Monday, December 29

Dressing Up -

My workroom window has been unadorned until now. 
I gathered my dyeing samples together,
added fabric from a kantha shirt (which I bought for Hugh on India trip no. 1 but which was far too short for him),
and some from dark blue cotton/linen trousers which survived both trips and owed me nothing. 
Large patches were soon stitched up, and I backed it with a lightweight thermal curtain lining. Chuffed with result.

Also chuffed with Hugh for baking a stollen-type bread for our Christmas breakfast!

Tuesday, December 23

Peace and happiness

In the face of so much suffering, near to home and far around this unsettled world, many of us have such a lot to be grateful for.

Thank you to friends, neighbours, acquaintances, even a few family who see my posts here, for the love and laughs and good cheer through the year. 
And to all the delightful textile-inspired visitors to my various stalls who have stopped to talk and buy my products, thank you too.
May you enjoy the festivities over the next wee while and have a safe and peaceful 2015.


Sunday, November 30

Blue Moon

We're all on a helter-skelter, hurtling towards the end of the year - that's how it feels here! After last weekend's excellent Art & Design Fair at Kelso, this one has been about getting tasks scored off the endless lists. The last few jobs done on the cottage, ready for a holiday couple arriving Monday, delivering more handmade wooden lampbases and shades to the delightful Coldstream Gallery, photographing work, oh and making a stack of bacon rolls first thing this morning for participants in an off-road driving trial that Hugh is running.

Next Sunday 7th December is the final Woolgathering of the year. I hope there's a good crowd of us to enjoy a knit/spin/stitch and a cake or two...

The Sunday after that, 14th, we'll be holding a great wee food fair in Southdean Hall. There are some intriguing stallholders coming along with all manner of tasty treats  - everything from wine and wine coolers to fresh baked bread and Christmas cakes, marshmallows and olives! 10am till 2pm,

Isn't this covetable? Knitted by a talented textile friend in luscious Blue Moon 4-ply Blue Faced Leicester yarn, its a design by Jared Flood.
This rather simpler knit is a cushion I have designed which uses two contrasting skeins of my Blue Moon merino dk

And this is the start of my winter project. A sweater in Blue Moon Eclipse dk which I am sort of designing on the hoof. I do hope I get it right....

Monday, November 10

Off to the Fair(s)

...and first along is the small-but-perfectly-formed Southdean Christmas Gift Fair just along the road from Tart HQ this Saturday 15th November. If you can come along we would be delighted to see you.
Very closely followed by a rather larger affair - the highly regarded Art & Design Fair at Kelso over both days next weekend
 I have been busily making and packaging... 
Stitchers' Mixtures

Fabric shade for tall spalted beech table lamp

Thursday, October 30

Northern Exposure

The week in Assynt was wild and wet on the outside, warm and filled with lovely cooking aromas on the inside. We cooked up a storm in the kitchen, creating tasty healthy food for everyone and sharing many many laughs. 

The rain did not stop the hardier members of the group from getting out and exploring the terrain. Others could not be parted from their knitting and carried on intricate work with beautiful yarns. I'll save my knitting efforts for another post(!), but I did get a few skeins of yarn spun.

Some of us also opted to take a spoon carving workshop run by Chris Goodman. It was challenging work with unfamiliar tools but we all produced creditable spoons, in alder, birch or willow.

Thursday, October 16

Home and Away

I'm off north in a few days, to share a big house with a lot of talented women who will be wielding pointy sticks and using gloriously hand dyed yarns created in the workshop of this alchemist!

I'll have images to share of the dramatic setting in Assynt but in the meantime, here are a few from the last foray north, when Hugh was training mountain rescue personnel in offroad driving techniques.
We stayed in a cottage on the Alvie estate, a few miles south of Aviemore. The setting could not have been better for us. 
Above is fearless tracker dog Ash, intently studying a potentially deadly moth or similar behind the cottage. 
And below is a typical game with both animals. Midge enters into the spirit of it 200% while Ash finds something much more important to do and is deaf to all commands.
 We were fortunate to have lovely early autumn weather; early mornings were gentle misty affairs.
And to finish, here's my newest Blue Moon yarn - Luna Laceweight, a mixture of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere. Seen here in 'before' and 'after' shots.

Friday, October 10

Just dropping in...

but it's a flying visit. 
Yarndale's 'Bert'
After a gloriously busy Yarndale I have been dyeing yarns, stocking up on buttons, spinning, planning and generally chasing my tail. 
Tomorrow I am off to join in Dumfries Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers' Gathering which is open to visitors too. Contents of the Tart's stall are ready to be loaded into the car in the morning, along with wheel and fibre so I can spin while I mind the shop.

Do you like the yarn? It was spun for the lovely Riikka in Finland who emailed me today to say that it had arrived. She called it beautiful, gorgeous and amazing so I think she's pleased with it :)

Saturday, September 20

Blue Hands are Cool

...they mean lots of indigo dyeing is happening. 

Major stockpiling is going on here in preparation for the next great event which is YARNDALE in Skipton next Saturday and Sunday 27/28th. The great busy yarn fair got off to a fine start last year and looks to be surpassing itself this time, with 180 stalls of textile loveliness. The Border Tart is nice and easy to find, at No 65, close to the Wharfedale entrance...just so you all know! 
A little slice of woolly paradise, say the organisers, and who am I to argue?
As well as indigo yarns, I will have one-off handspun skeins, lots of luscious wool/silk fibre blends for spinners and felters, oodles of buttons including unique glass ones made by Laughinglass near Kelso, wonderful Indian block print and woven stripe fat quarters, and as much else as I can cram onto my stall. It's going to be a wild weekend :)

Thursday, September 4

Cakes and Sales

What a fine weekend we had! It was grand to welcome friends old and new to Chesters as part of the Art Trail. I had fun encouraging visitors to pick up a pencil or two and design a blue sheep. The flock is substantial now, and I have plans for their reproduction...
 a sample of the indigo flock
Our Macmillan pop-up coffee shop raised nearly £300. Big thanks are due to my generous helpers who baked and poured and washed and stayed cheerful throughout.
A display of books I have made over the last few years

The lovely little knitting book I have for sale

One of my unique handmade paper lampshades

Sun shining on the (b)righteous!

Thursday, August 28

Art Trail Eve

I've had a busy time arranging, and rearranging, and fussing about to get my new workspace sorted for the next three days' public viewing.
The cottage living room has tables and chairs and sofas at the ready for coffee shop business, and there have certainly been a few cakes baked. You can enjoy your refreshments surrounded by large canvases painted by Hugh, and smaller stitched silk and paper by me. All lit by a lovely wooden table lamp or two or three with handmade shades.

I called this one Titanic because it lists to port (or starboard, if you prefer)
So I should show you images, but I got too carried away taking photographs of shelves and tools and stuff instead, including my lovely Mark Hearld paper bird perched on the desk light.

 So really, if you want to see more, just mosey along. Hugh will be in his cabin, showing new work and some daft bargains, I'll be in my workspace and you'll surely smell the coffee. If in doubt follow the arrows!

Friday, August 22


Yesterday I travelled to Edinburgh and mingled briefly with Festival crowds as I visited various excellent exhibitions - 

India Street was my main reason for travel, and a date with Lokesh Ghai, assistant curator of The Bombay Sample Book. This exhibition examines the book held in the National Museum of Scotland containing designs printed in Turkey Red. (India Street in the Vale of Leven, backed onto the factory that was the world's biggest producer of Turkey Red fabrics). Lokesh is one of seven designers, from India and Scotland, who were invited to explore the archive, consider the historical and political impacts of the industry and produce contemporary work. It's on until 11th September at Gayfield Creative Spaces
Lokesh at the exhibition's chai stall

Monkey Business by Raw Mango

Chilli Bean Flowers by Lokesh Ghai
A few steps from Gayfield is McNaughtan's Bookshop at the top of Leith Walk. In their lovely little gallery space is beautiful paper work by tapestry artist Jo McDonald
This image does not do the scale or delicacy, or constructive challenge of her work justice. Go see!

Dodging torrential showers and dazzling sunlight, I strode off along George Street to catch the Craft Scotland Summer Show too. Here there are mini displays by lots of Scotland's finest, including local jeweller Fiona Luing (who could resist silver ear studs listed as 'teeny', 'tiny' and 'small'?) and silk weaver Dorothy Stewart, based in Lockerbie, whose work is understated and elegant.

Finally, this was a thought-provoking reminder of the price paid in so many ways by our predecessors, and that being paid this minute in war-torn communities.