Monday, September 10, 2007

Scenes from Ironbridge

We had a mini-holiday this summer, when the chance presented at the last minute to have a week away. We decided to take the opportunity to visit Ironbridge, a place which had long tantalised our curiosity: we were fortunate to find last-minute accomodation and our choice proved a wise one in terms of having something to interest all of us (parents, daughter (16) and son (11). Ironbridge Gorge is the "cradle of the Industrial Revolution" but set in a place of great natural beauty, which at times seemed quite incongruent.

Even the weather was reasonably kind to us - the forecasts had predicted possible heavy rainfall and I worried about flooding, but luckily it didn't materialise. The journey only took us a couple of hours or so - almost close enough for a day trip. Indeed, with the right transport we could have made the journey by water, for it is Ironbridge's position on the River Severn which provided one of the significant circumstances for it to be a locus for industrial growth (ease of transportation by water) apart from the availability of natural materials (iron stone, china clay, charcoal and coal in the vicinity.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Going to the Zoo

Last week we went to Bristol Zoo with friends. It was a leisurely trip. The boys spent a lot of their time in the amazing playground, once we had devoured our picnic lunch and watched an "Animal Performance" featuring rats, a parrot and an owl. Absolutely beautiful creatures - not so crazy about rats, personally, but these were not too bad. It was great to see the meercats, and also the penguins. I was reminded how much zoos have changed for the better, with much more creature friendly habitats that when we first visited the zoo in 1989. I recall a depressed polar bear and utterly miserable monkeys doing their best to go blind.... Oh, the improvements.



Bristol has wonderful gardens as well as animals, and I am always struck by this featured silver birch tree, which has such glorious colourings on its bark.


Another improvement at the Zoo is that they now have electric buggies for hire, so I availed myself of one. I was still exhausted when I got home, but at least my legs weren't too painful, and I coped with the trip to Fibrefest the next day as well.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bad Hair Day


This lovely lady is to be found in the display rose gardens at David Austin near Wolverhampton. Notice the frizz round the edges! Obviously didn't have time to use her GHDs.
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Fabric ATCs

During the past few years i have made and swapped several paper-based ATCs (or Artists' Trading Cards, 2.5" x 3.5"). These, made for members of Unlimited Textiles, are the first ones I've created from cloth. They are a fabrc sandwich with pelmet vilene in the middle, and it's surprising how much texture and pattern can be achieved with in the dimensions.


The basic fabric is one I made during my City and Guilds course in embroidery, consisting of strips of neutral-coloured material sewn together using automatic sewing machine stitches, then cut up and reassembled a few times using the same technique. This cloth is like pastry: each time I use some, I cut and repiece the remainder to made another usable piece. Now I am coming to the end of it, and I can see that I will have to repeat the exercise to provide for future creative play.


For the cards, I machine-couched some copper jap to form the horizontal lines, and used the same dark red thread to overcast the raw edges. then I hand-sewed a number of tiny bronze sequins ( from Dale at the
Thread Studio, densely in the middle, and then dotted around the edges. They took together about 3 hours, not counting the time taken to make the "crazy patchwork" type base fabric. Great fun.

I'm very tired today. I was so anxious about the return to new schools that I threw myself into displacement activities, including quite a lot of housework (seriously needed) and registering us all with a new NHS dentist. Luckily, Anna and Ben had a good day and Ben had enough energy left to go and have a kick-about in the park with big sister Sarah and her bofriend, Joe. Today I am fit for nothing - this is the third time I've written this blog entry, having succeeded in erasing it twice previously before I posted it! C'est la vie.
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Some sewing content!


This is a 5" square quilt I've worked recently for a swap. Working smaller than usual is not a bad idea: it's very portable, for starters. Although there's some turquoise, it's somewhat outside my usual palette with the complementary reddish orange and the colours really zing. I think it could also make a good image for a greetings card.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First day at School

Today was a first day at a new educational establishment for both my two younger children: Ben's at secondary school, Anna's at Sixth Form. Ben has a new uniform to wear, and Anna no longer has to wear uniform.


As both places of learning are within the same school campus, they went off together (in the inevitable sunshine) to catch the bus. So grown up...


The house is very quiet without children in it!
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Sunday, September 02, 2007


Because my confidence in driving has been somewhat dented by a car accident a few weeks ago, I didn't think I'd get to Fibrefest so was totally thrilled when my darling husband offered to take me there, and alder daughter Sarah offered to collect her sister from work and look after her brother during the day. It was only an hour's drive away down the M5, and luckily the traffic wasn't too bad: travelling north was a different story, with half the world's population seemingly en route from Cornwall and Devon for home and the start of the new school year next week. Luckily they'd all made an early enough start to leave us a reasonably clear run on our homeward journey.

Fibrefest was tacked on to a village-fete-type affair to raise funds for Coldharbour Mill which we'd visited last summer and felt well worth supporting as a valuable piece of industrial heritage. I didn't really have a shopping list but was looking forward to seeing what there was to see, and to seeing some fellow fibre f(r)iends. The latter was spectacularly successful, as Sarah and Dave from Spinning Weal, my local textile craft shop in Clevedon, were on the first stall I came to on entry. Sarah taught me to spin, introduced me to the Avon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and is a very special person. It was also very good to catch up with Jeni of Fyberspates and to chat with some fellow members of the Spinners, Weavers and Dyers. I enjoyed seeing how a peg loom works. My especial highlight was finally meeting my great cyber pal, Ruth and her lovely friend Luciana. I could have spent all day chatting with them! (Or perhaps I did).

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Of course some wool came home with me, and a lucet with instructions for variations on the theme, and some wonderful ceramic buttons. I would have loved to buy some alpaca fabric which is so silky soft, it is positively sinful, but at £50 per metre it was a bit beyond my budget. The only problem was we had not foreseen difficulties in buying lunch there, but my gluten/wheat intolerance meant virtually everything available was unsuitable. I lunched on a very tasty lamb + beef burger with a helping of fried onions and no bun, plus a cup of tea. I hadn't thought to take emergency rations along but clearly I don't get out often enough.

I enjoyed being driven and worked on some hand-stitching for a swap I'm involved in - very enjoyable and relaxing. It's good to be stitching again.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Back from my holidays

Didn't mean to take such a long break from my blogging, but it's been a funny old summer. We didn't actually go away, apart from a mini-break to Ironbridge, which was great fun. Time has rushed by. Today, DH and I went to Fibrefest. I had a wonderful time meeting up with friends and doing a little shopping, while my beloved was very patient and enjoyed the unusual experience of spending some time chilling in the car with the radio and a computer magazine when he felt he was intruding on my socialising. It was especially wonderful to meet Ruth after such a long virtual friendship. I hope to blog some more with illustrations tomorrow.