Monday, 30 January 2012


As my first love in gemstones is, and always will be, amethyst, I decided that I needed an amethyst necklace but with lots of sparkle and reasonably delicate in design.  Here it is.  Very simple, symmetrical pattern, two faceted rectangle creating a pendant and the beading wire as part of the design, plaited up with two amethyst beads near the clasp. There is also a small amount of silver (in beads) and two fluorite squares to add a different texture.  I have already worn it at work and I am very pleased with it.  I think I shall make more like this, possibly using jasper or botswana agate and definitely amazonite.

Chris has sorted the comments issue for me - thanks, Chris - and it turned out to be a compatibility problem.  Hopefully all is now well.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Winter Blues

 I bought these hyacinths at a cut price supermarket for very little money, convinced that they would become the deep, rich, lapis blue that hyacinths seem to be.  So, waiting for them to flower and watching them develop every day became a ritual.  Imagine my surprise when they opened and revealed the delicate china blue of wintry skies, with the hint of pale lilac, like the lightest amethyst.
 They really are quite beautiful.
The colours seem to be reflected in a necklace I made from blue fire agate, with the blues and whites in a random pattern throughout the stone.
This kind of winter blues is one I can really enjoy.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Jewellery (and problems with comments)

 Although I haven't been doing much felt making at the moment, I am making jewellery.  I love the way you can create a piece of jewellery and wear it the next day.  Above is a bracelet I made for my friend from Canada who has just been visiting England for the first time for three years.  I used amazonite, mother of pearl, labradorite, botswana agate, shell and zebra jasper, all in neutral shades.
The necklace is for me and is completely different from anything I have made before.  Usually, I have much more delicate designs, but I was trying to make a chunkier piece.  Initially, I tried to make an assymmetric design, but it just wasn't me at all, so I had to revert back to symmetry.  This design has a lot of different gems in it; lapis lazuli, keishi pearl, jade, blue-green jasper, shell, fluorite, labradorite, turquoise and kyanite.  I hope it will complement a lovely blue-green cardigan that I wear for work.  I am going to make an amethyst necklace next, leaving the wire showing at the back and maybe even plaited.

Incidentally, just to let my lovely followers know, I am having trouble with the comments on my blog.  For some reason, they seem to disappear and just show a white screen when you click on them.  I am hoping to find out what is happening and get it sorted as soon as I can.  (Technology, eh?  Brilliant when it works and a complete pain when it doesn't!)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Winter images

 The above photo was taken when I was visiting my friend at her Granny's house.  This was once a beautifully espaliered pear tree (I think) and the training of the branches was easy to make out.  However, it hadn't been pruned in quite a while and had developed this fantastic tracery of branches, making their wayward growth towards the sky.  There was a lovely bright blue sky behind them, but I think it would have been even more effective against a dark stormy sky, or with a full moon.  I think this would make a great book cover - something like Wuthering Heights or perhaps a gothic horror.  Very atmospheric.
 This morning, I was out in the garden, battling with the strong wind, and there I saw these brave little snowdrops, looking so delicate, but able to withstand the winter weather.
They are one of my favourite flowers and seeing them immediately puts me into a more positive frame of mind - Spring isn't all that far away.
And finally, the picture of contentment has to be this one of Scruffy, taken last night.  We had the fire on, the curtains drawn and had settled down to watch a film.  Does life get any better?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Artist - What a film!

I had been wanting to see this film since I caught a tiny snippet of it on the BBC 'Culture Show' before Christmas.  As it was a 'niche' film, I didn't think it would be shown by the big cinema companies.  However, owing to the influence of winning a few Golden Globes recently, it seems to be getting a wider screening, and so it should.  I'll try not to be too gushing, but it was one of the best films I have seen in a long time.  It has elements of A Star is Born and Singin' in the Rain, is filmed in black and white, is almost silent all the way through, and is by turns funny, moving, poignant and thought provoking.

There is a really good review from the Guardian newspaper which says everything I want to and more, so here is the link:

It is an affectionate homage to silent films and the stars of the time and is a must if you enjoy film history. The acting is absolutely pitch perfect throughout with a great ensemble cast too.  I thought it was incredibly brave to make something this different and put it up against the blockbusters we are all used to now.  I hope the Golden Globe awards are the first of many.
As for a star rating - it HAS to be 5 out of 5!

(Photos from

Monday, 16 January 2012

Churches and decorations that make me smile

 We visited the local church to my friend's Granny's house on Saturday too.  It is a beautiful little church made from the local mellow brown stone.  Inside, there are some lovely pieces of stained glass, apparently made in the ' Low Countries' and probably medieval.  I thought this Nativity scene above was particularly beautiful, especially with the sun lighting up the colours.

 Looking round the church, I noticed two small faces which made me smile.  The first was this little cherub, at the base of an eighteenth century memorial on the wall.  I liked his pudgy cheeks and the way his wide open eyes have been carved to give them a lot of life.  He looks a little unsure in his expression, but I thought he was a real character.
The other face I noticed was above the pulpit, at the base of an arch.  He looks very happy, but also somewhat enigmatic as we'll never know what he was smiling about.  He gazes out at visitors, as he has done since he was carved, with a big welcoming smile and long may he continue to do so.
Unfortunately, the church has suffered the fate of many small village churches and is in the process of being closed due to falling numbers and the costs to keep it going.  I don't know when I shall be able to visit it again, so am pleased that I had the opportunity on Saturday.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Winter frost and Winter inspiration

Outside, yesterday morning, I was drawn to the sprinkling of frost around the garden.  It was glittering and sparkling in the sun and looked beautiful.  The hydrangea flowers and rose leaves were particularly impressive.
Later, we visited a friend who was staying at her Granny's house, and in the dining room,  there was a basket of fabulous blue hyacinths with their shadows being cast on the wall behind.  I particularly noticed the contrast between the cold, frosty garden with the predominance of green, brown and grey and the exuberance of the indoor hyacinths with their pungent fragrance and brilliant colour.
While visiting, we went into the local church and I found some lovely things to photograph.  More to come tomorrow...

Monday, 9 January 2012

Garden Thoughts

 I thought I would have a bit of a garden review for this post - how last year went, what were the highlights? and what I need to do this year.  Pictured above is Hydrangea AvantGarde, still in flower, and with the flowers looking as though they are made from icing - at least, that's the thought that came to me when I looked at them this morning.  So, how did last year go?  A mixture of highs and lows, as always.  Highs were the gorgeous tulips, the magnolia, the clematis and roses.  Lows were the unpredictable weather (not that any of us can do anything about that, of course) and the lowest low was the battle with the fungus in the soil (this fungus is normally present in all soil and helps to break down debris,  but has decided to run amok through the border for some reason.)  (Incidentally, I think I have lost that particular battle and am going to have to retire gracefully - or not so gracefully).  I think I am going to dig up all my asters and the perennial sunflower and transfer them into large pots.  It is not practical to keep replacing the soil and anyway, the fungus will go where it wants to.  I think deep rooted plants will survive, but the more shallow rooted perennials will need saving.
 On a more positive note, here are the first signs of snowdrops, which is always cheering.  I applaud their tenacity to grow no matter whether covered by snow or ice, or blasted by freezing temperatures or  Arctic winds.  Spring isn't too far away, although I have the feeling the winter will still throw a few surprises at us yet.
 Two brave little violas, adding a splash of colour to the rather bedraggled and sad looking garden.

So, I shall try to remain positive and save my asters.  Then I shall have a long think and do some research about tough plants. I wonder what 2012 will bring for the gardeners amongst us?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Triptych of Cats

 Although we had some fantastic presents for Christmas, my favourite one just had to be this triptych of our cats; Scruffy, Ginny and Gonga.  The portraits were painted by Rachael, my colleague at work, who is an amazing artist as well as being an excellent singer and an all-round good egg!

 Scruffy was the most difficult to paint, Rachael said, because he is all black.  The portraits are done in watercolour and ink.
 Ginny looks very serene and peaceful, as she does when she's just had a plate of liver or some leftover chicken or turkey. 
Of all the portraits, I think this one is my favourite because Rachael has managed to capture Gonga when he is feeling rather fed up (to say the least). He really does look this grumpy on occasions! 
The only thing is, now that we have these portraits, I rather think we need portraits of the cats we used to have too - Sammy and Mrs Cat.  I think I feel a commission for Rachael coming on...

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year thoughts for 2012

Hydrangea Fireworks flowering away happily today to welcome the New Year

Firstly, may I wish you a rather belated Happy New Year!  It seems as though the years speed up as I get older.  It doesn't seem very long ago that I was writing my thoughts (not resolutions, because I don't seem able to keep them) for 2011.
So, a review of last year's thoughts. 
To try and be a bit tidier - well, this really hasn't worked at all.  In some ways, I am very organised and have efficient filing systems, but general tidiness seems to elude me.  This is one that I need to work at.
To sort out my website - again, this hasn't been done yet.  I have worked out the way I would like to pages to be, but that is as far as it has got.  So, another target for this year.
To continue felt making - this is something I have managed to do and would like to continue with this year.
To continue reading interesting books - Hoorah!  This is something I have succeeded with and is something I shall definitely continue this year.
To exercise more - well, I have exercised more than I did last year, but it is something I need to do this year too.
To buy a dressing gown - this is one thing I achieved in the sales last January.  (It is good to have a real positive in this list).
To complete at least some of my on-going craft projects - not a great success really, although I added a new hobby to the list (jewellery making).  This is something that I can carry on through this year too.

Hmm, not a great deal achieved here.  Perhaps I can do a bit better this year...