Thursday, May 31, 2007

Looking at the past!

I have had a day of tidying and sorting. A good game played slowly! So I thought I'd take a leaf out of Shirley's book (Dyeing to Design) and show some of my old and unfinished work.

Top left is a piece of white poplin on which I drew flowers using water colour pencils. These I outline with stipple quilting which made the flowers stand up. I have still to think of a way to use it. Top middle is a piece of hand-dyed cotton with folded roses sewn onto it. This was a sampler done for a class on 3-D flowers. Eventually I might turn this into a cushion. On the end at the top is a small piece of silk painted habutai which I am embroidering with silk ribbon. Eventually I might get it finished! There is hope!
The middle row is a pastel drawing of African violets and then next to it a free standing applique and machine lace depiction of the drawing. And on the end an abstract piece of mixed media work inspired by the original drawing. Some time I want to work on these and work them into a larger project.

The last row is a lesson in organisation. These are all fabrics that I have dyed at some time. They all sold very quickly. What is the problem? I didn't make any notes as to how I achieved the effects! I can guess but that isn't good enough. This has been a salutary lesson and in future when I'm doing something different I shall make sure that it gets entered into my notebook. The middle one I'm sure is a piece that was discharged and then overdyed. The first one in the row is totally beyond me which is a pity as I'd like to do it again. The last one I think I dye painted on folded fabric. The only way to find out is to try and re-produce them. I deserve a smack!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Coldest May....

Looking back over this month it has been so cold. Such a change from April which was, at times, blisteringly hot! I have been really quite lazy this month probably because the weather was uninspiring, though I have read a lot of books! I am working my way through the Whiteoaks series again and finding the storyline fascinating. It all takes place in Canada. A Canada at the turn of the last century up to the 50's. So different from today and the social mores and life in a big family are intriguing. As a contrast to this I have also been reading the Wycliffe series. This is a set of stories around a policeman set in Cornwall and was made into a television series which I didn't see. The books are quite gripping though and I'm enjoying them immensley.
I did manage to get the Double Drunkard quilt finished and quilted. I still need to take the tacks out. Tack guns are wonderful for holding the three layers together but then a pain when the tacks have to be removed as it isn't a quick job. With the first quilt Double Drunkard's Eye (see earlier in the month) I did a meandering squiggle for quilting but with this one I did a zig zag squiggle which made the 'eyes' have the look of trilobites....well I thought so!

I have been trying to get rid of even more things to make room. It is now getting difficult as a lot of the stuff I have is now things I really like even if I don't think I'll ever use them again. But I have to make room so that I can put my computer cupboard up which will free up space in the living room. I gave over 300 books to one of the local charity shops. These were mostly fiction books - non fiction books I'd sold either through Amazon or in class. And I still have a houseful of books which runs into four figures. I have been ruthless with fabric though I still have a draw of Liberty lawn that I've been thinking about using for at least seven years! I am full of good intentions but you know what they say about the road to Hell! My daughter is coming down for a fortnight's visit on Sunday but when she goes back I am going to make a resolution to actually make something each week. (This is on top of all the dyeing I'm going to do.) Even if it's only a cushion! And hey, what's wrong with cushions? I'm going to need new cushions anyway!
We have got into the habit of having dinner and then having dessert later when the dinner has gone down. This is good as there is something very pleasing about enjoying a dessert and possibly coffee or wine when one isn't just about stuffed with food. And I've noticed that I sleep better and have lost the odd pound or two! Of course this might have no bearing on either of those two things but I'll go along with the idea for now! So I'm off to enjoy strawberry sorbet icecream with chocolate sauce! Yummy!

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I'm always amazed when I'm able to update my website and it actually works! I use Dreamweaver MX and it is a very user friendly package but even so I'm not always sure of what I'm doing and when I get reasonably acceptable results it gives me a warm glow. I've just up-dated the website with some pictures of my students work that they've done over the past year. Unfortunately I didn't think to ask them to bring work in until the last day of term and so I only got the work of a few of the class but its well worth a look! Go here!
I must now make the effort to update the fabric pages. I've been doing a batch of dyeing today and been well pleased with the results. As well as a batch of mandela type fat quarter's I also did some over-dyeing using black and was well pleased with the results. The original pieces were on the boring side (though I firmly believe that no piece of hand-dyed fabric is unusable!)but now they have life! The top left below is a mandela over-dye using black. The top right is a wrinkled over-dye again using black. The two at the bottom were over-dyed using black, royal and raspberry. The original colours in the bottom two were nearer to mud than anything else! I have to say I do like bright and strong colours! I'm not a pastel person though saying that some of the pieces I've dyed tonight have been on the pastel side because I was experimenting with putting lots of water into the pots after I'd put the dye in rather than mixing into the dye solution first. It worked well and there were some lovely soft colours which will work for an order I have.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another year older....

Today was Martin's birthday. As he is two years younger than me he is still a spring chicken! I had to work this afternoon but this evening we decided to buy a pizza and go and eat it on Pendennis Point which overlooks the bay. There are views from the Manacles (below) to St Anthony's lighthouse. The manacles are of note because of the basking sharks that can be seen there.

Pendennis is a castle that was built in the reign of Henry VIII to protect the mouth of the river from primarily the Spanish. On the opposite side of the estuary he built a castle at St Mawes. The small turreted building in the bottom of the picture is the block house at the water's edge. This is just a basic watch tower. St Mawes castle is the smaller of the two and more delicate if one can use a word like that about a castle. Pendennis is more basic and down to earth. It would have housed the garrison and the commander of the garrison. Accommodation was very sparton though the commander's rooms were lined with wood panelling and had more amenities than were available for the men. Now they are both tourist attractions.

This is the birthday boy himself inside the block tower. It is still possible to climb to the top of it but it is not for the feint hearted and so I didn't attempt it.

It was getting late in the evening and the fishing boats were coming back into harbour, with a trailing of seagulls. The buoy in the centre of the estuary is called Black Rock Buoy, and the rocks can be seen at low tide.

This is the view as we drove home along the sea front. Swanpool is the furthest inlet.

The setting sun going down in the west. The sea was calm and very inviting for a swim but only for the brave or fool hardy as it is near to freezing! Or so it seems!

So a pleasant evening out. I spent the morning cutting out fabric for printing photos on. The freezer paper is all attached and tomorrow morning I will actually do the printing. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Today we went to Penzance and it was much sunnier there than it was at home. It is no wonder that they are ahead of us where plants are concerned as the weather is at least a couple of degrees warmer all the time.

As we drove into the town there was a Tall Ship coming into the bay. It was far out on the horizon but was moving at quite a pace. By the time we sat on some rocks to eat bananas and Kit Kats it was close enough to see properly and take
some pictures. The tide was out so it wouldn't be coming into the harbour but would anchor in the bay. St Michael's Mount at Marazion, which is reached by a causeway, was looking good and I tried to take pictures from every aspect.

We parked in a side street just down from The Admiral Benbow which is a lovely pub and restaurant. It is about half way down Chapel Street which is one of the older streets in Penzance. It is decorated with cannon and figure heads and the main restaurant is in the form of a ship captain's cabin; most of these things including the woodwork of the cabin, having been brought up by divers from some of the wrecks found off the Cornish coast. There is a figure of a smuggler on the roof!

This fascinating cottage was right by our parking spot. I love the name. It was most probably a cafe in days gone by but is now just a cottage. As we have coffee houses now, in the 17th and 18th centuries drinking chocolate was all the rage.

I found this old pillar box quite fascinating and what is so unusual about it is that dates from the reign of George VI. As Elizabeth has been Queen now for over 50 years this makes this quite old as pillar boxes go. When I was a child it was still possible to see the insignia of Victoria but now it is quite rare to see anything but Elizabeth II.

This is the small inner harbour with some of the fishing boats.

Penzance is one of only a handful of seaside towns to still have a Lido. They were very much a feature in the 30's. This one has been renovated and done up.

All in all it was a good afternoon out. It was such a change not to have Martin working on one or other of his cars! And I also managed to dye a piece of cotton to use as a backing so that tomorrow I will be able to finish off my second Double Drunkard quilt. This time I dyed it a really bright raspberry red. And I read a book by Sally Spencer which was quite riveting so my day hasn't been at all idle!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Time for me!

It had become almost impossible for me to spend quality time at the local library choosing books. This was of great sadness to me as I love to read and will find time to read even under the greatest pressures of work. So I decided to wade through the lists of various authors and order them from the library on line. To begin with this worked well and then I found that there were weeks when no books were waiting for me as people were taking far to long to finish reading and return them. So I ordered more books and again with a greater list to call on everything worked well and I was assured of at least a book a day to read. Well that all went wrong this weekend when with five books still to read at home I returned some books to find another sixteen books waiting for me. So I now have twenty one books in hand! With authors ranging from Mazo de la Roche to Dorothy Simpson and Anthea Fraser. I'm also reading the Wycliffe novels and there is the odd Sally Spencer mystery and a couple of Jayne Ann Krentz and Nora Roberts. A catholic collection. I have the latest Ann Perry on order and I have a Phil Rickman novel to read that I bought cheaply to read on a journey and didn't. So I have to admit that I won't be getting an awful lot done this week! But it is the first week of my holiday from teaching so I'm allowed! After all I need to get away from all that I've been doing over this past year, empty my head and start afresh with new ideas and new projects.
Plans are evolving. On the dyeing front I am going to take one colour each week and only use that colour. For example this coming weekend (I dye at the weekend as I have the house to myself) I'm going to only use blue...all kinds of blues from navy to royal, turquoise to electric blue. Plus black. It is amazing the difference black can make to a colour in various quantities. Then I will discharge and overdye but again only using blue. This will be followed by yellow and then red. Then I will use two colours only and finally I will have a weekend dyeing browns. After that I'll do some dye painting and overdyeing and some batik and then it will be September and I'll be back into teaching mode and dyeing across the board as per usual. I'm really quite excited about this as I will have the time to do things I don't normally do and also keep notes and build up a sample book.
I also want to make a Crazy Quilt by machine using up all the myriad pieces of silk I have and the beads and trims and silk ribbon. I want to do it by machine as this way I know I'll have the time. Obviously the beadwork and silk ribbon embroidery will be by hand but if it was put together by hand then I would be still working on it in the next decade. I have always been inspired by the work that my friend Martha Green does which is beautiful. Before I had even met her I was impressed with her work. The combination of machine sewn patches and hand embroidery and embellishment is stunning and so practical.

That is all that I'm going to plan to do. I know that other things will be done but I'm not going to make any other plans as they will as Robert Burns said, and I misquote...'go adrift'! Because there is also the garden to do; the house to decorate; children who will visit and necessitate days on the beach; and books to read! Which brings me back to where I started!

I have had great fun folding fabric and making flowers. These here are part of a Baltimore Album quilt but I think they could look good on a Crazy Quilt. Especially with the buttons and beads. They are easy to do as well. This is just a small selection.

Just a note to say that I am beginning to find my feet with Wordpress and my other blog 'My Small Cornish Garden' is coming on. There are things that are not so easy especially now that Blogger or should I say Google have made some aspects of blogging easier but then on the other hand there are lots of things on Wordpress that I like and find easy to use. Its a bit like sewing machines. No one machine has all the features that one would like. But I'm persevering!

Friday, May 18, 2007

End of the teaching year!

Today was the last day of term and no more classes for Adult Education until September when a new year starts. Sad in some ways as the students become friends over the year and a rapport is formed between us all but also I'm glad as it means more time to develop ideas and plan for new projects. The picture below is of the room we use in the Adult Education Centre. It is actually quite light though the picture makes it look gloomy (no flash on!). And the wooden block parquet floor is wonderful for laying out quilts.

This is a picture of the Double Drunkard quilt I designed and put together for today's class project. I had a lot of fun doing this and Martin actually cut me out acrylic templates for the block which made life easier. It took me just one morning to do this top. It still has to be backed and quilted.

This is another version which I call the Double Drunkard's Eye! This again was a very quick top to do and this one is actually finished, quilting and all. This was the one that most people chose to do.

I also took some photos of the student's work for my student's page on my website. This lovely top is a Magic Squares version made by Yvonne. She uses my fabrics all the time which is very good of her!

Below is a Reversible Quilt made by Shirley. This quilt is made all in one go and again is quick. I like quick and so do my students. Again mostly my fabrics!

Shirley also made this small wall hanging.

This is just a small selection of the work done this term. I will get the page with all the pieces, up on my website this weekend . They are a great group to work with and have done some fantastic work. It is having students like this that makes teaching so worthwhile and such fun. I would really miss it if I didn't do it. I am doing a few workshops over the summer just so I don't get withdrawal symptoms!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Playing with my new camera!

I had to go into town with Martin so thought I'd take my new camera and do some tests. It was a cloudy overcast day but not actually raining so instead of standing around waiting while he got bits for his car I walked onto Customs House Quay (picture above) and took some pictures. This first picture is without the zoom and until I took the picture with the zoom on I didn't realise that there were cows in the field. The second picture is with the camera on zoom. You can see the difference, especially if you click on the picture to enlarge it. I was impressed!

I also took a photo of Arwenack Manor and one of Pendennis Castle on the way home. Considering that this last one was taken from a moving car looking backwards I don't think it is too bad! It would have been better on zoom as then there would have been more detail. Arwenack Manor is on the site of the original Elizabethan house but this was burnt down and almost totally destroyed in the Civil War. Falmouth being a Royalist stronghold. The church in the main street was dedicated to Charles I in 1665. The Killigrews who built the house are also decimated as a family but their claim to fame lies in the fact that they developed the harbour. Sir Walter Raleigh suggested to them that they develop the superb anchorage. Their name is commemorated in several street names, and there is a granite obelisk opposite the house which was set up by one of the Killigrews in 1737.

To end on a quilty note I have been rushing to finish a small table cover done in a form of drunkards path. I call it double drunkard as it has an oval in the centre. Hopefully I shall get it finished tomorrow and will take pictures. I used a mixed collection of fabric colours and they seemed to work. Not having sufficient fabric for a backing I quickly dyed a piece and I was very pleased with it. Its a bramble pink and will go well with the top fabrics. At the same time I also dyed a white cotton cardigan which I never wore because it was white! I dyed it brown but it has come out a mottled shade with a mixture of browns and greens. Actually looks better than it sounds. The only problem was that it shrank slightly. This made the sleeves shorter but fortunately it had been big in the body to start with so still fits OK and I can always push the sleeves up. And why is it when a garment is made of cotton that the manufacturers use polyester thread? This brownish cardigan now has white stitching! As it has largish white pearl buttons it doesn't look too awful. I can always just wear it in the house!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Decisions, decisions!

For the time being I have decided to stick with Blogger as I know what I am doing! Well I think I do! BUT I have also started a blog with WordPress so that I can learn how to use it but this new blog will be a kind of gardening diary in words and pictures. Also I shall put in pictures of other gardens that I visit and I find interesting and pictures of Cornwall that I take. This will be a good platform for using the pictures I take with my new camera as well. And I will try to keep this blog focused more on the textile side of my life though I'm afraid the two will probably overlap! So if you want to see my runner beans you'll have to click on the link to my new blog! When I know what I'm doing I might move the whole caboodle over there but for the moment I am staying put.
Beverly I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds WordPress intimidating! Watch this space and I'll try and keep you up to date with how I'm finding things 'on the other side'! And thank you to everyone else who left comments. I've noticed that now all comments come with a 'no-reply' tag so even if I wanted to write to you I can't! Is this new or is this how people are choosing to comment these days?
I'm going to leave you with a picture of a butterfly that I found clinging to my wallflower which is called Patchwork. That has to be relevant to a textile site don't you think?
This pretty creature was having a hard time with the wind and so didn't fly
away when I came in close with the camera.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pictures in the rain!

We went out for a meal tonight and on the way home I took some pictures. I am trying a new approach to putting pictures into Blogger. This time I put all the pictures in before I started writing anything. So this is a test of sorts. I have to thank you all for your comments re WordPress. And yes, Gabrielle I am signed up to the new Blogger which is half my problem. But then on the other hand I am not being very clever at using WordPress. I've got a site but so far am at a loss as to how to proceed. It all looks much more intimidating than blogger. There doesn't seem to be an html feature for insetting stuff into the template. Perhaps I don't need this. What I do need is a step by step lesson! So for the time being I am going to stick with Blogger as at least I know what I'm doing. Sort of......

To go back to the pictures.

This one is of a roundabout at the top of the hill leading down into Falmouth. Remember it was a wet dreary evening and the light was fading. On the roundabout are two old cannons and an old ship's anchor. Supposedly to show Falmouth's maritime history.

I tried here to take a picture of some blossom from the car but we were moving fast and the focus was all to pot. However I thought this showed some fantastic texture and reminded me of tweed fabric. What do you think? I am slowly coming to grips with the new camera but it is a steep learning curve and I have a long way to go before it all happens naturally.

And last but not least this is the Adult Education Centre that I work at. It is a couple of miles from where I live so not far to go. This used to be the boys Grammar School in Falmouth but is now totally committed to Adult Education. It is a lovely building and what is even better is that there is masses of parking! The room I teach in used to be the hall and is a fantastic size with lovely large windows.
The meal we had was enormous and I had no room for dessert which was disappointing as I do love having dessert when out. But I am now going to have some yogurt and maple syrup and listen to the rain.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Seat Covers!

Coverack and Goonhilly

New Blog!

I am thinking of moving to WordPress. Does anyone have any experience of this blogging platform? Also any experience of transferring from Blogger? Thank you in advance. The reason I am doing this is because I find it getting harder and harder to actually upload pictures or to get Blogger to publish what I've written and how I've written it. It seems to be developing a mind of its own. Hopefully I can get this sorted out fairly quickly. Fingers crossed.

This was a bank holiday weekend and so I have been on holiday today. And yippee I've finished the seat covers! Well all except for the head rests and they are a real pain to do being a fiddly shape but not nearly as awful as the seats! What a sad way to spend a day off making seat covers. But then we did drive down to Coverack yesterday afternoon for an outing. We demolished a bar of Cadbury's Fruit And Nut chocolate between us (and it wasn't a small bar either) and I was able to do tests with my camera. Coverack is a small fishing harbour on the Lizard. The Lizard is the most southerly point in Britain but that didn't guarantee good weather and it was overcast and drizzly. There were some delightful thatched cottages and some steps to the beach with interesting quilting patterns on them. There is a very good restaurant there too but it wasn't a dining out evening! We did that on Wednesday when we went with friends to The Cove at Maenporth. The food was out of this world delicious. I had crab cakes, rack of lamb and chocolate torte though when I saw Martin's pineapple torte with lemon sorbet I wished I'd had that! But he let me taste!
Now that the seat covers are out of the way (the headrests won't take long) I can now think about doing some quilting. This week's class is about folded fabric flowers which will be fun. But I must update my samples. Pictures separately as it is no fun trying to get them in with the text.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday morning!

It was a lovely sunny morning and Sue and I went into Falmouth in her diddy little sportscar. Here it is parked next to Martin's Grande Espace! Little and Large!

The picture above and below is of St George's Arcade in Falmouth. This is pretty old and there are lots of little shops in the arcade itself including a second hand bookshop which has been there for years. The facade is fascinating with its decorations of fruit and flowers.

This old ship's figurehead is down a small alleyway in front of a shop called The Bosun's Locker which surprisingly enough sells boating stuff! The shop is right on the water's edge in the harbour and to the left and out of sight is the car park.

The mouth of the harbour into the Carrick Roads as the mouth of the river Fal is called.

This is the inner harbour and until I looked at the picture I hadn't realised that we'd got one of the Tall Ships in the harbour....upper left. I'm obviously not the most observant of people!
Well I have finally lost the will to live! It has taken me an hour to upload all these pictures! I would have moved on to some pictures of the fabric I've just dyed but I don't have any energy left! Another time! Obviously for me Blogger has had its day and I need to find some other platform to write in. So any recommendations as to a new Blog format? I was really quite happy with the old Blogger so why did it have to change?


Well it is now impossible to post pictures directly from Picasa. If anyone knows of an easier way to post pictures into Blogger do please tell me!

From top left....Crab Cakes, lamb, chocolate mousse and pineapple torte with lemon sorbet! All very yummy!

Night out!

For Christmas my sister gave us a dining voucher to be spent at a local restaurant overlooking Maenporth beach. There hadn't been an opportunity to use it until now. We went with a couple of friends and were very impressed. The views were amazing and the food was scrumptious! It was a laugh a minute and of course I had my trusty camera with me! Maenporth is only a couple of miles down the road from us so not far to go. We started off with crab cakes which were the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. Then I had rack of lamb which was superb followed by double chocolate mousse. Martin had a pineapple torte with lemon sorbet and I almost wished I'd chosen that as it was delicious. I was the designated driver and we had gone in Martin's new Grande Espace. Both the guys sat in the back and talk about back seat drivers! One is bad enough but two..... Admittedly the car is very big and the road is very twisty and narrow but at every twist and turn there was a comment! Next time they can walk home! I'm going to try putting the pictures in directly from Picasa as it takes an age from here and Hello no longer works. Fingers crossed.

Testing, testing!

I've been having such fun with my new camera! It is HUGE! Bigger than my old one. The zoom works beautifully and so does the macro facility. Most of the pictures I've been taking I've used the Auto facility but I have been trying out some of it's other features. Here are some examples:

This is Wallflower called 'Patchwork' which smells delightful. Picture was taken on the macro setting.

This is another macro picture but taken at night. This is a lovely Begonia I have in a stone pot. Eventually the flowers will grow and hang over the edge more.
Normal everyday picture of my herb pots taken with Auto facility. The Begonia from the picture above is the small yellow blob in the centre!

Shirley I'm sorry about the font in the last post. It doesn't seem to matter what I do Blogger will alter it! Which is why some of this post is in blue writing and some in black! It wouldn't change to all one!