Saturday 29 January 2011

Super Stitchers

At Young Embroiderers today we gave the girls a chance to play on the sewing machines and try their hand at some free machine embroidery.

There were eight girls (average age 10-11), six machines, plus me and Pam.

They stitched like they'd been doing it for years, despite the fact this was the first time some of them had ever used a sewing machine.

When they felt confident we then progressed to some stitched portraits in the style of Louise Gardiner. They worked in pairs and drew portraits of each other which they then transferred in stitch onto artist's canvas. They added touches of colour with paint to the finished embroideries. I was totally blown away by the quality of both their stitching and their drawing and these are the amazing results:

These are Sophie's and Grace's

I think the one below is Heather's (although it might be Abigail's)

The next one is Jemima's portrait of Pam

and this is Tabby's portrait of Skye...

and Skye's portrait of Tabby.

Nikki decided to invent a mystery man rather than do a portrait... or so she said. I don't think my mustache is quite that thick!

And I think the one below is Abigails... although of course it might be Heather's!

In order to demonstrate the technique I did a portrait of Pam... although she thinks it looks more like Jo Brand with her red lipstick. She decided she would like green hair like Constance Howard.

And to get her own back... Pam did one of me!

I'm seriously considering cosmetic surgery!

It's been a brilliant day girls... well done!

Friday 28 January 2011

Sunshine and Friends

This morning I met Celia and Emma

for a wonderful walk around the Winter Gardens at Anglesey Abbey.

The sun shone...

and whilst Celia and Emma spoke knowledgably about plants and gardens

I was mesmerised by the stunning array of colours and textures...

without a clue what I was looking at for most of the time!

And when we had finished there was time for tea and cake... (although I'm still resisting)

and chatting, of course. It couldn't have been a lovelier morning.

Tuesday 25 January 2011


I've got a bit of a thing about pomegranates at the moment.

I love their colourful leathery skin and the way inside they are divided up into neat little compartments containing jewel like seeds.

And I love those seeds - crunchy and juicy at the same time. This was part of my breakfast this morning... not a chocolate muffin in sight!

But this fascination with pomegranates is not something new and these are drawings and prints that I made a few years ago.

while I researched the myths and lore associated with this exotic fruit.

They are considered symbols of fertility and have associations with the Greek myth of the goddess Persephone.

At the time I toyed with the idea of creating a garment that could be worn by Persephone while she spent her winters in Hades waiting for the return of spring. Something bright and colourful to remind her of warmer, brighter days.

But my plans for a bodice for Persephone never really got beyond the drawing and sampling stage.

I started my degree and suddenly my focus was elsewear*. But recently I've unearthed the drawings and have started to think about Persephone's "pomegranate" bodice once more. I've moved a long way from my original ideas and I'm still a long way from finishing but I have made a start.

Which is just as well, as I need this finished by the beginning of March. I thought if I told you it might make me get a move on!

*As pointed out by chocolatefrog "elsewear" is a bit of a Freudian typo... but I liked it so have kept it in!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Chocolate... with more chocolate!

I'm not sure why I've baked double chocolate chip muffins today.

Double chocolate chip muffins with extra chocolate icing on the top, baked in very smart paper cases (a present from Miriam... thank you!)

I think I've done it to test my will power. Did I tell you I'm trying to lose a few pounds... I've not eaten one... yet!

Thursday 20 January 2011

I Have Finished...


After finishing Stewart's socks I decided it might be time to finish off the partners of several other single socks that have been lurking in my knitting basket. I started this pair for me over a year ago... but today I am finally wearing them! I've also decided I should be finishing off some other knitting projects before starting anything new and my "Gina" jacket is back on the needles... watch this space!

Another book

I have just finished reading Sarah Dunant's Birth of Venus. I'm not a great fan of historical novels but this is brilliant. Sarah Dunant's story conjures up Renaissance Florence in such a compellingly strong visual way that makes it utterly believable. I loved In the Company of the Courtesan too! Pure pleasure!

My Tax Return

Finally, after a moment of panic when I couldn't find any receipts or invoices for 2009/2010 in my very up market filing system (i.e. plastic bag)... I had obviously stashed them away in a different filing system (i.e. a different plastic bag)... I have got all my paper work done and have filed my tax return. Will you remind me that I have promised myself not to leave it until January again next year... and also that a different method of filing and keeping records up to date might be a wise move.

Sunday 16 January 2011


We went to see "The King's Speech" last night

When films receive as much hype as this one, I often find I am disappointed, but not this time. The script was funny, sensitive and intellegent and the acting was fantastic all round... Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush especially. Although it is set against a backdrop of the abdication and the rise of Hitler, it is a very personal story that is ultimately about friendship. I can thoroughly recommend it!

Saturday 15 January 2011

Silly Socks

Not sure where this week has gone - it seems to have disappeared into a pile of either teaching or teaching preparation in between updating my CV etc. There was a bit of a fun start to the week last weekend at our Embroiderer's Guild meeting.

Once a month our Guild has an informal gathering on a Saturday afternoon - a chance for a chat and a cuppa, sometimes a bring and buy and usually a talk or short demo from one of the members. This month I offered to show how to make a sock monster.

I really didn't think there would be much interest, but it would seem that the idea of a bit of silly sewing appealed to our membership and the room was packed.

Let me tell you, I had to put up with a lot of heckling and some rather badly behaved ladies but we did have a laugh and it was a lot of fun! And as a result there is a new addition to my ever growing sock monster family... "Crazy Daisy"

And not all the ladies in the audience were misbehaving... some were obviously paying attention and making notes, because this is what they have made this week... This one is Gill's which she made for her sister.

And these two were Marian's... which she made instead of doing her City and Guilds homework... but we won't tell.

I'm now wondering what to expect when I go and give a proper talk to the Guild in July. Maybe they will be nice to me and not heckle too much?

Monday 10 January 2011

Moving On

At the end of last year my lace book Lacuna and main sketchbook was sent off to my tutor for marking. We usually receive our work back and then we have to arrange to send or take the work to a moderation day in Colchester. As my tutor was also attending moderation day, we agreed she would bring it with her and I could just bring along my other sketchbooks etc.

Best laid plans and all that... my tutor was ill and couldn't come to moderation day. She posted the work but it didn't arrive. She emailed my marks and they didn't arrive. I remained calm and unflustered despite my work apparently being on a lorry somewhere between Ipswich and Colchester... possibly never to be seen again!

But all's well that ends well. The work turned up and is back in my care... my marks arrived and I was delighted (my best so far thanks to the help and contribution of many blogging friends) but now it's time to move on to another module.

This term I'm taking Professional Practice which is all about art markets, CVs, artist statements, galleries, funding opportunities etc etc... not a stitch in sight! I'm trying to stay very positive about something which sounds very dry because I know how valuable it will be and how badly I need to address some of the issues.

And I've made a start. I was mortified to realise my website hadn't been updated for a year... but I've begun to rectify that. There is still much I would like to change with the layout and whole look but I think that will require professional help from someone with more knowledge than me. But at least for now the page advertising my workshops contains up to date information should anyone be interested. What do you think?

Sunday 9 January 2011

A Dilemma

Sunday evening....

Stewart: Well, don't think there's anything on TV tonight.

Me: There's that Italian detective thing we watched last week... Zen?

Stewart: Didn't really get it, didn't work for me.

So... do I tell him?

Friday 7 January 2011

One Last Splash

How about this for a final splash of colour in January... beautiful bold bright prints.

In the week between Christmas and New Year a brown paper package arrived for me... you can imagine my surprise when I realised I had won a competition that was held on the Selvedge blog. I have subscribed to Selvedge magazine since the first issue and always enjoy the snappy editoral style and glorious photography, not to mention looking all the gorgeous covetable objects they have for sale.

So I was delighted to win this printed tablecloth and set of tea towels from Swedish designer Gudrun Sjoden

But don't tell anyone... I think I might use the fabric for something other than adorning my table or drying my dishes!

On the other hand... maybe not!