Archives for category: Uncategorized
Overcasting on linen

My first waking thought this morning was “What if …” for the title of this week’s blog post and then various phrases going round my head.
So here goes…

This might be a line of enquiry in a piece of work; adding something different to something I’m cooking; putting colours together in a new way for me; wearing things I don’t normally wear together; at the moment trying another way of keeping my hair out of my eyes when I wash my hair!

It’s about challenging my comfort zone, it’s too easy to just go with what I normally do. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, sometimes just a little tweak will make a big difference to outcome. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that may suggest something else to try instead, or it may be it needs more.

If I don’t take it too seriously, but consider it playing or experimentation, fun to try, to see what happens if….. then I am much more likely to push my comfort zone. This is how my work develops and changes over time.

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a free taster course on Abstract Painting called “Find your Joy” with Louise Fletcher. A fairly intense week of videos to watch, assignments to do, Q&A sessions, challenges to partake, a closed Facebook group to share work and thoughts. It was purely play and experimentation, to try new things, to find what you like doing and do more of it, and what you don’t like and to not do it any more. This applied to colour, paint and mark making tools. The intention was to PLAY, not to have finished paintings. Some of the assignments were loose, some prescribed, some had limitations; time or amount of marks made, and probably the most fun was to make a deliberately UGLY painting. This was difficult as elements that I liked kept coming through, but certainly very freeing. It makes you release that the world doesn’t end because you did something that didn’t work.

One of the prescribed piece, marks limited and in a particular order.
Not my usual colour palette.

It wasn’t a waste of time, or paint or paper, which is too easily the first thought, but a way of helping to find what you like and don’t like. It’s about the process, and enjoying that rather than the outcome. 

One of the things that was suggested when we looked at others work was to make a list of things we liked and disliked, not to be critical, nor to copy but as a learning process to help us discover what we do like, colour combinations, shapes, types of lines and marks, abstract or figurative, etc.

Many aspects of the course apply to stitching too, and certainly over the last couple of days I have considered these things as I’ve stitched. Ok, I also need to challenge my stitching, but why do stitches that I don’t enjoy doing, or fight with certain types of thread (the ones that knot and tangle as soon as you look at them), or use fabrics that fray uncontrollably or slip through your fingers. They are so many that I do enjoy using it makes sense to use them, at least most of the time.


One of the “What ifs….” I’ve tried over the last few days was on green red cabbage (oh, I do love that contradiction in terms!), was overcasting on a piece of linen(?). Simple random lines, that look like contour lines on a map.

Continuing stitching

I really enjoyed doing it, and got quite carried away, adding more lines, it then got an UGLY bump in the middle which wouldn’t lie flat.

Getting bumpy

Disappointing. I didn’t want to unpick, it would leave UGLY marks, but need the piece to fit on to the rest of the strip of slow stitch. “What if….” I carried on stitching, up to and around the bump? Would it, could it make the bump lie flat / flatter? I’d got nothing to loose by trying and it’s my new favourite stitch, so I carried on. Yes, it’s still got a little bump, but the whole rectangle will more or less lay flat. And, I like the deeper ridge too. I did manage to stop stitching before I’d covered the whole piece as I like the negative spaces.

Finished stitching

Now I need to attach it to the main piece. Which way up? Having tried it several ways I settled on this – the lines lead into the rest of the piece rather than out of it..

Takes the eye out from the rest of the piece
Drawing the eye in
Tulip in our garden

I’ve never had so many flowers in the house as in the last few weeks. The old bunch of roses or tulips brought in with the weekly shopping, that have graced the kitchen table. Flowers through the post for my 60th birthday in lockdown, these made me cry, I’ve never had flowers delivered before. White lilies that smelt wonderful, with snapdragons, delicate pink at the bottom of the stem gradually getting paler up the stem to white at the top.

More flowers through the post just under 3 weeks later for our 35th wedding anniversary, these made me cry too! I must be getting sentimental in this lockdown. These were bunches of carnations, one pink, one peachy, orange, the nearest to coral on the choices. These are still mainly going strong, but are ready for a bit of a sort out. The orangey ones on the coffee table in last weeks post. The other in my mum’s rose bowl on the kitchen table.

Tidied coffee table – challenge to self from last week.
The flowers need sorting out again now.
Still waiting for the orchid to open.
I’m a plonker in flower arrangers’ terms, even more so doing it left handed!

Wedding photo 35 years ago

Apparently 35 years is the coral anniversary, so the dear friend who I sent the fabric and thread parcel to a couple of weeks ago tells me. She sent me a photo of her experimenting with stitch, which I copied and printed to make a card. I usually make cards for Colin myself so this was a bit of a cheat. I did manage to add the Happy 35th wedding anniversary but couldn’t even get that where I wanted it to go, so unfortunately it’s right across the stitching.

Wiz’s experimenting with stitching
I could’t even get the text where I wanted it!

The following images are from the garden or out on our occasional walk. I’m still struggling to use and move my right arm so even taking photos is a left handed challenge, so some have worked better than others.

Tulip in garden
Double white lilac n the garden, few flowers just the right height to sniff.
Dandelion with bee in the nearby woods

Read the rest of this entry »

There are several reasons for me having unfinished projects including starting something new is usually more exciting / interesting than continuing with an ongoing piece; the design and planning stage often wakes me in the middle of the night with ideas buzzing around my head or come to me in that half awake state in the morning, particularly if waking naturally rather than by the alarm clock / radio, especially if I have seen or done something new that fires up my imagination and creative juices.

This is another reason, I have more ideas than I can possibly execute. This is where a sketchbook / scrapbook / journal comes in useful. Ideas can be scribbled down, whether words or sketches (this tends to help let me get back to sleep, rather than going round in loops and circles with half formed ideas). Sometimes this leads to ‘test pieces’ or samples that were never really meant to be resolved pieces of work but may lead to one or a series at some point in the future.

Others are workshops or classes that I have gone to where I have maybe tried a new technique (with varying degrees of success) that I have then realised is not for me or that I want to take in a different direction having enjoyed the process. A new skill to experiment with in my own way.

Some are pieces that involve a lot of on-going work, that are not really UFO’s (unfinished objects) more PHD’s (projects half done) that get picked up when the muse or mood takes me. This can be affected by the amount of time available; light – some need good, natural light, especially if choosing or matching subtle changes of colour, or very fine work; waiting for glue, paint or dye to process or dry to be able to go on to the next stage; or for an idea to develop and sometimes to acquire the right materials for the project.

Finishing off is the final hurdle. This is something I have in common with my late father who often had several projects not quite finished. On having a conversation about why he didn’t finish something off before starting a new project I realised it was exactly the same for me! Once he’d worked out (in his head) how to resolve the project, it was done! And on to the next challenge. Our son is the same. Is it learnt behaviour or part of our genetic make up of how our brains work?

My first solo exhibition is hung next Wednesday 1 August 2018. Exciting, scary, busy. Lots of odds and ends to finish off.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 680 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

For some reason I have not been able to get into my blog in the last few weeks. Time has been pretty tight, and on the odd few occasions when I’ve tried to blog, it just wouldn’t work. Frustrating!

This is one of the things I’ve worked on and finally finished. It needed sequins and beads, lining and cording.

I used two different size gold sequins put randomly around the embroidery. I seen one or two others finished and realised that I needed to keep the sequins in quite tight to fit them on the front and to keep them away from the seam at the bottom.


A selection of beads in the same  and toning colours as the stitching were used to anchor the sequins down.


This lemon printed fabric came with the kit for the lining.


Much as I like it, it wasn’t right with the colours of the embroidery and the design was too large.

The burgundy and gold from my rose window quilt worked much better. I used the burgundy for the french knots and beads for the flower centre.


The embroidered piece was machine stitched to the lining with right sides together, leaving a small gap for turning through on one side which was hand stitched. The two sides were hand stitching together to make the back seam.

The same burgundy stranded cotton was used for  cording that edged the seams across the top and down the back.


Detail of the corded back seam.


The finished scissor keeper. The end of the cord made a tiny tassel at the bottom.


This is another Embroiderer’s Guild project I came across while I was tidying up, (one of many). It’s a scissor-keeper done in detached button-hole stitch. A new stitch to me, and it improved as I grasped it. This is the nearly finished first attempt. I then saw Alex’s and realised how messy mine was, big, uneven stitches. I pulled it all out and started again.


I did more smaller chain stitches round the edge of each petal. This in turn means that there are more detached buttonhole stitches too.20140219-153735.jpg

I’m about to start the second petal here. I’m much happier with how it looks.
20140219-153819.jpg I like the effect of the varigated thread.

20140219-153851.jpgI done burgundy french knots for the centre of the flower. I want to put some beads amongst them too. Then it’s almost ready to make up.

This is the stitch I’d started for the final strips a month ago. I was not really happy  with them, but wasn’t sure why, partly the colours, but mainly the stitch. I’d even sewn in all the loose ends, so I could assess it better. And finally, at the group this morning I realised what  the problem was – the main sections are diagonal stitches, the ziz-zag strips and the border are horizontal stitches and I was the adding vertical stitches. It was just too much. Also they didn’t cover the canvas well with the pinky yarn.



I then started on the other side with Creole stitch, this is worked on the diagonal. It was very small and the scale looked unbalanced (I forgot to photograph this stage before I took it out). I then did my own variation on this stitch, which I’m sure is not really mine, and has it’s own name, but I’ve not spotted it in a book – yet. I’d also done the Creole stitch going from right to left, and I wanted the stitching to go from left to right on this side to lead the eye in to the centre.


I started off with just two colours to make it a more restful area, but didn’t want it too stripy, so planned on doing two rows of one colour randomly. But the darker tone then became too dominant. (This sounds like Goldilocks and the 3 bears!!)


So more pulling out! And the introduction of a third colour, again randomly, not one, two, three repeatedly.


This is the opposite end, with a different random pattern of the three colours.



And is the stage it’s at now, it should be easy to pick up and work on again in front of the telly!


The first photo I took in artificial light so the colours are not true, but it shows the progress I’m making.

I realised that it won’t work in the same way as the centre panel and that I’ve ended up with a triangle leading inwards in the middle. I tried carrying on varying the colours and stitch widths and meeting at a centre point. But I’m not sure that it looks right (right hand side). The other side has ended up meeting with the same colour which I think looks better. I’m going to try doing both sides the same and seeing how that looks before I do any more on the right hand side section. It might need pulling out again!!


The colours are not good on this photo,but it’s making progress.


Filling in the last triangle on each side.


Not sure I like the meeting of the ways.


This side ended up meeting with the same colour, but different width stitches.




I’ve made a doll’s quilt for my great niece’s 4th birthday in some of the fabrics I used to make one for her when she was born.



It was very pink and pretty, including the flower fairy fabric above, completely out of my comfort range colour-wise. I don’t seem to have a photo of the cot quilt, which is unusual. I photograph most of my quilts as they tend to have been for others and it’s good to look  back at earlier work occasionally.

But back to the doll’s quilt. I first started sewing and knitting for my own doll’s when I was very little. A knitted scarf for my old teddy, long since gone, the scarf not the teddy. The lady next door and one of my mum’s friends both made wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses, and they gave me the scraps of fabric, bits of lace and ribbon left over. One doll’s dress in particular sticks in my mind – a beautiful deep red satin, trimmed with white lacy flowers.


This ribbon is about the same colour, and these are some of the flowers left over from the mid sixties in my stash. If memory serves me right, they were cut out and stitched in a ring around the neck. The hem was cut with pinking shears and left as a zig-zag  edge. I had a children’s  little sewing machine which I struggled with and found most frustrating because the top and bottom threads often failed to twist together and the seams came undone,  and the tension was rarely right, but I had enough successes for it not to deter me for long.


This doll’s quilt used some squares I’d cut for the original cot quilt that were left over, so it was quite quick to put the top together and then I put fleece on the back.




It then just needs hand stitching around the edge to finish it off.