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Train and Textiles

Why is that when you’ve got a little plan in your head for a nice day out, things have a habit of going pear-shaped?

Lewes was my destination today to visit a weaving, spinning an dyeing exhibition at the Town Hall which takes place every two years and is a must for all people interested in textiles.  I’d not been before because 2 years ago when it was last on, frankly, me and textiles had not got together!  Now things are different and my spare moments are spent wrapped up in felt!

Listening to the travel news quite early I found there had been an accident on the A27 which would mean a detour to get to Lewes.  Never mind, I allowed myself an hour instead of 30 minutes.  Setting off at 10.30, I quickly got snarled up in traffic on my alternative route – seems everyone else had the same idea and, being ‘flexible’, I turned the car round and headed back to the station to retrieve the situation.

Once on the train, a change in Brighton and I made it to Lewes by 12.15 so not too bad really and certainly earlier than if I’d stayed in the car.

I haven’t been to Lewes often and went in search of somewhere for a bite to eat.  Lewes main street is one long hill; my favourite coffee shop, Costa, was at the bottom of the hill and when I got there it was jam packed.  Oh dear, my poor legs were already aching from my run yesterday and it was hard work getting back to the top again.

A bowl of soup later, I found the exhibition and was delighted to see lots of trade stalls as well as displays of talented crafter’s work.  I gleaned some felting ideas to store away for the future and went round the stalls twice before I decided what to buy.  Some merino/silk wools in variegated colours caught my eye and you could have as much or as little as you liked, some hand dyed curly wools that will look lovely in some nuno felted items (if I ever get enough time to do some nuno felting that is) and a selection of unusual yarns, again for nuno projects.

A quick coffee, back on the train and my day out finished with a trip to Sainsbury’s – perfect!

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A ‘Timely’ Reminder

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  If you are like me you still see the person you were when you were young.  We don’t tend to notice ourselves getting older as the process is so gradual.  I’m not someone who spends hours layering on the night cream in the hope that it will prevent the onset of wrinkles – I like to think that I am growing older (fairly) gracefully!

I’ve never been a wearer of make-up either.  This isn’t because I have perfect skin, if only, but because I have always been lazy and have found that people just accept me as I am.  This is me and I’m not ashamed to show myself to the world ‘au natural’.  To be honest, my friends and colleagues would think something was wrong if I turned up with my ‘face on’!

However, I was taken aback a couple of days ago when photographing some new items to put on my Facebook page.  I have just made some little rings which I will be selling for the first time at the We Made This – Market on 14 September at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton.  I thought I would take a snap of a ring in situ on my finger – what a shock when I noticed how old my hand looked in the photo, all wrinkled and definitely not the sort of hand to model a ring of any sort!!  Not even my best efforts with Picture Manager could significantly improve it.  This is certainly a hand that is in need of air-brushing!!

The photo didn’t make it onto Facebook but I will share it with you as I know that my blog readership is limited, we are all friends here and you will accept me as I am, hopefully!  The ring is quite nice though!!

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Last Friday I learnt a lovely new wet felting technique  – Nuno Felting.  It involves a similar process to the one used to make a flower brooch back in June but this time we felted onto a piece of fabric.  Muslin was recommended by our tutor, Mo Jackson, as this has a loose weave and enables all the little wool fibres to knit into it as the wool is felted.  The result for me was a wall hanging – well it’s not a wall hanging yet, but it soon will be!

We had ten people at the workshop and all of us mastered and created a unique piece of work.  One lady made a very pretty scarf by leaving some of the muslin uncovered, others left small gaps so that light could show through if the hanging was put in a window.  Some people used muted, soft colours; others went wild with vibrant pinks and greens – all the results were stunning in their very different ways.  We had the option to add yarns, pre-felted material and sparkly bits to our creations.  These would not felt unless we covered them with a fine layer of wool to hold them in place during the felting process.  Some ladies went to town with this but I decided against bling on this occasion.

I tried to make my piece not too fussy with angular blocks of colour rather than random wisps.  I had my new lounge colour scheme in mind as well.  You can see the result below.

Now all it needs is some little loops of ribbon or fabric, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa little cane to thread through them and serve as the top and someone with a hammer to put a nail in the wall!!

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Fluff And Soap Suds!

Until today all my felt has been shop bought – things may well be changing at Pip’s Place however as I have spent part of my day off on a course learning how to make my own felt.  There are two methods that can be used to do this but our tutor, Mo Jackson, showed us how to create our own unique fabric using the wet felting method.

We used Merino wool which is very fine and soft and our task was to create a flower brooch.  We used a template and covered it in fine fibres in an assortment of colours, covered it in bubble wrap, got messy with soap and water, did a lot of agitating and ended up with some lovely results.  I chose a mixture of purple and blue for my creation and finished it off with a purple ball in the centre.

Very pleased with the result for my first attempt.  Expect to see something similar rolling off the Pip’s Place production line before too long, provided I can find some time to master the technique.

Here are some photos of the stages:

Mass of fluff

Mass of fluff

Add soap and water, turn it over

Add soap and water, turn it over

Add more fluff!

Add more fluff!

Get a good lather!

Get a good lather!

After some snipping and more agitating, a flower begins to appear

After some snipping and more agitating, a flower begins to appear

Voila!  The finished creation!!

Voila! The finished creation!!

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With the rest of the family busy doing other things yesterday, once I’d done my hour in the gym, I took myself off to Parham House to the Sussex Guild Contemporary Crafts Show.  Parham is beautiful, set in a park with huge mature trees and stunning views of the South Downs.  It lies on the A283 between Storrington and Pulborough and only took me about 30 minutes to get there.

The show was set up in a large marquee.  With it being so windy, there were times when the structure gave the impression of being about to take off but thankfully it had been securely anchored down although the constant noise must have been a bit distracting for the exhibitors who were there all day.

The work on show was of a very high standard and the prices reflected the skill and expertise of the craftspeople.  What struck me was the vast amount of people who make jewellery – all very nice, some of it stunning but none of it for me, even if I could have afforded it.  I had hoped to see a large selection of textiles but these exhibitors were in short supply although I did come across a lady who made her own felt from silk and turned it into gorgeous scarves.  There are two methods of making felt, wet felting and needle felting.  I am about to go on a 1/2 day course later this week to learn how to do the wet felting method so I mentioned this and asked if it was an easy process.  She wished me good luck so it seems it isn’t!

The Sussex Guild have a website http://thesussexguild.co.uk/ which is well worth a look.  They also have a shop and gallery in Lewes.

After a bowl of rather spicy carrot soup in the ‘Big Kitchen’ complete with a vast collection of copper pans and other equipment from yesteryear and a board with bells on marked ‘Drawing Room’ ‘Library’ etc,  I found my camera and went for a wander in the walled garden.  It was absolutely wonderful, full of perennials and shrubs in wide boarders all blending together beautifully.  The bees were having a field day!  There is an old green house and a shop where you can buy some of the lovely plants that can be seen throughout the garden.  At one end of the garden is a Wendy House which was built in the 1920’s for the owners 3 daughters (how lucky were they?).  It’s a perfect little cottage with a fireplace and an upstairs.

My trip was a real delight which ended back in the ‘Big Kitchen’ with a cuppa and a piece of chocolate biscuit cake! …

Here are some photos of the garden, the house is open too and you can see more on the website at http://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/

Inside The Greenhouse

Inside The Greenhouse

Stunning Wisteria

Stunning Wisteria

Ouch!

Ouch!

Bee's Paradise

Bee’s Paradise

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My other half, Mark, is off on a bike ride tomorrow with his 18 year old son, Jack.  They will be covering the majority of the Downs Link Bridleway which starts in Shoreham (West Sussex) and runs all the way to Guildford (although they are only going as far as Cranleigh).  The weather forecast is for sweltering temperatures tomorrow and heavy downpours on Thursday so they will have all extremes to deal with – I’m so glad I’m not going – I am a fair weather cyclist (runner and walker too).

I have done the ride myself back in 2008 with Mark and we enjoyed our first Youth Hostel experience in Holmbury St Mary which was our overnight stop.  It was also my first experience of sleeping in a bunk bed!  The 40 miles on the first day were fine but the last 10 or so on the way back the following day were very tough.  Jack has my padded gel saddle cover but I fear for his comfort!!  I recall not really wanting to sit on the saddle for the last few miles!

So, with a whole evening to myself, what on earth will I do?  No dinner to cook, sandwiches to make or odd jobs to attend to … of course I could spend my time crafting, soaking in a lovely hot bubbly bath, reading a good book, chatting to a friend on the phone without interruption or a myriad of other self indulgent girly things.  But no, I will sacrifice all these and take #1 son out for something to eat (but not until the Champions Trophy Cricket semi-final is over – this is Andrew getting his priorities right!).  Having only just got him back from Uni there is much to catch up on.  So while the cats are away, the mice won’t exactly be playing but they will be enjoying each others company.  What could be better than that?

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Just for a change, a post about something other than crafty things – today’s subject is Cricket, specifically my day at the Ageas (Rose) Bowl watching England against New Zealand.

What a stunning venue – a lovely modern ground where it would be impossible to have a bad view no matter where you were sitting.  Getting there was a bit laboured however as you are directed to use the park and ride which is out of town near the airport.  No matter, it all worked well and we were in our seats with a few minutes to spare before play started – just enough time to make alterations to the scorecard so we knew who was actually playing!

With Finn and Broad still injured, England fielded the same team that lost on Friday at Lords.  My companion for the day, Andy, bemoaned the inclusion of one bowler, suggesting various alternatives and I took a photo of West Indian fast bowling legend turned Sky pundit, Michael Holding, who had stopped near us to sign autographs.

England had lost the toss and were bowling first.  NZ lost an early wicket to the superb Jimmy Anderson but the pitch was obviously good for batting and we witnessed an innings of class from Martin Guptil who scored a magnificent 189 not out and never gave England a sniff of  getting his wicket.   They finished their 50 overs on 359 and Guptil got a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

After some ‘interesting’ interval entertainment involving two small teams of men dressed in strange costumes, a large catapult and a flag, we settled down in the now blazing sun to watch England’s attempt to win the game by scoring 360.  A positive start with Captain Alistair Cook and Ian Bell playing some lovely shots but with their demise our mood changed and we witnessed a steady procession of batsmen come and go with the only resistance coming from Jonathan Trott who made his way steadily to a century but never looked likely to pick the pace up sufficiently for England to have a chance of victory.

And so it proved; another crushing defeat by New Zealand who I described on Facebook in a tongue in cheek manner on Saturday as ‘mighty’ but who actually fitted this description.  England left the area and the crowd left the venue with faces similar to the colour of the new England kit; England through embarrassment at their poor performance and the crowd from the glorious sunshine … now where did I put the After Sun lotion!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Michael Holding                   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Pavilion at the Ageas Bowl

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I think that diversification may be the way forward.  Whilst I love making my brooches, looking round at other craft sellers stalls, many are offering a wider range of items than I do which, of course, tempts more members of the public to buy.  After all, if I am only selling brooches and that’s not what they want, they are going to walk past without giving my stall another look.

My next craft fair is at the end of June so I have a little time to work on something different.  I have hit on the idea of some small felt purses which I have appliqued with a large contrasting coloured flower.  I’m quite pleased with the result and will be selling them for £3.50.  They measure approximately 10cm x 9cm.  Here’s a photo…

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One resident at Pip’s Place has just enjoyed one of her highlights of the television year, yes, the mighty Eurovision Song Contest.  Thought this year’s standard was fairly high but was underwhelmed by the result as Denmark was not the best song in my view – nothing to it.  Andy (18) comments “she was rather attractive though and that probably wins some points” – and there’s me thinking it was about the song!!  Roll on next May and let’s find someone a bit younger to perform our entry please!

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I don’t really need an excuse to avoid the hoovering but being at a craft fair all day means I just can’t do it, and by the time I’m home again there are always many other more important things to sort out … like the dinner!!

I always think of craft fair days as days for me.  Whether I have a successful day or not, it’s good to chat with other crafters and the public and sit down for a while with a bit of stitching and a cup of tea in pleasant surroundings.

The weather was kind to us in Rustington today and my stall looked inviting I think – there are some photos below to show you my set up.  As my items are quite small, I like having a smaller table so they make more of an impact.  I am particularly pleased with the little easels and canvasses I found in The Works recently at the bargain price of two for £3.00.  They show off my large petal brooches really well.  I may invest in some more or the even smaller ones they had for 99p each!  You can’t go wrong for that price!!

My other half, Mark, paid us a visit during the morning and ventured into the village armed with leaflets to hand out to unsuspecting shoppers – this seemed to bring a few more customers in so he has volunteered on another occasion to walk about wearing a sandwich board!  He’s been offered a silly costume to go with it but I reckon he’ll look silly enough without dressing up as well!!  If this happens, I will be sure to post a photo!!

I spent my time working on something new today …small felt purses.  I was fairly pleased with the results and when I have made a few, I will post some pictures.

What a grim, windy, rainy evening its turned into.  It’s hailing here at the moment.  Doing a ‘fun’ run at Portslade tomorrow morning and hope the weather improves or I’m going to be very miserable running five miles in this…

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