autumn views and new workshop

Autumn 20131

So many pretty views right now, looking up or looking down. This Picasa collage is not great but I'm being lazy at the end of a long week.
Dog & butterfly

 

Naomi and I are back at Moorish for another felt workshop soon. She's over committed on commissions for Christmas already so we'll be teaching people how to make their own pets from fleece. As the Spring Grove Alpaca and sheep herd has grown so has the colour range. Find out more about the workshops here.

I've gone through my current stack of books and recently returned to classics. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by, Carson McCullers and Sweet Thursday by, Steinbeck. I loved them both so much. It's astonishing that McCullers was only twenty-three when she wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. And while reading Sweet Thursday I was struck by how all the issues in the novel are so relevant today, especially concerns about overpopulation. I've always loved Steinbeck and Sweet Thursday made me want to re-read Cannery Row, as Steinbeck revisited the same characters.

Do you have any favourite classics?

Tonight the BBC were recording here in our tiny village and visiting our monthly music club that Tristan has performed at several times. I usually go but a silly cold kept me in tonight. Rumour has it they were here to record the local brother duo Ben & Alfie. They are brilliant to see live and they were just shortlisted for the BBC2 Young Folk Awards – have a listen.

And speaking of listening, Matthew Oomen's new music has been helping me through some creative yet sometimes tedious jobs this week; it can be downloaded here.

I'll be back soon with that template and tutorial mentioned previously.

Have a great weekend. x

Updated - Forgot to mention the dog and the butterfly were made by Naomi Stannard.



 


the magic of mist

One misty morning
View from a misty morning walk

Autumn is drawing in and mornings are becoming cooler and the mist heavier. Last week I snapped a few pictures of magic the mist brings by showing off another sign of the season, web building (the arachnid variety).

The day before, these webs would have been invisible to passerbys. But this misty morning they were visible every step of the way. Here are a few varieties of constructions I saw, oddly, most of the builders were hiding at the time.

Crystal web

Ground webs

Delicate web

Fishing line web

Fine web

Diamond web

Spider flats

This last one is taken of a holly section of hedgerow and looks like a block of flats to me.

I long for the day when I have time to remember to take along a decent camera and stop relying on my phone for images. Having said that, my DSLR is in need of a serious upgrade so until then I'll enjoy what I have to hand and keep in mind it's better than no visual reminders at all.

Speaking of visuals, I took really subpar video of Tristan's performance at the art week that kicked off this weekend, I really must find a better way to record. He was asked to perform a whole set and in spite of the base player getting cold feet at the last moment, he and the drummer still took to the stage and gave a rousing performance, including one of his own compositions this time.

Tris was also interviewed and performed live on local radio which I'll link to as soon as I can sort out the audio file – I'm not sure how, but I'm quite sure I held my breath through the whole thing!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend too, what did you get up to?

x


home

Spider tent
Nursery web spider, Pisaura mirabilis

We've just returned from three glorious weeks with family and friends in California. Whenever we visit I get the usual question regarding where is home now for me. After being in the UK for 16 years the answer is a tough one. I adore my family and extended family so much that it's great being back in their protective, nurturing environment. But I love our life in the UK too, it's been good to me and our UK family and friends have too. 

Baby spids
Spiderlings inside their protective web, mother stands guard outside

Just before we left on our trip we found out our landlord is selling the home we rent so soon we'll be moving yet again. The children are so happy in the village where we live that they were desperately unhappy to come home to a "For Sale" sign on the house. I wish I could spin a silky web around them to gaurd them from unpleasantness and predators like this nursery spider does for her young. But this is another little bump in the road that we will get over and life will roll on and I'm sure benefits will come from it.
Right now we're basking in the afterglow of the fun we had in California, giving our doggie lots of cuddles and catching up on sleep. Luckily there was finally a bit of rain while we were away so things are a little greener than when we left and there's a bumper crop of blackberries waiting to be picked in the back garden.
Hope your summer has been fabulous!
x

Satisfaction!

_68461420_68461416When I saw the Rolling Stones twenty years ago on their Voodoo Lounge tour I thought maybe it would be the last chance to see them live. I thought they're all at least 50 now, how much longer can they possibly go on? 

We weren't lucky enough to get tickets to Glastonbury but the BBC has had tons of coverage this year so Tris and I stayed up last night to watch the Stones headline set live. We were amazed! All their hits were just as great as ever and Mick's strut hasn't changed a bit. With the exception of being a little more out of breath here and there Mick was outstanding, they all were. (Image from BBC)

The best part was watching it with my rock loving boy. I never in a million years would have imagined this band still at it in 2013, nor that I'd have such a great kid to share it with. We're already working out how to get to Glastonbury next time around.

Last fete
Beautiful day for our last school fete yesterday

We're busy wrapping up end of school year stuff. Gracie is on the home stretch, finishing primary school and heading off to the same school as her brother next year. Both kids are going through outrageous growth spurts; the upside to this being my daughter has outgrown my shoes so I no longer have to search for them all over the house.

Overflowing garden
Our little garden is now bursting

Tris has been asked to play a number of events coming up including a solo performance at a food and music festival which is a big honour for him as he might be the only amateur. And Gracie's rounders team has just made it to the regional playoffs. Like most parents, the children's schedules make life very full, especially this time of year.

Blackberry blossoms

For me, in between work I'm trying to squeeze in making a new bag for summer and I'm loving the outcome so far. It involves tweeking my Forager Bag pattern to include a zipped top close, removing the flap, adding outer pockets, a leather strap... a little more than tweeking then.

Right now I'm:

  • Wishing I could find nice summer sandals in my size, any suggestions for me?
  • Really wishing I could snap these beauties up.
  • Loving the latest issue of this brilliant magazine where I learned there's actually a job titled Head of the Dye room behind the scenes at the National Theatre, how great is that? 
  • Trying to perfect a semi-healthy snack, these are next on my list – and her nail colour really makes me want to paint my nails.

I hope your summer is shaping up well, what are you up to?

x

 

 


climbing and unfurling

Photo5
sweet peas stretching upwards

Our little garden is exploding with growth – I honestly think I can see these sweet peas growing. 

Dandelions
dandelion garden

And the dandelions are exceptionally prolific this year. I told Gracie we'd welcome them because the bees need every happy habitat they can find. She took that as a good reason to pick every single one and blow their seed on every inch of garden not yet claimed. She's such a helper.

Buttercups
field of buttercups

On my walks the fields and meadows are filled with colour.

Cow parsley
cow parsley

And hedgerows are beautiful with delicate blooms, unfurling ferns and tiny inhabitants.

Unfurling
unfurling

Life in hedgerows
web building

Walking back through the village the neighbouring lilac trees smell divine.

Lilac
white lilac (does that make sense?)

If I were Thumbelina I'd curl up and nap on these pillowy blooms.

I hope you're absorbing every last drop of what spring has to offer. Though she's come late to us this year Spring's more than made up for her tardiness with the spectacular show she's putting on.

Happy Thursday :)


trees and skies

Photo6

Sun tree

Photo4

Photo3

Photo5

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.  Robert Louis Stevenson

My daily walks have been shorter lately so I'm missing the trees. We've had more amazing skies too and as we often have rain the amazing skies are pretty in puddles too. I recently posted these same images on Instagram in black and white by using Snapseed filters. 

There are so many things I've missed sharing here lately but for lack of time I'd just like to pass on some important and also fun links instead.

Lisa's stone project is still open to join in. She's accepting stones from all corners of the earth that she'll decorate in her own wonderful way. Sonia has a pouch giveaway going on, check it out. Also, I've been a huge fan of Lisa Stevens porcelain bowls and pendants since I first joined Flickr. She now has a Facebook page as well as two Etsy shops. I'll share more of her work soon, but treat yourself to a look through her Seaurchin Flickr photostream. And the Gretel Parker project is still looking for people to spread the word. Give it a read and check out her blog too, her story is one I know well. Help if you can.

We welcomed two new babies to the family in the last couple of weeks. Congratulations to my lovely cousins Joe and wife Bridget on the birth of little Olive and to cousin Kate and Graham on the birth of sweet Josephine. We can't wait to meet them.

The children are off this week for half-term break so it's a crazy mixed up schedule. I'm thinking I might try and squeeze in some finishing this week. There are lots of things I want to start but finishing a few old ones I'm thinking might bring just as much satisfaction as starting something new.

What are you making now?

Happy Tuesday,

Jx

 

 

 

 


enjoying

Ceiling
above me

Toboggan
Gracie and Katie enjoying a snow day

Trellis
in the village

Stuggling primulas
primulas staying bright

School view
view from school

Me
me enjoying a snow day

After our share of rain and floods last year I'm enjoying what 2013 has brought us. The children had more snow days this week and we all have loved it. The amount of that's fallen has meant me working from home all week and I've really enjoyed the quiet snow brings. Few vehicles on the roads, the birds hiding away and children out for hours sliding down hills. Yesterday I thought the melt was here and the inevitable slush too but no, half way through my walk this morning the snow began to come down again.

Abby wrote an interesting post about author's photos on blogs and arounna had a great post about the real value of handmade. Though I don't blog for a living and make and sell very little, I found both posts thought provoking, you might too. See, I'm already following Abby's advice, Gracie snapped photos and video of me tobogganing (see above), the video is a little... loud.

Happy weekend.

Jx

 


long weekends

Having Friday off school due to snow has led to a fun extended weekend for us. Friday was a fantastic yet exhausting day of tobogganing culminating in an impromptu sleep-over with five teenage boys, equally as exhausting - for me. They made a pancake feast Saturday morning and sort of even tidied up afterwards, in a teenage boy kind of way.

Riding for G on Saturday turned into mostly more tobogganing on the fantastic Quantock hills. Now some of the snow has melted but it's still so pretty. More is forecast for tomorrow so the children are crossing every finger and toe for an even longer weekend.

Today mummy has refused to go anywhere. After doing the usual morning chores and returning the most necessary emails I've snuck back to bed with my coffee and stitching. I've been into faces lately, not sure why the faces haven't become complete dollies but I'm sure they will eventually.

Though I've been working a lot lately, this week I'll enjoy squeezing in a project for Whip Up, Action Pack; they have a "water" issue coming up and I know it will be another great one.

I hope your weekend has been fun filled too.

Jx

PS, I'm trying out the Typepad app for iPhone, I can't see a way to make links in it and this post might end up looking odd too!

long weekends

long weekends

long weekends

long weekends


with the sun comes the cold

Welcome
Welcome

We've spent a lot of time behind this door over the last week and a half. The incredible storms that have caused the flooding around here were not to be reckoned with. We tucked up, filled our little coal stove and huddled around it. The wind and rain were intense. I took this photo when the sun started to reappear, not sure I captured the gold and purples showing through the window but the light was amazing. I only noticed afterwards that my larch wreath on the door didn't fair so well, it might need a small repair.

Wet

When I did venture out for dog walks and to run (literally) down to the shop we were met with mud, water and more mud. We were stranded for a day or two by roads out of our village into town and T's school closed one day but we got off easy as our village is mostly on a hill. Friends in Devon were stranded by rising streams turned to rivers and another friend nearby flooded by the rising stream near them. But people round here are hardy and made of sturdy stuff. The flooded friends were brought dinner and cake and wine and an industrial pump by a bloke they didn't know.

Rays

And though we now have sun, the water is taking it's time receding. On my usual walk through the orchard I came across a rushing stream where there's never been one before which made me then think how stupid I was leaving the house without my wellies just because the sun had come out.

Sunny today

I mentioned to Kristy that the benefit of dull, grey days is that the sun is that much brighter and colours more vibrant when clouds clear, or something to that effect.

But now that our blanket of cloud has cleared, in has come the cold.

First big frost

There was lots of crunching this morning and the rest of the week there will be too. I've even heard the sledge might need dusting off (if I can find it).

Leaf party

Apart from weather, we had an event this week. T got his first series of fittings for braces on Tuesday, and he now has two rather large looking appliances to wear all the time. He's pleasantly surprising me with his dedication so far to wearing them; he's not complaining a bit and coping with the irritating dull ache. He'll be even more handsome when it's all finished :)

With the weather disruption not many of us have thought too much about Christmas around here, it will be a lowkey affair for us anyway, and I'm very okay with that (my children are taking more convincing). Here's a great read about getting priorities right at Christmas time from Kathrin at annekata, it's titled "Golf Balls and Beer" how can you not read that one right?! I loved it and resolved to make it to the pub with a friend this week. And something else I loved, Lisa's snowfolk, click over to them if you need a smile.

Happy Friday,

Jx


blustery benefits

In the making

The severe storms we've experienced this week have left some pretty detritus in it's wake. On my walks I've been pocketing these bits and pieces that are littering the ground. I love them. On one of our windiest, rainiest days this week I got so carried away hunting for these pieces that I walked further than intended and returned home soaked all the way down to my toes, even with wellies on. It was worth it though; when I emptied my pockets and saw my treasure, along with the odd slug too, I was giddy. I put it all on a dish, sat the lichen and myself next to the Rayburn and warmed up. 
This little wreath was easy to make and only a little fiddly, this is how I made it:
  • Gather lichen, preferably after a storm and not during one :) Find it on the ground, it flies off trees easily in windy weather, don't pull it off of branches. Lichen love big old trees like oaks. Our local apple orchard was a good hunting ground too, specifically under the oldest, biggest apple trees.
  • Use wire to thread through the slightly thicker parts of the lichen near where it previously was attached to the tree and just keep threading, like stringing popcorn. Pack the lichen together on the wire firmly but gently. (I'm not sure what gage this wire is, it's thin yet strong enough to poke like a needle through the lichen).
  • When you have enough threaded to make a sturdy circle (my wreath is about 13 inches in diametre) twist the ends but don't cut the wire at the twist, cut a long length about four inches longer than the circumference of the circle.
  • On the under side of the wreath loosely string another circle of wire. No need to thread it through every piece, just in four of five places, this will help the wreath hold it's shape and be sturdier.
  • Twist a small loop in the wire for hanging and trim any excess wire. If you have any slightly bald patches, just glue some loose piece of lichen in here and there.
Lichen-wreath

I added a simple gold ribbon but I think I'd prefer a simple silver one. I might try adding some hawthorne berries like in this picture and when I saw some mother of pearl buttons on my desk I couldn't help thinking how lovely they would be dotted around it instead of berries. 
I'm not sure how long this wreath will hold it's colour, if it were to hang outside I'd have made the wreath with fresh lichen instead of dried. I might have to make one for our tiny garden shed. There are loads of lichen filled trees on a hill where I'll be tomorrow (if the floods allow us to travel), I'd better take big pockets. 
My wreath has four or five different types of lichen, if you want to identify the lichen you find there's a great site I've found and a whole society dedicated to the stuff right here, how cool is that?!
It's been an exciting week of weather around here, if you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen some of the craziness. If you're in the UK, no doubt you've seen it in the news.
Hope you're having a smashing weekend.
Jx
PS, Grrrrr to Typepad, it won't let me make paragraph breaks. Also, the colour in the second photo isn't as accurate as in the first photo, if your a lichen lover you probably already guessed that ;)