Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Roses All The Way ?

Sonata :

A very flowery week , what with one thing and another . In Holland your employer tends to give you a huge bunch of flowers on your birthday . A new branch of a supermarket chain gives you a big bunch of flowers . People dropping in for a drink give you a big bunch of flowers . You begin to understand what the Queen feels like . You are grateful that you don't suffer from hayfever .

Then it all goes to your head , and you begin to make flowers out of a plastic lei from the Pound shop and old shirt buttons to put on presents and sundry parcels .

You sit sewing a miniature Grandmother's Garden Quilt ( having decided that last blog's tiny quilt needs "time out "... either that or you do ) .

Then you open a lovely present from friends

and find this , painstakingly hunted for and beautifully wrapped .
That and steak cooked by the resident expert . A very nice birthday !!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Bust's London Summer craft fair


Although I am glad I went to this craft fair, and the atmosphere was vintage-fantastic, I must admit I felt I was missing out on something. Is it because I find it more fun to shop on ETSY and get a treat in the post than buying it off a stall? (something about the megapixels on the screen becoming real? Who knows?); or is it because I live in London, where there are more vintage sellers, designers and crafters than you can shake a stick at? Just walk down Broadway market or Columbia Road or Brick Lane. I am also, I realise, simply not the right age group for this event and the current channelling of Betty Page and other Rockabilly hairstyles, clothing and jewellery has passed me by (but should you want to start, here is a "1940's hair-reverse victory rolls" hairdo tutorial).

But here are some pics of the London event - these bags were cute, all made from vintage tea towels (there was even a Prince Charles and Lady Di one for sale!):

Another craft stall with creatures galore:

And should you have wanted to craft a bracelet at the fair, Tatty Devine had a DIY stall:

And, it was even possible to sip tea from a vintage tea cup with a cupcake or two from Lady Luck Rules OK! pop-up tea shoppe.

All in all, it was an eye opening experience of a particularly crafty sub-culture that lives, breathes, dresses, hairstyles, and even eats vintage.

Friday, 21 August 2009

A new desk accessory....


Earlier in the Summer I celebrated the arrival and installment of my new desk, and although it isn't always as clear and tidy as when I took that first blog photo, I do find I can be very productive at it. However, one thing I clearly had not anticipated was this:

She will not be discouraged! I often turn up early at my desk and she is already in place... so I guess I will have to ensure that I don't spread my papers when I am writing over the Autumn months, as she has some serious cat-napping to catch up on (obviously):

Tomorrow I am off to visit the London BUST craftacular.. and will blog about that on Sunday. I am not sure what Sonata is up to tomorrow.... but PSSSSST, it is her birthday, so wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY this Saturday!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

But I Didn't And I Amn't


Were I a devout person and a gardener , I might have planted lots of London Pride , also known as "Our Lady's Needlework " and seen here next to the Madonna Lily in this tapestry in Lincoln Cathedral .

Maybe it would have helped .
And had I been handier today , I would now be showing you my latest miniature quilt instead of this

my not quite ready miniature quilt .

But I didn't and , as the Irish say , I amn't .
Oh well , there's always tomorrow and instead I'll show you a carpenter's van I saw the other day . I bet his work is perfect every time .

Perhaps if I got a dog ?

Monday, 17 August 2009

Cropredy for the very first time....


Recovered from the operation, I set off with partner to a village called Cropredy which becomes the site of a music festival once a year. We had never been before, but joined up with sister, her husband (both of whom had been before) and another Cropredy virgin: 2 year old nephew!

We set up camp in field 4 (there were something like 7 or 11 fields in total): with one tent, one sheltered gazebo and a campervan (2 year old nephew and expert in all matters vehicular: 'this is not a campervan, it is a van. That one - pointing out a larger one - is a campervan'). Whilst he amused himself with a fine collection of toys with wheels

We listened to the music. There was something for everyone, from punk to festival sunshine dancing with Dreadzone as well as folk and rock, but our favourites were: '4 square', 'John Jorgenson', and 'Megan and Joe Henwood', (her music can be heard on her Myspace page).

The concert field was dotted with a fine collection of flags and kites blowing in the wind:

The sun shone (mostly), and - whilst being responsible adults - we nevertheless kicked off our shoes, enjoyed the atmosphere, the food, and the odd glass of wine:

I think we might just have to do it all over again next year.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Red Bicycles and Window Boxes

Sonata :

It's not all beer and skittles here . It's "tidy time " Chez Sonata because I go back to work next week but yesterday I did go to Antwerp for the day .... over nine hours in trains to have seven hours there , an indication of how much I love the city .

It's a perfect size to wander in , full of Art Nouveau loveliness and slightly shabby round the edges . Bourgeois grannies and penniless art students , North Africans , nuns and optimists , gourmets and gourmands .

And full of statues , including this one in the courtyard of a health center

or this , to interest people in a restoration course

or this , in the cafe of the Art Gallery , to chastise those of us who've just had a large slice of quiche and a cup of coffee , served with a sticky little biscuit .

Full of courtyards

junk shops

window boxes

and bicycles

and random fun .

and Pain Quotidien lemon tartlets are freely available .
What's nine hours in a train or two ?

Monday, 10 August 2009

A Very Nice Weekend

Sonata :

Another summer weekend .Youngest daughter tottered back from Amsterdam , carrying twelve books on the Indian Film industry ... a bit of thesis research , some sourdough bread and Lavender fuet ( a "foodie "Spanish sausage ) . I provided the olives and everyone munched and smiled .

Some studying was done , buttons were sorted and little draw-string bags were sewn , a double bass thunked in another room , a chicken was roasted and separate potatoes boiled for a man who finds roast potatoes "splintery " . A birthday bracelet from big sister was gloated over by recipient , who was wearing her grandmother's dressing gown and a pair of leggings she's had since she was eleven . Watermelon , cherry tomatoes and Melton Mowbray Hunt cake were nibbled on in turn .The sun shone on a neighbour's stained glass . Rubbish television was watched .

And now it's Monday . One more week's holiday for me . A day out beckons . Daughters are all accounted for ....oldest two , living in England , are off with their families to a music festival ( grandson in Sergeant Pepper jacket , made by his mother . This might work if he can be persuaded that it is an essential piece of equipment for Emergency workers or postmen ) . The youngest , not now wearing the leggings , is dazzling her bosses with her efficiency and charm and spending most evenings writing a few more words on India post-Independence .
Touch wood . All's right with our world .

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Art Nouveau Embroidery Patterns


Being off sick does have its advantages, not only do I have time to be creative and make some more jewellery: four bracelets recycling marquesite dasies from a broken piece of vintage jewellery, one for my wrist and one for my sister, and two up on Etsy (I have been neglecting my listings of late, but then it is only a hobby).

I am also taking the opportunity to sort through my collection of ephemera gathered over the years at flea markets and so on. I have this folder full of Art Nouveau embroidery transfers (well, if we could call them that, as the technology of the time meant that ladies traced the images rather than ironed them onto the fabric!). These have no publication date, but it appears that the publication 'El Consultor de los Bordados' (The Counselor - or consultant - of embroideries) was in print between 1905 and 1937 (which is interesting, as the Spanish Civil War broke out on 18th July 1936, so they kept going at least a few months into the war). This means that the copies I have date from 1920 to 1923.

Some of the designs are based on the alphabet, and there are many examples of stylised initials, and popular names at the time like 'Dolores' and 'Amalia' and 'Adela':

A handsome prince to pick out on a daring young woman's pillow? I imagine that the technique partly uses drawn thread work to create the silhouette.

Then there are exotic inspired images, from Egyptian motifs to Far Eastern ones like this geisha:

And some lanterns (wouldn't they look good on a table cloth or napkins?):

And, of course, there are plenty of animals, like this literate and informed frog,

To this simple elefant:

And floral motifs abound:

I wish I could say they inspire me to pull out needle and thread but my primary education was such that afternoons of my childhood were spent sewing under the tutelage of The Sisters of Charity - and whilst I am enjoying this cultural return to the arts and crafts of domesticity, embroidery would be going too far for me! Actually, I must confess, I have just freaked myself out and checked to see if my old school had a web page, and - eeeeek - two of the sisters are still teaching there.... oh dear, I must go and lie on the sofa to recover from the shock!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

High Summer


Not that it's blazingly hot or anything ... in fact it's rained more often than not lately ..... still , it's definitely August . The streets are empty as those that can , get away to sunbathe and shake their heads at strange foreign ways . But , having holidayed earlier , I'm at home and pottering.
I'm tidying again and discovering forgotten summery treasures like these sample cards for French ribbon , for some reason buried in a box of knitting patterns

And trying to rescue the coffee table which , after forty or so years of service , looks ready to turn up its toes , while listening to silly audio books like "Five Red Herrings "by Dorothy L. Sayers or "Dr Finlay , Further Adventures of a Black Bag " ( we who purchase our audio books in car boot sales take what we can get ) . And doing as little cooking as possible while eating what used to be called An Ample Sufficiency :

This is just a warm salad of grilled chicken breast , marinaded in Ras Al Hanouf , olive oil and lemon juice , over rocket and new potatoes . Simple and good ....... though not photogenic !

And talking about food , grandson , until recently omniverous , will now only eat fish fingers . His desperate mother , fearing scurvy , has taken to making smoothies of increasing diversity . He took a sip of one of the latest and put it down , " I don't like cold soup " . She feels that maybe the sesame seeds and cucumber with apple , carrot and yoghurt version had maybe an ingredient too many.

And finally , because I now seem to have millions of buttons , I've listed a few sets on Etsy . There'll be more over the next few days .