Month: October 2010

THERE you are!

We went on a quick selling trip yesterday.  It was to a place that we know well, and where most of our customers are familiar and almost friends.  One of these is deaf, and has the most delightful little ‘hearing’ dog who accompanies her on all trips.  Tilly is always at her side, very friendly and alert at all times, so when she went missing there was consternation all around and the search ‘was on’!

Time for us to go – so we began to pack up….

Guess what we found……

Actually, she is so cute I could easily have brought her home, but she knew where her loyalty lies!  As soon as the game was up she trotted off with her owner, looking really pleased with herself.

If you would like to learn a new skill there are a couple of online courses that start tomorrow that might be of interest.  Further information can be found here.

They say the cutest things.

I don’t often listen to the radio, but today it wafted in from the other room and I became aware of music.  It was a song from the ’80’s being sung by Elvis Costello, and I remembered this funny little story.

When my daughter was small we often drove 50 miles to visit my parents.  The boredom of the journey was alleviated by story tapes and the radio.  Listening to the radio on just such a journey one of the Elvis classics was played, just being announced as by Elvis.  A little voice from the back of the car asked ‘Is that Elvis Presley, or the real Elvis?’

I don’t remember what I said, but I know I giggled!


There are times when it is difficult to ignore a conversation that is going on nearby.  Travelling in a train, or sitting in a cafe are just a couple of occasions when this might occur.  This happened yesterday when I met up with a friend and we grabbed a quick cup of coffee.  Sitting at the next table were two couples, and the ladies were having a hard time – you’ll know the sort of thing I mean….

Husband 1 ‘Why is it that women make so much mess in the kitchen?

Husband 2 ‘I know just what you mean.  Porridge pans!  Why do they leave them in such a state?’

Husband 1 ‘Oh boy, they take forever to clean. Then what do you do with the sloppy stuff that’s left?

Husband 2 ‘I’ve given up with those, I leave them for you, don’t I dear.’ (there was a sneer in this remark)

Wife 2 (who had been quietly seething while this was going on) ‘You have the nerve to complain about the porridge pan when you’ve only been washing it up since you retired!  You’ve eaten porridge every day for 35 years, washed it up for 6 months and you think it’s a chore?  Take it from me, you’re having cornflakes from now on whether you like it or not!’

It reminded me of a conversation that I overheard at a party a long time ago, it has stuck with me ever since.

First Man ‘Of course, we got lost.  She can’t read a map, you know’

Second Man ‘Ha ha, of course she can’t, she’s a woman.’

Third Man ‘Blimey, I wouldn’t let HER navigate, she can’t find her way anywhere can you?’

Downtrodden Wife (smiling sweetly) ‘No darling, I can’t read a map very well, but I have to admit that as a woman I am fully qualified to both raise AND LOWER the lavatory seat.’

Silence and shuffling of feet.

Have a fun day – and if you hear anything that amuses you, let me know.

New Workshops

There is nothing I like better than playing with dyes!  I love the way they mix and mingle to create new colours.   I love the way two colours can be changed to create a third and fourth – and this without altering any of the proportions.  I love the way the same two colours can be combined to create different effects and all this is just the beginning.

The other thing that I love is teaching about dyeing.  We had great fun earlier in the year when I taught a dyeing weekend at Urchfont Manor, and I am repeating this and other dyeing courses at Urchfont and Missenden Abbey during 2011.  However, it isn’t always possible to attend a residential course, especially if you are on the other side of the world.

So, next month I will be teaching a six week online course called ‘Let’s Investigate Dyeing’. It will be fun and will result in over 150 repeatable colours.  The process is easy, and the wonderful thing is that each person will develop their OWN recipes.  The results won’t be identical but each one will be repeatable.

If you would like further details of this or other available course you will find all the information you need linked from here.

Help! I’m a prisoner

There is nothing like a smile to defuse a tricky situation.  I’m one of those annoying people who wakes bright and cheery and ready to start the day.  You know the sort – a quip on the lips and you want to smack them in the face!  Well DH is the exact opposite.  It takes hours for him to wake up.  It isn’t so bad now that he works from home, but when we had to get him to the station to catch an early train to go to the office it was sometimes very difficult, and often words were said that weren’t really meant.  At first it upset me, but then I realised that it wasn’t me that was the problem – it was his reaction to a new day.  I put my thinking cap on and came up with the idea of putting notes into his lunch box.   The first one created such a good impression that I repeated it every now and then.  I never put it on top of the sandwiches (he would have seen it through the lid) – but in the middle of the box so that it was unexpected.

I was reminded of this when I came across this listing on Etsy

These from MyStuff2 would have been perfect as enclosures.

Oh?  What did I write?


Mother always knows best

I went to the hairdressers earlier today.  It was just a quick visit, and I came home looking much tidier.  However, it was also an interesting experience.

There was a young mother there with an 18 month old girl who was allowed to run riot during the proceedings.  After a while of running around, brushing the floor with the hairdressers’ brushes, ‘sorting’ various other items all over the floor and attempting to decapitate a sleeping baby with the back of a hairdryer, the said young child went strangely quiet.  Now most mothers’ would know that quietude in a youngster is a bad sign, however, this mother seemed totally oblivious to everything that was going on.  The child was hunched in a corner and seemed very interested in the wall.  Fortunately a customer was close enough and observant enough to see what was going on.  The child was removing and replacing a plug into a socket!  I’m sure it was a very clever trick for an 18 month old, but it was obviously exceedingly dangerous.

It reminded me of a visit that we made a few years ago to some friends who also had a young child of a similar age.  We were amazed at how uncontrolled the children seemed to be, and this one in particular was very demanding.  Mum hid his crayons in a cupboard in the kitchen.  Undaunted he dragged a chair from the dining room, climbed on to it and then onto the worktop.  The door was opened and he was finally ‘caught’ trying to climb up the cupboard shelves to reach the crayons on the top.

His next trick was to go outside and dig the garden.  He just disappeared and started prodding around.  I say ‘prodding’ because he was discovered to be doing it with a knife.  Mother was summoned.  The knife was grabbed.  ‘Jacob!  How many times have I told you?  If you must dig in the garden with a knife, don’t use one of the best ones!’

Never say Never!

I once said that I would never drive a Ford car.  Well, our current car is a Ford, and so was the previous one.  The one we have now is OK, but the last one was all that I imagined a Ford would be, and I hated it.

I also said that I would never go to another musical.  That was before I saw Mamma Mia, which I attended sort of under protest, but actually quite enjoyed.  I also went to see We  Will Rock You, I didn’t enjoy that and was extremely pleased I’d taken earplugs with me!

I think, however, that We Will Rock You proved beyond doubt that musicals really aren’t my sort of thing.  I will never go to see Les Miserable, I saw quite enough of that during a recent TV promotion.  Funnily enough, though, the original work by Victor Hugo moved me beyond measure, and I’m quite happy to leave it there.  Andrew Lloyd Webber has spoilt forever whatever enjoyment I might have had from the film of The Sound of Music, and that was just from the TV adverts.

Did I say ‘never’?  The one thing that might persuade me is if I could have my own ‘off’ button.  If I could control the volume, or even the ‘picture’ I might relent, but there is nothing worse than being in a stuffy cramped atmosphere listening to loud, often off-key music watching people cavort around just for the sake of it.

OK, off back to my personal cell now, peace and quiet, solitude, solitary.  I know most of you won’t agree.  But as I said – NEVER, say Never!

Time to prepare

What does autumn mean to you?  Shades of red, orange and green?  Dark nights?  It means all of those things to me – but autumn also heralds the start of a new academic year and the publishing of a number of college brochures etc.  Therefore, my main thoughts in autumn are preparation, preparation and preparation.

This year is no exception.  I am priviledged to work at a number of places in truly beautiful surroundings, and with excellent facilities and I am teaching at one of these in December.  Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire is a conference centre from Monday to Friday, but at the weekend it transforms into a place of creativity and inspiration.  My first course for them this year is a mixed media excursion into a collaged trio.  We will be working with paper and other surfaces to create the start of a mini series.  It’s something I love doing, and I’m expecting some exciting results from the students.  There will be lots of colour around, and quite a lot of mess too!  I thought that I was all sorted for this course, but as usual I’ve had some new ideas, so I plan on making some more samples too.

I’m returning to Missenden in March.  This time the weekend will concentrate on the Embellisher Machine.  I’ve lost count of the embellisher weekends I’ve taught here.  They are always fun, noisy and exuberant!  Once again, lots of colour, but this time there will be fibres in all shapes and forms too.  The poor helpful Redshirts (teenagers who help the tutors unload) always groan when they see my car creaking under the weight of supplies and loan machines!   The theme for the weekend is landscapes, and who knows, although spring will be just around the corner, someone may well choose autumn as their theme.

Urchfont Manor nestles in the heart of Wiltshire, not far from Salisbury Plain.  Its brochure isn’t actually published until slightly later, but I’m already thinking about the two courses I’ll be teaching there.   One is a repeat of a dyeing course I offered last year.  Amazingly it will produce over 150 REPEATABLE colours in just the weekend.  It’s running from 28th – 30th March.  If you like colour and fabric you will love this.  Later in the year there will be a follow-on course (September 29th – October 1st).  It’s only open to those that have done the first course as there won’t be time to learn the technique – just time to create masses of even more repeatable colours.

I’m creating more samples for day workshops too.  Most of these are for private groups, but each year I go to Busy Bees in Newport, S Wales, to teach the embellisher, and next year is no exception.  Last year we made landscapes, this year we are introducing 3d with a pair of boots and a bowl or two.  Should be fun.

I’m also returning to Sticky Fingers on 9th April.  The class was full to overflowing last year, and, judging by the comments I’ve had so far, it looks as though you will need to apply early to get a place.  I was amazed at how far people travelled to this venue.  It is the farthest north that I teach on a regular basis at the moment.

So, today I’m off to do a little preparation.  If I have time I’ll take some photographs, but once I get engrossed I could well forget.

The three d’s

Well, it’s Monday morning.  It’s dreary, damp and dismal.  That’s just outside, though, inside I’m working with colour, so none of the above words apply!  (Not quite true, some parts of what I’m doing are just a little damp..)

I’m sloshing colour in a profuse manner.  It’s the best way to do it, and it’s how this was produced.

I had great fun creating the paper from which this was cut (more so as I did it at 2.30 this morning!).  Now it is dry and adorning another little book

Of course, daylight would have made a better picture, but it will have to do for now.  My next job is to pop over to Etsy to list it, then I’m back to the dyes and paints and powders.  Today is a day for having fun.  (Although as I didn’t actually go to bed until after 4.30 this morning I may just take a quick nap during the afternoon, ssshhhh)

Just a little bit of fun

I haven’t been well.  I’ve had bronchitis, and it has been painful and irritating.  However, thanks to a dose of antibiotics I am now on the road to recovery.  I should have rested during this time, but unfortunately I had to work.   Today, however, was different.  No alarm, no reason to get up, so what happened?  Well, I expected to wake at about 6 am, the time the alarm usually rings, however, I slept on – and on – and…..  It was after 9.30 when I woke.  I’m sure it has done me good.

I recently re-opened my paperpatches shop on Etsy.  That too had been lying dormant (for over a year) and have been having a little bit of fun restocking it.  As far as I am concerned it is an easy and quick way to be creative.  I love using paper, it stitches so beautifully, and it can become so many things, but I don’t have time for that at the moment.  It is so frustrating to have to quash the creative spirit, so to find a little outlet is great.  I have been using papers made during various dyeing processes to decorate some cards and books, and I have to say that they look much better in real life than they do onscreen.  However, they have started selling, so that’s good too.

This morning I started sorting some papers ready for a few more which I will make during the week.  (I need to feel stronger to punch the holes.)  In so doing I came across this little piece..

Now, here is a quiz.  Can you see the cow’s face?