Blue Coppice Blatherings
Blather and balderdash about stitching, design and domestic life.
- Name: Bethany
Monday, December 31, 2007
Thursday, November 02, 2006
It's sunny and it's lunchtime!
So to update you all, yet again my job has changed somewhat. Following staff movement in the summer, my manager asked if I'd like to head up the Birmingham/West Midlands division & return to a consultancy role - something I swore I'd never do again... However, she's very persuasive and to be fair the company has a very different culture to that of the last consultancy I worked in, so here I am, wondering if I've made the right move but thoroughly enjoying myself!
Unfortunately, this does leave less time for stitching and designing as it requires far more brain power than my previous role, I think partly because I'm still getting used to it all. I've been making fairly silly mistakes while stitching in the evenings so have decided to leave all work on the wedding sampler for the weekends - there's not much left to do but I'd hate to make a mess of it at this late stage. In the evenings, I've been alternating between the TSG Challenge Huswif, all the Shepherds Bush ornaments from Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues over the past few years (nearly finished and waiting this year's!) and The Sweetheart Tree's B for Bunny (should be finished this evening - only 14 tiny beads to go!).
The Halloween Fairy by Mirabilia is finished but not framed yet - unfortunately the fabric provided isn't large enough to stretch around the board for the frame I want to use so it needs to have extra strips sewn to the edges. I must admit I did try to take the lazy route & just lay it in the frame but as I'd suspected gravity took its toll! I have the same problem with the Christmas Elf Fairy so they're both temporarily in their frame to keep them safe before I get to do a proper job.
On other stitchy news, I met up with a group from the Sampler Guild on 21st October where we gossiped, stitched and ate till we burst! We met at "Patchworks" in Chorley, Lancashire - an Aladdin's Cave of a shop stuffed to the brim with everything you could possibly need for quilting, patchwork and card-making/scrapbooking...not to mention stitching supplies :-) The shop has only been open since July and has undergone an amazing transformation from a rundown victorian terrace into a ground floor shop and 1st floor kitchenette, sitting room and a gloriously bright and airy front room - ideal for get-togethers and workshops! We were all made to feel incredibly welcome by the owner, and the sandwiches and cakes supplied by the baker next door were much appreciated. It was Sylvia's birthday and so we not only had the cakes from the baker, but also a fabulous victoria sponge and chcolate sponge - both loaded with fresh cream...yum...yum...
We all enjoyed ourselves so I'm hoping it will be come a regular event - Chorley's very easy to get to from here and it's lovely to meet up with everyone. Seeing everyone's work always inspires me too - there are so many ways of working, tricks and techniques to be picked up, not to mention the drooling over new charts and completed pieces :-)
What else? It was my birthday the other week & we celebrated by getting extremely wet & muddy walking round the Yorkshire Sculpture Park - it's huge & we only skimmed the surface! I can highly recommend it as a day out (or three!), seeing Henry Moore sculptures in the middle of a field surrounded by sheep is slightly surreal but well worth the trip. There was a series of light installations by James Tyrell in one of the galleries (there are several dotted round the ground) which was quite incredible - A & I were the only ones inside which emphasised how peaceful and calming the pieces were...we could have stayed there for hours just staring at the colours and shadows..
A & I love going out and about at weekends, either strolling round the deer park at our local stately home (Dunham Massey) or exploring a little further afield, especially at this time of year when the temperature cools. A little dampness doesn't put us off either, in fact the best days out have been when we have these places to ourselves because everyone else has been driven inside by the torrential rain! For future trips, we're thinking about a local otter and owl sanctuary, revisiting YSP, going to see the Gormley sculptures in the sea near Morecambe, the Liverpool Tate...etc...etc....there just aren't enough weekends in the year!
Apart from all the fresh air benefits, these trips are really good times to discuss wedding plans without distractions! So far we have "notified of our intent to marry", booked the registrar, the reception, the photographer and the wedding night hotel and told our friends & family to keep the date free. I still haven't decided what I'm wearing, we have no idea about the colour scheme (although that will probably depend on my outfit!), flowers, food, rings, music, words for the ceremony...etc...etc...etc... At least we know what we'll be getting the best man & bridesmaid and we've got a pretty good idea about what we don't want to happen!
We're in the early stages of designing the invitations at the moment - and since we are have space for only 38 guests, we can plan for something a little different! Luckily, although we're both designers, we have very similar tastes and seem to be able to recognise each other's strengths - although it's early days yet ;-) Since we're both passionate about what we do there are bound to be a few "discussions", although A is used to awkward clients so I think he'll be able to handle me...as long as he realises I'm right.... ;-)
Time to go - hopefully I'll get round to taking some pics of my recent finishes for the next entry, but I'm not promising it'll be this side of Christmas!!
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Hurrah it's raining!!
After a deeply relaxing two weeks, A & I have returned to the real world, switched the phones back on & gone back to work...much as I enjoy my job, there's nothing like knowing all your colleagues are sitting in the office while you luxuriate in bed at 9am with nothing to get up for but the pitiful mews of a woebegone cat (telling me she hasn't been fed for WEEKS, nobody loves her and what does a cat have to do to get some attention round here?)...
Since we're saving for a certain date at the moment, we decided not to go abroad this year but instead planned to spend some time relaxing with my parents, then coming back home to tidy up the garden, and do a few odd jobs round the house as well as catching up on stitching and reading. Well, as usual, plans never quite work out.
My parents returned from their holiday (a few days before we were due to travel down) to find their rather large & well-stocked pond had been plundered by the local foxes! Unfortunately, with the heat of recent weeks, the water level had been rather low which made it all too easy for the foxes to grab the fish as they basked in the sun...even worse, in getting back out of the pond, the foxes evidently tore the pond lining so the majority of the water drained away leaving the remaining fish to be almost poached by the sun in the shallows :-(
So, instead of a few days relaxing in the garden with appropriate iced drinks, A & I were drafted in to help re-line the pond before the surviving fish also succumbed. As the pond is nearly 5ft deep at its deepest point and approximately 5ft across, with lots of shelves and marginal areas, this was no mean feat!! I seemed to spend most of Saturday either crouching in the bottom of the hole under the footbridge (feeling rather like a troll from a Grimm fairytale) or cavorting in the water pressing down the creases as the new liner was refilled (would like to think in the manner of a water nymph, but have a horrible feeling it bore more resemblance to a hippo from Disney's Fantasia...).
I cooked a huge chilli the day before driving down so we had a Mexican feast once all the heavy work was completed - chilli, nachos, rice, refried beans, cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream with a rather good bottle of red...yum....in fact, it went down so well, A requested it for dinner the following weekend!
On the Sunday, A & I were somewhat redundant as the major work had all been done the day before so were able to relax on the patio in the shade while my mother ummed & aahed about where to replant iris clumps, waterlilies, primroses....etc...etc....
Before driving back home on the Monday, A & I went to see Superman Returns at Bluewater - the local shopping mall which has not only the best doughnuts in the world (my waistline is very thankful Krispy Kreme haven't arrived in Manchester yet), but also the most comfortable cinema seats and the fluffiest cinema popcorn! I'd been looking forward to the film but while the effects were good, it wasn't as innovative as I'd hoped. To be honest, I much preferred Pirates of the Carribean 2 which we saw a couple of weeks ago - I really enjoyed the first one but this was sooooooooo much better! Casting Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was just inspired...
Back home, it was far too hot to attempt too much gardening and as A & I are blessed/cursed with stereotypical British complexions, we decided the best plan was to stay out of the sun as much as possible by going on a few day trips to take advantage of the air-conditioning in the car! Getting lost in the Derbyshire dales and Welsh borders in glorious sunshine with our favourite music playing and air conditioning blowing....bliss.... :-)
(Now I had planned to put some pictures here of some of the places we'd been, but once again Blogger is playing silly devils! Maybe later...)
As for stitching, well I didn't get quite as much done as I'd hoped but that's always the way! The sampler is coming along nicely & I even started a couple of other little things whilst travelling about :-) Mirabilia's Halloween Fairy is looking rather lovely - the earthy tones of the dress with the vivid touches of orange and peacock green work very well, A prefers her to the Christmas Elf Fairy so far but I'm torn between the two! :-)
I've also made a start on Shepherd's Bush 2000 Years Ago, a collection of the first ornaments that were published in the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments magazines. I've been getting the magazines for the past couple of years so have the later designs but was very pleased to find the early ones in one leaflet! The delicate, natural tones tie in very nicely with the colours I have round the house at Christmas time and as they're small and straightforward to stitch, are good for travelling or when your brain has decided to take a holiday too... ;-)
Mind you, it could take a few years before I get round to deciding how to finish them...and then another couple years to actually do it...
On a completely different matter, I returned to work to find that we'd blasted our targets for the last two months so we each have £400 in holiday vouchers to spend!! Woohoo!! At the moment I'm thinking about splashing out on a weekend in a really nice country house hotel, complete with spa treatments, sometime in early 2007...but then flights are so cheap, maybe we should go abroad instead...decisions...decisions....
Oops...I've just realised how long this is...well done to all of you who have made it this far! Time for me to vamoose....byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Only Friday to go...
And looking at the state of the garden after recent tropical conditions, I'd say it was about time...I have a feeling I'm going to be begging to return to work after a few days taming the triffids & trying to get things back into some semblance of order. Daisy thinks it's wonderful - the lawn has sprouted several inches in the last few days so she's been busy pretending she's a tiger prowling in the steamy Bengal jungles. Unfortunately, the frogs have also found the overgrown conditions rather interesting so A & I have spent more time than we'd like separating frog and cat...
We've both been very tired recently & really in need of our time off. It's been a really busy few months for us both, at work and home, but there's so much to do & only one lifetime to do it in! The recent hot weather hasn't helped - we're both typically British pink & white so we tend to wilt, and the humidity has been pretty horrible at night. A was considering getting a portable air conditioner for the bedroom and then he saw the prices...doh...think we'll stick with the fan until that lottery win comes round!!
Luckily stitching and designing are best done in the shade and don't require much movement so I'm rather pleased with my progress in the last couple of weeks :-)
The Christmas Elf Fairy is finished, I stitched up the Friendship Sampler from last year's UKSBB get-together in Derbyshire, I've made a little more progress with the Huswif and I'm back to working on the sampler having defeated the over-one frogs! See pics below...
The Christmas Elf Fairy by Mirabilia
Copyright Nora Corbett 2005 All rights reserved
Friendship Sampler by Kate of UKSBB
Copyright 2005 All rights reserved
House & Garden Huswif - 2005 TSG Challenge
See previous entries for copyright info!
I had a flash of inspiration the other week for a new Blue Coppice design and I'm keen to get started on this once the sampler's done, so I've had to be pretty strict with my BC goals for the rest of the summer:
1) Finish the sampler!
2) Put a box together (the one I had a Eureka moment with the other week)
3) Finish the people and the winter tree on the huswif - and make a couple of decisions regarding the summer and autumn sections
4) Finalise construction details for the new design and start stitching - this one is going to take a little thought. It's a simple concept but exact measurements are going to be pretty crucial...
I'm sure I've missed out a couple of things but that'll do for the moment :-)
Onto other pieces, I couldn't resist the lure of Mirabilia's new Halloween Fairy but I'm planning to make a couple of changes...I think the fairy is looking at something so I'm going to add a small cat and I think transform the bag into a handful of blue spiders... ;-) I'm not going to be stitching her just yet (too many other things are screaming at me) but she might creep into my winter plans...
This space should contain the picture of the Halloween Fairy but for some reason Blogger's decided to give up on the idea of importing images at the moment, so it'll have to wait!
I've taken to working on smaller things at lunchtimes at work - I don't seem to have enough time to go out but I need a break from the computer so I've found that 30mins stitching really helps me keep going through the afternoon :-) The Christmas Elf Fairy has been ideal for this as it was small enough to be portable and it gave me a break from over-thinking on the BC designs - now she's done, I'm taking the time to work more on the Huswif as the wedding sampler is too big to lug around, definitely a home only project!
Initially, I wasn't too sure how my colleagues would take to my desk being covered with "string", but to my surprise the reactions have been rather positive! Lots of oohing & aahing, even more of the usual "You've got more patience than me", "I could never do that" and "How's your knitting coming along?"...saints preserve us...
My boss has been particularly keen. We were all out at one of the local bars having a couple of drinks in the sunshine on a beautiful Friday evening, and to my surprise, she told A that if she's had a tough, stressful morning and walks into the office to see me happily stitching away, she instantly feels better! Apparently it's very theraputic to watch - everything must be under control or I wouldn't have the mental energy to spare...or something like that...
Speaking of mental energy, mine's running out now! Time to go... :-)
Monday, June 19, 2006
Don't fall off your chair in shock...
I've hit a lunchtime lull as I wait for other people to do things and databases to work, so what better time for a brief update?
The picture upload seems to be working today, so here's the pic I tried to put in my last entry:
I've nearly finished the wings now so I only have the fur trim round the hat and dress left to do...it will be my first experience of using Wispa thread which should be fun :-) I've been told the trick is to use very short lengths and to take your time...sounds like some of the IT training I've have to give... ;-)
This weekend was rather disrupted as a new rear windscreen wiper blade ended up costing a few thousand more than it should have done...oops...
On the way to the Parts department, A & I walked past a new Ford Ka priced at a ridiculously low amount...hmmm, I thought, my current Ka is four years old and won't be worth much as a deposit but you never know... So we popped into the showroom, had a chat, noted down some figures and then went to a rather nice country pub to cogitate over a cider for the evening.
Sunday morning arrives and we're off to the local Halfords to stock up on new sponges. My Ka is cleaned inside & out like it's never been cleaned before, and I collect together all my documents. All that is except my driving licence. This is a slight problem. For those outside the UK, the modern licences have two parts, a credit card style photo ID and then a paper form - well, I had the card but could I find the paper? Not a hope.
Now I'm pretty organised when it comes to my paperwork so after hunting in the most likely places, we decide to leave it & hope it won't be needed just yet. Off we go to the garage & I buy my very first brand new car :-) And as you can see, it's lovely!
Ford KA in "Tonic" Blue
Unfortunately, I need to go back to the garage to sign some other bits, and that's when I need to take both parts of the licence...cue a frantic tearing the house apart when we got back home. It was nowhere to be seen. Everywhere had been checked at least three times & I was beginning to get a teensy bit fraught...until A mildly made the suggestion that it might be an idea if I checked my handbag again.
Of course, I rather crossly pointed out that I'd already checked it many times...just as I spotted it tucked inside another piece of paper, inside a tiny zipped pocket where I'd put it for safekeeping a few weeks before...doh...
I hate it when he's right.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Anyway, it's been some time so here's a quick update:
April 30th, A took me to Conwy Castle in Wales and officially asked me to marry him :-D We were in the lovely chapel when he got down on bended knee & presented me with the most beautiful ring...of course I said yes - we've been discussing it for a while but I wasn't expecting a ring so soon!! (Bling details: Platinum with diamond solitare in tension setting)
We've set the date for late October 2007 which seems ages away but we wanted to save up as much money as possible. The reception's going to be at Manchester Art Gallery with the ceremony at Manchester Registry Office - very small, just immediate family and close friends - and I can't wait! I'm sure there'll be a few more details closer to the time, but at the moment A & I are organising the official invitations. Luckily, as it's going to be a small "do", we can afford to spend the time making them ourselves - it's very handy being engaged to a Graphic Designer!!
It's all very exciting...
On the stitching front, I've been mainly working on a wedding piece for my sister and future BIL (I've got till the end of September...aargh!) but have taken a break recently - the frogs came visiting and decided to settle on a large section of over-one...on 32ct linen, this is not my idea of fun!! So before I threw the whole wretched thing in the pond, I decided to take a break and work on something a little less demanding.
So, I'm now not far off finishing Mirabilia's Christmas Elf Fairy and I think might even get it done at the weekend :-) Pictures will be posted shortly...(well, maybe in a few months!)...but in the meantime, this is approximately how it will look:
(well, it would if I could get the $%*$%*£* picture upload to work!)
This break has done my creative juices the world of good. I've been a little stuck with the construction of a box, but thanks to taking a total break from Blue Coppice work for a couple of weeks, have had a Eureka moment! Daisy (the cat) woke me up at a ridiculous hour on Sunday morning, wailing that she'd not been fed in weeks, nobody loved her, she was totally alone and starving...etc...etc...as only a rather rotund and totally spoilt ginger madam can.
So climbing back into bed, muttering about the impatience of cats that can't wait till a reasonable time of day to howl, I was wide awake and for the first time since...well...the dawn of civilisation, I had the luxury of not having to get up just then to do chores or go out somewhere. My brain immediately woke up and after a brief spurt of activity, I'd solved my tricky situation and scribbled down a few other ideas. An hour later, I was fast asleep again...(I said it was a brief spurt)...
I've got two weeks booked off in July (hurrah and huzzah!) and since A & I have decided to save money & stay at home, I'll have a few days to concentrate on making the box and further progress with my sister's piece. I can't wait...
Monday, February 13, 2006
It's been a while...
It's been many, many months since my last update, and I'd been doing so well...kind of...
A lot has happened since my last entry so here's a brief run-down on the personal life:
1) I was made redundant on a Monday
2) I found a new job by the Friday
3) My rather gorgeous boyfriend asked me to marry him
4) I accepted
Ummm...that's pretty much it...as you can see, it's been a quiet few months... ;-)
Past readers may remember that when last I wrote, I was seeing a graphic designer - and yes, he is the very same that wants to make an honest woman of me :-) I am sickeningly happy and insufferably smug, but my friends assure me that it is allowed for the moment...(I plan to make the moment last a long long time... A.)
Other highlights have been the news that my sister is due to be married this September (which has led to a request for a wedding sampler) together with the realisation that the golf club job is not exactly compatible with the other things I want to do! The money will be sadly missed but it will give me a lot more time to concentrate on my stitching and designing, which sad to say has been a little neglected recently.
Following my redundancy, I am now the Operations Manager for a recruitment agency - it's a very busy and enjoyable position covering everything from finance to marketing, but combined with the golf club, has left me little brain power for working on my designs in the evening. I handed my notice into the club last week and I'm looking forward to reclaiming my evenings! Obviously my sister's wedding sampler takes precedence for the time being, but it is a variation on a theme so I am hoping to complete it well before the event...it will take me quite a while to decide how to frame it... ;-)
I have been busy working on a couple of projects over the past few months so here are a few pictures to entertain the masses!
Copyright 2005 - Katie Trendall, Charlotte Smyth, Vanita Roberts, Barbara Jackson, Bethany Woods, Laura Meir.
All rights reserved.
Border & Layout - Katie Trendall (from "an Elne of Lynnyn...")
House (centre panel) - Charlotte Smyth
Summer (left of centre) - Vanita Roberts
Autumn (right of centre) - Barbara Jackson
Spring (far left) - Me! (as "Blue Coppice")
Winter (far right) - Laura Meir
As you can see, I've not got very far! Autumn has been released but I've not started that section yet, and there's still a lot of work to do on the other sections...Winter is the only one left to arrive, and I expect to receive that in the next couple of weeks.
I've been working on my favourite material (Antique White 32ct Belfast linen) using a combination of floss: mostly DMC cotton, but the house has been worked in DMC linen, the door in GAST, the water in Rajmahal vicose and the tiny goldfish which are hiding in the pond have been worked in DMC rayon. The rabbit has been cut from wool felt and stitched in place. The picture below shows a little more detail and some of the stitches I've used - as you can see, I've not just been using cross-stitch!
Angel of Love
Copyright Lavender & Lace (Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum)
All rights reserved
At the moment, I'm working on the sampler for my sister's wedding - I'm hoping to finish it by early summer to give me time to make a decision on the frame...and that may take some time...