Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book review: The Essex Serpent

Just finished this very good book. Here's the long review https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/16/the-essex-serpent-sarah-perry-review-novel


and my short version is - beautiful prose, characters that were strangly and wonderfully out of character and a book that carried the research that shaped it lightly. Well worth the time it takes to read it.

A beautiful day for walking

... more of the London Loop. This time from Malden, through Kingston to Bushy park https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/bushy-park.

Springy grass, muddy paths, pavements, local wildlife and the splendour of a reflected tree ...










Saturday, March 4, 2017

Go to Margate, to Entangled at the Turner Contemporary ...

... go as soon as you can, its the most wonderful exhibition of threads and making by an inspiring group of women from all around the world.

Here's a small taste of what's on display ...


from the studio of Marion Baruch

delicate work by Chrisiane Lohr

Work by Tatiana Trouve
The bonus is that the Gallery's cafe has great food (I recommend the vegetarian hash) and Margate has an buildings that more than hint at an interesting past, including The Royal Sea Bathing Hospital and of course, Dreamland. 

Here's the link to the Gallery so you can find directions and opening times https://www.turnercontemporary.org/exhibitions/entangled-threads-making.  Go soon, entangled really is a fantastic display of what can be made with threads and associated materials.   

While you're there do stop to look at the steps down to the beach and this amazing door which is in the wall at the back of the nearby car park. I think I may have found a stitching project!!!



Monday, February 27, 2017

Cornwall & London: poetry, art and lines

Catching up at home again after a week in St Ives writing poetry,  enjoying the beach and finding lines everywhere.



yes, Doris was forecast and passed by on her way up country 

some of Hepworth's inspirational lines 


sent out to write about what we found, and now have poems called Lines I and II in draft!  


I'll post more on the poetry retreat later this week ... I've been in London today at a wonderful exhibition of art by my brother-in-law, Andy Thornley. Its on for one more day and well worth a visit. Here are the details ... 









I ended my day at Tate Modern, and captured a few more lines!




Sometime soon something in my line photo collection will link with the fabric and thread and stitch ideas and become, well, I'm not sure what yet.  Maybe the place to stitch one of the Lines poems.

Friday, February 17, 2017

From this to this and a great book.

Briefly and in pictures  ... a few days of dyeing fabric, rinsing, washing, and this morning the best ironing task ever to reveal the results.

First the soaking and seeping

and after the bucket and machine washing hanging out to dry ...

and finally, discovering the patterns and shapes  - I found faces, flowers, a staircase and lots of forest ... 




And in case you missed my tweet about this wonderful book I recommend it as very good read. Powerful, insightful, I was captured by its relevance to the present, authenticity and straightforward style. I just kept wondering how I had missed it all these years of reading ... thanks to my book group I've now had that pleasure. One to read again. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Scalpel, stitch and poetry

Title says it all really!  Firstly, a poem for a dull day  ... comments welcome.


How many candles will we need?

On the third day of fog, I light the red candle.
Inside and outside shouts for brightness
in this repeat of yesterday’s white envelope.

The day before the blanket drifted away
and the sky was sunlit until setting time,
we lifted the cloches, walked the long way
around the woods, you said midwinter has passed.



In contrast, it was a sunny as we walked another section of the London Loop (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/loop-walk) on Tuesday, this time 17 km from Banstead to Malden. As always there were landmarks ... a prison built about 1770 and a fungi covered tree trunk


The Watch House in Ewell, more details at http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/WatchHouse.html


Possible stitch patterns ... 




























There was quiet in the studio on Weds as we 
played with cut outs. I've posted two pics of results below; so glad to have lots of odd pages to ruin in this way. 


I'm now looking for an old hardback book to use the same technique but that first cut is going to be very hard. Cut into a proper book! It feels bad enough to write in one. 





















And finally a glimpse at my latest stitching project. A line a day, a variety of threads and running stitch on a very light (and forgiving of a large needle) scrim. It was inspired by seeing lots of folk from many places and cultures waiting in line at US airports.  Often this sort of thinking will result in me writing a poem but instead this time I'm  stitching.  

Two days, two lines,

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Good stuff on small journeys

I'm writing this with an eye on the flurry of long tailed tits feeding on suet balls in the garden and wondering if, at last, I'm comfortable with the flapping of birds' wings!!  The robin is also there, defending his or her winter territory and yesterday Mr Blackbird came along. What joy.

And I'm feeling very relieved to have rinsed, washed, ironed, and logged the 24 pieces of fabric that were put into dye baths three weeks ago.



 The record keeping was a bit tedious but now I have colour recipes when I want a particular colour and shade.


Not sure how i'll use them yet, somewhere that'll show the great patterns from the more or less fidgeting I did with the fabric while it was in the dye bath.












Maybe the fabric will come into its own for a piece based on some of the ways that lines have - I'm collecting lots of pics of lines, like these on a walk around Bloomsbury last week.

Lots of blue plaques en route (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques)



and some inspiration for stitching patterns ....













Finally, a couple of pics from last weekend in Dorset: I slept under this ancient beam and the first snowdrops bloomed under my window.








Have a good weekend all. My to do list includes mushroom soup and drafting a poem for the first workshop of a Poetry School (https://poetryschool.com) online course called Re-writing the Map.
This fits wonderfully with the work I'm doing on journeys at Inspiration to Stitch  -almost too good to be true.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One week: a short time in weather

We had snow, it left quickly so no photo, that's all!   Very glad the roads were clear for the first of 2017's first Inspiration to Stitch day with Terri and Hazel see http://www.institchestextilecourses.co.uk,

I made a start on sketchbook pages on the theme of journey and did some printing for the last one to go into the Autumn book.

And today the magical experience of choosing a date for a walk weeks ahead that then turns out to be a blue sky day.

We walked from Coulson South to Banstead - along the green paths of suburbia with London on the skyline. All part of the London Loop, for more details see https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/loop-walk

The weekend rain that made my drive to Kent a very unpleasant experience of spray and fog had  turned the bridleways (shared with LL pathways) close to Epsom Downs into mud baths. Thank goodness for good boots and good chat with good friends as we made our way along the northern ridge of the Northern Downs.

Our route out of Coulson took us under the wonderful walls of this new railway bridge  and
we reached Banstead over an old railway bridge with some slate 'roof tiles'. Two more examples for my collection of patterns I might, someday, stitch.   I just love the weightiness of the slate.

Finally, more lines in the evening sky as I close the blinds .... hopefully a good omen for tomorrow when I'll be dyeing fabric with the Institches fabric wizards.






Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another Wall Wears a Quilt





At last, the quilt made with fabric bought in New York in December 2014 has made it way to the finishing line ... a journey of two years, so about average!


The last stitch in the hanging sleeve for this quilt was made with good timing: no need to tuck it all into the suitcase coming with me back to UK today. There's enough in there already including, of course, the tea bag work in progress.

Just love the paper that emerges when these are emptied. 



This quilt is a first for me in terms of main and border design and quilting.  But I'm not fond of large projects and can't wait to work small and slow in a sketchbook on my next Inspiration to Stitch day tomorrow.   More on this later.