extra.]
  12. Wensleydale has been the most brilliant nurse.

The bad things in life…

  1. I still cough my guts up every time I move – and at random times in between.
  2. I’ve pulled a muscle through coughing which makes it even more painful.
  3. Despite a longing for a bacon sarnie, I can’t have one. Eating food with edges leads to coughing and unsightly spluttering. My diet is restricted to porridge, soup, bread if I soften it in the soup, yoghurt, grapes, water, orange juice and tea.
  4. I’ve thought about homework, but can’t work up the energy to actually do any.
  5. Despite drinking the contents of a small reservoir over the past 10 days, my skin has the texture and colour of an old dishcloth.
  6. I still can’t talk.

Still – the good points outnumber the bad points. And I’ve got clean hair!!!!!

Thanks for all the kind messages you’ve sent. [Not sure about the ones in Chinese [?], so I rejected those.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Dispatch from the plague pit

I’m still here – just, although it has been one step forward and two back over the last few days. As I didn't feel I was getting much better I finally dragged myself down to the doctor’s today. You may think I should have gone sooner, but when things first took a turn for the worse it was all I could do to get out of bed, never mind get dressed and go out. And I was fairly sure it was a virus and our GP’s practice is one of those who don’t give you anti-biotics for a virus – because they don’t work.

So i pottered down and saw a rather personable young man who had lovely pictures of his baby [boy] and his dog [Springer Spaniel] on his desk. [Is this a legal requirement for GPs? all ours seem to do it – not that I've been near the place for years.] I had my ears eyes and throat looked at and my chest listened to – and was told, yes. it was a virus, and no, there wasn't any treatment.

Still, it’s nice to know I haven't got pneumonia. just an upper respiratory tract infection – and just getting dressed and going out did me good.

Still no energy to actually do anything and my brains is in something of a fog, just need to sit here – possibly even get up and walk round the garden occasionally – and wait.

It will be nice when I can actually talk again, not just whisper – not to mention sleeping lying down. And when I can use this machine at the desk and not rely on this !£^$$$£”” touchpad thingy which does NOT improve on acquaintance.