Sunday, 30 November 2014


I appear to have fallen off the perch of my blogging every day for a month challenge, did you miss me? Did you even notice?
So what happened to the last couple of days.
Here is a quick summary, day 12 exhaustion, day 13 entertaining old friends and drinking too much.
It was quite a pleasant break, who knew that blogging every day would be so draining.
Any way back to the point.
Day 14
Lola Nova's Stitched Journal Project.
Recording a year in stitched pages.

This month I have been experimenting with paper, fabric, stitch and wax.


Playing about with one of my favourite things, maps.
The wax is a new thing for me, trying to create different textures and finishes.


It was fun, I haven't done anything with wax since some very basic batik at college.
If you liked this why don't you pop over to Lola's lovely blog and see what every one else has been up to this month.
Love Nora xxxx

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Day 11.
A girl walks in to the room, dumps a pile of boiled wool on the table and says;
"Can we make this look like the Lancashire moors?"
He didn't blink an eye, "Of course" he said.

Ralph, our technician is a wonder and a wizz when it comes to dying fabrics.
I can sort of just about do it, but not really, not very well.
So it was great to be given a master class on how he creates textures and shades.

And its a joy to watch someone being so inventive and enjoying what they do.

I am really very lucky to have all these resources at my fingertips, though now I know what to do I'm really looking forward to doing some of my own on a smaller scale at home.

So I am off to play with the Lancashire moors, I will report back when the plan has come together.
Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Day Nine.
I don't smoke.
I have never smoked.
But I have a strange fondness for old fag packets. In particular ones that don't really exist any more.

When I was a wee young thing I used to have quite a lot to do with tramps.
No really I did. 
Smelly old drunk men who lived in a hostel in what is now prime property territory in Guildford.
It was the mid 70's I was about  6 or 7.
My Mum was the social worker for the hostel, she had to drop by every Saturday morning to check up on them all.
Players weights and Woodbines were an important currency.
She went while I was lumbering about at the back of my ballet class like a fairy elephant.
When it was over I would walk up to meet her.
And so I was well known to all the tramps of my home town.
When taken in to town by the parents of friends they would look on in horror when smelly old rough sleepers would shout out "Hello princess" and I was skip over and start chatting away.
I can only imagine now the cold sweat that must have brought them out in and how much worse it must have got when they confided what had happened to my Mum and she would say "Oh yes they all know who Jane is."
Anyway the point of this ramble is to explain why I have a gathering of ancient old ciggie packets. 
Before this morning it was a single example that had the intention of becoming a collection.
This morning the Players packet shouted out my name as I walked up the hill from school drop off past the conveniently placed junk shop.
So now I have a proto collection or gathering with a double intention of becoming a collection proper.
These things find me I never go looking, they just want me to look after them and make a cosy home for their friends who will come a calling before too long.
Such is my lot in life, I like to think of it as a much needed service for the unwanted and unloved objects in our lives.
The Hippy thinks it's a load of old junk that clutters up the house and has no use.
What does he know? 
He collects hammers and boxes of rusty nails.
Love Nora xxx

Monday, 24 November 2014


Day 8
Today I have been feeling sorry for my self.
A slight niggle in my lower back that popped up to say hello mid morning has developed in to something more, which means I am now walking about like a 90 yr. old woman.
But I was In Bexhill On Sea and to be honest it would have just been downright rude to not visit all the lovely charity shops. 
I had to take it slowly at shuffling pace, but I was not disappointed.

Lots of lovely old balls of crochet cotton.

Some wooden cotton reels to add to the collection. I've never come across Knox Dragon thread before.

Bits and bobs of old haberdashery with fantastic old packaging.

And finally some jumpers, both of which need a make over and a matching jug.
But shhh, lets not mention the new jug too loudly.
The Hippy hasn't noticed it yet, I just snuck it on to the shelf nestled amongst all the other jugs.
May be he will never notice, fingers crossed!
Going shopping is an achievement right? I'm not quite off the rails with this project yet am I?
Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to sit at the sewing machine and get on with some stitchy projects I have in mind.
Love Nora xxx

Sunday, 23 November 2014


So as promised  I am back today to spill the beans on a most wonderful day.
It started on Friday afternoon when I jumped in the car and battled Friday traffic and torrential rain for a very long time to drive a very long way. 
I stayed in a cheapo hotel nearby, which in its self was a treat, a night of solitude having to do nothing and not worry about homework, dinner, the washing up, bed time.
I would love to say Saturday dawned bright and clear.
But its late november and the weather was typical.
But the drive down the road a couple of miles back into Derbyshire was stunning.
My destination, Hope and Elvis, set in the beautiful grounds of Welbeck Abbey Estate.
The reason for this epic journey?
Letitia was teaching us how to make collages using image transfer methods.

So much fun, so busy, so worth all the effort.
We spent the day creating in a really inspiring space.

Louise who runs Hope and Elvis has curated a truly amazing space to work in, exactly the right levels of organised chaos and delicious food, oh and cake, lots of cake mainly due to Mrs Bertimus's mother who apparently has to be restrained from baking for these events or there wouldn't be an un-cake fill surface in the place!
Every one had so much fun and we all produced loads of work.
These are my three

A new medium for me working on a wooden base and using paints.

They aren't perfect, but all the new techniques I learnt were so interesting and made so much sense I am just itching to try them all out again as soon as possible.

I went back to my comfort zone for the last piece .
I call it "Put the doll down and go tidy your room"
It was very interesting to hear Letitia explain to us the processes she goes through to create her stitched pieces.  I have long admired her work and in fact now Mr Fox here is going to be coming to live with us here at the seaside.

So here are some pictures of all of our work lined up on the table at the end of the day.

I hope you have all had as exciting a weekend as I have had, but possibly not as exhausting!
Love Nora xxx

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Hello, just quickly dropping by tonight.
Its been quite a 24 hrs.
500+ miles and 10 hours of driving.
But it was so worth it.
Here is one of the minor highlights of my day out at Hope and Elvis attending the Mrs Bertimus workshop.

A full report will follow tomorrow when I am less brain dead.
Love Nora xxxx

Friday, 21 November 2014


Looking back.
Vision from the past.
The mists of time have parted revealing long lost pictures of long gone loved ones.
Good job I had some new Spectacles to help me see clearly all the way back to July 1963.

A summer holiday staying with number one Son and Daughter in Law at Lake on the Isle of Wight.
My Grandparents Mary and Ted aged not much older than I am now relaxing in the sun at a time when my parents had not met, had not even left their teens.
I have found my self so drawn to this picture.

I was very close to Grandma, but Granddad died suddenly when I was 18 months old.
I have no memory of him.
My own Dad had a troubled relationship with his father, he was young and rebellious, Ted was old, battling demons and childhood traumas.
We had no pictures of him.

Mary by the time I was old enough to form memories of her was ravaged by arthritis and in constant pain.

Oh how much fun she was, how sharp, the master of a back handed compliment, lover of the limelight and spinner of yarns, she loved us all fiercely and unconditionally, apart from her daughters and sons in laws those she liked to hold a healthy level of disdain for.
My Mother claims she was never truly accepted until after my parents split up and Grandma realised she was never going to stand between a Grandma and her Grandchildren.
A complex woman with many conflicting sides.
There can be no greater compliment to a persons legacy than that all 11 grandchildren still constantly reference her, think of and are influenced by her 17 years after she died.
Without her would most of her Granddaughters sit of an evening with a ball of yarn in their laps and hook or needles in their hands?
Would every one of us know how to perfectly iron a shirt?
Or the differences between ironing a shirt for a man and a blouse for a woman?
Oh yes trust me there is a difference.
So my eyes are drawn back again and again to these happy carefree faces, the picture has been studied endlessly. Mary has always been more that 1/4 of me,apparently there are a lot of similarities, but Ted? I didn't know him, how could he have influenced me?
And yet I see Ed, the cousin closest to my heart and his brother staring back at me from this picture. His face, his hands, I see my brother's posture and way too many people's smile. I've always wondered about this man who is part of who I am and what kind of relationship we would have had if he had lived longer. 
I would also like to mention that this work was directly influenced by the work of Sam Kennedy one of the Fine Art students at Northbrook College where I work. She has been experimenting with sunglasses in her work, it spoke to me quite loudly as I was mulling over this  long lost picture.
We none of us ever have truly original ideas, we are always influenced by someone else's work. I just think its important to recognise this.
Love Nora xxxx

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Apparently I have persuaded the students to form a yarn bombing society.
Apparently it involves me giving up my lunch hour to teach them how to knit and crochet.
It was really good fun!


I made some samples to get them kick started.

It was possibly a very good idea!

Some students have decided pom poms may be a better direction to follow next week, though personally I love the idea of crochet moustaches.

We have till the end of term.
We are hopeful there will be an amazing display to bring festive cheer to the stress filled pre assignment hand in atmosphere that will be prevailing amongst the tinsel.
Love Nora xxx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Standing in the classroom this afternoon I wondered what I was going to be posting about today.
Pictures of students drafting patterns or me having a huge rant about a missing bolt of silk chiffon were going to be interesting to no one.
I was gazing wistfully at drifts of leaves outside and wondering if I could photograph them on my way out to the carpark, the students were all starting to wind down, their tasks for the day nearing completion, when Ralph our tecnician strides up and announces he is going to do some experimentation with puffer dye and did anyone want to join in?
 First up faded roses, made by dabbing the paint on to scrunched up fabric.
Before application of heat gun

After application of heat gun and the gaining of two blisters on my wrist. (Best not to ask, just accept I am a klutz)


This effect was achieved by applying the paint to a scrap of lace then pressing the lace down onto calico. 
So subtle.


Really excited about learing new processes alongside the students, the ways they can apply this to their costumes are limitless.
So two things I learnt today are:
 1 you can teach old dogs new tricks 
 2 I shouldn't worry there will always be something interesting to write about just don't go looking too hard for it!
Thank you my lovely readers for all your encouraging comments on this foolhardy project of mine.
It would appear the spectacles really have piqued your interest.
I haven't much to tell you on that front now, but a hint is that I am working on my distant vision.
Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Today I have been playing with old spectacles.

Stitching old lace together with obvious red stitches.

To replace a nasty piece of chicken wire that was in the door panel of this newly painted cupboard, that used to be a pond slime green.

I nearly fell at the first hurdle today, but at the last moment it all came together.
And I had fun gathering together all the displaced knick knacks that are laying around at the moment due to having our hall way, stairs and landing decorated, to help with the pritification of the picture.
Though in other news the book didn't get finished and I had to go to my reading group shame faced having only read half of my choice of read for the month. Ho humm, win some loose some.
Have you all had a productive day? I do hope so.
Love Nora xxx

Monday, 17 November 2014


Somehow no matter how hard I try I don't seem to be able to post here more than once a week. 
I am surrounded by more half finished and unstarted projects than it is safe for one woman to be involved with.
The paper work has slid into a dramatic festering compost heap of frustration and overdueness.
The list of things to make for the C word is very long and getting longer.
It would appear I have started a big extra curricular project at college which involves me giving up my lunch hours to teach the students how to crochet, how did that happen?
My workroom is in such a mess you can hardly get through the door.

See told you. 
It gets worse, this is my cutting table.

Its going to take all week to clean it up.


That pile of bright orange fabric, that needs to be made up in to a pair of trousers and delivered by sometime last week.
And I am right now half way through this 700+ page book and it needs to be finished by tomorrow evening.
But never mind the John Irving, the Diana Wynne Jones has to be worked up in to a brief for a collaborative project for my students.

Twitch, twitch.
So I have decided to set my self a challenge.
Because really I need the extra pressure, right?
May be I do.
I am going to post every day here for a month.
Every day I have to write about what ever it is I have achieved, the thing that has been crossed off the list, the finished project, the started project. I don't know, just keeping my fingers crossed it isn't going to be a month full of pictures of the washing up and freshly cleaned toilets.
So to kick it all off.
A big pile of chillies we grew over the summer.

They have been slowly drying out on the kitchen window ledge waiting for me to have a moment to thread them up in to a garland.

Done, with a little help from a tame monster that happened to be lounging around!
Have a good evening every one.
Love Nora xxx