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 I do like this design, it is one we originally made for a charity mask ball and it was great to do it on a bookmark as I was able to embroider long twirly ribbons.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