Monday, 29 June 2009

Let me introduce you my girls. As you might imagine there was much discussion over names which involved ruling out the likes of "Tandoori" and "Tikka Masala" (Ha! Like no-one ever thought of those before!) Jacob wanted to name one Yoda... but Yoda is definitely a boy so sticking with the Star Wars theme he came up with Princess Leia. This caused much hilarity (Leia... Layer...eggs...) but it stuck so this is Princess Leia.

A beautiful red/brown hen with white feathers.... very much the Princess!

Another beautiful red/brown hen but with black tail feathers is Betty

Boudicca (named by Sam) is black with a beautiful green sheen to her feathers.

She also has a lovely copper colour around her neck.

And last but not least is Dorothy... a lovely Speckeldy Hen, who won't stay still long enough for a decent photo!

I promise not to keep boring you with my chickens... well at least not until we get our first egg! Off to fetch a tired and muddy Joe from the station.*
*He just called... his train is delayed and won't be in until half past midnight! Yawn!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Monsters and Girls

Today was our last Young Embroiderers meeting before the summer break and I thought it would be fun to make some sock monsters. Given the age range in the group and the fact there was only me and one helper I think they did brilliantly. Not all of them were quite finished... Molly and Danijella have taken theirs home to finish off.

but they were all looking fantastic... and all very different. Alexija's is very quirky!

We had three visitors join us for the day, all of whom said they want to come back in September which is great news. Phoebe made this monster

and Rachel and Freya made these two, which they named Trinny and Suzannah!

This last one was made by Nikki. Didn't they do well!
On a completely different subject... did I show you our new house? A very stylish little cottage made by Diana's nephew Ben. Ben is only nineteen and has his own business making these little homes, which really are beautifully crafted. And the reason for our new house...

... are these girls! Having shared my home exclusively with men for the past 30 years I'm very excited to have some female company! They are a little camera shy at the moment but I'm sure I'll be introducing you soon.
I could sit and watch them for hours they are so entertaining... like I need another distraction! But they are rather gorgeous.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Food Glorious Food!

I think it is official... this blog has absolutely nothing to with textiles. This was meant to be week of experimental samples for my degree, getting some work done on an exhibition piece and preparing some samples for an article... but when someone offered me a bag full of these at the beginning of the week it would have been rude to refuse...

Disappointed that I'd missed the best of this year's elderflowers in time to make elderflower cordial, I was determined not to let another opportunity pass. On this morning's walk I managed to find a few blooms of creamy flowers left.

Which was just enough to combine with the gooseberries...

to make six jars of gooseberry and elderflower jam.

I love that the jam is such a wonderful garnet colour compared to the vivid green of the berries. I'm off to make some scones now... after all the jam needs to be sampled. I promise something textile related soon. On the other hand there are still enough gooseberries left to make some ice cream...

P.S. Thank you for all your kind messages about Joe. While I was left with the anxiety of what might have been he has taken himself off on the coach to Glastonbury for five days... with not a care in the world! I guess that's how it should be.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Ups and Downs

It hasn't been the best of weekends. The sort of weekend that started in the early hours of Saturday morning with a knock on the door from two police officers and the words "There's been an accident". Fortunately Joe walked away with minor scratches and no one else was hurt or involved, which is more than can be said for the car he flipped over which seems quite badly damaged. There are times when I love the fact that he has a "Devil may Care" approach to life, living and enjoying every moment... but there are other times when he just worries me sick.

And so I did what I always do when feeling stressed... I cooked! Sunday all the family except Ben were here, including my Mum and Dad so we had a Father's Day meal for nine of us.

A red onion, spinach (from the garden) and feta tart.

Chicken braised with lemon, garlic and thyme (from the garden)

A middle eastern taboulleh salad (mint and parsley from the garden)

Potato and horseradish salad with radish and chives (both from the garden)

Herb (from the garden) and Garlic bread

And a blueberry and peach cobbler... which involved absolutely nothing from the garden!

Maybe this week I'll get some embroidery done!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


In between...
  • Getting up to walk the dog
  • Finishing two loads of washing and getting them outside on the line
  • Going to work teaching my City & Guilds class for the day
  • Stopping at the supermarket on the way home to buy stuff for dinner, strawberries and cream
  • Taking in the washing
  • Walking the dog again
  • Taking Jacob to his guitar lesson which involved a 35 min wait in the car
  • Cooking dinner

... I made a cake!

Happy Birthday Stewart!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Trendy... moi?

The son of one of my friends is doing an MA at the Royal College of Art. Part of his project has been to set up a web site (still under construction) where potential buyers can source original designs for hand crafted items and find a maker on the same site who will make up the items for them. Last week I did a trial run for one of the designs... a duffle bag called "Bag 'N' Roll"

Version one was made from rather "on trend" Amy Butler fabrics from this season's collection, finished off with a couple of old French buttons.

Version two was made from a couple of "not the least bit on trend" Asda tea towels with plain black buttons.

I quite like version two but then I never was one to follow trends!

If you design and/or make hand crafted items to sell... at fairs or on etsy etc... then would you consider helping Edward by filling in the following on line survey?
It takes about 1 minute and can be completely anonymous if you like. Thank you!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A French Breakfast

I am very excited (it doesn't take much believe me) because today I have my first proper harvest since planting up my new vegetable beds. Just look at those radish! Variety: French Breakfast.

I'm not sure I would want them for breakfast (Surely a French breakfast is croissants???) but they made a welcome addition to tonight's supper - a smoked mackerel and potato salad. A perfect finish to what has been a beautiful summer day. Spinach leaves, parsley and chives all from the garden too!

Lest you should think we are going all healthy over here in the "Fan my Flame" household... pudding tonight is more Birthday Brownies with white chocolate chips and Macademia nuts because today is Joe's birthday.

Happy 20th birthday Joe!

And I don't only grow vegetables in my garden... a little past its best but still beautiful!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Art Van Go

I've been working at Art Van Go today... although I've had too much fun for it to feel like real work! Seven lovely ladies and seven rather beautiful (almost finished) embroideries... the result of exploring textural stitches on their sewing machines.

1. Sheila

2. Judith

3. Eva

4. Janice

5. Gill

6. Val

7. Joan

Thank you all for a super day... we missed you Mavis!
And although it's been a super day I've come home feeling very tired so intend to put my feet up and do nothing this evening. Is it too early for a G & T?
No... oh good!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


In response to Mrs Locket's question "What's Tyvek?????" I thought I would explain to those of you unfamiliar. Tyvek is a man made material made from polyethelene. It comes in different weights, the heaviest of which is a paper like film, often used for envelopes. Because it is water resistant and virtually impossible to tear it is often used for mailing important documents.

The lighter weight tyvek is a lot more like fabric with a soft handle.

This weight is used for scene of crime officers suits because as well as being protective it also doesn't shed fibres so will not contaminate crime scenes.

This unlikely looking material can be painted with water based paints - I usually use watered down acrylics or silk paints. It can then be stitched, layered, cut etc in all sorts of ways... and then comes the interesting part. It can be heated using an iron (over baking parchment) or a heat gun which causes the tyvek to melt, bubble and distort creating heavily textured effects.

Both weights can be used in the same way, the fabric producing slightly more subtle effects and the result can be as wild and wacky as you like. It makes great "exotic" flowers.

And fabulous sculptural beads.

And if you want to have a whole day investigating and playing with this material, I'm teaching a tyvek class at Art and Stitch in Peterborough on Saturday 12th September... would love to see you!

Monday, 8 June 2009

So What's on your Washing Line?

On mine last week... several pieces of painted tyvek hung out to get really dry.

This was in preparation for one of the nicest, most relaxed workshops I've ever taken. Six lovely ladies gathered to celebrate a special birthday for one of them. At the birthday girl's request we had a day playing with tyvek. She had invited five special friends to her home and hired me as a tutor and we made tyvek flowers, seed pods and beads. We had lots of fun, lots of laughs, a great lunch and even party bags supplied by one of the guests - beautiful little patchwork bags filled with packs of needles , chocolate and other goodies. I'm sure they won't mind me sharing this picture of them all at the end of their birthday party.

And these are just some of the things they made.

I hope you had a wonderful birthday party Harriet... I certainly did! If anyone is interested I'm available for Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs too! That wasn't the only fun workshop I did last week and you can see pictures of me slumped asleep over my sewing machine working hard at Angela's on her blog.

There is a reason for my return to blogging this week... the results of my giveaway! So many great comments... thank you and sorry I've not had time to reply to them all. It was good to "meet" new people and hope you return here again. I was a bit flumoxed how to do the draw as some of you requested the notebook and others wanted the chocolates and others didn't mind or didn't specify. So in the end I decided the first name out would get their choice (if they had made one) and second name would get what was left! I assigned everyone numbers in the order the comments were left... did a random generator thing and the first number up was 57... which was


Well done Gill... the notebook will be on its way this week.

The second number was 64 and that was

Well done Jenny, the chocolates will also be on their way this week when I've sorted out some packaging!
Not entirely sure when I'll be back blogging again... it might be tomorrow, it might be next week or possibly longer. I'm busy knitting with all sorts of strange stuff (last bit was modroc!) for the first assignment of my next module... watch this space! And of course there is more teaching and two family birthdays in the next week so I might be a bit busy again! I'll leave you with a picture of the poppies growing by my garage wall. I know I show them every year but I love them!