Monday, 30 April 2012

100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups #40

This week's challenge here, celebrates our 40th week. 
Our challenge is to write to the prompt - Ruby.

Cute as a button!

"Rubeeee, Rubeeee, where are you?"  
A tiny giggle emanated from the living room.
"Ruby, Ruby, where are you?"
A rustle of cotton against carpet.
"I'm coming to get you..."
A gentle plop is heard close to the French doors.
“Where’s my girl then...”
A gentle sucking noise adds a clue.

I lean over the back of the sofa.
“Ganny found me”
Said around a tiny thumb.
“Come on out my darling”
A gorgeous morsel crawls out from behind the sofa, stands,
holds my hand.
“Lolly, Ganny?”
“Yes, sweetheart, you may have a lolly.”
My Ruby, more precious than diamonds.

Neither of my granddaughters are called Ruby, but I love them just as much.

Monday, 23 April 2012

100 Word Challenge for Grownups #39

                                 ….I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you….
                 Above is the prompt for this week. Here is where the challenge came from.

Darling ….I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you…. we'll chat later.
Spent, she lay back, sinking into the womb like caress of her bed. She would give almost anything to feel right. What did right feel like anyway? The weeks were all blurring together. Each three week cycle etched into her brain a rotation of nausea, constipation and terrifying fogs that turned thought to mist.
Yet, this was the last. No more hours tethered to a beeping draconian master. A last bowing to an inevitability. Something shifted inside her. An almost forgotten sensation.  What was it?  
It was hope...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Watching the rook highway...

From the back of the house we have a clear view across the field. Barley is the current crop which is flourishing now we have had some rain! As I have mentioned before we live at the top of the hill. The road down to the lower part of the village winds quite sharply down a number of metres. The valley at the bottom has a copse of tall trees just before the stream passes the back of the houses. The copse houses a rookery, and the rooks are currently very busy rearing chicks. The parents are extremely diligent, and this is where the rook highway comes in.

Scene of the Rook Highway - without a rook in sight. Got to love the birds!

The parent rooks fly obliquely up the hill past the back of our house and through a gap in the trees to some place across the road and behind the farm. There must be some amazing source of food there. I guess it may be fields with cattle in them. The rooks use a two direction route - low to the ground on the way out against the prevailing wind. They look like gangs of black rags flapping only a metre or so above the barley. On the way back they fly much higher, aided of course by the wind.
The only time they deviate from this path is when a red kite is about, then they all gang up to mob the kite, even though their babies are a mile away.

The birds in the garden are also very busy. Mr Blackbird nearly met his end today. He squared up to a magpie, who then started chasing him. Mr Blackbird, you are very brave but your babies need you too!

Monday, 16 April 2012

I made a tiny picture...

I finished my first multimedia picture today and here it is...

It is twice the size of a credit card. I purposely made it very tiny so that I could finish it quite quickly. The sheep  were made by using needle felting. I had collected sheep and lambs wool from the field. I washed and carded it.  The three sheep in a line were made with adult sheep wool. The sheep at the bottom of the picture is made from lambs wool. I embroidered the field using a single strand of embroidery floss in a colour close to that of the felt. The stone wall is made from a piece of ribbon sewn on using space dyed embroidery floss in shades of grey. Although you cannot see it well in this picture, the wall is sewn to represent blocks of stone. I needle felted the tree using wool tops in brown and three shades of green. Finally I embroidered the greenery at the base of the tree using three strands of floss in different shades of green. Here, I used a mixture of chain stitch, tiny lazy daisies and stem stitch.

Wool tops are often made from merino wool which has long even fibres. They can be dyed one colour or space dyed where the fibres (or fabric) is dyed several colours to create a tonal or multicoloured effect. There are also various different types of wool from rare breeds which I will also explore using.
I have collected quite a few resources now and have taken a lot of macro photographs around the village.

The other piece I have begun was inspired by a photo of a stone wall with lichen growing on it. I am using felt in shades of grey which I have sewn onto an Aida base. I am going to pad each of the 'stones' with a little wadding. I will embroider the lichen using embroidery floss space dyed in the various lichen colours. I'm not sure what stitches I will use yet, that will be a matter of experimenting first.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Wood, Wildlife and Wool.

I adore living where I do now. We are really lucky to have all the loveliness of living in the country, with town only 15 minutes away.
The wood, in my title, is cut and piled up in the lower part of our village. We'd driven past it when coming home the back way. The signs said there would be a Wood Sale at the village hall. We drove down on the appointed day to discover that the piles of wood belonged to a business dealing in decorative timber. The sawmill was in action and with an open mouth, I watched great slices being sawn off an ancient piece of walnut. The owner explained that the tree had been subjected to some bending during its life and that the trunk was riddled with shakes (small cracks). These greatly reduce the value of the timber but cannot be identified before being sawn. There was a stall selling carved apples and pears. I bought an apple carved from apple wood and a pear carved from pear wood. Mr G bought a piece of burr elm with which to make something lovely. There is to be another sale in May and we shall certainly attend.

                              My Apple and Pear

The wildlife is one of the main reasons for moving to our current home. Red Kites soar majestically over and around our house. We've seen the kestrel perch on one of the small trees on the verge outside the front of the house. Mr G said we'd had a Spotted Woodpecker on the fat balls on our bird feeding station. Since being at home, I've seen it every day. The mass of little birds whizz in and out all day long. We were standing watching the little birds, when from the side of the house, there came a dark grey streak, shooting through the air. It was a sparrow hawk. The little birds dove for cover and escaped that time. The sparrow hawk has returned regularly. The little pile of pigeon feathers on the lawn suggests that was one of its meals. It certainly caught one of the little birds the other day. However cruel this seems, it is the way nature is, and as such must be accepted.
                             The bird feeding station

I went foraging for wool yesterday. We found some in the valley where the sheep have lambed. I took it home and washed it, a very smelly task. Today I sorted it. I kept the pretty crinkly lambs wool, and carded some of the rest with a pair of small wire brushes. A lot of the wool was felted and I discarded it, but there was enough for me to keep to use in my mixed media textile pictures I have planned. This is both a new creative direction, and a return to an old skill. In my late teens I did several pieces of free hand embroidery, and became quite skilful with a needle. I intend to use this skill and combine new skills such as felting, collage and couching to include found items in my pictures.

                         A piece of my early embroidery