Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Stalled, drifting and floating

Gosh that sounds deep! It isn't...

Stalled at this:

Which is very dull. We are waiting for a bricklayer to come and build a wall. He's got until Tuesday at 8am when the gas people come and move the gas meter into the new meter box in the new non-existent wall. Dull but also making me strangely twitchy. Until the gas meter is moved and the wall is built, the floor can't be done, nor the walls lined...nothing can be done really, and I just want it all FINISHED!!! 

Drifting: because now Mrs B has my cupboards, all my stuff is packed into crates and tidy heaps and deposited all around the house. I've been trying to catch up with a few of those projects that you put off until you have a decent amount of time with no other pressures, but without making any mess or getting too much stuff out again. (But why is it when you do have the time, you don't feel like doing it?). 

Yesterday I made another sack dress this time from a Clothkits pattern that I picked up back in October at the K&S show. I also managed to get the last 2 metres of beautiful navy linen from the Merchant and Mills stand at the same time, but because I'm absolute pants at making clothes (despite being a wizz on the sewing machine!) I've tried it out first by using an old cotton sheet. I've used cotton thread throughout, and I will dye it. 

But yet again (must be due to body dysmorphia!) I've cut out a Medium and it is rather...."smock-like" as Mr G put it kindly. So back to the drawing board, and I will trace off a Small and start again...I'll have to use calico next time, as I have no more sheet, and I will dye that one too. So I will then have one capacious and one hopefully OK dress, dyed in some as-yet-to-be-decided colour, by which time I will be too bored of dressmaking to actually attempt it in a rather lovely navy linen!

Other jobs on my list include washing and then shortening the dining room curtains so that whippets and husbands don't tread dirt all over them, making a hot-water bottle cover from an old jumper, and then making four curtains for our bedroom: nothing to really stir up the creative juices there!

Floating: At the moment, my work is in the New Town Arts Collective exhibition at the Greenstede Gallery, Chequer Mead, East Grinstead. Here is all the work laid out on the floor waiting to be hung:

My work is at the front. I always worry that I'm bringing too much, so it was useful to see that it only takes up the same space as John's massive acrylic paintings! 

But there are no red dots yet (well, there may be a couple of private negotiations after the exhibition). Maybe there will be a late flurry? Live in hope...

Anyway, back to the floating. Back in the summer my sister asked what I would like for my birthday present. "A lie down in a darkened room?" was what I answered! So whaddya know, I received a voucher for a floatation session!! And with the floaty place being just down the way from the gallery in East Grinstead, I finally went along on Monday afternoon (ironically I've been too busy and stressed do go before now!). 

I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but I enjoyed it - I did relax and switch off, once I worked out that if I needed to move (for example to scratch my elbow) I needed to do so v e r y  s l o w l y as the slightest movement sets you drifting across the pool which feels very strange in the pitch dark. I fell asleep at one point (which I was sure I would do, as I've been a bit sleep deprived recently) and suddenly snapped awake so I had to waggle my legs because I couldn't feel them at all - so that set off more waves again. On Monday evening, I was incredibly sleepy by 8.30pm - not like me at all, so perhaps it did do me some good. So I want to go again now and find out! I can see it could get addictive...

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Three builders and an IKEA catalogue

You may remember this picture of our living room

Well we've got all our building approvals and wotnot, and chosen a man who can - make straight edges to holes in walls for new doorways! The garage is nearly empty, just need to sell my old bike and move more bits into the sheds. We now have two mini sheds outside the kitchen, and the summerhouse - never truly sure of its identity (summer living room? Meditation room? Studio? Model railway room?) is now our posh bike shed, green roof and everything!

And I've been busy with the catalogue of all things flat-pack and my squared paper, planning to the millimetre exactly what is going where. Fun fun fun, I used to spend hours doing this sort of thing when I was 10. Should have been an architect.

And with two weeks until New Town Art Collective hang an exhibition at the Greenstede Gallery, East Grinstead, for which I have no new work, I thought I'd use my half-term break to empty my cupboards and desks ready for the Great Furniture Merrygoround that will keep things like the piano out of the way of builders and the ensuing dust.

Look at all those empty shelves and drawers...the stuff still inside the cupboard is all in crates and can be moved out tout suite when we need to dismantle (!!!!) the desk.

The cupboard in the way of the squiggly red line in the living room is quite an important one to shift early on, natch - can't have that sitting in the doorway to my studio! Let me say that again. MY STUDIO. 

I have had to make some hard decisions along the way

Pots of bits? Foily bits? Fabric bits? Leaf skeletons and dried petals?? I know exactly what at least one person reading this would say to do with it all...and she may be right.

But I've also found things like my Grandmother's pin box, and my Mother's needle cases and tatting shuttles...

I've kept out a supply of materials to finish off some work (I will do it, I just need a stupidly short deadline) and I've also kept out some books that I got the last 18 months or so, that I haven't read properly yet (where does the time go?). The rest of everything is either stacked in the office or in the loft. Mr G has expressed concern that one room, even all for me, already won't be big enough before we've even started...

Oops, sneaked in a box of shells there...sshhh

But then we took a cupboard over to Mrs B's workroom - the wonderful Mrs B who has agreed to buy my enormous sewing cupboard and two other sets of drawers (she's hankered after a cupboard like mine for years, she says) and her work room and the volume of STUFF EVERYWHERE beats mine hands down. I don't know if he was relieved, or worried that it was a glimpse into the future, as Mrs B has a head start on a few years over me....

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

If it ain't broke

There's a double meaning in that... When I started this blog, it was a bit of fun, a place to share my creations, a place to waffle on about life.

Then more teaching happened, and I began to get noticed on the Threadnoodle Facebook page...and I started to get confused about who I was, and who I was writing for (am I Iz, on a quest for the ultimate flapjack? Or am I Isobel Moore, Textile Artiste and Teacher extraordinaire?) So there followed a year-long dry spell in the land of Blog.

But I'm back. I'm both Iz and Isobel. I have accepted my random teaching style, my tangents and digressions. I will try and mindmap as a way to tame the thought processes or at least make them accessible to my students (Jan!).

But meanwhile, here is a blog post about breakfast.

A certain celebrity chef popped up on my Facebook timeline with a video about a kushti breakfast recipe. Let's call him Damie Jolliver. I was intrigued. I was tempted. Girl had expressed a dislike and boredom of the homemade birchermuesli offering (summer breakfast; winter breakfast being porridge) and wanted packet cereal and milk again. Oh no, thought I. I will make this kushti granola sweepings just like Damie Jolliver and all will be well.

Except it wasn't. It never is, is it?  As usual, I quickly concluded that Damie doesn't do his own prep or washing up. "Just" toast 1kg of oats and 1/2 pound of nuts? Like how, Damie? I didn't have a big enough oven tray so thought I'd use a dry pan on the gas and do it in batches.

One hour later.

The next step shows an excitable Damie cramming it all in a food processor. Uhuh. Not going to work, no Magimix in these parts. So I did batch blending in my mini chopper.

Fatal error no.1 was adding the ground coffee. Fatal error no.2 adding orange zest with cocoa. The only chocolate orange combo I will ever eat belongs to Terry, and I'll only eat it if I'm in a post-Christmas torpor and not thinking straight. I hate chocolate and fruit, loathe it. Why did I not trust my instincts?

Then there was the dust. Oh, the dust. Dirty, dirty. Oaty chocolatey coffee grounds dust. Then I didn't have a big enough container for it all. What a palaver. 

By this stage it had already taken nearly two hours to do what Damie's little video suggests you can knock up in a matter of moments, and that's before I'd cleaned up the kitchen.

Then, the first taste...hmmm, strangely gritty but not too awful. Was hoping for more than "acceptable" so I went in search of Mr Gonecycling and commanded him to eat a small bowlful of the stuff with milk. The results were not good. The final reckoning was at breakfast the next day, with all three of us. All three of us who then had a bowl of emergency porridge. 

I tried to salvage the granola dust muesli sweepings in the form of flapjack - not many things can't be helped along with the addition of butter, sugar and syrup. But I was wrong. 

We put it out for the birds. They weren't partial. 

Since when, I've actually been skipping breakfast altogether. Sort of lost my taste for it. The others are back to porridge. 

Moral of the story? Don't be in the thrall of celebrity chefs who don't do their own washing up. 

Secondly, blog as myself: it's good to be back! Next up, tales of cupboards and knocking holes in walls.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Catching up

Well gosh a mercy, it's been a long time. If you know me though, or follow me on Facebook or whatever, you will know that since I was last here I've been to Brittany, taught my first summer school at Missenden Abbey, had an exhibition, prepared my classes for this term, booked an amazing holiday for February, learnt a bit about painting, and generally had a hard time of it with Girl. I could have blogged about any of those things, but didn't, so here is a quick snapshot just to catch us all up: Brittany: We had a bit of a storm Which was terrifying, a bit floaty in that our tent was - floating - but did give rise to the expression "#waterproofgear" to be used hereafter in any inclement weather (one of the German boys came over to check we were OK, much to Girl's delight, and was checking and helping everyone in our section of the campsite because he "had the waterproofgear". And a big torch. Meanwhile, I was trying to move everything off the floor of our tent by the light of an LED tea light). But it wasn't all rain. Our last full day was definitely a beach day, so we tootled off down the coast to our "secret" beach i.e. only locals, no tourists - followed by the compulsory ice-cream from the little shop in Ploumoguer, eaten on the steps of the enclos paroissiaux:
Summer school:  I was terrified (but that's nothing new - I'm scared of everything!) but I had an absolute blast. A fabulous group, and wonderful work: Here is my Facebook post with the finished pieces (See my website for details of my 2016 courses at Missenden Abbey). Exhibition: No time for new work, apart from a few cards, but it was a lovely venue and I think we got it all together remarkably well - our first real group exhibition!
More pictures here. Holiday:
I'm already scared about driving my own snowmobile (obviously) but I'm ridiculously excited about our winter holiday to Norway. Must leave room in the suitcase for some knitwear and Sami anything!!  Painting: I went on a course with Emma Burnett, and painted this:
Not entirely sure I've found my métier! Which just leaves... Girl: Here she is in "colourful" mode
Funny thing is, it could be me at the same age. But don't tell her that!  

Monday, 6 July 2015

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside....

Oh yes, I really do! But before the summer holidays begin, I really must wrap up the teaching year. I promised to post these photos many many weeks ago, so without further ado, here are the amaaaazing seascapes we stitched in class at the beginning of the summer term - some finished, some not quite:




Carole B






detail of Morag's

Carole H

These last ones were "practice" pieces, for trying out different stitch techniques, but worthy of being framed in their own right! 

What a fantastic bunch of work - it was a bit of a trial run for my Missenden Abbey Summer School course and my guinea pigs students had to trust me with each step, especially those who didn't work from a photo. Most people ended up using a combination of working from imagination, memory or a photo. I think you'll agree they did a superb job, and every single one of them should be jolly proud of their work! 

So well done to all the Newick and Fairwarp ladies - see you in September if not before!

And if anyone else fancies giving a seascape a go, then there are still places available on my summer school in August. Full details are available here.

And I've just noticed that my two weekend classes for 2016 are also on the Missenden Abbey website! Here (lacy organza bags) and here (fabulous fearless free motion machine embroidery).

Looks like I'm going to be a bit busy...I really have to get this time-management malarky sorted out!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Four eeks and a holiday

Last week we went to France. We had to. We hadn’t had a break since August (Christmas and all it’s attendant busy-ness doesn’t count) and I thought my head would explode if I didn’t. Stop. Doing.

Bliss. A few days doing not very much of anything, except eating croissants and macaroons (not together)

drinking the local wine (rude not to) and taking hundreds of photos.

The dog even tried out his new chariot in anger. Well, more in anxiety than anger although it did get a bit toothy at one point. Kind of his own wine tour of Burgundy, if you like, but with an extra h in it.

We stayed in a medieval village, all crumbling yellow stone walls and roses and irises everywhere. I have a thing for iron railings and stone carvings, and have to snap them, much to the Child’s chagrin. Almost as bad as my seaweed photography habit.

There was a private pool we could visit too, but ‘twas a bit nippy...

I came back with my husband’s cold, which quite frankly we would have happily not re-imported, so had some more enforced down-time for the rest of half-term. I did catch up with some light reading and even managed to pootle up to London to see the PRISM exhibition in it’s new venue. And my head is finally clearer (if not my nose – TMI?).

So now it’s onwards, the last big push before the summer! Armed with my clear head and new inspiration I need to tackle some biggies before I can rest again: I’ve got my first ever talk to a quilting group next week (eek!), my first ever article for an e-magazine to write (double eek!!), Art Trail in the middle of July, and the prep for my first ever Missenden Abbey summer school (triple eek!!!) – all to be fitted in-between invigilating exams at the school.

We’re also nearly a “go” on our elaborate plans to create a bespoke studio space for me: I’m definitely feeling like I need my own space to contain all these spinning plates; the corner of the dining room just isn’t up to the job anymore! But it does involve doing this (quadruple eek…)

(That red line is a hole in the wall, or will be...and yes yes, hopefully it will  have straight edges!!)

I did promise pics of finished student work from last term (which is fabulous) but that will have to be next time. That'll do for now!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Running to keep up

This blog is a very good indicator of the state of my mind. I've been absent from my blog for a long while, but here in spirit. Similarly I have felt all year that I am absent from my own life: full of intention, meeting all my obligations, but not actually there in person to experience or enjoy it. Making any sense?!

I take random photos of things I'm doing, such as making date flapjacks 

with the full intention of blogging about them.

Here is lemon posset, this weekend's offering. So easy to make:

And here is Janet Crowther next to her fabulous work at the Ramster exhibition:

What a dark horse, not telling us she'd entered it!!

I have so many projects on the go I can't keep up with them. Here is the beginning of a secret project, deadline for June, when I'll show you more (admittedly not very exciting here!)

The classes finish this week, so I'll be able to share their fantastic work soon. And we have a mini class exhibition/open day in June (still to be arranged, no. 492 on the to-do list) so more photos then.

 Exam season is also upon us, and as I am now one of the senior exam bods, I am a bit preoccupied with that. I do get to boss other invigilators about, but the pressure is on me to make sure all is proper and correct. As I am usually given the smaller exam rooms but the naughtier students, this all feels a bit precarious at times! Sometimes the time drags, but sometimes it is lovely to have the headspace. The only problem is, I can think about all the other things I need to do, but not be able to do any of them!

I promise to be back at the end of this week with more pics of student stitchery. If not, know that I am here in spirit!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Ready-made projects

A while back a group of us planned a biggy "proper" exhibition, in a gallery and everything, and I started a series of work based on one of my husband's poems. Well then the others got cold feet, so we cancelled and my work was put in a box file and shelved.

Fast forward and I actually have three exhibitions coming up this year, with an urgent need for new work! And one of them (thankfully the last one, in November) is at the gallery we pulled out of previously. So after musing about what to start, but needing to start something, I pulled down my box file and just look what I found:

Sketchbook pages ready to be stitched and bound

Painted papers for collaging ideas


Musings on imagery and symbolism


Pattern pieces organised in folders

Bags of threads, fibres and fabrics

Tentative samples

Love this bit...on water soluble, but not yet dissolved.

This is virtually a kit! All I need to do is remember how I was going to get all these ideas to work together....and decide on a scale.....and actually start....again

Why is it that we get so far with things, and then just as they reach the point where they could be finished, or we reach that breakthrough moment, we shelve them? Anyone else find this?