Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A Winter Walk Along the Loch


Looking down the loch from our bedroom window this view called us out to play quite early this morning. John and I got ourselves bundled up against the elements and decided to head out the point at Rhue. It was bitingly cold at first but as the sun came over the mountain the exercise soon warmed us up.

This old wreck looks like a rotted whale carcass from a distance and always marks the point of decision on this walk, to go on or head back to the warmth of West House. Today we carried on.

By the time we got to the second wreck we could see veils of snow falling on the mountains and decided to head for home.

There is something wrong with this picture..... only one black lab. Sadly Tarka the old lab. died last week at a grand old age. She died mid walk along these shores. I can't think of a better way to go, she is greatly missed by many. However the younger dog kept our spirits up with his antics on the walk back. When I read that Gina's beloved Barley died yesterday I realised that that was the fifth labrador of my acquaintance that had died in the past fortnight. A big hug for all those that are missing their companion.
A little crafting is taking place, I'm working on my Indian themed altered book. My phrase for this piece hasn't come into my brain yet so I'm not sure where it is going for the moment, no doubt inspiration will arrive in due course. 



Tuesday, 20 November 2012

First Altered Book

click on image
 I was the only person at the workshop who didn't start a book. I think I was overwhelmed by the numbers and certainly overwhelmed by all the possibilities. As usual I was taking everything in and by the end of the meeting I knew where I wanted to go with this genre. It was important for me to set myself an objective. I challenged myself to make something beautiful using the minimum amount of materials. I do realise that beauty is very subjective and that my idea of it may not be the same as everyone elses but it was my challenge to myself and this is what I came up with.
I used white and a little blue acrylic paint, the Telegraph travel supplement,
glue, a set of metallic rubs, one home-made stamp,a small piece of voile and one gel pen. Limiting my choices made me focus my efforts.
I usually have a phrase going through my head  that I come to associate with each piece of my work that I do, this one was inspired by hearing an old Marianne Faithful (now that immediately dates me) song on the radio last week, 'As Tears Go By' the first line of which is 'It is the evening of the day'. That helped me see the whole piece complete with a subtle sunset in the background.
I have started another one which will be very different to this, it should occupy me for the few days left before I head for the hills.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Time flies when you have fun.

It was Embroiderer's Guild meeting this afternoon and we had an 'in house' workshop on altered books. Lin Oxley whose delicate and very pretty  work was so admired at our  recent exhibition lead the class. We had a really good turn out for this and it was great to see new faces at the meeting. I took some photos about an hour into the workshop and was amazed to see how everyone was absolutely flying with this idea.
I think I have caught most people's work at this half way stage, I tried to capture the great atmosphere and sheer enjoyment of this workshop.

I couldn't get everyone in the frame.  
Lovely handmade beads.
A lovely afternoon spent with enthusiastic like minded people.
Thanks Lin!


Friday, 16 November 2012

Fabric Printing

A blissful day of printing yesterday with a really good friend. We are both involved in running a short workshop for our local Emb, Guild. She has already run the first part - 'making your block' and I shall run the second part 'printing with your block'. Not rocket science I know, a simple potato print demonstrates the principal easily but there are a bewildering number of mediums to work in and I want to demonstrate as many as possible in my sample book. On the day we will print with acrylic paint and a fabric medium but it will be useful to discuss and actually see what kind of result can be obtained by using fabric paints, thickened procion dyes or simple printing pads. Lots of experiments to come. I have used all of these mediums over the years and each has it's place and pros and cons.

The last days of Autumn are upon us here and I've been watching a neighbouring Liquamber gradually undressing itself from the top down. I think next weeks high winds will put paid to the last of it's leaves. This must be one of the most colourful of trees even rivalling the acers for it's blaze of fire farewell.
It makes me think of this wonderful James Hawkings painting that is so evocative of this time of the year. It has been my screen saver throughout Autumn, I think that I must start browsing his winter portfolio very soon.   

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Another One

You may recognise this piece of cloth, if you look at the post 'Cromarty Calling' in  October you will see where I sourced it. It is a creamy coloured linen tray cloth - very definitely 1960 because it had it's date embroidered in Roman numerals in one corner. I can't seem to stop seeing combinations of my fabrics for more dresses. Thank goodness I'm printing tomorrow hopefully it will distract my brain.
I can get a tad obsessive about these things but I want to check these dresses for size before I go into production. Apparently mismatching fabrics are very fashionable now I don't think I could go as far as clashing colours for a baby but who knows where this latest passion will lead? 


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Vintage Baby Dress

You know how one thought leads to another, yesterday I was thinking about combining crochet, embroidery and fabric when I realised this would make a fabulous mix for some dresses I had promised to make for my first great grand daughter Isla who is now several weeks old. I had some beautiful very fine cashmere tweed (just enough) and my lovely but diminishing stash of Liberty 'Hera' fabric circa 1964 and some crochet flowers that I made a couple of years ago.  

In the early seventies this was called a pinafore dress and was worn with thick tights and a long sleeve tee-shirt. It just reminded me of my late mum at that time, making clothes from old dresses and curtains for the grandchildren, boys included, who wore flowery dungarees made by her. She would have adored to work with the luxury fabrics I have access to today.
Very cute, very retro and made with love.


Monday, 12 November 2012


I like to mix crochet with fabrics and have produced a little sample  that does just this. The pattern needs refining but I think this would make a lovely lap quilt. The downside is that it's very labour intensive. I think I shall try it in the round and maybe I can use it as a motif on the front of the little dresses I'm making for Isla Rose.
I was looking back on some previous work for inspiration.

Now that would look quirky on the front of a little vintage tweed
pinafore dress. Just need to get the dress made!


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Two Down One to Go.

One edelweiss inspired piece finished. It started out with out any real purpose and turned itself into a lid for a box that I happened to have waiting in the wings.  Lots of french knots to try and capture the density and shadows from the drawings and some little glass droplets to capture the dew that had collected on our real piece of edelweiss from Jacky's garden.

The cushion is also completed I'm pleased to say but the real challenge of the matching quilt has not started yet. I have no real deadline for it so I shall have some 'thinking time' before I make a start.
I think a period of making lots of sample pieces is coming up. I generally go on to use these in my composite work such as Sylvia's Box. I want to try my hand at blackwork, canvas work and to take my needlelace practise a bit further. All good pursuits for winter hibernation.  


Monday, 5 November 2012

Usual Prevarication

Twenty days until I'm back in the Highlands again ( for five weeks) and I have so much I want to do in the meantime. The low light levels yesterday left me craving colour and although the printing blocks I made a few days ago were pretty low on my priority list, they provided an instant hit of happiness. I used acrylics with a bit of silkscreen medium (to keep the paint from drying too quickly) and when they were dry I used my Inktense pencils to beef up the colours even more.

Just two blocks have given me a huge range of papers to play with before I get down to printing on fabric.

Today I met up with Jackie and Jean (Trident group) and had a relaxing day working on the theme of Edelweiss - Jackie is an alpine grower with great knowledge and skill on the subject so it was appropriate that for her challenge to us it was this strange alien looking  plant. We have each come up with a different approach to the subject and have agreed to be finished for our next meeting on the 23rd of this month. I started with a few drawings to familiarise myself with the basic structure of the plant and used my felter to make a quick background. I'm glad I decided to work small for once.

Lot's of stitching to do on this piece but I'm sure I'll make the deadline.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Almost There

A piece of work nearing completion.
This cushion cover was worked for a challenge I set for the Trident group that I belong to. I posted some six weeks ago at the start and now I only have to make up the piping and get the thing finished. I can't wait to see the other two versions of this on Friday. Click on the picture to see the detail - photography in the evening light not good.
I've hand quilted with white coton a broder and am reasonably pleased with the outcome. Only reasonably because my stitching seems to be more and more uneven. I want my needle to work at the same speed as a pencil to achieve a lively, dynamic look but I want perfect stitching as well. One or the other has to suffer. I think the more drawing I do the more I'm dissatisfied with a static piece of embroidery.
The child's bedspread I've made using this same motif is also moving along,
Sarah at Beecrafty helped me layer up the batting and backing yesterday so I will soon be going into battle by freemotion quilting it on a domestic machine. Sarah also reminded me that I need to produce a requirements list for my button class next week. 
I don't do much teaching (I'd far rather be taught). Teaching is hard work, it's not the stuff you see in a class but all the work that goes round running a course. Writing objectives, lesson plans, handouts and requirement lists, to say nothing of amassing and transporting the kit required. I have great admiration for anyone running properly constructed courses for a living but find that I only have the energy to run two or three a year.
I have agreed to run a course for the local Emb.Guild in March - Printing on Fabric. A huge subject to attempt in a two hour class. The work starts now to ensure that I am giving the best possible instruction and making it fun at the same time.
This afternoon in the company of my grandsons I made a positive and negative block to start filling a journal for the course. They were doing the most intricate drawings of monsters,death,warfare and destruction but I guess that's boys for you and at least they were using their very vivid imaginations. This was one of  five year old Flynn's masterpieces. It took him ten minutes to explain it all to me.( I shouldn't have asked). I do love the mark making though and can see that he already has a good colour sense.