Saturday, 6 July 2019


Sorry, I nearly forgot to finish posting my Baltic cruise journal sketches but I'm back now and starting with this sketch done as we sailed away from Helsinki. We had taken a tour to a traditional village and had a look around the city but the weather was damp and I wasn't too inspired till I saw the pretty islands as we left and the seagulls escorted us along the coast.

Our next port of call was Stockholm and we woke to a beautiful sunny morning, sailing through the archipelago.  We seemed very close to the shore and had a lovely view of the pretty red cottages and pine forests that line the coast.  That swirl on the bottom right is a scrap of silk and mohair yarn I bought later in Stockholm in a fascinating shop in the old town.

Our mooring was a few kilometres out of the city and we had a magnificent view from our balcony of the amusement park with it's incredible rides.  I could hear the screams of the people as they swooped down on that tall tower structure.

We were transported to the city by bus and decided to visit the city hall as we had already been here before and seen most of the other sights.  We had a very interesting tour and then went in search of lunch in the old town, Gamla Stan, where we had meatballs, the typical Swedish dish.  After a bit of shopping for herrings and crispbread we took the bus back to the ship for our tour of the ship's bridge which was a great experience.

From Stockholm we had a day at sea while we sailed to Warnemunde in northern Germany where we docked right next to a pretty holiday resort.  We were able to walk ashore and explore and found that we could take a train to Rostock for only a few euros.

We found an attractive town with some interesting architecture and a good choice of bistros for lunch.  Later we took the train back to the ship and bought a few souvenirs along the way in a fantastic shop by the port.

Our last stop was at Copenhagen which we had visited before so we decided on a casual walk from the port with our new friends, Jerry and Sorrel.  We stopped for coffee in a pretty hotel courtyard and a herring and beer lunch at Nyhavn before another drink stop on the way back to the ship.
Here we are on the last shore day of our cruise after lunch at Nyhavn.
We had a wonderful cruise with so many new places seen and friends made and it certainly was a new experience for us.  We're normally country folk, preferring rivers and landscapes to cities and crowds but this was the only way to be able to see so many places in a short time.

Saturday, 15 June 2019


On Friday of the first week of our cruise we arrived at Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, a wonderful mediaeval city built on a hill and enclosed by walls.  We went ashore and had a look around on our own as it was only 15 minutes by foot from where the ship was moored. It was a fascinating place with narrow streets and a lovely central square where the craft market was in full swing.

We climbed gradually to the top for the fantastic views, stopping along the way to look in souvenir shops and some of the galleries selling textile art in particular. We finally got to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral at the highest point and found a quiet bistro for a delicious fish lunch.  Because of the damp weather the outside tables were empty and the place seemed closed but we looked inside and found an old curved roof and rough wooden tables and just a few people eating so we stayed and avoided the crowds down in the square! 

This map gives you an idea of the fortified design of the city and our route as we strolled about.

I couldn't resist spending some money here and when I met Natali on her stand at the market selling her beautiful scarves I just had to go for it!  She sells under the name of iTALA and you can find her on Facebook if you want to see more of her products.
Soon it was time to leave Tallinn and head for St Petersburg to spend the weekend. This map shows you where we were able to go with our guided tours.  In Russia it's essential to have a visa to visit the country and for us it was easier to take advantage of the group visa organised by the travel company.  We were warned to keep up with the group and not to get lost as it would cause a lot of difficulties finding our way back in a country where few people speak our language.

I took hundreds of photos of the Hermitage and Winter Palace and made a few sketches in my journal after we came home.  The pace of the visits didn't allow for any spare time and we were pretty exhausted by the end  of each day!
Every souvenir shop is full, floor to ceiling with Russian dolls of all sizes and prices from 7euros to 700 euros. I decided to buy a fridge magnet instead as I know a doll would just gather dust on a shelf somewhere!

On the Saturday evening we were taken to a 'Cultural Faculty' to see a display of traditional music and dancing.  A small troupe gave us a wonderfully vibrant, lively show with lovely costumes, beautiful singing and the men really did do those high leaps and crouching dances.

I had never heard of the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood so when I saw a preview on the ship I had to go and see for myself.  Its just as you would imagine, an onion domed church with the most amazing interior covered in mosaics and golden highlights. 

All too soon it was time to leave this fascinating city and set sail for Helsinki. 
I amused myself sitting on the stern of the ship watching the wash as we sailed along.

Saturday, 8 June 2019


I have dreamed of visiting St Petersburg for over 50 years and we finally decided the best way was to take a cruise and visit several cities along the way.
I started my preparations by weaving a cover to put on a book I bound myself incorporating the maps of each city as well as over all maps as end papers.

I drew our route inside the front cover and had to make alterations when the ship took a detour around Denmark.

The title page.

We joined the ship at Newcastle and spent a whole day at sea on the way to Oslo, our first port of call.  It was a warm sunny day so we sat on the balcony during the afternoon and while Bob snoozed I was treated to the sight of a flock of gannets who followed us for over an hour, long enough for me to take lots of photos and make this sketch in my journal.
We arrived in Oslo the next morning and decided to take one of the ferries across the harbour the Bygdones where the main historical museums were located.  We met a charming Spanish girl while we were waiting for the boat who spent the morning with us.

Our first visit was to the Viking ships museum where we saw a selection of grave ships that dated from the 9th century.  These were former warships that were then used as the coffins of important people, filled with artefacts like gold and sledges and incredibly well preserved because they had been buried in earth rather than in put in the sea.

Next we went to the Folksmuseum, a lovely parkland area full of historic buildings that have been re-located and furnished in the style of the age. The ancient farmhouses have grass growing on top of them and seem very primitive inside.  Each house had a person, dressed in the costume of the time and able to relate the story of their period. We saw house that had been on the outskirts of Oslo before it was redeveloped at the beginning of the 20th century as well as an apartment block with each flat set up in a different decade up to the 1970s.
The museum building had some beautiful costumes, woven wall hangings and rugs as well as painted furniture.  I was fascinated by the story of this red shirt, woven by it's owner that would have lasted her lifetime.
As we left Oslo there was a tremendous rainstorm which completely obliterated the shore but quickly cleared away to give us this lovely sight.

We passed under this bridge at sunset so I had to make a drawing from one of my photos as we sailed on to our next port of call, Tallinn in Estonia.

Sunday, 12 May 2019


During my recent visit to family in England I spent a couple of days with my daughter Justine and on one of these we had a day out in the Surrey hills at the village of Hascombe.  After a delicious pub lunch we went for a walk to see the bluebells and ended up by St Peter's, the village church.  Being curious we went to have a look inside and what a surprise, we found an exquisitely decorated Victorian church almost completely covered in fabulous wall painting and decorations from the ceiling to the ground.  I was particularly taken with the walls depicting the fish caught by St Peter and decided to make a wall hanging.

I started by printing my photo and making some templates for the wave shapes.

Then tracing some fish from an identification book.

I gathered an assortment of tulle, organza and chiffon fabrics as well as some fine organdie for the background and started cutting out my shapes.

You can see here how I layered them up using scraps of bondaweb to hold the pieces together till I was able to do the stitching which I did in invisible thread.

I made ten waves altogether and after attaching them to another sheet of bondaweb I cut each one out carefully ready for the next step.

Then it was the turn of the fish which I traced onto a piece of organdie and painted with gold and silver fabric paints.

Then I stitched the outlines and details in a grey thread and attached the bondaweb to the back before cutting out the shapes.

Now for the assembly, first to arrange the waves on the organdie background and stitch all around each piece using the invisible thread followed by the gold outlines which consist of a sparkly yarn held down with a golden yellow machine embroidery thread.

Then the fish come into the piece, arranged and ironed on, then stitched in place with invisible thread.

I found some brown yarn in my stash and twisted it to double the thickness then using another template for the shape which I drew around to show where to place each piece of the fishing net, I stitched each line, knotting as I went down the piece.

The final step was to attach a piece of turquoise fabric to the back with more bondaweb and then cut around the shape. I made a channel along the top for a thin pole and hung it up using some more of the fishing yarn.  It's been a labour of love doing this and has taken me practically all week but I'm pleased with the result.

Saturday, 13 April 2019


I've had a fun time this last week or so on my weaving frame.  I wanted to try and make some cuff bracelets after seeing some on the internet.

I had a rummage through my stash of yarns from Michel and found some pretty pink shades in different textures like chenille and sparkly acrylic.  I set up the loom with a plain pink cotton for the warp as it was the strongest and then started to weave across alternating the different colours.  I ended up with a piece measuring about 7 x 20 centimetres.  At each end of the weaving you can see some red yarn woven across in 3 lines, this is to prevent the weaving coming undone when I take it off the loom and is removed when I have stabilised the weaving with some fine iron on interfacing.

I searched my collection of fabric scraps and came up with some co-ordinating batik but I had to go shopping for the fine elastic and the pearl buttons. I faced out the weaving with the lining, adding the loops at one end and making the opening in the middle to make it easier to turn through which only needed hemming when I finished.
After stitching on the buttons I had a pretty cuff bracelet, perfectly co-ordinated with my pink jumper.

This inspired me to try another, blue one which goes well with jeans and white tops.

The buttons for this one came from an old necklace my sister gave me years ago (thank you Juliet!)
Then I thought I would try one woven in the other direction, with the warp on the short side instead of the long one.  In fact I was using up the warp after weaving the front of my new bag.  It's quite wasteful if I throw away the rest of the warp from the 50 cms frame when I've only woven 20 cms for the project.  Above you can see the finished weaving with the iron on interfacing to  keep the yarns in place.
I took a few wooden beads from an old bracelet to decorate this one.

The buttons are beads from another old necklace which I coloured to match with nail varnish.  And I'm sure you recognise the lining, it's a scrap from my new holiday blouse made from a sarong.

Next time I'll show you the new bag I made so watch this space and thank you for visiting today.
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