Thursday, 28 November 2013

Beating the Glums

Oh isn't it annoying, when you just can't drag yourself out of the Glums? Especially when you know that really, if you are honest, you don't have much to be glum about. In the Great Scheme of Things sinus troubles do not rank terribly high, and at the moment I can't say there is even much pain, just a dull discomfort, because , yes, once again I am on a course of antibiotics; infection nailed - swelling goes, acute pain abates. However, four days or so after the course ends the symptoms return and so the whole cycle begins again. And I guess until I get my ENT appointment at the hospital that is how it will continue.  So, you know, no-one died, I'm not on the critical list, and I can cope with the symptoms. But actually you do become a bit weary, and just want to bury yourself at home, go nowhere, see no-one. I'm very fortunate that my good friend Yvonne did the ferrying about last Friday and Saturday, or I wouldn't have got to Harrogate or to Jane-Ann's.

So I have been hunkered down at home for ages - no Mollying, no box lesson, even no weekly musical soiree with Rob and Marj last night - pootling about doing a bit of cooking and housework, and spending quite a bit of time in my sewing room.

 Audio book on the machine, surrounded by colourful yarn, threads, and fabric, it is quite soothing and spirit - lifting. Here, then, are some peeps at what I've been up to. It's cheered me up, I hope it does the same for you if you' re having your own personal Glums!

Another pincushion completed - and spoken for - and a couple more in the pipe-line.

A few more bangles completed, trying various colour combinations.

I started this quilt some years ago. It had been put away and almost forgotten. I just felt the need to spend some time gently quilting, and this quilt, with its soft flannel fabrics, was just the ticket. I've added some appliqu├ęd text to the border as well. All in all it has been a very comforting, cosy reunion.

So, even an attack of the Glums can have its productive side, and it has been quite satisfying gathering this little lot together to photograph. How do you deal with the Glums when they arrive at your door?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Knitting and Stitching and Hooking

Hello, the friendly face in the photograph above is Sue of crafts at home blogspot. Yvonne and I fought our way through the crowds at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday, to find Sue and her stand in the designers and makers section.

 Sue was selling her ingenious little mirrors, magnets, badges and hair slides beautifully decorated with colourful fabric backs. We spent ages trying to make up our minds which ones we would take home with us. We especially wanted to meet up with Sue as she had very kindly sent me two complimentary tickets to the show - how great was that! It's always lovely to meet friends from the Blogosphere, and I'm sure Sue and I will meet again.

We then went to say hello to Mandy Patullo whose work we both adore. Mandy is giving a workshop at Jane-Ann's studio next year so we were mightily excited you can believe me, to see her work 'in the flesh'. I can also reveal we both came away with one of Mandy's little bird textiles, I'll have to show you in a later post. I didn't take any photographs there and then.

I was delighted to come across a new-to-me stand selling  Donegal Tweed. This is such beautiful fabric and if you love wool and felt and blanket, you wouldn't be able to resist it. I wasn't! I had a lovely chat to Margaret, who is herself from Donegal, and she is sending me the most gorgeous book which I will show you next time - they had sold out on the second day of the show!

Here's Margaret, smiling at my inability to choose between the gorgeous rolls of tweed - I could happily have happily taken the entire stand home with me!

Look! What's not to love! If you google Fabric Affair, Donegal Tweed you will find their website. I can't wait to get going with my little stash! It will make great bangles, and is also great to applique with.

Here is Louise, who does much of the stitching of the samples on the stand. I didn't get chance to speak to her as she was busy with customers.

We managed to see the stands we had marked on our programme, Yvonne renewing her acquaintance with Val Holmes, machine embroiderer supreme, me finding that Jean at Oliver Twists does indeed still hand-dye the soft cotton I love to stitch with, both of us swooning with pleasure at the tactile and visual delights at 21st Century Yarns. I did indulge myself with some hand-dyed variegated wool felt. It is SOOOoooooo beautiful!

A few more purchases at other stalls and we felt we had had enough - impossible to get through the crush to the food outlet, and not prepared to eat our lunch sitting on the floor - why are these events so woefully badly organised for the comfort of the paying punters? - we decided to make our escape about 1pm. We were extremely lucky with the weather so it wasn't a bad drive both ways, though we were very tired when we reached our respective homes.

And the gorgeousness didn't end there - Saturday found us trundling along the damp and dirty November Norfolk lanes to Jane-Ann's at Swanton Novers. It was a hive of industry.

Yes, I did find and take with me the rag rug seat cover I'm working on! And I did hook away for a couple of hours too. Then I completed another bangle for Yvonne.

Yvonne finished her sunflower cushion with wonderful attention to detail.

Jackie worked on a commission from the craft fair........

Nadine got stuck in to another of her geometric rugs .......

Monica hooked away for a while then decided she wasn't satisfied so she engaged in what we quilters
call 'frogging' and rug hookers call 'reverse hooking'!

Jane-Ann demonstrated a brilliant braiding technique, made us a lovely lunch, and kept her work-space looking spic and span. I'd love to say my sewing room looks remotely as tidy as this - but that is never going to happen!

                        Just a few shots of the treasure trove of lovely things found in the studio.......

I hope you've enjoyed the luscious textile eye candy in this post. It has been a couple of full-on days dedicated to cloth, wool, thread and colour. We'll need a week to get over all the excitement! See you soon, have a good week.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Still feeling like I'm hanging around, marking time waiting for yet another hospital appointment, I have felt oddly dislocated from everyday life. Obviously, some things get done because they have to - bit of shopping, bit of housework, mum's life to organise, but otherwise partly due to not feeling great, and partly because of the weather, I have hunkered down and just gone with the flow. So I've been reading a bit, planning new stitching projects, playing a bit of music - and stitching. Oooh, lots of stitching. But before I got into the stitching I was having another little tidy and decided, with all the new pincushions I seem to have acquired, I should really ditch this old one, which was beginning to shred on the underneath.

I've had this for goodness knows how many years. I always felt awkward to be honest, sticking pins and needles into it, I always avoided the face bit. Yes, I know, I'm daft. Anyway, as I'm about to throw it into the bin I can feel a needle buried deep inside the  mouse. So I think I'd better get it out, don't want the bin-men getting a needle-stick injury, do we? So I cut it open and pulled out the stuffing.

And discovered not one, but THIRTY ONE needles buried inside! Count 'em!

Incredible, isn't it? And some of them have been there a long time - see those really tiny sharps quilting needles? They are the very finest, and I haven't used them for years - I doubt I could see the eye let alone thread it!

Then I sorted all my little sewing baskets out and got rid of a load of rubbish. After which I got out the two felt projects I'm currently working on. Both are commissions, and I'm thoroughly enjoying working on them.

A new bangle, in Someone's favourite colours. Very much smaller than the ones I've already made as she has such tiny wrists. I think I may make a second version in slightly different colour combinations.

The second commission is somewhat larger than the bangle, you saw the beginnings of it in my last post. Here are some snippets to whet your appetite!

Loved stitching the holly and berries.

Now I love the effect of the stippling, especially with the variegated thread. But OH! It does take an age! You really have to be careful that you keep the depth of stippling  even , it is easy to over-work one area .

So there you are. I'm quite excited planning the next angel - I'm refining my ideas all the time I'm stitching, and gathering ideas from many folk - art sources. I'm having another stitch day tomorrow, hoping to have finished the angel by tea-time.

The weather is getting colder, it was 3 degrees this morning when I went into town. Fingers crossed it says reasonably OK on Friday as Yvonne and I are going up to Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show. I'll tell you how it went next time.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Swanton Novers

This morning was so dreary - a typical November day you might say - so I was so pleased to have something nice to look forward to. A month of facial swelling, pain, and dental/ hospital visits has been a bit of a strain, you just never know with facial 'things' and it has been preying on my mind a bit. Still waiting for yet another hospital appointment, but at least we know it is a sinus problem and nothing more sinister. So I was well in the market for a bit of cheering up. And when I got to Yvonne's, it was clear she was feeling in need of a bit of happy therapy; sadly, last week dear Arfa - known to you from my posts about Stitch and Bitch - really could not manage to totter on any longer and passed away. He couldn't have been rescued by a more devoted owner, and without Yvonnes's love and care Arfa would not have lived so long or so happily. Both of us were in the market for a Good Time. (ahem)

So through the damp and muddy lanes we trundled to Swanton Novers for the village craft fair. We got there at a minute to 10 and pinched the very last parking space , and just in time as a whole stream of cars queued up behind us! The hall isn't very large and was packed with stalls selling really excellent crafts. No crinoline lady toilet-roll covers to be found here, let me tell you! And on our way in we clocked the tea-room, already doing a roaring trade, and agreed to pop in when we'd finished inside.

Making our way straight to the back of the hall we found Jane-Ann with her stall Piece Works.

              Lovely up-cycled textile pieces inspired by the garden, and beautifully presented.

Next door we found Nadine with her bright and cheerful rag rugs.

                     Nadine works traditionally, using recycled fabric on a hessian backing.

Auriel Mims's stall was packed with wonderful carved wooden dolls and sculptures. She also makes traditional jig-dolls, which I have seen used at the East Anglian Traditional Music Day so we had a chat about folky stuff while I snapped away with my camera.

Then I came upon a new friend from Jane-Ann's group, Jackie Grimble, who was there with her incredible hooked dog portrait cushions. Jackie uses the softest merino wool for these faces and they are wonderfully life-like.

Kate Brouwer, makes thrown and hand-built porcelain items, and I had to treat myself to the prettiest pair of blue and white earrings! Like I need more earrings!

                  Her stall was almost Japanese- like in its simplicity. Lovely delicate colours.

How could you resist these wonderful textile animals? Helen Akers uses recycled fabrics for her creations.

These lovely garments and accessories for children were made by Auriel's daughter who works as "Mim's Heritage". Each item is made from restructured boiled wool, and individually hand-made and finished. I thought these little tunics were adorable.

I was very taken with Madeleine Spencer's hand-made silver and beaded jewellery, and very tempted too!

Unfortunately my camera battery died on me - yes I know I should have checked it last night, but I didn't. So there are some stalls which I have had to miss out, sadly. But I did manage to include this stall, and I would have been spitting feathers had I not!

Meg Foster's stall "The Yarn Gardener" could have been laid out with Yvonne in mind - look at this colour scheme!

That ball of wool above has my name on it - and into my bag it did go!!  Meg, it turns out, actually did a rag-rug course with Yvonne some years ago, and now writes and produces beautiful knitting patterns and kits, using the most mouth watering wools you could imagine.

And speaking of mouth watering - we did go and have a cuppa and a piece of cake - you should have seen the size of the meringues! All baked beautifully by Back To The Garden, a farm shop, cafe and restaurant in Letheringsett.

So I hope you've enjoyed your virtual tour round the craft fair, it certainly cheered us up. Wrap up warm in the days to come, the weather report doesn't sound too good - and I m off up to Harrogate on Friday - no snow yet, please!!