IMG_20170912_111544.jpg

Journal

Posts tagged hand stitching
A Good Hanging...
 

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

IMG_20190205_101341-01.jpg

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.

IMG_20190202_142037.jpg

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…

IMG_20190205_100320.jpg

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…

 
 
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

 

 

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...

Coming up for air...

Hooray! I made it into my hidey-hole at last. I'd begun to think it was going to be the New Year before I found a few minutes to write, and then just as I began to despair, a slice of morning opened up and here I am....

So chaps, what's been happening? I wish I could actually settle into something resembling a routine (do I honestly mean that? I've never been one for routines, it's just that for so long now I seem to have ricocheted from one thing to another, I'm beginning to wonder if a monastic routine wouldn't get more accomplished). Are you a creature of habit? Does it work for you? 

I'm not sure that I could adopt a true routine, I inherited too many of my dad's 'get out and about' genes to be properly settled, but nevertheless there are times when I feel as if I'm walking through treacle and it would be lovely to think that a plan might actually have a cat in hell's chance of coming off as scheduled. Is it the creative spirit that's to blame, or is that just a feeble excuse for not being better organised?

Anyway, in amongst all the other stuff this is what I've been doing...

Stitching...

There's been good progress with the piece I showed you in the previous post - partly because I came down with a head cold at the weekend and stayed in the warm. I was lucky, it was one of those mild affairs that gives you a good excuse not to go out spreading germs to everyone, but allows you to actually get on with a few things at home (in between the occasional medicinal hot-toddy)

Out and Abouting...

Bath

I squeezed in my annual visit to the Bath Christmas Market last week. If you've known me for a while you'll remember that I'm not at my best around Christmas time, it generally brings out a sense of panic, exasperation and utter failure which can make me tricky to live with. Then a couple of years ago, we went on a day out to Bath - my favourite city in the country - at about this time and suddenly things felt a lot better. There's something about walking around in such beautiful surroundings that takes away the stress for me and calms my nerves. Last week was every bit as brilliant and I'm feeling a whole load better already. (I've even put up some fairy lights in the sitting-room - and it's not even a whole week into December - must have done the trick). I know it must make life difficult for the inhabitants of Bath, but I for one am extremely grateful.

IMG_20171128_183505.jpg

Bath Christmas Market...

coincidentally, my favourite tree in Bath is currently blue and red.

The Workhouse

We've been busy at The Workhouse getting ready for the new exhibition - Christmas at The Workhouse - which is now in full swing. I'm delighted to say it's getting a fantastic reception, with loads of people coming in to buy their Christmas gifts and cards. I'm still finding it such an amazing experience listening to people talk about their reaction to the art and crafts there. It's clearly so important for everyone to have access to quality art in their lives, whether they make it, buy it or simply want to enjoy looking at it. Art is a necessity, not a luxury, I'd really love a few hard nose politicians to come and spend some time with me there, maybe it would make a difference.

Wherever you live, I hope you'll find time to pop into your local galleries this Christmas and soak up some creative goodwill.

In the lane...

The last few weeks have moved us from the last golden days of autumn into the beginning of a very grey (so far) winter. I've finally succumbed to a new hat, one that I can pull down over my ears and I've managed to find some of those fingerless gloves with a mitten bit that you can pull over the top - I'm experimenting with them, as you can imagine the fun, holding the Delinquent Dog in full bark, attempting to use the fingerprint log in on the phone and taking pictures in sub-zero temperature, but so far, so good.

IMG_20171204_095403-01.jpeg

I was thoroughly downhearted this week when I realised that the lane had had it's biannual pruning. Of course it did need cutting back, it was getting dangerous in places and it is a road after all, but really, the butchering of the hedges makes me want to cry. It will recover I know, I've seen it happen before and at least now I can really see my oak properly again from behind the whitebeam hedge, but it still hurts to see the sheer brutality of the attack.

'My' oak, now almost entirely bare of leaves, but looking wonderful to me at least.

'My' oak, now almost entirely bare of leaves, but looking wonderful to me at least.

IMG_20171204_093252-01.jpeg
IMG_20171205_092028-01.jpeg

But the Delinquent Dog is quite happy at the moment because thanks to these chaps having just arrived back in the field, he's currently getting the longer walk (the one that avoids having to walk through the sheep). I briefly googled quotes about sheep and was disappointed to see that they mostly talk about people being like sheep or wolves in sheep's clothing. Personally I find some of them quite menacing, they stare at you in a certain manner...I suspect they're plotting world domination with the squirrels.

In other news...

  • Not having had a Christmas Party for years, this week I'm going to two! Whoops with vegetarian delight.
  • I found a book about Henry IV in a charity shop and I'm realising how little I knew about him. I'm not seeing Jeremy Irons in my mind's eye (Hollow Crown fans will understand).
  • Another sign that I've succumbed to the Christmas Spirit - a bottle of cheap whisky and Crabbies Ginger Wine have appeared in the kitchen...

And with that I wish you all a happy and productive run up to Christmas. I hope to be back in my hidey-hole again before the festivities begin, but you know me and plans...

Very best wishes...

Happy Stitching!

Anny x