Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Rummaging through the archive

Mr G went out today, and the Girl and I were left alone in the house to amuse ourselves.
Sometimes, when Mr G is out, I have the urge to move the furniture around.  Mr G hates change, so I always have to wait until he's out before I can get to work.

With the advent of dark evenings and cold weather, I've recently revived plans to install a large hot woodburning device in our three-bed chimney-less semi-detached.  Primarily this has involved drawing little scale paper cutouts of our living room furniture and playing around with different arrangements on graph paper, trying to get everything to fit.  It has also involved emptying the "booze shelf" under the stairs to shine a torch into the ceiling void, to investigate the run of heating pipes...

But while considering the living room furniture, it occurred to me that certain things could be put to better use.  So I set to - emptied the blanket box in the living room, took miscellaneous things to the charity shop, and then re-filled the box with all my teaching stuff. 

Having created space in the office by removing the boxes of teaching stuff, I then discovered that there was room for another desk - for me.  Because you can't have too many desks....And so then I had to rummage in the back of the garage behind all the "spare" bikes for the desk top I knew I had, and the legs to go with same....

Quite a restrained day by my standards, no wardrobes were involved.

Then I spent the rest of the day sorting through all manner of stuff to create some space on the shelves above my new desk. 

And I found these:



We shall never know if the witch and her cat were reunited...


and finally,



A scary and uncanny likeness!

Happy Halloween everyone.

Not that we celebrate...to see just what we post on our front door, have a look at Mr G again:




Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fish, flowers and frozen things

Here are my fish again:


Small is the prototype, Big is the real thing.  Together they are Flotsam and Jetsam but currently I do not have either of them, they have been taken away to be photographed.  I can't say what for just yet (they may not make the grade) but I hope I get them back soon, as they (Big one, at any rate) are also my entry into the EG branch competition!  Results in a week or so...fingers crossed!

And now for some flowers:

work in progress, by Caroline - a complete newbie to free machining

some beautiful gift tags by Jane

Tricia's flower (another complete newbie, who has now caught the soldering iron bug...)

Tricia's butterfly

Angela's flower (yet another newbie...)


Kathy's flowers


Ann's flowers (and another newbie!  I loved that sequined organza...)


Carole's flowers (not a newbie!)

and Kathy has been continuing to make button brooches, from our first week of class

and a gorgeous little brooch

and last but not least, the remains of Alison's cuff.

Alison is also a complete newbie, but unfortunately her dog didn't appreciate all the hard work that went into her very first piece of machine embroidery and very naughtily ate most of it.  This is all that remains!

There are a few more pieces lurking in people's bags, but some people were away this week, and some are still works-in-progress.

When I remember to take my camera, I'll have some photos from my City & Guilds class - fabulous goings on there, too! 

And to finish...I've been playing with Nigella's coffee ice-cream recipe from a few weeks ago.  I'm usually out on a Monday evening, singing with this lot (best turn the volume off when you watch the video, honestly...not at our best, outdoors in the drizzle, appalling acoustics and badly placed mics...excuses excuses!) but luckily I caught the first episode of the latest series when Nigella whipped this most amazingly simple and delicious concoction.

We've made the coffee version - a bit gritty, but good, and then of course I had to experiment.


I give you blackberry and cassis, and rum and raisin.  Well no, I don't give you any of it - we ate it all.  Sorry.
  I've just made another couple of batches of coffee, and rum and raisin, for the weekend (well, maybe next weekend too, if I manage to find a hiding place for the second tub in the freezer).

For the rum and raisin, I simply soaked 100g raisins in 2tbsp brandy (I microwaved them for a bit because I couldn't wait overnight or anything silly), added a splosh of vanilla extract, and whizzed it all up with 300ml of double cream and half a can of condensed milk.

For the blackberry, I stewed 250g blackberries, sieved them, added a spoonful of cornflour to thicken the puree, and whipped that in with the 300ml cream, 2 tbsp cassis and half a can of condensed milk.

The only problem with this recipe is that one can of condensed milk is enough for two batches.  What a terrible shame.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Distractions and cheating

I've been distracted from whatever else I'm supposed to be doing (what is it again?) by making these:



Tyvek flowers, inspired by Gina (as always)




My students have been making organza flowers and I was supposed to be trialling some more varieties when I made these.  We haven't tried Tyvek (yet) so I haven't cheated (yet) by stealing someone else's lesson plan (yet)! 

Actually, using hot tools in a village hall gives me the heebyjeebies so we probably won't do Tyvek...

Meanwhile, Girl has been distracted from doing her piano/violin practises in the morning by counting the number of "malted wheats" (no brands in our house...) in her breakfast.  This has been going on for more than a week now...should I be worried?


And Mr Gonecycling has been distracted from the business of publishing ebooks of sonnets and riddles by staying up late to read this little book about cheating by this guy:


I am now reading it, and staying up very late to do so, which may explain why nothing much else has been done around here.  "Unputdownable" particularly considering this week's news about this guy:


And then Mr G dug out this last photo - I remember it so clearly, because the yellow-jersey-guy seemed so much smaller than I expected from watching him on telly. 


But this photo now has a whole new meaning: guy with the rucksack - who HE? 
Read the book and you will find out...

We went to France and Switzerland to see them, I stood on the steps of the Postal team bus, I got a postcard, I wished Tyler "Good Luck".  A few days later, I waited for the yellow-jersey-guy to cross the line at the timetrial in Mulhouse before telling Mr G he was going to be a Daddy...we spent hours standing behind barriers, hours on the Paris Metro trying to get to the Champs Elysee to see them win, then sat it out at Charles de Gaulle before flying home.  Cheated?  Damn right!





Monday, 15 October 2012

Colour, texture, line - everywhere

We hadn't seen each other all week.  We're all so busy, what with schooling and violining and cycling and teaching and cityandguildsing and cleaning and dogwalking and allypallying.

So to put things right, we went on a pilgrimage to Wakey.

We took cake (butternut, cinnamon frosting), flask of coffee, milk, forks, stickywipes, forgot the mugs and had to beg some cardboard ones, and we took a camera.

We found a labyrinth:



600 metres long and 12,000 bricks!

And we found a favourite view:


some lines


some texture 


and some colour


I'm really enjoying how teaching this course is making me go back to the beginning. 
But why do we talk of going "back" to basics?  Maybe basics is a good place to stay.

(Uhoh, unexpected rant coming up....you have been warned)

In the Knitting & Stitching Show catalogue, there was an ad for a certain magazine, purporting to be about the "simple things" in life, the things that matter most - like interiors, lifestyle etc.  AGGHHHHH!!!!!  Stupid people.  Those are the things that matter LEAST!!!! 

Sorry about that.

To make up for the rant, here is some knitted village from the K&S show:



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Colour and texture - sorted

After the muddy foot debacle of July 14, I discovered that the lovely people in Cornwall are making my favourite boots again - so I took a deep breath and ordered a new pair.  Gosh, they are lovely.  Like walking around with your feet wrapped in a duvet all day.  Expensive, yes, but my last pair lasted four years and are now on light dog-walking duty in the mornings when I don't wear wellies.

But...every time you order something, you get another catalogue - as well as the ones that are sent out anyway.  So yesterday, when we received yet another catalogue from my favourite purveyor of warm boots, it was definitely surplus to requirements.

I'd already used a previous one to stitch over with various LINES


 (it's in there somewhere - I think it's the woolly jumper along the right-hand edge)

So as we had another one, I thought I'd chop it up and sort out COLOUR 


and TEXTURE as well!


Job done.


(Well, apart from the yellow/orange section...)

Talking of yellow and orange, did I show you my squash?


(no, I'm not on commission!  Just a happy customer:)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Fish and poems

I made a fish:


I also took a very bad photo of my fish - sorry about that.  I finished him absolutely at the last minute before handing him in for the branch competition, so had to grab my camera to take with me and take a photo when I got to the meeting.  I was late finishing him because his background was water INsoluble fabric - he floated in the bath all night, then had a shower, then had a scrub in the sink - and was still full of gloop.  What a palaver.  

I think  I like him - I do like the tail.
He's all completely recycled or second-hand - fabric, beads, ring pulls, plastic bags etc.  Yes, a certain amount of beer had to be consumed to make this fish - I wanted more gold-coloured ring pulls!  

And talking of Himself, the one who drank the beer, it was only partly to provide the ring pulls for my fish but mostly to celebrate the publication of the first Kindle book!

So, if you would like a lovely little ebook of sonnets, look no further than here!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Down to business

Time for a post about something creative!

I've been particularly busy the past month with preparing three courses.  Three!  And of course feeling more than a little overwhelmed....

Two of the courses are supposed to be informal, and more or less identical, and on more of a "project" basis - but I found that I was panicking about what we were going to do, and felt a fraud for taking people's money for a class where we just made it up as we went along - so I've now written a Scheme of Work for the term!  It's based on suggestions from the group, but I'm so much happier with a plan! 

The other course is a City & Guilds Award in machine embroidery - just a baby City & Guilds for now, but my first one to teach!  This one caused me the most headaches - trying to interpret the syllabus and come up with a grand plan to get through all the work in the right number of hours.

And then of course, having decided what we're going to do, I then have to do it all myself!

So there's been sketchbook work on colours:


then into stitch:


sketchbook and stitch work on line
(and tone, I couldn't help myself - I don't think it's Level 1 C&G though....)


and dealing with the offcuts:


I've made a sort of log-cabiny sample with this, but don't seem to have a photo to hand...

And I've finally started work on our EG branch competition "flotsam and jetsom" due in on Saturday....ahem...maybe because I love seascapes, maybe because I hoard things from my seaside holiday, maybe I was just a little complacent???

The Girl did say out loud "I wonder where you'll get some shells from Mummy - we've hardly got any in the house at all".  Cheeky miss.  (She was of course referring to the four jamjars in the kitchen, the massive kilner jars in the office, the shells on the patio, and the as-yet unclaimed shells in the car storage cubbies...)

So it was out with the sea-themed wool, to do some sort of random felting.  Out with assorted sticks and shells.  Out with the massive box of accumulated french papers (bread wrappers, receipts, tourist leaflets, tide tables etc...)



Sorry, have to tilt your head to see that one...

Whereupon inspiration deserted me.  It was Mr G who then suggested I made a fish.

So out with the copper wire and the pliers


A brief detour to a local craft show where I found these wonderful electroplated balls and nearly got distracted from my fish and wanted to make balls...


A very real distraction involving manipulating painted Bondaweb into a bowl shape




I am quite seriously chuffed with this, and need to scour charity shops for heatproof bowls and large ceramic/pottery balls...this may be my new thing....there's even some FOIL in there! 

But I digress.

Finally, I've made a good stab at starting my Fish:


All recycled fabrics and beads. 
Here's me stitching the beaded cords in place on some water soluble.  This is after I stitched through my finger.  (So now I have two tingling fingers on my right hand - the mandolined finger healed beautifully, btw, but is still a little bit numb/tingly - getting better all the time:)

Here are some assorted recycled bits and pieces to attach:


And here is a bit further on:


I'm supposed to be dealing with the tail at the moment, but as it involves stitching over copper wire threaded with beads, I thought I'd write a blog post instead!
 Procrastination, deviation from the task in hand, avoiding something difficult?  Moi?!!

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