Wednesday, 25 December 2013

As I walked out one bright Christmas morning ...

The sea was rippling in shining folds, but debris from past wild nights and high tides was plentiful with shingle piled and overflowing weathered wooden groynes

We talk of flotsam and jetsam - the OED says that in 1697 "flotsam" was defined as
signifying any goods that by shipwrecke be lost, and lie floting or swimming vpon the toppe of the water.

so not flotsam, as it was ashore already

so, perhaps Jetsam - again from the OED seen as early as 1491, but this from 1678

Jetson or Jetsam, that which being cast over board in a time of Shipwrack, is found lying on the shore, and so belongs to the Lord,

I think the Lord wouldn't want to bother with this lot, but it has a certain abandoned grace of its own

and some, in it's fragile lacyness echoed the waves on the sunshiney shore

Beachy Head, as ever, calm on the horizon

Thursday, 12 December 2013

About to read

Reading material for a weekend with my dear dotty Aunt Cecil. I've got a class with Christine before that, for which I'm once again woefully unprepared, though there is a smidgin of an idea brewing.

This won't be all I'm reading, lest you think me too serious!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

misty sunrise

Early to work means not missing the beautiful. Actually you don't have to be out that early at this time of year, the solstice approaches

Oh! Did I show you this?
From April this year - bit if a theme going there ...

Thursday, 21 November 2013



This may come to something, but is just a pile of thoughts and learning at the moment. 

We have to do a three dimensional, hand embroidered piece of work for C&G. One option might be a box, though I'm not sure I have the skill, let alone the time to make one. The idea is for the box to have bee wing patterns on the outside on three panels, a bee on top and inside, a lining that evokes honey somehow perhaps with light gold satin .... excuse the i-Pad image quality and sketchy sketching
I'm also thinking about a bag, which needs to be functional, based on dragonfly wing patterns, no thought out design as yet. Probably not something frou frou though! One of our group is making a wedding reticule (don't some of those look delicious?), which sounds delightful but way beyond my capacities!

Or perhaps a beaded pendant/brooch based on a little box in the V&A. The link is to a view of the top of the box, a little sportsmanlike dog; this view shows the bottom of the box, a lovely butterfly in the finest imaginable mosaic pieces of cut stone

and here's the thinking with a pencil about how to make - I'd try to create upstanding wings using a stumpwork technique - again, if I have the time and skill

In fact, it all depends on time and skill really - I have to consult with our tutor on which to choose ..... but now to examine dragonfly wing with a pencil and paper ......

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Late late late!!

Hello all, if anyone is still paying me the compliment of keeping an eye on this neglected blog! Thank you those of you who've commented over the past couple of months - I'd not been here at all, then came today and found four comments that encouraged me back to the study chair to say "hi - I am still here - honest!"

The getting lots done in September got waylaid by the demands of work - my normal 27 hour weeks have ballooned to full time and more, in fact a couple even reached the exhausting heights (depths?) of 43 hours. We're installing anew library management system ....... then there's the Saturday classes, textile and embroidery, and the homework for the Saturday classes. All in all I'm rather exhausted. But still having fun.

My City and Guilds has got very behind as I've been struggling to keep up with both stitch and design. The most recent smocking was tremendous fun, and prompted me to get books out from work on old time smocking, two published in the sixties and one in the early eighties - you can imagine the startling designs that accompanied chapters called "the modern approach" and "modern adaptation of stitch and design", all written by a woman with the wonderful name of "Oenone Cave". A quick search of Google images brings up the most amazing selection of smocking in a whole variety of techniques. These range from  traditional farmer's smocks and some great vintage patterns to the most amazing dresses. I particularly liked this lovely Arts and Crafts dress on the V&A website and some fascinating Pinterest content.

My two small efforts have given me much pleasure to do, though I have to say the tiny little movements in and out, in and out, when doing the gathers in preparation for the pretty bits gave me some trouble and some sharp pains in the hands and arms. Unlike general running stitch which has a flow about it, and which I used for Uffington, the gathering stitch for smocking has to be done with the utmost regularity, yet is irregular in character. You mark the fabric with a grid of regular dots, then take the tiniest stitch on each dot at the back to draw the fabric into pleats. These are then stitched across on the front. Here's how they turned out - both on upcycled fabric from charity shop finds.

The piece worked on some checked shirting fabric was easiest as the regular pattern was a great help in placing the stitching. The other, on a bit of linen tray cloth was harder as while one stitches, the close gathers have a tendency to wriggle about in a most unruly fashion. I was pleased with the one row of soft green stitching, made by using both yellow and blue in the needle, but a LOT of unpicking was done!!

Still, a lot of fun was had as well .....

Oh, and I will scan in and post the pages from my summer insect project. I'm now trying to catch up with producing three designs for a "something", bag, box, scarf, based on the design work done during the summer - for which read scrabbled together at the last moment a month late to be presented to my tutor the weekend before last!!


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

busy busy busy

I'm trying to get lots done at the moment, but have really been having fun researching my chosen topic for the City and Guilds summer sketchbook exercise. I chose insects, so have been doing all sorts, including two visits to the V&A, but am so busy I've not had time to photograph a lot of what I've been doing, so I can't show you just now. Must try harder!! I'm also really busy at work; working a full week, rather than my usual three and a half days so I'm quite tried and achy by the end of the week, but we've got our first City and Guilds meeting on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been doing over the summer break. Other topics included fleur de lis, chestnut trees, , snakes, circles .... and I forget the rest! It will be great fun.

As part of my research we went to Ellen Terry's house, Smallythe Place, where we saw the restored beetle wing dress that she wore as Lady Macbeth on the London Stage.

Real beetle wing cases attached to a crocheted sort of net in green over a deep green under dress. I ordered some via e-bay, or rather got Jen to order them. they arrived today and will be attached to a little trial piece inspired by this.

We also went to one of our favourite places, Great Dixter, where I hunted insects from plant to plant!

We have the pleasure of our yearly holiday in the Lakes appearing on the horizon as well. The year starts turning, trees begin to flush after the heat of the summer, the robins starts that plaintive "tick, tick" and there's a fluttery chill in the air. As that starts to happen, I get little moments of thinking, "here it comes"

Before that I've got an intensive week of training at work, then several intensive weeks delivering training when I get back. I may be a trifled wrung out by the end of it, but it's really interesting and better that taking up fretwork.

In the meantime, have a look at the resources on the V&A website - I just put in a search for "insects and embroidery". An amazing place to spend several hours researching - and then you come home and find that there's all these wonderful, and in some cases, quite high resolution images at the click of a button. Among my favourite were this wonderful little casket, a book cover with a triumphant butterfly, a cushion with squiggly caterpillars, another caterpillar in amongst the pin cushion pinks and an Art Nouveau table cover by Phoebe Anna Traquair.


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Very excited

I'm sorry, I've been silent for a while, and seem to have lost my blogging mojo. Partly I've been very busy at work, so really tired when I get home, partly just too much to do in general. I've been trying to keep up with the City and Guilds and my textile classes with Christine. have enjoyed every minute of what I've done, but it's left me a bit drained of commentary. However, this week has been so good that I have to report.

My daughter Jen came back from University last year emotionally battered and bruised, having finally found that a combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia were just too big an obstacle to getting through her finals. She found the last exams just too much and came home feeling an utter failure, as well as physically exhausted. I was really proud of her when finally, after much deliberation the University awarded her a degree on the basis of the work she'd done whilst there, but she was very low for a long time. She started job hunting pretty quickly, filled in lots of on line applications, heard back from some, was ignored by many, had a number of interviews, some of them quite gruelling, but not a glimmer of a job could be found for most of last year and this. Eventually she did get a Saturday job which she's really enjoyed, and began helping out on a plant stall belonging to some friends of ours, but it's been a hard time for her. However much love and encouragement you give, however often you remind someone that they are in the same boat as thousands of others, this constant drip of rejection tarnishes the spirit. She has had a lot of support and encouragement from Jonathan, her boyfriend through this past year, and has been very stoic but it has been pretty glum at times and my heart has gone out to her.

However, this week, her life has suddenly come together in such a wonderful way. On Tuesday Jon took her out for a meal to celebrate their year's anniversary and, at the end of the meal, in true romantic style, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him, much to her absolute surprise and delight. She, of course, said yes. Then the following day, she had the second of two interviews for a job that had come about through pure happenstance, and was offered it on the spot, with one day off a week to study for an accountancy qualification!! So now she is sorting out her accountancy course, glancing repeatedly down at the rather lovely ring on her finger and generally bouncing about the place in a state of dreamy excitement - if one can combine those two qualities.

You might guess, I am beyond words pleased for her on both counts - and now have to get used to the idea of thinking of Jon as my future son in law, which is no hardship at all.

Monday, 1 July 2013


Finally finished my decorative appliqué homework, which always feels as though its not what I'm supposed to have done, but I've really enjoyed this.

I love having a muslin backing cloth, as it lets threads bury themselves, and gives you a place to work a couple of small stitches before starting to stitch - no knots, I hate knots!

Stitching it all down

The leafy light green block is reverse applique, the green fabric mounted on the back, with tacking stitches outlining the negative space that needs to be cut through from the front. I cut the red silt form the front, then blanket stitched it down. I chose the motif carefully to make sure I could align warp and weft of both fabrics and still have the stem at a sensible angle to extend downwards.

I used very sparse, stretched fly stitch to attach the orange "sunflower" stem; breaking this at the centre with a little sliver of blue organza to echo the sky above. I chose a stitch that echos the running stitch used in the sky, as well as the triad of the fly stitch.

For the grass at the bottom I wanted to make sure the stitches helped in holding down this very loosely woven fabric. I used a toning soft green silk, to blend into the sheen of the fibre, rather than fighting with it. Then I couched on some of the loose threads from the sunflower fabric to the left, using the same green as is in the sky, shiny and vivid.

So here we are! I think it needs to be backed by something dark, but for now, it's just a sampler.

Anny, you're right, it is rather Autumnal isn't it!
Now to the functional applique ....

Sunday, 30 June 2013


I went to Stitchfest 2013 and confess to coming home with "stuff". The best bit is this

I also bought some dye from Christine, and had bought some little clip on lid pots for the dyes, but she has her own, much better pots as part of the deal, so those little tubs? Perfect for sorting and storing the silk scraps I got from the Art Van Go stall! 

Friday, 21 June 2013


About City and Guilds actually, my appliqué homework, which has been languishing through lack of inspiration. Finally getting somewhere

The thought and the fabric work together, along with a cup of tea of course, and some Rokia Traore in the background

Time to press and tack and stitch!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A rare treat for Hastings

The only operating Avro Vulcan bomber in the world visited Hastings today. We had the pleasure of watching it from the Sea Front - there was a fine crowd.

You can see the fun here but these are probably my favourite few pics

spectators enjoying the band in the town centre

the pier, still iconic even in decay

dual flight

and off to Rye