Friday, 8 September 2017

Autumn leaves & Silver Linings

I'd hoped to have finished my barn owl wall hanging by now, but as I mentioned in earlier posts, things have been a bit busy recently. I have made some progress though, with machine embroidery.

The stitches represent the wheat in the field around the owl. There's still a lot more to do, much more machine embroidery and some hand stitching as well.

I found this leaf this week and I couldn't resist picking it up. The colours on it are so lovely, starting to turn from green to autumnal yellow and red.

We've had some sunny weather this week which produced beautiful sky scenes that I managed to capture in photos. A lovely blue sky with white fluffy clouds and the sun shining off them like silver lining.

This photo would be better if the telephone line wasn't right in the middle of it but I had to take it anyway! 😁 I thought the clouds looked like fluffy white hills.

I received a delivery of some gorgeous yarn this week which I'd ordered to try out as the colours are so beautiful. When I opened the package, I was surprised at how soft it is.

I can't wait to crochet with it in my spare time to see what it's like to handle. It's dyed different colours along the length of yarn, so the shade will change as I work and should produce a great effect. I'll show you the results when I've finished.

Have a great weekend. 😊

Friday, 18 August 2017

Musings on Spiders.

*Arachnophobes Beware!*

It’s been a bit of a slow week on the textile front due to various things, but I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

On Tuesday, I found a garden spider weaving her orb web in the garden early in the morning. I’ve seen a spider making her web before – and walked into a few! - but I’ve never actually taken the time to watch properly, so I stayed to see how she did it. I know she’s a she because she’s fairly big and the females are bigger than the males.

She’d already done the “spokes” and was in the middle of creating the sticky spiral, working from the outside to the inside. I hope you can see her spinning her web in this photo. It was quite a big web!

Just after I took this, a miniscule fly crashed into her web and she immediately scuttled to the centre. The web bounced a bit, which seemed to be too big a movement for the tiny fly, so I’m assuming that the spider was bouncing it to determine where in her web the fly was. Within a few seconds, she went directly to the fly, untangled it from the wheel of silk and took it back to the centre. That left a hole where the fly had been. I couldn’t see whether she ate it or kept it in her mouth to suck the juices from it, but she didn’t stay there, she carried on with her weaving, like a working breakfast. Coffee and toast to go! Sorry if you’re a bit squeamish.

While watching her, the story of Robert the Bruce came to mind, something I haven’t thought about in years. He watched a spider spinning her web in a cave while he was hiding. To be honest, I couldn’t remember who it was who took shelter in the cave so I had to look it up. But, while I was doing that, I found one version of the story that said the spider was trying to climb the cave wall to get to her web at the top. She kept falling down but tried again and again to reach her web and eventually succeeded.

This isn’t the version I remembered, so I kept searching and found another version which said Robert the Bruce watched the spider trying to spin her web. The first strand she sent out to the other side of the cave didn’t reach, nor did the second or third, but she kept trying and on the seventh attempt it worked. This was also not the version I’d heard, but is similar to it.

From what I remember, the story was that Robert the Bruce had gone into hiding after his Scottish army had been defeated by the English. He hid in a cave, thinking about giving up his defence of Scotland and while there he saw a spider spinning her web at the entrance of the cave. (That’s all the same so far, but this is where the versions differ.) She made her web but when it was complete, a strong wind came up and blew it away. She spun another, but it began to rain heavily and the web was washed away. She created web after web but even though it kept getting destroyed, the spider determinedly continued until eventually the sun shone and her web stayed in place. This made Robert the Bruce realise that he shouldn’t give up. He rallied his army, fought the English again and won.

The whole point of the story, of course, is that if you’re determined and keep trying, you’ll succeed in your aim. I did used to wonder why spiders build their webs where they keep being destroyed, but watching this one on Tuesday made me realise how they just keep going. Web gets ruined - never mind, build another one! However many times they need to weave, they weave.

This, in turn, brought to mind the Nelson Mandela quote:

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

It’s something I think I needed to be reminded of this week, so I feel grateful to that little spider for being there. It’s not only a personal thing; with the way the world is at the moment, I really hope the human race can rise from where it is. ❤

There was a heavy rain on Wednesday night and when I looked on Thursday morning, the spider had a new web: there were no holes in it where flies had been caught. Again, yesterday and today, it has rained and last night her web was reduced to a few strands, but she was still there, near some leaves. This is her web today:

She’s woven a new, smaller one and I have no doubt that she will continue weaving.

While I’m on the subject of spiders, and as an extra point of interest, in Anglo Saxon England, they apparently believed that apprentice wizards/shamans journeyed to the Otherworld with a Spider Monster while in a trance to go through their initiation. Another Spider Monster met them when they arrived and the shaman would have to prove he knew his stuff. It’s thought that the spiders represented the Wyrd Sisters who wove the web of life. I read this in The Real Middle Earth, Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages by Brian Bates.

I used to be arachnophobic and here I am writing about spiders. But as much as I’ve found a new respect for spiders, I don’t think I’d like to go through that initiation! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š

Friday, 11 August 2017


I was able to go to Kidwelly Castle recently where they had the dragons which have been at Caerphilly Castle for a while. I've been wanting to see them for ages and had a lovely sunny day on which to finally get there. I have to show you the photos!

They were near one of the towers, the mother protruding from the ground and the babies in their nest.

Dad Dewi, who is red, has stayed at home in Caerphilly Castle while mum Dwynwen and the twin dragonlets are on tour around Wales.

They were all made by Cardiff based props company Wild Creations. The adults keep still, but the babies are animatronic and move their heads, eyes and wings. You can also hear a roaring sound from them. I love the way they look quite realistic, with the detail of their scales and mottled colouring.

Here's a close up of Dwynwen:

And one of the babies:

While I was there, I also took photos of the castle itself.

Here's the tower by the dragons:

This is the view from the very top of one of the towers (yes, I was very brave! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š) You can see the river Gwendraeth just behind the castle in the centre of the picture and the landscape beyond.

There's a lot of history surrounding this place. Gwenllian, a Welsh princess, daughter of the king of Gwynedd and wife of the ruler of Deheubarth, led a battle against the Normans in the fields just to the other side of the castle while her husband was in North Wales gathering men to fight. The Normans moved earlier than expected, so Gwenllian and her sons went to face them. This was before the castle was built in stone as it now is. Sadly, Gwenllian lost the fight and was killed in the fields. That area is known as Maes Gwenllian (Gwenllian's field).

Although I've been to Kidwelly before, it was well worth the second visit to see the dragons. I've waited to see them for a long time and it was even better to do it now the babies have arrived. It's all part of the Year of Legends promoting Wales's history, mythology and tourism.

You can find out more about the dragons by clicking here:

We've had quite a few rainy days recently, but on a rare sunny day, I took this photo of a hoverfly on a dahlia:

I think at some point, this photo may make it into a piece of art.

Friday, 4 August 2017

New Ideas, New Work

Hello! I'm back. Did you miss me? πŸ˜‰ After the busyness of 30 Days Wild I only intended to take a break of a week or two from blogging, but it became an extended break due to various things that happened. πŸ˜‘ I return, though, with new ideas and new works in progress to show you.

Here's the first one, my barn owl painting. If you've seen my last post for 30 Days Wild, you'll have seen this painting already, but now I've developed it further. This is the original:

I've dyed some cotton and muslin with tea. It turned out quite well I think and it matches the colour I painted in the background. Tea gives a lovely muted, natural colour and it's also eco-friendly, something I'm very conscious of. I don't want to harm the environment with chemicals just to produce my work.

I've printed my painting onto fabric and next I'm going to layer it on the tea-dyed cotton, then sew on it with a combination of hand and machine embroidery.

That's my work in progress so far, it's been a bit slow the last month or so! 😊 I hope to get this done though, so I can show you the finished thing. I haven't really planned this one, I'm letting it unfold in it's own way, so I don't really know what will happen with it. I hope it works. πŸ˜‰

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

30 Days Wild Days 29 & 30

Day 29

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to write my last 30 Days Wild post on the actual days, but here it is now.

I've done another Wild work of Art and painted a barn owl. It's finished as a painting but there's more I want to do with it. I'm thinking of transferring it to fabric.

Day 30

I found this moth inside, so captured it in a jar and released it in the garden.

I've looked through my wildlife books but haven't managed to identify which moth it is. At first I thought it might be a Beautiful Hooktip but when I looked again, the wings are too dark and not the right shape for that.

I also saw this bumble bee buzzing by me in the garden and managed to get a photo of her.

She turned around on the leaf and I was just about to get a great photo of her face when she flew off before I could press the button. I'm glad to have this one though as you can see the wing veins and a lovely shimmer on them from the sun. 

So, that's 30 Days Wild over again for another year. If you've been taking part, I hope you've enjoyed it. I have. To be mindful of nature and make yourself aware of it and part of it every day is a fulfilling thing to do. I'll definitely be carrying on! πŸ˜ŠπŸ’—πŸŒ³πŸŒΈπŸŒΉπŸŒΊπŸŒΏπŸπŸ‚πŸ¦πŸžπŸ  

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 27 & 28

Day 27
It was unexpectedly sunny yesterday, so I took the opportunity to do some yoga in the garden. Here I am (or my shadow at least! πŸ˜ƒ ) doing tree pose, which is a bit difficult when you're trying to take a photo at the same time. πŸ˜‰

You can just about see my little companion to the right doing his own version of yoga, which seems to involve laying down with your eyes closed. 😊🐈😴

Here he is actually on my mat "helping" me. He's thinking about doing cat pose. πŸ˜‰

I began practicing yoga a year ago after I had some really bad back pain, but haven't really done much outside. To do it in the fresh air with the breeze on you and the sounds of the world all around is quite different from being cooped up inside. There's a different feel to it, a freer feeling as you take the time to breathe and stretch in the open air. There's also the feeling of all the birds around watching you and wondering what you're doing! πŸ˜ƒπŸ¦

Day 28

I saw the hover flies again today in the garden and managed to get this photo of one, but it's a bit blurry because the flies move so fast. Even when they're hovering in the same place, their little wings are beating many times a second and are impossible to see. This was the best I could do.

There are only two days left of 30 Days Wild now and I'll be disappointed to finish, but with those two days, there's still more opportunity to do Random Acts of Wildness.
Remember to take a look at the Wildlife Trusts website:

Monday, 26 June 2017

30 Days Wild Days 24, 25 & 26

Day 24

If you saw my blog before I began 30 Days Wild, you may have seen a fungus I found called Many Zoned Polypore.
Here it is:

On Saturday, I went back to look at it and found that the white parts have now turned greenish:

I assume this is because it's older and it changes colour through time. I also found these mushrooms growing very nearby:

I haven't managed to work out what type of mushroom they are although I've searched to try to find out. There are so many and quite a few yellow ones, so I don't want to guess without being fairly sure!

Day 25

Yesterday was quite sunny here but not hot, which I was grateful for after the heatwave, so I took some time to meditate in the garden. I've been trying to practice Mindfulness for a few years and try to meditate regularly, but I haven't done so outside.

I tried to concentrate on the sounds of the birds and the feel of the breeze on my skin. It took a while to get into it, but when I did it was a lovely experience and very relaxing. To listen only to the birds and not be occupied with my thoughts going round in my head was a great way to clear my mind and put some things into perspective. I think everyone should try this for an inner sense of calm and a deeper connection to the world around us.

Here's a clam picture I created to kind of represent peacefulness in nature.

Day 26

The rain stayed off again today so even though it's a bit cloudy I had my lunch outside. It was only a sandwich, juice and a banana, but it was a welcome change to the usual routine and I think food tastes different out in the open. Why is that? The difference in the air?  🍹🍌

It reminded me very much of when my parents used to take me on picnics in the country when I was a child and when we used to have lunch in the garden in the summer. Back then we seemed to have sunny days all the time and we'd sit in the garden on our folding chairs with the sun umbrella and the table, enjoying the food and the fresh air. We'd be outside all day. I wouldn't come in until it started going dark! (The only problem was the flies landing in our squash. πŸ˜ƒ )

But I couldn't stay outside today. Things need to be done and so I had to tear myself away from the birds flitting about. 🐦