Saturday, December 20

Seasons Greetings

What a strange expression that is! Compliments of the Season, anyone? I hope you all have fine holidays, whatever form they take. My aim is to spend at least one afternoon with the stove on, an old black and white film on TV or DVD, and my knitting! I know, I know, it fairly makes your heart race, the height of my ambition!
I'll try to be a better blogger in 2009!

Sunday, November 16

Top to Toe

Well, necks to socks really. The thing on the needles in the last post was this neckwarmer to go under my jacket on these chilly dog walking days. Just offset 2/2 rib with some increasing to sit over my shoulders. As it's me it's done on two needles instead of an obvious grown-up competent knitter's circular needle.
And here we have knitting by others more talented by far. Anne knitted socks using my Peppermint Patty hand dyed yarn and send me this pic, and the wonderful sainted Jess knitted these gorgeous RPM socks for me in my Rhubarb and Custard yarn. Happy feet!

Only a few days to go to our wee local Christmas Fayre. Busy people (David and Hugh) have installed a new kitchen in the Hall and there's just some plumbing work to be done (this week, we hope) before it is ready to rock. The stalls are fully booked (all eleven of them!) so there will be lots of quality craft and cooking up for grabs on Saturday. Sadly for me, I will not be doing the Paisley one the following week after all but we will still drive over before Christmas to see niece and grand-niece. I do have a nice date to look forward to in ten days' time - leading a paper decoration making workshop in Ayton for the ladies of the SWRI. An excuse for scissors and glue, as if I needed one....

Sunday, November 2

cut, stitch, knit, cut, stitch, knit...

Yup, creativity rules here, and I am having a fine time, thank you very much. There's the annual Christmas Fayre here in the village hall in three weeks' time and the following weekend I am going to Paisley as the school where my niece teaches is having a fair then and it seemed like an ideal time to catch up with Marie and hopefully sell to a completely different audience.
This week I have made little stockings from 'boiled blanket' and simple wool stitchery. The little bunnies in sleeping bags I made last month and they will be appearing in the Textile Directory's Christmas promotion. There's been much card making too - elephants seems to feature in them this year - possibly not the animal most frequently associated with Yuletide, but we like to break a few rules here now and then!
Some of you have seen this birdie in progress already. He's finished and needs to be stitched into a cushion now which will probably grace the cottage when it's finished. I have had the stencil forever, and the kantha work I have blogged about in the past, but I still enjoy this kind of 'no rules, just running stitch' work.
The only place I wanted to be last night was near the stove so I decided to knit myself something small. If it works, you may see the finshed object!
Now I must grab the moment and take the dogs out while the sun is shining. Before I forget, though, there's a Wool Festival in St Abbs on the Berwickshire Coast next weekend if anyone local-ish fancies a treat. Find out more at Woolfish (great name for a business)

Monday, October 13

All the news that's fit to print

Back in the summer, Hugh and I had a fine day visiting artistic folks on The Art Tour in Northumberland. We went to Horsley Printmakers where Carol and Rebecca create stunning etchings and collagraphs. And lo, they run courses! As soon as I could, I signed up for a two day introduction to making collagraphs. Last weekend was IT! Off I drove on a rainy Saturday and a sunny Sunday, across the border down towards the Tyne Valley. The view above is looking back into Scotland from the border at Carter Bar on the Sunday morning.
There were seven participants, some of whom had been before and were back to hone their skills, and a few who, like me, had no previous experience. On the first day Rebecca took us through the basic principles and had us experimenting with our first 'plate' which we inked up in one colour. I had good fun exploring textural effects with everything from carborundum to tile grout, wallpaper and PVA. On Sunday, Carol showed us how to ink up plates using two and three colours. This long skinny work of mine is flawed, strictly speaking, as there was so much PVA soaked into the little piece of hessian I had used that it squeezed out under the pressure of the rollers when I took a print. You can see the runs into the orange section all too clearly below.
The workshop we were using is the old church hall in Horsley so we had the bonus of the sunshine through these cheerful windows.
The drive down and back on the Sunday was particularly glorious - autumn colours just starting to show and the lovely pure quality of light you get at this time of year. The village below is West Woodburn in Northumberland in the late afternoon light. I had a fine two days, trying new techniques, enjoying different company and eating well at lunchtimes in the adjoining coffee shop. It was a wee breathing space in my complicated little life!

Tuesday, October 7

Further Adventures

More of Kirkcudbright as it's such an interesting little town - galleries everywhere, coloured houses, art history coming out its ears, and lots of lovely little alleyways to peer down.
On our last full day we travelled over to Wigtown, the Book Town, for a wander round the new and secondhand bookshops. We were there a few days before the Book Festival started but there were quite a few tourists (guess that included us) and the coffee shops were doing well, as ever. Obviously it was our duty to help in that respect so we went to Reading Lasses for refreshments. From there we travelled to Kirroughtree which is one of the 7stanes mountain biking centres established by the Forestry Commission. Hugh is hoping to get over to ride the routes there which are highly regarded. However we were there for a walk and, as it turned out, a little history lesson too. It was a still day, as you can see from the reflections on this wee loch hidden in the trees

Sunday, October 5

Felt Hat, Squirrels and the Sea

Although it seems a while ago already, we really enjoyed our few days away with the little caravan. On departure day I took the dogs to kennels while Hugh did vehicle checking stuff. On my way back through Hawick I visited a fantastic exhibition of contemporary Mongolian felt! This very impressive collection has travelled to various British venues and is now off to Sweden, I think. What I had not appreciated till I got there was that much of it was for sale...... There were some stunningly complex rugs and wall panels, a complete yurt, bags (I was very tempted), costume, slippers and shoes and wonderful hats. I succumbed to this one, which was ridiculously cheap. I have no intention of wearing it, funnily enough, but it's a sculpture in its own right.
We had only a minor hiccup on the way, a jammed caravan brake which Hugh sorted by means not recorded in any textbook. Arrived at Glenmidge Smithy campsite which has space for only eight tents or 'vans. At its busiest there were four of us and we were outnumbered by the red squirrels in the trees around the site - what a treat!
We did two or three walks from the door in the course of our stay, as well as a good one along seashore and cliffs near Auchencairn (south of Castle Douglas) where Hugh spotted this grass snake enjoying the day.

A good morning was spent exploring the streets and galleries in Kirkcudbright, one of which Hugh is hoping to interest in his work.
I've more pics for another post tomorrow, you lucky people!

Monday, September 22

Ice Cream

I am going to tell you more about how the Art Trail went, and then about our wee break in Dumfries and Galloway, but not today.

Because today I need to broadcast about the forthcoming
On Saturday 27th from 2pm, the local village hall is transformed into
The Southdean Ice Cream Parlour
Sit down to a choice of delicious homemade ice cream dishes,
coffee and shortbread and more,
all served by those delightful men in kilts.
Yup, it's time once again to raise money for
and what better way to do it than by tucking into ice cream?

Monday, September 1

Ready, Steady, GO!

The countdown is on here - I've got work to frame, to package up, to price, Hugh's suddenly launched into painting a massive great landscape, then he has a bit of welding to do, and hopefully a nice duck or two to paint, though time is not exactly on his side by now....
The first Crossing Borders Art Trail kicks off on Friday. There's a three day opening exhibition in Hawick, a week of Open Studios and then a two day exhibition in Berwick. There's additional space on offer in Berwick but work has to be there tomorrow so we are whizzing over there first, and fitting in a visit to the Gymnasium Gallery to see a Peter Blake exhibition, then back via Kelso and Jedburgh (to display more posters). Wednesday is the last clear day to get our own 'studios' shipshape because on Thursday we'll be at Hawick helping to hang that exhibition... Friday lunchtime is the media launch there (the media had BETTER turn up!) then zoom home and await the first visitors to our humble artspace.
We're open every afternoon from 1.00 till 6.00 and there will be coffee and cake on offer, so you HAVE to come because otherwise we'll eat all the cake and that would not be a good thing...
I am feeling better about my 'stuff' as I have managed to make quite a few new things for the event, not just collages but little things too, which will make their way to The Border Tart in due course too.

The Crossing Borders website is growing - more artists are adding their info and images as they get the hang of it, and while it has a few glitches it's coming along. Drop by and see what you think.

Saturday, August 16

Shades of Alice... (and a freebie)

Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late!
What a BUSY time of the year! On Thursday I was at an all-day meeting of Crossing Borders as we distribute our first Art Trail leaflet and get ready to open studios across the Borders and Northumberland from 5th September. The website is unlikely to be completely ready in time for that great event so we've been making contingency plans to get the all-important opening times for all 50 individual studios up on the site. That should happen next week. (Guess who is trying to co-ordinate that bit?)

Next Saturday is the annual Southdean Show, right here on our doorsteps - competitions, jelly races, fresh pancakes courtesy of the Scouts, as well as the usual 'industrial' section where we all bake and jam and craft and then present our weird and wonderful creations for the judges' delectation, not to mention the awe-inspiring prize money (wee joke). Prizes presented by our local MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), John Lamont.
I've got lots of baking to do anyway as I'll be running the plant and produce stall (though I also want to have a go at the 'create a sculpture with marshmallows and spaghetti' competition) Don't you just love this poster for the event, done by our resident illustrator Linda Lovatt?
The very next day we're off up to Edinburgh to meet up with Hugh's sister and family. This will allow H and me to catch Bond Bound, an exhibition about the artists and designers who created the Bond (007) look. It's also got the original illustrations by John Burningham for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The following weekend is the Homes & Interiors Scotland Exhibition in Glasgow. It runs from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st August. I have never yet got to this as it always clashes with an off-road event that Hugh sets up. This year, though, WE ARE GOING, and so can YOU! I won two tickets which each allow two people admission on any day. There are only two of us so if you would like the spare ticket for 2 (thus saving £20), just let me know as a comment, and I'll e-mail you to confirm. First come, first served!

After that it's mayhem while we get the place spick and span for Open Studio time. We will be open from 1pm till 6pm every day from Friday 5th September to Sunday 14th September (except Wednesday when we hope to go see some other participating artists).

More soon - must go and make collages/chutney/a cup of tea....

Saturday, August 2


I've added my latest hand dyed fingering weight to the shop - the middle one (Blushing Barracuda, if you please!) is off to the US of A but [l to r] Soda Pop, Peppermint Patty, Carousel, and Moody Blues await happy new homes. Meanwhile, inspired by Katie and by Woolfest, there's been a bit of a bunting bonanza too... I've used sock yarn leftovers to make mini crocheted bunting with paper beads and jumble sale beads hanging from it, and also stitched some full size for my great niece's 2nd birthday tomorrow with her name on it, beads and ribbons, the whole works!
We had such a blast of toasty hot weather that more strawberries and blackcurrants were ripening every day. They're mainly picked and frozen and I've been a good little housewife too, using the bumper courgette crop to cook up tomato/onion/courgette/herby sauce and soup bases for later in the year. And the odd courgette and walnut cake too...
Been spinning too and making a few new things for the shop. We'll be having open days here at the beginning of September and it would be great to see a few friendly faces. I'll post more about this soon, as it's all part of the Crossing Borders artists network we're involved in.

Oh, my strawberry 'allergy' isn't, after all. Not strawberries and not my breakfast meusli, nor coffee, so I reckon it was either a supplement I was taking or something else that I have not identified yet. It has not happened for a week now so I'm still not certain what it is/was.

Tuesday, July 15

Spin Span Spun

Well, after my Woolfest haul, it was only ever a matter of time (hours...) till I tried out my new fibres. I have had a good time with bright shades, as you can see, and I keep falling in love with each hank of yarn as it emerges. This morning that led me back to dyeing, too, so there are some ermm, 'confections', blowing about in the breeze as I type.
Meanwhile, there's little to report in the way of NEW stuff. Hugh is cutting grass for anyone and everyone, in between building us a new woodstore and fixing the car. I've been painting fences and sheds and endlessly weeding and cutting our own grass. The compensations are fresh fruit and vegetables on the table. The BAD bit is that I seem to have developed a reaction to strawberries! This is miserable news - what could be nicer or tastier than fresh picked strawberries on my breakfast cereal? But even two or three sliced up and munched is bringing me out in demented itching and red palms and face, which then spreads to knees, soles of my feet (?!) and back. Doesn't last for more than half an hour or so, but not nice at all. And this is our own strawbs, no nasty pesticides, no sprays or anything else on them. And they are the same plants as last year when I had no reaction at all. Ho hum.

Sunday, June 29


I've been to Woolfest. Can you tell?!
Oh, it was like all the sweetie shops in the world, rolled into one! It's been running annually since 2005 and I've only missed one year, so far. In my view it gets better each time. though maybe it helped this year that I knew what I wanted to look out.
There are textile shows in other parts of the UK but none like Woolfest which takes place at Cockermouth, in the Lake District, a little under two hours' drive for me. So it's virtually on the doorstep, and it only costs £5 to get in! For those of you who may be thinking, yeah, but, so what? who wants to look at wool and sheep? I would say GO NEXT YEAR! Chances are if you are reading this you have an interest in handmade textiles in some form, and Woolfest is so much more that wool! As well as the bigger companies (that's big in this field, I don't mean multi-nationals!) there are lots of stands with individual makers' goods for sale - everything from kits to yarns to embroidery silks and fancy beads and fair trade buttons, beautiful rag rugs and felts in glowing hand dyed colours, stunning handknits, amazing angora and cashmere and silk fabrics and so on and on, as well as all the raw materials to make your stuff from scratch, and spinning wheels and knitting needles in all shapes and sizes, and demonstrators and workshops and live music and sheep's milk ice cream...... I've been doing quite a bit of spinning lately and my stocks were getting a bit patchy (honest) so I bought some lovely bright colours of wool fibre, either as tops or carded. There's Merino, Shetland, Corriedale and Wensleydale in the top pic, as well as angora and silk waste.
Below you can see a close-up of some super fine dyed Merino in palest pink and pistachio on the left. Along the top is dyed angora and below and two little heaps of dyed Wensleydale locks. I am itching to get started on new yarns now! And finally, how could I resist Herdy? I mean, no-one needs another mug, do they, but he's designed in Cumbria and made in Staffordshire, and a proportion of the sales gets channeled back into Lakeland causes. Check out the light-hearted website for more info.

Saturday, June 21

Art is in the Air

Well, first off, I need to tell you about the great day out Hugh and I had last Sunday - visited a whole stack of artists participating in The Art Tour in Northumberland. First stop was The Hearth at Horsley - a converted church, church hall and ancillary buildings now housing artists' workshops and a very fine coffee shop - saw some excellent painting, etching, pottery and textile work. And met Carol Nunan and Rebecca Vincent who are Horsley Printmakers - you may hear more about this great venue as I am sorely tempted to do a two day course in collography that they are running later in the year....

Headed off to Langley Village Hall then, where I checked out the work of Mandy Patullo in particular - a textile/paper artist whose work is happy and colourful and full of retro images and machine and hand embroidery. Then a quick trip across the road to explore the delights of The Garden Station before searching out the shed which is Katie Jackson's studio.In Katie's words.... Welcome to my magic shed, where I take jumble sale finds and mat them into bold designs, where damaged books find a new use and old recycled objects get another chance to shine. I love paper, fabric, wool and above all ...colour! A popular destination, [it was already full up when I took this pic] inside was a treat for all textile and paper recyclers. You'll see what I mean if you look at What Katie Did.... . I could have moved in happily. Poppy the collie was delighted to see so many people though she was curtailed behind the fence - probably for her own safety!

Hugh drove us home - I was too busy looking at the booty I had acquired during the day.

The Borders' own Art Studio tour is well advanced in planning now - two exhibition venues and studios from Berwick to Hawick and beyond will all be opening their doors in early September. Crossing Borders' members reach from Lowick in Northumberland to Peebles, so far, and membership is increasing all the time. The website will be live very soon - I'll let you all know! Hugh and I will be participating - the arty cabin will be throwing open its doors to welcome you all.
I met up with Anne and Fiona this week to say farewell to Helen as she and Stevan and the dogs head north to live permanently in their gloriously located but'n'ben in the North West of Scotland . We'll miss her but through blogs and Ravelry we'll be keeping in touch to watch her new business unfold. Good luck!

Sunday, June 8

Spreading the word...

Well, I mentioned last time that I had been the surprised recipient of an AWARD! It's all thanks to Gretel who had a fine time selecting creative textiley people for her 5 blogging honours.
Anyway, now that I have this on my virtual mantelpiece I get to select my own choice of worthy winners...
The rules iz az followz:
1) Pick 5 blogs who deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material and who also contribute to the blogging community no matter what language.
2) Each award must have the name of the author and also a link to their blog.
3) Each award winner must show the award and put the name and the link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
4) The award winner and the one who has given the prize must show the link of the “Arte y pico“ blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) Show these rules.
Closest to home for me is Katie of What Katie Did- So far I have only eavesdropped on her wonderful tales of Northumberland life, creativity and the glorious pink shed but next weekend Hugh and I are planning to call in and see her and her hens as she is taking part in The Art Tour.
In Scotland, and next closest, there's Rima at The Hermitage. Such talent, such originality and such fantastic tales. Her work is addictive - once you've looked you'll be back for more.
After that it's another continent - I may just conceivably have mentioned a wonderful painting I received from Suzi, busily Arty Fartying Around, in South Africa. Well, her blog makes pretty damn interesting reading too, not to mention the opportunity to see all those covetable artworks.
And finally, across the pond, the ever creative Terry at Bent Objects for creating cool stuff from the everyday...
Go on, follow some links and find new and exciting STUFF!

Sunday, May 25

Making yarn while the sun shines

Well, someone's got to do it, and to be honest it makes a lovely change from the endless stings (nettles) and scratches (hawthorns, wild roses, wire netting, puppy teeth) encountered elsewhere in the garden. So I've managed to sit outside and make rolags and then spin up about a bobbin's worth of singles yarn so far. Another one to do and they can be plied together. It's a joy to sit and enjoy the breeze and the bird song (as in wrens, blackbirds and some very raucous hens) while doing something productive.
I have been given a blogging award by Gretel! Once I get all the info together that I need to post I will tell more...

I have to show off an addition to my stylish wardrobe! I dyed this Blue Faced Leicester yarn earlier in the year with natural dyes and the skein is in the shop. But I sent the other, very slightly lighter coloured, skein to the lovely Jess in Maryland (she lives in Geronimo Street - I love that) and she knitted me these fantastic socks based on gansey pattern. They fit perfectly and I will treasure them.

Tuesday, May 13

Yarn Forward

I think shades of red and green will be appropriate today - the garden is full of colour at last and from where I am sitting right now I can see sunlight through leaves - that's russet ones (fancy tree, can't remember what, but it was planted in memory of my Dad), scarlet ones (a little acer), dark red ones (a rose), plus honeysuckle, a eucalyptus, a spikey canna thingy, a yellow crab apple and some gaudy yellow and red striped tulips. Hmm, not big on names, am I?

On the naturals theme, here's a pic of some of the wool and bamboo yarns I dyed - had fun with the names, of course - from L to R, Summer Ices, Mint Julep, Apple Blossom and Nougat - all now in t' shop. And the teacosy, of which I am ridiculously proud.
No time for knitting now, too much to do in the garden. We need to simplify the 'pretty' part of it that we have inherited so that it involves as little ongoing work as possible. Fewer plants in pots, unless they are herbs, which earn their keep, and fewer fiddly corners for grass cutting. It's difficult, still, to come to terms with this as it was my mother's pride and joy and I want to keep it looking good too. Meanwhile we've been planting up the polytunnels and I am really hoping for a good tomato crop this year so that I can preserve some. Never had much success with peppers but we're having another shot at these. And only a few million courgettes...well, you see, they always germinate and then I look at these healthy little plants and think that I just have to find a home for them all. Planted lots of salady stuff and sneaked in some spinach (not exactly a favourite with Hugh) so fingers crossed that we can keep the slugs out of it all and have a good harvest all round.
Meanwhile, it's time I told you about Crossing Borders which is a newly constituted association bringing together visual and applied artists living and working in the Border region - that's both sides of the Scottish English border. There are marketing initiatives already planned - the first big one will be an open studios event in the Autumn, reaching from Hawick to Berwick with lots going on everywhere in between. The organisation will also encompass other folk - everyone from galleries and restaurants, accommodation providers to gardens - in short anyone who wants to promote art and design in the area. It's something that many of us have wanted to see happening for a long time although the credit for finally getting us all together must go to Sue Beck, a livewire who got the first meeting off the ground. I will be shouting about it some more as the website gets developed and our publicity material is produced. If anyone would like to know more, please get in touch.

Sunday, April 27

Spring is sprung...

......some seeds are finally in the ground. The temperature is easing up oh so slowly, lambs are fattening, trees are budding and the fact that the boiler is broken again is not quite as painful as it would have been a few weeks ago!

I've been dyeing more scrumptious sock yarns which I'll post up here as soon as they are dried, reskeined and ready to go in the shop. It's 75%wool/25%nylon for harder wearing socks. I've also acquired some wool/bamboo sock yarn and have dyed one skein so far - it takes dye beautifully.
I did knit a mad wee teacosy from some of the multicoloured yarn balls I made - just have not remembered to photograph it yet. Here instead is a delicious colour feast of Noro yarn that I am using in my stripey jumper. Only the back done so far as I haven't sat down to knit for a while.