Thursday 30 June 2011

If The Hat Fits

Remember my lovely yarn purchases from Loop last week?
Well, I finished my first hat.

I loved the yarn, so soft to to knit with.
I loved the pattern, so easy to follow and quick to knit.
And I love the finished hat, so comfortable and cosy to wear

I even love  the little cord on top... a last minute addition from me.

But I don't love the fact that it does this when I've only had it on for 10 seconds!

Hmmmm! Smaller needles when I knit the pink one I think!
(note to self: this is why we knit tension squares)

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Scaled Up!

I've now gone life size....

Currently working on figure number two of three...
Final reveal will be on Monday!

Sunday 26 June 2011

Seven Years...

No itch!
(well, nothing a good scratch couldn't sort out!)

Friday 24 June 2011

Retail Therapy

It came up in conversation with Kristina a couple of weeks ago that I had never been to Loop... a situation that obviously needed to be remedied.

So today we arranged to meet  for little bit of yarn therapy... although my intention was just to window shop... really!

Before we even got as far as Loop, Kristina had spotted a rather gorgeous shop called "Home and Pantry" selling itself as a "Lifestyle Boutique and Cafe" which we had to investigate. I was immediately drawn to some beautiful textiles... and before I knew it I had bought this fabulous scarf/wrap... how could I resist that lace?

Before I was tempted by anything else in the shop we wandered a little further along Camden Passage to Loop... why had I never been before? Such beautiful yarns and such wonderful colours... heaven. 

Of course, it would of been rude not to... (and I did get a free bag!)

And so I managed to come home with some rather lovely Quince & Co yarns to make a couple of hats (I couldn't decide between the pink or the blue so opted for both) and a pair of socks.

After Loop we wandered a little further along the road to The Make Lounge shop where I had no intention of buying anything despite lots of tempting goodies on display... until I saw this Clothkits skirt. It is one I've looked at before on the website but here it was in a perfect grey with 25% off. I had to!

After a leisurely lunch we made our way back to the underground but with one last temptation on the way... a frozen yoghurt from Frae. It is a long time since I have tasted a dessert this good. I think I might even prefer it to ice cream... and it's healthy too... all that fat free yoghurt and fruit has to be good for you.

So all in all a fabulous day out and as Kristina pointed out I've come home with almost a complete outfit... socks, skirt, two hats and a scarf... not sure how good that will look together... and I'd have to find a top... but not bad for a bit of window shopping!
Thank you Kristina, you really do know the best places and I've had a lovely time.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Yesterday Net...

and today, lace...

all it took was some encouraging blog comments, some persistant sampling and suddenly my mojo is back. As Julie said... I'm firing on all cylinders. Thank you!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

It's Been a Struggle

Despite my attempts to stay positive is has not been easy over the past couple of weeks. News from Middlesex University isn't great. Those students who are due to graduate in 2012 will be supported for the coming year (although this is still subject to various arrangements). The rest of us will be supported through our current module until the end of July, after which... we're on our own! We will have credits which we can use to transfer to another course or we can cut our losses and walk away.

The only distance learning option in Textiles is with the Open College of the Arts. I have looked at this in some detail but for various reasons it is not what I want. The other option is to find a local University with a course I could transfer to - which is what I am currently investigating although sometimes it feels easier to walk away.

But, I'm not one to take the easy option (well, not just yet anyway) so I am intending to complete my current module so at least I have the option of taking my 240 credits elsewhere. For my Personal Specialism site specific work there has been text on tulle ribbons...

I've also worked more on the portraits of people using mobile phones... looking at ways I might emphasise the figures if I were to make them life size... from scribbled sketches...

to free machine embroidery.

Which made me think of the wonderful work of Rosie James and gave me the idea...

of appliqued net under my stitched figure to make her stand out.

which finally feels as though it is getting somewhere.

Especially when I layer it with the ribbons.

It still feels like a struggle, but I'm taking it one step at a time.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Baubles, Bangles and Beads

At our Young Embroiderers meeting today we had lots of fun wet felting and made felt beads. There was also some blowing of bubbles and flicking of soap suds but we won't mention that! The morning was spent making stockpiles of beads and after lunch we put them together to make various items of jewellery.

Some of the girls decided to make anklets as modeled by Imogen above and Abigail below.

Amun declined to model her beautiful necklace, which was stunning.

 Here's Bluebell modelling hers... which matched her top beautifully.

Another anklet by Francesca

A bracelet from Heather

 A choker style necklace from Hannah

Shaan make a necklace that also matched what she was wearing perfectly.

 And Sophie made a colourful choker too.

Rhian made a bracelet and had enough beads left for a matching necklace. As ever it was a super day...  girls, Mums and helpers... thank you!

We've also had another birthday this week which of course has meant another cake because apparently you are not too old for a birthday cake even when you are fifty something...

Happy Birthday Stewart!

It was just what I needed after a day playing with soapy water.

Tuesday 14 June 2011


In the absence of any serious meaningful or conceptual art going on around here at the moment, I bring you frivolity instead. My days are being spent stitching vicars...

Embroidering button babes to replenish my diminishing stock (they have been very popular of late)

and baking cakes, because thousands of miles away on the other side of the world my boy has just celebrated his 22nd birthday...

Happy birthday Joe... I think I can safely say, in the nicest possible way, the most frivolous of my four sons!  I miss you!

Sunday 12 June 2011

Staying Positive

Thank you so much for your support, encouragement, kind words etc. I've been overwhelmed by the kindness of blog comments, emails and text messages and I'm gradually trying to reply where possible. No news yet about the degree but some reassuring emails from the Associate Dean at the Middlesex School of Arts & Education so I'm staying positive and my fingers are crossed!

Meanwhile I have spent a brilliant day at Missenden Abbey promoting my courses and peddling some wares and thanks must go to Jamie of Colouricious for organising such a fabulous event to coincide with the Abbey's Open Day. We were busy all day with lots of interest in my courses - the first one is a summer school from 31st July to 5th August - "Razzle Dazzle Machine Embroidery" A week of colour, texture and machine stitching for all abilities. Details on the Abbey website.

I also sold a fair bit of "stuff" and met lots of people - some old friends I'd not seen for a long time, ex-students, some blog friends, some blog readers... lovely to see you all! One friend in particular Kim, has been a student on a couple of my courses in the past and we also met on holiday in Italy a couple of years ago quite by chance when we discovered we had rented ajoining apartments... that was a surreal moment when we both walked out on the patio at the same time and did a double take. Anyway, Kim had read about the bad news this week and decided that as I'm always making cakes for other people she would make a cake for me... how kind was that!

It is the most delicious apricot fruit loaf I have ever tasted which I am sharing very reluctantly! Thank you Kim.

And of course it is also another Postman's Knock swap weekend and I came home to this intriguing card from Joanna... complete with lots of little doors...

which when opened reveal concealed messages about what might be hiding!

As we are half way through the postcard swap this means we have received cards from the same person we have sent them to this week and this is the card I sent to Joanna whose theme is "Collections." You can see more of the postcard swap on the Postman's Knock blog.

So as you can see, there are lots of good things happening too.

Thursday 9 June 2011

The End of an Era

I'm feeling a little lost, in shock, confused. Last night, along with all my fellow students, I received the news that the Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts ceased trading as of yesterday. My degree course no longer exists.

For the past four years this has been a major part of my life - everything has revolved around degree work. It was the result of a lifelong ambition to take an arts degree and I have loved every minute.

There have been times it has been so all consuming that I've felt as though I've wanted to give it all up, but that feeling never lasted long. I have learned so much and been stretched in directions I never thought possible. I've discovered new artists and new ways of working. It has taken my work places I never imagined. It has enriched my life.

I was looking forward to starting my dissertation in September and excited that in less than two years I would be having a degree show in a London gallery. And now I feel that has all been taken away.

Middlesex university has an obligation to provide a suitable alternative to all its students yet it remains to be seen whether this will be a viable option - it is unlikely to be distance learning which I have found to be best for fitting around my work and family commiments and I would imagine the cost will go up too.

I know the time and money invested so far have not been wasted - I have already gained so much - but it feels incomplete. I have already decided to continue with some of the work I have started for my current module, but without the tutition, while I see what the future will hold. Somehow and somewhere I know I want to finish this degree.

But I do feel numb, lost without direction. I'm trying to embrace the change and take the chance of some time to focus on other things - the numerous half finished projects, my garden, open studios... even myself. I have been tired for four years!

Even this blog was started as a way for me to record my progress through the degree... I never really saw it lasting more than the six years of the course... but I don't think I'm ready to abandon it just yet. Guess the tagline on my header will have to be changed.

The photographs are a random selection of things I've done over the past four years - just a tiny selection because I have done so much. (One job to do is sort out all the photographs!)

Some are just samples or works in progress others are finished projects.

I guess none of us knows what the future may hold.

I would like to to finish by thanking Winy and Willem Smit and Sandra Flower, who when the original school Opus closed a little over two years ago, stepped in and founded the new school, investing heavily of their time and own money. They have worked tirelessly to make it work providing excellent course material and tutors and yet circumstances beyond their control have forced this decision. Yesterday was a sad day for a lot of people, especially them.