You might have noticed it's been a bit quiet here lately - a combination of a stressful time at work, problems with blogger and having been away in the Lake District on a North West CQ group retreat.
At my lowest ebb I happened to see a notice about a last minute place on the retreat at Glenthorne Quaker Guest House becoming available - only 5 days notice but enough time grab the opportunity and sort out train times. A few days of sewing, painting and walking in beautiful scenery in stimulating company was just what I needed
Most people brought their sewing machines but luckily I didn't have to lug mine on the train as I had a couple of pieces at the tweaking stage ready for hand stitching (left hand side on wall and rail). I also brought my watercolours including the handmade set of pigments I received on the Pip Seymour FSC course - just the gritty textures to capture the colours of the fells.
We settled into a routine of working in the classroom from 9 until 1 then group walks were available in the afternoon, returning for tea and cakes! The weather wasn't brilliant but it stopped raining long enough on Tuesday to venture out to Easdale Tarn - not so lucky on Wednesday when a walk around the lake was a washout!!(good use was made of the drying room for soggy waterproofs and boots)
In the evenings there were informal presentations by Judy on Faces of China - her Journal Quilts based on her travels along the Silk Road; Magie talked about bead making in Ghana(followed by interesting debate about Fairtrade accreditation ) and Gillian showed us lots of photos and some of fabrics she'd bought on a very recent trip to India. Then we'd be sewing away until 10.30 or later!!
There were also opportunities for a bit of retail therapy - Grasmere Gingerbread of course and sketchbooks from the Heaton Cooper Gallery ( had the patterns left by removal of ivy on the garage next door been left intentionally??)
The accommodation was homely but comfortable and the staff and other guests helpful and pleasant - a very restful break. It was great to concentrate on my own work while seeing what others were up to - plenty of help on offer if anyone ran into problems and a lot of laughter. Hope to return next year - we discussed how it wasn't always necessary to be learning new techniques or have the services of a tutor but appreciated the time to work on our own pieces in a supportive environment with like-minded people.
I'm flagging a bit after an afternoon of pinning bits of indigo fabric up on the design wall for a new sea piece; making minute adjustments to placement of fabrics on 'red stick' ; doing some work on online course I'm repeating with Elizabeth Barton on 'Working in Series' and sorting out stuff for going back to work tomorrow. So I'm setting myself up with a coloured khadi paper sketchbook and some threads to stitch in front of the TV this evening. It's a different rhythm than stitching fabric but just as addictive. I got into making marks as part of 'Grey Side of Life' Sketchbook Project, starting off with pen and ink ( white gel pen and grey dip pen above )
Then silver ink , pencil and stitch
Then ink copying stitch marks
This page showing the back of stitching vertical lines is my favourite!
I've signed up for Sketchbook Project 'Surface and Stitch ' so there will be more of this once I've replaced the horrid paper in the sketchbook.
A Conservation Biotechnologist by profession, in my 'playtime' I create art textiles inspired by the natural world. I am currently exploring ways of interpreting sketches directly onto fabric. Besides printing paintings and photos onto fabric using the computer, I am constructing densely quilted pieces overpainted with acrylic paint.