Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Little Piece of Leather

Watch closely, this is the probably the nearest I'll ever get to posting an online tutorial!
It's not for anything exciting, I'm afraid, and the only reason I'm doing it,  is for the benefit of anyone else like me who finds it impossible to sew with a thimble.  I've tried various types, and different sizes over the years,  but I've never really got to grips with them.  Then a few weeks ago, a very kind lady lent me one that stayed on my finger, and didn't impede my stitching. Unfortunately, she had bought it  from an unknown location in the States, and I didn't really think the purchase of a thimble justified the air fare.
But then I looked at the original, and realise it didn't exactly push my resourceful skills to the limit, to make my own. 
Firstly I cut out a piece of leather ...
Then laid a piece of wide elastic across the leather, folded the top section of leather over the elastic, and stitched it.
I find it easier to stitch first, then trim the elastic to size.  I have stitched in white because I couldn't be a***ed to change the thread in my machine wanted to make it easier for you to see.
Then, just trim the leather and elastic close to the stitching line
Not exactly a thing of beauty, but it does the job.  And, of course, if you haven't got any leather in your sewing box, everyone's got an old pair of leather trousers in the wardrobe that they'll never wear again, even if they DID fit.  Oh, just me, then.
If you want a slightly prettier thimble, use pink leather, and pink elastic with sparkly silver hearts.
I might make loads, to keep my fingers warm in my fingerless gloves.
If I knew how to put patterns on here, I would.  But I don't so you're on your own, I'm afraid.

A Little Piece of Leather - Donnie Elbert

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Living In the Material World

This is post is going to be mostly pictures - I've had a busy couple of days surrounded by fabric, dyes and thread, and my little brain is worn out, but I wanted to post pictures of what I've been doing.
I've had a fantastic weekend at Belstead House, near Ipswich on a textile weekend with the girls from Romford Embroiderers Guild.  Although I'm no longer a member of that Branch, I was for many years, and they very kindly invited me to join them.   I chose to do the class led by Libby Smith, entitled Mixed Media Landscapes.  The first pictures are of Libby's beautiful examples, made with hand dyed fabrics, distressed papers, print and stitch 

Our pieces are very much 'works in progress'  but hopefully they will all be finished in the days/weeks/months ahead!  I'm not going to say who did each piece, in case I get any names mixed up, but here they are ...

I CAN tell you that the bottom one in the picture above is mine - not my usual colours or style at all! I think it looks a bit drab, but there will be a lot more stitching on it and hopefully that will brighten it up.

Some of the girls made 'Fertility Dolls' - although they agreed that they weren't hoping that they actually worked!

The girls in the other class, led by Katie Harrowven,  worked with metal shims, foils, friendly plastic, and gold leaf, and when we went to see what they had been doing - their classroom was a riot of colour ..
And finally, Libby issued a two-fabric landscape challenge.  Now, I'm the only person who actually took up the challenge, and I have to say I returned to my usual colourful and sparkly (some say, tacky) style, using a couple of hand dyed babywipes that I had previously used to clean up paint palettes, and which I knew would come in useful one day.
A lovely weekend with great company, good food lots of stitching and not enough sleep.  
Can I go to bed now please?

Living In The Material World - George Harrison

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Black and White

I met up with the girls for knitting on Friday, at our most recent regular venue in Hertford.  I probably shouldn't name it, but I did blog about it's beautiful decor a couple of months ago.  
It's just a shame that the service is not on a par with the wallpaper.  There were only the three of us in the place when we ordered breakfast, and it was a fairly simple order.  
1. Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, no toast or muffins.  
2. Poached eggs on toasted muffins
3. Toast with a selection of preserves.
All these were on the menu, and didn't, on the face of it, push the chef's culinary skills to the limit.
First to arrive was number 1.  It was served on toast.  It was sent back.  Ten minutes later it returned, this time on muffins.  Sent back again.  Another ten minutes and finally it was right.
Number 2 - arrived on toast, sent back.  Probably only five minutes this time (easier to scoop poached eggs off toast, than scrambled with smoked salmon, maybe?)
Number 3 - I ordered the toast.  It arrived, on a plate, naked with no sign of butter or jam.  The waitress said "Do you want anything else with that?"  There may have been just a touch of sarcasm when I said I find dry toast a tad bland, and was there any chance of butter and jam.  It only took four requests for the butter to arrive.  Well, three requests, plus a "If you tell me where the kitchen is, I'll go and fetch my own butter"

The Manager did apologise and said that they were experiencing 'staff training issues' and that next time we have breakfast there, we can have a free Bucks Fizz.  I guess that will be to celebrate, in the unlikely event t hat they get the order right.

I've been doing a bit of printing 'homework' - still on the black and white theme, but this time on fabric, with a view to making a stitched sample.  

I decided to go for the fabric on the right, which is based around footsteps over a bridge (you'll just have to take my word for it).  I'd printed white on black fabric, and vice versa, and I've cut them up to patchwork them.
I've tried various arrangements ...

And I've settled for this one, which is now stitched together
And which, when I feel so inclined, I will quilt or stitch somehow, in time for the next Spectrum meeting in May.  All very well, but I'd rather be making a frock.
Do you ever find yourself with a long list of fairly important things you should be getting on with, but in fact, find yourself doing something that isn't, strictly, essential?  Yeah me too.  I saw a picture in a magazine of soaps wrapped in pretty paper.  Hence this now graces my bathroom.
Sometimes, you just have to do something because you want to.

There was a great programme on Radio 4 this week about protest songs, and I love this quote from Billy Bragg.  "For political songwriters, a Tory Government getting elected is like putting fat balls out for the birds on a frosty morning.  You just have to sit and watch and you know they're gonna come."

Black And White - ~Deep Purple

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Every Time We Say Goodbye

Been a bit of a blogging gap I'm afraid.  It's the old story - either you are doing loads of stuff and have no time to blog about it, or you've got plenty of time on your hands and nothing to talk about.
The week before last I did a two day workshop at Art Van Go with Lynda Monk which I've written about on the Art Van Go blog, so if you'd like to see what we did, you can read about it here

Last weekend I went to Yorkshire with my sister's family, to say our final farewell to her at a beautiful spot in the Yorkshire Dales.  Linda went on holiday to Kettlewell last May, before she knew she was ill, and it was while she was out for a walk with her family and the dogs, that they just happened upon this place.  Linda said it was her perfect location, and that if she could build a cottage anywhere in the world, it would be on the bank overlooking this river.
I could see exactly why it would appeal to her, she always did love a stepping stone
It was an occasion with a few tears, but also a few laughs, because one of the other things that would have made it her perfect spot, was that it had a makeshift swing, and she was always partial to those, so she would have definitely have approved of this
and I must say Jess didn't take too much encouragement - although she was the only one tiny enough to have risked the insubstantial rope!  And, it was the perfect day for Linda too - sunny, but not too hot
And surrounded by lots of little lambs

Altogether, I just know she would have approved of her final resting place.

I also know without a doubt, that Linda would have told us not to mope around for the rest of the week, but to enjoy our holiday. So bearing that in mind, later on in the week I went to Salts Mill, in Saltaire, near Bradford.  I didn't even know the place existed until I went to the David Hockney exhibition and saw this painting...
Apparently the mill opened in 1853, having been built for Titus Salt who had made a fortune in textiles.  In 1987 it was empty, and was bought by young entrepreneur Jonathan Silver, who created the 1853 gallery to exhibit the work of his friend, David Hockney. 

It was definitely worth the drive from the Dales
I spent hours in there, with coffee and scone in the cafe, (there's a restaurant too) a browse (and a little bit of shopping) in the fantastic bookshop, and a good look around the gallery - especially the projection of ipad paintings - I must have sat there for 20 minutes and although the paintings changed about every ten seconds, I didn't see the same one twice.
These are some of my favourites

and, as the man himself says, 
all made on the iphone or ipad - not a brush in sight.
Very inspirational, which is why I went home and did this
Well, it's a start.

Every Time We Say Goodbye - Ella Fitzgerald