Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yesterday (the day before Christmas Eve), we did some embroidery but had our tables cleared by 3.30, the blinds were down and we were out of the door and into our Christmas Holidays - Hurrah! To celebrate we all went to The Bluebell, a fabulous little pub that is just up the road from Sumptuosity Towers and a firm favourite with me and John. We have swapped Christmas presents and because I know how naughty the Sumptuosity Fairies are, I put their presents into cardboard boxes (there are always plenty in the Studio!) and then wrapped them up with tissue and ribbon. This means that they will not be able to guess what their presents are until they open them on Christmas morning. Mind you this didn't stop Alanna (Banana) having a good try! It is just as well the presents that we bought her aren't glass...

The Sumptuosity Christmas Dinner was last Wednesday and absolutely super. We all loved being at the Treasurer's House and the National Trust staff did us proud, the service was great and the food was lovely - just ask Sophie!

We have had lots of lovely Christmas cards at Sumptuosity Towers - some were addressed to the Barleycorn Three (the old days when it was just me, Barbara and John) and so I must make sure that next year everyone knows that we have expanded and are (currently) the Barleycorn Five! Alanna said that we were multiplying just like on the Gremlins film! I wonder if this means that we shouldn't be fed after midnight???

Which reminds me, a certain someone addressed her Christmas card to include the 'staff held hostage at Sumptuosity Towers' - I dispute this and want everyone to know that I have let the Fairies go home for long as they are all back the earlier on Boxing day..... (only joking honest...bah humbug!)

Today, was the first day off that John and me have had for quite a well (Christmas orders have kept us busy!!!) and so we have been busy shopping for the last of the food and a couple of last minute Christmas presents. As we unpacked the car I thought for a brief moment that John had bought me a bunch of flowers until I looked more closely and saw that it was just the way that he was carrying the Brussel Sprouts Stalk! We have also been finishing off the cleaning and tidying of the house. It is all done and dusted and we are relaxing with a glass of wine and awaiting the arrival of Barbara with Mummsie and Eddie (our big brother).

3 B.T.'s

1: Sophie and Alanna trying to feel through the packaging of their Christmas presents.
2: I did a new design as a request from Father Tim (Jones) for Sunflowers. He loved the work and purchased a Mirror, brooch and a bookmark. I was so pleased with them that they will become new designs for 2010.
3: I have received a lovely email from a lady in 'remotest' Arizona thanking me for my choice of book that was sent to her as part of LibraryThing's 'SantaThing' (basically a bookish form of Secret Santa). My parcel has arrived but as I am a good girl I won't know what it is until tomorrow morning....

So it just gives me time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Sumptuous New Year!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

We are now definitely on the countdown to Christmas - especially the Sumptuosity Christmas dinner and Sophie (true to form) has mentioned it at least once a day. However, we are all food obsessed, as Alanna and I both noted how we could all turn practically any conversation back into one about food! I am definitely sure that it is the cold weather that does it...

We have been super busy in our new shop/gallery space and were delighted when our friend Nicola could manage to bring in some more of her lovely tea-towels and peg bags (they are so nice that even I have considered being more domestic in order to buy them for ourselves). We sold two of the tea-towels and a peg bag last Friday and I had only just put them on display, I am sure that the rest will go before Christmas. Nicola told us that she had stayed up until one -0-clock in the morning in order to finish off the items and get them to us as soon as possible! Life as a designer-maker isn't all glamour...

3 B.T.'s

1: John was washing up in the Studio when he called me over to the sink. One of the glasses had a large soap bubble over the entire mouth of the glass and was domed with a swirling pattern like the weather clouds on Earth when seen from space. It was so pretty that looked at it for what seemed like ages until John said "I just get my camera..." and yes you guessed it.. it popped.
2: While walking past the new building at York St.John University on our way to the Studio, John and I spied a Pigeon walking ON TOP OF a row of Pigeon spikes and then squeeze behind some more Pigeon spikes in order to get into a gap behind some panelling. I am not fond of Pigeons to say the least (you should see the mess the little ******* make in my courtyard) but you have to be impressed by it's SAS style manoeuvres.
3: While in the Studio today (Sunday afternoon) I saw Sophie and a bunch of Angels walk past the window. Don't worry I haven't been over doing it with the Shiraz - Sophie has been doing some voluntary walk with 'Space 109' and was an official helper of the stilt-walking Angels... I wish I had got my camera!

Bye for now

Love Ruthie xx

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly...

All the Sumptuosity Fairies are in a very festive mood, especially when we hear Christmas carols on the radio (we sometimes let John have Classic FM on instead of our beloved Radio Four). I don't know if it is the time of the year, namely that it is so cold outside but one of our main topics of conversation is food. Or at least it is one that we most often return to! Sophie (who is the size of a Sparrow) is probably the worst offender for this and currently it is about this year's Sumptuosity Christmas dinner. This year we are treating the Fairies to a traditional Christmas dinner at the Treasurer's House in York. This is a beautiful National Trust house in the centre of York (just behind the Minster) and according to one of the managers (who Barbara and I met at an exhibition at Stone Soup) it will all look fabulously Christmasy - hence the title of this blog being 'Deck the Halls...'. At least once a day Sophie says how much she is looking forward to this dinner, as well as telling us about the Christmas dinner she will be having at her sister's house. I don't know how she stays so tiny!

Tinsel and Christmas lights are up in the windows of Sumptuosity Towers and this year I have put a countdown of the number of shopping days left before Christmas. Barbara purchased a pack of small Fluorescent card shapes and hand wrote a number on each piece of card, which we then blu-tacked to the window in a meandering pattern. Each morning when I open the blinds I remove another fluorescent shape from the window and thus show the people walking past that time is ticking away. This has worked very well as a display as it does grab people's attention, especially as the day's before Christmas become fewer and fewer! Mind you it also serves as a reminder to myself that I need to get a wriggle on with my own Christmas shopping, food shopping, Christmas card writing (and posting), tidying the house before visitors arrive and of course keeping all the embroidery going here at Sumptuosity Towers for website orders, trade orders and all the lovely people who visit us in the Studio.

3 B.T.'s

1: We got a postcard at the Studio this week from Mummsie who has been on a Tinsel and Turkey holiday with Barbara. It was addressed to 'Dr Ruth & Co'.
2: I have been writing my Christmas card list and it has been lovely to think about friends new and old around the country.
3: Every morning when John and I walk to the Studio we pass a garden that has a bird table, bushes and a really thick privet hedge, the birds love it and there are always a gang of very chirpy Sparrows making there presence known.

Bye for now
love Ruth xx

Monday, 30 November 2009

Busy busy busy - but still time to be silly...

Hello There,

I know I keep saying it but we really are busy here at Sumptuosity Towers. The new 'shop' area is working very well (see picture) and I seem to be jumping up from my sewing machine every few minutes to welcome people into the Studio, so many people are busy with their Christmas shopping ! It has even inspired me to go on-line (well you didn't think that I would get out of the Studio did you???) and start my shopping.

We had a very mad week last week and did indeed stay late on Monday and Thursday. On Monday we sent John out to buy Chips and on Thursday we all had a Chinese take-away (not Barbara for those of you who know my big Sister). It was fortunate that we have had another ten kilo bag of lavender delivered so that there weren't any possible smells remaining of food in the Studio! So much work and such long hours means that we have had plenty of time for our usual philosophical debates - last week it was about how we all loved 'flumps' (marshmallow type sweeties), how many it would be possible to eat in one go and of course who would be able to eat the most. John and Sophie were both convinced that it was themselves...fortunately we didn't put it to the test! Sophie's boyfriend is very healthy and would probably be horrified at the amount of cake and sweets that we are eating at Sumptuosity Towers at the moment - he would probably think that we were a bad influence... don't think that he reads this blog so we should be safe....

Mind you nobody works late on a Friday ('POETS' day, as we used to say at Allsopp's Print Finishing Factory), although late in the afternoon the lovely Jo from Space 109 - the community arts project on Walmgate came in to ask us about the progress on some embroidered badges of their logo... I had promised her some badges a while ago but it had gone to the bottom of the work pile. I still managed to make some up in time to deliver them to her in our local that evening. She telephoned today to say that she had already sold them and wanted some more for this Friday morning. She is a nice woman and Space 109 is such a good project that I shall somehow magic the time to finish the order. I'll get John to take a photograph of the design and put it up on the next blog.

3 B.T's

1: Christmas decorations and lights are going up all over York and they look very pretty.
2: The staff in Cafe Rouge had a table seat for us on Saturday night, when we went to celebrate John's birthday. Lovely atmosphere and great food. plus we could look at the world as they walked past the window.
3: We had a telephone call from Kelmscott Manor and fingers crossed we should be doing some interesting work with them in the new year - just as well I purchased that bag of William Morris Indigo-resist dyed scraps of fabric (late 19th century)...

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Sales, Blue Tit, Sheep and a Martini

Hello Everybody - or should I say anybody considering that it absolutely ages since I did my last blog!

Here at Sumptuosity Towers we are all rushed off our feet getting orders out for Christmas. In fact we are so busy (and with the end of November fast approaching) we are going to have a couple of 'Slumber Parties' at the Studio. Don't worry we won't actually be keeping the Sumptuosity Fairies there all night ( I think that Alanna's Mum & Dad might have something to say, not to mention Sophie's boyfriend James!), but we will be sewing into the evening and so John is buying in Pizza to keep us all working away. It is just as well that we all get on so well at Sumptuosity Towers...

Last weekend John and I had a redesign of the Studio space and now there is a proper designated 'shop area'. This is proving to be very effective and lots more people seem to be willing to come in through the door now that they know where to go and don't think that they are disturbing anybody. I have moved in with the other fairies - so we are all sewing fairies together.

I must tell you all of an incident that happened last week. I was in the shop area talking to a York University student who had ordered a number of Alice in Wonderland designs when outside our window I saw a man waving at me. In one hand was a can of Cider and the other hand was closed, holding something that I couldn't see. Firstly you must understand that Walmgate where Sumptuosity Towers is sees ALL of human life and I do mean all. We often see people the worse for wear with cans of drink up and down the road, as well as the very well heeled (it is York after all!). So when I saw this man waving at me with a can of Cider my thoughts were not good, however I went outside to see what he wanted... It turned out that although slightly the worse for wear he had seen a Blue Tit in the middle of the road and had gone and picked it up. The little bird was still alive and he didn't know what to do with it (this was the object in his other hand). We both looked at the bird and decided that (hopefully) it was only stunned and so placed it in the Ivy that covers a lot of Barleycorn Yard. I promised the man that I (we) would keep an eye on it and if worried would take it to Vet. I told him that I thought that he had done a very good deed by looking after this little bird and he said that if there was a God hopefully he would see that he had done at least one good deed in his life. I can report that the little bird after a few minutes gave itself a shake and flew off. It just goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover!

Nicola's work continues to draw a lot of attention and this afternoon we sold another of her fabulous Sheep Peg Bags. People really love the illustrative quality of her work and it is great to be able to offer some help to an up and coming young designer (plus it makes a few pennies for the coffers at Sumptuosity Towers - maybe soon I will have that Chaise Longue...).

Finally, I have just had one of John's Famed cocktail Martini - a great way to finish a Saturday. We are back in the Studio tomorrow (Sunday) as York is currently busy all the days of week and we need to maximise every selling opportunity on the run up to Christmas - no rest for the wicked!

3 B.T's

1: We have been listening to 'Our Mutual Friend' on Radio Four every morning at 10.45 - it is my favourite Dickens novel.
2: The episode with the man and the Blue Tit - it is good that it had a happy ending for the little bird and teachers me that it is important not to judge a book by it's cover!
3: Again, it goes to Radio Four - this afternoon's play was about the trial in Tennessee of the teacher who taught Darwin's theory of Evolution (1925). He was convicted, but the case was later thrown out due to a technicality. Sophie hadn't heard of it before and we had an interesting conversation about the current situation in America with the theory of 'Intelligent Design'... The play was a warning about 'the sleep of reason'.

Bye for now

Love Ruthie xxx

Sunday, 8 November 2009

More Sheep, Millennium Gallery and Mini Beasts

It has been a busy weekend. On Friday night I was at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield to demonstrate my free-hand machine embroidery at the opening of their Christmas Crackers exhibition. Barbara kindly offered to drive me to the event because A; she is nice and B; she likes to look at pretty things and the gallery shop was full of lovely goodies. It was really nice to talk to people and to show them the joys of free-hand embroidery. People invariably are amazed that I can sew on such a small scale (not really that clever as it is simply the scale that I like to work at) or they need to have explained that the work is in no way 'computer aided' but that it truly is all free-hand. I tend to explain it as drawing with the sewing machine. I know that I shouldn't have done but I did have a glass of red wine (not recommended when sewing but it was only a little one but please DON'T try it at home!). I blame my university education on my inability to refuse a free glass of wine... However, the evening did give me the opportunity to get on with an idea that I had had for a new triptych design - 'Baa Baa Blacksheep'. This consists of three brooches, the first two being white sheep with the word 'Baaahhh' embroidered underneath and the third brooch being (of course) a black sheep. The inspiration for the sheep has definitely come from our friend Nicola and her fabulous Sheep Tea Towels; they are causing a lot of interest in the studio and I will be amazed if we haven't sold them all before long!

While at the Millennium, the very nice shop manager came to see us and thanked us for the 100 brooches that we had brought with us that evening to top up their display, then she asked for another 100 asap and requested 100 Mini-Beast brooches (bees, ladybirds, snails etc) for another Sheffield Museum (Weston Park), oh and did I mention that she needed 100 lavender bags sometime next week? So it is definitely busy busy busy at Sumptuosity Towers, although to make sure that we manage to complete all our commitments I have sewn the 100 Mini-Beast designs this afternoon at home. It keeps me out of mischief!

3 B.T.'s

1: The lovely Alanna (Banana) brought in some 'Parkin' for all the Sumptuosity Fairies to have with their morning cup of tea - it looked soooooo yummy that elevenses was early that day. I can know confirm that I am a Parkin fan - is this a sign of me becoming more Yorkshire...?
2: The moon is very visible in the morning and the other day as I was admiring it from my window I saw a tourist taking a photograph of it. It is nice to see other people looking at the world and finding it beautiful.
3: John and I waved at our friend Sue as we walked past her shop on the way home, a few steps later we were being hailed by her and she ran up the road to tell us her news.

Bye for now

love Ruth xx

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sheep, shop windows, Nicola and lavender (again!)

Yesterday morning I took down the Halloween decorations from our two studio windows; however the question then was 'How to redecorate them?' I know that there are only about fifty shopping days left until Christmas but I still didn't want to do the whole 'Christmas' display just yet. I decided to give it some thought and anyway I needed to get on with my embroidery!

Later on that morning our friend Nicola came to visit. She had brought in some of her recent work, which combined both her skills of illustration and her ability with the sewing machine - absolutely beautiful tea towels printed with sheep designs. This is a project that she has been working on for her college course and has proved so successful that she has been selling some of these items at a local shop. We all loved the designs and were delighted to be able to offer them for sale at Sumptuosity Towers. I was even more pleased because it then gave me an idea for the redecoration of the window - we would have a sheep theme. So now we have two of the tea towels hanging in my window with some of my sheep brooches and books marks. I shall get John to take a picture for a future blog. In the meantime I am putting up one of Nicola's sheep photographs. It is always nice to see Nicola and hear about all that she is up to - and fortunately she is as good at baking as she is is at design and had made us some delicious cakes! There was even one for John, which he saved for his afternoon cup of tea but me and the other Sumptuosity Fairies devoured ours immediately.

We are still busy and having a challenging time making sure that we have enough materials with which to keep making our wares. Today, Jimmy (our lovely and very cheeky Fastway delivery man) appeared with another 10 kilo bag of lavender - just as Barbara was emptying the last one for a batch of lavender bags. This was definitely what you call 'Just in Time'!

3 B.T.'s

1: It was pouring with rain as John and I walked to the Studio, but I was warm and dry (mostly) in my Barbour Stocksman Coat and Hat with Cherries on it. This is the first outing that the hat has had this Autumn.
2: Is that the full moon? I ask John as we walk home through the city on our way home. It was big, bright and slightly fuzzy looking in the misty sky.
3: At home Barbara, John and I tuck into hot bowls of my home-made vegetable soup, made even nicer with a loaf of Cheese and Herb bread from Sue at 'The Hairy Fig'. Just the thing after a long day at Sumptuosity Towers.

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx

Sunday, 1 November 2009

November already! RSC, Autumn Watch, Parkin,

Hello There! Can you believe it is November already???

Sorry for the delay in this latest blog- it is not simply due to the fact that we are super busy (which of course we are given the proximity to Christmas) but because Barbara and I have had an afternoon and a morning off and so have had to play catch up. What I hear you cry John actually let you have some time off?? Can this possibly be true? Well, indeed it is true and for a special reason. Next Sunday is Barbara's birthday and for her present I had purchased tickets for the RSC's production of Twelfth Night in Stratford Upon Avon. In order to get there in time (and to have dinner with our chums Kate and Phil of Oakwood Aromatics), we had to set off at two in the afternoon. We did go to the Post Office to send off some parcels on our way to the Car Park but even so it did feel like we were bunking off school! The production was absolutely brilliant and we can't recommend it enough. The Bay Tree, which is a key part of the story (and hilarious) was worth the price of the tickets alone. The designers who work for the RSC are truly brilliant. Why the morning off? well, we stayed in Nottingham over night on our way back from Stratford (with Mumsie) and so we didn't get back to Sumptuosity Towers until lunchtime... But it was definitely worth it! Apologies to Sophie, Alanna and John because Barbara and I have been telling them endless all about the production and how much we enjoyed it...

John and I have been enjoying seeing 'Autumn Watch' on the television. Kate Humble and Chris Packham seem to really gel well together on screen, the photography is gorgeous as always and having had a crush on the lovely Chris since I was a teenager, it makes the program even more fun. I have been telling the Sophie and Alanna all about the program, who being young and having something called 'a life' were out enjoying themselves and not at home watching television. I particularly enjoyed the last episode as Simon King was showing the viewers some Owl Pellets and what is found within - I am so jealous as I have always wanted to do that since I was at school.... Sophie understood what I meant but I think that the lovely Alanna thinks that we are rather crazy...

Finally, I have to find some 'Parkin' for the 5th of November - as the girls tell me that it is a Yorkshire delicacy and must be eaten at this time of the year. I shall let you know if I am successful.

3 B.T.'s

1: The 'Bay Tree' in the RSC's production of Twelfth Night - how on earth did they manage to make something so amazing that looked so delicate and yet could support three full grown men?
2: Our friend Kate's new haircut -she has had her long locks lopped off and now has a funky hairdo - she looks great!
3: John gave me a big hug on Wednesday lunchtime and said how much he had missed me.

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Halloween window display, lavender, Nicola

Well, we have finally done our window to celebrate Halloween! Alanna had brought in a Pumpkin and carved it into a lantern during her lunchbreak. It now takes pride of place in the window that faces out onto Walmgate. The next day she had put a headband complete with small witches hat on top of it - very fetching! It has been causing a bit of stir and just the other day a tourist was took a photograph of it (with Sophie quickly moving out of the way as she didn't want to be in the picture). The Pumpkin is not the only bit of Halloween decoration, as well as a big black spider's web that Barbara purchased from 'Wild Hart' on Stonegate, is the wonderful 'Bobbie Bones'. He is a skeleton (anatomically correct) that stands about two foot tall with complete movable joints and a skull case that can be opened. I mention the skull case because some wit in the studio has put a walnut inside it, so Bobbie really does have a brain the size of Walnut. Nobody will admit to doing this so maybe he can walk about on his own when we have left for the night?

In the last blog I mentioned the arrival of a new sack of Lavender (ten kilos), well we have been busy making Lavender bags and the fragrance is unbelievably strong. It is fortunate that we all love the smell, as when I open up the Studio first thing in the morning the fragrance is so prominent that you could cut it with a knife. The other businesses in Barleycorn Yard have mentioned that during the Summer when we have the doors open the whole Yard can smell it - which is quite impressive considering that the boys and girls in the other businesses generally go outside so that they can smoke...

The Sumptuosity Fairies had a nice email from Nicola a textile student who has previously done a placement at Sumptuosity Towers. She is busy with her course but has been branching out designing and selling her own wares. I especially love her sheep drawings which have been screen printed onto her tea towels and peg bags - once her website is up and running we will include a link so that you can all see her fab work. We wish her good luck and hope to see her soon at Sumptuosity Towers and not simply because she make yummy cakes!

3 B.T.'s

1: The Minster bells strike eight o'clock and the chimes make the Rooks noisily take off from the main tower into the morning sky.
2: John and I came out of the Supermarket as dusk fell and the sky towards the West was a beautiful purple/blue.
3: While on the Cross-Trainer I have managed to teach myself to read while exercising and am currently reading 'Reading Matters' a wonderful book about the book collections of people (e.g. Bess of Hardwick and Samuel Pepys), what they read and where they purchased/borrowed them from. It keeps my mind off the minutes on the counter...

Bye for now
love Ruth xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

sewing, drinking tea, lavender, embroidery

A day full of sewing, drinking tea and listening to Radio Four. We are really busy with the Christmas orders and the galleries requiring stock for their Christmas exhibitions - so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at Sumptuosity Towers.

Sophie came into the studio yesterday with a bag of goodies (not anything for us to eat) but wonderful textiles that had belonged to her Grandmother. It is a sad but necessary fact that when someone dies you simply cannot keep everything and so Sophie has been helping her Granddad to find new homes for lots of stuff. - She is such a lovely young woman! Anyway, she had brought in a number of 1930s/40s embroidered tea tray cloths and table clothes. One that she had particularly saved for me is embroidered with Budgies! It is really lovely and I am delighted to add it to my personal textile collection. I also had a tea tray cloth that was embroidered with the 'Crinoline Lady' (one of my favourite designs) and another table cloth that had beautiful spring flowers embroidered on it. Please note these will NOT be cut up by me for the business but will be used when we have tea in the courtyard next summer. Sophie also gave me a box of seashells that her Grandmother had collected, these are now in a glass jar in my library. So I have got lots of lovely things this week and I haven't had to spend any money - John will be pleased!

3 B.T.'s

1: As I walk past a hair-dressers I overhear a conversation between a young female apprentice and an older male hairdresser. She had obviously been trying to sweep up the Autumn leaves that were outside their premises and complaining that the brush was inadequate for the job - I passed just as the man took the brush from her and heard him utter the immortal phrase "it just requires a bit of elbow grease" and he proceeded to do the job.
2: Jimmy our friendly Fastway Courier arrived at Sumptuosity Towers this afternoon with a huge sack of lavender slung over his shoulder - Hello (I said) it is Santa come early! That is if you can picture a very cheeky Santa with the broadest Scottish accent and who travels in a white van.
3: Later as we walk home we overhear a woman on her mobile phone singing nursery rhymes presumably to her child.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth xx

Monday, 19 October 2009

"We don't do duverts" or alterations...

The time is flying here at Sumptuosity Towers. It seems that one minute Sophie and Alanna are arriving at the studio and the next minute it is lunchtime and then it is five o'clock and time for them to go home again. I know that Mumsie has always told me that time speeds up as you get older but this is getting ridiculous!

Orders continue to keep us busy, although the studio shop has quietened down a little at the moment - with the exception of people (mostly men) who come into the shop and ask about alterations for clothing... Now Fossgate and Walmgate have at least three businesses that all advertise that they do alterations, we do not and yet people still keep coming in with bags of clothes. It is as if they look through the window see women (Sumptuosity Fairies) and sewing machines and QED assume that we must alter clothes. I am reminded of a children's programme from long ago where there was a long running comedy sketch and the catch-line was "We Don't Do Duverts". Occasionally, when I politely inform the person that we don't actually alter clothes, they look at me in disbelieve and say "Well, what is that you actually do in here??". The sewing of lavender bags, bookmarks, badges etc is presumably not a proper occupation for a sensible person... which is fortunate as I have never had much sense! (Whenever I have been accused of having no common sense I tend to reply that I don't have anything that is common! - thank you Kenneth Williams).

Anyway enough of alterations and on to more exciting news - Sumptuosity Fairy Sophie has been accepted for next year's York Open Studios. She will be converting John's office space into a gallery for the event and is very excited discussing her work, although a little nervous as well! We are all really proud of her and know that it will be brilliant.

I am also really proud of my husband as he has just take the plunge and signed up to do an O.U. degree. He is now officially a student. We went to a couple of bookshops on Sunday afternoon so that he could start to buy his set books and I have even cleared another shelf in my beloved library so that he has a place where he can start to put all his University stuff together (he now has two whole shelves to himself - I know I just spoil that man!). I hope that you are sitting down as you read this when I tell you that I didn't buy any books for myself (no honestly I didn't). I have made a note of a few for my letter to Santa...

3 B.T.'s

1: One the way to the Studio and on our way home I keep hearing Robins singing - beautiful!
2: Mumsie made a batch of iced buns for the Sumptuosity Fairies using the 'Barbie' sprinkles that I bought for her. Some of the buns has bright pink sparkly sugar crystals - nice.
3: Barbara had a postcard from her friend Marilyn who had been on holiday in Cumbria - it was a Sumptuosity postcard and she had picked it up in a shop in Gosforth to send it to the studio. This shop is owned and run by my friend Jo (a mate from Staffordshire University). It is amazing how people are connected!

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Alanna Banana's Cakes

Alanna came into the Studio this morning with even more of a smile on her face than usual. Hello she said I've got a surprise for you! She had baked some gorgeous fairy cakes for all the Sumptuosity Fairies and John. Each cake had lots of butter icing and some pink sprinkles. She is such a sweetheart, she said that she felt guilty about giving Barbara (and to a lesser extent me) the Cold that she had last week - which she in turn had got from her brother's girlfriend... Anyway, I think that the cakes must have had some magic properties as not only were they absolutely delicious but we all felt much happier and were raring to go after our elevenses. I asked Alanna if she was like 'Tabitha' from the television programme 'Bewitched' and then we all got into a silly conversation about how it would be good to be able to wiggle the end of your nose... So another busy and fabulously silly day at Sumptuosity Towers.

John and I have stayed late at the Studio tonight because we are going straight to the cinema.

We are going to see 'The Vanishing of the Bees', which is a documentary film about the huge decline in Bee populations and possible reasons that might be causing it. I am a real bug fan as many of you know and I especially love Bees. I had a great time in July when I went on my Bee-Keeping weekend and am looking forward to the day when I can have my own hive.

3 B.T.'s

1: I saw a Bat flitting in the sky above the river Foss as we walked home - I was surprised as I thought they would be hibinating by now? But I still liked to see it.

2: It was misty at the weekend and the sun appeared as a faint silver orb in the morning sky.

3: John and I have been looking at the phases of the Moon (John now has it on his Google homepage) and we have been discussing the wonderful terms 'Waxing' and 'Waning'.

Time to go the Cinema,

Bye for now

love Ruth x

Monday, 5 October 2009

Mumsie, Brown parcels and a walk through York

On Sunday we had a drive down to Nottingham to see my Mum (a.k.a. Mumsie - named after a character in Richard O'Brian's Crystal Maze). All the Sumptuosity Fairies had been worried because Mumsie had had a fall in her Bathroom and wanted to know that she was alright. I can report that the bruise on her arm had nearly gone (she heals so quickly) and she was more than excited about going out for lunch to The Bottlekiln. She is keeping busy knitting a cardigan for Charlotte (Sumptuosity Fairy Barbara's daughter) for Christmas and said that it was good because it helped her stay awake. I said that we would be more than happy to have her come up to Sumptuosity Towers where we could definitely keep her busy and she said that if she was 20 years younger she would be up there like a shot. Mumsie by the way is 86!

Meanwhile we are all busy busy busy here at Sumptuosity Towers. Business really is bonkers at the moment - to say the least. We are also getting more visitors to Sumptuosity Towers and I am beginning to think that we are almost becoming one of York's tourist attractions! A number of times in the last few weeks people have visited our studio as part of their break/holiday in York, they had purchased our wares at galleries and shops were they live (e.g. Cambridge) and made a point of seeing where their goodies were made. It is so nice to meet people who really like our wares.

3 B.T's
1: The cheerful postman arrives at the studio this morning and as well as all the usual pile of letters for all of us in Barleycorn Yard, he has a large brown parcel for me - yes, I have been spending on abebooks.
2: We see a 'squadron' of Grey Lag Geese fly noisily over the bridge and along the river Foss. We hear them do this at least twice a day but this is the first time that I have seen them in motion.
3: Later, John and I walk through the York on our way to the lecture at YPS and the trees in the main square are all light up with pretty light blue bulbs that shine through the leaves and look lovely.

Bye for now

Love Ruth x

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lots of visitors and a Halloween Window display to be done.

Lots of people have been into the studio today, including a York family who first purchased our wares in Cambridge and were surprised to find out that their purchases were designed and made in their home town!

It is always lovely to have people visit us in Sumptuosity Towers and our door is always open (a bit like Arkwright's shop in 'Open All Hours'!) but today we had problems keeping the door to our studio shut. This has been because it so very windy here in York today - I almost thought that we had an invisible friend coming in to see us. I am not sure what we shall do when Winter hits us but I'll keep you all posted.

We need to redo our windows at Sumptuosity Towers as it is now October and so we are now able to decorate for Halloween. It is something that all the Sumptuosity Fairies (Me, Barbara, Sophie and Alanna) have been looking forward to - especially as we will be making Pumpkin lanterns for display in the window; as well as lots of sewing Pumpkin brooches. John in case any of you are wondering is NOT a 'Sumptuosity Fairy' although he does work here. He is not the least bothered about window displays, that is as long as it doesn't take too much time away from our sewing and as long as it brings lots of people in to the studio. Barbara has found a Witch's hat that was once used by her daughter Charlotte as fancy dress and we will eventually incorporate it into a window display although first I have been able to do my impression of the Wicked Witch of the West " I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too..". Sad, I know, what those poor women have to out up with!

I am still mourning the loss of my computer and am writing this blog on John's beloved Mac - I had to bribe him with dark chocolate in order to let me use his 'precious'. However, to be fair to him he did let me go on Librarything this morning (my addiction) and has even put a map on my site so that I can see who has been looking at my book collections.

3 B.T.'s
1: On the walk to the Studio yesterday morning we heard the choir in York Minster singing - it sounded like the women's choir and it was wonderful.
2: John and I go for a walk at lunchtime and fins ourselves in the Merchant Adventurer's Hall Garden, from here we have a good view of the river Foss and are surprised and delighted to see lots of fish in there.
3: Tonight we see a pale but huge full moon in the evening sky as day turns to dusk. Absolutely beautiful.

Bye for now

Love Ruth xx

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

All the fun of the Fair, Squirrels & Vegetables

My computer is still poorly and so I am using John's laptop (when I get the chance!). If you read John's last blog you will have seen that me and the girl's have all been to a vintage textile fair. It was rather a Sumptuosity team day out. We all went off hunting for fabrics for our work and with the four of us busy digging away we manged to find some really nice bits and pieces. I was particularly pleased to find some more scraps of nineteenth century printed cotton, these should come in useful for our work with the Jane Austen centre in Bath. Sophie and Alanna also purchased some fabrics to make funky and exciting accessories for themselves. Sophie was particularly pleased with some pom poms that she found and we all look forward to seeing what she will do with them!

Sophie has been busy embroidering a squirrel design (sample) for the National Trust. It is a lovely red squirrel with tufty little ears that are really enhanced by the use of the handwoven silk. Barbara packed and posted it today, so we will keep you all informed as to what happens - fingers crossed.

A new order came in today from The Garden Museum in London, they had seen us at the Top Drawer trade show and are keen to stock our garden designs, so I will be busy sewing my carrots, cauliflowers and peas. At least being silk I won't have to worry about slugs damage.

3 B.T.'s
1: Blue sky, beautiful Autumn colours on the trees in the park and bird song as we walk through York to the Studio. John and I feel very lucky to live in such a wonderful place.
2: John and I look up as we walk home from the Studio and we see a group of long-tailed tits twittering noisily above the rooftops.
3: Watched an episode of Jeeves and Wooster where Jeeves milks a cow, boils water in a billy can, strains tea leaves in a make-shift strainer of twigs and a handkerchief in order to make a morning cup of tea for Berty (asleep in the potting shed). The cottage he had been staying in burnt down... it's a long story.

Bye for now
love Ruth x

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Now that's what I call... a really full order book

A really bonkers day, getting orders picked and packed for our lovely stockists. We have never been this busy and it is brilliant; the image is of the Sumptuosity order book, and this doesn't include the dozens and dozens of orders from Top Drawer.

Yesterday, the girl's were excited because we had the offer of free fabric sample books from the nice people at the nearby posh curtain shop. Sophie, Alanna and me went around to their workroom and came out with our arms full of books and within minutes of being back in the studio Alanna had used some pieces for her Fashion triptychs! York is such a friendly city and I feel so lucky to live here.

We also had a bag of wonderful fabric scraps from Sophie's Grandfather. Sadly Sophie's Grandmother died a few week's ago and as she was a wonderful dressmaker, there was lots of bags of bits from all her projects. Sumptuosity will be giving a donation to Mr. Strong's chosen Arthritis charity. I am sure that Sophie's Grandmother would be pleased that her fabrics were being used in such a creative way.

3 B.T.'s

1: There were beautiful pinky blue clouds over York Minster as the sun set this evening.
2: The sound of the red wine glugging out of the bottle as John poured us both a glass before dinner.
3: John's spontaneity, as decided to make us Martini's, before making us a three course meal - another great day at Sumptuosity Towers and then home for a lovely evening.

Bye for now
love Ruth xxx

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Orders, repairs and Starlings

Everything is bonkers in Sumptuosity Towers. We have so many orders that we are trying to 'keep calm and carry on' as the phrase goes! However, it is a very good problem to have and please don't think that we are complaining.

I was delighted to see the wonderful Paul from Flynn's of York sewing machines walking into Barleycorn Yard. He had mended Sophie's poorly sewing machine and brought it back to us. I was delighted to have my sewing machine back (as I had lent Sophie my machine and Flynn's had lent me their shop display model). It is incredible how attached you can get to your sewing machine! We are still awaiting the new machines that I ordered when we got back from London but they should be here any day and then Alanna will be able to have her very own machine.

The girl's are excited as we are having a 'girl's day out' on Sunday to an antique textile fair in Manchester. John doesn't want to go as he doesn't like 'old minging fabrics' to use his phrase. It will be good to see what we can find - never what you expect.

Please forgave the currant lack of blogs (and emails if you are a chum) but my home computer has deceased and so I am currently bereft and having to resort to John's laptop...

3 B.T's

1: The Sound of Starlings as they find a place to roost in York.
2: A very dapper old gentleman comes into the studio and requests a shoe handbag mirror for a friend. We hadn't got anything quite right in stock so Barbara and I make one up especially for him and he is really pleased.
3: The Barnitt's Belles now say Good Morning to us regularly as we walk past them in the morning.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth xxx

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The 'Magic' coffee, the Globe and other stuff

We got back from 'Top Drawer' the London trade show very late on Tuesday night, it made it a very long day as this had been the last day of the show, we then had to dismantle and pack the stand before the drive back up t'Yorkshire. However, it was worth it just to be back in our own bed! I had a bit of a lie in on the Wednesday morning before the 'Call of the Kettle' (and of course John) made me get up and get on with the day. John and I were back in the studio by lunchtime and it was just as well as Sophie's sewing machine had suddenly become distinctly 'poorly' and needed to go off to the sewing machine hospital. I went out to see Paul the very nice man who services and when required repairs our sewing machines - I also purchased two new sewing machines, this is so that Alanna will now have a nice new machine of her own and so that we always have one spare in case such emergencies arise in the future.

We could have really done without the sewing machine saga as we returned from London with lots of new stockists and even before we went away our order book was looking extremely busy. This had been our first time at a London trade show and we were very pleased with the results, although it did seem that the stand would be quiet for a while until I went off to buy some coffee, when it would suddenly spring into life thronging with people wanting information, to place orders, etc. In the meantime the coffee would go luke-warm but we decided that this was a small price to pay. We decided that Top Drawer coffee must be 'magic coffee' with the power to pull in potential stockists.

On Thursday we had an enquiry from the Globe theatre - I was very excited but then I can get quite giddy very easily. John replied and sent them some images of the Shakespeare inspired work that I have done to date and they immediately emailed back with an introductory order for my 'Yorick' brooches. So I am busy sewing them in batches as quickly as possible to make up the order but it is so fabulous to think of our Sumptuosity wares being at the Globe that I am more than happy to do so.

Friday was Samuel Johnson's 300th birthday so we celebrated in the studio with some cake. Barbara said that it was customary for the birthday person to buy the cakes but as the man in question had been deceased for over 225 years we thought that we would let him off. Thank goodness for BBCiplayer as this has allowed me to catch up with all the programmes about Johnson that I have missed while being busy with the trade show.

Sunday and I have now caught up on my sleep and am raring to go!

3 B.T.'s

1: The smell of chocolate is in the air (as we live near to the Nestle factory)...yummy.
2: The wonderful Samuel Johnson - what an incredible man he was. I have really enjoyed listening to all the programmes about him on Radio Four and Three.
3: An order from the Globe Theatre.

Bye for now
Love Ruth x

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Moon, Samuel Johnson and R'Kid

The moon was incredible large and very beautiful this morning as John and I walked to the Studio. I always find it a little strange to see the sun on one side of the sky and the moon visible on the other.

I have going on telling John, Barbara and who ever else will listen that I have been listening to Radio Four's new Classic Serial. It is Boswell's Life of Samuel John and is excellent. I had a little knowledge of Johnson previous to this (thank you Staffordshire University) but am now a real fan and absolutely need the book. On Sunday afternoon this was followed by Book club and featured The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. Another favourite of mine (and one that I already own), he talks not only about 'remote locations' but 'the undiscovered country of the nearby'. Just the sort of things to listen to as we prepare for Top Drawer...

We received an email today from R'Kid (my sister Chris) with a link to . She is about the thirteenth woman to kiss the screen. The film gets very fast so it is hard to see her but fortunately John my wonderful husband and all round techno-man managed to go through the film bit by bit and capture an image of her. Please go and have a look at the advert by cutting and pasting the address in your navigation bar.

3 B.T.'s

1: On Sunday I really enjoyed listening to Radio Four's Classic serial - it is Boswell's Life of Samuel John. I now want the book...
2: The moon was visible as we walked to the Studio this morning in the bright sunshine, it was large and very beautiful.
3: We received an email from R'kid, she is featured in a 'Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer' advert. We are so proud of her!!!

Bye for now,

Love Ruth x

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Busy Busy Busy

We are Busy Busy Busy (as La La would say) here at Sumptuosity Towers. So much so that Sophie has offered to swap her day off on Monday for one later in the week so that she can be here to help with all the preparations for Top Drawer.

John is definitely 'The Man with the Plan' as he has some super clever soft-ware that does a sort of 'mind-mapping' thingy - all very clever and very useful. So much better than my usual back of an envelope scribble!

Orders are being dispatched on Monday and then it is picking (and making where required) the stock to take down to London for the Trade Show. The above picture a scene from John's cutting and making table features handbag mirrors by all the Sumptuosity Embroidery Fairies (Sophie, Alanna & me), hundreds of them.

I have been told off this morning because I was caught looking at the Internet trying to find out how close the Natural History Museum is to the Top Drawer location. I have been told by both Barbara and John that there is definitely NO time for that sort of thing and I am not to say that I am going off to buy coffee and reappear a couple of hours later...

Which reminds me I was listening to a programme on Radio Four the other day and heard the term 'Robin-Stroker'. I hadn't heard of this before but it made both Sophie and myself laugh. It apparently refers to those 'terrible' people who only look at birds in their garden - how outrageously snobish! I think I should make myself a 'Robin-Stroker' brooch, as I love birds but am as unlikely to be found in half-way up a mountain as Paris Hilton (although the similarity ends there)...

3 B.T.'s

1: Sophie and I like it when the people who telephone into 'Any Answers' start by saying MR Dimbleby - we know then that their comment will make us laugh.
2: A hand written envelope arrives through the post from The York Bibliographical Society, lectures begin again next month.
3: I talk to Mumsie on the telephone and she says that she is looking forward to coming up to York for Christmas.

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx

Friday, 4 September 2009

Sweeties, Orders and the National Portrait Gallery

Sweeties arrived in the post yesterday from America. So actually I should say 'Candy' as it came from a candy store in Arkansas. Debby the nice lady who makes the glass beads for our books lives in America and as well as the usual parcel of beautiful cobalt blue glass beads were these yummy looking sweets. The issue is that there were only three sweets and there are now (on most days) five of us at Sumptuosity Towers, so it looks like we will have to draw lots for them...

Life is very busy at Sumptuosity Towers as we prepare for Top Drawer and get as many of our current orders out before we depart for London. I think that John and I will have to give up on our Friday's off until Christmas as were have got so much work on. This is not a real problem as it is a nice position to be in and I am definitely not complaining! One of the orders that came in today was from the National Portrait Gallery who have asked for a number of vintage fabric brooches (all 1960s fabric) for an exhibition that is starting next month. It is quite exciting to think of our sumptuous wares in the NPG.

Good luck to Sumptuosity friend Alison (of the Amazon) and her exhibtion (see

3 B.T.'s

1: The sound of Starlings as they roost on a telecomunications tower in York.
2: Richard Dawkins new books is out and I am looking forward to buying my copy.
3: Talking to Ana at the NPG, I'm really pleased about our work being in such a fabulous location.

Bye for now

love Ruth xx

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Joy of Fabric

At Sumptuosity Towers a couple of weeks ago, we received a box of fabric goodies from my friend Marcia in America. She is one of a number of vintage textile specialists from whom we purchase our fabulous vintage fabrics. This box contained a collections of patchwork pieces and two quilt 'tops' both of which had been described as 'Cutters', meaning that they were too damaged to use as the top of a quilt cover but had plenty of useful fabric that could be used for other projects. This is why we bought the tops, however, with them came some fabric that had originally been intended (presumably) for one of the bases, it was a white seersucker and very dull and boring not like all the colourful and exciting pieces. We have been having great fun trying all the new bits and pieces of fabric but I left the seersucker in a pile in the box at the side of my work table. There it might have remained until one day I was about to embroider my 'sheep' design and found that the box of 'sheep fabric bits' was empty. My eyes fell upon the white seersucker and suddenly instead of being a dull piece of fabric with little potential it materialised it a huge piece of fabric that would be brilliant for lots and lots of sheep - hurrah!

I really love it when an idea like this suddenly clicks into place. What my lovely husband needs to understand is that I am not 'untidy', I am simply keeping lots of fabric around me for possible flashes of I don't think that he will buy it either!

3 B.T.'s
1: I am currently reading a little book called 'Letters from New York' by Helene Hanff. It is the broadcasts that Helene did for Woman's Hour in the early 1980s and is a complete joy to read as her warmth and gentle humour shine through each mini episode of life in New York.
2: Barbara mentioned 'Champion the Wonder Horse' and depsite having the theme tune going around my head for the rest of the afternoon we had a laugh because Sophie thought she had said 'Champion the Werewolf'... maybe you had to be there!
3: We got our largest single order today at Sumptuosity Towers and John (who had first printed it off) brought it into our side of the studio waved it under each of our noses and wouldn't tell us who it was from until we had all seen the amount - he is a such a tease!

Bye for now, Love Ruth x

Monday, 31 August 2009

Painting on a Bank Holiday Monday

The windows of the new part of Sumptuosity Towers are now gleaming with fresh paint. Well, that isn't strictly true - one of them is gleaming with 'Witham Green' gloss paint and the other one has the green undercoat but not the top coat on yet. I am afraid that I am out of practice with my painting and so was much slower than I used to be. However, most of the paint went onto the woodwork and very little onto the glass and as my husband noted (to his great surprise) very little cursing!

It will be interesting to see if the Sumptuosity Fairies notice when they appear tomorrow morning... We shall have to wait and see! It will also be interesting to see if it helps to encourage more people into the shop area - the windows used to be a depressing matt black but now looks considerably brighter and more cheerful - I'll keep you posted.

3 B.T.'s
1: The man who walks his hairy old Bassett Hound along our road picks up litter and puts it in the bin and often carries a bag to collect items that can go in the recycling boxes. - How public spirited and nice!
2: After the grubiness of sanding down woodwork and rescuing spiders from their hidy-holes I had a long shower, washed my hair and then had a lie-down with a book and a face mask - bliss.
3:I love to read Stephen Fry's website and see what he is up to.

Bye for now

Love Ruth xxx

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Cheshire Cat Grin & Make and Cake

Sorry for the lapse in doing my usual blog, life has been really busy at Sumptuosity Towers. We have had a few special requests, one lady on seeing my noticeboard (which contains all my ideas and works in progress) asked if I could do a special bookmark for a birthday present - she wanted a carnivale mask and her friend's name embroidering. I do like this design, it is one we originally made for a charity mask ball and it was great to do it on a bookmark as I was able to embroider long twirly ribbons. I must get it added to our usual range.

John has had a real Cheshire Cat grin on his face this week as orders have been piling in. It is probably the start of Christmas! I know that it seems scary to think of Christmas when we are still in August but for retailers (and those of us who supply them), Christmas has to be planned for early - not that I approve of Christmas stock going out on display early I do believe in the proper seasons!

Two ladies came into the studio, who told us about a craft group that they belong to called 'Make and Cake'. It sounded really good and we especially loved the name - it seems very like life at Sumptuosity Towers. Among the items that they admired was a textile Chocolate cake made by Suzanne Smith. Everybody likes this slice of cake, except John who said that it didn't look like a proper cake because the back of the slice was straight and not curved. I said that he sounded like an engineer but he said that he was just 'observant'. One of the ladies pointed out that slice of cake could have come out of a square tin and so the back of the slice wouldn't necessarily have to be curved! I shall have to put that idea to John, although I wish that I had thought of it first!

Sophie has been busy doing larger embroideries from 'Alice in Wonderland', as we have some plans for some new products - more at a later date. It is now time for my Saturday cocktail.

3 B.T.'s
1: 'Make and Cake' it sounds great !
2: Buying 'Witham Green' paint to decorate the front windows of the studio.
3: John and I sit on the settee reading on our day off - he is finishing his latest Patrick O'Brien novel before moving onto Sense and Sensibility.

Bye for now

Love Ruth

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Barnitt's Belles, Rabbits and Carrots

We walked to the Studio this morning and didn't quite make John's goal of passing by the Minster as the bells chime 8.00 a.m. We were still on Gillygate but fortunately did not turn into a pumpkin (like in Cinderella), but we must do better tomorrow! Further down through the city we passed the 'Barnitt's Belles', this is a group of women who we presume work in Barnitts and go out for a cigarette and a cup of tea before the start of the day. We see them on most mornings (hence our nickname for them) but this was the first time that they have greeted us as we walk past.

Today I have been busy embroidering vegetables - carrots, cauliflowers, onions and lots and lots of peas in the pod. In the last few months the popularity of these designs seems to have gone up and up. John wonders if it is to do with the rise of people growing their own?

Carrots featured in today's silly conversation in the Studio. Barbara was going to the Post Office to send some orders, so I asked her if she would buy a few bits for tonight's soup - namely a couple of carrots and a parsnip. We also needed milk for home. Barbara started going through all the things that she needed to do and so began to make up a 'story' so that she could remember them. It began 'Once upon a time there was a rabbit that wanted some carrots but because she knew she needed a balanced diet bought some parsnips as well... At this point I turned to Alanna and said 'Save yourself Alanna, it's too late for us!'...

Radio Four was very good today with Stephen Fry, Lost, Stolen or Shredded and then Dervla Murphy talking about Freya Stark. All good stuff, but why oh why has Stephen Fry's programme lasted for only three episodes!!! I am bereft.

3 B.T.'s

1: Waterdrops on the long thin leaves of the Crocosmia - like little pearls.
2: The Barnitt's Belles say Good Morning to us as we pass them on our way to the Studio.
3: Dervla Murphy talking about Freya Stark on Radio Four's programme 'Great Lives' this afternoon. I love to hear about people (especially women) and travel/adventure.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Dib Dib Dib - preparing for the trade fair

John and I have been busy with the preparations for Top Drawer our next and biggest Trade Show. John used masking tape to mark out the area that we have booked for the show and then we had the 'fun' of putting together the new display units and lighting to see if it all worked, fitted and of course how it looked! I am happy to say that all went well. Let's just hope that it goes so well together in London - fingers crossed.

3 B.T.'s

1: We walk to the Studio and pass a girl who has her headphones on and is singing aloud as she walks to work.
2: Alanna's Mum had made us two types of yummy buscuits for our morning and afternoon tea.
3: The leaves of the trees in the nearby park are definitely beginning to turn colour.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Monkey’s in a Zoo!

John came into Studio 1 (the one that faces out onto the Walmgate) and declared that it was like being in a zoo, because of the way that people look in through the windows at all the activity that goes on in Sumptuosity Towers. He even suggested that we have some bars or ropes to hang from the ceiling so that we could swing on them! This led to a conversation between me and Sophie about what type of animals we would want to be – Sophie said a Lemur, while I was in a quandary between being a Sloth (I like the idea of lazing around!) or a hippo (I am a ‘pleasantly plump’ vegetarian who is sometimes a little grumpy). However, we couldn’t decide what John could be (any answers, please drop us an email). In the end, I thought that rather than one animal he could be a whole colony of ants – I was thinking of the ‘worker ants’.

John and I eat our lunch together and have started to listen to Radio Four programmes on the i-player. This means that any programmes that I miss due to the rapid rattle of sewing machines I can get a second chance to listen to in full. So far we have been listening to Stephen Fry’s English Delight and ‘Lost, Stolen or Shredded’.

I still occasionally have people ask me if I am happy having left my academic life for ‘sewing’ – the answer is oooooh yes!!!


1: A rainbow over Leeds City centre, it was low and wide and very pretty.

2: Sitting in Leeds Subscription Library and reading a book called ‘A journey to Medinah’ (1881) – it is very amusing, very upper class English in style. I leave a scrap of paper in it to mark it for next time I am there.

3: John said, I love to walk through York in the early morning when it is very quiet and empty of people – we then turn a corner to see about 50 American tourists all on an early morning tour.

Bye for now

Love Ruth x

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Alanna banana at Sumptuosity Towers

We have had a good day at Sumptuosity Towers. The Summer weather in York has been glorious today and so we have had all the doors open to let in any breeze. The sewing machines have all been buzzing away and Alanna (Banana) has really fitted into the team at Sumptuosity Towers. So much so that I am thinking of ordering my Chaise Longue - so that I can lounge about eating grapes.... maybe not just yet! John is delighted because stock is pilling up and orders are going out of the door. We are doing so well that we have asked her if she would like to join the team on a more permanent basis. So it will be even more tea and cake at Sumptuosity Towers!

3 B.T.'s

1: John says that he likes to walk down Petergate on our way to the Studio because it is York 'as it has always been' - e.g. people cleaning the front of their shops, opening up the doors, getting ready for the day ahead.
2: We sit out in the courtyard and John says 'what bird is that, which looks like a bow and arrow?', I look up and see that my swifts have returned!
3: A glass of Shiraz on a warm evening in York. A nice end to a good day.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Carrot Cake Club

We had a telephone call this morning from 'Just off the Square' in Cornwall, they had placed an order last night via John's super-duper on-line trade catalogue but wanted to ask for a few special requests. My tree frog brooches and Sophie's cricket brooches were added to the list; nothing unusual so far - what was different was the request for my carrot brooches to say 'Carrot Cake Club'! apparently there had been a request from a lady who (along with her chums) was madly fond of carrot cake and even went so far as to go on holiday (with her chums) and eat carrot cake wherever they could find it. We all love carrot cake at Sumptuosity Towers (in fact as many of you will know we love all sorts of cake!) and so were more than happy to comply with the request.

3 B.T.'s
1: Hearing about the Carrot Cake Club.
2: I am on the last twenty pages of my Darwin biography. This has been a huge two volume epic, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading but it is a bitter sweet feeling - sorry to be finishing it but looking forward to starting something else.
3: Wore my new red lipstick.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sumptuosity comes to Blogger

We went into the Studio today (Sunday!) because I wanted to work on some new designs for the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. We are so busy during the week with all our usual embroideries that I never seem to find the time to work on anything new. John was supposed to be working on the new packaging for the Austen brooches but when I went in to see him in Studio 3 I found that he had been working on Blogger. He thinks (and I agree) that by being on this site it will make it easier for people to follow our blogs and for us to follow other people - I read 'Three Beautiful Things' everyday. Most importantly it means that I can write and upload my own blog without having to ask John to do it. This means that I will have much more chance to be cheeky about the day-to-day happens at Sumptuosity Towers. Keep posted!

3 BT's
1: We go to Castle Howard on our day off and I love to see the Swallows and House Martins swooping about the house as much as the beautiful grand interiors.
2: We leave the curtains to the living room partially open and I watch the bats flying above the park in the twilight.
3: I purchase a brand new red lipstick (my last one had run out a while ago) and I instantly feel more like the old Ruth.

Catriona & Debbie pay us a visit

Two young women appeared at the Studio this afternoon, one of them was wearing some of Sophie’s Alice in Wonderland brooches – including the latest design ‘Drink me’. Hang on I thought, we haven’t even put them out on sale in the Studio yet, how come she is wearing one? Then I remembered (my brain works very slowly sometimes!), John had already put these designs on our website, we had sold a couple of them and Barbara had packed and posted them. Yes, it was Catriona and Debbi, who had been ‘quick off the mark’ purchased the new designs off the website and were now out for a day in York and decided to come and find Sumptuosity Towers for themselves. It was great to meet them. We showed them some of ‘The Secret Garden’ designs and they gave us a new idea – Peter Pan! Sophie and I immediately began thinking of crocodiles and clocks…

Alanna (banana) has now done three weeks at Sumptuosity Towers – where does the time go? She has been busy embroidering and has even come up with a new design – an ice cream cone. No sooner had Alanna made it, Barbara had John make it into a brooch and put it on. Watch out for it featuring on our website soon…

3 B.T’s.
1: The whirring of sewing machines as all four of us sew and embroider away.
2: A ‘personal’ letter from Indianna in Liverpool – how nice to hear someone so cheerful.
3: David from the furniture shop down the road comes into the Studio, ‘Now then’, he says in a deep Yorkshire accent, ‘ I have brought you those old fabric sample books to see if they will be of any use for your sewing. – How kind and thoughtful!

Bye for now

Love Ruth xxx