Friday, 26 March 2010

LOVE letters - you can stick 'em!

I've had a really good day out at the Country Living Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington.  I travelled up with friends Jill and Julia, and then met up with Gina (Fan My Flame).  We all showed great financial restraint this morning - I certainly didn't buy much at all.  But then,  after we'd all met up and had some lunch, it was a bit of a different story this afternoon.  Although, as regular readers will know, I don't cook, I bought some red spotty cupcake cases, matching paper napkins, and some red glitter stuff to sprinkle on fairy cakes.  I figure that if I can produce cakes that look pretty and sparkly, maybe no-one will notice that they're not up to much in the taste stakes.  It's always good to be aware of your failings.
Then we saw the Decopatch stand.  I'd first seen this when  Attic 24 was enthusing about Decopatch back in November.  I probably could have resisted, except that Gina said she was going to buy a kit, (consisting of MDF letters and glue and some beautiful tissue-y type paper)  and then she MADE me buy one too.  I'd been telling her earlier today, that she never seems to waste time - she decides she's going to make something and she does it - just like that, whereas I put it away and forget about it only to rediscover it some weeks/months/years later when I tidy up.  As we'd both got the same kit, and as I know she won't waste any time in finishing hers - I thought for once I'd get cracking with mine.  AND, as Gina was going straight from the show to meet up with some other bloggy friends - she won't be able to do hers tonight.
So,  as soon as I got home (without even pausing to eat) I was in my workroom, cutting and sticking until it was finished - and I've won! (not that it's a competition or anything, obviously)
It's really quick to do, and the glue/varnish dries very quickly - so hopefully it won't have made any sticky marks on the wall where I've put it to take the photograph.

Incidentally, I asked Gina for the instructions to make Tyvek flowers, which is one of the many wonderful workshops she teaches.  She very kindly, not only bought the instructions with her today - but she gave me this gorgeous flower too!

She said it would be easier to explain how they should look if I had an example.  Isn't it beautiful - and isn't she lovely?  I almost feel guilty for beating her in the decopatch race.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring has Sprung.

It's very definitely Spring today.  How do I know? .....
1.  I've just cut the grass for the first time this year.  It's always a worry - will the lawn mower spring into action when required?  It wouldn't be the first time that I've ended up with a pulled shoulder, and blisters on my hand from pulling the starter cord so many times before giving up and turning into a Basil Fawlty lookalike, kicking it in frustration.  But today it worked perfectly.   I topped it up with fresh petrol first, following past advice from my uncle Mick,  and my Dad (and what they don't know about engines and lawnmowers isn't worth knowing) and after a couple of good pulls the engine fired into life.  It's not a great lawn - it has too many weeds and far too much moss for that, but it still looks much better for a trim.
2.  I saw my first butterfly for this year.  I can't tell you what make it was, but it was a citrus-y lemon-y colour if that helps.
3.  And, best of all, it was warm enough to do this ...

Lunch in the garden!
Yesterday my friend Jill and I had a trip out to Berkamsted, because I'd read about an Antique Centre that we fancied visiting.
It was quite interesting, lots of little rooms off rooms full of, well, mostly old stuff.  I think the term 'antique' was pushing it a bit - it was more vintage junk than antiques, but more interesting to us because of that.  What it did confirm to us is that you should NEVER throw anything away - we both saw things that were marked up for sale that we'd thrown out in the past.  Saw several things I liked, but managed to resist.
I might not have bought anything there, but we did have a root through a number of charity shops and I got these little treasures ...

Oh,  and then we found a Laura Ashley shop and I bought these ....

Some lovely new handles for the cupboards in my sewing room, a 'Gilly Pink' icecream sundae glass,  and a pretty mug (that was actually from Waitrose).    They have a very nice Waitrose at Berkhamsted, and we spent quite some time smelling all the scented candles that they had to offer.  As I said to Jill, some women have to spend fortunes on a pair of Jimmy Choos or the latest "It" bag - but give us a couple of charity shops, and let us sniff the posh scented candles in Waitrose - and we're happy.
Maybe that's why I like the CD I've been listening to recently - I bought Paolo Nutini's new album 'Sunny Side Up'.  Not my usual musical choice, but it's very 'summery' and I especially like Track 6 with the lyrics "I've got food in my belly, and a licence for my telly, and nothin's gonna bring me down"
My sentiments exactly, Paolo.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

So many pleasures, so little time .......

I've discovered the inherent problem with blogging.  At the times when you're  really busy and dashing about doing interesting stuff - there's no time to write about it, and then, when you have time to sit and update the blog - you haven't got anything to write about.  And it has been a 'fun-packed' couple of weeks which is why I've not had time to post.  I had my niece to stay for a few days which was great, then at the last but one weekend I went to an afternoon tea party, held in honour of one of my neighbours who was celebrating her 95th birthday!  It was a surprise, organised by one of her friends, and her daughter who is currently visiting from the US.  There was a young girl at the party who suggested that we all hide and jump out when Nora arrived, but I think we managed to convince her that maybe at 95, that wasn't such a great idea.  Anyway, it was a lovely afternoon and Nora thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Apart from that I've worked, practised guitar, been to Pilates and the gym, lunched with friends, beaded and knitted, (having gate-crashed a freeform knitting workshop run by June Linsley at ArtVanGo) .......

Oh, and not to mention a Whole Lotta Led gig, and giving blood (totally unconnected events, you understand.)

On Saturday I went to the Embroiderer's Guild - I'd not been for ages as it seems to coincide with Leyton Orient home matches.   I took the day off  as they had arranged a speaker I particularly wanted to see - Libby Smith who is a member of the E.A.S.T group, and who was talking about her most recent work.  I loved it and have booked onto a workshop with her in a few months time (fortunately after the football season finishes!)

On Sunday (it's ok, we're nearly up to date now so I'm not going on for much longer) I went to the Landmark Arts Centre at Teddington for the Contemporary Textile Fair.  It was wonderful - every imaginable type of textile art, and all of a very high quality.  I could have spent fortunes, but I managed to be fairly controlled and bought some very different, but equally beautiful pieces of jewellery.
The first is a pair of earrings, using stitched wire around large press studs, which I thought were really unusual, and which were made by Judith Brown .....

Next, several pieces of wire jewellery - two brooches and a pair of earrings, made by Jo Dewar

and finally, a really delicate and beautifully stitched brooch made by Karen of Contemporary Embroidery.

It was lovely to meet up with Karen after following her blog for some time, and a little bird tells me that she may be running workshops in the future, so I will definitely try to put my name down for one of those.  In fact, I'm going to see if she'll come to our branch of the  Embroiderers Guild - her work blends traditional stitching, used in a contemporary way, that would appeal to all stitchers.

Right, that's me up to date, just got time for a quick guitar practise before heading off to the cinema.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Another one down, two to go!

I've been to City and Guilds today and had the second of my four projects assessed and verified!  The project was for a 3D functional item, and I decided to make a cushion.  Following on from my design work on shape, which, naturally enough, was based on hearts (no surprise there, then) I had been looking at tattoo designs incorporating hearts.  Following a chance remark made by a friend, (whilst we were discussing my total inability to turn down demands on my all-too-precious time) I decided to base my design on a heart shaped emblem with the motto "Just Say No!"   I'd originally intended to make the cushion from denim or black velvet, but when my sis saw the emblem, she said it looked as if it should be on the back of a leather jacket, so I changed my choice of fabric and made the cushion from imitation leather. 

The heart is machine felted merino top onto felt, the wings are made from Angelina, and the banner is free machined onto watersoluble fabric in granite stitch. 
I realise the cushion isn't to everyone's taste, but it is very me!   More Rock than Vintage I guess.

Incidentally, while we were at C&G today, my lovely friend Pam was having trouble changing her needle as the screw that holds it in place had clearly been tightened by the same bloke who puts the lids on jam jars.  She asked me if I could do it (I couldn't) so our teacher Gina volunteered to have a go.  While she made an unsuccessful attempt, Pammie had popped round the other side of the dividing wall, to the shop.  In the meantime, I remembered that I'd got a pair of pliers in my needlework box (who doesn't?) so gave them to Gina who was then able to undo the screw and remove the needle.  I told her not to tell Pam about the pliers, and to say that she'd done it with her teeth.  I then said in a voice loud enough for Pam to hear "Careful Gina, you'll get your head stuck!"  Pam came back in and asked what had happened and was terribly concerned when Gina said she had undone it with her teeth, saying "Oh no, you shouldn't have done that, the machine's still switched on, you could have been electrocuted! 
See, all that Health and Safety Training wasn't wasted.

PS I've just posted the photographs I took at Textiles in Focus on ArtVanGo's blog