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

Dorothy Rowe

Monday 29 March 2010

l Know a bird flies to the nest. l know a cold flies to the chest.

We know where the birds go when the wintery weather is nigh...
...But how high does a fly fly when a fly flies ever so high?

I don’t know the answer to the question in this Playschool ditty – but I can confirm the second statement. My cold flew to my chest on Thursday night and has remained resolutely embedded there ever since – leading to a lot of sleeping, coughing – and if you’ll pardon the expression, sweating. Except when I venture from the unheated bedroom to the heated living room, where I shiver. Go figure. And my ability to navigate round this laptop has gone completely to pot – not just because I'm having to use the touchpad, which I hate with a vengeance! Despite that I'm wandering the web, and  came across this:


Now that looks like fun!

No sampling has taken place since I last posted, although stitch has played a part in some rather odd dreams!

We were due to go to Babybel mum’s  birthday do on Sunday, but they also were ill, so it’s all been postponed to Easter. I have to confess I'm not sorry – I couldn’t have gone and I didn’t want to miss the fun!

Thursday 25 March 2010

Bunking off college …

but with ‘per’ – as Wensleydale is prone to say, having read far too many ‘Jennings’ books as a child.

We were asked to do emergency Babybel sitting, so I arranged to go into college in the morning, and bunk off in the afternoon. It was a seminar and tutorial session so I grabbed the first tutorial and then W., B. and I all went to the Hillier Gardens for lunch and a play in their tree house. A good time was had by all despite B. and I being under the weather – turns out she has a virus in addition to the conjunctivitis we knew about.

The seminar/tutorial were very helpful and I have spent today sampling, in between the coughing and sneezing. 'Everyday’ has morphed into ‘family’ after the suggestion that we thought about what was most important to us. [Everyday > familiar > family had come out of my mind maps.]image

This is more or less the idea  - you might think that you have seen something like it before! – but this will be at least a metre long and 2D. Oh, and made out of an old, faded, frayed curtain, with bleached out lines. And recycled textiles. And string. It’s a bit conceptual, this piece.

Why do I associate my family with tatty textiles, do you think?

I did draw the line at ripping up my GG grandfather's dictionary for it, as suggested by one tutor.

Another suggestion was that the circles [‘family circles’ – geddit?] should be made from textiles obtained from  – and possibly stitched by – family members.  So now I am cadging old clothes from my kids and their families … [I hTop-1.BMPaven’t mentioned the stitching yet …]

I played around with a bit of curtain and the embellisher – adding holes and patches. The white was a scrap of silk noil I fished out of the bin, embellished from the front or back, which I really like.




I think the bleached circles will be stamped with a set of pastry cutters made by my grandfather. We are fairly sure they were joined with lead solder so I don’t use them for food! This is the effect on ink – the fabric samples are drying as I type. [I have four of these curtains, all about 3 metres by 1.5 metres, so I’m not skimping on the sampling …]



I also tried drawn thread work and other stitches using self threads from the curtain – the warp and weft are different, which gives some interesting alternatives – as does the fading. Loose ends are deliberate!




Can you tell I’m quite enthused by this?

We have a busy few days coming up so I probably won’t get much done before next week. The next step is – probably - a full sized mock-up, and experimenting with scanning and printing out bits from GG Granddad's dictionary – I thought I'd try tissue paper glued to the curtaining and see how that looked.

Tuesday 23 March 2010



No, I'm not under the mistaken impression that it’s the first of the month. I’ve just spent a lazy afternoon getting started on these. I’m suffering from the combined effects of a cold, which seems to be completely unaffected by Lemsip, and two nights of not sleeping as a result of the cold which is completely unaffected by Lemsip. So when I found these I decided they were exactly the sort of thing an under-the-weather granny could make for her favourite granddaughter for Easter.

As you can see mine haven’t yet acquired their noses or tails, but I hope to get those finished this evening. There is a fourth one to stitch up as well.


I have also found the energy to play around with some photos of everyday objects, in preparation for a tutorial tomorrow.  That strange spotty thing at the top is the shower head – picture me, if you will, sitting in the [empty] bath, fully clothed, to photograph the taps, and then peering upwards at the shower head.

Will this all lead into an embroidery? Who knows – but I like the images [and remember I don’t ‘do’ representational stuff].


Sunday 21 March 2010

Marking blues.

I got back the mark sheet for the first hand in – the print and stitch samples - on Friday – and was a bit disappointed with my 60%. I don’t think the mark was unfair – just that if I'd realised what was needed I could have done better. Not so much a moving of goalposts, more that I didn’t know where the goalposts were …

The gist of it overall was ‘could do better’ – better being more adventurous. So I had another go at the samples from last week’s class. IMG_0650They want sill – er - adventurous, they can have silly…

Top and bottom left were inspired by the collage of the drawing of the microscope view of the holey knitted dishcloth, bottom right  by the collage of the drawing of the microscope view of the tea towel and the one in the middle by the c of the d of the mv of the pan scrub. As the other samples were mostly hand embroidery [if you can call it embroidery], I tried to use the machine as much as possible on these. Apart from the knitted string one.

So the weaving is through a warp of slits cut in calico and edged in free motion zigzag, the non-knitted holey one also has FME’d slits, and the other one is the bits I pulled out of the fringe of the non-knitted holey one, machined down in loops with added mohair.

I like them all apart from the knitted one – but I can’t imagine ever using any of these ideas in a real piece!

God job I’m not a neatnik …

Just a quicky

Thursday 18 March 2010

I may have mistakenly given the impression

that I was going to start the first stitched piece of the FDA this week.

Turns out I was wrong.

We did have a session on Wednesday entitled ‘Everyday Cloths’. [The first stitched piece has the title ‘Everyday’. Cue Buddy Holly. But I digress.]

We did do some stitch.

But any conneeverydayction between the session and the piece was strongly discouraged.

We started by looking at everyday ‘textiles’ [in my case a tea towel, a kitchen cloth and a pan scrub] through a magnifying glass and a microscope – and drawing them with graphite sticks and ink. Then we rubbed the graphite with linseed oil and splashed the ink with water. Hence the ‘stick’ through the pan scrub top right, which is a dribble.


Then we made ‘collages’ inspired by the drawings – followed by stitched pieces inspired by the collages. Design twice removed you might say – and a loooong way from the originals.

I am particularly fond of the ‘pan scrub’ which is a giant whipped spider’s web worked on a junk CD. The strange lumpy thing on the left is gathered calico with added bits. No, I don’t like the colour scheme either, but we were leant on [in this totally non-directive course] to use the colour scheme of the collage.

Next time I'll think about the newspaper I use. Oh, the dear dead days when newspaper was just black and white…

Mind you, I did get away with making 3D collages which were supposed to be 2D but ‘reflect the depth’ we saw in the microscope.

Actually it was a very enjoyable session! I need a microscope. And an OHP.IMG_0579

Today’s excitement was the arrival of this lot - the results of me going  a bit mad with the plastic a day or two ago. I decided we didn’t have enough books. [I can hear the laughter from those that know me from here…]

But it was here – so this lot didn’t break the bank. We get their paper catalogue, and Wensleydale fancied the book on North Yorks monasteries, and I fancied the one on Nano Nature.

But while I was on line I strayed into the textiles section and a few more books fell into my shopping basket.

Janice Gunner’s ‘Shibori’ book is one I have coveted for a long time, since I dribbled over A’s copy years ago. Full price - £18.99. Amazon's price - £11.99. Postscript’s price - £4.99.

I am not responsible for any damage you do to your credit card if you go over to Postscript

Monday 15 March 2010

Missing in [rather more] action – again.

I didn’t disappear off the face of the earth – I’ve just had rather a busy time.IMG_0552

It was Contemporary Textiles workshop again on Friday, during the course of which I produced this. 

It was temporarily stapled to the board, which is why it is curling – and it looked much better when A. added her bit of skyline next to it so the bridge had somewhere to go.

The idea was that we each made a cityscape to mount next to each other in the corridor. [I’m sure the imminent visit from HM Inspectors had nothing to do with this desire to fill the walls with work…]

In case you don’t recognise the scene, it is taken from an old newspaper photo of  this – but from a different angle.


When I got home from college, I had to brace myself for the arrival of this young lady, here setting out to climb a tree






in pursuit of this rather older lady. She didn’t quite make it.




I don’t understaIMG_0556nd how the date for Mother's Day is decided upon, but it must be a moveable feast because sometimes it falls very close to my birthday – and sometimes it doesn’t. This year  was one of the former, so we had a gathering of the clans over the weekend with celebrations for the two events. I ended up with a collection of very well chosen prezzies – this lot, plus an enormous bunch of roses and some Hobbycraft vouchers.  And a carrot cake and some angel cakes made by Babybel and her mummy. What more could a granny ask for?

Thanks to all those of my readers who made such a great weekend possible …

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Missing in [in]action.

Sorry to disappear without trace, but it turned out that what I thought was post-portfolio-preparation lethargy was actually the precursor of a stomach bug. You don't want to know the details – let’s just say that over the last few days I've done a lot more sleeping than usual, and IMG_0542a lot less eating.

So all I've achieved creatively is this notebook – and most of it was done on Saturday.





I did drag myself into college today because I though it was hand-in day for the presentation write-up. Turns out it’s next week. Trust me to be over prepared.

We were given written details of Module 4 – but probably because I was feeling off colour I whinged because I think being given the written details isn’t enough, they need to be discussed. No-one else seemed to want to back me, although lots of people have said the same thing to me privately – but I always used to tell my students to speak up if they didn’t understand, because they would be speaking for lots of others, so loud mouth ploughed on – and won a promise to go through it in more detail later. I think the staff are so terrified of being directive they leave everything open – but as they do actually know what they want it would be better if they told us … [E.g, no pinked samples.]

Then we did the pre-portfolio-hand-in session – which was really helpful because it fleshed out the written instructions on  what should be included in the portfolio…

Don’t normally wash dirty linen in public. I am really enjoying the course  - we have a stitched piece to make now, entitled ‘The Everyday’, which is interesting – but it would be more enjoyable if had more idea of what I was supposed to be doing!

Saturday 6 March 2010

Perhaps the end of the beginning …

but definitely not the beginning of the end.

All of the first semester’s work,  which hasn’t gone already, is written/drawn/printed/stitched/mounted/bound and ready to go to college. The presenIMG_0536tation write-up is due in on Wednesday, when we also have to take in the drawing studies work for advice on what to include and what not. Then we bring it home, weed it, and take it in again the following week…

And hints were dropped that we might start doing some stitching before long – can’t wait!

IMG_0534 In the meantime, I've made two more of these.  I’m a bit brooched out, now – no more ideas for brooches but I have started thinking about book covers.

However I’ve started nothing, because I’ve felt quite inert today – probably because all that lot above is finished. So I spent the afternoon veged [vegged?] out on the sofa reading ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ – good, innit?

Thursday 4 March 2010

Nose to the grindstone,

shoulder to the wheel, slaving over a hot computer. Yesterday was group presentations day – which means today was spent writing a report on researching the topic and delivering the presentation. This is the penultimate deadline – due in next Wednesday – but I couldn’t start it until we’d delivered the presentation, which is why I've been working on the final deadline – until now.

Not an exciting way to spend an afternoon – apart from the thrill of battling with Office 2007, which seems to need at least two clicks – or ‘Help’ and several clicks – to do things you could do with one click in XP. And does any human being really need 40 alternative ways  to add a page number?

But – it is done – with nearly a week to spare - which may seem like overkill, but when we got a phone call on Monday afternoon asking us to look after a sick little girl, I didn’t have to worry about the preparation for the presentation which was finished, done and dusted.

The little patient is with her other grandparents now, and seems to be recovering nicely.

Tomorrow will be spent finishing off the portfolios for the final deadline – and we are promised that we might actually get round to doing some stitch soon.

In the interim I might make some more brooches …

Monday 1 March 2010

It’s just like eating Pringles …


I can’t stop – making these, that is. [They are all the same size, the difference is down to Picasa getting artistic.]

It dawned on me last night that they didn’t have to be round – and I also found a tutorial on making these little 3D flowers, which remind me of gentians.

So I found myself working on the lower one in the middle of the night – yes, it was one of those nights again.

I’ve got another one cut out – rectangular this time. Two more and I will have run out of brooch pins – but I am thinking of notebook covers. Now there’s a surprise …

I have also finished pasting Raphaels into my sketchbook – but didn’t get round to the final evaluation. Once that’s done, that will be 3 pieces of work completed, only one more to go – till the end of the next semester - assuming I don’t get number 1 back on Wednesday with instructions to start again …