Thursday, 29 October 2009

On what to do when your laptop leaves home!

'All at Sea' Acrylic & Mixed Media Illustration

Hello there.

Long time no see...! Well my little grey friend is home! After a looooonnnnng week at the computer clinic we are finally reunited and Im glad, although to be honest, a fair amount of Stuff has been achieved whilst I was on my lonesome. Yes. Its unbelieveable how much time I found myself to be spending on it - although it is infinately useful for all manner of things from supermarket shopping, blog browsing and the like, I am one of those people who Pop On for TEN MINUTES and then two hours later am still browsing and wonder where the time has gone...!

So in the absence of my laptop I found myself with huge scoops of time on my hands! When my Little Girl snoozed in the afternoon I was suddenley bereft of company and had to think up new and exciting ways to spend the afternoon. We had a fabulous time at Clumber Park the other day which is one of the most gorgeous places. It was one of those perfect autumn days, dry and warm with lots of crispy leaves to kick about in, and chestnuts. We collected a generous bag load of fairly big ones, for this time of year at least! From past experience its November before you get a decent haul so we were very happy to take them round to my parents house and let my Dad pile them all on his old metal shovel before popping them on the open fire! Scrumptious, foraged food! Nothing like it! :)

Well, the painting above is one of the other things that happened whilst my laptop was being fixed. I spent several afternoons working upon it and it was a most relaxing thing to be doing, listening to various CD's or radio 2...and when that was finished, a spot of crochet was called for. I say a 'spot of crochet'...Ive done oodles of the stuff! Work has recommenced on my Big Blanket, (which then coincided with a visit to the wool shop to replenish low stocks), a new cushion cover emerged which is now waiting for a nice charity shop jumper to come and be the back bit...and there's also something else which I'll show you in a minute, but right now Ive just remembered I must tell you about this:

If you find yourself in the Sheffield area on the weekend of 28th-29th November, I cannot think of another thing that would be better to go to than this. The artists and crafts people of Craft Candy who will be selling their work are absolutely brilliant. The quality is extremely high, you will find some unique and amazing hand made goodies which will be perfect no doubt for Christmas gifts, or a treat for yourself!! Oh, and there's going to be a very Christmassy vibe as Ive heard on the grapevine that there will be festive music playing! If you would like to find out more about the stall holders, click the Craft Candy links on the right side here, and they will take you to the website where you can look at the members page and find out a bit more about the people and what they make and do!

Anyway, back to crochet...

Last week I began working on a little ball. The little ball grew a bit fatter and began to take on the shape of a little bird, a robin to be precise! He's going to be a festive hanging for our house this Christmas, Im trying to decide if to make some more, whether it would be something people might want to buy at the craft fair as he was great fun to make! Here he is, Id love to hear what you think:

I made a little crochet bead to hang on the crocheted cord, another project is already born in my mind from making this and I will reveal all as soon as I can! Im quite excited about it but for now thats all Im saying! ;)

Its so nice to be back though. Ive enjoyed doing this post and for things like this, and for the gorgeous souls I meet through Blogland, I am eternally grateful for my little computer. Ive missed reading all your blogs and Im slowly catching up with them all. I think Im going to try and spend a bit less time browsing though, and more time actually making and doing. Life is very short, and while computers are fun and very useful, life is also very precious and was meant to be lived.
I will see you all soon, happy golden autumn days to you, hope you are all enjoying the warm spell as we are here today!

See you soon,
Julia xxx

Saturday, 17 October 2009



I wanted to post a quick note to you all, to tell you that my laptop is in the land of Not Working Anymore, so it is being sent on vacation come Monday to the lovely man at the computer repair shop. As soon as it comes back I will be posting and visiting blogland again, meantime, enjoy your weekends, especially the little moments and I look forward to catching up with you all again soon!

Sending spiced pumpkin soup, country strolls and warm thoughts to you all.

Julia xxx

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumn Dances In

So I was reflecting upon all my different crochet projects a few days ago, and as I joined the Attic24 Pool I was quite surprised to see how many things I had made these last few months - some are still unfinished (like Big Blanket and Little Throw), but nevertheless, there's quite a bit of fabulous woolly goodness festooned around our home, which Im immensley pleased with! Anyhow, I thought it would be nice to share it with you as its jolly colourful and cheerful and totally necessary! :)

As well as woolly projects, this weekend saw me venturing to try a pattern from the Sew Sunny Homestyle book which I bought last week. I was tempted by several things but decided to make something to hang on our bathroom door (most of our doors have hangings of some description on them, mainly hearts but the bathroom one was still bare!). So, Saturday arrived, B's birthday as it happened, and after a brisk and lovely stroll around Chatsworth that morning, we came back home and I made this:

I dont think its come out as chunky as the one in the book but I copied it as it said and I was rather pleased with it as a first time Following A Proper Pattern effort! To be honest, sewing and machines are all still quite new and exciting terrain for me - I think it was probably comprehensive school the last time I was seriously involved in any form of textile design, so I plod on gently with this enjoyable pursuit, learning as I go.
On Sunday, after tornado autumnal winds of the previous day, we awoke to a calm blue morning that just beckoned to be a beach day. Now I consider myself to be fairly landlocked - but in truth, we can be at big sweeps of coastline within a couple of hours, and when armed with a good magazine, a bit of crochet and a chattering tot, this journey usually passes pretty quickly! So, after a quick chat we made up our minds to go, packed up a picnic full of crusty bread, ham, cheese, fruit and big chunks of birthday cake and headed off to Filey.
Filey is just down the east coast from Whitby and Scarborough, and it has the lovliest beach which seems to stretch for miles, and its made out of the best sandpie sand this side of St Ives :)
The sun shone all day, the wind was cool but it was warm enough for the Small Person in our party to take off her shoes and socks, and then her trousers and run in and out of the sandpools and the sea. We walked right up the sands, to the far end where the boats are moored up the pebbly ramp and enjoyed deep breaths of salty air and the sound of baby gulls mewing on the tideline.
We collected a few razorshells too, there were oodles of them strewn all over the place! Im going to try and make the candle decoration from that lovely Homemade book although mine will be somewhat more random than theirs as the shells were varying in size quite a bit!

There is something wistful about this time of the year, perhaps its just that Summer is passing and Autumn is beginning, which signifies the nights drawing in and the days becoming colder...Its a cosy feeling in some respects as its nice to snuggle up indoors, but I always sense a slight air of melancholy around this time, I hear it in the robin's song, and find it in the scent of the fading leaves as they whirl to the ground.
But its also a strangely alive time too, with promise of bonfires and pumpkin carving, toffee apple making and shopping for new mittens...

We had what is probably our last seaside fish and chip supper for a while, sitting on a bench high above the beach watching the waves breaking right up by the seawall, and by now almost covering the Brig (a rocky arm that juts out into the north sea from the cliffs on which you can walk if you are brave and daring and try and dodge the huge spray from the crashing waves). The next few weeks are busy ones, family visiting, a 60th birthday to celebrate, new illustration work to create (my work has been taken to London and the publishers who saw it want to be kept informed which sounds hugely positive), and the Candy Cane fair to prepare for.

Not to mention Bonfire Night, Halloween festivities and the like...!

I send you scarlet and gold leaves to cheer your day, a hot mug of ginger and orange tea, homemade fudge and a roaring fire.

See you soon, enjoy the little moments the most.

With love

J x

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bright October

You are, my dear friends, looking at a prototype - and you are looking at something that has inspired me to make lots and lots of circles, and turn them into some kind of lovely, delicious, crocheted roundness that would eventually take the form of a throw...oh dear (sigh) yes, another one on the cards then.
It all started last night. I was a little bored of tv and trying to get the freeview to tune in properly, so I began to experiment with joining circles together. As those of you with keen eyes may see, I joined as I crocheted and it wasnt until I was almost done that I realised I ought to have joined extra bits in order to stop the piece being too floppy - hence I went back with darning needle and wool and joined by hand. As I said - a prototype. But, terribly therapeutic making those little circles, takes no time at all to suddenley have something useable on your hands, which is how I ended up at 11pm last night with a little flowery doily type affair which is now providing comfort and joy to one of my little jars of autumn flowers!

Hurrah! Lovely, colourful crocheted doily!!

Now October is here, and how fast it arrived don't you think? However, we are still in the lull of an indian summer in these parts, its quite warm enough to swan about in flimsy tops and it's only when the sun has passed the garden that a slight chill begins to pervade, and were it not for it being dark by 7:30 I would be convinced we were still in August.

I enjoy all the seasons and more so as I get a bit older! I also enjoy all the foodie delights that accompany them! At the moment we are purging ourselves on the juiciest figs, well rounded and ripe plums, as well as splendid donations of windfall apples from our neighbours garden which are promptly turning into tatins and crumbles!

I also adore Autumn flowers, and at the moment I am swooning at the firey oranges, yellows and golds of the nasturtiums we have picked from our rather rambling and overgrown garden (its been very neglected of late, what with the decorating, and our hanging baskets are a disgrace having not seen a watering can in weeks). I also love the wonderfully plump dahlias and the brightly coloured asters with their button yellow centres.
Talking of seasons, I have finished my new winter scarf. Here it is in all its little-granny square-glory!
In total there are 135 little squares in shades of milk, driftwood, pale blue and green. The whole thing is edged in the driftwood and milk colours and when I chose the colours, my mind was adrift in memory land, in a Cornish village where a friend and I spent some happy times one January. The shades are very reminiscent of wintery Cornwall, everything on the day in my mind was bleached by a watery sun in a chalky white sky, scudded with smudges of pale grey clouds. The green on the cliffs seemed tired and worn, the very shade in the scarf, and the tide seemed to have a listless energy as it halfheartedly sent cold foam tipped waves up the wet ochre sand. So thats what the scarf is about, that was the inspiration for the colours and I think for my own pleasure, Im going to call it West Penwith.
Being inspired is a daily necessity. As an artist I am always on the lookout for things that light the creative spark. I get alot of pleasure from discovering little bits of things like a beautifully iced cupcake, a jar of fresh flowers and so on, but its work by other artists and creatives that light the fire and I feel very lucky to stumble upon such people whom I can learn from. Its very satisfying to put their ideas to work in my own creative pursuits. I must say, Im not talking about blatant copying here - no, I like to do my own thing art-wise otherwise its not worth the effort, and you can never ever recreate what someone else has done anyway as it lacks the personal energy that you need to infuse your own art/craft with. To me, being inspired is all about seeing and absorbing, looking at different paint techniques, studying a new stitch or trying new colourways, seeing how various mediums are used to create something and then applying those processes to your own work!

I was VERY inspired whilst in Wales this weekend. I took my daughter to Porthcawl and it just so happened to be in the throes of an Elvis Presley festival - I have never seen anything like it - delightful clusters of elderly ladies in bright pink stetsons and Elvis t-shirts singing and bopping outside a cafe that was blasting out 'Viva Las Vegas' into the street! Ha! We found a little deli, stocked up on goodies and made our way to the sands. Once the frivolities of being on the beach for a few hours had been accomplished - donkey rides, picnics, paddling and obligatory ice-cream devoured, we made our way back into the little town for a wander. Now I really like Porthcawl, some might say its a bit time weary but it has a faded seaside charm that I love, it has two lovely beaches close at hand and a marvellous little cafe right on the seafront that does a lovely coffee which you can sip whilst watching the waves!

Anyway, I digress! :D

It was in the bookshop though, up the little high street, that I found creative manna from inspiration heaven! I'd had my eye on the Sew Sunny book for some time but had no idea that Poppy Treffry even had a book out! I had a brief and careful look through them both and my appetite was well and truly whetted - however, I didnt have the necessary £30 to spend there and then on them, so I did what any thrifty young woman would do in a recession, and I came home and bought them on Amazon! :)

Serendipitously, they arrived today, on my art day. For the first time in about 5 weeks my paints have come out, and now I have the perfect reading matter for coffee break time!!

Talking of art, I am going to show you something now and I dont want you to be cross. I know its only October, and I am myself one of those people who wince when I see Christmas Things in shops in August etc, but I dearly wanted to tell you about my charity card. I have just finished working on my design for this year and I will be making A5 sized cards which will be printed, giclee style, and sold to raise a bit of money for the Downs Syndrome Association. Im sure some of you already know that my little nephew has Downs, so its a charity that is very dear to me and each time I sell some cards I send some money to them.

I will be selling this card through my website, etsy and folksy shops. I hope you will forgive me for showing you a Santa in October, but my intentions are good ones! :)

'Father Christmas' Charity Card 2009


I can feel a coffee coming on - and a little bit of browsing in those gorgeous books! I hope you all have a sunny weekend and I look forward to catching up with you again soon!

Love Julia x

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