Sunday, 21 June 2015

Working in a Series continued

This post should be on Pages 'Working in a Series' but it's published in the wrong place.  It will make sense if you read the first part on the separate page.  Why does life have to be so complicated!

 Having looked closely at my own work and the work of others who inspire me it was time to start working with my own inspiration.  While I had looked at the shapes of the windows in St Ives I started to consider other shapes and how they relate to each other.

I started by making tracings from my photographs, concentrating on the main shapes.

One of the exercises was to work in watercolour and I made the sketches above exploring the colours I associate with St ives.  

I tried working in a grid layout using the roof shapes but felt a bit frustrated by the rigid arrangement.

Some more play followed with varied arrangements and colour schemes.  Of the four arrangements above I decided to concentrate on the one bottom left.

 The sketch above was taken into Photoshop and played about with.  

From working with sketches I moved on to working with fabric and have spent several days making improvisationally pieced units which are currently languishing on my equally improvised design wall.   The image below combines and compares two working layouts, neither of which resemble the sketches above but have been informed by them.


Excuse the weird shape at the bottom, it's not part of the design it's a door stop.  I have played around with incorporating definite house shapes using the white of the cottages that you see in St Ives but somehow felt the starkness of the white was too much.  The arrangement on the left, such as it is, has more of the feel I am after but there is a long way to go with the design.  It's neither one thing nor the other at the moment.  I have had to give this quilt a title before it's finished and went for 'Higgledy Piggledy' as I felt this describes the many rooves and alleyways in St Ives but I don't achieved that  think I've  achieved that atmosphere yet.

This course is about working in a series and while I may have gone off at a bit of a tangent working through this piece (because I need it to fulfill a brief for a challenge) I do have a lot of inspiration to take me forward with this series.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Something Quilty and Yet Another Trip

I make no apologies for having been on another little jaunt as I know people do love to travel vicariously (hope I've spelt that right).  The middle of April saw us taking the charabanc to the beautiful County Kerry in Ireland.   Our local coach company just happened to be running a trip to Killarney at the very time that we had been talking about wanting to visit some friends of ours who live beyond Tralee.  My days of driving long distances are coming to an end so if I can find someone else to do the driving I'm all for it.  Plus, we get a holiday into the bargain.  Result!  

 The two photos above are taken from Aghadoe Heights above Killarney and give an outstanding panorama of the beautiful Killarney Lakes.  We were so lucky with the weather and Paul, our driver, took full advantage to show us these views before he took us to our hotel.

On the free day Stewart and I took a local shuttle bus to the far side of these lakes and explored Muckross House and Abbey but more of that in a minute.

Our friends live out on Kerry Head and we hadn't seen them for nearly 10 years during which time my friend's husband had had a nasty stroke so it was lovely to see both of them after such a long time.  Peter has a nap in the afternoons so we were able to relax for a while in June's lovely conservatory while June plied me with wine.  As you can see I had a constant little companion, Ant, who took a shine to us.  I had wanted to take June a gift as it had been so long since we'd seen her and her life is taken up with looking after Peter so I made her a happy quilt, at least, the colours look happy.

A charm pack in my stash meant it went together quickly and I put a fleece back on it so it would be snuggly.  All the sashing and binding was done on the machine too so it was an easy make.  I'm happy to say June was delighted :-)  

Our time with June was all too short but it was lovely to have seen her and Peter at least.  We must try and get across there again before too long.

On the following day we caught a local Shuttle Bus and took ourselves off to Muckross House.   The shuttle bus is new since we were last in Killarney but it is a great innovation (I'm not sure whether the Jaunting Cars would agree) and suited our purposes for the day.  We had been on a jaunting car ride previously and I didn't feel up to it again as I was feeling a bit below par.  The bus was excellent though.  The driver kept us entertained and informed and was very relaxed as only the Irish can be about the itinerary and schedule.  He did make sure that we knew where to be and when.

Muckross House is a jewel in the crown of Killarney.  It sits in an idyllic position overlooking Muckross Lake and looked resplendent in the Spring sunshine.  (I sound like a travelogue!).
First stop was the new cafe complex for some refreshments.

How's that for a view?!

 It was quite a windy day and the cherry tree was shedding its petals like confetti.

 This beautiful old tree was colossal, the photos don't do it justice and its shapes were fascinating.

We had a lovely wander through the gardens and then ventured down to the lake shore.  The grounds were really busy but you wouldn't think it from the photos.

 This beautiful rhododendron bloom came floating by.

The water was making some beautiful patterns to inspire me.

Our next hop on the Shuttle Bus took us to neighbouring Muckross Abbey which proved to be a magical place.   You first see it as you walk down from the road,

The graveyard is still in use and has some interesting memorials and tombs.

Susan Lenz would enjoy a visit here.

The abbey itself is partially ruined but there is free access to the site, which is beautiful.

 This ancient yew tree grows up through the middle of the cloisters.  Yew trees are said to ward off evil and it must be doing its job as, on the day we visited, we saw no sign of 'the brown man' who is reported to haunt the site.

Apparently some have reported a spooky atmosphere but we felt only peace and calm throughout our visit to this beautiful building. 

Finally, (thank god, you're probably saying) it was time to travel back across Ireland via Adare and another abbey.

You're probably ready for a cup of tea now so I'll say tarrah for now.  If I can manage the technology I'm going to start a page for an online course I'm doing at Academy of Quilting with Elizabeth Barton on Working in a Series.  Watch this space!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The March of Spring

It's a glorious day today and there is a definite feeling that Spring has arrived.  We're in a settled period of warmish days with enough sunshine to buck your spirits up so I thought I should pop in here and catch up a bit.  I'm happy to say Val phoned me a few days ago so I shall be taking her cushion to her tomorrow.  Fingers crossed she likes it.

March was quite a busy month and included one stitching Show and a little coach trip to England's magic corner. Ansom!  More of that in a minute.

Starting with some creative eye candy, I finally finished this little embroidery that I started last year!  It is about 5" square and is framed in one of those deep IKEA frames.  The idea was to use mostly french knots to cover the surface but I did move away from that a little as it was taking too long and my hands were complaining.  I was showing it to mum and saying all I had to do now was decide what to do with it.  She said, "You could give it to me!"  I had to smile because I had offered it to her a couple of weeks ago and she had said no.   Anyway, it will please me no end to know that it's in her room for her to look at and enjoy.

I've also made a lap quilt over the course of the last month but I can't show it yet as it's gift but it made me very happy to see it come together.  

Did I mention we went away?  It was a very quick coach trip down to St Agnes in Cornwall.  We had never been there before so we thought a late winter/ early spring break would be a chance to explore, especially as we didn't have to drive down.  We stayed at the Rosemundy House Hotel which was really lovely, tucked away in its own grounds and very welcoming.  They were very understanding about my special diet and made sure I had something appetising every evening.  The coach went out every day but we stayed behind and explored the village and its surroundings.  If you ever go to St Agnes be aware that it's very hilly, there is hardly any flat walking.  

These cottages running down the hill behind the parish church are on a lane called Stippy Stappy.  They were said to have been built for ship's captains and the bigger the ship the bigger the house the captain was accommated in.  Sadly these are now mostly holiday lets with only one having a permanent viallge resident.

Behind and above Stippy Stappy Is Wheal Friendly, the engine house pictured below.  We had a slow walk to it and clambered over a low wall to get a close look.  We decided the private sign referred to cars, not pedestrians ;-)  The view above, through the arched window, is across to Wheal Kitty which now houses various small businesses.

Apart from a link to my own Cornish family history these wheal houses fascinate me in their construction.  When you look at them they are beautifully constructed with features that are echoed in much grander buildings.

Why would they go to the trouble of making these beautiful and quite decorative brick faced openings in such a utilitarian building?  The walls are obviously so thick for strength but I did wonder why the lintel was made of wood?  You can of course see evidence of the buildings purpose in the pulleys and metalworks that remain attached.  Did you spot the tennis ball?

St Agnes doesn't have a seafront, per se, but it does have several beautiful coves and beaches.  We were only able to reach Trevaunance Cove through lack of time and more specifically energy.  

 This is looking north towards Perranporth and Newquay.

We learned in a talk at the hotel that this area to the left of the cove has been manipulated by man to accommodate machinery required to get the ore from mining down to boats in the harbour.  In all 5 harbours were built at St Agnes but none survived the ravages of the pounding sea.  Today the remains of the last harbour still sit on the beach and probably provide some protection for the cliffs.

We were lucky with the tides and were able to explore the caves in Trevaunace Cove for a while.

Lots of beautiful marks and inspiration here.

Being so close to St Ives we couldn't resist hopping on a couple of local buses for a visit.  We were so lucky with the weather and had a very pleasant few hours re-acquainting ourselves with the beach.  Unfortunately we found the sand was a bit squishier than usual and we both ended up with wet feet!  If you're at all squeamish you might want to skip over the next photo!

 Not a pretty sight!

Time to drag ourselves away from St Agnes and St Ives (St Ia) but we'll just say bye to my lttle friend on Stippy Stappy,

I tried to tempt him out with cake but he didn't care for lemon sponge.

The Show I went to in March was the Sewing For Pleasure Show at the NEC.  For some reason I didn't take many photos but it was a good show. 

I was particularly taken with the costumes from the tv drama, Mr Selfridge, the lace was gorgeous.  I suppose I had better admit to a little retail therapy,

And finally, did you see the solar eclipse on 20 March?  We were pathetic in our attempts to photograph it and finally managed to capture some images reflected in our pond, which is heaving with frogspawn,

It was nearly over at this point and we had experienced the weird change in light and sound around totality but in our neck of the woods it didn't go completely dark.  We won't see another total eclipse in the UK in our lifetime, the next is due in 2086, I think.  I'll be back before then.