Tuesday 31 January 2017

Finally making felt again

I have been finally getting round to making felt again and it is lovely!  I had forgotten how much I enjoy it.  It takes me two hours to make two pieces but I really enjoy creating the blends and deciding what colours I need to use.  I have reserved a table at a craft fair in November, so that has given me the push I need to start making again.  In the whole of last year, I think I made two pieces in total, so I am doing much better this year.  The stripy pieces are destined for the craft fair, but you'll have to wait until then to see what I make them into.  I am also going to make some other coloured pieces - pink and a pastel green and whatever else takes my fancy.
I now need to replenish my stock of white wool for the base pieces...it's a good job I have just been paid!

Sunday 22 January 2017

Cheerful things

 In a rather dull and grey winter, it is always cheering to see signs of growth and the promise of Spring.  While winter can be lovely when it gives blue skies and wintry sunshine, the dull days can seem very long.  I was in the garden and noticed the snowdrops starting to poke their heads up. It won't be long before they are in flower.
 Another little clump in the garden.
 A very welcome splash of yellow is provided by winter flowering jasmine, with its straggly stems.  The flowers do make up for its untidy habit.
I also found the noses of one of my patio peonies (I think this one is 'Athens') with the promise of beautiful flowers in late Spring/Early Summer.  This is a really encouraging sight.
I have also just bought a rhododendron 'Tinkerbird' which is meant to be happy in a pot as it is a dwarf variety.  It is supposed to be very hardy, having been bred in Scotland and is also said to have a jasmine scent in May.  My plant is looking healthy and has lots of buds.  I will let you know how I get on with it.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Latest Reading

My latest reading has been a little eclectic, but then that seems to be par for the course.  Before Christmas I started on a couple of Miss Marple books on my Kindle - Nemesis and Sleeping Murder - partly because the Joan Hickson adaptations were being shown, so I wanted to read the originals and because those are my favourites so far. Joan Hickson was perfect casting for Miss Marple, right down to her twinkling eyes!  Since Christmas, I have continued with The Murder at the Vicarage, The Thirteen Problems, The Body in the Library, The Moving Finger and A Murder is Announced.  Although I had some inklings about who the murderer might be each time, (I was usually wrong) Mrs Christie managed to bamboozle me and I missed lots of clues. On my Kindle at the moment is Pride and Prejudice.
However, I have also got 'real' books which I have either started or am going to.  I usually have a few on the go at any one time.
So, in the photo, there is Nella Last's War (the Mass Observation Exercise diary kept by Nella Last and which Victoria Wood dramatised in 'Housewife, 49').  This brings home the way life had to go on during the Second World War, with rationing and managing on very little.
There is also The Invisible Woman which I was inspired to read following a film of the same name which I watched last year.  This is the story of Ellen Ternan and her family; she was involved with Charles Dickens but was 'invisible' to society.  So far, it is fascinating and presents an interesting picture of the lives of Victorian actresses and how they were thought of/treated.
('To Walk Invisible' photo from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/)
The Brontes is a very good biography of the whole family which I bought back in 1995 and have read several times.  I watched 'To Walk Invisible' over Christmas which I really enjoyed and this made me want to read the biography again. (It is still available on iplayer for the next thirteen days to watch if you are in the UK).  'To Walk Invisible' was a dramatisation of the adult lives of the Brontes, following Branwell's downfall and the sisters' fame beginning to spread.  It was beautifully acted and set and Haworth looked just as I imagined it should.
Finally for now, there is The Mitford Girls which Mum bought me for Christmas.  I haven't started it yet but have looked at the photos.  With their connections, it should prove to be a fascinating story.

Thursday 5 January 2017

A Frosty (but magical) Start

It has been quite frosty recently and some of the plants in the garden looked quite photogenic with a sprinkling of sparkle.  Above is a rose.
 The flower heads of an aster looked as though they had been dusted with icing sugar.
The two Blueberries, Blue Pearl, are hanging on to their leaves.
 A miscanthus looked ethereal with its flowers highlighted.
I have mislaid the label for this one, so am not sure which it is (Ferner Osten? Kleine Fontane?), but it stands beautifully upright.
 Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle looks lovely most of the time...
...in winter, the flower heads show lovely variations in tones of sepia...
...and look almost magical with the frost on them.

Sunday 1 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

(Photos taken of the London fireworks last night/this morning from the TV - I was pleased with how they came out as it almost looks like I was there!)
As has become somewhat traditional for me, today is the day I review my aims for 2016 and decide on aims for 2017.

  • Make more felt - I made a grand total of two new pieces, one of which is not finished.  My other craft activities took over, including, of course, paper crafting.  So, not great progress by any means.  However, I have reserved a table at a craft event in November 2017, so that should give me the impetus I need to get making again.
  • Read interesting books - Definite success here.  I read 84 books in 2016, many old friends which I enjoyed re-reading.  There were also some new ones including: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey; The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier; several Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie (and three more waiting on my Kindle); several books containing accounts of children's past lives and the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I shall do my best to keep the eclectic mix going during 2017.
  • Be Creative - I can safely say that I have continued my creative journey with kumihimo necklaces, stamping onto polymer clay, paper crafting (and making some Christmas cards).  I am hoping to use some of my Blockwallah stamps in lino printing, but felting has to come high on the list (see the first bullet point).
  • Get rid of/donate things I do not want or need - I made a tiny bit of progress with this one, but if I had a report, it would be 'must try harder'.  I have far too much stuff and must really sort myself out.  Another aim for 2017.
No new aims again, as the ones above still stand for 2017, so lots for me to go at there.
Happy New Year to you all and I hope it is a healthy, prosperous and peaceful one.