Friday, 27 February 2009

Ican't believe we missed the boat!!!

I still don't quite believe we actually missed the boat to Amsterdam by a whole day!! We arrived at the Ferry in time and went to check in, the girl behind the desk searched her computer for our booking. I'm sorry, she said you were booked on the boat yesterday! I had the booking slip in my hand and said we can'tbe look it says 25 February, yes the girl said that's the day you arrive in Amsterdam. Where does it say we leave on the 24th then, under your finger she said, you have hold of the ticket by the departure date........... Luckily we were able to change the booking for Saturday so we'll try again tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed we don't get lost on the way there. We were all packed ready for a couple of days away and decided we might as well go to Falkirk in Scotland to see the Falkirk Wheel. It was something we'd been meaning to do and this was just the thing to take our minds off missing the boat. We stayed the night in Berwick on Tweed a town that has been captured and claimed by both the Scots and the English and shows signs of occupation by both. This photo above is a view through one of the gates under the town ramparts and looks out towards the beach and pier.
I love the names of the old streets in towns like Berwick and these two caught my mind. Kipper Hill, I wonder if it was where the Herrings were landed or where they were smoked to become kippers.
And this one leaves a lot to the imagination too.This is a wonderful doorway, full of slants it looks as though it was about to slip down the hill. It reminded me of the old nursery rhyme "This is the House that Jack Built".
Thursday we set off for Falkird and the Wheel. It's a long way from where we live so wouldn't normally have made a journey especially to see it. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and ride on the wheel and if we were near Edinburgh would definitely make a journey to try it out again.
The Wheel is a marvel of engineering and was opened in 2002 by the Queen. It joins the Grand Union Canal and the Forth & Clyde Canal for the first time since these canals were opened.

The boat is in the top 'box' in this photo about to leave the wheel and join the Forth and Clyde Canal.
The view as the boat leaves the tunnel and heads back towards the wheel on the return journey.
The day was very cold and on one side of the wheel the sky was bright and sunny, on the otherside dark with a rainbow.
Naturally I've not got any sewing done and am behind with one of my pieces, the Wives of Henry VIII swap on Surface Design but I hope to get it finished shortly after I return. Having said that Serendipity meet again on Monday so I'll be rushing from the Ferry home to pick up my stuff and dash to join up with the girls. Wednesday I've promised to show the craft class how to make a small patchwork coin purse and I've not done anything towards that. I thought I'd make up a kit and take it on the boat with me to do while we travel across the North Sea. That's of course assuming we actually get there this time.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Stitched up

The "Today's title is...." challenge this week was "all stitched up". My first thoughts was to put up a photo of the cardigan I'm in the process of knitting myself. Unfortunately I haven't finished it yet so its not "all stitched up" but it will be soon. Wondering what I would do for this title I looked up and saw one of the pieces I'd created for an exhibition using fme. It was my take on tree bark and though its just straight lines of stitching there are a lot of them trapping threads and fabrics underneath. More stitches hold the beads on and the gathered velvet representing the fungus on the bark. This is a close up of some of the fungus.

Textilechallenge atc challenge for this month was the colour combo of purple and red, not my favourite colours. My purple and red atc card is now winging its way to Jackie Wright I only hope she likes the colours more than I do. I machined a background of red and purple sheers meaning to burn through some of the layers but I'd machined it down so tight I couldn't get the layers separated so left them. The beads are rolled silk and sheer ribbons burned and beaded. I made small tassles for the end of two of them from more sheer fabric.
I've done very little sewing over the past few days and still have one the February House to make. As this one is for myself I'll do it when I get back from Amsterdam.
The week so far has been a bit traumatic both Mum and I had hospital appointments. Mum's consultant feels she's "fit and in good condition" (his words not mine) and has suggested she have a hip replacement. Her op is booked for the 5th of May but in all probability will be brought forward as the government are having another drive on getting down the number on the waiting lists. The drawback as far as she is concerned is that she must go into a home for rehabilitation for a time once she is discharged from hospital. She does NOT like this idea she thinks she won't come out and I hope the op is fairly soon for her or she may change her mind altogether.
My visit to see the surgeon has left me a little dumpstruck. The virus I caught last November and brought on an increasing in coughing has done some damage. Apparently I not only strained a chest muscle (hence the pain I've been experiencing) but the coughing also led to a ruptured in the implant I had following my mastectomy. It must be removed, the cavity cleaned and the implant replaced. Boy just what I wanted but there's no danger and the op can wait for a short while.
We're off to Amsterdam tomorrow to see the bulb fields and take a break from everything. I'm really looking forward to it, so is Keith. I'll post some photos of the bulb fields and gardens when I get back which will be sometime on Friday.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Snowdrop time at The Hermitage

The Hermitage is a small Manor House just outside of Bedale in North Yorkshire. Its privately own and rarely opened to the public so we were lucky a member of the U3A was a friend of the owner. We all met at the house and were given coffee and biscuits and allowed to wander round the downstairs rooms. In the Sitting Room on one of the many small tables was a book signed by Queen Victoria from Ashbourne House in 1862. The house was lovely and I've picked out which room I'll have as a sewing room if the owners ever decide to give it to me. Apparently they used to live in the castle just down the road but wanted something a little smaller. I didn't take a photo of the house but it looks a bit like oneof those houses children draw, square with windows in each corner and a door in the middle.

From the house you can see Snape Castle where Catherin Parr (one of Henry VIII's wives) lived as a child. The gardens are quite small, one knot garden, one herb garden, one vegetable garden, one rose garden with assorted fruiting trees and outside privies for the gentry and staff, no inside toilets when this house was built!! It was the woods around the house where the snowdrops and aconites bloomed. Apparently Aconites are a protected flower nowadays. The snow may have been bad for us but they have been really good for the snowdrops as this year they are taller and there are more of them due to their warm snow blanket.

Aconites and snowdrops wherever you look.
When we left the Hermitage we went to Masham for lunch at The White Bear, all 31 of us. It was a very merry party who left there some time later and headed for home.
Called in to see Jan my mil on the way home but she's not too well at the moment and didn't know who we were. I also gave her a small cream filled easter egg knowing she loved these. Again she didn't know what it was, I took off the wrapper for her and from the expression on her face when I put this small brown object into her hand I think she thought it was something nasty. Also bought a couple of pots of snowdrops from the Hermitage and took them to my Mum, again on the way back. You would have thought we'd given her a pot of gold she was so delighted with the small white blooms.
I was going to spend the day yesterday sewing but I'd been to the diabetic clinic the day before and been given instructions to test my blood at 2am. For this I had to set the alarm, I was very popular!! Once I'd woken up though I couldn't get back to sleep and felt exhausted all day yesterday. Hence I got nothing done and went to bed early. Going to reset the alarm again tonight and hope this time I can get back to sleep. I have to do this for a couple of weeks then hopefully the hospital will have a better idea of why I'm having hypos in my sleep.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Blues and twos

Blues and twos little shoes, these are the fairy shoes shown in issue 50 of the Stitches magazine. I've been wanting to make a pair of these since I saw them but never got round to it. When I was at the EG meeting on Saturday one of the members had made a fairy art doll and a couple of pairs of these shoes. It pushed me into making a pair so here they are my Bluebell Fairy shoes. I was surprised how quick and how much fun they were to make. Saturday I attended an EG workshop held by Linda Edwards who is our chairperson. The workshop was on silk rods and cocoons. Don't know about you but quite often the work I do at a workshop can change dramatically once I get home and have more time to think about it.

Linda has provided a kit comprising handdyed rods and cocoons plus she'd painted a small artists stretcher to match the silk bits. The hole at the back of the stretcher was quite small, about 2.5" square so it was awkward to manouvere the needle. Because of this we sewed the bits onto a background that was attached through the hole then the majority of the background was cut back.
I pulled apart some of the rods and created fan shapes which I then embroidered onto a background. The cocoons were covered in sequins in different shapes. Sheers and netting was added to the background and the whole piece embroidered before it was sewn into place.
When I'd finished I found that the 'slip' had slipped and it wasn't square on the stretcher. I had a lace butterfly and painted it the same as the other pieces using Inktense pencils and water in one of those brushes that hold water. Once it was dry I added beads to match those near it.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Babes, Rods and Cocoons

You know what its like when you go to a workshop, you take everything but the kitchen sink then use everyone elses bits and pieces because you have nothing suitable. Today's EG workshop on Silk Rods and Cocoon workshop was no different. We were given a small painted artists stretcher and told to bring fabrics, beads etc in a similar colourway. Naturally when we saw what the tutor had produced the bits we'd taken seemed inadequate. Does it sound familiar?
Puzzled looks and envious glances at everyone elses bits and pieces resulted in lots of swapping and in the end we managed to make a start. I had great difficulting separating the layers of the cocoons and kept thinking I would take them home and immerse them in hot water to release some of the natural glue holding the fibres together. In the end though I managed.By the end of the afternoon we'd all made a start (one had a finished piece) but this was all I had done, sorry looking piece isn't it. I think they look a bit like demented aliens. I've promised I'd work on it at home and produce the finished article in time for our next EG meeting in two weeks time. Still not at all certain what I'm going to do with them. The strange looking beasties are cocoons and the frilly bits teased out rods. The dye didn't go all the way to the middle so a lot of the rod when teased apart was white.

Like lots of others I was aghast at the bushfire tragedies in Australia and my February journal page is my response to some of the pictures of burning buildings and destitution. The base fabric was a piece of handdyed fabric Britta sent me with her art doll, Mrs Bird. I quilted the fabric in a flames pattern using a metallic yarn and bonded red and green building shapes. Next I overlaid a dark red sheer and handstitched round the paper shapes to represent buildings. Finally after I'd burned back the sheer and requilted it in the same metallic thread as it seemed to have got lost. Clear glass beads were sewn on in a waterpattern to represent water from the fire hoses. The piture isn't too clear as I scanned the JP but it was a bit short for the scanner so one end is about an inch too short.
Bushfire Babe (pattern here) was made as a response to the Rainbow Comfort Pack appeal on Beyond Blue and Pink . The idea behind the appeal is if the children have something comforting to play their parents will be able to concentrate on sorting out the aftermath of the fire. I'm going to make a little bag to put her in along with a colouring book and some pencils or a small puzzle. I know lots of others are doing the same, I'm making an assumption that they will get lots of rainbow packs.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Today's title is - meeting of opposites

I was very impressed with the work I saw on Helen Suzanne's "Today's title is..." blog so signed up to join in the challenge. The latest challenge is 'Meeting of Opposites' I thought a lot about the title, old/young, east/west and so on then I remembered some photos I'd taken last year while in the Lake district. These were taken from one of the stopping places running alongside Ullswater. This road is very busy but the lake is very quiet. Its a place where water, earth and air all meet and are always changing. Whenever I go to the Lake district, particularly the Northern Lakes I feel as though I were coming home. Perhaps its some 'tribal memory' the Brigantes tribe ruled a wide area from the Irish Sea to the North (German) Sea. Its truly a place of opposites, wild fells, peaceful villages.
The mist on the fells is beginning to close in.

February love

Mr Postman brought me love postcards from Cindy and Christine today. Isn't there a song about Mr Postman bringing a letter? seems to ring a bell somewhere in the depths of my memory. Cindy's card is pretty in pink and displays a beautifully machine embroidered heart. I love pink.
Christine's hearts are made from Angelina, Lutradur and Paper, painted and quilted. I really love this one but then I'm a sucker for mixed media artwork. I was a bit surprised to receive such a well thought out card from Christine this month, not that hers aren't always well thought out. But she had to undergo major surgery at quite a short notice and has only just got out of hospital. Get well soon Christine.
Now for my efforts over the last couple of days. Well I finished Block one of the Willowberry Designs free BOM, called Verandah Views. I've downloaded Block two and hope to get that finished in the next couple of days. I also have downloaded Block two from Capricorn Quilts free BOM this ones based on fairy tales.

At last I got round to doing the BQL Minicalendar quilt challenge for February. Tell the truth I'm not too keen on this block it looks sort of bland, probably looks better when there are several blocks together. I'll put a photo up on the BQL group then I might do something with it. Could perhaps stamp and embroider, do some applique, not sure yet but it definitely needs livening up. It reminds me of something unloved maybe its just that I've got too many medium value fabrics. I used my Jelly Rolls for this quilt and I'm still undecided whether or not I like them.
The Contemporary Quilt, a subgroup of the Quilters Guild, are running a Little Gems challenge to raise funds for charity, the quilts to be sent to St Anthony's Hall in York. I think I will do one for them but that will be later in the month. Anyone interested in this challenge can find the information here.
Took mum to the hospital today and all is well she has just scratched the inside of her ear as expected, too vigourous cleaning. She also maintains (still) that her hearing is worse since the radiotherapy so they sent her for another hearing test, she only had one in November. It showed that there has not been any deterioration since 2006. They politely and tactfully told her it wasn't that she was getting deafer or her hearing aids weren't working but that her listening skills were declining. However as far as she is concerned its the radiotherapy..... head banging against a wall seems to have become my chief occupation these days.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Time flies when you're having fun

and last year we had fun walking on the beach at Saltburn enjoying a bit of Winter sun. This year its in the snow. Actually we had our worst snow last Monday and by Wednesday there hardly any sign of it. Since then we've had more snow but it hasn't lasted long enough for me to do any snow dyeing, pity. I've seen quite a few other bloggers have used this techique and I really wanted to try that out. Woke up this morning to this sky, pity about the buildings. It was almost as though it was on fire. It reminded me of the old adage "red sky morning shepherd/sailor take warning". Just heard the weather forecast and we're in for another bad spell so perhaps there's something in some of the folk tales. Perhaps I will get a chance to snow dye.

The cold has given me a bit of time to sew, too cold to venture far over the last couple of days. I finished my February themed card "What if..... I were in love" I remembered the heady days of first love and though "I'd feel like flying". Rather have the steady comfortable loving relationship I've got now though, wouldn't really like to weather the ups and downs again of young love. Besides I'd NEVER get any sewing done.

This is Jennifer's version of the same theme. It's really pretty, she's used sheers and cut back through them. I love it.
Look what I got from Britta Ankenbauer in Germany. Mrs Bird and she comes complete with shopping though Britta says she didn't have enough time to buy some decent shoes. I'm happy with Mrs Bird as she is, her shoes give her character. Thank you Britta for such a wonderful friend. Britta also sent a piece of the handdyed fabric she'd made Mrs Bird from.

Not a very good scan this but its a couple of items made at our Wednesday craft class using painted canvas. Due to the cold weather only seven turned up but we were a small discreet group who thoroughly enjoyed having a playday.

Taking Mum to see the ENT consultant tomorrow about the lump in her ear. She hasn't mentioned it for a few days now so perhaps it is the GP thought, damaged by too vigourous cleaning!!! A definite activity Mum would indulge in.

Sy (Simon) went to a charity dinner on Friday night where the guest of honour was the boxer Joe Calgazhe (think I've spelt his name correct). I know absolutely zilch about sport and even less about famous sportsmen but my son assures me that Joe is one so I'll take his word for it. They all had their photos taken with Joe and this is Sy's. They were apparently told to hold their hands in that position hmmm.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Not much work but lots of post

It's over a week since my last confession..... I have worked but it doesn't seem much in retrospect. Most of the time has been taken up with seeing to Mum who has an ear problem - what next!!

The first Craft class went well and I promised to paint some canvas and show them how to make a simple motife to go onto a card or book. It's based on one that was in the Stitch Magazine some time back, I'm sure it will be on the EG website if anyone is interested. I painted the canvas with green and gold metallic paint, long stitch for stems and grass in a variegated thread, french knots and bullions for flowers amongst the grass. I thought the easiest method of putting it onto something was to sew the canvas onto a handmade paper then glue that. I've cut the paper a bit lopsided and it would have been better if I'd wet the edges and pulled them so they leave little fluffy edges. I'm going to do another to take to the class on Wednesday.
Kate North sent me this beautiful padded heart as a swap for mine (below) its made from felt with beads, ribbons and buttons. It came with some pretty ribbon and tissue paper which I'll keep for another project.
I haven't manage to send this off to Kate yet as our local post office had a 'hold-up'. A masked man with a gun held up the counter clerks and demanded money, it was their third hold up of the afternoon. They got away with a small amount of cash but the two ladies behind the counter were badly shaken. Our post office has now got back to normal working so I should be able to get it in the post tomorrow. I might put a tassel on the end before I send it as I like the one on Kates.
Anne Marie Desaulniers who lives in Toronto sent me this 'House' as part of the Textilechallenge group house swap. The theme is my own theme "at the castle gates". Anne Marie has used acrylic painted cotton and Lutradur, heated and distressed, Tyvek rocks. It's really textural the phot does not do justice to it, I love this house.

My last challenge was to make a 'wall scone' it was the Machine-Embroidery Machine-Felting January challenge and I nearly missed it!! I finished my 'sconce' last week but forgot to post a photo until this morning durrr.
Sy & Julie went off to Amsterdam for a couple days, its Sy's birthday tomorrow and this is his treat. They caught the ferry from Hull and we took them down, a 4 hour round trip. As they arrive back at 8.0am on Tuesday morning we've decided to take off tomorrow for the day and stay in Hull overnight. Otherwise we'll have to be up at the crack of dawn. The weatherforecast isn't too good but we were lucky, we had three short snow storms ont he way down and nothing on the way back. At one point though we were crossing a high bridge in the heaviest of the snow storms and we could feel the car being pushed towards the bridge railings, it was a bit scary.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed it won't be too bad tomorrow but I'm packing the thermos and sandwiches and a blanket just in case. We must be mad!!!