Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fun at the West of England Quilt and Textiles Show 2017!

I just had the most brilliant three days at the  West of England Quilt and Textiles Show sharing a stand with my dear friend, the talented quilter, Sallieann Harrison of Christmas Goose Stitches.

Sallie was on the walls, and I was on the table  :) with my embroidered and mixed media books!

We both had a fantastic time, and for me it was sheer joy to able to talk about books and nature and stitching and mixed media to lovely, like minded people!  These are some of the books I took along:

The cover of  'Briarside Lane' a current WIP which is based around The Raspberry Rabbits project of the same name....

  'A  Little Book of Stamps'  

The pages are simply painted, and enhanced with a variety of handmade stamps and simple stitch.

'Tiny Garden'  - meander book, came about from a sample class I created, making simple garden flowers from only three stitches. |A little book seemed the perfect format to  keep them in!

Whatever the size, or the mediums used, the one thing my books  have in common is hand stitch, and my favourite threads from Valdani  of course!

I'm very excited to be offering Saturday workshops this autumn, sharing some of the techniques I have developed! Details of these are on the Classes and Workshops tab, and I'll be talking about them more here soon.

So finally here we are setting up on Day 1, with a backdrop of Sallie's amazing Tumbler Quilt, which attracted a lot of attention! You can see more of Sallie's lovely work and find out about classes she offers on her website.

We were also proud to be representing The Raspberry Rabbits in the UK, with Michelle's original stunning quilt The Adventures of Harrington and Hannah, all the way from North Carolina, on display!  

Friday, 5 May 2017

Nature journaling - on a former landfill site!

Almost 10 years ago I had to move from a tranquil spot in the Gloucestershire countryside to live on the outer edge of a city. Culture shock was immediate, traffic, people everywhere - and so much noise! Accustomed to roaming through fields, bluebell filled woodland and past gentle streams,  I felt bereft. Desperate to find green space, I had to explore!

We live on the floodplain of the River Severn. Behind our home appeared to be an area of waste ground, close to the industrial site of Avonmouth, and adjacent to a roaring stretch of the M5 motorway.  I was told the area was a landfill site until 1988! Despite this not being the most appealing idea, my natural nosiness got the better of me.  I followed the decommissioned tarmacked road,  past fly tipped rubbish, and found, to my delight, a wealth of nature. 

This site, (now renamed Saltmarsh Drive Open Space) is indeed, old salt marsh. It's crossed by drainage ditches called rhines (pronounced rheen). Some of these watercourses date back to the medieval period. The Merebank Rhine, is actually a Scheduled Ancient Monument!

A few quick sketches managed this week!

The watercourses, and the scrub land surrounding them are a magnet for wildlife, and the soil of the former landfill site has allowed a unique diversity of plant life to emerge, including  stunning wild orchids.

This is one of the few places in Bristol which is home to the delightful water vole. 'Ratty' from The Wind in the Willows. A common sight in my childhood, spotting one is now rare - and a thrill. Otters have also been observed using the rhines.

Small groups of our shy native roe deer frequent the scrub, and  kingfisher and heron are regular visitors to the waterways. There's a wealth of bird life, ruled over by the resident buzzards, who soar above like miniature golden eagles.

 My journaling has changed  a lot in the last 3 years!

No one visits here much. There is litter from the motorway, and strange items which pop up from the landfill. Dog mess, ignored by careless owners, is a hazard; and tuning out the noise from the busy motorway, (and sometimes off road motor cyclists) is a necessity.

Nature, however, ignores these minor irritations; she goes about her work, making this unlikely spot a very special place indeed.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Nature's memories

What's your earliest memory?
Most of my vivid childhood memories have a strong connection to the natural world.

The first thing I clearly remember, aged almost 2, was toddling up to our front door and seeing a huge, dark shadow on the glass window. We were snowed in. I remember being lifted up to see the white world outside, and being not scared, but excited, at how the world had changed.

And  I remember from childhood:

Watching the blue tits pecking the milk bottle tops to feast on cream!
Feeding the hedgehogs who visited our garden.
Excitedly looking for the first golden cowslips which bloomed in the field next door each spring.
Walking along (the beautifully named) 'Frog Furlong Lane' with mum and the 'helicopters' on the sycamore trees.
Looking for 'Walter' wagtail , who loved to catch insects in our yard.
Hearing the cuckoo calling.
Writing on laurel leaves with a rose thorn.
Hanging up a piece of seaweed outside after a trip to the coast, to tell what the weather would be!
The taste of ripe blackberries.
The wonderful scent of the sweet peas mum planted every year.
Being absolutely terrified that tigers would leap out from the shadows and eat me, as dad drove us along narrow, shadowy, wooded lanes on our family outings (thanks, big brother John! I never, ever told mum and dad though .... )

These very ordinary things had a huge impact on my life, and how I view the world. I  really hope that  the newest generation will enjoy similar memories.