'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Someone once said

that the best decisions are made by a committee of three, of whom two are absent.

Imagine, then, a committee of around ten, whose membership is constantly changing, and where the joint chairs, who have casting votes, are running two other committees at the same time.

I have been to college to help put up the end-of-year exhibition. I found it a little trying.

I am sure the exhibition will look great when its finished but after three hours I made my excuses and left…

Penscombe [who has an excellent blog, by the IMG_6645way] asked me to explain ‘signatures’. Sorry to get all technical! A signature is a group of pages. A simple pamphlet like this one has only one signature, made up [in this case] of six sheets of A4 paper folded in the middle, nested inside one another and sewn into the cover. Each sheet of paper is called a folio.

The sample book had five signatures, each of three folios.

I used to know why they were called signatures and folios but like a lot of other things – I’ve forgotten.

Incidentally, I can’t claim resposibitly for the idea of using sequin waste for a spine – I got it from Carol Clasper.

I haven’t had time to take a photo today [took my camera to college and then totally forgot about it] so since it is nearly July I will move on to July's theme.

When I started  Lynda Monk and Carol Mcfee’s ‘Textured Surfaces’ workshop I decided to collect some photographs of texture. [What embroiderer doesn’t collect photographs of texture? Well, perhaps if you only do cross stitch you don’t…]


So here is the first one – a hole in a silver birch – nice contrast with the ivy, I think.




Unfortunately I have been neglecting Lynda and Carol’s excellent course, but I hope to get back to it now the worst of the end of term madness is over. [Just stewarding and taking the exhibition down to go – and that is definitely not going to be decided by a committee …]

Monday 29 June 2009

It’s finished

probably. There are a couple of things I want to tweak, but they are trivial and it could go to college tomorrow as it is.


So today’s photo[s] are of the book.

As usual, I can’t persuade my camera to show the colour accurately – it is actually matte gold with dribbles of sprayed bronze and gold paint.

I changed my mind about the binding and used sequin waste as a spine. The end result is a bit sloppy – I could fix it by rebinding the signatures closer together but to do that I would have to punch new holes in them and I don’t want to do that. [The actual sewing didn’t take very long but adding the beads did.]











Edited highlights – paper and fabric samples from the monoprinting, markmaking with ink, and sort-of-batik sessions. The pop up allowed me to insert samples which were too wide to go in any other way. The grommets and ribbons are because the pages were a bit boring before. [Beads for the same reason – well, that’s my excuse.]










More batik, on hand made paper, transfer printing and monoprinting, some with added stitch, and cut paper to use up a nice sample while disguising the fact that it wasn’t a very good sample.

I do seem to have a liking for things which might almost be landscapes.

Of course if you like neat, well bound books you’ll probably hate this. I like both – I'm just better at making messy ones …

Sunday 28 June 2009

One of the advantages

of waking up at 4.30 is that, after lying awake pondering on what to do, you can get up and get several pages made before breakfast.

One of the disadvantages is that you run out of enthusiasm and energy by the afternoon.

My plan was to get the basic folios assembled by lunchtime and spend the afternoon sitting in the garden adding a bit of hand embroidery, buttons, beads etc. Then I could assemble the book tomorrow, leaving Tuesday morning for slippage.

I decided that I really didn't need 7 signatures of 2 folios each – I ‘only’ needed 5 – with 3 folios each. In fact I ended up making 16 folios because I lost count – and it took me to mid afternoon to finish them.

Then it was too hot to sit outside, and just like yesterday I had no ideas about what to do. Hopefully some will materialise in front of the telly, but I think we are already into slippage.


This is what they look like at the moment:

the folios – a rather eclectic collection of samples -



and the signatures. No cover on this book, I’m pinching – er – exploring tutor Sue's idea for binding a series of pamphlets together. I have already experimented with tutor Terrie’s idea for using double sided sticky tape with foil – those shiny stripes on the turquoise signature. A non-iron method which is very good for someone who always gets the iron too hot …

Today's letter is IMG_7289 [wonky] ‘O’ for an or nue-ish orange. [I know nue should have an accent, I just don’t know how to add it!] I am one of those weird people who enjoys or nue, although I probably wouldn’t if I tried to do it properly – i.e. with lovely evenly spaced stitches and proper threads.


And that’s your lot as far as alphabet embroideries are concerned until I can find the time to do ‘P’ –or even work out what ‘P’ is going to be …

Saturday 27 June 2009

How many pages make a book?

I’ve spent the afternoon making [or strictly speaking, starting] pages for the sample book which I need to finished by Tuesday for Contemporary Textiles. For some reason I'm fixated on the idea that I need 7 signatures of 2 sheets – I don’t know why, there were no restrictions on what we did. So far I’ve done 8 but I am underwhelmed by a couple of them. I finally gave up when I realised that I was just moving samples from a heap on the ironing board to a heap on the worktable and back again.

Love making books, hate doing it under pressureIMG_7287-1.

So, to cheer myself up, today’s photo is something I spotted in our hedge when we went out this morning.

Not sure what its proper name is but I call it ‘Mock Orange’. A pity I can’t post the scent, too.

Friday 26 June 2009

Sometimes I can’t think of a snappy title …

perhaps because after a bad night and a Contemporary Textile Workshop my get up and go has got up and gone.

It was a good day – especially because my friend A had some very good news – well, two lots of good news really. Congratulations, A!

The morning session was an introduction to simple book making – which I have done once or twice before - but the afternoon was more challenging. If I'd known what we were going to do I’d have taken different stuff, so I shall be starting again, although I have to get my book of samples made by Tuesday afternoon, which is when we put up the end of year exhibition. I’ll show you the result when I have sorted my ideas out …

The exhibition, by the way, is at the Cranbury Centre, Eastleigh College, starting in the evening of Thursday 2nd June, and continuing on  Friday till 4 and Saturday till 1pm. Not just Contemporary Textiles, but also P&Q and Embroidery C&G.


On a completely different topic – here is ‘N’ for a needle-woven nest – great fun to do.

And now it’s getting round to time to slob in front of the TV with a drink …

Thursday 25 June 2009

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

We had a very good day yesterday with Babybel – although, as expected, all we could do after she took her daddy home was collapse on the sIMG_7232ofa in front of the telly.

We took her to Bird World near Farnham, as she loves birds, we had a two for one voucher, and it was on the way home after we picked her up.

It was a lovely day  and Bird World was very quiet, so we could get a very good view of the birds – or ‘ducks’ as she calls all of them.



Then we came home and after tea she played football with her daddy. I knew all those footballs would come in useful!






Today has been spent recovering! It has been another lovely day so, although I had intended to do some machine embroidery, I sat in the garden and finished this.  ‘M’ for a metal mouse.

I hadn’t sewn metal before, and found Ann Parr’s ‘The Art of Stitching on Metal’ very helpful. This is copper, heated in a gas flame and then pickled in balsamic vinegar for a couple of days. If, like me, you use balsamic vinegar so rarely yours is past its sell by date – use it to colour metal!

Tomorrow is the last Contemporary Textile Workshop of the year – it’s hard to believe that there have been six of them, and that it is a year since I finished C&G. We will be making books to display our efforts over the year – so I expect to enjoy myself.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

P.S. Any broadminded Portuguese speakers out there?

Who wouldn’t mind translating this, please? [Just avert your eyes from the edges of the screen!]

I’ve tried using Google but I don’t think it speaks Portuguese…

A very quick post

before we go out to collect our little visitor. I’m sure that after she’s left I shan’t have enough energy to post! I don’t know how older women who have babies cope – one day with Babybel and I’m wrecked!


So here is the letter ‘L’ - a [machine] lace leaf. Even after two attempts I’m not over-excited by it, although it looks slightly better in the flesh than in the photo.




Thanks for all the comments on the loom – I seem to have unleashed a wave of nostalgia/envy! I must get around to doing something with it!

Tuesday 23 June 2009

One thing led to another.

I’m not sure what I meant to do today, apart from recover from our hectic long weekend – and brace myself for tomorrow, when we are expecting a small visitor. I think I envisaged sitting in the conservatory finishing off the letter ‘M’.

But I decided first to tidy my workroom a bit. Only a bit – nothing too strenuous.

After the first sinking feeling of ‘Where the hell do I start?’ I decided to stick some of my accumulating heap of postcards, brochures, etc. in the journal, a.k.a. ‘compost heap’. But the white pages were boring so that meant getting out the paint. And some crayons for a wax resist first  because plain watercolour can be a bit boring too.

So while the pages were drying [cling film in between then so I could work on more than one spread and to add texture] – as I'd got the paints out – I sploshed some paint on paper as well.

Then I decided to stick some previous painting efforts in an altered book I’ve done – I have this belief that if I splosh paint around often enough I might one day miraculously know how to paint …

As I’d got the crayons out I added some wax rubbings to highlight the texture on the book pages. And then I looked for the soluble pastels because I didn’t have the right colour of crayon.

Then I had to put all that lot away, while edging round the new paintings drying on the floor.

I decided I had to tackle the tottering heap of tear sheets, printouts, painted paper etc. - which led to spending the rest of the morning cutting and sticking. IMG_7221

Then I decided to replace the pages in this, which had been a sort of diary, but of course it fizzled out after a few weeks. Two years ago.





While I’d got the paper out I decided to put some pages in this, which once held the service record for a long dead Volvo.







Now it holds these. And lots of other bits of scrappy, odd shaped paper.

I sometimes use ring binders to hold embroidery samples so it might get some added, but at the moment both of them are ‘books whose purpose is waiting to be revealed’.


This one, however, has found its purpose – a drawing book for our small visitor.





Here we have ‘K’ for a knotty key. ‘Knots’ were the only thing I could think of for ‘k’ apart from ‘knitting’ which doesn’t really work either.

Monday 22 June 2009

A blast from the past

Today’s photo is another of the ‘reasons to love charity shops’ series – although Wensleydale described it as my mission to save all the vintage textile equipment and textiles in Hampshire from landfill. IMG_7219

Hands up who else had one of these when they were little? Although mine was smaller – you certainly couldn’t weave up to five feet on it, as this box claims. [Which suggests it dates from before the UK theoretically went metric, about 40 years ago.]

If you had one, did you ever finish anything on it? Or did you, like me, end up with a short piece of irregular weaving that got narrowerIMG_7220 and narrower?

I think its previous  owner  got discouraged even quicker than I did.

But that was before I knew about the exciting things you can weave with. Like sticks, and torn fabric, and pipe cleaners, and paper, and bits of cut up embroideries.

And if the worst comes to the worst Babybel can use it when she’s a bit bigger to make a short piece of irregular weaving that gets narrower and narrower …

Sunday 21 June 2009

I usually find it possible to contain my enthusiasm

for whimsy. With a few exceptions, I have little interest in fairies, and ‘faeries’ make my toes curl. [As do ‘fayres’ and shoppes’. The spell checker doesn’t like them either.]

So you might have thought that I would resist an invitation to an exhibition called ‘The truth about faeries’.

But they promised Cecily Mary Barker. Her work is one of the exceptions to my dislike of fairies, probably because I was brought up on her books.

The few examples of her work in the exhibition were lovely. As the Wiki article points out, her flower illustrations are botanically accurate and the fairies are portraits of real children. A little idealised, maybe, but delightful.

There were some other things that I liked – for example, many of the Victorian illustrations on show. But in general it just wasn't my sort of thing. And I have very severe reservations about nudes of pre-pubescent girls. I only spotted a couple of them, but that was two too many.

Maybe I’m being narrow-minded, but I also have reservations about marketing aimed at children [a competition on the opening day for the best dressed fairy under 11] for an exhibition which has a section labelled ‘Not suitable for children’.

I suspect children wouldn’t enjoy a lot of it anyway – and most of the pictures were hung too high on the wall for them to see easily.

I sometimes think that I seem to enthuse about everything we visit – but I'm not enthusing this time. You would probably enjoy the exhibition if you do like fairies and fantasy – but perhaps check it out before you take the kids!

After a while we escaped from the fairy galleries for the human ones – but were disappointed that very little of Southampton’s famed collection of 20th and 21st century art was on display. If you visited at the moment you would never imagine they had one of the best collections outside London. However, there was a lovely little Vuillard called ‘Two People’ which I would happily have popped into my bag, given half a chance …


On to today’s photo  - ‘J’ for a Jacobean Jack-in-the –Pulpit. I had fun with this one – although I wouldn’t like to do a large piece of proper Jacobean / crewel work!

Saturday 20 June 2009

Another busy day

visiting the National Quilt Championships at Sandown. I don’t make big quilts any more and the show is a shadow of its former self – but we still potter up there most years. Over the last few years I have felt that sometimes the judges valued technique more than design – but not so much this year!

For example – this. The image doesn’t give you an idea of scale – it is bed quilt sized – but the detail shows you the quality of the quilting. Brilliant technique and design – a well deserved winner. I’ve seen and admired Ferret’s work before [more examples here] but I think ‘Winter Star’ is the best yet.

I liked some of the other winner’s but unfortunately I can't remember any names - and there were no programmes available this year.

There was a small exhibition of work by Corinne Gradis and Elodie Watanabe. I find their web site a bit tricky to navigate but if you click on ‘English’, then ‘Collections’ and then hover the cursor over the images until you find ‘blue basket’ – you will find the works that were in the exhibition.

Talking to the pleasant woman on the stall – who I think was Corinne – they hadn’t had much interest. I was only the second person to buy a book. Possibly their work is of more interest to embroiderers than quilters, especially of you are a traditional quilter – but I thought the pieces were beautiful.


I have no images I can show you from the exhibition, so here is the next letter of the alphabet  - 'I' for Italian quilted Ivy. It was stamped wit a real leaf on sheer polyester before cording the outlines – so it’s shadow work Italian quilting, I suppose – although shadow work may reappear when I get to ‘S’ …

Friday 19 June 2009

History and Art

but not history of art.

To make up for the lazy days I’ve had recently [not Wensleydale - he’s been demolishing a concrete pond] - we had a busy day today.

This morning we went to a course on ‘Tracing the History of Your House’ at the Discovery Centre. Essentially it consisted of an outline of the records available in the County Record Office which could be used for the purpose.

Our house is only about 70/80 years old but one of the questions we have is when exactly it was built – although we have the deeds, they don’t make it clear. We are also interested in the history of the land on which the house was built. We didn’t get answers to the questions on the course – but we now know where to start looking for them!

In the afternoon we went to the Hillier Gardens, as it is ‘Art in the Garden’ time again. No Border Collies so far this year, but we only saw about a quarter of the exhibits, so we may have missed one.

art in the garden '091

There were some other animals  - the ‘Velo-ciraptor’ [top right] by our favourite from last year, Daren Greenhow, and the wolves by Carol Orwin, [underneath it] were particularly striking. They could give you something of a shock if you came across them unexpectedly at night.



art in the garden '092

There were also people  - or angels [by Charis Jones, bottom right]. The ‘Garden Angels’ [!] were suspended from a tree.

The lumberjacks, top right , by David McDiarmid, were interesting, because of what they were made from. At first glance I thought they were wood, as the saw is. But the figures are made from one of the least likely materials for outdoor art.


Today's photo is a close up which  might give you a clue. And if you have seen the most recent issue of ‘Fiberarts’ magazine you may also have an idea.



Yes – it’s cardboard.


Thursday 18 June 2009

A bit of this and a bit of that

It’s been one of those days when I seem to have been busy all day but have nothing to show for it – apart from some repotted plants, but they’re not very exciting. I have finished an alphabet piece but you won’t see that till later.

Before potting the plants I had a wander round the garden – so today’s photo is a result of that.


Not baby marrows but figs, as we are the proud owners of a fig tree. We don’t really like fresh figs, which is fortunate because the one certain way of telling that they’re ripe is that the blackbirds start eating them …

Apparently the Ancient Greeks and Romans associated the fig with Dionysus / Bacchus – I can't think why.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Our Wednesday Wander

was a guided tour by Mr and Mrs Cheddar [and Ronaldo the wonder dog, of course] to a selection of Berkshire churches.

We started at Sandham Memorial Chapel, which is probably the best known. Mrs Cheddar is a WW1 buff, we are interested art – so a chapel commemorating WW1 decorated by Stanley Spencer suited all of us. The paintings are amazing and very moving – it was a thought-provoking start to the tour.

Of course I managed to find a textile! At first glance I thought the altar frontal was woven but closer examination showed that it was heavily but subtly embroidered. It is an early 20th century piece by Madeline Clifton – I hadn’t heard of her but there is quite a lot of information about her in the Chapel and ‘Embroidery’ magazine apparently featured her in 2005. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy.

Then we went on St Mary’s Church in Aldworth. ThisIMG_7048 is the home of the Aldworth Giants – 14th century carved effigies of a family who seem to have been even taller than Babybel’s daddy!

It also has a rather nice altar cloth IMG_7046-1

  and, in the churchyard, a ‘thousand year old’ yew – not sure how they know how old it is, but it has certainly seen better days!





Our final visit was to St Clement’s Church in AshaIMG_7055mpstead. This was my favourite of the three. It is a small church which contains a number of beautiful medieval wall paintings.

Can you imagine what it must have looked like when the walls were covered with images like this




and this? And I love the [modern] dove over the pulpit, on the left – and the light fitting.




However, this is my favourite image – and today’s photo.

Thanks, Mr and Mrs C, for being chauffeur and guide.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

I think they are breeding

Today’s photo is a result of a bit of tidying in IMG_7035our back garden .

You may wonder why a pair of sportsphobes [I’m sure there’s a real word for that] have so many footballs.

So do we.

They appear intermittently in the back garden, but no-one ever comes to claim them. I knew there were four but when I tidied up another three emerged from the undergrowth. [Our garden being the sort where you can easily hide three – or more – balls in the undergrowth.]

You may wonder why we don’t just lob them back – but 6 [!]other gardens back on to ours and we are not sure where the balls come from. Demographically there are  probably only two possible sources, but we don’t know which of the two has a footballer – possibly both.

And to be honest, if the erstwhile owner[s] can’t be bothered to come round and collect them – I can’t be bothered to try to find out whose they are.

The young rugby players in the bottom garden come round and ask politely for their lost balls, so why can’t the soccer players?

Ronaldo the wonder dog would probably like the smaller one, but I think the others may be a bit big. We have already given some to our immediate neighbours, who have 13 grandchildren to entertain, but there are too many even for them!

In complete contrast - if you have some time to waste - this is quite entertaining, although they haven’t included the work of Susie MacMurray.

The site has gone into my ‘favourites’ category entitled ‘Things to do when I’m bored’!

Monday 15 June 2009

Thanks for the commiserations

about my finger – it is slightly sorer today than yesterday and I am still typing with my middle finger [even more hunt-and-peck than usual], but it could have been a lot worse.

As I have achieved very little today, it’s straight to the daily photo - IMG_6779 H for Hardanger hearts. I find it possible to contain my enthusiasm for Hardanger – I like it when other people do it, I just don’t like doing it myself. I think this needs a border but I suspect it will just be satin stitch!

Sunday 14 June 2009

If you are squeamish …

you might not want to read the next few paragraphs.

Look away now

This afternoon I did something I have never done before. I sewed through my finger. I did have a foot on the machine but I still managed to get the finger under the needle.  Fortunately I missed the nail - I just have two puncture marks, about half a centimetre apart, on either side of the fleshy part of my left index finger.

Equally fortunately, although the needle broke, I seem to have located all the bits. The machine, of course, is fine. And I'm right handed – the only problems I have encountered are inserting the bobbin into the machine, which I do left handed, and typing.

So far, it isn’t even very painful – like the time I dropped my rotary cutter on my foot and only realised I’d cut myself when I looked down and thought ‘I don’t remember spilling red paint on the carpet’.

Resume reading hereIMG_6988

When the unfortunate incident  occurred I was free-motioning these. [You are allowed to say ‘What the heck?’]

This is the next stage of Carole and Linda’s class – couching down fibres to add texture. [This is not on the pieces I made yesterday.]

As we are going to add colour  later, it didn’t matter what colour fibres I used. A good opportunity to use up some of my left over knobbly knitting wool.

Of course Carole and Linda recommend not worrying about a design source, but when did I ever do as I was told? I also omitted the suggested Vilene as I have a Vilene shortage at the moment and I couldn’t wait. That’s why they are a bit curly.

These are going to have hand stitch and Xpandaprint added, and possibly some beads.

It’s a great course, by the way – lots and lots of ideas, enough to keep me quiet for weeks. Can’t wait for their book.


Today’s photo is G for gold work grapes. I did this before C&G so would possibly do it more elaborately now.

Mmm – better make a start on L-Z soon!

Saturday 13 June 2009

Busy – but not much to show for it.

I've started this on-line course with Carol McFee and Linda Monk – which is looking good. I've spent the day putting emulsion paint. moulding paste and wallpaper on fabric – and I've tried taking photos but all I've ended up with are images of white blobs. They’ll be better when I’ve added a bit of colour!

This is the only one that looks like anything. BIMG_6958eing me, I got experimental [with a used Colour Catcher], so the paint and moulding paste show up.



So straight on to the daily photo – and back to the alphabet.

F for a Florentine  fan. If you think it’s Bargello – I think the two are the same – unless you know better!



Friday 12 June 2009


Just found my ‘new’ book here. It’s a PDF of a scan of the whole book – links to other volumes in the same series here.

Mine appears to have been written by one of the Therese de Dillmonts[didn’t know there were two of them before] circa 1895.

I wonder how much a book with so many high quality colour plates would have cost then!

Why I love charity shops – an occasional series.


£1.50 – still with his original ‘Build-a-Bear’ label. I shall remove the collar until Babybel is a bit bigger and won’t try to eat it. The white blob on his arm is a label which says ‘Press Here’. If you do he sort-of-barks, sort-of-laughs. Larks? Baughs? Perhaps not.





£3. OK, it’s in French – and my French is rusty to say the least – but look at the plates.



There are about 20 of them, and diagrams as well.

No date, but I would think it is about 100 years old, judging by the William Morris-ish / Art Nouveau-ish designs.

That was the good bit of the day.IMG_6947

I did finish this – but after three attempts using different threads I’m still unhappy about the long stitch binding.





IMG_6948  I’ve done long stitch before and liked it – I think it’s just not right on this book.

I may have another go tomorrow. Or maybe not.









As it has been another sunny day – another photo from outside. Not our garden, I'm afraid, just a quiet corner near the Cathedral.

Thursday 11 June 2009

OK, I admit it …

I have been whingeing a lot about the weather recently.

But today has been beautiful. IMG_6903

So we went to the seaside.





To be honest, we’d already decided to go to Bournemouth whatever the weather. bournemouth june '091

We spotted these wonderful things on the railings by the path down to the pier.



As it was a lovely sunny day – we went inside. Here. IMG_6919

We’ve been wanting to visit the Russell-Cotes Gallery for a while – even before Jeremy Paxman included it in his programmes about Victorian art. Today we finally made it.

The interior is even more amazing than the exterior – middle class High Victorian at its gob smacking highest.

If you saw Paxo’s programmes you may have got the impression that all the paintings were Victorian soft porn – which isn’t completely true, although the nipple count is quite high, including Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

And for something completely different there is a delightful temporary exhibition of mosaics by Cleo Mussi, entitled ‘A Hand Book – A-Z’ [with accompanying book.]

We weren’t surprised to discover that Mussi trained in textiles, as I had gone round thinking about how like embroideries her pieces were …

The gallery has the necessary nice cafe, and a small but very pleasant garden.IMG_6937

Which brings me to my picture of the day.  The fountain in the garden, from the grotto.

According to the information leaflet you can order a picnic lunch from the cafe to eat in the garden. Wish we’d known that in advance.