Four Exhibitions

Ashmoleon Museum

A few weeks ago I was in Oxford, the day I delivered the slippers, and I decided to spend some time in the Ashmolean Museum.

At the time they had three Free Exhibitions and I went and looked at each of them.

But first I went up to the roof terrace and had a cup of coffee. cup of coffee

I tried to photograph the whole terrace but the sun was so bright, I just pointed the camera and hoped! The camera was not quite level as you can see. roof terrace

First Exhibition – The Tale of Prince Vessantara

(This exhibition is on till 9th September)

The story behind the pictures, and there were quite a few though I did not photograph all of them, was that of a past life of the Buddha.

He was born as Prince Vessantara who was such a generous man that he gave away everything, including his wife and children. Generosity is a prime Buddhist virtue but I must say that I was rather shocked at the idea of praising a man for giving away his children.

The story shown in the paintings on show was how a man asked the prince for his children so they could be servants for his wife. The prince agrees. Story of Prince Vessantra part 1

The prince’s wife is of course devastated though that is not shown here. The light was very poor so I only took photographs where it was better.

But later the prince’s father recognises the children and pays the man a great deal of money for their return. Story of Prince Vessantra part 2

Second Exhibition – A Century of Women in Chinese Art.

(This exhibition is on till 14th October)

The century in question here is the twentieth.

Here I only photographed a couple of paintings that were different to the norm.

The first show Tibetan women presenting lengths of white silk to guests. Two Tibetan women

The second I thought was particularly interesting because it show a Western style clock on the wall. Two Chinese women and clock

I also thought the garment in the same display case was so beautiful. beautiful garment

Here is a closer look. embroidery close up

And another piece of embroidery that caught my eye phoenix and dragon embroiderybecause it’s theme contains the phoenix and the dragon just like my Chinese laquer plate does. laquer plate

Third Exhibition – Paintings and a sculpture by Ibrahim El-Salahi a Sudanese artist.

(This exhibition is on till 2nd September)

I especially liked his tree paintings. tree painting

and another tree paintingAnd this tree sculpture. tree sculpture

On the wall opposite the sculpture there was a huge painting of Flamenco dancers that he had see in Andalusia. Flamenco dancers painting

Bodleian Library – Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth

(As you can see this exhibition is on till 28th October)

A few days later I was back in Oxford to meet my daughter and husband and go to see a Tolkien exhibition in the Bodleian Library. The exhibition is free but you do need to book tickets for a particular time slot.

Unfortunately it was not permitted to take photographs in the exhibition but I did take a photograph of the display outside. Tolkien exhibition display

If you are interested in Tolkien, I can thoroughly recommend a visit. We spent at least an hour there and could have spent longer. There were photographs and artifacts concerned with different stages of his life, books and paintings and maps he had made.

And the shop had lots of Tolkien inspired memorabilia.

I bought a fridge magnet. fridge magnet

This is much enlarged of course!


My Spanish pilgrimage

Last week I was away in Spain on a pilgrimage. Not the one you might expect, to Compostella but one in the Footsteps of Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

I thought I would share a few of the photographs I took while I was there.

The first five night were spent in Avila: a beautiful walled city where Teresa was born and spent a large part of her life.


Here is a view of one of the city gates from the outside.


When I booked, over a year ago, there were no single rooms left but my friend and I had a lovely large room in Avila.


Here is a view from the balcony.


One afternoon we had a little time to walk round some of the walls and I took these photographs.

A view along the walls.

0191-onthewallsA view from the wall.


A view outside the walls.


And I even tried my hand at a black and white photograph of this fountain below the walls.


I was very fond of this fountain and took lots of pictures.

This is my favourite.


And here is a very spanish looking courtyard we found when returning to the hotel.


These stone animals were all over the place. Aparently they are very, very old.


Reminded me a little of the rhinos that I showed you earlier.


On Wednesday we went to Alba de Tormes. I was very struck by the storks’ nests high up on buildings.


As well as Avila we spent a little time in Segovia, famous for the aquaduct.


Like Avila it had narrow streets


and this sphinx which I hadn’t expected.


As well as religious sites we went to see the alcazar which was like a huge fairytale castle.


While in Sergovia we were also priviledged to see some embroidery made by St Teresa herself.



It did seem appropriate to include these.

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The last two nights were spent in Toledo.

(A smaller room this time but quite adequate, though being at the front of the hotel it was noisy.)

Here is a view from the balcony the first evening.


Of course being a pilgrimage we went to many convents and churches and saw many baroque altarpieces.

This one in Toledo is fairly typical.


I am not especially fond of baroque so in fact I much prefered this one.


In Toledo as well as going to the cathedral, where photography was not allowed, we went and saw a reconstruction of El Greco’s house.

My eye was caught by this fountain in the garden.


The house was used as a museum containing some of his paintings and copies of others.

Here is his picture of Christ


It was interesting to note that none of the copies managed to captured that sense of inner luminescence of the draperies that El Greco achieved.

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Up to now I haven’t put in too many explicitly religious images but I am going to end with a few of my favourite statues.

Here is one of St Teresa


St John


and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


And lastly a tile I found on a wall in Toledo that I just had to photograph because of my love of dragons. Can you see it?


And here is a pendant that I bought in Toledo as a memento of the pilgrimage.


The Chest revealed

I promised to tell you more about my Merchant’s Chest when I had decided how to use it.

But of course the first thing to be done was to prepare it.

I got out my vacuum cleaner and a duster because inside there were quite a few wood shavings and little piles of sawdust.


Then I found an old lump of beeswax that I had bought years ago for the smell. It didn’t smell very much any more but I used it to wax the drawers and runners where wood would rub on wood to help prevent wear.


But of course it is also best to line the drawers.

I knew I would need a lot of paper and wondered what to use but then I remembered this.


Back in the days when all computer printers used fan-fold paper, my husband brought this home from work for the children to draw on and I still had some left. It’s still good for grand-children to draw on but I had plenty.

So here is one of the drawers lined.


Next to fill them.

What is in them is not necessarily fixed and I expect I will adjust according to need but for the moment this is what I have done.

In the four drawers along the top, I have:-

Tissue paper –

0147-1-tissuepaperThis drawer was originally empty but I decided to put my oddments of tissue paper in it for the moment.

Buttons and elastic –


Ribbons, tape and cord –

0147-3-ribbons-tape+cordI haven’t really sorted the ribbon properly as I know I have oddments of ribbon all over the place.

And lastly – felt, beads and pipe cleaners –

0147-4-felt+beadsThere are my cocktail sticks in there too.

On the next row of three equal sized drawers, I have:-

Stuff  for tapestry –

0147-5-tapestryI do have some plans for this , when I can fit it in! 🙂

Everything connected with embroidery –

0147-6-embroideryAnd I popped in the two knitting dollies I have as well.

My new balls of crochet cotton  –

0147-7-newcrochetcottonsand a pot of steel crochet hooks.

On the next row down there are:-

My other cotton and bamboo yarns –

0147-8-othercottonsI’m in the middle of making another dish cloth with the cotton in the middle, hence the hook!

I am using this drawer for my granny ripple blanket at present (I haven’t done much of this lately)

0147-9-blanketas well as another project that I may abandon.

In the bottom two drawers I have:-

My Stylecraft yarns – (this was always the plan!)

and as it doesn’t fit in the small drawers, my roll of knitting needles.

Then lastly:

Overflow Stylecraft yarn and all the other odds and ends of yarn and some for future projects –


This leaves my plastic crates that I was using for the yarn empty

0147-boxesBut I am sure I will find a use for them.

All the above means that in future my sewing box


can just be used for sewing!

Busy, busy, busy.

Last week my grandaughter Louisa came to stay. We had a very busy week that included: crafting, playing computer games, visiting play parks, meeting up with uncles, aunt, and cousins, shopping and reading books. The first thing we did was to make some orange jelly and then later we made some lime jelly: all with real fruit juice and gelatine.

The lime jelly didn’t come out very green of course – perhaps I should have bought some colouring – but here are some orange rabbits and green ‘bushes’ all ready to be eaten. The lime jelly was voted as being even better than the orange.

We also did some handicrafts

Louisa went on with her knitting and started to make crochet chains but life was so busy I forgot to take any photographs.

However I did take photographs when we made our first doll as shown us on woolhogs’ blog.
We assembled all we needed, including some new yarn we bought to make more interesting crochet chains.

The piece of card was to help with making the hair.

And we ended up with a little Louisa.

With another doll made later a whole world and story could be created.

Louisa also did some embroidery – all her own design.

Then on Thursday we went to play with her cousins

She played Snakes and Ladders with Oliver but little brother wanted to join in.

At the beginning of the week we had made some cookies

Louisa enjoyed these so much we decided to make some more to take home.

Mummy and Daddy and James the lodger came to collect her on Saturday but before going home we all went out to Portsmouth for another day out……………………….

But that is another story.

Butterfly Book Cover

A recent project that was not involved with knitting and crochet (that I see as my main focus)  involved trying to copy a notebook from Paperchase that my younger daughter had given me for Christmas.

I am using my book to record my knitting and crochet projects and this has led indirectly to my deciding to start a blog.

My daughter however told me that she had liked the book so much that she had gone back to the shop to buy one for herself but they had all gone.  I know how frustrating that can be because I had had the same happen to me with some snowflake cookies cutters I had bought as a present. I looked around on the internet but they did indeed seem to have been discontinued. So I decided that I would try to make one for her.

My first problem was to find a large enough piece of felt in the right shade.  I eventually found a piece that was a close enough match in colour and 18” square. I then had to buy embroidery thread in matching colours. The turquoise one was not quite the same but I decided it would do.

I managed to photocopy the book I had

and then, using Corel Photo-Paint to
extract just the butterflies, made transfers from some transfer printing paper I
had bought years before.

This is the one for the turquoise butterfly

I found a notebook in Paperchase that had a plain thin card cover and as a bonus a butterfly edging to the pages, which the original had not had.

The original butterflies had been worked in machine satin stitch. Embroidery is not my best skill and there was no way I could copy that but I remembered something called couching stitch which is where you lay a thickness of embroidery thread round the shape you want and hold it in place with tiny stitches every few millimetres.  So I decide to use that.

Three butterflies were flat and three had been added on later so I worked the loose ones first. I then started on the main part of the cover.

This is how they compared

Finally, I improvised a way of stitching on the loose butterflies and working their bodies to hold them in place.

The original book had thick felt for the main part of the cover but mine was only 1.5mm thick so, since I had enough, I decided that I would stick one plain layer of felt on the cover first and then the embroidered part.

I remembered that Copydex was the glue to use for craft projects and bought some.

This is where I feel I came a bit unstuck (ha! ha!) as they had changed the formulation and instead of being spirit based it now appeared to be water based and as soon as I coated the cover of the book with it, the card curled up massively.  Over the next couple of days I managed to stick on both layers of felt and trim it to size.  However the cover has never lain completely flat even with a lot of weight on top to encourage it. Glue is not something I am good with (and I often manage to stick my fingers together with super glue) so even with the utmost care I did manage to get the odd bit of glue on the outside.

But this is the finished result and I am not totally unhappy with it.

Why Did I Start this Blog?


I was taught knitting, crochet and various sorts of embroidery when I was a child.

I was a very slow knitter but by knitting the occasional item, such as baby coats when I was expecting a child I gradually improved.  (I knitted a third coat – for my son – but I must have given it away.)

My mother did a lot of crochet but it was mostly lacy patterns using crochet cotton like this –
She said that the bedcover had taken her about 18 months and I think that was before she extended it to fit a double bed.

I started a piece of lace once but it grew much too slowly for impatient me.

I quite enjoyed embroidery but can’t say I was especially good at it.

Recently however I knitted a gilet (well that’s what the pattern called it) as part of my clothes for my second daughter’s wedding and as it turned out well I began to grow in confidence.

You can see bits of it in these two pictures.

(I bought a rather special coat for the wedding as well.)

So I set out to knit a Christmas Crib from a book by Jean Greenhowe.

This was also a success.

I knitted a few dolls for my granddaughter and some scarves and berets and baby and toddler cardigans and then I found Lucy’s site: and fell in love with the idea of a blanket made of hexagons.
Sneak Preview

I was now hooked not only on knitting but maybe even more so on crochet.

So much so that I decided I should start a blog.

Why Rainbow Junkie?

Well I have always been obsessed with rainbows ever since I first saw one and if anything I do can incorporate a rainbow arrangement of colours I am so happy. Even when I am using colours in a random fashion it is the bright clear jewel colours that I like to use.

You can see I created this mandala about twenty years ago. It represents both me and the world.

I also made this one a couple of years later in 1995.