Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cecil's Quilt

Just a quickie, I've just realised I've not shown you Cecil's lap quilt now it's finished - how remiss!!

Here it is - the front
and the back
I'm amused to notice this fabric covering a cushion in the current series of "I'm A Celebrity" - which is unwitting testimony of the fact that I'm watching it! I don't watch a lot of telly, but it is such fun, and a good way of chilling after a day at work - usually with stitching in hand for the ad breaks. I refuse to watch them, and mute the sound when they come on; a tad eccentric perhaps, but why should I slavishly allow myself to be cajoled by "Them". it's much more peaceful to quietly stitch away while the goggle box flickers in the corner of the room - and have you never noticed how the sound is always louder when they're on?

Hope Cecil likes her quilt. I'll report back after Christmas.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

nine patch laid

Being a follower of Jude I have developed a great affection for the sweet simplicity of the nine patch. Of course she takes it and does the most wonderful things, setting it free to celebrate the spirit of a loved cat, stitching it into stars, bending and weaving it around the moon. I love the subtlety of her work, the frayed edges and the gentle colours, the way she invests so much of her life into it's being, and brings us into her story with her honest words and beautiful cloths. I have watched what she does for some time now, popping over for each update, diving off into the blogs of her followers to see where others take her inspiration. One day, when I have more time, I would like to take one of her online classes, to see where that inspiration could take me. But for now I am learning, learning, learning, in between working and doing life. As well as taking Christine's monthly classes at Studio11, I am currently stitching samplers for the City and Guilds; our theme is grids - how appropriate. So we've had a splish splash splosh day with Barbara and have been sent away to explore the grid and to try our hand at laid work and couching. Well, I've not done either before, so am really enjoying learning new things. I've done a little bit of couching, but there will be more to do before next Saturday if I have time

With the template we made at the class, which reminds me irrepressibly of the Playschool Windows, I've done some design work on grids,
 my favourite probably being the black and white one
and I've been practicing my laid work as ... a nine patch
Of course this is quite different from Jude's subtle colours and complex cloths. It's a simple exercise in stitching, and tremendous fun to do. But still, it has the tiniest element of Jude in it, just a whisper in the shadows of the stitches really, a thought of her, as my needle went in and out, to and fro, weaving colours into cloth.

It pleases me. I hope it will pass muster on Saturday when we have our next class.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Goldwork dragons and a Royal wedding dress

The sun shone this weekend, after days of grey skies and intermittent rain - the ground is soggy, but the hazel just outside the window where I sit during the day has been just wonderful, clinging to it's leaves through all the wind we've also been having, as they have changed from their summer green to the beautiful clear yellow they are now. The colour just sings when backlit by the sun, bright, clean, uncomplicated. But even on those days when the mist has closed in and our view has not extended beyond the walnut at the end of the garden, this yellow has still shone for me, glowing with it's own inner light, right through to sundown and beyond - a smile outside my window each day.
Yesterday was our monthly Embroiderer's Guild meeting. We had the pleasure of a talk by Sophie Long about her experience of being an apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework. It was immensely interesting, especially as, having graduated, she then had the honour of being part of the team who worked on the Royal wedding dress. She brought along examples of the work she had done whilst studying at the School. They were really impressive, and many are shown on her website, including the most delicate whitework swan, a very clever blackwork image that was based on a photograph of her sister, and perhaps my favourite, her goldwork dragon. None of these pictures give you more than an inkling of the detail and craftsmanship in these pieces of needlework. We were able to peer closely, as she allowed them to be passed round as she was talking - I seem to recall her saying that the whitework piece took around 90 hours of stitching. I was really struck by how much work the apprentices had to do, both during term time and in the holidays - not for the faint hearted. Of the intake of 7 when she started her apprenticeship, only three graduated and she is the only one still working at the craft. She was very modest about her success, putting it down to the stroke of luck that meant that, just as she was finishing, someone in the Embroidery Studio was leaving and she was offered the place. I suspect this offer wouldn't have been made had her skill not been considered up to their very high standards.

After her talk, she had brought along bits and bobs for us to look at or buy. I succumbed to some lovely threads - now I look at them, perhaps I was influenced by the tones of Autumn ...
It is such a pleasure to belong to a Guild like this. There is so much to learn; both from the people Brenda invites to talk to us or run workshops, and from each other. Having not been a "joiner of things" in my life up 'til now - perhaps the result of being an only child, I am now reaping the benefits. In addition, after the talk a little group of us who are doing the City and Guilds together, got into a huddle to discuss our progress so far!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Thread storage

I've been taking part in a November Post a Photo a Day group on Facebook, which has been great fun; a theme for each day to photograph, then everyone gets to see and comment on everyone's pictures. There have been some great, funny, well taken, quirky, revealing (not in a naughty sense) and interesting pictures to see. Everyone has different perspectives and it is, to me, one of the great things about the Internet - the way it connects people. So, today's theme was "Man Made" and I added a picture of a rather lovely thing my ex-husband (but still friend) made for me many years ago. A bespoke set of little oak drawers in which to store my embroidery threads, which has been used with great pleasure ever since. It has caused so many positive comments that I thought I'd better share it here as well. Isn't it beautiful?
Then I made a comment about not showing "the other one with the fancy threads" and someone said "can we see that too" so I took, and posted another picture. This time a very old piece, which came home with me from Cecil's earlier this year when she was having a "purge".
It's a miniature Wellington Chest, very battered and worn and will have been in the family for ever, like much of our "stuff"! I gave it a clean up, pulled all the drawers out to wax the runners, tentatively put my hand into the opening for the bottom drawer, where something had rattled, and found, buried in some decidedly creepy black fluffy dust, those little bone handles embroidery tools you can see in the very bottom drawer. Once they were cleaned up, I thought they'd better go back in the drawer where they belonged, along with some ancient packets of needles which I'll include for Joe's particular pleasure, since I know he loves them.

Treasures indeed!

Monday, 12 November 2012

evening walk

Yesterday, in line with my commitment to walk regularly, I took myself to the sea again. I marched down the hill lickety split, as the sun was low in the sky and I wanted to be able to watch it dip behind the bulk of the Downs. I got there just in time to see its disc gradually slip down, down, down behind their dark mass.
 The tide was out, and the shore stretched like a rippled mirror in front of me
 small stones and sculpted sand bringing texture to the reflections
and a pair of very happy little dogs came racing beside the waves, delighted to be out in the evening air with a willing slave to throw ball for them
I really must make sure I do this often. it does the soul good as well as the body

Thursday, 8 November 2012

the rewards of getting fit(ter)

I have made a tentative pact with myself to walk down to the seaside every other day in an attempt to get myself both fitter and slimmer. Tentative because I have a pretty poor track record when it comes to getting fit, but the slow creep over and under 11 stone horrifies me and, having been quite poorly recently, I figure I owe myself a bit of a tune up. The walk is downhill in one direction, and uphill all the way back (obviously!). The distance (according to Google) is around 2 miles, and is about the extent of my comfort zone when it comes to walking, so a good thing to be doing just now. The pleasure of pushing myself just a bit on the way back is enormous; when we first moved here I couldn't walk back up the hill at any pace without a calf muscle threatening to tear and I'd limp for days afterwards. Being able now to stride (and huff and puff) uphill is exhilarating. I smile wryly at the joggers who overtake me and think to myself that my knees are probably happier than theirs. On the way there and back I watch people's gardens, blink at some of the larger houses with their posh cars parked outside, say hello to passers by and generally enjoy just being. When I get to the bottom of the hill, there is the wonderful sea and the view along the coast to Beachy Head.

Today I saw
 the sun breaking through amazing deep dark clouds over the sea

 beach treasures, washed up by a spate of recent heavy winds and high tides

 rust wood and stones

and sea smoothed groynes

On the way back, there is a garden which has a wonderful set of small leaved shrubs, all pruned to rolling shapes - far too artistic to call a hedge, though I guess that's what it is. It gives me pleasure each time I pass it, but my pleasure was greatly increased today by the sight of an elderly lady with her hedge trimmers, clip clip clipping away. I stopped for a chat, discovered that she was 87, had a 93 year old disabled husband and didn't believe in "giving in". She was delightful, was very grateful to me for stopping and complimenting her on her hedge, and I walked on with a smile on my face and a spring in my step - glad to have been able to thank her for the pleasure her pruning was giving. I always feel that our front gardens are the gift we give to passers by and most of the time we don't know whether they are bringing a touch of brightness to the world or not.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


so here they are, all finished though not yet framed. I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. I didn't expect to be able to create something that looks so complete from just one workshop (OK and a week off sick!), but having a kit to work from made all the difference as it provided the framework, all I had to provide were the stitches and a bit of thought about what colours to use.
A couple of closeups so you can see just how 3 dimensional they are once all is put together on the ground cloth
the grassy knoll

and a few little dewdrops, just waiting for a fairy to gather for her morning skin care routine.

Would i do more stumpwork? Yes, absolutely; it has a magic about it that I really enjoyed; the detail is such fun and creating a little three dimensional world ticks all sorts of boxes for me. I just need to practice more.
But first, there's a City and Gilds to work with. We had the first of our "splish splash splosh" days with Barbara yesterday, which was great fun, as ever. I have homework to do, having created a distorted grid stencil to play with ... oh and there's Cecil's quilt to finish. That's this afternoon's pleasure
Posted by Picasa