Friday, December 31

The end and the beginning

It's been a busy and challenging year for lots of us and 2011 will no doubt be much the same but different.
But it's a whole 365 days of opportunities too.
I'll try to make the most of the ones that come my way!
May you have good health and happiness.

And not need too many of these...

Sunday, December 19

Festive Cheer

More snow fell
Only a titchy drop here but for other Woolgatherers there was more to contend with if they were to get out today.
A hardy few made it- a small but select gathering in the comfort of my living room, where we shared the stove with Ash and Midge.
We had enough sweet sustenance for a major party so Hugh helped out...
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day for me, spending quality time with friends.

Just like to wish one and all a very festive holiday-time and hope you keep warm and happy.

Thursday, December 16


In between work and dogs and wood and all the usual stuff, we have been to Peebles to check out the Eastgate where Hugh will be exhibiting at the end of April through May, and I will have smaller items in one of the display cases from February for a couple of months.

And I have whizzed up some brandy butter to keep a particular friend happy and gathered a few essentials for the next batch of ginger wine.

But the best bit has been wrapping up handmade presents for friends, ready to deliver.

Next on the agenda is a meal out with my two friends from student days, then a festive Woolgathering on Sunday which will be a lovely start to the Christmas week.

Wednesday, December 8

We shall overcome, we shall overcome...

OK, not really a Pete Seeger moment, is it? But the snow and ice will not defeat us - despite two weeks of frozen conditions we are undaunted etc etc

What I really mean to tell you is that the little village of Chesters is damn well holding its Christmas Fair this Saturday 11th, come what may!

There will be tasteful artwork, stitchery, jewellery, cards, wooden goods, delicious edible treats from fancy boozy preserves to real Scots tablet, fresh bread courtesy of the Tart (if I get up early ...) as well as enough mulled wine to melt the snow and toasty warm mince pies too.
I don't remember Santa smoking a pipe...

Doors open at 2.00pm - tablecloths and best china on the tea tables, happy smiling stall holders and a fine opportunity to blether with your neighbours and friends after a fortnight's curfew. Come along for a little escape from winter chores and buy tasteful goodies for Christmas!

Monday, November 29

Progress Report

As you will quickly spot, these top two pics were taken before the GREAT SNOW descended.

This is how the 'public' end of the caravan looked in October, after some destruction work had taken place. A couple of weeks ago it had progressed to this.
Lots of paint and some stitchery. The back cushion I re-covered in pieces salvaged from a fabric sample book, the seat cushion in curtains which I acquired some other way. Can't remember for sure if they were from a village jumble sale but they have been in stock for a while, awaiting their moment of glory.
Since then the heavens have cast down upon us with great enthusiasm and we have nearly 18" of snow to wade through. It is very light and easy to move but no sooner have you cut a crisp neat path than more descends and fills it in again. So my trips across the garden have slowed somewhat. Still, I did want to show off my most recent masterpiece! My dad's old office chair is a memento I have hung onto for seven years. Now, finally I am delighted to give it a new look and a new purpose. I will take huge comfort from using it, knowing that under that kitschy covering lurks the worn original tweedy brown upholstery, now free from cigar fumes, admittedly, but still, to me, the old man's second home

To finish, a slightly underwhelming image: unless, that is, you can accept that there is a small pink glow emerging from the fire. The gas man has finally cometh and I have real live flames on demand from the gas fire and the hob. The end of the beginning of this project is firmly in my sights now!

Wednesday, November 17

My good intentions

...have come to nowt! I had such high hopes of moving into the new HQ in an orderly fashion. Finishing Job A before commencing Job B, that sort of thing. Showing a smooth transformation from attic to caravan.

However,we are now part way through the third week since the gas was to be sorted,
the flue from the fire, the hob, the to-be-disconnected boiler are still awaiting attention,
so the painting and varnishing isn't finished,
the holes in the floor can't be sealed up,the mouses could still get in...
My papers and fibres and textile supplies would not like than much.

So I am moving the less precious bits and pieces down the metal ladder from my present abode, through the house, stopping to put wellies on, gathering them up again and heading across the garden to store them neatly away in another great big heap.
Believe it or not I am throwing some bits and pieces out along the way - turns out there's a limit to how much I can tart up.
Very soon now, I hope there will be some more upbeat pics again.

Meanwhile, I am off to the Hirsel at Coldstream on Saturday to display my wares with lots of lovely talented artists and makers - hope you can make it along and indulge in a little Christmas shopping...

Sunday, November 7

Mellow Autumn Returns

Well, OK, it's a bit patchy but it's glorious again today - crisp underfoot to start with and the sun glistening through the trees in our bird-busy garden.

This should be a post full of my own pics but for reasons of negligence yesterday and absence today, I have 'borrowed' them from the www instead.

Yesterday was a happy day at St Abbs - good range of yarn-rich stalls, hand dyed yarns, hand spun yarns, dyed fleece, peg loom in action, spinner in action, knitters and needle-felters - and that was just the stall-holders. I waxed lyrical about the delicious space dyed cotton perle I had on sale, and lovely customers delved into the button selections, and gave the hand spun skeins a squeeze and eyed up my flappy hats. The sun shone, the hall was warm and the cakes and tea were very impressive! But I left the camera at home....

For a couple of weeks, I have been meaning to photograph the little ash tree we have at the front of the house, displaying its autumn foliage and bright orange berries. But I've left it a little late now.
Today, Hugh (the resident twitcher) is away training folks in the less-than-gentle art of off-road driving and has the camera with him. So here's a library picture to be going on with...But I could not capture for you our latest visitors, a flock of maybe 25 waxwings, who have found their favourite feast and moved in for a few days.
I borrowed this image without permission from this gentleman's blog. If you follow the link you can read more about the waxwings in the south of the country in January this year.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 3

We have power!

Yup, as of today Tart HQ has lights which work! Not that it's fit for Tart work yet as there's a way to go. However, I have at least taken some in progress shots so you can see what's what.

Now, being a BIG caravan, designed for at least four people to holiday in, it was pretty well equipped, even if it did have a large leak right above the draining board. That has been fixed, and I dragged the oven/grill out and it's heading for the recycling plant at Hawick. It was the worst element of the whole van and would never have looked clean. Besides which, I want to be left with just the hob so that I am not too tempted to move in permanently.

This first pic was taken when we went to see it at the caravan park - there are two mournful dogs peering out of our old Discovery and wondering what an earth we are up to now.
It looks like this today. The cupboards minus their fronts are to become my bookshelves. The taps will not be functional as there's no practical cheap way of connecting them to a water supply and having drainage too.
There's a thin partition wall between the kitchen and what was the bunk bedroom. I took down the other wall of the bunk room to open it up into what was the living space. So it has gone from this
to thisto this!
The wee rectangle on the back wall is a little memento - an unpainted section of the original flowery wallcovering. And I fixed up the spotlights as soon as the electrician had gone.
My window looks over the fence, across the fields and down the road towards Hawick. How much work will I get done?

Enough caravan, it's back to sewing in labels and gathering props in readiness for the trip to St Abbs on Saturday morning. By the pricking of my thumbs...

Wednesday, October 27

Simple Pleasures

Well, a few chilly nights and clear days provided a wake-up call that winter's approaching. Today seemed positively balmy in contrast.
These lovely sunflowers have brought style to the kitchen all week. It's a bright room if the sun shines, and if the stove is on as well, some of us are in seventh heaven...

The human contingent has beavered away at various projects. Hugh's been fencing and putting up gutters as well as researching routes for Far x Four, and me? Paintbrushes in hand at Tart HQ and stitching up new covers for the seating there too. In between times I have been knitting hats in handspun and worrying whether I have enough stock for impending fairs.

My first outing is to St Abbs Wool Festival on Saturday 6th November, with handspun and pretty buttons, fancy threads, handknits and new wee kits - lots of stocking-filler priced goodies for the discerning textile lover. Hope to see many friendly faces there!

Friday, October 22

Mild excitement...

OK, that's a HUGE understatement.

I am dead chuffed


THIS!What you see before you, ladies and gentlemen, is a borrowed tractor attached to the first and only TART HQ. Shortly after this calm and relaxed photograph was taken, the heavens opened and the tractor driver swung the caravan backwards across the road in order to reverse it up the side of the shed and into the garden. The operation did not go smoothly. However, men and machines won the day and TART HQ is now safely tethered. Work has commenced by yours truly on the interior. Photographs will be taken and you will be kept fully informed of developments. Oh yes, you will...

Sunday, October 17

Autumn Glory

I love this time of the year, especially when we do get a proper autumn, with nippy mornings, clear skies and so much soft colour in the natural world. We're very fortunate to live where we do, with open views over the countryside and expansive skies. The quality of light is soft and rich.
Most of our walks involve the dogs, of course, but last week Hugh and I had a little outing by ourselves. We wandered through the rides and pathways at Monteviot, along part of the avenue planted with Wellingtonias, and round to a stile below the monument on Penielheugh. The land round here falls within Lothian Estates. Despite what you may read elsewhere, the monument IS open to the public. For a mere £2 you can borrow the key from the Estate Office (01835 862201) near Jedburgh and climb up to the top for an even better outlook over the River Teviot and surrounding farmland.The views from the top were pretty impressive in all directions on this crisp clear day. There are the Eildon hills in the distance.
On our return we enjoyed a restorative coffee and home baked cake at Woodside Walled Garden and watched the garden birds tucking into their feeders with similar enthusiasm...

Thursday, October 7

W. I. P.

There is lots going on here at present but some of it is under wraps till it's fit to be seen, or till I remember during daylight hours to take pictures of it...

Hugh's putting a new roof on the woodshed. This is not a small undertaking as he is single handedly removing a very leaky corrugated iron roof and replacing it with box-section steel sheets, by means of brute strength while standing in the trailer attached to a borrowed tractor. The woodshed is 6.5 metres long and about 4 metres deep (it usually houses a vehicle and trailer as well as wood!). Dry still days would be perfect - hmm, sometimes it's still but wet, other times its dry but windy... But he's winning!

I've been doing a spot of demolition and am now applying some paint to walls. I hope you'll be suitably impressed when the images make it online!

Meanwhile, it's only a matter of a few weeks until the Woolfish wool festival at St Abbs on November 6th and I am spinning yarns, and planning to conjure up another knitting pattern for it too. There are other new creations in the pipeline, or at any rate in my head...

I recently bought a substantial stock of stunningly lovely cotton perle threads, many of which I will be offering for sale singly. In order to demonstrate one of their myriad uses, I started work on a ... well, I am not sure yet what it will be. The base fabric is my much loved merino wool sweater which a well-meaning but over-enthusiastic Hugh managed to shrink to dollsize (and I ain't no doll).
I am using one skein of the space dyed cotton to stitch with and this is how it looks so far.

and a closer look...
It's fun to just make it up as you go along and see what transpires.
Maybe I should adopt that as my mantra!

Wednesday, September 29


Change of medium today - I fancied showing off some of the lovely ceramics which have gathered here over the years.
I have enjoyed two different one-week pottery courses, about twenty years and several hundred miles apart, and done a little at evening class many moons ago too, but nothing more.

Instead I'm happy to appreciate the skills of others and gather examples when I can.
The delicious little vase/beaker is from David Ashby at The Courtyard Pottery in Grassington; it's full of sgraffito scribbles and the words you can just see read this way to the edge.
The candlestick I have had for many years, made by Sue and Alex at Borgh Pottery in Lewis. The jug on wee fat legs is this year's acquistion, from Spring Fling participants (ermm, I'll do my homework and come back and edit with their names)
And down here is a wonderful crackle glaze hare by Paul Jenkins which graces our hall windowsill and a fantastic bowl built by Clair Norris who lives not far from us. She has recently started making framed mosaics of hand painted and fired tiles, amongst lots of other lovely work.

And the titchy little spotty mouse was a Fairtrade purchase by Hugh for me last Christmas. He's lovely and smooth (the mouse, that is) and nice to hold (I'd best stop there).

Oops, in the top pic is dinky little wooden cupboard made from driftwood. I bought it in a gallery in Pittenweem but sadly I don't know the maker's name and there no mark on it. He makes much bigger pieces too, and they are all covetable.

Saturday, September 18

Ozone Rush

Hello! Been away to see the sea, these last few days, and had a grand time.
Hugh and I went off to the Kintyre peninsula in the west of Scotland, an area neither of us had visited. We stayed at Carradale in a great wee one-room cottage with a box bed in the corner but all mod cons. From there we could walk in every direction; to the woods, the seashore, the quayside and village (bakers, three hotels and a bank open for an hour on Thursdays) or to the next village. We managed to eat out in a pub, a tearoom jam-packed full of vintage kitchen and dining type stuff, a hotel conservatory, and a converted barge moored in Tarbert harbour which specialised in a curious combination of Thai, tapas and haggis.... We were out in rain and wind but mainly glorious sunshine, met lovely people, enjoyed some great scenery, encountered a few scary drivers on the single track sections of road and picked several pounds of brambles to bring home (as you do...). There were masses of waymarked trails through woods and along the shorelines and I was all excited to discover that we were staying adjacent to Carradale House which is where Naomi Mitchison lived (famous and prolific Scottish writer and feminist and a lot more besides). We didn't drive to the Mull of Kintyre but we did look at Campbeltown Loch (as in Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky, I would drink you dry - good Scots song, honest!)

Been home 24 hours, collected dogs from kennels (heartless of us, wasn't it, but it made for a relaxing three days away), done a major amount of pruning in the garden and made jam tonight with the brambles and our own apples.

Woolgathering tomorrow - it will be grand to sit and knit/stitch/spin/sew and catch up with some friends for the day!

Sunday, September 12

Been and Gone

How can it be 12th September already? My life is whizzing by, and it's not from lack of cramming things into it!Weather for the Art Trail was sunny and blowy, good touring weather in the Borders. We saw lots of friends and met new visitors as they explored the open studios over last weekend.
I sat in the sunny cottage porch in between times, knitting or spinning and feeling rather mellow and relaxed. All the hard work was done, the cottage living room looked extremely colourful with silk bunting and bright yarns, cushions and collages, cards and handknits, and I really enjoyed having the time to talk with people as they wandered in the door. Once they'd exhausted my little haven of colour, they headed down the road to find Hugh in his cabin, surrounded by fresh and uplifting new acrylics.

Then yesterday I spent at Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, at the first annual Longbow Archery competition. Admittedly I was participating in the craft fair rather than active with bow and arrow, but truly that's a blessing for all bystanders.... Several fellow Crossing Borders members were there so it was a good chance to catch up and compare Art Trail experiences.
As ever, if Rob and Anne were in attendance, so was Katie. This little black bundle of mischief wins everyone's heart. She's five months' of pure energy and I'd whisk her home tomorrow if I could - Midge would be delighted to have a playmate (Ash, less so...)

Thursday, September 2

Art Trail Ahead!

We are ready to rock!
The signs are up, the sheep are in situ (!), the entries in the children's art exhibition are hung, the cakes are being baked for the art cafe at the Village Hall, the cottage living room is now the Tart's gallery for the weekend, and the sun is shining!
Come and see us if you possible can.
We're all open from 10 am till 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Thursday, August 26

Seven days from now...

... my mind will be even more addled than it is today!

(Fortunately I have an idyllic rural view from my kitchen this evening - lucky or what?)

The cottage living room will have been partially stripped of furniture
A riot of artwork and all sorts of textile-related stuff will take its place

Chaos may reign but by 10 am on Friday 3rd September,

the Border Tart's little corner of the

will be ready to rock!

Look out for my sheep!