Saturday, 30 March 2013

Colour Challenge

There are times when too much colour co-ordination is too much of a good thing. Over the years I grew tired of seeing lovely colour combinations and knowing that there was no way I could introduce them into my home without it becoming a mix-up. When it was time to change our bathroom and kitchen recently, it was my cue to put my plan for a home with a neutral base into action, ready for all the colour I could bring in to liven it all up. Well, that was the idea we signed up to. Now we have less of a neutral base and more of a blank canvas. We have left pale blue and yellow bedrooms (they were pretty at the time) and honey pine furniture behind to get to this:

Yes, now after coat after coat of primer and paint we are all white - even the furniture (for I couldn't decide what neutral shade would work out best) with natural oak flooring. I love it. It is very calming. It is clearly also missing something.

There are spots of colour here and there. Depending on how you look at it, my Shetland Shade Card blanket can be enough colour at times. We have an oil painting we bought from a street artist in Sorrento because it captured the amazing view of the harbours and dramatic coastline. Mum was given the embroidered cushion by our Ukrainian neighbour almost 30 years ago when we lived in England. She carried the patterns in her head and worked from the picture she had in her mind. The colours are so full of energy and vivid:

I have a newly designated creative place (it used to be our 'work at home' office space). I am not sure what it says about my current creative energy:

Despite this I struggle to choose colour properly. In my mind's eye I think I know how I would like the rooms to look, but despite that I shy away from adding in colour in case I get it wrong.  I know I am at risk of overthinking and should just get on with it, so I have sought literary advice. Hopefully I will be informed and motivated by these super books - all very different but equally inspiring. I will post what I learn and how I put it into practice as I try to be less colour challenged!

Do you have any advice? What has worked for you? Should I embrace the neutral or step out into the colour?

Have a lovely Easter!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Now for something completely different...

A few weeks ago I was searching for something in the attic and came across a box which contained some tubes of paint, brushes and some sketch pads. I recognised them as the remnants of an art course I had taken during high school. Among the collection of papers I found some things I had drawn when I was thirteen years of age – I had almost forgotten the girl I was then and these sketches brought all the memories flooding back.

There was a scraperboard picture – anyone remember scraperboards? I remember us being given a blank black scraperboard along with a selection of sharp instruments in Art class in second year at high school. On the back my name and class was written in handwriting that I hardly recognised as mine – but which appeared on the fronts of all my exercise books and work from school. Clearly inspired by a picture or photograph, this is what I produced…

Seeing the picture again after many years boxed away in the attic seemed to create a resonance in me and I just felt it had to be framed and put up on a wall sometime.
During high school we lived in Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, just down the road from the Royal Doulton factory. It was probably at the height of the fashion for collecting the delicate and detailed lady figurines and somehow I must have got my hands on a catalogue of their designs. I seem to remember having a fancy for clothes design – it was in the era of the Jeff Banks Clothes Show – and in the box of memories I unearthed my – would you say, impressionistic? – sketches of some of the figurines. You may recognise some of them….

So this was my reminiscence therapy – it gave me an insight into who I was those years ago and brought with it some mixed feelings. Maybe poignant feelings are a better way to describe them. So every time I look at the picture on the wall I will remember the happiness I felt when I had finished the scraperboard and the teacher said it was good.
Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Garter Stitch Love

A lot of the knitting I have been doing lately has been in garter stitch and I have realised just how much I love this stitch! It's the ultimate in comfort knitting - maybe it's because it's the first stitch we learn when starting to knit. When it is combined with experience and some lovely favourite yarn it can't be beaten.

I've recently used Rowan Felted Tweed to knit Charm by Kim Hargreaves (from her book 'Amber', now sadly not listed on her website) and was really pleased with the result. The last project involved Noro Silk Garden. I have a love/hate relationship with this yarn. I'd knitted it up into two cardigans and a scarf which I wore once or twice and didn't enjoy. They languished in my wardrobe until I decided it was a criminal waste of good (and expensive) yarn. So I set to ripping out, winding into hanks around a chopping board, washing, drying and winding into balls to reknit.

The perfect project for the yarn was a log cabin blanket in the fashion of the lovely ladies at Mason Dixon Knitting. For me Silk Garden shows the best side in that kind of knitting and resulted in a gorgeous blanket - which I gave to my Mum. She loves it too!

The latest pieces of comfort knitting were some cozy hot water bottle covers from 'The Gentle Art of Knitting' by Jane Brocket. Super fast to knit, these are being added to my list of favourite things to knit for gifts. I substituted the yarn used in the patterns for Paton's Shadow Tweed - a lovely wool and acrylic blend that knitted up into a lovely fabric on 6mm needles.

I love the density and drape of the fabric produced by garter stitch, the wavy lines like neat rows of curly joined-up handwriting, ummm...

While doing some online research about garter stitch, I found an interesting post by Kate at Woolwinding about the history and mechanics of garter stitch - go over there to read all about it - you will learn lots from her lovely blog.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

'Blogs That Rock'

I didn’t realise this week’s homework for the Blogging Your Way course to chose 8 'blogs that rock' would be so challenging – there are so many blogs out there that I admire. My choice was ultimately dictated by how each blogger or group of bloggers had a unique voice and enabled their readers to identify with the posts they create. I suppose I went with my heart and how reading their posts inspired me or altered my train of thinking at the time. The effect of their inspiration always lasts longer than the time spent reading their blogs – often I find myself contemplating a topic they have discussed as I go through the day. So, in no particular order, for that would be impossible:

1.       Attic 24 – I love the colour and enthusiasm Lucy brings to her posts and how each one is a continuation of the conversation you had with her in the previous post. Her blog is bright and cheerful, her photos capture the tone of what she is writing about and you always leave with a deeper appreciation of the joy that comes from being creative.

2.       Needled – I have followed Kate’s blog for a while and have been very influenced by her story and how she has channelled her creativity to achieve great things which are appreciated by knitters all over the world. I can identify with her love of the Shetland Islands and enjoy benefitting from the in depth research and attention to detail that goes into all her designs and her writing. Her blog is beautifully designed and allows her work to shine through.

3.       Yarnstorm – this was one of the first blogs I read and Jane captured my imagination and encouraged me to revisit creativity in yarn and fabric – something I had enjoyed years ago. I appreciate the range of topics that she covers – knitting, crochet, quilting, baking, gardening, reading and travel. All these diverse topics are woven into a dialogue that invites the reader into enjoy the experience too.

4.       Posy Gets Cosy – Alicia has a unique style that is beautiful and original and her photos are amazing – a real reflection of her lifestyle and home. She manages to blend blogging about her work (which it is clear that she loves) and her family life in a way that seems to illustrate her personality. I like the layout of her blog and how she presents the photos at the top of her posts followed by her writing.

5.       Tea and Woolly Socks – I love the authenticity of Tina’s blog and the way she writes about the things she designs and creates. She integrates her lifestyle and her faith into her writing and has been an inspiration to me on many occasions. Her posts are always fresh and you always leave with encouragement to accompany you for the day.

6.       The Purl Bee – this blog is linked to a beautiful yarn and fabric store in NYC. I find the design and layout inspires me to see my crafts in a fresh light. The photos and designs are mouth-watering and despite the posts being created by different members of the team, each one is consistent and helps to underline the ethos and style of the brand that is Purl.

Now I feel I have cheated by including more than 2 blogs that I have found by exploring the work of my fellow students on the e-course. I honestly found it too hard to choose only 2, so have extended my homework to include 4 blogs that I have found interesting and beautiful to look at. I tried to restrict myself to making a decision based on reading only the first page to the bottom and resisting the urge to go into the archives just now, but I will follow them back in due course.

7.       Anknel and Burblets – this blog has a lovely layout and design accompanied by beautiful photography that illustrates the story being told in each post. Charlotte composes each post in an engaging way that draws the reader in to what is being described and it is no surprise to find that someone with such a gift is a writer.

8.       Cool – Sally has created a blog that is very personal and contains her reflections about how she applies her faith to her everyday life. As a reader I have found this both inspiring and challenging – both ingredients that motivate return visits. The design and layout of the blog is visually interesting and is done is a way that focuses the reader’s attention to the content of her writing.

9.       Of spring and summer – this is a lovely floral blog, created by Ingrid and used to showcase inspirational advice on arranging flowers of all kinds. She integrates beautiful photographs with her writing and is producing a fresh and colourful blog – just like the flowers she enjoys uses as her subject matter.

10.   Paper Peony – Cathy’s blog is has a gorgeous design and layout – everything is beautifully co-ordinated and really communicates the attention to detail that must be in her work. Her ideas are inspirational and are supplemented by photos and a style of writing that engars the reader in what she has to say.
So many inspiring creative and thoughtful people out there!

Have a lovely weekend...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Early spring at the seaside



On Saturday we decided to have an Afternoon Off. We drove to Portstewart, a lovely seaside town about 45 minutes away. Although the day was ovecast and cold, it was calm and you can see how peaceful the sea was. I'm not sure how spring-like things really were, although we did see a bridal party having photographs taken on the rocky part of the shore.
The cliff path leads past rocky basalt shoreline to our famous Portstewart Strand - a 2 mile stetch of wonderful sand - all spread out in front of us.
Such a wonderful way to spend an afternoon taking in the expanse of the View, fresh Air and enjoying some Time Out.
Do you have a favourite place to escape to?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Inspiring times

This is Day 1 of the Blog Boss e-course from Decor8. I am beginning to feel more inspired and am looking forward to developing confidence and ideas to make my blog an interesting place to visit.