Planet Textile Threads

October 17, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Wallace Collection

On the way to the venue I resolved to look for "strong pattern". Maybe this?
But no, I started with the patterning on these bits of armour -
 The aim was to collect patterns from here&there, and to make a colourful page. I could have glued on the tissue paper thoughtfullly at home but did it hurriedly on site -
 and then spent an hour and a half adding bits of this&that, starting with the armour patterns in white on dark -
 Others had more sensible agendas ...
Janet B returned to "her" horse

Judith's dogs from paintings

Sue's horse armour (protection for eyes, ears, neck)
Janet K's dragon drawer-handle, approached in two ways
 Extracurricular activities
The Matisse in the Studio exhibition inspired Janet K ...

... and she also tried some "dendritic" monoprinting
 And finally....
How to keep your earphones from getting their knickers in a knot

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 17, 2017 09:27 AM

October 16, 2017

Margaret Cooter


It was so lovely yesterday to have the Whole Day to sew - and to finish the project - that I was ready to do it all over again. Mid-morning found me sat at the kitchen table [studio still in unspeakable turmoil] with a new podcast to listen to - Art for your Ear, low-key, ie relaxed, interviews with artists. One episode followed another as the bits of wood moved from block to table to floor, falling much like xmas tree needles do...

The bit of wood I'm using is an offcut from some plywood that Tom used on a job, and my subject is, well, "squiggles". I think of them as monsters -
This could be in three colours, or maybe more, or maybe just two. Part is on the back of my block, than that's completely cut, and the squiggles on the front of the block are "in progress" - my elbows started to complain -
One side ready to print - only the dots get inked
(hope there's enough space around them) - the uncut
areas support the paper

The other side just started - it's about halfway now

Once the stressed elbows have a rest, I'll get back to the multicoloured monsters. At centre, that took two class sessions to cut, and I'll print it on Wedsnesday, and then think about adding another couple of layers to print in different colours, just to see what happens...
While finding my tools I also found the block cut in the summer for texture, and did a couple of quick rubbings to get some "grids". When you see a lattice in a japanese print, it's usually been done in two separate blocks, one for each set of parallel lines. That's not cheating - it's very sensible!

 As I write, the sky is incredible, very yellow due to sand from the Sahara and further dust from Iberian forest fires, brought this way by ex-hurricane Ophelia. The particles cause scattering of blue light, apparently, causing reddish light - hence the "red sun" seen earlier [missed it!] ... but yellow light? and what about the way that everything goes so green before some thunderstorms? Obviously a topic that needs investigating... where are the tame physicists when you actually need them?

I tried to get photos of the yellow light, which is amazing behind the gloriously red ash tree across the road, but the camera kindly adjusted the lighting conditions to what it thought should be "normal" -

But hey, that's the downside of digital photos.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 16, 2017 04:12 PM

October 15, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Dressmaking starts with pattern making

It's been a mere two years since I sewed a garment - the still-unfinished ladybird dress - and for that I used a commercial pattern. This time I have garments that "just" need replicating. It's been a lot longer than two years since I copied a garment, and wow it's a steep learning curve, all over again!

So I jumped right in with both feet, heart in mouth, with an asymmetrical dress that needed a few little tweaks. ("Fear of making mistakes is the deathknell of creativity" (source)).

Whew, four hours later there is a pattern! If you want to try this at home, here's what I learned.

1. Use the largest surface you have.
 2. Check the pattern against the garment, especially after making changes - how likely are they to logically work the way you envisage?
Here, I've made the front smaller in the middle, and changed the neckline to be lower at centre front - this should(?) make it possible to use a facing rather than a stretchy knit band and still be able to get it over the head without needing zip or slit&button to enlarge the neck opening.

3. Make sure you've made all the pieces. Er, where did that left back get to ... oh ....
 Well, here it is now, adjusted a bit to make it smaller. Whether that will be better in a slightly thicker fabric ... we'll see ...

4. If you adjust the pattern and don't plan to make a trial in an unwanted fabric (to check pattern and fit), at least pin the pattern together to check the seam lengths match, and keep your eyes open for any other potential problems - eg, have you marked grainline? It's easy to forget things that seem obvious at the time (believe me....)
The back seems to fit together fine, even the long bit that
makes the tricky corner that has the front panel going round
to the back (ie, disrupting the side seam)

And the front, with compensation in the skirt for the decreases at the top,
also fits - in the paper version anyway...

The pocket needs moving closer to the side seam
 And finally, we're ready for the fun part - cutting and sewing.
I'm imagining this will take less time than making the pattern, once I decide whether to use the straight-stitch machine that's set up on the sewing table (which would need practice in stretching seams to just the right amount during stitching), or to dig out the fancy machine. This really would need digging - and moving other objects in the studio would probably lead to much distraction and/or disorder. 

Later that evening ...

It took about four hours to do the cutting and sewing - and it was lovely to have the entire day to devote to this project. 

Using a facing for the neck worked out well. First step was to overlap the centres on the bodice, then the facing was added to front and to back, and then the shoulders were sewn -
Sleeves were set in, and  one sleeve/bodice seam sewn (the "short side"). Then the skirt parts were overlapped and seamed, and the skirt fitted onto the bodice, with bodice overlapping skirt to make a nice visible diagonal line. Here you can see the pins and the "long side seam", which will be sewn once the skirt is on -
 After that it's a matter of the hem (which needed some careful adjustment and levelling) and the sleeve hems - both sewn with two parallel lines of straight stitch. In fact straight stitch was used throughout, with a longish stitch length. I stretched the fabric a bit during the sewing - though boiled and fairly solid, it still did have some of the knit/jersey "give", and the

The colours are a bit strange in the next photo ... the yellow is more golden than mustardy in the original, and the new one is definitely not pink!
Oops, still the pocket to put on ... a very important feature. 

My focus in making this today was the desire to wear it this evening. Just like in teenage days - needing something new to wear to a party (remember that?) and getting some fabric and a pattern, and whipping something up. Such a satisfaction, then and now.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 15, 2017 09:58 PM

Olga Norris


Today I have been wandering through the ArtUk site, gazing at the wealth of content, working from the artists.  These are paintings in public collections in the UK, and can be seen - well, not all are actually on display, but the theory is that by contacting the institution a viewing can be arranged.
Anne Redpath: Terraced fields, Gran Canaria (image from here)
I wanted to reacquaint myself with old favourites, as for example Anne Redpath.
Anne Redpath: Landscape at Kyleakin (image from here)
I love her use of colour; three of the paintings in the public collections particularly catching my attention today.  I was taken with the transition from the deep reds of Gran Canaria through the reds, greys, and whites of Kyleakin to the whites and greys with scant but essential red of the still life below.
Anne Redpath: Grey Still Life, The Venetian Blind (image from here)
How wondrous to include a venetian blind!  I cannot off the top of my head think of another still life with such dynamic horizontals, translucent, arising from what might otherwise be thought a boring object.  Doubly delightful after having seen this image for the first time is the discovery that it is held in the collection of the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal, Cumbria - a favourite destination of ours when we are up in the North West of England, or on our way to Scotland.  So I hope to be able to see the painting for real some day.

by Olga Norris ( at October 15, 2017 07:49 PM

Terry Grant

The US Virgin Islands

In 1992 Ray first went to the US Virgin Islands as a consultant, managing the implementation of a new student information system at the University of the Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas. Talk about a dream job! Well, it was actually hard work and not always a dream, but he fell in love with the place and the people, and when I was able to visit, so did I. After that initial job ended he stayed in touch and over the past 25 years he has returned numerous times for special projects at the university. We have made friends and shared in many memorable and beautiful adventures in that bit of paradise and have watched in horror as so much of it has been destroyed by Hurricanes this past month. Very alarming to me, has been the lack of attention the USVI has received from the news and the US government. I know—between hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and even that volcano in the South Pacific, it's hard to know who needs help first or most. Everyone needs it. Most of us can't do much, but each of us can do something.

When Ray made that first trip, in 1992, I made the quilt, above, as a gift for him. It is called "Red Roofs of Charlotte Amalie." Charlotte Amalie is the main town on St. Thomas, famous for the beautiful, old white, shuttered houses with their distinctive red roofs. It was the first art quilt I ever entered in a juried show and it won a prize! It's old now, but still one of my favorites. It was made with love and has a lot of meaning. Last week I had prints of the quilt made to offer to anyone who would like to make a donation to Hurricane relief for The US Virgin Islands. Today's email from a friend in St. Thomas paints a grim picture of widespread destruction and difficulty. He writes:

"I've been working to replace the roofs that were blown off the small detached apartment. I'm sort of re engineering it to make it stronger so it won't happen again in the next hurricane. Getting plywood and screws has been a challenge. Fortunately I already owned many tools or this would be even more daunting. I'm replying to this now because it's raining again and I had to stop working outside.

I believe about 10 percent of St Thomas has electricity. St John is zero percent and St Croix is similar to here. I think about half of St Thomas has cell coverage and none on St John. There is a curfew between 7pm and 5am here. Other islands are different. There are still power lines and other debris on the roadways making travel dangerous. There are no traffic signals and most traffic signs are gone. Home Depot isn't really open other than for some lumber because of damage. Cost U Less is closed, a Costco knock off. There are lines at the gas stations that are open. Lines at banks and ATMs. To acquire anything may take all day. Few places have a connection to run credit cards. This is a cash economy. It's very weird.

I myself have bad days and worse days. I try not to think about what all has happened. It's too overwhelming. I'm trying to focus on fixing the apartment to get it rented and then fix the leaks in my house and then find full employment to see where that leaves me. My boat is so damaged I can't even sail away.....

Life is hard here. Many have left with no intention of returning. The numbers of homeless, jobless and prospect less is astounding."

So, here's my deal, my small "something"—make a donation of $10, or more to hurricane relief specifically designated for the USVI, and I will send you a 5" x 7" print of "Red Roofs..." I am donating the cost of printing and mailing, so your entire donation will benefit the Islands. Here are three ways you can do this:

  1. Use this PayPal button for your donation to my PayPal account. I will transfer all proceeds to the One America Fund, established by our five living past US presidents, for hurricane relief to the US Virgin Islands. (Be sure you include your name and mailing address. )

  2. Make your donation directly to the One America Fund (, designating it for the Virgin Islands, then email me with your mailing address so I can send your print.

  3. Visit me in my studio during the Washington County Artists Open Studio Tour next weekend (October 21 & 22), see the original quilt on display, make a donation and take home your print.

Everything helps, Small donations add up. Maybe, between us, we can donate enough to restore at least one of those red roofs! It will be beautiful and safe again and I hope you will see it all for yourself someday. Thank you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at October 15, 2017 02:36 PM

October 14, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Dressmaking is in the pipeline

Despite efforts to convince myself otherwise, because I love the wonderful purpley-brown colour - and the warmth of boiled wool - I have to recognise that the skirt recently purchased doesn't fit. The larger size was comfortably loose but the waist was ... well, was there a waist? ... and the smaller, which came home for a better assessment, is a bit snug round the thighs and the waist is still wrong.

Then, a lightbulb moment - take a pattern from the garment, adjust it, and look for boiled wool at the Knitting & Stitching show. 

It's been a while since I attempted any garment sewing - 2015 in fact. And even longer since making a pattern - the book that got me going on this was published in 1996 - "Patterns from Finished Clothes: Recreating the clothes you love" by Tracy Doyle. 

Here we are ready to start - "like a patient etherized upon a table" comes to mind - but no finished garments will be harmed in the process....
Getting this far involved finding the tracing wheel, which involved a LOT of turmoil in the studio, sorting through shelves and cupboards and delving into baskets and boxes. The mess remains, but that's ok for now.

A garment needs more than its shell - there's lining (still to buy) and "notions". I found some petersham ribbon in my Ribbons drawer (yes, a whole drawer full of ribbons, excessive I know) - never mind that it's white for a dark skirt, it's an internal waistband and will be a mark of individuality. White for the purple one, and yellow (though it's a bit narrow) for the navy one. And zips of the right length - and colour - emerged from the "recycled zips" drawer. Result!
 As for the ladybird dress started in 2015 - it needs a fitting session, first of all, and then I can take a deep breath and get to grips with putting in the zip ... something I used to be able to do with my eyes closed.

Now the skirt pattern has been traced and checked and adjusted and is ready to use -
The boiled wool is having a gentle pre-wash - 
 and the next patient is etherized on the table -
This will be made in the red fabric, a thin, part-viscose boiled wood, which was washed on arrival and is currently drying.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 14, 2017 10:20 AM

October 13, 2017

Neki Rivera


won't be just any night.
have a good weekend!

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at October 13, 2017 12:51 PM

Margaret Cooter

At The Rookery

The Rookery is a cafe stop on the Crystal Palace to Streatham stretch of the Capital Ring. We didn't have a coffee there, but did descend to the lower terrace to look at the old garden. The house, and two of the mineral springs that made Streatham into a spa town in the 18th century, have gone, but thanks to the efforst of local residents the park has remained, and also the gardens.
Against the light, and gently waving in the breeze

What are these? some sort of lily?


Ferns populate the remaining mineral-springs, now a well

... a well under repair ...

"The Well House (or Streatham Wells as it is referred to on John Rocque's map of 1746) was built in the early C18 to house visitors to the spa which developed around the mineral springs discovered at Streatham in 1659. The adjacent house, The Rookery, was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the numerous visitors; it was demolished in 1912.

In 1911 the 3 acre (1.25ha) site was threatened with redevelopment and was purchased for £3,075, raised by public subscription. The Rookery was presented to London County Council in 1912; it was then added to Streatham Common and opened as a public park in July 1913.

In 1923 the London County Council published a description of The Rookery which included an Old English Garden, a wild garden, a white garden, and two 'majestic' cedars on the lawns." (source)

Elsewhere on the walk, vistas of the North Downs - 
We started at Crystal Palace overground station, which has a grandeur befitting arriving at a palace (which, though made of glass, unfortunately burnt down in the 1930s) -
 Near the station was an arts cafe, with this beautifully shibori-textured kimono for sale -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 13, 2017 09:03 AM

October 12, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Woodblock printing research (and Poetry Thursday)

One of the "personal aims" that I added to the pre-course evaluation form (yes the forms are a nuisance but they can be useful for focusing your mind...) was to research the topic. As three of the eight sessions are now over with, it's time to get going on this.

(Another aim, not written on the form because it's come to me slowly, is to figure out "why woodcut". Reflecting on the process, in comparison to linocuts, I do love the sound of the wood (shina plywood) being cut, and this would be lost in linocutting. Also the wood needs respect - bits can come loose if you're not careful. And the gaining of skill takes care, which means taking time, which means slowing down and "mindfulness" - which is a good thing in this hectic world.)

Fortuitously, in the search for a book about postwar japanese prints, this book emerged from my shelves -
Cover: Black Horse by Jerzy Panek, 1959
It accompanied a national touring exhibition of "xylography" in 1993/4, and is a succinct introduction to the topic. (Also it's the perfect size for taking along in a pocket for reading on a Tube journey.)

The pictures range from Joan Hassall's tiny, detailed wood engraving to Ken Kiff's expansive cuts on plywood -
 and from Erich Heckel (1919) to Ando Hiroshige (1857) -

Joan Hassall (1906-88) supplies the illustration to the Poetry Thursday component of this post (just look at that fur) -

A Dead Mole

Strong-shouldered mole,
That so much lived below the ground,
Dug, fought and loved, hunted and fed,
For you to raise a mound
Was as for us to make a hole;
What wonder now that being dead
Your body lies here stout and square
Buried within the blue vault of the air?

by Andrew Young (1885-1971); the book was published by Jonathan Cape in 1950.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 12, 2017 10:31 AM

October 11, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Wednesday = woodblock + walk

The plan for the day

The printing set-up

But I was still cutting, and then taking a rubbing and thinking ahead...
no printing for me today

Lesson on sharpening tools

First prints by some of the others 
I love doing the cutting, much more than for linocuts, but am still pondering whether linocuts would serve my purposes as well, or be less complicated/risky/tricky....

What discombobulated me for the class this morning was leaving my Fitbit at home, charging. By the time I remembered, there wasn't time to go back for it, and oh my, what a wrench! I've worn it for upwards of three months and am a teeny bit obsessed by doing the 10K (or more) steps daily. To have the 3000 or so steps involved in getting to class and back left uncounted, what a waste - and, do I have enough energy to re-do them... After a reviving lunch, though, I bounded over the hill and did a bit of gardening - each trip to the kitchen to refill the watering can adds at least 100 steps...
Cat's eye view - the cats who come to use their "toilet" are now being watched by a sonic "thing",
but it doesn't seem to be deterring them, and why would it - after 20+ years of
using this patch, nothing has changed for them (the rotters)
 Then a long and reasonably speedy wander through the back streets of Hornsey and Crouch End, an area built up from the 1870s to the 1900s - so there's a bit of Arts and Crafts influence here and there -
Sunflowers instead of  window

Colourful stretch on Claremont Rd N6

Street tree with a cumbersome growth

Houses with their original names - 
Wolsey Villa and Burnaby Villa

Seen from Parkland Walk - extensions "before and after"

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 11, 2017 08:10 PM

Neki Rivera

to be woven

on the loom.this is white on white, not very blogable,but i am aiming at a brocade-like texture.
the warp is being sized and drying, then debugging. hopefully weaving before the weekend.
that is if i can refrain from going out and enjoying these glorious autumn days.

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

October 10, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of the Order of St John

The museum is under a suitably medieval archway in Clerkenwell, and the Order dates back to the knights of Malta going on crusade - "an ancient religious military Order, from its origins caring for sick pilgrims in eleventh century Jerusalem, through to its modern-day role with St John Ambulance, the international first aid charity."

It's not large, but had many interesting objects and we could spread out.

One of "my" objects was this ornate jar in the entrance -
 Another, in the St John's Ambulance section, was "Joey", a training model for lifting, designed by John Lowe in the 1950s -

Sue was intrigued by the detail on the model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre -
 Joyce found a display of ambulance-related objects -
 Carol noticed the signs of a history of heavy use on the communion set -
 Janet K also tackled the church model (apologies for the blurry photo!) -
 Extracurricular activities

Janet's fig tree yielded some pattern-making with tracings of leaves
 Joyce brought in more examples of printing with found objects -
Near the museum is the cavern of delights known as Stevenson's art store, and it seemed necessary to wander among its temptations for a while -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 10, 2017 09:46 AM

Neki Rivera

infinite goop

lacing at last. but right there i stopped and paid attention. yup, it's a singles linen and very thin,trouble ahead. 
the shirley held book, the one i refuse to part with, the same that is selling at amazon for €115.44 recommends a linseed  sizing.

luckily one can get linseed very easily here.
the recipe gives no quantities so i used one cup seeds and two cups of water; boiled softly for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
the resulting goop was unbelievable! a very interesting texture though. there was no way that would filter so i put it through a panty hose and squeezed takes a long while.
it's interesting to note how each culture uses what's at hand. japanese make their goop using seaweed, in europe linseed is more readily available while in africa certain yams are used to make the sizing.
next time i'll use the panty hose to hold the seeds while they cook to produce a seedless goop.
all in all it was a kind of funny adventure, but readers be warned : use a panty hose.
perhaps hairdressers could use it  instead of hairspray like the goop used in the 60's.
oh that great lesley gore flip

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

October 09, 2017

Olga Norris

Excellent timing

My bedtime reading at present is SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard.  I am enjoying this, reading it slowly to chew over all the information.  As described in this review, the book is engaging - but I was delighted to find a FutureLearn course covering the development of Rome from Dr Matthew Nicholls of Reading University Classics department
(image above from here)
The course started today, and it is quite a revelation.  These free online courses are amazing.  I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the ones I have pursued.

by Olga Norris ( at October 09, 2017 06:49 PM

Margaret Cooter

Sunny Sunday gardening delight

Early-morning view from my window - Raywood Ashes in blazing glory

Walking over the hill to do some gardening

Taking out the last of the old stones etc

Lunch break along Green Lanes, on the way to get more bags of soil

Still more soil needed, but otherwise dug and dusted

After the repointing gets done, bulbs and ferns will be planted near the house

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 09, 2017 12:04 PM

In the money

Looking in my desk for a cartridge for my fountain pen (yes, such things still exist...) I found a little cache of money. (Life is full of surprises!)

The John Lewis vouchers don't have a "use by" date, fortunately - but the old £5 notes did. They  now have to be taken to the bank to be exchanged for new plastic - or rather polymer - notes. The Bank of England's FAQs say:
As at end-June 2017, there were approximately 127.2 million paper £5 banknotes still in circulation, worth around £636 million. [In comparison, there were approximately 255.6 million polymer £5 banknotes in circulation, worth around £1.3bn.] 
For those holding these notes, the Bank of England will always exchange its old-series notes. Notes may be presented for payment either in person or sent by post (at the sender’s risk) to: Dept NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH."

The coins in my little hoard include some chocolate coins from a long-ago Christmas stocking - they represent a huge old five pence, and a £1 coin. Those £1 coins, though, are going out of circulation on Sunday 15 October ... so use them up now, or you'll have to take them to the bank or post office, to exchange for the new 12-sided version, which is harder to counterfeit - apparently 1 in 30 of the old coins in circulation were fakes.

Shops are likely to ignore the deadline, it was reported on 9 October: "Trade association says shortage of new coins means they will continue to accept existing version". They could take the coins, but shouldn't be handing them out.

There are still 500 million round £1coins in circulation, even though 1.2 billion have been handed in.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 09, 2017 09:52 AM

Neki Rivera

getting back the hang of things

trying to get into some normality.the news from puerto rico are  not getting better and trump's visit only added insult to injury. literally.
meanwhile things do not look too good in catalunya. all in all i am emotionally exhausted and trying to find some peace.
weaving. my rig to help reeding become more efficient. lots of bossa nova on spotify and the promise of opera  at the end of the week.

by the time this gets published i will have finished reeding.
oh future perfect!!

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at October 09, 2017 08:00 AM

October 08, 2017

Margaret Cooter

The doorsteps of Upper Street

Saturday stroll along Islington's premier shopping (and eating) street. Keep your eyes on the ground...

And there are others...

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 08, 2017 10:46 AM

October 07, 2017

Olga Norris

Tree cutting theatre

The renovation cycle has turned, and amongst other jobs which are being and to be done, tree cutting was added.  (A sub-clause of the jammy piece principle - if dropped, a jammy piece will fall jammy side down - is that if great sums of money are being paid out, another large expense will force its way up the queue.)  The poplar had grown so high that were it so to fall, it would smash my sewing room.  A drastic crown reduction was called for.
The rule, just as in cutting fabric, is look and discuss at length before beginning the climb - especially as the tree grows between an electricity wire and a public path to a primary school.
A twice-extended ladder forms the foothills of the ascent, which reaches the topmost branches in order to secure the rope.
Then, with the rope in place, the descent to the cutting can begin.
And with the cut line established after a few hours, the cutting for the day more or less ends (a less experienced guy is given the opportunity in the afternoon to climb up and experience cutting at the great height !).  Clearing - the much longer job - begins.
On the two subsequent days the experienced climber and cutter gradually works his way across the tree.  Although there is much crashing of falling timber, the job on the whole is remarkably elegantly and skillfully done. 

Another less experienced guy gets the opportunity ! to climb up to cut the final bit of branch and retrieve the rope.
All was busyness and noise for four days, and then on the fifth the fence was mended (a couple of pieces of tree didn't miss it), and now all is quiet.  And we are discovering how agile the squirrels are.  Discombobulated at first because their electricity super highway was previously brushed by branches.  Now they really have to l e a p!  And they do.
And we have a greatly augmented wood pile - not to mention having an entertaining spectacle to compensate for the lack of work that I achieved.

by Olga Norris ( at October 07, 2017 02:02 PM

October 06, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Making time to make and do

Meeting up with people and going to exhibitions and talks is all very well, in fact I love it, but sometimes you discover that lots of "domestic maintenance" and other things below the Radar Of Fun need to be sorted. And in the worst case, you don't even remember what those "things" are ... there's just a terrible half-awareness that there are a lot of them...

So I've carved out a block of time by cancelling everything for a few days, and putting the Radar Of Fun onto go-slow in terms of taking on new events, just for a wee while.

To start with, in terms of sorting out What is What (or where, or when), I reinstated the morning pages (remember those, from The Artists Way?) and found a book from 2005 (!) that had some blank pages, probably enough for this particular rescue mission. I used to enjoy starting the day with a coffee and the fountain pen, filling three pages in the book - dumping the troubling stuff out, and/or thinking about the ins and outs of the current or future art project. 

The dense writing of 2017 contrasts with the spaciousness of 2005
This morning I also had my List Pad to hand, open to the page with the list started 18 September, of which I've crossed off practically nothing. And some of the items on it are so inconsequential, would take such a short time, that they hardly merit being written down...

But the idea of the Long List is that everything is there - and then you choose only 3 items to focus on each day. Sometimes not all 3 get done; never mind; you might well find that some of the other items did get done. "Do a little of everything, and eventually it will all get done" is another approach, and it's not incompatible with my "3 things" method - having written down what the tasks are, you don't have to keep them in mind, and can do them without feeling pressure. Unless there's a deadline, of course .... that's a whole nother strategy ....

Freed from pressure, and with sunshine luring me outside for a walk, my perverse subconscious would not let me go - "just tidy up that kitchen counter" it said; "remember how nice it was, back at Wrentham Avenue when the estate agent might drop by while you were out so you had to keep it very tidy at all times, how nice it was to come back to those perfectly tidy rooms? At least do the dishes and shine the sink." Which I did, and somehow that turned into an hour of degreasing the cooker hood, wiping down the tiles, deranging the undersink cupboard somewhat, etc etc - but how good to see it sparkle -
Knife block made my my brother, cutlery drainer a gift from Daphne (last century!), and the cups each have their own stories. Cooker could do with replacing, but not this week. The kitchen was built in 1994 - to cut costs I did a lot of painting and varnishing, and also the tiling.

And then, the Parkland Walk -
 Eventually a spot of lunch in one of Crouch End's myriad cafes -
Back at home, a little gentle mending - the ravelled sleeves of care are getting "knitted" - looks a bit clumsy but the colour matches at least -
The "rest cure" is starting to work; everything no longer seems completely impossible. I'm trying to open up some time for art and/or sewing.

Sometimes you need to stop ... only it's not really stopping, is it? 

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 06, 2017 06:38 PM

October 05, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Plums by Gillian Clarke

The equinox has been and gone, and we're into the dark half of the year - it's autumn. My favourite season, with crisp days and vivid trees - somehow it feels like the beginning of a new year, is that because of all those years of "back to school" all those years ago, and the resumption of adult ed classes now? It feels like a time to set things to rights, to bed down the garden, to start a new bit of knitting. And seasonal food changes - goodbye to the nectarines that I have so enjoyed this year, cut into big chunks and topped with greek yogurt (full-fat of course). 

Still a few nectarines, before we get to the plums

Here then are some plums for autumn - not  William Carlos Williams' sweet and cold ones, which you may already know, but plums that are being caught as they fall from the tree, or else heard falling.


Gillian Clarke

When their time comes they fall
without wind, without rain.
They seep through the trees’ muslin
in a slow fermentation.
Daily the low sun warms them
in a late love that is sweeter
than summer. In bed at night
we hear heartbeat of fruitfall.
The secretive slugs crawl home
to the burst honeys, are found
in the morning mouth on mouth,
We spread patchwork counterpanes
for a clean catch. Baskets fill,
never before such harvest,
such a hunters’ moon burning
the hawthorns, drunk on syrups
that are richer by night
when spiders pitch
tents in the wet grass.
This morning the red sun
is opening like a rose
on our white wall, prints there
the fishbone shadow of a fern.
The early blackbirds fly
guilty from a dawn haul
of fallen fruit. We too
breakfast on sweetnesses.
Soon plum trees will be bone,
grown delicate with frost’s
formalities. Their black
angles will tear the snow.
From Gillian Clarke's Selected Poems
(Found here, where there are nine more delicious poems about autumn.)

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 05, 2017 06:03 PM