Monday, October 13, 2014

A Grand Day Out

Leaving Suffolk early and driving into the busy streets of north London and arriving at the Alexandra Palace with wonderful views across London always make this a special start to a day at the Knitting and Stitching show.  I didn't take many pictures as I was too busy looking (and buying) but here are a few to give you a taste of what I loved; starting with the work of Sue Walton and Ann Small.

Their exhibition was called "A Walk on the Wild Side' and they used everyday artefacts with fabrics to create a magical and enchanted display.

I also really enjoyed seeing the work of Renate Keeping - the apples which have been stitched to show the growth, ripening and decline of the fruit,

and the cake sculptures (more info about the apples and the cakes can be found on her website via the above link).

I was so pleased that I got to see the work of the Prism group of textile artists - I loved this work with tea spoons by Jackie Langfeld

and it was lovely to see Gina's dolls in real life too (sorry for the slightly out of focus picture).

The colours and shapes created by the work of artist Elisabeth Rutt, part of the Hue Textile group really appealed to me as well.

And of course we did some shopping too - I bought yarn, cotton and wool mix for a sleeveless sweater and some beautiful indian silk yarn for some kind of scarf/shawl,

some textile bits for something (I know not what as yet),

and loads, yes I mean loads, of fabric!

6 pieces - enough to make 2 skirts, 2 dresses, a tunic and a blouse all for just over £70!  The prices were so cheap I just couldn't resist and I've already started the tunic.

It was a grand day out :-)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Shirt Tales

Back in April, after I'd visited the Textiles in Art Exhibition at the Fashion Museum I strolled along to John Lewis and bought some fabric.

The fabric on the left I made into a reversible skirt but the pieces on the right remained in the fabric pile until August when I cut out and started to sew a shirt.  I was making good progress with it and then I tore the tendon in my elbow.  Since then sewing has been a painfully slow (in the literal meaning of both words!) affair but I have eventually finished it.

Although I had 2 different prints I didn't want it to look like I'd used them just because I'd bought them so I've used the contrast print very sparingly.  It's on the inside of the cuffs,

and on the arm opening band.  It's also on the inside of the yoke (which no-one will ever see!) and on the collar band and the inside of the button band.

I also covered all the buttons in the contrast fabric.

I have to admit that the double lines of top stitching brought out the worst of my perfectionist nature and many 2nd lines were ripped out and re-stitched as they'd strayed off course by a millimetre or so!

But despite that, and my arm injury, I have now finished it - ta daa!

(You'll have to excuse the poor ironing of the finished shirt, that's something I'm still struggling with as I can't actually lift the iron in my right hand yet).

I'm hoping to go back to the Fashion Museum at the end of October to see the Knitwear Chanel to Westwood exhibition - have any of you been yet?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cack-handed Musings!

Hello!  I am still here, complete with my strapped up arm (courtesy of the tree) which is causing me some (a lot) of frustration, but the good news is I've been to a physio and he's certain he can fix it.  So I haven't been able to do any gardening, or sewing, or knitting, and I'm only allowed to type left handed.  In fact I'm having to do most things left handed which so far has led to several cack-handed incidents including managing to break the front door key by twisting it the wrong way in the lock, fortunately I noticed what was happening just before it severed and managed to remove it from the lock in one piece!

Despite all of this the garden is doing well.  The new dahlias I bought in the spring from Rose Cottage Plants have been flowering for weeks and weeks now.

Dahlia Rip City

Dahlia Waltzing Mathilda

Dahlia Classic Poeme
In the front garden the roses are still blooming as are the clematis.

Rosa Scepter'd Isle

Clematis Gypsy Queen 
 But autumn is marching onward and the anemones are blooming their little socks off.

Those of you who follow me on twitter might have seen that I was quite incensed the other week when a non-gardening colleague of mine described my garden as 'over-grown'.  I suppose to the untrained eye it might appear that way, but I prefer to think of it as abundant and flowing!

Anyway, whatever it is, I like it :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Going, Going, Gone.

At the bottom of my garden is my veg garden and beyond the veg garden was a tree.  A beautiful paper bark cherry with coppery peeling bark.

It was here when I moved in and has grown steadily ever since.  It had got big.  Too big.  It was casting shade over the entire veg garden and had reached 1/2 way across my neighbour's garden too.

Sadly I made the decision that it had to go.  It's never easy deciding to get rid of a tree, especially a beautiful tree, but there was no other feasible option.

I started by taking the canopy out and immediately the light flooded back into the garden.

It was at this point that I realised that cutting the canopy out had done some damage to the tendons in my elbow and I was going to need help to finish the job.

Cue handy friend who came round and sawed the rest of it down.

I now have a bench that I can use again as it's not totally shaded, a sunny veg garden and a large pile of logs to deal with - when my arm is better and I can lift them that is.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Repurpose - verb. To alter to make more suited for a different purpose. (wiktionary)

I'm not sure when this term came into use in the English language but it's what I've been doing this weekend.

About 10 years ago I bought a skirt which I loved and wore and wore and wore.  It was long and floaty and eventually started to fall to pieces - the seam around the zip had ripped and the hem was starting to fray too.  But I couldn't bring myself to throw it out so it lay in the fabric pile until Sunday when, after watching an old episode of 'This Old Thing', I had the idea of turing it into a top.

Armed with a stitch ripper I took the yoke off the  top, removed the zip and green band and started to work out how it might change into a top.

This involved lots of cutting and pinning and trying on - what I'd forgotten was that the skirt was cut on the bias and this made it an absolute pig to work with. At one point I added the original green band around the neck (after phoning a friend for emergency supplies of green thread!) but the bias made it all twist so I unpicked it.

After a lot of fiddling it has become this:

I'm pleased with it and I know that I'll enjoy wearing it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The March of Summer

The builders are working next door (and in a terraced house 'next door' is very close) so I've been escaping as much as possible. Yesterday I decided to leave the brick dust and blaring radio and headed off to Arger Fen, my favourite local wood.

Despite it being the school holidays there was hardly anyone about (they all probably knew it was about to rain, I clearly didn't!).

There were lots of wild flowers about: thistles, hawkweed, rosebay willow herb and greater stitchwort amongst others.

But there were also signs that summer is moving ever onward: teasels, blackberries (quite a few of which came home with me), elder berries, rose hips and sloes.

I walked to the large pond

(not actually a part of Arger Fen reserve but very beautiful) where I sat and watched dragonflies darting and swallows flying high.  This is when the heavens opened and I got very wet as I was a good way away from cover and by the time I got back to cover it had stopped raining!

If you want to see where I escaped to last week hop over to Celia's blog to read about our day out in London.

Friday, August 8, 2014

And There Were Poppies Too

After having had a lovely few days in Ireland last weekend I took myself off for a day in London yesterday.  I spent the morning in the Chelsea Physic Garden, somewhere I'd never visited before.

It is an oasis of calm, surrounded by beautiful buildings.  As someone who is very interested in the properties of plants, especially for healing and dyeing I found it all fascinating - and the glasshouses were fab too :-)

After a short tube ride and an unplanned walk from Green Park (courtesy of 'significant delays on the Piccadilly Line') I arrived at the theatre to see this:

I never managed to see it in the 80s when it was first on and all I can say about is that it is totally brilliant.  I've seen many many West End shows over the years and this has to rate joint first (joint with Phantom of the Opera which I saw with the original London cast in the 80s).

Then I set off on a long walk - first of all along the south bank where I wanted to see some of the Books About Town benches.  These are 50 benches in all designed to celebrate London's literacy heritage and to promote reading for pleasure.

William Shakespeare

Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler
If you're in London it's worth taking the time to find some of them as they are all so different and such fun (and free!).  The War Horse bench was my favourite.

Micheal Morpurgo's War Horse

But the poppies on the bench weren't the only poppies I'd come to see.  I had come to see the Tower Poppies - an art installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper entitled 'Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red'.   888,246 individually made ceramic poppies will be 'planted' around the moat of the Tower of London, each one representing a British Military fatality during the 1st World War.

They start off tumbling out from a window in the Tower

and meander their way along the west wall (clicking on an image will enlarge it)

before appearing to leap over the main entrance bridge.

At the moment they don't go much further than this but by November the sea of red will completely surround the Tower.

You can find more here, including a video of how they were made, and also how to buy one if you so wish.

If you're in London between now and the end of November it really is worth visiting this very poignant and beautiful tribute to the British Servicemen and women who died fighting for us in the 1st World War.