Monday, 8 December 2008

I've been busy all week, with last minute preparations for our craft fair on Saturday. I spent Monday distributing fliers around the car parks and schools of Hertford - I think it must have been the coldest day since records began, - or at least that's how it felt by the time I'd finished.

On Tuesday I went into Art Van Go - it was Stuart's last day before he goes off to his very posh sweetie shop in Piccadilly, so to mark the event I made him a pair of cufflinks with smiley sunshine faces. Needless to say, my lack of forward planning meant that I only thought about making them that afternoon, so the glue wasn't properly dry when I had to take them, so he was issued with a warning not to take the out of the box! I hope they WERE properly stuck.

Here we are - sending him out into the world on his own! (Well, with just a noisy Father Christmas for company)
Hope he gets on really well, and doesn't leave it too long before he comes to pay us a visit (although, only if he brings some of his posh chocolates with him)

Back to the festive extravaganza that is Hertford Christmas Craft Fair! We managed to get the keys for the hall the day before, so were able to get in and do some of the setting up on the Friday. We got all the tables out, and put up Christmas bunting and fairy lights, which took much longer than we thought, so I'm glad we didn't leave it until the Saturday morning. It looked quite nice by the time we left on Friday night.

We arrived back at the hall early on Saturday morning, ready for all the other traders, who started arriving from about 8.30am. This was our table -
And here are some of the others -
We were all set up and ready to go for 10am, and opened the doors to the throngs of customers who were banging on the door outside, some of whom had slept on the pavement the night before to guarantee their place in the queue. What do you mean, you don't believe me???
Well, all right then, but we had a reasonably steady stream of customers, although I would estimate that around 70% of them were friends of ours - thank you to everyone who came and supported us, we really did appreciate it, and I promise we won't make you come again next year! All of the other traders seemed pleased with their takings and said it had been a good day. We decided it was successful enough to make it worthwhile, but not SO successful that we will feel obliged to do it again next year - it really was a lot of work.
We are, however, a bit concerned that we won't have an excuse to meet for coffee and cakes, so it's been agreed that Jill, Val and I will meet for a debrief, followed possibly by a meeting to form a committee, so that the committee (us) can meet to discuss whether we should have a planning meeting for a future event.
Anyway, it didn't take us too long to pack up, and then it was home to get ready for Mick's birthday party at the Cricket Club. I should have felt shattered, but it's amazing what a couple of vodkas can do. It was a really great night with excellent company, and I even ended up dancing to the band. You'll be relieved to know there are no photos of that, although possibly not as relieved as I am.
Despite a VERY late night I was still up bright and early, and Jill and I finished off the last bit of tidying up and then returned the keys for the hall. Have to admit to nodding off in front of the telly after Strictly though.
Now, what am I going to do with all my spare time?

Sunday, 30 November 2008

And another week has gone by! Had a few days away in Derbyshire, in a cosy cottage near Matlock which was lovely. Did a bit of walking and visited a few patchwork and craft shops, and Arkwrights Mill which was only a walk away. Considering it's November, even the weather was good - and to prove the sun came out, here's a couple of pictures , one taken from the Mill ...
and another of the River Derwent (I think)
Also had an unplanned trip to the local Sainsbury's as I'd managed to leave my washbag on the sofa at home, resulting in my having to re-buy the entire contents on my arrival. So, the Folic Acid tablets which are supposed to prevent the early onset of Alzheimer's don't seem to be working. Always assuming, of course, that I have been remembering to take them?!?!
The bare trees against the skyline took my eye, and I have a vague idea that I'd like to do something creative and 'stitchy' based on them - but don't hold your breath - it's not even at the planning stage yet! Maybe I'll get my sketchbook out later and do a few doodles to see what I come up with.

Drove back on Friday afternoon, and then joined the Art Van Go mob for a drink in the evening. Mentioned to Viv that it was a shame about Woolworths becoming the latest victim of the recession and it turned out that both Viv and I had started our working lives there as Saturday girls. I earned the princely sum of £1 2s 6d (that's £1.12p for any younger readers) for a whole day on Saturday. I started on the cake counter, selling unpackaged cake and loose biscuits, (oh shock, horror, whatever would the Health and Safety blokes say?) and progressed to the sweet counter. I wonder if that's where my current dietary habits started?

On Saturday I met my l'il sis and niece in Cambridge for some Christmas shopping - I think I have done most of it it now which is a result. Also met a very nice lady in Borders while we were both perusing the various arty/crafty/sewing magazines - aren't stitchers friendly people?

Stayed over in Cambridge last night with my niece, then got back today and had a very wet and muddy walk. Right, now to wrap those presents ....

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Had a lovely day at C& G on Wednesday - we made tassels and braids and cords on the machine - I really enjoyed it. What do you mean - it doesn't look much for a whole days work? Maybe not, to the untrained eye - but I was pleased! It's our last class until the new year, so plenty of time to finish off all the homework that I should have done already. I MIGHT even do some this afternoon, although the sun has come out now so maybe I'll just go for a walk instead.Had another high powered business meeting on Thursday - oh all right then, coffee, cake and chats with the girls about our very own craft fair. We've designed a flier and I took it to the printers, and here it is! I realise this is bordering on becoming an advert - but if any of you are near enough to visit - please come along. You don't have to buy anything - we just don't want to be sitting there all day with no visitors! And if you can't come, please keep your fingers crossed for us!

On Friday I had another teaching session with Edie - she has started on a Christmas table runner - so she's not given herself much time, but it's all cut out now and I know she was keen to get started. Ooh - I wonder - maybe I could subcontract my homework to her...

Yesterday was a Leyton Orient day. REALLY busy as they were playing Millwall, and it was nearly a capacity crowd but it ended in a 0-0 draw so no problems in the end. Right that's it, I'm off to update the Art Van Go blog next, then I think it's a chilly walk in the sunshine!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Culture and stuff

Had a trip up to town with the girls from my painting group yesterday (although I haven't been to painting for a while as I am actually FAR too busy, not doing my C&G homework. They still let me go with them anyway, and we went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the New Renaissance Portrait exhibition. I am afraid to say I still get that sinking feeling when someone mentions going to an art gallery, (especially portraits) but then I remember that I'm a grown up now and I DO enjoy them. This one was really good, and I spent quite a bit of time making little scribbled sketches and notes about textures and textiles which I'll put in my exhibitions book that I've started for my course. Had lunch in the restaurant there - very nice but a bit pricey and very slow service, then wandered up to Covent Garden before getting train home.
It was a beautiful day today so I walked to the shops, and to the sorting office to collect a parcel. Probably not a very exciting parcel for most people, but I was pleased - it's a new ironing board cover with pink hearts all over it (how perfect an ironing board cover is that?) Had to get a new one, following a minor incident whereby I ironed a piece of hand-printed fabric face side down, to avoid getting paint on the iron, not realising that the front was covered with painted bondaweb. Having spent about an hour trying to iron the sticky off, then picking at it with my nails, I thought I'd best lash out on a new cover. I have made a solemn vow to remove the new cover WHENEVER I am doing anything arty. Ditto using the old iron. I nearly took a photo of my ironing board with its lovely new cover - but I decided that would just be a bit TOO sad.
Spent the afternoon in my studio painting and sticking and generally making a mess, working on my texture book (bit of a frenzy of homework activity as it's 'school' tomorrow). Nearly jumped out of my skin when the window cleaner came and knocked on the window - no he doesn't clean the windows of my shed, he was after his money. I'm in a little world of my own when I'm working down there - I even took sandwiches and a flask of coffee with me today.
Oh - have been a bit experimental on the muffin front - tried using blueberries instead of raspberries today - don't they look lovely. Expect to see me on Masterchef very soon.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

All shopped out

I went to the new Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd's Bush on Thursday. Wouldn't normally have bothered, but was going to a gig at the Empire (to see Mercury Rev, in case you're interested) so met up with a friend earlier just to have a look round. I have seen the building described by a journalist as a "cathedral to money" and that just about sums it up. Its a huge modern building, with a big glass domed roof with no view of the outside world, and all the personality of Gatwick Airport. It has every shop that you'd expect to see at any other regional shopping centre or major high street, with one or two (expensive) additions. I don't think I'd bother going again - I had much more fun shopping in Suffolk last weekend. Maybe (shock, horror!) I am starting to get bored with shopping. Which would be a good thing given the credit crunch and all that. Or maybe I should move somewhere that doesn't have a Tesco or major high street chains, and instead has lots of little independent retailers - any suggestions?
One good thing though - I bumped into Ian Waite from Strictly Come Dancing - he's even taller than he looks on the telly - he must be about 6ft 5 - I told him that if I'm ever famous and on Strictly, I want him to be my partner. He was very pleasant (in a 'let's humour the mad woman' kind of way) , smiled and reminded me to vote for him and then carried on with his shopping.
Mercury Rev were brilliant, and played my very favorite track, it's just a pity I felt a bit rough by the end of the evening and then missed my train by TWO minutes, had to wait an hour for another one, so didn't get home until 2am.

My friend Jill and I have been busy making things for a craft fair at Redbourn this weekend.
Sadly it seems as if either we made all the wrong things, or everyone in the Redbourn area is also bored with shopping, or hit by the credit crunch, because they certainly weren't buying this weekend. Not very busy yesterday, and even quieter today. It wasn't just us, none of the traders seemed to be doing very well.
This was us on the first day before we started - we sorted our table out a bit better later on, but we've decided we've got too many bits and pieces - it's probably better to concentrate on just a few things. Cards seemed to sell quite well, and at least they don't require huge outlay or take up much space to store them.
We've decided that anything that hasn't sold before Christmas (and we've got one more craft fair planned) is going to be given away as Christmas presents, and then we'll give up this little enterprise.
At least it will give me more time to do my homework!
Oooh - one last exciting bit of news - Maggie Grey asked me to write an article for Workshop on the Web - A Day in the Life of Art Van Go. I sent it to her this week and it's going to be published in the December issue. I'm a writer!!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Girlie weekend in Suffolk

Have just had a brilliant girlie weekend in Suffolk - eight of us from two generations, plus Luke, the lone male (of a third generation). We stayed in a lovely house about five minutes walk from the beach at Aldeburgh. Arrived on Friday afternoon and had a walk on the beach, where we saw this oyster shell sculpture. For those who can't mirror read, the words say " I hear those voices that cannot be drowned"

By the time we got back, the unfortunates who still have to work for a living had arrived, so we had dinner, followed by cake.

On Saturday we had a wander round the town, and those of us that didn't go for lunch, swiftly followed by a cream tea (so that's just the older generation then) went to Snape Maltings and spent several hours browsing (and shopping). On our return, the general consensus was that we couldn't be bothered to get ready to go out to eat, so we had fish and chips followed by more cake, followed by party games that appeared more hilarious after a glass or two of wine. And champagne. And punch. And port. (Port??)

It's Jill's wig, and it's my blog, so although I wore the wig too, obviously it's her photo I chose to post.

On Sunday we all went off to Southwold - very cold and windy but the sun was shining, so we had a wander along the pier - you're right, it's only the Brits who would chose to sit outside rather than go inside to have coffee

It wouldn't be a proper walk on the pier unless you try your luck at the twopenny machines ......

and as we won four keyrings between us, no one can say we wasted our money. Although Victoria and Julie have since signed up with Gamblers Anonymous.

I love the beachhuts at Southwold - especially these ones painted in ice cream colours.
and just to prove the sun really was shining - Jo and Laura posed in their shades.

In case anyone was wondering - I'm afraid I did bake yet another batch of my now 'world-renowned muffins, suitable for all ages ...... and he really did eat it, it just LOOKS as if he's spread it about the coffee table.
A lovely weekend - even though we did have to drive through hell and (very) high water to get home. Needless to say, no homework done yet!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Happy Birthday Sis!!

My sister has a BIG birthday today. But we think there must be a mistake on our birth certificates, 'cos no way are we THAT old! She's three years younger than me, so by my calculations, that must make her 25 today (what do you mean I'm deluded?)
Here is us, taken just a few short years ago - I liked having my photo taken in those days and she didn't - hence my very tight grip on her hand, and her slightly grumpy smile. Now neither of us likes having our picture taken, but at least she's stopped putting her hands over her face!
I just love the dresses - our Mum made them for us, she made these ones from scratch ( sometimes we had cut out and ready to sew kits from Woman's Realm). I seem to remember I had to model my one at a fashion show at Chingford Assembly Hall. If I'd have known then that was my one big chance to become a supermodel I might have given it a bit more atitude!

To celebrate the occasion of her birthday, I made Linda a "sister" book - I started back in August last year on a workshop at Hawkwood in Stroud, with Frances Pickering. It has been a work in progress since then, but needless to say only got completely finished a couple of weeks ago - I kept adding little bits. I really enjoyed doing it, going through masses of old photographs when we were little- and some of them I could remember having taken. Anyway, this is the envelope I made to put the book in - dyed pelmet vilene.This is the front of the book - as you can see I still do pink, and I love hearts. When you open the little heart shaped window in the front there's a picture of my sister's face peeping out.

And this is one of the pages inside - all made with brown paper, with loads of photos stitched and stuck in, and some little sketches. Anyway, she rang me this morning, just as I was about to ring her to wish her a wonderful birthday, and said she loved it.

Her husband has made some wonderful plans to celebrate her birthday, so I know she will have a great time. After all, you're not 25 every day, are you?!?!?

Monday, 3 November 2008

I have got over the trauma of my drive home in the snow now - although I did spend Wednesday tucked up indoors. I ventured out on Thursday and had another morning helping Edie with her stained glass patchwork - it's nearly finished now and she's very pleased with it - I think it looks quite striking. Not bad considering that neither of us had ever done stained glass patchwork before, and Edie is partially sighted.

I was working on Saturday as Orient were playing at home (twice in one week) and FANFARE please - they WON!!! I think that might be the first time since I've been there. Not sure that they will want me as a lucky mascot just yet. On Sunday my sister and brother in law visited so I made yet another batch of white choc and raspberry muffins. PLEASE can someone give me another simple recipe - I'd like to try something different that is equally easy and reliable. After they'd gone home I sat down to make some tea towel bags for the forthcoming craft fairs - they were quick to do and I made three in an evening, whilst also watching Strictly, and Sharpe - so the stitching didn't exactly get my undivided attention!

I think they turned out quite well in spite of that - and I'm glad I found the doggie tea towels, although they took very slightly longer to make as I had to cut the tea towel in half so that the dogs didn't end upside down on one side.

Today I've been sorting out my coursework and I've spent the afternoon in my studio working on my texture samples - just hope they are all ok - I will find out on Wednesday!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The O's in the Snow

Just got back from a lovely few days in Norfolk with my family. Spent a day with my sis, with her trying to teach me crazy patchwork - I think she was despairing of me in the end. It seems I'm a bit too slapdash even for CRAZY patchwork. As yesterday was my Mum's ??th birthday, we went out for lunch - it makes a change for us all to look presentable (and I'm speaking mostly for myself here) so here we are all tidied up and ready to go out. The one who isn't me, and isn't my parents, is my baby sister. Incidentally if she's reading this, she can call off the search party for my glasses case - I found it in my bag - sorry!
After lunch, I then had to drive straight from sunny Norfolk to rainy Leyton (through a bit of a hail storm on the way) as Orient were playing at home to the MK Dons last night. Just before the start of the match there was a terrific clap of thunder and it started pouring with rain, which, during the course of the match turned to hail, then sleet, then snow (so much for global warming). By the time it was over (yeah yeah, we lost again 2-1) it was a real blizzard, which got worse and worse until the snow was settling on the roads, and even the main A roads were transformed into one lane. And just to prove I'm not making it up -this is a picture of my road when I eventually got home just after 11pm.It looks beautiful this morning though - the sun is shining and I don't think the snow will be hanging around for too long. Good excuse not to go anywhere, but instead to sit and finish my homework and then start on crafty things for the fairs in November and December.

Now that I've read this back - it's more of a weather report than a blog, isn't it?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Home, work and homework

You'll be glad to know that I have (more or less) managed to catch up with my C&G homework. I decided to treat it like a proper job, so by 9am on Monday morning I was sitting in front of my machine, ready to start stitching. All went according to plan until a friend popped in for coffee - but then even at work you're allowed a coffee break, aren't you? After coffee, I carried on working until 3pm so achieved a fair amount - but the samples are not particularly photogenic at the moment - bit like me really - so they will remain under wraps.

I was working at AVG on Tuesday - which was fortunate as Frances Pickering was running a workshop on Textured Treasures. I was very envious as they were making beautiful little stitched books - but at least I got to pop in now and again to see what they were doing. I can't believe how much laughter was going on - surprised they got any stitching done at all.

On Wednesday - after a quick and painless visit to the dentist - I went to visit one of my many cousins - really good to see her and we took her new whippet cross puppy (that is a whippet crossed with something else - I don't mean he was angry or anything) out for a walk in the sunshine. On the drive back I remembered a nearby patchwork shop "Just Between Friends" in Station Way, Buckhurst Hill - so I just had to call in and have a look around. Bought some really nice fabric, and another stash of rick rack braid - my sister says you can never have too much rick rack (or is it ric rac??) and I guess she must be right.

All absolute essentials - I'm sure you'll agree. I think I was quite controlled.

Thursday I was teaching my 80 year old pupil Edie with her stained glass patchwork. The trickiest bit seems to be working out in advance the order in which to stitch the bias strip, so that most of the joins are covered up and you don't have too many folded pieces. Anyway, it's still a work in progress but Edie was happy for me to photograph it at this stage.

Can you see what it is yet??? (said in a Rolf Harris voice if you can manage it)

I'm going back there next week, so hopefully we will get it finished then - but it will definitely be done in time for C......... mas (I'm not saying it yet, not until November at least.

Right, now off to do a bit more homework......

Sunday, 19 October 2008

I think I got away with it!

Had another great day on Wednesday at my C&G course - working on Whip Stitch, Feather Stitch and Cable Stitch. Really scarey stuff, - had to loosen the bobbin tension and everything!! I hadn't realised there were so many different machine embroidery stitches.
Fortunately I didn't get detention for failing to complete my homework, and I am absolutely determined to get it all done before next class in three weeks' time. Consequently my living room looks like there has been a minor explosion - but I'm not putting my machine or fabric etc away until I've finished it. If, no, WHEN I finish it, maybe I'll post a picture.
Last night the band that I manage - Sweet Sister - had a gig in a local pub. I was a bit worn out beforehand, having worked at Leyton Orient all day (they lost again - to Tranmere Rovers) but once I'd got ready and gone out I livened up. Didn't feel QUITE so lively this morning though - I keep forgetting that the pubs don't close at 11pm anymore.

Fortunately, quite a few people turned up to support them, so we've got another booking in three weeks' time.
For anyone who is interested, I've set up a blog for Art Van Go now, (I've got so much time on my hands, I really needed another little job!) so I'll include the link iin case you'd like to have a look.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Now it's next week!

Another week has flown by!

It's not like I've done anything. Well, apart from two days working for Art Van Go at the Knitting and Stitching show, a seven mile walk on Sunday, and two gigs in London. That's not counting half a dozen walks into town - at least two of which were to run errands I'd forgotten to do on the previous trips. And before anyone says I'm getting forgetful - it's not that, but I've decided that my personal hard drive is full, and I need to delete some of the useless stuff that's stored there!

So .. Thursday was the first day of Knit and Stitch at Alexandra Palace - this is just before opening, the calm before the storm!

And this is shortly after opening:
This is Jane who was demonstrating for us - she's a bit shy! And this is Kevin - who clearly isn't!

Please don't anyone tell him he's got odd shoes on - he thinks it makes him look hip and trendy!

And finally Viv - who will hate me for this!

On Saturday, I managed to nip off to have a quick look at Ruth Issett's exhibition before the show opened. And I think I may have discovered where she gets the inspiration for all those beautifully bright colours - she's obviously looking at the world through rose tinted champagne glasses - and this was half past nine in the morning!! Maggie Grey was clearly encouraging her - these bohemian artists must all be the same!

Seriously though, Ruth's exhibition was fantastic - such wonderful use of colour and pattern - it just makes you happy to look at it. If it was music it would be the Beach Boys, or Teenage Fanclub, or The Delays (depending on your era) - all summer and sunshine. My photos can't possibly do Ruth's work justice, but in case you didn't see the exhibition - here's a taster

I only worked two days at Ally Pally this year - we were busy non-stop as usual. It seems that people have decided to take their money out of the banks and invest in art materials instead!

On Sunday, as we were promised good weather, I went for a long walk around Much Hadham, taking a footpath through the Henry Moore Foundation gardens - and just to prove it really was sunny:-

It was a lovely day - (hotter here than Barcelona, apparently) and a great opportunity to enjoy what may be our last day of sunshine this year. Didn't see many other people out and about - presumably they were inside watching the omnibus edition of Eastenders.

Monday night I went to the Roundhouse in Camden to see Elbow - had a really good night- although my photos weren't up to much -And last night I went to a tiny venue at Highbury to see a young band from Paris - King of Conspiracy. Really different and with so much energy - glad I caught them before they're famous.
Anyway, I guess all this explains why I didn't quite finish my City and Guilds homework in time for today's class. Must try harder ......