Thank you all for reading my rambles. All comments are read and appreciated. There have been some great comments recently so many, many thanks. I'm sorry if I haven't managed to comment on your blog I do read them as often as I can.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Catching up

Well while watching the big events in London I am taking the opportunity to download and post some of my recent projects that were snapped but I never got round to posting up. So here goes.
The coffee dyed fabric and threads
My completed African bag inspired bag, note the two sides are slightly different
 Finally for now here is the journal cover I crocheted while I was feeling a bit under the weather
 Front and Back
Inside Covers

Oh and I nearly forgot 
Congratulations to the Happy Couple

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thank you

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments from this mornings minor aberrations post. I thought it was time I made comment on your comments.
Julie, no I'm not 100% yet but getting there. 
Myfanwy, for small experiments I usually use up all my extra dye on some space dyed fabric or yarn, so I never throw any away. With the big pot dyes I save some in jars for painting papers etc. Thanks for the reminder.
Mylene, what did I do today? Not many of the things I highlighted, I went into the village, my first walk out in over a fortnight on my own and without the car, but I just had to buy some wire to complete my small African bag - pictures to follow when it is complete. I made the mistake of buying a knit and crochet magazine on the way home, so after lunch I sat and read it and started a small book cover project - one more!!!!!! Once again you will see this when it is completed. Talked to a neighbour and moved some rubbish in the garden when the sun was shining but it got cold again so had to come indoors. Not a very productive day.
Kate, I was so pleased that job got done.

Minor aberations

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not the worlds best housewife and housework - hitherto-for known as the dreaded HW - is little done except when I know someone is coming. I would much rather be gardening, dyeing fabric, knitting, crocheting, planning or doing my latest project or blogging even outside walking is better than HW. So when I was reading my latest reading material 
'We are all made of Glue' by Marina Lewycka (a Christmas present which has finally got to the top of my to read pile) I read "I filled up a couple of bin bags with packaging (mostly labelled REDUCED), and the oozing contents of the disgusting fridge." pg 77.

I was reminded that a job I had planned before getting this nasty virus was to clean out my fridge. So I started it this morning just before DH went off on his weekly walk with our local walking group - why is it that he is recovering quickly after just a few days and I am still feeling like a veritable weakling after over two weeks? Anyway I digress again, the job is done and it's only 9am and I'm back to my blog. So I have a nice clean fridge, several jars that can be recycled once I empty them - very useful in my dyeing experiments and rather rough hands from being in water! Now where did I put that hand cream? 

What will I do with the rest of my day? Complete my dyeing records? carry on with the planning for two projects that will be ongoing soon, dye some more yarn which is ready scouring? Crochet? Knit? Tidy up my workroom so I can see the tops ready for a new project? The options are endless!

Sorry for digressing so much but I just had to write this down. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge

Was I just talking about sketchbooks and journals yesterday? Well today my friend Helen posted that she had joined The Sketchbook Project. Click below to get more information.
So I have joined. I don't really know what I've let myself in for. But then I was always up for a challenge and it will give me an aim for my work - note I am NOT an artist but my journals give me pleasure. I've chosen the topic 'Nothing New', it was between that and 'Travel with me.' let's see what comes. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Work update

I thought I had better let you all know what work I have been up to recently and post a few picture updates.
Knitting:- my purple jumper has caused lots of problems, but I am now on the first sleeve, no picture until I finish that.
Crochet:- I have completed 40 of the Japanese flowers and the throw is progressing well.

ATCs:- some time ago I made some Artists Trading Cards and gave most of them away. I only got one in return, but never mind, we don't make them to get in return. I was pleased when our Regional Embroiderers' Guild started a swap for our Regional Day in May
So I made some more ready for then. Some people have very good little folders for their cards and I had mine in a plastic folder! Not very artistic. So I went of looking for a small photo album that would hold them, no good. But in so doing I found my box of unused journals.
Someone reminded me yesterday that I have a journal fetish and collect them. Here are a few, some I decorated others were decorated by friends and some I bought.
This is the little journal I chose for my ATCs. 
Pretty isn't it?
This is the first page with my first ever sent ATC from a textile/quilt artist called Frieda Oxenham
Unfortunately I won't be able to put many in the journal as it is so I plan to remove the cover and pages and put jailers rings in place of the spiral, that way I can add more pages as I go along. 
Another days work though.
This is another small pile of journals and sketch pads that have not been used - yet!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Coastal Sea Fret

While everyone else is basking in sunshine we have had a very chilly sea fret on the North East coast for the last two days. I'm looking out of my window and I can see it rolling inland. We are about 1/2 mile from the beach and it is one of the down sides of living so close.

However I do love living here, close to beautiful Northumberland, within reach of The North York Moors, The Yorkshire Dales and even The Lake District is within easy striking distance. on a fine day there is nothing better than walking along the beach, especially on a sunny spring day. Seeing it so much we tend to leave the beach alone when it is busy, ie Easter and Summer holidays. I retire to my back garden and admire the growing veg and blossoming trees. Listening to the birds in the trees is also an inspiration and makes me feel so good.

I do pity those people who have travelled to Whitley Bay or Tynemouth because the weather has been so beautiful recently. Not yesterday or today!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter

Well the holiday has arrived and I wish you all a great weekend.

The weather changed here on the North East coast today and a sea fret made it very chilly so DH and I stayed indoors as we are both suffering with the local virus that seems to be going the rounds. So no craft club for me again tonight, that's two weeks running!

I hope the sun shines for you all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I love buttons

For some time I had several button jars. They were of different shapes and sizes and I loved them.
It took me back to my childhood when I sorted Granny's button box, whenever I went to visit. I inherited it!
Unfortunately like my other stash, I discover I have the button hoarding gene and one box became 4 jars. It became much harder to sort the buttons and as they were all mixed up finding just the right one or two became more difficult. They all had to be tipped out and sorted, yet again. Along came small Ikea storage jars and once more they were sorted into rough colours, aren't they great?
I still have the four big jars I need some more Ikea ones! I keep resorting them and discovering that the purple, red and pink ones have been all mixed together. That just won't do.
What set of the re-sorting? I needed some small buttons for my African bag and it took ages to find just the right ones. It's very therapeutic when watching TV.

7lbs lost

Two weeks ago, DH gently persuaded me that I really did need to lose some weight. What was the straw that broke the camels back was the 7 and 3/4 mile walk I did and suffered massively afterwards. My knees are just not taking the strain any more! So he is helping me and recording my food intake on a nifty little programme called My Fitness Plan. I really don't have the time to input all the data, so I just kept a written daily record and he does the rest. As he also makes our evening meal - most days - he calculates our intake of calories. He managed to loose a lot of weight, very gradually, over the last year without paying to go to WW or SW. I just hope I can keep it up. DH has just reminded me that today's weigh-in might have been a blip.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sunny Saturday

Well I've missed my trip out to Paxton House. I was so looking forward to seeing the Prestonpans Tapestry. Never mind another time. 
I sat and did some beading instead. here is my bag project, day 3
More experiments
 Embellished bag - one side only so far
 The beads are difficult to see against the red 
 The red beads stand out well on the orange and yellow
If you click on the photos you can see the beads and the colour seems to be truer as well

Friday, April 15, 2011

Not much done today

Didn't feel to good today, the cough and sore chest are still there and I'm going to have to miss my trip out tomorrow with the Guild. I was going to Paxton House near Berwick to see The Battle of Preston Pans Tapestry. Anyway not much done to my project, however I've done a bit of a tidy up on my sketchbook and here are a few pages, sorry the pencil marks aren't all that clear.
Sketchbook cover                            
Front page     

 Bookmark and Postcard

Observed notes
Designs and trials
further designs

 Fabric folded in order
 Paper mock ups
 Pattern pieces

 Decoration 1

Decoration 2
Still more design trials to do, I think I'll put on some buttons

Thursday, April 14, 2011

African bag project 2

I showed you some fabric I cut for a new project on Tuesday. Today I used a knotted stitch to stitch the pieces together into two long thin rectangles. I had worked out the pattern and made a paper mock up while at Durham so it was just a measure, cut and stitch exercise. The sizes are quite important as the two rectangles need to be the same size when stitched together. The yellow looks very white in the photo but is actually quite a bright yellow.
I really like the knot stitch that Mary showed us, it is similar to our blanket stitch, but with a knot in it. The knots are actually on the back of the piece and very difficult to see on the red fabric. On the front it gives lovely regular marks and a nice flat seam. A lot of the fabric we saw was stitched with tiny knot stitches with the knots sitting in the seam. I decided that I wanted to emphasise the regular parallel marks made by this stitch once the seam is opened out.

Did anyone notice I now have a new ironing board cover. My old pebbles one had paint and gunk all over it. 
It's still there underneath for when I do messy work. The new purple cover is easy to remove unlike other ones I have had. However it isn't very smooth - yet!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wool Dye Experiment number 4

Did I tell you about the food colour dyes I tried last week? They were a disaster. I used Morrison's food colour and the dye just bled away when I washed the wool, anyway it would have been sooooo pale. Yesterday I did the experiment again with Dr Okter food colouring from Tesco. This is the result. I only used natural red and blue - the only blue and red they had. The red is quite orangy and the blue almost turquoise so as a result I have green in there. I know the photo on my screen doesn't look green, but it is definitely green.
the tails are a synthetic yarn with knots so that I can identify the colour recipe. I am a happy bunny - well I would be if I wasn't coughing so much. Off to the Docs in an hour as my ribs are hurting and talking for any length of time is a disaster.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Durham Weekend

Well I set off just after lunch on Friday for Durham, just a few miles down the road and after one wrong turn into a different college I arrived at St Aidan's College, part of Durham University. I had been there before but turned right too soon. Never mind it was better than the last time I went there when it took me several trips up and down this road out of the town.
I met lots of people from previous courses run by The Embroiderers' Guild North East Region. We even get visitors from other regions, which is really good. The work rooms were very light and bright and had lovely big work tables. There were 11 people on my course and more on the contemporary goldwork course. After taking my things into the workroom I settled into my accommodation, rooms with double beds and on-suite facilities. 
We started work at 4pm after a brief introduction and worked until dinner at 6.30. This was a short introduction to the tutor and her collection of fantastic African artefacts. 
This continued after dinner until about 8.30. Lots of information to assimilate and starting to think about what we would be doing the next day. I was fascinated with the bag in the picture above and I had already come with a colour palette in mind - no it wasn't purple! I had this photo and wanted to use the colours of sunrise/sunset.
So after a sleepless night, making initial drawings, I started playing with fabrics that might do the job. They were all quilting cottons and in order to try and get the feel of the African raffia cloth I painted the pieces with watered down PVA glue. This was very effective. I tried a piece of felt as well but that turned out more like cardboard and didn't feel the same.
Above is fabric for a new project laid out and drying - it's the same fabric colours I used for my Durham project apart from the red which is slightly different.
We worked very hard all day and by the end of the day I had finalised what I was making and how it was going to be constructed. Along with some of my colleagues I also had a new project half planned. It took a lot of thought and experimental planning with a paper mock up. More about that project in another post.
So here is my small hanging that I almost completed on Sunday, I only had the dangly to make a decision about and didn't do that until yesterday. I didn't use the one that I posted yesterday but used another one instead.

Here is the sampler I worked on while away and then continued at home over the last two days. It shows some of the stitches Mary showed us and also acts as a reminder of the things I observed. 
I also have lots of photos, notes and sketches I made.

Thank you for getting to the end of this post, I hope you enjoy my ramblings and look out for project number two based on this course.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Had a fantastic weekend. Here is part of my African inspired hanging. (This is not completed yet) More about my weekend to come later. When there is more time I will download the rest of my beautiful photos from the course. Mary was the most inspirational tutor and we all came away feeling as if we had made a friend for life. Good food, lovely surroundings, good company and fabulous weather, yes we were inside during a heat wave!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


I'm off on my travels again tomorrow. Not far this time, just 19 miles down the A19/A1. This will be an Embroiderers' Guild Spring School. We will be staying in one of the University Colleges and I'm doing a workshop with Mary Sleigh on  Edges and Embellishment. I have had her book African Inspirations on Embroidery since I did my C&G study on African Embroideries. So I am really looking forward to this weekend.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I did a 7 and a half mile walk with our local walking group. It was a fantastic day in the North York Moors. We started at Grosmont and went up on the tops overlooking the valley then came down the other side into Goathland. If you don't recognise the name you must have seen Heartbeat. This is Aidensfield. Bernie Scripps Garage and the pub, The Aidensfield Arms, are all there. Including the railways station with steam trains running along the 'new' railway line.

We continued our walk along the 'old' railway track which is now a favourite walk for the fit, and not so fit.  Two and a quarter miles back on the flat to Grosmont. It was a beautiful sunny day although a bit blustery at times.

Today I'm suffering, my knee is very sore and I am definitely back on a diet! If for no other reason than to take the strain off my knees. Grrr why should having a nice time have slightly unpleasant consequences as we get older? I haven't had time to download the photos I took, I promise to try and get some sorted out after the weekend.

Monday, April 04, 2011

April's TUSAL

Took two photos of my TUSAL jar today. the first one made me think that I would not get much more in, but then I squashed the threads and yarns down and there is still a lot of room left.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Squares and Circles

A quick finish this. I started it at an hour workshop at Pins and Needles with Victoria McLeod and just completed it this afternoon. It's going to a Charity Raffle to raise money for Japan by Festival of Japan
Jill has just come back from a visit to Japan and I met her at the show. She says that what Japan needs is money and she hopes to collect small (9"x9") pieces of work. Anything goes and they will be displayed at all the shows they attend. For a modest cost you could be the owner of a piece of work.

Playing with natural and chemical dyes

Had great fun over the last few days playing with dyes.

These are my wool yarn samples hanging out to dry. they were dyed with a blue and red chemical (acid) dye and fixed in the microwave. I like some of the colours, but was disappointed with others.
Today I am dying small quantities of wool and cotton with madder, a weed! this is a l o n g process and was started on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to seeing the results. It looks good so far. However the proof of the pudding...... will be when it's all out of the pan, washed and dried. so a little while yet before I know.

Scouring bowl

 Boiling pan

 Hanging skeins to dry