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A Good Hanging...
 

…in which we visit The Workhouse, fail to make much progress with the stitchery and finally leave Narnia.

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Hello again. How’s your week been? Here things have been a bit unusual.

After dropping the Daughters off at the airport at some unreasonably early hour on Sunday (and in -6 degrees!), all thoughts of a slow romantic day with the OH were shelved when I realised that despite considerable wifely urging, he still hadn’t framed any of the pieces I was intending to take to The Workhouse on Monday for the new exhibition.

Luckily, by the time I had to leave the house on Monday, he’d just about finished, so if you should visit The Workhouse in Dunstable over the next four weeks, you’ll be able to see a quartet of work from yours truly…(unless of course some kind soul pops in and buys them).

(Avalon Meadow, Merlin, Minerva and Uriens)

I spent Monday afternoon helping to hang the new exhibition, which is called ‘Mysterious’.

It’s always exciting to see the new work that local artists have brought in for the show. Every time I’m reminded how much talent there is all around us. You don’t have to go to exclusive galleries in expensive cities to see remarkable work. The Workhouse attracts amazingly gifted artists from the surrounding counties, many of whom are new to exhibiting and it’s a joy to see them take the plunge and show their work.

Like many other small galleries, The Workhouse in Dunstable runs as a not for profit organisation, to keep the costs of showing and buying affordable. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, most, but not all of whom, are artists, who give some of their time to help the gallery thrive.

It’s always on the lookout for other people with a bit of a flair for art and who enjoy talking to people, to swell our band of volunteers, and it occured to me that this might be true for a lot of similar galleries. So if there’s one near you and you’d like to get involved, be brave, pop in and ask them. The more time I spend in The Workhouse, the more I see just how important access to art is to everybody, not just a privileged few and so it’s vitally important to do what we can to help these places survive and prosper, because in the end, we all benefit or we all lose.

And although as a volunteer I’m not being paid for my time there, there’s actually a huge reward to be had, listening to and watching the reactions of customers as they walk around the gallery. If you ever have concerns about your work, spend some time in a gallery and see for yourself just how true it is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, so often I see it, where what appeals to one customer will leave another cold and visa versa, there really is someone out there who’ll love your work! We all know that in theory, but a few hours in a gallery and you’ll really know it’s true.

Stitchiness

Well, what with trips to airports and hanging exhibitions, there hasn’t been a massive amount of progress on the current piece. But I’m still loving the palette, which is something of a departure from the blues and purples very much in evidence in ‘Mysterious’.

I’ve fallen for the Gutermann cotton quilting threads with their subtly changing colours, so they feature quite extensively in this piece. I find that not knowing exactly what shade will appear where, adds to my enjoyment. I like to feel that I’m not making all the decisions and that the piece itself might be determining it’s development.

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Also, the light has been so poor that I’ve scarcely been able to take any decent pictures with this one, which is why I haven’t posted updates on Instagram Stories.

(Ali, if you’re seeing this, do you recognise the background?)

I’m using a cotton hand-dyed by my friend Ali, as the foundation layer for the work and it’s really the colours in there that have brought together the palette. As usual, there’s a mixture of batik and recycled sari silk there too.

in other news…

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At the weekend I was feeling decidedly jealous, seeing so many photos of springlike bulbs, snowdrops and Imbolc celebrations. Around here we were most certainly not enjoying the return of spring, more like perpetual winter. But I’ve walked the lane enough years now to know that we’re always a bit behind, we just have to have patience.

And sure enough, as I ventured out with the Delinquent Dog on Wednesday morning, there was a shift, suddenly even though there’s nothing particular to see, spring is here. Later that day I saw that according to the Anglo-Saxon calendar, spring begins on February 7th - and I have to say, they were spot on here!

Oh and talking of Anglo-Saxons, I’ve finally got my act together and I’m off to the British Library next week, to see the Anglo-Saxon exhibition before it closes.

I wonder if the Anglo-Saxons had any theories about the weather and reclining sheep?

I’m sure they were trying to tell me something…

I’m sure they were trying to tell me something…

If you’re interested and haven’t yet seen it, I’ve recently added A Lane in January with more pictures from recent walks.

Wishing you a peacefully uneventful week.

Happy stitching…

Anny x

* A Good Hanging - Ian Rankin’s Rebus short stories…

 
 
Resolutely into the New Year...
 
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Resolutely into the New Year…

Happy New Year!

I’ve spent this morning removing the Christmas decorations and giving the house the first proper clean of the year. I’m never going to win prizes for my housekeeping skills, but I do like to start the year off with a good vacuuming and application of the duster. That’s all done now and the diffuser is serenely wafting a ‘festive season’ essential oil mix about, so I’m taking the opportunity to write before I settle down to serious afternoon stitchery.

A quick round up before cracking on…

I’m relieved to say that Christmas didn’t leave me frazzled this year. The Daughters were enormously helpful, really taking over a lot of the things that used to make me stressed, and to be honest, we all took things a little more gently this time.

For years now I’ve enjoyed a pre-Christmas visit to Bath, there’s something about it that puts me in a festive mood, even though I rarely do much (or any) shopping while we’re there.

Bath Abbey at night…

Bath Abbey at night…

Then, just before Christmas, we travelled west to meet up with my brother. We stopped on the way for a late afternoon wander around Gloucester Cathedral, one of the most exquisitely beautiful buildings in the country. If you want to see a few more pictures, have a look here.

More Tom Denny stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral…sighs…

More Tom Denny stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral…sighs…

We met up in Hay on Wye, so you won’t be surprised to hear that I came home loaded up with enough reading material to see me through to Easter.

Christmas passed off quietly. Much ringing of bells, considerable quantities of food consumed, the usual thing. The Delinquent Dog sported his festive bow-tie (kindly made by a ringing friend).

Who’s a handsome boy then?

Who’s a handsome boy then?

Between Christmas and New Year, the OH and I had a couple of days away in Ely to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I love Ely, and this was the first time I’d spent longer than a few hours in the town. Naturally we spent most of the time in the cathedral - visiting both towers and the stained glass museum, as well as all the rest of the amazing building. Again, if you’d like to see a few more photos of the Octagon Tower, click here.

And oh my word, what a town! The best haberdashery, at the back of a toy shop! And a Toppings bookshop - honestly, what more could you want!

A detail of a John Piper window in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Cathedral. John PIper is my second favourite stained glass artist…x

A detail of a John Piper window in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely Cathedral. John PIper is my second favourite stained glass artist…x

And on our way home, we popped into Cambridge for a couple of hours. It’s not somewhere I know at all, having previously visited only once, on a bike, twenty three years ago. I was so terrified, I didn’t remember a thing. This time I decided to embrace my inner tourist and take photos of as many college gates as I could. They’re over here if you want to see them.

Is this the most cliched view of Cambridge? I think it may be…

Is this the most cliched view of Cambridge? I think it may be…

Onwards Chaps!

And so here we are, 2019 and raring to go (well, ish).

I’m not only a poor housekeeper, I’m also a New Year Resolution refusenik. Or at least I thought I was.

But part of recovering my spirits has been a realisation that I’m actually happier when I have some structure in place. Not, I hasten to add, any kind of rigid commitment, but when I have something to drive me forward, I seem to do better.

So this year, in a radical departure from most previous Januarys, I’ve given myself some - well, let’s not call them by the ‘r’-word - let’s call them bones. They are the bones of a structure, which, if I can maintain it, should at least prevent me from falling into the ‘what shall I do, what am I here for’ kind of slough.

In my previous incarnation, my specialist super-skill was planning, and so it can be a bit too easy for me to make plans. The problem is, can I actually bring them off, can I take the necessary actions? Well, I don’t think the first week in January is the time to decide, but I have taken the advice of Gretchen Rubin and scheduled some key points. At least now I’ll know if I’m on track or falling behind.

We’ll see how it goes. Part of me is always aware of the old saying about if you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans. But without some bones, there’s the danger of drift, and that’s what I want to avoid at the moment. So I’m risking it.

One of the things I’m planning, is to write an e-book on stitch. Back in the summer, just before the hair decided it had had enough and would rapidly fall out, I’d begun working on a workshop programme. The whole hair episode massively derailed progress on that, but lately I’ve been getting back into the swing and over and over I keep thinking I should start by writing the book, then condense that into something practical. In a way I think I need to do it this way round to help me clarify my own thoughts before I try to explain them to other people, if I don’t I’m afraid I’ll keep going off on ‘or you could try it this way’ tangents, which I think would become deeply frustrating.

The other thing I’m properly planning, is to resume ‘Loose Threads’. I apologise to all of you who’ve been kind enough to subscribe. I know you’ll understand that 2018 was a daft old year of stuff that just made life too much of a roller-coaster to concentrate effort there, and I’ve always been determined that it would never be something I sent out unless it was at least partly worth reading. But my aim in 2019 is to send out ‘Loose Threads’ about four times, roughly at the equinoxes and solstices. Thanks to everyone who’s patiently waiting.

And what about the stitch?

Well, in my last post, I mentioned the piece I was working on and the one that hadn’t come together.

A detail from the finished piece - possibly to be called ‘Merlin’.

A detail from the finished piece - possibly to be called ‘Merlin’.


And oddly enough, I did persevere with the large piece and guess what? It did work in the end. I just kept adding stitches until at some point it tipped over from the ugh? to the ahhh! In my mind, I’m calling it Merlin - that might be it’s title when I show it later in the year at The Workhouse. Merlin is one of the most enigmatic characters in the Arthurian legends, and I won’t claim to have done more than scratch the surface of reading about his mythology, but magic is purple and sparkly in my head, and so is this piece. It’s a start.

So, it’s early days. New beginnings, new challenges, but always stitch.

May your New Year be blessed, peaceful and happy.

Anny x

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Sliding gently back into the game...
 
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Hello again…x

Thank you to the brave souls who’re sticking with me through this bumpy ride. Although I’ve been silent here, and although there have been several days of self-piteous gloom, I really do feel that a corner has been turned. I’m no longer rash enough to state with any certainty that it’s straight up from here, but let’s just say things are looking up and that’s a good place to be.

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that I was going to be taking things slowly and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve read more, which I find very relaxing, even though most of what I’ve read has been Cadfael novels. I’ve rested a little more than usual, although it’s perhaps the hardest thing to enforce. I’ve meditated more often, but not daily and I’ve kept reminding myself to go with the flow.

One old chestnut that I’ve found increasingly helpful is to concentrate more on gratefulness. I know it crops up in every self-help book in one guise or another and it’s easily waved off as trite, but if I’m totally honest, this has helped me more than anything else to get my feet back on the ground. I am slightly worried that I’m losing my edge in the world of paid-up cynicism, but then again, perhaps it’s a function of age.

Then of course there’s the stitching. While everything else has been trundling along, I’ve stitched. In fact I’ve pretty much been stitching for England over the last three months. There have been days when I finished a small piece and thought I’ll just post a few pictures and words on here, but then, as I keep my thread stash in the same place as my laptop, I’d look at both and be drawn inexplicably towards the threads, pulled by their invisible allure-force and that would be that, straight on to another piece and the website never quite getting a look in.

When you’re feeling low, it’s a huge benefit to have something that you can pour yourself into, something that absorbs your attention and soothes you. For me that’s undoubtedly stitching, for you if might be baking, writing, doing the crossword, gardening, Morris-dancing, dog-walking, juggling with fire - the list is of course endless. Whatever it is, it really makes sense to let yourself go there.

Oh and let’s not forget walking the dog…

If you’re not following me on Instagram, you can see a few of the pictures from this week in the lane over here. Probably after ‘gratitude’, ‘getting outside’ is the next most common advice for improving your mental well-being. It’s one of those habits that I know is good for me, but mainly when for some reason I can’t do it. Dark winter mornings can be a challenge, especially when it’s a choice between duvet-heaven and an icy-cold bathroom. But once outside, I’m a different person - it works!

So, anyway, to stitchiness…

Currently in the studio (euphemism for on the sofa) are…

 
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And…

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But don’t hold your breath with the first one. It’s quite large and I like the colours, but something about it isn’t working for me at the moment. So I’m actually working on the one above - funny how sometimes when things get stuck, letting it sit and doing something else instead can help release the problem.

That and a huge influx of new threads! Yes, I admit to going off and buying a whole load of delicious new threads at the end of the week. And when I got them home, I spent an absolutely brilliant couple of hours sorting through the thread stash, putting them into trays according to colours - and generally having a jolly good time. I suppose that might indicate a return to feeling better (which I’m sure is true), but it might just be the start of the pretend it’s not Christmas yet by making yourself busy with anything else period…just saying…x

Well then, thanks again for sticking it out with me. I hope that wherever you are, you’re looking after yourself too and being kind to yourself.

So, until next time, take care and happy stitching!

Anny x

 
A Tom Denny Interlude...
 
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Regular readers here will probably have already realised that I have a bit of a thing for the stained glass windows created by artist Tom Denny. I had set myself a goal this year of arranging a tour to see a selection, but you won’t be surprised to know that I haven’t done that - yet.

However, in July, I did manage to visit Hereford Cathedral where Tom Denny has four panels dedicated to the seventeenth century poet and priest, Thomas Traherne.

Traherne’s writing, poems and meditations, are perhaps a forerunner of those of William Blake, mixed with the delight of nature you find in John Clare. 

Like most people, I’d never heard of Thomas Traherne until just a few years ago. In fact, the story of the discovery, or more accurately re-discovery of his work is only just short of a miracle - you can read about it here if you’re interested.

My own awareness came in a suitably roundabout way, through reading the Merrily Watkins novels by Phil Rickman - (they’re set in Herefordshire and who will occasionally make reference to the work of Traherne, who was a Herefordshire man).

Anyway, I’d seen photographs of Tom Denny’s Traherne windows, and was excited to finally be in the cathedral with time to go and look at them. The first surprise though, was that I couldn’t find them.

Tom Denny’s work is so unlike anything else I’ve come across in stained glass that I wasn’t anticipating any problem spotting the Traherne windows, but having walked a complete circuit of the cathedral, I hadn’t found them. Eventually, confused, I asked a cathedral guide if she could point me in the right direction.

And it turns out that the windows are quite difficult to find, as they are actually in a tiny side chapel, the Audley Chapel, at the very far end of the cathedral.

But oh were they worth the hunt.

I was astonished to discover that they are actually quite small - something I hadn’t appreciated from the photos I’d seen.

Small they may be, but despite that, they are crammed with the incredible details that are the signature of Denny’s work. And in the Audley Chapel, you’re able to get right up close to the windows, so you can really see and appreciate the details.

Looking at them, I couldn’t stop myself from repeating out loud, ‘oh wow!’ - which seems like such an inarticulate response, but in fact they simply did take my breath away, I was literally awe-inspired.

Now I’m not a stained glass artist, and despite being immensely attracted by the art form, I’ve never had any inclination to try working in this medium, so for me there remains something entirely magical about the way that light works through the colours, it’s magical because I have no idea how it’s created, I’m content to let it work on my senses without needing to understand the process.

I have recently discovered a video which shows Tom Denny working on the windows he created for Leicester Cathedral, in which he describes some of his process. This is fascinating, but fortunately doesn’t dispel the enchantment for me.

So I was able to stand in the tiny, dark chapel and be entirely overwhelmed by the play of colours, hidden images, light and shadow. 

Here are the photos that I took while I was in the Audley Chapel…

 
 

I continue to find this medium deeply inspirational. Deeply moving. The intensity of the colours does something to my spirits, something that I can’t put into words, but which I feel on an inner level. I’m drawn into the images, I feel their richness, I want to soak myself in them, to absorb their light.

Over and over, I try to recreate that feeling of light in the embroidery and fabric art that I make. I try to find ways to create the luminance with threads and fabric and to create that movement of light. It’s an on-going process of trial and error, but I always go back to stained glass and know that somewhere there I’ll find the answer, I just have to keep on trying.

Happy stitching.

Anny x

 
Taking it slowly...
 
the Thinking Gate…

the Thinking Gate…

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that creativity comes in waves, or perhaps in cycles - let’s not get too worried about the metaphor - sometimes you’re riding high on the crest of a wave, carried along by it’s strength, it’s purpose and it’s movement. These are the good times, when you feel as if you’re in control, you’re driven, you have found your mojo…

And then of course there’s the other phase of the cycle. The urge leaves you, your energy is low, you wonder where your inspiration went, dare I say it, you feel bored, irritable, missing something.

I’ve been running with these cycles now for long enough to understand them, to realise that they’re happening and I’m beginning to let them be, without getting too uptight about it, beginning to trust that eventually the curve will turn again.

Which is a convoluted way of saying that I’ve hit a down patch.

It’s been a strange few months. In many ways absolutely wonderful. I’ve travelled, I’ve stitched, I’ve taken a million photos (possibly a slight exaggeration). I’ve enjoyed the heat of our remarkable summer (something I’d never have thought possible) and I’ve watched as my daughters transform into real adults, which is perhaps the most beautiful experience imaginable.

And then, something happened that I didn’t see coming, something which has knocked me off my feet for a while. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but just to say, that since the beginning of August, most of my hair has fallen out. Don’t worry, I’ve had tests and apparently apart from low stored iron levels, I’m fit and well. It seems that this is a not uncommon occurrence, triggered by a variety of things, of which low iron is thought to be one. Apparently this is a phase and it is most likely that eventually my hair will start to grow again.

So, as with the creative urge, it seems I will have to accept that I’m very physically part of a cycle of comings and goings. I can tell you that watching the leaves begin to turn yellow this autumn has a special poignancy - I truly feel like a tree that’s lost it’s leaves and will have to wait patiently for the spring to roll round again.

I’m well aware that compared with so many awful things that happen every day to ordinary people, this is nothing, and I’m grateful to be otherwise healthy. In fact I wasn’t going to mention it at all. But the truth is, I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t had any impact on me. It has been quite a blow to my self-confidence. I hadn’t appreciated how much of my identity was tied to my appearance. It has felt very much like a bereavement, a feeling that the person I once was has gone. I’m not sure that I recognise myself any more.

So, while I’m going through this phase of the cycle, I’m going to be going slowly (three goings! ha!).

I apologise for the delays in working on the workshop. It’s still something I very much want to do, but at the moment I need to give myself time to use stitch purely as a personal therapy, helping me to find calm and courage. I trust that eventually I’ll be back in the mental place where I can devote proper energy to it again. I’m sure my friends you’ll understand.

Likewise, I apologise for a total lack of Loose Threads.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I do believe that whatever life throws at us, it’s a good idea to look for the positives and this is certainly a lesson in making that happen. So, I’ve been having a think and this is what I’ve come up with…

For a while I’m going to…

  • read more of whatever I want, without feeling at all guilty.

  • rest more often.

  • meditate daily.

  • go with the flow.

  • take gratitude seriously.

  • set myself some gentle creative goals to give me more structure.

And meanwhile, autumn is setting in. I like this time of year. Autumn suits me.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Happy stitching!

Anny x

Detail from the West door at Leominster Priory, Herefordshire.

Detail from the West door at Leominster Priory, Herefordshire.

 



Goodbye August...
 
 
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Ah well, there goes August...

Ah well, there goes August…

Are you a fan of August? I certainly used to be, it was usually the month when we went away to the far north west of Scotland. August for me should involve sitting on rocks looking out to sea trying to spot seals bobbing up in the waves, or walking along deserted beaches (often wearing full waterproofs), or up quirky mountains, or being eaten alive by midges. Happy days!


We didn’t go away last month - somehow our hearts weren’t in it and what with A levels and other stuff, a holiday never got off the ground.


Of course I began August with a head full of all things workshop. Some progress was made, but very much true to character, I began to get bogged down. Trying to plan a physical workshop and simultaneously plan an online version sounds like a good idea right? In practice, I’ve found myself getting quite muddled. It’s more complicated than I’d imagined. Anyway, it’s certainly teaching me some new skills, even though I seem to need a week to get my head around every new aspect that crops up.


By the way, many thanks to my army of naggers - you are much appreciated. I hope you’ll stick around even though my progress is slow.


One thing that I did have to divert to, was the structure of this website. Although I’d loved the previous theme, it turned out to be quite restrictive in what I could do with it, and that was only going to get worse as I went on, so a chunk of August was spent changing themes. There are still a few things I need to tidy up on that front, but I’m mindful that sometimes it’s better to just get on with things rather than aim for perfection. I hope that if you’ve noticed anything, it hasn’t been too unpleasant, I’ve tried to keep things as similar as possible.


So I feel a bit like the swan gliding serenely across the water, while paddling like mad below the surface at the moment.


Thank goodness for our morning walks! And thank goodness it’s cooled down a bit and we’ve had some rain. The field has quickly turned green again (although the nettles and thistles that normally grow so thick in the field have barely begun to recover). The bracken in the lane has lept up in the last week or so, and the hogweed seedheads continue to give me so much pleasure with all their wonderful shape and textures.

 
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In other news.

  • In the absence of the ‘Fortunately’ podcast (they’re on holiday), I’ve discovered a couple of alternatives that makes me laugh - Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell’s ‘Jules and Sarah the podcast’ and ‘Wobble’.

  • I joined SEW - the society for embroidered work. Although I’m really fortunate to show my work in a gallery that promotes textile and stitched art, I’m well aware that in some circles it isn’t given the attention it deserves. I’m hoping that we can all play our part in changing that.

  • And on that note, I currently have two pieces in The Workhouse, Dunstable - Maiden Castle and Enclosure (although it was a tight thing, as the framing elves decided to ‘have a life’ and go off enjoying themselves instead of getting on with my frames…).

  • Oh, and I found Francis Pryor’s Britain BC in a charity shop last week, so that’s pretty much stopped me doing anything else while I immerse myself in Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age archaeology. (By the way, every charity shop I went in last weekend had it’s Christmas cards in store! For pity’s sake, it was mid August, can they really expect us to endure five months of Christmas?)…arrrgh!

Maiden Castle - inspired by the wonderful earthworks and ditches at this iconic heritage site.

Maiden Castle - inspired by the wonderful earthworks and ditches at this iconic heritage site.

Enclosure - thinking about the symbolism of the circle and it's occurrence in archaeological sites.

Enclosure - thinking about the symbolism of the circle and it's occurrence in archaeological sites.


And finally

 I seem to have visited a lot of country churches in August. The photograph at the top of this post was taken at St. John The Baptist, Aldbury. Who wouldn't want a wildman to rest their feet on for eternity?

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Anny x
 


 
 
Going round in circles...
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going round in circles

well, stitching in circles...and visiting a few...

Well, how time flies when you’re having fun!

Apologies for the long absence, I’ve just had the craziest six weeks I can remember, with so much packed in that until now there’s been no time to sit and collect my thoughts.

If I tell you that since my last entry I’ve visited three Scottish Castles, the island of Tiree, Callanish on Lewis, Jarlshof on Shetland, Avebury, West Kennet Long Barrow, Bath, Oxford, Leicester, Hay on Wye and Hereford, you’ll begin to get a feel for the dashing about that’s been happening.

In between the trips there have been birthdays, school-leaving, three days over in Bedford for the Bedford River Festival, helping at The Workhouse and the occasional frantic loading of the washing machine.

And throughout it all, it’s been hot! The best summer for weather since 1976 (and I do remember that summer very well), which has simply put the cherry on the top.

It’s been amazing and to be honest I’m only just beginning to slow down long enough to appreciate everything I’ve seen, but I’ll admit to being pretty exhausted too.

So here I am now, back with both feet on the ground and looking forward to spending time mentally processing some of the wonderful things I’ve seen and thinking about how I’ll incorporate them into future art pieces.

Circles in the landscape...

My fascination with stone circles, ditches and ancient earthworks is a fairly recent thing. I suppose there was something tickling the back of my mind, but it's really only been in the last ten years or so that I've fallen under their thrall. But this year has been the great unfolding for me and I've been so excited to visit sites that are full of mystery, places that speak directly to the imagination.

Pictures from this summer's adventures; the Rollrights - Oxfordshire, Callanish - Lewis, Jarlshof - Shetland, Avebury - Wiltshire.

The circle was clearly of deep significance to our ancestors, it’s there in the neolithic, bronze and iron ages. It’s significance is something I’m sure you could spend a lifetime considering.

 Circles have been finding their way into most of my work for some time now, I couldn’t tell you exactly why, it just seems to be something I need to explore (although I'll also be honest and say that there are more now that I use less needlepoint. Have you ever tried to stitch a circle in tent stitch?). But I do wonder where the human love affair with the circle begins? Once you start to look, they are everywhere. 

Circles in hand...

Unsurprisingly, the piece I'm currently working on includes circles - at least three of them.

It's still at an early stage - as you can imagine, there hasn't been too much time for stitching recently, but in case you're interested, here are a few close up photos to show how it's developing.

The canvas is a linen scrim which I painted with acrylic paint and pens. I then attached (glue and stitch) fragments of fabrics and couched sari silk thread to highlight the lines. I began adding running stitch to sections of the piece, these somehow give it movement and hold everything together. And then I decided (possibly rashly), that the circles would include some tent stitch. Here I'm using a DMC metallic thread which has the thickness I needed.

You can see a little more of the development in the three pictures above. Still a long way to go but I'm over the initial feeling of marginal overwhelm and now it's beginning to feel exciting. I'm still posting updates to Instagram Stories on the days when I make progress with this piece, so if you follow me there you'll see it coming together.

In Other News

The dry, hot weather has parched the countryside, bleaching the fields where the only green is random patches of docks. The thistles haven’t appeared this year. The few surviving nettles that line the lane and usually trim it in green are all brown and limp. Everything looks tired - in fact it looks like late August, which is how it’s been feeling. There are sloes on the blackthorn and crabapples beginning to drop into the lane. No blackberries for us yet, but on Twitter I’ve seen people picking them - too soon, I’m not ready for the onset of autumn, and that’s what blackberry picking is for me.

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It’s good to be back. I’ll be picking up the reins again now. I may even put together the occasional gallery from my travels…(only 2058 photos to process...x).

 

Best wishes and happy stitching

Anny x






 

The story continued...
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the story continued.

More stitching, a smattering of heritage and wildflowers...

Apologies for making you wait for the next instalment in the stitch piece I featured in the last post. As I mentioned, it was a holiday week here and as expected there was much coming and going.

Happily for me, the going included trips to Claydon House (on a very wet afternoon) and the Rollright Stones, Chastleton House and Hidcote Manor Gardens (on a very hot day). More of that later, but first to the stitching...

A Stitchery Update

When I left you, I had started to add stitch details to the canvas. I never start off with a plan of how I'm going to do this bit, but somewhere in the back of my mind I feel that the over-stitching should blend the edges of the fabric sections so that you're not really looking at each section, more feeling it as part of a whole.

In practice, this just means adding rows and rows and rows of running stitch. As I've said before, I don't have a wide repertoire of stitches, I find that the simple ones work best for me and a running stitch is like a brush stroke adding a colour (I think of stitching much more in terms of painting with threads than as embroidery).

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I'd added a small section of needlepoint and was feeling the desire to do more. But once I tried, I realised it just wasn't sitting well with some of the other stitched areas. I may well start another needlepoint project because much though I love this more relaxed medium of expression through stitch and textiles, there's nothing quite like needlepoint for a total absorption into the flow of process. But it wasn't right for this piece. 

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So more running stitch, more couching and generally using stitch to integrate all the sections. I really struggle to take good pictures of the finished piece (often that's because I call time late in the evenings and then rush on to the next project and forget about photos). This is no exception. The real thing is much more vibrant. And of course the metallic threads manage to hide whenever I'm trying to capture them - arrrgh!

But you get the general idea.

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This is a slightly better picture to show the stitch details.

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And that's that - I mounted it onto a canvas which the framing elf then framed for me - I like the floating/tray frame system for my work. And it's now on the wall at The Workhouse Gallery in Dunstable, where I'm hoping someone will fall in love with it and want to take it home. I called it Tranquility, which is very much how I was feeling during most of its formation.

Posting daily work updates on Instagram Stories and Twitter seemed very popular with people there, so I'm continuing to do that and I've just begun work on a new piece. So if you're on either of those platforms and want to watch what's happening (it's very slow progress, I warn you), please look for me there.


So, what about those trips out?

Well chaps, you know in an ideal world, what I'd really like to do is to write up each one. But experience has taught me that once I get lost into other projects I'm unlikely to get that organised. So instead, I've put together a small gallery of shots from those visits which I hope will give you a flavour.


Hedgerow Watching..

And meanwhile, in the lane, everything continues verdant and lush...

It's turning into such a glorious summer here. After having terrible weather over winter and spring it's unbelievably lovely to be able to walk around feeling warm - even hot sometimes. I'm loving it!

I hope you're having a good time too, wherever you're reading this. Until the next time...

Happy stitching!

Anny x