Sunday, December 30, 2007

Where has it gone?

This Christmas holiday is going so fast...... as is the year...... tomorrow is the last day of 2007.

This is also my 250th post on this blog...... quite an occasion. I never thought I would be able to keep chatting to all my intenet fibre friends for this long. I really enjoy reading your comments, and it has been great this year to meet so may of you who pass by my blog. How am I celebrating? With hot lemon and paracetamol....... yes I have a horrid virus. Again!

To make the most of the celebration I have given myself a few days off. A luxury really, as I have to still to finish the button band on the cardigan. Maybe this evening..... I forgot to get any buttons before Christmas. Have them now though.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

and a special candle for my Doger chums.

Had a great Christmas Eve party with all the granchildren last night.. here is avery clever use of bricks... by six year old granddaughter

Hope you all have a wondnerful time with family and friends.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Finally ..... the Christmas cake is in the oven....... I suppose better late than never. I have been attempting to make this cake over the last 2 weeks. The recipe says it is best made 2 weeks before Christmas.... this one will be 3 days. Do you think anyone will notice?

With everything going on with the family, this has been my first opportunity to make the cake.

I bought the necessary ingredients 2 weeks ago. I have only made a Christmas cake twice before, both times I was on maternity leave..... so a long time ago! I was so pleased I managed to find the recipe again. On my midnight shop last night I bought some fresh eggs, the packaging made me laugh.... love it. Will I be Big and British after all the eating at this celebration?

Another important ingredient of course is the spirit.... this recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of Sherry...... and of course a glass for the cook!

The final mixture looks delicious. Yummm.

Only problem.... I no longer have a cake tin big enough to take the whole mixture. Never thought about that. However hope the solution works.

It cooking now, doesn't it take a long time? I hope it will be OK. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On your head be it!

I can hear my mother say it...on your head be it!.......such happy memories. She said that particular phrase every time, I made, what I thought was a grown up decision.

Well I think I have made one of these adult decisions again..... instead of us going to one of the childrens' abodes on Christmas Eve for a family party....... I have invited them ALL here....... I have so enjoyed the idea of us all being together on Christmas Eve. So they have all accepted an invite for Christmas eve at 6pm

Two years ago we were at my daughters, yes I know it was a terrible ending to the partying, but we were all together. Which turned out to be a huge blessing, as we were able to look after the other children between us. It ended happily though, when we finally managed to resusitate young Jessica. All right, I know I ended up sleeping on the sofa, whilst they were at A & E....... but the children were as good as gold.

Last Year we were all together at eldest sons, and that was brilliant , and no dramas. Really enjoyable. So this year it will be here. Unfortunately youngest sons house is not big enough to accomodate all of us,no chance of going there, so I suppose really it had to be my turn.

So in preparation the Christmas Decorations are up already, never been so early in this household! I have made a shopping list of nibbles I need to get..... when I will get to the shops I do not know. We have some more family illnesses to sort out... but I am determined that there will be laughter and joy in the family this Christmas despite everything else going on. Hubby is sorting our the Christmas music.... he is very good at that, and the children love it. Disco time!

I have done most of my present shopping, quite a bit online... it was needs must. Last year I bought a lot online from one of the big chains ( you know the one...been around for years... famous for good quality underwear! Especially those navy blue knickers when we were at school. If you are my generation - you will know!). I was extremely pleased with them last year, told lots of people too.

Well this year, they have let me down badly..... telling me last weekend .. everything was in stock, and then this morning 5 of the presents are out of stock....... I was fuming ( to say the least). They also now know I was not happy. So apologies to everyone to whom I have recommended this particular store... they are now stricken of my list...... very poor service, may I suggest you strike them off to.... very unreliable. Gripe over.
Maybe I ought to go shopping tomorrow..... my enthusiasm to go to the shops is nil! We'll see.

P.S. Still knitting........ how many days to Christmas?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life's like that.

Life is like that sometimes... a real roller coaster. I expect no sympathy, as most of you reading this, will have had the awful, horrid virus. For what its worth... it attacked my throat, nose and ears with a vengeance.... lots of headaches and the coughing. Then...... just as you start to feel morning there it is back again. Lets move swiftly on to more fun stuff.

Sooo .......In between I have had lots of fun.... you will be pleased to know the knitting is progressing well.... Sue saw it last week and can verify the progress made. I will post a photo at another time. Feeling rather pleased with myself.

I have also had the joys of yet another birthday, they seem to come round so quickly these days. So 22 years old again. Such a respectable age. The presents were lovely and lots of chocolates and cards.

Did a lovely workshop too with the Swindon Embroiderers Guild, it was lovely just to have time to work with friends. Angela did a good write up on her blog.This is a photo of my stitching plan.... dragonflies. These were machined freehand all over the surface of the "fabric"

My burned offering has not progressed at the moment, I have a rather lame excuse.. I could not find my soldering iron. I have found it this week. Am rather embarrassed to tell you where, I must have been having a very blonde moment when I last tidied it away.

In the bathroom which we rarely use.. is a cabinet /tablewith a drawer... for some reason the soldering iron was in the drawer. Why? Have no idea!

So I suppose I had better get burning now!

Think this will make a nice round bag..... watch this space.... will it get finished in time for the Christmas parties. Doubt it .... New Year more likely.

The next bit is bad news.... and if you wish you can skip down to the next picture where it gets back to the fabric fun. My daughters husband.. only in his early 30's had a mini stroke and when they investigated further they have found the horrid C. In very early stages... and they are VERY confident of a full cure. Needless to say I have been most fortunate in babysitting their 3 children and looking after them.. which I have thoroughly enjoyed, whilst family emotions are quite naturally on a roller coaster.

We had another great meeting of the Great Western Embroiderers ( see here) .
Anna had organised a wonderful white on White experience for us... we really enjoyed ourselves...and . the work in the photo is from group members... we were particularly inspired by Sorbello stitch , which Anna asked us to play with and practice.
We have taken our GWE Exhibition, which was opposite the Designer Outlet Village, down now, hope you managed to see it. As a result of the Exhbition we had a wonderful interview by BBC Radio Swindon. We have more Exhibitions planned for next year too. So watch this space.
I have also signed up to Sharons new challenge ( see here) I really enjoyed the stitch challenge last year... though I had some difficulty keeping up. Let's hope I do better in 2008.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Excitement in the Inbox

Well there was an exciting invitation in my inbox today, to be a member of Revelry. Thought I would have to wait until Christmas as there is such a long waiting list.

Just finding my way around the site at the moment.... loads to look at and it seems, if I want to post pictures I have to have a Flickr account. This web stuff is such a big learning curve. So I better get some more knitting done....... otherwise they may think am not a knitter. Must confess though I am far better at Crochet and Tatting, however I am committed to lifelong learning... so here we go. Or maybe I had better get back to the knitting.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Feel like rambling on today, probably a direct effect of the virus I have in my head and throat. Its driving me mad. I blame himself of course, as I had to take him to the hospital and doctors last week, places I try and avoid at all costs, could have sent him by taxi, but seems a bit cruel now I have taken early retirement. These places are full of sick people, and I do not like catching their illnesses, however seems like I have succumbed. So am feeling very sorry for myself.

Thanks to the lovely folks leaving me comments on my blog..... Veronique the shop has had a lot of visitors since our exhibition went in the window, by the way love those bags on your blog you have lucky daughters and Helen C we have had quite a few enquiries about folks wanting to join since the radio show.

The CD cases are so easy to make a display with, HelenS, they are far better than a book with printed CV's.

Angela enjoy your visit to Swindon on Wednesday... if you go in the shop... say hello to the owner from me. She is going to start stocking wool soon, so I expect you will become a regular visitor.

Talking of wool, the knitting is progressing despite the awful headaches and coughing fits, which are rather more like work-outs for the pelvic floor.
Have just realised I am close to my 250th posting, however the slow rate of posting in November, it probably means it will be Christmas day before I manage it.... how should we celebrate? Any ideas? Right back to the coughing...........

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Exhibition and the Radio.

I have just set up the first exhibiton of Great Western Embroiderers ( the new textile group). The exhibition is in the sewing shop opposite the designer outlet village in Swindon. Such a diversity of techniques and skills. The Exhibition is in the shop window until December 10th.

It is just a small exhibition of some of the members work, showcasing the amazing talent in the group. It has attracted a lot of attention, including that of the local radio, BBC Swindon. Kath, one of the members, gave an interview all about what we do. She gave an excellent interview. I feel sure we will reach lots of interested artists as a result.

This photo was taken at our last meeting ... we called it dyeing the un-natural way. We had a great time.

Still knitting too.......

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wiltshire countryside

Last weekend I spent at Urchfont, deep in the countryside of Wiltshire. Here is the evidence of autumn... quite spectacular.

After recent conversations with Clyde Oliver about shadows, I could not resist taking this very flattering photo of my shadow. I have some really long legs.. can photos tell lies?

Amazingly there was evidence of some flowers still in bloom.... this rather lonely rose on a south facing and sheltered wall. However I was ther to work on my projects for the weekend and one of my first tasks was to create a shroud for the green man that Gordon Dickenson had created. ( I did ask his permission to do this). I wanted to do some rust dyeing. Considering it had only 36hours to perform.. not a bad result. The gardener was a little concerned/surprised on the sunday morning when he saw the green man covered in calico!

I did do a lot of other work.... but bacause of these rather intense rules about showing work before exhibiting pictures of the stuff I have been working on.

Thought I would leave you with some photos of the Saturday evening sunsets.... spectacular.

Still knitting.........

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Knitting Saga

After the Great Western Embroiderers meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Sue gave me a lift home to have a cup of tea and had the dubious pleasure of meeting Herr Schnauzer and Sir Siamese... (the old lady moggy was having her afternoon nap - so no sign of her). Sue is a great buddy.. she sorted out my knitting for me. Thanks so much Sue.

Here it is after Sue got me going again. The first 2 rows of the pattern.

Five days later I am pleased to say I have managed to get quite a way up the back. Will it be finished for Christmas? Place your bets now!

Impressed?? I am.

Here is the cherub, that it is destined for... just hope she does not grow too fast! As you can see abig girl for 9 months old.... sorry about the dummy! She loves it.....I hate it!

Have so many other things to talk and write about, it has been such an exciting week. Unfortunately not much time. Off to dinner with eldest son in a minute... so I had better dash. Will try to bring the blog up to date later.... but if I do not manage it, at least you will know that I am knitting for Christmas!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Forgiveness is-- catching up with the row counter.

Well I have forgiven Herr Schnauzer for his misdemeanors with my knitting, due to pressure from comments left by Rosalind and Verobirdie, who thought he looked guilty enough, and I also told him, every one in blogworld is laughing at him I would forgive him just this once.

Maggie, I am pleased to say he had the good sense not to swallow the end of the needle or the row counter.... here is the evidence retrieved from under the settee, and not from the end of the dog!!

However I have to report that the knitting has not progressed, I need a major motivational push to get going again. I have tried to join Revelry on the recommendation of my Internet chums, I am about 10,000th on the waiting list. So, I think Christmas will be here before I get accepted. No joy there then.

I have been working very hard, though, with my hand stitching, I cannot show you the whole thing.. but here is a very tiny taster/snippet and close up. Do you remember all that dyeing I did in the Summer,(see here) I am now using all of that, and have to say I am already running out of some threads. I hate dyeing in winter as it takes so long to dry. It seems like cheating though to go and buy some thread from a shop, after making the decision to work with my own colours.

Mmmmmm. Decisions,decisions.

Those who know me well and are reading this... please note and applaud... yes that is green you see, it is not an illusion ........ there is a first time for everything.

Meanwhile back to my embellisher machine, it has gained a new decoration since it has been sitting idle om my work bench , whilst I have been busy with my hand stitching. An elegant edition methinks. He would soon move if I start the motor though!

Monday, November 05, 2007

In the dog house!!!

For this post to make sense you may want to re-read my previous post.... here. What a difference 2 hours make!

Yes, Herr Schnauzer is in the dog house.... definitely in my bad books..... thats why he is hiding under the settee. Can you spot the difference in this photo of my knitting--- to the previous post??

Yes, the knitting is no longer on the needle, and yes, the end of the knitting needle has disappeared......chewed! I am not a happy bunny, this piece of knitting is dogged by bad luck..... Herr Schnauzers only saving grace is he did not chew the knitting! He has not chewed anything in the last 2 years why this knitting needle and row counter???
Now I need to buy new size 4 knitting needles and a row counter. I shall have to stop his pocket money, ground him even. This cardigan will never get finished for Christmas ...and I have the perfect excuse....the dog chewed it!


Would some one please tell my cactus... its not Christmas yet! It is flowering beautifully, and yes I know the shops are filling up with festive gifts and decorations.... but in my house .... not yet please!

My family seem to be catching the Christmas bug too. I have been asked/cajoled into knitting a cardigan for the 8 month old GC. I had not joined in the present knitting frenzy gripping the world. Looks like I will have to now. When my children were younger I used to make all their clothes... and that included knitting. Sadly my skills have laid dormant and unused for a number of years.

Not to be defeated though I set forth with needles and wool.... ribbing was OK... but the bubbly textured pattern.. .....that has defeated me and has been pulled out 3 times. My lame excuse is -- I was busy watching CSI New York on the telly! Seems that my multitasking skills left home as well last night.
I think they expect that this cardigan will form part of the Christmas present this year for the GC.... I am blogging about it to shame myself into continuing. Right, will attack that pattern again tonight... wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Crazy and busy times

I think I have the most wonderful job, now that I have retired early from my profession. I am able to indulge my passion for creating my own work, visiting exhibitions and shows, places, meeting people and now I also have secured some freelance work training teachers to teach art....... I love it.
My life is a sort of patchwork, all sorts of interesting bits and pieces are sitting together.. rather like this strange piece of embellished absract work I did.

As part of my remit I can also engage artists using a variety of media to join me, as artists in residance. It is fantastic. I shall never be rich in terms of money.... but in terms off fulfilment and happiness, what more could I ask for????It not really a job is it? It's what I want to do. Think I am so lucky.

Friends and my internet chums Mags, Sara, Dorothy G and Gill to name but a few, said I would be so busy when I retired.... Okay .... you were right. Its been quite hard to find the time to blog. So folks --- retire. Its great!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Swanning around

Do you have a piece of work, that reminds you about overcoming a long term illness? Continuing to think about blackwork embroidery, I remembered stitching this piece. I knew I was better when I had completed it.

The Assisi work border is not an original design. It is taken from a tray cloth I made at school when I was 11. The blackwork swan however is all my own work and design.

At the time we lived next to a big lake and the swans regularly came to our glass front door and tapped on it with their beaks until I fed them bread. I often drew them after they had been fed. This is one of the drawings, translated into blackwork. I was very ill about 15 years ago and knew I was well on the way to recovery when I started working on this and then finished it.

Also taken from one of my drawings of swans , is the swan batik I showed you back in the summer. I have worked some more on it and am pleased with the result.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tudor blackwork as an influence.

It has been a really exciting end to the week. A new venture has opened some wonderful possibilities for me and I am so excited about it, working with artists and training teachers in the area I live. The opportunity still allows me to continue with my own art work and teaching for other adult groups, so brilliant. In February another opportunity has arisen for me locally, teaching adults. So now you have caught up on my exciting news.... lets continue.

The tiltle to this post refelcts what I have been up to. I love the Tudor period, and in the past have done a lot of traditional blackwork.

As I explained in a previous post, here and here- the watching of the TV programme The Tudors, has rekindled my passion, as well as the talk about Mary Tudors wedding dress. Also another big influence, memory jogger, was seeing Val Campbell -Harding's work on display at Birmingham- here and Ally Pally here. I did not blog properly about it as I found it so emotional seeing all her work again. Maggie G has some wonderful photos of Val's work at the moment... check out her blog - here
I recall working closely with Val throughout 2002 as internal verifier for a City and Guilds course - also I had been on the committee of the CTDG. Why am I telling you this?

Well, because I did some work with her, using blackwork designs, and the computer and machine stitchery.... she inspired me a great deal. I have searched the work out and will continue doing some more work to it. I think I will then use it as a tribute to her inspiring teaching and share the designs and thinking with others, when working wearing my new "hat".

The taster photos are throughout this post .... you will easily recognise Val's influence.... (despite the colour not being hers), and here is one of the final samples:-

These are not my favourite colours... but even now I can hear her saying.... "go out of your comfort zone Maggie and use colours you do not normally use,,,, and see what excitement happens."

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I had such trouble posting the photos to my blog entry yesterday... and today I found the photos would not enlarge.... so I have just sorted them out so they will enlarge now..... sorry folks... 'tis the wonders of technology!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Empty diary.......dream on.......

When I looked at my diary for this week, it was pretty empty and I thought I would have loads of time to be a lady that can lunch and enjoy the leisurely life style. Amazing how quickly a diary can fill up. Leisurely is out of the window, but boy it has been great fun.

Monday evening was the local Embroiderers Guild meeting. It was the AGM, which can be a bit hard going, but we had an entertaining talk by a local embroiderer as well.

Also Angela bought along her postcards to show us. They were featured on her blog recently , and I can really understand her difficulty in parting with them. They are beautifully stitched. Well done Angela.

On Tuesday we needed to go up the road to Cirencester, it was not particularly enjoyable, just look at the weather.... needless to stay we did not stay long. Gloucestershire is renowned recently for flash floods. So we headed home fairly quickly.

However it was not all gloom and doom despite the heavy rain. When I got home I had 2 lovely phone calls with exciting propositions for me and a letter through the post which was a big surprise.

From the Secretary of State, Ed Balls,

"..... thanking you for the contribution you have made to education throughout your career. Teaching is such an important job that makes a real difference to the lives of individuals and to the well-being of our society. Thank you for all you have done."

It does feels good to be appreciated.

Today the weather was sunny, and really pleasant... so we decided to go to Wells in Somerset. Now this was not a spur of the moment thing , you understand....... I had heard there was an excellent exhibition by the South West Textile Group at Wells Museum, Cathedral Green.

Its called "Bound/Unbound" and entry is free.

Wonderful space for an exhibition, and what an exhibition... wow... really made me think more deeply about books.... do go if you can. You can touch the work..... plenty of white gloves you can borrow to enable you to touch. Brilliant idea. The exhibition runs until the 31st October 2007.

Opposite the Museum is this famous building... amazing inside and out. Check out the sunshine and blue skies.... so different from Gloucestershire yesterday.

Here is a closer view. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

And another view. Impressesd yet? Yes Wells Cathedral, pretty impressive.

So enough of the Cathedral... Wells is a beautiful city.

We were going to Midsomer next, my husband did not fancy it much... said too many murders . Yeah right. I took this photo thinking it had something of the flavour of the TV series.... and have since discovered none of the filming has been shot in Somerset. What a let down. The wonders of TV. If you would like to see where the locations for the series actually are... look here.

However I digress again. We were travelling to Radstock Musuem on the way home, to the exhibition organised by Midsomer Quilting. Check them out here.

This is Janet Webb and her husband, they were looking after visitors today. What a wonderful, welcoming couple they are, willingly answering all of my many questions. Thank You.

The exhibition is excellent ..over 180 quilts. worth a visit, it runs until 30th November, open afternoons only

There is an entrance fee of £3.

The work is stunning and well presented as you can see.

It felt good to return to the familiar landscape of Wiltshire with the late afternoon sun...... this photo is worth enlarging ( and the next one) can you see the wildlife in the harvested corn field?

Yes those specks are deer. (click on photo to see them a little clearer). Great day out. Suppose better beat up the dust gremlins at home tomorrow with a duster and vaccum.