Spreading myself about a bit…

 That smug feeling I got from sorting out fabrics the other day lasted until one of those middle-of-the-night what’s-it-all-about moments you get sometimes.  (Usually after that unwise extra glass of wine in my case!)  I’m pretty sure the next generation are not going to be interested in my textile mountain, however carefully ironed, folded and colour co-ordinated it is.  I’d better do something to transform it into things William Morris would approve of…

William Morris

Then I can tell everyone they are family heirlooms! 

As I have a vast assortment of precut squares I started on the three inch ones…


..and had probably just enough for a baby bedspread, and in the extended family, a forthcoming baby…perfect excuse!

So I set to work…


…found some Cath Kidstonesque spottyness…

patches 4

And later that same day, a quilt top.

quilt top

Now I have to visit that dangerous shop at Wroxham Barns, the one that is full of gorgeous irrisistible fabrics that I can’t possibly need, but really, really want, to buy wadding to finish off the quilting bit, so watch this space…


Well, it IS my birthday…


orange rose

No-one likes getting older but it’s inevitable.  I’ve never seen the sense of ignoring birthdays because of what they represent, why miss out on an excuse for a party? I have thoroughly enjoyed my birthday weekend… theatre, lunch, flowers, cards, presents, phone calls, text messages and a balloon!  What more can a woman ask for? Completely spoilt!

Back in March I booked seats for the Norwich open-air Shakespeare Festival in the Cathedral Cloisters.  In March of course,  one optimistically imagines glorious warm and balmy July evenings, a triumph of hope over experience.  As this month progressed the possibilities of weather casting a little dampness over the proceedings grew ever larger.  On Friday, this was the view from my window…

…and Saturday didn’t dawn much better.  Some time was spent over the morning trying to find assorted waterproof garments, but when we surfaced from this we found the sun was starting to come out!  By the time we had settled ourselves on our seats on the grass in the centre of the cloisters the sky was a perfect, cloudless blue.


It was a perfect setting for a fantastic performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream by the British Shakespeare Company.  Sadly, no photographs to remember it by,  it would have broken the spell, but lots of information on the website.


The following day was lunch with friends and family, at The Dog in Swardeston.  I know you’re not supposed to boast, but can I help  it that  the best lobster in East Anglia  (in the world?) just happens to be prepared by my dear son-out-law, Alex, and served by darling daughter Aimee in their pub?  You see, I said it was a great birthday!


Kit and Bill produced really useful and lovely presents all the way from the Cath Kidston shop in Liverpool …


And last, but not least, my Mother surprised me with a most beautiful piece of needlepoint which she had managed to stitch in complete secrecy, no mean feat.  Next time you see this, it will be a cushion.


The end to a perfect birthday was a rose bush from my gardening guru son, William,  who has unerringly sniffed out the perfect perfume.  

Will's Rose

I wish I could bottle it…

It’s that ‘Thursday Thing’…


Why is it so easy to convince yourself that if there is something you really want to do then it’s far too much of an indulgence, that you  ought to do the vacuuming first.  And then the ironing, and the dusting, DUSTING? and cleaning the fridge…  I think it’s a woman thing. Thats why it became very important to reclaim one day a week to feed the inner artist.  To get out of the house and do something, see something, meet new people, to get fresh eyes and stir up a bit of creativity. 

This week’s Thursday expedition was to Blickling Hall, a wonderful Jacobean house in Norfolk owned by the National Trust.  The artistic input was going to be a textile exhibition but actually it rather paled into insignificance alongside memories of the St Lawrence Textile Centre.    However, there was a fantastic photo opportunity, the house itself, and we promised ourselves another visit to explore its interior.


Blickling Hall

 Blickling Front Lunch – Parsnip soup and far too hungry to think about a photo I’m afraid. Then a trip to the second hand book shop across the stable yard filled with beautiful plants begging to be bought and taken home to the garden. 


Back to the front of the house.  I love the way the tiny panes of glass are all set in a slightly different direction and fragment the reflections.Blickling Front

There could be a patchwork quilt in there I think.  Then, there was a door knocker…

Blickling Door Knocker

I love the rust and the silvery wood…and then the lichen…

Lovely Lichen

…and the ironwork.  I love…


…that soft pewter grey against the terracotta tones of the old worn brick. 

Headed for home via Aylsham where we discovered the Lisa Dawson Soft Furnishing Studio.  Full of gorgeous fabrics and trimmings and then we found out, joy of joys, she is about to expand into the premises next door and will soon have EVEN MORE gorgeous fabrics and trimmings!  Final treat was the antique shop a few doors away from Lisa.

Antique shop

Where I found a whole box of blue and white china which I didn’t take home..

Blue and white plates

…and a really pretty cup which I did.

cup exterior

I was really pleased that it matched my Jasper Conran Wedgwood plate so well, as well as having a surprisingly colourful interior!

cup interior

A Colourful Weekend

colourful inspiration

I did try so hard to remain focused on the mammoth task of sorting my studio but I am very easily distracted.  The enormous bag was sorted, yarns balled and stored,  all the fabrics and textiles folded and ironed and things went into the black bag and stayed there.  But then it all looked so lovely and tempting…

ribbonswool fabrics

patchwork fabrics.felt and scissors

So this Sunday my living area has been transformed into a textile workshop with a sewing machine on one side of the dining table, a felting machine on the other side and the laptop in the middle.  The sofa is covered in hand sewing and the ironing board is set up in the kitchen. Henry the cat has retired to a sunny spot in the garden and my long suffering spouse will be relieved that he is currently in the middle of the North Sea!  In the midst of all the textiles I found a bundle of vividly coloured cotton strips,  elongated triangles, cut for a long forgotten project.  Having stitched them together, primarily  to enjoy the intensity of the saturated colours,  inspiration suddenly struck.  Diving into yet another fabric stash (this one’s  under the bed)  I found a length of  royal blue cotton and a much loved Provencal print which used to be a curtain.

patchwork bag

I now have a bag guaranteed to brighten up the most boring supermarket shopping expedition.  Then there was what I did with all those brightly coloured blanket pieces and the felting machine….but that is for another post!

Feeling a Little Blue

I’ve just awarded myself a little play with my toys after spending half an hour lurking in my studio trying to have a sort out.  Well, once upon a time it was a studio, now it is a glorified cupboard, full of wonderful things with which to be creative if only I could find them.  I have staggered in to the house with a huge bag of yarns and fleece and pretty fabrics and my task for the rest of the day is to sort and fold and pack and, whisper it, cull, until I have reduced the whole down to something manageable.  If I do this every day for the rest of the year… no, no, don’t be so dramatic, Penny…for the next week or so, I may even have reclaimed a tiny bit of work space.  The current Project G-J, still in the planning stage, is the building of a new studio. This will triple my work space with lots of storage for materials and books which will transform not only my creative life but free up all the places round the house currently housing little secret caches of fabric and wool and paper and threads and beads and paint…well, I’m sure you get the picture!

Sweet Temptation

It really shouldn’t be allowed.  I have been confronted by this sweetie jar every day for a fortnight when collecting our daily papers from the village shop.  How pretty, I kept thinking, what a lovely photo it would make, how nice to have it sitting on a shelf in the kitchen.  So now it’s mine.  It does make a lovely photo, and it does look good sitting on the shelf in the kitchen.  But it doesn’t look nearly as attractive now the top two inches have disappeared and I have a sore mouth and toothache and sadly, very little willpower!  Ho hum…


What a grey day…!


The weather has finally broken and over the last two days we have been in and out of torrential downpours.  At least I don’t have to keep watering the rocket!

Ann Folkard

I am cheering myself up with a few images from the garden which really glow, and keeping my fingers crossed for the second heat wave promised for next month when, no doubt, all the rocket will bolt!

eden rose2

Salthouse and a Printmaking Weekend

Salthouse Cottage 

A forty minute drive along the coast road brought us to Salthouse, a tiny Norfolk village with a big annual Art Exhibition held in it’s beautiful flint church which stands on a mound above the village, over looking the sea.  We were lucky enough to book onto one of the art event courses which run alongside the Exhibition, two days of Experimental Print making. 


There were ten of us and, as is usual with these things, all female. It’s really strange, print making is hardly a girly thing!  The main skill we were being taught was Collagraphy, a relatively new form of print making which is much more user friendly than etching etc which requires noxious acids and other things with Health and Safety issues.  You’re pretty safe with PVA glue! The basic plate is a collage of different papers, textures and textiles, glued down firmly on to heavy board and varnished to create a plate which can be inked and run through a printing press, with amazing results if you are an expert like Laurie Rudling.

Laurie's printing plate

Laurie's print

 By the end of the weekend I felt I had learnt an enormous amount but was pretty underwhelmed with what I’d actually produced, especially as some of the other students had produced amazing stuff worthy of framing and putting in a gallery. I was green with envy! Laurie, bless him,  had  positive things to say to everyone at the final ‘Show and Tell’, even me.  I felt so much better after he’d referred to my effort as ‘reminiscent of a piece of Roman Wall’, so I might not hide it under the bed after all! 

Roman Wall

 Having revealed my print, I must now show how high the standard of the rest of the group actually was, despite my embarrassment!  Considering many in the group had no experience in printing it’s great when a good tutor like Laurie Rudling is able to draw out people’s hidden talents.  I’ve taken note of the fact that Laurie has a course coming up at Broadland Art Centre at the end of September which could well be just what I need!

 Having fitted in a look round the Exhibition we wandered down to the little stream which runs alongside the road through the village. There we admired the cows and the view and enjoyed the icecream cornet and flake with which we rewarded ouselves after all the hard work of the weekend.


Salthouse Cows