Friday, 30 December 2011

Fiction Fridays #5 Where's Spot

Firstly, I can hardly believe that it is that time of the week again, I was only reminded when I saw a fellow blogger and friend's Fiction Friday posting, and even then I was slightly confused - all the days have merged into one!  (And thank you for the mention by the way, we think you and your posts are fabulous too).

Anyway, here is this weeks entry, one of Freya's favourites, and I have to admit, one of mine too. 

It is one of those hardback books that come as a little adorable box set with the toy Spot, and I couldn't resist.  Freya loves lift the flap books, and this is the best of it's kind, with a 'surprise' jungle animal behind each flap.  We have a hilarious time with this book - when she lifts the flap with the lion behind it, I make a loud 'roar' noise, making her jump, sending us both into fits of laughter.  I think she is getting wise to my games as she is starting to remember which aniimal is behind which door, but she still loves it, and she loves making Spot eat his dinner at the end of the story too.  It's all too cute, but I guess you have to be there.

Freya has been the lucky recipient of a few new books this Christmas, and I look forward to posting about them in the coming weeks.  Happy Reading and Happy New Year from me, Freya and all the characters that we have met in Fiction Fridays so far.  :-)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Hawaiian Applique and Jersey Landscapes

Welcome back!  First of all, I hope that all my blogging friends had a lovely and relaxed Christmas and that Father Christmas was good to you all.  I was lucky enough to receive a  beautiful, inspiring book called Material Obsession, (I also have the follow-up, Material Obesssion 2) Kirstie's Craft book and a glue gun, which was just what I wanted.  I also used some of my Christmas money to get other bits such as a new quilting ruler, some gorgeous fabrics for my current module (should be plenty left over) and some threads.  Oh I am easily pleased!  I am now thinking I want to make quilts from my Material Obsession book immediately, but I have the task of completing module 4 first, and then perhaps I will allow myself a small amount of time out to complete a mini quilt using one of the wonderful, original patterns.  As always I like to put myself under pressure! 

But just because it has been Christmas, it does not mean that I haven't been working in between all the eating, socialising and opening presents.  After all, I don't really consider my C and G coursework to be work, and it has been great to have a bit of extra time to focus and get things done while my lovely husband Pete takes Freya to the beach and little trips out.  The first thing I am working on is my Hawaiian applique sample.  Below is a picture of the applique part of it, the whole design hand appliqued by turning the edges under with the point of the needle.   I was pleased with the spotty effect, it looks a bit like a modern snowflake I think, so quite festive and appropriate. 

I am now doing the time consuming business of quilting it, Hawaiian style, but to be honest, it won't look a lot different when it's finished so I thought I would share it with you now. 

I have also been out and about with Pete and Freya in tow, taking photos of the Jersey landscape and coastline, for this module.  Fortunately for me, the theme is natural landscapes, so I really couldn't ask for more with Jersey's dramatic and breathtaking coastline.  I am so lucky to live so close to such beautiful places; it's the perfect backdrop and here is a small selection of some of my favourite pictures:

Greve de Leque

Plemont Bay

Plemont up close (it's where they did the sand art)


Corbiere Lighthouse

Beauport Bay (I think!  We discovered it on our 'tour' of the island)

I am pretty chuffed with my pictures, some of which were taken from the comfort of the car with the window down!  And the bleakness of winter creates a lovely atmosphere in the photos which goes perfectly with the black and white theme that is set for this portfolio. 

Changing topics completely, I have one final photo I would like to share, it's Freya with her new giant caterpillar puzzle and other smaller, yet challenging caterpillar puzzles.  She didn't have any help, she is our resident puzzle expert. 

Ta da!

Right, I must get back to it, before the New Year Celebrations begin.  Happy New Year everyone, I hope it brings you all you wish for. x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Fiction Fridays #4 The Very Helpful Reindeer

I have managed to get myself into gear this week and am pleased to be able to post my festive Fiction Friday offering, just in time for Christmas.  This week I have chosen 'The Very Helpful Reindeer which is a charming little book, complete with sound effects to enhance that magical, Christmasy feeling.  I wish I could say that Freya has enjoyed reading it with me, but for some reason, she is

just. not. interested.

Such a shame!  It really is a delightful story about yes, you guessed it, a reindeer, who ends up helping no less than Father Christmas himself, and in true children's storytelling fashion, saves the day.  I used it a lot last year with the children that I was tutoring at the time (ages ranging between 6 and 10 - no one is too old to enjoy a Christmas story with sound effects!) and they all loved it. 

 Outside the window,
the falling snowflakes

Santa flicked a magic spell from his fingers.
He sent happy Christmas dreams to Rory
and to sleeping children

On that note, all that wishes to remain is to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May it be filled with family, friends, fun, food and festivities and I look forward to blogging again soon. xx

P.S extra special thoughts and love to my blogging friend on the other side of the world - you know who you are - thinking of you xxx

Monday, 19 December 2011

Apologies and snow collages

Lots to post about this week, but firstly, an apology...I didn't get around to publishing my Fiction Friday weekly update, shame on me!!  Where shall I start with my list of excuses (Freya had friends round to play, Pete was hogging the laptop, I have been busy with my C and G work, I have been preparing for a new arrival etc. etc.)not good enough I know!  But I feel that last weeks boat has most certainly sailed, so I shall keep last weeks installment for this Friday instead.  I promise.  And it's a festive offering, so it will be even more appropriate, being so close to Christmas.  :-)

On a more positive note, I submitted and got feedback for my colour module, and my tutor said that it was 'excellent' so as you can imagine, after nearly 6 months of slogging away, I am thrilled to bits.  But there is hardly any time for reflection, it's full steam ahead with the next three modules, as I try to complete as much as I can before Christmas and the new year.  Progress has been good so far, although I have to say my heart did sink a bit when I realised I have to complete 5 more applique samples, making it a total of 10 applique samples in total - it would have been nice to do something else then come back to it!  But hey-ho, that is what they want so that is what I shall do.  Everything is in the very early stages so there is not a lot to photograph and show you at the moment (although I have loads of ideas in my head and can't wait to get going) so for the time being I will share with you Freya's latest work...a snow collage...

First Freya did some finger painting
Then she added some cotton wool snowballs...

And next some sparkly pipe cleaners and silver snowflakes...
Before finally adding some blue glitter glue...
Freya hopes you like it!!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Fiction Fridays #3 Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

This is a charming little lift-the-flap book that I bought for Freya before she was born.  I made her a little story sack and I was particularly pleased with myself because I managed to use computer software to turn the front cover of the book into a little cross-stitch design which I then stitched to go on the front.  I searched high and low for lots of little animals that featured in the story and while I don't have all of them and there is a slight issue with scaling (note the giant frog and an elephant smaller than the lion for example!) these things are neither here nor there to Freya and she loves pulling out the right animal as she lifts the flaps.  It is certainly one of my favourites and I have even bought Freya the giant 24 piece floor puzzle which she can complete almost all by herself. 

I love fiction Friday's, I have so many more books and props that I can't wait to share.  And it will be such a lovely record for Freya when she is older.  Can't believe this is my 3rd post already...where is the time going?!  It will be Christmas before we know it.  And rest assured, there are lots more books on Freya's Christmas list! 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Five Samples Finally Finished

Oh happy days, I have finally, finally completed all five of my applique samples for module 3. So here it is, the experimental reverse applique sample, based on an Aztec mask design I came up with that looks uncannily like a lot of little pac men...

It's quite hard to tell from the photo but I have used reverse applique for the eyes and mouth and the band at the top has been appliqued on and then all the masks appliqued on to a black cotton fabric.  The brief was to use a fabric that did not need to be turned under, so that's why I used felt, and I think the colours look really bold against the black background.  It is one of those pieces that looks so much better in real life, the photo doesn't seem to capture it somehow.  But there we are, the limitations of distance learning and blogging!  So just one or two tweeks to my portfolio and presentation and then it's on to module 4...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Fiction Fridays #2 Miffy at the Gallery

I think I must lead a very simple life because I woke up this morning with the happy realisation that it was Ficiton Friday again and I could finally post my next installment...

This book is a firm favourite with Freya, and I have lost count of the number of times we have read it.  And now it is requested even more given that I have bought her a co-ordinating bag and little Miffy, who we affectionately refer to as 'Orange Miffy.'  (This is to avoid confusion as we have quite a few Miffy Rabbit's in our house, of varying sizes and colours.) 

As the title suggests, Miffy does indeed go to the gallery, and she looks at many different works of art and sculpture; how cultured our furry orange friend is!  It inspires Miffy to think about what she would like to be when she grows up...

I love the rhyming in this book and the simplistic pictures.  Although it has got to the point where I don't even need to look at the words anymore as they are, along with many other stories, etched on my brain forever.

Looking forward to posting again next Friday (I have a feeling I will still be posting Fiction Fridays when Freya is at University!!) please do join in if you have a blog, it's so much fun.  (see the link to @homedad on the right hand side for full details).

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Stained Glass Applique, Decorations and Resolutions

I have been really looking forward to writing this post and sharing with you my latest work, a sample of experimental applique.  By experimental, it means trying new techniques and materials.  So I have attempted stained glass applique (which as the title suggests, looks like a stained glass window) and I have used a variety of materials, including felt, satin, organza, angel hair, cotton and decorative paper.  Some of which are easier to stitch into than others.  (As I found out the hard way. Ahm.)

My Stained Glass window

Please take a closer look...

It's all stitched by hand...and took me AGES!!

Only the border was machine stitched, and I have to say I felt very nervous because I had spent so long on the central panel, I didn't want to mess it up at the final hurdle!  Luckily all went well (I hope you will agree) and it is certainly the best that I could manage so I hope it's good enough. 

Onto other crafty news, Freya has had a creative week too preparing for Christmas;

16 Christmas tree decorations for friends and family...DONE!
You may be lucky enough to recieve one of her masterpieces in a Christmas card - if you have been good this year of course. 

And I have had a productive weekend in other ways too.  I have a new resolution.  It is to take better care of all my things.  So far I have put this into action by:

1) Sewing on all the buttons that had fallen off my winter coat
2) Donating all my old clothes to charity to make more room for the clothes I want to keep
3) Getting my boots re-healed
4) Ironing all my scrap bits of fabric and storing them neatly

And I plan to;

1) Buy a large portfolio/file to keep all my fabric samples in (rather than carrier bags)
2) Keep all my shoes and boots polished
3) Re-organise my wardrobe to make better use of space
4) Keep all my craft/reference books in one place and in 'genre' order

This probably all sounds quite obsessive but I have to say I am really enjoying the process, and anyone who knows me will know that I love being organised and do have a tendency to be a bit OCD at times!  But I also think it is important to take more care of the things I have, as it will make them last longer and I will enjoy them more.  (If only I had applied this principle a year ago, my winter boots would not be in such a state of disrepair!!)  I shall keep you updated with progress. 

Off to bed now, as a new week beckons, with the prospect of one last applique sample... night night and I hope to hear from you soon.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fiction Fridays #1 - Owl Babies

Now you may be wondering what on earth this post is all about.  Nothing whatsoever to do with patchwork and quiliting, and even less to do with obtaining a City and Guilds qualification. 

But Fiction Fridays is something that I have seen on another blog called @homedad (see link to the right) and I just couldn't resist joining in.  @homedad's blog gives a full description of what it is all about; in essence it is a pictoral celebration of all things literary for children, and of course, only on a Friday.  All in all it combines many of my favourite things - children's books with their wonderful words and illustrations, photography and blogging.  I will also be adding some props to go with my books for Fiction Friday's, as it is something that I try to do as much as possible with Freya to really bring books to life. 

Anyway, enough waffle, here is my first installment...

Here is the text again in case you can't read it (note to self - use bigger writing/larger piece of paper next week).

They sat and they thought
(all owls think a lot),
"I think we should all sit on my branch said Sarah.
And they did.
All three together

The text is not, as suggested, the first line of the book, but from my favourite page, somewhere half way through.  I love the slow, melodic pace of this story and of course that one of the main characters has the same name as me. 

As for what happens, it's a simple story.  The baby owls are getting worried because they don't know where their mummy has gone.  Will she come back? And where has she been? You will have to read it to find out.  But it's safe to say that there is a happy ending. 

It's a must read for all children under 5, and even more fun when you have a little owl to read along with you. 

Right, time for me to focus! A post is coming soon about my very nearly complete experimental applique sample.  I just need to stop blogging and get on with it!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Some sewing at last

I haven't had the chance to blog over the last week or so. I thought it best that I use my time to work really hard on my samples and then blog when I actually had something interesting to post. I have now completed 3 out of 5 samples for this module, so getting there! All the samples are based on different applique techniques, which literally means 'applying' motifs to a base fabric.  Reverse applique is where you cut away part of a fabric to reveal a design. So here are my first two samples, and I have included the designs that they are based on, otherwise they look a bit weird on their own and out of context.

Collage based on the double-headed serpent

Basic applique sample

Another design

Reverse applique sample

I also have to do some experimental samples, using unconventional materials such as sweet wrappers, felt, organza, etc.  So below is my most recent and time consuming but fun piece, based on a ceremonial headdress...

Detail on a ceremonial headdress
My experimental applique interpretation

Spot the chocolate coin wrappers - all in the name of art!

So now it's back to the drawing board planning and creating my next two samples, which are an experimental reverse applique sample and a free choice experimental sample.  I want to attempt something called 'stained glass applique' which as the title suggests, is applique that looks like a stained glass window.  I have a few ideas but I need to put them into action!  

Thursday, 3 November 2011

My Colour Collection

Well here it is at last, all of my colour work as a collection.  There are still a few loose ends to tie up and I have to photograph everything and put it into a powerpoint presentation, which I am slowly doing (it takes hours) but I feel that the last 5 months have been worth it , and that I have actually managed to achieve something after all...

And here is my final design for this module, which I then made into a large collage...

Whole collage
Close up
In detail
In case you are wondering if they are beads that have been stuck on, then the answer is yes they are!  I think there are well over 250 of them, and it took me quite a long time with a pair of tweezers and some PVA glue.  I did it while watching Kirsties Homemade Britain (which I am enjoying so far, has anyone else seen it? Although I think it is a bit of a coincidence that she is famous and wins a lot of the time) so it was not such a chore after all. 

Right, must get on, still loads to be done but I hope you like my final pieces. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Since Claire and Evie headed back to England (we miss you!) it has been a busy week on the coursework front, and now that the printer cartridge has arrived I have been able to print all the annotations for my portfolio. It is not yet complete but I will show you some pictures of my favourite pages of my portfolio so far.  But before that I wanted to share this one, a picture of the most beautiful, strong, vibrant rainbow that appeared on Friday morning...

Rainbows never look and feel as magical in photographs as they do in real life, but I still think it has been captured out quite well considering.  I wonder if it was a sign - a pot of (metaphorical) gold on the way perhaps?  Here's hoping!

Anyway, back to my coursework, here's a picture of all my annotations drying, having been stained with tea;

And here are some pictures of my portfolio...

Again, I feel the photos don't really do justice to the work, it is hard to tell for example that the portfolio is A3 in size.  I shall have to work out the best way to photograph it for submission to my tutor.  Perhaps one page at a time will work better.  Anyway, I couldn't resist including a picture of Freya below, who had lots of fun colouring in Peter Rabbit colouring pages while I was working overtime with the double sided tape.  And yes I kept her well out of reach of all my work!!

Freya gets creative with the crayons
I am also working on a larger collage for my final resolved design, it's a work in progress and as soon as it's done I shall show you a picture.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Claire and Evie come to stay

I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean to say I haven't been busy.  I am still making good progress with my portfolio and I am now thinking about the layout for each page and also tackling the dreaded paperwork, including health and safety and bibliography, which never fills me with inspiration!  But all an essential part of the course so it has to be done. 

The more exciting news is that I had some visitors this weekend; my lovely friend Claire, and her daughter Evie, who is the same age as Freya. They have been here for 5 days, and here are a few of our holiday snaps, out and about around the Island...

A quick trip to the local swings
Before heading to the beach

And admiring the stunning scenery
And when it's bedtime for the girls
It's dinner out for us

Before heading to the Lion Park the next day...among other things!

And Claire and Evie's stay was not without creative pursuit. When the girls were tucked up in bed, we decided to start making preparations for Christmas, and what could be more fun than making some salt dough tree decorations!  After initially thinking, yes we have everything we need in the cupboard (plain flour, salt) we were halted in our tracks when we discovered that we had rock salt, not table salt. So it was not until 24 hours later that we were able to commence, and what fun we had! First we made the dough, cut out different shapes and put them in the oven for 4 hours. And the following evening came the fun bit - the painting! We used a combination of acrylic, metallic and glitter paint, and decorated with buttons and ribbon. Here is our work in progress...

And we were pleased with the results considering it was our first ever attempt...

Claire's Masterpieces

And Mine

So this week, after recovering from having two 2 year olds in the house, (it was a pleasure really -  honestly!) I am going to carry on making Christmas preparations and work on my never-ending colour portfolio.  I can't wait to post some photos of some of the finished pages soon.