Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Bit of Brightness

On my way to turn off the greenhouse heater this morning, I spotted this little beauty in flower.

It's a self sown hellebore seedling that appeared last year but this is the first time it's flowered.

I suspect it's a hybrid and isn't a pure variety but it's a lovely mix of dark pink and lime green,

just perfect to brighten up the dullness of a grey December morning.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What To Do First?

I've come to the conclusion that I need more hours in the day.  I've got so many unfinished projects, so many ideas and a whole list of things to do that I don't actually know where to start (or even what to finish).  I think the inside of my brain must look a little like my workspace looks at the moment - there is no apparent order but I do actually know exactly what's there!

Projects lurking on the table are:
  1. Unfinished cord skirt for work (on back of chair)
  2. Abandoned pink silk lace knitted shawl (abandoned as the stitches keep falling of the needles and I always seem to have the wrong number!)
  3. Green crocheted beaded lacy scarf 
  4. Pile of bits for textile piece 
  5. Hair scrunchies for work
  6. Pressed rose petals that I now can't remember what I'd planned to use them for
  7. Seedheads (collected for a good reason at the time)
  8. 2 wall tiles, one covered in crackle paste and the other in molding paste and marble dust (don't ask why!)
Also on my "to do list" are:
  1. Get on with an interactive fantasy story setting resource for The Treasure Tree (aliens, fairies, mermaids etc)
  2. Experiment properly with the watercolours I bought in August
  3. Sort out the shelves (hidden from view in the photo) so that I can clear some stuff off the floor
That's a list of 11 without even thinking about Christmas and everything that I should be doing for that - the only thing I've done so far is make the cake which Fran has promised to help me eat!

I really should go and get on with something, but I'm not sure where to start!  Maybe I need a  cup of tea first (and of course I'll need to reclaim my chair before I can do anything).

Am I the only one needing more hours (or less ideas) or do other people suffer from this problem too?  I'd love to know...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still Hanging On

In amongst the seed heads of autumn

Hydrangea Annabelle


and the turning autumn leaves

Euphorbia Fireglow

I found these flowers today who haven't realised that summer is over:

Cosmos Purity

Verbena Bonariensis

Rosa Christopher Marlow

Fushia Hawkshead

Some I'm not really surprised at, but a delphinium?  In November?  That's odd isn't it?

Delphinium - can't remember the name!

I wonder what flowers you have flowering at the moment?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Of Mad Women and Bumps!

If you happened to be driving through Elvedon Forest in north Suffolk last Monday and saw a "mad woman" standing in the middle of the road with her camera, then it was probably me!  This avenue of trees is delightful at all stages of the year, and my photo doesn't really do it justice as it was such a gloomy day, but it's like driving through an autumn tunnel.

Elvedon Forest

Now for the bumps - when I visited the 'Out of the Fold' Exhibition in Bury last month I saw a small textile piece that involved shibori felt.  It fascinated me so I've had a go myself.  I dyed some wool prefelt in the microwave (don't worry I have a separate bowl from the food bowls!) and embellished it a little with silk fibres.  Then I made silver foil bobbles, wrapped the fabric round them with elastic bands and felted it in the washing machine.

Then I added threads, french knots and beads.  It's all stitched onto some Indian rag paper.  The whole thing, including the paper is only about 21cm x 15cm (it shrank loads in the machine).  If I'd thought it through I would have done the french knots and beads before I couched it onto the paper, but I didn't, so it was a bit fiddly.

From this angle it looks a bit like an alien landscape!

What will I do with it?  No idea, but it was fun making it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Autumn Jewels

When I was teaching we used to sing a song in assembly that started "Autumn days when the grass is jewelled", and my garden is definitely jewelled at the moment.

My beautiful snake-bark maple tree's leaves are turning glorious colours,

they lie in piles covering the paths and beds,

and sometimes rest for a while on other shrubs,

a tiny respite in their final journey.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

She Sells Three Shells

A few days ago I finally finished (I think) another small textile piece that I started after I'd been to the Knitting and Stitching Show. 
Three Shells - 10cm x 20cm
It's embellished sari silk, with silk fibres, banana yarn and scrim.  I've sort of stitched the shells on, which are years and years old (there's a good reason for not throwing stuff out!) and then added a few french knots.  I'm having problems stopping the shells from falling off, but if I don't touch it they're fine!  Anyone know a good way to secure them?

If you're interested in textiles and live near Bury St Edmunds, the 'Out of the Fold' exhibition is well worth a visit.  Fran and I went yesterday and were really impressed, it's on until the 29th Oct. And if you want a cuppa afterwards then head to 'Harriets' - lovely tea, and the cakes looked good too, although we both managed to resist (this time!)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Bowl Like No Other

I thought I'd show you a bowl that I made a couple of weeks ago.  It's not like any other bowl (and it's also really hard to photograph!)

Silk Bowl - approx 21cm x 14cm

I made it by sandwiching silk fibres between water soluble fabric and then free motion stitching it - round and round at first to make the base and then out in lines towards the edges. 
Next I ran it all under a cold tap until the water soluble fabric had gone but some of the "stickiness" was left (word of warning, if you fancy doing this yourself then take your watch off first as the "stick" gets everywhere!). 
Then I squeezed most of the water out and molded it over a bowl to dry.

Silk Bowl - approx 21cm x 14cm

When it was dry I stitched a few seed beads on and painted round the top with fabric paint.  It's quite holey but is more rigid than it looks as when the stickiness dries it gives it some stability.

I love these silk fibres, I bought them last year at the Knitting and Stitching Show from Oliver Twists.  I also bought some more this year, including some undyed ones - my next challenge is to dye them using the microwave!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Normal Weekend?

I've been in the garden quite a bit this weekend, which is perfectly normal for me.

This dahlia is one of my favourite flowers at the moment.

Dahlia Nuit D'Ete

Dahlia Nuit D'Ete

I have a bit of a thing about dark flowers but generally find they don't show up very well. However this one  looks lovely in the front garden growing alongside the white japanese anenome.

My other favourite thing in the garden at the moment are the skeleton flowers on Hydrangea Annabelle, the detail is just amazing.

Hydrangea Annabelle

Hydrangea Annabelle
A perfectly normal weekend... but there are some other things I have done this weekend that you may not regard as normal:
1.  Helping to catch a bantum who was having an asthma attack.
2.  Waking up to find this post-it stuck to a fresh duck egg outside my back door on Saturday (explanation below)
(Hinge and Bracket are my neighbour's ducks.  Since she got them in May I've been giving them all the duckweed that I scoop out of my pond.  They laid their first eggs this week, and were kind enough to give me one!)
3.  Showing both neighbours how to avoid the spiders' webs that are spun across our narrow gardens by teaching them the "Elephant Dance".  (Imagine sticking one arm out in front like a trunk, and waving it up and down as you move in an elephant like manner down the garden and you'll get the gist of it!)

A normal weekend?  I'll let you decide!

Monday, September 19, 2011

There's Something Wrong Here!

For some of each week I work from home.  I have a nice study which is quite roomy even though it also doubles as a sewing/work room, but today something has been wrong.  Someone else has been in charge... 
First of all I lost control of my chair (and my cardigan too).

No real problem, I got another cardigan and relocated to the floor.

(I'm sure that working on the floor probably breaks some working environment rule, especially when squeezed between the ironing pile and a pile of books!)

Unfortunately the pencil was deemed to be a "good game" and now I've lost control of the floor too!

Oh well, here's hoping that I have more success tomorrow!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Not a real one I'm afraid - a knitted one! Complete with beaded hundreds and thousands.  Not as tasty as a real one, but better for the waistline!


For Gina, that's why.  Pop over to her blog to find out more.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I Do Like A Bargain!

My father used to say (maybe he still does) that "a bargain is only a bargain if you needed it in the first place".  Well I did need this!  I'd been looking for a candlestick for my dining table for ages, but my dining table is round and most of the candlesticks I'd seen were either rectangluar or very expensive, so when I spotted this I knew I had to have it.


It was £12.50 in one of the barns at Risby Barns Antiques Centre near Bury St Edmunds.  I spent a morning outside clearning it up with kitchen grease cleaner, a brio pad and a heat gun to melt the years of wax.  I mixed up some paint from old Farrow and Ball matchpots and leftover satinwood paint from the radiators, added some gold wax and crystals and voila, here it is now:


Now I just need some nice white candles to go in it, if anyone knows where I can get some (as opposed to cream) I'd be really grateful to know.

Also on the subject of bargains, Sudbury Garden Centre were selling packets of seeds for 50p each yesterday, how could I resist?!  I bought these18 packets, mainly veg for next year and sweetpeas, for just £9 as opposed to over £46 if I'd bought them full price.

Now all I have to do is not lose them before next year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meet Aunty Elsie

Actually she was my Great Aunty Elsie, my Grandma's elder sister.

Hopes and Dreams (17cm x 24 cm)

Sadly I never knew my Grandma as she died before I was born so Aunty Elsie was a sort of surrogate Grandma.  She was born in 1899 - I'm not sure when or why this photo was taken, but she looks a lot younger here than in her wedding photos of 1928, so I'm guessing it was taken around 1920, maybe her 21st birthday?

Her and her husband lived in Cottenham (near Cambridge) and were fruit and flower growers.  There are pictures of them from the 1930s with strawberries and tulips they'd grown for market.

She sometimes looked after us as children and although they’d sold most of their smallholding by then, I remember feeding a donkey in the orchard behind her house.  When I was in my early 20s I worked nearby and used to call and see her every week.  She gave me tea and tinned salmon sandwiches, taught me how to harvest asparagus, and told me off for suggesting that at 86 she shouldn’t be up a ladder picking plums!  She talked lots about people and relatives that I didn’t really know but had probably met every year on Feast Sunday without knowing who they were!  

She was a lovely lady and I hope she would like what I’ve done with her photo.  After some editing in photoshop I printed it onto calico.  Then I added vintage lace, velvet, recycled sari ribbon and some vintage buttons. 

I used to think of her a lot when I had my allotment – especially when harvesting my asparagus as when she died I was lucky enough to be given this:

 her asparagus knife.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Whiter Shade of Pale

It's been a glorious day in Suffolk today, blue skies and sunshine - lovely!  Here are some of the white/almost white flowers that are blooming in my garden today, I think they provide a rather calm and cooling atmosphere:

Top row:  Cosmos Purity, Penstemon, Passion Flower (can't remember which variety!)
Middle row:  Rose 'Madame Alfred Carrier', Leucanthemum, Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait'
Bottom row:  Mint flower, Anenome, Rose (unknown variety)

The penstemon was supposed to be red when I bought it, but I couldn't be bothered to take it back, and the passion flower was only planted this year and is already over 6ft high!  It's supposed to be a fully hardy one so should be ok in the winter as the garden is quite sheltered.

Wherever you are I hope the weather is kind to you this weekend - I plan to be in the garden as much as I can.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Then Came The Jolly Summer

Last week, while I was waiting and generally getting side tracked, I noticed a rather nice pattern had appeared on a piece of fabric I'd placed under some garden fleece I was painting (don't ask!) to catch the excess paint.  The fleece experiment wasn't a success but I fiddled around with that bit of fabric as it seemed to have flowers on.  I cut and stitched, and added some organza.  I painted some handmade paper and stitched the fabric on.  I used my new lumiere paints that I got from my recent visit to Art Van Go

Jolly Summer - 17cm x 21cm
The text is from The Fairie Queene (Edmund Spenser) because it seemed quite a jolly piece, especially when the sky was grey over the weekend.  I'm not actually sure how much I like it, but my neighbour does so I thought I'd share it anyway! (And is it a textile piece, or is it really mixed media, or doesn't it really matter? It all gets very complicated at times!)

The sun is back now - let's hope it stays awhile this time!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


While I'm waiting for summer to come back I've been inside fiddling with paints and fabric.  This also involves lots of waiting - waiting for crackle glaze to crackle, waiting for rusting powder to go rusty, waiting for paints to dry etc etc.  The trouble is that while I'm waiting for one thing I start something else and totally forget about the first thing, hence I currently have many half finished projects and a lot of mess!  Guess that's my random brain again!

I've also been waiting to have some time to join in with Gina's sketchbook project, and I've managed to start!  The challenge was to use one main colour and things close to home.  I chose purple, and flowers - obviously!

After preparing the background, (I used brusho, rather than watercolour, and clingfilm) I cut out a template of a fuchsia and rubbed round it with white oil pastel and then painted inside.  I then tried using markal paint sticks as well as adding pencil details.  I like the shapes that come from cutting away the page to reveal some of the next.
I also really like the shading that's left on the template!

I didn't do so well with the next bit - using a potato to print with.  I changed my shape to an aquilegia seed head (as the fuchsia was too big for my potato!) and think I got too fiddly.  I quite like them when there's hardly any paint on them though.  This is the area I've picked to enlarge (the next task):

I will show you more, but you'll have to wait as I got side tracked - again!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunsets, Froglets and a Blackberry.

I was told today that I had a "random brain".  Personally I don't think it is random, it's just that other people can't keep up with my train of thought (which is totally logical to me).  However this post is slightly random so maybe they have a point!

I thought I'd share a beautiful sunset that we had here the other night.  The change from orange to pink was quite stunning.

A few evenings later this little fellow appeared outside my patio doors.  He looks big in the photo but was actually only about 1.5cm long (the leaf he's on is a tiny wild violet).  He must have jumped all the way from the pond (about 150 feet away) and didn't appear to mind my neighbour and I watching him for ages.  We were fascinated with his tiny, perfect feet!  

But I haven't just been watching the sky and baby frogs, I have been a little bit constructive too.  Courtesy of my day job I'm now the proud (?) owner of a blackberry - not the edible kind, but the phone kind!  As we've all got identical ones I needed a case to identify mine and rather than buy one I thought I'd make one.  Following a little research on the internet I decided on a design and after a lot of trial and even more error produced this one:

Even if my brain is "random" at least it livens up meetings, and if it doesn't then my blackberry case does instead!