Friday, February 17, 2017

From this to this and a great book.

Briefly and in pictures  ... a few days of dyeing fabric, rinsing, washing, and this morning the best ironing task ever to reveal the results.

First the soaking and seeping

and after the bucket and machine washing hanging out to dry ...

and finally, discovering the patterns and shapes  - I found faces, flowers, a staircase and lots of forest ... 

And in case you missed my tweet about this wonderful book I recommend it as very good read. Powerful, insightful, I was captured by its relevance to the present, authenticity and straightforward style. I just kept wondering how I had missed it all these years of reading ... thanks to my book group I've now had that pleasure. One to read again. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Scalpel, stitch and poetry

Title says it all really!  Firstly, a poem for a dull day  ... comments welcome.

How many candles will we need?

On the third day of fog, I light the red candle.
Inside and outside shouts for brightness
in this repeat of yesterday’s white envelope.

The day before the blanket drifted away
and the sky was sunlit until setting time,
we lifted the cloches, walked the long way
around the woods, you said midwinter has passed.

In contrast, it was a sunny as we walked another section of the London Loop ( on Tuesday, this time 17 km from Banstead to Malden. As always there were landmarks ... a prison built about 1770 and a fungi covered tree trunk

The Watch House in Ewell, more details at

Possible stitch patterns ... 

There was quiet in the studio on Weds as we 
played with cut outs. I've posted two pics of results below; so glad to have lots of odd pages to ruin in this way. 

I'm now looking for an old hardback book to use the same technique but that first cut is going to be very hard. Cut into a proper book! It feels bad enough to write in one. 

And finally a glimpse at my latest stitching project. A line a day, a variety of threads and running stitch on a very light (and forgiving of a large needle) scrim. It was inspired by seeing lots of folk from many places and cultures waiting in line at US airports.  Often this sort of thinking will result in me writing a poem but instead this time I'm  stitching.  

Two days, two lines,

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Good stuff on small journeys

I'm writing this with an eye on the flurry of long tailed tits feeding on suet balls in the garden and wondering if, at last, I'm comfortable with the flapping of birds' wings!!  The robin is also there, defending his or her winter territory and yesterday Mr Blackbird came along. What joy.

And I'm feeling very relieved to have rinsed, washed, ironed, and logged the 24 pieces of fabric that were put into dye baths three weeks ago.

 The record keeping was a bit tedious but now I have colour recipes when I want a particular colour and shade.

Not sure how i'll use them yet, somewhere that'll show the great patterns from the more or less fidgeting I did with the fabric while it was in the dye bath.

Maybe the fabric will come into its own for a piece based on some of the ways that lines have - I'm collecting lots of pics of lines, like these on a walk around Bloomsbury last week.

Lots of blue plaques en route (

and some inspiration for stitching patterns ....

Finally, a couple of pics from last weekend in Dorset: I slept under this ancient beam and the first snowdrops bloomed under my window.

Have a good weekend all. My to do list includes mushroom soup and drafting a poem for the first workshop of a Poetry School ( online course called Re-writing the Map.
This fits wonderfully with the work I'm doing on journeys at Inspiration to Stitch  -almost too good to be true.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One week: a short time in weather

We had snow, it left quickly so no photo, that's all!   Very glad the roads were clear for the first of 2017's first Inspiration to Stitch day with Terri and Hazel see,

I made a start on sketchbook pages on the theme of journey and did some printing for the last one to go into the Autumn book.

And today the magical experience of choosing a date for a walk weeks ahead that then turns out to be a blue sky day.

We walked from Coulson South to Banstead - along the green paths of suburbia with London on the skyline. All part of the London Loop, for more details see

The weekend rain that made my drive to Kent a very unpleasant experience of spray and fog had  turned the bridleways (shared with LL pathways) close to Epsom Downs into mud baths. Thank goodness for good boots and good chat with good friends as we made our way along the northern ridge of the Northern Downs.

Our route out of Coulson took us under the wonderful walls of this new railway bridge  and
we reached Banstead over an old railway bridge with some slate 'roof tiles'. Two more examples for my collection of patterns I might, someday, stitch.   I just love the weightiness of the slate.

Finally, more lines in the evening sky as I close the blinds .... hopefully a good omen for tomorrow when I'll be dyeing fabric with the Institches fabric wizards.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another Wall Wears a Quilt

At last, the quilt made with fabric bought in New York in December 2014 has made it way to the finishing line ... a journey of two years, so about average!

The last stitch in the hanging sleeve for this quilt was made with good timing: no need to tuck it all into the suitcase coming with me back to UK today. There's enough in there already including, of course, the tea bag work in progress.

Just love the paper that emerges when these are emptied. 

This quilt is a first for me in terms of main and border design and quilting.  But I'm not fond of large projects and can't wait to work small and slow in a sketchbook on my next Inspiration to Stitch day tomorrow.   More on this later.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Posting poems

Those of you who spend a little while with my blog know that, in the past, I've occasionally posted my poems on one of the header pages that is titled A Small Collection of Poems.

This explanation goes on for a bit so by way of light relief I'm posting photos of how the drop in temperature in the last few days has wrought its magic on our garden and the adjacent farmers track.

Just for a change, a winter leaf 

I love how the leaf skeleton is highlighted here 

Usually I kept back poems that I planned, one day, to send to magazines or perhaps and rather grandly, that might have been part of a pamphlet.  In doing this I was following poetry tradition and custom as poetry editors don't want a poem once its been published elsewhere and a personal blog counts in that respect.

Maybe a stitching pattern here

This year I plan to share my poems in a different way by publishing many more on this blog. Once a poem is on one of these general pages I'll add it to the Collection page and  look forward to your comments. I'd love for this to be a way for me to hear what you think, how the poem looked and sounded to you etc., etc.

Yippee, no more hours in the poetry office, more hours to enjoy the writing and rewriting and for reading and commenting on the poems posted on the sharing poems Facebook closed page I'm part of following the 52 project.   Its a  decision that feels a very good one to have made as a new year begins.

Answers in the comments secant please ... 

A slow walk today with my wonderful new camera (thank you, James) and some useful hints from Paul about how to keep still while pressing the shutter resulted in these and many other photos that I hope will be valuable for my new Inspiration to Stitch sketchbook.

Then we all had a fast walk with the dogs, off road, in and out of the sunshine, tracking the changes underfoot between the shady and sunlit verges.

Finally, here is today's poem (not that there will necessarily be one tomorrow). This is draft two, draft one was longer and I have some very good poets friends to thank for pointing out the repetition and the value of this particular poem being short.

 In fog

there are fewer lines to follow,
no place else where
other people live.

The smell of fog is full
of your own breath and
your ears hear you and you.

After a while the blanket
becomes a parcel and people
live in a pared down world.

And to close a glimpse of a scattering of seed stitches ...  a needle, thread and slow fingers   

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Putting the Pages Back In ...

So pleased to report that the fog has finally left us, its now very cold so I've spent the last few days close to the fire reassembling my Autumn sketchbook or with the extra layer of a quilt as I read my way through Kim Moore's poetry (see more about her work at, and the story of the Twin Towers tightrope walker, plus very regular and very brisk walks with dogs, of course.

Here are most of the dissembled pages, awaiting the decision about what to include and what to maybe keep for something else ...

A few that might not make it into the Autumn Book
I quite like most of these 

Found one more use for the empty teabags ... just the right size to hold my sewn leaves 

Finally, some sort of order emerges ...
At last, a cover page
Definitely do not like these pages ... might make good collage paper another time 

I'll soon have to pack things together for my return to UK so the pages are now back in the sketchbook, in an OK order, although I've learnt to think about this more in advance. 

That's it for now by what of autumn as I've just had an email about what to prepare for the next day on the course, which is only six days aways and means a new sketchbook, new techniques and a new topic!

Leaves, and more leaves,

                                 and lots of loose ends

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Waving goodbye to 2016

Good morning, a few photos to show the tea bag work in progress.  

Tea bag paper sews well, its tough stuff and easy to get an accurate 1/4 inch seam with the very precisily cut edges.

One nine patch and the first book 

In contrast, until I removed the paper thin metal flange from inside the Juki bobbin case,
my end-of-year quilting was rubbish!!! Thank goodness for Google and the leather workers website with its wealth of help about what can go wrong with Juki bobbins and how to fix the problems.

Unsurprisingly the solution was simple - remove said flange. Quilt now done and just one more to do (for now).

To leave or make a mark in some way ... tomorrow's decisions 

Loving that pages that arrive with their own marks 

And the very tedious news is that it is still foggy here at Enmatte, four days now and we'd like our January to be warmer, drier and lost clearer please. Oh, some sunshine would be good as well, thanks. 

from the terrace ...  

My not favourite corner on days like this but Crumble likes this route away from the giant tractors driven by our farming neighbours 

And to any keen knitters out there here's a challenging challenge for January  - brioche stitch, maybe with more then one colour. For more details see   

I'm still undecided:  to join or not, to begin yet another project, or perhaps just to knit a sample? Its a great looking stitch, new to me and sounds perfect for cosy hats and scarves. Maybe one more project won't matter? 

Wishing you peace, good health and happiness for the New Year ... and see you in 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

the reading list 27-12-16

Enough said ... here it is. Comments very welcome.

I'll post again when there a space for a new one.