Monday, 30 May 2011

A day on the South Bank

I spent a brilliant day in London on Saturday.  I took the train up & headed straight for the South Bank, where this lovely chap greeted me.  He is an urban fox and he is perched on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall near Waterloo Bridge.

He looks a little sad doesn't he?

One of the main reasons for my trip was to see Tracey Emin's exhibition at the Hayward.  I have always loved her work and this exhibition covers every period of her career so far, featuring sculpture, painting, textiles, video, drawing and photography.

I've been so excited all week about seeing this show.  It didn't disappoint at all, in fact it exceeded my expectations.  I wasn't quite prepared for how beautiful those textiles are in real life.  I always assumed they were quilts, but they're actually blankets that have been built up with layers of fabric squares, felt letters, some have patchwork or flags sewn onto them. 

The first room had a lot of these blankets hanging on the walls and they totally blew me away.  It felt so intensely personal that I got quite intolerant; it seemed somehow inappropriate that there were other people in the room, viewing the same pieces.

My favourite of the textiles was in the upper exhibition, which housed newer works.  The colour palette is completely toned down, muted, as though it's whispered rather than shouted.

Of all things, I like art that makes me think, question, and most of all feel.  This show has certainly done this, at times I was laughing out loud, at other times I just wanted to sob & very nearly did so in the dark of those video rooms.  This will stay with me for a long time.  Respect & huge admiration to Tracey Emin, she's a brave, and exceptionally talented woman.

I treated myself to the book from the exhibition and also picked up this cool little cross stitch from the gallery shop.

I've never tried cross stitch before, but figured this may be a good place to start, this will look fab on my wall.

There's a bit of a "do" going on around the South Bank Centre to celebrate 60 years since the Festival of Britain.  There were gardens, a beach (complete with a row of beach huts), a food market, and lots of these slogan signs about the place.

After a spot of lunch in the Royal Festival Hall, and a mooch around the Festival of Britain exhibition, I headed just under the bridge to the National Theatre, where I had booked to see London Road.

I can't recommend this highly enough, I enjoyed every minute of it, it was pretty uncomfortable at times as it deals with some difficult and controversial topics.  I thought it was a very brave piece of theatre and all the cast were excellent.  They've extended the run due to demand, so if you get chance, check it out.

Back home I've made a start on my cross stitching.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday Plant of the Week

I love how these foxgloves have naturalised on the edge of this woodland.  The flower spikes are about 1.5 - 2 metres high, so they're pretty splendid specimens.

Digitalis purpurea

Those little spots inside the base of flower are to guide bees and other insects toward the nectar, which is deep inside the flower. 


Pings And Needles

I'm a bit over excited about this one.   Head over to Pings and Needles who've teamed up with the Chichester-based Eternal maker, for the chance to win 4 fat quarters of Ruby Star Rising fabric by Melody Miller.   I love this fabric line and got myself a little bit when I was over at The Eternal Maker earlier this year. Most definitely room for a bit more!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


In class on Monday we pinned our blocks onto the design wall, or, as one of my fellow classmates called it, the "wall of shame" (which I much prefer!)

I'm pretty pleased with how it's looking so far.  I want to make quite a few more blocks yet as I'm hoping to make it double bed sized.

This is the Drunkard's Path block that I originally wanted to make.  Typically, I actually prefer the other one now.

We learnt speed-piecing to make these little log cabin blocks in class on Monday.  I need to square them up before sewing them together as they've all come out slightly different sizes.

I also invented "free motion cutting", which is what happens when you change your rotary cutting blade & put the new blade on the wrong side, -duh!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The week in plants ...and a bit of sewing.

It was so great to have a little break for the Malvern Spring Show.  I bounced into my working week on Monday, full of renewed enthusiasm & my physical energy restored.  By Wednesday I was exhausted again.  I really expected it to last!  I guess that's the trouble with expectations.

I love to be busy though, -the opposite would be far worse a thing.  We've had some nice sunny days in Brighton this week and there's a riot of colour happening in the garden.  It's been hard trying to pick Plant of the Week, so there's a couple of runners up going into the mix.

How romantic does this look?  The scent from the rose was glorious.  I love the contrast of the deep blue clematis flower tangled up in the rose.

Here's me, Miss "Hmm, roses don't really do it for me", and this year the roses are really blowing me away, they are really fabulous and I think I'm becoming a bit of a fan.

The Aquilegias never fail to delight me.  They seem to be around in every colour combination you could dream up.   

The name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the petals are said to resemble an eagle's claw.

I usually think of Violas with putting on their best display in early Spring or late Autumn, but these ones are putting on a great show this week.

Plant of the Week however, just has to go to this Dicentra spectabilis, or the Bleeding Heart plant.  This is one of my all-time favourite flowers.  I still remember the wonder I felt at seeing it for the first time in Glastonbury's Chalice Well garden.  It's going to be over for another year very soon, so I am glad I had chance to capture it this week.

My long days this week has meant that I am quite similar to a zombie by the evening time. I'm not fit for much apart from curling up in the corner of the sofa, with the telly on and a bit of hand sewing to keep my hands occupied.

I am very pleased with my drunkards path block.  I love the two fabrics together and I think the curved seams turned out ok.  Of course, it wasn't without it's mistakes; this wasn't the design I originally set out to do, but I cut the fabric wrong and so ended up doing this version.  I am still going to do the other one & have cut out my fabrics already (paying attention this time!).

I admire the Card Trick block whenever I see it so was keen to have one in my Sampler quilt.  Again, I'm pretty pleased with how it's turned out. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Good day

Nice to be out in the countryside all day.

Feels good to have planted a tree.

Hamamelis "Westerstede"  (Witch Hazel)

Happy to be relaxing with a bit of sewing in front of the telly this evening.

We're learning curved seam piecing in Sampler Class this month. 

I'm pretty chuffed with my Grandmother's Fan block.  The Drunkard's Path block is (predictably) proving somewhat more tricky as it's on a much smaller scale.  I'm getting there though and am very determined to crack this curved seam business.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Malvern Spring Show

I've had a lovely few days away camping, well ok, more like "glamping" really, -not a lot of roughing it involved staying in a posh trailer.

Malvern Spring show is a big Horticultural show, second only to the likes of Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Shows.  The weather mostly held out for us on show day & we had a fab time.

The highlight for me was definitely the show gardens.

"From Laozi to Heisenerg"  Keni Lee.

"Collision" Christopher Tessier

This next one was awarded a gold medal and Best in Show.  The building is a summer house/office/play room, but I think I'd be quite happy living in there.

 "A Garden for Life" Stuart Gibbs

This next one is my favourite garden in the show.  All the materials and plants used in this garden were sourced within cycling distance of the designer's Worcestershire village.  I love the neatness of all those raised beds on the gravel paths; yet it still retains a cottagey feel to it and with all the veg growing in there it also has a look similar to a potager.  I also really like that big table under the pergola, great for filling the garden with friends and family (and making use of all that fresh veg).

"My Very Local Veg Garden"  Hannah Genders

The floral marquee was full of wonderful plants, perhaps it was lucky I was travelling on the train or it could have got very expensive.

On Saturday we visited Brockhampton Estate, a medieval manor house set in beautiful grounds and woodland.

Just look at that rose, - it had a wonderful fragrance too.

A walk in the woods.

I wonder who lives in here?

A rather bracing plod up in the Malvern Hills rewarded us with these spectacular views.

I really love the English countryside in the Spring, when everything looks lush and at it's very best.

Just beautiful. 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Knitted Allotment

I'm away from home for a few days, this is the first time posting from my phone, so excuse me if it looks a bit rubbish. . .

Seeing this knitted allotment at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton the other day really cheered me up.

It was made by members of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group. The photo doesn't really capture the scale but it's about 6ft tall. It must have taken ages to make and I love the detail of all the individual vegetables and flowers. The ladybirds are also very cute.

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