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

Dorothy Rowe

Saturday, 29 December 2012


As so often happens at the end of the year, it has turned into clear out time - old clothes, old magazines, and a few apps, because I decided I had far too many. Of course before I decided whether to delete them, I had to find out remind myself what they did. Which is where serendipity came in.

I started with this - Saga tubes - and bunged it into 'Glaze' which has so many options I find it a bit overwhelming. I made several versions, and I can't remember which one I chose for the next step...

which was 'Type Drawing', using 'Bradley Hand' font (hereinafter known as 'Sir Bradley') (sorry, couldn't resist). 

Yes, the so called original is square and the other is rectangular. Don't ask me why.

Then I used step 2 in 'Kyoobic' (ouch), 'Percolator' and my favourite, ’Decim8’. The 'randomise' button in the latter is responsible for the excess of images. 

But serendipitously, in one of them I spotted the motif I am currently besotted with. 

This one has the chevron motif lurking at the left side. So now it's gained a backing of wadding and the makings of some raw edge appliqué, and tomorrow it will get quilted and become page 4.

Unfortunately what was going to be page 3 has assumed the status of 'a sample to go in the work book to show what not to do'. I still think I have the basis of an interesting design, but it needs some tweaks, and the embroiderer needs to improve the standard of her stitching more than somewhat. 

However I haven't got enough of the right colours of thread to start again just yet, so it will have to wait till I can get to a thread shop.

On a more cheerful note, the third Karen Ruane block is finished - not a very good photograph, I'm afraid, there is so little daylight at the moment to try to get decent images. The snowflakes are actually lavender in colour, not this strange grey.

The initials are mine and my mother's - and that is a pocket in the middle. I think I shall put photos in it when the thing is finished.

In case I don't post gain before Tuesday, I wish you a happy new year, and a somewhat drier one for everyone in the UK, or anywhere else affected by the deluge  we have been treated to!

Monday, 24 December 2012

We survived...

a sleepover by one granddaughter, one grandson and one granddog. And a good time was had by all - apart from the grandparents being so worried about the children sleeping well that, even though the children did, the grandparents didn't. (The dog was pretty restless too. He can't get his head round the fact that no cat is going to come in and attack him - or that there is no cat food to steal, now.)

We went to Hillier Gardens on Saturday, despite the rain. The tree house was inspected and deemed too wet to use. But it was decided that we should return another day to explore it further.

The mermaid in our party hugged a few trees. The non-mermaids didn't.   

The whole party enjoyed tea in the cafe. Babybel sat quietly and ate her crisps. The VHC didn't. The feminist in me says that boys and girls are pretty similar. The grandmother in me thinks boys are louder and bolshier! 

On Sunday we went to Mottisfont. As non-dog owners we hadn't realised that you can take well behaved dogs into the gardens, which allowed us to exercise the mermaid, the dog and ourselves all at the same time. (The other member of the party came along for the ride.)

Babybel enjoyed finding the stars on the Star Trail, and granny and granddad did too. This is only a sample - the photographer was in charge of buggy pushing and refused to tackle more muddy wet grass than she had to. 

It was not too cold to have coffee in the stable yard, where Babybel could pet the chicken wire horse, suitably dressed for Christmas.

The VHC could explore the effects of running away from granny and through puddles, falling over (fortunately not in a puddle), and pretending you can't get up again, pretending you don't like the gravel on your hands and then adding more after granny has wiped them, (see what I mean about  bolshier?) and fearlessly approaching and petting a dog who is bigger than you are (a beautiful English pointer). He was more wary of the horse, however.

Granny and granddad could sit down, at least for part of the time, and the dog could field the crumbs from the rich humans' table.

Then we all went to Babybel and the VHC's house and very gratefully returned our visitors to their mum and dad.

I am sure seasoned grandparents wonder why I'm making such a fuss, but this is the first time we've had both of hem overnight, and previous visits from Babybel on her own have been rather tearful affairs.

Before all this I did manage to finish Page 2. Neatened Italian quilting and arrow stitches. It's not clear from the photo but the stitch on this is silver, not white, apart from the red thread end which seems to have crept in from somewhere. I'm pleased with the way this looks, it feels like it follows on well from Page 1.

Now to Page 3 (!) - or maybe a later page, as I have clearer ideas about those. Not that I don't have ideas for Page 3, if anything I have too many, which is a big part of the problem!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The shortest day?

This is not an obscure reference to the end of the world, which had better get a move on if it is going to happen, except that, if it's based on Mayan time, we have to make allowances for their day ending several hours after midnight GMT.

It is an even more obscure reference to the fact that 35 some years ago I was experiencing one of the longest days of my life, which started in the small hours and ended a long time later, after a lot of swearing and yelling, with a bouncing baby boy. Of course he isn't really 35, it just isn't possible....

Happy Birthday, Cheese Major, so glad that after a few rough years things seem to be looking up for you.

Things are looking fairly good at Cheese Acres too. 

Page 1 is finished, apart from having some stiffening and a backing added, which won't happen until the very end.

A considerable amount of unpicking went into this, so even though it doesn't quite lie flat, it's staying that way. I have been called many things in my life, but 'perfectionist' is not one of them. (I actually typed 'peefectionist' which I rather like, but I'm not one of those either...)

And I've made a good start on page 2. In the chilly fastnesses of Wednesday night - or perhaps Thursday morning - I came up with the idea of making a stamp with Softsculpt from page I. 

So I did. 

Well, several stamps, because when I was searching for the Softsculpt, I found some Magicstamp shapes as well. Anyone else have stuff they don't remember buying?)

The result of the printing was rather paler I'd hoped, perhaps because the fabric paint is several years old, but paler was better  than too strong.  

Then, as I was reading old embroidery magazines in bed, I came across an article about Italian quilting - so the phantom tubes have been Italian quilted. (I hope you are impressed by the months of forethought and planning which go into my design process.)

As this is the only time I've ever done any IQ apart from C&G , when I used a sewing machine and a twin needle, and the result was very tight, I'm not quite sure to do with the ends. The book I consulted suggested quilting wool or piping cord, and as I had lots of the latter and none of the former, piping cord it was. The drawback to this is that piping cord is very prone to unravelling. I've left the ends quite long for now, but when I've had enough wine to stiffen my sinews, I think I will probably tack the ends to the backing fabric before I trim them a bit shorter. Then some random arrow stitches in the background and page 2 will be done. However, if I don't get it done tonight it will have to wait till next week, as we are having two small guests for a couple of days and I suspect there will be other things on my mind.

The small hours search for Softsculpt was productive in other ways. Not only did I throw away some things I won't ever use (feathers and tomato paste tubes, mostly) but I also found several packets of skeleton leaves left over from C&G, which will be useful for the next session of the Contemporary Textile Workshop. For once we've been told more or less what we'll be doing, so with any luck I will not be taking masses of stuff I decide isn't right when I get there. (As it isn't until the middle of January, perhaps I have been guilty of forethought and planning after all?)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Slow progress...

on my Karen Ruane piece.

This is the third block, and definitely not finished yet. For a start I don't like that running stitch, so it will either come out or have something added.

The initials are mine and mum's, the hanky is one of mum's. 

Slow progress too with the cover for 'Moving On', because I keep changing my mind. (Autocorrect changed that to 'much mind' - I wish!)

First I tried couching in a sort of brick stitch effect in a thicker silver thread. Then I decided the stitches needed to be closer together, in a chevron pattern. But when it was nearly finished I realised it looked boring, and the silver was overwhelming the blue. 

Fortunately it was easy to cut out.

Then I tried small, closely-spaced patches, arranged at random by rolling a die. Still overwhelming.

So now I'm using a much finer thread, which looks better. Unfortunately it is really meant for couching, and doesn't take kindly to being pulled through the fabric, so I'm having to use a big needle and very short lengths. I just hope it works, I can't face starting for a fourth time.

And this afternoon we made a slow and stately progress round the Winter Garden at Hillier Gardens (this cold weather and my arthritis do not agree).

The sun was setting, and the light was beautiful.

The tea and cake were pretty good too.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Things can only get better...

having been pretty bad at Cheese Acres and environs for the last couple of months. No wrecks and nobody drownded, (listen, Google, when I type in 'drownded', I mean 'drownded', and if I wanted Stevie Smith I'd have said so!) but some major hassles to cope with. So the e-mail I got this afternoon telling me I'd been excused jury service was a cause of great rejoicing, and a great weight off my mind.

I believe you get picked for jury service at random by computer, and I've never been picked before, so I'm hoping that this means that official computers are in a mood for selecting my name, and that Ernie will select one of the £10 worth of Premium Bonds I've had since I was 21 without ever winning anything. 

Bit of a Fylde Coast connection in this post. (You probably have to be Northern and/or old to understand this.)

The arrival of good news had been preceded by an enjoyable lunch at Brasserie Blanc, so I was in the mood to be cheerful. Not completely cheerful, as we waited 30 minutes for the bus both going and coming (it's a 10 minute service), and the weather was dreadful, at least at first.

And I've finished the Contemporary Textile Workshop piece, which has, as you can see, morphed into a Christmas decoration.  Not quite, I think, what Terri the tutor intended, but I like it.

The other CTW piece has stalled a bit, but once we've got Sunday over  - a joint celebration for Wensleydale's birthday (early) and my graduation (late) I should be able to fit in some dedicated embroidery time.

Assuming no more hassles happen. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

You wait days for a post...

then two come along together. That's because I actually have something to say. (Not that having nothing to say usually stops me.)

I left you agog with indifference about what I was going to select from my crammed work basket. 

As you can see, the mittens won. And the eagle-eyed will also see that the cables are incorrect. Be warned: this is what happens if you try to knit complex cables while watching complex TV thrillers in Danish. Unless, of course, you speak Danish.

However, they have been tested today, and they are nice and warm. 

The mittens were tested on a Monday meander, to Stourhead. You may remember our attempt to visit Stourhead in half term, when we ended up going to Kingston Lacy. (According to a member of staff we spoke to, the Saturday of the week we tried to go and gave up, they had 7,000 visitors. Glad we didn't persist!)

We thought a Monday in mid-December might be a little quieter, and it was. 

We had intended going round the gardens, but when we realised that the house was open, and decorated for Christmas, we changed our minds.

And, despite it being a lovely sunny day, we're glad we did. The decorations were beautiful - different in each room, mostly hand made, and never OTT. 

I especially liked the dining room, where, unusually in a National Trust house, the blinds were up and the sunlight poured in over the dining table, as you can see at the bottom of this collage, and on the plate at the top.

Then home, in the light of the setting sun.

The day was only marred by the sight of three dead deer by the roadside on the way home, which is three more than I've ever seen before. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Started bad, got better.

The bad news - I've been summoned for jury duty in January. When I was working I would have been happy to do it, but now - I have two small children to look after, twice a week. Finding a child minder, at short notice, to do the hours I do, for the money the courts offer as compensation, and for an indefinite period? Unlikely. And unfortunately Wensleydale's disability means that he can't cope with the VHC, becaus he can't pick him up, carry him, or push him in a buggy.

I have asked to be excused, so keep your fingers crossed for me - well, us!

On the better side, Friday was Contemporary Textile Workshop day, and it was much more to my taste than the previous session.

We'd been asked to take sticks - but a few tubes crept in. These were once going to be 'Saga' until I decided I'd done enough degree stuff. Never throw anything away.

Of course, when I got home, I unpicked what I'd done. Didn't like the backing, didn't like the thread.

This is the second version in its embryonic stage. The background was once a drop cloth from my dyeing table, overdyed with blue - the colours work better in real life than in the photo. 

I think this may become the cover for 'Moving On', and, as I have more than enough of this fabric to make a book, it will be used for the pages as well. The anarchy of the colours seems right for the anarchy of what I have planned.

So that's the first of my definite decisions gone west. 

The session was based round the idea of using gold work techniques over sticks, or over the ridges in corrugated card. I did try the latter but mine was so awful I only did a tiny bit.

But like several of my colleagues, I played around with putting the sticks in the corrugations. 

This wasn't quite how it looked when it got home. It's got a bit greener, glitterier and golder since then, I can't imagine why. It is now in the process of having some gold stitch added.

Before I got involved in silly stuff, I finished my second Karen Ruane block. (The pins are part of the blocking process, as taught by Karen.)

It is upside down in the photo, and I'm too lazy to photograph it again, so please just imagine that flower on the left is on the right, and growing upwards.

So now my work basket contains a silly Chrismassy thing, another KR block, the cover for 'Moving On', (and the beginnings of another 7 pages), a mitten which needs the top and thumb finishing, and a scarf which I started last night because I had to have some mindless knitting for watching 'The Killing' with, and the mitten needed too much concentration.

So where shall I start?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Bad stuff and good stuff.

Bad stuff

I had to have a tooth out yesterday - and I don't have that many to spare. I was eating toast on Saturday morning when I heard a crack, and one of my few remaining, much patched molars became painful and wobbly. It turned out that the root had broken, so it was goodbye tooth. In the words of Pam Ayres, 'I wish I'd looked after me teeth'.

Good stuff

My lovely Welsh dentist told me to go home and put my feet up. I didn't need to be told twice - and so I have finished my first Karen Ruane block. Maybe. It may get extras when I come to join it to its brothers and sisters. (I should point out this is straight out of the embroidery hoop and it needs blocking to make it look better.)

I like some bits better than others - although  I like the look of the cutwork, I wish I'd made it smaller, but that isn't really something you can unpick.

Now on to block two. I wonder how long I can spin out this 'I've got to sit down, the dentist told me to'?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Playing around...

with my Karen Ruane piece.

Look at this piece and admire the dedication that made me tackle two of my least favourite stitches - cross stitch and bullion knots.

I must admit that I love the look of the cross stitch hearts on silk, so much that I bought some more waste canvas.

And my bullion knots are better now that I know the right way to do them (milliner's needle, wrap clockwise). Not good, you understand, just better.

The more I do on this piece, the more I like it. I can see so many things that I could have done better, but I still like it. As there is a lot of stuff in it which I inherited from mum, I find myself thinking about my somewhat ambivalent relationship with her as I work on it, which is quite bittersweet, and adds to the process.

Working on it has reminded me how much I enjoy flitting from one process/stitch/patch to another - low boredom threshold! Only having a little bit of cross stitch or a few bullion knots makes them tolerable and doable. And, as Karen points out in her videos for the course, you can always add more. I like to kid myself that I have a 'less is more' aesthetic, but  sometimes nothing succeeds like excess. 

I think it may become a work in intermittent but continuous progress, as I make more blocks to add to this one. 

I have also been playing with my tiny Sandra Meech sketchbook. I have a collection of printouts from the Internet for ideas for sketchbooks, and I decided to work my way through them with no very clear idea of where I was going. It ended up being a very productive process, giving me lots of ideas for my piece for the NEC in March. 

Hence the scribble on the yellow spread. 

It is definitely going to be called 'Moving On' (maybe).
It is definitely going to be a small concertina book (maybe).
It is definitely going to have eight pages (maybe).
It is definitely going to include those arrows (maybe).
It is definitely going to involve patching and layering fabric (maybe).
It is definitely going to use the indigo fabrics I dyed with Tiggy Rawlings last year (maybe).
It is definitely going to be hand stitched (maybe).

That led to some explorations of ways to join fabric together - only with paper. They are mostly stitch, although I have to admit that a little glue was involved, purely as a temporary measure, you understand.

The second image is the reverse of one side of the first one, and I included it because I like the way the backs of the stitches seem to develop from the black marks on the left - a B&W print of the over-enlarged detail of foliage on the right of the top image. The foliage is in the apped photo of a truck at the top, except I ripped that bit off.

I trust I make myself clear?

More joinings. I vaguely remember doing something similar for City and Guilds, except that variations of faggotting were involved in that one, and mine, which was black and magenta, ended up looking like a section from a tart's corset. Which in turn reminds me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, although I don't remember any magenta corsets in that, even on Magenta... 

And as I correct yet another nonsensical autocorrection, I must point out that any post which is even more gibberish-ish (yes, autocorrect, that is what I meant) than usual is all the fault of Paddy the iPad (maybe).

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Conflict of interests.

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting much about my work for Karen Ruane's latest class. Well, I haven't been posting much of anything, despite all my good intentions, but nothing about 'Embroider, Embellish, Create'. 

That's because I haven't been doing much work for it, as I wanted to complete two other things first.

Thing 1

(I diagnose too much exposure to Dr Seuss.) But I digress. Thing 1 was the 'Attack' series I posted about lat time. (I suppose that should be 'Things 1'.) They were the last bit of the last lesson of 'Embroiderer's Ledger' (although not my last use of the techniques, or the ledger), and I knew if I put them on one side I'd never finish them.

Thing 2

is this. (Haven't blogged about it either.)
Four of the bits I made in the last Contemporary Textile Workshop, embroidered, mounted, and turned into an accordion book. The next CTW is sometime next month (my diary secretary isn't here right now), and again, I wanted to get it finished because I was afraid I wouldn't, if you know what I mean. I wasn't sure quite what we were supposed to do with what we'd made, so I did my own thing. (Now there's a surprise.)

I'm pleased with the result, both in itself, and as a try-out for an idea I've had for a book for our exhibition at the NEC next March. (Which is something else I need to get started on, pretty soon.) (And which will look nothing like this.)

Finishing that left a little time for some embellishing. 

I'd love to claim that I made the little bird motif, but I cannot tell a lie, it was one of several I found in mum's stash when I inherited it. This seemed a good time to use at least a couple of them.

You may also be able to see an outbreak of cross stitch on the waste canvas at the bottom. Long time readers of this blog will know that I hate cross stitch.

Never say never. Still don't like it, but it looks so effective on Karen's pieces, I decided to give it a try. I've been breaking up the monotony by working some of the other sections in between hearts.

(Mmm - rereading this, I seem to have used up this year's supply of parentheses.) Whoops, there's two more gone...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Bet you're all too young to remember that film.

This is my version.
Karen Ruane's emulsion paint and watercolour technique, with a bit of stitch.

It has a companion piece, Attack of the Killer Fried Eggs.

We went to a very important birthday party today, so I'm too tired to be sensible. A good time was had by all - in fact the birthday girl was having such a good time we saw very little of her. The VHC had a good time too, despite being a bit under the weather, and despite not being able to get into the bouncy castle to join big sister, no matter how hard he tried. And rotten granny wouldn't help, because she was worried about him getting bounced on by all the big girls already up there.

The cake was good too. (I don't think I've mentioned that Babybel is an apprentice mermaid.)
And to end a perfect day, there's 'The Killing III' on TV tonight. What else could one ask? (Well, unfortunately we had to sacrifice watching the cycling for the party, but there's more on tomorrow.)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Things are looking better.

Thing 1

is definitely better for a touch of emulsion paint. It is whiter in real life, photographing it in artificial light turns it yellow. I've added some beads and some more tiny French knots.

Thing 2

went black overnight, with a touch of red rub-on.  Also an improvement, I think.

I worked on a few more of the sketchbook pages, using the arrow motif which emerged from Kare Ruane's Ledger class. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that the Eastleigh graduates have been invited to take a stand here, which is very scary. Our theme is - guess what? - 'Moving On', and although that isn't why I started taking photos of traffic, they seem relevant. Of course the arrows are a long way from the photos, but the motif did emerge out of the picture bottom right, so there is a connection. I see possibilities in a couple of these.

I'm beginning to think that I prefer working with linear/geometric shapes - hence all those tubes. Have I discovered my 'preferred way of working' at last? Who knows - I could decide something completely different tomorrow...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Back to work...

after all the excitement.

Today I did something I haven't done for ages. I made a book.

I recently bought  Sandra Meech's new book, 'Connecting Design to Stitch', which includes instructions for making a small, interesting sketchbook. 

So over the last few days I have painted paper, printed off images and details of images in colour and B&W, and painted some of the B&W images, and today I sat down to assemble them into a book.

Well, either I was feeling very dense today, or there are some errors in the instructions. Has anyone else tried them? I know enough about book making to cope, but anyone who doesn't might get a little puzzled. If you do have the book and you want to have a go, I would recommend finding instructions for making 5 hole pamphlets, and using those to assemble the signatures. And don't use the elastic bands until you are ready to weave the pamphlets together, at which point they work very well...

I do, however, like the result, although this is all the actual  'sketching' I've done in it so far. 

I'm thinking of trying some of Karen Ruane's techniques in it, as well as Sandra Meech's.

I don't like the cover, though, it will have to have some attention - like more emulsion paint.

While I had the paint out I screwed up my courage and overpainted this.

Definitely an improvement. When it's dry it will get a few beads and possibly some more French knots. 

Tomorrow we have a day off from grandchild-sitting, as it's Babybel's birthday - hard to believe she's five! Instead we will be making our Christmas cake, using our usual excellent recipe. Which is about all the preparation for Christmas I shall do before December. Bah, humbug!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Congratulations to my classmates!

And all the others who graduated this week.

This is probably the only picture of me which will ever appear on this blog.

For some reason I look like a rabbit caught in the headlights, although I was feeling quite relaxed. 

The ceremony swithered between being quite moving, and very boring. Moving when I caught sight of the procession of dignitaries coming up the nave, from the West Door of the Cathedral, and when we left the same way. (I've never seen those doors open, and probably will never see again, so it was great to walk through them.) Boring after we'd had our brief moment in the spotlight, and had to wait while hundreds of others had theirs. And it was cold ! 

We followed the ceremony with an enjoyable meal en masse (more or less) at Brasserie Blanc, and came home knackered. But Winchester Cathedral is definitely the place to have your degree ceremony - I can recommend it - if you wear your thermals.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Where did that week go?

I thought I'd be spending most of it on the sofa with my feet up, but it didn't quite turn out as expected. Of course we still had small people to look after on Monday and Thursday, I have recovered more quickly than I expected, and it was pretty boring sitting on the sofa, even with embroidery to do. In any case, the NHS Direct advice was not to sit on your backside all the time, so I didn't/couldn't.

There has been some painting, which I could do sitting down.

This is Karen Ruane's emulsion and watercolour technique. Karen showed us some of her work from university, where she had painted on strongly patterned fabric, then drawn and stitched on the painted areas, which were almost completely hidden. It's an excellent technique for adding stitch to fabrics.

As I can't draw, my efforts are a little more pedestrian. I used the perspective lines from my source image to make freezer paper stencils for the emulsion paint, then added watercolour when it was dry. Now I'm pondering on whether to add some lines in pen - and then, some stitch.

Some embroidery has been done. This is an emulsion paint and ink piece from the Contemporary Textile Workshop. As soon as I'd done it, I thought 'French knots' - but now I'm not so sure, I think because the big ones are too pale. (This image is greener than it is in reality - and that orange dot is not permanent!)

I'm swithering with the idea of giving it another coat of emulsion, to reduce the contrast, and then adding a few more knots and some beads. Any comments or suggestions gratefully received!

And I've got started on a block for Karen's new class, 'Embroider, embellish, create', which is an excellent class for anyone with a stash of odd bits of fabric, lace, old hankies etc. A lot of mine came from my mother, so this is inspired by her - that's why it's purple.

So far we've covered making the block and adding seam embellishments - on Friday we move on to decorating the empty bits. Mine looks a bit boring restrained, compared with other people's, but I'm encouraging myself to get a bit more adventurous.

However, not much more work will be done before the weekend. Tomorrow is a Babybel and VHC day. The VHC now has a name for Wensleydale and I - the same name. 'Gaga'. It may or may not be appropriate, I'm not committing myself.

Then on Friday it's G Day - graduation, that is. I and my colleagues will go and collect our bits of paper from the VC (I think) of Winchester University, and then process out of the Cathedral in our finery. Then we are all heading for Brasserie Blanc, entourages in tow, for what a colleague has called a 'large, jolly party'.  And as W. and I intend to go in on the bus, we may be jollier than the rest.

You may wish to avoid the centre of Winchester tomorrow...

Friday, 2 November 2012

Another anniversary. Unfortunately.

Last October, we went to the very edge of England to learn about 'Food and Health', and I came home with a sprained ankle.

Last Wednesday I was walking back from the gym and fell over. And sprained my ankle. 

Maybe I should give up trying to be healthy, at least in October?

This led to a reorganisation of our plans for grandchild sitting on Thursday. Babybel, whose affections seem to have switched from cows to heavy horses, had already changed her mind about going to Manor Farm and asked to go to the Heavy Horse Centre instead. 

So grandad took her there, the VHC went to nursery, and Granny stayed at home with an ice pack feeling bored, lonely and decidedly miffed. (Granny likes horses too, heavy or otherwise.)

This should have provided an opportunity for lots of embroidery, but the only thing I had to do was a lot of small tent stitch in cream, which got boring very quickly.

Today I've been a bit more mobile, as recommended by NHS Direct, and worked on my Karen Ruane sketchbook. Much of this had already been done, and I was able to work on the flaps while sitting down.

This exercise involved finding shapes in an image, and then using them to make abstract designs. The photo, bottom left, is one of my own, apped with Laminar (I think) - and all those shapes are there, honest, just smaller, more irregular, and in different colours.

I really like the interlocking arrows, and got a bit carried away with them, as you can see. The arrow shapes in the needlepoint were interesting to do, but the background isn't, as I may have mentioned. I have  ideas for other stitched versions, but as 'Embroider, embellish, create' has just started, I will have to put them to one side for now. And once I've assembled the cloth for that, there will be lots of hand embroidery I can do sitting down. What a good excuse!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The forecast was for sunshine...

Wensleydale fancied a trip to Stourhead, so off we set on another Tuesday trip, passing the Stones on the way. No, not the Rolling Stones, these Stones.

(I have to confess that there has been a certain amount of editing of this photo.) 

As we got nearer to Stourhead the weather got gloomier.

(There has been a certain amount of editing of this one too.)


As we got nearer, I began to wonder if the place was on fire (no editing apart from a crop).

The good news was that the house is, as far as I know, still standing.

The bad news is that we never got near enough to find out. Half the population of southern England seemed to have decided to go to Stourhead too. Wensleydale and I are impatient souls, and when we realised that we were in a traffic queue to get onto the road that leads to the road that leads to the car park - and the queue wasn't moving - we decided to go to Kingston Lacy instead.

This involved a scenic drive along the back roads of Cranborne Chase - and very scenic they were. (A touch of tilt-shifting.)

We stopped off for a very good smoked salmon sandwich at Cranborne Manor Garden Centre, and found no queues and no trouble parking at Kingston Lacy.  Perhaps the autumn colour wasn't quite as spectacular as ar Stourhead, but there was some - and we had probably left it too late anyway.

There were also roses

mysterious doorways


and lost wellies.

Bet you don't get all those in World Heritage Sites.

And on the way home I got to take more of my signature photos of the car wing mirror - which only needed cropping.

(All photo fiddling with Snapseed and Color [sic] Accent.)