Wednesday 29 September 2010


 Has it really been 10 days since I posted?
Yes I suppose it must be.
News in brief: Blodwyn has gone home.
                       Car cylinder head gasket blew in the midst of an immense traffic jam.
                       I had my hair cut.
                       It was Ed and not David.
                       I didn't lose any weight.
                       I created my first Etsy treasury
                       The sun came out twice.

On one of the sunny occasions I was out walking,  along this path past the perfect tree.
 I'm sure someone will hack at it soon, being where I live. Probably they'll think it untidy hanging over the fence like that.
And of course...I've been sewing Harris Tweed for the big order.
Brooches with bound edges and a bit of handstitching with beads.
and some rectangular not many of which have made it into the photographs, the weather has been so bad on the days when the sun didn't come out, too dull to take pictures.
Then onto the hearts which I really enjoy.
Its just a pity they take so long.

The  investment of time is not reflected in the financial returns.
And having seen pictures of the superb work in 'Origin', I really wonder why I bother.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Tweed Ecstasy

The tip of the tweed iceberg that has to be made fairly soon.

Well, you may know that I luuuurve Harris Tweed.
 I love the speckledy yarns and the beeee-oooo-teee-ful combinations of colours.
But best of all I love to choose  bits of velvet to go with those colours.
 I dyed some greys when I had my mammoth dyeing day and they are perfect to compliment these tweeds.

You can't go wrong with aqua and amber,

or amber and ochre and olive....ooohhhh loving all these colour names!
Then there's the blues ...

the royal in the middle is much

I bought this olive and royal tweed from the shed at Tarbert and as I was buying it I could just see it with olive velvet.

Yum yum yum yum yum yum..more grey and ochre....

.....some brights.....
...........some brighters........

and pinks, which don't photograph well at all and thats a shame because they are gorgeous.
65 Harris Tweed Brooches.
Only another eleventy gazillion to make!

And finally a gratuitous picture of Blodwyn who has gone home.
I have learnt from the previous post, putting a little dog on the blog gets me lots of comments.
 Thank you so much for them.
If she gets that many comments with a coat on, lets see how many she gets...


Monday 13 September 2010

Chocolate Limes and Sausage dogs.

Recently I was asked to make some brooches in lime on a chocolate background. Last Friday at the felt group and I begged a bit of brown wool and made the felt, and with my newly dyed  velvet, I made the two shapes I was asked for but being me, I had to go a bit further.

Then further still.

I never do things by halves. 
I used up all the chocolate brown felt.

Now, what do you do when you are up to your neck in work for three big orders and are having sleepless nights worrying about whether you'll finish in time and your house is a tip?
When you have a little visitor 

who has a little rain coat?

That needs a little mending?

You mend it .
Then you think...hmmmm....
not too difficult to copy in Harris Tweed.

Then you get the model...

who is, shall we say, underwhelmed.

For a little dog who is elderly, can hardly see and hardly hear, and doesn't move about much,

she is incredibly difficult to photograph.
She isn't impressed.

I am.

Friday 10 September 2010

Splashes of Colour

The sun made an appearance last Sunday and we had a trip to the seaside. 
Morecambe to be precise. After a really lovely walk along the prom we returned via the residential area and were delighted by some unexpected artworks on the gable ends of some houses. This was a particularly good one showing the cockling heritage.
Thought it might be nice to share.

After 6 months of saying 'I really need to dye some more velvet' I actually got down to it this week.
(I must state here that I do not eat pot noodles..those pots are very old and were my sons)
Now I have to confess I really hate it. 
Hate doing it.
 Perhaps because I'm trying to get a big pile of velvet, (I wonder if the collective noun for velvet is 'pile') dyed and ready to go so, no messing about. 
But I get sidetracked and really can't help playing. 

Instead of just dunking it in the dye, I have to go the shibori route..well slightly shibori..I just pull it from corner to corner, twist it and tie it up,

 using a syringe to inject the colour. 
Its then I go off into a trance watching the colour seep through the pristine white silk velvet and I submit to the joy of dyeing.

Its amazing that just after I did this I had to nip out and look what was by the car...its a bit hard to see 

but the colours are stunning and almost the same as the above velvet.
When I get really carried away I have even more fun, injecting the dye and then following it with plain water, so it separates into its constituent parts. Who would think this started life as chocolate brown?

It was hard to concentrate on this dyeing as there was an extremely dangerous activity going on on the stairs.
 My Irish Industrial Sewing machine is going for a service. It had taken four of us two years ago, to carry it upstairs and what goes up must come down so we got our sons round. After  sarcastic remarks about me in my rubber gloves and plastic apron like 'Its Gunther Von Jackie', they and my husband summoned all their strength and carried the machine down. I refused to have anything to do with it unless they used ropes but they wouldn't so I turned the radio up very high and got with my dyeing, all the while imagining crushed fingers, hernias, squashed feet and other such horrors.
I needn't have worried and it now stands on its trolley in the hallway looking like some malevolent steampunk barbecue awaiting the man from Stockport to say when he's ready. 
I have to say he has no help with lifting there, and has just had a new hip so.....I'll keep you posted.

Back to the dyeing. An overnight stay in bags

and then the big rinse (oh I feel so criminal using all that water, but I only do it about every two years)

Of course the weather was dull ,

 but doesn't it look good on the line.
Then I gave it 10 minutes in the tumble dryer to lift the pile and remove the creases.
But look, I wanted pinky purples....

I wanted shocking pinks

I wanted a new palette.

And I've got it.

Then today I went to the felt group and Joan had been on a course with Helen Melville using natural dyes. Click on the link to see how it really should be done.


And natural.

And in other news: I've sold both of my pieces of work which were accepted for the West Lancs Open Exhibition. Three and four little felt pieces on white box canvases. You've seen them lots. I'm delighted.

Second: I am filled with gratitude to Ali for the information she gave here.
 I have a never ending battle with google reader but if you watch the tutorial she mentions in her blog you can install a little button on your toolbar which just says 'next' and it will take you to the next unread item on your list. 
Now if you invest, say, one evening, in catching up completely, then after that, you can click 'next' just a few times and catch up quite cheerfully and quickly.  It really solves the problem and makes blog reading a pleasure again.
There is a lovely sentence at the end that says 'You have reached the end of this internet. Try another?'

Thursday 2 September 2010


I must say I am very hard to please with workshops these days having done quite a few but I spent a very enjoyable weekend, at Farfield Mill in Cumbria ,driving there both days, making felt with  a superb teacher, Jeanette Appleton.
I'd admired her work for a long time so it was such a treat to join a workshop two weeks ago .

Farfield mill is a lovely venue, about 60 miles away so it was about an hours drive in good company with two lovely fellow felters.

On the first day I was driving and as I am pathologically late I made a special effort . We arrived about 9.45 and the workshop began at 10.30. This made me remember why I usually arrive late..I hate being  so early.
The workshop was pure enjoyment from start to finish.  I didn't feel like a dunce, I learnt loads, and I was inspired and delighted by Jeanette's enthusiasm, generosity and energy.
So here are some pictures just to show what we did.

We drew very basic lines and marks on paper and slipped them under a sheet of polythene.
Then we laid bits of thread and wool on the lines and when we were satisfied we laid wool tops very finely on that. Then we added more lines and bits and added a tiny bit of wool to hold it and wet them and rubbed them to create prefelts. We did this twice so we had plenty to work with the next day.
We cut the prefelts and thought about positions of colour an dtextures, adding more here and there, behind and on top, and Jeanette gave us loads of ideas of other things we could add. My head was bursting with it.

Then we wet it all and felted it together using Jeanette's gentle and effective technique, rubbing bits at a time .
All the little bits became part of the whole.

Needless to say I had 'the wrong stuff' with me but managed with some of the stuff I did have.
Scrim torn up, some strange unidentifiable fibre, some Colinette Yarn I'd had for years for fondling purposes, and some loosely spun wool rovings.

All were felted together to produce a great sampler for future reference.
Jeanette suggested I put a bright orange behind the fine prefelt and it works so well. You can just see the 'glow' at about 9 o'clock from the centre in the next picture.

I made a couple more prefelts on Sunday and hastily put them together to sample some techniques we learnt.

The black is silk chiffon which has been snipped after felting. 
I got a bit 'snip happy' cutting back to layers of other colours when I got home.

Two good felt samplers to remind me and inspire me.

My second treat was a new phone. In our house as well as having the worst computer in the family until I got the new mac, I also had the clunkiest old pay as you go phone. 
Now I've mentioned the Trafford Centre before always saying how much I hate it, but we had to go on Saturday to get my son suited and booted for his job interview on Tuesday which also happened to be his birthday. While we were there I bought  a new phone, an iphone 4 no less. I feel as guilty as anything (Catholic you see) and am going around justifying it by saying all my clothes are from Tesco and Matalan, I don't have much jewellery, I don't get a spray tan, or my legs waxed, or manicures or expensive new shoes. My friend does my hair for a very small consideration, I am not a member of a gym and my car has just done 100.000 is it ok? 
I can just about cope. save a bit of money we got my phone as part of my husbands contract with the disastrous consequence that when I plugged it into my laptop to activate it, it somehow sucked up all my husbands information into itself, and became his phone. I had no phone at all. His old iphone was dead and we had to go and spend another 3 hours in the mobile phone shop in the hated Trafford centre to get it fixed. 
Travelling to Manchester again today for a lesson in the Apple store or a 'One to One' as they call it. I learnt a lot.
The best bit about going to Manchester is the challenge of getting a picture of these from the M61.
This is the best so far, but sadly they were rather depleted. I usually go in the evening when the light is on them and there are a lot more, in orange, yellow and blue, looking like sinister beings from Science fiction.
I'll keep trying.
My third treat was for two other people.
My elderly neighbours are somewhat housebound and apart from hospital appointments haven't been anywhere since before Christmas. He has had major surgery, she a heart attack and at 86 and 87 they are doing well. 
The weather was so nice yesterday that I took them down to the bottom of the hill in the car so they could have a stroll  and a sit by the lake in the sun. I thought I was doing it for them, but they enjoyed it so much it made me feel good, so it was really for me.

But the best treat of all?
My son got the job.

My smile is enormous.

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

Dear Anonymous.....

....don't waste your time...I have a spam filter.