Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Its all rather blue!

Don't worry dear souls, this isn't a post about being blue as in gloomy, no - it just occured to me how drawn to the colour blue I am right now. The mosaic above was made after a trip to North Wales on sunday and it just so happens that it seemed to fit in with my 'blue' theme of late.
We had a lovely time visiting Rhos on Sea and Llandudno and despite the forcast being totally wrong, we did manage to catch some sunshine (as you can see in some of the photos) and got the tot on the sands three times in between dodging the raindrops! North Wales is a very beautiful and dramatic place, the peaks of Snowdonia national park all windswept and majestic behind us! We ended our day out at a lovely little pub in Walton, just on the outskirts of Warrington - a hot roast dinner being just the job after braving the April elements all day long! It was so good for the spirits to see the sea again, I always feel refreshed and revived when I go to the coast - I suppose its breathing in all those negative ions that breeze in off the water that make us feel so light and happy!

But back to more things blue....

The second cushion cover is coming on a treat!! I picked the shell stitch after much deliberation, it seemed fitting for a cushion I had named 'Porthmeor' (after the beach) before Id even started it, and Im really liking how the shells are taking on a wave like effect as the different colours flow into one another. I don't know whether you'll agree, but I was aiming for a sort of tidal feel to it, the dark of the sea turning into those brilliant turquoise shades you find in the shallows before meeting the creamy white sand...what do you think?

A trip to town a couple of days ago saw me splurge on some delicious new fabric - also blue, surprise surprise :) Im making up some decorative fabric hearts (Summer fair preparation) and thought this fabric would be just right!

Ive also started to make some more corsages, the other evening I followed one of Lucy's patterns (at Attic 24) for making flowers and I was delighted with the result - I love how simple her instructions are and Im hoping to try out some variations and make some for the stall - which Im still not sure if Im being allocated as it seems its very popular and the group have had a million applications from people who want to take part...I'll let you know if I get picked, it would be very exciting if I did and Im keeping my fingers crossed :)

Im looking forward to a bit of a relaxing afternoon now - this morning I went back to the Children's Hospital to run an art workshop. I had come up with a 'Magic Garden' theme and drawn an outline of the picture onto a large board for the children to paint and decorate with fibre papers, glittery gels and crayons. I was working with a smashing little girl who was in hospital receiving treatment for bone cancer - whilst we were working, she was asked to take part in a hospital dvd which was being filmed for patients families to watch, and somehow I was drafted into it too!! Whether my little bit part will end up on the cutting room floor or not I don't know! We had to 'act like the film crew weren't there', and get on with painting and colouring - great fun!!
Sadly we didn't have time to finish the whole picture (what with all the filming going on), but I left some materials behind and hopefully some of the other patients will be able to finish it during the week. It was a brilliant experience and Im so glad I was invited along :) Its quite moving at times, seeing all the little people and knowing that some of them are very sick - its hard not to feel affected by it all and my heart went out to them and their families. However, the staff there are all fabulous and it was a pleasure to have met the ones that I did on my two visits there.

A cup of tea is beckoning...the sun is shining...and my little one is waking from her nap.

See you all soon,
J x

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Little bits of this and that

I've been very busy, oh yes - Friday afternoon was a hive of activity, a burst of energy that saw me making piles of art cards for the little gallery that stocks them for me up in Lincolnshire, and some (I hope) for the stall Im hoping to have at the summer Craft Candy fair. All this printing and cutting and putting together whilst the little one napped, but I was on a roll, and when she woke up we embarked on a baking spree...
...Here I am modelling my new apron that I got with some birthday money! Without further delay, we got down to business of weighing and mixing and by teatime the house was full of a deliciously warm aroma of lemon and poppy seed loaf cake. We couldn't wait for it to cool down and tucked in while it was still warm, with a nice mug of tea!
You'd think Id be worn out by the evening wouldn't you, but oh no - I was determined to finish my ripple cushion that I blogged about recently. I was very lucky to find a lilac merino wool jumper to back it with in our local charity shop a few days ago, it was one of those you see delightful grannies wearing, complete with collar and brass effect buttons so I wasn't surprised when the nice lady at the counter eyed me and my purchase with some amusement as I went to pay!
Oh! Almost forgot - I got a lovely package in the post too, with my new wools for my next cushion - aren't they pretty colours? Im calling my next cushion 'Porthmeor' after my favourite English beach and I picked these colours to reflect the shades of the atlantic shallows and the creamy white sand on a typical sunny Cornish day.

I like to give names to some of the things I make, I always have done and I like that it reminds me of a special time or place. This next cushion Im going to make is much smaller than the one Ive just done, almost half a cushion in fact, and Im just trying to decide what stitch to use before I begin! I like that the colours are slightly similar to the one Ive just completed, but more blues this time so I think they will nestle together well on our bed.

Anyway! Without further ado, here is my finished cushion!!

I spent most of last night backing it and completed the crochet button holes this morning whilst the little one amused herself with Boogie Beebies :)

...and this is the back, complete with pretty shell buttons. I can't tell you how proud I am of it, would you believe that this time last year I couldn't crochet a stitch?? Its true! I taught myself last year whilst spending a week with my sister in sun drenched Suffolk. I followed the Happy Hooker book, and luckily my dear friend Niki who lives about half an hour or so away from sis showed me how to do the bits I was stuck on and I haven't looked back since!! Im totally addicted, I melt at the mere sight of a wool store and can spend hours looking at yarn charts and playing with colour combinations. Its the ultimate way to relax and tune out, and there are no expectations wiht it, its just simple, its soothing, its necessary. Its a comfort at the end of a bad day - its pleasure, watching balls of wool turn into pieces of usable stuff like bags, cushions, blankets and toys.
I love it, cant you tell?!
Well, the sun has finally come out! The only reason Im blogging on a saturday is that it got decidedly dark and started to rain, so the gardening plans I had were put on hold - however, looks like some blue sky is heading our way so Im off out to hoe, rake and sow...
See you all soon,
Love J x

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Just for fun today...

Hello dear souls, hope your week is flowing in a lovely and sunny way - the weather has been glorious here, we are in t-shirts and slathering on the suncream, eating al-fresco and contemplating summer holidays!
As you can see, Ive been busy today on some new textile art - its a little beach scene that Ive done onto felt backing with a mixture of fabric remnants I have in my sewing box, although its not quite finished yet - Ive still got a fair bit of hand embellishment to do, such as adding sparkly fish and some embroidered text.
I wonder if you can see the lovely stuff that the little boat is sewn on to? Its a glorious product that no doubt many of you might have heard of, called Angelina Fibres which is the most magical and amazing thing Ive been playing about with today! For those of you who are shaking your head and thinking, 'haven't got a clue what you're on about' I'll explain :)
Angelina Fibres are lovely shimmery strands that look like angel hair, they are mostly irredescent and when they catch the light they glow like the wings of damsel flies in the sun. You lay down your choice of fibres (you can mingle in various other colours, you dont have to stick to one shade) onto a piece of baking parchment, and then when you are satisfied with your design, you lay another piece of parchment over the top and with a medium heated iron, just glide over the top a few times to bind the's the best bit...when you peel away the top parchment, you have a piece of shimmery fabric!! The possibilities for this beautiful stuff are endless - oh, and you can also add in threads, feathers and the like for extra texture!
I thought this would be a great way to get the effect of a shimmery sea without it being too over the top. Im just beginning to hand embroider my little glittery fish onto it, Im after a shoal in front of the boat but my fingers are worn out today so Im going to pick it up again tomorrow.
Im now debating whether it would be fun to enter this for the art show...musing on it at the moment but I think I'll get the feeling whether or not its the right thing to do when its finished.
Indecisive as ever eh?!!
Onto other things now, the crochet cushion front is now complete (hurrah!!) and Im now on the lookout for a suitable backing, perhaps later in the week, the little one and I will pootle over to Ecclesall Road at the other side of the city to browse the charity shops (alot of them on there) and will hopefully strike lucky! I can't wait to have it finished and plonked on the bed :) ...Ive already got another cushion pad at the ready, so taken am I with this ripply style that Im planning another one in contrasting shades! Do I ever stop?? No.
Well, as usual there are too many things I want to be doing and not enough hours in the day to do them all, so I think its time to take a break - get the kettle on and make a nice cuppa to go with those scrumptious chocolate cookies Mr Tesco just brought! :D
Have a lovely week, sending joy~full surprises and sunshine to you
J x

Friday, 17 April 2009

Ripples and ramblings

So, Im speeding ahead with my ripple cushion (pattern from the delicious Attic 24) and Im loving it! Ive only a couple more inches to go and it will be complete, time then to trawl the charity shops for a soft lavender coloured jumper that will be transformed into the cushion back! Im also going to pester my Mum and see if I can raid her button tin, she has buttons in there over 30 years old, from little cardigans and dresses my sister and I wore as children so it would be a nice touch to be able to add a few of those as fastenings.

My summer blanket is languishing in a bag for now, Im having a temporary respite from it while I make my cushion...thing is, Ive already got a colour scheme in mind for Lucy's crocheted bag (something else I need to make) and am plotting my next trip to the wool shop to stock up on a vintage colour selection of red, pink, green and sky blue.

I don't know about you, but at this time of year I find myself itching to change things in the house. Im sure its because spring is in the air but Im planning a lighter look in our bedroom without total redecoration and am on the lookout for some curtains, preferably with a floral or butterfly pattern but as yet, havent found any. As we have the lounge and dining room to decorate this year (oh at last, goodbye to the artex!!) we cant afford to totally refurbish the bedroom as it would be way too expensive, so Im making subtle low cost changes to freshen it up. Another plan of mine is to paint butterflies and flowers on our chimney wall in very subtle colours, but like all good plans its a case of finding the time to do this along with all the daily life stuff that needs doing...

...oh, and I also want to revamp the bathroom cupboard with new door knobs and a lick of towels and bath mats have already brightened that room up and ok, whilst I may have a long list of 'things Id like to do in my house but in reality probably wont get round to doing' it still feels nice to think that even if I dont do it all right away, there is going to come a time when I do have room for such projects and its very satisfying to just have the thought of them on the back burner.

I was looking at my calendar last night and realised with some shock, that the selection date for the art show is drawing incredibly close! To settle my nerves, I sat down to watch a re-run of Coast and was delighted to see them visiting Southwold!! If any of you didnt watch it, they were talking about the work and style of a couple of local artists, and the woman went off to try and capture the essence of Southwold in her studio after doing a few on the spot sketches out and about. Here's the interesting thing that made me sit up, suddenley fuelled with inspiration - although her drawings done at the beach were of things as she saw them, the painting she created back at the studio wasn't! She used the images she'd sketched to make a kind of pastiche of Southwold, that looked nothing like it did in reality. For example, on her painting, the lighthouse was behind the beach huts and the pier was in the scene too - in reality the lighthouse is high up in the town yet by including all the main landmarks of the place and accumulating them in one picture, she'd totally captured the essence of the place, even though it looked nothing like it.

So I suddenley saw the link, between illustration and realistic representations of a place - Ive always been put off doing scenes with lots of buildings etc because it always felt too precise (I think this could be down to the architectural training I had at uni many moons ago) but the Coast program led me to think about doing some work of this nature as it felt very appealing.

I really like the idea of capturing the essence of a place - I suppose there is an element of naivety about it really, as alot of it comes from the imagination, sizes are distorted and things are out of context with how they really are, but I like that! Im going to have to give it a whirl..see what comes of it - and Im not working from sketches as I dont have any, this is going to be straight from the melting pot of the old memory bank...i'll let you know how I get on, planning an art day next week so may even give it a whirl then!! (If I ever finish my submission pieces it will be a miracle!)

Sending you a sunny weekend, a posy of fragrant blooms and lots of love,

til next time...

J xxx

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Just the tonic!


Long time no see! I hope you're all well :)

So, Im finally back from my trip to was delighful! While I was away, we went to some lovely places. On the weekend we drove to Old Felixstowe where the sun shone and despite a cool spring wind we came home from our walk (which ended at a lovely old pub slurping on shandy's) with pink cheeks and noses! The children played on the sand and I stood at the water's edge inhaling the delicious salty air (which is very good for the soul).

We also went to Southwold which is one of my favourite places on the east coast - a lovely stretch of beach to picnic on and play games, and up in the town, a cluster of delicious and inviting shops and galleries, all overlooked by the old white lighthouse!

We also visited farms and lakes, had shopping expeditions and time just lazing in the warm spring sunshine in my sisters lovely garden - it all added up to the perfect little holiday.

Anyway, now Im home and Im ready to get busy again.
First thing I need to do is spend some time in the garden, things are growing very fast here in the seed trays on our window sill and I still have many things to sow and re-pot. Yesterday evening I took a turn around our little garden and spied lots of magical happenings, new shoots appearing and masses of succulent leaves the colour of fresh limes where only a week ago were bare brown twigs.

I was also delighted to come home to find our little cherry tree in full bloom...

Whilst on my holiday, I worked on my summer garden blanket, but I couldn't resist popping into Wibbling Wools in Bury St Edmunds to stock up on supplies for my next project, which is going to be a cushion cover. Inspired by the coast, I picked sea blues and greens, and a delicious french lavender shade and all I need to do now is get my cushion pad and i'll be off! Hurrah!

On the painting front...yes, getting round to that topic eventually - I am glad to have had the break from being in the same room as my work, and now Im back, Im looking at my pictures with fresh eyes...I feel more connected with where I want to take my work now so Im going to be making some time to finish them by the end of the month and get them framed up ready for the selection day in May.

Plenty of time...right? (chuckle :)

Another thing thats on the cards is a summer fair with the Craft Candy group. This is one Id love to take part in and as its in July and I think Ive got enough time to build up my stock levels by then.

Phew...all these lovely things to be getting on with - never mind the ironing pile eh?! Life is for living and enjoying and right now Im going to do a spot of gardening with the little one, and never mind the crumpled clothes!

Sending scoops of time, for all your favourite things today.

With love

J x

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Little Helping Hands

Look at this!!!
We decided to make some Easter cupcakes yesterday afternoon. My little helper was very good until I went to take a picture of the scrummy looking ingredients and she thought I wouldn't see her little hand creeping up over the worktop in a vain attempt to get herself some chocolate goodies!

'OOOOOooooh not yet!' I said - 'We have to decorate them first and then we'll have one after tea!'

A solemn face with chocolate smeared cheeks and chin looked at me and blinked slowly (yes, she'd already licked the spoon and wiped clean the mixing bowl). Not happy though, we had a bit of foot stamping and wailing but eventually the antics of Mr Tumble on C-Beebies lured her into the lounge and I got on with the icing of my little cakes.

The stocks of these are diminishing fast...I live in a house of chocaholics!

This morning we woke up to a light grey mist which the weather chap promised would give way to warm sunny spells - well, we haven't seen much in the way of sunshine so far but when I went into the garden this morning, I was delighted to find that our Lemon Meringue tulips were on the verge of opening!

This cheered me up immensley, as I am feeling rather distant from my painting work at the moment. I do not feel called to paint and feel more inclined to curl up in the armchair with a good book or my crochet (3 more squares completed last night folks, it is indeed becoming an addiction :)

I wish I could motivate myself at times like this - I am an excellent procrastinator and I am currently displaying top drawer tactics of avoiding. Its not that I don't like the piece Im working on, I think its because at the moment Im struggling to find enough time to devote to it...with acrylics and mixed media work I cant just dabble with it for half an hour - theres so much to get out and prepare, and then once I start Im generally engrossed for several hours. My days are quite full at the moment and come the evenings Im feeling so exhausted its enough to be twirling a crochet hook (which I do in a reclining position on a comfy sofa usually :).

Im also missing out on an art day this week too, as both my parents who usually have my little one for a day are laid up with a vile bug. Its not good news, me and my chap are meant to be off to Holmfirth tonight to see the Saw Doctors and at this rate Im not sure we'll be going - ah well, good job Im an 'everything happens for a reason' sort of girl...although Im not sure what good reason will emerge for us missing out on a good gig like that! Humph! :(

Still, on a brighter note, my sister in Suffolk has asked me if I want to pootle down for a few days - of course I would! I don't need asking twice! Tomorrow afternoon we are travelling south!! Hurrah!! Holidays!!!!!!! Im very lucky to have a sister who lives in such a pretty part of the world. Bury St Edmunds is one of my favourite places, a bustling little market town full of thatched roofs and gently subsiding old cottages with wonky windows and tiny doors! There are some gorgeous little shops and tea rooms, and another big plus point is that they are less than an hours drive away from Southwold!! Hurrah again!!!

Well, time for a coffee and a doodle in the sketch book - Im due back at the Childrens Hospital on the 15th and need to come up with an exciting design for the Magic Garden picture we've decided on for the next project!

See you soon!

J x

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