Friday, 30 May 2014

Kaffe Fasset and Open Studios

Last Saturday, saw Susanne and I off on another Textile Jaunt - this time to Norwich Cathedral. First we had a good look round the Biennial Exhibition of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Dyers and Spinners, which was held in the Hostry and the Norwich School Crypt. Some stunning work here, and we got to chat to one of the weavers demonstrating her work as well. Too many photographs to include them all here, but a few to whet your interest.

After a pleasant lunch in the cafeteria we scuttled upstairs to the Weston Room for the Kaffe Fasset lecture  "Glorious Colour". Kaffe himself did not disappoint, and we all, I think, wanted to take his partner Brandon Maby, home with us, he was such a lovely man; however their slide show left a lot to be desired - a combination of intruding sunlight, and the quality of their slides led to less than optimum viewing. Although if you were a long time fan of Kaffe's work you probably had all the books anyway and had seen the original quilts and source-works. He is certainly a good speaker and we were well entertained for over an hour.

Sue and I were sat with a delightful lady - also called Sue, who, though born and bred in Norfolk, now resides in Thailand where she and her husband  own and run a beautiful hotel. Sue returns frequently to see her mum and her daughter but loves her life out there. Here is a link to her website - Susanne and I have all but books our flights, it sounds so fabulous! Lovely to meet you, Sue and don't forget that airport pick-up!!

We left the Cathedral in a blaze of sunshine and strolled off to check out Open Studios at The Jade Tree in Elm Hill, a very old and interesting part of Norwich. A friend of mine from nursing days until quite recently rented space here designing and making her glass jewellery, sadly I left it too late to come and see you in situ, Bev!

 We did however meet a lovely oil painter and photographer  and chatted for some time in their delightfully cosy upstairs studios. On our way out we stopped to chat to Zoe Green  a weaver and basket maker, who showed Sue the ropes, as it were, of Saori weaving. I had expected that Zoe and I would have one or two friends in common, Aviva, and Nick for example, but had no idea that she would also know my musical, basket weaving friends Rob and Julie King - what a small world Norfolk is to be sure!

We then walked to Pottergate, to find the new wool shop, Norfolk Yarn.  We were made very welcome and had a lovely chat with the owner  Becky - in fact I think I could have been hired on the spot to teach workshops had I been so inclined! I did feel the urge to purchase hundreds of skeins of yarn, but satisfied myself with just a couple.

 Took a few photographs and devoured visually the wonderful colour and textures of the glorious yarns in the shop.

This made us quite peckish so our last port of call was a cream tea in Roots. (have to say the scones were a bit on the dry side, but they were a nice crowd in there.)

So a really lovely day, full of colour and chats and tea and laughs. After a dreadful drive to Susanne's in heavy rain, the sun then came out and the rest of the day was like mid-summer, it was gorgeous.

Sunday I gave Yvonne the afternoon off at our Open Studios and settled down in her "studio" (living and dining room!) with my kindle and some stitching. I had a steady stream of visitors and sold some odds and ends, but had some super conversations. Especially lovely was a visit form Dc - her blog is Frugal in Norfolk. We have been reading and commenting on each other's blogs for some time now and it was great to actually meet up 'in the flesh' as it were! And later on a delightful visit from Gill of Dosie Rosie blog fame, and her friend Chris, we had a great chat and plan to meet up for coffee ...... lunch? in Holt when we can get our heads and diaries together. You know, blogging really does spawn some brilliant introductions, I've met some smashing bloggers in the last two years. You should try it!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Open Studios 2014

Welcome to Open Studios 2014. I do hope some of you will be able to pop in and visit us and have a look at the lovely things we've made. I am very fortunate to have been invited by my Stitch and Bitch friend Yvonne Autie to share Open Studio space with her at her home this year. Yvonne has done Open Studios for ten years or so and therefore is an 'old hand' - it has been really great for me to have someone who knows the ropes to lead the way through the application process and setting up.

It is a someone symbiotic relationship for us this year - Yvonne happy to have someone sharing the space as she hasn't had chance to produce her usual amount of silver jewellery or rag rugs, and I am so relieved to have someone do the organising as I have been totally consumed with seeing mum through her hip replacement operation, subsequent re-hab, and sadly through the awful, sad, and exhausting process of moving her into a residential care home. There are many things I haven't finished because I just had to stop 'making' while all this happened, but we think we have a pretty good display, bearing in mind this is Yvonne's home, not a white, studio space!

If you are local and have an Open Studios brochure, we are in the West Norfolk section at number 18. The address is   Derwent House, 24 Church Street, North Creake, Fakenham. NR21 9AD . Do come and see us! I shall be there Wednesday afternoon 28th May   Sunday 1st June all day  and Sunday  8th June all day. We are open 10am until 5pm.

You will see my patchwork quilts - this is called Technicolour Compass and is completely machine stitched and quilted. Some of Yvonne's rug-hooked cushions on the chair.

                                   Some of my - mainly wool and felt - cushions.

                                                 My colour wash cot quilts and throws.

      More quilts - the Birds and Baskets and Sunflower Farm quilts at the back on the window seat.

                                               A couple of vintage linen hangings.

      Yvonne in an article about rug making. She is wearing one of her fabulous collaged waistcoats.

        And here you can see just some of the beautiful sterling silver jewellery Yvonne makes.

So there we have it, I do hope some of you will make it up to see us, and I hope to have the chance to get out and see some other Open Studios too. If any of you have found this blog hoping to see something of my textile jaunt from this  Saturday, it is coming! Photographs as well, but I needed to get this post completed first and life is a little  complicated at the moment!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Weaving with Aviva

Saturday morning saw me trundling along the A47 - what's new? - to Norwich, to take part in a Creative Mindfulness workshop at the home and studio of Aviva Leigh, weaver and textile artist. 

                                                     Obligatory selfie before setting off

Aviva co-presents this workshop with Bernie Sheehan, her friend and yoga teacher. Bernie discusses mindfulness meditation, and its application and relevance to creativity, and leads the group in a couple of short meditations. This practice prepares and sets you up for a day of learning a new skill, working in quiet and gentle contemplation and companionship with your fellow students.

                                Here are a few of the samples woven by the other students

Here we are round the table in the beautiful white space that is Aviva's studio in this mediaeval house
Several students had woven before  using these small, portable table-top looms, which were lovely to work on. Aviva had already prepared the looms by warping them up, so we were good to go. Once the technicalities were grasped, the rhythmic movements soon became second nature, and, like hand quilting, I found the actions meditative in themselves.

                                                Above and below, some of Aviva's work

                 Above, Bernie's beautiful shawl; I can't tell you how soft and wonderful this is!

                                               One of the books Bernie recommends

                                        Bernie's article on Creative Mindfulness, above.

                                                      Shawl by Aviva, above

                    Above and below, my sample, using various yarns and fabrics and techniques

                                     Above and below, samples created by other students

         Above and below, my sample on the loom, and a close up showing yarn weft and fabric weft

We took our own packed lunches, but a variety of teas, coffee, biscuits and cake were provided, and we tucked in happily during the day. Conversation was fascinating, as we all came from such diverse backgrounds - however we had so much in common in our personal philosophies. Aviva is a great proponent of the Slow Movement, which I heartily endorse myself, particularly slow Food and Slow Cloth, as regular readers will know.

I came home with a small loom under my arm - well you knew I would didn't you! I haven't had time as yet, to do more than take it out and show it to Jim, along with my sample and unworked warp still on the frame. I look forward to exploring this fascinating craft further.

It has been otherwise an extremely stressful week as mum completed her re-hab after fracturing her neck of femur and having a hip replacement, and came to live in her new home at the residential care home near us. She is now unable to manage looking after herself in her own home, and Jim and I have been clearing out her house, which has been more traumatic for me than I had expected. Apart from her clothes, personal items and a few pieces of furniture, mum has said goodbye to her entire world, it doesn't matter how well you practice non-attachment to 'things', you are largely defined by your 'things', you have collected them about you throughout your life, you have used them, valued them, even the humblest of items, regularly used, become old friends. It has been painful stripping my mother of her belongings, her independence, her dignity, even knowing that there is no other option, and soon she will be beyond being concerned about all these things happening to her. Until then, it is hard for her, and hard for us. I have been much supported by friends and relations, many of whom have been through this sad process themselves. Thank you again for all the lovely words you have written and spoken to me.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A Year in Books: May

    A young Welsh friend,  Ben Roberts, dancing in the May with Clerical Error Border Morris.

Here we are, May Day. Did you get up to welcome in the May at dawn this morning? Lots of my Molly and Morris friends around the country did, Face Book is awash with great photos, how wonderful the tradition seems to be gathering strength amongst the younger sides. I must confess it was almost seven before I was up, and I wasn't out gallivanting either! Here are a couple of photos of other Morris friends here and there.

                                                  Loose Women Morris, at Goodhurst.

                                            Green Dragon Morris, dancing at Whitstable.

My April read was quite delicious, I enjoyed every page, and for me, Sally Vickers is back on song. The characters are finely written and the transition between the present day, and Agnes' past life is well handled and reads comfortably.A book with lots to capture your interest; local colour, a mystery, and a nice balance of gently handled revenge and romance. Satisfying.

I haven't felt like attempting anything very challenging as I feel I can't settle to much at the moment with keeping on top of the situation with mum takes a fair amount of energy. So my read for May is an undemanding Dan Brown, which was on offer at the bookshop for cheaper than a paperback - says something about Dan Brown books you may infer!

His latest offering, Inferno, is in the same mould as the previous three (or is it four?) and, as it is May today I have begun it, and it promises to be just as formulaic. But it will suffice to keep me going, easily put-downable when I can't be bothered. I'm sorry, that really isn't the spirit of the challenge is it? And not usually how I approach reading books. I shall hopefully be back on song next month!