Monday, 4 May 2015

March to May

Life is moving on here. Mr T will soon be finished with visits from District Nurses and my role as care-giver is moving back to support-supplier.  Meanwhile I fill my days with creative activities - I don't get out much. Once a month with the Embroiderers' Guild and again with my textile group - Spectrum are a life-line, as well as Nutty Knitters at Maxine's  when it doesn't clash with other dates. Everything seems to happen on a Wednesday. 
This is what I've been doing. The photographs are in the order I took them. As you can see, I enjoy working on more than one thing at a time.

I planned a little dandelion triptych which I started by painting on to pelmet weight Vilene.
I then filled it in with lots of machine embroidery. Colouring in with the sewing machine.

Then I spent my 'birthday money' on a set of printing blocks from Colouricious.
I love them and have done some experimental printing.

I also bought this book by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn as I wanted to add a bit more to my embroidery repartee.
A couple of days after the book arrived, Stitch Retreats announce a weekend with Jan and Jean at Wyboston Lakes next March!!! I have booked myself a place, what an opportunity!!

I've stitched a sampler following their idea of combining hand and machine embroidery.

Mungo is celebrating his year with us by finding novel places to sleep

Back to the triptych and I'm making the cover by sticking down Expanda Print pieces onto more pelmet Vilene, and then stitching it down...

Switch to another embroidery, this time basing the colours on one of my photographs of the stain glass windows at St Albans Cathedral'

My cover gets a couple of coats of gesso then lots acrylic to build up an antique patina.

The hand embroidery is complete...

… and the whole lot is then blended together.

The components for the triptych are read for assembly, but I will live with it a bit deciding if I will add anymore embellishments.

All of this activity meant my workspace was overwhelmed, so a systematic tidy-up was initiated...

only to be interrupted by a spangly spillage!

And finally I managed to put the facing on my little quilt
I think this is finally finished, although I may stitch on some beads...

So that is some of what I've been up to, 
thanks for keeping up. I hope I'll have a few more things to show you next time.

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.