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Journal

A Stitchery Sort of Christmas...

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A Stitchery Sort of Christmas...

Happy New Year!

Hello again - how's 2018 treating you so far? Are you having fun keeping all your New Year Resolutions, or have you already ditched them in a fit of January-blues pique?

Around here it's just a battle against the grey weather. Our lovely spell of pre-Christmas snow gave way to mild but extremely dull weather. With the exception of an hour or so one morning the week before last, we've had no sunshine at all. Knowing how easily this can bring my mood plummeting I have tried very hard to keep myself afloat and it's mainly been a case of stitching my way through the weather.

Do you remember the piece I had on the go in the lead up to Christmas?

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Here it is, finished just before Christmas Day (which was lucky as it meant I could move my big wicker basket out of the way for a couple of days. It's not quite as wonky as this photo would have you believe, but the murky light has made getting decent photos a real issue - take it from me, it's one of my least wonky pieces. I immediately added it to the pile of work waiting for the framing elves to do their thing. So far I think we'd have to say they haven't come up with the goods.

Anyway, the brilliant thing for me this year (or last year now if we're being picky), is that I managed to hibernate for pretty much the entire Twelve Days. There is something hugely restorative about being able to sit around reading and dozing for days on end. I've found that with a fridge and freezer full of food and enough technical* adults in the house able to feed themselves, there really isn't that much I need to do once the main event is out of the way.

But do you know, it wasn't many days (probably more like hours) after finishing that last piece that I needed to get down to stitching again. I've had a couple of palettes in mind, neither of which I actually ended up using - as is the way of things - so shortly after Boxing Day I began putting another piece of textile together. It was mere coincidence that it began around the time of the Woolf Moon, but I wonder if there was something directing me when I started...here it is...

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I'd like to point out that this one isn't wonky either but the Delinquent Dog wouldn't give up his seat on the sofa for me to stretch it out properly - and this is pretty much the only place in the county with enough daylight to take a photo...

Blue and silver (with just the occasional hint of gold). Possibly one of the twinkliest of pieces I've ever made - which naturally you'll appreciate doesn't come across well in photos even at the best of times. You'll have to take my word for it. 

Large areas of this one are very simply stitched with the most basic running stitch. Ever since seeing the Fabric of India exhibition at the V&A I've been fascinated by the way this humble little stitch can transform the fabrics you introduce it to. The variations that can be achieved are so numerous. Combine running stitch with shiny fabrics and the effects are mesmerising.

Hibernation with stitching is pretty much the perfect antidote to stress, for me at least, and so I'm starting 2018 proper in a fairly relaxed state despite the grey clouds and misty mornings. I'm not a Resolutions type of girl, but I'm playing with the idea of having a word to be guided by, and at the moment that word would be relax.

I read somewhere that women of a certain age can be prone to feeling anxious and if I'm honest this is me more often than I'd generally admit, so as I really don't have anything concrete to feel anxious about, I'm going to make stronger efforts at combatting anxiety when it creeps up on me. Anyone able to offer advice on doing this? What works for you?

Meditation is my usual route. Sometimes traditional style, quiet place, focus on the breathing type of thing. Sometimes listening to a guided meditation recording on YouTube. Mindfulness is where it's at too of course, I love the whole chopping wood and carrying water approach - although I tend more towards the washing-up and vacuuming version.

Walking the boy is probably a form of meditation too, although not walking meditation in its traditional form - far too much danger of distraction. But of all the possible techniques, stitching is far and away the most meditative practice I know.

And this is the one I've just started...

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With the studio assistant as you can see assuming his duties of guarding the stitching from his position on the sofa.

So that's where I am as we head off into mid-January. Gradually emerging from hibernation with a few projects piling up for the elves and a mild sense of optimism. Could be worse...


In Other news...

If you follow me on Instagram you'll probably already have seen this, but just in case I  thought you might like to meet our sheepish friends. These are the sheep who're currently living in the field where we usually walk (we don't walk through while they're in residence). They're kept as pets by a local family and they certainly have personality. Every morning when we reach the Thinking Gate they spot us and come running over to say hello - although actually I think they expect me to feed them. Anyway, enjoy...

Oh and also from my Instagram account, here are the photos that apparently were the most popular in 2017...

Top of the Instagram Charts 2017...

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A suitable mix of the lane in its different guises with old places - can you spot Llanthony, Kenilworth Castle, Whitby Abbey, Hadrian's Wall, and Charlecote House?

Here's to another wonder-filled year of enjoying stitch, countryside and old places. Love to all xxx

Anny x

* technical adults - definition: children and husbands old enough to switch the cooker on and put their own dinner in it...