Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Late Autumn Activities

Well, you've seen one activity in my previous post; the Craft Fair. About two or three weeks before the fair my textile mojo went for a vacation. Yes, it just up and went. Never giving a thought for bad timing or inconvenience. So it was a hard slog to get things finished and everything else done that is required before you set off to sell your wares. I know from past experience that this situation won't last, but until my mojo returns I can safely say there won't be much of a textile vibe going on round here!

However, other events and interests have filled my existence and I'll fill you in on some of them.

First of all there has been the seeing off of our eldest grandson Chris on his way to a holiday of a lifetime in New Zealand which we promised him when he had finished uni. So he is there now, spending time with his Uncle Kit and Auntie Krissie and taking off on his own, backpacking his way round North Island, and fruit picking to pay his way.

I'm playing lots of music -I  even have a video on you tube - look for Attingham Waltz - Lynne Gill - and there it is. Though you can't see me. Which is a good thing. A couple of music-playing friends came for the day a couple of weeks ago which was lovely. I don't know whether we played as much music as we'd intended, there was some chatting and some eating (see below) but all in all we had a good day.

On the subject of food, I've been cooking up a storm, having great fun trying out new recipes and using different  ingredients.

 I've been glued to Youtube videos of Rick Stein and Ottolenghi, because I love Mediterranean dishes, and I'm  developing a bit of a passion for middle eastern dishes. I've been experimenting with various dhals  and versions of humus which Jim enjoys as well - fortunately!

This is coconut lentil dhal. After we had it hot over rice, we ate it cold as a spread for the rest of the week - I did make rather a lot! It is delicious cold as well as hot.

This is the humus I made when I had friends round for music - we also had the kale crisps, below, which were a hit! I prefer kale this way I must admit, to a cooked vegetable. I know it's very very good for you but......

Goulash and spelt soda bread for a suddenly very cold day! Paprika and smoked Polish sausage. Yum!

 I went to town clearing out my spice shelves and re-stocking. I made a large batch of natural vegetable stock : NO MSG and very little salt. It's quite good.

Dried thinly sliced vegetables in a very low oven. Both root and leaf veggies are fine but they do dry at different rates.

Whizzed the result in a small chopper, until it was a medium fine powder with a few chunkier bits in it.

I added dried herbs, garlic powder, celery salt, pepper ...... I think that's the lot. Looks much like the stuff you get in the cartons. And you don't have to do a whole amount at once, you can just shove some veg in the oven when it is cooling down, and process it in small amounts.

So, here's the neat spice shelves:

And here's something else  that I was experimenting with the other week: Garlic cloves in honey! Apparently after a couple of weeks the garlic tastes like candy, and of course the honey is great for colds and sore throats. I grated lemon zest into it as well, and I could have added some sage leaves too, both good medicinally.

For some reason I've lost the photo of the whole loaf of date and sultana tea bread - but here it is sliced and buttered.

I thought I'd have a go with Filo pastry, and made my first Spanokopita - Greek spinach and feta pie. Filo is fiddly to use, as it dries out very quickly and you have to keep it damp while you work, but the results are well beyond the skill it actually takes to make this pie. We really enjoyed it, I made it with half spinach and half chard.

We collected a fine autumn lamb from friends who run a small flock, so this is in the freezer -  apart from this lovely shoulder which I first marinaded in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice and thyme.

It was delicious, we had two days roast dinner from it and two curries, and six samosas. Beautiful rare breed lamb- tasted like nothing we'd had before. In a good way!

So, I'm afraid there are no textile photos for those of you who came here expecting to see some! I'm hoping that very soon I will be feeling like getting in to the sewing room and picking up a needle and thread. However, I've really enjoyed my time in the kitchen, there's nothing nicer on a cold or wet afternoon than chopping and peeling and mixing and stirring over a hot Rayburn.

Does anyone else find their muse disappears at inconvenient moments? Until next time .......

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Shipdham Craft Fair

Well, not quite sure how to open this post - it's been such a while since I last posted and I've almost forgotten what I was going to say about the craft fair! I put the photos up quite soon after but then got into a whirlwind of cooking and music and family stuff and textiles quite went out of the window and everything to do with it.

Anyhow, above is my stand at the Shipdham Craft Fair. It taxed my ingenuity a little to get it set up around the church pews and the pillars, but actually it was a surprisingly pleasant venue. We were kept going with teas and coffees and cakes and savouries made  and organised by the talented Mrs LESLEY BUCK. Thanks so much Lesley for inviting me to take part in the event. Amazingly, I seem not to have any photographs of Lesley's daughter KERRY BUCK, who you will know from previous posts, as a talented artist and print-maker, who is responsible for my lovely "If there be crows" print hanging on my cottage wall. Sorry Kerry!

Opposite my stand you can see YVONNE AUTIE  setting up her jewellery and a few textile bits and pieces - she concentrated on her jewellery this time.

Further down the aisle was MARIE DAWE    and her fabulous mosaics and stained glass. You can imagine I was instantly taken by her pieces and planning on how I could do a course with her.......when common sense kicked in. I am weaning myself off going down blind alleys, being led by my butterfly mind.

Over the other side of the church was this chap, PHIL ARTHUR,  selling his pottery birds, largely owls. They are SO tactile! Aren't they wonderful?

At the back of the church, around the font, and just across from me, is my old friend JULIE KING and her baskets. I LOVE a well-made basket, and Julie and husband Rob make exceedingly good ones.

The flat, round basket on top of the font at the front so intrigued me. Julie tells me it is an Irish Potato Strainer, which actually sits on the kitchen table in front of the diners, with the newly strained spuds dripping away through the spaces between the .....withies? I loved it, I might just have to have a word and buy it and use it as a fruit bowl perhaps. If that's allowed. Should one use these things for purposes for which they were not designed?

Right next to me was lovely AMELIA BOWMAN, or Amy, as she preferred to be called. Amy's prints intrigued me, and she gave me a detailed run-through of the process she uses to create her colographs.

And that's the lot, I didn't take any more photographs. It was a surprisingly slow day for everyone, though most of us were fortunate enough to make sufficient to make it worth our while. Last year apparently had been much busier, but there you are, you win some you lose some. It was still a very nice day out and I met some lovely people. Thanks again Lesley, for the invite!

Now then, I have got this post out of the way, I feel I can start again properly. I must tell you, textiles are not much on my mind at the moment, you know how much I am an all-or-nothing kinda gal, and it is so hard for me to do stuff when I'm not 'into' it at the time. Fortunately I'm not trying to hold down a job now!!

I want to thank those of you who have been kindly asking about my health and happiness and extending good wishes for my return to blogging. I've even become facebook friends with a couple of bloggers who visit Textile Treasury, it has been good keeping up with them even though I've not been blogging. So hi there Kathy and Lynne! You've been keeping me going!

See you soon!

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?