Saturday, January 31, 2009

No filters, but.....

A visit to Missenden Abbey offers many photographic opportunities. Today was no exception, but today I thought I would try something new.

Those that follow this blog regularly may remember this photograph of a stained glass door showing the coloured shadows on the floor. When I took it I was concentrating on the floor, not really noticing the door, although I have seen it many times before. Today the sun was again shining through the glass, but the length of the shadow stretched too far to capture with the camera. Instead I was drawn to the colours of the glass, and decided to see what it would be like to use a couple of them as filters. These are the results.

The first was taken through a golden yellow pane. It is quite naturistic, but funnily enough shows several aspects that I didn't notice when I took it! I was too busy concentrating on the 'technique'.

This second shot shows the world through a red pane. This is how the view would look through rose coloured spectacles! The aspect is slightly different as I had to reach up quite high to take the photograph.

Lastly I took this shot through natural glass to show how it actually looked. I'm sure you will agree that it is a lovely spot. It was a beautiful day. Dry, but cold.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Do you knit?

I thought you might like to see a couple of the new yarns from my knitting range.

This one is currently for sale on Etsy 
And so too, is this one
This chenille is beautifully soft and knits like a dream.
All dyed with one of our Serendipity techniques there are more yarns and colourways in the pipeline.  Some of them will be there to view and buy at Unravel, held at the Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey on 21st February.  We won't be there as it's the same weekend as Textiles in Focus, but they will be on the INTERKNIT CAFE stand (no link as the website is still under construction).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The down side?

Those that have been in touch recently will know that the last few working weeks have been somewhat disjointed.  Due to a bereavement we have had to step in to look after our little grandson.  This has not been arduous.  He is a delightful little lad, and of course I'm not in the least bit biased! 

At sixteen months he is beyond the baby stage, a real toddler, into everything but from a very interested and wondrous point of view.  Everything is new, words increase on a daily basis and he adores books.  DS takes him regularly to the library already, so there is always something new to read, apart from the collection already accumulated, and he will sit with DH and read for ages.

Apart from  reading he also loves Thomas the Tank Engine.  He was given several 'sets' for Christmas, and of course these appeal to all the men in the family too.  Occasionally he will watch television, and one of his favourites is 'In the Night Garden'.  If you haven't come across this programme I suggest you pop over to the site and investigate.  It is a very quiet and gentle television series, with some appealing characters, each one of whom has its own song.  If you click on the appropriate button you can hear a snippet and find out more about the characters

And so we come to the downside........

Today was not a day for babysitting.  I have been dyeing a new series of colours and knitting yarns.  I was minding my own business and concentrating hard, making notes and watching the clock.  Suddenly, though, I realised that I was singing.  It was quiet, and certainly didn't invade too much upon my thoughts, but there it was - THAT tune........

'Yes, my name is Iggle Piggle..............'

Thursday Theme

If you are looking for the Thursday Theme it's hiding HERE

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

If you are looking for Wordless Wednesday you will find it HERE

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The end of an era

Oh dear.  Today is a sad day.  All good things must come to an end, and today it is the end of my favourite book......

Can four years count as an era?  As far as I am concerned the last four years have had great significance.  They have seen my dyed threads travel to far flung corners of the earth, in a way that I certainly didn't envisage four years ago.  At that time we hadn't even developed our website!

So, what is the significance?  Today I completed the final page in my record book.

Inside these pages are the dye details of everything I have dyed over the last four years, and when I checked on the first entry I was amazed to see that it was 25th January 2005!  It was a cheap book, but I have so enjoyed using it.  I know exactly when it was bought and thoughts of that day bring back very happy memories.  I didn't buy it for this purpose, but when I decided on my record process it exactly fitted the bill. I keep other records too, but they are kept in a loose leaf file.  Details of quantities dyed, the process and how they were dried too.  Other information is in that file, and it is only by combining both sets of information with a third that the full recipe will be revealed.  As I dye using several different techniques all this detail is important and can therefore be easily combined according to technique.

These hangtags represent the dyed items that have been sold on Etsy since I began my adventure there almost a year ago.  Althought the items sold on Etsy are only from the Serendipity range they still qualify for records, although they are not repeatable.
So here is the cover of my book.  I can assure you, I will still consult it.......

Wish I could find another just like it.........! 
And maybe one day I'll share all my dyed samples with you........

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Severed Landscape

It is quite easy to focus if you don't have much time. It is also easy to focus if you don't have much in the way of materials. 'Not many materials?' I hear you cry. Yes, I know I have a shop, but I can't use everything that's in it, DH wouldn't let me, apart from anything else!

Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to put aside a little time for creating. I decided that in order to focus I would give myself as little choice as possible and see what happened. I also decided that I would choose fabrics that I actually didn't like very much, and use them in the best way that I could. I am not a patchworker, but I do have a few patchwork fabrics that I have acquired by various means. Sorting through them I discovered that they were all dark colours - burgundy, navy brown and dark green. I sorted them into 'collections' in their colour families and decided to go for the burgundy collection. I also limited my choice to no more than six. The above picture shows one of the items that came out of this selection. It may look as though it has more than six fabrics, but I have also used the reverse side in some places. This isn't cheating, it's adding to the variety. I have called it Severed Landscape, and to a certain extent it has a political theme. I was thinking about the new US President and his first 100 days in office. Here in the UK we know well about the 'honeymoon period' of politicians. As Obama begins his Presidency the world is faced with divisions of all kinds. I wonder how much difference there will be at the end of his 100 days...

This piece is number one in a series to mark the 100 days. Not all items will be stitched, and many of them won't be featured here. However, if you would like to join in this 'marking' there is in fact a Flickr group. There isn't even any need to worry about what you will do as there is a list of 100 projects to help. These aren't compulsory - just to help if you get 'stuck'. The above stitching isn't one of the projects. Maybe I'll see you there?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Can spring be on its way?

This is only a brief, reflective post.

It has been such a strange winter, colder than for some time, and I haven't worked with the outside door open for months.  When I have been outside I have dashed quickly between house and car or stockroom, and hardly taken any notice of what is around and about.

Yesterday I was able to spend some time stitching.  It was peaceful, and through the still closed outer door I heard a sound that I have really missed.  I heard birds chattering and singing in a way that can only herald spring.  It was such a surprise as I had, only a short while before, stated to a friend on the internet that spring was a long way off still!  I love spring.  It brings with it so much promise; new life; new colour. Here's hoping it isn't too long........

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Theme

If you are looking for this week's Thursday Theme you will find it HERE

Can you keep a secret?

Today I am on my own.  It is such a rare treat and I have only known about it for about ten days.  I will be on my own until about 10.30 tonight, and that makes it extra special.   If I get any free time it is usually only a few hours, and I have learnt from experience that those hours are usually far less than originally intended.  This time, however, I know that the end of my free time is governed by a ferry booking, so it is a little more definite.   Last night I surreptitiously made a list of all the things I want to do!

What's on the list?

Well, first and foremost some dyeing.  I'm off to start that now.  The pound has sunk a little, so that is meaning that a lot of orders are coming in from overseas.  I must start with orders and then add to my stock.  That will take a couple of hours, and it's on my list although it doesn't really qualify to be added to 'free' time!  Fortunately the next stage won't need any input from me, so while that is standing I can go on to the next task.  I then have to take care of some orders that have come in overnight.  One is going to take a while, there is a lot of matching to do, so I will have to grab a moment when the daylight is good - certainly not yet a while!  I have books to send out too, so all this means invoices and a little bit of admin so nothing gets missed out.  At some point all this will have to go to the post office, and that means a drive, so I will do a small bit of shopping at the same time. There are some phone calls to be made, answers to messages left yesterday while we were grandson-sitting, so these may well generate more orders, and need to be done early in the day.  I mustn't forget to rinse my dyeing either.  I'm not going to leave this to batch for 24 hours because I am trying to achieve a specific effect, and this needs to be rinsed as soon as the alarm goes and then hung to dry, so, as you can see, although it is 'free time' it is quite regimented to a certain extent.


Eventually all of the above will be finished.  I will now have some time to myself, and this is my 'secret time'.  I haven't had any time like this since early October, so it is very precious and I want to make the most of it.  If I had a whole day I would spend it creating items for my portfolio (I'm working towards an exhibition in May) but as I will only have a limited time I'm going to do things that should have been done a while ago.  They are all small, postcards and the like.  I owe so many, and I know that most people won't believe that I haven't had time to do them - but that's the fact.  On most days my 'free time' begins at about 11pm, and that's far too late to start with the creative process if an early morning is following.  Can you keep a secret?  Today I'm going to get some of those done.  Please don't tell anyone - I want people to be suprised when they eventually receive them in the post.............


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

If you are looking for Wordless Wednesday you will find it HERE

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Summary

Well, it looks as though it's going to be an interesting week....

In theory I'm spending the week dyeing three wholesale orders.  There will also be some mail order to handle and other bits and pieces are bound to crop up.  However, our schedule will be interrupted. On Friday morning our daugter-in-law's grandmother died most unexpectedly.  Consequently her mother and father have had to jet off to make all the required arrangements etc.  It will be a difficult time for them, especially as it is a fair distance away.  They won't be around to babysit on Monday and Wednesday, either, so we are jumping in to help out.

What does this mean?  Well, it means lots of fun and cuddles with our littel grandson, and who can resist that?  They called in briefly yesterday and he had fun looking through some pieces of textile art that I have in a box.  Lots of texture - and why not 'grab them young'!  In retrospect I should have taken some pictures, but I'll try to remember to do that next time.  It's going to be a little difficult to do the dyeing, though, so today I'm doing a 'double shift'.  The first lot is standing almost ready for rinsing, and as soon as I've finished this post I'm about to start winding yarns for the next batch.  That is the tedious part!  It's very restful feeling all the textures, though, so ultimately it's quite relaxing, if energetic.  Apart from Thread packs and Jumbo Perle I'm also dyeing some Textures packs, they always go well, especially in soft, interesting mixes.  I'll post some pictures when they are dry, but it may not be for a day or two.

So, if I'm quiet - you know why.  It may continue into next week, but when needs must........

Friday, January 16, 2009

Play Away!

On Monday I began an adventure! I embarked on a trip to the wild, woolly and windswept wastes of Norfolk. It was not a part of the UK that I knew well, and it was something to which I was really looking forward. Wild? Woolly? Windswept Wastes? I had been assured some time ago, by an ex work colleague, that Norfolk was windy, remote and full of sheep. I couldn't wait to find out.

I went by train, crossing London and then travelling from King's Cross directly to Kings Lynn, and there I was met by Marion, otherwise known as artmixter! Remote? After such an easy journey I don't think it qualifies. Windy? Not sure. It certainly wasn't windy while I was there, so the jury is still out on that issue. Full of sheep? Well, I didn't see any - not one - but they could have been hiding, however, a waste it is not!  Oh what fun! A few days to play and generally have a good time.

Of course, we forgot to take a photograph, so here is one of us taken earlier this year.  
I am seriously jealous of Marion's artistic setup!  She not only has a wonderful workshop set up ready for all sorts of artistic endeavours but also has two (yes, two!) studios with light to die for!  She allowed me to examine in detail all her work and samples, and as she is so prolific there was much to see.  If you have seen her work online in her Etsy Shop I can assure you it is MUCH more vivid and detailed in person.  What fun I had!  But that isn't all......
On Tuesday afternoon we went to visit her friend Jill.  What a lovely lady!  She opened her workshop (I won't even begin to describer her facilities - it was another case of green eyed jealousy on my part!) and let us run riot.  We did some stitching using some of her fabulous collection of fabrics.  Here is a picture of Marion and Jill.  At least I remembered to take that!

And here are the little pieces that I produced.  Not finished yet, but on the way

On Wednesday I was let loose in the workshop!  If you look carefully you can see part of it to the top right of this photograph

Isn't it a lovely aspect?  This view was taken from my bedroom.  Marion offers worshops and classes, this wonderful space is ideal for so many different techniques!  I had decided  to  do some printing to take advantage of her printing press.  First, though I had to make a collagraph,  While I did this Marion was doing her 'own thing',  we worked next to each other, but there is so much space that we didn't interfere with each other.  I printed on both paper and Evolon.  I'm delighted with the results and will do some more work on them at some point.  Here's an idea of what I did:
We worked well into the dark!  In fact we had trouble finding the house as it was so black!  Fortunately Marion led the way......  
Well, I just went to get to know Marion better and to share some information and play.   We did all these things, but although I wasn't involved in a workshop I just know that Marion is a superb teacher.  If you get the chance to attend a workshop make sure you jump at the opportunity.  She is very generous, and now that I've seen the facilities I know you won't be disappointed.  She also offers coaching for artists and small businesses, and her good suggestions and observations will make her an ideal person to talk to.  In fact, here's a recommendation from someone else!
Thanks, Marion, for a lovely time!  I'm looking forward to the next time already..........!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Theme

If you are looking for today's Thursday Theme you will find it HERE

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

If you are looking for Wordless Wednesday you will find it HERE

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I have been very busy over the last couple of days so, although I had heard that M&S were announcing closures and redundancies, I wasn't actually able to find out any details until today.

If you have been following the blog you will remember that I spoke earlier this week about being brought up in Woking at a time when Marks and Spencer were considered as the wrong sort of shop the the town centre.  Frankly, I wasn't surprised to see that the store there is one of those which is to close.   The announcement is here.  I wonder if there was any connection.......

I also noticed that one of the food stores about to close is that at Market Harborough.  This titbit has no connection whatsoever to M&S, but I was reminded that the town was once visited by G K Chesterton.  On arrival he sent a telegram to his wife:

'Am at Market Harborough.  Where should I be?'

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

If you are looking for Wordless Wednesday it is posted here

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday's Tale

This is a true story.

Once upon a time there was a lady called Arabella (the name has been changed to protect the 'innocent'). She was slim, elegant and well-coiffeured. She was the sort of lady that my grandmother would have said 'had more money than sense'. Always the centre of attention she delighted in playing to her audience. If an entrance was to be made Arabella would know how to do it, and make sure that everyone saw. Her clothes were expensive, and always absolutely perfect for the occasion. Of course, she never wore the same thing twice unless the company was different. She was married to a man with a title, and it was for that exact reason that she had married him. It gave her a standing, albeit a fairly lowly one.
One evening there was a cocktail party. Arabella arrived on the arm of her companion. She wore the most exquisite little black dress. Silk and chiffon stitched to perfection. The neckline was not too low, and the length was not too short. Her heels were exactly the right height to compliment her escort, and her shining hair was tossed from side to side as she listened attentively to every word that was spoken to her. Arabella's responses were perfect, she always knew exactly what to say and also when to laugh, her tinkling tones neither too loud nor too soft. As always her presence was perfection.
At some point during the evening there was a slight lull in the conversation. It was the moment for which Arabella had been waiting. She had an announcement to make and everyone must know.
'I've decided to take up golf!'
The men in the room flocked to her side. Offers of all sorts were bandied about, there was no limit to the amount of time they were willing to devote to teaching her. The best sources of equipment were also offered, and all this knowing that ladies and men really don't mix in golf clubs! Arabella spurned them all, no, she was 'going to a Professional'. From this time on all gatherings took on a different perspective. Somehow the main subject was always 'golf'! The tinkling laugh still made its appearance, the clothes continued to be perfect, but everyone had to know how things were going, and of course her 'Professional' was very pleased with her.
This continued for a good two years, and then it appeared that Arabella had become a little bored with golf, because a whole six months passed with no mention of the subject. Finally one of the men could stand it no longer. He asked the question that was on everyone's lips.
'How is the golf going, Arabella?'
'Oh, it's really exciting. My Professional is so pleased with me he has said that next week I can start practising with a ball.'

Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday Memories

It's been a while since I posted one of these, but yesterday I had a very strong sense of deja vu. Our illustrious prime minister was interviewed on a tv programme and has promised to transform the employment opportunities of thousands.

I lived most of my childhood in Woking in Surrey. This was long before the present town centre was built. It was in the days of the Atlanta Ballroom (my regret is that I only ever got to see the exterior) and the main car park was the area now occupied by most of the shopping centre. The Yorkshire Cafe was the best place to eat in the town, and it was in the days when the council turned down an application from Marks and Spencers because they didn't want to attract 'that sort' of shop! (Yes, really!). The days when Woolworths (now a name from the past) not only had polished wooden floors, but also polished wooden counters! The days of Harold Wilson.

Each Saturday I had to travel a distance of about 10 miles to my piano lesson, and this involved changing buses right in the middle of Woking. Miss Oswald was a reknowned tyrant, but an excellent tutor. I would dread going, knowing that even if I practised 24 hours a day it would still not be enough to satisfy her, but each Saturday I would go, looking forward to the journey home! Of course, there was not so much traffic on the roads, but everywhere there were roadworks. No orange and white cones, in those days, just holes in the road. Sometimes they were covered with tent like structures, sometimes open to the elements. If there was anyone working there he would probably have been wielding a pickaxe or occasionally a shovel. In retrospect they were in odd places, but at the time they struck me as just being holes in the road. Sometimes they even had occupants at night when a 'night watchman' would sit with his lamp and keep guard, although I'm not sure why.

It is one Saturday in particular that has really stuck in my mind. On my return journey I queued part way through waiting for my second bus. I was standing on Commercial Road, beside the car park. At some point during the week one of these mysterious holes had appeared just in front of the queue. There were several people in front of me and two elderly gentlemen struck up a conversation. This hole was of paramount interest to them, why was it there? Who had dug it? Would it be there next week? The conversation continued:

'Why do we need all these holes?'

'I blame it on the governement.'

'You do?'

'I think they employ one lot to dig the holes and another lot to fill them in'

So. The moral of this story is 'fear not'!

If you or a loved one have recently been made redundant you can be assured that dear gordon has your best interests at heart. Sharpen up those shovels! Brush the rust off those pickaxes! Light the lamps for a night of watching. Be ready for those holes. Wonder not from whence they came...... Just know that precedence has already been set.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A trip to London.

Today we made our first trip to London of the year. We went by train, arriving at Waterloo, which is on the south side of the River Thames for those of you that don't know. Our destination was over the river, and thankfully it was a bright crisp day, meaning that we could walk rather than rely on the underground.

We had plenty of time. Our first port of call was the Royal Festival Hall. Recently refurbished it is a good stop for coffee. Lovely views over the Thames, and comfortable seating, we were duly fortified for the next (easy) part of the journey. Pausing briefly on the embankment we began to make our way north.

That's me in the photo, with the Houses of Parliament in the background. We then crossed the Thames via Hungerford Bridge, a walk I have made many times before, but one I really enjoy each time I retrace my steps. The weather was perfect. Do click the link because it will give you a 360deg view over the river.

We went first to Covent Garden Market. Always colourful. Always lots to see including street theatre and musicians. We browsed at some of the stalls, but didn't buy anything, then went on to our secret lunch place.

I'm quite prepared to share the destination with you if you are visiting London, but refrain from posting it here as it is already very busy!  (Send me an email if you want to know where it is!)

Now it was just a leisurely stroll to our destination, a matinee performance at the Dominion Theatre.

The strength of this shadow will show you what a bright day it was, not the best for photographs, but a memory all the same.  We had arrived in plenty of time to see 'We Will Rock You'
The show was great fun.  Lots of music, smoke and dancing.  A fair amount of flashing lights there too.  The cast was excellent, with one exception.  The costumes were fun, and some of especial interest to a textile artist!   The only disappointment was the casting of Killer Queen.  She looked amazing, and her acting was fine, but when she opened her mouth it was obvious that she had missed her true vocation.
It was dark when it finished.  Now we slowly retraced our steps enjoying the early evening in the city.  There were many shoppers making their way home too, bags of sale goods clasped happily in their hands.  The Thames too takes on a completely different aura at this time of day.  The views of tiny pinpoints of light jostle with those of the important buildings lit to enhance their best features.  We stopped before reaching Waterloo to enjoy a delicious Italian supper.  Bruschetta followed by a chicken risotto was my choice.  As usual - no room for dessert!
Finally it was back to the train.  It was a fast and comfortable journey home in an almost empty compartment.  We were able to relax in the remnants of the day, especially good as there was no thought of cooking when we arrived home!
(Oh, yes, the missed vocation of Killer Queen?  She was far more suited to that of a yeller for a rag and bone man.)