Saturday, 30 November 2013

Latest bracelets

Here's the latest bracelets I have made - for a colleague's birthday.  She likes black and white, hence the choice of monochrome!  Above is a macrame bracelet using striped agate, rutile quartz and crackled quartz.
This is my second memory wire bracelet and I used black rutile quartz chips, black agate bicones, white pearls and silver pearls.  I am enjoying using memory wire as you don't need any findings and it is quite a meditative experience to thread the chips on.  My colleague was really pleased with the jewellery and said the the memory wire bracelet would be a 'going out' one!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Autumn colour

I must admit that there hasn't been as much Autumn colour in my garden this year as I would like.  Leaves seem to have just fallen, without changing colour.  There are a couple of exceptions - hydrangea above and Prunus incisa Kojo-no-Mai below.
 This photo was taken last week and since then, all the leaves have fallen off the Prunus...
 ...and the hydrangea is looking like this, with more yellow on its leaves.
 The little geranium 'Rozanne' plants, which have featured before, are still flowering away in a sheltered part of the garden.
 Magnolia Stellata has lovely yellow leaves.
 Still, there are a few surprises, like this Campanula 'Iridescent Bells' (I think) which has decided to flower, even though it is nearly the end of November and it is still a young plant!
There are also a few glimpses of colour from the Fuchsias - this one is 'Lady Thumb' I think.  It helps that they are sheltered but it is lovely to be greeted with some colour, even if it is not necessarily autumnal!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Stitching Sundays 12

 As you know, I finished the snowflake embroidery on my bunting...on the turquoise piece...
 ...and the shiny silvery-grey piece.  I managed to get the bunting made even though I had to sew the bias binding on twice, because I hadn't sewn it close enough to the edge (you would think that I would have got the hang of that by now, having made at least five bunting projects over the last year).  I am not sure that the snowflake embroidery will be that obvious once the bunting is hung up, but I'll know it's there.
 So, here's the finished product.
 Even though it isn't quite winter yet, I hung it on the mirror, just to take a photo.
I am pleased with the combination of colours and patterns and I shall be putting it up properly on December 1st.  Now, what is my next project?

Thursday, 21 November 2013


 On Monday night, Chris and I went to our local Odeon cinema to see the National Theatre production of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.  They swapped the roles of Victor and the Creature each night in the original run.  The productions were filmed and cinemas have been showing the films now and again over the last couple of years.  It was an amazing production and the two leads gave really powerful and exciting performances.  I really don't know how they managed to keep going on the original run, as the Creature, in particular, demanded  huge reserves of physical strength and agility.  It was moving, sad, funny, clever and disturbing.  I read the book last year and was stunned by it - not just the story, but by Mary Shelley's writing skill.  It is such a powerful story about rejection, prejudice, love, power and revenge. 
The production we saw was with Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and I am so pleased we saw it that way round, as to me, it worked perfectly.
The set was very clever and had a minimal feel, which I really like as I enjoy using my imagination, but in fact, I didn't need to very much, as everything that was needed was there.  The lighting really complemented the different parts of the story and action and the music was particularly effective.
I was a little concerned that the audience would be the typical cinema audience, with all the noise they make, but in fact, everyone was as gripped by the film as we were and you really could have heard a pin drop.  It was a wonderful evening.
I think that there are going to be more films like this as there was a trailer for Ballet, Shakespeare and Opera productions too.  It is something I shall keep looking out for because it means that you can still see productions even if you can't actually get to the original live one.
(Photo from National Theatre website)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Stitching Sundays 11

 I am a bit late with my Stitching Sundays post this week, as you may have noticed that it's Monday.  Time just ran away with me yesterday!  I have embroidered snowflakes on the plain silver/grey and turquoise blue material.
 I used simple stitches in grey and white - split stitch, backstitch and french knots.
I'm pleased with how they turned out.  I have sewn the triangles for the bunting and hope to be able to show the finished bunting next week.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


 Being a keen gardener can be a wonderful and exciting thing - but it can also be frustrating, challenging and difficult at times.  However, the one thing above all that it teaches is to be patient.  In this fast-paced world, patience is most definitely a virtue. 
Here we are, in autumn and I have just finished my tulip planting for next spring, with the optimism and excitement this brings.  I have ordered more tulips than I have had before, due to the joy that this year's tulips gave me.  Above is Ballerina, from my garden in April/May this year. The other photos are from the Peter Nyssen website, which is where I got all my bulbs from, and if the quality is the same as last year, they should be terrific.
I have kept some of these Ballerina bulbs and have put them together with some Black Parrot, also from earlier this year, in the same pot, to see whether they will flower next year, as the flowering quality can drop and most advice seems to be to treat tulips as one year only flowers.  However, it's a bit of an experiment and I shall report back.
 I have gone for single mixtures for the early insects, including single early (above)...
 and single late.  They do look spectacular in a mass planting.  Mine are all in pots and tubs.
 I have also chosen Red Shine, which is meant to be as good as Ballerina, so I am really looking forward to seeing how that one does.
Another bright mix - single Triumph mix.  I am hopeful that my pots will be a riot of colour.  I have learnt from my mistakes last year and I haven't crammed the bulbs in so much.  I have planted them on two levels, so now there is nothing left to do but to sit and wait until next Spring.  Patience indeed...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Stitching Sundays 10

Although Chrissie isn't writing a specific post for Stitching Sundays, I am continuing, as I am finding it a great way to actually start and finish projects.
 I took the majority advice over whether to add stitching to the leaves on the felt piece so here are a few close ups.  I like the way that the line of stitching has made the leaves look 'puffier'.
 I chose colours which would show up against the leaves, without being too dominant.
 I think it looks good.
 So here is the finished piece.  I am still undecided about what to do with it.  If it is going to be the centre panel of a cushion, I need to find a wool blanket I can cut up, or make some large pieces of felt.  I shall check our blanket situation first...
Although I haven't totally finished this project, I have got the next one ready.
I'm going to make winter bunting using the materials above, which I really like (particularly the two seed head patterns).  The two plain fabrics on the right are going to have a snowflake embroidered on them and then they will all be made into bunting with dark grey bias binding.  Once it is finished, I will then have seasonal bunting for the whole year.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


 Serendipity - (noun) The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.  (According to my dictionary, first used by Horace Walpole in 1754.) 
I didn't have a good start to my day yesterday.  I managed to break, no, actually, I didn't break anything.  What happened was that a posy bowl, rather precariously balanced on top of another posy bowl, (note to self: try not to precariously balance things in the cupboard.  Reply to self: yes, but you try fitting everything in!) decided to escape from the cupboard and fell, smashing pieces from a rather nice Cath Kidston plate given to me by an ex-pupil in my Reception class, many moons ago when I was teaching.  The posy bowl remained intact.  Being of a rather philosophical nature, I said "oh well, these things happen" and binned the plate.  Then off I went into town.  (Bear with me, this is coming to a point in a minute).  Last week, I had noticed a rather nice plate in a charity shop, I had picked it up and admired it and then put it back, deciding that it was pretty but 1) It was priced at £2.00 and 2) I didn't really need it.  (I bet you can see where this rambling tale is going.)
However, yesterday I was thinking about the plate and decided to call in and see if it was still there.  If is wasn't, I reasoned, then I wasn't meant to have it and would happily go on my way, (but I was really hoping it would still be waiting for me).  It was still there and even better, it was reduced to 50p!
 Right, I thought, I am obviously meant to have it, especially as I have just broken a plate this very morning.  So, here it is.  Johnson Brothers, probably 1950s/1960s or later.
 I just love this little doodly floral pattern and am seriously considering using it for some embroidery.  I especially like the little seed head things.  Also in the same reduced section, I noticed two blue and white china plates.  I do like a nice bit of blue and white pattern, so of course, these had to come home with me too.
 The only pattern marking is 'Mimosa', but no maker's mark and an internet search has revealed nothing about it so far.  Pretty, though isn't it?
Here's a close up of the floral edging (probably the Mimosa from the pattern name). So, serendipity strikes again and I am very happy to have replaced my one plate with three!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Stitching Sundays 9

 Stitching Sunday has rolled round again and I have a partly finished piece to show you.  It has turned out to be pretty much how I imagined (and designed it to be), even though I am still not sure what I'm going to do with it next.
 Here it is - I used a mixture of brown and khaki coloured embroidery thread for the 'vines' and used my favourite split stitch.  However, I could do with some advice now.  Do you think the leaf shapes should have some kind of veining, perhaps just one centre line, or would that be too much and should I leave well alone? (Any advice/ideas/opinions would be gratefully received.)  That's the difficult part, knowing when to stop!
On a totally unrelated topic, I have signed up to a great fun blog swap.  (There is a link to the details if you click on the button to the left on the sidebar).  I joined in with this swap last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The idea is that you fill a kitchen roll with lots of little goodies and wrap it up in a piece of Christmas material, so that the recipient gets the goodies and the material to enjoy using. 
The material I received last year inspired me to make some Christmas Bunting, and seasonal bunting has become rather a theme with me this year.  Winter bunting is being considered as I type, material has been gathered (perhaps including some snowflake embroidery!) and yet another project is starting to take shape!  You just never know where a blog swap might take you...