Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Seven things about me

Jacqui has tagged me to share 7 things that people might not know about me so here goes.

  • My favourite books from childhood are the Mr Men. On my 21st birthday Mark got my name published in the Mr Men magazine amongst all of the birthday wishes for all the little kiddies, lol!
  • I used to play the clarinet
  • I am very clumsy and when we're out walking I invariably managed to trip up, twist my ankle, fall down a hill, slip over and get covered in mud, the list goes on ....
  • I have a very weak bladder and wherever we go I always end up needing the loo. Mark thinks I should write a guide to the best and worst public toilets in Britain :)
  • I accidentally caused the death of my pet Guinea Pig, Woody, when I was a kid. My brother and I spent ages arguing over whose turn it was to put the pigs out and they overheated. The vets managed to save my brother and sisters animal but mine had a weak heart and didn't make it. 20 years later I still feel really guilty about it.
  • In another freak accident when we were kids I managed to chop off my sisters little toe (don't ask!) The doctors stitched it back on but it never grew since so she has one freaky 7 year olds toe on her 25 year old body (hmm maybe that's where my phobia of feet comes from!)
  • If I ever ended up on death row my last meal request would be cheese and baked beans on toast followed by chocolate cheesecake, yummy the perfect meal!

I am supposed to tag 5 people but I have seen this on many of the blogs that I read already so I'm going to say that if you are reading this and haven't yet taken part well c'mon dish the dirt and share your 7 things!

On the creative front, I still haven't gotten very far with my TIF project this month. If I've any hope of getting in finished in the next few days I think I will be burning the midnight oil. I have though ticked off one thing from my to do list.

This cross stitch really is so easy to pick up in the car at lunchtime for 20 mins on while watching TV and before you know it another kitty is born.
I can't believe there are still 6 more of these critters to emerge before the kit is done.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Goodbye Tiddles

We had some sad news today, MIL's cat, Tiddles, had to be put to sleep. He was nearly 20 years old so a very good age but I have know this cutie for the last 13 years and will miss him talking to me every night at MIL's when I'm cooking dinner.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I hate work

Yuck here we are at the end of another Monday. I hate real life I want to roll back the clock a couple of weeks to my wonderful week off full of walking and stitching why can't every week be like that? Work was so depressing today I just couldn't control myself and went and booked another week off. I have to wait until the end of April but that's not so far away right just 9 little weeks the countdown begins here :-)

So it's that time of the week that I have to 'fess up on how I did with my to do list.
  • Finish Something Beginning with K cards - Check. See yesterdays post
  • Make a good start on TIF - A start has been made but not a particularly good one I will have my work cut out to get this one finished by the end of the week. Pictures soon.
  • Add another kitty - Check. And here is the evidence.
    I managed to stitch this new kitty in totally the wrong colour greys. The pattern you have to work from is very small and some of the symbols are very similar, but I'm not worried I have plenty of floss and he looks just fine.

I have quite a few things that I would like to work on this coming week but I know that TIF has to be my priority. Here is my list....

  • Finish TIF project
  • Add another kitty
  • Start Something Beginning with L cards
  • Work on secret project one
  • Make postcard for CyberFyber
  • Cut some fabric for the March BQL challenge bag (as I managed to finish my Feb bag early I've been able to take a sneaky peek at the next bag and have been given some of the fabric requirements to start preparing)

So I know this list is probably a bit ambitious but I am starting to learn that the fewer things I have on the list the less I seem to get done. If I have more I always seem to work that little bit harder and waste less time trying to achieve as many as I can.

I also want to make it my goal to blog more this week. When I'm at work I seem to settle into this pattern of posting on Monday and at weekends. I know I won't have a finished project to blog about each day but I'm sure I'll find somethings to waffle about.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Something Beginning with K

At last something stitchey. What with being back at work this week and still having to look after MIL who doesn't seem to be improving much I haven't had much time to squeeze in any stitching this week apart from the odd half hour on the cross stitch.

But I have been working on some postcards today. Remember this?
My quest to find something creative to do even when in the bath. Well it turned into this... My Something Beginning with K cards. K is for Knitting. I had some problems with the alphabet settings on my machine (now I remember why I don't use it very often, namely because it doesn't work very well!), so they didn't quite turn out as I had hoped in my head but not bad for an experimental idea.The knitted swatches with that lovely felted wool turned out to be quite bulky so I cut some squares out of the centre of both the backing fabric and TimTex middle to inset them a bit. They still stand out a bit from the card though giving an added 3D effect. It will be interesting to see if they make it through the post ok.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pictures from Steam

Warning : This is going to be a picture heavy post.

It's taken me a little while but I have finally been able to get blogger to co-operate and am able to share some of the pictures that I took at the steam museum on Wednesday. Looking at the pictures that I took and the ones I asked Mark to take I can see that there is hardly anything from the large engines that I thought might inspire me, which is quite surprising.

I apologise as some of these picture are at a funny angle I didn't really feel I could sprawl across the floor to take pics in the middle of the busy museum!

Wheels Engine Controls

Ventilation shaft

Face of weighing scales

Map of Highworth Junction (I love all the linear patterns)

Lantern from the replica 'North Star' (Loved the cross detail and the vibrant colour)

Rusty nuts and bolts from the boiler room

Abstract pattern on the front of a GWR notebook.

There were only a few textile items on display that I saw including some window blinds and a couple of uniforms that would have been worn by porters but these two things particularly captured my imagination....An intricate strap on the back of the door of one of the royal carriages.
Detail from the bottom of the strap

And this terrific abstract design covering a chair which was apparently used in a track inspection carriage (whatever one of those was!)
My favourite thing in the whole of the museum was something that was on display in the storeroom. The storeroom houses bits and pieces from the museums reserve collection, the things that would usually be in a warehouse and not on display and on a lot of these pieces there wasn't much explanation of what they were but I just loved this.Apparently its a fire station call out board used during World War Two. Very difficult to photograph though as it was on a shelf at a bit of a awkward height in a big glass cabinetDon't ask me why I like it so much, maybe it's the simplicity of the numbered pegs and the bright colours, there wasn't a huge amount of colour to be seen in the museum so maybe the magpie in me kept coming back to this little piece.I just want to say a huge thank you to Maggie and Kath for getting us free entry to the museum, and also to Mark for helping me getting these pictures. Some of them here are mine and some are his it would be too complicated and boring to credit each one but surfice to say the better quality ones are Marks :)
Now all I have to do is build on the possibilities presented by all these great items and try and translate at least one or two ideas into something which will form a piece for the exhibition ......

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sketching at Steam

A group I belong to, the Great Western Embroiderers, are planning on having an exhibition at the Steam museum in Swindon next year. Maggie and Kath the group founders had managed to get us free entry into the museum for a sketching day yesterday. What a great day it was. I dragged Mark along with me too as I knew his camera would be better for taking some reference photos.

On my first tour round this great little museum I was thinking 'oh help' what is there for inspiration but I think that was the pesimist in me and after a few more walk rounds in which I kept spotting more and more I now have too much inspiration.....

I have lots of pictures that I want to share but blogger is taking an age to upload at the moment so for now here is one of me in sketching pose :)

Mark has already put some on his blog, I just love the one of all the rivets!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Domestic Goddesses look away now .....

Today was the first day back at work, ick. Nevermind I got through it and the countdown to the weekend has started :-)

I have to admit to total failure when it comes to my last to do list I really have been procrastinating these last few days. Apart from finishing the bag the only other thing that I managed to tick on the list was getting the next kitty on the cross stitch started.
So my to do list for this week (yes now I'm back at work it will have to be weekly rather than daily, daily was so much more fun, hopefully it will be my turn to win the lotto soon!).
  • Finish next kitty
  • Make a good start on Feb TIF (not many days left and I haven't even started yet)
  • Finish Something Beginning with K cards

I don't have a crafty picture to share but as I don't like posting without a picture here is one I thought I'd share with you. Domestic Goddesses look away now.With all the stitching that was going on last week the housework got neglected. This is what happens if you leave the dregs of some cherryade, and some orange squash sitting in the glasses too long, but I loved how the colours merged when I was tipping the evidence down the sink. See art inspiration can be found in the least expected places (or maybe I'm just plain crazy and am the only one who sees something other than sugary liquid and mould!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hearts and Kandy

How do you know when you are a craft-a-holic? Is it when you look for things you can be doing even when in the bath?
Knitting works well as I discovered yesterday, though I think you would need to be at the very start of something or before long your project would be covered in bubbles :-) Take a look at this lovely felted yarn doesn't it look good enough to eat? I don't have that much to show for the last couple of days but after a few hours at the sewing machine today I turned this pile of hearts .... Into this cute bag. This is the February bag that the talented Kandy designed for us to make this month as part of the BQL bag challenge. This is going to be winging it's way to a cyber friend of mine in the US soon.

While I'm not girlie enough to be a hearts and flowers person I do love the shape and size of this bag so I may just have to make another for me but add my own embellishment. You can check out all of the other great creations being made from this pattern as they emerge here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Folk Art Daisies

On my To Do list for yesterday were a couple of Daisy themed postcards. I'm pleased to say that they did get started yesterday and after some time spent with the Satin Stitch on my machine this morning they are now done.

I decided I wanted to do something a bit more folk arty than I usually do, a simple design against a plain black background. I satin stitched the leaves by hand. I'm loving hand stitching at the moment and this is the first time I've tried any satin stitching. The stitching is far from perfect but not bad for a first attempt. I'm pretty happy with the way they came out.

The other thing on my list for yesterday was to work on my Feb bag. I have handles and a pile of hearts ready for the bag but my camera has decided it needs charging and these bits won't fit in the scanner so no pic yet.

My next To Do list is going to encompass the whole weekend, I expect dh and I will be out and about some this weekend so I don't know how much stitching time I will get (I can't believe how quickly my week off work has disappeared!). This is more a Hope To Do list than a to do list I think.
  • Work on Feb Bag
  • Start on Feb TIF challenge (eek the month is already half done and I've not even started)
  • Make Postcard for trade with Susan for Cyber Fyber.
  • Start Something Beginning with K postcards
  • Work on secret project 1
  • Work on secret project 2
  • Start on secret project 3
  • Start new kitty on cross stitch

Just in case you are wondering the secret projects are just presents and trades for people that I know sometimes visit my blog and I don't want to give away any details until the pieces are done and they have been posted and received.

It's an ambitious list I know and I could probably shorten it by setting 'finish' rather than 'work on' goals, unfortunately my back is playing up a bit today and if this carries on for the weekend I'm probably going to struggle sitting doing the same thing for too long so I want a variety of cutting, machine and hand stitching things on the go so I can chop around as I need to. But first I'm off to have a bath to see if that helps the back, ahh the joys of not being at work... a bath in the middle of the day.

Well this has turned into a long post with a lot of waffle and hardly any pictures. So just because here is Hector out enjoying in the sun a couple of days ago.

Cyber Fyber

I have been reading about the wonder Cyber Fyber exhibition being put together by Susan Lenz on other people's blogs. As you know postcard making has been almost like an obsession for me this last couple of years so I just couldn't resist any longer and decided to jump in and join the fun. You can read all about the exhibition here.

There are still many lovely postcards up for trade and Susan is still looking for Textile Artists across the world to trade with. You can see all of the beautiful postcards for trade here. If you scroll down the page I have chosen postcard number 94. The colours are very me, right?
If you like to work with ATCs there are also many wonderful ATC's up for trade too, check them out here.
Be warned there are still so many wonderful artworks available if you visit the site you will NOT be able to resist trading for one! Go on take a look ......

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentines

Happy Valentines! Well DH and I don't really celebrate never have done but I was out and about in Bath this morning and couldn't resist getting him these delicious chocolates,
I think he might be shocked when he received his first valentine gift in 13 years! Mind you they are looking very tempting sat in the box looking at me so by the time I go get him from work tonight they might just read 'I love Yo'

Anyway enough of the silliness, How did I do with my to do list yesterday?
  • Do some more tea dyeing - yes I got this done and after a murky start to the morning the sun came out long enough for me to dry my fabric on the line.
  • Paint some TimTex - This is done too, if you take a look you can see it pegged on the line next to the tea dye.
  • Make a start on BQL bag - I've progressed on this too, but another mini disaster has struck. After I started cutting the pieces I realised that I don't have enough of the main fabric for the handles. I tried to find a match at the LQS this morning but they don't have the fabric anymore, having already changed my mind on the fabric choice for this one once I really didn't want to start over for a third time. I purchased a close (ish) match of fabric so the handles will now be slightly different to the main.
  • Make a start on Time postcards - These are done too. with the help of my tea dyed scrim, these rubber stamps from Paper Artsy and this wonderful thread gifted to me in a parcel of goodies I received from Kate on Tuesday.
Here is one of the finished cards.
All in all a pretty good days work.
I decided no to set myself a goal list last night as I knew that I wanted to head into Bath to shop for some fabric and visit this exhibition.

I really enjoyed the exhibition a wonderful mix of quilts, paintings, glasswork and mosaic. I'm not usually a big fan of Kaffe Fassett but he had a couple of really lovely quilts on display and the work of the other two artists was wonderful. I'm not one of these girls that goes crazy for shoes but recently I've seen a few shoe based artworks that I have loved and I really fell for the mosaic shoes in this exhibition.

As we are already half way through the day today I'm only going to set myself a couple of To Dos,

  • Work on BQL bag
  • Start Daisies postcards.

Something Beginning with J and other things ....

I didn't get round to posting last night as I was just too busy stitching and being generally too lazy to drag myself to the computer :)

I had a fun few hours with the Great Western Embroiderers yesterday. Maggie spent some time showing us how embellisher machines work and I got my first try on one, what fun. This is what I started before I was wrestled off the machine by another member, a good thing too or else I could have stayed playing all day.
It's just fascinating how everything gets joined together without thread, and how the fabrics scrunch and distort as they get melded together. Anna also bought along her needle punch for hand embellishing I must find the one I bought not so long ago and have another play with that too.

As far as my To Do List for yesterday goes I did pretty well.

  • Work on my something Beginning with J cards. - Not only did I work on them but they are finished

I decided to use the cross stitched piece I made at the last GWE meeting to form the basis of my idea for this one and yesterday evening stitched two more pieces like the one I had already done to complete the swap. What is the J here you might be asking. Well J is for Just. Just handstitching was used to complete the top design for this card, just one stitch was used - cross stitch and just one thread Anchor Perle 1375.

  • Finish the new kitty on the cross stitch - A tick in this box too.First I thought it would be fun to have a quick reminder of what this looked like when I rescued it from the UFO pile in December.As of yesterday evening this is what the overall now looks like, what a difference.And of course a close up of the new arrival.
  • Pick new fabrics for the BQL challenge bag
As I said on Monday I had originally picked some fabrics with the idea that I would be making this bag for me, but as I started cutting I just realised that it's not really a 'me' bag. I do have a friend in the US, who to my shame I have neglected to contact for a while, anyway she is a pink lady and loves hearts so this bag will be a surprise for her.
  • Tea dye some scrim - I did a little of this last night but it hasn't come out quite as I hoped so will try some more today and see what results I get.

As for today well I was planning a trip to Bath, I still have some credit to spent in the LQS but it's misty and murky out there this morning and I'm feeling lazy so will stay in today. My goals are;

  • More Tea Dyeing
  • Start making up the Feb bag
  • Start work on 'Time' postcards
  • Paint some pieces of TimTex

Maybe the fog will clear later and I can get out for a walk but if not I will cheer myself up by sharing a reminder from the sunny walk that I enjoyed on Monday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fish Supper

It's almost midnight here in England so I guess my creative time is just about up today. How did I do on my To do list?
  • Start BQL bag - Tecnically I did start, but after cutting some of the pieces I decided that I did not like the colour choices that I had made so back to the drawing board.

  • Start a new kitty on the cross stitch - yep this one is done, in actual fact nearly a whole kitty emerged today so hopefully will have a picture or two to share tomorrow.

  • Finish Shaker postcards. - yep, yep, yep another tick in the box.

If you have been reading my blog for a long time then you might remember that I made a similar design ages ago. I just love the whole idea of this though with the little fish bones swimming around in kitties tummy. When I spotted a shaker swap on one of the yahoo grpups that I belong to I had the perfect excuse to revisit this idea. I've changed the cat shape a bit and have given him a nice bright background. Hopefully my swap partners will like them.

I will be out for most of the day tomorrow so I'm going to just set myself some simple tasks for my to do list for tomorrow.
  • Finish the new kitty on the cross stitch
  • Work on my Something Beginning with J postcards
  • Pick new fabrics for BQL bag
  • Tea-Dye some scrim.

Take it Further - January endings and February Beginnings

A little later than planned here is my finished doll for the January Take it further challenge.

This is the first larger art doll that I have made and am so pleased with the way she turned out. When I first read the January challenge on Sharon's blog I was really stumped by the concept so decided to concentrate on the colour theme. Immediately the colours bought to my mind a peacock. After thinking about it a bit more I realised that peacock colours where more in the blue tones that the purples shown here but I just couldn't get the idea out of my head so decided to use a bit of artistic license and raided my stash for some appropriate fabrics and began work. Seeing the little feather wings on the finished piece I think the colours have turned out to be a good match in the end.

Once the doll was finished I was really nervous about painting on the facial features as I'm no artist. I wanted to go with big eyes near the side of the face to try and suggest the way that real peacocks have eyes on either sides of their heads.I choose the lightest colour in the pallette for the legs of the doll, but after having lived with her for a couple of weeks I decided that I didn't like such large blocks of light colour. I didn't want to add shoes (peacocks don't wear shoes right?), so this morning she went back on the operating table and I added some green ribbon to break the legs up a bit. Overall now I'm pretty happy with her. The only other thing I may do is add some arm jewellery, again to try and break up the blocky colour of the arms but I will let that one mull over a bit before I decide for sure.At the moment she is known just as the Peacock Princess but I would like to give her a name. I would love to hear your suggestions. If I pick a name from the suggestions that you make I will send the winner something as a Thank You.

Now that I have finally been able to share some pictures of January's finished piece I can take some time to think about February's Challenge. I've really enjoyed making my doll so I think I will try another for February, but I think this one will be a bit different.I'm not very keen on the colour pallette this month so I am going to go with the concept, What are you old enough to remember? As with the January challenge an idea just popped into my head and I haven't been able to shake it out. I was born in 1976 and one of the earliest things that I can remember is the sound of the Rag and Bone man clip clopping down the road with his horse and cart ringing his bell and shouting. It seemed a very incongrous sight as we lived on a busy main road with cars streaming past most of the day. So my themed doll is going to be based around the Rag and Bone tradition.

As my post has already turned into an epic today I won't say any more for now but already I have some ideas of how I want my Feb doll to look ......