Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween high jinx

Mwuhahahahahaaaa!!! The real horror came for me on Tuesday about tea time when I looked out of the window at the pottery studio where I was teaching and saw thick white flakes tumbling from the sky in a wild vortex that made me giddy to look at it! Snow!!! You know, it doesn't matter how old you are, at some point during the first snow fall of the winter, you'll either send, or receive a text saying 'It's SNOWING!!!' Hee hee! Well, you do in Britain anyway. Snow is pretty sparse where I live, I'm right in the centre of England here and we don't often get the right weather conditions for snow. Anyway, late October is really unusual for snow here in the UK, and having gone to Uni in Staffordshire where Alton Towers is, I knew that if it was snowing here, it was going to be arctic up there! As a Fresher,  my first year halls of residence were a block of flats on top of a hill, and about halfway through the first term, it snowed so hard that the snow drifted right up against the flats; we were on the fourth floor and the snow drifted up past our window and up to the eighth floor. We were totally snowed in, which we didn't really mind, no lectures and lots of getting together to keep warm parties. Anyway, I digress! Having decided that the weather was going to be on the chilly side, I decided that I was going to go all out on the layer front. Three pairs of socks, my thermal walking boots, a thermal vest, a fleece, a cardi and a coat, thermal gloves and a lovely warm woolly hat and I was very well prepared for the day ahead. My students however, were not. Some of them were only wearing tees, hoodies and trainers! They may thought I was wearing too much when we left Northampton, but I was the one who was toasty and warm all day long, thank you very much! There were some students shivering the minute we stepped off the bus and the sun was still out then!

Vampire Bat

Alton Towers was pretty cool as always. It's pretty much the biggest theme park in Britain and is set in the ancestral home of the Duke of Shrewsbury, so the grounds are pretty amazing. Alot the original buildings are still there, some of them have been adapted to accommodate various attractions. At this time of year, the Scarefest is going on, all the rides are horror themed, and the park is decorated with Halloweeny decorations.

Vampire Bat


Pumpkin adorned graveyards crop up all over the place...

Vampire Bat


But you can still escape them in the beautiful grounds.

Vampire Bat


No snow up here today, but it was still bitterly cold.

Vampire Bat

When I got home, I stripped off a few layers, spent a little time with M who was getting excited about the evenings football match that the lads were coming round to watch, then I went over to Mums to spend a crafty evening together. She cooked for me and I stopped over the night, and we spent the evening chatting and card making. As you can see, we probably spent more time chatting than we did card making, but never mind. I got a little carried away with the glitter I'm afraid! There is a saying...'Glitter is the Herpes of the craft world - once you've got it, you can't get rid of it...' (I can't remember who said it originally, but if I remember, I'll let you know!)

Vampire Bat

Here's my hoodie. Remember I said I'd made progress? I'm going to let Chiana model it for me because she can't hold the camera *lol* It just looks bunched up round the bottom because the circular's not long enough to let it all spread out, but you get the idea. I'm going to start the waist shaping now, then the bottom is finished off with an i-cord piping. Then it's the sleeves and hood, and I'll be done! Hurray!

Vampire Bat



Tomorrow, I have a hospital visit and an afternoons pottery teaching, and then I'm off with the girls to a Halloween Belly Dance and Burlesque night.

Vampire Bat

I'm not completely sure what I'm wearing yet, but I think it might involve a pair of these tights....

Vampire Bat

Whatever you're doing, have fun, and Happy Samhain! The origins of Halloween lie in the Druid celebration of Samhain, a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner. It's the time of the year when ancestors and other departed souls are especially honoured, so I'll be thinking of my Dad and my Uncle.

Vampire Bat

Monday, October 27, 2008

Half term happiness!

Hurray hurray! It's half term at last, though it does seem that I'll be doomed to work most of it! I entered it with spirit though. M and I went to Oxjam on Sunday, a musical fundraising event for Oxfam, held at our local venue. It ran from 4pm till 12 and had a mixture of rock, acoustic and comedy acts. There were a mixture of age groups there, but predominantly young teens  (17+ by the look of them). Now because I work with that sort of age group, I'm quite used to em, but M was a little perturbed. Bear in mind that he's an old punk/biker, and the sort of places we've always hung out have been punk rock, biker places, or underground clubs in London. He asked me whether all young girls ran about like little gerbils these days and kept laughing every time a line of girls streamed past like a row of ducklings. He was also amused by the 'airy fairy dancing' exhibited by the bright young things. It was an entertaining night out anyway. We went for a change of scenery and because it was a fundraising event and fairly cheap, but some of the bands were pretty good. We saw a poster advertising the Damned in December, so we'll be booking our tickets for that. Much more our scene. Are we getting old?


So the test? Well, we won't mention that. My mind was as blank as the paper I needed to fill in. I haven't had the results back yet, but I think there'll be a few people sitting next to me with the Dunces hat on *lol* I've been consoling myself with crafty little fripperies. Okay, this next necklace is a repair job to be truthful. It dramatically exploded from my neck one lesson, to the amusement of my students, and after they'd stopped laughing, they helped me to collect all the beads up again. Well, they missed one, but the important beads are there. The star is a moss agate stone and is a lovely green colour with little speckles of brown in.


This one's made up from scratch though. I love the little flowers running through the lamp worked glass beads. Yummy yummy bead porn eh? It's hard to see, but the flowers are a delicate cornflower blue, with little strands of green leaves swirling about. Can't wait to wear this one!


Oh yes, I finished the butterfly on my skirt! The beads on the wings are sewn on over some iridescent sequins that really sparkle in the light. So now there's a dragonfly and a butterfly. Maybe I'll sew more on. maybe I'll be lazy and leave it at that. Depends on how desperate I am to wear the skirt I guess *lol*


You'll be pleased to know that I spent today quite productively. After doing the grocery shopping and queuing for ages in the post office to post some book swaps, I did an hours yoga, then knuckled down to some hard core knitting. Yeah! Rock 'n' Roll baby! I'm now getting to the point where I can start shaping the waist in my hoodie. Yes, real actual progress people! I bet you're proud of me! I bet you all thought, yeah, she's never going to finish that! Well, I still might not, but I'm alot nearer to not finishing it than I was before! I have chronic short boredom threshold and it's quite common for me to keep putting long term jobs off! Tomorrow I have some freelance work teaching pottery, Wednesday I'm going to Alton Towers (a theme park) with a bunch of students, then I'm going to my Mum's for a crafty night, Thursday I have a blood test at the anti-coag clinic, Friday I have a hospital appointment (I've been referred to Haematology by the Rheumatology department - great, another clinic to have to visit!) and then I'm freelancing again on Friday. And that's my holiday, or rather lack of it! I had hoped to get some studying in too, maybe I'll get an odd hour here and there :-) I have an EFL students reading on CD to transcribe using the phonemic alphabet, and you'know, I'm much better at that than I am grammar!

Enjoy your week!  Party

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Steampunk Ragamuffin!!

Well, that's my name for it anyway! The skirt is finished. I took it up from the waist, then sewed some vintage lace around the diagonal slash in the middle, and around the asymmetrical hemline. I used a scrap of the material to make a round raggy rosette which I've sewed on with a caramel coloured vintage button. It falls to about knee length now and I'm thinking of wearing it with some lacy or fishnet type tights and some big boots.

I haven't got very much further with my knitting this week I'm ashamed to say. I've been revising for a grammar test which is tomorrow. I've been stressing about it a little because I know grammar is my weak point anyway, and after my stroke, my memory is appalling. I finally made the decision to talk to my tutor about it, because I don't want to fail the test and have to explain, because that will feel like I'm making excuses. I didn't really want to mention it, but I know my memory is worse when I'm stressed and I'm very stressed at the moment. I do feel a little better after talking to her, but I still feel like I'm admitting that I can't keep up with the work. 

Apart from that, I've received two gifts through the post this week. The first was an angel parcel from Addicted2Knitting for an MIA OWS 38 swap parcel over on Craftster. What a sweetie, she sent me not one, but two books from my wish list and ordered them straight from Amazon UK so they would arrive to me quickly! I can't wait to get stuck into these fantastic books! There's so many projects I'd like to do!

The second surprise was a Blog competition giveaway by Ceci from Intarsia who sent me this lovely merino variegated sock yarn and a beautiful set of delicate stitch markers from Ana at Entrelac.

Other news this week? I've been doing camera obscura with students. Did you know that the Dutch artist Vermeer (the creator of Girl with a Pearl Earring) is believed to have used camera obscura to create some of his art work? The principle of Camera Obscura is that a tiny hole will project an upside down image into a darkened room.Using this principle, you can create a pinhole camera (a light tight box with a piece of photo paper in, and a pinhole to let the light through.)You open the pinhole to expose the paper, and seal it again once the paper has been exposed for a good time (time depends on how sunny the day is). You develop the paper to get a negative, then expose the negative picture on top of photo paper to get a positive.

Sorry about the rubbish quality pictures; the originals are at college, I snapped a quick copy with my phones camera to show you.

Oh yes, I had my hair cut today!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweets for my sweet...

Actually, the chocolates were for me, a gift from a student. How sweet eh? I think someone's fishing for a good grade *lol* Do you think that's being too cynical? They were enjoyed Friday night anyway, I may not be able to drink much anymore because of the Warfarin, but at least I can enjoy a bit of chocolate! There was a little Bourneville in there too! My favourite chocolate, it's rich and dark and you only need a few squares to get that wonderful chocolate hit! M favours Dairy Milk which is okay and perfectly satisfying an all, but nothing's quite like Bournville! Since being forced to be practically teetotal, I've been partaking more than I normally would. M buys me some when he's buying his Friday night booze, sort of a substitute type of treat. I've got to stop that really, I like chocolate, but I'm putting too much weight on, and I should be trying to shift it. Did you know that in 2007, a UK study suggested that eating dark chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing? More research is needed to replicate this result and I'm thinking of volunteering *lol*.

It doesn't help of course that I'm spending more time sitting than I used to, what with school, college and my TESOL course, I'm quite sedentary. Of course, I do still go to belly dancing and yoga, but they're hardly cardio exercise! And then there's my usual crafty projects, none of which involve any physical activity. Take my hoodie for example; I'm sure my fingers are well exercised, but the rest of me? Ha! Do you like how it's coming along by the way? There must be a couple more inches on there since the last time you saw it.

Look, here's the underarm cables! Aren't they coming along well? My 'Go for Baroque' was frogged the other day. I panicked and decided it was going to be far too big, so I'm starting again. No WIP shot of that for the time being I'm afraid.

But here's another WIP shot, remember the denim skirt I picked up a charity shop? I've started embellishing it with some fluttering embroidery. Here's the dragonfly, complete with shiny metallic wings.

And here's the butterfly which isn't finished yet. It's taking a bit longer than I anticipated, so I don't think I'll be wearing this just yet. I want to do a few more motifs around the hemline of the skirt.

I printed off a few pictures of butterflies to inspire me and made the mistake of leaving it on the bed. I came back to find that Pippin had torn apart half of the paper and had made a nest of the rest. Does any one else's cat have a taste for paper? Little monkey!

Here's a future project. My mum gave me this skirt ages ago which I took in, but I haven't really worn it, so I'm thinking of taking it up so it's about knee length.I'll leave the zigzag-y hemline though, I kinda like that.

Then I'm going to add layers of lace, and perhaps use some of the fabric I cut off to make some raggy details to embellish it with. I want a sort of distressed Victorian almost steampunk type of effect.

I'm overjoyed that I have now done my last Monday night TESOL class!! Hurray! For ages we've been doing 6.15 - 9.15 on a Monday and Tuesday night, and now we'll be doing mostly Tuesday nights with occasional Saturdays. I found the double whammy at the start of the week exhausting, this will be a lot easier. We have a grammar test this Saturday, so wish me luck! I've done my grammar presentation too, so that's one less thing to worry about. There were six of us supposed to be meeting with our 1:1 students on Saturday, and not one of the students turned up! Can you believe that? Oh well, that's one less thing to have to write up this week *lol* At least with one less night at college, I might be able to fit in an extra yoga session this week. I feel like I need to get a good workout, my shoulders are so tense with all this studying and assignment writing.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bird with a wire...

It's been all about the wire this week. One of the things I've been doing with my students has been Picasso inspired self portraits in wire. I showed them a series of Picasso's such as this one, Dora Maar au Chat (that's Dora Maar with Cat in case your French isn't that good). I love the little cat on the back of the chair, kinda reminds me of Pippin moving in to snatch a tidbit from my mouth!!  



This is the wire portrait that I created quickly to show them how to do it (sorry it's just a phone photo, I forgot to take my camera with me, but you get the idea). I'll try and get some photos of the ones the students created. We're doing projects based on identity this term, individual identity and cultural identity.

So what else have I been doing with wire then? Well, I created this ring from scrap copper wire. Did you know that if you strip telephone cable down, not only do you get the pretty coloured fine wire and the fibre optic stuff, but you also get this lovely copper wire that's a pretty decent gauge. It's covered in plastic, but you can strip the plastic off pretty easily. I love this ring, it's about as long as my finger from the knuckle to the first joint and I made sure to curve some of the swirls so they sit closely to the shape of my finger and don't stick out too much. There's nothing worse than jewellery that catches on things. It cost me in blood too. I sliced my finger on the craft knife I was using to split the plastic coating and wow, did it bleed! I've never been a bleeder (one benefit of the Lupus), but since they put me on Warfarin I bleed profusely at the drop of a hat. Yep, I'm a right bleeder now! My gums bleed when I brush my teeth (yuck), I have the occasional nosebleeds (that's new too) and the bruises! I've never bruised so easily and such black bruises!  But hey, you didn't come here to listen to me moaning, did you.



This is my other bit of wire craft this week; a swirly pendant which I tempered (made it hard) by hammering. I need to give it a bit of a polish still. 



The weather here's been gorgeous today. Look at that sky! The trees are starting to turn lovely autumnal colours too; shades of gold, red and copper. We popped over to Milton Keynes today where I got hit on, always good for the ego, and where I bought some coloured card and some cookie cutters, a sun and a butterfly, obviously for crafting purposes! I'm thinking of using them to make needle felted brooches with.

I took this photo with my phone on the way home. The sky was never that blue during the summer, and just look at how empty that road is!!

It's my birthday in about a month, so look for a Birthday Giveaway very shortly!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The wind blows cold from the North....

Wow! What a difference a week makes. Man, it's cold!! Proper cold! The sort of cold that makes your fingers turn blue and your hands reach hesitantly towards the central heating switch! I say hesitantly not because I don't want to turn it on, because believe me I desperately want to turn the heating on, I hate being cold, but the price of power these days is unbelievable and it's a long way to go till next summer. With that in mind, I've been concentrating on my BPT hoodie, you know, a little bit here, a little bit there, just little bits because what with college Monday and Tuesday night, belly-dancing Wednesday night, Yoga Thursday night and dinner out with the girls last night, I haven't been in a whole lot this week. Even tonight I'll be acting chauffeur to the family as we go out to celebrate Mum's 65th Birthday. M kindly vacuumed the car out for me so that the siblings won't get all dog-hairy sitting in the back. Poor ole M has been a bit neglected this week but there's been lots of football, so he's been quite happy with his beer and the telly. So, you want to see my progress???

Look, actual arm-y looking bits! And a body forming. It's a little less demoralising now I'm knitting just the body and there are less stitches on the needle. You can practically tell what it's supposed to be now!

Look, here's the front. You see those cables that come down the front of the raglan-y bit? Well, they now join up under the arm to create a double cable like the one down the back (I like to think of that bit as the spine!). How cool is that? I'll show you in better detail when I've knitted a bit more!

Is anyone else tempted by the Woolly Wormhead mystery beret KAL on Ravelry?? This may be my own birthday (next month - yikes!) present to myself. 

Here's a recon project I whipped up last week. I found this dress in a charity shop for 75p, except that it was quite plain, so I embellished it with some copper ribbon and some zigzag decorative stitching.

It looks pretty cool with a pair of jeans and more importantly, it covers a multitude of sins. You know, the sort of sins that involve chocolate. And pizza. And ice-cream. And my hips. *Sigh* 

I also picked up this denim skirt which I'm thinking about embroidering.

I'm trying to decide what to embroider on it. Maybe butterflies and dragonflies. Maybe flowers and leaves to go with the flowered denim patches (which are very pretty by the way, don't you think?)

Oo, speaking of embroidery, I've been invited by Digital Misfit over on Craftster ,to join a charity project where a group of 20 artists each create an embellished piece of fabric 10"x8" which will eventually be combined into a stunning quilt to be auctioned off in the New Year. The proceeds will benefit the Strive For Life Foundation's efforts in Romania and the theme is 'gypsy'. The squares can be embroidered, appliqué, or pieced, whatever appeals to you. If you want to check out the website, it's here:, and I'm sure Digital Misfit would be more than happy to answer any other questions you might have. I've been mulling over a few ideas, I don't want to do anything very stereotypically 'gypsy' like a caravan or a fortune teller, but I seem to have this idea in my idea with Romanian textiles, embroidery patterns, and coins, so a bit of research may be in order to help me decide on my design.

I've been pouring over this book from the library for the last couple of days.

Fantasy Worlds

ISBN: 3822832197
ISBN-13: 9783822832196

It's full of architectural fantasy worlds like this, the Little Chapel in Guernsey, which I've actually been to when I was a young girl. It's big enough for one or two people to stand in inside. Just look at the work that's gone into this place. It's beautiful! I do remember that from my childhood visit.

and also images like this! Look at all that mosaic work, and the cheerful paint job next to it! Makes me want to go and play with cement and glass in the garden (if it wasn't so bloody cold!)

Anyway, toodle pip Dearies, I'm off to complete a very boring assignment in which I translate and mark an ESOL students very shaky attempt to describe their childhood in Yemen. There are some uber confusing paragraphs which are quite frankly, complete gibberish, but never the less, I shall try to correct and praise what I can. Wish me luck!  



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