What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

A quick 10 minutes

...to tell you about what I finished on Friday. This knitting needle roll which I started about, hmm I can't actually remember now I come to think of it, but a couple of months ago anyway. I started it before I got a sewing machine so it's all hand sewn, except sewing the three layers together round the edge which I did at my class.

The hand sewing of the blocks wasn't actually that slow, the thing that took ages was the sewing of all the compartments for the needles to be held in , which you can get an idea of below. I also procrastinated because it was rather tedious.

All in all though, I'm very pleased with and and have designed another one which will be all machine made which I am hoping to make to sell on Etsy or Folksy. The thing I'm really interested in, as I think I've said somewhere before, is using really modern fabrics with traditional techniques. Ok so this fabric isn't particularly modern, but it is all done by hand. I think the ones I hope to produce will be in much more modern fabrics but I don't think I'll be able to use traditional quilt blocks due to the necessity of sewing it all on machine. A little too complicated to explain all the logistics so you'll have to take my word for it :)

Here's something else I did on Friday. I wanted to write this post on Friday evening but I haven't had time til now, early Monday afternoon! Its been another busy weekend! Anyway, this was meant to be my replacement baby quilt as I decided to keep the other one, which incidentally I'm hoping to machine quilt on Wednesday at a friend's house as I don't yet have a walking foot. But the fabrics are anything but babyish, so it looks like an "adult content" quilt in a baby size.

My husband said it could be a sleeping bag for his foot, and then proceeded to model it for me, as a blanket thats too small for an adult but pretty random for a baby!

I'm now having a third attempt with more child friendly fabric!

We had a busy Saturday helping some friends who are going to Nigeria on mission work prepare some things for Sunday school lessons they will be doing there. It was really lovely to be able to help in a small way. It mostly involved colouring in, cutting out and stapling things together. In the late afternoon we went to Kenfig Nature Reserve which was absolutely stunning. Loads of dunes and marshy areas, late afternoon sun plus several very grey clouds and some spitting rain. We didn't see many birds around apart from a female Bullfinch from a distance, but there were lots of dive bombing Meadow Pipets and some beautiful Stonechats, neither of which we've seen before. We also had the excitement of seeing two Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other around the tops of the trees yesterday in Roath Park Woodland. Here's a photo stolen from my husband.

Well thanks for your patience if you've got ot the end of this mammoth post. I hope I've made someone smile. Love Sam x

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Progress and ssergorP

Just a short post today to give an update on my painting progress. I'm curently working on four small bird paintings, two I'm more pleased with than the other two. Its funny because even though I haven't painted in about four years, as I've got back into it the old things I used to like and dislike have come flooding back. For example I always used to paint portraits and make the backgrounds very flat, usually one colour or perhaps a couple of subtle similar shades fading into each other. Even though the current paintings are kind of to get back into it, I didn't think properly about what I wanted to do in the backgrounds as the birds are against various backgrounds in the photos I'm using. I realised I needed to properly think about this as in the two first paintings I actually did some kind of background detail which I wasn't happy with, but with the later two I decided to use flat colour with just a very subtle amount of gradient, mostly around the subject to create a bit of an illusion of three dimension, but as I said, very subtle. I find I am still very much in favour of painting subtle and plain backgrounds to give the subject all the attention and to create some kind of atmosphere through the unrealism of it.
Here are the two I'm more pleased with after their first coat stage.

And as for the backwards progress, I went to our little craft group lastnight where my friend Sally had made the most lovely quilt, her first one (and I forgot to take my camera so will have to try and get a shot of it next time) and I had planned to make some real progress on my MIL's socks... I'd done seven rounds after picking up the stitches down the sides of the heel and then realised I had one two many stitches on one side. I knew they had been right in the rifst place so ended spending the whole evening unknitting my sock. Grrrr I need them finished soon :( I hope to finish at least one WIP by the end of next week.

Goodbye xxx

Monday, 23 March 2009

Last few days

Well I've had a pretty busy weekend, but its not been particularly creative. We had some dear friends for tea on Friday evening and I baked a Clementine Pudding Cake and I used a lovely cut glass cake stand that I haven't used before which was a wedding present (we got married nearly two years ago!)

It seemed to go down well and was good with Creme Fraiche! Ohh I also meant to post a photo of these fantastic books a while ago - I remembered becuase one of the friends who came gave them to me. They are the Vogue Sewing Book from 1964 and Good Housekeeping Sewing Crafts from 1979. Very exciting, especially since not much seems to have changed, apart from sewing machine technology, since they came out. Sewing Crafts is all hand sewing anyway, but the Vogue book will be excellent for when I make a dress for which I've had fabric sitting around for a while now. Hopeing to get that done before a wedding in May but don't know if it'll happen. I was also hoping to knit a cardigan to go with it...

I've done another little drawing of a Female Chaffinch

And turned our dining "area" into a makeshift painting studio

Loads of great natural light from the bay window. So I've done a base coat for these little Robins and was planning to get on with them today but, being a Monday, I've had loads of "stuff" to do and haven't felt in the right mood to carry on with them, though I've been really inspired by reading some blogs, especially Pretty Ditty's. I love her little painted peg dolls, and I also love the way she talked about God in her last post. I'm a very strong believer in God and the Bible but for some reason it can be hard to talk about it openly here in Britain because so many people are opposed to God and religion. I guess America's a much more Christian country, but thanks Pretty Ditty. I should just look at it that this is my blog and should reflect my true personality, of which God is a huge part.
If you want to now more about what I believe, have a look here.
Well there's not that much of the afternoon left so I may crack on with my knitting needle roll or do another birdie drawing.
Have a most wonderful day xxx

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Some Little Birdies

I've been sketching a little yesterday and today, some birds in preparation for starting to paint. Here's what I've produced so far.

Female Chaffinch with a sunflower seed in her beak


Male Chaffinch

I've made them a bit darker in photoshop so you can see them better. I'm really looking forward to getting into this project. I've also primed my boards for painting today. They're a mixture of sizes but all quite small, smaller than A4, which will be good for me as I usually paint on a large scale. Its reallt been interesting doing these drawings as its really made me look in detail at the, construction, if you like, of the bird, particularly the way the feathers are laid one on top of the other on the wings. You can see that in the Robin.

I went to the National Museum and Art Gallery in town today but it wasn't very impressive really. There were only two painting areas open and the rest was all being changed around so I'll have to go back another time. Going to a clothes swap tonight with some friends from church which should be fun. I'm hoping to find some nice stuff as being... ahem..."independent means" means I can't really buy any clothes.

Have a fun evening whatever you're doing, if anyone's there x

Monday, 16 March 2009

...and Mondays

I find Mondays generally quite annoying because I have all my plans for the new week but I have to go to big tesco to get food for the week (which is preferable to walking up the road to local tesco every day), which means I have to plan what to have for tea every night before I go. So by lunchtime I'd planned our food, been to tesco, put the food away, made soup for my lunch for the week, done the washing up... ok it doesn't sound like loads now but it felt like it at the time! The soup was pretty random today. I had a load of new potatos left from last week and some sweet potatos and cabbage so I make potato, sweet potato, cabbage and carrot soup with of course plenty of onion and garlic and a chilli added as I had some spare. Now I have soup for lunch for five days. Oh and of course it has to be eaten with a couple of slices of fresh granary loaf with primula cheese spread. Mmmm...

This afternoon I went on a bit of a mission to Inkspot, a great art and crafts centre on Newport Road in Cardiff. Well that was after going through my old collection of oil paints...

I actually have quite a lots more than this but they're in huge tubes in boxes. I also checked out my collection of paintbrushes and decided I should probably get at least a new detail brush and maybe one other. Anyway, I ended up buying a pack of five paintbrushes! Absolutely ridiculous but at the same time quite necessary really. I also bought some acrylic primer. Priming was always a favourite part of producing paintings. The pristeneness of the canvas once prepared for painting is awesome. It holds so much potential - the thought of producing a masterpiece, the thought of it all going wrong, the excitement of placing beautiful colours together and the feeling of blending and working the paint. I'm making it come alive for myself just writing this. I always hated gesso primer though. Because I like to blend blend blend my paint to produce a smooth finish, I hate the chalkiness of gesso which makes it much harder to achieve the effect I want. Acrylic primer is just nice and smooth.
On the way to my next stop at a sewing shop I stopped at the library and, wanting to refresh my memory a little on paint additives and oils etc, picked up "The Artist's Handbook" by Pip Seymour. I was thinking about his name because I was sure it sounded familiar, and realised he used to come to my uni to sell oil paints and I still have loads I bought from him. I think the company is called Ashby. Thought that was quite cool, and it looks like an excellent book. I also got "The Quilters Block Bible" and "The Compendium of Quilting Techniques" as I still need to plan my next quilting project (as well as finish two others!).
The other week I gave a lovely lady at my patchwork and quilting class one of those mini stitch sewing machines. My MIL had given it to me several years ago but since she has upgraded it with a proper sewing machine (!) I had no use for it. I knew this lady did a lot of sewing with her granddaughter so thought it would be ideal for her so gave it to Jenny (the lady) and said she absolutely mustn't give me anything for it, as it really wasn't worth it and I never did and never would use it. So she bought me a gift voucher for a sewing shop, Crafty Sew and Sew, so I went there next and bought some embroidery canvas and thread which I've been wanting to get for ages. The threads were only 50p each so probably not the best quality, but if you've never done embroidery before I can't imagine it'll matter.

That little card is the gift voucher which is a sweet little pattern for a cross stitch which is on the reverse.
Anyway, when I finally got home, after spontaneously meeting a friend for a frap and having a tour of the newly refurbished library and fitness centre complex at the end of our road, I came home and primed a piece of rather textured cartridge paper and I'm hoping to be doing some more priming tonight as Marno is bringing me some mdf home from work and a lovely piece of white acrylic to use as a pallette. How exciting! I really need to finish knitting my MIL's socks...


Wow, what a weekend. It feels like we've crammed so much in. We went for an all you can eat chinese on Friday night in Cardiff Bay, followed by cinema - we watched Marley and Me and I can highly recommend it. It was really lovely, not crude, and a sweet but also believable story.
Went to Cosmeston Lakes on Saturday morning... well actually from about 10am til 2pm so a bit longer than just the morning. Goodness, trying to sketch birds is pretty much impossible! There's a nice picnic table situated in a little clearing bit where there are loads of birdies and if you put seed down they'll come and get it although some are pretty timid. Oh and there are fat pie squirrels too who also like some seeds! But when you're trying to sketch you realise that they never actually sit still, so I kind of gave up and let Marno carry on taking photos. I usually paint from photos anyway so not too bothered. We saw a few new species (for us) - Reed Buntings, Great Crested Grebes, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfares, as well as lots of little long tailed tits, a goldfinch, chaffinches, lots of robins and blue and great tits and many more. We're not so interested in the ducks it has to be said.
On Saturday evening we went into Bristol to a very old friend's birthday party. I hadn't seen her since my wedding two years ago, and also a few of my other old school friends. It was so lovely to see them. One of my friends was freaking out about the fact that three of us have known each other for 20 years, which is quite a long time when you're only 27!

After going to the meeting on Sunday morning (our church - we're Christadelphians), we went for a little walk in the park by our house and straight away saw a goldcrest, which is Britain's tiniest bird, really high up in a tree. Marno bought me binoculars the other week as a present, and they've been brilliant. I don't really care what people think about us liking watching birds, like if they think its a bit geeky, because they are the ones missing out. Ok its not everyone's cup of tea but it really is fascinating. I love walking too so it adds interest to walks. We also saw some grenfinch, a treecreeper, which I had seen the other day and I think Marno was a bit dubious as to whether I had actually seen it, so I was glad it was there again! There were some Jays having a shouting match with a cat, and lots of naturey things going on.

(Goldfinch in Roath Mill Gardens)

Ohh and to finish off we had a mocha frap in Starbucks! Yum :)
I would put more bird photos up but they're my husbands and I want to concentrate on the painting side as I'm not really interested in photography, though I have tried to force myself into it several times during my art education! So my birds will be purely paintings.
Felt a bit down about various things on Sunday night. Its funny because I'm doing so many exciting things at the moment and I really feel as if I'm starting to realise what I want to do, but other things going on at the same time are there in the background. Anyway, thats enough of that. Everything will be ok.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Really old, old, less old and new...

Since I'm not going to have much finished new work to show for a bit, I thought I'd post some old work to inspire myself. This drawing of a buzzard I did when I was 14 and I guess is a link to what I want to do now, though a very old link!

We're going to Cosmeston Lakes tomorrow and I'm planning on taking my sketchbook to draw some birdies. My husband has got really into birds which is great for me because I love walking but he's not so keen, but now he wants to watch birds he wants to go on walks all the time, which is great! So I've started to become really interested too and have always been more interested in figurative work than abstract, so birdies seem to be an ideal starting point for some new work.

The following two paintings I did in my second year of uni. I always painted people, I am so fascinated by people. I love just looking at them and studying their features. People are so interesting. This is a painting of my old housemate Ellie which is on our living room wall.

I reckon she'd be quite surprised to know that I've still got it up. I think its my favourite painting.
This one I did for a competition for marine painting. The first landscape I'd ever painted so again I was quite pleased with it.

And this one I actually did after uni, I think in December 2004. Its of my friend Ruth, painted from a photo I adapted in photoshop, hence the strange blue aura. I won't point out all the bad bits though!

And my latest finished bit of creativity. My cardigan which is Kim Hargreaves Cate cardigan. I haven't worked out how to link to web pages yet so sorry, no link to that, but heres a photo of my finished project and more photos on Ravelry.

I think if you're creative you can adapt to lots of different creative things and knitting has really fulfilled my need to be creative, has led me to the blogs of some amazingly talented people and has brought me back round to the idea of painting and drawing again which is so exciting.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Too many ideas...

I've been finding I'm having so many ideas for a new project, so many media to use, like drawing, painting, textile printing, knitting, sewing... that I need to properly concentrate on it and plan it out. I've decided to finish the two patchwork projects I'm working on as one of them is dragging a bit anyway, so I can properly concentrate on my new ideas.
I just bought Country Living magazine which I kind of discovered last month. My mum always used to get it but that was in the days before I liked the things I now like, and I didn't appreciate how lovely it is. I've been trying to find a magazine that isn't full of sex and unpleasantness, but full of nice things that make me smile :) This issue has a really sweet article on how to make little easter eggs with children and one of the ideas was to cover them with used stamps before varnishing. Really effective. Anyway, I'm trying to save the issue so just had a quick look whilst having my lunch. There's a really good offer actually, to buy a book on sustainable living which is usually £25 for just the cost of postage. I'm really thinking more about sustainability at the moment. I'd love to grow my own vegetables but we don't have a garden so that will have to wait. We don't really have anywhere inside to put them either. I have a coriander on the windowsill which lives through peaks and troughs of existence (mostly troughs!) and my husband has some house plants from Ikea which we bought nearly five years ago, which are flourishing and getting huge. Good job we have three metre high ceilings!
I'm debating on going to buy some muslin or linen this afternoon to have a go at embroidery, which will be a part of this big project... but I shouldn't and I've already said I'm not going to start it yet, though I will be doing some drawing on Saturday morning as we're going to some lakes and the subject of my ideas will hopefully be rife there.
Ok, time to get on with some work. Byeee x

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Patchwork and Current Projects

I started going to a patchwork and quilting class back in October which is when I left my job. I've really taken to it and I'm particularly interested in using traditional techniques with modern fabrics to create a juxtaposition, though I think that's something I'll come to as I've only really done three patchwork projects so far, only one of which is finished!
The first project was these cushion covers which I made to go on our new brown sofa. The room is painted a lush yellow with brown alcoves, kind of Africany feeling, with lots of wood as my husband built a mezzanine, so I used Autumny colours, most uncharacteristically of me as my favourite colours are blues and turquoises. But I was so pleased with how they turned out for my first ever attempt.

Then I made this...

..which is actually still in progress but I have plans to develop it so keeping quiet about it for now.

This is a patchwork project I started for a craft group a few of us have set up. All the fabrics are from my mum's old stash from the boxes and patchworks she's made so it's a bit sentimental. That is unfortunate since the idea was for it to be sent somewhere, like an orphanage a couple of our friends are going to in April, but I may have to make another one as I feel a little tied to this... oh dear

And current knitting is just this pair of socks for my MIL. She liked the first pair i knitted so much that she bought me yarn to make her some. They're just a simple top down pattern and I'm not sure about the pattern the yarn's making; its a lot less creamy than I expected, so hopefully she'll like them.

I guess I've posted rather a lot on my first Blog-day. I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while and all these things have been accumulating. Theres still a bit more but I'll leave that for another time. Now its time for lunch and then some work this afternoon.

Bye x


Since I started knitting I basically discovered blogging and have got so much inspiration from other people. Something that's important to me is getting comments from other creative people, as not being in an environment where you are constantly evaluating your work and getting feedback from others means you can sometimes get stuck in a rut or maybe not see other options or routes. I'm very blessed to have a rather creative family though - my husband is a product designer, MIL is a kind of interior designer (as in she doesn't do it for a job any more) and she is always making things, sewing, patchwork and generally beautiful things. Actually she sent me this beautiful box of fabric last week; here are the contents on my dining table.

Loads of little pre cut cotton squares for patchwork, and some heart coasters and little drawstring bags full of mini eggs and marshmallow bunnies for Easter. She is lovely :)
My mum is really creative too. When I was little she was always doing cross stitch or patchwork. She loved these American Leisure Arts counted cross stitch of Victorian scenes of dressing rooms with dresses hanging from a wardrobe with a Singer sewing machine, or French doors leading outside. I didn't realise quite how many she'd done but the other week I went home and she had a load of them rolled up that I could hardly remember seeing. She also did loads of samplers with little trees and birdies and things - really sweet. As well, she made these little Victorian sewing boxes called Etui's. They have a lid which holds everything together but when you take it off the four sides fall down and they are padded for keeping pins and needles in with an extra section inside for a reel of cotton. Very cool and very clever!

Rediscovering Creativity

Although I have a degree in Fine Art, I think the pressure to produce a load of paintings for my degree show took its toll on my love of painting and drawing and I purposefully distanced myself from doing anything art related for a long while. After a few years (!) had passed, I really felt the need to do something creative again and decided out of the blue to take up knitting, because it was creative, non smelly (unlike oil painting) and didn't take up loads of space. I bought the book, "Knitting for Dummies", and began producing lots and lots of little samples...

I'm rather a perfectionist and although I had great knitting ambitions, I didn't want to start something big without knowing how to tackle it properly. I churned these out for several months, mostly in the evenings as I was working at the time, and finally I felt I was able to make a "thing", which was this heart from the book "Vintage Hearts and Flowers" by Kate Haxell.

Since then I guess I've come on in leaps and bounds. I mean I'm not that advanced technique wise, and my next big knitting project will hopefully be a baby jumper knitted in the round, but I've gone from just over a year ago making little squares to making beanie hats, socks on dpns and a lovely cable cardigan which are all on Ravelry, though I may post some photos of them here at some point.