Tuesday, April 24, 2007


That was lovely! Northern ireland is so beautiful and everything went so well. Another day would have been ideal but we were lucky getting the time we did. I didn't think to take a picture of the outside of the hotel but I've pinched one from somewhere else

It was lovely, the staff were friendly and efficient, the room was nice, the bed was huge! This was the view from our room

On the first night Mr Cledry treated me to the best dinner I've ever eaten, truly delicious and not to be forgotten. Then we sat in the bar, where there was a roaring log fire.

Next day it was off to the Giants Causeway. Luckily there's a shuttle bus that takes you down to the stones or I wouldn't have been able to make it. I pootled about round the edge and Mr Cledry scampered about the stones like a 12 year old - belying his 50 years - lol. Thank goodness for the zoom on my camera as I was able to get some nice shots of him. Here he is looking somewhat bemused (I was so far away he wasn't sure if I was taking a photo or just spying on him!)

Next it was off to Bushmills distillery. You could smell it from as far away as the car park - gorgeous! It was an interesting tour but I just wanted to get to the bit at the end where you get a drink. The tour guide asked for 2 volunteers at the end to do a tasting and as 90% of the people doing the tour weren't from the UK they had to take a minute to work out what he was asking for - by which time I'd put my hand up and volunteered! I got to taste 5 different types and got a healthy shot of 12 yr old single malt at the end. Oh, that was awfully hard work - lol! We treated ourselves to a bottle of that to take home - strictly for very special occasions.

We drove back to the hotel the long way ( enabling me to have a quick doze behind my sunglasses to sleep off the whiskey) and found a little pub a few hundred yards from the hotel where we had a really nice and very reasonably priced pub meal. Then it was back to the hotel for a quick whiskey in the bar and then bath and bed. Next morning we enjoyed the sumptuous Irish breakfast in the lovely dining room overlooking a beautiful walled garden and, with slightly heavy heart, checked out. We were both quite sad to be leaving but it's always good to leave somewhere wanting more of it. The last time we felt like that was when we went to Skye. We were crying as we packed the car and the kids kept asking us what was wrong! Silly sods.

Anyway - we live in such a beautiful place that sometimes it's hard not to feel a little disappointed with other places but Northern Ireland truly didn't let us down. It's a stunning place and we would definitely love to go back someday. Now it's nose to the felting grindstone as it's only 3 weeks till Wonderwool - eek!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Off to Co Antrim

So excited I could pee! We're off in an hour. I'm just trying to pass the time while Mr Cledry feeds goats, chickens, pigs, geese etc and milks the goat (poor him - I really wish I could help). We'll be back on Friday - hopefully rested, refreshed and with a suitcase full of Bushmills whisky! In the meantime I'll leave you with a couple of pics of my first attempt at nuno felting.



I like it. I'd pick a more open weave silk next time I think. I used habotai which I space dyed first and it's a very fine weave. Took bleedin' ages and hasn't stuck down everywhere. When I've got time I'll embellish it with some hand sewing and maybe some beads. I've got some nice silk thread that I spun and dyed so maybe I'll use that. I have no idea what to do with it when it's done. It's too short for a scarf, maybe I'll get over my fear of art for arts sake and hang it on the wall!

Anyway, Northern Ireland beckons - just got to see if they'll let me take my Rescue Remedy on the plane with me or whether it constitutes a terrorist threat - lol. Bye!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cornish Talent

The marketing course I've just finished was populated by a wide variety of people. There were only about 16 of us but we ranged from Visual artists to musicians to silversmiths. I thought I'd just do a quick post with links to the people who have sites or some kind of web presence so you can get a taste of the kind of talent we have down here.

Abigail Brown - Silversmith

Paula Downing - Fired Forms - Ceramicist

Alexander Kennedy from Wai Yuk Textile Jewellery

Tanya Leech - Handmade Curtains & Soft Furnishings

Tamara Mazurenko - Visual Artist

Julie Murdoch-George - Ceramicist

Michaela Placzek - Jewellery/visual artist

Amanda Richardson - Textile artist

Feast your eys on that lot :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

That was Easter, that was

Was it good for you? It was extraordinarily relaxed here. Lots of days in the garden with added alcohol and, of course, chocolate! Bit of a win win win really. My youngest can only eat white chocolate (made himself sick on normal chocolate once and has never recovered - definitely a touch of the Isadora Duncan's about him) so it was a bit of a struggle to find him anything he would eat in place of an Easter egg. Good old Sainsburies came to the rescue and I found him this

Isn't it cute? There were lots of protestations about how it was too cute to eat before he bit it's face off ! My husband got a really fabby chicken that My mum bought in Lidls for a couple of quid. It had a chocloate hen, sitting on chocolate eggs on a chocolate basket - he definitely came up trumps on the chocolate stakes. I ate the ones that my youngest couldn't so I can't complain - lol.

On the felt front it's all a bit of a panic. Only just over 4 weeks till Wonderwool and I'm not even really sure what it is I sell! I'll definitely get some rovings done for the spinners who'll be shopping/exhibiting there but I've realised that it's felt I want to make. The spinning is more of a hobby and something I think I'll do for the family. With so many designer/handspun looking yarns being churned out by machines I just don't think there's any way hand spinners can compete. It's a labour of love not profit and I don't have enough energy to expend on labours of love unfortunately. I might still treat myself to a new wheel at Woolfest, just as a treat for myself and not for business. I have a yearning for a folding wheel but they don't take jumbo flyers. I do like to spin a great long length - fiddling about with standard bobbins sends me a little nuts. I've got a while to think about that though :)

I felted a bag yesterday that I really like. I like it so much I want to keep it for me! I don't actually own anything I've made and that's something I intend to rectify very soon. We're going to a wedding on the Isles of Scilly in May so I'll make myself a bag for that. This one has to be sold.

Actually the photo doesn't do it justice (as usual) It's really deep purple with free machine embroidered spirals all over it and olive green side panels. I'll put it on the site but I think this one will sell when someone see's it in the flesh - I think a lot of the stuff I make is like that - has to be seen in the flesh to really appreciate it. That's if it doesn't find itself living in my wardrobe of course!
I'll try to get another post in before next week but for my husbands birthday present I'm taking him to see The Giants Causeway in Ireland. Neither of us has been and we both really want to see it so we're both a bit over excited. We're only going for 2 nights as that's all I could fit on the credit card and the lovely next door neighbours are farm sitting for us. Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mug cosies, confessions and people who know better than you

Well, I think it's time I made a confession about my lack of blogging activity over the last few months. All the reasons I cited are valid but the nitty gritty fact is that I had something nasty happen to me that kind of put me off having a full on web presence. I fell out with someone quite close to me and instead of talking about it face to face she concocted a pretty vicious story which has meant that it's likely that we'll lose our home. It should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain cell that the story couldn't be true, and when we showed it to our solicitor he laughed but she somehow managed to get someone who matters to believe it. At the end of the day it's her karma and deep down I know me and mine will always be ok but we really don't want to lose the smallholding. I knew she was reading this blog because I could see her IP address and that put me off writing anything but the most mundane stuff. So, now I've explained that let's shove it behind us and get on :) They say the best revenge is to live well and I totally agree.

Sunday was my husband's 50th Birthday. Having spent the last year bemoaning the fact he managed to have a splendid time. We had an array of friends and family around to help him celebrate and ended the evening with a bonfire and some fireworks which were generously donated by our fantastic new next door neighbours. He had 50 candles on his cake and a friend of ours who plays the bagpipes played beautifully as I stumbled up the field ( I fell down the stairs on Tuesday morning and mashed up my ankle - rolls eyes at stupid self) to present it to him. All was going well until the cake was cut and handed back to me and I managed to drop the lot! Silly cow. Never mind, people just ate it off the ground - lol!

Three of our friends are in a band called Bagas Degol and they came and played for us and kept everyone entertained for hours. They really were the icing on the cake (the one that didn't get dropped) and we're so grateful to them for coming. I got a couple of pictures but the camera seems to have been as drunk as I was as they all came out blurred!

The second one is blurry because everyone was dancing so fast - honest :D

It was a lovely day and hopefully everyone who came had a good time.

Lots of people were asking how the business is going and I found it quite hard to explain. I look back over the last year and I've learned to spin, learned to make felt, learned to make myself a website and publish it, learned all sorts of other associated things - all whilst living with an illness that can pole-axe me and send me to bed for a week at the drop of a hat. I want to be absolutely sure that I can handle it before I 'launch' it properly and then find out I'm right back at square one. When you try to explain to people that you need to take it slowly you can see them thinking 'Yeah, right. What she really means is she can't sell it because it's shite'. In actual fact I've had such a positive response to my work when I've been brave enought to take it out somewhere that it kind of scares me. I started this business through a combination of boredom and bloody mindedness. My consultant told me that I'm nowhere near well enough to start a business so I did it to prove him wrong., There are times when it's all grinding to a halt that I have to admit he was probably right. My illness should have nothing to do with my business and what I fear is having more work than I can handle and subsequently letting people down. So, despite the people looking askance and thinking 'This woman hasn't got a clue' I'm treading exceptionally carefully in regards to where I sell, how much I can realistically produce etc until life is on a more stable footing. There will always be people who think they know more about your business than you do so I'm going to learn to nod and smile graciously and say 'Thank you'.

I'm doing a really interesting Marketing course which (despite my initial reservations) is proving to be really useful. In one way it's reassuring as it's reinforcing that I'm doing the right thing and in other ways it's opening up different avenues for me. I'm hoping to be much more confident writing/speaking about my work by the end of the course and then I can get on with some press releases and maybe entice a couple of mags to come and do a feature on what life is like as a craftsperson on a Cornish smallholding. The foundations of the business and my business practice are all there and they're nice and solid, I just have to be sure I don't try to run beforeI can walk (quite literally - lol)

Speaking of business, I got some feedback from the Marketing course that people really loved the tea cosies but don't use teapots. Someone suggested mug cosies so I bought some nice, plain whiteware mugs and had a go. This is what the 1st small batch came out like

They'll be on the site very soon but I'm particularly looking forward to selling them at fairs. I like them and I'm grateful to Ross for suggesting them - thanks Ross :)

I'm still enjoying doing the functional stuff but I really yearn to do something beautiful just for the sake of it. As you know I've struggled with this aspect of creativity for a while - hence my anti art-textiles rant last year but I have to concede that I really do love experimenting with techniques and materials just for the sake of it. I loved making that bowl and would love to make more, bigger ones. I've decided to keep on with the functional felt for a while to get settled and then see if there's room to expand into more fine art type stuff later on.

I've agreed to sell spinning tools for a a lovely craftsman called David Goddard. His stuff is lovely, hand carved/turned nostepinnes, spindles and various other spinning knick knacks. I'm looking forward to using his beautiful drop spndles in a spinning kit. They'll all be on the site later this month and I'll be talking them with me to Wonderwool and Woolfest. I know you'll love them as much as I do. Here's a nostepinne in action

So, I guess that's enough for the time being - lol. Hopefully I'll be able to get over the nasty taste left by last year's shenanigans and blog a bit more frequently.


The Spinning Wheel
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