Thursday, 28 November 2013

Leeds, Ready for Christmas

After visitng the Twisted Threads Show in Harrogate we took a trip the next day into Leeds,
where the run up to Christmas is in full swing.
The  Beautiful dome of the Corn Exchange, once a hive of busy trading and now a haven for shoppers. There are individual shops upstairs and downstairs along the three levels of galleries, all selling crafts and an interesting range of handmade goods.

This is such a spectacular building.

The Victorian Market Hall exterior

The traditional  cast iron vaulted structure of the old Victorian market.
So many interesting market stalls
Here's our favourite, Cafe Moor and on this tiny stall
they prepared, cooked and served the most amazing food...
to eat on the spot....
and they also sold North African and Middle Eastern delicacies to take home.
Just around the corner from it was Spice Corner, jam packed with, I imagine, every spice and herb on the planet.
I loved the traditional fresh fishmongers, which are dying out in most towns and cities due to pre packed supermarket fish etc. The displays were fabulous and I wanted to buy some but we weren't going home for another day so I didn't fancy the drive home with it in the car!
The beautiful old arcades were all dripping with Christmas lights and looking as spectacular as in any London arcade.
The German Christmas Market seemed just like those I've visited over in Germany itself but not a word of the German language was to be heard. The stalls were all staffed by Polish and English people which seemed so odd.

Right next door to this Moose Head sign I entered a small chalet building which amazingly opened out to a HUGE, Ginormous, Unexpected....
  Bierkeller....with a full house of revellers at around 2. 15pm with all the appropriate steins of beer an loud oompah music. It was just like opening a Tardis when I opened the door.
Leeds proved to be an interesting city, with wonderful buildings old and new and so many unique features to see. The people were so mannerly and friendly and the city was quite affluent and vibrant. Good to see on all counts.
Loved it! Well done Yorkshire for colouring our visit so well.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Decorations & Applique for WOYWW 234

My desk this week is very festive (and quite messy on the breakfast table) whilst I'm making easy peasy tree decorations. I'll shove it all onto that tray PDQ when I make my porridge! It's amazing to think that I've been making Christmas crafts since September, starting when I was demonstrating in Abakhan store and since then I've been making as much as possible for the CHICS (children's cancer care) fundraising sale. 
I don't usually begin to think of the "C" word until it's almost too late.

For these decorations I'm combining paper and felt by stitching (by machine) pretty, intricate, die cuts onto felt then cutting around them. So quick, so easy and they could also be made using stamped images.

I started off by cutting out the felt before machining but the card and felt shifted in the process so I soon realised it was easier to cut around them after machining. 

WOYWW is the inspiration of our prestigious leader Julia over at the Stamping Ground so pop over to find out all about it and to be amazed by all the other wonders to be found there via a simple click HERE !!!!
I used metallic threads for top stitching and it looks quite effective and a machined blanket stitch is good too around the edge.
They will have a ribbon and a tiny bell too. 
I've also cut a slit for a pocket, in the felt at the back, to hold a chocolate treat or a candy cane.Aldi has a great choice of chocolate items at cheap prices and the candy canes are only 75p for 10 in Home Bargains Stores. (There may be a Home Bargains near most UK residents as they are spreading across England.) 

I've also been making patchwork blocks for the monthly challenge for the quilting and patchwork group in our village, which I attend. 
Members take turns in choosing a technique and this month it was appliqué.
 We were given animal templates and guidelines to colours and fabrics.
I really enjoyed making these and so I made several towards the charity quilt they will be made into.

Previous months, challenges have been traditional blocks...
This is a rather complex block, from last month in the stages of making. A real learning curve for me.
This one was a bit easier!
and I loved doing this one
I'm now looking forward to seeing the quilts produced from our blocks when they are completed and in February it is my turn to set the design and I get to keep them from all the members!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Threads Show - Harrogate

I've just returned from visiting the Threads Show in Harrogate. A riot of inspiration and colour for anyone who sews, knits or crafts in any form with threads or fabric. 
I really enjoyed the show and treated myself to some lovely stash including some Japanese fabrics. 
I didn't take very many pics at the show as many displays banned photography but I did manage a sneaky shot of these fabulous embroidered tree panels and love the way they were encased in perspex standing frames.
I also treated myself to a full kit of these marbling dyes which are so easy to use and instantly permanent.
They are effective on any fabric and they work well on textured surfaces such as shells, pebbles or frames. 
My intention is to marble fabric to make into a patchwork quilt.
There were highs and lows to the trip and I think I'd plan differently if ever I returned to Harrogate for a show. Next time I envisage using train or an organised coach trip. First, we couldn't get accommodation in the town but fortunately I found a super hotel via Travelzoo at a bargain rate, although it was near Leeds and thus a fair way from the show. 
The main problem of the visit was the nightmare of trying to find parking in Harrogate, as most of the car parks were full very early so, we drove round and round for over an hour and then, when we managed to find one which stated 73 spaces were available, we drove around inside for over 30 minutes before we found a vacant spot. Far too time wasting and stressful.
Here's one of the highs.....
Monks Fryston Hall, where we stayed....
dating from 12th Century, oozing with history and once a settlement of monks, before it was transformed into this stately residence. It has beautiful, extensive grounds, rolling down past it's lake and orchards, to a river and, even in the bitter cold of a Yorkshire late Autumn, it was lovely to take a stroll around. 
The main halls are wood panelled with a minstrel gallery around the stair well and there were roaring log fires.
The food was first class, as was the service, especially when we weren't paying top price!
The following day we made an interesting trip to Leeds.... but that's another story.....

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Birds of Prey Experience

On Sunday we had the most amazingly memorable, uplifting, visit when we went into Cheshire to experience birds of prey.
 A perfect cold, Autumnal, rainy day! I'm still on high!
Find out all about it at The Stockley Farm Birds of Prey Centre, where the birds are usually flown, but through the Winter months the centre is closed, so they are now holding events at Bridgemere.

This first photograph is a fabulous fluke taken by DH as he held out his gauntlet to receive the bird and, with camera in his other hand, he swung his arm across and chanced a click. 
I think it looks just like a painting.
Gary and Pam were so informative and fun and so obviously loved their birds and cared for them so well. They told us so much about the birds habits and characters and we were able to hold and observe them close to. It was really amazing, and such a privilege, to be eye to eye with such beautiful creatures.
 A dream come true for me but one I know I will experience again and again!
You can spot Gary across the lake after he sent the barn owl across to us.
  I had expected the visit to be mainly observing the birds but it was really interactive.
These falcons are so streamlined and powerful and are faster than any creature on land, in fact 4 times faster than a cheetah! 

DH with a Harris Hawk
I fell in love with this young American hawk who looked just like a giant chick and was such a funny character.
He kept landing on our heads... cute!
This young boy was passing by with his family and Pam gave him a treat.... a chance for the Harris Hawk to fly to his name sake Harris.

DH with the little barn owl
This big fella weighed about 5lbs and was quite a job to hold up. I'm laughing as I had to watch him having his reward..... a day old chick which he gawked down and swallowed whole! Arrrrghh!
It was fascinating to watch his head swivel around giving him 360 degree vision.
The falconer, Gary
Another arty accident action shot.
With wings wet with rain, a little rest for this fellow before finishing flying the rest of the way.

It was such a drippy, rainy day but the fine rain on the cobwebs was Nature's art.

Afterwards we visited the Bridgemere Garden Centre, which is a HUGE place and was all geared up for Christmas. 
We had a mooch around their seasonal exhibits and enjoyed tea and cake in one of the several cafes before heading home after a great day out.