An elegant sufficiency

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Same Procedure as Every Year

Happy New Year!

Got ten minutes to spare? Watch the film for yourself
The introduction is in German, but the film itself is in English.

Christmas Books

I'm finally finding a spare half hour here and there to look through some of my Christmas Books. In my opinion, the contents and the quality of the production of each one of these titles is remarkable and I can see all three becoming firm favourites.

First off the pile is Sandra Meech's latest title Creative Quilts I think the boundaries between quilting and embroidery are so fuzzy now that it's hard to make a distinction (though I know there will be some traditional quilters out there who will disagree!) There is such an immense wealth of inspiration in this book for anyone working with textile arts and I trust the title will not discourage anyone from taking a closer look. Every page could start a journey towards a new project or bring fresh ideas to enliven an existing one. I can't wait to begin trying some of the suggestions!

Next off the pile is one I didn't feel I needed to look inside before adding to my Amazon wishlist, such is my confidence that any book by Maggie and Val would be full of goodness. I felt I really needed to add Stitch, Dissolve, Distort to my collection and sure enough, it's got all the reliable ideas and technical know-how to refer to time and again. I like the way that this book returns to some of the old favourites such as whip stitch, reminding me that some techniques are so solid that they remain useful and adaptable in spite of the all the new products appearing. The photography in the book is great and the layout follows in the same vein as previous titles by Maggie and Val. Sad to think that once we get the Embellisher title in our hands, we will benefit no more from Val's incredible creative talent. She's sadly missed.

Finally one which I definitely needed to look inside before it found a place on my list. I'm wary of such titles, many of which simply seem to be full of other peoples' journal pages open for copying. I have no use for such books, neither do I want product-heavy "project" ideas. this one is neither. Beginning with some fairly basic principles, Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books by Karen Dinino and Linda Woods goes on to explore several aspects of building these "visual chronicles" - not so much sketchbooks, not really journals, for the ideas in the book are not centred upon recording events in a diary as such but far more about using the medium of a blank page to record creative responses to all manner of "pressed buttons". There's practical advice and encouragement to inspire and though I don't think I need/want to work through this book from beginning to end, there are several things I intend to try as soon as possible, in the hope that I might establish some better journal/sketchbook keeping habits.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Super stocking stuffer

Father Christmas was extremely clever in finding some interesting things for me this year (I must have been very good!) This small book is a wonderful resource of ideas and inspiration and I'm especially intrigued by the "multigarment" formed from a rectangle of fabric with a few slits cut in. Reminds me of my teaching days, when one fun project was to get all the children making waistcoats to wear, made from paper laminated with Marvin Medium (PVA) They loved the whole process, were totally absorbed in the idea of being able to wear their own artwork and wore them proudly out of school on the last day of term.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Envelope Books

Reading my Grumpy friend's blog this afternoon, I was impressed by her wonderful envelope book. Not only is it beautifully made, but the cover is worthy of any smart stationers or art book store. Made me look again at some of mine - not in the same league at all, but a constant favourite workshop and one I find myself being asked to teach over and over again.

My interest began whilst I was doing my City and Guilds Embroidery certificate, with a module based on traditional pulled and drawn thread techniques and using a "postage" theme as the design element.

I found myself drawn to the small envelope lining patterns and the wavy lines of a postmark, so, having used them for the inspiration for the samples, I displayed them in an envelope book. (above) This book is made in a fairly basic way, using coloured duct tape to hold it together and most certainly not of the heirloom variety! But it works well, was praised by my tutor and led me on to further thoughts.

I think it was at this point that I found a Martha Stewart tutorial in one of her magazines, (MarthaDex suggests it might have been Dec 2000) This one was used as a "useful place to keep things in" and though I no longer have the original article, the envelope book I teach in my workshops is very much of the same genre.

I always use recycled magazine and holiday brochure pages for the workshop - I take along all the materials and take a selection of pages for the participants to choose from. The eventual purpose of the book suggests the design - the book above was designed for a dressmaker to carry small swatches of thread and fabric for colour matching, for example.

This book is meant to keep souvenirs of a journey in - bus tickets, till receipts and so on. I always take a map one along with me and during my meandering tutorial, make reference to the reaction in this household when I start to rip up an old road atlas! That usually rings bells around the room (my classes are usually women) so clearly the men in this house are not the only ones to hoard out of date maps forever.

Other purposes are for keeping coupons, for newspaper cuttings and lists and, as below, as a way of presenting a gift of invitations to tea, to the theatre and so on.

These small books are so quick to make, absolutely guaranteed success for anyone, no skills required! As you can see in the picture above, the flap of one envelope is stuck to the address face of the next, and the flap of that one stuck to the next...and so on. They are folded concertina-style and bound into a cover of a magazine page (or road map) using double sided tape. I usually cut a flap to fold over the front and fasten with either a self adhesive magnet or small velcro dot.

If you're a WI member, you might have come across the Action Packs, one of which is the "Keepsake Books" pack. It contains instructions and samples to enable a group to make several different small books, including another variation of my Envelope Book, and members of the WI in England and Wales can hire the pack through their WI Secretary. (advert over!)


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Weirdly tagged

I've been tagged for the six weird things by Della of TartyCrafty, so here goes, starting with the weirdest:

1. My further education choices were based on a flippant remark by a schoolteacher of mine, who declared “Girls and Chemistry don’t mix”. Sadly, I fear I proved him right. Happily I found my niche before it was too late.

2. When everyone else throws paper bags and envelopes away, I find myself ironing them to see if they will be useful for printing onto fabric or including in some odd project or other. Weird too, that I hang around with people who have similarly weird habits. (sorry, Ruth!)

3. My holiday photographs – usually include flaky doors, odd patterns and other stuff more inspiring than a blue sea and sky.

4. I have a Barry Manilow CD in my car right now. Not only might that be weird, it’s also slightly embarrassing to admit.

5. I am frightened of birds and other fluttery things. I inherited this fear from my Mum, who can’t even bear to touch a feather. I cannot walk through a city centre without flinching at the pigeons and would choose to take the long way round to avoid them.

6. My friends and family refuse to tell me of any other weirdnesses on the basis that there are far too many to name. I find that weird, because I think I’m actually pretty normal.

THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

I've tagged only my weirdest friends for this one, in the hope that they will have more entertaining weirdnesses to share

Digital Gran who has more daughters than she ever knew about
Grumpy terrifically talented
Sue delightfully mad
Liz who also admits to liking a bit of rust
Maggie She stitches with a dog, for heavens sake - everyone else uses a needle
Sue whose magic armchair takes her to some amazing places

And as Della said, no pressure to play and admit to weirdnesses unless you're happy to do so!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

WyeSue was here?

Something tells me WyeSue was here today....
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Monday, December 25, 2006

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas

Here's hoping you've had a day full of wonderful surprises.
Wishing you peace, joy and happiness.
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Building Affordable Housing

The building materials have arrived and work is about to begin.

Modern techniques mean that the structure is soon taking shape.

It's important to get the roof on as soon as possible, before the first snowfall.
But the wind whistles straight through such basic buildings and I fear they won't last long!

Unlike Martha's little cottage, which will clearly last a lifetime


Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

So, all meetings done for this year, and now on the home stretch to Christmas. I have lists of things to buy, to do, to cook and lists of lists still to be made. I know it's not vital to know at this point what we will eat for tea a week on Wednesday, but for some reason (supermarket delivery order) I would feel happier if I'd at least got something in mind. In the meantime, what do I do? Get Paddington and Aunt Lucy into their Nikolaus outfits, of course, just a few days late. I have to get some priorities straight!

We've just brought the Christmas tree inside and as we did, I noticed a small squirrel in one of the old trees in the lane - we live high on a hill and that particular window looks out amongst the branches as you can see. The little squirrel seems to be quite happy there and didn't mind my taking his photograph, normally they squeal and shout at us if we deign to disturb their business! He's hanging on for life though - laid flat out on that branch with his tail over his head. Maybe he's enjoying a short nap?! (I'd forgotten that the photo will be even smaller when blogged, so if you can't see him in the pic, you'll simply have to enjoy a view of a Cotswold tree trunk!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Teeny Tiny Totes

The Teeny Tiny Totes I began making in June were finished over the weekend, a pompom attached as fastening, made with the pink Clover Pompom maker (my new favourite toy!) and felted by washing twice at 60C in the machine. I love the way the pompoms felted and think the little "nose" finishes them off nicely. I made a total of thirteen for my colleagues, who were suitably appreciative.

I also made a batch of these paper balls from the Martha Stewart Holiday craft magazine which seems to be a particularly good collection of ideas this year. Might have to do a few more of these for Edward to take back to his flat at the weekend. I think they look good just sitting around, never mind hanging on a tree.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gorgeous sky

As I left Waitrose at around 4.30pm yesterday, my spirits were lifted by the most stunning sky. Fortunately, I had my camera in my bag.


Knitting a poem

My Grumpy chum alerted me to this series which is on Radio 4 several days this week - really great and worth a listen.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent Sunday

Getting myself together having spent most of yesterday driving to and from London, taking Edward to his new home. It's an exciting time for him, starting out in the world with so many possibilities opening up and we are happy that he's sorted out such a comfortable place to live.

Today we've put out our Advent plate and will light the first candle later. No good for the willpower, because those lebkuchen, dominostein and other yummy sweeties are amongst my favourites. Shall have to balance the chocolate with a satsuma from time to time!
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Making our door wreath

"'Twas the month before Christmas and all through the house, all you could hear was the click of a mouse...'"

Except that today, there was the click of scissors as well, as I made our door wreath. I don't really like the primped, all-too-perfect ones on sale and prefer a looser, more natural wreath, made from cuttings from the garden and which will gradually dry and change character as the month progresses.

I start with some cuttings of ivy, cotoneaster and rosemary, which is still flowering in one corner of the garden and has an amazing scent. I choose long, spindly lengths, still very soft and pliable so that I can wind and wrap it around to make a circle.

I wind the lengths of ivy and cotoneaster around each other, twisting it in and out to keep it all together, not really worrying at this point whether it is looking ok and simply concentrating on getting a firm foundation.

Gradually, I add in more greenery, still twisting the long lengths around one another and gently pushing the circle into shape from time to time. Now, I'm trying to keep the leaves on one side in preference to the other, making a front and a back. Any little sprig that doesn't behave gets the chop!

Finally, I fill in any gaps with little bits of purple sage, twigs of rosehips and ivy berries - though the cultivated ivy in the garden doesn't have berries, the wild stuff in the lane is loaded. I poke the stems through and twist them in and amongst the other twisted stems as far as I can.

I make a hanging loop from a leftover piece of ivy stem and hang on the front door.