Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Belton Horse Trials

Saturday saw us at our local National Trust property Belton House who were staging their annual Horse Trials.  Apparently this is the earliest yearly event in the three day eventing world and provides a lead in to future horse trials at Burghley and Badminton.  For the first time National Trust members, like us, were allowed in free which was very gratifying.  We are not particularly horsey but I do like seeing the show jumping and enjoy the atmosphere these events generate.

We were blessed with a mostly dry but blowy day and it was interesting to see Belton with a different scene from the usual Sunday cricket.

The paparazzi were being papped:

and the amateur paps were busy too!  The guy standing next to my DH had the biggest telephoto lens on his camera and was rapidly firing away as the horses came over the jumps but DH was happy to get his low angles.

There were some very famous riders and horses participating including Olympic gold medallist Sir Mark Todd and world number one William Fox Pitt who we saw set off and finish in the cross country course.

This very smart and poised young lady is Dani Evans, an intermediate rider who is representing Great Britain for the second year at the FEI Nations Cup.  Her beautiful horse is called Smart Time (I think).

There were lots of trade stalls at the Trials but I mostly resisted apart from buying some Oddsox!  My feet will no longer match!  I did fall in love though,

I could have stayed all day with these two beautiful spaniels who would have taken all the fussing I could have given them.  They belonged to one of the stalls selling riding and other boots.  I think they might have noticed if I'd made off with them ;-)  

Since the weekend I've been busy making a quick birthday present for a friend.  Fortunately she doesn't read my blog or facebook page so I can show you what I've made.

I've made these two mug rugs with thermal wadding.  I've decided they're his and hers and added some bling to 'hers'.  Who said I'd made a mistake and was covering it up?!!!  Lies, vicious lies! LOL

Wish us luck tomorrow, DH is having a biopsy, poor thing.  I'm off to watch the Great British Sewing Bee Final to take my mind off it.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Jaunt, an Anniversary and a Quilt

Well, we took our germy selves off to the east coast last week for a few days with the flimsy excuse that it was our wedding anniversary and we thought some sea air would help chase the grotty cold and cough germs away.  You know what thought did?  It thought wrong but at least we did have a lovely week and the weather was kind to us.  

We stayed at a little place called Kessingland in Suffolk in a compact and bijou bungalow on a small private site.  The owner lived just around the corner and let us in and made us feel so at home from the get-go.  The bungalow was metres away from a footpath to the beach and the everchanging skies were beautiful.

DH took a photo of our anniversary cards - 8 years wed and never a cross word!  Well, hardly ever ;-)

There was lots of inspiration in the patterns in the dunes and the edge of the sea.

We didn't go very far as energy was decidedly lacking but we did take the bus to Lowestoft (why drive if you don't have to?).  Here again there was plenty of inspiration in the sand and groynes.

On our last day and our wedding anniversary day we took another bus into Southwold.  The bus driver spotted hubby's camera and told us to go to the harbour instead of the pier end of town as he thought we would get better photo opportunites.  He wasn't wrong, although we had to play dodge the very heavy showers and had to shelter in the pub, twice!  It's a hard life!

I hadn't exected to see this style of shed here.  You get similar black boarded buildings in Hasting but they are twice the height to dry the fishing nets.

This little shed on its raised up blocks really appealed to me and made me think of  Scandinavia.  The little windows are draped in nets.

I'm sure I can use this text somewhere.

Since we've been back we've both got worse with our coughs and 2 trips have been made to the doctor's, returning with antibiotics of the strongest order.  I think today, finally, I can sense a bit of a turnaround and I can actually speak without collapsing into coughing.  DH is still making a fair amount of cough-y noise but he is improving.  We have to be better for tomorrow as it's Mothering Sunday and we want to fetch Mum from her care home.

I havn't been completely idle this week while I've been stuck at home.  I've been working on the back for the Take 20 quilt top that I have been making with mum's pinnies etc.  I decided to carry on using the vintage fabric for the back so that the quilt will effectively be reversible.  So, I have made 30 blocks, some of which have had to be pieced as I didn't have big enough pieces of fabric left.

Above are 2 squares 15" x 20" which the whole back will be made up of.  I am pondering whether to cut the blocks through and rejoin them combining different colourways to break the big chunks of colour up, but that may be a step too far.  The beautiful hand dye is by Maggi Birchenough.

This is the pile of blocks waiting to be ironed and then designed into a quilt back.  I think I may have to use a room at Stitchcraft Studio to sort out the arrangement as our bed isn't big enough and I don't have any floor space that size either.  I can hire a room there for just £5 for 3 hours so well worth it.  Once I have everything ready I am going to get Trudi Wood to do the quilting as it is way too big for me to cope with.  The quilting will break up the solid blocks of colour so maybe I won't fiddle about with it.

I think my fat quarter drawer is a bit revealing:

Liking blues?  Moi?  I think I need to have a dyeing session and get some reds, oranges and yellows in there!  Obviously this is not the only fabric I have, larger pieces are stored elsewhere.

As I said earlier, it's Mothering Sunday here in the UK tomorrow so if you are lucky enough to be spending time with your mum have a lovely day.  If you cannot be with your mum I hope you can enjoy happy memories of good times past. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sewing For Pleasure Show

Despite the most determined efforts of the fluey cold that has been attacking hubby and me for the last two weeks to keep me away, I joined the coach to the Sewing For Pleasure/ Fashion Embroidery & Stitch Show at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday.  We made excellent time and arrived at the NEC before 10.30 so started the day at a fairly relaxed pace.

I really like this show as, although it combines three shows (including Hobbycraft) there are less exhibitions to get round and you can see most of it without getting stressed.  Unless, of course, you are looking to shop till you drop too!

So, let's get the shopping confession out of the way first.  I took only money I was prepared to spend and didn't flex the plastic AND I came home with cash!

So this is my total haul!  Did you spot the cicular paper?  I got it from Stephanie Redfern and I'm looking forward to having a play, especially as it's khadi paper and will take stitch.   My first port of call was Hilary Beattie and Jenny Rolfe's stand and their exhibition of The Shape of Nature.  Hilary is prolific and you will easily find images if you google her name in google images and her blog is overflowing with her dynamic work.  Several of Jenny's pieces in the exhibit can be seen in her gallery if you follow the link.  Hilary and Jenny did not want photographs taken and I was happy to support Hilary as a friend and local artist so I bought the catalogue.

The other catalogue I bought was for ByDesign's exhibit 'Marginal - on the edge.'  The quilts arose out of two starter pieces made on an agreed theme by each individual artist.  'One of these two 'starters' is passed on by lot to another group member, together with explanatory notes about the idea.  She then works on this starter piece, contributing her own responses to the maker's original idea....'  The only proviso is that nothing may be discarded.  Two more exchanges by lot are made before the piece comes back to its originator to be finished.  Of course, now I've tempted you I realise I didn't take any photos on this stand either. Duh!  The second of the original pieces is worked up into a full size piece by each individual artist so that you can see the individual against the group interpretations. If you look in the gallery on the ByDesign site you can see some earlier collaborations.

One stand that I did take photos on was Gathered Memories comprising work by Jeryl Church, Lisa Earley, Elizabeth Saunders, Consuelo Simpson and Ann Smith.  Their profiles are here   together with details of the central piece.  I particularly liked the work of Consuelo Simpson.

I was so excited by this work that I forgot to note the Consuelo's commentary.  I blame the cough, it's addled my brain!

This joyous quilt by Gilli Theokritoff caught my eye too.  Her explanation is below. 

This evocative quilt by Sarah Showers also appealled to me for its blend of surface design and stitch.  I am increasingly fascinated by Bletchley Park since we visited there some time ago.  

I liked this little piece of embroidery on the Embroiderers' Guild stand.  The waters' edge is so richly described by the couched embroidery.

I havn't managed to see Les Miserables yet even though I've had the DVD since it came out!  What am I like?!  There was a collection of costumes at the show and I loved this beautiful dress with its multi-textured skirt.  Not the elaborate gowns of Downton but beautiful nonetheless.

I met several fellow contemporary quilters who I have only ever known as an online presence including the lovely Hilary Grayson who blogs as Living to Work, Working to Live.

Last week we took our cold germs off to Suffolk for a few days in the hope the sea breezes would rid us of the germs.  It didn't work but we had a lovely time.  I leave you with a beautiful Suffolk sky.


Friday, 7 March 2014


Well, it's officially Spring and for once we are getting some lovely sunny weather and today a very warm day. We had our first taste of Spring a couple of weeks ago when Easton Walled Gardens near to us opened up for snowdrop week.   We hadn't visited for a while and there have been some exciting changes to the gardens.

You might be able to tell that it was very windy when we visited. The snowdrops were being blown sideways!

We've joined as friends of the gardens so I hope that we will visit often this year.  My stitchy friends and I are planning to use Easton Walled Gardens as the basis for some work later in the year and I'm thinking it would be nice to visit each month and chart the changes through the seasons.

I've almost finished the bag I started in Wendy's workshop, I just need to make some button holes and add the buttons.

I won the jelly roll in a raffle on Stitchcraft's birthday last year and it's made a very pretty bag.

I've been enjoying myself making a small gift for a friend of mine and indulged myself making a rockpool that I thought she would like too.

It's about 5" x 7" and the base is hessian with a felt backing.

While on the subject of the sea, I belong to a Yahoo group that has lots of fun chatting but also responds, or not, to a monthly prompt.  The prompt for January was 'New' and the prompt for February was 'fictitious'.   I didn't manage to complete anything for January as I had planned to use my dremel drill to work with seashore finds, a new technique to me, but couldn't find my Dremel (sigh).  So, for February I explored a new way of working making a fabric collage of a fictitious (well, almost) place.  I was inspired by a coupleof ladies that I follow on Facebook, Louise O'Hara of Drawn to Stitch and Lynne White.  

This is as far as I've got and I still have to add some boats but I've enjoyed what I've done so far.  It's probably no coincidence that my fictitious town looks very like my spiritual home, St Ives.

I spend so much time on facebook that I have been trying to get off and do something more interesting and rushed off a couple of collages in the spirit of a 15 minute workout.

I thought less was more with the one above and thought it had an ethereal quality which I quite like (it looks harsher in the photo).

I didn't allow myself any thinking time with the collage above and pretty much grabbed papers from my box and glued them down.  The little piece of hessian was clamouring to be included. 

Finally (are you worn out yet?), I came across a fascinating artist on Facebook today.  Her name is Amanda Richardson and she lives in Cornwall.  How could I not have come across her work before?  If you follow the link and also find her on Facebook you will see that she is very generous and shares short videos of her technique as well as answering questions about her methods.  She uses transfer dyed satins and velvets and dyed raw silk to achieve beautiful marks on fabric which she then fuses to make beautiful textile paintings.  Do go and have a look.  

Have a lovely weekend and I'll be back soon-ish!

Friday, 21 February 2014


Where did February go?  Three quarters over and some of the worst winter weather in centuries.  I started the shudio clearing with enthusiasm but am ashamed to admit that I havn't touched it since my last post.  Life has been busy, what can I say?

Mary Sleigh's workshop continued to be very enjoyable and I have amassed an encouraging set of samples.  The workshops culminated in the making of a book to hold the samples.

We explored complementary colours and analagous colours. (Excuse the tackings)

 We explored creating drama with cretan stitch.

Seed sttich was used to create a sense of movement.
All of the samples were fun to make but I really enjoyed the square above with suffolk puffs and french knots.  French knots are one of my most favourite stitches.  I need to photograph the book and the signatures that I've made to carry the samples and will blog that later.  Life has been so hectic that on the days when the light has been good I have been busy with classes or out and about and have missed taking photographs.

Earlier this month I did a workshop with Trudi Wood making a Take 20 quilt using fabrics from clothing belonging to my mum, our friend Grace, Stewart, another friend and some handdyes.  The quilt top went together surprisingly quickly but I still have a border to add and then Trudi is going to quilt it for me.

The hardest part of the Take 20 is arranging the blocks.  It doesn't seem to matter which way you place them you always get portions of the same fabrics in close proximity.  Both my mum's and my friend Grace's pinnies are in this top so it feels very special.  When I look at the strawberry fabric and the red fabric with the red and white trim on it I can smell scones cooking and see my mum making cream horns and trifle for Sunday tea and visitors.  Sadly Mum does not even recognise the fabrics anymore or even remember that she used to wear aprons.

Yesterday we had a play day and some discharging and printing was attempted but I havn't had chance to take any photos of that yet so remind me to show you later.

Today I have done a thoroughly enjoyable workshop with Sarah Edwards who I know from the Contemporary Quilt Group.  (I didn't realise I knew her till I walked in the class and recognised her).  Sarah loves creating surface texture on her quilts and we played the whole day, manipulating fabrics and creating new ones.  This was a technique based workshop and there was no expectation to leave with a finished product.  Sarah used many different techniques to create her quilts and I particularly wanted to explore slashing and tucks.

This is a sample piece, unfinished, and needs further exploration but basically it is several layers of fabric with rows of stitching and then chenille style slashing made to reveal  varying lower layers.  I love that the fabrics fray and indeed, the top cotton layer frayed with abandon!

This piece started out as two pieces of fabric with pintucks stitched in and then the fun commenced!  Fabrics were joined and cut and turned and joined and cut and inserted and had Somerset points added.  I had so much fun and from the squeals going on around me so did everyone else!  The day shot past and left me wanting to do more, the sign of an excellent workshop.  I have another piece of the blue fabric with pintucks in and I want to combine that with layers and slashing so I hope I get chance to do that soon.  Sarah was a great tutor.  She shared her processes and then left us to play giving help and advice as we required it.  I learnt to make Somerset points too.  Who knew they were so straightforward?  It's all in the folding.

Tomorrow, glutton for punishment, I have another workshop (I know!) with Wendy my partner in adventures who has moved her blog to Wordpress.  We will be making a cutting mat bag so I hope I can stay awake all day.  I am still on a high from today's excitement so I may hit the wall rather early tomorrow.  Watch this space!

Sunday is the last day of Snowdrop week at Easton Walled Garden near Grantham so if you live near enough you might fancy making the trip to enjoy them and the other Spring flowers that are raising their heads.  The weather forecast isn't too bad for Sunday so we may see you there.  After slaving over fabric and sewing machines all week I think some fresh air is in order.

PS While I think of it, if you live within reach of Grantham, the Embroiderers Guild are thinking of encouraging a group to start for local people.  There will be an introductory meeting at Stitchcraft Studio on 6 March.  I will try and remember to come back and post the times up but you can ring Stitchcraft for details on 01476 512790.