Planet Textile Threads

August 22, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Horniman Museum

The heavens smiled and some of us spent the morning in the garden -

 I was intrigued by the bees on the solidago (golden rod) and on the nearby rudbekia -
 with this result, "from life", looking and looking -
 Sue untangled the relation between a yarn "intervention" and a huge plant -
 Jo found alpacas, or were they llamas -
 Carol's patient pumpkins -
 Najlaa was in the museum, finding seaweed in the galleries -
 and patterns on pots from the Pani display (till 26 November)
Mags too was drawing "things that live under the sea" -
 Judith turned from flowers to the Bengal tiger (on display till 17 May 2019)-
Snap! city views by Jo and Judith -

Extracurricular activities

Among Carol's many drawings done on holiday is this view of Brixham -
 And Mags, along with winning the Fine Art Quilt Masters at Festival of Quilts, had been to an eco-dyeing workshop

 Sue showed us how a section of a photograph can be abstracted in various ways; this was done in a course at City Lit -

A grisly note - I was surprised and rather horrified by the dogs' heads in this display in the "evolution" section of the museum's natural history gallery. The museum was opened in 1901 and these displays date back to a long time ago -
To counteract that, a nice bit of geometry! -

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 22, 2017 09:53 AM

Olga Norris


I'm happiest when thinking about several - or at least a few things at a time.  So when I am stitching solidly, my brain is busy in other areas.  Today I have been exploring ideas about three dimensions - an alley I stroll down from time to time with no specific direction as yet.
There is stitching to be done every day - I've almost finished the individual pieces of Soliloquy, only a couple to go.  And of course the ongoing getting rid of stuff.  But my main focus today has been on another ongoing task: to work up a few drawings for lino printing later in the year. 
I managed to get a trio to the back burner point - meaning that I'm largely happy enough with them to leave them until I am ready to transfer them onto the vinyl for cutting. 
My starting point for these was the passing thought that apart from when printing, I rarely wear an apron any more, so a tentative title for the trio is Studio aprons.  I have also been feeling sentimental about bits of knitwear I've recently finally cleared out, and so the aprons have designs I created in those days.  I do hate waste.

by Olga Norris ( at August 22, 2017 09:01 AM

August 21, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Studio Monday

Lunch is late today because I've been immersed in the studio all morning. Which is unusual, these days, but hopefully will be less so now...

It was the arrival of not just the carpet but of The Sheep that made the difference.
Obviously The Sheep is nothing more than a fleecy skin (£4 of cosiness, found in a charity shop in Salisbury) over a solid wooden stepstool, but it's starting to feel like a friend. It's nice to spend time with it, and a coffee, and podcasts, and some sewing (on the chair is a little bag that badly needed some "boro" attention - sorted!).

Also I needed to get together some fabric for a quilty day later this week, so out came the box of scraps -
which led to this'n'that and even involved getting the iron out!
(Unironed) "muted/desaturated" scraps

A maelstorm of tiny scraps to add to the journal quilts currently under construction

One such use for a tiny scrap

Lovely big scrap, and some smaller ones

Frottage on organza

... and some "what next" thoughts
 The frottage is derived from "the pink bit" -
Samples of couching that had found their way into the
scrap box; the backgrounds have been tinted with ink

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 21, 2017 02:50 PM

August 20, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Saturday roundup

This week it was great to reconnect with Hilary via her wonderfully thoughtful blog - about fashion! - just when I felt a bit of garment sewing and bold wardrobe revitalisation coming on. The most immediate benefit is the (re)discovery of Laurie Anderson - here is her "Sharkey's Day".

Some vignettes and vistas from last Saturday's visit to the mega-garden centre -

This walnut tree was planted a few years before I moved to Sparsholt Road, my first north London home, in 1983, where housemate and friend Vicky still lives. The little tree is quite sizeable now, but I have no idea whether any walnuts have been harvested from it. In the meantime "the railway" put up a fence and we don't have access to it -

A Crouch End charity shop was offering a set of 12 linocuts for £399 -

Also in Crouch End, twilight walks back from The Garden In Progress revealed some lovely doors -

Here's a situation (reflections at Horniman Museum) that I fantasize is called "Mr and Mrs Gorilla go to the Zoo" -

And here's where N4 and N7 meet - other side of Finsbury Park station - there may be other such coincidences as well -

Strolling in the City, I found inspiration for my "Gridded" journal quilts -
 and couldn't resist snapping these creatures on Holborn Viaduct -
 In west London, Kew yielded this bike shed which is just a roof with a bit of tasteful planting -
 ... must get some of this ...
 Sadly, another pair of abandoned shoes, in Kew -
I was in Kew not for the gardens this time, but for a talk at the National Archives. In this Summer Series, documents relating to the talk have been laid out, with explanatory labels - some go back to the 1200s and this week's back "merely" to the 16th century. Click on the photos to see the lovely handwriting -

What an amazing resource.

A short walk with Living Streets had us noticing the environment in a different way.

Hedges planted near the road to block noise - and sight of traffic

Different types of paving ... which is for the pedestrians?

A street without activity - does it feel safe?

Are railings actually functional?
Seen in the Hampstead Heath area -
Summer weather

Window washer

Safebreaker 1, locksmith's window display

Safebreaker 2

Locks and keys

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 20, 2017 08:39 PM

Housing then and now

Fascinating local walk today, about the way the Tollington/Archway area was dairy farms and then built on in the 19th century, not good quality housing, and soon it was a poor ghetto, many workhouses ... postwar, lots of housing was pulled down, estates built, until the 1970s when tenants/owners got organised and the council changed policy and repaired existing houses.

At least some green space came out of the pulling-down; Islington is very short on green space and public parks. Elthorne Park was created, and now is slightly sinister because the trees have grown so large and dense, and much drinking takes place at all hours. Nor is the Peace Garden looking at its best - the ponds were having some work done -
 A while back this mound received archaeological attention - the mounds were formed by the rubble from the demolished houses -
 Nearby, Sunnyside (community) Gardens have been going for 40 years -
 This is what's left of an enormous workhouse that housed 1300 of the poorest poor -
 Tucked in among the newer estates are some of the older "saved" houses -
 Caxton House was part of a "settlement", a middle-class attempt to provide education and life-skills in the 19th century; obviously the building is newer than that -
 Up the hill lived the better-off, and the Whitehall Park estate was privately developed in the late 1880s and 90s by a series of builders -

 A few of the houses show inventive animal carving -
More estates along the Archway Road, some spared by eventual decision not to further widen it - but the Tollgate was lost early on, 1864 in fact -
Also nearby, the Whittington almshouses had been knocked down -
 The Whittington Stone (topped by a cat since the 1960s) has been replaced several times, and was originally a place to leave donations to the leper hospital nearly; it dates back to 1473 -
 In the grounds of what is now the Whittington Hospital is the Small Pox and Vaccination Hospital, dating to the 1830s -
 and near it are two of the three workhouse infirmaries of the area -
 1880 is writ large (top left) in the brickwork  of this Victorian school, built in the early days of mandated education -
In the sunshine, and seeing how some things had improved for many people over the years, this walk was hardly depressing. I wish the same could be said of the current housing crisis, as "luxury flat" developments and the lack of affordable rentals and social housing drive the poorest and most vulnerable from pillar to post and shatter communities. Grenfell has crystallised this for many people, as was evident in the film "Dispossession" and the discussion afterwards -
It left me feeling appalled and impotent, and full of admiration for the articulate and dedicated people who give up free time to "do battle". Sometimes good things do happen; good luck to them.

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 20, 2017 04:19 PM

Olga Norris

Ruthless, yet benign and far-sighted

Jung Chang has written a third enthralling biography.  I very much enjoyed, appreciated, and was enlightened by Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story.  Today I finished reading the extraordinary life of the Empress Dowager Cixi.
I had a vague recollection of the Boxer rebellion from my history lessons at school, and in my early 20s when I was commuting to work in London I read a great deal about Chinese communism.  But I had never heard of this remarkable woman, a concubine of the emperor who saw what needed to be done to bring her country into the modern age, and found ways to take the power again and again to carry out the reforms.  Astonishing that we have not all heard of her.
(image from here)
She was far from an angel; she was just as murderous as any despot, but the good she did seems far to have outweighed the bad.  Learning some of the history of a period which had fallen between the cracks of my previous reading has been fascinating too.   It is such a pleasure to benefit from slow, well researched and well written input as an antidote to hard to avoid fast thoughtless 'news'.

by Olga Norris ( at August 20, 2017 02:40 PM

August 19, 2017

Gerrie Congdon

Day 6 in the UK; Ely Cathedral and a Rainy Day in Cambridge

As I posted our trip photos on Facebook, I had friends who kept saying “you must visit Ely Cathedral”. And we did. Our group of happy travelers boarded the bus early on Saturday and headed toward Cambridge and the small town of Ely. Our guide told us that people always wonder how this majestic cathedral was built in such a small out of the way village. It was founded by a very religious queen, Etheldreda, who had lived a rather complicated life. She restored an old church in 673 AD. The monastery flourished for 200 years and was destroyed by the Danes. Work on the present Cathedral began in the 11th century. There are many architectural styles in the cathedral which blend to create a place of great beauty.

The ceiling of the nave was installed as part of the Victorian restoration. It tells the story of the ancestry of Jesus. It is so beautiful.

Here are some other photos of the interior. Be sure to click to see a larger view.




I loved the Lady Chapel.

It is an open space flooded with light from the beautiful windows.

The chapel once had stained glass windows and painted statues in the niches. They were destroyed by Puritans during the Reformation because they rejected decoration in sacred spaces.

This is the altar and the statue of Mary above it. It was created by sculptor David Wynne and received mixed reviews. Some say it looks like Beyonce!!

The niches along the sides of the chapel have needle point cushions portraying the laborers who built the cathedral.

I saw a quilt when I viewed this floor.

There was a mix of modern and ancient sculpture.

This is another piece by David Wynne.

A crying cherub.

And this wall sculpture greets people as they enter the cathedral.

This is a closeup of an architectural detail on the exterior.

After visiting Ely, we got back on the bus and soon found ourselves in a rainy Cambridge. It did not deter the boaters on the river.

This is a view of King’s College.

We walked a bit in the rain and found a place to duck inside and eat lunch. We all gathered again for a tour of the King’s College Chapel. This Ruben’s painting of The Adoration of the Magi is behind the altar.

On Sunday, we headed for St Paul’s Cathedral for the morning service. We then hung around the area; ate lunch at the cathedral cafe, watched a marathon running through central London, attended the late afternoon evensong and walked a few blocks to the Ye Olde Cock Tavern where we all gathered for an end of the trip celebration.

It was a fun 12 days.


by Gerrie at August 19, 2017 06:34 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Docklands

I was early, the sun was shining, and there was a sunny bench just behind the Change Please coffee van 
 So I sat with my coffee and - emboldened by the sketchbook course the previous weekend - had a go at the van, and the building (but not the trees, thanks) -
Soluble graphite, and coffee wash
And then what? I wandered through the Crossrail gardens ...
 and looked at ever so much architecture, especially those wonderful cranes, remnants of the days of Britain's empire, when goods flooded through London from all around the world -
 But now we have offices, and intangibles. Ah well ...

I find that if you start with a small point of interest, the rest can grow outward. The turquoise rope caught my eye, and as I got into position, the two birds deflected my attention. So I started with the one standing on the convenient rudder, and both soon moved out of sight ... not to mention he's now in the wrong place AND too large. The architecture of the boat took over, and I felt very bold using wash over such large areas with the small waterbrush on a quick-drying day -
Grey Posca pen, indigo Inktense pencil
I deliberately took along only water-soluble materials, in order "to boldly go".

 As we sat outside with our sandwiches, this machine was grinding and thumping at the building site across the water; what a relief when it stopped! Jo had the fortitude to sit with it long enough to catch its image -
 Judith had been making order from chaos in the gardens -
 And Sue perched on a bench to get this multifaceted under-bridge view -

Janet B found a chair -
and also brought along her work from last week, when she went to the Design Museum -
Add caption

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 19, 2017 12:30 AM

August 18, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Surfacing in the studio

What, I wondered, would make my studio more welcoming? It is bright and spacious, and contains a treasure trove of mixed-media materials and an arsenal of art tools, but I'm not enjoying being in there. 

Basically this is because I'd rather be out of the house altogether, but some deadlines are almost upon us and I need to spend time in the studio.

So, for now, let's blame everything on the mottled brown lino floor ... fortunately there's a spare rug and it's now in place -
Not very practical for dropping ink on (inadvertently) or losing pins in, but it's mad the room look much more cheerful. And it's led to a bit of going-through-bags and putting-things-away, so perhaps it's a magic carpet?

Various things were found in the bags -
Silky start for a cushion cover? Early 2000s - I'd planned to embroider
four chinese characters in the centre, and free-machine the outside

Painting from a class in 2013 or so, done from a photo
I took in an unmemorable seaside town; size is A2-ish

Inky squiggles, done on the Extended Drawing course a couple of years ago
 And then there was the cardboard box full of these, packed up before the renovation - I hadn't missed them in the intervening couple of years, but each item has its memories ....
Still, none have much use so they may well be on their way to the charity shop soon.

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 18, 2017 08:36 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Day 5 in the UK; Looking for the Queen

We boarded our coach after brseakfast and headed for Windsor Castle. One of my friends proclaimed it a proper fairy tale castle. We were given audio guides for our walk through thi immense  place.  The size of the Castle is breath taking, in fact it is the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it’s where Her Majesty The Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends.

There was no photography allowed inside the buildings. St. George’s chapel was beautiful and so well cared for. It was my favorite part of the tour. We also got to view Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls’ house in the world, created in the 1920s and filled with thousands of objects made by leading craftsmen, artists and designers of the time.

You could buy ice cream made from real milk from the royal farms.

Here are some shots of the exterior.


We watched the changing of the guard. I made a video, but I couldn’t upload it to the blog. We left the castle and went down to the village for lunch before heading back to the hotel.  My daughters had requested more photos of their Dad being silly.

We rested and then got dressed up for our evening. We took the underground to St. Paul’s for evensong and then walked across the Millenium Bridge to find a place for dinner. We found a Turkish restaurant with a pre-theater menu of 3 courses and wine for a fixed price. It was pretty good. Our big event for the evening was Twelfth Night at The Shakespeare Globe theater.

It was so much fun, even if the seats were a hard wooden bench with no back. We were in the third tier of the open air theater.  Below you can see the standing room area which was packed with people.

This production of Twelfth Night was set in the 1970’s with music from the 70’s. It was a hoot. I snagged this photo from their website.

I loved the colorful lights in the trees outside the theater.

I got this photo of St. Paul’s Dome as we walked back over the bridge to take the underground home.

This was one of my most active days.





by Gerrie at August 18, 2017 04:32 AM

August 17, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - inkwell Daybreak by Jean Valentine

Drawing by Vija Celmins (via)

Inkwell    daybreak

Inkwell          daybreak


Dear girls and boys,
would you go with me and tell me
back to the beginning
--so we can understand!
the journey of our lives
where we met with cruelty
but kindness, too,
and nosed up out
of the cold dark water,
and walked on our fins...

I heard this on the Poetry Foundation's Poem of the Day podcast - listen to it online here, or - along with many other of her poems - on her own website.

Jean Valentine was born in Chicago in 1934 and published her first book of poems in 1965; it won the Yale Younger Poets award, and another dozen books have followed. "Her lyric poems" says the Poetry Foundation site,
 delve into dream lives with glimpses of the personal and political. In the New York Times Book Review, David Kalstone said of her work, “Valentine has a gift for tough strangeness, but also a dreamlike syntax and manner of arranging the lines of ... short poems so as to draw us into the doubleness and fluency of feelings.”

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 17, 2017 04:20 PM

August 16, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Fabulously felted

When Jill Hutton started combining wire and wool, one idea led to another and she found herself with a menagerie of felted animals ... and some "characters" to keep the wee beasties in order -

Now she's plunged heart and soul into felting people - and what characters - they remind me of characters out of Posy Simmons 

 She's also made more animals -
 And she's exhibiting at Painswick Valley Arts Festival, 19/28 August, so if you live out Gloucestershire way, do go along.

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 16, 2017 03:35 PM

Neki Rivera

drawstring bag

braved and cut this to make a poketto to house my mobile phone. this is going to be my walking bag come september when tuesdays walk with the new friends recommence. september also will be the start of acqua gym and the bag will be useful.
and on that note i'm signing off until september. have two sets of house guests coming and there's not going to be much studio time.
until then be well and be good.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at August 16, 2017 08:00 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Day 4 in the UK; Canterbury Cathedral

We were so excited to hop on a coach with our fellow Trinity companions and head south to the city of Canterbury. Our mission was to visit the Canterbury Cathedral, kind of the mother church of the Anglican/Episcopal Communion. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic leader of the Anglican Communion. Mr C and I love visiting cathedrals. Most of these big cathedrals in the UK were built long ago – the original structure was built in 597 AD. The cathedral went through many incarnations, but the basis of the current cathedral was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. When you look at the magnificent architecture and realize it was built with very primitive tools, you can understand why it took years and years to finish construction.

We were divided into smaller groups and assigned a well-educated docent who led each tour. Here are some photos that I took of the structure and beauty of this place. (Be sure to click on photos to see them larger.)


One of the men in our group asked if there was much stained glass. The guide kind of smiled and said you will see. The stained glass in this cathedral is extensive and beautiful. Here are some examples:



One of the most notable events in the early history of the Canterbury Cathedral was the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket.

A pivotal moment in the history of the cathedral was the murder of the archbishop, Thomas Becket, in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday, 29 December 1170, by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket and is said to have exclaimed in frustration, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. After the Anglo-Saxon Ælfheah, Becket was the second Archbishop of Canterbury to be murdered.

The posthumous veneration of Becket made the cathedral a place of pilgrimage. This brought both the need to expand the cathedral and the wealth that made it possible.

After our tour, we spent some time in the city of Canterbury which had a nice array of shops and restaurants. It was a nice day and we enjoyed just sitting and watching people.

I was not quite as active today – pacing myself!! My back was hurting quite a bit so I sat down as often as I could.


by Gerrie at August 16, 2017 04:01 AM

August 15, 2017

Gerrie Congdon

Day 3 in the UK and I Check Off a Bucket List Item

On Wednesday of our week in the UK, we had a free day. Mr C had booked a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath before our trip. We took the underground one stop and walked to where we were to meet the coach. We were not sure where we were supposed to be, but a family from Finland told us that we were in the right spot. It was gray and cloudy and rain was in the forecast.

By the time we got to Stonehenge it was raining and very windy. Here is the queue for the shuttle at the welcome center to the location of the stones.

I enjoyed checking out the wild flowers along the path.

Here is the mob of people walking up to the stones in the rain!!

We admired the stones and the ingenuity of the people who put them here.

We got a selfie with the stones in the background. By this time the rain was coming down horizontally.

We went back to the welcome center and perused the displays with all the other folks. The welcome center was very well done and I wish it had not been so crowded so that I could see the displays a bit better.  Then, we ate a sandwich lunch before getting back on the bus and off to Bath.

As you can see, it was really raining when we got to Bath. I would like to have been able to see the beautiful countryside bathed in sunlight!

We were warned by our guide that we must be back on the bus by 4pm or we would be left behind and have to spend 30 pounds to take the train back to London. We queued up again at the Roman Baths while she got our group tickets.

We were inside with another mob of people, but at least it was dry. We both enjoyed the baths and the ancient architecture, artifacts and stories.

It was still raining when we left the baths so we ducked into a coffee shop until the rain let up. We decided to check out a marketplace with various vendors. I found a booth that was selling sewing supplies:


Dylon dyes

Gutterman thread

I wish I had bought some of the dyes to try.

All of a sudden, it was time to head back to the bus and every street and building looked the same. We knew we needed to get near the cathedral.

We finally found the spot where the bus was supposed to be and there was no bus and we couldn’t find anyone who was on our bus. Slight panic happened. Then we began to see others and the bus finally showed up.

We got back to our underground station and bought some take out and a bottle of wine to take back to the room. We were damp, tired and happy with our rainy adventure. This was my activity for the day.


by Gerrie at August 15, 2017 04:46 AM

August 14, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Blast from the past - actually, two of them

19 August 2007

A metaphor for blogging?

Could be ... lots of little flashes as various people visit the blog, or as topics for posts appear briefly in the blogger's mind - and behind those, the great vast untapped universe....

Technical details: this, from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website, is the result of combining a series of 30-second images of the night sky during the annual August Perseid meteor shower - comet dust burns up as it enters the atmosphere, and on a clear and moonless night, it's great to see - usually one flash at a time.

Marion commented that it looked like a cosmic sneeze!

This year the meteor shower was supposed to be especially good - and sure enough, I missed it again, either because of cloudy skies or because of simply forgetting. There's a very short timelapse video here (and probably elsewhere).  Hopefully that article (in The Telegraph, can nothing be trusted?) is the only one that confuses those two "astro" occupations:

"The Perseid meteor shower, one of the best-known among astrologists, " - tsk, tsk, Telegraph....

The second "blast from the past" goes back many years, to 1971, when ex-hubby and I were living with kind friends Jim and Betty in the small beach town of White Rock BC, in the month before going to England for ex-h's MA studies. We all took chairs and blankets outside and kept our eyes on the heavens. Perhaps we even saw a meteor or two; perhaps a bottle of wine was involved. After a while it got quite chilly and we gave up and went in.

Decades later I learn that the shower is best seen, in the northern hemisphere, in the hours before dawn. I doubt we would have got up that early....

Note to self: be in a dark-sky area next year ... and do something about getting decent glasses before then. You never know, the clouds might not get in the way. I'd love to see a shooting star - and/or a planet (Saturn?) through a telescope. 

Meanwhile the Astronomy Picture of the Day site continues to provide astro...y photos of wonder and interest - just look at this solar corona, it could be something (celestial phenomenon? he did a few of those) drawn by William Blake -

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 14, 2017 11:15 PM

Gerrie Congdon

If It Is The Tower of London, It Must Be Tuesday

Tuesday, the coach picked us up and delivered us at the Tower of London. We were met with a chain link fence, cordoning off a construction area.


Mr C and I had toured here a few years ago so I was not enthusiastic about expending energy up and down stairs and to check out the Crown Jewels. We made our way to the entrance and up to a plaza area where I found a bench. It was a beautiful day and I was a bit weary so I decided I would just people watch. I loved this view of the chapel with one of the very avant garde modern buildings in the background.

I also got this photo of one of the ravens that live on the grounds.

Here is a bit of trivia about them:

Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. According to the stories, it was Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected.

This was against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.

Despite the painless clipping of one wing, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have even been sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.

‘The ravens eat 170g of raw meat a day, plus bird biscuits soaked in blood. They also enjoy an egg once a week, the occasional rabbit (complete with fur) and scraps of fried bread.

I also had a view of the red suited guards who marched back and forth. I had a video of them, but I guess I deleted it.

We also decided to join a Yeoman Warder tour ( also known as Beefeaters). They are very articulate and funny.

He ended the tour in the chapel where we could ask questions. I thought the windows were beautiful.

Then, we were back on the bus and off to the Thames where we had a boat ride to the Westminster Pier. Here is a collage of photos:

We were then on our own. By this time, I was starving and about to hit the wall from exhaustion and jet lag. I will admit to being a bit of a mench!! We found a place for lunch and pondered our next adventure. It was between walking over the bridge and riding on The London Eye that  giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames or walking to the National Gallery of London. I opted for the National Gallery and we headed to Trafalgar Square. It was a bit warm and I was still hitting that jet lag wall. We found our priest, Julia, sitting in the square with a friend of the family who works in London. They got up to leave and gave us their seats in the shade. I kept looking at the National Gallery in front of us.

I finally said, I need to go back to the hotel room and take a nap. Mr C was not at all unhappy with this decision. We fell into bed and a deep sleep. We woke feeling refreshed and found a nice place for dinner on High Street. It was the cure for my crankiness.

Here is my activity for Day 2 in London. Taking the Underground will provide you with plenty of flights of stairs!


by Gerrie at August 14, 2017 12:21 AM

August 13, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Another wonderful day of garden-making

The plants waited patiently in the back garden -
 Just after 11, full of croissants and coffee, we were ready to continue planting -
The bags, emptied of compost and topsoil, are used for rubble and for pea gravel - rubble goes to the dump eventually, and the pea gravel might get used next to the house, for better drainage.

Once the other tree (lilacs as topiary - who knew!) was in, Gemma was roped in to plant the window boxes - we ended up with six -
 The morning sun turned to shade, and the shade later gave way to sun again, and after some hours of sifting soil I started with the actual planting. Removed from pots and sunk into the ground, the plants were not so tall....
Lavender, astilbe, Miscanthus sinensis 'Red Chief', hydrangea paniculata, japanese anenome,
between those lillipop lilacs that make me smile
 Only a few plants are left lingering in the back garden -
 I took some time off to go to the cinema, a 1-minute walk away - the film was Howard's End, a 1992 Merchant/Ivory film for which Emma Thompson won an Oscar as Best Actress. I've not read the book (published in 1910), despite being an E.M. Forster fan, but might be tempted to.
Screen 4, Crouch End Picturehouse, on a aunny Sunday afternoon
Back at the flat, the garden was (ignore the bags!) looking good, and the windowboxes were in place.  Gemma and I kept working till the street lights came on -
The soil-sifting-and-reconstitution has almost reached the fence now. It's full of so much gravel here - to be replaced with "compost" from those bags.

It's a very happy-making thing, is making a garden. I shall be quite sad when this is done, but it will give a chance to pay some attention to my own little patch of ground, in which self-seeded nasturtiums are taking over.

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 13, 2017 10:13 PM

Terry Grant

The Very Fun Vacation, part 1

Los Angeles. Just those two words strike fear in my heart. As Ray says, it's a love/hate thing. Love the many amazing things to see and do. Love the weather. Hate the freeways, traffic, confusion. Hate the weather. I thought I had "done" Southern California, with no need to return. I sort of cherished that idea. "I've been there, had a great time, seen a lot, survived the experience and never have to do that again." But then my daughter announced that at the end of their trip to Ecuador to visit family, they were considering a several-day layover in Los Angeles. Their kids had never been to any of the attractions. Wouldn't that be fun? So we had to agree it would be, and Ray and I made our plans to meet them there.

Ray and I arrived two days ahead of the family, so we could do some of our favorite things first. We spent a day at the Getty Museum—in my opinion the very best reason to go to LA and risk life and limb on the freeway. Without a lot of explanation, let me just say it is a museum experience like nothing else, combining natural beauty, architectural genius and great art. The featured exhibits were in celebration of David Hockney's 80th birthday, and were perfection, but did not allow photography.

That evening we met Karen and Ted Rips for dinner and had a great visit! It was, in all, a wonderful day.

The next day we headed down to Olivera Street, where Los Angeles was born. We toured the oldest house in Los Angeles, browsed the Mexican wares in the shops and market and enjoyed an overpriced, but tasty lunch. When in Los Angeles one must go to Olivera Street. It never changes.

Then—a return to someplace very special.

Many years ago I read a story about a man, Simon Rodia, who, over many years, built fantastical structures and mosaics of found objects and broken crockery, in his humble garden in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the early '80s, we took our kids to Disneyland and I persuaded Ray to help me find the Watts Towers, as they had come to be known. We drove through a sketchy area of LA, guided by a paper map, with our two small children, and found it—one of the most magical things I had ever seen. I have thought about it for all these years, so on our recent trip we returned to see it again. It has not lost its magic. (For more information go to

My heart was happy. My California to-do list complete. Tomorrow the family arrives and Phase 2 of our California adventure begins!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at August 13, 2017 10:52 AM

August 12, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Happy gardening

The weedy patch outside the living room of Tom and Gemma's flat is gradually being transformed. For years it had been waist-high in weeds, and at one point had suffered an incursion of pea gravel, in an attempt to control those weeds. For the past couple of weeks I've been digging up and sifting the soil to get out the rubble and the pea gravel, and now the area between the old wall and the new paving is just about completely sifted.

This is "the vision" - though the garden is not so large, nor so enclosed

First the long taproots to the alkanet were dug out, the in came the same and and "the machine" -
 After which the paving slabs were laid out, and rejigged ...
...until there was a template, and they could gradually be bedded in. As soon as possible, even before the layout was finished, I started on the "earthworks" - the removal of extra sand, and the reconditioning of the soil, including the removal of a few more of those tap roots, and of the not-yet-rotted roots of a sizeable tree, cut down some years ago.

 All slabs in place, and soil work is moving along -
 Much rubble and pea gravel was removed, and compost and topsoil added -
 And finally it was time to go to the garden centre - a 30-minute drive to Crews Hill - and get a few plants  -
 They fit into the car - just -
 and it was thrilling to see them set out on the wall -

 Even though we'd bought more soil, it wasn't enough, and it quickly became obvious that not all the plants would go into the ground today -
 But we worked till dark, planting one of the "lollipop" lilac trees and making progress with the window boxes -
 Work continues tomorrow; meanwhile the plants are spending the night in the safety of the back garden.
Two sides haven't yet had their soil work, but progress is noticeable, and we get a lot of nice comments from passers-by, who've seen nothing but weeds for years.

Possibly not all plants were wise choices ... verbena, salvia, syringia, astilbe, japanese anenome, delphinium, lavender, hydrangea, a grass, fuchsia, and a small yew ("Can grow more quickly than anticipated") for that shady corner....

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 12, 2017 11:29 PM

Gerrie Congdon

Exploring London

Our hotel in London was in the Kensington area with a short walk to the Underground Station. We met out guide and several other members of our Trinity group in the lobby after breakfast and made our way to the station. It was recommended that we buy an Oyster Card which is a weekly pass for using transit in London. We got a tutorial on what trains go where and how to use the underground and headed for St. Paul’s Cathedral which is in the main London area, near the Thames.

We then went off in separate directions. Mr C and I had decided to head over the Millenium Bridge to the Tate Modern. The Millenium Bridge is a modern pedestrian bridge across the Thames. It is directly across from St. Paul’s, where the choir was to be artists in residence for the next week. Here is a collage of views of and from the bridge. (Click to see larger images.)

While walking across, we discovered a guy making a tiny painting on the bridge. Then we found several of these paintings scattered on the bridge surface. Apparently, he makes a background from gum and then paints it.

At the Tate, we bought tickets for a  special exhibit of Giacometti sculptures. No photos were allowed. The exhibit was extensive and we really enjoyed it.


We went to the top floor to have lunch. There were big windows with a view across the river. The dome is St. Pauls.

I also took this panoramic shot from the outside deck. I really love the mixture of very avant garde modern architecture, mixed with the traditional and more ancient architecture. Be sure to click on this link for the impact of this photo.

After lunch we visited the free galleries to see more art.

I photographed these images because they look like interesting layouts for some quilts.

We hung around the area and did some people watching before going back across the bridge to St. Paul’s for the first Evensong sung by the choir. Then back on the underground to the hotel for some dinner.

As I may have mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have been plagued with backaches since my knee replacement surgery. I was very concerned about my ability to keep up with everyone on this trip. I did quite well. I often had to stop and rest. My pain always subsides when I sit for a bit. We had pretty great weather for most of the trip.

I was amazed when I checked my activity level for the day:

by Gerrie at August 12, 2017 03:55 AM

August 11, 2017

Olga Norris

More runners

The stamps generated this version of the runners.  The Greek ones date from the Cyprus problems which involved Britain, in the 50s.  My father had to put up with a lot of gentle criticism in Greece that summer, and it was the first time I thought about politics. 
The German stamp fitted visually as well as thematically, then the runners arranged themselves.  But something was needed to bring all together.

by Olga Norris ( at August 11, 2017 02:17 PM

Margaret Cooter

Colourful covers for little books

Again this year, Contemporary Quilt will be raising funds for the group by selling "little notebooks" at Festival of Quilts. In the past week I've made a few dozen little blank books - what pleasure it was to paint and stamp the covers, and to choose threads for the pamphlet stitch that holds the books together.

The decorative covers start as a messy piece of cartridge paper, slathered and splashed with acrylic paints until it's plasticised -
 Then I find some stamps, either purchased or cut from lino in years past - they get painted with acrylic paint, sometimes two colours at a time -
 Stamping candidates include the odd kitchen tool - and tubes such as toilet rolls are excellent, used sparingly in a contrasting colour -
 An entire sheet (A2 size) - this will make 16 little books -
 A detail - it looks so much better when there's less of it! -

Entire sheet, almost densely patterned enough
Once it's cut to size, there's about this much on an individual book

Needs a bit more on the left

...or does it?

Love those spirals! 

Some of the collection have patterns inside the covers too
(others will be sewn on the train to FOQ)

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 11, 2017 08:07 AM

Neki Rivera


may all this knowledge be preserved.
have a good weekend

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at August 11, 2017 08:00 AM

Gerrie Congdon


I know I have been missing from this blog for a loooong time. I lost interest. I got wrapped up in political stuff. I was spending my energy on Instagram and Facebook. I love reading other people’s blogs and realized that I should get back at it so here I am. I am currently very jet-lagged as Mr C and I just returned from 12 days in Paris and London. We accompanied the Trinity Cathedral Choir. They were invited to sing at Notre Dame Cathedral and the American Cathedral (Episcopal) in Paris. That is where we started our journey on Friday, July 28th.

I had not been to Paris in a long time so it was pretty exciting when our bus from the airport drove by the Arc de Triomphe. We got settled in our room and slept a bit because who can sleep on a plane?? Then we took a walk to the Eiffel Tower which was in the neighborhood of our hotel.

We found a nice restaurant near our hotel and had an early dinner. We were the only ones in the restaurant for most of our meal. We only had one day to do something fun in Paris. My choice was to go to Le Marais to the Picasso Museum. We got a ticket for the metro and off we went. When we got to our stop, Mr C went to one door and I went to another. He is out on the platform and my door is not opening and suddenly the train is taking off. I lost it! I was abandoned. A lovely family (Dad, Mom and 10 year old daughter) came to my rescue. They are French but live in Pittsburgh. They got off at the next stop with me and hatched a plan. She would wait for the next train to come and watch for Mr C. He insisted on escorting me back to the previous stop. She would call him if Mr C arrived before we got on the other train. As luck would have it, both trains arrived at the same time. She contacted us before we got on the train and Mr C and I were reunited. As scary as this was at the time, I loved what happened. This family was so kind and so generous with their time. I will never forget them. I learned that you need to push a little green button to get off the metro in Paris.

We finally arrived in Le Marais. I loved this section of Paris. I could spend days there. We found the museum with a little help from random people on the street.

We thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours here. There was a special exhibit of his work that involved all the women in his life. But, I enjoyed the permanent exhibit of his work.


At one time, he was into multi-media collages and so was kind of a fiber artist!!

(This piece has a reflection from glass.)

That evening, the choir sang mass at the Notre Dame cathedral. When we got there we were amazed to find a long line of folks waiting to get in for the service.

After the service, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with friends from Trinity. One of the couples has a second home in France where they spend several months of the year. It was good to see them. She had made a reservation at a wonderful restaurant. We had a private room and closed the place down. We decided to take a taxi back to the hotel.

The next day, a bus was supposed to pick us up and take us and our luggage to the American Cathedral, but, oops!, it never showed up. People started calling Ubers and taxis and somehow we all got to the cathedral before the morning service.



After church we had lunch nearby and then a bus picked us up and took us to the train station where we boarded the Eurostar which would take us through the chunnel to London. Another oops, as 14 people got left behind. The Eurostar waits for no one! The next train was a half hour later. They got to go first class and were served dinner and wine.

I will continue with our awesome London adventures tomorrow.


by Gerrie at August 11, 2017 04:31 AM

August 10, 2017

Sarah Ann Smith

Go Tell it at the Quilt Show

A blast from the past..almost three years ago at International Quilt Festival Houston, 2014,  I was interviewed by the Save Our Stories project.   I was able to record a little about making the portrait of our son Eli during Cross Country season 2013.  The recording has finally been uploaded to the internet, so I thought I would share.  This quilt will also be in the upcoming Rising Stars exhibit which will feature the work of two artists, me and Karlyn Bue Lorenz.  I hope you enjoy this visit, and even more I hope I will get to see some of you at my exhibit of 24 of my pieces.

by Sarah Ann Smith at August 10, 2017 01:27 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Walking, Blues by Jane Mead

Walking, Blues

Rain so dark I
can’t get through—
train going by 

in a hurry. The voice
said walk or die, I
walked,—the train

and the voice all 
blurry. I walked with 
my bones and my heart

of chalk, not even
a splintered notion:
days of thought, nights

of worry,—lonesome 
train in a hurry.


In addition to managing her family's farm in northern California, growing wine grapes, Jane Mead has published five books of poetry. Her most recent book, World of Made and Unmade, was nominated for the National Book Award. Published interviews (on her website) give insight into her work - including her use of double punctuation, which is meant so serve for precise pacing, giving information on the pace of thinking.

by Margaret Cooter ( at August 10, 2017 08:51 AM

Neki Rivera

another episode of the frugal weaver

couldn't face the leftover thrums,long ones,lying around and didn't have the heart to chuck them.
therefore here i am warping with the hopes of getting at least 50cms of woven cloth.perhaps more if i go into the trouble of using a dummy warp.stay tuned. 
in the meantime trying to decide on a design for the linen warp to start threading before our house guests arrive.
today during my morning walk i experienced the whole nomenclature of water falling from the sky.
it was an experience of beauty.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at August 10, 2017 08:00 AM

August 09, 2017

Sarah Ann Smith

Retrospective book of my work–input sought!

Hi folks!   I am in the midst of preparing a book of my work including the 24 pieces that will be in my part of the Rising Stars exhibit this coming fall at International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival Houston, as well as many of my other best pieces from the past decade and bits about my life and influences.  If you have experience selling books from either Blurb or CreateSpace (an Amazon company) let me know.  I am still undecided which platform to use.  I would dearly love your input, whether you have self-published or as a consumer.


Do I use Blurb? or Createspace? Where would you go to purchase… I’d have a link on my blog etc. to either option so folks who don’t attend Quilt Festival may also purchase a copy.

I feel the quality of the Premium Magazine at Blurb is definitely better than the book I can create through CreateSpace–I have copies of Blurb books, Blurb premium magazine (which you would never know is a “magazine” as it is exceptional quality–a teacher I know uses this for her books and it is excellent), and several books (exhibit catalogs) from CreateSpace.   I really really want top quality over profits on this, but I also would like folks to be able to purchase the book easily online.

With both platforms, I can select an 8 1/2 x 11  portrait format (vertical) so I can include large images with good detail shots.   For print quality, Blurb Premium “Magazine” wins and the cost (unlike Blurb books) is reasonable.  For customer ease and distribution, using Createspace on Amazon is better because Amazon takes a much lower percentage of the sales price is you use their platform.  What to do?

For international customers, absolutely the Amazon/CreateSpace option is better because it can be  on-demand printed from European Amazon sites, thereby reducing postage costs.  For those in the US, I can have it on my site and Amazon-or-Blurb, depending on my final decision. The Blurb “magazine” is better overall print and paper quality, the template software is superb, but even if I can manage to list it on Amazon, I would make almost nothing (less than a dollar probably) per copy to keep it in the affordable range.

Please let me know your thoughts!   Would you buy from Blurb?   Or do you vastly prefer Amazon?  Price would be $25-30 plus any shipping depending on final page count–I’m guesstimating 80 pages, but could be a bit more or a bit less.  My goal is to keep the price under $30.


by Sarah Ann Smith at August 09, 2017 06:38 PM