Hurrah for spring at last! I'm back in my studio and everything is working, including me! Colour everywhere outdoors and the bleating of lambs means that nature is moving us all forwards into a lovely new creative place...
A long overdue commissioned piece of textile art is finally underway. After looking at the fabrics for a few weeks I boldly cut a backing fabric to size and launched in with cutting the colours...not sure where it was going but that's often the best way. Playing with the fabrics always leads me somewhere...
stripes are feeling like the right thing, and somehow a colourway emerges, with pops of colour and a sense of a journey across the piece. The only request was for a colourful piece so I have the freedom to allow it to evolve...
Adding in some bling with gold makes everything even more vibrant...
and how about some textured orange circles cut from a piece of crochet?
so time to be brave again and get stitching...one by one I start to cover each strip with stitch, to hold it in place, but also alter the surface. I think I may well do 2 or 3 colours on each stripe, mingling and adding a depth of colour and texture. But for now it's basically getting everything in its place...
and always some delicious scraps and threads left over for a future embellishing project...
let's see what happens shall we...
meantime enjoy the new light nights and delicious longer days...
I am sure, all the signs are there, and we even had a week of surprise hot temperatures a few weeks ago. It's bright and cold today as I write, but there are signs of spring everywhere, with cheerful flowers and lambs in the fields. Everything and everyone is feeling the change in energy.
All manner of creatures are coming out into the warmth of the sun...here was a whole bank of ladybirds sunning themselves!
I am so grateful that at last, after 3 slow waiting months, the heat pump for my studio has been repaired and I have proper all round warmth again! Underfloor heating is so efficient - I have been using electric heaters and a coat in the meantime, but it's not really conducive to full on creativity! Hence I mostly did sorting and clearing ...but now, I can get back in properly. Which is just as well as I have lots to get done!
And as I was waiting, I finally got round to sending off my camera to be cleaned, it had smudgy marks inside which didn't do a lot for my photos...so I am very pleased that I now have it beautifully sorted and I get back to some relaxing photography. I love just going out and about with it on my daily walk, or snapping away at arty bits and bobs in my studio...I think my first creative love was photography, and I love how digital gives me such instant results.
Our next Fabricate exhibition at Florence Arts Centre, near Egremont here in Cumbria, is 28th June - 10th August, with a Meet the Makers Day on 30th June. The exhibition is called Sewing the Seeds, inspired by an environmental project on the West Coast of Cumbria about Pollinators, and which also illustrates what our group is about: sowing seeds of support for each other, sharing ideas and materials and inspiring others to get creative too...
My first step was to choose a lovely brand new sketchbook and get painting and printing, I find if you cover your blank pages with colour, then ideas can flow more easily...
and I always enjoy making a cover to suit...this one has some delicious narrow corrugated cardboard and some painted lace, and of course, it has to have stitch!
I find early morning lying in bed brings lots of ideas, then if I have my sketchbook handy in the house I can just scribble them down...lots of words, and even if this is not the direction the work ends up going in, it is a starting point for the unravelling to begin...
I can be relaxed if I have something to look at and be inspired by, it's a kind of distraction for my mind and prevents fear from taking hold! I then begin with some fabric play, getting out boxes of colours, seeing what feels right to work with, and cutting and stitching and sampling...then it starts to get exciting!
Fabricate is also going have a stand at the Textravaganza Fair 8th and 9th June at Rheged, near Penrith in Cumbria. Covering a wide range of textile disciplines from embroidery and mixed media to weaving and felting, this willbe a unique opportunity to meet textile artists from across the North, buy their work, discover the workshops they run, and chat about the materials and techniques they use.
AND you will be able to see the work of national and international textile artists in Thread: Contemporary Textiles the exhibition which will be running in The Gallery at Rheged from 3rd May - 30th June.
Rheged also hosts the Knit and Stitch show on 4th and 5th May...I've just booked my tickets so I may see you there!
I'm off to get stitching, tho' the garden is also rather tempting!
Here we are, at the start of a brand new month of March, spring is galloping in (with 3 days of summer to start the ball rolling!) and probably like yourself, I am not quite sure where the last month or three have gone! I have been keeping a low profile as winter has rolled round, sorting out the house a bit, and keeping up with some gentle drawing, sketching and painting artwork, with a little handstitching for a change.
I think it has been time for a little retreat, time to rest and just take stock of life. Learning to go slower and do less (haha!) which has to be a good thing! More time for looking and appreciating...
My studio has been without heating for a month or so while I awaited the repair of the heating system, but I have had a REALLY REALLY BIG sort out of all my fabrics while I waited for it to be fixed. This was long overdue and I have sent about 10 bags of fabrics for recycling...and it feels great! I went down there each day, took down a colour of fabrics to sort, and slowly but surely it has become clearer and more organised, ready for my own work to start, and creating more space for running my workshops.
So I've kicked off with work for our Fabricate exhibition in June, feeling my way in with some sketchbook playtime...here goes with 2019! And here goes with my new look workshops...please check out details on my website if you fancy some fabric fun!
and here's to spring following winter really soon...
well heavens to Betsy, it's nearly that time again! Mr Phil clears out his lovely willow and six artists take over the space to create a fab pop up gallery and Christmas extravaganza...we invite you to Make Christmas Easy! And this year we have a suprise guest maker to add to the loveliness! SO put it in your diary for Fri 30th November, Sat 1st and Sun 2nd December 11am - 5pm at Deanscales Village, near Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0SP ...hope to see you there!
Here's a before...
and an after...
So for the last 6 weeks or so I have been slowly making and even labelling and pricing - usually I do this in about a week and always need another week to get it all done! But, as my word for this year is SLOW...slow it has been. Here's a taste of of the lovely colourful hearts I have been making, lots of upcycled fabrics layered and emebroidered...a real labour of love but so worth it for the results.
First I get all my boxes of fabrics out with the richest colours and get cutting and choosing...
then out come all my shiny sparkly threads....
then I pin the fabrics and stitch the fabrics quickly to hold them in place...quite a job as they do like to wiggle about!
then it's just lots and lots of free maching stitching, in lots of lovely colours to create a rich luxurious surface...
pin on a heart shaped pattern and stitch round, stuff and stitch up the gap...easy peasy!
and ta da, packed, labelled, priced and ready to go...
AND now to my other news...drum roll please...I have re-opened my Etsy shop!! I have spent many months filling the shelves of my lovely shop with beautiful handmade brooches, handbags, teacosies and artwork, and some printed items such as notebooks and mugs, just in time for some handmade Christmas shopping...do take a look: My Shop
so it's back to my studio to finish off all the last bits and bobs, get everything labelled, packed and priced...and on Wednesday we all get together for the big setting up...now where did I put the Take Six tinsel?
so sorry I haven't been here for a while....central heating now in and TOTALLY blissful!! But it has taken many weeks to get the house back to some kind of order, and in the meantime I have a new computer as my old one was leaked on and that took several weeks to sort out too...so now we arenearly in winter, so how lovely to have a reminder of sunny summer days...my holiday part 2!
You may remember we took a ferry across to Colonsay in the Hebrides for a week of blissful nothingness!
Big skies and sunshine, lunch outdoors and a view across to Oronsay to lose yourself in...therapy indeed!
most of the islands have wonderful museums marking their history, and Colonsay was no exception, a small heritage centre in the old church was full of fascinating items and stories, including a wonderful tinytelephone exchange!
we had such a beautiful last day on the island, suddenly it was hot and sunny...so of course my daughter went for a swim...and with a seal nearby in the water with her (at a safe distance so as not to disturb)...how magical was that!
we got off the ferry around 9 pm and a short drive took us up a hill just on the outskirts of Oban, into the unknown...to our glamping experience: a wonderful simple shed with THE most comfortable bed and magnificent compost toilet! We were met by Shaun the owner, a really interesting guy, a former forester, now building various sheds/chalets on his hill to let out and give people a taste of the outdoors. We arrived to a candle lit wooden shack and settled down to get some sleep. We awoke to another glorious morning...and breakfast outdoors in the sunshine. You could even have an outdoor shower if you felt brave enough!
The whole holiday left me feeling calm and relaxed and with a strong desire to simplify my life even more...and this part was especially thought provoking, as there were no mod cons, and yet there was just about everything you might need.
And...I had a hot tip from the lovely lady in 'Christine's Craft Shed' on Colonsay...to visit feltmaker Liz Gaffney of heartfeltbyliz ...seeing as we were to drive almost right past Dalmally Railway Station on our way south from Oban we just had to call in! It was a glorious sunny day, I had a lovely chat with LIz whoo is a talented artist
, saw all her beautiful inspiring work and the fantastic station that is her home and studio. You can even stay there as she does Air B and B, and enjoy a feltmaking workshop too...heaven indeed!
I could have stayed much, much longer, but travelling home was the name of the game now...so we reluctantly left textile gorgeousness and the highlands and islands, back to beautiful Cumbria.I came home with treasures of many kinds, relaxed and inspired!
And now we are up to date, and starting afresh, as we head into November. Busy in my studio with lots of making for Christmas...yes the festive season is nearly upon us and our annual pop up gallery is at the end of the month!!
so without more ado, I'll love you and leave you and get back to my stitching!
back home from our holidays, and there is a noticeable silence, in the outhouses and the skies, a deafening silence, no twittering and zipping in and out...the swallows have gone. Undercover of darkness they have disappeared. They were here, and now they are not, they are off, winging their long journey across vast oceans and land masses. We who remain behind attached firmly to the earth can only admire...and look forward to their return next year.
We had a wonderful relaxing week on Colonsay, in the Inner Hebrides. It started with a 2 hour ferry journey...which takes you out to sea and away from everything!
And there's always interesting things to photograph at Oban harbour and on the ferry...
A small wild island, single track road going round, with a general shop (selling everything you need!), a brewery, bookshop, gallery, cafe, craft shed, and hotel, little phone signal or wifi,and just the freedom to roam inland or by the sea, birdwatching, picnics, rain or sun, and a lovely cottage to stay in, it was bliss! I took some fabrics to hand stitch and a knitting kit to make a bag to felt, we bought a bag of coal to make the evening's cosy...and it was just heavenly!
Lots of inspiration, textures, shapes and colour. Simple flowers, rocks and seaweed, sheep and birds, some rusty things and lots of shells and other sea treasures. We saw seals and a golden eagle!
Too many photos as usual...so how about Part 2 next time...
have a fun week...we're having central heating (hurrah!) put in so being in my studio is my sanity keeper!
High summer and low summer, we've had it all this year, from baking Grecian style hot hot hot to cool rainy soft gentle Cumbrian days. And now as the year tilts down towards autumn, textures and colours abound, wherever your eye alights.
We've had a pretty strange summer here, with so much change within and without. The village has seen the demolition of a beautiful old barn to make way for new houses, sad for the swifts and owls, but they are going to put up nesting boxes for them, and the stone has been recycled. It is modern life meeting the old ways, and at least there is greater awareness now of wild life. Perhaps new houses will bring new life into the place too. One has to be positive when reality is what it is! To ask for the gift in any situation...even if it's just so bonkers the best thing is just to laugh!
The village had 6 weeks of roadworks while they dug to put in fibre broadband (is that 'High Fibre'?!) where we didn't know if we could get in or out and if so which direction to go in! It was just hilarious...but not so great for local farmers, access for emergencies and getting the bins emptied! But we now potentially have more light available to us! This is the theme of the summer I think, clearing away the old to make way for the new, both personally and in the surroundings, as well as bringing in more light. All that sunshine was pretty high on the light meter!
On a biggger scale, our water has been re-piped so there were also masssive engineering works in all the fields for miles around and huge great machines everywhere, and massive blue pipes lining the greenness which is a very odd sight!
There are new houses popping up in green fields and even my neighbours too replaced an old byre with a smart new storage space. Luckily not on a huge scale, but still change all the same. I rescued that foxglove before the walls came down and it flowered for me in my garden! There is now a nice clean new watertight building which will be well used and loved, like the old one once was.
Here at home we had the builders in to give us lovely new kitchen windows, which was chaotic and messy to say the least, but now we have so much more light and the view is just stunning, I feel like I am in the garden and the landscape! Yes, there is redecorating to do and a new worktop was required...and no we didn't spend £100's on a new one, we found an old flat door and my clever husband rounded the corners and it awaits a coat of paint!!
Keeping sane has been the name of the game...lots of gentle walks and some creativity and reading...and of course sitting in the garden.
Yesterday I took a walk and took photos of some of these lovely shapes and textures seen before I even got out of the top of our lane! There are advantages even to building works...lots of interesting things to inspire!
and I've been in the studio, clearing up and sorting after our exhibition, planning workshops and playing with new ideas. A friend's daughter came round who is in her 2nd year of her textiles degree, and we've had 2 great sessions creating with fabric and paints and stitch together. You just can't beat connecting and playing with other artists, it feeds you both and makes it all much more fun and productive somehow.
so here's to calmer days and more delightful collaborations!
hot, hot, hot weather and delicious summer everywhere, and our exhibition all looking good. We all arrived at Florence Arts Centre on 23rd July for a Grand Open Day, or Meet The Maker'...
We set ourselves up indoors and out, to show off what we do - silk painting, spinning, needlfelting by hand and machine, machine embroidery, rag rugging and lino cut printing...so much to see! We had a lovely day, with lots of visitors including those fresh from Woolfest...we had the Florence knitting group in and people showing off their Woolfest stashes in a mini 'show and tell'...or perhaps that should be 'show and confess'! It was a like a party!
Even extreme ironing...outdoors!
It's been lovely to be part of a group of such diverse talents, all creative souls but in different media, mixing our skills and abilities mades for an exhibition showcasing traditional skills but with a 21st century twist.
SO what will be next I wonder? well we'll have a get-together and a cup of tea to talk about the exhibition and see what we'd like to work on, ready for next year! It's great to have something like this to aim for as it really brings focus to our making.
I am back to workshops and planning and making...back in my studio with ideas for some commissioned work. And of course, getting out in the garden, veg patch and further afield to really maker the most summer with my family and friends!
was it only a week ago I arrived home happy, exhausted and foot weary from the best textile event of the year...
I am probably only slightly prejudiced as not only is Woolfest very local, and I have been going every year bar 1 since it started, and I was lucky enough to have stall there 3 times(!) a few years ago, BUT it never fails to brighten all our lives with its variety and inspiration and all the lovely people, be it visitors or stall holders, or the hardworking gang who make it happen. Another triumph in my book...and I only came home with a small stash of goodies, honest!
Here's a few of the fab makers who I loved this year...there are so many there, too many to mention, I know we all have our favourites!
so many colours, textures, yarns, fabrics, woolly everythings, and of course the wonderful animals, without whom none of it would happen. If you haven't been, make a date for next year, come and have a holiday in lovely Cumbria and don't miss it!
when the weather is hot hot hot! It's been an amazing few days of beautiful weather, but so warm I've been glad to be in the cool of our old house, or in my studio (any excuse!). Cumbria is usually a coolish place...shade is now imperative! It is blissful to be out in skirts and skimpy tops, exposing skin to the elements after the wintry jumpers and layers.
The garden is looking full and I am putting extra flowers in pots and hanging baskets, a little at a time...and my husband has been doing a major overhaul of the veggie patch...so it's full steam ahead with summer...for now!
I've had notification from the fabbydo people who have provided the Networked Blog gadget thingimibob, all these years for free, and sadly they are withdrawing this service. So all you lovely folk who follow me by this means sadly will no longer be able to do this. SO thank you dear followers...and I hope you will still be able to read this in some way!!I have added on 2 new widget gadgets so you can subscribe by other means or sign up for email notifications...so perhaps that will assist! See the bottom of my side bar for those.
In the midst of new flowers, seedheads are also appearing, probably hastened by the heat...I so love honesty flowers in all their different stages don't you?
And how about these delicate poppies, so fragile and generous with their beauty!
I am so grateful for all this loveliness and the fresh air and birds singing...it's truly glorious...but meanwhile I am stitching and creating thankfully and joyfully as it's really all coming along nicely now...happiness all round! Paper and stitch is so satisfying, one of the wonders of soluble fabrics and papers. You can create such delicate ephemeral structures. and yes I have been handstitching again...
so have a delightful summery week, enjoy whatever you're doing!