Friday, 29 August 2008

To Gladden the Heart

Sometimes Nature reaches places

artificial stimuli can't reach

We have lived in our home for 12 years now and this rosebush came with the house.

It is in it's third position since we have been it's gardeners and every year without fail it produces these lovely orange blooms. How it puts up with us I don't know as we are not the greenest of fingers on our street - except when I forget to wear gloves when dyeing!!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Prehistoric Graphic Designer available for work!

I have been fed up with the huge picture of the threads and beads that "sat" at the top of the page, so I did something about it. Finally found sometime to play with the original picture in PHOTOSHOP and hay presto something that looks like a Designer might have had a hand in it!

When I was at Art College computer design was in it's infancy and the "new" computer department had about 12 Apple Mackintosh computers. Being brought up in a techno fearing household I found the computers rather daunting and didn't take to them very well, sadly knowing that this was the future of Graphic Design. My first job was an old school in-house Graphic Department where hand rendering was still the norm. Any suggestion of bringing in computers was pooh poohed and I realised why when the department was closed 2 years later. The company didn't want to invest in something it wasn't prepared to keep.

So other than using computers in an administration system I have had hardly any experience of using Graphic packages and don't I feel like a dinosaur? I have been recently looking at returning to the salaried work force and it looks like I need to retrain in a number of graphic packages before I even consider updating the CV. The thought of returning to Admin does not enthrall me - apologises to Administrators everywhere - and I doubt my 14 year sabatical from the Design world helps as there are younger more technically savvy designers out there.

I feel as though I have been "frozen" or in a pupate state for the last 14 years - Motherhood has been fun and I have had a great time bringing up the children - but now I need to awake and do something for ME. Ideally I would love a job where I demonstrate textile arts and crafts - so many crafts are disappearing as technology developes, ( here goes the Techno Fear in me again - it's ingrained in me! Thanks Mum), rag rugging etc are now a niche market when once the whole family spent time together making them! - Any museum out there need a Prehistoric Graphic Designer who is ready to change into a Textile Artist Butterfly? I'm your woman!

Monday, 25 August 2008

The Spy who loved Me...and Week-end Challenge Update

My DH has a passion for James Bond - I hope in the "I wish I was Him" kinda way instead of my passion for James Bond - " I wish I had Him!" kinda way. So when DH noticed in The Observer that Bletchley Park was having an "Ian Flemming/ Aston Martin Car Rally Bank Holiday Monday Day Out Special" he suggested that we should go. So for once I left the sewing at home! Yes, I know it's most unusual, but the pain I suffer in my hands got the better of me today, so much so I had to wear my support gloves for the majority of the day. It's 10.53pm and they are just beginning to feel normal!

Anyway, We had a very interesting day out, learning how the "chaps and chapesses at Bletchley" helped to win the war. The Enigma machine and how it was decoded and all the Aston Martin cars made for an interesting day. The 11year old Son enjoyed playing with the big size Chess pieces and 14 year old Daughter enjoyed the Museum of Computing. DH enjoyed the Tour and the "How the Collossus was Rebuilt" - He is a mathematician so the codebreaking math's is right up his street. I love being in places that play important parts in GB's history, I like to soak up the atmosphere, but I enjoyed the Block B museum where there are cabinets of toys and household goods and examples of embroidery and rag rugging from that era are. Sadly this section was a bit of a rush as time was running out, but on a happy note we were given a season ticket so we can go again and see all the things we missed!

So it's Monday Evening and the end of the challenge, so how far did we get? Please bear in mind no sewing was done today!

Cup and Saucer

Daughter has made the side of the cup and it's base and now needs to join them together. Her saucer is in pieces, but ready to sew together so that won't take to long. A final update of the pieces will be shown at the end of the week. Thanks to Meggiecat for dropping by. As she suggested, I will try to put together a tutorial of how to make the cup and saucer.

So time for bed for tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Week-End Challenge Update

After a very long cooking and eating of Sunday lunch due to distraction of the Olympics closing ceremony and later the tidying up of the front garden - which looked like someone had cast a spell on the Passion Flower as it was beginning to swamp the front door, probably due to all the rain! We didn't get to the stitching until "Heartbeat" - TV programme on at 8pm for the non GB visitors.

Now too late to be bothered to find the camera so you will have to trust me that some progress was acheived and photos will be shown tomorrow - now it's time to sleep.
Good Night


So I have received my 2300th viewer.
Shame they didn't leave a message
Looks like I might have to start bribing them with swaps and gifts.
PLEASE leave a message otherwise I feel like Shirley Valentine
- You know what I mean "Wall", don't you!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Week-end Challenge Update

Saturday night update.

I am making the pink set and Daughter is making the blue set. It was great to watch the concentration as Daughter stitched the golden thread which depicts the butterfy's flight.

Son has returned home and the nest is now full again.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Week-end Challenge Update

Jane has requested to be kept updated, so this how far we have got this evening.

Patterns for cutting out the vilene

We may have got further, but we were busy making our own pizzas! Daughter has set her alarm so we can get started early - well 9am on a Saturday morning is a lie for most parents.

Week-end Challenge

This morning I was blog surfing after reading Sharonb's blog - In a Minute Ago and returned to one of my favourite blogs - Meggiecat. The post dated July 23rd inspired me to set my Daughter and myself a Bank Holiday Week-end Challenge.

Here are the materials we will be using:

Pelmet Vilene, Bondaweb, 1/2m white polycotton, 1/2m white organza, 1 1/2m of blue ribbon,

1 1/2m pink ribbon, 1 skein of pink and 1 skein of blue coton perle thread, a bobbin of green coton perle thread and a blue sequin and bead butterfly.

We begin this evening as DH is out with the School Dads - The School Mums have been having evenings out for years, but this is only the second evening that the Dads have arranged by themselves in about five years!!!!! It's an evening of Curry and Wii - I hope they have fun.

DH will be off to Northampton tomorrow to see the match and collect Son, who was left "Up North" for his week with the Grandparents - my Children are fortunate to still have a full compliment of Grandparents and he has been "shared" between the two sets all week for fun and days out. (Daughter had her turn at the beginning of the Holidays so she hasn't missed out!). We have been phoning each evening and he has been having lots of fun, but I must admit I have missed him. Tomorrow he will be travelling with DH's Parents to Northampton, they are visiting relatives and DH will meet up with them after the match and bring him home.

I sharn't be killing the fatted calf, but I will be cooking a roast dinner with yorkshire puds on Sunday as a welcome home treat.

So let the Challenge begin - would you like to see what we have done at different stages, or would you prefer just to see the BIG REVEAL on Monday evening?

What I did in the Lakes - Crafts Part Two

Having completed all the current Noah's Art blocks I began my next holiday project. This has been hanging around in the Quilting Ether since April. I spent some of my birthday money on a collection of shaped templates and while my local (at the time) quilting shop was closing down I was able to buy a selection of fabrics to make some sunflowers that I have been itching to do.

So with templates, a sunday suppliment, threads and fabric I set about getting oprganised. Here are the fabrics at various stages of sewing which will begin to take the shape of sunflowers.

Every time I had to sit in the car to travel to various parts of the Lakes I was sewing down the fabric to the paper, then the fabric shapes to one another

and by the end of the holiday the fabrics where ready to sew into sunflowers on the return journey home. There would have been more but I spent a part of the journey reading the Sunday paper!

Here are four flowers ready with plenty more to put together before the quilt will be finished, but this is a great travel/waiting for Children project. Once Trumpet lessons begin again then the flowers will begin to bloom! I am still deciding how to join them together and I have some green fabrics for that job. I'm sure you will keep seeing this on Wednesday WIP posts until I finish it!

What I did in the Lakes - Exhibitions Part One

Well, actually this happened in the few days before we ventured to the Lakes. We took the Children to Liverpool. Firstly so I could visit Tate Liverpool and see the Gustav Klimt exhibition and so DH could see The Beatle Exhibition at the Albert Docks. We were impressed with the Albert Docks, having seen them over the years on "Richard & Judy's This Morning" TV show that was once based there. Sadly the Weather map is not still there floating in the water, it was removed in 2003. Some may remember Fred Talbot the Weather Man jumping "around" the floating map of the UK.

Anyway I digress, we were at the Albert Dock to see the Klimt Exhibition which was brilliant. Yes, there were other pieces in the exhibition by different artists, but this was also good as it showed the relationship Klimt had with Margaret MacDonald and her husband Charles Rennie Macintosh and other artists and benefactors around at the same time.

To see some of my favourite Klimt paintings was inspiring and how the Beethoven Freize was reproduced on the ground floor was breathtaking. Klimt could have been and painted it himself the quality was that good. DH had dowloaded the virtual tour onto his ipod so the children shared, (believe me I was unsure how this was going to work, but they did me proud and behaved beautifully. So much so that I had to smile while watching a Father trying to calm down his tantrumping Son), and they appeared to enjoy the exhibition.

There was a moment at the end where there is a small room where the "naughty" stuff was hanging, Son had walked through and had gone straight to the shop oblivious to the pencil sketches of nudes. That was until Son decided the shop was "done and ticked off" and wandered back to find us just as we were appreciating Klimt's use of line and shade to create the femail form. Son is eleven and is aware of the "birds and the bees" but his face was a picture when he walked up to DH told us about the shop, turned to face the picture and quickly turned to DH with a cheeky smile and said - "DID YOU SEE THAT, DAD?" He was quickly encouraged to join me in the shop, not so much because of what he was seeing - I don't want him to be ashamed of the body, be it Male or Female - but more due to his loud commentary, which may have embarrassed the more mature viewers who had entered the area! The catchphrase of Roy Walker of the game show "Catch Phrases" sprang to mind - "Say what you see!"

After lunch we ventured down some stairs to The Beatle Exhibition. This was an interesting place to visit. Lots of memorabilia and information and we were able to answer all the Children's questions. The Cavern is reproduced in all it's small glory. It's amazing how everyone got in - Health & Safety and Environmental Health Depts would have a field day if it was still open today. It was interesting to reach the sixties and seventies area as that was when I started to get into the Beatles.

Our trip to Liverpool was a great day out and we ran out of time to see loads more places of interest so next time we venture up North to see the relatives we shall have to pencil in another visit.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Big Thank-you

A big thank-you to Lyn for sending me these postcards, which were waiting for me when I returned from my holiday. They are reference material for Module 5, so if this isn't a spur to drive me on to complete Module 4 in record time, I can't think of anything better.

It is amazing that it has been over a month since Urchfont. Someone on another forum was asking what Distant Stitchers do regarding holidays as Students based at a college have to take a break as the Tutor is away and the college closes. Well I like to take a holiday with the children and any needlework done tends to be of a quilting nature. I am about to give the workroom an end of Module general tidy ready to start again on Monday 8th Sept, once the Little darlings have returned to school.

What I did in the Lakes - Shopping Part One

I know that there a many Lakeland Plastic Stores around the country, yet if I am in the Lake District I have to visit the "Mother Ship" at Windermere.

We have been coming to the Lakes for so many years now that DH knows a trip to Windermere without a call into the Lakeland Store is not worth the bother - also he knows there is a very nice coffee and cake awaiting him in the cafe! I didn't spend too much - an electric plate warmer for the In-Law's wedding anniversary and zippy string bags to put your loose goods in while food shopping instead of using plastic bags - very green, I'm really trying to avoid plastic bags where I can.

Daughter and Son were not too impressed, so they were taken to the Galactic Emporium. Sadly they do not have a website I can show you, but it is packed with all things Star Wars, Star Trek and other such space based films, TV programmes and books. We found it last year and the children have not stopped reminding us that WE HAD TO VISIT if we went any near Windermere! Fortunately DH like this shop too!

Daughter and I found this shop, where you can buy the most "heavenly" doll's houses like this one.

This technically shouldn't be in this blog because we didn't buy it!!!!

That doesn't mean we didn't want to

The day was rounded off with a visit to Keswick to book tickets for an evening out at the Theatre later in the week and a Fish & Chips dinner.

On the Friday - 8th - we ventured to Sedbergh, not too far away from our base as Son wanted to see the opening of the Olympics. There I had a bit of a BOOK FEST, sadly the official Book Festival doesn't begin until September, but that didn't stop me!!!!

First stop was the Dales and Lakes Book Centre where I found these two books.
and then I found the Sleepy Elephant! . Apparently Mum and Dad in Law visited Sedbergh recently and thought that this book shop would be just the book shop for me and boy where they right! I could have bought the shop!!! Book upon book of creative books, I had to be very strong and only buy the ones I could use imediately. So I decided on one about lettering in embroidery, two books by Mary Thomas which has a section on drawn threadwork, two other books on drawn threadwork, one of which is produced by DMC and is very useful and has clear instructions if sadly missing it's cover.

After coffee and cake, well it was "elevenies", we ventured to Farfield Mill. DH and Son had a walk while Daughter and I wandered around. Plenty of wonderful things made by the Designers in Residence, Clyde Olliver works from here and some of his work was on show. I really like the way he uses slate and thread. The mill used to make blankets and there is an artist, (who unfortunate was on holiday when we visited - well we have to take a break sometime I suppose!), who still runs one of the original machines producing lovely colourful blankets.

On the top floor was Avril's Books, who - please forgive me if this is wrong - I was lead to believe is connected to the Sleepy Elephant and she just had to have some books on Church Embroidery and I just had to have them! Beryl Dean too!

Back on the lower level I saw this fan.

Here's abit of controversy as it is made in Tibet and sold to help the people of Tibet, so I throught this is just the reference material I need for the piece I am thinking of creating for the Module 4 final piece and it's a thumb to the nose of the Olympic hosts as as I bought it the opening ceremony had begun. By this time Son was chomping on the bit to return to base to see as much as he could. So we did.

We have enjoyed the Olympics, Son was waking up very early to see as much as he could before we dragged him off to some wet and sodden part of the Lakes. Later in the evening we would watch the highlights and cheer the GB team as they received their medals. We delayed our departure on the day of the rowing final and screamed like mad and "rowed" the team home! How we didn't break the furniture is a miracle

Sadly I was on my own for the Women's marathon, even though the children requested a wake-up call, which I duly did to be told that "I'll be down soon". Never mind there's always 2012 Paula, and well done to Mara Yamouchi who came 6th.

What I did in the Lakes - Crafts Part One

Noah's Art Stitchery BOM

To make the following blocks which will make a wall quilt visit who created this delightful quilt.

Preparation is everything, so before I began packing the clothes and other holiday sundries, I drew out the outlines for these delightful Block of the Month designs and gathered the threads.

I also visited what has now become my "local" quilt shop in East Molesey - near Hampton Court, to find some "Noah" fabrics - you know the sort, the colour scheme of a Nativity Play!

A second plus is a Husband who enjoys driving his car and allows me to spend four hours sat beside him sewing the journey away. I can't say I completed all the blocks by the time we arrived in the North West, but I nearly had. Instead we had a lovely time catching up with the Family and having an early 4th Birthday Party for my Nephew and Niece.

The choosing of who will eat who on the "In a Midnight Garden" birthday cake

All the embroidered panels where done by the time we arrived in the Lakes three days later and the Log cabin surround was added during the evenings.

My Noah's Art Block of the Month Gallery

Block 1 - The Rabbits

Block 2 - The Dove

Block 3 - Rainbows and Cows

Block 4 - The Kangeroos

Block 5 - The Elephants

Look out for Bock 6 - Noah and the Giraffes.

I have downloaded the pattern and will begin it soon!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

East London - Geffrye Museum

I was going to upload the photos of the holiday and show you Lake District stuff, but instead I shall tell you about my day in London.

Daughter and I decided not to go to the usual museums we frequent when visiting London and go to a part of London we have never ventured into - East London. So we caught the train and travelled the tube to Old Street and walked to the Geffrye Museum - - where there are sitting rooms throughout the centuries. A sitting room is a middle class room apparently, or as they used to say "middling" class - neither rich nor poor but in the middle! The building was an almshouse and a very charming building it is too. The paper bag the postcards came in tells you abit about the museum - I hope you can read it. Give the photo a double click to make it bigger if you can't

We spent a couple of hours there and I found a chair made about 1685 using a technique called Turkey work to upholster the seat and back.

Closer detail of the chair

I bought a postcard of a better specimin as the chair had seem better days!

Apparently it is called Turkey Work as the patterns are from the patterns found in Turkish carpets and the rasied bits of the pattern are threads knotted onto the canvas base to make a pile and embroidery stitches sewn around them for the flat background. This was common 1660 -1680. We decided that although the earlier rooms were very nice, and Daughter was impressed by the wood panelling of the first room, we would prefer to live in an Edwardian to present day style of room - especially if I could have the fireplace from the Edwardian room.

Leaving there we jumped on a bus to Aldgate and walked a while in Whitechaple and then returned to our usual stomping ground of Covent Garden and watched the street artists

and found two bead shops - so I had to go in! One in Neal's Yard where I just had to buy these for the new module

and one on Tower Street - where I bought a set of tools for making the bead holes bigger or smoother if they have jagged edges.

Deciding that at 6pm it was time to eat, we headed to St. Paul's catherdral, as the last time we were there we noticed that there was a Yo!Sushi across the road. We were probably closer to the one in Haymarket but we do like to try new places.

So that's what we did and had a thoroughly good time choosing the different dishes from the conveyor belt and watching the chef cooking and preparing the food in the middle.

Had a great day out, now I need to get some sleep...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Just about dry!

I returned home last night from the family holiday. Should anyone comment that I have a tan it can only be rust! We have been spending time in the Lake District all our married life, (19 years this month) so we do not have any rose tinted glasses regarding the weather BUT for it to rain everyday continously was something of a downer. Well, I say everyday, it was dry on the last day!!!!!!!

So I emptied the cases, sorted the washing piles and returned clean clothes to cupboards/ wardrobes and, grabbing the camera, sharked my way to the computer before DH could access his football website, only for the computer to go into a huff and close down the screen and emit what seemed like morse code!

Fortunately we had bought Daughter a lap top for her birthday so we accessed the email accounts to see what we had missed but was unable to download photos and begin the "What I did on my Holiday" blog.

DH had dilligently unplugged everything before we left, so dilligently he had also unplugged the phone so there were no messages to bother about! What on earth did we do pre the electronic age? Have a relaxing holiday as everyone would get back to you when you returned!

SO, once I have food shopped, I will return later to share the holiday highlights - yes I did do some sewing and coursework and shopped and had a thoroughly fun time with the family - in between the rain drops!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Chauffeur Driven Star for a Week

I put on my peaked cap and have driven to Shepperton Studios twice a day last week. Son has been at Shepperton Studios taking part in a Theatre Workshop. He has been singing, dancing and performing drama and with the other forty children put on a Musical Revue yesterday.

He said he has had a brilliant week, but reminded me that at 8 hours a day, was longer than the time he spends at school! To which I said "welcome to the real working world", and if it's anything like his Dad's working hours, he's having it easy!

Shepperton Studios was an amazing place. We had to walk passed the studios full of sets each day - no stars unfortunately as they are busy getting the sets ready for filming later in the month. Some of my favourite films have been made here. The sence of history and the magic of films just seemed to oose out from the walls of the buildings. Am I being soppy, or is there something in what I am saying?

Anyway back to reality and the wonders of filling a suitcase with all the stuff a family needs for the "Summer" holiday. I have packed all the creative stuff I hope to get to do while away, now I need to find room for the clothes!!!!