The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Saturday, 29 December 2012

New workshops for next year

I've been teaching book making workshops for a while and I've noticed that people are increasingly interested in my personal sketchbooks and diaries. Here are my 8 most recent diaries, I think I scrapped 2004, and you may notice I didn't get round to covering  2010, it spent a whole year thrown in and out of my bag  and survived very well, which shows how sturdy my stitching technique is!
2003 to 2007 (2004 missing)

2003 to 2007 inside

2008 to 2011

2008 to 2011 inside
(and yes, I've chosen the prettiest pages!)

Because of this interest, and because I'd love to encourage others to keep journals / diaries / sketchbooks, whatever you want to call them, I'm planning extend my workshop repertoire into teaching creative journalling/sketchbooks/diaries/notebooks.

In January I've been asked to do some one hour workshops for  Organic Arts who are having a big re-launch, so I'm going to do 'nature journalling'. Click here for information about the free workshops on offer in January

I'm also hoping to tempt some friends around before then to 'practice' on them in the same way that I practised on some friends with marbling and paste papers earlier this year. I learn a huge amount from trying things out on friends, and hopefully my friend have some fun, and my official punters get a better quality of workshop as a result.
So, here is a little autumn themed book I've made as an example of what we might do on a workshop

Autumn book

 And then I got carried away and made this Haberdashery book which isn't full yet. 

Haberdashery book

This took a bit longer, sewing all those buttons and ribbons on, but it did get me to sort my button collection out.
I can see I'm going to get into making these little theme books, I've got a stash of stuff waiting to be put into more books, and they'd make lovely little presents.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Alphabet Quilt.

I've been working on this alphabet quilt all year, and I was just about to post about it 'in progress'  during the summer when the person it's for put a comment on my blog, eek I didn't realise they were reading it, so I had to save up posting about it until after Christmas!
 I  took some of the squares along on the boat on our summer trip to do embroidery on them, it was  a great way of relaxing in the evenings.
My original layout

 B is for boat, O is for owl, and C is for cat.... of course!

I had a vague plan it would be a summer birthday present, but  I realised there was no way it would be finished by then. However, I did get it finished for Christmas.
Terrible picture, but you get the idea, I was in a rush to get it in the post..

Finished quilt, backed and edged

I'd better start on next years sewing project now ...

Christmassy pictures

I know there are lots of pictures of peoples Christmas trees and decorations out there, but I've got a new computer and I wanted to have a play with it. I also wanted to show off my sweet table decorations, my tree that was a 'potted tabletop tree' from several years ago that has grown to quite a respectable size, and a really sweet home made present from a lovely neighbour
Tiny flowerpot with a potato stuffed into it
decorated with cake candles,lichen
and garden prunings

Handmade sweetie filled cones.
The sweets will be devoured
and the cones kept to decorate the tree next year
Well this has taken me ages, but I'll get faster with practice.
Off to drink more mulled wine and start (or is that finish?) eating chocolates...

Monday, 10 December 2012

I won a book.. and some shoes.

I've only entered a few blog 'giveaways' (in brackets because I'm not comfortable with the word). I only enter them on blogs I follow anyway or have recently discovered and plan to keep looking at, so I was really shocked when I won this book. It's a great book, and is really relevant to stuff I'm doing at the moment, and workshops I'm thinking of running. So a huge thank you to Sue. This is her image, and hopefully (if I have the hang of the technology!) if you click on the image you can go to her post about the book (or click on the link below)

Also a huge and belated thank you to my friend up the hill who made these for my birthday. This is her picture as I've become very lazy about taking photos.
My husband ordered them for me and there was some complicated and amusing shenanigans to find out what style and colours I wanted!The final result is that I have The MOST WONDERFUL and MOST COMFY shoes ever.
I can't tell you how much I love them.
Click on the image for her blog, and I love the tiddley poms (tho they wouldn't be at all practical for a country girl like me) and I think I want some merryweathers for Christmas, or is that just being greedy?!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A resumee of book stuff past and present

The long winter evenings are here and I seem to be getting back into book stuff and general creative stuff again. I taught a few workshops this summer, so in no particular order here are some pictures from the workshops.

A two hour multi-section workshop.
Two hours was a bit of a rush, they were quite basic!

Pretty covers

More pretty covers on a one day workshop

Someone used old sketchbook pages as covers.
A lovely idea I later stole for this years diary endpapers...!

Someone making a large watercolour book on a workshop
(oh yes...and biscuits!)

I've been enjoying getting into some 'art journalling' stuff inspired by blogs and such like on the web, but haven't taken any pictures of those yet. I've also made next years diary, which includes a fold-out paint palette, a holder for a waterbrush, and a pocket for some crayons or slim felt pens, so it's an all-in one diary/sketchbook/art materials kit!
Palette folded down, waterbrush holder on right
Bottom half of pens showing

Paint palette and mixing palette folded out ready for use
I've also pre-decorated a lot of the pages this year

I used a page from an old atlas on the cover.
This is the Atlantic where we'll be on our boat one day!
That's a real working compass too, from my school days.

Someone was so impressed with this that they commissioned one as a present, and I have a photo album commission in the pipeline. I've not had good experiences with commissions in the past so I try to avoid them, (a bit like the book repairs, see last winter!), but I succumb when friends ask me! And it's certainly nice to have something to occupy me when it rains for days on end and gardening is out of the question.
Watercolour paper, paint palette and waterbrush

I've got two workshops and a talk booked for the spring and another workshop in the pipeline, AND I sold a book through my website which was a bit of a shock! As a result of all this activity I'm all enthusiastic about books again, although I'm mostly enthusiastic about teaching, and I'm mostly making for fun rather than selling.
Here are a few of the fun books I've made recently as ideas for workshops. The beading is pretty fiddley, but I'm pleased with the results

Longstitch books with beaded spines
(click on image for a larger view)


Monday, 13 August 2012

Another blogging break.
I'm only doing this one because I think I ought to so I'll be brief.
Busy as usual. 
Not necessarily in any particular order...


Map making (West Town Farm)


Morris dancing (at Sidmouth Folk Festival)

Sketching, at the allotment
And meals with friends and partys and swimming in the sea (twice) and making birthday presents for Vince. Life's pretty good
That's all for now folks!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Morris Dancing

We're dancing out regularly most wednesdays now. Border morris sides tradiotionally blacked their faces (don't ask me why, look it up on google, there are various theorys). But I think black is a bit boring, so I go for something a bit more artsy..

Hat on

Different face, hat off
Our young french lodgers looked a bit surprised when I came back last week, it's the first time they've seen me in my full kit/makeup, goodness knows what they thought, they aren't very talkative!
Here's our fiddle player and a dancer/musician outside a pub in Ide, near Exeter
And here are some of our lot watching Harberton Navy dancing last wednesday at Denbury near Newton Abbot

If you'd like to see us live this is our website
I suppose I should do a link on the sidebar, hmm, might look into that..

Saturday, 14 July 2012


My wooly projects are still ongoing. These pictures span a time period from about two months ago to the present.
I borrowed a drum carder from my mum. It's definitely a good idea to have the same hobbies as your mum! These things are amazing, they produce so much more wool for lots less effort than hand carders. I guess that's where the industrial revolution started, taking the drudgery out of hard labouring work, but perhaps that's another story.......
 As a result of this fabulous 'machine I now have huge piles of carded wool everywhere. Here is a box full of carded mule wool. This was a fleece I snaffled last year when I was fleece rolling for the farmer I work for. Mules are a hybrid and often have Bluefaced Leicester in their parentage, which have lovely wool. So while I was rolling I kept an eye out for one I thought looked long and crimpy and shiny and asked the farmer if I could have it. It would have been churlish of him to say no as they are worth very little to large scale farmers, so he said yes!
 I also have trays full of all sorts of other wool that I've scrounged and bought from various sources, including black and white Jacob, North Ronaldsay, Zwartbles and a mongrel black/grey sheep.
I'm now busy sinning my way through it, and on a cold and rainy day (ha ha) I lit the woodburner and boiled up some lichen
Strained it and threw a couple of balls in then boiled it some more.. (oops, bit blurry this picture)

And they came out like this. they haven't taken the dye very strongly, I think partly because the wool hasn't been thoroughly washed, but I don't mind, I like subtle.
and I've finally done some knitting. I loosely used a pattern (ahem). The brown is Shetland wool, the white is mule and the yellow is, I think dyed with onion skins. You can't really see the yellow, which is a bit of a design fault!
 It's a bit small for me, I like hats to come well down over my ears. But I knitted it on the boat and that was all the wool I had, and I wanted to wear it as I was cold.
I'll do another, make it bigger , and put the nice yellow wool somewhere where it can be seen. I'm on a steep learning curve here.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

New improved 'sailing pics'

We're home from our 'big trip', so I can fill in some more pictures and text.
First there was a bit of engine maintenance
 Then off we set for Fowey
 It went well to start with, then as we approached Fowey Vince wanted to calibrate the log (thing that tells us how fast we are going) using some transit lines (sorry if this is a bit technical, I can explain if you want, but sometimes life's too short). We got to the start line and there was some mutterings and consulting of instruction books and pressing of buttons while I sailed the boat to and fro, and then we set off, in a straight line from A to B. I was under the impression we needed to do A to B, then B to A then A to B again. Following so far? We did A to B, turned around, did B to A then somebody (not me) pressed a wrong button and we had to start again. I was becoming mrs grumpy by now, and then it turned out we needed to do A to B FOUR more times, ho hum. We did it, and our log is now more accurate than it was, which we will be glad of if we are lost at sea one day. And it was a good day for sailing. Click on this picture for a video... (sorry about the offending fenders Peter!)
Click on this picture for video

The following day, moored a little upriver from Fowey was glorious sunshine, so mrs grumpy was restored to mrs happy!

 I get to do the rowing because I love rowing. We rowed/drifted upriver a bit further and had a lovely walk along the riverbank in Golant, upriver from Fowey

Then, refreshed and restored we set of for Falmouth. The winds were very light and coming from behind the boat, so we had the two sails out, one on each side, which is called a goosewing. One of my favourite, and one of the few self explanatory, nautical terms I know. 
Below is a very similar video with me at the helm, smiling! (and note the calibrated log at the end showing 6 knots)

The wind gradually picked up and we had a great sail, particularly because it's about the first time I haven't felt at all sea sick or stressed. Here's St Antony's Head lighthouse at the entrance to Falmouth.

We then spent a week in wet and windy Falmouth. We went ashore a few times (more rowing opportunities for me), walked here and there, ate lunch in cafes, visited the maritime museum, admired the J class yachts and met up with two lots of friends who also happened to be down there.
Some days we stayed on the boat and read books, watched boats going in and out and did jobs such as rope splicing
 and sewing leather onto the oars to prevent them from wearing out in the rowlocks.

Oh yes, and we did a bit of sailing (not much) and took some friends on a trip upriver, part motoring, part sailing. It would be nice to think we did a lot of this..(home made elderflower champagne of course)
But unfortunately there weren't many evenings it was warm enough to sit outside, it's only June after all!
We had a few lovely sunsets

A very foggy last day. (this is the same view as the sunset one)
 And finally a very lovely sail home, with a foggy start but sunshine later. We sailed all the way back to Plymouth from Falmouth. We were pretty tired, but I wasn't at all sea sick again, Hooray, there's hope (!) for me yet..
This is us setting off, taken by friends from the shore
The owl and the Pussy cat finally set to sea.