Thursday, 11 January 2018

Doodle a Day

 I think I may have mentioned in my last post that I have been taking part in a Doodle a Day for January following creative prompts on Instagram. I know I have done things like this before... like last summer... and have usually not got further than about a week but I'm trying to stick with it... despite waning enthusiasm over the past day or two... because it has had some knock on effect on other creative endeavours, plus it is a chance to try different techniques and different styles.

The prompts for the first nine days were: Happy New Year, Cocktail, Sleep, Penguin, Fringe, Sailor,  Building, Bath and Cloud.... I'm hoping you can work out which is which! That fringe was my Mum's handiwork... it's from an old school photo from when I was about six! Day eight was "Bath" and when I got home at lunchtime that day I discovered Jacob had given Hector a bath. Once I got over the water and hair everywhere I could see the funny side especially as Hector was not very impressed so he became the subject of my drawing that day.

I really enjoyed drawing the little penguins and they have become the subject of an applique with free machine embroidery that I consequently turned into a zipped pouch. I always imagined making zipped bags would be really tricky but they are simple when you know how... so suddenly everything has become a zipped bag! I struck lucky with the lining for this one.

Yesterday's prompt was "Houseplant" which reesulted in two drawings... a little water colour of a Monstera plant...

And some little cactii...

Which also got turned into an applique that will be a bag very soon.

And not content to stop there I made a pencil case sized bag from these appliqued owls.

I still feel as though I am working a little haphazardly, jumping from one thing to the next but I might just amass a little collection of bags for my Etsy shop at this rate.

Meanwhile if you want to see my daily doodles you can follow me on Instagram at

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Two Down...

Well that was a good creative start for the first week in January and if I achieve nothing else all year I have at least finished off two projects that have been sitting on my sewing table for the best part of last year.

If I'm honest this one might have been lurking about nearly eighteen months. I made some little stitched portraits back in 2016 ready for my open studio in July. Stewart named them my "Dead Singers"... very tasteful! So continuing the theme I started on Freddie Mercury. But then Open Studios ended and there wasn't very much interest in the ones I had already done so Freddie got cast aside for other things. But in my quest to finish things in 2018 I found him again and now he is complete and mounted in his little frame.

Of course, having finished him I now want to make some more which rather defeats the object of getting stuff finished and out of the way in the first place. Not that it has stopped me... I have Marc Bolan and Jimi Hendrix drawn up ready to stitch!

Another project that has languished on my table for most of last year was this little book cover, started as a sample in one of my classes... ridiculous really as it only took an hour or so to complete.

I can take no credit for the design as it was made to cover the little notebook I carry around in my handbag so I took inspiration from the original cover. As you can see the notebook is rather dogearred and the cover has been taped back on so this little book jacket was desperately needed. I can't imagine why I didn't finish it sooner really.

So that's two projects finished... and another two started. Maybe I'm not doing as well as I thought!
I've also been taking part in an art challenge on Instagram to draw a doodle a day following daily creative prompts. I've not always liked the prompts but so far I've been doing it every day and it has already inspired me to do some other things... but I'll save that for another day because my supper is ready.

I hope your weekend has been a good one too!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Good Times

We've had a good start to the year. No sooner than I had rattled off that last post than I was off  putting on a posh frock ready for our New Years Eve celebrations. It started as an idea to celebrate over a meal with our friends Alison and Steve, but it soon morphed into a buffet supper for sixteen of our mutual friends. Alison and I planned it together and shared all the cooking and preparation which made the whole evening seem effortless. We started at Alison and Steve's for cocktails and canapes and then everyone headed up the road to us for the main meal.

All our main course dishes came from Ottolenghi cookbooks so it was a feast of middle eastern inspired dishes, full of flavour and fragrant spices.

It is a wonder we had room for puddings but with roasted figs, sticky baklava, fruit tarts and chocolate cake it was hard to resist.

When midnight came we were all suitably feasted and ready to raise our glasses to toast in the new year.

It was such a lovely relaxed evening with good friends, good food and good conversation... a perfect start to 2018. Even the clearing up seemed effortless sharing it with friends. New Year's day was taken at a leisurely pace with a lovely dog walk in the afternoon, timed to miss the showers.

Since then Christmas has been packed away in boxes in the loft, the house feels back to normal and finally I feel almost back to normal too. It has been a good Christmas and a good holiday but there has also been uncertainty hanging over us for the past couple of weeks.

Two weeks before Christmas I went for a routine mammogram. Within four days I had a call back for further tests. After a week of worrying and not sleeping, three days before Christmas I attended a screening clinic for further x rays and an ultrasound resulting in a biopsy on a lump in my left breast. It was all a little surreal... especially sitting in the waiting room with Raiders of the Lost Ark playing in between tests. I was treated well and all credit must go to the NHS who do a fabulous job.The doctor reassured me that she thought that it didn't look serious and the biopsy was just a precaution. I was told to go home, enjoy Christmas and not to worry.

And mostly that is what I have done. We really haven't told anyone else because there seemed no point without any definite news. The worrying has come at strange moments, obvious times like the middle of the night but sometimes in the middle of crowds of friends... silly worries like "How am I going to tell people?", "How can I write my advent blog posts when I don't feel upbeat and jolly?" or "Will I be able to lift my sewing machine if I have to have an operation?" However I am relieved to say that I have been lucky because yesterday I got my test results and I've been given the all clear. I thought I would just feel immense relief... and don't get me wrong, I do, but I'm also feeling lots of other mixed emotions I hadn't expected. There was guilt that I was one of the lucky ones knowing there would be phone calls to other women who wouldn't be getting good news, there was frustration at feeling the way I have for the past two weeks and other feelings that I can't easily verbalise... more of an exhaustion.... I feel exhausted. In many ways it has felt really traumatic yet here I am now as though nothing has happened... just a small scar and some bruising, both of which will go, although the lump remains, so it feels like a fuss over nothing.

So when in my last post I said there  would be no resolutions this year it was mostly because I couldn't think beyond the next couple of days... not that there are any resolutions as such more just gentle plans or ideas. I had already said earlier last year that I wanted to concentrate more on my art and textiles and that is part of my plan for this year. Maybe rethink my social media presence... both my website and blog could do with an update, I'd like to grow my Instagram following and my Etsy shop, maybe send out more newsletters... but they are all vague ideas. Christina has written about all the things she would like to make this year and it made me think not so much about what I would like to make but more about finishing things I have started... this could definitely be a year to finish things or at least get rid of those projects that will never be finished.  Barbara has written about reducing our enviromental impact by cutting down on our use of plastics and that seems to me like that would also be a good aim for the year. Mostly though I shall be grateful for my good health and appreciate good friends, good food and good conversation!