Tuesday 28 January 2014

...and now for something completely different...

No, I'm not going to be playing the organ with nothing on (ugh, what a horrible thought) or doing silly walks, or even dressing up and hitting people with a fish (they were the only Monty Python references I could come up with in a short space of time)! However, this blog post is not really part of my usual topics (gardening, sewing, reading, baking, felt making, jewellery making etc.)  A weekend or so ago, Chris and I did something completely different and headed out to the Lincoln Observatory (seen in the photo above) as the Lincoln Astronomical Society (the photo is from their website) were hosting a Stargazing Live event and the observatory was open.  It was a little cloudy, but we managed to see some 'wonderful things' (Howard Carter's comment on peering into Tutankhamun's tomb for the first time).
 Above is a close-ish view of Jupiter.  Now, we didn't see it quite that well, but we did see the stripes (storms, I am reliably informed) and it was amazing.  To the naked eye, it just looked like a shining star...
 We also saw Orion's Nebula, which can be seen as a clump of stars in the sword formation on Orion's belt.  Using the telescope, you could see it was much more than that.
Apparently, this is what it looks like if you could get that close!  These pictures are all courtesy of Wikipedia and were taken by various probes.  It did make me feel very small and unimportant in the great scheme of things and gave me a greater respect for all the planets and stars which are out there and which we just take for granted.  So, a very interesting and different way to spend an hour on a Saturday evening.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Stitching Sundays 21

Stitching Sundays again and I have spent another happy few hours stitching away, trying to complete my 'magnum opus' as this is what it has turned out to be!  When I eventually started the embroidery on this piece of felt, I didn't feel all that confident of my skills but I decided to just give it a go, because I could always unpick what went wrong.  I did have to unpick here and there, but not nearly as much as I thought.
 So, all the layers are finally in place - foreground, mid ground and background, even though I actually worked them the other way round.
 Here's another cropped image, showing the layers.
 More close ups - can you tell that I am just a little bit pleased with the end result?
 Last close up - just another view.
To remind you, this is how it was when I started stitching.  The background was interesting, but it needed the stitching to bring it to life.  Right, enough prevaricating!
Here is the finished piece, in all its glory.  It is the most complicated piece of embroidery I have attempted, and it has taken me eight Stitching Sundays to complete, but I am so pleased with how it looks.
I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has left such lovely comments week by week, as your support really spurred me on to get it finished.
My next project?  Something little and quick and not too taxing - felt snowflake decorations, I think.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Projects galore!

 My blog seems to have been rather embroidery-biased over the last few weeks, so I thought I would share a few bits and pieces I made for Christmas.  Above is a collage (created courtesy of Picmonkey) showing some of the jewellery and decorations I made for various friends and colleagues.  I made some polymer clay decorations and adapted the gemstones, colours and sentiments to suit the recipient.  I think they were liked!  The macrame bracelets were for presents too, as was the memory wire one. I have now purchased lots of little gemstone chips and nuggets to make lots more memory wire bracelets.
My other main project was another rabbit, as my friend who saw my originals asked how much one would be, so I suggested making her one for Christmas.  (They take me a long time to make, with many trials, tribulations and frustrations along the way, so if I charged for them, the cost would be prohibitive).  She asked for a Spring colouring for her rabbit, so off I went.  She ended up being a bit like a daffodil and the ear material was from the puffed sleeve dress which started this whole rabbit thing.
 Before I gave her to her new owner, I did a little photo shoot with my original rabbits...they looked rather aloof and uninterested, I thought.
All three together for the last time.  The yellow rabbit's new owner seemed very pleased and had decided to call her 'Martha' which does suit her (I haven't even got round to naming mine yet - 'the pink one' and 'the blue one' is as far as I have got.)

Monday 20 January 2014

Stitching Sundays 20 (really, it's Monday - oops!)

Yes, it's Monday again and I'm late with my Stitching Sunday post.  I have had a very productive stitching day and my embroidery is really taking shape now.
I have been adding lots of grasses all over the foreground and mid ground.  Initially, there was a bit of a line at the bottom of the first layer of grasses I sewed, unintentional, but there all the same, so I tried to alter the way the grasses overlapped across the different layers and am much happier with the effect now.
In the close up, you can see the way I am trying to overlap the grasses in order to have a more naturalistic look.
This is a section cut through, giving an idea of the background, mid ground and foreground working together.  I still have a little more to do, I think, but now the challenge will be to know when it is finished and stop...

Sunday 12 January 2014

Stitching Sundays 19

 Here we are again, another Stitching Sunday and Chrissie, who started this, is back, so I shall be linking in.
 I had a very serendipitous trip to the local charity shop yesterday as I found these embroidery cottons there, just begging me to take them home and use them in a project.  I knew just the thing (with the exception of the purple/pink skeins) as the colours would be perfect for the grasses in my project.
Here's the progress for this week - you probably can't see it, so here's a close up...
I have started adding the grass, but this is just the start as I am intending to have loads in greens, browns, beiges, straw colour all over the foreground and middle too.  I just need to keep going...

Thursday 9 January 2014

A lovely trip to Uppingham

In case you are wracking your brains and just can't quite place it, Uppingham is a small town in Rutland, which is the smallest county in England.  We visited last Saturday as my best friend, Maria, who now lives in Canada, was over here visiting family, so we met up with her and had a little wander round.  I have many memories of Uppingham as it was the nearest town to us when I was little and mum did most of her shopping there.  Nowadays, it has quite a smart and upmarket feel to it - even the charity shops have their own coffee shops! Above shows the market square, with a wonderful traditional ironmonger's shop on the corner, which has an old plough above the door.
 The main street, snaking off into the distance.
Here's a close up of the lovely stained glass at the ironmonger's shop.
 Here is Maria, doing a bit of window shopping.  This shop also has many memories as it was the sweet shop when I was little and was painted pale blue, I think.  Inside, the walls were lined with shelves on which were bottles, jars and boxes full of the most tempting things.  My favourites were fruit salads, white chocolate mice and chewing nuts, while my sisters liked flying saucers, sherbet fountains, shrimps and floral gems.
 Another shop which holds many memories was Baines the bakers.  We would often stop there after school and Mum would buy a white loaf, which we three children would nibble on the way home.  By the time we arrived home, there would be some holes in the sides of the loaf as if little mice had been at it!  We used to buy shop made fancy cakes on very special occasions and I think there were six in the box, all with delicious icing and little flower decorations on them...
Well, we had to buy something to remind us of our trip, so while Maria bought some Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgwater textiles, we saw these little decorations (which were half price), so they came home with us and were on the Christmas tree for two days, before being packed away for next Christmas.  When we get them out next year, we'll be reminded of a lovely day spent with a good friend in a pretty market town.

Monday 6 January 2014

Stitching Sundays 18

Yes, time has run away with me again and it isn't Sunday, it's Monday!  Still, better late than never to post my progress so far.  I did spend a fair proportion of the day embroidering yesterday and I really enjoyed the luxury of being able to do that.  As you can see, I have been working on the foreground and adding in some grasses as well as dandelion-type seed heads and other little bits and pieces.
 The dandelion-type seed heads caused me a fair bit of frustration because, try as I might, I just couldn't get them to look how I wanted them to.  I tried seed stitches and then star stitch, which just looked like a star, rather than a plant (the clue is in the name, Ellie!)  So, I decided to make the seed heads out of french knots instead and I am happier with these, even if they don't have the fluffiness of a real dandelion. They have become a generic seed head, rather than anything identifiable.
 I also added in a couple of things at the front, again making use of french knots.
I am pleased with the feathery grasses as I just stitched in an informal way, with no real prior practising.  I think it is all coming together now.  The next thing will be to add in lots of blades of grass in different colours, to make the plants look as though they are growing through something.  I think the end may be in sight, at long last. (I have other projects that I really would like to start; the most pressing being winter decorations for the seasonal tree!)

Thursday 2 January 2014

Happy New Year - Here's to 2014

Happy New Year (a bit belatedly)!  Normally on my first post of a new year, I look back over the things I said I wanted to do last year and review how I got on.  However, I have realised that this is doomed to failure, as I never seem to complete what I intend to.  So, this year, I'm going to keep it simple.  I would like to:
Make more felt
Keep reading interesting books (total last year 62)
Keep being creative 
Get rid of/donate to charity things which I no longer want or need.
Hopefully, these are things I have some chance of achieving!