Thursday 26 February 2009

My Son - the novelist!

There were lots of things to blog about this week - more things arriving from fellow bloggers, more fabulous work from students, even work that I've finished but it will all have to wait. Because today a parcel arrived by special delivery containing several copies of this:

Sam's book has finally been printed and is now on sale. A slightly (no... very) surreal but comic tale of crime, superheroes and Stoke on Trent! Available here and here.

Very, very proud of you Sam - such an amazing achievement ... a published novelist at the young age of twenty three! And if you want to read more about Sam - you can do that here!
Only a brother would point out that in the photo of Sam the book is by Muel Morris!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Blogging Kindness!

A couple of weeks ago at an Embroiderer's Guild Regional meeting, I met Sharne. We know each other from pre blogging days when she'd been a student in a couple of my classes. I'd brought some knitting with me and we got chatting about the knitted cake I'd made and Sharne asked if I'd seen the book "Twenty to make - Knitted Cakes." I hadn't, the conversation moved on and I forgot all about it. So imagine how thrilled I was last week when a copy of the book arrived from Sharne - a totally unexpected and wonderful surprise.

Thank you Sharne - I think it's fantastic!

Doughnut anyone?

After the baking fest of last week these calorie free cakes are just what I need. Only another nineteen different cakes to make!

Sunday 22 February 2009


One of last week's problems involved the future of my degree. As of next weekend Opus will no longer exist. A new school, The Julia Caprara School of Textile Art is being established and all current degree students with Opus are being asked to transfer. As with any major change, there have been many queries and questions, not all of which have been answered, which has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty. To say that I felt unsettled was an understatement. I have thoroughly enjoyed the degree course so far. The content has been both interesting and stimulating, the level of tuition has been outstanding and I have started to gain a confidence and direction in my work that has been lacking in the past. So to think that it might not continue was disconcerting. But amid all this, the new module also started last week. I'm studying Embroidery in its Social Context, which will involve lots of research and finally a 3000 word essay. So I thought the best way to deal with all the changes was to get stuck in with the research and yesterday I took myself off to the V & A for some serious studying.

It has always been one of my favourite museums but I hadn't realised the wonder of its textile collection before. In the textile study room you can take out tray after tray of old textiles, to study at leisure, to draw and photograph and to stare in amazement at the beauty of some of the pieces. This is a sampler that dates back to 1598, the earliest sampler in the V & A collection. The detail and the stitching are exquisite. I wonder what Lucy Bostocke who stitched this would have thought if she knew that over 400 years later people were studying her work in a museum!

The piece below is a blackwork coif (cap) stitched around 1600. Again the stitching is tiny and perfect. I can't imagine the hours of work that must have gone into completing this.

This is another coif dating back to about 1600 but this time in whitework. More exquisite stitching and in amazing condition.

And below is a stomacher dating back to the early 18th century. It is worked in coloured silks in long and short stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and back stitch on a background of linen.

I sketched and photographed so much more but still only looked at a tiny part of the collection. I could quite happily immerse myself there for weeks. Do you think they would let me move in?

I experienced a landmark moment on the way there. I got on the crowded underground train at Kings Cross and a young man offered me his seat - one of those designated for the disabled or elderly! Initially I declined but he insisted so I smiled and graciously accepted. That was a first... perhaps the grey hair isn't such a great idea after all!

Saturday 21 February 2009

When the going gets tough...

I get baking! And for various reasons it's been a tough week. It started last Saturday with a batch of double chocolate brownies...

On Sunday I made soda bread...

and scones for afternoon tea.

On Monday there were chocolate chip cookies

and on Tuesday some banana bread.

On Wednesday I made sesame seed rolls

and blueberry muffins.

By Thursday the baking had worked its magic. Tempers were soothed, broken hearts mended, problems solved, stitching completed, degree related issues (partially) resolved, work finished and confidence restored. I also gained 2 lb!

Saturday 14 February 2009

This week...

I've been finishing off some knitting... socks for Stewart who had requested something a bit brighter than usual. Bright enough? (I would like to point out he is modelling his own socks and they are not my hairy legs.)

A pair of wrist warmers for me... started before Christmas but abandoned when I lost the pattern. I found it again this week so finished them off. Knitted in a lovely Rowan Tweed.

I've also received some rather super goodies this week. From Michaela this lovely book on tassel making - just because she thought I would find it useful! I'm sure I will as I feel an overwhelming desire to make some very big and beautiful tassels! Thank you Michaela!

From Julia some fabulous pages from old bibles. I've plans to stitch on them so watch this space. Thank you Julia!

And from Silverpebble a prize in her giveaway. A gorgeous vintage tin filled with wonderful beads and jewellery making supplies. I'll show more when I've done something with the contents! Thank you Emma!

In with the beads were these brilliant wooden scrabble letters with magnets, which are now adorning my fridge. You wouldn't score much in a game of scrabble with my name would you?

I also got another magnet, this time from Jodie. This was very exciting because it now means I'm a member of Team Selvedge which sounds very important!

So that's this week... next week I'm having a little blogging break for half term. Not going anywhere but just need to finish off a lot of things and feel I need a concentrated effort without blogging distractions. Have a happy week... and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday 13 February 2009


Meet Stella. Stella is just one small prize among many wonderful items being raffled by Trashy to help raise money to help the victims of the Australian Bush Fires.

For a chance to win a prize all you have to do is the following:

1. Click on the link to the Australian Red Cross
2. Donate some money (minimum donation is 5 Australian dollars which is about the price of half a bottle of wine)
3. Go to Trashy and tell her how much you have donated.
4. She will then give you one ticket for every dollar you donated, which will then go into the raffle to be drawn next week.

Every little helps!

Monday 9 February 2009

Hello Dolly!

I'm very excited because in four weeks time I will be in Jersey for a week, teaching and exhibiting. I was asked if part of the exhibition could be devoted to dolls, which is wonderful except I make relatively few dolls and most of those I have made live elsewhere! Granny Annie still lives with us.

And so does Fenella de Vil, close relative of the more famous Cruella.

I am managing to borrow back Marquesa who was commissioned for a 60th birthday present.

And the recently made Mr Nellybigbelly.

However, four dolls hardly make an exhibition and so this weekend I thought I ought to remedy the situation. This is a doll I started about 18 months ago (some of you may even remember seeing her) but I was having lots of problems with the skin fabric fraying and splitting and she was without limbs.

So I started again with the arms and legs and at last she is finished.

"Aisha", African Queen

I think I would like to add a lot more beads and possibly a headdress of some description.

But for now she is complete, as I've one or two more to finish off.

I couldn't write a post today without mentioning the dreadful fires in Australia. I was aghast watching the news last night, especially to think some may have been started deliberately. Much has already been written on blogs today and I have little more to add other than to send my most heartfelt wishes out to friends, blogging or otherwise who have been effected. And if you want to help pop over to Jodie or Trashy who have links to the appropriate websites

Saturday 7 February 2009

Cupcakes and More Snow

A week or so ago I had a very special outing. Special because the venue was a tiny shop in Hertfordshire, Jolie, which is a treasure trove of gorgeous yarns and beautiful things. But most of all, special because it involved meeting with some lovely blogging friends, Val and Tiny Small whom I've known for quite a while now and Julie who I met for the first time. I've long admired Julie's knitted creations and first discovered her when I was looking for a pattern for a knitted cupcake. So imagine my delight when Julie gave me this beautiful little cake.

Feeling inspired and armed with Julie's pattern and yarn purchased at Jolie I knitted up my own version, which unfortunately is nowhere as neat and beautiful as Julie's, but is in fact rather squishy and shapeless!

Especially when you compare the two together. Something is not quite right with my decreasing and I've managed to get the wrong side of the cake case facing out! But I will try again.

Meanwhile I can enjoy these cupcake cards which I also bought at Jolie.

And one or two real cupcakes which are not quite so calorie free as the knitted versions but tasted rather good and disappeared very quickly.

The novelty of a week of snow still hasn't worn off around here... these strange prints are the result of nineteen year old son being in too much of a hurry to don footwear when rushing out to ambush sixteen year old son with snowballs! Crazy!

And on our Rec someone had made this fabulous snowman sitting on a bench.

I would have shown you a full length picture but some clever clogs had added a rather rude, anatomically correct, appendage which I wasn't sure was suitable for blog publication! Did make me laugh though.

He is rather slendid!

Thursday 5 February 2009

A Constant Delight

Despite the snow I've been back to work this week so I thought I would show you some of the beautiful things my students have been making. The class that have been stitching on metals mostly decided they would like to make bookmarks rather than cuffs, with fabulous results and this is just a selection of the finished items.

And Ann used her stitched metal to decorate the front of this gorgeous velevet evening bag.

In my City and Guilds class, the students have been finishing off design work on texture and have presented their finished pieces in different ways. Gill (aka Vintage rock chick) put hers into a book

Janet presented hers on a board.

Another board from Linda C. but very different from the previous one.

And yet another completely different board from Linda W

They have also finished off some stitch samples to show manipulation of fabric - a framed panel from Angela.

A fabulous bag with panels of manipulated fabrics from Gill

A zigzag book of manipulated fabrics from Janet

A panel of manipulated textures from Linda C.

And a beautiful cushion from Linda W.

This is what I love most about teaching - the wonderful variation that comes from the same class and the same basic instruction. It constantly delights me. Well done ladies!