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Journal

Posts tagged textile artist
A Good Hanging...
 

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

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

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

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

(Avalon Meadow, Merlin, Minerva and Uriens)

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

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

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

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

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

Stitchiness

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

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

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

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

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

in other news…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a peacefully uneventful week.

Happy stitching…

Anny x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh and let’s not forget walking the dog…

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

So, anyway, to stitchiness…

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

 
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And…

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

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

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

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

Anny x

 
Going round in circles...
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going round in circles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circles in the landscape...

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

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

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

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

Circles in hand...

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

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

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

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

In Other News

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

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

 

Best wishes and happy stitching

Anny x






 

The story continued...
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the story continued.

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

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

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

A Stitchery Update

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

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

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

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

But you get the general idea.

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

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

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


So, what about those trips out?

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


Hedgerow Watching..

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

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

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

Happy stitching!

Anny x

 

More experiments in stitch...
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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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

 

The Week The Snow Came...
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the week the snow came...

and experiments in black and white...

Well, we've had snow, properly, not just a cursory sprinkling but a full-on blanket job. It's been a while since our last encounter with the white stuff and inevitably it's caused a few problems, like not being able to make the get together with my big brother. But the good thing about serious snow is that you can't really do much about it, you're forced to slow down whether you like it or not, and who wouldn't welcome an impromptu stitching day (alright it's true that most days are stitching days here, but an unexpected one is special).

I'm a little bit scared to admit it, but I think I may actually be enjoying the run up to Christmas this year. I can still feel a mild panic hiding away in a corner of my mind, but on the whole it's not coming out to ruin things. Instead I've been to two Christmas parties and thoroughly enjoyed myself (unheard of), and in a total departure from previous years, we've already bought a tree and decorated the house a whole two weeks earlier than normal.

Which I'm sure made the whole snow-day thing much more relaxing. The word hygge almost entered my vocabulary yesterday (by the way, the autocorrect wants to call hygge higgle - which I prefer, do you think the Danes would mind if we renamed it?).

Before the snow came, I'd just embarked on the Seven Day Black and White Challenge on Instagram. I'd noticed other people doing it and was beginning to wonder about having a go when I was tagged - something that I wouldn't normally bother with - but this challenge interested me.

I've occasionally played about with black and white, I like it more and more for the website where it seems to be able to tell a story in a way that is perhaps harder in colour, but I wondered whether it was something I could deliberately use in day to day photography. I don't know any of the technicalities for black and white so it seemed like an opportunity to try something different for a few days.

If you haven't seen them on Instagram, here's a selection of the pictures I've been experimenting with...

A Miscellany in Black and White

What have I learned in the process? Well for me it seems to work when there's good contrast, it helps to emphasise shapes and structures, it creates a moody effect, subtle, perhaps a little nostalgic, a touch of melancholy. I've had a lot of fun trying out all the various editing options in Snapseed (well some of them at any rate). I'll definitely continue to experiment with monochrome, I feel as if I'm just beginning to scratch the surface of what it might reveal, but I'm really looking forward to getting back into colour. 

The lane in black and white isn't the same place that I experience every day. Without colour it's as if you're missing a dimension, a texture and a vital part of the story. 

In other news...

  • The extra time at home this week has been put to use on the current work in progress. It's getting closer to being finished, I suppose it all depends how much time I can find for it this week. I'd really like to have it completed before Christmas.
  • I'm still enjoying reading about Henry IV curtesy of Ian Mortimer.
  • The house is filling up with fairy lights. I might not be able to cook like Nigella but I can definitely give her a run for her money on the twinkling lights...
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So there you have it - what do you think? Nicely higgle?

Stay warm. Happy stitching!

Anny x

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

From the beginning...

There's something new bubbling in my stitchery cauldron at the moment and instead of getting all caught up in the initial excitement and forgetting to take any pictures (which is my normal state), I've been moderately organised and snapped some photos to show how it's coming along, so if you're interested in seeing the stitchiness beginning to take shape, read on, here we go...

A Stitchery Spell

Ingredients: Take a large piece of natural cotton scrim - loose weave but reasonably robust - this forms the base layer onto which all the rest will be stitched. A bundle of recycled sari silk ribbon for couching the 'lines'. Pieces of organza in a range of colours to act as the background shading. Angelina Fibres melted into large pieces to add sparkle and mystery. Scraps of printed cotton and silk in coordinating colours to add texture and shape to the design. Reels of cotton in similar colours, silk threads and woollen yarns for adding the details. Pins. And a piece of chalk.

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I was fascinated to see how closely the colours of the beech leaves match the colours I've chosen or this piece - the work came before the photo.

I was fascinated to see how closely the colours of the beech leaves match the colours I've chosen or this piece - the work came before the photo.

Method: Lay out the scrim on the kitchen table and mark out in chalk the dimensions for the finished piece. (I then stitched around this in a coloured thread so I always know where my 'edges' should be. If you've never worked with loose-weave fabrics you may not have had the pleasure of watching your creation veer off in dramatically diagonal directions, believe me, it adds considerably to the design challenge, my advice is always know your edges...)

then...

Chalk out the basic lines of the design. Couch these lines with the sari silk ribbon, held down with a thread of your choice (red and green silks for me this time). Next cut the organza to fill the spaces between the lines - slipping some Angelina fibres behind where required. Tack all in place. (I used pins because as is often the way, my fabric-glue pen had gone walkabout - naturally it came back just as I finished the pinning).

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Once the organza layers are firmly down, add the fabric scraps - this takes a fair amount of trial and error until the happy accident happens and you discover they've found the right place to be. Stitch them down. And once you reach this stage it's finally time to get creative with the stitching. I suppose I think of all the stages to here as putting in the background but it's the stitching over which really provides the detail and the dimension.

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That's where I'm at now. Gradually beginning the real work of bringing it all together with hundreds and hundreds of stitches. Work might have progressed marginally more quickly if it hadn't been for the arrival of Max Adams' latest book. I can never resist a new book and this one is every bit as fascinating as his others.

So kind of Max Adams' publishers to provide his new book in a coordinating colour scheme...

So kind of Max Adams' publishers to provide his new book in a coordinating colour scheme...

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In other news...

  • I'm currently working on an issue of Loose Threads to go out before Christmas so as ever if you haven't previously subscribed and would like to receive a copy just fill in the subscription box in the sidebar.
  • I've just read 'Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life' - Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. Have you come across it? Ikigai is roughly translated as a person's individual purpose in life and their reason for getting up in the morning. Finding your ikigai is felt to be the secret to happiness. The book also covers wider aspects of life and attitudes to living, including resilience. I loved it. I'm not sure about the sushi, but everything else resonated so strongly with me. I'd love to know what you thought.
  • I have six photographs on display at The Workhouse in Dunstable until the end of the month. This is such a huge departure for me but the response so far has been really positive. It's given my creative juices quite a boost.

Right then, it's back to the stitching for me, wishing you all well and happy!

 Love Anny x