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

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday 30 May 2010

Progress has been made …

on several fronts.IMG_1157

The piece of green felt has acquired some running stitch – and I have some ideas about making it stand up for itself.



After an impromptu tutorial on Wednesday I have made a few changes to the 2D piece. Much as I liked the caterpillar emerging from a strawberry, it was just too eye catching, and sadly the lovely blue fabric from Babybel’s dungarees that her mum sent wasn’t eye catching enough. I managed to find an alternativeIMG_1163 piece of the Hungry Caterpillar fabric so he is now emerging from a plum. The orange is from Babybel’s mum’s first bit of knitting for about 20 years, which I fused to some felt with the embellisher so it won’t run. The pin is temporary, to be replaced by some stitch while listening to ‘Lewis’ tonight.



This was inspired by an off the cuff remark by someone on Wednesday.  I have made a couple of knitted bowls before, but I wanted to know if I could knit a bottle.

I could. Whether I should is, of course, an entirely different matter.

The trouble is that now I have all sorts of ideas for knitted bottles whizzing round my head.


It’s the result of my admiration for the work of Tamsin Van Essen. [Don’t look at the ‘Contamination’ section unless you have a strong stomach.]

The mermaid’s purse is on the back burner for now – 4 things on the go at once is a bit much, don’t you think? [Of course I’m not counting the everyday sketchbook, the vessels sketchbook, and the 2D sketchbook, all of which need some work …]

Nothing will be done tomorrow as we have an appointment here.

No, we’re not running [although I did suggest Wenselydale tried it now he’s so proficient on his crutches] but Babybel’s mummy is, so we are going up to help Babybel cheer her on. Go L!  Personal best we hope!

Thursday 27 May 2010

Having to eat my words.

In the past I have bored many people by saying that I don’t like hand made felt – or rather, that I don’t like my own, although I sometimes like other people’s.IMG_1147

Well, yesterday in college I made two pieces which I like.

This one




and this one – although I suspect it is one of those things which only its mother could love. It isn’t quite what we were meant to be making –but

1] I need my ears syringing again and

2] I wasn’t really paying attention to what the tutor said

so I ended up with this. The ‘tail’ reminded me of the things you find on the beach we used to call ‘mermaid's purses’ [cuttlefish egg cases?] so with a bit of stitch, some beads, a lining and a handle, that’s what it will be.

The green piece is also destined to become a vessel, because yesterday was the first official session of a new module - ‘3D Form and Structure’. My heart leapt when I read the first assessment criterion - ‘Demonstrate knowledge by producing a wide range of experimental pieces’ – hey, that means making lots of samples :>).  Then I discovered, on another page, the weasel words ‘fully resolved pieces’ - hey, it means producing lots of thought through, finished pieces :>( .

Fortunately they don’t have to be felt - although I really enjoyed this felting session – and I never thought I’d say that – it is time consuming and hard on the arms. We have other sessions on different ways of making things stand up <g> and I think the pieces we made with Kim Thittichai also count.

After all that excitement yesterday, today I went back to the gym for the first time since the chest infection from hell. The good news is that I’ve only put back one kilo of the four I lost – the bad news is that it was haaaard work at the gym – and all I can say is ‘aaargh’.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last few posts – apart from the person who commented in Chinese – again. It’s probably all done by machine but if you are reading this, you are wasting your time commenting in a language I can’t read.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Home again, home again…

Of course, after two cold weeks in the countryside, when a bit of warmth would have been welcome – the day we left was one of the hottest of the year. We went IMG_0994 to Crosby first, to see Another Place – and, as it was a Saturday, half the population of Lancashire was also heading for the coast. Still, we got there, found somewhere to park with a view of the sea, I took some photos [good] did some drawings [bad], resisted the temptation to have an ice-cream – and still got to Liverpool in time to check in to the hotel and take a tour bus round the city – one of our naff pleasures in cities we don’t know.

may 2010

Of course Sunday was even hotter – but although we had tickets booked for the Picasso exhibition, there was time to take a leisurely stroll along the riverside and take photos of people [for the life drawing session I missed ] and reflections [because they were amazing].

The Picasso exhibition was also amazing. Almost all the work was new to me – even the paintings after Delacroix, Velasquez and Manet, although we’d seen some of the series at the National Gallery last summer. [I think this reflects Picasso’s prolific work rate as much as my ignorance – at least, I like to think so!]

The exhibition and the accompanying book set the work in it's political contest, which was particularly interesting, especially as we could remember some of the events. And of course, as usual, I was blown away by his drawing – to the extent that I bought a [children’s] book on how to draw like Picasso

Having located the Walker Art Gallery on our bus ride, after lunch we visited an exhibition there, which I’d read about somewhere – ‘The Rise of Women Artists’. I swore to Wensleydale that until we arrived I didn’t know it included embroidery – and it was true, because I hadn’t read the details on the web page properly [not for the first time ...]

This exhibition was as good, in a different way, as the Picasso.  This flickr set gives you a flavour, although unfortunately the art is unattributed, and there was no catalogue and relatively few postcards. Well worth a visit – and the cafe is OK although the woman serving wasn’t.

Unfortunately we didn’t have the energy to tackle the Toulouse Lautrec exhibition as well. I think you could spend an entire day at the Walker, there is so much to see.

Good to be home after all that culture – and back to college tomorrow to try to catch up on what I’ve missed …

Friday 21 May 2010

To boldly go …

where no Cheese has been before – i.e. Halifax.

I can never think of Halifax without thinking ‘Hell, Hull and Halifax’. A quick Google reveals that I only know part of it – and that had I Googled before we went I would have looked harder at the exhibit about the Halifax gibbet.

We went to the Bankfield Museum – which is great for textile enthusiasts, having a textile gallery, a costume gallery, and currently, an exhibition of embroidery, patchwork, bead work and weaving by a group whose name escapes me and isn’t mentioned on the museum’s website.

The exhibit about the gibbet was in a room set up to look like a storeroom, full of an eclectic mixture of things which delighted Wensleydale. My friend A. from college would have hated it as we went round saying ‘We used to have one of those’.

We also liked the ‘mini museums’ set up by local school children – also full of things we used to have. The ‘history of music’ -from the 50s to the Spice Girls – was great fun.

No tea shop, unfortunately, but a small but good shop – I bought Surjeet Husain’s books on Phulkari and Shisha, as I already have her one on Kantha and find it useful. I also bought a lot of postcards – several Sue Lawty ones and one of a piece by Michael Brennand Wood [5th and 6th images] which I found very inspirational.

We start off home tomorrow, via Liverpool – again – this time to revisit Another Place and to see the Picasso exhibition at Tate Liverpool. And that, I think, will be enough culture for this month …

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Somewhere old, somewhere new.

Wensleydale decided yesterday that it was time for his annual pilgrimage to the Bronte Parsonage Museum. On the way there we made our first  visit to East Riddlesden Hall, as it was roughly in the same direction, and has a tea shop [unlike the Bronte museum – it’s only drawback, I feel].

yorkshire 20101 The Hall is beautiful – like Gawthorpe, it comes as a complete surprise when you turn into the drive and the urban development surrounding it disappears. Somehow the smoke stained stonework adds to the atmosphere, and of course it is part of the history of the house. One wing was partially demolished in the early 20thC  - perhaps it was the Bronte connection that made me immediately think of Thornfield hall.

Like Gawthorpe, Riddlesden has embroideries – probably the best collection of 17th century embroidery I've seen outside the V&A or the Burrell. There are also some !9thC samplers [not really my cup of tea, but these are slightly different to the usual] a bit of 20thC blackwork, and some 19thC embroidery which according the the very chatty room steward, is Persian. It was worked [in wool?] on narrow strips of hand woven cloth and then joined to make bed curtains and covers. Add beautiful gardens and a good tea shop [although they were out of Wensleydale for the Yorkshire ploughman's lunch and we had to have Cheddar instead] – and it was well worth a visit.

The journey on to Haworth was a bit traumatic, as there was a poorly signposted diversion, and the inhabitants of Bingley seem to think that the usual rules about giving way to traffic on roundabouts don’t apply to them. After it happened on the third roundabout in succession I began to get a bit neurotic, and even W. lost his cool …

Fortunately the Parsonage was quite quiet. Having seen Bronte at the Watermill before we came up here, I kept visualising the actors, especially Mr Bronte and Branwell, although neither actor really looked anything like the originals!

After all that excitement we are having a quietyorkshire 20102 morning, and after I've posted this I will get on with the 2d piece. Since I took these photos the wavy cream lines have been completed and I’m adding some dark blue ones. I'm not sure about the very hungry caterpillar – I think it’s a bit bright, although the symbolism [new life] is right for the youngest member of the family. It is a left-over from the quilt I made for Babybel, and a substitute for the fabric from her mum and dad that never arrived, although I’m hoping that when we get back home  it will have done.

Friday 14 May 2010

After the cheese, the ale …

As we’d had a cheese experience earlier in the week, we decided we needed some beer to go with it – so we paid a visit to the Black Sheep Brewery at Masham – which I now know isn’t pronounced the way you think …

It was much more enjoyable than the cheese experience, even though a drop didn’t pass my lips till just now [Black Sheep Ale, very drinkable]. A brewery visit costs more than the cheese experience, but you get an hour’s guided tour, and lots of information about brewing, although I think it would be a good idea to go earlier in the week, as Friday seems to be cleaning up day.

The beer chutney is good too – can’t speak for the Christmas pudding, I’ll get back to you on that in about 7 months time.

yorkshire 2010

We followed that with an unplanned visit to Jervaux Abbey, because we’d noticed it on the map. If you like romantic ruins and flowers, it’s perfect, even on a drab, cold day. I took rather a lot of photographs of walls, [and assorted holes in walls], doorways, windows, and skies.

And there’s a teashop too – where they serve the magical combination of fruitcake and Wensleydale cheese. No, I'm not joking – try it and see. Wensleydale goes particularly well with Christmas cake, especially the version with ginger in it.

When not eating cheese or IMG_0827 drinking ale, I have been getting on with this – my 2D piece. I’ve just about finished all the circles, bar a couple I am not sure about – tomorrow I hope to begin the lines which will run down the piece – or across it, in this photo.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Lovely holiday weather -

a little sleet, a little snow, some drizzle and an occasional sunny interval. I’m glad I brought gloves and a scarf – and that Wensleydale reminded me that we keep a spare fleece in the back of the car. It lives there for emergencies – I wouldn't normally wear it, as it is in National Geographic’s delightful colours of nappy brown and yellow [a freebie, needless to say]. But it’s an extra layer for when we’re out and fortunately the cottage is loveIMG_0822ly and warm.

We did manage a walk before the weather deteriorated. I have written before about the disappearing River Skirfare. It has clearly been a dry winter here because it has disappeared even more than usual.





We were able to walk, on the grass and in the river bed, upstream to the sink hole [where the river disappears into the earth] and beyond.




We spotted some delightful bijou residences on the  edge of the river – or where the edge of the river used to be. There were about half a dozen of these doorways, of which this was the largest. Not sure who lives there – they seemed big for any of the water animals I can think of, but a bit close to the water for foxes or badgers – but of course you may know better.


IMG_0823There are still a few puddles in the river bed, many of which have turned this dramatic browny-red colour. The water here has a lot of iron in it, which is responsible for the colour – although Wensleydale did suggest it was Irn-Bru

Today we’ve been for a Cheese Experience. I’m glad we went because I learned a lot about how cheese is made, but  won’t bother going again. [There are lots of other places round here to buy Wensleydale – and at home.] As W. said, it was like the Isle of Wight – full of old people. [Why is it that so many people of my generation walk through a door and stop dead on the other side – it drives me demented!]

The forecast for tomorrow is ‘chance of snow’ – I can’t wait!

Sunday 9 May 2010

A despatch from the far north -

well, the Yorkshire Dales [again]. We arrived yesterday, having stopped off in Liverpool on the way – a visit rather marred by our late arrival [traffic] and difficulty sleeping [overheated hotel room and a Scouse wedding reception taking place 3 floors below].

The journey from Liverpool to the Dales was by way of Salford, to visit the Lowry Gallery, on the recommendation of Mr and Mrs Cheddar. [We were able to resist her encouragement to take in Old Trafford as well – sorry, Mrs. C.!]

I must admit that until now I've been ambivalent about Lowry – My mother loved his work so I grew up surrounded by prints of mill scenes – and that rather irritating 60s pop song didn’t really encourage me to take him seriously. [Sorry, Quo fans.]

But the Gallery was a real eye-opener – I discovered that he didn’t just paint mill scenes, and indeed during the later stages of his career he got rather irritated that they were the only things people seemed to want.

I was struck by some seascapes - here and here - not a matchstick man in sight, the later work, Bargoed, which is ‘same but different’, and the paintings and drawings of people/animals from the 60s – I'm afraid I can’t find any images of those.

I have to admit that the urban pictures are pretty impressive, too – especially when you realise how carefully all those figures are placed to lead the eye around the painting. As someone who finds focal points really difficult, I can’t help but admire his skill.

The Gallery is currently hosting another exhibition, by Leo Fitzmaurice, which is inspired by film cartons. The rainbow coloured display was quite a contrast, after Lowry’s limited palette – and, together with images of some of Fitzmaurice’s other work, quite inspirational – it made me think of land art, but using everyday man-made ephemera.

Thursday 6 May 2010

I’m in danger …

of being converted – to Lutradur and pelmet Vilene that is. We had another workshop with Kim Thittichai at college yesterday – and I enjoyed it much more than the first.

We coloured the Lutradur and Vilene with thIMG_0776ese and these and then a smoosh of these, diluted a bit – which, on the Lutradur, all diffused into each other to look like this. [The tramlines are the result of drying the pieces on the radiator.]

The effect on the Vilene was less subtle, as you can see in the vessel on the left below.


We cut the Vilene and Lutradur up with soldering irons to make 3D pieces – not necessarily vessels, but how could I resist?

I think I'm coming round to these materials because this way of colouring them is more subtle – I used a lot of Crafty Notions Black Tulip and Brusho Shimmer Charcoal to cut back the brighter colours on these. I also like using them for what they are, rather than covering them with fabric or whatever to disguise them.

All this is in preparation for making a 3d piece – when we’ve barely begun the 2D one …

Tuesday 4 May 2010

I am pleased to report …


a more successful bag making experience using the tutorial here. Very different to the magazine pattern – this one is  clear and accurate and goes together quickly and easily – I made both of these this afternoon.

Why fraternal twins? Because I wanted two bagsIMG_0767 to tidy up my workroom shelves – which they do, very nicely, being a perfect fit on the 30cm shelves. [The thing next to them is an old sweet jar full of manipulated fabric samples from C&G.]

The blue fabric I used is very thick, which is why I made the straps and base from a different fabric – and as this is stash reduction year – again – I used some ‘end of dyeing day fabric’ – when I put the cloth I've been using to mop up drops and slops into a bucket with a gobbet of soda solution and all the left over dyes. The results can be – er – interesting – and surprisingly often, orange [yuk] - and it is sometimes hard to know what to do with the cloth – but it brightened up this boring dark blue quite nicely.

Wensleydale has come up with an idea for the sow's ear bag – it was gently suggested to me at college that instead of folding the 2D piece I roll it round a cardboard tube. W. realised that the tube was  about the same length as the odd shaped sow’s ear – so it has become the 2D carrying bag. I still don’t like it though!

I mentioned that we were going out last night – which proved to be cold but snow free. We went to the Watermill Theatre – remarkably, without Mr and Mrs Cheddar for once – to see ‘Bronte’. It was thought provoking and moving, although I suspect that if you knew nothing about the Brontes it might have been a tad confusing as well. W and I are off to Yorkshire again this month, and another visit to Haworth is on our itinerary, so it was a good time to see this play.

And finally  - another of Quality Control’s sleepIMG_0760ing places, also now removed following the completion of the redecoration.

‘Cardboard box[es]? Luxury!’

Monday 3 May 2010

They were nearly right …

You may recall that I commented on the Met Office’s prediction of a ‘chance of snow’ today. I reminded W. about this as we sat eating our lunch in the conservatory in beautiful sunshine.

Then the clouds came over and we had a hailstorm.

And now the sun is shining again, and I have retreated inside because it is too warm in the conservatory … Still time for snow, I suppose – especially as we are going out this evening.

No embroidery or sewing to report on as I have started what I intended to do over Easter, and cleared out a lot of stuff from the sewing room. I can’t do ‘before and after’ photos because I neglected to take ‘before’ – and you probably wouldn’t be able to spot the difference anyway. But now many of my storage boxes are emptier than they were and the recycling bin is full of the paper ephemera I was keeping in case I eventually saw the point of journaling, and the cardboard boxes I was keeping for no reason at all.

This may seem like procrastination – and in a way it is – but I do work better in a reasonably tidy space – that’s ‘tidy’ in my terms, probably not in yours.  ‘Tidy’ means there are only a few bits of fabric draped over the chair [at the moment, 2.5 curtains] and you can see the majority of the floor. I even vacced it yesterday, although you probably wouldn’t think so to look at it now…

I’m still ‘stuck for bobbins’ as my mother used to say, as although Cheese Minor assures me that he has posted the envelope of bits, it has not yet made it from Surrey to Hampshire – and no post today, of course, as it’s a Bank holiday. I blame the ash cloud …

We have achieved one thing this weekend, though. W. has been ‘developing his skills’ for a while by redecorating the dining room, including laying a hardwood floor, which looks great. As he has nearly finished – apart from rehanging the door [which had to be shortened to go over the higher floor] and moving most of the furniture back in – we decided we would hang the new curtains, the replacements for those blue ones.

So we hung them and had a celebratory cup of tea. And then took them down again as one of the brackets holding the curtain pole had come loose. I didn’t dare mention ‘developing skills’. The screw hole has been drilled out and filled with a bigger wall plug, the curtains are back up, and we are keeping our fingers crossed.

I had reservations about them when we bought them [they’re black] but I like them now they are up. Quality Control is sulking because she has been napping on the folded curtains, [black curtains with grey furry bits?] but who’s in charge round here?

On a completely different topic – is anyone else suffering from a rash of blog comments in what I assume is Chinese? I reject them as I have a very suspicious nature, but I’d like to know if it’s just me who’s lucky!