Saturday, March 31

Jumping the Gun

I was going to hang the flags out to launch Tart HQ's April opening but there's a bit too much in the way yet. For a start there have been further earth-moving developments (steady, we're talking diggers and gravel here). 
Then there's the tractor mower which is parked up right in front of HQ's windows, not to mention the fact that I haven't quite found a home for all the stuff that I have returned to the caravan from its winter quarters in the house. 
another of Steve Kenward's images
And of course the sun shone all week so I had to grab the opportunity and paint several miles of fence palings, two sheds and a hen house. 

So no more excuses?

Hmmm, well actually we have some good friends arriving on Saturday and they are going to house/dog/hen-sit while we run away to Amsterdam. 

Major excitement! We've never been, we're going by ferry and staying right bang in the middle of the city. All those galleries, museums, markets, canals, coffees, pancakes and so on right on the doorstep. Picture two country bumpkins wandering round with eyes like saucers!

Sunday, March 25


Last weekend Hugh and I were down near Stafford. 

He went to a 4x4 show and admired winches and roll cages and tyres and the like.

I went to Shugborough Estate and admired gardens, bothies, rag rugs, three different old kitchens, a mill, a brewery, an old quilt, hens and ducks, Lord Lichfield's portrait photography and his private rooms in the mansion house (and I ran out of time to see LOTS of other things on the estate). There are costumed 'servants' working in the farm and house and they chat with you in character. I learned about the butler and the cook disappearing after meals for a snifter of port in her rooms, amongst other gossip.. The brewer advised me that the 'eight pints per person' daily allowance of beer for all servants wasn't quite as generous as it sounded as the hops had already been used once by the time their rather weaker drink was brewed. It was still nourishing and better than the water which was undrinkable...

 part of a tailors' shop display
 the gardeners' bothies were tiny and dark
 settle by the farmhouse range
 quilt on a servant's bed

 kitchen and servants' quarters (!)

Tuesday, March 20


I'm a member of the Heritage Crafts Association which supports and promotes heritage crafts as a fundamental part of our living heritage. Late last year photographer Steve Kenward got in touch and a couple of weeks ago he spent the morning here taking some lovely images of my hand spinning. 

 He's working on an exhibition entitled Made not Manufactured and has been travelling around the country meeting artisans practising traditional crafts and photographing them at work (27 of them so far). 

Hopefully one day there will be a book of his images and he's currently building a website for them as well as searching for a venue for an exhibition

Saturday, March 10

A Little Colour

Spring has not quite sprung yet. Lots of hopeful signs, of course, with bulbs pushing up and buds swelling, bright days and a little warmth...followed by great big hailstones and freezing winds. So let's have a little injection of colour to brighten up the day...

 project-sized button bags
 handmade packets to save treasured garden seeds
handspun yarns drying by the stove
and early warning of a great exhibition next month 
which will include some of Hugh's work

Saturday, March 3

Marching On

Wow, time flies when your life's a mess!
Lots had happened since I last posted, some of it good and some bad, and most of it probably pretty mundane so I'll spare you the yawning...

But I've been to the first Woolfish Wool Festival of the year at Coldstream, where I caught up with fellow stall-holders handweaver Janis, felting Laura, and the talented Natural Born Dyers (I may have succumbed to some lovely soft dyed fibre there...) as well as good friends who came along to enjoy the textile treats (and the impressive catering - thanks Trudi and Louise!)

 And I'm happy to say that on the Tart's stall Stitchers' Mixtures jars were a success, buttons were bought, scrumptious bags of carded merino were squeezed, thread snips snapped up and my new smarter display of 'notions' made me feel happy!

This euphoria resulted in further investment in buttons and bits and rather side-tracked me away from collage creation (again). My good intentions for the winter months are looking a little feeble now and there's a great new toy tool I bought in November that I have not even put to the test yet. Just bewitched by buttons and the joy of packaging goodies up into little bundles - probably incurable.

But, a new audience awaits!  Ali has organised another great day at Boundary Bank, Jedburgh and kindly invited Janet, Linda and me to join her. We'll have wonderful stocks and supplies to inspire you, at very gentle prices. Come along and enjoy a relaxed rummage through papers, fabrics, fibres and felts!