Tuesday 28 June 2011

Away With The Fairies....

...............that's my state of mind a lot of the time!

I stitched the text using my trusty sewing machine this morning. It is always a bit scarey to start machine stitching on a piece you have spent a lot of time on in case it goes horribly wrong. It is so much harder to unpick than hand stitching! Thankfully, it went well and I'm really pleased with the result (though the photo is a little dark).

Now I need to stitch some French knots to dot the "i"s, then I can get on with the quilting.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Done It, Got The T-shirt (and a shiny medal)

Last night, my two teenagers and I, took part in the Manchester Midnight Walk, along with a group of friends. We walked the 10km as part of a long snake of people in yellow t-shirts, some in fancy dress, others wearing halos, flashing bunny ears or beenie-boppers!
There was a great atmosphere and lots of cheering from people outside pubs as we passed. The high point for me was being serenaded by 2 young men and a ukelele as they passed us all, singing "Keep walking... keep walking..."
 Hopefully a good deal of money was raised for St. Ann's Hospice in Stockport. Up to now, my family raised over £160.

My hips are aching today and I may sneak a little nap, but I'm very glad we did it:D

Thursday 16 June 2011

Lady of Letters

Yesterday, I promised to show you more of my Nan's letter. Somewhere in the loft there are more of them, but this letter, one of only 3 I could lay my hands on, was perfect for the pieces I am working on because it connects my love of Skye and  the imagery of cottages with my Nan's love of countryside and cottages.
She says " I loved the country but of course we never went only when as kids a gang of us would go to Ford Cemetry and that was all country to us kids and we would get dead tired before we got anywhere near home and of course we would fall out with the country."
Later, she adds, "I would have loved to be in that cottage...I love looking at pictures of cottages. You must take after me I seem to love all the places you visit and tell me about....Keep on seeing everything, love"

My Nan was a very strong-minded, feisty Liverpudlian with a love of strawberry tarts and a good cup of tea. She loved her family fiercely, adored children and could often be heard chuckling at babies on nappy adverts!

My Nan wrote to me every week after I left home to go to Poly, until she died in the early 1990s. She sent me cartoons from the Liverpool Echo- "Scouse Mouse" and "Garfield"- which she cut out without fail (I think sometimes before my Uncle had finished reading it!). She was a stickler for spelling and wrote in her own inimitable style, often ending with "Must finish now, love, my ribs are on the stove", which left me with an odd image!:)

I wish my own children could have met her. I am really enjoying creating these new art quilts as a little tribute to her.

Work in progress....

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Wibbly Wobbly Houses

On Monday I helped to take down the TenPlus Textiles exhibition (www.tenplustextiles.com) at Salford Art Gallery. The exhibition had gone very well with lots of visitors, positive feedback and sales. I was really pleased to find that I had sold 2 pieces.

This piece, called "Fairy Glen" is one that sold. The fabric is painted and printed with newspaper, the cottages and rocks are appliqued and all the detail is added by machine and hand stitching. I don't know who the buyer is, but I hope the picture brings them lots of joy!

I now have to busy myself making new pieces for our group exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching shows in the Autumn. I am developing the idea of cottages where fairies might live and continuing to use text. I have introduced lots of curved lines and moved away from black and white, by using lots of colour.

This is a sneak preview of the first piece, which I have just finished. There are 2 more in the pipe-line. You can just see some written text on the houses, which comes from a letter that my Nan sent me over 20years ago. In the letter she talks about her love of the countryside and her wish to stay in a cottage, which she didn't really get the opportunity to do. I really wanted to incorporate the letter, so I used Photoshop to remove the lines from the paper it was written on, then printed it, painted it and reprinted it onto fabric. Tomorrow I'll show you a little more of the letter.

Tuesday 14 June 2011


I didn't set out to write a gardening blog, but I am having so much fun pottering around in the greenery, that I can't help but share! I finally got hold of some 6ft bamboo canes to support my beans and mangetout. I also put up a trellis on the shed for when the peas get a little bigger.

If you look carefully, you can just see some little red flowers appearing on the bean plants, or you would if I had focussed on them and not the pot in the distance!

The strawberries are also beginning to ripen, though something (and the dog) has been having a little nibble:(

I have been going a bit mad potting all the runners.

The lobelia are starting to flower.

The clematis too.

I wasn't in the garden ALL day- I also made a Christmas cake. I have to start early to get them all done as I make them for several family members. I don't have a photo to show as the cake is still in the oven. Trust me though- it smells amazing:)

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Cute Pics!

I have been so proud of my little dog this week.

 He is always full of mischief and gets very giddy and excited when he sees another dog, which can be difficult as he jumps like a kangeroo, yapping and fussing if he is on a lead or dashes like a speeding bullet at the other dog whether they like it or not. We have been working hard at extra training to make him more attentive to me and calmer around other dogs when we are out. He is doing so well, especially off lead- staying close, coming back when called and gazing up at me (or rather, the sausage in my hand) as he trots at my side!

We have just been playing in the garden and he didn't bat an eyelid at the thunder rumbling in the distance.

He likes showing off how good he can be!!

I thought you might like to see my fabulous, mad garden shoes (http://www.backdoorshoes.co.uk/) that my friend gave me for Christmas. They are so handy to slip on and they make me smile :D

Sunday 5 June 2011

Manchester Midnight Walk

I am taking part in the Manchester Midnight Walk on 25th June to help raise money for St Ann's Hospice

It is a 10km walk (I don't do running, so no races for me!)

The hospice does crucial work and it costs so much to run- all the donations make a huge impact.
I took part 2 years ago and it was a fun and life- affirming experience. The hardest part for me was staying up so late as I do love my bed and we didn't set off walking till midnight (obviously). However, there was lots of entertainment to keep us going till then, including Mr Motivator doing the warm-up!

I haven't exactly been in training, unless you include my daily dog walks, but this year, as well as friends I am taking my two teens to help me along:)

If you would like to make a donation to St Ann's Hospice, you can do this simply and securely through my "just giving" page www.justgiving.com/Michelle-Barnard/

Many thanks in anticipation. I'll take my camera on the night and keep you posted!

Thursday 2 June 2011

See How My Garden Grows

I promised photos of the garden, the sun shone, so here they are.

My little plot has expanded as I've planted several pots- cabbage, courgette, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and mangetout.

My "ingenious" system for encouraging the strawberry runners to take root!

The first tiny radish- it wasn't really quite ready to be pulled up, but my son thought it tasted better than supermarket radishes.

I need to pick your brains again on this one. I think it is pretty and I love the unusual leaves. It cost me 50p from the allotment plant sale. Can you tell me what it is?

Alfie enjoys checking out how much everything is growing. He usually likes to get a much closer view- from right in the middle of the bed, where he gets tangled in the netting!!