Thursday, 13 November 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Getting to the venue in Wimborne meant that I had to get up quite early. I woke up at 6:00 am with butterflies in my stomach - excitement and nerves combined. When I arrived I was welcomed by Jane who then proceeded to show us some of her stunning work. Her technique involves painting dye directly onto the back of the velvet using a large brush - very similar to painting in watercolours. Because the velvet is dry, and the dyes are very runny it starts to spread and the trick is to paint quickly so that you have some control over it. I couldn't wait to get started.
I was the only complete beginner there. Everyone else immediately set to work and produced stunning works of art. To my embarrassment mine resembled the daubings of a three year old. Jane was very supportive and gave me lots of encouraging advice. So, undaunted I embarked on my first scarf length. Part of the joy of this technique is that you really are not sure how it will look until you are finished and can turn it over. To my immense relief the design of red tulips on a dark background looked quite nice. My next attempt was going really well until I accidentally dropped dye where I shouldn't have. I then had a go at creating my own devore using fibre-etch fluid. This was a bit of a disaster and will probably be relegated to the back of a drawer. I have one length of velvet which can be made into a scarf and one piece which will be used for my beadwork. I also ended up walking around with blue hands for a couple of days after picking up a piece of velvet which wasn't completely dry. The next day I got some very strange looks from the woman on the supermarket checkout. I wonder what she thought I had been up to! Despite my lack of artistic talent I thoroughly enjoyed my day and have signed up for the next one day workshop in June.
My feeble attempts at painting silk velvet
Last Saturday I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace with my long suffering OH and three friends - M, P & K. I have been to the show before but none of the girls had so I was interested to see their reaction. It involved a very early start. I am used to getting up at 6:00 am but even I struggled to get out of bed before 5:00!! Once on the coach my OH discovered that, apart from the driver he was the only man amongst 35 women. Brave soul! I think that everyone had a good time. M gives a very funny account of the day on her blog 'Knitting Keeps Me Sane'. The highlights of my day were meeting Nicky Epstein, seeing the work of Takako Sako and the looks of complete wonder on my friends' faces when they entered the Great Hall for the first time. I bought a copy of Nicky's new book 'Knitting On Top of the World'. She was there at the show that afternoon and signed my copy. It was a real privilege to meet such a talented person. I rounded off the day by buying some gorgeous hand dyed sock yarn and a scarf pin. Then it was home again on the coach, happy but very exhausted.
Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as 'Ally Pally') in North London
Full sized kimono by Takako Sako - it contains over 180 colours and more than 2,000,000 beads
Scarf pin from Purlescence
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
The weekend was also spent knitting a second Marsan Watch Cap for my Other Half. He liked the first one so much that he asked for another. I used differnt yarn this time and to my utter frustration it has turned our shorter than the first one. I will now have to partially unravel it and reknit it. Grrr!!
Spurred on by my good friend 'A Girl in Winter' I have cast on for the February Lady Sweater featured on Ravelry. It has an intriguing structure in that it is knitted in one piece from the top down. This has the advantage that you can try it on at any point to check the fit. I will let you know how I get on.
Finally after a lovely, relaxing weekend disaster stuck. On Sunday evening I bit into an oatcake and broke a large chunk off one of my teeth. It just goes to show that eating low fat food really isn't good for you. I am sure that it wouldn't have happened if I had been eating a chocolate digestive! After an emergency visit to my dentist yesterday I emerged with a temporary filling, another appointment on Monday and a bill for nearly £100. That was a very expensive oatcake!
Thursday, 4 September 2008
My Other Half wanted a hat so I looked on Ravelry and found a great pattern to knit him one. It was fun to do and only took me a couple of evenings. However, he wants another one and a scarf and gloves too. I now have lots of knitting projects queueing up in my head. I need several lifetimes to get through everything that I want to do. If only I didn't have to go to work! I am just kidding - I love my job, but it would be nice to have some more creative time.
And finally - Autumn is on its way. there is a definite chill in the air. Last weekend I glumly contemplated my sparse winter wardrobe and tried to steel myself to go shopping. I would normally rather stick needles into my eyes than shop for clothes - I absolutely loath it and usually end up totally depressed and disheartened. However on my way home recently I saw these boots and fell in love (virtually unheard of for me!) Now all I have to do is persuade my Other Half that they are worth every penny!
'Marsan Watch Cap' from Ravelry
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
A beaded passion flower created by me and based on a pendant designed by American beader Laura McCabe
Thursday, 7 August 2008
My Other Half having a surrealist moment.
Part of the Fernery at Kingston Lacey House
Temple at Stourhead
Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens
Abutilon flowers in Abbotsbury
Chesil Beach as seen from the viewing point in Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens. Another steep climb (oh, my aching knees!) but well worth it.
Lulworth Cove seen from the rocks above Stair Hole
Part of the coastal footpath leading to Durdle Door. I really am very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of Britain.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Gabby's necklace inspired by an old snakes and ladders set given to her by her brother.
Tricia's wonderful beaded lampshade inspired by Tiffany glass
Val's Cherry Blossom necklace
The second week was spent in Lulworth - about 40 miles from where I live. We have been wanting to explore that area of Dorset for some time. My Other Half had been told about the Castle Inn in West Lulworth and so we decided to stay there for a few days. It is a lovely 16th Century thatched pub which offers bed and breakfast accomodation. It is full of character - our room had a four poster bed and exposed beams.
On that first day my OH persuaded me to go for a walk to Durdle Door. It turned out to be quite an afternoon! The footpath is long and very steep. These pictures give you an idea of the scale of it. And no, in the first pictures those dots are not specks of dirt on my camera lense but people.
About half way up the footpath to Durdle Door. By this stage my knees were starting to hurt!
The footpath to Durdle Door seen from Stair Hole
On the final day we decided to go to Stourhead. This was stunning as always although the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Thick unpleasant drizzle coupled with high temperatures did not make for a comfortable afternoon. We trudged on regardless. After all being British it takes more than a bit of rain to spoil our day.
We then walked down into the village and went to look at Stair Hole and Lulworth Cove. The strange rock formations are created by layers of shale and limestone which have been forced up at an angle through the earth's crust. The shale erodes faster than the limestone creating dramatic ridges and folds.
The next day we visited Abbotsbury. The Sub Tropical Gardens are well worth a visit as they have so many exotic trees and plants. There is also a viewing point (yet another steep climb) where you can see Chesil Beach.
On Friday we went to Kingston Lacey and wandered around the fernery and gardens. I will post more pictures in future entries. I really needed the break and will now return to work with renewed vigour!
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
I was recently asked by one of my colleagues if I had any pictures of my beadwork. I brought in what I had and this has resulted in me selling a couple of pieces. I am very bad at selling. I find it hard to price the things that I make. They take a long time to make and I put so much of myself into them that it is sometimes hard to part with them. But I don't wear them often enough and it is only right that they should go to someone who will appreciate them. I have decided to document my beadwork in more detail in future. It is really good to look back at some of my pieces of jewellery and remember the process of designing and making them.
Last weekend I went on a 'bead' trip to Shaftesbury. I normally buy most of my beads by mail order (thank heavens for the internet!) but nothing beats handling and choosing them in person. Unfortunately there are very few places in Bournemouth to buy craft materials. There is a good bead shop in Poole but it does not have a range of seed beads and cylinder beads - the type of bead that I use most frequently. The nearest bead shop is Shaftesbury in Dorset. It is quite a trek for me but I try to go two or three times a year. There are now three bead shops in Shaftesbury, one having recently opened at the top of Gold Hill.
Stitch and Craft in Swan's Yard is my favourite. They stock a dizzying array of beads in all shapes and sizes, Swarovski crystals, beading thread and wire, sterling silver clasps and even a range of knitting yarn. The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful, nothing is ever too much trouble. If you can't visit Shaftesbury they have a great online shop.
Bijoux Beads is literally a few feet away from Stitch and Craft, also in Swan's Yard. They stock a range of larger focal beads, pearls and a small range of semi-precious beads. they also have shops in Salisbury and Bath.
The latest addition is The Beadster which is situated behind the Town Hall and at the top of the picturesque Gold Hill. This is not a great photo of the shop -you can just see it on the left hand side of the picture. However it does show how pretty Shaftesbury is. Gold Hill was immortalised in the famous Hovis advert which featured a young boy pushing a bicycle up this very steep cobbled street.
I spent a great morning wandering around Shaftesbury and then headed home to continue working on my Passion Flower vase. I am a bit stressed about it at the moment as I want to finish in time for the City & Guilds exhibition at the end of next week.
Finally here is a selection of photos taken by my Other Half at the weekend. He is talking about doing another photography course. I hope that he does as he is very talented (although I might be a bit biased!)
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I continue to bead as much as I can. Last year I made a beaded chatelaine as part of a group project. It involved beading around a wooden needle case, a tape measure and creating a beaded scissor case. I based my design on an Art Deco wall tile. I was sitting at the dining room table (where I do most of my beading) the other day, deep in thought and I looked down at the beaded tape measure and realised how much I enjoy using it. Underneath the beads it is a cheap plastic tape measure costing only a few pounds but now it makes me happy just to look at it, use it and to remember the experience of creating it. Joy can be found in so many everyday things, I will try to remember that the next time that I am feeling down or frustrated with my beading.