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 www.kissgoodbyetobreastcancer.com . 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 septemberart.org).

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 inspiration...no 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