Monday, September 24, 2018

A Trip to the Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall, near Moffat

Rob, Brock and I had a morning out, visiting the Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall, near Moffat, today.

There is a car park nearby and you can see the falls from there, or take a walk up into the hills to get alongside the waterfall and to climb up to Loch Skeen (about 2.5 miles up, reached via a steep and uneven, but well-marked path). The Loch feeds the waterfall. Since the weather was good, we decided to walk up to the Loch. After climbing up the first steep incline with many steps to navigate, we were wondering if we'd made the right decision!

The view looking back to the car park

Part of the first upward incline

You can see how the waterfall gets its name. It is a 60m (200ft) drop into the gorge, making it the fifth highest cascade in the UK.

The 'Photobummer' strikes again! The number of photos we have that show Brock's rear end does not bear thinking about. Here he is enjoying the walk. We had to put him on the lead at some points, where the drop to the burn was steep, and when there were other walkers and/or sheep around.

Made it to the top! This is Loch Skeen. A brief rain shower came down just as we stopped for our sandwiches.

This video shows the top section of the main falls, but there are many other small waterfalls further up the burn.
This was where we stopped for our picnic.

The price in the car park is £3.00 and you can buy a leaflet about the Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve (including points of interest along the walk) for 50p.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trip to Caldbeck in Cumbria

Rob, Brock and I had a day out last week to the charming Cumbrian village of Caldbeck.

This is the village green or commons, where sheep were grazing.

The beck running through the village. Our walk was around the surrounding roads and lanes, although there are longer walks in the area if you are feeling energetic.

A small bridge over Cald Beck, with overgrown steps leading down to the water.

There is a church, a pub, several shops and two cafés in the village. We went to the Watermill Café at Priest's Mill. There is a small car park nearby, or a larger one in the village. Unusually for Cumbria, both are free of charge!

Interior of the Watermill Café. I love the old, beamed roof and stone walls. There are preserves and flour and other items for sale. Rob had the quiche of the day with salads and I had a jacket potato with cheesy beans and side salad, with two coffees, the bill came to £22.50. The salads were very good.

There is a tiny shop called Little Crooked Tree opposite to the entrance of the cafe, selling a range of crafts and gifts. I bought a lovely sheep/patchwork card by artist, E B Watts; and then we visited The Wool Clip next door, which has a host of handmade, wool-related products for sale, including supplies, such as the darning wool I bought made or dyed by Wild Woods Wool (although, not for darning with!). They also had some beautiful handwoven scarves by Jan Beadle and tufted rugs and wall hangings.

An enjoyable trip, and it was fairly quiet now that the summer holidays are over, so it was a good time to visit.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Prayer Flag Brooches - First Mini Collection

Here is a preview of my first small collection of prayer flag brooches. They are somewhat inspired by the look of Buddhist flags, but are really more for imparting an inspiring word or wish.

They could be pinned to a jacket or handbag, or perhaps displayed near your desk at work to give you a reminder of a word to meditate on.

One of my online friends commented that they are like a medal that you could award someone, which I thought was a nice idea.

 "Courage" Prayer Flag Brooch

"Create Every Day" Prayer Flag Brooch

These textile brooches are all hand sewn with bead, button, charm and/or sequin embellishment. I am busy rust dyeing some fabric for the next batch, which may be little wall hangings rather than brooches. Watch this space!

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Great Northern Quilt & Needlecraft Show, Harrogate 2018

The Solway Quilters had an enjoyable day out at the Quilt Show in Harrogate yesterday. A whole coach load of us went, so it was a jolly party that arrived just before lunchtime.

My friend, Margaret, and I started with the exhibition in the atrium, which included some beautiful work by a number of individual makers and groups. The following pieces really stood out for me:-

Summer Garden by Jane Rollason, sun printing and flower hammering on cotton

The flowered section is coloured by literally bashing the colour from flower heads directly onto the fabric. The sun printing, I was not familiar with, so, as a group, we may explore that in future tutorials. Apparently, as well as using pre-prepared fabrics, you can buy liquids to paint onto any fabric, which will 'bleach' where they are masked by a leaf, for example.

Elizabethan Flowers by Jane Rollason, silk patchwork, appliqué and painted

I really liked the bright, painted flowers 'popping' off the cream and gold background. The beaded border was a nice touch, and suggested the clothing worn by Elizabeth I.

Coastal Walks by Christine Vlietstra. "Inspired by images of the coastline". Strip pieced and raw-edge piecing. Cotton fabrics, hand and machine quilted.

This lovely abstract art quilt appealed to my love of the sea, lines and hand stitch. It had the lot! With a lot of contrasts in the colour palette of blues and yellows with a touch of red.

Scandinavian Jumpers 2 by Gillian Travis "This quilt won 2nd prize at FOQ in the Art Quilt category...".

This was one of my absolute favourites: the artist has used machine embroidery and freehand machine embroidery on felt. The shapes are cut out from the background so that the contrasting jumper shape is recessed to be even with the background, when slotted in and hand stitched in place. The background squares were printed with a lacy pattern. There was also a Breton jumper variation, with stripes. Too cute!

Silver Darlings by Lizzie Wall

This beautiful cushion had won the 1st prize in the cushions category, and you can see why! The technique is appliqué with broderie perse elements, used to great effect.

Flower Garden by Anne Senior

A charming hexagons quilt. I think this was made with the English Paper Piecing technique.

Postcard From Sweden by Liz Merckel. Designed by Jeli Quilts and based on a postcard from IKEA by Tom Frazier. 36 colours of Kona cotton with a half-square triangle block.

This really shows what you can do with plain colours and a single shape. There is a great deal of movement and interest in the layout of the colours: love it!

Homecoming: Return of the White Rabbit by Lizzie Wall. The White Rabbit returns home after his adventures in Alice in Wonderland.

See 'work in progress' images on Lizzie's Instagram account. Another very imaginative and beautifully-realised art quilt. I love the red squirrels along the top border. There is so much detail to see in this quilt that you could study it for hours.

There were so many beautiful quilts to see, but I can only show a fraction of them here.

After a tasty lunch in the cafe, it was on to the trade stands. There were thousands of different fabrics on offer, but I resisted most of them, buying some vintage and antique kimono fabric pieces from Susan Briscoe's stand. This talented author and teacher is holding courses in Edinburgh and Hartburn in the next few months. Details can be found on her website.

I also bought bronze-coloured charms to use on some 'Prayer Flag Brooches' that I am planning to make. Very sweet, miniature keys, a feather, a wolf, a spider, some bells and beads etc.

A fun - if tiring - day out was had by all :o)

Monday, August 06, 2018

Craft Fair at Lanercost

Rob and I went to Lanercost yesterday to visit the craft fair in Dacre Hall; to walk Brock locally; and to enjoy a coffee in the dog-friendly cafe at the Priory.

Brock met a 'mini me' chum called Alfie, a 9-month-old Jack Russell/Parsons Terrier Cross. Brock is a Jack Russell/Patterdale cross, so they are not quite the same, but we certainly did a double take!

The craft fair had some nice stands (over 40 to see) with turned wood, sewn goods, jewellery, mustards, honey, cakes, chocolates and other items. I bought five different cards ready for forthcoming birthdays (and remembering the 'just a card' campaign!).

If you miss that fair, there is the Craftsmen at the Priory fair coming up: 8 Aug to 4 Sep 2018.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Colour Blocks / Colour Palettes Now Available

I am just starting to add some of my colour palettes to my Redbubble and Society6 online shops.

The colour palettes are selections of five colours that I have collected from the environment (landscapes, flowers, plants, people, buildings etc).

Working with coloured pencils, I build up layers of marks to capture the hues I've chosen to include.

The first three I've added are:-

"Blues" Colour Palette #1

"Grapes in a Grey Bowl" Colour Palette #2

"Tulips" Colour Palette #3

I find it very addictive to find an inspiration source and to choose five colours to put together into a palette. The colouring of each colour block can take some time, since some colours require many layers of different colours blended together to achieve the correct hue.

My original palettes were drawn without ruled lines, but with white gaps between the colours (as in #1 and #2). I have now decided to make bigger and more even blocks without the white stripe (eg, #3). Not sure which I prefer!

The format works nicely on wall art, phone skins and notebooks, etc. Hope you like them!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Just A Card Week - 18 - 22 June

Next week is 'Just A Card' week, encouraging everyone to buy a card or other small item from independent artists, craft makers and designers to support them in their creative endeavours.

It also means that you will be sending or giving something different, unusual, and/or handmade that will be appreciated far more by the recipient than a stock item from the high street chains or online conglomerates.

To find out more about the campaign, visit


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