Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  Hope your celebrations are full of joy, not too full off eggnog and that if you let off party poppers at midnight, you are at someone else's house and don't have to hoover the bits up afterwards.

Photoshopped layers using a kaleidoscope ball, a strawberry and text.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Post Christmas Distress

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.  Mine was all the better for the Distress Inks that I got.  And yesterday I decided to have a little play with them.

Using Distress Inks in Dusty Concord and Stormy Sky with Black Soot around the edges.  The word was cut out on the Sizzix Wordplay.  

A bit of Fired Brick, Walnut Stain and Vintage Photo.  I stamped feathers from Artemio and embossed with WOW embossing powders.  Then I put the lot through the Sizzix with a Couture Creations peacock feather embossing folder.  I used Walnut Stain to brush over the top.

These houses were inked as above and then embossed with WOW Embossing Verdigris and Gold Glitter.  I then stamped text over the top of them.

A great way to spend an afternoon.  The house seemed tidy enough.  The children were playing new games on the DS/computer with the added bonus of having headphones plugged in, so all was quiet in the house.  A perfect opportunity to hear myself think and take advantage of it.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

It has been a very busy time getting ready for Christmas, not least for the mad rush to get some Christmas cards made and written before the Royal Mail deadline passes.

So this year, after getting some Dyelusion sprays for my birthday from my lovely Stitch & Bitch friends (and the majority of them looking bemused at my delight), I thought I would use them as backgrounds in my cards.

For the tree I used some fabric I had previously printed with Stewart Gill True Colour Paints and I cut it into 1" strips and machined onto fabric.  I then cut tree shapes and bondawebbed them onto the paper.

Also for the Christmas Stitch get together, I made a table runner out of purple felt which fell out of my cupboard last week.  I used the Sizzix Reindeer and Snowflake dies and an On The Edge border which I sewed onto the panel.  

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and I will post again in the New Year. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Photoshop experiments

Before the Christmas rush begins, I thought I'd try and experiment a little with my blog header.  I haven't been happy with it, and have been on an Introduction to Photoshop course since September.  Now I have Photoshop installed, I'm going to be having a little play, but my first experiment was this header.  I think it turned out well.

I have just been doing some work on Texture with Embossing for a Workshop on the Web article for next year which has been fun.  I have been using some embossing powders by WOW Embossing Powders (no relation) which have been great to use - Blue and Red Pearl Powders are fabulous.

Will try and do some more playing with Photoshop and publish my results...

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Janet Smith Can't Knit

I had to give this book a post all of its own. 

I came across this at the Knitting and Stitching Show and my eye was caught by 2 little aliens sitting on the Rowan stand.

The book is called Janet Smith Can't Knit and it is the work of Suzie Johnson (owner of The Wool Sanctuary), who has created 12 handknit designs that are becoming my favourite things of the year so far.

I feel like I could be Janet Smith.  She is the sister of author Suzie Johnson, and she does not knit.  Suzie even goes so far as to describe her as the “worst knitter ever”.  My sister knits, really well, and although I can knit in straight lines, I will never win any awards, or manage to knit a scarf with my name in it, or knit my child’s entire wardrobe (for which in 20 years you will not be thanked for).  But after buying this book (for my sister), I might try and knit a Janet Smith (also an alien).

The knitting patterns in this book are must-have.  There are 12 in total and they are all quirky, fun and exciting patterns.  There is a hat and scarf and cushion and blanket, but they are really great patterns.  The designs are new and fresh and funny, and feature big eyes (which remind me of Mikey in Monsters Inc), and fruit and bright colours.  The book is printed on excellent cardstock throughout, which (trying not to be shallow about these things), I could have bought for this alone.  The photography is very modern and stylish.  And it is good for the budding knitter, in that the stitches don’t get more complicated than stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch and garter stitch.  Which I think even I could manage. 

So now I am sorry I told my sister I had bought this book for her. I am even more sorry that I got Suzie to sign it with HER name on it!!! But I am stalling getting to the Post Office [cue evil laughter]...
It would be a perfect Christmas present (in the case of my sister, for NEXT year), and Suzie Johnson was a lovely sweet person, so I am spreading the word to as many people as I can.  After all, who doesn't want a Janet Smith (also v cute alien) of their own?


Knitting and Stitching Show

It's hard to believe that it was a whole 2 weeks since the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.  I went with Paula Watkins and her friend Moira, although I did keep losing them whilst looking round all the lovely stalls.  I also met up with Maggie Grey and her grand-daughter Lauren, although my other Workshop on the Web friend Fiona sadly couldn't make it.

There were plenty of things to see, and I wanted to post a few pictures of my favourite things there.

First were some unusual pieces in the Mr X-Stitch stand.  He was there in person talking about the pieces he had got together. My favourites were these.  First, the embroidered doors:

Both were drilled with holes and then stitched through.  Pretty amazing stitching.

Also found were a series of pieces by Rosie James called City Streets, using stitch, applique and printing (looks like screen printing).  I loved this series.

I met a few interesting people on my way around.

First I met Jane E Hall and her husband Neil.  I was familiar with Jane's first book, The Embroidery of Jane Hall, having read it when it came out and loved it.  Jane creates wonderfully detailed observations of nature that must require endless patience, good eyesight and an abundance of talent.

These are some of the pictures I took, and I can hardly believe how perfect they are.  The stitching is exquisite!

This butterfly is so perfect it looks real.  It is hand stitched!

These cobwebs were made by hand from woven silk thread and silk fibres painstakingly glued on.  In real life they are so delicate and beautiful. 

Jane has a new book out, called The Art of Butterflies.  I am reviewing it for December WOW, but it was fantastic to then read the book after seeing these photos as you can really appreciate the work and detail.  I also was given a copy of An Interview With Jane E Hall to review and it is a perfect accompaniment to the book.

I took a few pictures, but these don't do justice to the work done.

Another exciting find for me was new work by Jean Littlejohn:


Widows Weeds
I loved the top piece.  It was so delicate.

I had a great day and didn't spend too much (only on essentials...).

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Crochet and flowers

I found my little 'so far' crochet circles and here they are.  I am not anywhere near putting everything together yet, but I am going with the 'slowly, slowly, catch your monkey' methodology.  Quite what the monkey thinks, I'm not sure.

I also hunted for pictures of my melted flowers but couldn't find any.  Which probably means I forgot to take them.  So I have taken some fresh ones here!

The colour is good here apart from the shadow.  It was just too sunny 5 minutes ago (cloudy now).

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Back from my post post summer lull

Oh dear, time seems to be flying at the moment.  I am currently working on reviews for the December issue of Workshop on the Web, and I'm very excited to be working with a selection of Wonderfil threads, Brusho sprays, transfer paper and some fabulous Aarti J trims.  You will find them under products.  I won't be able to put my pictures on the blog though!

Aside from that though, I have been doing a few of my own lovely things.  Taking inspiration from Paula Watkins and her fantastic Herts Open Studios that were on recently, I have decided to revisit the felt panel that I made in Paula's felt class in June (seems like yesterday) and get on with it.

I painted my background with a coral silk paint (my most favourite colour) and then stencilled a flower design using a Crafter's Workshop stencil. Then I melted it away with the heat gun, and left a lovely pattern.  I need to find where my piccie of the melted piece is.  It might be in the Hard Drive of Horror (my computer files).
I also painted some coral coloured cotton that I have.  I loved this and will need to do a bit of stitching to make it even more wonderful.  But my favourite bit was the back (not something I usually big up as there's usually a mass of threads and it's the place where I hide my mistakes!).  The paint had embossed the fabric. Now I'm not sure what to sew and what to hide....

My other exciting news is that I have some new threads for crocheting!  My lovely brother bought them for me.  I have done a few bits with them (their purchase in turn necessitated some new tiny crochet hooks).
They are Lisbeth Cordonnet Threads size 20.  I saw a pattern for a necklace in the Vogue Crochet 2012 magazine and found some in the UK.  Hurrah!  Will take some pictures of what I've done and post those.  See a theme emerging for this post on colour?? They are also all coral or coral related...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Return from the Summer Lull

I have had a longer break than expected over the summer from my blog, due to holidays, Paralympics and generally faffing around.

However, before I launch back into what I have been doing, I wanted to show some work by an artist called Caroline Parrott.  I went to Walford Mill Crafts in Wimbourne and saw an amazing selection of work by fantastic artists.  Debbie Kirby has a studio space there with her loom and produces some beautiful pictures.

But I bought a couple of pieces by Caroline Parrott, which really caught my eye.

The flower is beautiful and the butterfly is a wall butterfly and comes with a screw so you can put it on the wall with lots of other butterflies.  I am hoping to clear some wall space and build up my collection.

They are made of aluminium which takes colour and the colours and pattern on them are amazing.

Something to aspire to.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hello to Jason Isaacs

As we are well underway, I thought I'd print a picture of my offering to the project Quilts 4 London, with which I was involved.  The project was set up to get people of all ages and abilities to make pennants using a craft technique (mainly quilting, and sewing, although there were a few papercrafts and knitted ones) to give as a gift to the visiting athletes during the Olympics.  The organisation has done a fantastic job in promoting new skills to people who would otherwise not have got involved.

My efforts were as follows:

For anyone that listens to the Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode Film Review Podcast on Radio 5, the Hello to Jason Isaacs phenomenon will be familiar to them.  They have said hello to the quite gorgeous Mr Isaacs for some years now on every show, and the phenomenon has gone viral, with people all over the world including their own hellos in increasingly outlandish ways.  The electronic banner in Leicester Square, one in LA for the Jay Leno Show, radio shows around the world are just some of the places to say Hello.

So I thought I would do my own little homage to Mr Isaacs and get involved with the Olympics for myself.  I spent a pleasant afternoon googling pictures (there had to be one of him without a shirt on from the recent Case Histories TV series), and put it all together. 

The pennant was on display at The View Tube Gallery, along with lots of other pennants.  The View Tube overlooks the Olympic Park, and until it was closed to the public in May, it was the closest view you could get to the Stadium.

Pennants hanging.  Can you spot Jason Isaacs?

Display at You Tube Gallery

I spy Jason again

It was a bit rainy (funny that)

Olympic Park view in April

Anish Kapoor's Orbit

The Aquatic Centre
I put a label on the back explaining the reasoning behind the pennant so whoever gets it should have some context for a pennant with lots of pictures of a handsome man...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Go Team GB!

We went to see the Ladies Football on Tuesday at Wembley, which was an amazing experience for us all (though we were all suffering with a touch of vertigo as we were so near to the roof).

So with a bit of patriotism, I'm posting a piccie I took of a cafe in Dorset a while ago (probably while the Jubilee was in full flow).  It's paper cups and I love it!

Paula's birthday

For my good friend's (Paula Watkins) birthday this year, I did a mini quilt to reflect everything Paula.

Quilt for Paula

I used cotton fabric as a base and did some simple piecing around the centre piece, which was text printed onto cotton on my printer.  First I had sprayed with a walnut ink wash, then painted over with Magical Mica pots.  These little pots of powder produce amazing colours when they are wet - you dip your brush into the pot before wetting.  For this I used Autumn Maple, Tibetan Poppy, Ponderosa Pine and Red Hot Poker. Because of the walnut ink, they look a little muted but they can be incredibly vibrant.

For the text, I thought of everything that Paula loves.  Anyone who knows Paula knows that there wasn't enough space for everything, so I needed to be choosy.  But I made sure that some of the essentials were there - woolfelt and her Sizzix particularly!

I hand stitched on the centre panel, but found that there wasn't a lot of space to stitch without covering the writing, which was a shame, because I think it could have done with quilting.  As the outside edges were securely machined, the centre piece puffed up a bit and creased. 

The outer panels were stencilled with some lime green paint and machine stitched to quilt.  I used pelmet vilene to create labels.  I used tissuetex to cover the labels and  TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to put the images of the scissors on (using copyright-free images from the internet), and then I managed (after much blood, sweat and tears) to put eyelets in and hand-stitch the labels to the quilt.

copyright free images of vintage scissors were used

My label - nade with my wonderful Sizzix Wordplay die

I think she liked it!!!!  It was the mention of woolfelt that clinched it....

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic fever

Now that the Olympics have got off to a flying start, I thought I'd join the fun and publish a couple of photos we have! 

We watched Danny Boyle's fabulous Opening Ceremony last night and were overwhelmed by it.  There was so much in it - fireworks, humour, music, film, dance, puppetry and we found ourselves moved and awestruck.  And having flashbacks to childhood when The Childcatcher arrived.  I don't have anything bad to say about it. 

How's that for a floral display?

Note the ship funnel through the buildings.  Slightly out of place?

Funnel belongs to this huge ship docked in Canary Wharf

It's German so could be where the German delegation are staying

All the boats crowded here for the Olympics.  None of the jetties are normally there

Us, supposrting Team GB with our wristbands!