Sunday, May 13, 2018

Waking up this blog ....

Wow, one blog post at the very beginning of this year and .... well nothing since!!

But much has been happening including a number of hospital appointments and investigations, lots of stitching and some finished projects.  Oh, and I almost forgot, editing my novel and a place on the long list of a poetry competition, see

And what, you may well ask, has promoted me to remember the blog and make a promise that I will try to write more posts. My answer in short notes is

- a discussion yesterday on Design for Stitching Course about Artist's Statements and social media for stitchers (that's me) but of course, others call themselves textile artists, quilt artists, fibre artists etc. etc.

- confirmation that I will be having stereotactic body radiotherapy very soon for two small but unwanted nodules in my lungs so I might have more 'sitting around' time for a while,

- well, it's always my intention to be here more regularly and to post bits and pieces that can't be easily shared on other social media.

To that end today here's a few pictures of completed and ongoing stitching projects and the long listed poem -and yes, it is itself long, but its also very thin so please read on.  The pictures await you ...

The Red Admiral in Thirteen Movements 

after Thirteen ways of looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens 

At the edge of a Dorset cliff 
a man with binoculars
watches for migrating 
Red Admirals.

Crimson streaks edge
and divide the Red Admiral's
seventy mm wingspan.

One Red Admiral 
south from the north.

At the man's feet 
two Red Admirals 

American scientists 
are making detectors
to fit the Red Admiral's thorax.

On the cliff path
Red Admirals drink nectar
from November blackberries.

Feeding Red Admirals 
are undisturbed by
interested people.

Why Admiral?
No-one knows.

Along the wings 
of the Red Admiral,
black and white frills.

For inflight warmth
Red Admirals develop
a hairy thorax.

Red Admirals rise above 
turbulence, or wait
until it has passed.

Orphan travellers,
the Red Admiral flies

From below, the man
watches the Red Admiral's
dark underwings.

Yes, I'm stitching fish or rather appliqué fish and then some bubble free motion quilting. There are 24 on the quilt so I'm planning to go slowly, maybe 1-2 each day  ... thats if the thread, the needle and my fingers behave well.

and here are the makings of a practice sample for a new project about walking the London Loop.

i have an idea about transferring the map on the TFL website to fabric, using confetti quilting. I just now that much trial and error is going to be involved.

So I have some unwanted fabric and net and oh  scissors to cut the lawn squares into confetti  ... result is below ... not sure I like the net but the technique is fine.

I'll be back ... not sure when!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

These are definitely not resolutions

Happy New Year ou Bonne Annee (sans accent!!). I'm in France enjoying unseasonably warm and often sunny weather.

Its that time of the year, people start something new, commit, make promise to themselves. I've done it, although not for many years and this is not what I am doing this year.

That said I've joined a group thats all about walking 1000 miles in 2018 - check it out on FB. And I've devised a way of keeping track of my miles via my Fitbit. Its a bit galling when you find out that what you think of as your long morning walk with the dog is only 1.7 miles so I'm tracking my weekly goal of 20 miles and I'm counting all the walking I do for the rest of my day. So far so good. As I walk I'm listening to Hilary Rodham Clinton reading her book What Happened via the Audible app.  I enjoy this sort of book as a listener much more than as a page reader. See more at

Here's my page reading at the moment ...

Short stories -very readable with a focus on Vietnamese family life 

Just started this ... so far its all about the death of Chatterton & Dylan Thomas .. not as boring as i though it might be 

Edgy, unusal and brave poems in here by a wonderful poet 

What's not to like ... I can read about yoga and practice my french in one place 

A book to pick up and peruse  ... early days for me reading this   ... lots to inspire and help with so far

and now I'm saying this very very quietly but I've also joined a project called 10 minutes drawing ... its all the fault of the wonderful women who run the Design for Stitch course I'm on this year and two of the equally wonderful students I'm learning with. 

Enough said, here's my first two efforts, already on Instagram where we are all sharing our efforts at what I call mark making. Thus avoiding, whenever possible, the dreaded D word!!!

This morning's mark making was done with an iPencil ... so the project is a bonus as its encouraging me to learn how to use this and to mark make in Adobe Sketch. There may be a quilty thing from all this in a few years but maybe not. 

Finally, I've finished another almost lacey scarf in sock weight yarn and have started to add quilting to what I call my 'brick' quilt.   I love the effect of quilting with a double needle. Shame that I managed to break two of these just doing a few rows of stitching ... all down to some less than easy fabric and the rusty effect  -you live and you learn especially that the Bernina sewing 'computer' is a tad sensitive to stuff like that. 

Photos below and thank you for reading. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 .. a final post about puppies and projects

My day here in Le Gers has gone from warm and sunny  - morning yoga and breakfast on the terrace - yes, really, and a sunny walk with Crumble - to whippy wind and rain as I turn on the lights.

So a chance to write a final post for 2017, or rather to post some pics that speak more than words.

The puppies continue to give much joy ... today they all had a wash and brush up by the stove  - the way to shiny coats  - and one of their now regular runabouts  - and then, of course, lots of sleep afterwards.

And here are some pics of stitching ...

Eco printed leaf ... and my favourite stitch 

Still plenty of room for more lines of stitch 

More blanket stitch ... leaves, steam, paper, muslin and tea dyed silk  ... loving this combination.

Off the needles at last ... colourful yarn and simple stitiching  

 Happy New Year, thank you for reading this. See you in 2018.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In passing ...

.. breakfast coffee and a quiet moment to have a mini brag about progress with a couple of projects!

the shadow for the brick quilt is freezer paper ready .... just need to make decisions about the quilt backing fabric, and tack the sandwich and then quilt it ... and play with ways to include the shadows. Ideas welcome.

And below, presently decorating the floor, you can see some small progress on my 4th plinth project. Fabric pavements are printed, the donated old blanket is cut to size for the wadding.
Now what to do next?

Finally, on the wall, where lots of ideas begin, (where else), two pieces of fabric from my 2017 dyeing efforts. They seem to be saying 'put us together' .... but how and why and ????

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Step by step ...

and slowly! At the moment my so called brick quilt, or maybe its the shadow quilt, is occupying some of my bedroom floor,

and the rest of the room is full of stuff usually in the linen cupboard. Hopefully the small changes to the laundry room will soon be complete -maybe some pics this week - and I'll be able to move more easily around the bedroom.

The quilt in progress might also be there for a few more days  ... I'm still undecided about the the size of the shadow that I'll add after the quilting, and even more undecided about the border. Still, its great to be working with my own dyed fabrics and a photo taken of Crumble and I out for a walk last winter .... maybe by next winter the finished quilt will be on my lap.

To close a couple of recommendations. If you're a stitcher then do take look at Michelle Carragher for some inspirational hand embroidery. I heard her speaking on Saturday ... such skill and dedication, and a great speaker.

If you like the movies then I and a few friends all really enjoyed Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool with Annette Bening and Jamie Bell. Here's one of the reviews  Lots of very good performances by the major and minor actors and, for me, a clever and powerful accompanying score and authentic set.

Have a good week. I'm going back to the last few games of the tennis final.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pages updated ...and other stuff

Only 11 months have gone by without an update to the stitching and poetry pages on this blog!!!   There is some new stuff there now. Do take a look by clicking on the links above the blog post.

I'll leave you here to admire how much the toe-up sock has grown ... not much I hear you say and I agree.

Probably because there's so much else to distract me  - books and poetry for sure.

I'm enjoying Undertaking by the the wonderful American poet Thomas Lynch, more info on him can be found here

I've almost given up on Solar Bones!!!  It will be interesting to hear what others in my book gourd think of this stream of consciousness novel.  The story is fine ... i'm just tiring of the style.

And I regularly dip into this very clever book which is very well described by its title.

Then there is poetry, as always. In small doses, usually at breakfast, occasionally while I wait for the kettle to boil.

Sorry for the orientation  ... its the Oxford Poetry Review but I think you got that anyway 

Finally, two stitching projects are progressing very slowly. The entry deadlines are in my diary and I'm learning lots about printing on fabric via photos. And the very best news is that I've been offered an old blanket to use as backing for the piece that relates to homelessness. That piece is in response to the Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles Group's call for work for their next exhibition.

You can read more about the TVCT Group here and if you click on the news tab, there's more about how my piece came into being and elsewhere on the site lots more from some highly skilled textile artists. Here's the direct link to the news item

 One day soon I shall have to progress from paper copies of stuff on the wall to the reality of sewing my precious eco printed tissue and some pricey silk ... scary!

More on that later. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Parallel projects aka confusion

Well confusion is a risk if, like me, you have several (or more) works in progress! I'm learning how best to keep safe my ideas and progress on each one and, wonderfully, how work for one thing leads to trying something similar with another.

Enough chat, here are some photos ... probably like you I find it can all look very different through a camera lens so I tend to take pictures regularly.

The photo above is of eucalyptus bark printed onto the paper that carried some dress pattern paper. I just love the shapes! The aim is to collage these onto a length of canvas. I've printed the shapes on to a section of old map, a piece of sheet music and some closely woven linen. 

The photo to the right shows my first attempt at arranging these for stitching. I've tried for a neatish torn way of separating out the different shapes ... what do you think?

Next step is to appliqué each piece in place and stitch with the aim of connecting and adding by my choice of stitch.

Watch this space!!!

Alongside that piece I'm putting together my ides for a stitched piece inspired by one of past 'occupants' of the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The Textile Group I belong to has put out a call based on this for their next exhibition. If you're interested the full details are on their website

So far, I've chosen my inspiration, see  and somehow meandered into thoughts about a fabric book that focuses on being homeless in a big city. Quite a journey (for me).

One huge consideration was how to make something that would fit into the box (size 39x29x15cm) that'll be used by the Group for transport purposes between exhibitor venues and will also be easily hung by someone other than me.  Add that to the time issue, and how very novice I am at all this and it feels a bit scary.

But, I've made progress with more printing on fabric and some research on homelessness which has led to some draft poems that might possibly fit to a tea bag. 

It seems there are many ways of printing on fabric from photos ... the most important thing is not to have any loose threads to catch on the print heads in your printer. So far, I've seem to have avoided that  but I have realised that its not a good idea to put Bondaweb though the printer, even when you think its firmly attached to the freezer paper meant to provide a firm base. 

No photos of that piece just yet but here's one of the quilt I'm making from many of the fabrics I've dyed, rusted and generally messed about with this year.

Not sure what to with this next ... maybe some writing on each 'brick' or maybe just some plain quilting. One more to watch for. 

And below is my favourite leaf from the Inspiration to Stitch autumn sketchbook of 2016.  I have plans for it to make an appearance alongside some beautiful eco printed tissue paper ... just plans at present. I need to photoshop out the writing and then see if the colours will reproduce on silk. 

Back soon. Thanks for reading this. Remember your comments are welcome. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Poems, toast and a firework finale.

All those things make for the very best poetry festival there is ...  it happens in Swindon ( and it get better and better each year.

Here are this year's three wonderful Poets-in-Residence reading more of their fine (and often funny)  poems at this morning's breakfast final event ...

Dalgit Nagra, (above ) Tania Hershman (right) and Jacqueline Saphra  (below) are great poets and very busy people.

All three of them well and truly took up residency in the Tent Palace of the Delicous Air  and all the other places in and around the Richard Jefferies Museum where words were read, written and heard during the Festival
 And  there was also late night toast, poems on the wall  and wonderful music from Keith James  and George Fell who can be heard here

Many thanks to Hilda Sheehan,,  and her team for one more magical festival.

 2018's is already in my diary.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

when the travelling ends .... and I've discovered another Pool

... there is so much to do!!!  But in between busy times there's lots of fun. I'm beginning the catch up with a few photos from a wonderful three weeks with family in San Diego

and that Pool, its here - - and is providing me with some quick early morning reads ... faffree fashion is my sort of fashion!!!

I'll be back, not sure when. Tomorrow I start the Designing for Stitch course at the InStitches studio, see  ... its going to be rather intensive for three months and I'll probably have to do some drawing (ugh).  Give me a few leaves, hot water and fancy paper anytime ...

Meanwhile, having cracked the art (!) of magic circle cast on the toe up socks on my needles are growing.

If that last sentence means nothing to you, no worries, it would have been double dutch to me before the weekend.  Bye for now.