From the beginning...

There's something new bubbling in my stitchery cauldron at the moment and instead of getting all caught up in the initial excitement and forgetting to take any pictures (which is my normal state), I've been moderately organised and snapped some photos to show how it's coming along, so if you're interested in seeing the stitchiness beginning to take shape, read on, here we go...

A Stitchery Spell

Ingredients: Take a large piece of natural cotton scrim - loose weave but reasonably robust - this forms the base layer onto which all the rest will be stitched. A bundle of recycled sari silk ribbon for couching the 'lines'. Pieces of organza in a range of colours to act as the background shading. Angelina Fibres melted into large pieces to add sparkle and mystery. Scraps of printed cotton and silk in coordinating colours to add texture and shape to the design. Reels of cotton in similar colours, silk threads and woollen yarns for adding the details. Pins. And a piece of chalk.

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I was fascinated to see how closely the colours of the beech leaves match the colours I've chosen or this piece - the work came before the photo.

I was fascinated to see how closely the colours of the beech leaves match the colours I've chosen or this piece - the work came before the photo.

Method: Lay out the scrim on the kitchen table and mark out in chalk the dimensions for the finished piece. (I then stitched around this in a coloured thread so I always know where my 'edges' should be. If you've never worked with loose-weave fabrics you may not have had the pleasure of watching your creation veer off in dramatically diagonal directions, believe me, it adds considerably to the design challenge, my advice is always know your edges...)

then...

Chalk out the basic lines of the design. Couch these lines with the sari silk ribbon, held down with a thread of your choice (red and green silks for me this time). Next cut the organza to fill the spaces between the lines - slipping some Angelina fibres behind where required. Tack all in place. (I used pins because as is often the way, my fabric-glue pen had gone walkabout - naturally it came back just as I finished the pinning).

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Once the organza layers are firmly down, add the fabric scraps - this takes a fair amount of trial and error until the happy accident happens and you discover they've found the right place to be. Stitch them down. And once you reach this stage it's finally time to get creative with the stitching. I suppose I think of all the stages to here as putting in the background but it's the stitching over which really provides the detail and the dimension.

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That's where I'm at now. Gradually beginning the real work of bringing it all together with hundreds and hundreds of stitches. Work might have progressed marginally more quickly if it hadn't been for the arrival of Max Adams' latest book. I can never resist a new book and this one is every bit as fascinating as his others.

So kind of Max Adams' publishers to provide his new book in a coordinating colour scheme...

So kind of Max Adams' publishers to provide his new book in a coordinating colour scheme...

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In other news...

  • I'm currently working on an issue of Loose Threads to go out before Christmas so as ever if you haven't previously subscribed and would like to receive a copy just fill in the subscription box in the sidebar.
  • I've just read 'Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life' - Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. Have you come across it? Ikigai is roughly translated as a person's individual purpose in life and their reason for getting up in the morning. Finding your ikigai is felt to be the secret to happiness. The book also covers wider aspects of life and attitudes to living, including resilience. I loved it. I'm not sure about the sushi, but everything else resonated so strongly with me. I'd love to know what you thought.
  • I have six photographs on display at The Workhouse in Dunstable until the end of the month. This is such a huge departure for me but the response so far has been really positive. It's given my creative juices quite a boost.

Right then, it's back to the stitching for me, wishing you all well and happy!

 Love Anny x

In The Workhouse...

I've learned something since last week's post - I've discovered just how much work goes into launching an art gallery and I can tell you, it's not for the faint-hearted! I think it's safe to say that on Wednesday last week there were people who doubted whether the gallery would open as intended on Saturday, but of course I'm delighted and proud to announce that not only did it open on time, it also looks magnificent and is a wonderful testament to the ambition and vision of the lady whose dream it is, Joanne Bowes.

Joanne has a particular vision of what she wants from her business. As an artist herself she realised how difficult it can be to find a good and suitable space to show your work. She also appreciates how intimidating it can be for people wanting to buy art. So The Workhouse is designed to be a friendly and welcoming space where artists and art buyers can mingle and get to know each other.

I'm delighted to have some of my work in The Workhouse right now. I'm particularly pleased that with the gorgeous lighting my twinkly metallics are looking very good indeed. They certainly come to life under the lights.

I'm going to be over at the gallery doing some stitching a couple of days a week, which I'm really looking forward to - it's always exciting to show people how you work and to hear their reaction and for someone whose default setting is to be sat at home alone with her needle, it can be good to get out and meet people.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from the opening weekend. 


 

Happy stitching!

Anny x

This week...

We're having a very green early autumn this year and I'm wondering if it will turn golden later or not - there have certainly been other autumns I can remember when the whole orange and red tapestry failed to materialise - or am I just being impatient?

The colours are the only thing missing, apart from that there's no doubt which season we're in. As I walk along the lane each morning I can smell the crab apples crushed in the road, it's a faintly boozey scent, that ancient aroma you used to have in the barns and sheds where the apples were stored.

Our path through the wood is slightly more fraught as we try to dodge the spider's webs strung between bracken fronds and hogweed skeletons. But I'm not so scared of these outdoor spiders, their weavings are exquisite especially with a string of dew diamonds twinkling in the early light. It's their indoor cousins that send me screaming across the room.

There's been a wonderful amount of hedgerow fruit this autumn, I have sloe gin slowly turning a ruby red in a cupboard and I've breakfasted on blackberries several times. The hips and haws pepper the hedgerow with their splatter of crimson and scarlet. In one sunny spot in the hedge a bramble has decided to flower again, blossom in October...

These mornings are still warm enough to stand at the Thinking Gate and pause. Everyone should have their place for a moment of calm, somewhere to just be.

My stitchiness has been of the meditative kind this week. I've been playing with colours, thinking about texture. Taking the recycled sari silks and wondering about what to do with them. Part of me I think is hankering after doing another needlepoint so I begin stitching one evening and the familiar repetition feels natural, but I don't know where it wants to go and I abandon it to the side of the sofa. Mind and fingers are not entirely in harmony just at the moment.

In the way that somethings work, I ended up driving to Worcestershire twice last week. This is the county of my birth and the earth that made me. I visited the country churchyard where generations of my family are resting for eternity. It's a lovely place, tucked into the folds of a hillside and visiting although a little melancholy is also strangely soothing. I have a chat with the old lot and it feels perfectly natural. I put chrysanthemums on the graves because that's what my mum did, a tradition I suppose.

This is not a very old churchyard, only just over 100 years since the church was built and I get the distinct feeling that it won't be so long before it returns to nature. I find this doesn't worry me, in fact it feels right in some way. There are other ways of remembering.

And later in the week we made a trip to Worcester with our youngest daughter who's thinking of studying there. She hadn't realised that this is the city I know best, hadn't realised its significance to me, she just liked the feel of the place. Inside the cathedral an orchestra and choir were rehearsing a performance of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man and it was simply sublime, the acoustics were just marvellous, it was almost too moving.

I sloped off to say hello to King John before we left, another tradition but this one is just mine.

On our way back we passed my second-favourite building in Worcester - The Guildhall. A perfect counterfoil to the gothic splendour and elegance of the cathedral. The Guildhall is all gold and shiny and a bit over the top - I wonder if that's part of it's appeal, and if subliminally it feeds my metallic habit?


This week I'm off to The Workhouse, Dunstable for it's opening exhibition where I'm showing some work. We set up mid-week and welcome people in at the weekend. I may surprise everyone and wear a dress...

Have a wonderful week whatever you're doing. Anyone in the Bedfordshire area do come along to Dunstable and find us, we'll be so pleased to see you and there's the possibility of cake.

Happy stitching

Anny x


footnotes

  • Just to say in case you didn't know, I post daily on Instagram mostly with photos from the lane, occasionally old places I've visited and sometimes little snippets of stitchiness in progress. Do follow me there if it's your thing.
  • Occasionally I put together some extra snippets and send out a copy of 'Loose Threads' to anyone who'd like to receive it - the subscription box is over on the right or in the menu.
  • I've been so tired my bedtime reading hasn't gone far this week, but I'm really enjoying Max Adams' - The King In The North (all about Oswald of Northumbria).

Preparing for The Workhouse...

No, don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds...

Almost the end of September and at last I'm getting back into the swing of things on the stitchy front. Which is good news because in less than a fortnight I'll be showing a selection of work at the newest and quirkiest gallery in the area, The Workhouse, Dunstable - (I was always that child who did her homework on a Sunday evening, and it turns out some things never change).

Although to be fair, this time it wasn't really that I couldn't get myself organised, more just having a lot of things happening at the same time. 

I've actually been doing quite a lot of stitching over the last few months, but it's felt very much like a kind of transformative period, I've felt the need to stitch with my hands in order to let my brain run free. So I've pushed needles through various fabrics, combined all kinds of threads in a rainbow of shades (well alright, mostly blue) and watched to see where it took me.

And where has it taken me? Well, I'm not entirely sure, I'm probably still en route. But I have made a few decisions.

The first is that I do need to bring a little more organisation into the process. Buzzing around in my head are several themes I want to work on and past experience tells me that it might be better not to ricochet from one to another. I'd quite like to discipline myself to spend a little more time in the preparation stages, possibly working on a small number of pieces exploring each theme.

For me this is going to mean allowing myself not to feel pressured to dive straight into a new work but to give myself time to play with it, research and experiment. 

When I first began to make textile art, I was content to slip from one piece to the next without much thought. But now I seem to have so many more ideas I'd like to pursue and I think I panic a little that I might forget what I wanted to do on one while I make another. But time not stitching always felt like a waste before, now I can see that if I'm going to have a chance of actually exploring any of them I'm going to need a plan (albeit of a fairly basic nature).

So it's time for me to stop being quite so impulsive and to attempt to bring some structure into my process. (We'll see just how well that goes won't we...)

Anyway, while I was happily stitching and thinking, away over in Dunstable my Discover artist friend Joanne Bowes was being altogether more ambitious and brave. She has finally brought her dream into reality by opening her own gallery - The Workhouse in Ashton Square, right in the heart of the town (and not coincidentally on the site of Dunstable's first workhouse). It's going to be a friendly, welcoming space where artists, makers and art-lovers can meet and mingle and where people will feel comfortable coming inside to see what's new.

And that is where some of my work is heading at the beginning of October. 

Of course as many of you will know, I would much rather be stitching something new rather than properly finishing off something I've already made - which means that I'm currently desperately trying to get frames made for the work I'm going to take to Dunstable - I really wish there were framing elves who'd come down each night and magically frame everything while you slept. (If you know of any, please put in a good word for me).

Still, it isn't the night before the opening just yet, so I'm still in with a chance of it not becoming a nail-biting, up to the line, eleventh hour panic...arrrgh!

These are the pieces going to The Workhouse (framing permitting)...

I'll take proper photos once we're set up and give you all the details for anyone who fancies popping along to The Workhouse in October.

Right, where's my hammer...

Happy stitching x


 

 

 

 

 

The Many Faces of Lincoln Cathedral...

Lincoln Cathedral has to be one of the most impressive surviving medieval buildings in the world. I'm a self-confessed history-junkie with a passion for the medieval, but honestly I don't think anyone could deny just how amazing it is. Perched on top of the only hill for miles, you can't miss it and as you get closer, the sheer size and elaborate decoration are breath-taking.

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On our recent travels with a tent we were able to snatch almost twenty-four hours in Lincoln (actually we stayed in Bardney and cycled along the Witham to Lincoln, pushing our bikes up Steep Hill when we got there, but that's another story). I'd only been able to have a quick visit inside the cathedral once before, so I was determined to have a more detailed tour this time.

But you know, I've come to the conclusion that just like major art galleries and museums, you shouldn't attempt to see everything in one visit. One look at the West Front of Lincoln Cathedral and you quickly realise that a life-time would scarcely be enough to fully appreciate it. Trying to take it in you rapidly reach a kind of medieval-cultural-overwhelm.

Still, if you only have a few hours you have to give it your best shot, so I set off with eyes wide open, soaking up the atmosphere and trying to let it seep in and not wash over in great waves of gorgeousness.

The first building here was begun shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1088 and it was pretty much a continual project throughout the medieval period. During that time it suffered a number of set-backs, including being seriously damaged by an earthquake of all things in 1185 and the collapse of a tall central spire in 1549 (until the loss of that spire it was the tallest building in the world).

Parts of the West Front are survivals from the pre-earthquake era and arguably the most impressive part of the building - the sheer intricacy of the carving is mind-blowing (well it blows my mind for sure).

A selection of the intricate Norman carving surrounding one of West Front doors, Lincoln Cathedral (rotated 90 degrees). Those faces! Is it just me or are they somehow hypnotic? Who are they? What are they meant to be?

A selection of the intricate Norman carving surrounding one of West Front doors, Lincoln Cathedral (rotated 90 degrees). Those faces! Is it just me or are they somehow hypnotic? Who are they? What are they meant to be?

See what I mean - even if you could see that far, it would take months to really study all the carving.

See what I mean - even if you could see that far, it would take months to really study all the carving.

Going inside the grandeur is compelling. Almost all medieval cathedrals manage to fill me with awe, goodness knows how the average medieval peasant thought about them but Lincoln must have been right up there with 'wonders of the world'.

Looking up to the ceiling of the central tower. The geometry evident everywhere is staggering. 

Looking up to the ceiling of the central tower. The geometry evident everywhere is staggering. 

Somewhere around this point under the tower, with stained-glass windows in every direction I began to get a touch overwhelmed. I stood slowly revolving, staring up, gaping and no doubt looking like a prize idiot, except that most other people appeared to be doing much the same thing.

Coming back down to earth I began to notice a whole load more faces - men, animals, comic, serious - adorning the screen to our side and so I spent the next considerable time photographing some of them (clearly these were once painted, you can still see traces of the paint in many places).

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A little devil would you say?

A little devil would you say?

Eventually I had to tear myself away from all these goodies, because there was one more thing I had to see on my visit and that was the tomb of Queen Eleanor of Castile.

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Eleanor of Castile

Now in fact although there is an exquisite gilded brass effigy of Eleanor looking wonderfully serene in the cathedral (the work of English sculptor William Torell) only her viscera were actually interred here. Her body is in Westminster Cathedral (and her heart was buried in the Dominican Friary of Blackfriars, London).

I don't know if you're the same, but I have a small cast of historical favourites that just interest me more than others and one of mine is King Edward I, the husband of Eleanor. Now I'm the first to admit that although he was tall and athletic, he wasn't an entirely likeable chap. He was famous for his temper, could be extremely aggressive and had a relaxed attitude to fair-play and justice, and then of course he went about subjugating the Welsh, building the ring of Edwardian castles that still stand today, and followed that up by attempting to do the same thing in Scotland - although with rather less success.

I don't think Edward was every woman's ideal husband. But here's the thing, from surviving records it appears that they had a very happy marriage and were truly deeply attached to each other. They were both just teenagers when they married. Over the years she gave birth to more than 12 children, although only one of her sons survived her. Rarely apart, Eleanor accompanied Edward on his military campaigns throughout her life. And Edward, such a difficult man in many ways is not known to have had any extramarital affairs or fathered children out of wedlock, which was certainly unusual at that time.

When Eleanor died aged 49, Edward mourned her, they had spent most of their lifetime together. It was for Eleanor that he had crosses erected at the locations where her cortege stopped on the way to Westminster - now known as the Eleanor Crosses.

Needing to secure the dynasty, Edward was to marry again nearly 10 years later at the age of 60 and again it appears that this second marriage to Margaret of France, 40 years younger than him was also deeply affectionate and loving. This marriage produced two sons and a daughter and she was named Eleanor in honour of his first wife. Margaret never remarried after the death of Edward even though she was still a young woman.

So, whatever his political and military history and significant character flaws, I find Edward fascinating. If you want to know more about him, try reading A Great And Terrible King - Marc Morris.

And finally: Lincoln Cathedral or Westminster Abbey?

When I was reading about Lincoln Cathedral, I discovered that the cathedral is the stunt double for Westminster Abbey - appearing in the films The Da Vinci Code and Young Victoria. Apparently the real Westminster Abbey refused to have the film crews in, so Lincoln was made to impersonate it - I'm off to watch the DVD now and see if I can spot it....


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I wonder if you have a pet historical bad-boy or girl? Do tell who and why.

And until next time,

Happy Stitching x

 

 

 

 

 

Well how wrong can you be...

And then, just like that it was September...

Hello again everyone, sorry to have gone off piste during August - we were suddenly in a position to take a holiday (something that had previously seemed unlikely to happen) so it was all change and a rapid packing of bags and camping equipment before we set off north to explore some gorgeous parts of North Yorkshire and Northumberland.

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The plus side is that I now have enough photos from visits to a whole list of spectacular heritage sites to sink the proverbial battleship (except of course these days they're just digital soup) - and I promise to write about and share the best of the pictures over coming weeks.

The downside is that we can't currently walk through the hall due to the vast amount of post-holiday ironing that is stacked up in every laundry basket and flat surface we have. I should really be out there now tackling the mountain, but well, it's not going away and I don't expect to be the woman on her death-bed wishing she'd spent more time ironing...

So, what have you been up to while I've been gallivanting all over the place? I hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere has had a lovely summer and those still working to the rhythm of the academic year are feeling refreshed and ready to go. This is the last year I'll have a child in school - how did that happen! We went out shopping for stationery this week - admit it, you still like a new pen and a pristine pad of lined A4 paper.

I succumbed to a new mechanical pencil, a pair of bright green reading glasses (in Tiger of all places) and ahem, a pair of Doc Marten boots. Ok, I accept the boots can't really be classified as stationery, but I've wanted a pair for about as long as I can remember. There was no way I'd have got away with them when I was young but over the years I've occasionally had a flash of an image of me wearing a pair and yesterday as I walked past the shoe shop I swear they sang out to me to go in and rescue them.

I'd expected them to be a bit stiff and painful to put on, but the goddess of shoes was watching and found me the comfiest pair imaginable and quite frankly after that resistance would have been futile.

So now you're sitting there thinking ahhh, poor Anny, she's finally having her mid-life crisis and to be honest you may be right, but at the same time I'd have to say that if I am I'm feeling pretty good on it. If it's alright for blokes to buy themselves a Harley-Davidson or a little convertible sports job I don't think a pair of chunky functional leather boots is going too far and part of me feels very Granny Weatherwax* in them which is no bad thing. (There's a brief history of the Dr Marten boot if you click here).

In other news, I'm way off on my reading list, but I have totally fallen in love with the writing of Max Adams having taken In The Land Of Giants away camping with me and discovering that he had written about exactly the same places I was visiting on a several occasions. (Mainly Hadrian's Wall and I'll write about that separately very soon). So entirely have I been enthralled by his book that since we returned home I have also bought two other books by him - The King In The North (about the seventh century king Oswald of Northumbria) and The Wisdom of Trees - and being totally confessional I've also pre-ordered his new book Aelfred's Britain which is published in November. Do you think this qualifies me for fan-girl status?

Inevitably all the time away has curtailed stitchy activities in August (bitter experience has taught me not to bother trying to stitch while camping), but actually I was ready for a break and now I'm feeling completely re-energised. There is a lot to tell you about on the arty front but that too will have to wait just a little longer, suffice to say I'm going to be very busy for the next few months. But at least this time I trust I have things better organised so (and I'm typing this with my fingers-crossed) no random absences.

Right, I've rambled on enough for now, I'm off to sift through the clothes pile. It's lovely to be back. Please do leave a comment, tell me what you've been up to, what are you reading, how has/did/will your mid-life crisis manifest?

I'll leave you with a glimpse of where we went on holiday...

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* Granny Weatherwax is a character created by the late and much missed Sir Terry Pratchett. If you've read the Discworld books you'll know exactly what I mean and if you haven't, stop what you're doing now and go and read them immediately...

Until next time, happy stitching x

 

 

A Little Summer Reading...

We're just reaching the end - I hope - of our manically busy few weeks and with a bit of luck we'll begin to slide into a slower August.

I thought that this summer I'd try and make sure that even though we're not planning a 'proper' holiday, I'd attempt to do things a little differently so that it feels like a change from the usual routine. The danger of staying at home I've discovered is that I spend too much time just doing the same old things, so this year I've got a plan...

It's not a hugely outrageous plan, in fact it's probably quite tame, but having thought about what I miss most about holidays I realised it's that I don't give myself time to just sit and read. When we go away I have no problem sitting and reading for hours, but for some reason if we stay at home I just feel guilty doing it, so this August I am going to pretend I'm on holiday and catch up with some of the books I've been stockpiling by the side of the bed for the last few weeks.

Would you like to see the stack?

I suppose you could see some thread or theme running through most of these - a love ofthe English landscape and a desire to learn more about it perhaps.

I bought the WG Hoskins - The Making Of The English Landscape some months ago and I've been dipping in quite often, but most of my reading is done at bedtime and this is a book I'd really like to sit and make notes with - not easy when you're doing your best not to fall asleep.

If you've found me on Instagram you'll know that I'm an avid hedgerow-watcher, so the John Wright - A Natural History of the Hedgerow was a must when I spotted it recently in the bookshop. I've been photographing the hedgerow where I walk the dog for the best part of four years now and I'm beginning to know my way around some of the plants, but the more I get to know it, the more I realise how much I don't know - I'm really hoping this will deepen my awareness.

I'm not sure what I'll make of the Claire Leighton - Four Hedges.To be entirely honest I only skimmed through when I saw it near to the John Wright book, but it has the most wonderful illustrations and it has me intrigued - so I'll let you know what it's all about once I've read it.

The book of poetry by John Clare is another book I've been dipping into for weeks now. I can't believe it took me this long to begin to know Clare's work. It's only been in the last couple of years that I'd even heard of him, but what a remarkable poet he was. I wonder if I've come to appreciate him now as I've begun to appreciate nature at a deeper level - I do have a theory that sometimes we meet the right book at the right time and this might well be an example of that.

Nicholas Crane's - The Making of the British Landscape is almost the most recent addition to the pile and I've barely opened it at all, but having ignited the whole topic with the Hoskins I was fascinated to read a more recent take on the same subject (and anyway I like Crane's style) - I'm going to enjoy getting to this one.

So I think there's definitely some connection between those five titles, but the last two are in the stack simply because they called to me.

Kassia St Clair's - The Secret Lives of Colour was serialised on BBC Radio 4 a few weeks ago - did you hear any of it? I was hooked just from listening, but when I saw the hardback in Topping I was delighted. It's brilliantly put together, laid out in colour sections, it gives you the story around a range of individual colours. This book is perfect for occasional dipping into, but I could just as easily sit and read it cover to cover (and I very well may). If you're at all interested in colours and/or art history do have a look out for this title.

And finally...Frank McLynn - The Road Not Taken just set all my history-junkie juices flowing. It's not about roads - it's about how Britain has narrowly missed having a revolution from 1381 to 1926. Because let's face it, we've come close and sometimes when I listen to the news on the radio I wonder how close we might be coming again. And history is usually written by the winners, so it's refreshing to read about protests from a different perspective - eye-opening in some ways. So far I've read about the Peasant's Revolt and Jack Cade's rebellion - and I can't help thinking we should teach more of this in schools today.

I've never been very good at writing book reviews, so I can't promise to come back and tell you what I thought, but if you've read any of these, do let me know what you thought about them. 

So that's my reading list for now - what are you reading this summer? Do you pick and choose or do you pursue a subject in depth? 

Happy reading!

 

 

Feeling the energy...

Well what a week! Thank you to everyone who's followed me over here from Dreaming In Stitches, I really appreciate that very much indeed. And a huge welcome to the new readers who've found your way here too - welcome. 

early elderberries

After all the excitement of going live with A Stitchery Spellbook last weekend I was half expecting this week to be a return to something less frantic, I had a mental image of wafting about in a clean tidy home, scented with fresh laundry and sitting down to stitch with a vaguely beatific smile on my face.  Which as you can imagine isn't exactly what happened. Instead the pile of domestic stuff which I'd probably been ignoring for a bit too long decided to gang up on me and pounce - but anyway, here I am, trying to regain my rhythm and to settle back into what I've occasionally laughingly called my routine....

In the lane...

While I've been out walking the dog this week, it's really struck me how the energy of spring has now given way to something different, something slower and more introspective. The showy blossom season has passed and now we're beginning to see the fruits appear. The energy which was so palpable has turned inwards and it's harder to connect with it as we walk along the lane every morning.

Looking closely it's surely going to be a wonderfully abundant autumn. I've got my eyes on the sloes (so long as I can afford a couple of bottles of gin to pop them in), and judging from the cascades of tiny bullet-hard blackberries that are starting to form, there will be ample blackberry and apple pies this year. But there are also masses of elderberries on their way, acorns aplenty, haws, hips and crab apples by the bucket load and best of all, hazelnuts.

And these are just the things I can spot and know what to do with. I imagine any naturalist worth their salt could easily add to this list of foods for free.

But for all that, the feeling I have in the lane at the moment is almost tiredness. It's not the first time I've experienced this, to me it seems as if all that effort during spring has left it exhausted. Now it's conserving itself, pouring it's energy into the fruits with little left to dazzle the daily dog walker as she ambles past.

Well, that's as it should be. We're all creatures of cycles and rhythms and there are times when we sparkle and times when we just trudge on. The thing is to recognise that and not to fight against it. Sometimes you have to let things roll, put your energies into the place they need to be.

Over the last few years of walking this route every day I've begun to feel these patterns as they happen and now it's much less of a worry than it first felt, now I think I'm beginning to learn to roll with the rhythms too.

In the frame

I'd have to admit that my stitching rhythm's been a bit off lately too. I've been working on this latest Rose Window inspired piece and although there are aspects of it that I'm enjoying, I can't say that I've entirely bonded with it yet. From past experience I know this isn't necessarily a problem, some pieces don't reveal themselves until you've committed quite a lot of work, nevertheless, I can't decide how this one really feels at the moment.

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What I'm learning from these Rose Windows is that there is something hypnotic about the shape, and whilst the gothic windows which inspire them are perfectly symmetrical, I rather like bending them, twisting them a little and introducing some leafy curves or petal shapes. It is confined within a circle, a repeated segmentation, but each part is unique. I'm already thinking about the next one - which might be part of the problem - but I'll stay with this one for now and see where we go.

Old Places...

I thought this week was going to be gallivanting-free and devoid of old places but on Monday evening the OH asked if I fancied going with him to Bath again the next day and so off we went at crack of dawn on Tuesday. This time I have to admit my main preoccupation was with books - I may have re-homed a few more, which of course is merely a public service. One of the books I came home with is The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair. Did you hear excerpts on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago? Well it's brilliant, buy a hard copy if you're in the smallest bit interested in colours.

(The others (ahem, several in fact) I'll tell you about another day).

To be honest I didn't really do much heritage-wandering on Tuesday apart form the inevitable gazing about that you always do in Bath without even thinking about it. The rain had kept the crowds back down by the Abbey so I took a few pictures of the Abbey front. It's a bit later than many medieval cathedrals, dating from about 1520 and unusually features angels ascending Jacob's Ladder. 

And so there you have it. A week of trying to get back into a routine and not entirely succeeding, but that's alright, I'm going with the flow. Hope you are too. Do you have any tips for riding the ups and downs of energy levels? I feel that women of a certain age are probably the world experts on energy levels, but that's another story.


As always, you'll find me on Instagram and Twitter most days, it would be lovely to hear from you there or here anytime. 

Happy stitching x

Welcome to my new home...

Well hello again! Thanks so much for taking the time to find me at A Stitchery Spellbook, my new online home.

Hello again...

As you can imagine, just as with any new space you move into there are some things that I'm learning about and others I may well want to change, but you have to start somewhere and the danger of not just getting on with it is that I'll try and wait until everything is perfect, and we all know when that will be don't we.

So it may still be a bit creaky and rough around the edges, but I've moved in now and it's up to me to mould it into the kind of place I want it to be. I really appreciate you coming to say hello.

Just so you know, you can use the sign up box in the sidebar if you'd like to receive new posts by email into your inbox. I think it works! (well I've tried it, but obviously if you spot any issues, do let me know, please). Otherwise you'll need to update your blog reader with the address of this new site www.astitcheryspellbook/blog if you want to see new posts there (and I really hope you do!).

Also in the sidebar is a sign up for Loose Threads - the roughly monthly collection of bits and pieces that I send out in addition to the posts here. If you signed up previously at Dreaming In Stitches you'll carry on receiving them, no need to do anything. If you'd like to receive Loose Threads but haven't signed up before, just pop your name and email in the box in the sidebar and you'll be added to our growing community of mad stitchy, history-geeky and nature-loving bods.

So here I am now in a space that is properly my own. It feels exciting and a little bit scary too. 

If you're wondering why the change, well, I'd decided it was time to have a sort out. I'd managed to get a bit spread out online over the years (too much listening to the niche-marketers probably) and I was never quite brave enough to commit to owning my own space before. 

But this year things have felt different. I'm finally comfortable with the weirdly eccentric mix of things I like to talk about and it turns out other people are ok with it too, I've realised just how much I love being part of this whole online community of similarly diverse and fascinating people, and I've proved to myself that I can put in the effort to show up regularly. 

So the time is right for a fresh start. A Stitchery Spellbook will take over from Dreaming In Stitches as the home for my stitchy, history and nature ramblings, the gallery of my stitch-work and the hub of my online activity. You'll still be able to access Dreaming In Stitches to view any old content there, but moving forward this is where you'll find me from now on.

I very much hope you'll visit often and stay for a chat.

Happy stitching

Anny x