Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The little free cross stitch of the rhododendrons at Stagshaw Gardens from our Lake District holiday in May is completed, as is the journal itself, something of a super-quick finish given that I’ve only just completed my journal for our last family holiday in Dorset last July!

DSCN1307.JPG

The bluework has crawled on from this:

DSCN9503

To this:

DSCN1314.JPG

Not much change, apart from the beginning of some umbellifer-type flowers in split stitch, free cross stitch and french knots near the foot of the bowl.

DSCN1315.JPG

And as I went down to London at the end of last week to see my foster daughter get her PhD at the Barbican, I needed something small and easy to transport and work on. The result was some not blackwork.

DSCN1309.JPG

I had some oddments of blue Aida and decided that gold on blue would be nice. The patterns were freebies from the internet which I stitched as a repeat rather than single motifs. Sometimes it’s nice just to do little odds and ends.

 

Windfalls

A charity shop near the premises where my amateur theatre group meets has started leaving bits and pieces outside on the pavement at night for people to take. The other week when I arrived for a rehearsal (I’m currently directing Blackadder Goes Forth) I noticed an eclectic mix which included a child’s scooter and a fish tank! When I came out of rehearsal the scooter was gone, but it wasn’t until I was pulling out of my parking spot that I noticed something propped sadly up by the wall and half-hidden by the lonely fish tank. Something that was enough to make me brake and jump out of the car to rescue it.

DSCN1209.JPG

As I only have one frame like this and there is a very old and very long term project hogging it, I was over the moon to acquire a new (to me) frame. It’s missing one of the bolts but that should be easy enough to replace. The cross stitch design on it, which looks to be almost finished, must have taken hours.

DSCN1211.JPG

So sad that it ended up on the pavement, but the frame at least has gone to a good home. If anyone is interested in giving the cross stitch a good home then please drop me a message either in the comments or via email (scroll down to ‘Contact me at:’ on the right hand side of the blog) and I’ll happily post it out worldwide.

Like buses, these things never come along singly. I dropped off a bag of stuff at the charity shop yesterday and as I turned away from the counter, I spotted this sticking out of a miscellaneous box, priced up at £2.

DSCN1213.JPG

To be fair, it was the partly worked canvas work design which attracted me first and reminded me that I quite fancy doing a bit of canvas work.

DSCN1215.JPG

And what’s £2 these days? So now I have a frame I can actually use and a nice little piece of mounted up canvas work to have a play with.

We went away for a week to the Lake District not long after the Alice Fox workshop. The work I’d done with papers and found objects really whetted my appetite to get back to some found object work of my own as part of the journal I usually make to hold the memories of our time away.

At the end of the first day I wandered along the edges of Langdale Beck while the children splashed about in the already low water levels (and this was in May, before the long hot June and July we’ve had in the UK.) I was delighted to find this crumpled piece of metal with holes already nicely placed for stitches in close shades of green silk.

DSCN1053

It went very well with a thickish piece of beautifully textured hand made paper with inclusions of leaves and stems.

DSCN1052.JPG

On a visit to Stott Park Bobbin Mill I was fascinated by the offcuts of wood thrown out by the different machines in the process of turning chunks of wood into bobbins. The initial machines created a basic bobbin shape from the blanks, shaving off pieces a few millimetres thick. So I picked up a few bits and made them into my own bobbins!

DSCN1054.JPG

The next process shaved the rough bobbin down to the proper shape, throwing out endless translucent ribbons of wood which piled up around us on the floor. I definitely needed some of that! Different woods behaved differently. The one towards the top split pretty much wherever I tried to fold it, whereas the paler one was more like paper, holding at least some of its bends and folds without splitting. I want to add some more needle weaving to vary the widths of the holding stitches and some ‘chips’ in a needlepoint ribbon to the background.

DSCN1057.JPG

Playing with a printed National Trust logo from a paper bag and some scraps of hand made paper.

DSCN1058.JPG

Later in the week we visited Honister Slate Mine and I picked up a few slate chips from the car park. I painted some more of the hand made paper with watercolour to echo the colour of the slate and just had a bit of a play.

DSCN1060.JPG

I’m really pleased with the way the paper echoes the texture of the rock.

DSCN1061.JPG

Free cross stitch in various silk threads to echo the rhododendrons of Stagshaw Gardens. This one just needs finishing.

DSCN1063.JPG

And at the end of the holiday, a quick beachcomb on the shores of Coniston Water revealed this lovely fragment of verdigrised copper which I mounted on two pieces of paper left over from my Alice Fox work.

DSCN1064.JPG

I really enjoyed finding objects I could stitch into and around and the relatively quick way many of them came together. And of course, the memories they have captured. Slightly different to some of my other holiday journals, but I like to be different!

It was a real success.

IMG_20180630_134425.jpg

The weather was lovely and we had a steady stream of interested people through the doors to admire a room full of beautiful textile art including both people’s own projects…

IMG_20180630_134441.jpg

…and work from the last couple of years, such as the goldwork initials on the left.

IMG_20180630_134435.jpg

Bovver birds. (Wearing bovver boots…)

IMG_20180630_134520.jpg

Outcomes from Mary’s Sea Workshop:

IMG_20180630_134527.jpg

IMG_20180630_134533.jpg

Chris Gray’s amulets:

IMG_20180630_134603.jpg

My Stitch Play:

IMG_20180630_134629.jpg

Competition Pieces:

Sandra’s beautiful heliotrope fan won the Regional Award for the Competition – ‘A flower beginning with…H’.

IMG_20180630_134452.jpg

And I believe this William Morris inspired competition entry on the left is Lynda’s. Each one of those sunflower petals is an individual free standing woven picot. Stunning!

IMG_20180630_134634.jpg

Some of our Alice Fox work:

IMG_20180630_134703.jpg

As well as more projects, new…

IMG_20180630_134721.jpg

…and old.

IMG_20180630_134830.jpg

And in one corner, my jewellery stall (complete with my budding archaeologist on the left). Upcycled jewellery on the left, original jewellery in the middle and beachcombed jewellery on the right among the driftwood.

IMG_20180630_134406.jpg

I half hoped I might sell a couple of bits, but in fact I sold nine items and had so many lovely compliments and conversations that it’s a wonder my head got through the door at the end of the day!  I am so grateful to the committee for suggesting I have a stall and I am definitely ready to do something like this again – I just have to find the right type of fair/market.

For me, this blog is a place to express and explore my creativity and so I rarely talk about the other parts of my life, but those of you who have been around for a while will have probably worked out that I am, or was, a primary school teacher by trade. That was until just over three years ago when I was moved into the school’s Nurture Room to work one to one with a child who was unable to access classroom teaching due to some very complex needs. At the same time, the school’s Learning Mentor went off sick (and never returned) and I found myself covering her role.

I loved it. I managed a small team and for the first time found myself outside the toxic culture of the primary classroom, where nothing you do is ever good enough. I liaised with outside agencies and support services on behalf of our vulnerable children and families and designed and ran programmes to support children with a whole range of behavioural, emotional, social and mental health problems. It was the most interesting, creative and rewarding period of my entire working life.

Then last year the academy provider decided that the school would be better served by me returning to the classroom. When the current Y6 cohort, which contained some of our most challenging children, left there would (apparently) be no need for my role and the work I was doing three days a week would be covered by other members of staff (it hasn’t…). Bullshit. It was really just about saving money.

It broke my heart. I never even made it as far as the first day of term and spent eight months off work with stress and depression until I took redundancy in April. It was the biggest finish of my life, shutting the door on a nearly thirty year career.

I’m nowhere near retirement, so I need to turn my finish into some new beginnings and now I find myself like a child in a sweet shop, not knowing what to choose as there are so many things I love doing that could become potential careers.

I want to get back to writing. I have a second book of short stories ready to go, a novel I’m about a quarter of the way through, a panto script on the boil and an idea for a book about effective behaviour management techniques.

I also desperately want to carry on doing the sort of nurture/behaviour management stuff I was doing when I was working, perhaps as a consultancy. My behaviour management methods really work and I would love to be able to train and advise teachers, schools and teacher training courses.

And then there are all my creative things. I’m working on a couple of pieces of upcycled furniture at the moment which I am really excited about, as well as all my embroidery and my upcycled and original jewellery. I still love the mechanics of teaching and I’ve really enjoyed the workshops I’ve run at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild.

It’s like trying to choose off an amazing menu. Each time I think I’ve settled on one path, I think about the others and get really excited about them and change my mind. So I’m not choosing. I’m going to try and work on all of them and see how and where that goes.

I’ve started working as a Primary Behaviour and Social-Emotional Support Specialist with some initial pro bono work for a friend to get my name out there and have updated my LinkedIn profile accordingly. It’s reminded me how much I relish the problem solving and enabling children in crisis to find strategies to help them.

I’ve also started offering textile/embroidery workshops and have already had a few enquiries, which is encouraging. I even designed a flyer to help with publicity so if you’re interested then please get in contact. I can do full days, half days and evenings and am happy to travel (in the UK).

Flyer

And then there is always Etsy, eBay, car boot sales and I’m hoping to find some markets and fairs to attend. I’m dipping my toe this Saturday when Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild have our 21st birthday exhibition. Some very long time readers might recognise the embroidery on the poster – my North Cornwall Wallhanging!

DSCN0869.JPG

I’m having a stall with a range of beachcombed and original jewellery and also a selection of my upcycled jewellery which has been embroidered or is textile-based in some way. I’ve read reams of stuff on how to have a successful hand made stall and have everything crossed. It will be fun!

 

I was very taken with an article in Stitch magazine some years ago (still available online as a downloadable PDF, I’ve just discovered, with a little light googling) about making something called a bushkiri bag from a folded embroidered square of felt. After doodling a design, I stitched one with cotton perle threads on felt.

DSCN0543.JPG

DSCN0544

It was a nice little project for children and I taught it a few times at school. When I cleared out my sewing things I found I had a few partly worked pieces left, so thought they would be fun and straightforward to stitch while we were on holiday over half term.

DSCN9938.JPG

This one had the central woven spider’s web, an off centre line of running stitch and  some of the radiating wiggly pink lines already stitched, so I just evened those elements up, added some chain stitch, lazy daisy stitch and blanket stitch fans in the corners…

DSCN0545.JPG

…and blanket stitched a piece of grey poly cotton to the back for a lining.

DSCN0547.JPG

The pink one just had a diagonal line of large wobbly running stitches, so I took that out and made it neater before finishing it as whipped running stitch in the cafe at Honister slate mine.

20180531_160827_HDR.jpg

I also managed plenty of plein air stitching at Stagshaw Garden, with a blaze of azaleas behind me…

20180601_121524_HDR.jpg

…and a gorgeous view of Windermere in front.

20180601_110637_HDR.jpg

Despite the midges, I stitched happily on…

20180601_121625_HDR.jpg

20180601_131728_HDR.jpg

…adding alternate rows of chain and whipped running stitch.

DSCN0549.JPG

This one just needs a lining and then I can start on the lighter blue one. It already has a square drawn in the middle so I think I’ll probably go with that and develop it into a pattern of overlapping squares.

Some nice, steady holiday stitching.

 

Our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is having an exhibition at the end of June and a week last Saturday was the deadline for handing in completed pieces of work from the last couple of years to the organisers. We had very helpfully been given a list of all the meetings and workshops to jog our memories so I went down the list, annotating each one as to whether I hadn’t been at the meeting, hadn’t finished it or if it was finished, where it was. There seemed to be two main outcomes – didn’t finish, or made into a card and sent to somebody! The only finished pieces I could lay my hands on for the last two years were my faux driftwood piece…

DSCN9751

…the Chris Gray amulet…

DSCN0140

…and the Brazilian embroidery rose I’d made up into a card but not sent because I couldn’t bear to part with it!

dscn2967

So it ended up a busy week, so busy that I forgot to photograph both the nuno felting which I turned from this:

DSCN1187

…into a simple seascape and a piece of the paper stitching we did with Alice Fox recently which I mounted as a card.

The kantha fish…

20170323_172404_HDR.jpg

…was the first to be finished by stitching him onto a piece of indigo dyed fabric with rows of running stitch that merged into the kantha and then mounting over a 7 x 5 inch canvas.

20180521_144952_HDR.jpg

I also finished a selection of little stitched fragments for my Alice Fox book.

20180526_092652_HDR.jpg

20180526_092721_HDR.jpg

20180526_092736_HDR.jpg

20180526_092802_HDR.jpg

20180526_092755_HDR.jpg

But the really big finish was my English paper piecing. I get bored easily with the piecing process and when we did the workshop, I chose small equilateral triangles – probably not the best shape in the circumstances! At the end of the day I had a pile of triangles in shades of browns and indigo and absolutely no idea what to do with them.

20170429_152439_HDR.jpg

Seeing the workshop on the list I wondered if it was even possible to finish the project, but I had what promised to be a lengthy committee meeting that week and repeatedly stitching together triangles looked like the perfect way of passing the time. It was: by the end of the meeting I had all the finished triangles stitched together and an idea very firmly in my head.

Without using half triangles the shapes you can make with equilateral triangles are rather limited, so I created a diamond which I planned to stitch onto this gorgeous piece of hand dyed indigo with some quilt wadding in between and a plain piece of indigo dyed cotton for the backing.

20180524_174631_HDR.jpg

My trusty Frister and Rossmann coped easily with quilting through all the various layers along the lines of the triangles.

20180524_180249_HDR.jpg

20180524_181404_HDR.jpg

Then I joined a number of strips of woodland themed fabric in three different brown colourways to get enough and had a go at a tutorial I found online (where else?!) for adding a binding with mitred corners as you go. It worked!!

 

20180524_224008_HDR.jpg

20180524_223940_HDR.jpg

I tidied the ends up, wrote (no time to embroider) a label…

20180525_175642_HDR.jpg

…added a hanging sleeve and couched some glittery thread around the edge of the diamond to hide the line where I had machined it down. In hindsight and with more time I would have appliqued it invisibly to the top.

20180525_175620_HDR.jpg

From a handful of triangles…

20170429_135932_HDR.jpg

…to a mini quilt…

20180525_175616_HDR.jpg

…in about three days. I still can’t believe it!