a life of fibre

Ups and downs August 23rd, 2016

The last week has been a week of ups and downs. On Wednesday I had a puncture which made me late for work, meant I had to call Simon out to help me and cost me to replace the tyre of course.

Thursday was a much much better day. It was A level results day and over the last couple of months Charlotte had moved from wanting specific grades to just wanting to know. These days they can log on to the UCAS website from 8am and discover whether they’ve been accepted at university. At 7.57am a bedroom door was flung open and there was a thunder of feet down the stairs.

Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew it was happy thundering. Charlotte has been accepted to study photography at Falmouth University and we couldn’t be more pleased for her or more proud of her. Knowing she had a place at her favoured uni was a big weight lifted but we still had to trip into college to learn what her actual grades were. It was a good trip, lots of happy people and the chance for Charlotte to say goodbye to her favourite teachers. In no time at all (two weeks on Saturday!!) Charlotte will be off on the next stage of her life, it’s so exciting.

Friday was a downer 🙁 Our cat Tatty was diagnosed with lymphoma last month and we said goodby on Friday. Being a mad dark tortie she was quite a character who made more of an impact than her size would lead you to expect. Her astounding hearing, she could hear the fridge door open even whilst asleep on a bed,  was legendary and alerted the other cats to the possibility of food. Once Tatty arrived and started yelling for food (seriously, it was very loud)  the other cats would similarly follow and I’d have four underfoot in no time at all. Now Tatty isn’t with us I open the fridge door and no-one comes, I don’t even have one cat keeping me company whilst I cook, it’s strangely quiet.

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Then yesterday, we got the keys to our new premises for Adelaide Walker. It’s going to be a mad dash this week to get it prepared so that we can move in over the weekend. And so a new chapter begins for us too. If you’d like to see more then you can keep up to date with progress on facebook.

Amongst all these goings on I have been working on a couple of commissions so will have something to show you soon.

Out and about August 10th, 2016

We didn’t book any wool shows this summer and so have had a couple of days at weekends to ourselves! Our daughter was off doing her own thing and we just wanted somewhere for a wander. First we chose Selby. We don’t actually live that far away and were slightly surprised to discover neither of us had ever been.

If you have time, spend an afternoon there. It was a little unprepossessing as we entered but the further into town we pressed the more we liked it. By a happy coincidence we arrived during the food festival, such a hardship to try a few delights. The centre is busy as it has high street shops, supermarkets, market and some of the more usual out of town stores all in the one small area. Selby has a monday market and has done so since the 14th century!

Most of all it has a stunning abbey that is decorated with a sumptuous amount of wood carving inside, really worth a look. It also has the Washington Window, the model for the american flag. Yep, America’s flag was inspired by a Yorkshire window, I never knew.

Last weekend we went closer to home with a visit to Burnley. Nothing remarkable to report although it does have a real mix of buildings and I do like that the market is in the centre of town. Meandering back we called into Nelson which had some lovely floral arrangements, many of them made up of perennials of which I heartily approve.

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I loved this rusty metal sculpture of a shuttle. A testament to the town’s history as a mill town.

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It has textured glass in the centre representing yarn. It was a pleasant spot. Finally we called into Colne which I have been to fairly recently. Each time I visit there are changes, new shops, improvements and the sunny weather helped too. There’s a great secondhand bookshop in the market run by the Samaritans. We may have had a little splurge, just the seven books. It’s been nice to wander round towns close to home and nice that we undertook it child free, it’s good training for next month when Charlotte plans to leave for university.

Scarborough August 2nd, 2016

It’s a few years since our last visit to Scarborough and I have very fond memories of the town having spent many summer holidays there as a child. We’re lucky enough to live within day trip range and were there within 1.5 hours, parking up at 9.30am, a really good start to the day. First item on the agenda was breakfest and of course we found a cafe serving bacon butties within sight of the sea, bliss.

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I just adore rust and the pots below caught my attention due to there being just the one orange one.

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You can see the Grand Hotel in the background, built during the reign of Queen Victoria in the shape of a V in her honour.

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This rope is actually inspiring me to blend some wool for me to spin into yarn. After all, I can already see what it would look like.

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Come the 1st of September the harbourside is undergoing a clean up and many of the items I’ve photographed here may be removed.

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These fabulous heavy lengths of wood were stacked up down by the harbour wall, I’ve no idea what they were / will be used for but the colour and texture is wonderful.

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A bit of rust, a bit of colourful lichen and weathered wood, what more could a girl ask for?

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Lichens are one of my favourite items to photograph and I have done work based on them in the past, perhaps that will be my next project.

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I’m so glad they leave these to weather and don’t just rip them out and replace with a hunk of shiny metal. Who could resist such texture?

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It was a wonderful sunny day, lunch on the prom, sand in my toes, cold feet from paddling and a massive yearning to go back.

2nd Eco print workshop August 1st, 2016

Just a few pictures from the second workshop I ran on eco printing. I know at least two participants have gone on to do more at home which is so satisfying for me, to inspire people to make and experiment is what it’s all about.

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There are far fewer photos this time because all I had with me was my phone, you think I’d have learnt by now! Not only that but I seemed to take a few out of focus and some with my finger in the way. Obviously a bad photo day!

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Still, they looked stunning didn’t they?

Tree bark July 30th, 2016

I’m still working (occasionally, as there’s not been much time) on my Midsummer Night’s Dream theme for my work with Metaphor. Fortunately there’s currently no end time so I’m able to work through without rushing.

For me, Midsummer Night’s Dream is all about the forest and the colours and textures. I will show you my sketchbook at some point but for now here’s one image

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I’m working on some pots and considered incorporating tree bark texture.

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Shades of red didn’t do it for me and I wanted the bark to be rougher and more broken up.

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The brown is better. If anything, it’s improved by the photo.

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I really love the curly edges but I’m not sure I want this all over the pot so will focus on colour and lichens in my next post.

Tuscany July 28th, 2016

It’s been quiet on here of late as we’ve been on holiday in Tuscany. We travelled around, were way too hot and had a fabulous time. These are just a select few of the many photos I took.

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A twisting alleyway in Volterra and a fab galleried building in San Gimigniano.

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The view from the tallest tower.

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I spotted quite a lot of art nouveau type decoration, this example was over a shop in Lucca.

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As you can see, Pisa was packed with tourists all round the Duomo all pretending to push over or hold up the tower. The surrounding streets were much quieter.

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Postman Pat has a rather different vehicle, one more suited to narrow twisting roads!

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We spotted the weaver in a small artisan market by the river in Pisa. In fact we saw weaving all over Tuscany but no knitting, embroidery or felt work.

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Devil’s Bridge – I can’t imagine who ever thought such steepness was a good idea, it gives a great workout just climbing to the apex.

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Sienna was my favourite of all the cities.

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The Duomo is a great confection of a building although much smaller than the one in Florence.

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Community art in the underpass.

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The cockerel is the symbol of Tuscan wine and I love a bit of rusted metal.

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I thought I’d leave you with a sunny, happy view across the undulating hill.

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Nuno felted poncho July 3rd, 2016

Last month I took delivery of some black silk chiffon printed with abstract flowers, I had a plan. Once Woolfest was over I found a chance to turn it into the poncho I’d been planning. I forwent tasselling or fringing as I thought it would distract from the striking design on the silk.

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I’m really very pleased with how this turned out. I didn’t think about the placing of the pattern on the points and which should hang where(oops)  but it hasn’t worked out badly at all and I love the pattern across the chest. The main colour of the fabric looks purple beacuse of the Fuchsia and Bright Pink Merino that I used on the reverse.

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Better by far that items are reversible whenever possible as it gives you the greatest flexibility and opportunities to wear. I covered the Merino with some gold Mulberry silk, all available from Adelaide Walker.

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There’ll be more of these to come, there are several fighting in my head for release so I need to get to it quite soon! These are so much fun I’ve added a new workshop on Thursday 27th September which you can book here.

Woolfest 2016 June 30th, 2016

We had a great time at Woolfest last week, the weather was mostly very kind and sunny, we even stopped for a picnic by Bassenthwaite lake on the way there. It was especially kind on the Saturday night when it held off raining hard until we’d packed the van!

On the Saturday morning we had a time for a very quick look round and I just had to take these few photos.

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Very sweet Herdwicks, they seemed a little shy but they’re so lovable.

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Hebridean sheep resolutely refused to pose for us.

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This Ryeland is adorable, I wanted to bring her home.

We had a run in with a swallow whilst there. There was a nest not too far away, right over one of the aisles, lots of opportunity to dive bomb visitors you’d think except, the cheeky chap preferred to sit on the blue piping above our stall. Nine hits he scored over the two days, 5 on the tablecloth, one on the shelving and three direct hits on fibre (his aim was improving). We counted ourselves lucky we remained untargeted.

Cable cushions June 23rd, 2016

Where does the time go? I made these cushions during the winter but have only just managed to find the time to finish them off! It’s not that they needed a lot of work but if truth be told I somehow ran out of steam and put them to one side. In a fit of finishing off jobs last week I made them up and cleared the pile of clothing needing repairs, left me feeling rather virtuous.

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Made with lovely squishy yet hard wearing Jacob Yarn from The Knitting Gift Shop. It’s simple moss stitch finished with three wooden buttons. Worried that it was a little too plain I hooked up five roses using this pattern from Attic 24. Looks rather good I think.

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There was also some lovely mid grey Jacab yarn that needed using up and as I was on a roll with cushion making and had recently mastered a cable or two I set to and made another.

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A relatively simple stag horn cable pattern free from New Stitch a Day.

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Once I got into the rhythm of this it was a joy to knit.

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Don’t you just love envelope cushion covers? Such little sewing to do. Closures for this are 6 mis-matched buttons from my stash.

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Of the two I think I prefer the grey, probably because I think I’m hooked on cables, I just love the texture and the Jacob Aran wool from The Knitting Gift Shop is just perfect for it. You can see my previous cable attempt here

School workshop June 19th, 2016

School workshops are fun but are often very quick affairs of just an hour or two. Imagine my delight when a local shool, Moorfield School, commissioned me to create a wallhanging with the upper sixth to be a permanent feature in the dining hall. Discussion with the art teacher led us to working in neutrals with a tree theme. I was so looking forward to the day.

We began by laying out the background fibres onto a piece of cotton muslin. I was using the muslin because I wanted the hanging to have extra strength. As the tree was to be quite pale I wanted a slightly darker background and chose fawn Masham, sandwiching some white between the layers to keep it lighter still.

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Every once in a while we swopped activities so that everyone got chance to have a go at everything. The girls laid out backgrounds. made wet felted berries, flat felt with mulberry silk on and cords and needle felted some large balls to chop in half and hide under the tree roots.

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On top of the Masham we put milk protein and tussah silk followed by all the cords to form the trunk and branches. The cords were made with Merino, some had inclusions of Wensleydale locks, cotton scrim and flax fibres for a little deeper colour.

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Finally we added real skeleton leaves and leaves cut from the white felt made earlier, It was really starting to look good and then there was the hard work of felting the whole thing together. The girls worked very hard both rubbing and rolling the hanging. Once felted it was time to stitch on some more skeleton leaves, white felt leaves, beads, buttons and berries to create a very full and textured effect.

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It always looks a bit flat when wet but once dry it comes to life. If you look at the base of the tree you can see the texture created by hiding wool balls under the roots and including more Wensleydale fleece and wool nepps.

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Just some of the many berries that were made.

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There was scrim, cords, fleece, flax, cotton chenille and lace in the trunk

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The girls worked very hard and it was so, so worth it, the hanging looks fantastic and now that the channel is on the back for hanging I’ll be delivering this tomorrow.

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A great days work, don’t you agree? It will look splendid in the hall.