Off to Uni, take two.

The boy left for Uni again today.  
Its been a day filled with emotions. 
We are very proud of him, but just a little bit scared.  
I think you know why. 
This last year is not something we can easily forget. 
It was horrible. 
But out of all of it, we four became closer than ever before.
For that I am very grateful. 
  He also learn’t to tie a bow tie. 
Although I wouldn’t want to meet this scary man as my surgeon/doctor or lawyer.
But maybe he will make a brilliant engineer.

Button Queen.

 On this lovely Saturday with a sky filled with blue, 
we hopped onto a train, to take us to, 
The Button Queen in London. 

It has been on my to do list for quite a while, it was as good as I had hoped and we spent a wonderful hour or so looking through a shop that had the qualities of a museum. 

There were several sets of enamelled 18th/19th century buttons that I fell in love with, sadly my bank manager would never have understood and not being able to split a set, I sighed wistfully and wandered over to the next case in which to look and stare. 

It really was jolly good fun. 

So much to choose from, eventually I settled on, 

these few buttons, some old but nice replicated horn buttons in colours that I know I will knit at some time in the future. A cardigans worth of red which if not in real life, is on the needles in my imagination and a selection of childrens buttons with which to decorate any baby surprises that may come my way.  
That old button you see, well it just jumped into my hands and wouldn’t let go. 
Would you like a close up?
 Isn’t it adorable. 
I couldn’t leave it. 
Made in the 1800’s, a picture button of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf written by the Grimm brothers, apparently there are whole sets of picture buttons representing  Grimms fairytales.  
 We popped into Liberties, Christmas is coming. 
 I bought some wool for a winter hat and looked for a graduated tailors set square with no luck.  
And then we wandered around a little more until we came upon Regent’s, 169 Regent Street.  I only mention the address as they have no website. They sell top brands, Versace, Valentino and Armani along with hand tailoring suits and selling luxury high end, (the highest of high end) Cashmere, silks, rare fibres mainly for suiting material.  I was lucky enough to see the fabrics on the basement floor, the fabrics started at £150.00 a meter and went up from there, I saw cashmere (which was dreamily soft) for £450.00 a meter, and there were fabrics that went up to £900.00 a meter.  It was a large basement, it was piled high with bolts of fabrics. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.  We chatted to the gentleman serving us and he realised I was a seamstress and was very accommodating whilst the manager was quite gruff.  That was until he realised and in his words “Oh, your a Tailor” and his stance immediately changed, and couldn’t do enough for us. Fabrics were whipped out of the off cuts pile, packages unsealed, fabric flipped open and unfolded and then fabric flew through the air to show us the faults, (moth’s had had a little picnic on the crease (where it creases in the middle on a bolt) hubby and I chose a couple of pieces of fabric that would serve us well.  One a lovely heathered blue and green wool normally retailing at £150.00 per meter, there was 3.2 meters for the sum total of thirty pounds and hubby chose a piece of wool and silk in a toned down acid green which will make a very nice waistcoat for a fiver.  I can’t show you the fabrics because they are residing in the freezer at the moment, and then they will be washed, dried and re frozen and then stored carefully away from my stash just in case, but I am sure it is going to be fine.  I shall most definitely be trotting in to see what he has in the way of offcuts next time we are in that area. 
Fortunately we didn’t miss the train, we were too tired to stay much longer. 

Edited Highlights.

There are times that one has to pinch themselves to see if they are dreaming, one afternoon this week was one of those times. 
We are working on an Indian theme to design costumes for a local children’s theatre for early next year and are very lucky to have an Indian student in our midst. The previous two weeks have been spent looking at photographs and illustrations to gain information and practise our drawing skills.  This week our Indian student very generously bought in richly decorated sari’s the sum total reaching thousands of pounds.  And then we spent the afternoon drawing them.  The only way I can describe it is, it was like a wonderful exhibition at the V & A, and it was brought to me and I was allowed to use pencil and paper, plus photographs to record it and I didn’t miss the last train home! 
And if I could teleport my nearest and dearest to see what I saw I would have done so without hesitation, I really think those engineers should have invented that by now (or maybe they have, having seen skype in action this evening, that was pretty amazing).  So instead, I shall show you just a snap shot of what I saw, taken on my iphone, it was truly amazing,  enjoy. 


Mandy’s Socks.

I just wanted to share a blog post with you.  Toft have written about their new collection and have kindly included little old me. 

Mandy’s Socks

I am quite bowled over, such a nice review.

I’ve also been sent a copy of my sock pattern, ooh it does look good to see it professionally finished in print. 

(sorry about the scruffy blog post, I’ve just done a thirteen hour day and I think my brain has shut down for the evening.)

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me in the last five years, without you this wouldn’t have been possible., ” grabs my Oscar and exits stage left.

Seriously though, you all know who you are that took the time and helped explain the intricacies of knitting, even if you had to explain it more than once, or was that twice, okay then more than twice.  Without you, I wouldn’t have had as much fun, or learnt anywhere near as much, thank you, thank you again.

My Study Partner.

In the old days, my study partner would either be listening to the music too loud, or burbling away about the latest boy they fancied, whilst I was trying to concentrate. 
I never found one asleep. 
 Absolutely flat as a pancake.
 I’d only been gone ten minutes.

Then Eric woke with a start, with a nope not me, I was not asleep, look on his face.
And then swiftly went into ‘you can’t make me do homework, I am too adorable’ dance routine. 
‘Well, I will help if you like, I am very good at drawing’,  
 ‘This is the pointy end,’
‘and this is the…..’ 
 Too late, he’s gone again.
 Off to the land of nod in the lovely sunshine, dreaming about mice and other cat treats.

“One for all, all for one”

As some of you may know, son no.2 has been working at Warwick Castle for the last two summers and during that time he has become good friends with several of the characters that seem to enjoy this summer respite. (I shouldn’t say that because its jolly hard work) He has fallen into good company with one of the riders who rides a big and bouncy black stallion who I adore. 
Well, he and most notably his wife had the very good fortune to give birth to triplets, all boys! How’s that for a hat trick. Son no.2 has been invited to the christening,  (how nice!) and promptly asked me to knit something.  After a little persuading, after all triplet knitting is a serious undertaking, as I am sure you will agree, you knit to the end and have to repeat it twice.  
I found this pattern Boreal which combined with the short rows for the back of the neck and the cables looking more and more like chain mail or exquisite detailing on a Knights helmet.  Hubby thought it would be wonderful to knit something in red, white and blue, I understood his humour, but felt that this pattern would really shine through with the use of subtlety and so chose Rowan Tweed Aran in Buckden, Arncliffe and Litton. 
 I have loved the way they have come out, I think the boys will look wonderful as three Knights in the making. 
 And they have Gauntlets, should their digits feel the cold. 
I’ve really enjoyed making this set, I  hope they all get as much fun out of it as I have. 
“One for all, all for one” 

Tailors Tacks.

Often its the small details in life that matter, precision is something that the human mind seems to revel in as may be witnessed by the detailed embroidery of women in past centuries often sewn by candlelight or the building of railways by Victorian pioneers, I am sure the devil was in the detail for both of them. 
Yesterday I learn’t how to make tailors tacks.  It is a tiny detail, but such an important one. Before I learn’t to do tailors tacks I used to use chalk and a pin, this seems so much more refined and accurate. 
I was just slightly giddy, well okay a bit more than slightly.
I think my tutor was amused with my giddiness.
I knew she understood. 
I think the sewing fairies have caught hold of my soul, it is a good place to be.

London Philharmonic.

Hubby and I were up to our usual trotting around London on a spare weekend, this time to see the Ballgowns; British Glamour since the 1950’s at the V & A and then we headed to the Royal Academy of Arts to see From Paris: A taste of the Impressionists.  We loved them both.  On the way in the RA we saw a rather large empty black construction and wondered what was going on.  We were so wrapped up in the Impressionist’s that we completely forgot to ask and on the way out we were met with this 
 motley crew. 
 And I was immediately entranced. 
 We sat and watch them practise for an hour or so, I was in heaven.  On the way out we asked if there had been any returned tickets, which there hadn’t, these tickets had gone to ballot, I’d remembered reading about it and thought we wouldn’t stand a chance and then I’d forgotten about it.  The very kind receptionist asked if we would like to be top of the list for any returns, I think I bounced as I said ‘Oh Yes Please’ 
Hubby and I went off and had supper and came back just over an hour later to find that two tickets had been returned, and they were ours.. Oh what joy. 
 It was an amazing evening, the music was so powerful that one time tears came to my eyes.  I am so glad we got to experience this, no words can describe how the music resonates within you on being at a live production. 
I don’t think we will ever be that lucky again to stumble on such an event and the best bit is they filmed it, so we get to watch it again. (You can clearly make me out with my bald head and blue knitted waistcoat and hubby in his mustard jacket.) 
What I haven’t told you is the concert over ran and finished rather later than planned, we quickly got out, trotted to the tube and carried on trotting for our train to find out we had missed the last one!  Ooops. 
We could manage to get back to Banbury easily enough and whilst I was letting my mind ramble with imaginings of sitting in a deserted train station with urban foxes, hooting owls and cuddling up to my husband until we could get the next train from Banbury at just gone 2.00 a.m. Hubby was doing the much more sensible things of contacting son no.1 to come and collect us, which he did, very promptly, without fuss or drama and was waiting for us when our train came in. Shame really, I quite fancied coming home with the milk train. 
Just to let you know if you ever miss the last train, live around here and get the train to Banbury, there were about nine taxi’s waiting in a rank ready for the sleepy revellers to take them safely home.     

1st Mood Board.

I’m one week in on my Art and Design course in Fashion and Clothing which has been a blast.  I am truly joyful and happy, every day has been a new adventure.  I am surrounded by a lovely group of girls who have been very gentle and kind and have bonded with me as one of there own.  They have helped when I have got stuck when using the PC’s in the library (being a Mac girl)  and when I have been too frightened to make marks on the paper from fear of not being able to draw.

On the other hand I have helped when they have got stuck when making there skirt block, and given ideas about designers that I know about that weren’t on the list given by the tutors, extra points for own research being at the front of my mind. Many of them have already booked up for help when we get to the sewing next week, once they get going I am sure they are going to be fine.

We have been researching designers, some of which are new to me and I have found some real gems that have made me very excited, meaning my A3 sketch pads will be stuffed full of good information.  I’ve already completed 4 pages with one designers work, I suspect I may be showcasing at least six, our minimum is three designers to cover 2 pages as a minimum.
Our brief for our 1st collection is something floral to be made up in black and white with tones of grey and cream.  
I took into college forty photographs of flowers some of which I’d grown or made and laid them out on the work benches. Then fine tuned them and popped to the libary to gather more information on areas that I wished to illustrate further, this is my first mood board.
I thought of the leaves on my home grown globe artichokes which are very similiar to acanthus which has been used for many years in stone masonry the oldest example being The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae in Arcadia, circa 450 – 420 BC  (wiki is my friend)  I have really enjoyed the research aspect of fashion, you get one idea and it flows off into the next.

On my mood board I love the dark outlines of my stained glass window of my cala lillies and of the acanthus.  My home made flower and I couldn’t resist the photo of a strawberry flower, I really love the stamens they have so abundant and pretty. 

Monets water lillies reminded me of the shape and form
of my artichokes.
 And I simply couldn’t resist the courgette flower.  I really like the form of the stamen.

I am very proud of this little mood board, there is a certain cohesiveness which I thought I would never be able to achieve.  It also has a little of the Monty Python about it with stone masonary sprouting from lillies which appeals to my sense of humour. 

The rest of this weekend is going to be taken up doing homework accompanied by a little hand embroidery including beading for samples to be stuck into my sketch books. 
I really am loving this course.