IMG_20170912_111544.jpg

Journal

April highs and lows...
IMG_20180424_091358-01.jpg

April - highs and lows...

Well I’m here, just in time to wave goodbye to April. Crikey what a month!

Out in the lane everything has kicked off despite the weather veering dramatically from winter, straight to the height of summer and back to winter again.

(We appear to be missing spring out entirely this year around here, which is frankly annoying. I for one need some time to acclimatise between the seasons, I have to gradually warm up, not go from wearing my thermals to factor 50 sunblock in the space of two days).

But nature won’t be held back indefinitely and at last we’re seeing new growth in the hedgerows. Over the last four weeks the celandines have finally made a show, the bluebells have started ringing, there’s apple blossom, pussy willow, garlic mustard and of course the blackthorn blossom put on a spectacular show until the next round of gale force wind and rain stripped the branches.

Now, acid green new leaves are unfurling throughout the wood. The beech trees are almost unnaturally green for a short while, just to accentuate the bluebells beneath them.

 Blackthorn blossom - a short season, especially when the weather is so poor, but how lovely while it lasts...

Blackthorn blossom - a short season, especially when the weather is so poor, but how lovely while it lasts...

IMG_20180425_083340-01.jpg

Out and About

Desperate for a change of scene, we nipped over to the coast during the Easter holiday. Sadly, I managed to time that precisely with acquiring something that if not exactly ‘flu, was as close as you’d want to come. But on the plus side, if you’re going to feel grotty, a flat on Cromer seafront with a view across the waves is not a bad place to be.

Just before becoming ill, I managed a trip to one of my all-time Top Ten Favourite Places - Harvington Hall, Worcestershire. Anyone who’s followed my ramblings for a while will know how much I love it there, but that’s not going to stop me adding a page of photos to the Spellbook just as soon as I can. It’s a wonderful house, absolutely dripping in real history.

Then just this weekend I ended up in London and squeezed in an hour at the British Museum, looking at the Iron Age to Medieval Europe rooms and indulging my Celtic art fetish. I stand there looking at the swirls and the spirals and I’m entranced, but at the same time I feel connected. I know how it feels to need to make those same lines.

Hopefully, if we ever do achieve a summer, I’ll be getting out and about a lot more very soon. I’ve always needed to keep my levels of ‘old places’ exposure topped up, it refreshes me. Do you have the same need? Or what is it that you need to do to feel inspired and balanced? I’m intrigued to know.

 A detail from the Battersea Shield - well over 2000 years old. Made in Britain and recovered from the river Thames. Many similar items have been discovered in rivers, it seems the Celts made offerings to their gods by depositions into water.

A detail from the Battersea Shield - well over 2000 years old. Made in Britain and recovered from the river Thames. Many similar items have been discovered in rivers, it seems the Celts made offerings to their gods by depositions into water.

Stitch Diary

I’m going to be entirely honest here and tell you that it’s not exactly coming together on the stitch-front at the moment.

Minerva and Guinevere both seemed to practically stitch themselves and I was happy with the way they turned out, but since then I’ve hit an ‘off-patch’.

I’d so enjoyed the pallette I used for Guinevere that I decided to use it again straight away and I set up a new piece just as I usually do. And I stitched - quite a lot. And do you know, it just isn’t working this time. And the more I throw at it, the worse it gets.

So I thought I’d ditch it and start something else. I bought some new fabric - it’s Osnaburg, a soft linen look cotton, and I chopped off a little bit to play with. I got out my paints and had a go at painting the fabric - not something I’ve done very much at all before - and I enjoyed it. Then I thought I’d add a few stitches, still using the palette from Guinevere and at first I thought it was going to be ok.

But for some reason, it just isn’t. Not sure why, it’s just the way it is.  The creative batteries are running low. (Although I do love the Osnaburg, it’s a dream to stitch on/in).

 'Minerva' and 'Guinevere' ( below ) practically stitched themselves...

'Minerva' and 'Guinevere' (below) practically stitched themselves...

IMG_20180418_123701-01.jpg
 Laying out the next piece and choosing the palette...

Laying out the next piece and choosing the palette...

 And simply not working....

And simply not working....

I’ve been feeling for a while that I need to have a spell of playtime and experimentation without setting myself any expectations, and now I think I’m actually going to do it.

And as if by magic… I was catching up with blogs yesterday and noticed that Stephanie Redfern’s book is published - so I’ve bought a copy and I’m looking forward to lots of ‘ooh, that’s interesting, ahh, so that’s something I hadn’t thought of and ‘yes!’ I’m going to give that a go’ moments.

Watch this space!

And in other news…

  • A word of warning. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Mac computers can’t be infected with malware or viruses...they absolutely can. I am currently writing this on my totally rebuilt Macbook. Take care.

Have fun chaps and until next time…

Happy stitching (or whatever else keeps you sane).

Anny x

Bring me sunshine...
Kfmgy_Ka_2bzdGvRwWa071wjRGV4of-UtUyrrUQgnw-1Bh75GK2721UoBkw_19pQ_QXLH5AAYpOnTWcW5oo4vUdXd-PtwqTtBq7zeQuV9rKg4pUJWDK0loQOfTLvnFFoHoMxrLFFJNTSU0iuKu6YAVUDAyFXi7hX5NBgn6QdfRX39PKcz-juVynzIn64f8rqngbAAjzpVfTynM6n0twQegxbGz2p.jpeg

bring me sunshine...

Yes, you’ve guessed it. As we’re still waiting for anything like sunshine to find us in our little corner of the shire, I’ve had to take measures to make our own…

I’m happy using gold - although generally as a highlight rather than a feature. But yellow and orange? Well, there comes a time.

This is being worked using various sewing threads, silks and exquisite purples and greens all the way from Texas, (with huge thanks to Laura, who sent them to me in a parcel of delights which certainly lifted our wintery spirits!).

All worked through layers of organza and shot silk, with additions of recycled sari silk.

I assume I’ll just keep adding stitches until the real sun finally decides to make an appearance.

Hoping things are warm and sunny wherever you are.


In other news

  • If you subscribe to Loose Threads you should have received a new issue in your inbox this weekend. I hope you enjoy it. Please do let me know what you think.
  • This week I’ve also added a couple of new pages to the Spellbook - one for the piece I made earlier in the year called Excalibur, including pictures through the working process, and a page for The Lane in Winter. I’ll be adding these pages as and when through the year.
  • On Monday I travelled over to Peterborough and spent a fabulous few hours exploring that amazing building. I'll be adding a page for that when I have a few moments - I’ll keep you posted.

Until next time...

Happy stitching!

Anny x

 

 

Officially Spring...phew!
2ZEbIfZrEt1-qiCrhQt6cucszdFHe6LeN9tUk96fexCp--4Z2CAZUECH4VXbLMenmC7znBJs524htmf5SXHNA8hmsQl2nfE2YmRBKLJ8-CIt1GyWgJVSCUF1PdRA9z9cCYI45-Rik8SzkEZDI8qTsjaabw1UjQGmHfoeY8__4ad_2VlKHDTo7Xj105puhfgOBNTj0DTX8KhCIQQkk6m3QmQVUQ58.jpeg

officially spring

...phew!

So here we are - spring has officially arrived in the northern hemisphere! Not a moment too soon for me!. What a thoroughly drab winter that was and to go out on a snowy blizzard - what an exit…(and it better had be the end, that’s all I’m saying…).

On Tuesday I scoured the lane for any signs of spring and was rewarded with one brave little celandine. Oh, it made me incredibly happy. I looked back at the photos I took on the same date last year and discovered that the banks of the lane were yellow and green with celandines in full bloom. Proof indeed that we’re well behind this year.

9QX8zmfKp9UgAlOb--05r1K7xPsgbl6zokXhddnmwFEsI9Y7ma-k462VLLjwUFzyeGKW0t0VWGYHEehgmMAFS6GC2FbHUXSgiIycHp-u8BsG1w5fKZ3lUo.jpeg

But then we were treated to a couple of days of sunshine (although not a lot of warmth) and at last, the magic of spring has begun to reach us.

On Thursday, as we were leaving the wood, a heron flew overhead making it’s wonderfully primaeval call. There’s a heronry close to where we park our car and people travel for miles to come and watch them on their nests, but I’ve found that the herons regularly fly over us on their way I suppose to the canal, so we are treated to a private view.

On one memorable morning last year, we were overflown by a group of five herons, I’d heard the noise and initially assumed they were gulls, only to look again and realise they were in fact herons. It’s moments like that which really take my breath away, even now as I think about it I feel a little awe-inspired.  I’m so fortunate to have the time to spend outdoors every day. You can’t buy an experience like that.

On days when I’m struggling to find colour in the lane, I’ve discovered that it helps to look closer, to get down amongst the leaves or peer deeper into the hedge. And this week it was the mini-gardens of moss growing on a decaying tree-stump that amazed me. Such fascinating plants, tiny but with wonderful shapes, colours and textures. I don’t know the names of any of these little beauties and I feel a touch guilty about that.

vC-P5pKJaw39ROPt5UWfS-wk0HAqOdO_0LYEdMHJBrvDW2KWojg1eI97MZrpiBwwDm87-oVwRe8E8fqZDZUA8vklVywBvNw1Eb0GQFp5RMlza11eUgBUqrsAGABRBRL9HomSJt4jvc6K00qWHhJSJkTIUqP_13OGwd6lsqbK3ajlAeg6duBe14k3nOSJq8hlheCT55For3eEtnqMVjobVVOriTXH.jpeg

Then, finally, on Friday we found the first leaves beginning to unfurl on the elder trees. Elder, the tree of regeneration and wisdom according to Glennie Kindred. It certainly inspires me with joy when I see the first hints of green returning to the hedgerow trees.


In other news

  • Thank you so much to everyone who’s been in touch with ideas, thoughts and suggestions about a Contemplative Stitch workshop - you’ve helped me enormously. I think I’ve got some ideas now and I’m going to spend a while developing my thoughts. If there’s something you’d like to add to the melting pot, please get in touch. All input is very welcome.
  • On Monday we hung the new spring exhibition at The Workhouse, Dunstable. Lovely to meet such talented artists bringing their work to show and to sell. It’s an open exhibition this time, no actual theme, but many people seem to have brought along very springlike artwork, which is giving the gallery a fresh boost. Do call in if you’re in the area.
  • I’ve started a new piece of stitching. (No pictures yet - not deliberate, just a lack of time and light!)
  • I’ve just added a page to the Spellbook for Stokesay Castle, Shropshire. (Click here if you want to see it). As I mentioned once before, I’m not really a sketchbook keeper and I intend to use the Spellbook as a place where I can stash words and images that inspire me, that was really one of my reasons for creating this space. I’m still working on how I’m going to do that. Sometimes there are more words than pictures, other times it’s all about the images. Often I’m not really sure what I want to show or say - it’s a feeling of scribbling in the margins, but I want to capture a feeling or an atmosphere. Anyway, my intention is to gradually add to those pages. They’re currently grouped under hedgerow and places in the menu for ease of finding.
     
  • Stokesay Castle is a perfect example of a fortified manor house, built during the reign of Edward I and largely unaltered since. Which makes the history-junkie in me deliriously happy.
A6FjL-I5gfUQBjH7ZUxF5QX4gtJ4fgkcfTpbnlyaHX3w8mubs8BVDJsg8kc-7igYkc7c9ZoU-1OSeMrSm9nIVzUeqqmnXfWMv0953F3Vb7WQ99ku1uZ5p5NcbKtPsV3G9fMALFkAita9Y7qklZI1KeTVV7l-ePQkEFwjzi2uzwZMUWmgKwaj94afOhubirlGw4Ypfnt-0EeNi9CHGWDNr1WAj75S.jpeg
  • And last week, I read on impulse a book by Gretchen Rubin (the author of ‘The Happiness Project’) called ‘Better than Before’. It popped up on my Kindle suggestions and something made me buy it. I’m really pleased that I did because it was one of those ‘light-bulb’ reads. It’s all about the power of habits and how to adopt them. I particularly appreciated the way she characterises people according to certain traits - this made so much sense to me and it was a relief in some ways to feel understood. Anyway, I have a theory that sometimes we find the right book at the right moment. It may not be of any interest to you right now, but it certainly was for me.

Until next time…

Happy stitching!

Anny x

Why creative communities are the best!

Hello from a not entirely convincingly springtime in Bedfordshire. (I’m writing this while it's snowing again - I can only hope spring is having a ‘bit of a laugh’).

XuRVnjBV0jNHfg_6-oA9m2zHJFqAbERuYomrgfP3sAViQVDLxLUZaVKxfZHca_AfSYsWYGWsJVlZTqRH4Mbsn4qyC81e-EviAKSXNpHqBUfK0bO8108vPfBSrgj0dOy60TzBFFW_wFeeGJrorjHU6bO1xqSTuzb_Rd2KxkQDjv0Wcmz5Uo8IgkhfJORrMushQ42AJR5XKWLle1MzFZdWthslh8uE.jpeg

why creative communities are the best!

But it’s good to be able to sit and write, there’s been so much stuff happening recently that I just haven’t got my act together. In fact, if I’m honest I’ve really been in danger of losing the plot a few times lately. Do you go through periods like that? I’m sure most of us do. I think my problem is that every time I manage to achieve a period of calm and stability I assume it’s going to carry on indefinitely, whereas in fact a mild chaos is much more the norm around here and I’d do better to try and roll with that than berate myself for failing to maintain order. Oh well…

Observations from the gallery floor...

Anyway, as many of you will know, since October last year, I’ve been helping out a couple of times a week at a new gallery in Dunstable, called The Workhouse. (I wrote about it here if you missed it previously). It came into being because of the passionate will of my friend Joanne Bowes who realised that there were many talented people making art locally, some professionally, many others dipping their toes into the art world tentatively or creating as a hobby, for whom there were very limited opportunities to exhibit or sell their work.

Joanne created The Workhouse to give those creatives a space to show their work and at the same time to provide a welcoming, friendly and approachable gallery experience for people in Dunstable, a place where everyone is welcome to come in, browse the work, chat with artists or just relax in a creative environment.

You can imagine that this is an enormously brave undertaking (even in a buoyant economy, galleries are notoriously tricky businesses) which is one of the reasons those of us volunteering there are keen to help it flourish and we’re happy to contribute as much as we can.

But over the last few weeks, a couple of things have really struck me as important which I doubt I’d have understood so completely without having spent time in the gallery.

mxkW1A_rbYT44K_7K84a8FDzGfngmd6ZYhkfYafIPvEWPOQkDJ-btbXdEeW3zlCj9P4dHyLz7yttvOLdAiS2IowAYG_CchbWg8J71Q4hR7oJDU3QuQH_uy_JiAY6rvhnEI-mh0sezlugOTfX07zh5Bj4b3p07XvGA4Ex7JCZz7mrmtiGrKPZ4wric-vRHi30MvXC69EU4tYeJXrYbIGRfhUAdYpT.jpeg

making art is good for you

 ~ for all of us ~

The first thing that really hit me was how important making art is to so many people, many many more than I’d previously have thought. I’m not necessarily talking about making saleable art or even good art generally, just the actual process of doing something creative for the sake of it.

I’d guess that almost every time I’m in the gallery we get a new visitor who comes in, slowly walks around and eventually as we gently chat to them, tells us that they used to draw/paint/stitch. We’re beginning to get really good at spotting them, they have a certain look.

And our job is to encourage them to take it up again, because for the majority, that's what they really want. Since October a number of our 'lapsed artists' have actually gone on to bring in work that’s been exhibited and sold. But that’s not really the point. The important thing is that people need to feel that it’s ok to make art, to feel that there are other people just like them and to feel part of a creative, supportive community, whatever their skills. 

People stop making art for lots of different reasons and that’s a terrible pity because clearly it brings joy and happiness to the makers. Having a means of creative expression is not just a nice thing to have, for many of us, it’s essential to our balance and wellbeing.

geOjfjRq5SprmY8lR45QjNpEBv1GwxvOCYkLkm66NebvRmud9szodq7DJ3m6F97mUQN-HEC4HcJyGTUQfCDnfY8l_3bsAGpJm14ysT690mTCoAwsRB_kpPVPG5ztvNgrO2G8EhKlTyrEHHJNOvGTns6BpFQ-MxZOoysI4ilsW9m4-gml6_R25ochWi8g2RLnPyGPdy7S8q6vNg8XvYnqraqbenmP.jpeg

creatives need the community of other creatives

 

The other, related thing that struck me, was how vital it is for creatives to meet up with other creatives.

And as a lifelong introvert with extremely flakey creative self-confidence, that was quite a realisation. But it’s true, finding your tribe, discovering people who think like you, understand you and know what you’re feeling, is massively liberating.

For years I was just too shy about my stitching to show it to anyone, but once I did, and once I then found an artistic community to be part of, everything changed and I was eventually able to start being me.

For a great many of the people we talk to in the gallery who've stopped making art, it was because they had no one to encourage them. They weren’t taken seriously, or they just didn’t have the support network of people around them who understood them, or didn’t know anyone who could help point them in the right direction to progress.

It takes courage to express yourself and very few of us are strong enough to stand up against the crowd alone without support, without having creative friends on-side to cheer you on.

ways to help...

Taking the first steps to finding other creatives doesn’t have to be as daunting as walking into a gallery might sound. These days there are lots of ways to find people to support and encourage you.

Perhaps the softest way is by searching online for people doing the same or similar creative things. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are full of arty types and a bit of browsing will bring you to people you feel comfortable with. And then of course there are the bloggers… (hello!).

For me, this online community is one of the greatest joys of modern life. To be able to see the work of other artists around the globe is simply marvellous. To be able to have real time conversations with them is something that never ceases to amaze and delight me. I guess that having been born in the pre-internet world this connection will always be truly wonderful in my eyes.

But wonderful though online connection is, having flesh and blood contacts and being part of a ‘real life’ community of arty people is equally valuable - perhaps more so.

Here you do have to be a tiny bit braver and raise your head above the parapet, but there are friendly people out there ready and waiting to welcome you. Whether it’s a knitting and nattering club, an embroiderers’ guild, a painting club, life-drawing group, local artists’ network, one-off workshops, quilting circles or whatever, if you look, you’ll find them. And the joy of finding your own tribe is indescribable.

Your creative community gives you friendship, encouragement, inspiration, advice, technical assistance, reassurance and feedback and the occasional kick up the proverbial. And what’s more, you give the same back to the group.

So, if by any chance you're someone who's been suppressing your creativity, I hope you’ll be brave and take a few steps to get back into practice. If you’re feeling all alone in the creative world, please don’t, wave at the people doing things you like the look of and I’m sure they’ll respond. And if they don't, shout louder!

And for those of us already happily ensconced in our own creative community, let's remember to keep a lookout for other people who would like to join in, maybe they're a little shy to ask, but we know there’s plenty of room for everyone and in the end we all benefit.


IN OTHER NEWS

Pkg6Qo80e3AVwovj2mPhE1TKnaL7eYSNI-Pd_7IDtnUp2IyaOquTPk-rPVkkyLTSH690SMgeXaechbTPrE85U_w2pxSmE8JSwvYsiTIkmT74Jo-puYnJxgYF8SlIlDk7pQf4xp-eCaZd_UpAokEHSNlYXmqEP28SQpH-ITY_QvddX0n8Ddy0mlGYotzjbKKL6cTyGf8OTrbL9Q2Cmzz1lcI44IAq.jpeg
  • The pictures in this post are details from the piece I'm currently stitching. It's almost finished, just a little more strengthening in the circles and some running stitch texture to the background needed. I was hoping to have it ready for the next exhibition at The Workhouse, but I don’t think I’ll quite make it in time so it will have to wait a while before it goes public.
  • If I manage to stay on track (possibly a big IF, but let’s hope), I’ll be sending out a new edition of ‘Loose Threads’ around Easter time, so if you haven’t previously subscribed and would like to receive a copy, simply fill your details in the box on right or click here.
  • And finally, I’ve been asked if I’d run a short programme of workshop sessions on the theme of Contemplative Stitching. If anyone has any experience of similar workshops or has any thoughts on what you’d want this type of workshop to include, I’d be really grateful for your thoughts/ideas/experience. It’s something I’d like to do, but I’d want to make useful and enjoyable and I'm not sure how to express it - perhaps you can help? Many thanks. Until next time...
     

Happy Stitching

Anny x















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Spring?
d5nU__EgWk5BzJwJ5l2Et5EC59wBhqyyngkozr2oX-WSJl7oDQNctB1WqsN1Ao8X481Gd48iqjl4QgH9mOJVkhqDvnfs-8j1guUxzrpGxNgu-Zye-NeeIeTnuZzsqXfCxPtRJHu7FPsMFzg9SXGqwGS3P0R2Y5uIvIe2vm-9X5YhwqYC1Ozw5Ep34unQQYYryByfZTEbQzXoXe5FzryWbCQy8oZQ.jpeg

Hello Spring?

Greetings from a very snowy Beds/Bucks border, on what some people are calling the first day of spring...

Spring or not, you'd have to say it's doing a very good impression of winter - and I promise I will never use the adjective Siberian again to describe anything just a bit chilly, turns out the winds from Siberia are piercingly sharp, brutal in every way.

So, enough of the weather. What else has been going on?

Honestly? It's all been typically February here. It's our month when everything seems to happen within the space of a couple of weeks (which repeats in June for some reason) - do you have times like this? We have a succession of family birthdays, school holidays and reunion get-togethers, to which this year have been added university visits and catching up with various friends dotted about the country.

Almost all of it absolutely lovely, but at the same time both exhausting and totally disruptive.

When I get home I'm always disappointed to discover that the laundy-elves failed to come in and put the washing machine on or clear the ironing pile. And their colleagues, the house-elves are no better, how hard would it be for them to whip the hoover round, I ask you?

So yes, it's quite likely that I'm turning into some sort of grumpy-drawers. I've never been much good at creating a routine, much less sticking to it, but then as soon as what passes for a routine around here gets disrupted, I end up all over the place.

Still, it's now March and therefore things will naturally improve enormously...


There has been stitchiness in February - Excalibur made it to The Workhouse (by the skin of it's teeth - don't ask) - although I cut things so fine I failed to take any good photos of the framed item - you'll have to imagine it...or if I'm super-organized I'll remember to take photos next time I'm at the gallery.

ocItrDtnPVHgeFMURQUpvRMXR6rslrbHMnqHWV8OZ2mFlDsm6ly_ei3iCQZw-o-a-jBnjlOTaHXrf3-ESAUQcR8Y3GeKWXBMOZ0sz7PgUhIxKLkIQ0OWOyyZMSM64MY-Z8jNugH99cIidS6T3VtNVsi8Rf_rzBq6E2LY8jMcpZmXqiwHSvsou1sRVFfYvAE3bbr-Li1wVd7Qsf0uUkS68hXh1X8J.jpeg

Excalibur.

It's really not as wonky as it looks here!

If you're anywhere near Dunstable, Bedfordshire, it's at The Workhouse Gallery until March 17th - or until someone decides to give it a new home.

And I've started another piece, as yet untitled. I've been putting a few 'work-in-progress' photos on Instagram and Twitter when the light is good enough (ahem). And this week I also signed up for an account on Vero (I'm Anny - Dreaming In Stitches if you want to find me there).

I'd really like to see Vero work, it would do Instagram good to have some serious competition, but so far it's extremely glitchy and I can understand many people giving it up quite quickly. We'll see how that fares, but if it worked, it would be a lovely way to share quick updates.


Out in the lane - when it isn't under inches of snow - there's very little sign of spring to report. A few green leaves pushing up, catkins on the hazels, birds being noisy and busy, but other than that, zilch. I wonder if, once the snow thaws there'll be a transformation? Daft though it may sound, once spring does arrive the first sign is more a feeling of energy than a particular flower or bud. I've walked the lane in previous years and simply become aware of a new sense of potential and I couldn't begin to say where that comes from, it just does.

What are you looking forward to when spring returns? What does spring mean to you? I'd love to know. It's never really been my favourite season, but perhaps after this winter I'm going to appreciate it much more. What about you?

I'll leave you for now with a few more 'spring' photos...enjoy! (And happy stitching) x

On the value of persistence...
IMG_20180130_092021-01.jpeg

on the value of persistence...

Here's a question...would you describe yourself as naturally persistent or if you're honest, do you tend to give up? Are you a terrier, motivated by a challenge, or do you waiver, do you bend or retreat?

I suppose most of us would say 'it depends'. 

I've been thinking about persistence lately. Not in any kind of grand project way, but quite simply the persistence to get through the winter without going down the spiral of depression. 

It's the sort of thing that I tend to end up chewing over while I'm walking the dog in the mornings.

For me, that time outdoors is my lifeline. Of course there are the known benefits of getting outside - fresh air, exercise, boosting the serotonin levels, but this isn't really what motivates me.

What helps me is actively looking for things that are pretty or beautiful as they appear each day - and then taking photos. (Which of course if where Instagram comes in). Throughout the seasons there's not normally any shortage of things to see; the sunrise through trees, frost on seedheads, raindrops on beech leaves, hedgerows filled with fruit, flowers up to your elbows, mist on the field.

But then we have a grey winter like the one we're in now. 

And it gets harder. Yes the trees look wonderful in their dark silhouettes, branches outstretched like arms with long boney fingers pointing across the lane. But low light is a real challenge. There's no contrast, no depth, just a flat, dull grey.

I look anxiously for signs of new growth. Precious few as yet.

I hope for rain or frost or fog, anything other than the constant mundane greyness.

And now it's February and I know that spring isn't far away, but it still feels like winter here and I've photographed the same trees now so many times I feel intimately acquainted. And what else can I do except persevere, persist. Because it may not have been a pretty winter here, but I have faithfully recorded it.

And perhaps when I trawl back through some of the photos I can see something in them that I couldn't claim to have recognized at the time - perhaps a melancholy beauty?

And although the dullness presents challenges, the good news is that I've managed to stave off the descent into gloom. So yes, on balance I'd say in this one respect I haven't given up. I persist.

In Other News

  • I'm so pleased to tell you that my piece 'Sulis' has already been sold. I'm delighted that it has found a new home and hope it gives the new owners much pleasure.
  • Also, I know that some people who followed my previous blog at Dreaming In Stitches have lost touch since my move here and we're all finding staying abreast of blogging changes a bit tricky so if you'd like to know when there's a new post here, please consider subscribing by email - the little sign-up box is over on the right - that way you'll have new posts delivered straight to your email inbox.

Happy stitching.

Anny x

 

 

 

 

 

Oh January, do get a grip...
IMG_20180110_092920-01-01.jpeg

Oh January,

do get a grip...

How are things with you? Around here we've had the luxury of three days of sunshine (yippee!), followed by torrential rain, then gales, then a return to dull warm greyness, then sleet, then snow (didn't last), then more torrential rain. Right now it's a little bit sunny - in that January kind of way which means we could be having any other weather five minutes from now.

A January week in the lane...

Walking the dog down the lane each morning really does bring home the changeable nature of the weather and the huge variation in the light from one day to the next. Some days when I get home and look at the photographs I've taken you'd think it was early evening rather than first thing in the morning. Then, when the sun comes out it's so bright and so low I can barely see anything, I'm blinded by the light (sings...).

The birds are definitely prepping for spring. There's a lot of activity going on and if the flora is still a tad disappointing, the birds certainly aren't. This week alone in the lane I've seen robins, jays, crows, pheasants, tits, kites and a plethora of small brown birds (you can just tell I'm only a beginner on the bird-watching front can't you).

On the whole I'm managing to stay pretty buoyant this winter, I hope you are too, but I'm so ready to be warm again. By the way, there's a splendid article by Emma Mitchell in the Guardian about tackling SAD - here's the link if you're interested. You can follow Emma on Twitter, she's @silverpebble


In other news...

slow-stitch work in progress-01.jpeg

Considerable progress is being made on the current stitchy piece. I'm doing most of the work under artificial light which is really quite challenging in a way because the organza behaves so differently under natural light. I'm working away at night and then getting up in the morning to find out what it actually looks like in daylight. 

There will be a new exhibition opening at The Workhouse in Dunstable on the 30th January and my intention is to have the two pieces I showed you last time framed for that show. I don't think this one will be ready in time, but it feels part of the sequence.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy stitching...

Anny x

A Stitchery Sort of Christmas...
IMG_20180105_113716.jpg

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?

textileart slow stitch-01.jpeg

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...

Woolf moon slow stitch-01.jpeg

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...

delinquent dog and work in progress-01.jpeg

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...

IMG_20180101_131307-0.jpg

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...