Friday, 11 December 2009

Where is the time going?

I am making the last of my Christmas cards and now I should be thinking of present shopping!!!
I have printed directly onto most of my cards this year saving a layer of paper and sticky. I have used Artylicious Season's Greetings CD and Elusive Images rubber stamps, embellishing where possible with glitter aand metallic card and tape.
The above is a one off and there's only DH to think of now.
I hope to post again before the festive season but just in case....
Merry Christmas to all. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Heavens to Burco

It's such a long time since I last posted and so many things have happened but I'm going to start with the last project!!
A friend from our Beds Weavers, Spinners and Dyers brought her Baby Burco to me a couple of weeks ago and we dyed some of the Shetland Fleece that members of the guild had been given.
I can't wear wool but decided recently that I really should weave a project in my own handspun. The Shetland fleece presented a great opportunity.
First I washed and rinsed the fleece, having picked off any dirty areas and short fibres (second cuts), then put some of it into the Burco with sufficient water to wet the fibre. Having decided on reds, oranges and yellow for the colour scheme, we mixed the acid dyes and poured them randomly on top of the fleece, put on the lid and 'cooked'. The above fibre was the result.
We think the sheep had been shorn a little late because there are short fibres at the cut end. These had to be flick carded out of each lock, before the colours could be blended on the carders, other wise the yarn would have more 'texture' than I wanted.
In the centre of the picture you can see a batt which is made up 2/3fibres from the right and 1/3 of the wine colour on the left. Below are the three skeins of yarn I have spun.

(I have only outlined the dyeing method used. This is not full instructions)

Monday, 5 October 2009

First Meeting

John, Michael, Rosemary (John's wife)
On the 24th September two of my cousins, brothers, met for the first ime in their lives!!! How strange that must have felt for both of them. Unfortunately, it was on the day of their father's funeral.
My Uncle had been estranged from his first family since WW2 and discouraged his third son, by a different partner, from meeting his brothers. His eldest sadly died some years ago. I had neen looking for cousins John and Michael for some years, mainly using the Stokton telephone directory because that is where they lived with thier mother when I last met them. I was only a small child at the time and my parents had taken our grandmother to spend some time with the family. They were boisterous boys and I took little interest at the time. My interest began when I started to trace my family history.
Last summer, with Uncle John being 95, I decided I must get as much information as possible about his wife and her family in Stockton. He told me the names of her parents and siblings and straight away I entered the information on Genes Reunited. Within 24 hours I had contact with my Aunt's neice who was able to give me an address for my cousin Michael and his daughter. I wrote to them and the very next week while visiting my homeland of Northumberland I was able to meet my cousin and his family. How fantastic was that!!!
Michael, aged 70, had assumed that his father must have died years ago and, even though he had been 'abandoned as a child', was keen to meet his father. We cut our holiday short, realising that we needed to take Uncle John to meet his son as soon as possible. When he saw his son's photograph he would have left to meet him the next day but it took us time to make arrangements. Three weeks later they had their reunion and kept in touch each week.
Sadly, on a day trip to Eastbourne, Uncle John had a fall which broke his hip. After being transferred to his local hospital with a rehab. unit, sadly Uncle John died.
Hence, his two sons met for the first time at their father's funeral. Mixed emotions!!! The half brothers got on well and ended up spending three days together, the first at the funeral, then at the scattering of their father's ashes. The third day was Sunday lunch for myself, hubby and Michael at his brother John and wife Rosemary's home in Camberly.
My Family and The Stephensons.

On the day of our visit to Camberly we were taken on a visit to Winchester. What a bizare sight we came across. Great excitement by the river caused by a duck race. Hundreds of numbered yellow, plastic ducks released down the river in a race.

I know Michael was sad to go home but intends to travel south again as soon as he is able.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Blackberries Grow on Trees

We have had such a good crop of fruit this year, especially Victoria plums and blackberries. I have even made jam for the first time. I'd helped my Mam in the past but have never made any solo.
Such a lot has happened since my last post and I have photos to share but I must get today's events over with first.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

£$ Today

Am I really old enough to have a son of £$ years old?
Mentally, no!
As my birthday was only 2 weeks ago I was able to use my birthday present from my hubby to make this card for Adam. He has two cats, one black, the other grey tabby and white, hence some of the design choices for the card.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Is it a shape changer?

Yesterday my car looked like this.
Today it looks like this!

Poor old MGB, a well loved car. It made me sad to part with it. I have enjoyed buzzing around in it and it was easy to find in carparks. At 34 years old 'she' is no longer reliable, has to hibernate for the winter to save her paintwork and is worryingly unreliable.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Brother in law's Birthday Card

As we all know it is difficult to choose or make a card for a man, unless they have a hobby and you have the relevant stamps. Well for once I did and I made this card for my bro in law Bob's 65th birthday.
When we spoke to him on the day he was actually going to take one of his home tutored students on a fishing trip!
It's my birthday tomorrow and our youngest, Chris, has already given me this wonderful bunch of flowers. I guessed they were for my birthday, but no wishes came with them, so maybe not!
Chris himself was an early birthday present 29 years ago - his birthday is today!

Friday, 3 July 2009

A Female Hatches

Great news, A female moth had hatched this morning. She's even bigger than the male and a beautiful specimen.
Unfortunately, the male had died already! Perhaps the hot weather meant a shorter life.
Another caterpillar spun its cocoon the day after this female, So keep your fingers crossed that it is a mate for her.

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Morning After

I really wish I could see this moth fly but I will have to wait until he has a mate or the next male hatches.
When I got up this morning he had obligingly moved onto the side of the container, giving me the opportunity to take a shot of his underwings. Perhaps he is saying 'I look great from any angle'.
I'm afraid the pics have no great definition but they have been taken through a plastic lid! Hopefully those I take when he is 'free' will be much better.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

A Wonderful Surprise

I was just getting ready to go to bed when I saw that something special had happened. The first of my Japanese silk moths, Antheraea Yamamai, had hatched. I'm sure he wasn't there this morning or even lunch time when I was tidying in the dining room.
What a beautiful creature, yellow, golden yellow and light tan, with hairy legs and large leaf like antenae. The antenae are what tell me it's a male. His body is nearly as big as the cocoon he emerged from. It must have been a tight squeeze in there!
I have three more cocoons. Let's hope the next to hatch is a mate for him.

His wings have a span of 6 inches.
The small moth at the bottom of the picture is one of the Bombyx Mori, so small in comparison, even though there was not much difference in cocoon size.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Early Birthday Present

I asked my hubby for a Zutter Bind It All for my birthday which is next month. It came early and I was there to receive the post! So I get to play - just to make sure it works!!!:)
I have had a great time experimenting with the format of the 'books'. Decorating techniques will come later.
The red flowered cover was made by putting an Artilicious CD paper in a red backed laminating sheet and has a match book closure. I will decide how to decorate it further later.

The small green one was inspired by a bought notebook that I keep in my handbag. The closure is plaited gold elastic chord fixed on the back with a rivet. The embossed decoration may not last as it is on stiff pvc sheeting that I bought as a worksurface protection from John Lewis, sadly they no longer stock these. I was hoping to use them to make templates and screens.
The blue note book with the birds design is like the red one I made for a friend but the red one has a match book closure.

'Live Out Loud' has a second cover, rather like the ones Zutter sell, but my own version. The notebook fits into a pocket in the back of the cover, which was made using brown paper that I had used to protect my work surface when using Glimmer Sprays.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Second hatching and a pairing

I happened to be awake a 6am this morning and decided to check out the cocoons. There was a damp patch on one, indicating that a moth was ready to hatch, so I decided to take the opportunity to photograph the emergence.
It took several minutes for the moth to push an opening in the softened cocoon. I'd forgotten that it would be upside down as it emerged.

At this point the head of the moth is inside a drop of the liquid used to soften the gum.

The 'bubble' is burst.
Is it male or female? Fingers crossed for the latter as the first moth to hatch was male.

Hurray! Female. Her abdomen is fat and distended with eggs. Now she has to expand her wings to enable her to waft pheromones to attract a mate.

The male is already aware of her presence - it's not my photography - he is vibrating his wings madly with excitement.

Joined in the act, resting with wings fully expanded.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

First silkmoth of 2009

The first moth of this year has hatched, nearly 3 weeks after he started spinning. I know it's a he because of the slim body, females are usually fat with eggs that can be seen through their skin!
He hatched from the yellow cocoon on the left of the picture.
Unfortunately, although he could live for 2 weeks, he'll probably see no action because the other caterpillars didn't start spinning until several days after him.
What a boring life, no food, drink or friends to pass the time with!!
I wonder if he knows something about the contents of the cocoons he's chosen to rest on? Male or Female?
Last year caterpillars who had chosen to spin next to each other were infact one of each sex!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

GG June Challenge

Exotic, hot pink and orange are the theme for this month's Graphicus challenge. I'd like to say that my entry was inspired by the weather but unfortunately it's not!
As I work in silk I am always looking at exotic fabrics and think saris are beautiful. Thus my inspiration came from textile pattern and was helped by the fact that I love these two colours together.
The stamps I used are from EI Paisley Elephant Themeplate and Delightful Damask DL plate. I created the background by colouring the top of the card with orange and the bottom with a magenta Color Box pigment. The glittered stripes are on double sided tape. The cord and tassles I made using some of my own dyed silk weaving threads. The decorated panel is mounted, first on orange card and then on the card itself, the edge of which I coloured with the same petal point pad and brushed with mica powder.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Come on In

The weather has changed but last weekend was glorious. We paid a visit to Whipsnade Zoo and because it was a hot day we walked 'that bit further' to visit the penguins who are usually innactive on cool days, certain that they'd be doing water aerobics.
Instead they were all huddled at one end of their enclosure.

Others were lined up at the edge of the pool, as if ready for a race, but they had sent one in to test the water first. He/she seemed to be encouraging them in but to no avail. How hot does it have to get?

Sad News

Oh dear, how does one make a card for a bereavement?
During the week my cousin telephoned with the news that a family friend had died. He had been ill but his 'suffering' had not been prolonged. We would all wish for that!
I hope this card fits the bill.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Graphicus May Challenge

I was so thrilled to win last month's challenge. My idea for it came very quickly but this month I was stumped. Mainly because I had no stamps that were obviously to do with the theme of travel. My interpretation may be a little far fetched but my favourite creatures, butterflies, spend most of their life travelling from place to place, plant to plant, so here is my entry. My first idea was for that of a flicker book, like a cartoon animation, a set of stills which put together portray a movement/journey from place to place.
The first picture is of the finished card, but of course you can't 'do' the flicking bit to see the progress of the butterfly from one side to the other. In an attempt to give you a better idea I have photographed all six pages in a line, in the hopes that if you scroll down at some speed and squinting at the picture, you will get the idea I'm trying to show! (Appologies for the shadows across the picture. It was breezy outside and with Georgian style windows there is nowhere indoors with light and clear space)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Compare the size

Well, what a difference a month makes.
More of my Zebra silkworms from World Wide Butterflies have hatched.

The following photos show a comparison between Chinese Silkworms and a Giant silkmoth caterpillar of the same age and the last the first Antheraea Yamamai - Giant Silkmoth - which has begun to spin. The clever thing has wrapped oak leaves around itself to form protection while it spins a cocoon.What a size they get to!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Look at me!

I've just hatched from a pinhead sized egg and I'm staying in here, in my little round pot with my new juicy leaf, cos there's giants out there!

The black hairy 'kego' hatchling is like a piece of black sewing cotton. The other silkworms are three weeks old. You can compare the sizes by looking at the dots in the kitchen paper they are both on. 'Kego' will increase in size 10,000 times in the next 4 weeks and get lighter in colour.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Green leaves are good for a diet

Well, they make us fat!
Look how much we have grown in TWO days since we have been fed mulberry leaves instead of that 'pate'.

Monday, 11 May 2009

"Well, How we have grown!"

"Not like those weedy grey things"
"Sit up straight at the table! That's not fun. We can eat any old way, swinging upside down, upside down and sideways, even clinging on to the leaf we're eating... Ooops perhaps that's a mistake!"

"Gotta get my butt out of here! The other three are going to eat it all. They never share!"

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Changing Faces

I guess a few of us would like to change something about our looks or face, but at the expense of not being able to eat for a whole day?
This caterpillar is getting ready to change skin. First his/her face will pop off and then it will be able to walk out of its old, rather tight skin. You can see the extra 'bump' on its head. That is the old face. The new one will be lighter in colour until its new skin is 'set'ready to be filled with more food!!!!
The green caterpillars grow at an alarming rate. The others, at the right of the second picture are about the same age.
I won't be able to post for a few days so there will be a big change in them all by the beginning of next week.

Latest Creations

Well, it's that time again, when we're labelling and packing to go to a Craft Fair. This one is at Hatfield House and lasts for 4 days. Which items of clothing will I need? Some for all weathers, knowing GB!
I have taken photos this morning to record my latest hand woven creations. So here are a couple of them, one more masculine in vertical stripes, the other feminine with a lot of hand dyed, handspun silk to create the weave pattern.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Got some more!

These silkworms are the kind that spin the white silk that we are all familiar with. Bombyx Mori is the latin name for them.
These are at slightly different stages of development, having hatched on different days. They are feeding on artificial food which is dried, reconstituted mulberry leaves. They must have mulberry to thrive and produce good quality white silk.
They will cast their skin for times in the four weeks it takes them to grow big enough to spin their cocoons.
The worm/caterpillar on the paper has stopped eating and 'stuck' itself to the paper so it can walk out of the old skin. It is important that I do not move 'him' during this time.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Look how much we've grown

One more skin change and look how big we are now!
Just need some fresh leaves to chomp at.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Giant Silk Moth Caterpillars

They are now 1cm long and have already shed their skin once.
Can you believe that in three weeks they will be at least as big as your little finger.
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