'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 27 May 2013


A sunny Bank Holiday weekend - although it is beginning to cloud over now. I hope the weather has been good where you are too.

We don't usually go out on Bank Holidays - if I tell you that our visitors hit the tail of the traffic queue 9 miles from here, you'll know why. Fortunately our visitors, and us, know how to get where we want to go    and avoid the M3, so we did make a special trip on Saturday.

To have a picnic and see the choo-choos - and have a ride on one too. A small one, as you can see. 

Unfortunately Babybel wasn't very well - a virus generously given to her by the VHC - but as you can see, the VHC had recovered sufficiently to inspect the engine carefully. He was even allowed to sit in the cab of the Eurostar 'University of Southampton', miniature version. 

Since then, we have stayed resolutely at home. Wensleydale gave the ivy on the front of the house a hair cut, and I sat in the back garden and finished this, 

which started life like this, then met iColorama and some printable fabric.

I like it.

What I don't like is the virus which the VHC has kindly shared with us, too. He is a very generous little boy!

Sunday 19 May 2013

At last...

Having said it was 'nearly finished' over a week ago, here at last is the completed 'Florilegium'.

It took rather longer than anticipated, partly because sewing it together was hard on my hands, partly because it was difficult to photograph - these are the results of my third attempt - and partly through idleness. 

It has,as they say, been a learning process. I learned that working machine satin stitch on craft Vilene with a top stitch needle is not a good idea - the base, which is just Vilene with no fabric, is already splitting. I also learned that it would have been better to sew the sides from the top rather than the base, as there was slippage. And I also learned - or rather confirmed - that I do not  like craft Vilene. Should I make anothe vessel like this I will have to find a more sypathetic and practical way to stiffen the sides.

But I like the finished piece, with all its faults.

Since finishing it I've been in a creative slump. I've done a bit of sketchbook work, and I've got lots of ideas, but nothing is coming to fruition. Fortunately I have the pink and grey blanket knitting, which is making steady progress both during Swedish and British TV programmes. 

On a more positive note, we had an enjoyable trip down to Bourenmouth last week, to see Cleo Musso and Matthew Harris's  exhibition at the Russell-Cotes. We had seen Musso's colourful mosaics before, as she had a show there the first time we ever visited the R-C - but although I knew about Matthew Harris, of course, I'd only seen his work in photos. Like most textiles, it is even better in reality than in print. The exhibition was inspired by Japanes artefacts in the R-C, and by a trip the two artists made to Japan. A fascinating show, made even better by display cabinets showing the artists' sketchbooks and 'left-overs' of the materials they used.

And although the cafe has changed hands, it is just as good as it was - lovely scones. We did miss the old  sea-inspired deco though, the new style is a bit mundane!

Tuesday 7 May 2013

And this one is nearly finished.

All the embroidery is done, including attaching the silk to the Vilene backing and machine satin stitching all round, while holding my breath in case the spool of thread ran out before I'd finished. 

Bottom left shows how the Lynda Monk treatment of the Vilene turned out. It isn't quite as vibrant as I'd expected, perhaps because I didn't quite have the right materials. However, muted is probably better.

Tonight will be spent whipping the pieces together to make a vessel.

Now to find something else to do, apart from the never ending blanket knitting - several rows had to be unpicked owing to making mistakes while reading subtitles in BBC foreign thrillers on Saturday night, and as it's knitted in the round, the rows are getting longer as I go on.

Monday 6 May 2013

I've started so I'll finish.

Many months ago, possibly before Christmas, I went to a Contemporary Textiles Workshop where we made started a 'dress for Eve'. Then there was Christmas, and getting ready for the NEC, and having flu, and getting ready for Hanger Farm, and Eve languished, unclothed, all through the winter.

But after going to the latest CTW on Friday (more of that anon), I decided it was time to finish what I'd started. (It could have been the mention of the end of of year exhibition which did it.)

When Eve was cast out of Paradise and had to make herself some frocks, she had to use what was available - some leaves, some old curtain material which she sun-printed with walnut ink, and some bead trimming she'd inherited from her mother. (Wensleydale quibbled about the last bit.) She also seems to have had a sewing machine...

I put it on a skirt hanger for the photo, it is actually three times this width. I like the way the back lighting (sunshine!) makes the other layers show through. 

Some of the leaves are beginning to disintegrate, but that and the dodgy machine embroidery are, of course, quite deliberate. Hey, it's been around several million years, it's bound to be a bit tatty!

Flushed with success, I also finished this week's CTW challenge. Seams. 

I started the cream side in college - 'conventional' seams using stitch and haberdashery. Someone mentioned band samplers, so that is the reason for the shape - although you can be forgiven for not seeing the connection. 

We were supposed to move on to less conventional seams in the afternoon, but I didn't get round to it, chiefly because I insisted on hand sewing the seams.  A hand sewn French seam on the bias is not a good idea.

Wensleydale said that when I bring stuff back from college it always looks boring (he was much too scared polite to use that word, but it's what he meant).  Then I disappear into my workroom and come out with something more interesting silly.

So the conventional seams got some dayglo sttich and beads, and I decided to make a separate piece for the unconventional seams. There are small dog lead clips, split rings, lacing (hope that counts as 'not stitch'), safety pins, ties of various kinds, duck tape, brads and a pipe cleaner through holes. I made a lot of holes.

Then I found a wrapped tube I made right at the beginning of my tube obsession, which happened to be black, cream and magenta. (Perhaps because I like those colours?) Once I'd decided hang them up, a silly cord was called for. Then the black side was slightly too short, so I added some silly tassels to extend it. (It was not a good idea to drop one of them in the kettle when I was trying to steam out the kinks.)

Pretty it ain't, but my principle in life has always been, you may not be good-looking, but at least you can make people laugh.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Spontaneity is the spice of life?

We had to go out yesterday morning, but it was such a lovely day that on the way home we played hooky from the boring things we had planned for the afternoon and went to the Hillier Gardens.

As you can see, the gardens were looking wonderful. I have no idea if it is normal to have primroses, daffodils, camellias, magnolias and rhodedendrons all in flower at the same time, but they were. That bed of ferns on the bottom row positively glowed in the sunlight, and I think that a few exhibits for Art in the Garden, which starts later this month, may have already taken root. 

What's the point of being retired if you can't skive off and enjoy the sunshine?