Tuesday 29 April 2014


I couldn't resist a round up of some of the tulips which have been brightening up the garden.  They are especially bright, so sunglasses may be in order!  Above is Black Parrot (which was dried and replanted from last year and has done really well), looking amazingly velvety and luscious.
This was a very zingy combination of colours at the front of the house...
 ...which contrasted with the rather refined and elegant pinky-purple of this one (these were a mixture of Triumph and Single Early).
Here's the tub at the front of the house, bringing us a welcome bit of colour as we go in and out.

This fringed tulip appeared in the border and was a surprise.  I remember a pink fringed tulip appearing for a few years when we first moved in, but then it seemed to disappear.  I know I haven't planted any fringed ones, so is this the original one putting in a re-appearance?  If so, it is very welcome!

 Here are the new Ballerina, shining out against the brick wall and the foliage.
 Tulip 'Red Shine' really do shine and are beautiful.
 When the sun shines, Ballerina loves it!  There is another tub of Single Late tulips to the left, so there are still a few more tulips to enjoy.
 Red Shine at the front, Ballerina at the back - I love them! (I think this is probably obvious).
The surprise pink fringed tulip looking almost fluorescently fuchsia pink.  I think more tulips will be required next year (if I can manage to squeeze more tubs in!).  I think this may be starting to be an obsession...

Sunday 27 April 2014

Black Sheep: the darker side of felt - exhibition

This morning, Chris and I headed to the National Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford, to see an exhibition devoted to 3D felt.  (Sleaford is rather an out of the way place for a National centre of anything and I do wonder why it was chosen.  The building itself is rather like Dr Who's Tardis, but in reverse - it looks much bigger on the outside!)
I asked whether I could take photos and was told I could, so, I wonder if you would like to join me at the exhibition?  You would? Excellent!
Before entering the gallery, there was a display of different fibres which can be used in felting from the obvious wool to alpaca and yak and moving on to plant fibres such as bamboo and corn fibre.
There was also a display of equipment needed for wet felting and needle felting too.
Opposite, there was an exhibition of small 3D pieces made by members of the International Feltmakers Association.

So, into the gallery (the title wasn't actually pink; for some reason this is the colour my camera thought it was.  Perhaps it was to do with the lighting?)
The first things we saw were these felted bowls by Gladys Paulus.  The felt was beautifully smooth and thick and it was difficult to believe these weren't ceramic, but were wool.
Two smaller ones made some interesting shadows.
 These pieces must have been inspired by sea creatures and had I read the information about the artist, no doubt I would have discovered more.  They are by Marjolein Dallinga.
 This piece took up the whole wall - hand dyed and hand felted.
 Here's a close up of the biggest sea urchin shape.
More of Marjolein Dallinga's work.
Here's a view of the gallery space.  The animal head pieces are by Barbara Keal and we both thought that they would be amazing theatrical costumes.  A Midsummer Night's Dream, anyone?
 The shadow from this deer head piece fascinated me almost as much as the actual felt.
At first, I was amused by Stephanie Metz's Teddy Bear skulls.  There was another one in the foyer which visitors were allowed to touch and the felt was absolutely solid. Then I though they were slightly macabre, being skulls of teddy bears, which don't actually have skulls. Finally, I thought that the artist must have had to study the anatomy of bears as well as the anatomy of the particular teddies she chose to create; a lot of work had gone into their creation, so I was very impressed.  That was one thing I did think as I walked round - the amount of time and physical effort needed to create these pieces must have been phenomenal (I know how long it takes and how much effort is needed to make a small piece of 2D felt!).
 We loved these costumes by Horst Couture.  Again, they would really lend themselves to theatrical performances. The red one was particularly striking.
There was also a green one which reminded me of seaweed and a yellow one called 'Goldenrod'.  All in all, we thought it was definitely worth seeing the exhibition as the artists showed the infinite versatility and variety of 3D felted pieces. 
I believe the exhibition may be moving to a number of UK venues, so if it is something that interests you, I would recommend a visit. There is a blog here although no other venues are mentioned when I looked today. There is information about all the artists and their work there too.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Easter eggs

I hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend.  We stayed at home but really enjoyed having an extra couple of days.  I made some Easter decorations, based on an idea I saw on Sew for Soul Blog, although I used tissue paper painted with acrylic as my base layer.
It was a little fiddly to cut the images out of the paper napkins, but I am pleased with the way they turned out.  I also decorated some others with pastel dots and tissue paper stars, but they aren't quite finished yet. The lilac in the top picture had to be cut from the tree as it was a wayward branch which threatened to hit us every time we went near it, but it is scenting the room nicely and adds a bit more Spring to the Easter decorations.
Here's the real thing, looking beautiful against the blue sky we had over the weekend.,
Lilac is not the most beautiful of trees for most of the year, but then it really does earn its place for three glorious weeks in Spring.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Tulipmania strikes again!

I may have been a rather late convert to the joys of growing tulips, but I am growing more each year and loving them.  I have got a couple of mixes and a couple of named varieties and the pleasure they are giving me as they unfurl a little more every day, is immense.  I have put one small tub of Single Early and Triumph mix outside the front door and above is one of the lovely flowers at the moment.
 The way the green flows into the pink is beautiful.
 There are quite a few fiery colours too (all jumbled together in the same pot, which shouldn't really work, but I think it does).
 How fabulous is this mix of red and yellow?  It almost doesn't look real.
 In tubs in the back garden, I have more mixes, featuring this beautiful pinky-red.
 Then, of course, there are my favourites, Ballerina, dried and saved from last year. I love the way the sun shines through the petals making the colour sing out.
Orange is not one of my favourite colours, but in tulips, I think it is wonderful.
The tulips enjoy the sun as much as we do and the fragrance from Ballerina is delicious when the flowers open.  I am sure there will be more tulip photos when some of the others which I planted this year are flowering.  A bright and beautiful splash of colour to celebrate Spring and Easter.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Skirt sew-along - progress of a sort...

 Hmm, yes, well, not that much progress to report so far on my skirt.  However, I have finally received the pattern, so have tried to make a start.
I have been having a few challenges.  One is that the pattern is printed on the flimsiest of flimsy tissue paper which seems to tear if it is even looked at.  No problem, I thought, I'll just trace off the size I need onto greaseproof paper which will last much longer and be fine for a few skirts.  This created the next challenge.  What size would I need?  Now, the reason I am attempting to make a skirt is because I cannot find a skirt that fits without some alteration around the waist.  Without going into too many details, I have a small waist compared to my hips and am a 'pear' shape.  So, I decided that if I made it to fit my hips, I can increase the darts to fit my waist. (Are you still with me or have I sent you to sleep?!)  However, I am not exactly sure how true to size the pattern actually sews up.  What all this means is that I am going to plump for a larger size to fit my hips and as I am making this in calico first, as a practise run,  I can adjust it for the denim version (if I ever get to that point!) Well, that's the theory.  So, I am going to adjust the greaseproof pattern now and then hopefully I should be at the cutting out stage (Fingers crossed!).  I do seem to be making the seemingly simplest of projects into a major undertaking...

Thursday 10 April 2014

A little Spring Garden Round up

 The title made me smile - an image of me dressed as a cowgirl in stetson and with a lasso sprang into mind!  Really, this post is an excuse to look at some of the plants flowering in my little garden at the moment.  First is Magnolia Stellata with its intricate centre and star like flowers.
 The outside of the flowers have the subtlest delicate pink shading.
 Cheerful pale yellows courtesy of primroses and primrose/cowslip cross.
 Beautiful pea-like flowers of lathyrus vernus ( I finally got round to planting these into larger pots and they have rewarded me by flowering really well).
 The stately flowers of Magnolia Susan.
 Last year's Ballerina tulips - a lot earlier than the new ones I planted last autumn and giving a burst of fiery orange.
 Here they all are (apologies for the less than beautiful bubble wrap around the pots - a necessary evil).
 Just because there's blue sky... a view up through the Magnolia...
...and a last look at the lovely flowers which have a delicate lemony scent in the sun.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Sew-along and Spring flower material

I found Lazy Daisy Jones' lovely blog, where, most fortuitously, a sew-along is taking place to make a simple A line skirt.  Now, I have been saying for ages how I would love to be able to make a skirt which fits me (as I don't have much luck in buying clothes that fit me, then I have to alter them and don't necessarily know what I am doing). I even bought some denim as a positive start to making my own skirt and then I stopped.  I haven't attempted making clothes before (well, I did make some simple elasticated waist skirts many years ago). So, it could be said that the sew-along is perfect timing.
 My progress has been somewhat slow so far though.  I have got the denim and also some calico (as I am going to make it in calico first to try to get the hang of darts and zips).  I do need to wash the material, so that's a job for tomorrow.  I have ordered the pattern (McCalls 3341) and it has been dispatched, but sadly has yet to appear (boo!).  I have also looked at the first sew-along tutorial which has been posted.  I hope to have actually received my pattern by next week.
However, when buying zips at our local market stall, I happened to call in at the material stall and fell head over heels for this material! I don't know what it is called, but I do know that it came from Holland.
 Spring, happiness, flowers, colour - how could I not love it? Unfortunately, I could only afford half a metre at the time, but at least I have got it.  I would love to use it for decoration - perhaps a pocket on a skirt?

In the meantime, I decided to use it to add some oomph to my Spring Bunting which I made last year but had not been really happy with some of the fabric choices. Much better now!
This afternoon, I tried to make similar coloured flowers in polymer clay, to make into a necklace.  I was pleased with how they turned out, even though I didn't have cutters exactly the same shape.
Hopefully next week, I'll be able to say that I have cut the pieces of my skirt out and taken a deep breath before starting to construct!