More experiments in stitch...

more experiments in stitch...

and a rainy lane.

Well they say you have to experiment from time to time, shake things up, push your boundaries. So having started loosening up and allowing myself some playtime, I'm continuing to see where it takes me.

This week I've moved on to another new piece.

A couple of weeks ago, when I had my painting session, I set up several pieces of fabric, some linen scrims and some old cotton pillowcases, and painted them with a mixture of acrylic paint (variously watered down) and acrylic inks.

The piece I showed you last time used the cotton pillowcase for the background, but this time I'm using painted linen scrim.


The first thing I did was to add shapes using fabrics from my stash. This was also the first time I've ever really used Bondaweb in anger and once I got to grips with it (literally) I started having quite an exciting time.

I was choosing fabrics for their colour and texture, so I've included some organza, silk, more scrim and something meshy that I have no idea where it came from but which I kept from years back because I liked it.

This was a decidedly interesting afternoon - there was one point when I thought I was going to have to buy a new ironing board cover, but thankfully I managed to peel the offending fabrics off without doing too much lasting damage. I've now developed a greater respect for greaseproof paper...

The Delinquent Dog kept an eye on me from a safe distance near the door - I suspect he was just checking that I hadn't forgotten his teatime.


Once I had the basic pieces in place I pulled together a selection of threads to use with it (always an exciting part of the process)


And then I began to add some stitches. Beginning with some basic couching to define some of the spaces and help give it structure. I'm never sure where these lines are going to go exactly, so I often just lay the thread over the piece and see how it falls, giving it a little tweak here and there until it looks right.


I know several readers are interested in following the development of each piece and I'm pretty rubbish at keeping a regular habit of photographing and posting updates, so this week I thought I'd see if I could be better organised about it.

I decided to try and post an update on Instagram Stories each afternoon and Tweet at the same time - so if you follow me on either of those, you may well have seen these already. It feels slightly better to me, but then of course this week coming is a holiday, so typically just as soon as I get into a routine things go and change. But I will aim to carry on doing that on the days when I'm actually stitching.


The big difference between this piece and the last one is the nature of the background fabric - the scrim is obviously a much looser weave, and whilst I'm very familiar with it, I'm usually creating the background as I go, this time it's already there and I'm working out how to incorporate it, how to bring the whole piece together.

After the initial couching, I started adding a few cross stitches and running stitch in a variety of threads, to get a feel for what each would do on the scrim. So far on this piece I've used sewing threads, embroidery silks, weavers' silks and 4 ply knitting yarns.

They all do different things and it's fascinating to see how each one looks and how they combine with each other (well, ok, our definitions of fascinating may differ, but I imagine you know me well enough by now to understand).


Look closely and you'll see I've also done a little section of needlepoint (tent stitch) - going back to my roots perhaps? I'm thinking about it. This canvas just seems to be asking for more needlepoint - we'll see.


So here we are as of today - my entire repertoire of stitches and the beginnings of some lines and texture.

It's a holiday here this week and I have the OH at home and Number Two Daughter manically revising for 'A' Levels, so I have no idea how many stitches will happen over the next few days - we'll just have to take each day as it comes. If I do manage to fit in some work I promise to try and keep to my Instagram and Twitter postings, so if you follow me there you'll be the first to see what's happening.

In other news...

Hedgerow Watching...

We've had some tremendous thunderstorms this week which have taken their toll on the may blossom, but we've now seen the first of the elderflowers begin to open and, best of all (I'm sorry but they are the best) the dog roses are here!


I've been catching a few minutes of TV coverage from The Chelsea Flower Show this week, but you know, each morning when I walk the dog and look at the flowers in the hedgerow, there's nothing from Chelsea that I prefer to nature's own.

Wishing you a peaceful, creative and productive week.

Happy Stitching

Anny x


Out and about in May...

out and about in May...

I blinked and there we were, three weeks into May!

Well, it’s all been happening around here. After weeks of being cooped up by the interminable grey weather, we’ve finally been granted a summer and we’re making the most of it!

If you're familiar with my stitch work, you probably won't be surprised to know that I'm very interested in Britain's ancient history, especially the remains left in the landscape from the neolithic to the Iron Age.  Over the Bank Holiday weekend the OH and I travelled to Overton Hill, the start (or end I suppose) of The Ridgeway (one of the oldest paths in England) and walked a 5 mile circular route taking in Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, Avebury Stone Circle and a short stretch of the Ridgeway back to the start/end. Of course we chose the hottest day of the year, but somehow that didn’t matter because I was finally getting to see places I’d wanted to visit for a very long time.

As it was a Bank Holiday we’d anticipated Avebury (biggest stone circle in the country - with a village inside the circle) being very busy, and I suppose it was, but it didn’t detract from what I thought was an incredible atmosphere. Although I think perhaps that walking there, seeing West Kennet and Silbury Hill on the way, had prepared me by working its magic. There is certainly something so different about the whole landscape in that area, literally teeming with ancient earthworks, stone circles, barrows and mounds. By the time we reached Avebury in the very hot mid afternoon, I was happily away in another dimension.

Silbury Hill - despite archaeological investigations, no one has yet established a reason for it's creation. It's one of many mysteries in the landscape.

Silbury Hill - despite archaeological investigations, no one has yet established a reason for it's creation. It's one of many mysteries in the landscape.

Avebury stone circle - of course without a drone or helicopter it's difficult to give any impression of the scale of Avebury. In fact there are three circles in all contained within a massive henge. 

Avebury stone circle - of course without a drone or helicopter it's difficult to give any impression of the scale of Avebury. In fact there are three circles in all contained within a massive henge. 

Walking back towards The Ridgeway even small copses of trees turn out to be guarding ancient burial mounds. The air was tingling.

Walking back towards The Ridgeway even small copses of trees turn out to be guarding ancient burial mounds. The air was tingling.

That evening we had dinner in Laycock (the village where the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice was filmed) and then walked across the river and around Laycock Abbey as the sun went down. We watched bats flitting past and a heron fishing in the river and as we approached the Abbey in the gathering dusk, the one window illuminated from inside was the famous oriel where arguably the first ever photograph was taken by William Fox Talbot in the summer of 1835. A truly magical day.

After that we slipped over the Severn Estuary and met up on the Monday with my brother at Chepstow Castle.

Chepstow is a lovely historic town and the castle has such a long and fascinating history, perched up on the cliffs above a turn in the notoriously wriggly River Wye, it’s a perfect place to spend a lazy day wandering about. Although it was so hot when we were there we had to pace ourselves and stop frequently for tea and ice cream.


Then last week we nipped up the M1 to Leicester and paid our respects to Richard III again, this time we weren’t rushing so much so we made it to the Richard III experience across the road from the cathedral. Have you been? I enjoyed it, although I thought the historic background on the ground floor was a bit thin on detail. But upstairs, the exhibition of the dig that uncovered Richard was enthralling. I must admit to feeling quite moved by the whole thing. It’s hard not to feel that there was some guiding hand pointing to the spot where his bones were lying and encouraging those who were so committed to finding him. Well, it made me wonder.


In the cathedral, the chapel beside Richard III’s tomb has two windows specially created for the occasion of Richard’s interment by my favourite stained glass artist, Tom Denny. So you can imagine, I took about a zillion photos and spent a long time gazing up at the windows. They have a strange power, they always seem to draw me in, I feel as if I'm becoming part of the story. Quite hypnotic.


Hedgerow Watching

Meanwhile, out in the lane the transformation from spring to summer has gone on apace.

There’s so much may blossom this year, surely it must be more than recent years? But not just the hawthorn, we’ve had a wonderful carpet of bluebells, lilac, apple blossom, stitchwort, holly blossom and cow parsley. Yesterday I noticed the first buds on the dog roses - I love these, especially when there’s been a little rain and the raindrops are caught in the ridged leaves. Our morning walks have been even more uplifting for the last couple of weeks as every day seems to bring on some new flower to make you smile.


Slow stitch diary

And then there’s the stitchery stuff…

Thank you so much to everyone who messaged me after the last journal post. It does help to see through other people’s eyes, and I have persevered with the smaller piece which I’ll show you shortly. But I said last time that I needed to play, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

Experiments with acrylic paint and ink on canvas. I miss getting the paints out and it felt good to use them again. This is the first time I've used them on fabric.

Experiments with acrylic paint and ink on canvas. I miss getting the paints out and it felt good to use them again. This is the first time I've used them on fabric.

Inspired by Stephanie Redfern’s book, I got out my old acrylic paints, taped a variety of plain fabrics to a board and splashed the paint about. It was hugely cathartic and it fascinated me to see how differently it looked on the various substrates as it dried. It’s helped enormously to just stand there and experiment, now in my mind I’m already thinking about what I want to try next.

From the pieces I painted, there’s one waiting for me to work at it with threads and there’s this one, which I decided to go straight to work on. The background is hand painted with acrylic and metallic inks and then I’ve stitched on some silks and worked over the whole in threads. I’m not sure if it’s quite finished yet - nearly though.


So, all in all a busy but productive couple of weeks. I hope you’re also having a good time with your creative work at the moment, it’s such a cyclical thing isn’t it, we have to find a way to work with the flow.

And so until next time,

Happy stitching!

Anny x

April highs and lows...

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...


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...

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...

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!

officially spring


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.


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.


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.
  • 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’).


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.


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.


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.


  • 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?

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.



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...

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