Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Open studio visit

I met Michelle last September when I started upholstery class at our local college. Michelle is a weaver and a couple of weeks ago opened up her weavery as part of the Norfolk Open Studio project so I had to go along.

Fabrics fascinate me and I love the idea of making my own. Michelle is so enthusiastic about her craft that it's difficult not to be swept along. When she said she was selling this loom (don't worry, the amount of looms she owns runs into double figures!) I had visions of my own weavery in France, hidden amongst the streets of a medieval town....

Loom mechanics

Now the first thing I said was "it looks very complicated" but Michelle & Andrew (who I had taken along) both chorused "no!" Andrew can look at equipment and know instinctively how it works. I on the other hand have to read the manual several times and take copious notes.

The bit that sets the pattern

But I think I could learn if this was the end result.

Demonstration weave

The studio, in fact the whole house, was full of gorgeous yarns. Michelle and her daughter will often dye wool to get the right shade. I was in heaven as I was free to touch everything. Yarn can be made from all sorts of stuff. I expected the kevlar (used for bullet proof vests) to be rough but it was soft, as was that made from crab shells!

Hand dyed skeins

I could have this as art
Gorgeous colours
Michelle uses her fabrics to make a whole range of items and I coveted her cushions.......

Would suit my sitting room
and her throws..............

Wrapped up against the cold with a single malt
or perhaps a hanging behind the sofa?

Reminds me of sunset over water

Michelle was kind enough to let us have a go on her teaching loom. She said I produced a nice tight weave, I think she was politely saying I was a bit violent when I pulled the 'thingy' back.

She does teach weaving. I'm very tempted.

Andrew on the beginners loom
You can follow Michelle's blog here or take a look at her website Handwoven Textiles. You could commission a unique piece for your home.

Until next time


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Office progress

The trouble with restoring an old house is that you can spend weeks working on a room, stripping it right back to bare bricks and building it up again, only to have a room that looks like it's only had a lick of paint. Very frustrating!

So just to prove that a lot has happened in the office (although it's not 'dressed yet') this is what we've (i.e Andrew) has done.

All the plaster came off ( & I broke my toe)

Old fire out
We debated about keeping the old open fire, which was a 1930's tiled one, but it was a step too far even for a retro theme. We then debated about another log burner but couldn't justify the cost. So in the end we decided on a modern electric one (no mains gas here). I don't usually do fake fires but decided if I was going to, it was going to be a fire that wasn't pretending to be something it wasn't. As you will see later!

Anyway back to the rebuild.

Insulation going in

Plaster mix
Andrew put the plasterboard up and then decided to tackle the plastering himself. After advice from YouTube - and better advice from my father - he was off.  I was the able bodied assistance with the main job of bucket washing.

Looking professional
Just get on & wash the bucket instead of taking photos!
New coving
I wanted the coving and picture rail reinstated so that I could have a large white space above the coloured walls. Oh a designers tip! You may have noticed in all the rooms I decorate, large pieces of coloured paper taped to the wall. These are my paint swatches. Never put the paint directly on the wall, particularly if there is already a strong colour as it will throw the colour out. If you have two or three you're trying they will act against each other and confuse the eye. To be really sure use a black or dark grey frame to isolate the colour from it's surroundings. The other benefit of them on paper ( I keep a roll of wallpaper liner for the job) is that you can move it around the room and see how the colour is effected. And as long as you write  the paint colour & manufacturer on the reverse you can use them at a later date. In the end I chose Farrow & Ball Light Blue, a soft blue-grey.

First coloured coat (my job)
Forgot! another tip. Always keep a clean rag tied to the top of a stepladder, then when you lean it against a wall (and we all do) it won't leave a mark.

Once I'd finished painting, the carpet went down and Andrew was called back for a very exacting job. We're fortunate to have a large bay window in the office but are a little security conscious because of this. I didn't want to cover the whole window so we thought we'd try the self adhesive film. It took quite a while for Andrew to do but it looks really good and is very effective.

Smoothing it down
Creating a border
It's all in the detail

I've still got to sort out window treatments, art for the walls and a door probably wouldn't go amiss! and I still need storage for fabric samples etc. so I'm looking out for some vintage luggage I can put on top of the bookcases. Andrew shot a panorama for me.

Nearly finished


And Mortimer likes it!

Note the very fake fire!

Until next time


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Saturday in France

It was our wedding anniversary last month and we threw caution to the wind and escaped to France for a very short weekend.

On Friday evening we checked in here.....

Les Remparts - Montreuil-sur-Mer
We woke up to see the market being set up in the square.

View from  hotel window

We tend to avoid breakfasts in hotels so we went to the local cafe and had warm croissants, fresh bread and homemade jam.

Sorry - too hungry for the before shot!

Then over to the market for a mooch.

Instant gardening

Maybe another pain au chocolat?

For all your D.I.Y needs

We then drove over to Le Touquet, one of my favourite places for a weekend stay. The sun came out and it was buzzing. I just loved these...

Just gorgeous

We resisted this shop.....

I put on pounds just looking

but not this one

Two strawberry tarts for the afternoon

To work up an appetite we walked around Le Touquet market which is huge. This chap was doing a roaring trade in fruit & vegetable juices.

Fresh juice

It's at this point that I always wish I was self-catering, even just for a week-end.

And it smelt divine!

Andrew's favourite stall.

Didn't smell quite so divine to me! 

Appetite restored we had lunch. Now I confess I get embarrassed taking photographs of my lunch so you'll have to make do with these, courtesy of the wonderful BBC food site. Andrew's French favourite - Moules Mariniere.


For me, goats cheese salad (sans lardons).

Goats cheese salad

After a stroll on the beach we headed for the supermarket for the obligatory wine buying. The Auchan near Boulogne was having a wine festival and we met Pascale, a charming  producer from Cahors who sold us several cases of her wares.

Laid down for a couple of years

Back to Montreuil for a well deserved beer.

And people wonder why I want to live in France.

Until next time,