Tuesday, 21 March 2017

In The Studio

Yes! We are at one of those times of year when I get up just minutes before the sun in the morning so that when I come downstairs I am greeted with these glorious views!! The photo above is a bit out of focus as I had to stop whilst walking to the bus stop and take the zoomed in image on my phone. It was really misty and there was this ball of light which looked like it had been caught inside the cloud, oh my, it was breathtaking!

The golden sunrises are just as lovely and it always makes me think of things I could be doing with my stitchscapes. Do you see the layers like I do? Layers of deep purple, or blue perhaps, at the bottom, inching up to different shades of grey and then POW!! with the yellows and oranges, perhaps a gentle lavender at the top.

I can't look at anything now without thinking about how it could be translated into fabric and stitches. The below image could be layers of warm greys and deep chocolate with a hairy fancy yarn to recreate the tree branches, or perhaps layers of fly stitch with different thicknesses overlapping each other.

Saturday was the first day I properly went to my new studio to w.o.r.k. It was rather nice walking there and collecting some poor decapitated Daffodils on the way to put in a pot, then turning on the lights, radio and heating before settling down to trim the edges of all of my new prints. The nicest part was knowing that I could leave it all exactly where I wanted to when I left, rather than having to hastily pile it all up in a corner. It's also really lovely being able to see my previous stitchscapes all out on display, even if it's just me seeing them.

The Moorland Stitchscape and Snowy Alps Stitchscape are now safely in their frames and I also spent a little time mounting up some other stitchscapes ready for framing when I next visit the shed.
My little home away from home!

Saturday, 18 March 2017


We had a brilliant, if messy, time at Guides on Thursday. The girls were designing and painting flower pots to give as gifts to their Mother's on Mother's Day next weekend. The idea was to decorate the pot, and then the girls could fill it with whatever they liked to make up the present; smellies, chocolate, or perhaps an actual plant!

It always amazes me how engrossed children can get in their tasks. Often they will get bored quickly and we have to provide back up activities for them to do, but for this project they were totally involved for the entire hour and a half long meeting! The ideas were also completely their own as we didn't provide an example like we sometimes do. The girls were quite literally handed the pots and plates of paint and told to make it pretty. So they did!

We threw in a little bit about colour theory and the colour wheel too, just for good measure, and I had quite a few discussions on how to make the best green, or light peach, or the different ways of creating browns.

These are a few of my favourite pots from the evening. There were quite a few with faces, lots of characters as well as bold patterns. To compliment the paint, we had also provided some paper flowers and lots of different colours of raffia to tie around the pots but the girls could choose whether or not to use them. In case you aren't sure, the little blue chap above is a very sweet penguin!

I'm hoping that come next Sunday there will be lots of proud Mums receiving their beautiful pots! I don't think the pot on the above left is a specific being, but it is certainly cute- and the pot on the right is the family dog who features in quite a few of our drawn projects! Love that cheeky little tongue poking out.
Some of the girls didn't want to put real flowers in their pots, but made their own flowers using tissue paper dragged unceremoniously from the craft cupboard, lots of sellotape, paper flowers and raffia. They look brilliant!
Now I just have to think of my own present to give The Mother!!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Wendy Lace Shawl

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I was moaning about being given a highly complicated crochet project to make for display purposes at work. It was taking a lot of concentration to start the pattern off as the joining as you go method could go horrifically wrong if you made one wrong move at the very beginning. 
Eventually I cracked it (after much frogging and muttered swearing) and could finally hand it in to await its turn on display changing day. 

As well as the main body of the stole, there was a separate flower fastening which is a bit like a brooch/button to keep the shawl wrapped artistically around you. I think it all looks rather lovely now it's completed, and the yarn- Wendy Fleur DK- is gorgeous! So light and fluffy and soft. It's a pain to undo though as the little fibres knot themselves together, but if you haven't made any mistakes in the first instance it should all be fine.

The pattern for those of you interested is the Wendy Crochet Stole 5994, and the colours I was given to use were:

* 3350 Jasmine * 3351 Stephanotis * 3352 Clematis *

This would be a lovely summers evening stole I think as it is not too hot and looks fabulous! I would be interested to hear if any of you are inspired to make your own, and how you found reading the pattern. Personally I would highly recommend sitting in a room by yourself in peace and quiet so that you don't look too daft when you start counting out loud (or throwing the half finished garment across the floor)!


I've had a new idea!! It came to me whilst we were looking through the superbly inspiring stalls at the Knitting and Stitching Show. An embroidery company that The Mother loves, Rowandean, which designs and sells embroidery kits, had some beautiful finished examples of their kits on the walls. The ones which caught my attention were tiny. Simple, elegant little pieces which were essentially a rectangle of organza on a plain backing, with little floral stitches in one corner, reminded me very much of my ATCs which I haven't been able to make for many months since my ATC group closed down.

There are so many things you can do with ATCs (Artist Trading Cards); leave them as small cards for swaps, attach them to the fronts of greetings cards, or frame them in simple frames, either on their own or in sets. Because of their size, they can also be mass produced-ish, so I thought I would give making stitchscape versions a go. It's funny how things can be brought together, and looking back over some of my old ATC designs, it would appear I was making stitchscapes long before I realised!

I decided that rather than spending time tacking the fabrics down like I would normally, it would be much quicker to use Bondaweb and iron them down. I chose a selection of fabrics to use and ironed strips of Bondaweb to the back, then cut them into smaller strips and arranged them to cover the ATC shape before removing the paper backing and ironing them down.

It was a very pleasant hour playing with fabric and colour, arranging and rearranging, playing with composition and layering. The themes going through my head were cornfields, rapeseed fields, poppy fields, Spring and Summer. Now that I have my backgrounds made up, I will go back over them and work in a similar way to my normal 'scapes, but on a pared down scale. It should be fun!

I am also very excited to say that as I have outgrown the living room with my Stitchscapes (those frames take up quite a lot of space!), I have borrowed some space at a relative's house. They had a spare outbuilding that was only being used to store tables and chairs etc and said that I could use it to put my bits and bobs in. The above photo is a sort of 'before', except that we had already been in and removed quite a lot, and The Mother had given it the once over with a duster during the week (I think she's quite relieved to get rid of me).

Today I moved in!!! We removed the remaining odd bits of furniture and 'stuff' being stored there, although I have kept the big table, a chest of drawers and an iron case which didn't have anywhere else to go. There are lots of available plug sockets which is handy as I can plug in the old radiator to keep away any damp, and still have lots of space for a radio and some lamps to make it homely.

You can see where my beautiful bowl has ended up! Looking rather marvellous on the window ledge there with some of my framed 'scapes. There are still some things to come in to this room to make it more practical, at some point there are shelves going in on the back walls so that I can display more of my stitchscapes and bring in some of my fat quarters of fabric- I am fully intending on spending many mindless hours re-arranging them into piles according to pattern and colour. I think I will also need a pin board on the wall for images or ideas to be stuck to- so much to think about. It's not a glamorous space- the carpet tiles don't fit properly and the skirting boards stop and start at random places along the walls, but it is mine to use and that's fine.

I would also quite like to re-paint the wall a lighter colour (it's quite yellow at the moment) but there are some holes to be filled in and it's not urgent. As I couldn't remove the old trunk, I have prettified it with some of my crochet blankets (also intended to be practical in the winter should it get a little chilly whilst I'm working in there). Perhaps I could also have a comfy chair in the corner to sit and sew in at weekends? Oh the possibilities!

It seemed like the weather was pleased with my new space too, there were beautiful blue skies and balmy temperatures with blazing sunshine lighting all corners of the garden. It was such a good omen as I pottered around in my crocs, laying rugs and dusting the leaves of my Prayer plant. I am visualising many quiet, relaxed days spent sat in the garden, inches away from my 'room of inspiration'.

Blue sky from every angle!

Yup, I think I could make myself quite at home here!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Isn't this chap marvellous? Such an imposing, almighty figure, towering above us mere mortals. If you haven't recognised him (I didn't), he is a White Walker, a mythical creature from the fantasy TV drama series, Game of Thrones. Apparently, a White Walker kills everything in his path and brings blizzards and freezing temperatures with him (probably why he looks so grumpy- I would be too if I was in an endless blizzard). He was made by various regions of the Embroiderer's Guild, along with groups from the Royal School of Needlework, Hand & Lock and Fine Cell Work, and the whole piece (including the background) is five metres wide by four metres tall! There is a little bit about the conception of the idea and the making of this particular White Walker on this website.

The Mother and I traveled up to London by special coach last Sunday to visit the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia, Kensington. We went there last year (see here) and loved it, so this time we invited along some friends to share the experience, and it was rather nice to also see the same sellers there again this year and re-visit favourite stalls.
Along with the super scary White Walker, there were some much prettier displays of talent such as this gorgeous garden knitted/crocheted by some very dedicated ladies to raise funds for the Louise Hamilton Trust. They have called it a butterfly garden and it has been specifically created to help  raise £3million to build a 10 bed hospice unit in the grounds of the James Paget Hospital in Norfolk. As quoted from their facebook page, 'the hospice beds will drastically change the end-of-life care currently available locally, giving people more options such as receiving the right pain medication before they can go home to spend their final days with loved ones.' 

'This amazing garden is the result of a two year knitting project by the Louise Hamilton knit and yarn group with the help of the Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers. The ladies meet on a Friday afternoon, and between laughter, chatter, and of course, tea and cake, they put their varying skills to work. The project was carefully planned but it just seemed to grow and grow into a fairy like spectacle.'

If you would like to donate anything to this fantastic cause, then click here to go to their Just Giving page.

It's amazing, there are so many little details to look at! I wonder how many stitches there are in the garden?

It's obviously a good garden as the caterpillars are enormous! Watch out, they're heading for those cabbages!

I spent a LOT of pennies at this event! Although, in my mind, it was totally worth it because I clearly need more fat quarters.... and I am now the proud owner of 40 more fat quarters in the most scrumptious colours and patterns, as well as a beautiful bowl in a rainbow of colours, some fabulous different sized ric racs and a tube of honey coloured beads.

Isn't that just a glorious sight!?! Some of these have come from my favourite stalls such as Stitch Witch, Solstitch, Higgs & Higgs and Puddleducks as well as some new stalls whose names I should have taken down but didn't. I tried to be more varied in my colour choices, as well as going for some more unusual patterns such as the crashing waves print, the orangey/purple sunset print, the clocks print (love that!) and the strange dried grasses print. Others I looked at and thought that they would make a brilliant background fabric due to the dots or spots or other little shapes. Big prints don't always work so well in my Stitchscapes I've discovered, and these were very much in my mind as I rifled through the drool-worthy baskets of fat quarters.

These beauties (above) came from another of my favourite stalls who I remember from last year, Japan Crafts. These fabrics have come directly from Japan and have rich colours and outlines of gold sparkling at the edges of the petals and fan shapes. I bought some fabric at this stall last year although haven't been able to cut into them yet, they are just too beautiful!

Isn't that fabric stunning?! I have no idea what I would specifically use it for; it reminds me a little of the Northern Lights (could that be put into a stitchscape?), but as soon as I saw it I knew I just had to have it! And it was the same with the beautifully presented star of batik fabrics from Stitch Witch. The combination of colours was mind boggling and the pack just sort of popped into the...er.... pile....that had formed for me to buy. (Addiction is not the word!)

This bowl! Words cannot describe how much I love this bowl. I think the lady at BasketBasket said that they came from Morocco and have been made out of straw and raffia, with each one a unique design. I know exactly where this bowl is going to live, but for now it is quite happy holding my purchases. We will definitely have to go back again next year for another top up!