Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Our Flower Show

We are very lucky to still have a thriving Horticultural Society in our town and on August Bank Holiday Saturday we have our Autumn Flower Show.

This year it felt more like Autumn than usual, we had had a week of really solid rain and all those who entered found it quite a challenge to gather together enough good quality produce, but despite this we had a really good show, well attended by visitors.

There are classes for jams, jellies and chutney, cakes, scones, quiche, Victoria sponge and plaited loaves. Vegetables, fruit, herbs,

all types of flowers,

particularly dahlias at this time of year

and flower arranging.

Crafts, house plants... jam tart baking and dinosaurs made from vegetables for the younger entrants.
Many small towns have lost their shows, but despite becoming more and more of a commuter town for London over the years, we have managed to keep the Society and the Show going and this year was particularly thrilling as one of the major prizes was won by someone under the age of 14, who had grown dahlias for the first time this year and beat her father- who is one of our top two dahlia growers- to the award for 'best in show'.
It is a really fun event, if you have a flower and produce show near you, go and give it a try, awesome flowers, home-made cakes served in the tea room, vegetables and fruit to make you drool...quite apart from those dinosaurs...support your local show!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Show time!

Here are some of the arrangements made from the buckets of flowers picked yesterday. Judging is happening as I type...the arrangements have to be done to fit a title: this first is "pots of sunshine"

Next, 'modern twist"

"special celebration"- I'm thinking wedding...

and finally the competition for the Dorlen Cup- you have to make an arrangement of plant material from your garden/allotment and it has to show a wide range - shrubs, annuals, perennials etc.. For the other classes you are allowed to use shop flowers, I feel this is not really cricket and stick to home grown only, which in a year like this with rain for several days before the show, means a bit of a challenge to find sufficient good quality material to use.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Crazy day

Today is a crazy day.

Tomorrow is the local Flower Show and -in theory- today I do all my preparation. Usually I have some vegetables to enter too, but my tomatoes just aren't ripening, my potatoes rushed into growth so the tubers are small, the shallots aren't big enough to be contenders and as we have had hardly any sun and plenty of rain this past fortnight, my squashes and courgettes are rubbish, the dahlias are staying determinedly in bud, slugs and snails have eaten chunks out of most things and, as the weather has been so odd this year, my chrysanthemums have already nearly finished blooming yet the gladdies are still in bud-those that didn't bloom in May....but by the end of the day I should have five arrangements sorted and taken down to the hall ready for tomorrow.

I've also been making some stuff for my xmas stall ( I know it is August, but these things take time to make!)

and fitting in an unexpected trip to the hospital this afternoon with my Mother. I've given up on entering a cherry cake and shortbread and a victoria sponge, time has run out on me, no time- or energy- left for baking. Crazy,crazy,crazy....

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Brooches and ufos

Brooch central. Triangular brooches.

Heart-shaped brooches

oh, er, yes, and some ... ufos.

I thought it might just gee me up to finish these off if I confessed publicly to their existence.

This is going to be a patched and quilted waistcoat that really needs finishing before temperatures get any more Autumnal, I've done the easy bits, done the fun bits, done them months ago. I know that from here on it gets harder...but now I've confessed so I just have to finish it. As ever when things are hanging about needing finishing that one is trying to put off , I've been looking at inspiring things and was very taken with a quilted pocket on the York Quilt Museum website- a site that will require quite a bit more browsing in the next week or so, some very interesting items indeed...I really like the idea of a lovely quilted pocket...but I also have some canvas-work to complete.

I confess that I started this decades ago ( I know, I know...) when, full of the wild confidence of youth, I envisaged making tapestry cushion covers for all my four dining chairs. I got one and a half done and in the meantime acquired four more dining chairs. Somehow the thought of making eight tapestry chair cushion covers didn't appeal quite as much as making four and the project languished unloved as other more interesting and less demanding projects intervened. I dug the pieces out the other week and decided it really did need to be finished in some way or another before it reached a humiliating quarter century since inception and as I had done so much sewing already, it really should not be wasted.

So the two are going to be combined to make one large cushion cover/centre for a throw ( jury still out on which). I've removed the one made-up cushion from its surround so it can be sewn into the other unfinished piece, which has been titivated and jollied up, as the colours were really rather gloomy, with some extra stitching.

So, now I've confessed.
I had better go downstairs and do some sewing.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Playing with felt

Preparation for the Bridport Hat Festival has to get serious now- it will be mid-September before I know it and I need enough hat-related stock for my stall at the Market, so I'm working out some more designs for brooches for hats ( and bags or lapels) using felt, starting work on my up-cycled hats ( apologies for the photos- a bit complicated getting a decent picture of yourself in a hat)

and making sure I have sufficient styles and quantities of hat pins/lapel brooches. I've been working out ideas in my sketch book for a while and now I'm ready to make them up into prototypes; several have seen the light already and today a new design joined the ranks.

Initially inspired by some pieces I sketched at the Pitt Rivers Collection in Oxford, the idea lay dormant in my old sketch book until it was re-ignited the other week at the British Museum by a lovely display of jewellery and costumes from Oman and the Balkans.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Forget the weeds, forget the work, enjoy the colours.

Lots and lots to do in the garden, a major part of it needs clearing completely, re-organising and re-planting and it is so easy to get overwhelmed by just the thought of the work ahead and forget to enjoy what is happening out there right now.
There are shiny, glowing red and orange berries

Bright primrose yellow and sharp Lime Green

Soft shades of pink and mauve

Vibrant reds and gutsy orange.

And still plenty of lovely roses. In other years my roses have given up by now, but this Summer they are carrying on blooming.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Usually I post nice photos of flowers and jolly pictures of stuff I've made.
But I'm way too CROSS for that today.

My fridge died.
Six weeks later the replacement arrived.
I know, SIX WEEKS.
I was very thrilled to have fridgeablility again six days ago.

My new, expensive, fridge doesn't work properly.
The engineer will call next week to look at it- to quote John Lewis "it may need tweaking".
Too right it needs tweaking.
So today I am being CROSS...CROSS... CROSS!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Felt Leaf Brooches

Busy sewing- in between other, far less interesting, tasks. Two different styles of leaf brooch: one based on an oak leaf and inspired by the raised decoration on a 16th century German salt-glazed pot,

the other inspired by an eighteenth century fabric design

and an almost circular brooch suggested by a metal buckle from the Balkans in a display at the British Museum

...never be without a sketch book, you don't know when you might see something that triggers an idea....

Friday, 5 August 2011

Hot and Cold

Warm and sunny, but somehow I've been thinking of Autumn- I know, Summer only just with us and I'm thinking of Autumn. This morning there was dew on the outside of the conservatory windows- a sign of a cooler, damp night- and many of the flowers out in the garden are glowing orange and red

...and I have been playing with leaves.

A few years ago I designed and made this brushed cotton patchwork quilt with appliqu├ęd autumn leaves .

I've been returning to those leaves recently. I love leaf shapes, simple and full of potential for pattern. I've sketched ideas and have started to make prototypes, embroidered and beaded felt brooches that can be pinned on with long silver beaded pins. A great pleasure making them as the felt and embroidery silks are so soft to handle.

But despite the beauty of the glowing hot flowers in the garden and the pleasurable warmth of the wool felt against my fingers as I sew the real thrill of the day has been the arrival of the new fridge/freezer. Six weeks after the demise of the previous one, we have a working fridge again. At one point in the six weeks I went through the "hell, who needs a fridge anyway?" stage but by the start of this week I had had enough. I just wanted somewhere reliably cold to store food, that fitted into the space taken up by the previous dead fridge/freezer and I wanted it RIGHT NOW. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine cold storage could be so thrilling.