Monday, 11 April 2016

Dear me..my resolve to blog more often has dwindled. I keep meaning to do it but my pictures are on all sorts of different devices so it's taken me a while to get everything together.


Some time ago I was given some Shetland Wool by Jennie who I meet every year in Ireland.
I eventually used some of it to make a piece of embroidered felt and was able t take it to Ireland at the end of February to give it to Jennie. The cottage we were staying in had excellent lighting for photography.



It also had a nice table and we made felt together while our other halves were at their music classes.


Later in the week Jennie returned the favour and we all went to her cottage where we made little post it note books, using a variety of techniques, especially her lovely flower making techniques. 

She'd taken all the hard work out for us by preparing the shapes, and brought loads of lovely materials.
Jennie's blog is Live the dream where you can see many more of her beautiful paper projects.

On other days my friend and I walked and met some locals. A very wet Donkey. It did rain sometimes!


But its such a lovely village and the views across Galway Bay to Connemara were very clear some days.



We drove along the Wild Atlantic Way




Just beautiful.


and saw surfers at Lahinch.


And in the evenings there was The Craic. 
This was in the pub in Kinvarra , the Sunday night session. It was funny that we'd seen a TV programme about the woman playing the banjo earlier in the week.


During the week I met up with Esther Kiely and Breda McNelis , two of my lovely textile contacts.Breda and I had arranged to do a swap, she gave me two of her lovely pieces so I was very lucky. (Pictures to follow)

Breda captures the colours and textures of the Burren so well in her work. 

She offered ma a choice and I couldn't decide between these two so she gave me both. 

They are beautifully framed, and the piece I gave to her was lightly and rather wonkilly  mounted on card. 



 Now, Hetty had   a GREAT time while we were away.
But she put on a little weight!

She's now back to her slim self.

In Lancashire we have some amazing Textile Heritage and some of the mills are museums.
Sadly , cuts in funding have threatened them with closure so I decided to visit them before they close.
I had an afternoon at The Helmshore Textile Museum , and it was fascinating.
It ceased production in the 70s (?) but there are machines dating much further back. The staff did a couple of talks about the way cotton fabric was produced, and it was fascinating, and a real eye opener about the harsh conditions of the workers.
Below is the system they had for reducing the size of the cotton lengths prior to spinning.


The machines below we for rubbing up the nap of the woven fabric.


The Museums have been given a bit of a stay of execution but I fear they may eventually close.
Sad.

I've made a bit of my own fabric too.


I'm quite pleased with this length of embroidery, the colours work well in real life.


Forgive the rubbish 'finger in the way' photo but how astonishing it was to open the curtains to snow a couple of weeks ago.
Very pretty on my walk.


On the way home, the cross in front of The Chapel next door proved just how late the snow was.


The lovely wood below is Formby Point,  where we went for an afternoon with my Mum.

It's owned by the National Trust and is a Red Squirrel reserve. The woods are really quiet and calm despite the huge number of visitors who were there. We saw a few Red squirrels and we walked down to the beach, over the sand dunes, Hetty had a good run off the lead on the beach and enjoyed herself.



I did a bit of household sewing recently ..amazing!
I fell in love with this fabric when I went to the shop across the road from the Textile Museum, and I splashed out on half a metre, which I then managed to eke out to three cushion covers


I added some leftover curtain fabric and did a bit of random applique .
I love the colours.


 Other sewing has been done too..I've discovered a lovely new colour combination.

My new favourite : rose pink and olive green




Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Errrrr.....Happy New Year?

Last night I was searching for a photograph and remembered it was on my blog somewhere.
I went rooting through my posts and it brought back so many memories for me. I can't believe I started it in 2008, almost eight years ago.
Amazing.
Blogging has changed a lot since then, not least in the number of blogs I read religiously and commented on in the old days. A lot of those are no longer in use.
I used to get lots of comments, one post had 60 another had 40 and when I read through them again I couldn't help wondering if they were still reading, and blogging.
I had an overwhelming feeling of affection and one of loss somehow.
I realised how precious my blog is to me.

"You' were with me when, a year to the day after I started blogging, my beloved Willow died and we were dogless for two years.
'You' helped me to win the Dorset Cereals blog award.
'You' supported me when I was suffering with deep depression, and with me again to cheer me on when I recovered.
'You' were with me when we fell in love with our little Hetty in 2011.
'You' were with me as my work was included in magazines, and on websites.
'You' watched me discover felt again and develop my current work.
'You've' read about Marrakech, Ballyvaughan, Skopelos, Symi, Tilos, Venice, and closer to home Heptonstall, Arnside, Grasmere, and many more.
And of course, 'you' have encouraged me in my work over and over again, even when I wrote utter rubbish.

So here's the latest bit in a very poor photograph for you.








Thank you.

Thank you for the gifts you've sent, for buying my work, for meeting me occasionally, in the flesh, and for all the reading.

For a snapshot of that time This is the post I read, along with the comments. Its got some nice memories but the comments are lovely.

Facebook is mini blogging and has taken us even further, but its not the same cosy little group I felt 'we' were.

So, even though I haven't done any blogging since 2015 I'm here again.
Belatedly then, Happy New Year.



Thursday, 31 December 2015

December

Well if the last post was about the end of November this is definitely the end of December and the end of 2015.

The year has been a quiet one with a shaky start when I was suffering from severe anxiety but with a little help from friends and a 6-week well-being workshop I learnt new skills to help me deal with it. I'm not saying it will be gone forever but this year my approach to Christmas was altogether different from last year's.

I took up yoga (very lovely group of people) and I joined a book group, (ditto).

We had a few nice breaks away and I'm lucky to have been to three of my favourite places  and I've had two very successful selling events and two not so successful.

December was mostly taken up with selling all the things I didn't sell at the last craft fair. I had a bumper year for on-line sales so a big thank you to everyone who has bought or just shared my work.
I heard from my son yesterday that the wife of a friend of his had bought one of my brooches for her Grandma. (If you're reading, hello, you know who you are!) That was so lovely and very close to my ambition to see someone wearing one of my brooches when I'm out and away from Textile events.

This is getting a bit like a 'round robin' Christmas letter and I don't always enjoy getting those so I'll stop reviewing and do a bit of a preview.

I've decided, next year. to stop bemoaning the fact that I am overlooked by a certain Textile blog which makes me feel as if I am not an 'Artist'. I'm not going to  change my work and the way I present it just to fit in. I can't think what else an Artist is except one who works tirelessly at creativity because they have to, and need to produce something they find beautiful and fulfilling, and I think I do that.

My pieces are what they are 'wysiwyg' ..'What you see is what you get' and not 'wyriwyg' (the 'r' being 'read' instead of 'see'.)

Maybe it isn't Art but it's my form of expression.

That's it then..thats my New Years resolution.

I may also have another one up my sleeve...I'm going to have a clear-out of my existing wall pieces sooner or later, and will be selling some at a reduced rate to clear the decks for making new work. So watch this space. Or you could visit my website and look at the pieces I have there and imagine them with a quarter off!

This year I've only made three wall pieces as I've been very busy with my bread-and-butter brooches. I send the brooches to Galleries all over the country, not many, as I can only do so much, but they are spread out. Sadly two of the lovely Galleries I supply and who have been incredibly supportive are closing. Lazyhill Gallery in Abbotsbury, Dorset, has already closed, but the lovely Rachel and Gordon can still be found there at the weekends until the end of January and will continue to run the Village shop next door.

Jam Eton, a Gallery in, yes, Eton is closing as the owners are retiring at the end of January. They too have been selling lots of my brooches for a couple of years and are having a sale now, so if you want a bargain pop along there before the end of next month (and don't forget to say hello from me.)

I'm losing two of my stockists but along have come two more to fill the gap. Details later.

I'll leave you with a picture of a wall piece I made  this year, and with my best wishes for a happy, peaceful and healthy 2016, and thanks for all the support and comments I had from you during 2015.














Monday, 30 November 2015

November


Its all about the end of the month in this post. 
November brings the Knitting and stitching show in Harrogate and I went for a visit on Thursday, with a friend.
The first person we saw was the one I wanted to see the most, the delightful and extremely talented Michala Gyetvai, who I've know from blogging and flickr almost from the start of my internet life!
I was dying to see her recent work, inspired by landscape and trees and influenced by a recent trip to India.


Some of her pieces are huge and intensely stitched. If you want to see more of her work visit her website and blog.
It was a pleasure to meet her. 

I also met up with Julie, Wendy and their friend Tina.
We arranged to meet and I was having my lunch when I saw Wendy I swallowed a big piece of my sandwich so I could say hello, and proceeded to choke. 
Fortunately Wendy was a dab hand..or should I say a dab fist, at thumping on the back, which she did and saved my life. Honest! I was choking. SO embarrassing.
We had a laugh about it...but I was quite shaken.


I met a few other textiley friends including Kim Thittichai, Sue Dove, Angie Hughes,  Clare Bullock, and Wyn Ingham.

I'd had enough of the whole stall thing by 3.30 though. I'm getting a bit jaded. 
I went out into the fresh air and did a bit of shopping.

Talking of fresh air...at the weekend I did craft fair in The Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool.
Its an amazing huge Victorian Glass house. 
When I arrived I had no idea whether my stand would be in the Palm House or in the Marquee next door. It turned out I was in the Palm house and I was mighty glad because it was cold and windy on Saturday.


 Its a stupendous venue and in theory a good place for a craft fair. 
I had a perfect spot and met some truly great makers. 
But sadly, not enough buyers of my work.

 The weather had put a lot of people off I think, and perhaps my work was not right for this event. Such a contrast to Woolfest and Yarndale where I almost ran out of brooches.


By Sunday the winds had got up and after about an hour the people with stands in the marquee had to leave. There were huge gusts and the whole place resounded with noise of the wind against the glass. Trees were being blown over in the park, so the organisers made the difficult but very sensible decision to close.


 Rather a pity as I'd sold as much in the first two hours on Sunday as I'd sold all day Saturday. 



I'm having a rethink about Craft Fairs.
Even the  beautiful ones.


Now I'm going back in time to earlier in the month and in the last post I showed you the birds,
Well, I made lots more (for the craft fair) and had a little play with them for photographing.



And today I put all the ones I didn't sell at the weekend (which was nearly all of them!) into my etsy shop.
Here they are peeping and ready to fly.


And indeed many of them have flown today in my own online craft fair.
If you'd like to join in I'm giving 20% discount with the coupon code VALENTINE.

Now...if you don't know how to enter a coupon code here's a picture that might help. Do you see where it says 'apply shop coupon code' ? Click that
and you get this.


Put the code in the box and click apply.

Just so you know!

There are other things in the shop besides birds.


Selling fast.
I'm having a big rest from sewing now and going to tidy up so there may not be any more.



Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Murmuration


Birds have been hatching in October.
I've been thinking about making them for years and at last got round to it.
This was the first one.



I made it into a brooch and sold it immediately.

Suddenly I got into gear and continued to make them.
Each one is started with a machined outline on felt. I make a pile of them.


Next a pretty velvet wing is added.
And a new pile is made.

Then some nice tail feathers are machined and a beak and some feet. 
(Sometimes one, sometimes two. Just depends how I feel.)
And I make the pile again.



 Then I put the pile in a box and take them downstairs, with all my yummy hand threads, and sit and stitch little patterns on each them using French knots and lazy daisy and running stitch.

I get ridiculously involved in minute detail and very excited by things such as these little black stars with shiny white centres.

Then I take them back upstairs and machine a stiff piece of Vilene on to stiffen it, and start another pile.
Then I trim the Vilene down to the outline.



                       I go through the pile again, ironing a backing of Liberty lawn floral fabric on .


 Then I trim the excess felt and fabric away.
Some are going to be brooches and some have ribbons.


 I did that just before I wrote this post but it's too dark to photograph them.


 I used lovely shades of Organza ribbon .
 I ordered some from a company called Stylish and stunning. The order was wrong and no amount of emailing, phoning, and even returning the order has elicited a response from them. So avoid Stylish and stunning at all costs and use instead Printfare who sent me a perfect order within about three days, all correct.


I'm making more soon. 
I will be putting some in my shop eventually.
But don't know when.
They will be the same price as the brooches.

UPDATE:
Here are the finished birds. Photographed this morning.







Mo
st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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