Sunday, 25 September 2022

The seasons change part one

Photo from
Things move on and change, it is part of life, although a part that can be difficult to adapt to.  Last Monday we saw Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral, which was a credit to all involved.  It is the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one.
Friday saw the Autumn equinox, and the garden is slowly but surely starting to change.
My cyclamen hederifolium plants are flowering which always says Autumn to me.  You may remember I have increased the collection with a couple of little plants that were growing in the patio, having been taken there by ants.
They brighten up the shady corner.
Hydrangeas are changing their petal colours too.  This is Paniculata Pinky Winky, which has been lovely this year. 
The Asters are also in flower.  They have been reclassified as Symphyotrichum but will remain Asters to me! Above is Mrs S T Wright...
...and here is September Ruby.
Finally for now, here is Clematis Wyevale, with its lovely blue flowers and slightly soap-like scent.  More to come in part two.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

I made a dress!

I had been looking for a nice loose summer dress, with a scoop neck, small sleeves and pockets and hadn't been able to find anything I liked.  Then I looked at patterns and the StyleArc Montana dress kept cropping up.  I took the plunge and sent for it.  I had seen on the reviews that the pattern was great and beginner friendly, but the instructions definitely weren't.  While I have made a few things to wear now and am not a total beginner, I am still not that confident, but thought I could manage this.  They were right about the instructions - they are confusing!  They suggest you make a double layered bodice but I wasn't going to do that, or add facings, but I didn't want to do that either, so in the end, I just made some bias binding and put that around the neck and sleeves.  I think it works fine.  I had to look up in-seam pockets and also how to gather properly, but I found lots of help online and in some of my sewing books.  
Here it is.  I used a dark blue with white polka dots cotton and made it over a few days.  Granted, it doesn't look its best on a hanger, but Chris said it looked nice and I felt it looked OK too. I have two more lots of material (bright pink with flowers and a blue/purple batik) so shall be making two more of these.  While it may not be quite warm enough to wear them at the moment (although if I put leggings underneath or boots and added a jumper or cardigan, I probably could wear them over the next couple of weeks), they will be ready for next summer!

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III

 At such a momentous time, with the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I felt I needed to mark the occasion.

The Queen has served faithfully and well for over seventy years.
Black and white photos from here
Photo from here
Now we have a change, and I have just watched the proclamation of a new King, something that has not been televised or seen outside the Privy Council before now, a moment of history.  King Charles III has taken on his duty as monarch, and has acted with dignity and composure, even while he is still mourning the loss of his mother. 
Photo from here
History is being made and it is exciting to be able to watch it. 

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Wanderlust 2022 - weeks twenty-nine to thirty-five - Watercolours

I have absolutely loved learning all about watercolours.  I had used them before but until last year's Wanderlust, I had never really felt confident with them.  We have used them with gesso, as in the page above.
We have used them with salt and isopropyl alcohol, to create watery effects.
On week 31, we used them through stencils and created collage papers, layering them on tissue paper.
Week 32 was all about abstract florals and using the paintbrush to do the work for you.  I was meant to stick to just one leaf shape but I got carried away making different leaves and I wanted them all in there!
This was an extra page using some of our practise florals and leaves.  I have since bought a book on abstract florals and shall work my way through it.
My best portrait so far, using just two colours of paint and layering the colours, letting the layers dry before continuing.  We drew the features with a black watercolour pencil, which couldn't be erased if we went wrong.  I was really thrilled with how this turned out.  
Week 34 was capturing shapes and colours on a walk, or in my case, in the garden.  This top flap includes photos from the garden and some leaf gel plate prints...
...and here's the page underneath, capturing the shapes of the bricks and various leaf and flower shapes.
Finally (and I am really sorry to have finished watercolours, although I will continue to explore them and what they can do) was this collage explosion of colourful flowers, using doodled flowers copied from books, random abstract rose-type flowers, lilac-type flowers and imaginary ones too, leaves and berries and a few stamped elements.  I found this process such a relaxing and joyful one.    

We now move on to inks and I am sure there will be lots more experimenting! 

I have signed up to Wanderlust 2023 as I felt I wanted to continue my artistic journey and with the way things are going, I may well need that creative boost even more. I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Goodbye Scruffy

Tuesday 30th was a really sad day - we had to say goodbye to our lovely cat companion, Scruffy.  He first came to us in 2011, when we were having a boiler installed, although he had been coming in and sleeping on the side in the kitchen before that and he chose to come and live with us.  The vet thought he was about two.  He had a skin condition which meant he needed steroid jabs every three months or so to control the itching.   He was such a character!

He liked to 'help' with whatever I was doing...checking a sewing pattern...
...testing a quilt I made him to see if it passed the comfort test...
...seeing if he could make a bed out of a cardboard box...
...waiting for someone to try to stroke his tummy - go one, I dare you!
He would usually close his eyes when you tried to take a photo...
...eyes closed...testing another box...
trying to trip us up on the stairs...
This is an unusual photo, with his eyes open, but he was quite young here...
...testing out the rug in front of the fire - I think it passed inspection.  

He would come and sit on my lap when I was on the computer working from home during the pandemic and he also enjoyed joining with my yogalates by sitting on the yoga mat and sometimes on my chest.  He used to sit on me, with his head on my chest and then  squiggle himself round to be on his back in my arms and lap. He liked sleeping on my pot of camassias out in the garden, or on the shed roof, surveying his kingdom.  Another job he took seriously was waiting for me outside the bathroom door and then walking me to the sitting room.  I will miss him wanting to sleep on the bed at night and then when he wanted me to get up and feed him, he came and sat right by my head. If that didn't work, he would bat my face with his paw!

He had an irregular heartbeat and we were warned that eventually it would catch up with him, but in the end, he stopped eating very much, and lost weight very quickly.  He clearly wasn't himself at all.  The vet checked him over and although his heart was irregular, it was OK, but she said there was a growth in his intestines which shouldn't have been there, so we had to make the difficult decision to ensure he wouldn't suffer any more.  

The house feels so empty without him and it's the first time we have come back to a house with no cat in it since we have lived here.  We are both just a little bit heartbroken.  Rest peacefully, Scruffety-man ( or Munchkin or Darly Boy).  We love you x.

Monday, 29 August 2022

More resilience in the garden I forgot about...

In my round up off plants which have survived well during the summer, I totally forgot to mention these.  They are Japanese anemone Bressingham Glow and just behind you can see the lovely variegated jasmine, Jasminium officinale Argentovariegatum/Variegatum. This plant rarely gets a mention but has been a stalwart of the border for many years and flowered beautifully this year.
These plants got no extra water at all and are in a sunny, south facing, dry raised border.
A very colourful combination to enjoy!

Monday, 22 August 2022

Resilience in the garden

This summer has certainly thrown some interesting weather our way, with drought conditions and extreme temperatures (for the UK) up to 40 degrees centigrade.  I have been reviewing the garden to see what has shown resilience.  Above is Clematis heracleifolia New Love which is in a south facing border and which had no extra water.  It is shaded by a jasmine and winter flowering honeysuckle and it is flowering away happily. 
This aster novae-angliae September Ruby - is also doing well, albeit flowering earlier than usual.
Rose Ferdinand Pichard is having a second flush of flowers.
Buddleia has done well, but it is a survivor.
What surprised me was the hibiscus.  Both have done very well indeed - this is the smaller triple coloured one I have. It is only young and I think has only been in the border for two years.  It has has one bottle of water stuck next to it when it got really hot. Above is the pink flower...
...and here is the white/pink.
Here is hibiscus syriacus Oiseau blue, still in flower and having had no extra water. 
The miscanthus grasses are a little shorter than usual, but have done well.
This salvia 'Nachtvlinder' has also done well and has been flowering for a couple of months now.
Finally, this fuchsia, Thamar, which is in a pot but which has been reliably perennial for quite a few years. It has had an occasional watering, but hasn't had a lot of care lavished on it; however, it has rewarded me with these pretty flowers.
So, what have I learnt?  Shrubs have managed well.  They have longer roots so that they can reach moisture further down in the soil.  Having just had to dig out a very unhappy rose which had been in the border for twenty years or so, I can attest to the power of the roots.  I would expect the grasses to manage well and Buddleia seems to be one of the toughest plants I know.  
Re-evaluating my garden will be ongoing - removing some of the plants which didn't cope well and replacing them with tougher ones. I have a feeling that other people will be doing this too.  Climate change is making its presence known and we will all have to adapt.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Making my own paper

I recently treated myself to a paper making kit (from Stamps Away/CleverCut here in the UK here.)  I used scraps of copy paper from various printing projects and cut them down to make very small squares.  I added warm water to the scraps and mixed them up to create a pulp. The kit has a hand-held paddle to which you attach a piece of netting with clips. You then pour the watery paper pulp over it (making sure it is over a bowl or the sink) and then flip it onto some woollen material and remove the clips. You press the water out using a sponge, then carefully remove the paper from the netting and let it dry.  It is certainly easier than having a netting in a frame which you dip into a vat of paper pulp.  The paper has come out quite thick in places, but I like the rustic effect!  Above was one of my first attempts.   

I have tried again, incorporating dried hydrangea flowers and gilding flakes.  I was pleased with this one.
Then I added gilding flakes and words which I had cut out of a book page.  This one is my favourite so far.  
I have used some of the paper which I inked up and added some gilding polish to make an anniversary card for my sister and brother-in-law.  The texture comes through beautifully.  I am looking forward to more experiments using junk envelopes etc.  Watch this space...