Friday, 23 March 2012


It has been a crazy week. After my marathon cleaning of cupboards, fridge and freezer on Monday I then did a huge restock... those tins are three deep. I don't think they will starve while I'm away, do you?

There has been some delivery of work, sorting out dates for new classes, endless list writing, more cleaning and tidying and then yesterday some teaching. It was the last day of term for my Settlement machine embroidery class. There were a couple more cable stitched landscapes finished.

One from Di (above) and another from Barbara.

And Ann finished a beautiful table runner.  Lovely work ladies. We don't meet in the summer term so it will be September before we have our next class.

Immediately after the class I got in the car and headed up the M1 to Lutterworth where I was giving a talk to the Embroiderer's Guild. A bit of bad planning on my part to be talking straight after teaching and two days before going away but that's how these things turn out and I was given such a lovely warm welcome it didn't matter... although I confess to being pretty exhausted by the time I got home. This morning I feel like I'm running on pure adrenaline!

And if you need proof of how crazy I actually am... while loading my car with work for my talk and getting bags ready for class... I made cakes for my class.... well, it was the last day of term and I couldn't leave you without cake could I!
And so now I'm on the final run and it's time to get packing... first on the list... my sketchbook.

With the amount of teaching I do there are many students who come in and out of my life and the lovely thing is there are some who come into my life and stay as friends. We might not see a lot of each other but you just know they are genuine friends. This week I received a parcel from one such friend, Lesley. She has made me the most beautiful little sketchbook, covered with old maps that feature my village and has called the book "From Home and Back Again". The beautiful gift tag will be pasted into the first page and it will be a perfect sketchbook for my big trip. Thank you so much Lesley.

Another student/special friend that I do see a lot of has also given me something for my trip (not even mentioning the chocolates to ensure her place as teacher's pet). A very pretty purse where I can keep my British currency while I'm travelling. Perfect... thank you Gill!

And so now all that is left today is to work my way down this list... I had contemplated going to knitting with Gill this morning but decided that probably was a crazy step too far even for me.

So back to the list and I guess I can cross off "blog post"... and probably forget about cleaning the bathrooms. Not sure if I'll be blogging while I'm away... it's not really top of my list of priories as all I can think about is seeing Joe after such a long time but I'll be back in three weeks as crazy as ever no doubt.... I am so excited!!!! Can you tell? See you soon.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Half Way!

While my husband and his son sat through three consecutive games of Rugby on Saturday afternoon I busied myself with some more miniature books and have finally passed the half way mark... I feel like I've made 126 not just 26! It is my intention that every book is unique which does mean that when several people ask for the same theme, I've got to really put my thinking cap on.

This one is the first of two "Bird" themed books I've been asked to make.

I opted for two little machine embroidered bluebirds on the covers.

And a pretty little bluebird button on the matchbox.

This next one is for a keen gardener...

Who especially likes his pot plants.

I couldn't resist throwing in a miniature packet of seeds.

I've been asked to make three "music" themed books. For the first I've opted for the Shakespeare quote from "Twelfth Night"

And for the second one I've taken music ranging from Bach...

through to the Beatles (because I believe the recipient is a fan of both!)

But I haven't a clue what I will do for the third "Music" book yet

Of course, my biggest worry now is that the person who receives the first one wishes they had got the second one and vice versa... or maybe they will both wish they got the third one when I finally get around to it... Oh dear!!!

I've plans for a couple more before the end of the week and I'm gradually working my way down the list. I apologise now if you are still waiting and promise I will get straight back to work on them after my holiday... but for now I still seem to have the urge to clean and tidy. Five kitchen cupboards, the fridge and the deep freeze all got attacked today!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Landscapes and Labradors

My regular machine embroidery group at the Settlement have been getting to grips with cable stitch this term (using thicker threads on the bobbin) and have been working on landscape pictures. As an example I took a sketch that I made in the grounds of Wimpole Hall last year...

and have turned it into this stitched landscape. I'm still debating whether to add the yellow flowers in the foreground.

Not everyone in class has finished yet but the results are looking good from those who have. Catriona based her landscape on those of Carol Naylor, with excellent results.

Margaret was inspired by her many visits to the David Hockney exhibition, again with stunning results... the colours just glow.

And I think Denise may have been inspired by New Zealand, as that is where she is now! Beautiful!

Of course I can't do a blog post these days without showing you the latest miniature book. My brief this time was a labrador theme. My own boy "Barley" provided the cover picture.

And the book sported a machine embroidered cover.

Although any labrador owner will tell you that the dog would not be walking away from the bone in the bowl!

Have a lovely weekend... Mums have a wonderful Mother's Day on Sunday... and I might be back next week... but so much to do and so little time as I'm also off to New Zealand in just one week!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Since I was last here....

  • I've had an excellent meeting with my Spectrum group.
The group were buoyed up by the success of the exhibition, homework was completed with some fabulous results and we spent a productive day making print blocks and then printing designs in black and white based on images from our sketchbooks. A super day ladies!

  • I've spent a lovely morning with my knitting group in Hertford.
I've only actually been three times so I'm not sure I can get away with calling it "my knitting group" but it was a lovely morning with new friends and old and I have finally finished the second lace cuff for these mitts. Lessons learned... not only is black knitting difficult to photograph but trying to knit lace in black yarn is almost impossible, especially when you go wrong as often as I do!

  • I've dicovered how to use the internet on my iPod
Now I know this will not come as news to most of you but the fact that I can use Facebook, Twitter (not that I do anyway), check email and possibly even blog from this little device was quite a revelation to me. I thought it was for playing music! And it means that in theory I can still blog when I'm away.

  • I have been to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Which was warm, funny, gentle, sad and an all round feel good film and I can thoroughly recommend seeing it.

  • I made a Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake
Because it was Sunday and my lovely step-children came for lunch... and very tasty it was too! (Recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery "Cake Days")

  • And I finished three more little books
 The first a "sewing" themed book...

The case is decorated with various sewing paraphenalia and inside it is less a book...

but a miniature patchwork needlecase instead.

The second, although a commission was left up to me to decide the theme which is probably the most difficult challenge of all. I picked "Poppies"... will she like it... or won't she?

The case has a real poppy seed head

and the book has a machine embroidered and beaded cover.

And the final book has an Indian elephant theme.

The case is covered with strips of sari silk and decorated with an elephant charm.

And the book has an appliqued and embroidered cover, although best of all was being able to use this tiny elephant bead that I've had in my sewing box for over 30 years.

So, that was my week. I had planned to make a lot more little books to catch up with my orders but realistically I think that my target of getting them almost all done before I go away was a bit ambitious and I'll be happy to get half of them done. It's less than two weeks until I go and I'm overwhelmed with the urge to get things in order before I leave... tidying cupboards, filling the freezer, laundering everything in sight... this morning I was out digging my vegetable beds at 7.30 a.m. like some sort of crazy woman (and that was after walking the dog and seeing to the chickens). But nothing new there I guess!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Samples... and another book!

I wasn't going to show you any little matchbox books today. Oh no... I was going to show you a little glimpse in my sketchbook instead.

Yesterday we took down our SPECTRUM exhibition at Art Van Go and tomorrow we have our next meeting and so we are moving forward with design.

Working from a larger image that they drew last time, the members have had to isolate areas with a view finder and use these smaller areas to generate new ideas.

Working with different qualities of line in black and white, the idea is to play and see where it leads to.

But they don't like doing their homework so I'm joining in to try to encourage them (and to make them feel guilty when they don't do their homework!)

And this has resulted in a small stitched sample.

This was what I was going to show you... no little books at all... just sketchbook work and samples. But then the post arrived with a little mystery parcel addressed to me. And inside a little matchbox book...

My very own little David Hockney matchbox book!

My friend Kim thought I might like a little book of my own... like it? I love it!

Look at that perfect machine embroidered portrait and inside...

Pages full of photographs of David Hockney!

It is wonderful! Thank you so much Kim - a random act of kindness that has made me very happy. So you see, I had to show you a little book today!
p.s. Kim has just opened an Etsy shop... do go and take a look!
p.p.s. Thank you to all my new email newsletter subscribers. That's all... I'm going now!