Saturday 29 March 2008

Bad Hair Day?

Ruby has been having trouble with her hair...

Only one solution really....

Thursday 27 March 2008

I Said I'd be Back...

... and here I am! I have missed blogging but it has been a very productive week. I have been glued to the computer and had my head in books virtually all day and everyday... only leaving the house to walk the dog... but I have managed to work my way through the remaining assignments and I'm ready for my tutorial this evening. YIPPEE!!!!

I've covered just about every stitch technique you can imagine - from smocking to crazy patchwork, from goldwork to rug making, from the work of artists as diverse as Magdalena Abakanowicz and Ritzi Jacobi to the work of designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, from corsets to anoraks, kayaks to yurts... if it's been stitched then I've read about it! I've even managed some samples too.

I loved doing the crazy patchwork and have lots of ideas where I might take this technique although I'll not be sorry if I never try smocking ever again! I've now got to focus on three of the methods studied and develop them into personal projects - got about five weeks to do that!

In order to relax in the evenings I've been... doing more sewing! First of all Jacob wanted something to protect his ipod when it is lurking in the depths of his pockets along with keys, coins and other objects likely to damage it! So we found some suitable fabric for a fifteen year old boy (he chose it) - and this is what we came up with.

There have also been a few of these friendly chaps being made as I've got a craft fair coming up in just over a week and thought my dwindling stock needed replenishing. Any that don't sell might be appearing in my soon to be announced Etsy shop!

Also with the craft fair (and Etsy) in mind I wanted to try some naive applique, inspired by some of the work by we saw at the Country Living Fair, and so I made this little clutch bag from linen fabrics...

With a bright pink lining to match the buttons....

On the applique picture on the back.
(Ok... I can see it needs ironing but there hasn't been much of that going on this week!)

Not much cooking and baking over the past week either - except for this fruit loaf. A fabulous sugar free recipe sent to me by Trashalou which Jacob (and his friend who was over for the day) absolutely loved. Full of fruit like raisins, dates and apricots it also had a secret ingredient that I didn't reveal until they'd eaten it... mashed sweet potato! Thank you... I'll be making that again!

Finally I'll leave you with a glimse of what I've been doing with those dyed recycled blankets.... more crazy patchwork inspired by the gorgeous work of Madeleine Millington.

I'll show more when it is finished but first I need to clean my house, wash some clothes and restock the fridge!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

A Pause in Proceedings

Last night I had a tutorial for my Opus course and we (?) decided that as I am a little behind on this module, due to a spell in hospital and tending to our little family crisis, it would be a good idea for me to make a real effort to catch up before my next tutorial. There are seven stitch methodology assignments we have to study before moving onto the next part of the module - so far I have managed to finish two in the past two weeks - "Image" and "Pattern" which means I have five more to get through before Thursday 27th March... Aaarrgh!!!
So I've got to prioritise... and I've decided to take a little blogging break for a week or so. It was that or not feed the family... mmmm, tempting...

So before I go I'll leave you with a little colour. At the weekend I found two wool blankets in our local charity shop (thrift store) for the bargain price of £1.50 each. But not very inspiring colours.

So, I cut them up and with the help of some machine dyes I've now got all these beautiful pieces of coloured recycled blankets to use in some lovely stitch projects... if only I had the time for some stitch projects. I guess I'll just add them to the ever growing stash of other fabrics I never get around to using. Nice to look at though.

I've also had a few blogging awards from some of you recently but I've not been organised enough to mention them. I'd like to say thank you for thinking of me - you know who you are and I promise I'll get around to mentioning them soon. On that note - I'd better get back to feeding the family before continuing with the next assignment! Have a wonderful Easter holiday... think of me... and in the words of this man... "I'll be back!"

Monday 17 March 2008

Baking and Stitch

After our wonderful day on Friday I spent most of Saturday morning sorting out problems for my travelling eighteen year old - "Of course I'm a responsible grown up" - son who has managed to lose his wallet in Fiji complete with two debit cards and about £250 of local currency! He has two accounts - one with Nationwide who were incredibly helpful over the phone (I actually managed to speak to a person at his branch) and put a stop on his account. His second account is with one of the major banks ... who weren't so helpful! Failing to get through to anyone in person I had to make a trip into his branch where I was met with much resistance. After convincing them I was his mother (despite different surnames), that no, they couldn't phone him, that it was okay that I was opening his mail etc etc - they too eventually put a stop on his account... but it was hard work! In four months he has lost his phone, broken his camera and now lost his wallet. Only five more months until he comes home.... do you think it has anything to do with the company he keeps???

Sunday we resumed our quest for tasty low sugar treats. Although there are no forbidden foods for Jacob he has to make sure he has plenty of slow release carbohydrates at every meal - bread, potato, rice, pasta etc and limit the amount of fast acting sugar he consumes. Val recommended the chocolate bread from "Apples for Jam" which got a mixed reception from the family although Jacob approved...

And I thought it was fabulous for breakfast with a chopped banana. Thanks for the tip Val - I'll be making that again!

I also found a recipe for these fruity muesli bars made with apple concentrate and no added sugar. Stewart and I really liked them but Jacob was disappointed... not surprising really as he thought they were flapjacks. And nice though they are, they don't really compete with the real thing laden with Golden Syrup!

And finally I made some granary rolls to go in his packed lunches this week. I think that's enough baking for one week!

I also managed a little bit of stitching of samples for my "Pattern" module. Having seen so many wonderful photo collages on other peoples blogs recently I thought I'd have a play around and I'm feeling very pleased with myself because this is the result....

... my stitched samples! Time to move on to "Sculptural Form" this week - should be interesting!

Saturday 15 March 2008

Didn't we have a lovely day...

You've probably read all about it by now but yesterday six bloggy friends - Lucy, Lesley, Val, Jane, Lucy's big sister Ally (not blogging yet but under pressure!) and me - met up in London to go to the Country Living Spring Fair.

Val and I live quite close to each other so we drove down together as far as Cockfosters where we left the car to get the underground into town... we were both very excited and started getting text messages from Lucy on the way!

We stood around outside for about 30 seconds before Lesley and Ally found us (wearing our pink carnations!) and before we knew it Lucy arrived in a taxi amid much squealing and hugging and general excitment! (Jane had to work in the morning so she joined us later)

It was fantastic to meet for real and it was as if we had all known each other forever! In all the excitment I forgot to take any more photos so I don't have any of us all together but Lucy's friend took one which I'm sure she will share very soon! In true blogger's style there were lots of lovely gifts. Val gave us these fab mug cosies and genuine Dotty Cookies! I shared these with the boys when I got home but not before I got one first! Yummy!

Lesley had made us each a bag to carry home all our purchases... mine is fabulous (well, they all were!) and has been used again today!

And Lucy made us each a wallet. I love the fabric on this - it's gorgeous!

Look at those cute hedgehogs inside! And the fabulous spotty fabric.

And if that wasn't enough Ally gave us all chocolate...

Inside was not one but two egg laying bunnies! (I kept quiet about those and didn't share them... very tasty!)

Of course when we eventually went inside there was shopping too though I think we all would have been just as happy just sitting around chatting. But there were some beautiful things to see and buy so I did make a couple of purchases. We all bought these cute little handbag mirrors in vintage fabric cases from Acorn and Will - a stall laden with tempting goodies.

And another stall which caught all our eyes was The Polka Dot Pear Co. (no website yet) which had beautiful applique pictures made from recycled fabrics by Sharon Blackman. I bought these four cards which show some of the pictures. They were much more beautiful in real life.

So as you can see by all my enthusing and superlatives we had a fantastic super duper day and everyone was just as lovely as you might imagine. But then that's no surprise really because we all know how lovely bloggers are! We are all looking forward to the next time!

Thursday 13 March 2008

All about Joe!

On Saturday when I was at the Opus open day I met a lovely lady called Avril who introduced herself and not only bravely admitted to reading my blog but then showed me a wonderful pair of multi coloured socks (she was wearing them!) that she had been inspired to knit! We chatted for a while and then she asked how Joe was getting on and I realised I hadn't mentioned him for a while.

So as today has been one of those days when I've done a bit of this and a bit of that and seem to have absolutely nothing to show for it... this post is all about Joe! I haven't actually heard from him in two weeks but he has left New Zealand and is now in Fiji, where they are on a 24/7 party boat. Personally I can think of nothing worse... but I guess you have to be young! So to prove his trip isn't entirely made up of beer and women... some scenic pictures from New Zealand.

Joe on a rock!

Joe and friends by a waterfall.
This seemed strange at first because Joe who is in the middle looks so short (he's actually almost 6') I can only image his friends are very tall!

Trekking in the mountains.

And finally Joe on a boat!
Not sure what he's got living on his chin???

While he was in New Zealand he did a bungee jump which fortunately I didn't know about until after the event. He said it was scary... understatement or what???
Next week they move on to Australia where they will be for the next four months so I'll put more pictures then.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Afternoon Tea

I made my first ever Etsy purchase this week and yesterday this beautiful little book arrived. I bought it from Karen Jinks who is another Cambridge Open Studio artist. ( I've added links on the sidebar) Although I've been known to dabble with a little book making I cannot resist other people's hand made books - and this didn't disappoint. It is beautifully made and I love the paper used for the cover. Of course, this also means I've had to open an Etsy account so now I'm thinking about opening a shop... mmmm? (I obviously haven't got enough to do)

Thank you for all your encouraging comments about my portraits. I would have liked to explore the theme further but there are seven assignments to work through for this module before choosing three to look at in more depth. So I wasn't able to linger on "Stitch and Image" and have now moved on to "Pattern". I have spent hours researching all types of pattern and stitch and I'm overwhelmed! I've come to the conclusion it is a lifetimes study that I've got to cram into 3 -4 days! So today I focused and have limited myself to English embroidery and I started with Elizabethan Blackwork. Already I've spent far too long engrossed in Elizabethan portraits (back to portrait again!) and have started a sample but it won't be ready to show here for a while...hand stitching is so SLOW!!!! Instead I found this little blackwork card I made years ago so it will have to do!

Today's afternoon tea offering was a cinnamon and fruit loaf made in the bread maker. Thank you to my friend Lesley for the suggestion - perfect for Jacob's mid afternoon snack. However my Mum and Dad turned up this afternoon and Ben came home from work early so toasted and buttered it turned into an afternoon snack for five of us... there's not much left!

This post seems to be a series of random disconnected thoughts today... a bit like my head feels at the moment!

Monday 10 March 2008


Jacob spent the day with his dad on Saturday which meant I got to have a day out! I went into London for a day with Opus. I'd brought some of my work along as the morning was an Open Day for prospective degree students - also a good chance to meet and compare notes with some current students, most of whom were almost finished their degree not just starting like me. Then in the afternoon we had a lecture by the incredibly talented Paddy Killer. She brought lots of samples of her work and gave a very entertaining talk. Not sure it would be okay to show pictures of her work on here but if you follow this link to her website you can see loads of examples. She is the most amazing technician both in her drawing and her machining - do take a look!

Going on the train also meant a chance to do some thinking and drawing for my current Opus module. I'd already printed off this image of a self portrait I'd done in the previous module. (I'm not really that grumpy looking - despite what you may have read on my last post - but I had to concentrate very hard to do this!!!)

I then played around with different effects in Paintshop Pro to see what the drawing would look like with different colours. I really am totally useless with things like this on the computer so this is about as far as I got.

However, it did make me think about the brightly coloured portraits of Matisse and so while I was on the train I made this very rough version of the portrait with coloured pencils (it was a very bumpy ride!) I didn't leave off my glasses through vanity - I just didn't fancy having to stitch them!

I have also been looking at the work of Sue Dove as I love her brightly coloured stitched images and so over the rest of the weekend I turned my portrait into a stitched picture influenced by Sue Dove... (and Matisse!)

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of stitching this and seeing the image build up - especially working out of my comfort zone (i.e. away from my sewing machine). I quite like the end result but as always with my work I find it all a bit too neat and controlled... so what I really like best is the reverse!

Which is not at all neat!
Jacob had his first full day at school today which meant a blood test and injection at lunch time but he has coped brilliantly so we had a treat when he came home... tea and fruit scones!

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Hidden meanings

In the evenings I've been knitting... a sock in progress complete with very pretty new stitch marker!

And during the day I've been trying to devise the perfect low sugar muffin for a young man who is craving every sort of sugar laden snack he can imagine! There were some pretty disgusting attempts this week but these were finally deemed a success by Jacob.

Jacob is doing really well and has gone back to school three mornings this week so I've been trying to catch up with the research required for my first Opus assessment from my next module - I'm investigating Stitch and Image. Next week I might have something to show for it but nothing yet so I leave you with this piece of trivia.
I followed the link on Moogsmum's blog to find out what my name really means! And this is what it came up with:

What Gina Means

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.

You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.

Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

Okay... brilliant... but grumpy?
Intuitive and wise.... but paranoia and jealousy?
Confident... but aggressive?

No comment...
except my half Welsh Mum almost called me Sian - does that mean I would have grown up with a different personality?

PS I saved the above link on Wednesday so blogger is saying this is when I posted this entry... but it's Saturday!!!!

It's been a while...

... but I suddenly had an urge...

to create a new silly sock creature. This is Mr Allsorts - so named because he is the colour...

Of Liquorice Allsorts!

And of course he is rather partial to the aforementioned confection... mmmm, not bad!

Prefer the pink coconut ones though (doesn't everyone?)

Oh dear Mr Allsorts... you really didn't have to finish the whole packet did you?!
Don't complain to me when you don't feel well.

That was going to be it but then the postman came. And look what he brought me today. This rather lovely fabric postcard from Annica as a thank you for the bag she won in my 100 post giveaway. Thank you Annica - it was a lovely surprise and it is beautiful! I really must find a way of displaying these beautiful cards and ATCs I've received because at the moment they are residing in a plastic box which seems a shame. Any ideas?

While I'm saying thank you - Huge thanks also to Lynda who gave me a "You make my Day" award last week, which was very much appreciated . I've had this before so I won't pass it on again. But I want you all to know that you all help make my day - every day!