Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Slow Burn

Sometimes it takes me a while to get round to things, but I think 26 years is my record so far.

In 1992 I went to Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was fabulous. Desolate, wild, beautiful. We were wild camping in a tiny tent. Wild, because there were very few campsites, so we pitched wherever we found a flattish dry-ish spot - usually by a beach with an outstanding view over the Atlantic. From what I remember, we survived on porridge, baked beans and crisp breads! The weather was pretty wild, too.

This is the view across the interior of Lewis:

And here's me - I wasn't married then, so my surname was different. Can you guess what it was?!

My aunt had been to Harris and Lewis the previous year, in her tiny caravan, and she gave us three invaluable tips:

1. Take a trowel...

2. You can get a hot shower for just 60p in the public toilets in Stornaway

3. You can visit a Harris tweed weaver and buy direct from the maker.

So I did all three.

1. Like I said, wild camping...

2. A m a z i n g !! Best shower ever, particularly after camping for nearly two weeks with no facilities.

3. I drew out some vague plans, made some rough calculations, and bought about 5 metres of the stuff - genuine Harris tweed from a genuine Harris weaver in his little weaving shed. I was even given a little label to sew onto whatever I made. I think I was going to make a cloak.

Since when, The Harris Tweed has been carefully stowed in a bag (protection from moths) wherever I've lived. Whenever I think about making something and buying fabric, Himself mutters "...well, there's always the Harris tweed you could use...."

So when I found a pattern for a tweed wrap at the Knitting & Stitching Show on Friday, I just had to text home to let him know.

Even more remarkably, I actually took the pattern out of the packet, found the tweed, cut it up, and stitched up the wrap. It was so easy, I probably didn't need the pattern - after all, 26 years ago I'd already worked out what I was going to do...

I found the big buttons on the same stand - love them

I even stitched on the little label - also kept safe for all those years.

PS...and I stitched it on this machine, about which more news in the next installment...

Thursday, 11 October 2018

All the little bits...

If you know me, you'll also know that I collect all the little bits.

Actually, not just the little bits, but the bigger bits too. I have a whole basket (and several zippy folders and little boxes) of bits and pieces that are either recycled from a larger piece that is "no more", or never even made it into being a larger piece.

I keep these indefinitely, and every now and then I sort through them and start to chop and change and compile mini compositions - mini textile artworks.

I spend as much care and attention composing these as I do for much, much larger pieces of work. They are just as much a "part of me" as anything else I make.

Sometimes I even get a piece of stabiliser ready, so that I can start to stitch.

Sometimes I even get as far as finishing one of the minis and listing it on Etsy!

Mounted on a watercolour greetings card with envelope - to give away or ready to frame in a standard photo frame. FREE worldwide shipping and available from here
Sold already!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018


Hello again.

Hardware, on my desk. Literally.

My hard drive. 

I finally accepted the inevitable and retired my old laptop yesterday, replaced with New Shiny silver laptop which doesn't crash when I edit photos (the reason getting the Etsy shop up and running took three weeks!!) and doesn't keep losing internet connection or logging onto the neighbours' wifi instead of our own.

So this is being typed on a lovely new machine (admittedly with my older wireless keyboard) and the old hard drive sits here on my desk, awaiting its fate.

What should I do with it?

And my files are all safely* stowed on a separate hard drive, so next begins the long slog through them all, deciding which to keep and which to dump. The computer shop offered to transfer everything over, but I wanted New Shiny to come with new shiny and empty folders - why start with clutter already!!

*There was a brief sweat-inducing pulse-elevating moment yesterday afternoon when I needed to email two documents to a Guild for workshop information, and couldn't find any of the relevant folders. Turns out they were there all along, but hiding. Phew!

But because this long slog through the files is my next task, I'm obviously not doing any of it, and I'm playing with a different sort of hardware.

Do you know how hard it is to find new things that rust these days?! These have been in vinegar for two weeks not really doing anything. I think they're starting to go now, exposed to the air. But I need them to hurry up because I want to do some dyeing!!

I'm going to leave them in the kitchen to get their act together, while I go for a run in the woods.

And at some point, I might even do something textile-y.

Oh yes, before I go, to explain the previous post, in brief:

  1. Usual post-holiday shock of moving from a tent to a house, and everything else to do with coming home from a fabulous holiday to our favourite place, this year with our favourite people to share it with
  2. We had our front garden dug up to pave it and create a wider driveway, to accommodate our two cars.
  3. Skips, rubble, dust, men, noise. The whole thing. 
  4. The paving blocks are lovely - see previous post.
  5. We didn't use the new driveway straight away, as our little red car was poorly and didn't move from the road for two weeks until we could get it to a garage to be fixed.
  6. As soon as we brought little red car home, to park on lovely new drive created especially for little red car, we realised we had a problem.
  7. We can't park on our new drive. The pavement slopes up, the drive slopes down. The crest between the two is too high (by about 3 inches) and so the car scrapes the ground before you get anywhere. 
  8. We now have a highly decorative, excessively wide, block path. It's a delightful path, and we love our new front doorstep, but still...
  9. We are going to have to pull up half the blocks to install some raised beds on the slope, and make it look (a) deliberate (b) not like a driveway. We could apply to Highways to lower the pavement, but a brief look through the criteria says we would have our application rejected.
  10. It's all very embarrassing, having to explain to the neighbours why you are not using your lovely new driveway!