Thursday, 28 June 2012

Olympic Torch Day

Today it was the turn of our home town to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay and we were looking forward to the excitement.  By lunchtime we were hit by the biggest strom I think I have ever seen!  The thunder was continuous for nearly an hour and the lightening looked like something you see on the tv in a tropical country!

DH took these photos and the white dots are massive hailstones.  The rain was so heavy it just bounced out of the gutters.  Sadly he wasn't able to capture the phenomenal lightening.

Unbelievably the skies eventually cleared and the sun came out in time for the torch relay.  We live on the edge of town and had only to walk to the top of our road to watch everything.

DH was impatient for me to  keep up with him as he searched for a prime position.

 It seemed very strange for the usually busy road to be empty of cars and full of people.

This young boy was beside himself with excitement!  He was screaming out 'The torch is coming!' and jumping backwards!

The accompanying sponsor vehicles soon arrived,

And before long, the torch itself.

This torchbearer is Hugh Carville from Nottingham who was nominated for his voluntary work bringing health care to people in Uganda.  He has a blog here.  

A local cycling club came along in support.

And a good time was had by all!  (You may notice that the guy with the Union Jack above is a little damp in the shorts department!   He had obviously been out in the rain before the torch arrived!)

DH and I decided to walk into town to see what else was happening and happened upon another Olympic Torch being displayed in the museum.

I think this young lady is Victoria Freer who is only 19 but who has devoted a lot of her time to helping young swimmers.

I had a great time today despite the horrendous weather and felt quite emotional at seeing this once in a lifetime event.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Today's the Day

Well, it was going to be the day I worked on my quilt for Festival of Quilts but as the sun was shining I got side-tracked, as you do.  All that sunshine was an open invitation to do some sunprinting.  I had collected some gingko leaves while we were away last week (Oh yes!  We've been away.......again!) and sunprinting seemed ideal for a play.

I started out by preparing my surfaces, as in laid my fabric onto boards covered with waxed paper.

A good assortment of silk paints and a spray bottle of water to soak the fabrics with.  My initial inspiration was the leaves but I soon had lots of other ideas to play with. ( I also inadvertantly threw half the bottle of grey onto the floor and all over my chair!)

I spray soaked each fabric and then dripped the silk paints on and re-sprayed to spread the colour a bit more.  I decided to sprinkle sea salt on each piece too.

I used coffee stirrers, cotton reels and bottle bungs for this one to offset round shapes against straight lines.

Next, an assortment of keys,

Dried leaves and grasses from the garden,

and finally, the gingko leaves with a selectionof leaves and fern.  The very fine stem is Fennel and it gave a lovely scent.

Part way through they were looking promising,

It's very easy to get impatient and move the masks before everything has completely dried so I resisted the temptation to peak until the leaves started blowing off.

Reverse side above, 'right' side below.

I do like the marks you get on the reverse side!

Reverse of the stirrers and reels above, 'right' side below.

Reverse side above, 'right' side below.


Reverse side above, there are some lovely marks here where the salt has pulled the paint.

This above is the 'right' side and has some equally exciting marks.

Finally, the piece with the dried leaves, reverse above, 'right' side below.

Some of the finer elements have left some very delicate marks and I am pleased that in many instances the masks have retained some colour beneath them.  I still have to iron all the fabrics to fix the paint and then I'll probably think about them for some time before I actually get round to using them.  I have tried to link them with the colours I've used and have an idea or two lurking at the back of my mind for what I will use them for.  

I did get round to doing a little work on my Festival of Quilts entry and have bonded it lightly onto a felt backing ready for free machining.

The photo makes this look whiter than it is in reality as it has picked up on the gesso I used initially to secure pieces of scrim, newsprint, snippets of lace, broderie anglaise.  I intend it to be about the decay and deterioration of a building.  My difficulty at the moment is in deciding how to stitch it.  I have prepared a smaller sample to practice on but that will have to wait for a few days as life has to be lived. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012


On the Friday morning of our sojourn in Cumbria we had a couple of hours to kill so we went along to Cockermouth as I had heard a lot about it from a friend who used to live there.  Several years ago in 2009 Cockermouth suffered badly at the hands of flooding but today the town has been beautifully restored and is a very interesting place to spend time.

In my ignorance I hadn't realised that Wordsworth, that great Lake poet, was born in Cockermouth.  Sadly we had arrived on the one day of the week when his home was closed.  Wordsworth apparently left this home at the age of 8 after his mother died and then lived with relatives in Penrith.

Also located in Cockermouth is Jennings Brewery, originally a family concern established in 1828.

The brewery still uses water from its own well and brews its beer from English pale ale malt, Golding hops from Kent and Fuggles hops from Herefordshire.  I was taken completely unawares by the smell of the malt which suddenly hit us as we were browsing the main street and I was instantly transported back more than 17 years to the days when my late husband used to brew his own beer and boil the malt in our kitchen.  This process is known as mashing and the smell is rich and sweet.  Other processes follow including sparging and adding the yeast and the beer is then left to brew.  My late husband was an expert in brewing beautifully tasty real ales and he took a great pride in his recipe.  I have always been sensitive to music evoking emotion but never before has a smell provoked such a strong reaction in me.

The beautiful Georgian Market Place of Cockermouth has been remodelled and presents a very elegant face to the world.  

It was a little quiet at the time of our visit but was going to be much busier on Jubilee weekend with a street party planned.

Bitter Beck Pottery (named after the nearby river beck) is home to Joan Hardie who makes the most beautiful pottery inspired by the natural world.  We had a very nice chat with Joan who prefers to work in situ in her shop rather than have a studio elsewhere and I couldn't resist treating myself to two of her lovely windchimes.

This lovely windchime now gracing my lilac tree is based on acorn cups and I'm hoping a little rain may collect in the cups for the birds.

The second windchime is based on fungi and the beautiful marks come from combining different types of clay.  I love the beautiful textural marks Joan has achieved.  Joan has produced the most beautiful book in collaboration with her husband and I was very tempted but for the moment have resisted.  

While we're talking of creativity I have been making headway on reorganising my sewing room and spent some time sorting out my scraps.  I have to confess that I have kept some very small pieces and have been a little bit ruthless with the less inspiring ones.  With the remainder I thought I would have a go at making a piece of 'ortcloth' in the style of Nellie Durand. 

So far I've arranged snippets of all manner of fabrics and fibres on a wadding base and backed it with cotton.  I've layered tulle over the top and (not in the photo) have started to machine wavy lines across the 'sky' area.  I'm planning to use Free Machining over the brighter area and then stitch and applique some kind of flowery/gardeny design.  Watch this space!