Tuesday, 24 December 2013

'tis the season

...to be working flat out until the last gasp, making presents and baking. And let's face it, some things have been more successful than others.

Here's the first Good Thing:

pair of cushions, to order

With its associated Not So Good Thing i.e. the mess behind the machine and the entanglement of zips, linings and hidden seams:

Here's the second Good Thing:

Second pair of cushions (sshh, don't tell - they're a surprise...)

Then there was the Christmas Cake Fiasco.....

Cake number one:

which was Too Tall and needed its top chopped off, had some marzipan and icing slapped on it and duly eaten, after being dubbed "Pond in Winter":

I'm ashamed, I truly am.  The rest of the cake wasn't that much better, so I was instructed to make another one.  No pictures of that one, but it is a perfection of marzipan and fruit cake, replete with Frosty Peaks (trad).

Then there was the stollen. The stollen recipe that makes two stollen.

Except someone has forgotten the almond paste. Doh!

So then there had to be two more stollen in order to get it right:

That's more like it. Phew.

And finally, some stars (inspired by shenanigans in class playing with the laminator)

And a doorway festooned with buttons, courtesy of Gina

Right, that's it. I'm calling it quits.

This term has been such a long one, and the fact that my cooking skills have clearly deserted me has quite frankly terrified me - more than enough evidence that I need a bit of a break! Normal blogging service will be resumed in the New Year.

So for now, have a very merry one, ho ho ho and all that - I'm off to pour myself a stiff drink and find the cheesecake* and my Christmas Stocking!


hopefully not in my stocking but knowing how things have been going around here recently...

Monday, 9 December 2013

Taking procrastination up a notch

Make Christmas presents? Finish start stitching colourful creative thing painted two weeks ago? why do that when you could do this:

Woah!  Discovered I had a star-thingy-tool and wanted to use it. I don't recommend doing this, but (a) my machine is out of warranty, and (b) it did allow me to get a load of crud out of it. But honestly, what on earth possessed me?!

Maybe I was dispirited because I'd done this to the Christmas cake:

I think we were slightly "under-tinned".

I have now redeemed things slightly, and got something done on the creative thingy:

(actually two thingies)

A start, definitely not a finish.

There will be some pics of student work as soon as I've sorted the photos - they've been mighty busy!

Monday, 25 November 2013

And now for something completely different...

I actually did something!  Something vaguely creative!  For me!  Not for teaching, not for selling, just for me!!

Sorry about the excess punctuation, but I'm so excited...

I made a collage out of bits of the Sunday newspaper magazine (don't often get a paper, but I was after some more recipes...coz I haven't got that many...ahem).

I then added oil pastels, then Koh i noor paints.

And I've finally got myself sorted out enough to put some things on the etsy shop.  Nothing huge, don't get too excited, but it's a start!

I've been so busy - doing endless paperwork, having a rotten cold, having my teaching observed and graded, and attending another local craft fair, that I haven't had a moment to myself.  Today I'm fighting back!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Rusty goodness

Goodness! Goodness knows where the time has gone. Actually, I do know, it's just too boring to go into details - nothing exciting, just a heck of a load of paper being shuffled about.

Meanwhile, here are some lovely rusty bits I found on a recent trip to the depths of wettest Wales:

I just love this heap of wire (message to sibling - why is it on top of the log pile?  If you don't want it any more, I'll have it)

The sun did come out. Briefly. 

This is the view from the "top gate" towards the house, give it half a mile or so. Himself is still tickled by this, remembering the very first time I took him to Wales to meet The Family - "What, drive down here? It's a gate into a field..."

Friday, 25 October 2013

Mad but good

Another mad week!

First up, I survived the bike ride - even though I was the only one with flat bars, and didn't have little wet weather booties unlike some people.  Five women, two blokes - and it was the men who had the "mechanicals" with one puncture, and one £10,000 bike that wouldn't shift gears and then jammed completely....yup, you read that right: £10,000...and no, that wasn't his bike!!

Home in time for a coffee and some banana & walnut cake, and a spot of paper-painting ready for yet more samples:

and some playing with granite stitch

('tis a bit blurry, sorry....)

Then this week in the evening classes we finished our first piece, playing with all the automatic patterns on our machines:

and started to get to grips with free machining:

and using our workbooks:

and on Thursday we were printing and stitching our leaves (still!)

Today I met Alison aka Fibre Frenzi at the local Spinners Weavers Dyers exhibition.  Couldn't miss her stand, it was so colourful:

and I treated myself to some wild and woolly gloves, to wear when typing blog posts in the cold winter evenings...

Time for a holiday, hello half-term!

Friday, 18 October 2013

A little bit of time to play - and ride a bicycle

But only a very little bit...

First up, "my" new printer (it belongs to the college, but I'm allowed to play with it to see if we like it)

Yes, I think we do...

Then a little bit of time between endless faffing about on my new laptop typing up City & Guilds stuff, to stitch together a little piece for the cover of my records book:

And then a little bit more time to make a little feathered friend:

He is "Bird, Mark 1".  He is a prototype, as he has several "issues" not least with his legs...and definite "flatness"...

But in general, there's been mostly faff and prep around here and not much stitching for my own ends, which makes me sad.  And despite being mostly brilliant and super-whizzy, the new laptop is playing up, probably because it's not new but nearly new and I've probably just discovered why it's first owner took it back...sigh.  

I have done one good thing tho, I think, and that is start to ride a bicycle again. Fresh air and what-not. 

As his name suggests, Mr Gonecycling spends a lot of time on his bicycle and over the years I've done a bit too, but not so much since we got The Whippet.  For the last four years I've ridden a Pashley - a bit like riding a five-bar gate but with fewer gears.  And I've mostly ridden it on holiday, in sandals. And not very far.

Yesterday Mr G mentioned that the local bike shop was starting women's rides and that perhaps I would like to go, to meet some new people who have nothing to do with embroidery or textiles or teaching.  Fair enough, a good thought, thought I. 

The rides are supposed to go at the pace of the slowest, but as nobody wants to be that person, I thought I'd better dig out my slightly "racier" bike. So with much shameful dusting off and pumping up of tyres we took it up to the bike shop for an overhaul.  However, this in itself is not something done lightly - the owner is a very good friend of Sean Yates, and Mr Yates himself lives just down the road from us (I've just finished reading his autobiography). So it's all a bit blokey and lycra-clad around here. And when Mr G asked who was leading the ride and Mr Bike Shop said that he was as all the women were feeling a bit insecure and in need of a gentle shove, I suddenly got cold feet...and cheeky so and so has now invited Mr G to come along too, so he "didn't have to talk about knitting and fluffy kittens all morning".  Ha!  (Half right...machine embroidery and whippets...but still, cheeky).  So I may not get out of it.  I thought I was doing quite well with a six mile trundle, and felt quite proud to be able to get up the hill and out of town with only five gears. A 20-miler with people in lycra is another matter...

The weather is going to be appalling, Mr G will have to take a phone to keep in touch with the riders at the front of the pack, and a calendar to measure how long it will take me to do the distance, but I think I may have to give it a go...at least I still fit into my shorts.  

Monday, 14 October 2013

Making a start

It's all very well spending ages planning what I'm going to teach, it's another thing getting the ideas out of my head to create samples, and another thing again asking the students to trust me and give things a go...

Here are some leaves I've been playing with, for the Fairwarp class:

And for the adult learning class, I seemed to spend ages last week mixing up paint (and gave myself blue fingers, natch)

The painting'n'sticking was still a bit damp for people to take home at the end of class, so I took it home to dry - it all looked amazing on my dining room table!

I don't think everyone was convinced with being asked to do this, so fingers crossed the stitching that will follow this week will reassure!

I topped off the week with the obligatory trip to this place:

Mixed feelings - I was very tired, but there were some excellent exhibitions and I took (fewer than previously) photos to use in class, and found a bargain box of 20 sponge brushes for £3.75!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Wonderful things

Wonderful things growing all over our vine...

A collaborative drawing exercise, to give us some inspiration for our stitching yesterday. Here are some details:

I think we all had fun!

And then onto the stitch, with added colour - paint and/or fabric scraps:

Di's birds, with fabric and stitch

Sheila's leaf sprig, with acrylic paint

Linda's birds (she almost scrapped this at one point - glad she didn't!) with fabric scraps, and watercolour pencils

Jan's flowers, painted with watercolour pencils

Kathy's leaves, with acrylic paint

Sue's bird and leaves - with paint and fabric. Sue had a hard time wrestling with a hoop she didn't like, but I think she did very well with only her second attempt ever at free machining!

And last but not at all least, Carole's bird and leaves...and caterpillar.  Beautiful!

I'm very proud of them all!