Friday, 24 September 2010

These Boots Are Made For Walking

.... and that's just what they'll do!

Or, at least, they will if John and I successfully train enough. What for? Well you might ask!
Let me explain! I belong to All Saints church in Edmonton, North London. Yes, I realise we live in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire but we've only lived here around 8 years; for 23 years before that we lived in Edmonton. Despite moving, I still attend my old church which only takes 20 minutes to get to by car.

Anyhow ..... my John doesn't attend my church, but last year he did come with me on a Pilgrimmage walk between All Saints Church and St Pauls in London, a distance of about 12 miles, that was walked by some of the congregation. During that walk, my vicar, Father Stuart, got into conversation with John and I'm sure John told him that he likes walking.

Stuart mentioned that he was hoping to have a special Pilgrimmage walk in 2011 as part of All Saints' 875th Anniversary. His idea is to walk between All Saints and Saffron Walden. It was a group of monks from the monastery at Saffron Walden that founded All Saints, hence why he was thinking of walking there. However, this is a distance of 42 miles! Father Stuart, who is also a keen walker, recently did the walk and it took him 14 hours.

Well ....... John said to me that he is still up for doing it ....... and so I guess that means I'll be doing it as well!

Last Saturday was our first training walk. We thought we'd walk out for an hour and then come back and see how we got on. In the end, we were out for about 2.25 hours and we covered 7 miles. I haven't worn my walking boots for a long time ...... so a couple of large blisters under both heels ..... and a few aches on my thighs ..... but not too bad otherwise!

I might add, I do use an exercise bike five times a week for 30 minutes each session but walking actually uses other muscles! Still ..... think we might be able to do it. Mind you, I think it will be my knees that will suffer ..... so losing a bit (lot!) of weight will also have to fit in somewhere :)

Tomorrow we are aiming to walk to Ware (about 10 miles) and then get the train back home. I'll report back on how we get on :)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

WWII Propaganda Fabric

Here is a photo of my John's Mum taken when she was around 18-20 years old. At the time, she was still Rose Mary Vinall as she was unmarried and, in fact, involved in war work making shells. It was taken around 1941-43 in the thick of WWII.

Nevertheless, it is a lovely photo of her and we always thought that the print on her dress was birds. However, have a close look! They are not birds but airplanes! She's literally wearing her patriotism! I have managed to even find a book called Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain and the United States 1931-1945 so there must have been lots of different propaganda fabrics produced.

Wouldn't it be great if someone somewhere has some of that fabric!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Learning the Art of Embroidery

The most inspirational blog I have found on Needlework is Mary Corbet's Needle 'n' Thread. This is a phenomenal site with fantastic video tutorials showing how to stitch lots of different embroidery stitches. Mary also shows the progress of many different projects she has worked on over the years and her work is stunning! The first time I found the site, I think I spent almost a week just looking round it.

As I have read round her site, I've realised that, although I have being sewing for a long time I know very little about fabrics and threads or about many other of the 'building blocks' of embroidery. I have just bought kits, accepted what is within them and done them! Without even really registering what type of fabric, thread or needle I have used!

However, I have been learning! Haven't yet branched out mind you! Still, one of Mary's posts in August was describing how a type of thread, Coton a Broder #12, was becoming hard to find. This thread looked really soft and luscious ...... and I realised that I recognised it! Wasn't it in this following object?

OK ..... doesn't look much like this. However, in a rolled up state is how my needle case spends most of its life, until I open it up to get at my needles :)

Even unrolled it perhaps doesn't look much. However, I did this when I was about six years old at primary school and I can still remember how proud I felt that I had actually made something!
The material is binca and the embroidery thread looks pretty much like the Coton a Broder that Mary described in her post. It is quite thick, being 2mm thick and it is very soft.

I still recall how intensely I tried my hardest to make all the stitches as even as possible. It is perhaps looking a little tatty now, but I wouldn't throw it away for anything.
I think it is so important that all children get the opportunity to do creative things at school. However, do they nowadays? Between 1995 and 2005, I worked as an assistant in the primary school where my son attended. Over that time, I saw the time allocated to creative work being squeezed and squeezed by the demands of the 'academic' curriculum. When he first went there himself there was a strong tradition of sewing and other crafts, for both boys and girls, but there was little going on by the time I left.

Lots of children may not necessarily be academically inclined but they can shine when doing craft and other creative activities. But do they get the opportunity to do so?

Perhaps I'd better put the soap-box away now :)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Great Dorset Steam Fair

The main reason we had a long weekend break was so we could go to the Great Dorset Steam Fair. This really is a 'Great' event and if you have never been and get the chance to go, then you really must!!

It's not just for anorak types that like steam engines, believe me :)

It has just about anything and everything involved with rural life and by-gone times. The above photo shows one of the main lines of steam engines, many of which are used to power the fun-fair rides.

A crafty photo that John took! The chaps (and it is mostly chaps ...... although I did spot one or two ladies in oily overalls) who have renovated their steam engines and lovingly look after them are amazing people! Next to the engines, many of them have photos and information about how they went about transforming their engine from a derelict item to the wonderful engine on display. Possibly they might be considered eccentric! However, I like to think that eccentricity is a great British tradition and, in any case, although I know nothing about engineering, I greatly admire what they have managed to do.

There are lots of other things on display at the fair: old vintage cars, restored military vehicles, collections of all sorts of things. There's a craft marquee and a food marquee. Also, several marquees with different types of live music. Not forgetting real ale!

The Fair is always on from Wednesday to Sunday following the August Bank Holiday but Saturday is the day I always like as there are lots of horse events in one of the arenas.

I just love seeing all the beautiful horses.

Not forgetting the fun fair which looks brilliant at night-time. I just love this photo that John took, deliberately contrasting the whir of the Galloper ride with the stillness of the couple that luckily stood still whilst he took the photo.

I've barely described a fraction of the things at the Fair. We had a great day. If you've never been but get a chance to do so ........ go!!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Stitching in Public Day - 3rd September 2010


Another website I found via the Needlework News at Craft Gossip is Mr X-Stitch. His blog definately shows that cross-stitchers are anything but the staid bodies people normally assume :)

One of his posts last week alerted me to the fact that Friday was Stitch In Public day. Since we were going to be away in Dorset for a long weekend, I thought I'd do my best to take part! So, here I am stitching at the Tropical Gardens in Abbotsbury, Dorset. The copy of The Times was supposed to prove it actually was taken on Friday 3rd, although you can't see the date so perhaps it doesn't prove anything :)

Just before visiting here, we visited the Abbotsbury Swannery and it did cross my mind to try stitching there. It might have looked good stitching with hundreds of swans in the background. However, it was far too windy (as I think my hair shows)! Stitching would have been impossible!

What am I stitching? Well, it is a little lavender sachet cross stitch kit that I bought at Norwich cathedral when we visited there on our anniversary last April. I like to have a small item in my bag for odd moments and the design appealed to me. I only started it the evening before.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Developing Activities for Alzheimers Sufferers

In my profile, I realise I have an almost throwaway comment on the end ...... 'trying to cope with a Dad who has Alzheimer's'.

Sounds such a simple phrase, but it encompasses much heart-ache that would take a book to describe and maybe I'll explore some things at another time......

However ...... one thing I am constantly looking out for are things to engage my Dad with. In the UK, there is a definite lack of products aimed at people with Alzheimer's, although in the States I have found a huge wealth of things. Nevertheless, the shipping and any extra import duties make this prohibitive.

Still ...... something caught my eye today....

I always look at the Needlework News at Craft Gossip as it is a fantastic source of interesting needlework blogs and websites. Yesterday they had a link to an intriguing looking site called LilyPond. On this site they have all sorts of resources for projects that combine electronics and textiles.

Some of their ideas are really exciting! It's made me wonder whether it's possible to develop interactive wall hangings and other objects that might appeal to people with Alzheimer's?
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