The Mighty James Hill and The Mighty Uke

Last night I played ukulele with James Hill. I should add that unfortunately it wasn't a private jam session with James, cellist Anne Davison and me - instead I formed part of the small but eager audience that travelled to Brighton on a windswept Tuesday evening to see The Mighty Uke Roadshow.
     The film has been touring for over a year now but this is the first time it's reached Sussex. I'd heard great things about it and it didn't disappoint, though it provides a distinctly North American perspective on the global ukulele phenomena so there is little focus on the UK ukulele scene and no mention of the highly influential Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain or key uke websites. 
     The night was beset with technical hitches meaning our precious jamming time with James and the film's director Tony Coleman was regrettably cut short. I wish the Roadshow had come to Worthing or to one of our neighbouring towns of Shoreham-by-sea or Littlehampton (all places with keen and thriving ukulele groups) as I know local uke fans would have turned out in their hundreds - as they did for Wukulele Festival - and given The Mighty Uke Roadshow the kind of packed, enthusiastic and downright jolly reception it deserves.
     The film is currently touring the UK and if it comes to a town anywhere near you I urge you to go along. James Hill's easy charm and ukulele virtuosity make it an unmissable experience. The high point of the evening for me was Hill performing his amazing version of Billie Jean.


Radio Art


Transistor radio lavender bags by Ivy Arch
My television broke in 1990 and this event changed my life. I’d been listening to the usual bits of daytime Radio 4 before then (eating breakfast with the Today programme, having my tea with The Archers) but it wasn’t until the telly died that I really began exploring radio and seeking out new things to listen to. 
       BBC Radio 3 gave me Mixing It, an inspirational show that opened up entire new worlds of music to me - I was such a fan I even wrote to them and did voluntary work there. Then in 1997 I went along to Kersten Glandien’s acousmatic concert series RadioArt in Germany at London's Goethe-Institut. The same year London Musicians’ Collective (LMC) published a magazine called Resonance Radio Issue. The attached CD (compiled by Phil England) contained 75 minutes of radio art works. I’ve listened to this so many times over the years that I could probably recite you the entire text of Lotta Erickson’s Please Mr Coldstream with every pause and breath in place, and if I listen to this piece again right now I know it will move me as much as the first time I heard it.
       The following year LMC founded Resonance 104.4fm (the world’s first radio art station) and it is still the most diverse, interesting broadcaster around, and one that consistently provides a really radical and joyous listening experience. The station now has thousands of fans worldwide (even L’Uomo Vogue wants a piece of the action).

I never did get a replacement television set.

Ivy Arch radio lavender bags (the perfect gift for the radio enthusiast) are on sale in my Etsy shop.

Guerilla knitting on the streets of Worthing


I went out on my bike to photograph the early setting sun and stumbled upon a monumental piece of knitted graffiti on the seafront corner of The Steyne. The Steyne’s old red phone box is now wearing a huge woolly patchwork cosy, complete with a large pom pom on the top. Inside it’s filled with intricate crocheted flowers and leaves, handmade insects, cute rodents and even a knitted bird.
     This multicoloured knitted telephone booth celebrates the radical eccentric guerilla knitting of Magda Sayeg and the phone box cosies of London's Knit The City movement - it's a splendid sight and well worth taking a seafront detour for.
     Worthing's piece of kooky craft is signed Blueprint 22 and The Wool Bar. A bit of Googling tells me it could be the start of a big outdoor knitting exhibition in Worthing. I look forward to seeing more knitted graffiti on our streets!

The dog days aren't over

More pop art Chinese zodiac dog design lavender bags in Mini Moderns fabric hit the Ivy Arch Etsy shop tonight. The first batch have almost sold out, so do be quick if you'd like to buy one. The backing fabric on these is vintage cotton designed by Paco Rabanne - it's a beautiful piece of material with strong printed colours and a crazy psychedelic design. Gorgeous!


Delicious apple Christmas decoration lavender bags

This weekend, inspired by the old German tradition of decorating Christmas trees with apples, I made some apple motif lavender bags from the remnants of the Clothkits fabric I used to make these ukulele gig bags. They turned out so well that I've made some more for the shop, and sewed a few with the fabric's flower design.

If Christmas tree ornaments aren't your thing, they can also be put under your pillow for a peaceful night's sleep, or hung in your wardrobe to make clothes smell fresh - and did you know that lavender is a moth repellent? Buy now, for the perfect stocking filler gift!



Scents of Occasion: new lavender bags for Xmas

This week my home has been filled with the scent of French lavender as I've been making the first batch of lavender bags for my Christmas shop.
This lot are made from a piece of Mini Moderns Stevie fabric, inspired by an oriental stamp collection. I love the cute illustrations. They remind me of foreign packaging, tickets for exotic journeys and in particular my collection of Slovak soft-cheese labels (which I'll reveal to you in their full glory another time).
As usual they're also available for sale from my Etsy shop.

New ukulele tote bags by Ivy Arch

I've made some more appliqué ukulele tote bags including a few designs with plain black or green backgrounds. I think the black and red ones look simply stunning! All are available to buy now from my Etsy shop.
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