Tuesday 31 August 2010

A Nice Day Out

We woke to blue blue skies and bright bright sun! Could this really be August Bank Holiday? Yes, indeed, it was a beautiful day and the previous day's blustery winds and squally showers had blown away overnight.
We had already planned to visit an exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, so we decided to take a picnic and have a nice day out. Soon we were bowling along through the green and pleasant hills of North Wales. Everything looked beautiful in the sunshine: the sheep, the cottages, the little villages, the woods, the fields and the picture postcard views of valleys and hills.

Ruthin is a small, historic market town with some very old buildings, and picturesque views.

Each little street you look down has a backdrop of soft green hills, whichever way you look.

They remind me of seaside towns, but instead of a glimpse of the sea you have a glimpse of gentle green hills.

The Ruthin Craft Centre is an amazing contemporary space which celebrates the best in modern applied arts and crafts, frequently holding exhibitions and artists' workshops. We went to see Smile, which featured work by some of my favourite textile artists - Julie Arkell, Janet Bolton and Linda Miller. There were other wonderful artists too and the atmosphere of the Show really did make you smile. There was also the added treat of a separate exhibition of work by the international textile artist Tilleke Schwarz which was fascinating. The exhibitions are both on until September 8 - and there is a wonderful shop and cafe too!
The sun shone all day long, we had a lovely time....

...and when we got home there was a beautiful sunset too, over the hills we'd just visited and our own bit of the Dee Estuary. A perfect ending really.
I hope the sun was shining on you too. x

P.S. I'd just like to say a big thank you to the new visitors to my blog who commented on my last post - I look forward to meeting up with you on your blogs again soon. x x x

Friday 27 August 2010

Nature Study

When I was snipping little bits of colourful plants from the garden today to brighten up the house, I suddenly remembered the nature table at primary school and how I loved it! Do you remember having a nature table at school too?
Ours was filled with flowers, autumn leaves, pebbles, sea shells, feathers, seed pods, seed heads, bits of birds' egg shells and sometimes excitingly, a bird's nest or a mermaid's purse from the seashore. The teacher would write neat little labels so we knew what the various things were, and it would gradually evolve over the seasons.

When I trained as a textile designer, a lot of time was spent studying and drawing plants to use in designs for fabrics, wallpapers and other surface patterns. I began to collect old books with engravings and illustrations of plants and flowers as they were a great resource for designing. This old book, for teachers to use, was found in a Manchester jumble sale years ago.

Glancing through it just now I was surprised to notice that besides having the scientific information I expected, on the next page were poems that related to the botanical specimens too! I don't remember ever being taught bits of poetry in science lessons. I would have liked it, though if we had been.

So now I'll just say:

And I hope you have wonderful weekend! x

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Seaside Memory-Keeping

The seaside has always been a very special place for me, since my childhood days. Seaside holidays to traditional resorts or remote and magical coastlines are something I've always loved.
A few years ago I discovered the inspiring memory-keeping craft of scrapbooking and it became a craze for me, an obsession for quite a while. I found old family photos and made scrapbook pages and mini scrapbooks with them, and chose pictures of my daughters to turn into little books about them. I created little books about meeting my husband, about my earliest childhood memories and family history. It was a thrilling creative time for me.

These little books are some I made to store my seaside memories. It's lovely to think that tucked inside these little covers along with treasured photos are words and ephemera to recall those times, small things to capture the often fleeting moments.

I now use all the scrapbook techniques I learnt then in my paper crafts projects for books and magazines, and I still make pages for my continuing family scrapbook. The picture below shows
the memory book cover I designed for a magazine project earlier this year.

How do you keep your memories? x

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Silver Apples

We went to Manchester to visit our younger daughter Rosie and see her lovely new flat which is at the top of a tall old house. (It's a few streets away from where I lived as a student, so I always feel nostalgic there - in a nice way). We had a good look round the bright, refurbished rooms and I snapped some pictures of the pretty things to be found there, and then we went out to a cafe.

We all love going to a cafe, and there are plenty to choose from here......

This time we went to Silver Apples on Orchard Street - what a great name. And a lovely cafe, with a quirky continental feel, vintage china, lovely food and amazing homemade cakes displayed on the counter. Sometimes they have live music and they host lots of interesting events too.

And I knew the name reminded me of something - it comes from a poem by W B Yeats:

And walk among long dappled grass
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun.

I hope you're having a lovely week. x

Friday 20 August 2010

Crafty Supplies

This week a few interesting packages arrived from various crafty places - with some new supplies to add to my craft stash. I buy fabrics which catch my eye, often with no definite plan for using them, but if I like them I know they will fit in to a project at some point.

I usually buy small amounts of fabric as most of my work is small scale, and often mix different designers ranges together. If I want large pieces of fabric, say for a quilt backing, I choose these separately after the quilt top is completed. These bright and beautiful fabrics came from here.

Buying new craft papers and other embellishments for magazine projects is essential to the success of this type of work. I need to use new and current crafts materials so readers can get hold of the same ones, if they wish to, and to give the work a fresh look. (Well, that's my excuse anyway!)

It's Christmas designing time in my studio at the moment, so some new papers were ordered in ready to be included in the festive creativity. I love Christmas, fortunately, so I can even get enthusiastic about it in August - or any time of year I need to! These crafty Christmas supplies came from here.

Before I go I'd just like to say a great big thank you to the new visitors to my blog this week, especially those who have left me lovely comments. Please do come back again soon!

Have a wonderful weekend. x

Thursday 19 August 2010

Picking the Beans

This year we have been having such a good crop of beans that after our week away there were so many to pick we had to get out all our colanders and enlist the help of the family's smallest gardener too.

We had more than enough beans for ourselves, so we gave some away.

And in return we got these.

And these.
And all these.

So, we did well growing the beans - better not ask about our cauliflowers or corn - but we have high hopes of the tomatoes that are sloooowly ripening right now.... How is your garden growing?

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Red and White

One of my all time favourite colour combinations - red and white appear together all around my house - often by chance - and in my work. Here are a few:

Pages from the August 2010 Issue of Cross Stitch Collection featuring an extract from my Home Sweet Home book - this is La Maison Rouge, a vintage French-inspired red and white home sampler, stitched on pure white linen.

A pile of cosy cushions - the top one was a project for Crafts Beautiful magazine earlier this year - it has the words Home Sweet Home stamped onto a little label and sewn on.

Of course the retro 50's look has a lot to do with the appearance of red and white spotted items everywhere, especially thanks to the delights produced by Cath Kidston - I'm nowhere near tired of them yet, are you?? I love my cheery tea towels, mugs and my spotty tablecloth in the studio.

I could go on - there are still more r&w things here... but I'll stop now as I want to do some knitting tonight - which is not red and white but a soft grey! x

Tuesday 17 August 2010

It's a Crafty Life

There's a lot of crafting going on in my house at the moment, though I can't show it yet. I'm working on projects that will one day be published so for now I have to keep quiet about them!

The studio is awash with embellishments, scrapbook materials, ribbons and bows, card, paper, paints and pens.

The crafty activity has spread to the dining room where machine sewing takes place and the second iron and ironing board are set up (ever since an incident when the first iron got some left- over bondaweb on a shirt, I keep craft and home ironing separate). And there are jars of beads and boxes of buttons on a shelf in the dining room now, and rather a lot of craft books have gravitated there too (it's a sunny room - I like to read there sometimes).

I really need to tidy up my studio and put everything away again. I find that when I'm in the middle of projects I just can't tidy stuff away, but usually I do at the end of them. Not so this summer - everything is left out and accumulating and I need to spend some time getting organised again.

But for now, it's back to making something new and the exciting creative process beginning again - if I could just find those blue-handled scissors....

Monday 16 August 2010

Baby Bliss

This is the little pink coat I knitted for delicious little Daisy, our new grandbaby, modelling it here in a very cuddly way.

The pattern is by Debbie Bliss - it's the Matinee Coat from Baby Cashmerino Book 1. It used sizes 2 3/4 mm and 3 1/4 mm needles and 4 50g balls of baby cashmerino in pale pink from here.

This was such a lovely little coat to knit in the softest cosy yarn. The sleeves and yoke are in moss stitch and the main body in stocking stitch. The lacy edging looks so pretty and is surprisingly easy to do - it's added after the rest is knitted.

I think she likes it. x

Saturday 14 August 2010

This Old House

Our house is old - built in the 1870's - and has had many renovations over its lifetime, including some by us. People before us saved it from falling into complete dilapidation by sorting out the basics for which we're very grateful.

Some of the features have been left as they were originally and I like that sense of history you get when you can imagine people from maybe a hundred years ago moving around this space, running their hand down the banisters or opening a door in the dark cellar using that very same latch.

Most of the ceiling mouldings here are quite restrained, for the Victorian era, but there are two rather decorative ones tucked away on a turn in the stairs where hardly anyone notices them.

Old doors, old key holes, long lost keys somewhere.

Well, it wouldn't be a Victorian house without one of these, would it?! It's really quite a hard worn floor now and it doesn't usually gleam like this but the tiles are still damp from a recent mopping!
So, those are just a few pictures of the some of the old bits of this old house, and I'll post a few more another time.
Hope you're having a great weekend. x