Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Cupcake ring pincushions

I don't seem to have mentioned any handmade goodies recently so here is a quick look at my cupcake ring pincushions. Newly created to sit on your finger and allow movement of both hands when sewing.
They are now for sale in my Folksy shop.

Hornsea Pottery Nostalgia Weekend

August Bank Holiday weekend was the Hornsea Pottery Nostalgia event up at Freeport. Following the one day success of last year's event, this year it ran for the 3 days.
I set off bright and early on the Saturday morning, running with the theory the early bird catches the worm! For a long time I have had 2 main things on my Hornsea wish list, those being a cat cruet set and an Aphrodite vase, both John Clappison designs.

My luck was in, a great selection of items were on display and I initially whizzed around looking for treasures. The very last stall I saw, coincidentally the stall of Dorothy who is HPC & RS membership secretary, had the cat, fish & owl cruets. What joy, I couldn't resist as the cats were smiling at me in beautiful condition and I did get them for a better price than I've seen them go for on Ebay so I was very happy and I think Dorothy was pleased they would go to a good home.

It would probably take years to stumble across the cruets in a charity shop so it's nice that I can enjoy them now. These cruets are from 1966-67 and were made as gift sets for Boots.

Here are some of the other stalls, it was fantastic looking at the pots and hearing bits of history about pieces from their owners. Lots of lovely tea sets but no Aphrodite vases, however I made contact with a seller who can probably sell me one from his collection. Think I'll have to save up a bit before that!

The museum were there with a good selection of ceramics and also pieces of original artwork in the form of watercolour paintings of some designs, plus some moulds this one is Concept.

One final purchase, very cheap as it is a slight second with kiln mark on the back, is this lovely Leo Lion mug. I think it is from the Jungle Mug range of about 1979. Love the way newspaper clippings have been collaged together to create the design.

As usual experts were on hand to offer advice to people popping in with their treasures and much excitement occurred when a lady came in with a Mermaid dish, it is believed that only 12 of these were ever made back in the 50's so hardly anyone had seen one. An interesting end to a great day, I hope the rest of the weekend proved as popular.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Finished the origami

I finished off the origami sunburst I was making. I got into a bit of a pickle with the instructions when I started to assemble it. Just couldn't get it to make sense despite reading it over and again. Anyway, I did what I thought was right and I've got a quite nice looking thing but it's not exactly to the pattern I was following.
I left it a day, put a fresh set of eyes to the instructions and eureka, I think I have it for when I make another one!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Selina the Stoat!

Every now and again I see a stoat, once I saw 2 together doing that mad dance of the stoats you see them doing on wildlife programmes. I love watching them.

It had been quite a few months since seeing a stoat, which was odd as there are so many rabbits about, but in the last few weeks I think I've seen the stoat at least once a week. I have decided to call the stoat Selina after one of my friends. Selina the stoat, like my friend Selina is a little bit crazy and not very good with directions. The stoat seems to be doing this crazy zig zagging up and down to and fro at the moment. Starts partly climbing a tree then comes back down, back up, all a bit mad really!

Needless to say all this happens so quickly that I never have time to go and get my camera, I just enjoy watching the moment.

Today, whilst I've been sat doing my origami looking out into the garden I saw a bush move. Wasn't sure if it was the rain drops causing the leaf movement, ... no, it was Selina the stoat dashing across the garden, back and forth like a mad thing again. Fortunately I had my camera to hand so jumped up to the window for a better view and unfortunately saw what she was excited about.
I hope this isn't too gruesome for a blog post. She had a dead blackbird, fortunately it was well and truly dead and she did that thing cats do, playing with it and tossing it in the air. All quite bizarre, these are the best pictures I got before she eventually dragged it into the bushes. Not sure if it got eaten as she was up the garden wall and off again a few mins later.

Seem to be strange things happening here at the moment. The worst is mice returning in the loft.
Also found about 5 large eggs not in a nest but right next to the house, too big for  a small bird but a bit odd if they are something like a duck. Anyway one day there were 5, now something has moved them about a bit and there are 2, whether this is stoat activity again I don't know.

Caffeine fueled crafting!

What a frustrating day yesterday, the router went funny and so I lost the internet for most of the day.
Never mind, it was a good excuse to tear myself away from the keyboard and do some crafting. 

I was reading some graphic design blog recently which talked about how creative people mainly use the right side of the brain. This guy talked about how sometimes when you start to feel creative burn out, the best thing to do is try to stop thinking creatively, rest the right side and go off and use the left side of the brain. What he said made a lot of sense to me, right side thinkers are often impatient, they skim read, they stay away from numbers and logic, all that kind of thing. He recommended trying things like soduko, puzzles, crosswords, proper reading rather than skimming, writing, origami, etc. All these activities will help the left side and will complement your thought process when you go back to the creative work.

Interestingly enough, I bought 2 new craft books when I was in the Lakes, and one is Origami Jewellery. I decided I'd give it a go after lunch.

Settled down to a snack at lunchtime and popped the telly on ready for the news as I wanted to see the Steve Jobs stories. Well how spooky this was, on a programme before the news (Lets Do Lunch with Gino & Mel) I thought I know that face and voice... it was Youri who I did my barista training with. He was showing them how to do some latte art and he did great considering it must have been quite scary getting your milk texture perfect under pressure in front of the cameras. After I'd seen Youri I felt quite frustrated that my latte art isn't brilliant so I popped the machine on, texturised some milk and indulged in a couple of cappuccinos. I was quite pleased with my latte art hearts, I think it's probably the best I've done to date.

Back to the origami. I spent ages chopping and folding an old map, I thought I was soon to be at the stage of assembling all these little pieces but having folded them, I now need to unfold and add some blobs of glue. That's where I'm currently at so I haven't got a result yet, and as you can see the internet is back so might be a few days before I reveal the brooch I'm making.

I hope the weather improves for the bank holiday as it is the Hornsea Pottery Nostalgia weekend which I'm visiting tomorrow. Followed by a new crafty market I'm also hoping to see over the weekend.
Hope everyone has a good few days off. And to leave with one final scary thought, this is the last bank holiday before Christmas!!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Blackwell House & Lowther Castle

On my trip to the Lakes I treated myself to a visit around Blackwell House, a beautiful arts and crafts house, situated in Bowness and overlooking lake Windermere. 

Some of the house interior seems quite Tudor in style but the house was only completed in 1900 and it's one of the most important icons of arts and crafts architecture. Inside there is beautiful panelling & plasterwork, exquisite stained glass, textiles and carvings. It is a homely house with a lovely feel and also strikingly modern in places.
No photos were permitted inside so I bought the guide book and some postcards.

I love the arts and crafts ethos, the ability to achieve beauty through simplicity and practicality, very much inline with the make do and mend principles of todays crafters.

Another interesting piece of architecture, although currently being restored, is Lowther Castle. It wasn't too far from the hotel I stayed in so went past it a few times and it looked rather impressive in the low evening sun.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A week in the Lake District

I managed to get one of those last minute holidays through laterooms website and it's been a lovely week, I think to get only 1 wet day in the Lake District is pretty good going at this time of year as we move towards autumn.

I stayed in the Haweswater Hotel and luckily had a room overlooking Haweswater which you can see in the 2nd photo, this was the view from the room. The other views are from the hotel terrace and down the road.
The hotel is a bit out of the way and down single track roads but one of the things which appealed to me when choosing it was the fact you will definitely get to see red squirrels. I've only briefly seen these wonderful little creatures in Scotland so to see them at close hand has been an absolute joy. The squirrels come down to the bird feeders on the hotel lawns and so you can watch them from the dining room windows, I also got within about 2ft of one outside. Difficult to get any decent photos as they scamper about too quickly so these are my best.

Up in the hills near the hotel is a nesting pair of golden eagles but I wasn't lucky enough to see them.
A lovely place to relax though and most of the rooms are without TV's so you really can get away from it all.

I hope to put a few more posts of places I visited.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Wildlife update

Whilst things have been ticking along merrily in the garden with the resident animal families I haven't felt the need to do any blog posts about them. But here we go again, once a tragedy strikes it makes me stop and think and remember how I've enjoyed seeing them.

The rabbit family have done ok this year, much less drama than other years with rat and owl incidents and I've only really seen 2 which looked to have myxomatosis. Lots of new blackbirds around and even a large colourful family of goldfinches.

But the little birdies which chose to live right outside the kitchen window and nest in a rosebush where a pair of spotted flycatchers. I'm not sure if I've mentioned them before and they are very difficult to photograph. They are always swooping in a bat like manner for flies and never stay still for long. When they do, they stand very proud and straight and cute.
They nested in June / July and I only really saw one fledgling from that attempt. I presumed they would go after that but they decided on a second brood and I've kept a close eye on them for the last month. It must've been a couple of weeks ago when the second batch hatched as there was lots of squeeking and it's been great watching the parents constantly in and out of the nest feeding. Excellent watching them wrestling with big moths and trying to kill them before heading into the nest with such a big thing for the chicks!

The last couple of days I've heard increased activity, squeeking and when I went out to look at the nest I could see the youngsters almost bulging out of it now so I thought they'd probably fledge by the weekend and I hoped once they popped out I might finally get some good pictures when they sit on the wall to be fed. 
But as you are gathering, it's all changed just 24hrs later. I thought yesterday morning that I heard a bird hit the window but I couldn't see anything. That was until I took the bin out at teatime and I found the motionless body of one of the adult flycatchers, he or she was on the path in the area I'd heard the thud in the morning. So sad to see it there and especially as the chicks were about to fledge, the thought of whether one parent can continue to feed them up or whether they will all survive now was quite a concern. 
It's nature though isn't it and I watched the remaining parent continue tirelessly in and out of the nest with food until dusk. 

I decided to bury the little bird in the garden where he had brought up his kids, it seemed more fitting than popping him in the bin.
This morning, more change, about 3 chicks were out of the nest and bobbing about on the garden wall with the parent feeding them. These are the only pictures I got this morning, the adult is on the stone ball, the babies on the next picture but it's blurry.
They were about until lunchtime and then they seem to have gone now.

Lets wish them well on their journey and maybe they'll be back next year.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Textile art birthday collage

I've nearly finished a textile collage which is a pressie for my friends 50th birthday at the weekend. The reason a beer pump is fairly prominent in the design is because she has hired a brewery for her party.
The other bits n pieces I've stitiched on are all things which mean something to her. I've even popped on Francis, her lovely black and white pussy cat!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

New coffee experience in York

A couple of days ago I found out that my favourite coffee and tea house in York (Harlequin) were to open up their attic space to offer a new experience, coffee, beer and good food in the aptly named Attic Gallery Coffee Bar. 
This was music to my ears, I'm not so much interested in the beer but York really lacks anywhere to go for a coffee on an evening so this is a great idea. 

The weather was so foul today that I probably wouldn't have bothered going to York but when I heard the 'tweet' that the legendary Steve from Has Bean (who supply Harlequins lovely beans) was going to be visiting I thought it would be a great chance to maybe say hi and check out the new set up.

The attic space was lovely with harlequin coloured velvet cushions, I'll get an interior shot next visit as it was quite busy. Gordon, owner and expert barista, was at the helm and the place had a good atmosphere. I hadn't noticed Has Bean Steve until I clocked the red shoes on the person at the next table and it was mr & mrs Has Bean, how spooky! We had ordered a brewed coffee in a Chemex and it was Steve who did the prep which lead to a fascinating chat about all things coffee. I can honestly say that Steve is as passionate about coffee when you meet him as he comes across in his video blogs.
Gordon very kindly gave us a complimentary brew of another varietal which I can't remember the origin but as described by Steve, full of cherries and red berry flavourings with intense acidity. Wow, there's just so much to coffee when you meet the people who really know their stuff.

Had a really nice afternoon and I hope the bar does well for Harlequin, can't wait to visit again. It is open on Thurs, Fri & Saturdays, here's the link for their opening hours, well worth a visit if you love your coffee and I hear the beer is pretty good too.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Vintage linen collage

I've been working on a new design for a fabric pattern, the theme is vintage linen.

I have a lovely collection of tray covers, tablecloths, hankies etc, all thrifted from charity shops. Some are immaculate, others showing their age but there are some lovely bits of embroidery on them and as I keep them packed away in vaccu-bags I don't get to see them or appreciate them all together. So I thought if I photographed them and made a collage it might work as a new fabric design and it shows off many items in one go.

I need to work on it a bit more although I have ordered a swatch from Spoonflower to see if it's an idea worth pursuing.