Monday, 9 March 2015

Hen's Teeth Workshop

I've admired the work of Viv Sliwka from Hen's Teeth for a while now, so when a chance came up to attend one of her workshops I couldn't resist. 

Known for her use of  beautiful old textiles, combined with embroidery and other ephemera, she creates all manner of delights.

So it was that on a murky Saturday morning several weeks ago I set off for Weston Park

The brief had asked us to take along any bits and pieces that we would like to incorporate in our work, so I had spent the evening before cramming my basket with all sorts of 'tat'!

As I pulled up I was greeted by the friendliest black cat. Monty has 'adopted' Weston Park and, more particularly, it's visitors in exchange for lots of attention and the occasional titbit.

He showed me to the workshop and it was there that I suddenly realised everybody looked like they knew what they were doing, were incredibly creative and would soon be sniggering at my embarrassing attempts at French knots.

I needn't have worried.
The other participants were lovely. All had different levels of expertise and all were willing to share what they knew.

Viv was an absolute star. She encouraged us to just 'have a go' at something, take ownership and go with our instinct. I think this was my biggest barrier. I am so used to following a pattern and working within a framework that I found it quite difficult to just let go.

The only thing I knew was that I wanted to make a needle case. So, using some templates and a stamp that represented dear old Jessie, I got stuck in. 

Early thoughts

Or rather I stared at things a lot, had a look at what everyone else was doing and ate some cake.

Then got stuck in.

And do you know once I got started it was difficult to stop. I ate lunch between stitches. I drank coffee between stitches. And it was only as the workshop came to an end I realised that I hadn't even visited the ladies room between stitches!

There was cake. There was laughing. There was the inevitable discussion as to who was going to win the Great British Sewing Bee.

And I even found out how to do a French knot! 

I was a bit worried about the group photo as I knew my work wasn't in quite the same vein as the others but, do you know,  the more I looked at it the more I liked it! And it was for that very reason of having let go and creating something that was completely my own. Something I will definitely tap into in the future.

Can you spot Jessie Dog in the middle?

I completed the case over the following few days.
Want to see?

 If you ever get the chance to go to one of Viv's workshops grab it! You can find out more about them on her blog.

Meanwhile look what popped through the letter box the other day. 
Could I?
Bit scared!

 Watch this space!


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Scavenger Hunt - February (director's cut)

Okay folks this is my first scavenger hunt and, as the title states, it is indeed a 'cut' version. In truth I have been mad busy and have not had time to fulfil all the categories but still wanted to post something. 
So here goes.

Spring bouquet

Love / Heart
From my favourite valentine 

Number / Price
Imperial bliss

Favourite colour
Green - such optimism

With a bird's eye view

On the road
My favourite stop off place for free range eggs

Not particularly attractive but one of the hardest working parts of the garden

A corner of my home
The best place to snuggle up with a book

Next month I will be more organised. 
I hope.

Thanks to greenthumb for organising. If you fancy joining in with the scavenger hunt for March you can have a look at the next list and other linkee's (!) here.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Begone evil feed!

If you've ever been in the position of receiving unsolicited feed read on!

When I first started blogging I was in the excited blur of discovering new people, influences and friends. I signed up to follow many of those that interested me and have received regular updates ever since via my blogger feed.

However several months ago I noticed that one of the blogs had changed beyond recognition. The blog name had stayed the same but the language had most definitely changed - both literally and figuratively. Although I am not fluent in Spanish it was apparent - from the preview pane alone - that the contents were undeniably pornographic. Some words need no translation. I responded to this 'invasion' by never clicking on the link and hoping that if I showed no interest it would eventually 'go away'.

However tonight when I was bombarded with twelve simultaneous feeds from the same link I decided enough was enough. After much trawling of the web and various help centres I found out just how to get rid of this insidious connection. I only know how to do this in Blogger but hopefully it might help some of you in the same position.

The first thing you need to do is to click your My Blogs section. This will then display the reading list of all the blogs that you follow on the left hand side of your screen.

To the right of where it says 'All blogs' there is a gear symbol. Click on this to manage your settings. The screen will then change to something more like this. It might take a while so be patient.

(So sorry about the quality of these pictures - the only way I could find to upload them was to take photos of the screen)

Find the offending blog and click on the settings option on the right hand side of the screen.

Again this can sometimes take time - I had to right click and open link in a new tab.
This should then take you to a link page which will ask if you wish to continue following this blog. This is your chance.

Click stop following and give yourself a pat on the back. You've done it. Not only should you have banished the blog forever but you should also have got rid of any previous posts. Freedom!

I hope this has been able to help some of you.

It's nearly Spring!!!


Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Charging Rhino

It hasn't quite turned out as planned. 

After a fairly gruelling start to the year the half term break had been hovering just ahead like a sparkly oasis. Time to breathe I thought. Maybe visit some new places and take some much needed restorative walks. 
Renew my perspective. 
Look forward.

But then came the tickle.

Just a little one but significant nonetheless.
The tickle that is soon followed by hot eyes and a runny nose.

The charging rhino had come to a stop. 

Now before I  continue I had better explain the analogy. Apparently when one is under a certain amount of daily pressure the only way to get through it is to put your head down and barge through. This stops you from getting attacked by wild animals and eaten. However once the threat/pressure/ situation has passed it is time to stop charging and relax. And just when you do so those sneaky little critters catch you from behind and before you know it you've got a cold. 

Or at least it goes something like that.

And so it goes that I'm writing this from my bed, surrounded by tissues, blisteze and old magazines.

Of course I'm very fortunate. Mike is also on his break and keeps popping in with much welcomed cups of tea and home made soup. I've got a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in.

But things have still been going on.

On Tuesday we had some new carpets fitted. I know you'll be enthralled to hear more but all I'm going to say is that after twenty years of children, dogs and rabbits skipping about we now have cream carpet adorning our stairs and landing. That's right. CREAM! What were we thinking? But it does look lovely even if any trip up and down stairs now demands clean feet. And our bedroom, where we have insisted on keeping hold of our original Victorian boards even though they were scarred with woodworm trails, is now covered in a luxurious tuft!

Of course this included a mass movement of furniture which started a bit of a sort. Started mind you, not finished. We are now paused - mid sort.

Wednesday saw the cold break but did not stop us visiting the theatre. This time I was accompanied by Mike to see the fantastic John Shuttleworth at the New Vic Theatre in nearby Newcastle under Lyme. Now I realise that drink and drugs should never mix but to be honest I hadn't realised that a small mid interval gin and tonic (always a theatre treat) would react so potently with three days of cold medicine.

Goodness me I haven't laughed so much for a long time. Tears were rolling down my face!
But don't do that at home.

Which brings us back to now. My body has finally said no, stop it, I've had enough. Stop feeling guilty about things you had planned to do and let those little critters have their way. And if that means staying put and being waited on by others then so be it! 

Appreciate it. Let it happen.

A dear friend bought me this cushion at Christmas and the sentiment always makes me stop and think.

Take care and, if your rhino does need to take a breather, watch out for sneaky critters.


P.S. Preparations are now well under way for our bloggy get together in Stratford in April. It would be so nice to meet you, so if you're even a teensy bit curious as to what we're going to be up to, give myself or dear old Gilly a shout!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The mystery of the small smalls, or, why are some smalls smaller than others?

I've been flitting about again. My attention span at the moment is that of a very small gnat (although having not been an observer of gnats and their mindsets I may well be doing them a great disservice - but I feel that the analogy makes the necessary point).

So when good old LDJ posted about knickers I was hooked.

 'Aha!' thought I.
'They are nice small objects and thus must be nice and quick to make.'

But in typical impatient manner I wanted to make them then. And there.

So I scoured t'internet for a free pattern and set to.

Now I should have learned from the time that I made a crochet slipper - that's right, just the one - that you should always double check your sizes. How was I supposed to know that a size seven pattern would equate to a size four in the UK. Feeling very much like an ugly sister I tossed aside my 'too small footwear' in a fit of pique.

But this pattern clearly said size twelve.

So off I went.

And very pleased I was with myself too. 

Until I tried them on. Or should I say tried to try them on.

At the point where I realised that I would be lucky if they would reach a thigh I decided to check the size.

The very pretty thigh stranglers on the top


Surely a size is a size is a size - no matter where you live?

Apparently not!

So I played safe and sent off for a popular kit.

 Would you believe it? The kit worked!

The sizing was correct and - without going into too much detail - my nether regions were suitably adorned.

The free pattern on top compared to the proper size!

Next pair.

Same pattern on a fat quarter.


A visit to the craft emporium to buy a replica set of fat quarters and eventually more knickers were made (two quarters per pattern if you will - or indeed a fat half)


Meanwhile there has been a production line of baby hats for Taciana's worthy project. Again these have been wonderfully quick to make, and I have enjoyed revisiting some of the yarns that I used when the girls were mere twinkles.

Difficult to model them though. Especially when the 'models' keep rolling off.

And last but not least has come a small pair of trousers accompanied by a chunky sweater.

Just about big enough for a mouse.

NO! Glove Mouse.You are far too small!

Just about big enough for a mouse called Bob!

Bob's about to go off to furnish the dusty shelves of my old etsy shop, but before he does I wonder if he's got any ideas as to what to do with the 'too small' knickers?

Thanks Bob!

May you all be well and your smalls be adequate.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Something to look forward to!

Thank you.

And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

The comments that you left on my last post were so thoughtful, so kind and so warm. They have helped both myself and the whole family come to terms with a sad moment.

But I don't want to dwell too much more here.

There is indeed something to look forward to!

Some time ago I met up with some lovely bloggers over at Shugborough. Before we left there was talk of getting together again. Gilly from gilly makes suggested Stratford as a meeting place as that's not only her stomping ground but also the home of the fantastic Sew Me Something (oh and of course an old writer called Bill). 

What could be better? 

After a recent flurry of emails a date was set and we oh so hope that some of you will be able to join us. Gilly has posted all the details over here - take a look! I know some of you might feel a bit shy about meeting up but I can assure you we will all be in the same boat.

So check your diaries and get in touch - either over here or at Gilly's.

Look forward to meeting you!


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sad news

Some of you lovely followers out there will probably be aware that our poor old Jessie dog has not been too well of late. At sixteen she was almost blind, pretty much deaf and struggling very much with her back legs. Yesterday it all became too much and the decision was made to have her quietly put to sleep. It was a decision I'd been dreading but we've known for the last few months that things were getting worse and there was a sudden nosedive this week. 

Today I've had a quiet day. Not working on Fridays, I decided to stay close to home and found myself on auto pilot - cleaning, washing, and generally trying to keep myself busy.

 But it was hard. 

Jessie used to follow me everywhere - she had no manners with regard to following me and staring whilst I visited the bathroom! I found myself automatically stepping over where her bed had been, and saving her some crusts from my sandwiches. When I answered the door earlier I automatically put my hand out to hold her collar. It's going to take some time to get used to.

But I have some lovely memories.

We 'rescued' her from a dogs home when she was six months old. She had a strong sense of wanderlust and would often take herself off on an adventure while our backs were turned. She sometimes got returned by complete strangers looking very pleased with herself. It was as though she'd found some new friends and was very glad to introduce us! She was picked up by the police and spent a night in the cells when they went off duty, she visited various offices on the local industrial estate, and once even made it across quite a busy dual carriageway to be found in the kitchen of a popular restaurant. On several occasions we would have a call from our local dvd store whose automatic doors would generously allow her entrance - 'Hi there - we've got Jessie here again - don't rush!'
And of course whenever she was returned people would say the same thing, usually along the lines of 'Oh but she's so lovely - and she does enjoy a custard cream!'

She adored our girls and put up with many years of being snuggled and squeezed by gaggles of toddlers.

When we had fourteen ducklings hatch in our garden she would lie there patiently while they waddled around and over her on the way to our little pond. And Ned rabbit could often be found stretched out next to her in a sunny patch of grass.

She really had the sweetest nature and gave us years of unconditional devotion.

She was gentle, loving and fun.

And we will miss her.