Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Back again

Here I am with some time to fill so I thought I'd catch up. Oh, how we wished 2015 would be a good year for us, but it is March already and things are still difficult. Mr T has been back into hospital twice. Once for surgery to correct the problem that made him so ill in October and then again to open up the infection in his wound which set in after he had been home for a few days. He is susceptible to infections and this has happened before, last time we had months of nurses' visits to change his dressing, and in looks like this will be the same. Mr T is an inspiration and his despondent moments are brief despite discomfort, pain and people regularly pulling him about.  Last year I was determined to get him to go out and about more,  as I was going a bit stir crazy. I get out on my own, but getting my husband out is difficult, but this looks as if this plan will have to wait. Once again we are chasing prescriptions and appointments, juggling medical supplies, trying to guess when orders will arrive, trying not to waste resources, waiting for people to ring us back when we can't get through. This will be familiar to any of you who are home carers. My husband can look after himself physically, but cannot cope with the management side. However for the time being I don't like to go too far from home. My heart goes out to those carers who have to cope with physical care too.

 How lucky I am that I am a creative person, always fiddling about with paints or fabric, dyes or threads, photographs or the computer. And how lucky I am that I can afford to indulge myself in new materials to play with.  I've been making good use of those resources and filled up a lot more pages in my Gothic note book.  While Mr T was in hospital I took a trip to St Albans Cathedral which has architecture dated from Saxon to the modern. Plenty of examples of Gothic architecture from medieval to Victorian revival.

When you are going out with your camera with a design brief, you look at your subject in a different way,  and on this occasion I wanted to capture pattern and texture as well as examples of the architecture. On my iPad I have an app that will make your photographs look like watercolour paintings. These two turned out particularly well.

I have also stitched a little sampler based on trefoils and  collage a page quatrefoils motifs that are always featured.

Next I've made a little book. Taking inspiration form Maggie Grey from Magstitch blog and the Workshop On the Web know as WoW.  I made a little Gothic inspired book, which looks a bit like a Bishops mitre. It's about 7 inches tall.

I'm particularly pleased with the back. It is a stencil of a church window with transfoil applied to the 'glass' areas which seem to glow.

Another page in my book has been devoted to Grotesques and Gargoyles, another fascinating subject.

Meanwhile the new conservatory has been finished, decorated and fitted with a new floor.

We just have furnishing to choose now. We don't like to rush things round here!
Well that's all from me for now, it's taken me at least two hours to get this blog done. I've got a bit of sticking to do. I will try and catch up on your posts too. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Using what you know and learning more..

My textile group, Spectrum has been given a new them for 2015. I was ready for a new focus, and more than ready to leave wrought iron behind me. Gina gave us the prompt "The Gothic Mind" with the task of exploring a different aspect of the Gothic every month, starting with architecture. 
I had a new good quality sketch book that I had got covered with moulding paste while at my Hilary Beatty workshop and also had stencilled some past onto a few pages that were rather uninspiring at the moment. So I turned the book back to front and collected a lot of Gothic images from the medieval to the modern Goth movement and created a collage for the cover hiding the unsightly splodges.

 Like a lot of people I had a vague idea about about Gothic architecture.  Mine started with a school trip after our O Levels when we were given a talk by a vicar about his church and he showed us the difference between Norman and Gothic arches. (Norman arches are round like a penny, think of Norman Wisdom - wisdom of saving pennies - and Gothic arches were pointed like praying hands) I don't know why this stuck in my head, but it did. I think this was the first time I found history interesting, but that's another story.

I tried some italic writing, only with a felt tip, which I also enjoyed at school, combined with some images from the good old internet, The photograph is of Cromer church which I took a few years back.
 I created the pages using the techniques I learned from the Kemshall's Creative sketchbook course...

 … cutout windows and altering photographs...

 Then I collaged with some of the papers I created with Hilary Beattie.

I thought I'd try some printing and stencilling paper and fabric. Mungo thought he'd help with pressing my fabric pile.

Next I'm going to over-dye the papers and fabric with procion dyes. 

We were prettying worn out after all that work! Mungo likes sleeping on my lap for a while, as long as I have my crochet blanket on there first.

Must stop now and try a bit of dyeing. Have a good week.

Monday, 9 February 2015


I can't believe it's more than two weeks since my weekend retreat with Hilary Beattie. It was just what I needed to charge my batteries. Going away for a weekend with a group of strangers is always going to be exciting, wondering what sort of characters you will meet. Of course we all had a lot in common before we started as we had all seen Hilary's work and were interested in learning from her. Wyboston Lakes is a large complex with an hotel, spa, golf course and conference and training facilities by the A1. We were in the training complex with a hundred-plus psychiatrists,  our group of fifteen were somewhat outnumbered but they gave us plenty to giggle about at mealtimes.
I shouldn't think our workroom had seen anything like like us and all our paints, inks and dyes. Poor Nichola who organises the Stitch Retreats was frequently seen on her knees with the Fairy Power Spray and a baby wipe cleaning splashes off the carpet or the wall! Over the first sessions Hilary showed us how to make texture  and use a Gelliplate to print lots of gorgeous papers, finally we made a start on some collages in our sketchbooks and on canvases. The staff at the hotel were friendly and helpful and didn't bat an eyelid when we wandered through reception with splattered aprons and painty fingers or raided the garden for interesting leaves or visited the Ladies washrooms with a handful of mucky brushes. Hilary is a dynamic and inspiring teacher and best of all, very encouraging. She is also great fun which helped make the weekend most enjoyable.

I had been struggling to complete a piece for our show with Spectrum at Textiles in focus at Cottenham Village College. I had started piecing some fabrics, but I wasn't very happy. With Hilary I had started a long narrow canvas, and looking at a rubbing I had made from a card cut-out of wrought iron shapes, which have been my theme a light went on. I cut up the rubbing and stuck it to the canvas and added leaf and flower shapes cut form my piles of various printed papers.  I added some stitch and ended up with a piece which I was finally happy with. Here it is at various stages.

Finally, I'm really enjoying BBC's Wolf Hall and I think I'm just a bit in love with Mark Rylance, what an actor and well done Hilary Mantel for creating such a likeable character from a man with such a shadowy reputation.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

What's been happening

To follow on from my previous post at the end of November, nothing has stopped. Sad to say that my father-in-law passed away on Christmas Eve at the care home, just a couple of weeks after his 97th birthday. We have to say he did jolly well and lived a pretty full life until a couple of years ago, even though his mobility was restricted.  He was as sharp witted as ever until his final decline, and we have to be grateful he is released from his suffering and rests in peace.
However as I hinted at in my previous post, all the bits have hit the fan and I have been trying to sort them out with my mother-in-law.  I have sorted through three large carrier bags full of envelopes but not managed to file them all yet. Mother-in-law cannot cope with the paperwork from a husband who loved to dabble in the stock market but had no book-keeper or accountant and also kept every scrap of paper going back for years (and years). I've no idea which accounts are current, or sold, or changed names or… you get the picture. Of course when my husband was made executor he was fully capable of managing it, but since his stroke, he has less idea about what to do than me.  We are getting some professional advice.  I am doing my best to build in a bit of time for myself, and hopefully things will slow down a bit, soon.

I am really looking forward to my long weekend break in a fortnight, at Wyboston Lakes, a stitch retreat with Hilary Beattie, it may not be restful, but it will be wonderful to have a complete break from stocks and shares. Meanwhile I had a hankering to make some sea themed bunting, I've managed a sketchbook version. Hopefully it will make it onto fabric.

When sharing my state of affairs with my hairdresser, I said I was coping by saying to myself that I only have to tackle things one step at a time, and he added to make sure some of those are dance steps, which I thought was a great bit of advice. 
So one step at a time, and a with little skip every now and again I leave you with this thought … get your paperwork up to date! (I promise to do mine when I've finished with this lot - really!)
Have a good week 

Monday, 24 November 2014


When does one share personal information on the internet and what do you say?  My husband is in a long term recovery from 18 days in hospital with renal failure and pneumonia after being very sick and now recuperating before he has surgery for initial problem. My aged in-laws are in crisis and are being stubbornly independent. Although I am grateful for their rejection of help in the past, now a crisis has been reached - mum-in-law has broken collar bone and is doing much of the caring for bed bound dad-in-law - they have had no contingency plans in place.  Despite my asking for the information, I had no list of their Care Company phone numbers etc. Thanks goodness for the internet for finding out. Social services are doing what they can, but if they reject help there is nothing they can do. We are a very small family and they live over an hour's drive away and they keep saying they are coping, and I know I must leave them to it - but I worry about them. Should I have been insistent in asking for information, even though I was (usually) kindly told it was not necessary and not to pester as it was making m-i-l distressed?
So now the info is out there. I feel Blogger is a bit more personal than Facebook and haven't mentioned it there although many friends know. I know you lovely people will show lots of support too and I guess that is what I'm looking for as we are all looking for some sort of response when we blog. As a friend says, sometimes lurching from crisis to crisis seems to become the norm, and many people and families are in that situation, although that thought is not much help when you are going through it yourself!
Everyone says that I must look after myself; and I am, early nights and eating sensibly, but my jaw seems permanently clenched and I'm always listening for phone… Thank goodness for my sister and my Dad, who although a bit unwell himself has all angles covered in case of an emergency.

I have managed a bit of craft work but all larger projects are on hold.  My sis came to stay when Mr T was in hospital needless to say she is into a bit of crochet too.

Mungo likes a bit of crochet himself  which is why I'm making him a blanket from the leftovers from my ripple blanket.

I made one strip about 36x12 inches

But this week I have been stitching this Motto cushion as demonstrated by Laura Kemshall on Design Matters TV. Might just make another one when I can decide on a motto. Just enough concentration needed to keep my mind off other matters.
Thanks so much for listening, sometimes it is good to share. I would just say that if you have elderly parents do your best to get some sort of contingency plan in place it would have made life easier, even if it wouldn't have solved all their problems.  I will leave you with this picture from FB. It just makes me smile.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Golly Gosh ..

Golly gosh two posts in one month! Just thought I'd share my finished blanket. It is about 5ft square.

My crochet isn't as neat as Lucy's of Attic24, but it is lovely and drapes beautifully, and is very snug. I did not expect to finish so quickly but I'm in need of some mindless occupation.   I've now decided to use up the left over yarn, plus some more to make a "Babette" blanket. I'd never heard of one until browsing Pinterest. They are made of different size squares. This one will be much smaller, maybe just a metre square. I've made a start.

What will be fun is deciding how to arrange them. I think I'll join them up as I go along, so I won't be left with a mammoth task at the end.  I want something less bulky. 

Mungo has begun to sit on my lap, but only if I have a blanket or a bit of fleece on it. Here he is trying to share the chair with me. So a smaller blanket would be useful. 
He looks so grumpy. However he was there first!

 I've also order some yarn to make a poncho in the style of my scarf on the previous post, but it will be a bit of an experiment. Watch this space.
Thank you for all the kind mentions about the dizziness.  Thank goodness it is not too bad at the moment.  I am limiting my time on the iPad, as the way the images swoosh past may have been triggering it.

Meanwhile I'm putting off sewing, my machine is gathering dust. I have some projects in mind and have been playing in my sketchbooks. However I'm feeling a bit rudderless. I still miss the discipline of following my one-line course. May resort to a few basics to get me going, I'll let you know!

Don't get blown away, its rather breezy here in Bedfordshire.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The last few months I have been...

When Gina told me yesterday that a mutual contact had asked if all was well with me, I realised how long it is since I last wrote a blog. Although I mainly 'do' Facebook these days I had thought I would try to write a monthly blog but I have failed. There are several reasons for this. Despite the possible evidence to to the contrary I have been going though a protracted blank phase of not being able to motivate myself to do anything. I have had an on-going problem of dizziness since last spring. An MRI scan could find nothing wrong, which is reassuring, but also no comfort when no remedy can be found. The ENT dept put it down to vestibular migraine - dizziness instead of / as well as a headache, but I'm not convinced as dizzy spells last days, even though they're not severe enough to stop me carry on with  daily tasks, I don't feel like doing a lot else.  Having read something on FB, it could be down to the iPad. The movement of the image on the screen apparently can effect some people, but I had mine a year before the trouble started.  I'm going to try to severely ration myself for a week or two to see if it helps. I've tried a food diary and stopped drinking red wine, but can't spot a trigger. A GP said it was down got me to try to figure it out. Sometimes I think it is tension, other times sinusitus. Of course the other factor is, having nothing else to think about. I'm trying to keep busy.. but. 
Now you know why I haven't been blogging, no one wants to read about someone's symptoms.  Anyway, since June I have been doing a lot of crocheting. This is productive, repetitive, creative, mindless and soothing.

I started with a couple of scarves. (Free pattern here)

and now I'm working on a blanket, 

it will be about 5 foot square when finished. I'm about three quarters way through. It is a ripple pattern. Here is a picture from a while back when I just got going on it. (For pattern see Attic24)

In July we had a bit of a crisis when Mungo went missing. Just in the peak of the hot weather he didn't come home for five nights.  I was so worried he'd got shut in someone's shed and would die of heat exhaustion.   I put out flyers and posters and rang every possible agency short of the FBI.  We were just contemplating picking up his bowls of dry food etc. but at 3.30am Mr T got up to visit the bathroom and heard this plaintive cry from the kitchen. There he was! He was very hungry, but otherwise fine. If only they could tell you where they'd been.

Meanwhile we have had our old conservatory replaced.  We had to find homes for all this 'junk'. We did get rid of some of it.
I'd mainly acquire a lot of the 'stuff' to camouflage a rather ugly, rotting lean-to, but grown rather fond of a lot of it. Not sure how it will fit into my lovely new pristine conservatory

We now have to decide what we're going to do with the inside.

On my creative side,  I'm treading water. I'm committed to creating a piece for Spectrum next February, but it has been dragging on.  I want to get it started, but here I am on the computer, and my brain is hurting. So bye for now, hope you are well and I'll try and catch up on your news too.
Hope you enjoying this wonderful weather too,  I had lunch in the garden today. It would be Mum's birthday, can't remember doing that before on the 2nd October.