Sunday, 26 October 2014

Stitching, and a Studio Jaunt

Hello hello hello! Late again! Busy with all sorts of things but especially preparing stuff for the Shipdham Church Craft Fair this coming Saturday. I seem to have become a cushion maker - I did do a few more bangles, a photo-type Christmas wreath, and a felt wall plaque which I like but don't know whether anyone else will! Where did my plans to be making Christmas cards, perhaps a quilt, go? Ah well, you can only do so much. I have been doing some doodling and designing, here are a few pages from my sketch book - and I warn you I am no artist!

Above and below, some try-outs for wings and leaves - I seem to applique these shapes a lot!

This is my intitial design for the bird and stem felt plaque. I enjoyed making this, we'll see how it goes.

And this was my first idea for my Three Folk Birds cushion, with a couple of plaque ideas above.

After meeting Debbie Osborn at the Castle Acre Craft Fair last month, I was keen to visit her Open Day at her Art House Textiles studio just outside Fakenham, so Yvonne and I toddled over there on the way to Jane Anne's at Swanton Novers for a day of stitching.

We arrived just after opening time and there was already a crowd. Debbie and husband Keith made it a very welcoming experience, both sharing the chatting and coffee/tea pouring which made for a lovely visit.

Debbie is a fan of the Slow Cloth Movement, using eco-txtiles and natural plant dyes, often using re-cycled fabrics. She uses her own original designs which she hand cuts into print blocks to print lengths of fabric which she then makes up into cushions, bags, napkins, coasters and so on.

                                Here's Debbie describing the printing process to a visitor.

As well as textiles, Debbie works with mixed media and especially paper. I LOVE all of her notebooks and calendars, I did make a few Christmas purchases!

Here's just a few of her paper products. I'm looking forward to going back and spending some time with Debbie, drawing perhaps, painting - who knows? I do know it will be fun.

And now I must away, but before I go I must include an old photo of Jim and I taken on our Engagement day in 1970. I posted this on face book and it caused a bit of a stir, I've never had so many comments or views - well, you don't normally pay much attention do you, to how many people read your posts, only to answer comments if needed. We were quite astounded. Even got a 'like' from Andy Cutting! So there!

Love's Young Dream, eh? Taken on my 19th birthday. Who knew we'd still be cuddlin' 44 years later!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

A gig and more stitching

So it was off to Colchester last Monday, via my friend Jane's home in Newmarket, and another Burwell  Bash friend Jean, to see Andy Cutting, Nancy Kerr and Martin Simpson, at the Arts Centre. It poured down but we had a great time, meeting up with another Burwell Basher Tim. At the end we were standing around waiting for the crush to depart when Andy came down to chat to us, which was lovely. In February 2015 he will be back there with his new band Leveret, with Rob Harbron and Sam Sweeney (and a new cd out soon after) So hopefully we shall be there in strength with other Burwell Bashers.

Apart from a little bit of music I have mostly been stitching! Oh, apart from my birthday which was lovely. We are now into count-down mode for the Craft Fair , three weeks only to go. Here are some photos of the last blue cushion and the panel which I finished mid-week.

There has been quite a lot of interest on facebook about the Folk Flowers cushion, so I think people like it; I enjoyed stitching into this lovely felted wool. I really enjoyed stitching the panel as well, it turned out just the way I had wanted, but I'm not sure it is as saleable as the cushion. It is to hang on the wall, like a bas-relief carving, or a picture, but lots of people have asked what it is "for"! So maybe no one will have it. 

I love the frame, it just makes it different form everything else. But there you are, if you don't try these things out you never move on do you? Still not happy with the felt wreath I did the other week. But now I need to concentrate on some more bangles ...... and I was intending to make some cards too, but I think that may not happen! 

I've been reading so many blogs about bottling and otherwise preserving this year's harvest, I feel quite inadequate. Maybe next year......... Anyway, we seem to be hurtling into Autumn - it felt quite chilly today and overcast. Surely there is still some sunshine left?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Two Little Jaunts

I've had a couple of little jaunts this week. Sunday morning saw me tootling off through the Norfolk lanes to the village of Castle Acre, where, with Stitch and Bitch chum Yvonne, I visited the Castle Acre Village Hall Craft Fair. Organised by mosaic artist Carolyn Ash, the fairs run four times a year, and Yvonne and I were keen to check them out, and to introduce ourselves to Carolyn with a view to discussing possibly taking part in one or two events next year. (You can see some of Carolyn's work above.)

And here is Carolyn herself. Right at the bottom of the hall, wearing a blue top, you can see my friend Bev (ex-nursing colleague, and musical mate) attending to her own stand of beautiful glass jewellery. In the confusion of meeting up with another textile chum - Magie Relph, of the African Fabric Shop - I forgot to take a photo of Bev's stand, but I shall do next time.

Providing the incidental music to the event, was another old musical pal, Pete Alison, joined by Moto for part of the day on piano accordion, whistle, and harmonica! Pete did ask whether I might have my fiddle in my car boot...alas no, but maybe next time I go I will do a little busking with him. Why not?

       Beverages, savouries and cakes were provided by the team from the Deerly Beloved Bakery.

And, amongst the other stands I discovered Debbie Osborn - new to me, but an old friend of Yvonne's!

Debbie works with screen and block printing onto textiles and paper, creating wonderful patterns to which I was instantly attracted as they are very reminiscent of the folk art designs I love and work with myself.

    And yes, I did buy FOR MYSELF the colouring book! And some lovely packs of printed cards.

Debbie and I had a lovely long chat about design and textiles, and I am going to have a couple of hours drawing tuition with her (when we can both find the time).

Another purchase I made came from a stand outside the hall, a lovely guy who wove birds out of willow. I bought one for our garden, hoping it might scare away the rooks. To no avail - but it does look lovely!

By the time we left, the sun was shining and it had turned into a really nice day; even better, when I got home, Jim had prepared a slow pot-roasted chicken and all the veg so it was a guilt-free trip out! Lucky me.

This morning I was out again, this time up to the north Norfolk coast, and a little village where Madeleine Spencer lives. I met Madeleine at the Craft Fair at Letheringsett last month, and fell in love with a silver and turquoise pendant she had made. Unfortunately it had sold, but Madeleine promised to make me a similar one, as she just has three tiny turquoise beads left from an old Victorian brooch she was in the process of cannibalising.

Here's Maddy at the threshold of her garden studio - the rain had JUST stopped for me to take a photo!

Inside was a lovely mix of working tools and eclectic "mess" which every good workshop/studio should present. We had a long chat about textiles, silver, design, craft fairs and pricing...and somehow wandered into the realms of health visiting, politics, Wales and the Welsh language..... I had a grand time!

    And here is my beautiful pendant, which I love so much. A birthday present to myself! Precious!!

And lest you think I have been doing nothing but gadding about round the countryside, let me tell you I have spent most of the rest of the time stitching away furiously, when I haven't been sorting felts and threads, and drawing designs. Here you see some of the fruits of my labours, a cushion cover, and the beginning of a folk art panel.

Well this has been a bit of a marathon of a post, I hope you are all still with me! I hope you all enjoy the fruits of YOUR labours this week.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Christmas Craft Fair

I know! I'm sorry to have mentioned That Word already, and it's only September - but there are some things you need to prepare for, and I have about SIX WEEKS to get some stuff ready to sell. I have spent nearly three weeks finishing the Large Wool Cushions, which may or may not be taken by someone who spoke to me at the Letheringsett Craft Fair. I just don't know when to stop once I start embroidering!

Still waiting to get round to finishing these three large cushions, buttons are made, they are all cut out and ready. I set to and completed this Blue Bird cushion over about three days hard stitching, as usual, my camera does not show the green up very well.

 My thoughts turned to Christmas wreaths, and I am working out how to make them in felt, yet have a little bit of weight and substance to them. Yet for what I could charge for them I don't want to spend too much time and energy making them! With that in mind I began on a prototype this needs tweaking a bit, more appliqué, and a swifter way of construction. I'm not too sure about the background colour either, but it can't be green or red..... decisions, decisions!

 Cards are another option, I need to speak to my friendly local printer who is very amenable to all kinds of ideas. Tons of ideas run through my head the minute my head hits the pillow, but there really isn't too much time to be experimenting with things which may not work and need to be rejected. Felt tree decorations are one idea, but to be honest, people are not prepared to pay more than a couple of pounds for a decoration, and so they would be pretty sparse and mean-looking to make them worth making. It really is a fine balancing act between materials cost, and effort, and what you can ask for your wares.

I have an Angel panel commission too, and I should like to make some modified panels for the craft fair. Meanwhile, I've begun work on another smaller cushion .

Entirely removed from sewing, I'd just like to say,I sat up and watched all but the final hour of the Referendum last night/this morning on BBC Scotland Live. Fascinating. Personally I am glad we still have the United Kingdom, as I believe we are stronger together, but it is time the politicians pulled their fingers out and opted for BIG CHANGE. More transparency, more accountability, less cronyism, less cosying up to Big Business and doing deals  behind doors which do not benefit the citizens of these fair isles. But there are a lot of Scots out there hurting at the moment, so much passion, emotion, hard work, on both sides, and so many dreams dashed. I hope the breach can be healed and we can move forward to change government for the better.

Have good weekends, be creative, be political, engage!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cherish Your Friends

Well that's stating the flamin' obvious, isn't it? You thought, on reading the post title. However, it becomes more and more obvious to me as I get older (Cripes, she's getting serious now!!) that cherishing ones friends requires a little more than a passive amiability of attitude towards them. You have to actually WORK at cherishing. It doesn't require grandiose gestures or expensive gifts. It doesn't even, in some cases, require that you see them face to face, or make frequent phone calls. But it does require that you feel that fondness in your heart and that you - in some way - make it known to that person.

I'd also like to be pretty vague about who I mean by 'friends'. I include relatives. Old friends you've known for years, and new ones you have recently made. And yes, even Face Book friends!  I have FB friends in countries far far away who I will probably never ever get to meet, but I enjoy their 'company' and their wit and wisdom; we've shared some highs and lows along the way these last couple of years, and I think of them as Pen Pals, who give me an insight into their lives and their worlds.

Blogland is another fertile field for collecting friends too! There are bloggers who I regularly read with whom I have a pleasant, easy relationship. Hardly friendship, you might say, but we share bits of our lives, our hopes and dreams, our ups and downs, and there is something there which, if not friendship, could be on the way to becoming. Regular readers of my blog, who are in the habit of leaving me comments, I also think of as embryonic friends, especially the chatty ones, your words cheer me up, and your opinions are valued. Some of us have even met in person, and this is terrific when it happens.

Regular readers will know about my annual visit to the Burwell Bash. This is a coming together of people from all over the world, actually, to play music and be part of a very special experience. Burwell folks get together when they can, keep in touch and consider themselves true friends, even though they may only meet once a year! But year on year, I find I see more and more of my Burwell friends 'in the flesh' and it enriches my life.

So yes, quite a vague interpretation of the word 'friend', perhaps just someone whose sense of humour tickles your funny bone, and brightens your day, or some one with whom you you instantly see eye to eye on maybe only one topic - be it textiles, or music or food, or books - let us cherish those relationships too.

Cherishing requires that we keep in touch, leave a personal, private message where you would usually make it public. Hugs are (nearly) always appreciated.
A bunch of flowers, the loan or gift of some books or cds or something you have cooked or baked. Some fruit or veg from your garden to someone who doesn't grow their own. And the gift of time is very precious - we seem to have so little spare time - so a nice long phone call or a quick visit can mean the world.

I cherish my readers by always replying to their comments - I hope you remember to come back and check! And I regularly comment on other blogs, partly because it is nice to join  the conversation, and partly because it is nice to pass on the unspoken message "I am here, I hear you, and your words move me, I am responding" otherwise, well otherwise you are writing only for yourself!

Until next time, remember to cherish away to your heart's content, and believe me, you make me feel very cherished indeed! Thank you!