Thanks for calling by. I hope you enjoy what you see, feel free to leave a comment and call again to catch up on my news.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Retreat

There's just a little progress to report on in the retreat this week. 
The kitchen is finished! The sink has a splash back, taps and a waste pipe and the space underneath the sink has a bucket, dustpan and brush. I've put a packet of washing powder under there too since I took the photograph. The kettle is on the hob and the pot is warming ready to brew the tea. The dresser is filled with groceries and a big bowl of fruit. There are even biscuits in the biscuit tin. I'm quite pleased with the way this area of the retreat is looking now. Maybe I'll hang that shabby little sign up on that wall though as it looks a little bare at the moment.

I've also been making a settee to sit opposite the chair. This is not quite finished yet and eventually it will have a throw draped across it ready for snuggling up in in the cooler evening air.

I also made this cute little tea tray for my Etsy shop.
The rest of the week has been taken up painting the big windows for the front wall of the retreat and the railings which fit around the deck - still not finished and certainly not worth showing you.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Stitching news

I've been pretty busy stitching this last week. As you know, I'm doing the sumptuous surface embroidery course with Sharon B from pintangle.com so I've been working on my cat picture. I now have a whole series of cats ...

I have a cat who's intrigued by a butterfly ...

 I have a cat who's birdwatching through the window ... and ...

I have a cat who's about to pounce on a ball.

but I've chosen to begin stitching my 'disinterested' cat - cream on cream. The cat itself will be 'negative space', i.e. not filled in at all. The upper part of the picture is going to be stitched in low relief pulled thread stitches while the lower part of the piece will be filled with highly textured stitches - all in neutral shades.

The second piece we do on the course is in colour so I'm probably going to work the cat chasing the butterfly for that one as it will be set in a garden - so lots of colour.

 I stitched an orchid in needlelace and I shall make more of these I think as it was such fun to make.

I've also been working on a fabric book, which is almost finished now, but I'll show you that when it's completed.

Last week a friend and I went to the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield, which is where my friend lives. If you live in the UK and get the chance to visit, it's well worth a trip. It's named after Barbara Hepworth, the sculptor, whose work is heavily featured in the gallery, but there is also work by other contemporary artists and sculptors. If you're not familiar with Barbara Hepworth's work, here is a taster.

 If you've visited London you may have seen the full size version of the piece in the picture above on the wall of the John Lewis store.

Her work is perhaps not to everyone's taste but I think that some of these pieces are just waiting to be interpreted in stitch.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Retreat progress

I have been so busy recently with my cat design for my new embroidery course that the miniatures have taken a bit of a back seat. There is a little progress in the retreat however.

I've finished the flooring in the bedroom at last, and am now trying to work out what I can put in those tight angles between floor and roof. I've tried some storage boxes, and a little table. I know that I really need to make the bed and get that in place so I can see exactly what space I have left to work with before making any final decisions but I couldn't resist playing a little.

Downstairs I've made the range cooker. The sink unit still needs a splashback on the wall and the taps fixed but the curtain is in place and a bucket stored inside the cupboard.

The kitchen area is now almost complete.

I couldn't resist making this shabby little sign for the wall.

There's also a mirror on the wall at the foot of the stairs with a little storage unit beneath it and a set of shelves which just fit in the space underneath the stairs. Lots of books and rolls of fabric needed to fill these.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A new venture

Yesterday I began an online embroidery course run by Sharon B at www.pintangle.com. The course is entitled Sumptuous Surfaces and a big part of the purpose, for me at least, in taking this is to learn more about the design process. I've designed things in the past but it's always been kind of intuitive, or accidental, or something, but I've never known the 'theory' of the process.

Lesson 1 is all about that design process and at last I have a framework in which to work and suddenly it all makes sense. For the first three weeks of the course we work in monotone, which doesn't necessarily mean we have to work in neutral shades, though that is what I've gathered together. It's all about the texture so there are soft cottons, crochet threads, perles, chenille, rayons, linens and metallic threads. I think perhaps I need something a bit darker in there too but until I've decided on a final design I'm not sure.

My first piece is going to be based on a cat (surprise, surprise!!) so this morning I sat down with a cup of tea and mind-mapped some ideas about cats.

What struck me particularly from this exercise were the contradictions inherent in a cat's nature - independent/demanding; aloof/affectionate; wild/domesticated etc. and I want to incorporate some of that in my design. Watch this space for further developments.

Friday, 4 May 2012

More furniture, pincushions and lemon curd

I've had a good week this week in the retreat and it feels like real progress is being made quite quickly for a change.
I finished off the wicker chair - realised that I hadn't wound its legs so that's done now and the legs look more capable of actually holding the weight of a person. I made a nice comfortable seat cushion for it and also some little cushions to prop against the back.

I couldn't resist adding some kitchen items to the dresser and I finished painting the kitchen chair and stool.

I made a range cooker from mountboard

and started work on the sink unit. So this is how the kitchen area will fit together. I'm just waiting for the air dry clay sink to dry and then I can fix the top on the sink unit and get this area finished.

This was a whitewood unit that I bought - well I actually bought two but each one comes with only two of those storage baskets so I 'borrowed' the baskets from the second unit, covered the fronts with scraps of William Morris patterned paper and painted the unit cream. The drawers and baskets are all empty at the moment but eventually they will hold the owner's craft items. That little box on the top and the two on the dresser are made from scrapbooking paper.

I made more cushions and put them in the armchair. I think I may make a throw for this chair too so she can wrap it around herself on cooler evenings.

Liz's sew along item for April was a pincushion and I made two. I love biscornus and once I got started it seemed like one just wasn't enough.


And finally ... this morning I decided to make lemon curd.

You put the grated zest and juice of 4 lemons, together with 200g of sugar and 100g of butter cut into cubes into a heatproof bowl and put it over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't actually touch the water. Stir it occasionally with a wooden spoon until the butter melts. Then mix 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk lightly with a fork and stir into the lemon mixture. Then just let it cook in the bowl, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes. When it turns thick and custard-like, remove it from the heat and stir it occasionally as it cools. Pour it into a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks - if it gets the chance. Super tasty!!!