Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry that I haven't been here lately.   We've had some bad news about the health of two close relatives and have been concentrating on that for now.    Hope to be back blogging again in the New Year.

Also (and I know not remotely in the same league) a fox stole our little Hilda Hen and thereby removed a simple source of joy from our lives.   Poor little Hilda who did no-one any harm and laid us lovely wee brown eggs nearly every day.   

But I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and hope that 2011 is a happy and peaceful year for you.    Thank you all for your friendship, your comments and kindness.

bob bob bobbin' along

Monday, 6 December 2010


Before you go jumping to any conclusions, I need to say straight away that I did not create these to-die-for fabrics.   That was Lesley from Printed Material, who is so adventurous and artistic and generous all in one person that it's hard to believe she's real.   

You have to be so careful about saying you like something she's done, or the next thing you know, there's a postman ringing the doorbell because he can't make a big Welsh parcel fit through the letter box.   
I've wanted to show you these lovely pieces for ages, but what with the C*******s fair production-line in full swing, I haven't had time to work with them in a way that I hoped would do them justice.   And they deserved a better fate than to be 'put away for best'.
I love the way these sage leaves remind me of the stands of rustling poplars we see on holidays in France.   And, oooh, who doesn't love indigo-and-rust.  
Please address any questions about the methods employed to produce wonderful cyanotypes to the lady herself - it's all waaaaaay beyond my ken!  

I really wanted to make Lesley something using her fabrics and decided that what she needed was a gathering bag.   I know she's already taken the first timid steps towards being the kind of person for whom such an item is indispensable.  She has flirted with having a 'collections tray' when (allegedly) working in the garden and she lives on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, so opportunities a-plenty for gathering.
What size to make it?   No good if it's too small and squashes your precious leaves and feathers treasure.   But if it's too big you won't want to be bothered taking it out with you and on top of that there's the danger that you might be tempted to 'gather' heavy things.  

Heavy things are fine if you're out strolling with a new beau, who, in his adoration of you, is only too eager to fill his pockets with sandy pebbles, skulls of small rodents, hag stones, acorn cups, razor clam shells, wool that caught on the barbed wire, interesting bits of broken blue-and-white china, sea-glass, useful rusty pieces of broken farm implement, pheasant tail-feathers etc. etc.   However, big mistake when the honeymoon's over and you are made to carry your own stuff....   

So, though I have no reason to doubt that Lesley's husband is still in that, "oh sweetie,  let me carry that heavy feather for you" phase, I made a tactfully average-size linen bag in case the girl has to make her own arrangements.   It has a calico lining, a handle made from that hessian-y kind of tape which I think is something to do with carpet binding and a weeny free-machined tag held on with a wooden button.

A hand-shape appealed to me and I chose a piece of Lesley's fabric that suggested there were pebbles resting in the palm.  I appliqued it on to some sandy-coloured fabric with beautiful bold leaf/seed pod shapes printed on it.  

Thank you Lesley.   Hope you enjoy gathering!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010


A few weeks ago I attended the funeral in the village of an old man whom I had met only a very few times, a man who once astonished me by telling me that he remembered me in his prayers each night.   Jim was born in this village and lived here for over 90 years.   His family has long associations with the area.   Deep roots and spreading branches.  

His funeral was held in the Baptist Meeting, an early 18th century stone chapel at the top of the hill, where Jim had worshipped all his life.   I've always loved this building.   It stands four-square though quite small, full of soft pine pews polished for nearly three hundred years by the seats of woollen trousers.   Like many non-conformist places of worship, it has an upper balconied storey, keeping the congregation close and cosy.   When the minister stretched up his arm from the pulpit below, I could almost have touched his hand.  

The minister knew Jim and his family well and conducted the service with great affection.   There was a bit of a muddle with the order of the hymns and he graciously suffered a fairly robust reprimand from the organist - herself 90 years old, deaf as a post and clearly not one to stand any nonsense.  

Although I was only in Jim's company on a handful of occasions, he unfailingly told me the same old story.   His wife would roll her eyes, affectionately.  But I cherish the story and he always held my hand during the telling.  Hold my hand.   Here's the story.

Jim was the youngest of a large family and on the day that he was born his father had been out toiling in the fields all day.   When he arrived home he bounded upstairs to their cottage bedroom to greet his wife and asked, "Well, girl, what have you given me this time?"  "I've given you a little cherub", she replied.