Saturday, 2 April 2011

Has Spring finally sprung?

I came back from shopping a couple of days ago and marvelled at the bright sunshine. It felt warm and balmy, such a contrast with the very low temperatures we've been suffering for what seems like forever!
I came indoors, grabbed my camera and went straight out into the garden.

These buds on the laurel bush will soon pop open to form little white flowers. They smell wonderful when the sun warms them.

                                                                                  The catkins on the contorted willow are delicate and papery, so they dance and quiver in the slightest breeze.

The creamy white tracery of lace-like markings stands out against the bright, deep green of these new leaves. They look like arrow-heads for artists!

The mahonia flowers have almost burst from their buds. The vibrant yellow is like a flag waving at me from my kitchen window. I don't really like these plants, but they do have a strong perfume that most people find very attractive.

I much prefer the delicate scent of the skimmia flowers, but they are fairly insignificant compared with the loud yellow mahonia! This small bush grows next to my summerhouse window, and perfumes the air when I sit there on warmer days. Perhaps that will be any day soon?

Of course, everyone loves Wordsworth's flower, the daffodil. They smell wonderful, and it's very tempting to cut them to bring indoors, but once you do, they soon fade. Much better to let them flutter and dance out on the grass, like barefoot ladies!

I think my favourite of the spring flowers that I grow has to be the primrose. It's so unassuming, growing low to the ground, but I love how its pale, soft and silky flowers contrast with the crunchy, textured dark green leaves. This flower self-seeds all over my garden, even popping up from the cracks between the paving slabs on the patio!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Afternoon Tea

Louisa and I went to a meeting of the Contemporary Quilt group of the Quilters' Guild yesterday. It was held in London, not far from the British Museum. We decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea in the restaurant there, so when the meeting finished we hurried off down a very windy Tottenham Court Road.
The prices in the Great Court Restaurant match the height of its position high up above the historic Reading Room of the Museum. Feeling appropriately decadent we tucked in to the miniature sandwiches and patisseries that were beautifully presented for us by the battalion of black-clad waiters.

Louisa with a cup of Assam tea, and a cake stand with scones, cream, jam, sandwiches and cakes.

I took some close-up pictures of some of my cakes.

You can see why the macaroon appealed to me; exactly my own color scheme, plus all those lines of texture and pattern just crying out to be reproduced in a quilt!

See how my scarf  co-ordinates with the cake?

Wool from 'unravel'

I have very poor circulation in my hands (Raynauds condition) so have to keep my hands warm all the time. I've bought some fine wool yarn to knit into cuffs to wear under my gloves.
This yarn is space dyed, which means that the colour changes as the ball unwinds. I love pinks, purples and lavender shades. Much of my wardrobe is in these colours. This means it's always easy to pick out clothes that co-ordinate well!
I like to knit when I have no hand sewing I can do. It's so easy to pick up and do anywhere: in front of the TV; when I travel on a train; while waiting for hospital appointments...........
I used to knit when I lived in Shetland, where I learnt how to knit Fair Isle yokes on jumpers. There are  no written patterns for those designs! You had to just look at a finished garment and copy it, working out the shaping towards the neck, etc.
I prefer to knit small things, like accessories, or baby clothing. Adult-sized garments take too long and I get bored before they are finished.
When I visited the 'unravel' knitting event in Farnham a couple of weeks ago, there were masses of patterns and ideas for adult clothing, as well as bag designs, accessories, and a few interesting ideas like knitted jewellery (if you can call it that!)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Sociable 'guerillas'.

My friend Lou and I have decided to do something positive about all the plastic bags that seem to be taking over the world. So we have formed a 'pod' of so-called 'sociable guerillas' to make cloth bags to give away to people.
Here I am at my sewing machine, looking all organised and tidy!

Lou has made sure she's put her mug of tea on the coaster from Australia; she has dual nationality, so she's happy to wave either flag! 
Our workspace looks impressive, but really we had fabric and bits all over the place.

Here we are with the five bags we made in the afternoon. We're meeting up again on Thursday to make some more. We want to give them to other members of Village Green Quilters ( when we meet the week before Easter. I don't know how many we can make before then!
We didn't get this idea out of our own heads. It came from having met the morsbags people at the Festival of Quilts in 2009. Claire Morsman had this idea when she found the body of a dead bird tangled in an old plastic bag. She started making cloth bags from recycled fabric, and giving them away outside her local supermarket. The idea has mushroomed, and the tally of morsbags now made is 87447, and increasing minute by minute! For more info, see

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The main purpose of our trip to Europe last autumn was for me to visit the Patchwork 'Concours' in Alsace. There were displays and demonstrations in various venues (mainly churches) throughout four villages in the Silver Valley near Colmar.

This display is part of the Wide Horizons show in one of the villages. The piece nearest the camera is by Alicia Merret. The work in this show was so good, I didn't know whether to be inspired or give up altogether!
Most of the Wide Horizons quilts could be classed as fairly contemporary, or were art quilts. I prefer these to the more traditional quilt, but I can still appreciate the skill in design and technique.

A new venture.

In the past I've tried to start a blog, but have failed because I've felt I had to write lots to keep people's interest. Lately I've been inspired by looking at my friend Ariadne's blog (ariadnefromgreece) She lets her pictures speak for her, which is a brilliant idea (a picture speaks a thousand words) so I've decided to follow her example.When I feel like doing more writing I will, but to begin with I'm going to post some pictures.

Here I am relaxing after helping John (my DH) to put our tent up last September in Dijon.
We camped by a lake, and the weather was very hot. I love the freedom of holidaying in a tent. I've been a tent camper since I was six months old.