Monday, 30 January 2012

dancing along

She's a happy creature, with her attendant birds, the flame of inspiration burning above her head
 perhaps her heart is gladdened by the robin outside the window
 and her soul dancing with the catkins down in the dell

Saturday, 28 January 2012

January light

The little Goddess is evolving, as is the space her servant works in. My study has been transformed by the addition of curtains and by dropping the nets (horrible things) down to half the window height. Result?

The sunlight now streams through, warming the atmosphere and illuminating where it lands.
there is a view through. I need some privacy screen at the bottom of the window, as we are quite visible from the road, but hadn't realised how confining the nets felt until I moved them - they previously covered the top half as well. I don't like the ones that are there now, they're synthetic and unappealing, but they shield me from view. I'd like to create something like this, I admire Jude's work hugely, but know I have the neither the skill nor verve.

The glimpse of the sky above, netted in the branches of the tree outside, can be seen opening out as one walks through the hallway from the rear of the house.

It is also thrown through the prisms of the glass in the door,

bounces down the hallway

and is netted briefly in the walnut at the bottom of the garden
 before winging it's way through the gulls feathers and into the landscape beyond.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

blackwork and the little goddess

The blackwork project is finished. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, choosing the most appropriate pattern for each element and trying to make sure that I used a variety of tones in the image. I'm rather pleased with it as I'd not done this before. I did find it trying on the eyes though, and could be seen on numerous occasions with the needlework almost stitched to my nose in my attempts to see where to place the needle next! Now, skipping quickly over the fact that I've not done the other counted thread pieces, I'm moving on to my little Goddess cloth, which I introduced here.

These are the two designs, the one on the left was intended to be the one I worked from. Barbara gently commented on the amount of detail when I was drawing it, but I wasn't quite listening.
The final piece of stitching is to be no more than 15cm high. Once I realised how small this really is - I grew up with feet and inches - I could see that the image on the left was just too complex to fit in, Barbara was right, so have used the one on the right, which was my original rough drawing from our splish splash splosh day.

One aspect of the course has been to develop our understanding of techniques. The prick and pounce method of transferring a is one I've known about for years, but always avoided as it sounded so fiddly. You trace your design onto some reasonably robust paper,  use a needle (very carefully!) to prick holes around the outline

secure the paper on the piece to be worked, then "pounce" by gently dabbing/rubbing powdered charcoal through the holes and onto the fabric.

What a faff I've always thought, can't be bothered with all that poking and dabbing and stuff. But actually it works really well, better than carbon paper in this case as the fabric, being backed with muslin, had a slightly uneven texture, making it hard to get the carbon paper to transfer properly. With this I ended up with a nice neat little set of dots to guide me, which I then sketched lightly over with a Pitt pen - an idea I picked up from Jude's video on the Magic Feather project  A firm shake and all the charcoal falls off leaving me with a clear outline to allow me to begin.

I've done some practice runs for the face and the main body, just to see how the threads and stitches went together. Again, this is something I'd not bothered with before in embroidery - but then my past embroidery has been restricted to six stranded embroidery floss.

Part of this course has been about experimenting with different threads as well as cloth and stitch; such delight! When I was last in York I went to the Viking Loom with Jen and had to be steered out as there were so many good things to buy. I came back with some Stef Francis and Edmar threads in delicious colours, some of which will be used in this piece.

When I'd finished the design on the left above, I showed it to my good soul. He took one look and said - that's your daughter.
She's a little older than this now - OK, about 19 years older - but I do see what he means!

Seems appropriate somehow; Mum's hankie, my stitching, Jen's spirit, three generations in one Goddess.

Friday, 13 January 2012


Ember is writing delightfully on her blog at the moment about light and the pleasure that is to be had from natural, rather than electric light.

I can't add much to her words here and here, but can agree with them wholeheartedly. I often leave the light off when going to bed - I sleep badly and read somewhere that harsh light can exacerbate this. It is so lovely, especially when the moon is full, to move through the varied grays and golds of candlelight and dusk in the house, to really see the varied gradations of light as the earth spins away from the sun beyond the horizon, to marvel at the twinkling red of the TV mast 13 miles away in Heathfield and to wonder about the thoughts of those souls in the plane, whose lights are sparkling in the night sky. All of this disappears when the light is turned on - all that can be seen is reflections in the room, not the great space of sky outside.

Mind you, I do smile at myself as I open the bathroom door a crack to let enough light in from landing to enable me to apply the toothpaste to the brush rather than my thumb.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Morning Moonset

The moon was caught in the boughs of my favourite tree yesterday, held for my admiration, just as it's boughs hold the glow of the rising sun as it peeps over the rooftops

and a very fine morning roost for the crows and pigeons to absorb the sun's energy

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Manorial stitching

While my back has been, and is still being, painful, I have been trying to keep up with the embroidery - though sitting is not a good thing for bad backs, so it's been a bit intermittent.

This piece is sort of finished - I keep wondering whether to work a border, but will try framing with card to start with. I particularly like the way raised chain band can be used as a filling - it looks so different worked in differing threads, here with a shiny purple rayon contrasting with a matt bluey green cotton 

Then there's the Blackwork project, based on an interior view of an old old house, Avebury Manor in Wiltshire. You can read about it here and here, I discover that it's been the subject of a TV series, To the Manor Bornwith Penelope Keith how delightful!

Sadly I can't find out who the photographer of this picture is, but it comes from the National Trust Magazine Autumn Issue

This design the result of another glue and stick day at Barbara's. This time I'd come  ill prepared, so had to make do with images culled from her store of magazines. This image caught my eye as it was very simple, but resonant. I love interior views, from Vermeer to Hammershoi the interiors have an intimacy; in this one you can almost feel the presence of someone, just out of view, their breath moving invisibly across the threshold. The room was the dressing room of a Mr Kieller, or Keiller's jam! 

First there's stitching the basic outlines of the design

Then there's stitching the design itself. Sometimes I use the frame, sometimes I hold it in my hand. There are two basic techniques; one that is worked as two complementary rows of running stitch, the return path filling in the stitches the first run missed, the other is to work the design in backstitch. I've used both as appropriate.

I'm quite pleased with the outcome so far, still a bit more stitching down the right hand wall.  Here I'm starting to use a double and single thread in different parts of the design, hoping to give the effect of light and shade. I'll gradually miss odd stitches as I get towards the bottom to increase the amount of ground fabric, ad therefore light, in the image. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Are there rooms in our  minds, crowded with forgotten thoughts? Do they bob gently up and down, behind half closed doors waiting for the inner us to pass close enough, and mindfully enough by to catch unawares -

Aha! that was it ..... caught it    or did it catch me ....

Raisin Cat is crazy catching shadows in the bright waxing moon - Shadow was a cat ...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Maple Fairy Moss

1998 The leaf comes from a tree I was given by Mum around then, it floats on a pond where there were two delightful koi carp who glooped up when you scattered food for them and made the most magnificently lugubrious sucking noises.

I planted the tree in our garden this year, it has been through two moves and lived in a pot most of its life.
Now it lives here ... where I mean to stay

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Mum - 2003

I was thinking of her today. I do every day, but recently I've been weeding photographs and rambling in the past. Mum coped in her life with, what many would have found, unendurable pain; from multiple breaks in childhood, through womanhood motherhood widowhood, returning to more breaks in the long decline that was old age. She was always an inspiration to me, at times she was utterly exasperating, I can't think of anyone who wasn't drawn to her brightness.

Here's something I wrote for her in 2010, after she'd gone.

Sometimes I hurt.
most times I hurt.
It makes for a dragging weariness.

Then I remember
her bird boned form,
fragile as eggshell
and those blue, blue eyes.

shining soul