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