23.1.15

Alpaca birds workshop p-Lush 2015


My first creations with alpaca wool - I was thrilled to be asked to host a workshop at the p-Lush Alpaca Show on March 27th. So I chose to make little birds, which are ideal for beginners.




Rather different to my normal merino - bizarrely, the fibres seemed finer and yet at the same time, more 'hairy'.



So although I strived for my usual smooth finish, they did come out looking a little fuzzy. But I rather liked the natural effect. There are only 12 places on this workshop and they are booking already - details and registration can be found on the p-Lush booking page here. Join in, it'll be fun!



21.1.15

Remembering Andy today


Two years ago today, my lovely Andy chose to leave this life. Today, I and all his many friends and family remember him with love. It is a bleak, rainy winter's day and the trees are bare, but I have picked all the colour in the garden for him and hold his memory close in my heart. Always.

13.1.15

A pictorial visit to Chetham's Library


At the end of last year, I paid a flying visit to Manchester, to see my dear friend. Sue of 'Mouse Notebook'. Apart from catching up with news, I was also treated to a grand tour of her 'workplace' - the magnificent Chetham's Library


Shall we?



I admit, that at the top of the stairs, when this Paradise of books opened up before me, I stood still and had a little weep. Only a true bibliophile will understand why. 


Visiting is free, but donations are always very welcome (indeed, needed). Visiting times and details can be found here.


And as the lucky guest of a Chetham's librarian, I was treated to a quick tour behind the scenes - what we might call 'the staff room'. I will let the books speak for themselves, they will do it more eloquently than I.







Another insight into the life behind the shelves - inside the inner sanctum of the office, where a colleague was examining a beautiful antique book of real (and very much imaginary) marine life. I think the publication date was the 1500's, I was too lost in the engravings to pay much attention.



My friend's colleague, who had been browsing the book on our arrival, tried to find a particularly spectacular creature he had spotted earlier. Sadly, like so many mythological beasts, it remained elusive, despite much searching.



On the way out, still breathless from the presence of soaring shelves of antique books, I spotted this -  as my long time friends and readers will know,  anything letter press catches my attention.


Here are small enclosed areas, rather like individual shrines to the blessed book.


There was a distinctly cathedral-like atmosphere throughout - a hushed reverence and the way the fragile winter light filtered through the windows.


Partially drunk on the rapture of books, I emerged into bright winter sunshine and braved the Christmas crowds and the train journey home. 

7.1.15

Needle felting wotnots for 2015


So many thanks for all the kind and lovely comments on my last post. Joe and I were incredibly touched that people were happy for us. Now that I have a real purpose, I've thrown myself back into work with a vengeance, starting the New Year with two little hare brooches in a newish style.



 It's good to be making again.


2014 ended with a gorgeous feature in 'Filtz Fun', a popular German felting magazine - they made it all look beautiful, I think the prettiest magazine article of mine I've seen. I do need to update my publicity picture though.


2015 is starting to fill up with workshops - at the moment I have five definite dates, starting in March with a bang at the p-Lush alpaca show in Coventry, where I will be using alpaca wool for the first time ever. The next day I am in Oxfordshire at my regular venue of Folly Fabrics, Smith's Restaurant in Manchester in April and back to the Buckingham Summer School for two full days in August. (Summer, hooray!) More info and contact details can be found on my website. More to be added, with luck.

1.1.15

A New Year dawning


Many of my lovely friends and readers will know that at the beginning of 2012, soon after moving into our new home - this little cottage from which I write - my beloved partner Andy tragically died. So many of you supported me in those lonely, heartbroken and dark times. Even though I may not have replied to every email or message, their presence helped me work my way through the excruciating period of grief which followed. Thank you seems hardly enough.

I cannot deny that it has been a long, solitary journey since then, despite finding odd fragments of joy. The constant battle to endure the loneliness, the worry of finances and trying as best I can to make some sort of business. For whom? Because life alone for me, is not a life at all. And so this poor blog has been often neglected. I have had little to write about, save work and more work. But now it is a New Year and a fresh beginning for me. And for another person.

Immeasurable joy has danced into my life and I have a reason for living again. A loved one to care for, to cook for and to hold. My bleak life has been transformed and I remember yet again the poem quoted to me in the early days, by a dear friend and soul sister. 

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)


At the time, it seemed a horrendous mockery. Now I read it with a sense of blessedness and newly opened eyes. Welcome Joe; welcome to my life, my heart and my many dear friends, wherever in the world they may be.

3.11.14

Toft Alpaca Workshop



This last weekend saw me packing up my workshop again and travelling by various means (taxi, train, bus, foot) to the Toft Alpaca shop, near Rugby. I was a little dead on my feet by the time I arrived, but a friendly and business like welcome - not to mention a fine bowl of creamy latte coffee - soon had me upright and setting my workshop up for the next day. 


 


It's that time of year when people's thoughts turn to Christmas and I'd pre-made a little set of my own trees to act as visual aids and inspiration.




And then I set my sales table up, as I now sell not only my own kits, but tools and supplies now. I couldnt bring my entire range of 52 wool colours (which I have stocked in my Etsy shop) but I brought as many as I could.




I was fully booked with twelve places filled. The shop and cafeteria have a really great, busy atmosphere and soon my little band of needle felters were hard at work creating their own trees.




 Lunch was a superb affair.




I took advantage of the time to pop out and get a quick shot of the stars of the show, the alpacas. There are many more than this, but these two sweeties are near the shop.




Next door to my class, a crochet workshop was going on - making the delightful creatures designed by Toft founder Kerry Lord, in her new book, 'Edward's Menagerie'.




Which contains patterns for all these lovelies dangling here -




Meanwhile, back at needle felting central, I'd opened up my battered suitcase of treasure - beads, findings, threads and everything needed to beautify a Christmas tree.


 




This was a particularly talented class, and by the end of it I was incredibly proud of the gorgeous small forest of trees skillfully crafted that day. As for myself - well, I packed everything up again and made the return journey back home; a very busy two days indeed.




I have just two workshops left this year - one is fully booked, but there should still be places for an acorn making workshop on November 20th at the White Hart pub in Eynsham, West Oxfordshire. Details and booking contact can be found on my website



28.10.14

Green apples, golden pears



My Conference pear tree has been over productive again this year. Too much fruit for one person and as I did last year, I let my lovely neighbours gather as many as they wished. Still the tree hung heavy with fruit. So I have picked my own small share. The split ones to eat now -




The perfect ones to store for a few weeks.




 There are apples too - sour cookers of an unknown variety.





This is the trouble with fruit - I don't have the inclination or time to do anything with them and yet I hate waste. The birds will gorge on any windfalls though and in my garden I have a couple of very plump blackbirds who have done very well out of my lethargy.




I actually found myself more drawn to the spoiled fruit still clinging to the tree.





 Such rich colours and close up, a fascinating surface; quite beautiful in its own right.




This is the problem with living in the country, where everyone has fruit trees and a glut of produce. However, I am bravely chomping my way through several pears a day and they are, without doubt, very sweet and tender. Everything will be eaten, one way or another.