I’m enjoying the challenge of upcycling jewellery at the moment and I found a couple of pairs of 80s earrings – biggish, with white plastic middles (just right to tone with those classy white stilettos and matching handbag to dance round to George Michael!) and gold-tone borders – which were in fairly good condition and crying out for something interesting to be done with the blank canvas of the middles.

Initially, I toyed with pieces of cotton print and silk kimono fabric, but although the fabrics were attractive, the effect was a little thin. Then I found some scraps of fine strip patchwork and the extra thickness given by the seams was perfect.

Square upcycled patchwork earrings 1

I like being able to tuck the edges under the rolled metal borders for extra neatness.

Square upcycled patchwork earrings 2

Then the tear-drop shaped pair.

Tear-drop upcycled patchwork earrings 1

The pointed end made these a bit more challenging to work with as the fabrics wanted to fray right away on such a narrow area.

Tear-drop upcycled patchwork earrings 2

From brash 80s costume jewellery to unique textile pieces. I’m so pleased with these and my Etsy shop doesn’t know what’s hit it – three new listings in a week! Check them out here and here.

Sometimes things stall so close to completion that you wonder later how and why you ran out of steam when so little more effort was needed to get a finish. This pendant is a case in point. When I finished my silversmithing course last year it was at this stage:

Pierced impressed pendant 1


All it needed was a piece of drilled sea glass to go in the hole and it was finished. It was at that point that I learned that drilling sea glass is an art and trying to drill a nugget the size of a very scrawny pea is an art currently beyond me. After a morning and several pieces of sea glass wasted, I gave up and decided that a bead would do fine.

But it wasn’t until last week that I actually bothered to go in search of a suitable bead and found some vintage faux pearls which graduate from a shade very close to the colour of the gilding metal to a soft verdigris green.

Pierced impressed pendant 2

It took all of 5 minutes to mount the bead on a headpin and then into the pendant. Another 5 minutes to find the hand-dyed ribbon I’d planned to go with it and 15 more to list it here in my Etsy shop.

Impressed pierced pendant 3

And the rest of the day wondering why I hadn’t done it months ago!

This is Fuchsia.

Fuchsia Fairy

Fuchsia and my youngest fell in love with each other at a craft fair in Polperro where we bought her from the lady who created her. Being very small (and easily rolled over on), I was told that Fuchsia needed a sleeping bag to keep her safe in bed. Pink was the first choice of colour, but I only had a small strip of pink, so Fuchsia graciously agreed that green, trimmed with pink would be acceptable.

I had the perfect piece for her sleeping bag – a scrap of hand-dyed green cotton with its original lace border onto which I planned to appliqué the pink, probably embroidered first. So this was the main bit of sewing I did on holiday this year; Fuchsia’s sleeping bag.

Fuchsia's sleeping bag 1

The hand dyed pink cotton is embroidered with French knot rosebuds with lazy daisy stitch leaves and a whipped back stitch trailing stems.

Fuchsia's sleeping bag 2

Then I feather stitched the embroidered panel onto the green fabric and hand stitched the whole thing up into a pouch shape.

Fuchsia was delighted. So was my youngest.

I dropped my youngest off at school late last week and it was such a lovely early autumn day that I decided to go for a walk down through the suburban outskirts of the town to the Beck and then up over the fields to have a drink at The Pink Pig.

It was wonderful to be in the moment of just walking, taking in the world through my senses and having time at a walking pace to do that. But the thing that struck me most was how clearly my brain was working. It seemed as if everything I saw sparked off a whole collection of associated thoughts, ideas, memories, quotes, images. It sounds very busy, but it was wonderful and when I got to the cafe and was settled with my pot of tea I tried to record it.


I walk. I look. There is so much of interest. In gardens, in houses, on houses, on the pavement, in the road… I truly am here, in the moment and the neurons are firing as if each sight tumbles a book from the shelves of the library of my mind, falling open to reveal a snippet of connected knowledge to delight in. I relish the way my brain shares them so easily and willingly.

I stand on the bridge over the beck, loving its clarity; the sway of the water weed. Jenny Greenteeth comes to mind immediately. “River-woman’s daughter” follows it. Pale-bellied beech leaves emerge and then are hidden in the long swirling strands of weed, like scallops in seaweed. A tiny submerged beach of sand opens up a new book full of A-level geography on rivers and their load. I realise I’m smiling with pure joy.

River beach


Elderberries 1


I’ll make elderberry jelly. With? Port? Don’t have any and not buying some especially.

Elderberries 2

Apples? Ditto. Aren’t there a few tayberries in the freezer? I think so… Sorted. I’ll gather them on the way home.

Yellow flowers. Vetch? Like miniature gorse. “Nut-smell of gorse and honey smell of ling…” Betjeman of course.

Yellow flower

Brilliant blue: borage-colour blue. As I get close, it is borage –  a healthy little clump. Borage cures melancholy? Borage ice cubes. Borage and cucumber? Recipes from a Sainsbury’s cookbook I used to own that has long since been given away, well, in physical form at least. The bits I need are obviously still safely stored.


I look behind. The Long Trail. The Old Straight Track, my brain tells me.

The Old Straight Track

More books fall. Alfred Watkins, Merrily Watkins, Phil Rickman… World War 1, Howard Goodall? Anuna, that new Fish album I discovered a fortnight ago on YouTube… each reference sparks off another. All that information in there, cross-referenced in my own idiosyncratic way. I am so grateful for that. Not only do I have a rich, strange Ashmolean of a brain but it still works so well and gives me so much pleasure as it does so.

I made the elderberry and tayberry jelly.

Elderberry jelly on toast


It’s softly set, the purple of midnight’s cloak and tastes gorgeous.

This is the other playing piece I started on holiday, combining the rusty ironmongery that I love to ‘streetcomb’ with the sea glass I love to beachcomb.

Sea glass and rusty washer1

As with so many of these pieces, the story is layered in there. I found the rusty washer on the quayside at Charlestown, where we had our holiday cottage this year. We last visited Charlestown on a wet August day in 2006 and I bought 4 tubes of mixed Japanese seed beads from a gorgeous bead shop which isn’t there any more. It was coincidentally one of those tubes of beads which I used to embellish the washer.

Sea glass and rusty washer 2

The base fabric was a scrap of crinkled satin left over from one of my sea glass canvases but I wanted something semi-transparent to layer over it, and the answer came from a charity shop in Looe, where I bought a floaty scarf to cut up and use in just the right tones of rust and grey-green.

Sea glass and rusty washer 3

The sea glass came, if I remember rightly, from Talland Bay and Looe beach and is trapped under the scarf layer with collars of chain stitch in my favourite semi-metallic Madeira thread.

Sea glass and rusty washer 4

It’s the first time I’ve worked chain stitch in this thread and I love the way it gives the impression of a neat cord.

Sea glass and rusty washer 5

I plan to put spirals around the other nuggets of sea glass too.


There is no textile holiday journal this year. Unlike other years I had no plan and rather than make a chore out of something I love doing, I decided to just take things as they came. If I embroidered, then great. If I didn’t then that was fine as well.

So I played – occasionally. The base for this fragment was the paper case from a chocolate. Even after I’d eaten the chocolate I found I was still turning the flattened case round in my fingers, not ready to screw it up and throw it away. So…why not play?

Chocolate fragment 1

Chocolate fragment 2

Base fabric of a scrap of African cotton print with organza over the top. Silk throwsters waste inside the paper case, running stitch and couching in stranded silk.

Chocolate fragment 3

I had fun.

The lazy daisies cuff book seems to have taken forever, but one good long session on the beach in Cornwall finished off the front.

Blue daisies finished 1

Blue daisies finished 2

Blue daisies finished 3

I even managed to get all the French knot centres done. I was originally going to give them beaded centres, but a canvas chair on a beach is not really the best place to play around with seed beads, so I went for French knots and am very pleased with the result.

Blue daisies finished 4

Then the backing. Unfortunately on one side I’d added a lazy daisy flower right next to the fastening without considering that I’d need to cover the back of the stitching but also leave the fastener clear. That caused some swearing when I realised!

I used a scrap of Japanese silk crepe kimono fabric for the backing which was the closest size I had at the time. By blanket stitching it at the selvedge I managed to eke it out just enough to cover all the stitching.

Blue daisies finished 5

My husband saved the day by suggesting that I cut a hole for the fastener and stitched around it, so the hole has been made and now I’m trying to remember where my black stranded thread is…


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