Thursday, 22 December 2011

Here comes the sun

Living where we do, with Ilkley Moor rising behind us to the south, there are a few weeks in winter when we don’t see the sun at all. So the solstice is definitely something to celebrate! And this is the song for it - no, not that Beatles one, but nearly as ancient (please don’t remind me exactly how old) -Jethro Tull, “Ring Out Solstice Bells”.

Wishing everyone a very happy solstice.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

In Print

For many years now, Caroline Mornement’s “Craft Galleries Guide” (BCF Books) has helped me find new galleries to visit all over the UK. A new edition has just been published – but unfortunately it’s the last. Another casualty of the Internet I suppose.


But, there was a lovely surprise when my copy arrived - I got a mention! This piece of mine, Botanica 1, is featured in the Platform Gallery’s entry.


If you order before the end of March it’s only £12.50 inc. p&p from BCF Books.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sample Diary–November

Not much further to go now! I was determined to post this today but the light is awful so apologies for even worse than usual photos.GD44

Week 44 - Autumn foliage at Newstead Abbey, Notts.  Dyed scrims embellished onto felt from the back.


Week 45 – Launch of the new Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior.  Digitised machine embroidery. Not perfect, but you get the idea.


Week 46 – Rolled up garments, illustrating article about increased prices.  Thick wool yarns applied to felt using the embellisher. 


Week 47 – “Field of Light” art installation in Bath.  Free machined, trailing threads fixed down with Misty Fuse.

Only one more month to do, though it’s a five week one at a busy time… thoughts turn to next year’s project? I enjoyed using bought diaries for my first four years (!) of this, it’s a good challenge to do something you wouldn’t necessarily choose plus I liked being able to look ahead and make notes for future weeks. Using newspaper pictures this year was tougher, but I doubt I can go back to a diary as there’s not much choice of suitable/appealing ones (A5-ish with an illustration for each week) that are different to the ones I’ve done already. Maybe I could take my own photo to use each week? Hmm…

Friday, 25 November 2011

Knitting and Stitching Show @ Harrogate

It didn’t snow! No fog or rain! Unusually lucky for the annual pilgrimage to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I’ll never understand why the most northerly of the shows is the latest in the year, but we got away with it this time.

So, into the labyrinth… five big halls to explore, and the ways between them don’t seem to get any less confusing with practise. Eventually realised I’d managed to miss one corner, a supplier I knew was in there somewhere, but too exhausted to fight my way back through the crowds by then. HIC

The highlights, as ever, were the Textile Gallery and the Graduate Showcase. The Textile Study Group had a polished exhibition, “Individual and Collective”, each member showing a picture of an artwork that inspired them beside their own work. But the catalogue didn’t mention these, or even include many of the works on show – I think it must’ve had to be produced too far in advance? (Know the problem, gg)

I really liked minimally stitched pieces by Pat Clayton (coast/shoreline) and Joan Lamb (dusky East Africa sky and grasses) in the Textile Expressions exhibition. Beautifully done, very evocative; sadly I can’t find any websites for them or their group.

Ten Plus Textiles also had an impressive show for their 20th anniversary year, and I surprised myself by picking woven, not stitched, pieces as my favourites - Jane White’s painted warp. Guess what… no pics.

In the Graduate Showcase, I was delighted to see some of Diana Barrett’s degree work – I know her as a machine embroidery star, making stunning vessels and unique intensely stitched wall pieces, but she’s really branched out for her BA. Here she also had long hangings with limited areas of stitch or even none. Beautiful laser cut patterns in off-white fabric, well of course I’d love those, I always go for pieces that cast lovely shadows. Congratulations on your First, Diana, well deserved. FloralBeerCans_Melanie-Kay_blog

The other new graduate who excited me was Melanie Kay, with her stitched beer cans. She had lampshades and reconstructed embroidered cans but what really worked for me were the lacy pieces, heavily perforated with lots of punched holes. She has pics out on the web so I don’t think she’ll mind if I show one here. (I don’t take photos at these shows, it seems wrong to put pictures of other people’s work on the web if they haven’t done so themselves.)


What did I bring home? Not a lot really… it’s one of those rules, I’m always between projects when the show rolls round and then the following week I’ll be desperate for supplies I could have got so easily if I’d known. Some Razzle threads to try on the machine bobbin, dyed scrims to use on the embellisher, some green rubbery stuff to make print blocks (those starlings maybe?), the new Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn book (Stitch Rhythms & Patterns), lots of cards. But mostly – inspiration, a renewed determination to try harder with my own work!

Sunday, 20 November 2011



Isn’t that a wonderful word for a wonderful phenomenon?

This week we took a quick trip to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve to catch the spectacular sight of up to 100,000 starlings swirling over the reed beds before finally settling down to roost. It’s one of the great sights of autumn/winter in the UK, catch it if you can! This site lists some of the best places.

The constantly changing patterns painted in 3D across the sky are just stunning, different everFlock5y time.    

So now I’m wondering, is it possible to capture the spirit of this in stitch? I’ve had quite a few attempts at flocks of birds, using shadows to add another layer, but for these massive flocks it’d need to be on a completely different scale. Hmm… thousands of tiny black dots… not ideal for machine embroidery!  

(one of my Flock pieces)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Textilia III exhibition

Our latest show is now on at the Signature Gallery, Kendal, until the end of the year.


There’s an amazing variety of textile art, from framed pieces to jewellery and accessories. You can see machine and hand embroidery, felting, rag rugging, handmade books and mixed media. Something for everyone and lots of great Christmas gifts.


This is one of my pieces that’s included – Botanica 3. Unfortunately the gallery lighting doesn’t show it at its best, it’s meant to cast shadows as in this photo. The little motifs are made using a Flower Stitcher attachment and suspended on fine wire.

More photos on the group website here. The hanging team did a great job in tricky circumstances – the walls of this old building are far from straight, so you’ll have to excuse the slightly drunken appearance of some pieces; they’d look MUCH better on YOUR walls! 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Sample Diary–October

You won’t be surprised to hear that I got a bit behind with this month! But I’ve caught up now.



Week 40 – Graphene.  New “wonder material”, a lattice of carbon atoms one atom thick.

Free machine embroidery on dissolvable fabric, with hand sewn beads.





Week 41 – T-Pylon. New design for electricity pylons.

Hand stitch on painted canvas.







Week 42 – Balloon seller in Kabul.

Bonded and machine stitched sheers.








Week 43 – Advert. for Audi winter tyres.

Strips of felt decorated with auto machine embroidery pattern; eight-strand braiding. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

This year (unusually) we didn’t get to Origin, so it was compulsory to go to this – the north’s nearest equivalent – yesterday. It’s going from strength to strength, lots of exciting new designer-makers and not too many of the same people each time. In fact many of the makers who were new to Origin this year were ones we’d already seen at GNCCF in 2010 so we didn’t miss too much.

GNCCFCarrAs last year, one of my favourites was Catherine Fuga-Carr, who crochets glass dishes. Yes really – a very clever, unique process Delighted to hear how successful she’s been since her debut last year as a new graduate. A little example came home with me this time, gorgeous.








An exciting new discovery – Yu-Ping Lin, who makes ingenious textile jewellery. Her complex origami-like forms, made of layered, bonded and cut fabrics, can be transformed by manipulating the folds and turning them inside out.  



GNCCFlaneI always enjoy Clare Lane’s striking canvases, even though urban scenes don’t usually appeal to me. Love the way her digitally simplified photos are enhanced by densely stitched areas.







Another textile artist, Caroline Kirton, takes her inspiration from teenage life.



GNCCFJewelsAs always, it seemed as though there were more jewellers than all other crafts put together. I’m not complaining… wonderful stuff, I can’t get enough of it. When the lottery numbers come up, it’s kinetic jewellery from Victoria Walker and Alan Ardiff for me. My favourites were a poppy seedhead ‘locket’ by Walker, which opened into a flower. Beautiful magic, and so skilled. Of Ardiff’s pendants I liked ‘new leaf’ – turn the tiny handle and the suspended leaf flips over to reveal a different coloured side. 

Altogether a fabulous show, very inspiring. So much more I could write about… but why not browse the GNCCF website and see for yourself?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Oh I do like to be…


…RIGHT beside the sea! This was the view from the house we stayed in for a few days this week, in Northumberland.

We had a great time exploring the coast, brilliant blue skies and “fresh” winds made for spectacular sea views. Very relaxing, just what we needed. 

Came across this seat in the dunes, an unexpected textiley creation:


Driftwood, woven rope, festooned net – love it!

Monday, 17 October 2011

All over bar the tidying

The inaugural Ilkley Art Trail has been a great success! Visitor numbers peaked on Sunday as the weather cooperated and word got around. Or to be fair, was put around by wonderful volunteers accosting passers-by in town. Many thanks due to Lorna and Lucia and their helpers.

The garage is once more bare, and quite a few items have gone to new homes - from brooches and cards to little thread bowls and framed pictures. But there’s a lot still to be put away. Never mind, it can wait… I’m having a well-earned break now! 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Last chance to see!


Once again the garage is bedecked with bunting and transformed into my own little gallery for the final weekend of the Ilkley Art Trail.

I’m showing over twenty wall pieces, a selection of my ‘soluble lace’ bowls, textile jewellery, plus cards, bookmarks, unframed pieces and more. Take a look at my website and Etsy shop to see examples of my work. 

The weather looks promising, so where better for a day out than beautiful Wharfedale?

Full programme (with map) available on the Ilkley Art Trail website, or pick up a paper copy when you visit me (email if you need directions).

Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sample Diary - September

I’m a bit late with this! But even the Ilkley Art Trail can’t stop me now, when I’ve got so far through the year. Each week a little textile doodle in response to a picture from the newspaper.  


Week 35 – Space junk orbiting Earth

Paint spatters and cross stitch.







Week 36 – David Hockney’s Yorkshire tree paintings

Background of embellished felt/wool fibres, free machine embroidery.







Week 37 – New Dyson “Hot” fan heater

Paperclips, hand stitch.






Week 38 – Protest against corruption in Brazilian politics

They planted hundreds of brooms on Copacabana beach! Great idea, would I have heard about it if they just had boring placards?

Free machine embroidery on soluble fabric for broom heads, zigzag covered wire for handles.



Week 39 – Proposal to raise speed limit to 80 mph

Head- and tail-lights.

Free machine embroidery.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ilkley Art Trail: Now Open!


Here’s a glimpse of my garage gallery!

Open 10-5 this weekend and next weekend. There are around 30 venues, all different media – take a look at the IAT website. The Literature Festival is on too, and Ilkley’s a great place for a day out anyway – glorious Wharfedale scenery and the famous Betty’s tearoom, what more could you ask?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ilkley Art Trail–five days to go!


Wow, it’s come round fast – the Ilkley Art Trail/Open Studios begins next Saturday. A first for Ilkley, and a first for me too!

When I first heard about it in the spring I thought it’d be businesses in town giving over some of their window space to artists – that’s what Art Trails often seem to mean. And there is a bit of that… but what I’ve ended up doing is turning our garage into a little temporary gallery!

Now the spiders have been evacuated (sorry guys), new lights installed, it’s all painted white inside and just about ready. The hooks are in place to hang the wall art, but being a garage, in October, I’m not leaving it all in there until next weekend.

This week ALL I’ve got to do is signs and labels, plus cards and other small bits and bobs. And work out how to display all those things, along with some of my little thread bowls and some mini framed pieces.

If you’re not too far away, how about coming along? The Trail has over 30 artists, showing paintings, prints, glass, jewellery, ceramics, wood… and several other textile and mixed media people including my friend Linda Dewart. And it’s all timed to coincide with the Ilkley Literature Festival too. What more could you want?

Monday, 19 September 2011


What a wet and windy week to pick for a break! But we dodged around the stormy weather and got out and about in the Dales and the Lakes.
It’s years since I stopped at Aysgarth (Wensleydale) for a close look at the falls… I don’t remember proper paths, and certainly not the carvings dotted around. Love this fence:
AysgarthMiddleFenceNot a good pic, sorry, but it reads “Thunderous water conquers rock – a waterfall is born”. 
A spectacular visit to the Lakes too, managed to choose the best day of the week and stayed a night at the lovely Yewfield veggie B&B near Hawkshead. We had a room in the tower with wonderful views:
So now I’m all set up for the final push to the Christmas exhibitions and the first ever Ilkley Art Trail. The next few weeks are going to be frantic. It feels like however much I make, it won’t be enough, or won’t be the right thing to focus on.
I made a new batch of bowls the other week, but suddenly it’s bookmarks that are flying off the virtual shelves.
Four of these (three different designs) set off for new homes today, so I need to stitch some more fast – but which, and how many?  Aaargh!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sample Diary–August

It’s that time again! Working towards several exhibitions, I wonder if I should make time for this – but I’m hooked, over half way through the year I really can’t let it slide now.

GD31   Week 31 – Restored Wrest Park garden opening to the public (the Italian Garden)

French knots. Enough French Knots to last this machine stitcher a long time.






Week 32 – Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Different textured yarns couched onto felt using the embellisher.






Week 33 – Heather in bloom on the North York Moors.

Yes, that’s the North York, not North Yorkshire, Moors all you southern hacks! 

Dyed scrim embellished onto felt from the back.




Week 34 – “Life comes in 8.7m varieties”, 2.2m of them in the sea

Free machining on felt over Romeo.

Turned out interestingly stiff, hmmm, potential…

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dragonfly Dance


This new piece is a celebration of the dragonflies that brighten our pond and garden every summer. Well, every summer until this one, it seems! Maybe it was the recent bad winters… I hope they’ll be back next year.


These dragonflies are machine embroidered, with delicate wings of Lutradur touched with silver. They float above the surface on fine wires, casting shadows that add to the dance.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sample Diary–July

Month seven, and I’m still going (just). Can’t say I’ve felt spoilt for choice of inspiring images in the newspaper – each week there seems to be just one that might work, and sometimes that’s only found by rummaging in the recycling bin! 



Week 27 – Obituary of Cy Twombly.

Needle felting.








Week 28 – Thailand stock exchange.

Cross stitch. Yes really, counted cross stitch on Aida! 






Week 29 – Umbrellas.

Ribbed Spider’s Web.






Week 30 – Eden Project biome.

Hand stitch with metallic thread on card.



Just realised – no machine embroidery at all! Well that’s what this exercise is all about, a bit of variety.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Blue Fingers

Yes, I’ve been dyeing… how did you guess?!
With a warm day to myself this weekend I took the opportunity to play in the garden with indigo. It’s a few years since I last tried it – for me, it’s one of those things where it takes a while to forget the pain and only remember the tempting colours and patterns.

So, there’s the alchemy of the bright green turning that glorious deep deep blue, and the magic of resist patterns… and then there’s the endless rinsing, washing, cleaning up the gear, ironing. Oh yes, and unpicking the stitched resists that were so carefully secured and are now too well camouflaged (yes I should’ve used something that wouldn’t take the dye – didn’t have anything strong enough). A few minutes fun and hours of what seems way too much like housework!         
But my new T is pretty spectacular, no? And I just love the arashi (pole wrapped) linen with its wavy patterns – I think that’s my fave technique, so effective but really quick and easy to do.

Of course I did dye some plain fabric, flax fibres and yarns as well – there’s always a point where I hate to waste the dye and nothing’s safe .  

Now, what can I do with it all? A shame to spoil the shibori patterns with stitching…

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Evolution of the Peppered Moth

Not the most dramatic of pieces, is it?!
Maybe I’m being too literal here, but I felt it had to be subtle. You see the Peppered Moth is a lovely example of natural selection. Before the Industrial Revolution, the pale variety survived best as it hid from predators on light coloured trees. When the trees were darkened by soot and pollution, the darker moths flourished as the pale ones were now more easily picked off by birds. And today, with cleaner air again, it’s the pale ones who are becoming dominant again.  
So – most of my embroidered moths don’t show up much. On purpose. Perhaps not the greatest idea for a piece of art! But hey, Darwin is my hero, this idea has been driving me crazy for ages; I’ve got it out of my system now.

It’s machine embroidery on Lutradur and soluble fabrics.