Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Sloe Time!

Along the hedgerows in the village I watched for the sloe berries each time we went for a walk. Usually they are few and far between but this year they seem to be the best I have ever seen them. Of course I went picking them with ideas of using them to try out my ink and dye experimenting. I had a little helper who had such a great time helping me. Chloe was on half term.

I used the pressure cooker and cooked them and then added the cotton fabric. Her little five year old face was loving this, adding fabric to the berries. And then we wound some threads and wool and dropped them into the pot and created a pink spoon.

I wanted to show her how it changed from white to pink and so we washed some out and let it dry. The rest was left for a few hours and coloured a deeper shade. Sloe berries are normally used by the locals for sloe gin for the festive season. They are a dry bitter fruit with a large stone, it seemed more exciting to use the coloured juice for this and an exciting little hand helped stir the pot and watch.

I loved it just as much, threads and fabric to be creative with. I am not an expert, I do not know how the colour will last.

I hung it in the garden to dry. And I just kept one little branch to record the sloes in my square book.

I couldn't really paint the fine details, too hard on my eyes. I like it as it is, a detailed pencil study with a couple of coloured berries. My head was full of ideas as I decided on a little project using the fabric.

Oh look at that colour, threads came out gorgeous variegated shades of the colour. And yes I kept some juice, not sure it is ink but I can see how it looks on paper. You can also see the stones and my branch I used for my drawing.

I made a little patchwork, hand sewn with my sloe fabric. It is a miniature quilt for a tiny bed for a little mouse.

It is all stuffed and finished. Now I am working on an Elderberry patchwork in the wonderful rich colour I made from the elderberries. Just wish I had made about ten times more, hence the little projects.

This is so nice I wish I was tiny and it could be on my bed. Maybe next year if there is an amazing crop I might be picking buckets full. See the different shades that came out of the pot, just tiny pieces of fabric, but that makes it even more precious.

My lovely drawing of the hare on my pin cushion. I love working like this, things I have made. I collected the berries and dyed the fabric and stitched and made something that means something to me. Things made from my village. The slow and careful way of drawing and making, it makes me feel happy, it feels like me. I will share them again when they are finished.
Testing the sloe juice with a paintbrush straight from the pot. It actually changed to blue more like the skin colour. See below.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of what I have been up to. I have some seashore walks to tell you about and some drawings of my found objects. More about that next time. I am enjoying sewing on these cooler days. as we have had our first frosts. The huge bright moon brings the high tides and lots of treasures for me to find on the shore. I have lots to draw, days fly by.

I want to leave you with this early morning sight, a rainbow and the sky the colour of my sloe fabric. I hung out of the bedroom to take it and as I was wearing my pyjamas jumped back into my warm bed.

The products of the day. We had a little Pom Pom making competition and Chloe aged 5 won with her huge yellow one. Mine was the same colour as the sloe dye, so I put it in

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed seeing my little projects. As always thank you for the lovely comments which I do love to read. Please stop and say hello if you are visiting and tell me what you are making. Bye for now...Millyx


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Being Creative with Elderberries


I have been collecting some of the last Elderberries from the hedgerows. I wanted to capture them before they were gone. The weather has really taken a turn with many wet days. We have had some heavy showers and windy days which have blown the leaves and berries off their branches. The blackberries are over, red berries seem to be scattered over the ground and everything has started to change colour. Today I picked some blackened rosehips, still many bright red ones but this is how they will all soon end up looking once the cold and the first frosts arrive. The nights are getting chilly we are sitting cosy with a fire. So this is how it started with a bowl of dark glossy bunches of elderberries from the hedgerows.

I love the colour of the tiny elderberries and as they stain your fingers you see their rich purple colour. I remember my Dad making wine, we collected bags full that year, such tiny berries and when he squashed them there was so little and it seemed to me So much effort for so little return.

I started a little drawing in ink and a fine dip in pen. I didn't sketch it , just dipped in my pen and made this drawing by observing the details. I mixed my berry colour and used the brown for the stalks, using acrylic inks. Then I made my own elderflower ink. It all began when Claire left her comment.

After a lovely comment from Claire telling me she had made some ink with Blackberries and she thought I would enjoy doing it, my mind was thinking up lots of ideas. I would try making some ink with the Elderberries.

I squashed, cooked, sieved and made my ink, just a little from all those elderberries. It worked beautifully, see the writing on the pages behind , all done with my elderberry ink. My mind cannot stop there...Now what if I tried to dye a piece of fabric with it too, I had seen the gorgeous colour as I sieved it through a piece of loose weave fabric.

There was no stopping me now, off I went collecting more elderberries and I had such fun experimenting with this. Now I am no expert, I just added lots of salt and heated up the berries and then squashed the berries and added the cotton fabric. It felt really exciting as I saw my fabric soaking up the juices.

I then wound some threads to try too, some white cotton and linen thread.

Pink stained fingers and nails, lots of washing up and mess. I dangled pieces of dyed fabric and threads from the fireplace to dry and was eagerly waiting to see the results of my experiments. I will make a little sewing project and make something with it, I have some ideas. Unable to stop there I have been playing with other berries, some interesting results. I will stitch the lovely coloured fabric with the dyed cotton and linen, all from my elderberries. It felt so creative. Very inspiring and exciting to make something with them.

I kept a lovely branch of elderberries to draw in my square book, a little curled leaf and the berries.

I spent a lot of time drawing and carefully painting this one in my square book. I still have not completed the red berries I am doing but put this first.

I loved how it turned out. Drawing, ink, fabric and thread from the same berries which I picked from my village hedgerows.


After the high tides the shore was completely covered in sea water, we did have some grey and stormy days. I was so pleased to see how Saturday turned out and of course we went for a walk to enjoy the day.
High tides covering the estuary on Thursday.
And then yesterday......the beautiful view from my house on Saturday, as we went for our walk. The tide creeping in on this still day, love the colour of the sky, such a wonderful day to wake up to. Hope you all had a great weekend.
Hope you enjoyed seeing what I have been up too. I do love reading your comments, so thank you for taking the time to write. See you soon, Millyx


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Blackberry Time

The hedgerows are full of blackberries, it has been such a good year for these lovely fruits. We went for a long walk and I took the chance to gather some before it is too late because they are ripening and will soon be past their best. They really do taste so delicious.

A pretty butterfly sitting in the sunshine.


They were not the only berries to be growing along the hedgerows. It is also time for all my favourite red berries. Guess what I am busy drawing.


Look at the glossy blackberries.

The wild rosehips.

And perhaps my true favourites are the Hawthorne berries hanging so delicate from the branches.

Maybe the last of the Lords and Ladies, don't worry Because I have been busy capturing some in my zig zag book. This fallen one came home with me.

While I collected blackberries and took photographs someone kindly carried my bag with drinks and snacks and my iPad. He patiently waited for me as I stopped every two minutes.

And even helped pick some blackberries.

As we walk higher we stopped for a rest and to look down at the village and the shore.

I love this view and the memories from my childhood days. We would climb this gate into the field and run down the steep hill and scream as we ran so fast and couldn't stop until we crashed into the gate at the bottom of the hill. It always makes me smile when I remember those days. Sometimes it was full of cows and calves and they would chase after us and make us run even faster.


I love the seedheads of the cow parsley, another favourite subject to draw.

You can see the Lakeland hills over the stone wall looking to the North.

The views of the quarry, where the stone is being reclaimed by nature, wild flowers and self seeded trees and bushes grow on the old waste stone tipped into large mounds forming this landscape on the edge of the moors.

The sky starts to look dark and we head for home.

Plenty of blackberries.

And my other objects collected along the way.

I made some jam, a great success. It really tastes lovely on toast.

And an apple and blackberry cake.

A pretty jar of my jam I gave for a present. A handmade gift with my printed tag and A little card with my drawing of a basket of blackberries I did some years ago.

And this week I enjoyed recording a pencil drawing of a blackberry.

And I was really pleased with this delicate painting in my square book of a single blackberry. I used my acrylic inks and a very fine paint brush.

We have been so lucky with fine sunny days and a very warm September. Plenty of walks and so much inspiration along the hedgerows.


On our way home we go past the cows in the field. Through the old kissing gate and along the cart track leads up to where we have just been, with the moors high above.

Thank you for your comments which I always enjoy reading. I will leave you with this lovely sky I captured last night. Back to my red berries which I am drawing in my square book. I will share with you next time. Hope you enjoyed the walk and seeing what I have been doing. Millyx