Sunday, 5 June 2016

Frida's Flowers are beautiful, but complex.

Stylecraft's CAL this year, designed by Jane Crowfoot, is called Frida's Flowers. It's a lovely, colour-rich, flower-heavy throw based on the clothes and colours of Frida Kahlo, the mexican artist. Have you seen it?
 I was lucky enough to touch and see the original at a crochet workshop at Black Sheep Wools in April. You can read about my day here.

It is gorgeous, and so loaded with colour; saturated is the right word.

And I did buy the yarn pack with the best of intentions, but life (or guinea pigs) got in the way and the yarn lies, alone and bereft, at the foot of my bed. Don't worry, I have plans.

But, having been to one workshop and enjoyed it; like a one-day crochet retreat, almost, the times of silence interspersed with conversation and questions was so relaxing; I wanted to go again and booked as soon as I was home.

Yesterday's workshop was called Frida's Flowers Motif Workshop, with the aim being to start and get guidance on a flower motif that can be used in a small shoulder bag. The workshop was run by Jane Crowfoot, who is fast becoming my favourite designer of crocheted items. I love her use of colour and listening to her talk about the design process and the steps it takes to achieve a finished product leaves me open mouthed in admiration. I'm not a patient person, and I know sometimes I will take less than perfection to get a thing done NOW.

But Jane is so patient, and so keen to get everybody to a stage they can be happy with. The pattern wasn't an actual motif off the Frida's Flowers blanket, since they are hexagonal and this was octagonal, but used the same colours and similar structure in parts.

This is Jane's finished square. You can see the richness of the colours just pops against the deep black. She always apologises for the black, because it is such a pain to use, but sometimes you just need that stark background to show off the colours.

There were 12 of us, gathered around the table. The workshop at Black Sheep Wools is lovely, large and bright without being a sun trap. There's a large table in the centre and everybody has ample space to sit and do what you need to. Like I said, whole minutes pass by in silence, especially with a good design like the flowers, and it is almost like a retreat,a chance to concentrate and be mindful. There's no way you can concentrate on the detritus of every day life outside and get the counting, placing and stitching right.

 There were a few repeat offenders on the workshop; it turned out that, after the Lily pond workshop, about 6 of us had gone straight home and booked on this one. That was great, because there was a good feeling of companionship already in the room, and some of the chit chat had already happened so we didn't need to ask about locality, or family. It reminded me why I should find a knit n natter or hook, stitch and bitch group.
Jane is always keen to stretch the people on the workshop, and wants you to leave having learned a new skill or a new piece of advice. Here she was demonstrating finishing techniques for thread ends, but I loved the beading using double, half treble or treble stitching. I have dreams of a beaded evening bag in black cotton with silver or diamond beads. I need to let that ferment for a while, and to finish some other WIPs I have.
The workshop started at 10 and finished prompt at 4. Lunch, by the Black Sheep Wools cafe, was lovely as always and tea, coffee and cake at 3.30 was most welcome. Yes, I was tempted by some stuff in the shop, of which more later, and the 10% off voucher for attending a course was a welcome inducement.
"Ah!" I hear you cry, "But how far did you get in the 6 hours of hand cramping, neck aching crochet???"  (you were thinking that, weren't you?)

 I got this far and a little further. Not a finished motif by any means, but a couple of rows short of the black and certainly not just at the start. I also got as far as the pink row on my other side, so that's a win. The centre has beads on, and I wanted to make sure I had enough to complete both sides. Giventhat I was out last night and have an emergency to complete today, I think this will have to wait until Monday to be finished, and then put on my To Finish pile, which grows by the week. I am also reminded that I never showed you my finished pieces from the last workshop.... that will have to wait. I'm time poor today, and off to wake the crowd for breakfast. Have a good Sunday, and see you all later in the week x

Friday, 3 June 2016

Bring me Sunshine....

Yesterday we went for a rare family day out. We are buried deep in revision and pain at school at the moment, so grabbing a glorious sunny day and escaping seemed like a good idea. We decided (ok, I decided) that we would go and look at a city I have often gone past but never into.

We went to Lancaster; if you travel north on the M6 you very often pass the University, but it's not a place I remember going to. We didn't see that much yesterday, either, as we had plans for the afternoon. We did go up to the castle, which was a prison for many years. I couldn't resist getting the lads to stand under the sign!

And the guy at the gate in the photo above is a prison guard... really!
The Pendle witch trials were held here, and other famous trials. There is a castle tour, but we were on a mission and didn't feel like it yesterday. Fortunately Peter's football team play in Lancaster during the season, so I am on a promise.

WE'd gone specially to see the museum, which has a small exhibition (free entry) about Morecambe and Wise. Eldest David is a big fan, so I grabbed the chance before it goes off in July. There were a few exhibits like suits, personal items and playbills and plenty of interactive parts. I actually have video of me dancing with them here.... available for a price!

This was the most crazy I could get Fan boy to be; and this was under duress. But he enjoyed looking at the rooms, and pointing out the things he knew but I didn't.... like the first appearance of Morecambe and Wise as a duo was at the Liverpool Empire in 1941.

And then it was on to Morecambe and a walk up and down the prom. Apparently I went to Morecambe when I was 3 months old and cried ALL NIGHT LONG.
I cried a little yesterday, too, but only because it was lovely to see the faces of people responding to the statue. Little kids, for whom he means nothing yet, just made faces, and climbed over him and were generally not that impressed. But a lot of teenagers and on wards have seen enough of the clips to recognise comedy genius and to do the action, or to chuckle at the lines.... 'Tea, Ern?'.... 'You can't see the join!'.... 'He won't sell much ice cream going at that speed!'...... and the rest.

Again, Fan boy wouldn't oblige with the action, but he did have fun hanging around the statue for a while.

But I always oblige. Look at the sky... and the lack of sea.... and the panoramic view. I had Bring Me Sunshine on my phone so it was a nice touch to sit and listen to it at the statue.

And our final touristy moment before we had Fish and Chips at Atkinson's was to run into the Midland Hotel. We were hungry, so only I went in to grab the photos I wanted. I loved the foyer, all 1930's Art Deco and cool marble. I'm guessing Eric Gill was involved somewhere, since one of the function suites was named after him.

 And surely this must be by him; it so looks like Art Deco at its best.
Fish n chips and homeward bound. James had a cold and needed some medicine. In fact, on the way home two of the brats fell asleep, but not James. He did cough himself awake all night, and today we have had a quiet day of play and watching TV. Oh, and I needed to visit the vets.... twice. Don't ask. Let's just concentrate on Morecambe, shall we?

Have a good weekend and I might be back before Sunday..... or not ;-)
It really depends if I am (cough cough) doing anything REALLY good tomorrow or not...... (peep here to see!)