The WIP report – March 2016

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This month I’ve mainly been working on my diamond hex quilt. I’ve managed to complete two big diamonds and three little diamonds. I’m having a lot of fun with this one, there is pretty much no organisation going with this one, I have sorted two shoes boxes of fabric, one with the greys and whites for the little diamonds and another with groups of coloured fabrics but other than that, I’m enjoying seeing the quilt grow organically, as I attach the diamonds together. I currently have no idea if the bit I’ve completed will end up being in the middle or close to one edge or somewhere in between. As I make a diamond, I do have a rough idea where my instinct is telling me to place it (like with the pink diamond I’m currently making, at the moment I think it will probably go in the position I’ve placed it on the photo) but I don’t think beyond that diamond.

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Embroidery wise, I discovered a much more nearly completed than I thought it had been, work in progress from before Christmas, this month and I thought I’d finish it off. The pattern is a sea dragon from Urban Threads and I think I had originally planned to make this into a pennant but as you can see, it hasn’t worked out very well. Once again, I hit one of the many hazards of relying on Sulky Solvy, with the Sulky Solvy on the top of the fabric, it looked like the colours I was choosing would be bold enough to work with the busy background of the fabric. It was only when I washed the Sulky Solvy off did I realise that nope, it hadn’t worked. I may, if I get round to it, turn this into a pouch but I have a feeling this will get stuffed on a shelf somewhere and join some of my other forgotten embroidery pieces.

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Talking of Sulky Solvy, I had sworn that 2016 was going to be the year that I stopped using the stuff but then I saw this lovely pattern from Shiny Happy World and I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to transfer this by hand, so I ordered some more Sulky Solvy (mentally slapping myself on the wrist). In fact I was so keen for my Sulky Solvy fix, I actually (finally) joined Amazon Prime, just so I could get it the next day with ‘free’ delivery. Anyway, I had originally envisioned this pattern looking fantastic just stitched up in black, I still think it would look great in black (I’m not sure about this multicoloured stuff I’m using) but I was out of black floss. I did try it with black pearl thread but that’s just too thick and the few bits I stitched up looked horrible, so (rare for me, I usually go with my mistakes) I unpicked. I went shopping for black floss but as I suspected would be the case, the only store in my large shopping destination town that actually sells embroidery thread, was out of black, as it always is and as I am trying really hard to stay away from online thread shops at the moment (tooo tempting), I bought some of the aforementioned multicoloured stuff instead. I never usually use the multicoloured threads, I’m never that convinced by them personally but it is quite fun watching the colours change as I stitch but I’m still not that convinced the end result is going to look that great. At least my Sulky Solvy is on plain white fabric this time (saying that, the floss colour is so going to leach when I wash the Sulky Solvy out now).

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Also on the embroidery front this month, I treated myself to two RSN embroidery classes at a textiles show that was local to me. The first class was blackwork, which wasn’t too new to me, as it’s similar to cross stitch but I did manage to demonstrate, in public, how absolutely rubbish I am at stem stitch *blush*.

I know that I have tendency not to complete these projects I start in classes, I’m never actually that enamoured with the designs they teach with and I’m not a massive fan of the washing line design. I don’t like leaving things unfinished though, so I may try and complete it if I have a chance, I think it might make a nice pincushion.

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The second class I attended was goldwork, now that’s a lot more new to me, although if you’ve couched something or added beads to a piece of embroidery before, it’s sort of similar. I enjoyed this one, goldwork materials have a bit of a bewitching, foreign, unknown quality to them and although I’m not normally into glitzy stuff, it was nice to be working with materials I don’t normally work with.

I am more likely to complete this design, although it’s still a question of finding time to sit down, be quiet and concentrate, as it’s fiddly, intricate stuff. So the likelihood of this getting finished is still unfortunately low but I definitely want to do more goldwork in the future!

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Drawing wise, I started enthusiastically with this month’s #cbdrawaday over on Creativebug but I came to a grinding halt in the middle of the month. I do want to continue though and have started, slowly, to work through the classes again. The photo above is of my latest effort. I am very grateful to #cbdrawaday, I couldn’t have drawn the above three months ago.

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I am also, very slowly, still working my way through Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Exploration class, also on Creativebug. The exercise above was fun.

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I’m also drawing when out and about, I’m finding it a great way to occupy myself when I’m waiting for something. The above was drawn relatively quickly, when I arrived in London one morning, a bit too early for an appointment, so I had 15 minutes sitting on a bench in the statue hall at the V&A (the nearest bit to the subway entrance), drawing this.

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I’ve also been doing quite a bit of colouring and actually finishing some pieces. The finished piece above is from Mid Century Modern Patterns by Jenn Ski.

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And finally, I’m still very slowly going through the Skillshare pirate class.

In April I hope to do more of the diamond hex quilt, lots more drawing, carry of learning some new embroidery skills and to get back to my cross stitch WIPs, let’s see if that happens!

 

5 things I liked this week -25.3.16

  1. A lovely appointment with a lovely doctor (one of those transfers of care I mentioned in 5 things a few weeks ago). I love the NHS but some of it is far more ‘joined up’ than other bits (although that’s got a lot to do with funding). A previous appointment with the same speciality at a different hospital had been pretty much “you’ve got this rare condition, now go fend for yourself, byeee!”. Okay, they didn’t say the go fend for yourself bit but they effectively did, as all I got was a letter saying that I had x and that was it. All the care I’ve had since being diagnosed has been through the actions of a few doctors going above and beyond and a lot of bloody mindedness from me. Now I’ve seen a different doctor in the same speciality at a different hospital and they’re all like “right, we can do this, this and this” and I’m like “YES! Finally!”.
  2. I went to see the Botticelli exhibition at the V&A this week. It’s one of those things I probably wouldn’t have been bothered seeing if I hadn’t had a membership and could get in free, I always feel that Venus is a bit cliched but like I said, I could get in free, so I thought I’d go and have a look. The first room of the exhibition sort of confirmed my prejudices, it was full of modern art interpretations of Venus and most of it was a bit, well, not exactly inspiring (although I did quite like Warhol’s version). But as you progress through the exhibition, the work gets older and older and obviously the Pre-Raphelites weren’t doing as direct copies of Venus as the modern art pieces in the first room and I liked the pieces more for it. There was also a rather nice William Morris tapestry, as well as some interesting examples of practice pieces done in that era, copying small parts of Botticelli’s work. The final room had work from Botticelli himself and that was my favourite, there were some Venus like versions (without the famous background) plus many other portraits, my favourite definitely being that of Simonetta Vespucci (Portrait of a Woman). I love how his style almost looks illustrative.

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Although doesn’t this Botticelli lady really look like Cate Blanchett? ↑

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3. I know The Night Manager was in last week’s 5 things but OMG, the latest episode! If the tension couldn’t get any possibly higher, they ratcheted it up another level! I was having to remind myself to breath! Hugh Laurie was of course good in this, as always (so evil) but Tom Hiddleston was particularly outstanding in this episode, when his character was having to pretend to very much be someone he wasn’t and you can see him desperately trying to hold it together whilst still playing the part of the suave evil bad guy. It was really subtle but you could tell how emotional Hiddleston’s character was getting whilst he was still managing to hide it from the other bad guys. I think the final episode is going to be very, very good indeed.

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4. A weekday lunch with Girl Lacer was a lovely treat for me, as I don’t often get company during the day. It was a particularly stressful day, okay some of the stress was down to running around after the aforementioned Girl Lacer but it was just nice to sit down and have a relaxing parma ham and salad wrap (it’s the simple things).

5. More spring sunshine (the weather is being such a tease, it will be glorious for one day then grey and freezing for days afterwards).

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#cbdrawaday February

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#cbdrawaday was so successful over on Creativebug last month, that they thought they’d do it again. They found 29 days worth of material from two of their existing drawing courses and cut them down into bite sized pieces (there’s going to be another one in March too, this one brand new). I’d already done one of the courses they used for February #cbdrawaday already, a year or two back but there was no harm in doing the exercises again and I think I’ve improved a bit!

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It’s definitely made me a bit more confident about using pencil, although I still prefer using pen.

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I got a lot more adventurous this month (probably a bit too adventurous actually) and although it didn’t always work very well, there were always lessons learnt and I could always see something I liked in the picture.

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I also learnt some new techniques, such as shading and blind contour drawing.

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I even got out and took some reference photos on one of the days, when we were looking at geometric and organic shapes. I used the photos to create two pictures.

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Anyway, here’s all the pictures from the month.

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Oh and I’ve also been drawing quite a bit of unprompted stuff, most of it is too cringeworthy to ever show, but I do like this one.

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5 things I liked this week – 19/2/16

  1. Finally finishing a commission, with a little nagging from Boy Lacer. I normally work on commissions during the day when the kids are in school because I use a big tapestry frame which doesn’t really fit in my bedroom (where I do most of my other craft work) but when it came to pick up time on the Friday before the half term holidays and I had just four small blocks of the commission left, I decided that Boy Lacer couldn’t reclaim the living room just yet, I was going to finish the thing. So, I told Boy Lacer this, which he was fine about, he was going to go on the computer anyway and although our living room is small, it’s not so small it can’t handle one person doing tapestry work and another on a computer and I sit down on the sofa, in front of the tapestry frame and instantly start eating a biscuit (not over the tapestry itself, I hasten to add) and surfing my phone, yeeess. But never fear, Boy Lacer was there to nag me out of my laziness, with a sardonic “I’m going to go home and finish my commission, she says, as she sits there eating a biscuit on her phone”. I got to work after that and finished an hour later, I won’t know what to do with myself now when the kids go back to school, as I’ve been working on this commission on and off for months, so …. if anyone needs any needlework done (I promise I’m not always eating biscuits and on my phone).
  2. I’ve been trying, since last October, to get part of my currently tangled web of medical care, transferred from one hospital to another, due to the guy in hospital A being a bit of a clueless eejit. Anyway, I have asked so many doctors who are responsible for that sort of thing to transfer me, over months and months and I had no luck, to the point where I wasn’t getting any care in that department at all (as I’d told clueless eejit that I wanted my care transferred and he got in a huff, I was, I also hasten to add, polite). Anyway, all these doctors said they would write and I’d think “yes, finally someone has listened, I’ll get my care transferred and I’ll get an appointment at hospital B any day now”, cue whistling in the wind noise and a complete lack of appointment letters. Anyway, I finally got an appointment this week! Well, an appointment letter, the actual appointment isn’t until the end of next month and I thought “yay, one of those people I nagged to write, actually did write”. The next day I get another hospital letter, one of those patient copy things and it was a copy of a letter written by one of my other doctors (at hospital B), who I hadn’t even asked about getting my care transferred because it wasn’t her department, had written asking for my care to be transferred, so that all my care was at hospital B and not spread out all over the place. I could have hugged her, she didn’t need to have done that, she’s probably incredibly busy but she still did it and I am so glad.
  3. The lovely Mr. Lacer got me the perfect Valentine’s Day present, a Game of Thrones colouring book! It’s absolutely brilliant, the drawings are really detailed, so lots to concentrate on and it’s great practice for colour choice and shading. I’m not sure it’s the sort of colouring book where felt pens would look good on it, the drawings ask for more subtle pencil, as you can shade more with those, although I thought I’d try watercolour pencils with it, the paper is not ideal for watercolour but it’s fairly thick, the colour doesn’t really leach through, it just gets a little crinkly. I also love how, because I know the story behind each picture, colouring in these pictures are so much more absorbing. I’ve got loads of colouring books but I don’t think I’ve ever finished one of the pictures until I got my hands on the Game of Thrones book, it’s very immersive.

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4. We were in Ikea over the weekend, we were very controlled, only bought what we went in for (that has to be a first) but the little food shop at the end doesn’t count. One of the things I love in the Ikea food shop is Marabou chocolate, I’ve never seen it anywhere else, well not for years and years, I think I also have vague memories of it in airport duty frees when I was a kid. It’s lovely and creamy. Marabou chocolate is (according to Wikipedia), Norwegian, although it has a royal warrant from the King of Sweden. Although looking at that Wikipedia article, maybe I shouldn’t be enjoying Marabou chocolate that much, as I see it’s got palm oil in, *booooo*.

OriginalPhoto-477483765.2588365. I had a lovely shopping trip with Girl Lacer, she’s in a play soon and needed to buy something black to wear. She’s currently in that in between stage between kids clothes and adult clothes, there was nothing nice in the kids clothes shop we normally go into, so we went into Hollister and found a lovely black dress. She looked lovely in it and so grown up and it was so nice seeing her light up with that ‘I’ve found the perfect dress’ moment. I also appreciated the comfy chairs in the changing room.

Girl Lacer then persuaded me to buy her a chess book from another shop, which she had her nose in for the entire rest of the shopping trip. I love that she can get excited about a dress and a chess book.

 

#cbdrawaday

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One of my resolutions for 2016 was to draw more, I’m not at all confident with my drawing but I know when I do it daily I do improve and I do get more confident. Creativebug’s #cbdrawaday with Lisa Congdon was a fantastic opportunity to practice and I could definitely see an improvement over the month, I was also getting a lot more adventurous. You can see in the slideshow below how my drawings (mainly) improved over the month, the first one was ‘tree’ and it’s a bit cringeworthy, I just drew the trees Lisa talked us through on the video but with subsequent videos, she encouraged us to draw our own designs. So with each drawing, the first four or five drawings under the title are drawings I’ve copied from Lisa and the rest are my own.

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I found that I particularly liked drawing natural things (most of the time), my favourite drawing from the month is the mushroom one above, which is from day 10 and I was experimenting with coloured pencils. I also tried watercolour but I am very much a novice with that and I got some of my colour mixing wrong, that succulent at the top is not meant to be that colour and it had been looking so good when I’d just painted the green bits too *pouts*.

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For the rest of the time, if I wanted watercolour, I used watercolour pencils, I particularly had fun when it was the houseplant day.

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#cbdrawaday has definitely encouraged me to do some more drawing and I have done some but it’s so cringingly embarrassing, they’re definitely not going to see the light of blog. I think I definitely draw better if I have someone talking me through some examples first to warm me up. But I will keep trying and I will keep taking more online art classes.

The new Europe 1600-1815 gallery at the V&A

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The V&A have just reopened their Europe 1600-1815 gallery and it’s lovely. They’ve arranged a lot of the exhibits so that it looks like a snapshot of the interior of someone’s house, so it’s like stepping back into time. You could imagine everything having a story attached to it, the things those pieces must have seen.

The bottom photo is of my favourite room, a bedroom from north-west France built sometime between 1682-1694 but was already out of date, as it echoed styles from the 1630s. You can actually go and sit in this room, it is dark and very atmospheric.

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As well as lots of nice, dark and atmospheric stuff, there were some absolutely gorgeous, colourful, intricately designed pieces.

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There was also lots of great art, I love portraits sometimes, you’re literally looking into the face of someone from the past. This bust though was funny, it was part of a series from the sculptor Messerschmidt, illustrating different states of mind and sensory reactions, although apparently his interest in extreme expressions may have been due to the psychiatric and digestive disorders he suffered from, so not that funny then. This one is called ‘Strong smell’.

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And an elephant, as I have a fondness for them due to work reasons.

I also saw two photography exhibitions at the V&A today as well; Richard Learoyd, which was brilliant, giant photos made with a camera obscura and developed using a technique that meant each photo was only one of a kind, no means of reproducing it. The photos were mainly models and I loved how Learoyd often focused on the hands, shown in glorious painterly detail, whereas everything else was in increasing soft focus. I also saw the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition, the photos from that were nice, again it was nice to see the faces of people from the past and Cameron often photographed her subjects in much more natural poses than what you would normally associate with photographs from that era but what was really interesting was the story behind the photos, how her career developed from relatively late in life and how she broke all these stuffy photography ‘rules’.