Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ludlow - Part 2

The trouble with a downhill stroll on the outward journey is that it turns into a little of an uphill slog on the way back - I'm not very fit at present and we had been walking for about three hours by the time we  decided it was time to cook tea.

Ludlow was a walled and gated city - strategically built on the top of a hill as the first photo in the last post shows. This house was, according to its plaque, a gatehouse:

set into the town walls:

The river is beautiful - it would once have been a center of activity, with mills and tanneries. Some of the old mill buildings survive. The light was failing us at this point, but the following give you some idea:

If I had to describe Ludlow to someone from my part of North Wales, I would say, in size and feel, it reminds me of a combination of Whitchurch, Oswestry and Ellesmere - local, small, Shropshire market towns which I love; combined with something of Chester (on a smaller scale) - particularly near the river. Setting aside Chester's prominent Roman remains, the black and white facades, the weir - almost beneath a main crossing point, and the resident ducks and swans all felt familiar. This particular duck was absolutely beautiful. I have no idea what he is. He was perfectly visible to the eye, but the failing light has caused him to blend into the river a little too much! I'll have a go at showing you anyway - please let me know if you can identify him:


I have been stitching a series of felted and embroidered bookmarks - each one is unique in composition and the flowers grow organically out of the felting.

This one - a felted panel with ribbon tails, was listed, and sold, yesterday:

This has just been listed in Lynwoodcrafts' Folksy shop - a larger felted and embroidered panel:

Monday, 5 November 2012


A lovely week-end in Shropshire with good food and lovely views.

Our daughter had embarked on a practice expedition for her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award on and around the Long Mynd. Not wanting to stay at home, whilst required to be responsibly available to retrieve her in the event of an unexpectedly early finish, we decided to find a campsite fairly close and settled on a new one in Ludlow. She left with a friend at about 6.30 am. We left 'a little later' and called at the Ludlow Food Center on our way to the site.

A quick lunch, grab walking boots and very warm clothing - it was a very pretty but very cold autumn day, and we set off to walk into the town. We spotted this photo opportunity on the way in, but were anxious to catch the market before stalls started to close so this was taken on the way back. I've shown you now since it gives a good flavour of Ludlow for those of you not familiar with the town.

Ludlow is renowned for good food and lovely architecture. We treated ourselves to some venison steaks at the Food Center, we had brought fresh veg and some garden produce with us and were anxious to see what else we could find in the town.

The following are dreadful photos from a technical and composition point of view, but they do show you something more of Ludlow:

One of the main reasons why I like our little motorhome so much is that our kitchen travels with us. I follow a wheat and gluten free diet, but like to shop locally and try local specialities when I can. The ability to cook with suitable flour etc to hand puts the finishing touches to a holiday for me - the only downside is the washing up which also accompanies me on holiday!

We had brought leeks, onions, baby potatoes, green beans and sugarsnap peas from home. Venison and some lovely plump chestnuts had been added at the Food Center. We found a punnet of lovely juicy redcurrants and some mushrooms at the farmers indoor market. The steaks were pan-fried and mushrooms, redcurrants, a good splash of red wine, a little tomato puree and the chestnuts were added - wonderful!

Other market stalls had yielded two local cheeses and some gluten free, hand-made pork and apple sausages for the following day. We need to do plenty of walking during our weekends to balance the amount of eating which we do!!

I must confess that, in the midst of all these culinary delights, the first shop which leapt out at me from the top of the street was the local wool shop.

The lovely background wool for this brooch was too pretty to leave behind!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Views of Llyn Brenig

..... more views from my mobile kitchen door.

We only had a few hours to spare, so we took our kitchen with us, stopped at the Rhug Farm Shop, and then drove on to Brenig for a lovely picnic and short stroll.

I'm not sure about this little chap - but I vaguely remember keeping tiger moth caterpillars as a child (I think they were similar) and, since something I kept ate willow herb, and he was certainly heading in the direction of a clump, we helped him across the road just in case of accident -

Some views of the lake/reservoir:

There were quite a few very small and spindly rowan trees and they all seemed to have an unreasonably large crop of beautiful but heavy looking berries in large clumps. The rowan in the last two photos inspired this lakeside brooch:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Driftwood... and so many new ideas!

I have quite a collection of beach combing goodies. I'm not sure whether its the sun (hopefully present) sea air, sound of the sea, or a peculiar 'foraging thrill' (I have always loved seeking out sweet chestnuts, conkers, acorns...... ) which makes this such an enjoyable pastime. The collecting of items is as important, if not more so, than their ultimate re-purposing (and the period of storage - or vain attempt to find another nook or cranny for storage, in the meantime is definitely not enjoyable!).

Whilst strolling along a Gower beach at the weekend I found some small pieces of bleached, bark-less, driftwood which I wanted to add to my collection. Knowing that they would be noticed upon my return to the campsite, I was under pressure to have an imminent project to which to assign them when asked to justify the collection. Recent work has included a number of hangings and I have long had a vague idea or two in mind about a combination of techniques including free-form crochet, weaving and embroidery. A vague concept of a 'sea/beach/dunes' inspired design came to mind, quickly followed by two winter/snow/Christmas ideas and then a 'fall of autumn leaves' as a sort of cross pollination from some brooches I have stitched recently, of which this is the most recent:

There are so few hours in the day and I have other tasks which the majority of folk would consider essential (mostly of the dreary housework, weekly shop, laundry variety). Rather more pressing is tidying my work space since that is starting to delay my searches for 'urgently vital' materials (urgent today/join the 'vertical stack once used' tomorrow), and my productivity is slowing down. I always find that I need to wade into a new idea immediately otherwise it 'goes a little stale' whilst being constantly re-worked in my mind before appearing in reality - quite a dilemma!

This piece was a little too large for my collection:

This next photo is something which I intend to research a little when I have time. My sister pointed and pronounced that this was 'a strange place to find berries' - the edge of the dunes. On looking more closely the berries turned out to be rose hips and the pretty leaves were on a low-growing rose which had colonised large areas of the dunes - something I had not seen before -

Off to sketch hangings/tidy yarns/find some lunch/check that I 'have something in for tea' - I'm sure I can't be alone in my chaotic crafting and creating! Please tell me there are more of us 'out there'.

PS - on the lunch-front - I have just found some left over new potatoes, two rashers of bacon and some salad - I think an omelette might be in order!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

From My Kitchen Door.....

...... a beautiful view along the coast of the Gower. I have cheated a little. My 'kitchen door' tends to relocate from time to time and this was taken from a lovely campsite at Nicholaston. 

Th weather was pretty awful on Friday evening when we arrived. We had no idea whether any other pitches were occupied, whether there was any prospect of a sea view..... What a lovely surprise to wake up to.

We indulged in two short walks - one towards Three Cliffs and the other to the west of the campsite, before visiting my sister in Swansea. I had made the rare mistake of packing entirely the wrong clothes. I had been shivering up here in North Wales for a couple of weeks. For Saturday at least it was definitely T-shirt weather. All the views were spectacular!

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Music to my Ears....

....... "There's an interesting craft stall with lots of 'fibre stuff'!

And yes - so there was 'Fire and Fibre'. I began by purchasing a 'Lucet'. Something I had been meaning to try for many years ( actually very many years - since I first saw one demonstrated at an NEC stitching show). There were two sizes available and I queried the effect of the size on the finished cord. Silly question I now know but I was a little sleep deprived! The larger one would produce a fine cord as well as the smaller one did, but it had the benefit of being suitable for much thicker yarns and threads and could produce much thicker cord. I bought the large one. Back at our pitch my daughter was watching me, asked to have a go and pronounced it to be useful for her corded bracelets which almost entirely cover her fore arms (on non-school days). In self defense, I retraced my steps and bought her a small one. Watching her use it, I did wonder if I would find it quicker than my larger one - no I couldn't use it - it's 'MINE'. Back I went and bought another. At each visit I enjoyed the opportunity to look at the display of finished items and work-in-progress produced on flower looms and peg looms - both of which I have. I am familiar with knitting looms - producing cylindrical items knitted 'in the round'. Fire and Fibre offer knitting frames - consisting of two rows of pegs (nails), one on each side of a central slit through which the knitting emerges in a single width. I was very tempted but, having found the company is based near to my home, decided to leave it for a while.

Trying to be good and not spend more money on craft materials, I resisted the temptation to re-visit the craft village for more than one whole day!! However, whilst waiting for the ukelele band, formed from the workshop sessions, to set up on the VILLAGE STAGE - 'quite by chance' I found myself back at Fire and Fibre and bought a set of weaving sticks. I had some very makeshift ones, but, inspired by the items displayed on the stall, thought I would invest in a 'proper' set.

The reference to a 'ukelele band' may have given you a clue to our location this week end. We spent a lovely, if tiring four days at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. I enjoy many types of folk music, but I am not knowledgeable enough to know which artists I will prefer - consequently, I discovered all sorts of new sounds. My husband visits our local folk club regularly and we camped next to his brother and family who have visited the festival several times. Our daughter and her cousin, enjoyed the ceilidhs, took part in workshops - our daughter traipsing round the site 'turtle-like' with her guitar on her back (and wellies on her feet!). Even our son surprised himself by enjoying several of the concerts and very enthusiastically joined in the ceilidh on the last night. Staffed by an army of volunteers, the site and its facilities were kept neat and clean - despite sometimes challenging weather and we all had a great week-end. Thank you Shrewsbury!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Tour of Norfolk -

- The Wash, Sandringham. the north Norfolk coast, the Broads, Norwich and then a few days at Cambridge and Ely. A lovely and relaxing trip, beautiful scenery, historic sites, craft inspiration in abundance, sunshine ......

Neither of us had visited Norfolk before. It had been on our to-do list for some time. Our recent trip began from a false premiss  that we needed an 11 day holiday which would start and finish by driving past East Midlands airport (our kids were travelling to and from Croatia, via Venice, with Scouts). It wasn't really feasible to travel back down to a ferry terminal and head for France - the 11 days were too limiting. Looking at a map the solution seemed obvious. An alternative solution was provided months after our holiday was booked, by arranging for the Scouts to travel to and from the airport by coach - allowing us the opportunity to start and finish our break from home in North Wales - however, our plans were already made. Having had such a lovely time we're grateful for the initial nudge in the Norfolk direction.

We began our tour at Sandringham, then travelled around the coastline, stopping over night on a cliff-top campsite at West Runton. Then on, via Cromer, to Norwich for a few days. We visited the broads, including the Museum of the Broads, before heading on to Cambridge (soooo many wonderful photos from the botanic gardens - a life-time of stitching possibilities!!). The stained glass museum at Ely Cathedral was another rich source of inspiration.

Beautiful coastlines, inland waterways, windmills, flowers in abundance, local markets, a great craft fair, historic architecture, lovely weather..... I couldn't have wanted a more relaxing and inspirational trip. Fortunately, my husband enjoyed it too. Our stay at Norwich was timed to coincide with the one-day/week opening of a printing museum which he had been wanting to visit for some while!

Over the next week or so I shall share some (I promise only a modest number) of our photos with you.

Here are a couple to give you a 'flavour' of the coastline:

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Patchwork Inspiration

I have been struggling to find time for designing and stitching for weeks now. The time I have found has enabled to make and list one or two items, but other on-line activities have been temporarily on hold - including blogging, unfortunately.

I have recently been involved in a team challenge on Esty, in which participants submitted items for consideration, voted to choose one 'inspirational item', and then spent a few weeks producing and listing items of their own, based on the chosen design.

This lovely ipad cover, from Etsy shop WhimsyWooDesigns, was chosen as our first item:

I decided to felt and embroider a bookmark. I love the result and will enjoy using it myself, but I have decided not to list it since too many of the design elements are taken directly from the original item. Here it is anyway:

I enjoyed the process of making this bookmark, and, in the somewhat convoluted way in which my craft work tends to evolve, I decided to make a small embroidered hanging using the same techniques:

I have always enjoyed patchwork. Part of the thrill for me is the re-use of precious fabrics, combination of different materials and introduction of embellishments - I love crazy patchwork in particular. These mellow colours really appealed to me so I searched my craft room (ransacked it and, like a child with too many birthday gifts, left a trail behind me), as I assembled this combination of knitting samples and yarns, together with a sketched design for a larger piece - based on this small one:

I find myself fired with enthusiasm and I am knitting one of the elements whilst waiting for photos to load here etc. I fear this may be another day on which the house remains untidy and tea is late!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lakeside landscape - Inspired by Teabreaks

Not an exact copy - but my interpretation. It is possible to blend colours when felting, and the hand-dyed fibres which I use, have an inherent gradation of colour. Even so, it is a little hard to duplicate exact colours. Mine has come out a little more 'yellowish' than the original. Having decided to stitch entirely in wools, and having only a limited palette of fine crewel wools, much of the embroidery has been in tapestry wools and this has resulted in a 'chunkier' effect than I intended. I hope Brenda won't mind the liberties which I have taken with her lovely design!

Stage 2 was this:

and my finished version (now listed at Esty):

and to remind you of Teabreaks lovely original (available at Etsy) :

Friday, 22 June 2012

'Stage 2' - Inspired by Teabreaks

I reached this stage yesterday, and hope to get some of the yarn snippets felted to the background later today. At present this looks a little like the first washes applied to a water colour work ( not that I know much about painting!) . The colours will intensify as the detail builds. I'm looking forward to the embroidery stage!


This is the latest hanging to be listed at Folksy - I hope you like it!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

An interpretation .....

..... of this beautiful little painting ( from Etsy Shop Teabreaks) will be the subject of a number of 'Work in Progress' blog posts. It was very difficult to choose one piece of work from a shop in which I find I like so many. I chose this one, because of the pretty colours and beautiful detail. I love walking beside water and the feeling of tranquility really emerges from this painting. Like many of the others from Gweddus Art, I can imagine myself within the fairytale landscape it portrays.

I have, of course, obtained the artist's permission, to produce a piece of embroidery based on this design and to feature the process on this blog.

I initially thought I would stitch a brooch, however, some of the pretty detail would have been lost in the 'miniaturisation' so, instead, I have decided upon a small wall hanging. The intention is to combine felting and embroidery. Here are the assembled materials - more will be added if necessary (this selection looks a little lacking in 'greens'):


In complete contrast:

This embroidered hanging (now listed at Folksy) has been adapted from a design in my daughter's sketchbook (again - I do have her permission!!!)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Heralding Fathers' Day

We have had rather a strange, and somewhat difficult week. My 18 year old son should have been taking 'A' level exams but has managed to catch chicken pox, and, since he has been pronounced to be infectious throughout his period of exams, is not able to sit his papers. His sister is working through her first year of GCSE's, has had chicken pox, as had her brother, and is hoping not to catch it again!

Having first seen the tell-tale rash beginning last Saturday, visited the doctor, and then trying to return to some sort of normality - whilst feeling a little disoriented, my daughter and I went shopping. Seeing all the Fathers' Day displays - but not observing the associated date, we panicked at the thought we were unprepared, bought a card ( and one on behalf of her quarantined brother), and some nice items for a special tea and felt pleased with ourselves that we had not overlooked the occasion. Not having time to listen to the radio, or TV, on Sunday, we went ahead and celebrated Fathers' Day. On Monday, I was a little surprised to see TV adverts for '' cards still being televised. Realising our mistake, I phoned my husband and just managed to get in, before he asked, with "no - you-re not having another one next week'. I thought I had shared the joke with both kids, but it seems my daughter only found out yesterday, when listening to local radio, on her way to help at cub camp. How she can blame me entirely, when she had remained unaware I'm not sure!

At the beginning of half term, my husband and I had decided to have a stroll along the canal at Llangollen. Only about 25 minutes away, it's a favourite destination for a gentle walk - more strenuous options are also definitely available! The purpose this time was to get my annual 'duckling fix'. I am a lover of most wildlife (including wildflowers!) and I'm not sure why ducklings (and goslings) hold such a complete fascination for me. They are just such little characters, and I love the way they communicate with mum and she with them. We saw three families. One with ten tiny babies, nervous and unwilling to leave the far bank of the canal. Another with eight small babies - a little more confident but there were too many dogs about, and they were too small to bob under confidently for the corn which I offered them ( which always sinks swiftly!). The third family was on the River Dee near the center of town, at a popular family spot, where the river flows quickly on the far side, and easily morphs into a torrent - which provides the white water sought by kayakers. Two of the ducklings were mottled brown - typical of malards. The other two were a lovely fluffy yellow, Jemima Puddleduck style, more like Aylesburys. They were about twice the size of the others we had seen but still small for such fierce water. Chased by two unsympathetic children, I hardly dared watch as they set off for the peace and quiet on the opposite bank. They did drift downstream quite a way but all made it safely!

At his time of year, 'Daddy' ducks tend to group with their male friends and often have nothing to do with their offspring. Fathers' Day isn't much fun for them I fear. I found this little group on the banks of the Dee at the Horseshoe Falls. Starting to moult but still very beautiful - I hadn't really looked at what I thought were the matt grey feathers on their backs before. They are no more a single drab gray colour, than the back of a barn owl is a boring beige (if you've seen the beauty of a barn owl close to you'll know what I mean). They also appreciated my corn. For some reason I am always nervous of being 'bitten' by ducks - daft since all they can to is pinch fairly firmly with blunt beaks!

I have shown you their beautiful home at the Horseshoe Falls before, but, just in case you missed it:


Two of my latest meadow embroideries to be listed at Folksy. The first, featuring cornflowers, is now sold!