Thursday, 9 April 2015

The March of Spring

It's a glorious day today and there is a definite feeling that Spring has arrived.  We're in a settled period of warmish days with enough sunshine to buck your spirits up so I thought I should pop in here and catch up a bit.  I'm happy to say Val phoned me a few days ago so I shall be taking her cushion to her tomorrow.  Fingers crossed she likes it.

March was quite a busy month and included one stitching Show and a little coach trip to England's magic corner. Ansom!  More of that in a minute.

Starting with some creative eye candy, I finally finished this little embroidery that I started last year!  It is about 5" square and is framed in one of those deep IKEA frames.  The idea was to use mostly french knots to cover the surface but I did move away from that a little as it was taking too long and my hands were complaining.  I was showing it to mum and saying all I had to do now was decide what to do with it.  She said, "You could give it to me!"  I had to smile because I had offered it to her a couple of weeks ago and she had said no.   Anyway, it will please me no end to know that it's in her room for her to look at and enjoy.

I've also made a lap quilt over the course of the last month but I can't show it yet as it's gift but it made me very happy to see it come together.  

Did I mention we went away?  It was a very quick coach trip down to St Agnes in Cornwall.  We had never been there before so we thought a late winter/ early spring break would be a chance to explore, especially as we didn't have to drive down.  We stayed at the Rosemundy House Hotel which was really lovely, tucked away in its own grounds and very welcoming.  They were very understanding about my special diet and made sure I had something appetising every evening.  The coach went out every day but we stayed behind and explored the village and its surroundings.  If you ever go to St Agnes be aware that it's very hilly, there is hardly any flat walking.  

These cottages running down the hill behind the parish church are on a lane called Stippy Stappy.  They were said to have been built for ship's captains and the bigger the ship the bigger the house the captain was accommated in.  Sadly these are now mostly holiday lets with only one having a permanent viallge resident.

Behind and above Stippy Stappy Is Wheal Friendly, the engine house pictured below.  We had a slow walk to it and clambered over a low wall to get a close look.  We decided the private sign referred to cars, not pedestrians ;-)  The view above, through the arched window, is across to Wheal Kitty which now houses various small businesses.

Apart from a link to my own Cornish family history these wheal houses fascinate me in their construction.  When you look at them they are beautifully constructed with features that are echoed in much grander buildings.

Why would they go to the trouble of making these beautiful and quite decorative brick faced openings in such a utilitarian building?  The walls are obviously so thick for strength but I did wonder why the lintel was made of wood?  You can of course see evidence of the buildings purpose in the pulleys and metalworks that remain attached.  Did you spot the tennis ball?

St Agnes doesn't have a seafront, per se, but it does have several beautiful coves and beaches.  We were only able to reach Trevaunance Cove through lack of time and more specifically energy.  

 This is looking north towards Perranporth and Newquay.

We learned in a talk at the hotel that this area to the left of the cove has been manipulated by man to accommodate machinery required to get the ore from mining down to boats in the harbour.  In all 5 harbours were built at St Agnes but none survived the ravages of the pounding sea.  Today the remains of the last harbour still sit on the beach and probably provide some protection for the cliffs.

We were lucky with the tides and were able to explore the caves in Trevaunace Cove for a while.

Lots of beautiful marks and inspiration here.

Being so close to St Ives we couldn't resist hopping on a couple of local buses for a visit.  We were so lucky with the weather and had a very pleasant few hours re-acquainting ourselves with the beach.  Unfortunately we found the sand was a bit squishier than usual and we both ended up with wet feet!  If you're at all squeamish you might want to skip over the next photo!

 Not a pretty sight!

Time to drag ourselves away from St Agnes and St Ives (St Ia) but we'll just say bye to my lttle friend on Stippy Stappy,

I tried to tempt him out with cake but he didn't care for lemon sponge.

The Show I went to in March was the Sewing For Pleasure Show at the NEC.  For some reason I didn't take many photos but it was a good show. 

I was particularly taken with the costumes from the tv drama, Mr Selfridge, the lace was gorgeous.  I suppose I had better admit to a little retail therapy,

And finally, did you see the solar eclipse on 20 March?  We were pathetic in our attempts to photograph it and finally managed to capture some images reflected in our pond, which is heaving with frogspawn,

It was nearly over at this point and we had experienced the weird change in light and sound around totality but in our neck of the woods it didn't go completely dark.  We won't see another total eclipse in the UK in our lifetime, the next is due in 2086, I think.  I'll be back before then.

Friday, 27 February 2015


February has been a very mixed month with some projects worked on and work laid aside while we emptied the lounge for a new carpet.  Like many friends online I have had the decluttering bug and have been sorting and moving things around to try and create some order in all the chaos that my stitching bug brings with it.  More of that another time as it's still a work in progress.

I've posted some photos on Facebook today of a cushion that I've been working on and thought I would share it here.  Last year a friend brought me a large quilt top made of hexagons that she had worked on many years ago while her husband was working nights which meant she had to be quiet during the day.

The quilt is made of many different fabrics from cottons through satins to upholstery fabric.

Val, by her own admission, wasn't an experienced maker and had left a lot of fabric on the reverse of each hexagon amking the whole quilt very heavy even without a wadding and backing.

In some ways the reverse is more interesting than the front.  Some of the hexagons still have some of their papers in place.

Despite the many, many hours of work in the quilt Val had no sentimental attachment to it and left it to me how to use it.  She did point out that some of the fabrics had figured in her wedding and bridemaids' dresses.

I had a really good look at the quilt and offered it to someone who works with vintage fabrics and decided that it could be re-purposed into other projects.  However, as Val had put so many hours into the piece I offered to make her something from it, incorporating her wedding dress material and have just finished this cushion.

You probably can't see it too clearly but I inserted a placket (if that's the right word) to carry the zip as I didn't want to put a strain on the textiles.  I chose the section above as it has a variety of fabrics and some deliberately designed groupings.  I loved the two hexagons that hold a memory of a trip to Malta.
This side is intended to be the front of the cushion and incorporates the velvet wedding dress fabrics.  We don't know how the blue dye has migrated into the pink velvet as I don't believe those fabrics had been washed.   The cushion is approximately 19" square.

As all the hexagons were obviously stitched by hand I have bonded each cushion front onto vilene to provide some stability and then added a cotton lining to stop the vilene being rubbed off in wear.  I have tried to honour Val's original work so that she can see it is her own work returning to her.  Now I just have to catch her at her painting group as I don't have a phone number for her. Duh!

The hardest thing of all was cutting into such an old quilt, especially knowing how much work had gone into it and the age of all the fabrics.  I enjoyed looking at all the fabrics and recognised the style of many from my own youth.  I still have quite a lot of the quilt left to play with or share and do plan to extract some hexagons to include in the memory quilt that I plan eventually to make.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Unexpected strolling

Some days turn out differently from how you expect.  My plans for today were to go and fetch Mum from her care home so that she could have Sunday dinner with us and enjoy some time with my brother and his wife.  With the unpredictability that always attend dementia, when I went to fetch Mum she was very sleepy and even the thought of the company of her lovely son and 'lovely sunshine' was not enough to rouse her sufficiently.  Her spirit was willing but the flesh was never going to be strong enough today.  I left her to her roast turkey at the home, assuming they could wake her up enough, and came home disappointed.

However, disappointment turned into a gift as we decided to go for a walk at our local National Trust property.  It has been a glorious day, less cold than recently, and we were really glad we made the effort.

 There was a definite Harry Potter vibe to this lovely larch tree, above.

 "I never knew I could walk on water!  What do you think to all this cold stuff then?" 

 I had a little play with in-camera functions and dabbled with a little black and white.

The boathouse had a lovely shadow across it and the children were enjoying themselves breaking off chunks of ice and winging them across the lake.  I hope the trout under the ice weren't being too upset by the vibrations.  Have you heard the noise the ice makes as it slides across itself?  It's a very delicate sound.

Plenty of inspiration for stitch.

Beautiful shapes and contrasts in the Italian garden.  The lavender is a silvery grey, not quite the lilac colour it appears here and has yet to be cut back.

Our walk was rounded off with hot chocolate and cake, (well, you have to don't you?) and this beautiful beast and his friend seemed oblivious to our approaches in the car park.  A lovely end to a wonderful late winter day.  Hopefully Mum will feel a little more lively next week.  She is getting more frail but considering she is going to be 90 this year she is one amazing lady.