Thursday 30 April 2015

Old and New

We have had a fascinating visitor attraction on our doorstep for over 2 years now, yet it has taken all that time to actually make the effort to go there despite driving past a couple of times a week for all of those two years!

The attraction in question is called Northumberlandia and is a wonderful piece of public art in the form of a landform sculpture in the shape of a female created from the clay, rock and soil of an adjacent opencast coal mine. Northumberland being the county of England in which the sculpture is set.

The various elements of the sculpture only become apparent as you move around the site. You can see the face above, and can perhaps see the scale of the site with the very small human perched on the forehead!

And here's the view from that self same forehead :)

The sculpture is 100 feet high at this point and is in total a quarter of a mile long. If only this had been here when our boys were younger, it would have been the perfect place to bring them to burn off some excess energy :)

You can just see in the background here, the opencast mine from which the material for the original structure was taken. With its constant movement of large trucks and machinery, the mine and the viewpoint from the top of Northumberlandia is a big attraction for boys young and old!

Equally impressive, but from a very different era is another local attraction, Belsay Castle, the original part of which was built in 1614.

and the plaque to prove it is still there!

As is this intriguing carving in an outhouse wall.

Graffiti, do you think? Certainly superior graffiti if it was :)

It makes you wonder what modern buildings will look like in 400 years time doesn't it?

And speaking of time, there is still time to link up to this month's Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party before it closes tonight

Link up at SLIK stitches to be in with a chance of winning this great pattern.

Linking up to
 Live A Colorful Life

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Still waiting!

I have managed (just) to scrape in with my second block for the Siblings Together Quilting Bee before the deadline at the end of the month.

STQB April 2

So, this Wonky Log Cabin block joined

STQBee block April 1

this one I made earlier, and they are both now in the post.

The request for next month's block, which will be the last in this round, is for a rail fence block so, hopefully, I will get that turned around a bit quicker :)

Needless to say the block that I need to make for myself is still unmade! Hopefully, this week there will be some progress.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday

There is still time to win this great pattern donated by Bustle and Sew to kick start your Christmas and Holiday crafting

Just head on over and link up your Christmas/ Holiday makes in this month's Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party at SLIK stitches

Saturday 25 April 2015

New to Me in April

Welcome to another New to Me Link Party, doesn't time fly when you are trying out new things??

This month my New to Me activity has been a real mixed bag.

First up, another Camera challenge from Katy

This time we were tangling with speed, shutter speeds to be precise! So, where better to practise speed shots than a racecourse.

 I am really enjoying these Camera challenges, whilst the science of the photography mostly goes over my head, I am, at the least, having fun finding appropriate places to take the photos for each challenge:)

 My next New to Me activity, was prompted by wanting to incorporate a tiny ribbon bow in the Kilt Pin brooch I made for the IG #outlandercraftswap. Never having attempted such tiny bows with any success before, I knew that I needed help. Quite what help I needed was a big surprise!

It turns out that your ordinary table fork is the ideal tool for tiny bow making :) You can check out how that works here

Of course, you might find like me that one tiny bow is never enough :)

So, that's my New to Me activity this month, now it is your turn to share your New to You challenges. As ever please help to spread the word by linking back to this post in your post and/or adding the blog button to your sidebar.

Check out the other links too and, maybe, leave an encouraging comment along the way. The emphasis of this link party is to celebrate the trying of something new, whether it works out exactly as planned or not, so a little encouragement here and there would not go amiss! 

The link will remain open until 23.59GMT on April 30th, so you have some time to try something new and link up and join the party :)

If your New to You activity involves Christmas and Holiday gift or home decoration making this month, there is still time to link up your makes over at SLIK stitches You never know, you could be the lucky winner of this fantastic cushion pattern, courtesy of Bustle and Sew.

Looking forward to seeing your New to You activities this month :)

Monday 20 April 2015

Just one more block

Last month it was my turn to be Queen Bee in the Siblings Together Quilting Bee and I asked for Merry-Go-Round blocks, which I had found in a collection of old quilting blocks. The original blocks were made from templates, but, as I am sure my Bee mates were pleased to find, I updated the instructions to facilitate rotary cutting!

STQB March block

I requested low-volume fabrics for the background of the block, the rest of the block was up to them, although I did make a plea for avoiding girly pinks :)

And here are the blocks my wonderful Bee mates have sent. Aren't they lovely?

As you can see there is one block missing, which is because whilst all of my Bee mates made two blocks each, I have only managed to make one so far. It is easy to see what's next on my to-do list!

This month's Queen Bee in the Siblings Together Quilting Bee is Carol, who has asked for Wonky Log Cabin blocks. I took my fabric scrap bags to the last meeting of my Quilt Group intending to get these blocks done and dusted there. However, as is the norm at the group, there was too much talking and not enough paying attention as I found when I discovered that I had added the log cabin strips in the wrong order halfway through both to the blocks I had worked on!

 So, I have just one more block to make this month and my Bee commitments will have been met, how hard can that be??

Linking up to

Saturday 18 April 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew - the Charm Edition

Welcome back to another Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party.

I know, I know last Christmas is a long forgotten memory and you have absolutely ages to think about this Christmas, but don't you want to be all cool, calm and collected for a change in December? Not to mention smug when others are burning the midnight oil trying to get those carefully crafted gifts made in time, and you are enjoying the sight of a whole year's worth of crafted goodies just waiting to be wrapped and labelled!

To be that cool, calm crafter we have gathered together a great bunch of bloggers who are providing gift and decor inspiration throughout the year. This month it is the turn of Benta, who blogs at SLIK stitches. Benta is a wonderful machine embroiderer, and was the genius behind the fabulous traveller caravan block, from the Star of Africa Bee, and beautifully monogrammed bridesmaid bags, that I blogged about here and here.

Of course it wouldn't be a Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party without a giveaway and this month we have a brilliant giveaway prize from the lovely Helen at Bustle and Sew, the pattern for this fabulous cushion/pillow cover!

 Now, wouldn't that make a great addition to your holiday decor, or if you can bear to part with it a great present for a ski-ing friend? If you haven't come across Bustle and Sew before I can definitely recommend that you check them out. Helen has created a host of wonderful embroidery and applique patterns as well as a range of great softie patterns, so there is bound to be something there to inspire you. Having stitched several of her patterns I can attest to their high standard too. (You can see my Bustle and Sew makes here and here )

To win this great prize, all you have to do is head on over to SLIK stitches and link up your Christmas or Holiday makes for this month. The link party is open until April 30th, when one lucky random winner will be drawn, so you have plenty of time left to get some Christmas crafting completed and linked up!

My own Christmas crafting this month was kick started by one of my makes for the IG #outlandercraftswap.

When I made the Kilt Pin brooch for my swap partner, I realised that it would make a great gift for my daughter-in-law too, who has a bit of a love affair for all things Scottish.

So, I made another Kilt Pin brooch

 and then whilst I had the charms and tools out I might as well make one for my other daughter-in-law too, so made this one as well.

I have another two empty Kilt Pins lurking somewhere in my jewellery supplies so I think there will be more of these made by the time December rolls around :)

The lucky winner of last month's giveaway, sponsored by Alexie at the Patchwork Elephant, was Pam, who blogs at Threading my Way. I am sure that we will see Pam's Christmas fabric win popping up in a Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party in the near future :)

Looking forward to seeing your Christmas and Holiday crafting and as ever, a heartfelt thank you to all the generous sponsors of our Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew giveaways.

Link up your makes this month at SLIK stitches

Crafty Trimmings

Logo Sew Hot

Plush Addict Logo

Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop

Friday 17 April 2015

Crafting Away

Last month I signed up for my first IG swap, the #outlandercraftswap. The swappers are a bunch of very talented and highly diverse crafters, so it has been great fun following all of the makes that are being crafted.

Having been a big fan of the Outlander books for several years and now (at long last!) able to watch the TV series on Amazon Prime, I have definitely been inspired to stretch my crafting muscles :)

So far, I have completed two of my planned projects for the swap.

First up,

A purple linen Dumpling pouch (free pattern available here) I love making these pouches and thought that the fabric pattern was almost thistle-like so fitted the Scottish theme of the book. That may just be me invoking artistic licence though :)

My second project definitely adheres to the Scottish theme, what could be more Scottish than kilt pins and tartan ?? You can no doubt see why I was drawn to this swap :)

The main male character in the book is, Jamie Fraser, so when I found Fraser tartan ribbon at EllieMagpie I knew that I needed to buy some! Naturally, being mostly set in the Highlands of Scotland in 1743, nearly all of the main characters sport kilts, so the kilt pin was a no-brainer too:) I am willing to admit to a bit of bias here, but I think a man in a kilt is a hard sight to beat! Sorry, I digress!!

I had seen something similar to the book page charm in a jewellery magazine a couple of years ago and had always wanted to give it a go. Not wanting to rip up my own well-thumbed copies of the Outlander books, I was delighted when I came across a copy of one of the books in the series in a secondhand book shop in France recently, which I had no compunction about tearing apart.

Some appropriate charms from my favourite charm seller on Etsy, Nicole de Bruin and I was all set.

I am delighted with how the brooch turned out and hope that my swap partner is delighted too, although she has been worryingly quiet throughout the swap, so perhaps she is not quite as pleased as I am!

One more project to go and my swap package should be ready to send out.

Linking up to  Crazy Mom Quilts

Thursday 9 April 2015

Fine feathers

Recently I visited a wonderful exhibition of feathered fashions in the beautiful Bowes Museum.

Even with several family weddings under my belt I am not sure that I have, or have had, anything with feathers in my wardrobe. So, it was fascinating to see just what can be done with a sackload of feathers, limitless time and a sprinkling of genius.

One of the stars of the show was definitely this glorious butterfly dress by Thierry Mugler. The dress, which represents the transformation of a chrysalis into a butterfly, is undoubtedly stunning, but dare I say it not very practical!

Equally spectacular and impractical was this dress for Rochas by Olivier Theyskens. The skirt is made of dyed rooster feathers, which were very spiky and looked incredibly uncomfortable to wear.

Much softer but no less impractical was this goose and ostrich feather dress by Sarah Burton (the royal wedding dress designer) for Alexander McQueen. You cannot really see in the photo thanks to the light, but this was the most beautiful blush pink colour, and was absolutely my favourite dress of the exhibition. It was part of a display of dresses inspired by the Black and White Swans of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, and was without doubt the standout exhibit.

As well as dresses the exhibition included shoes, fans, bags and hats made from feathers. I could not see me ever wearing it but I just loved this Macaw hat by Stephen Jones. It would certainly cause a stir at the next Race Meeting I attend :)

I was somewhat surprised to see what looked like mini quilts hanging in the exhibition and even more surprised to find that these were in fact samples of feather processing created by the Maison Lemarie for designers to select from.

Wouldn't they make great quilt patterns though?

The exhibition is open until April 19th, so if you are in the vicinity I can definitely recommend a visit. There is another fashion exhibition coming to the museum in July, this time all of the works exhibited are by Yves Saint Laurent, so I am definitely planning my return visit :)

Linking up to
Really Random

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Racing against time!

As you know by now I have been attempting Katy's Camera Challenges, and this month we have been challenged to use the Shutter priority setting. Now, I knew that the setting existed on my camera, but I have to confess that any use prior to the challenge has been entirely accidental!

For this challenge we were tasked with finding some willing moving subjects, which was a challenge in itself. Having watched the Scotland rugby team end up winning the Wooden Spoon, and thereby propping up the league table, they definitely didn't fit the bill, and living at the end of a cul-de-sac meant that moving cars were not an option either. So, I decided to combine the challenge with a day out to the Races. Plenty of moving subjects there for me to practise on and the opportunity to add to the Celtic Thistle coffers at the same time, what more could I ask for :)

Well, paying attention to the instructions might have helped!

Shutter Speed 1000

Our first challenge was to take photos in the Shutter Priority mode starting with a fast Shutter speed and gradually slowing the speed down. Katy suggested starting with 1000 for cars and 500 for animals, but I reckoned that racehorses and cars were probably much of a muchness in terms of speed so started with the photo above at 1000. As you can see even the movement of the horse's tail is crisp. Sadly none of my money was on any of the first three past the post in this race, so the Celtic Thistle coffers were lighter by the end of it!

Shutter Speed 800
I know that it looks like this horse is galloping in the wrong direction and it is, but I found it much easier to take photos of the horses as they headed down to the start when I was trying to fiddle about changing the shutter speeds. I think this speed is probably acceptable too, and certainly better than any shot I might have attempted like this in the past!

Shutter Speed 400
Not so great

Shutter Speed 125
Definitely not crisp and even!

Our next instruction was to leave the shutter at a fixed speed and try to follow the movement pressing the shutter as I went. I wrote the instructions down before going out to the Racecourse, but did I read them whilst I was there? Of course, not! So I will have to rise to that challenge another day :(

The final part of the challenge involved photographing running water, so I was delighted to find a waterfall in the racecourse garden. We were also supposed to take the Camera off of the continuous focus setting, but you know how bad I am at remembering (or reading!) instructions, so needless to say that didn't happen.

But I did get these shots

Shutter Speed 250

Shutter Speed 125
Shutter Speed 50
I have to say that I am really enjoying these Camera Challenges from Katy, and even although I would appear to have the memory span of a gnat, some of the information that Katy is passing on is filtering through!

An added bonus is getting to have a great, if not lucrative :(, day out at the same time.

And my favourite photo of the day has to be this one

A determined face if ever I saw one :)

Looking forward to seeing how everyone else has approached the challenge and if you are up for a challenge, it is not too late to join in!
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