Monday, 27 October 2014

Venetian memories

A very long time ago it seems, I met a lovely lady who asked me to make a piece of embroidery for or rather a collection of small pieces mounted together. We discussed colours and she said 'think old Venice'   Well I'd never been to Venice so I put it on the back burner for a while. 
Earlier this year we went to Venice and I took a million photos. It was still on the back burner as I was busy up until Yarndale but after that I got going. 

Looking back through my photographs, at the colours of Old Venice, I saw faded lime-washed walls, grey green water, curly iron work, and bare stone and white marble. 

I had some lovely felt coloured with natural dyes some time ago at our felt group. Soft and muted and perfect for the task.

I made a start, using the motif Wyn liked, which I suppose is reminiscent of Gondola 'pointy bits' 

I used muted velvets for the centres with the exception of the terracotta which I thought was a very accurate match for the view from the apartment we stayed in in Venice.

A little pale green echoes the verdigris on the spire (Although I've only just spotted that!)

Ahh lovely Venice, beautiful scenes around every corner.

I mounted them on a card, just slightly raised from the background 

and used an unfinished deep pine frame which can be painted or varnished.

Well I'm extremely pleased with the way it turned out and I think Wyn loves it too.

It makes me think I might do more in a similar vein.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


This is retro in more ways than one..I've had this fabric for years and years. I think it's early 60s and was in my scraps box. I almost used it as brooch backing fabric. 
But then I examined the pattern and voila !
Can you spot it? 
So my old style brooches and old style fabric have combined.
Here they are uncluttered by fabric backgrounds. 
Just three at the moment but altogether there are a dozen made now.
And here's a size guide. 

Small and cute.

Going into my etsy shop soon. 

If you came here from facebook I apologise for the 'emotion manipulation headline'. Don't they annoy you? But I didn't drag you here to advertise at you like they do. Or come to think of it....I suppose blogs are all self promotion so I'm sorry.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Alice, Sebastian, Colm, and Cheska, Elton.......and me.

Last week we had a little visitor. Cheska. Of course, despite the fact that I was the one who welcomed her, introduced her to Hetty, kept the peace, kept the cat away, guess whose knee she preferred?
Hetty is not the most gracious hostess, which is a bit worrying as we are having TWO dogs next week!

Now the Alice bit. I went to an event in Manchester lit festival. It was held in a building in the University where I was delighted to spot these two wonderful wallhangings. I recognised them instantly as the work of Alice Kettle. I took a couple of pictures. 

It wasn't until I was on my way out that I saw the photography prohibited notice and the list of dire consequences if caught taking pics, but I think it meant in the auditorium. I did confess but no action was taken. 

Anyway. About the auditorium. 

Two brilliant Irish authors were in there chatting about their work and reading from their latest books. 
I have read three Sebastian Barry books and they always leave me mesmerised by his beautiful prose, so I was really there to hear and see him and he didn't disappoint. I also enjoyed listening to Colm Toibin reading and talking. 
The banter between them was very entertaining. 

Afterwards there was a signing (after a little buying!) so I am now in possession of signed copies. 

I'm glad I made the effort to get there even though it meant wandering up Oxford Road on my own due to a time miscalculation. I phoned number two son who lives near there and he came and met me halfway and entertained me in his new flat until my dear husband switched his phone on! He'd been to a music class at the Irish centre and my Irish thing finished earlier than his Irish thing.

Thanks everyone for the comments on my last post. 
I've had a go at doing some smaller brooches. 
First I made some 'silk heavy ' felt, to echo the surface of the old-style brooches I wanted to return to. 

Then I got going and copied one of them which appeared In Quilting Arts magazine a few years ago. 

I like how it turned out and had a go and made a few more. 
Here they are. About two inches long. Maybe a bit more, but definitely not as big as my usual brooches which are often over three inches. 
Now I have to see if they sell.
The proof of the pudding etc?
And Elton?
Last weekend I had a mini reunion with some college friends. 
One of these friends has an amazing memory. 
I remembered that way back in 1971 I had persuaded the social sec at college to book Elton John for the Saturday night concert/dance. He did, but Elton at that time wasn't a big enough draw, and didn't have enough material for the entire night, so they had to book another band as well. 
My friend with the memory says she remembers Elton John sitting all alone in the college refectory and she had to restrain me from going over to sit with him! 
Well I never. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Musings on the past and the future.

In the haitus between the great thrash for Yarndale, and the coming thrash for Christmas, I have been musing on my work.
At Yarndale, I had a lovely appreciative couple who loved my work. 

However the woman said though she liked the brooches, they were too big for her and she wouldn't wear one.
The next day she came back and found and bought this one ,

much smaller, and one of only two I had left from an old batch.

2008 in fact!

They were 'mid-century' inspired and very popular.

I blogged about my work back then and included this picture.

and this.

I went on to make lots and lots more.

The base was silk fibre paper which was a joy to stitch on but a beast to oversew the edges.

I went on to create a few pieces of wall Art in the same vein.

They appeared in Quilting Arts Magazine. 
I sent them all the way to America to be photographed .

Exciting times!

 I made little round ones...I sold all of them but one..which I sold at.....???

Yes, Yarndale.

Then I discovered I could make the same patterns in felt.

This was the prototype.

And that was the beginning of a whole new production line.
But they are big and quiet hard to make smaller.

So I'm thinking 'back to the future'?

They are very pretty.
I have an idea.
And new skills I didn't have back then.
Watch this space.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Hellos and hugs.

Life has been a bit hectic lately. 
Two posts today. this one and one about our Symi trip which is here if you'd like to read it.
If it isn't enough to have made almost 100 brooches and lots of small pieces of embroidery, any show or exhibition also requires a lot of preparation and, I suppose, logistics. Turning a sheep pen into an exhibition required copious amounts of calico and hard thinking about design.
Anyway we won't go into details but here is my stand just before kick off on Saturday morning.

Now I have a garden, I could take a little bunch of flowers to prettify my stand.

I had THE BEST weekend. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. I sold loads and loads of stuff but thats not why I enjoyed it. The reason I really enjoyed it was the visitors. I felt like a star when people who know this blog, or had seen my facebook page introduced themselves to me, told me how much they liked my work, and were generally delightful.

I don't want to name names because I might leave someone out, I have to admit that it was a a bit of a  whirlwind of hellos and hugs, and I saw so many old friends, some I knew were going to be there and some that were a surprise. I was given gifts too. I felt so honoured.
Just because I can do  bit of sewing ...I was treated to this lovely experience.

I sold so many brooches, and here are two happy customers who were so well co-ordinated and their brooches fit right in.

The show itself was full of inspiration..this wool made me almost want to take up knitting.

So on Sunday morning it was slim pickings. That was not as much of a negative as you might think as I sold plenty of Harris Tweed brooches.

 I had to take a picture of this lady in her lovely original 50s frock.

So a big thank you goes to the organisers at Yarndale. It was a terrific success for me and all the other exhibitors  were smiley and happy so I'm guessing it was the same for them.

But my goodness am I tired !!! It was worth every minute of the work and preparation.

Symi again.

Its a long time since I posted and today I'm going to do two posts.  The other one is about Yarndale. 
This one is a reminder of our trip to Symi on 11th for a week, and I enjoyed it more than ever. It was our fifth visit..and I have to admit I didn't really want to go this year. I'd had enough of being away from home for a bit with Yarndale coming up and I wasn't looking forward to the journey. However we booked the flight with Ryanair and booked the apartment, that was the easy bit and then I went onto the Dodekanisos ferry booking site and discovered the evening ferry is broken! 
So even though we'd booked 7 nights on Symi we had to have our first one on Rhodes.

 We had a lovely meal in a restaurant in the New Market place called Oute Lepi which apparently means 'No Scales' some kind of jokey pun I think, lost on me.

I like this little garden hanging from the wall..I took a picture so we can build our own, but I fear it may just become a slug paradise if I do.

 So the next morning we hadn't managed to book on the early ferry and the later one went a sort of scenic tour, stopping for an hour at the Monastery of Panormitis. I had said I'd like to go there again. I hadn't quite envisaged that I would be there in my traveling clothes with all my luggage. It was incredible to see the number of people who arrived. Two huge day tripper boats from Rhodes  came in and I'll bet two thousand people were walking about this tiny village which is mostly monastery.

So eventually we arrived in our lovely apartment. I would recommend Taxiarchis apartments. A very kind owner who met us from the ferry in hos car, and encouraged tow young Hungarian tourists to share the ride even though they weren't staying there, and wouldn't take any money from them.
We had a lovely little terrace with a view of Pedi bay. It was very relaxing. Simple, quite basic but inexpensive and very clean and well cared for.

 we were near a lovely little cafe called 'The Olive Tree' run by English women. I know thats the worst kind of tourist thing to do...find an english cafe, but the food was so delicious and we had lunch a couple of times when we fancied a change from Greek food, under a canopy of leaves and a deep blue sky.

 There were a lot of leaves on the ground, it being September and I was quite inspired by the groupings of teh leaves and stems.

We had an adventure. The nearest beach to us was Pedi, reached by a walk down a not terribly picturesque road. We had heard people talking about a walk through the Pedi valley so we asked and thought we knew the way, and set off. We followed what we thought was the right path and after about an hour we arrived at a small higgledy piggledy farm.  (See the goat asleep on top of an old freezer?)

 We heard a menacing dog growl and turned around to see a pug barking at us.
The owner came out. We said 'Pedi?' he pointed up wards and indicated that if we continued down his track we would encounter a fence.

We went up. We seemed to be too high and the hills are very barren. We knew we were on teh wrong track so we decided to follow a dried up river downwards.

 Bear in mind, it was hot, it was prickly underfoot. I was wearing slip on shoes (which slipped off a lot)shorts and a sun top over my swimming costume. No hat .
The river valley went from small stones, t rocks, to boulders, to rock face. As we climber down and down I was thinking to myself, thank goodness we aren't going up. I twisted my ankle, ouch; I jumped down and bent my knee further than it is used to; i bashed my finger on a rock; I got prickly bushes in my face.

 Then we reached.................

 Can you see the sea? We only wanted a swim. In that blue sea. There, in that picture.

 We realised we could go no further. The awful truth dawned. We had to turn round and go back. Back up the boulders, through the prickly bushes, in the heat, without a hat, in my shorts and my slip- on shoes.

I wasn't sure I could do it. I thought we would be stuck there forever.
We sat down for a long time until we cooled off.

 And the little goat laughed.....

The climb was not easy, up the steep rocks. I was quite amazed by my rock climbing prowess and am thinking of doing the Duke of Edinburgh's award.

I  have to say it was beautiful on the way up with the backlit grasses. I was very inspired by the vegetation and the ittle brown lizards that scurried about ahead of us.

We lived to tell the tale, but we didn't get a swim that day and made do with a lovely shower and sleep.

Now can you believe we tried again two days later?
This time we knew exactly where we were going!
Up to a point.
The first time we felt we were off the track, we turned round, walked up to the bus stop and went down to Pedi on the lovely, air conditioned, comfy bus, and had our swims, lay about on the sunbeds and caught the bus back.

Out in the evening to 'The Windmill' to eat their wonderful food under the stars. The man with his back to us is the owner/waiter Michaelis, who hurtles up and down those steps hundreds of times per evening. He is always courteous and friendly and works so hard. He starts in May and finishes in October and doesn't have a day off.

 One day we went out on Poseidon for the round Island trip, with several stops for swimming, the best one being two hours on Sesklia Island.

Its just what you might expect to see in Greece. Beautiful water, goats, olive and tamarisk trees,

 and there, we were treated to a superb picnic and Barbecue under the trees. There were rather more people than we are used to on this particular trip and the actual boat time was a bit cramped.

On another day we took a boat to our favourite beach and taverna, Marathounda. 

 The water is beautiful and blue and warm, and the taverna is very good indeed.
Swim, eat, sleep, swim, sleep, tiring.

I didn't take so many photographs this year, but if you want to read more there are plenty of Symi posts in this blog. 2008, 2011, 2013  which show much more.
I could have stayed a bit longer but we had to leave on the early morning ferry, with 'rosy fingered dawn' on the mountains.


Flying over Rhodes..

Its nice to be home. The welcome was heartfelt.


st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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