Monday, 31 December 2012

Sample Project 2012 – December

Ta dah!  Sound of own trumpet being blown! This is the final instalment of my 2012 weekly sample project - textile titbits inspired by photos from the book “Underwater Eden, 365 Days” by Jeffrey L. Rotman.

Well at least I’ve completed something as intended this year!



Week 49: Many-Ribbed Hydomedusa

Navy felt base. Hand stitched fine wool thread overlaid with a fringe of textured yarn applied using the embellisher.





Week 50: Reef Table

Free machine embroidery on black cotton – cable stitch worked from the back with various thick threads on the bobbin (pearl cotton, Burmilana, Natesh).






Week 51: Triggerfish

White viscose fibres embellished onto pale blue felt, black felt silhouette of fish embellished on top.





Week 52: Sandy Lagoon, Jackson Reef

Background of beige felt embellished with scrim. French knots in various threads.



So that’s all folks… until the next one? I don’t suppose I’ll be able to resist doing this exercise again, for a seventh year – I’m addicted now. I’ve bought a 2013 Wild Nature Diary from The John Muir Trust, which has gorgeous (but scarily challenging) landscape and nature photos for each week. But can I really face it? Should l, is it healthy?! Watch this space…

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and creative 2013!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Patchwork Meadow Project


Have you heard about this? I came across it accidentally, I haven’t seen it promoted in any of my embroidery places. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention and I’m the last to know, that wouldn’t surprise me at the moment.

Plantlife, the charity for wild plants, is creating a “giant Bayeux Tapestry of Britain’s plants”:    

Britain has a long lasting love affair with wildflowers, our native plants and flowers are scattered through out literature, history, art, folklore and fashion.

Plantlife’s unique project celebrates this heritage and will see us bring together the stories of Britain’s wildflowers in the form of a giant patchwork exhibition called the “Patchwork Meadow”.

They’re inviting submissions of 15cm fabric squares - sewn, woven, painted, printed, felted, beaded, or made of lace. The deadline is 31 March 2013.

The design can be a realistic depiction, a landscape or cultural setting, or an abstract design based on all or part of the plant. Plants can be flowers, grasses, trees, fungi, mosses, algae, and should currently grow wild in the UK countryside.

The completed piece will be shown in a series of exhibitions around the UK.

Full details of the project and how to take part are here.

Might make a nice little fun project for the winter? Though I could easily spend three months just trying to decide on my plant… and then which technique… Great for groups and schools too, pass it on!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sample Project 2012 – November

So near the end now, but it’s been a struggle to get through this five sample month. For any new readers (hi!), each week I’m choosing one of the seven photos for that week in  “Underwater Eden – 365 Days” by Jeffrey L. Rotman as the starting point for some kind of textiley doodle. It’d make more sense if you could see the photos, but it wouldn’t be fair to rip them off -you’ll just have to get hold of the (really gorgeous) book!   

Here we go then…



Week 44: Tail of an Ornate Surgeonfish

Commercial felt blended and textured using the Embellisher machine.







Week 45: Tail of a Stoplight Parrotfish

Gathered/pleated fabrics.




Week 46: Gorgonian Coral

Zigzag stitch over thick wool and fine wire on Aquasol. Polyps made separately by free machining on Kunin felt then “cutting” out with a soldering iron.





Week 47: Colony of Sea Urchins

Machine embroidery using Flower Stitch attachment.







Week 48: Pelagic Octopus

Free machine embroidery with shaded thread on black felt.




Only four more weeks to go! So now the question is, should I do another weekly sample project in 2013, or would it maybe be more of an achievement to resist? After 6 years, perhaps it’s just a tad too obsessive? What do you think?

Monday, 26 November 2012

If it’s November, it must be…

The Knitting and Stitching Show! The Harrogate one, that is… why the most northerly one is held just as winter hits the UK is a continuing mystery. This time it was floods and gales that threatened to deny us our textile treat.

But despite the weather, and other struggles, I made it. And as always, I did enjoy it, though it’s no longer as exciting as the early days… well what can I expect after 20 or so years (!!!) of the same show? 


These threads were all I bought; the colours are much nicer than a quick flash photo can show you. Lovely shaded Shetland wool from 21st Century Yarns and cotton perle from Stef Francis and Oliver Twists (still no website!)– the kind of thing that’s hard to buy by mail order. For a little HAND (!) stitching… with a difference (hopefully).

The Textile Gallery is the real attraction though. And while I didn’t find anything really stunning, it was great to totally immerse myself in textile art for a couple of hours. I’ll just show a few examples here, plus links to some fab websites where you can see more of the work. (BTW, all images here are ones made available by the artists on their websites). 

StreefkerkThe 62 Group are still stars. Lots to enjoy, but I was tickled by Hannah Streefkerk’s pile of pebbles in crocheted covers, called “To Conserve”. Not so much the pebbles themselves, as the sweet text explaining them:

“People wear clothes to protect them against cold etc. Stones have to deal with lots of different kinds of weather types. When the stones are not protected they become smaller and smaller. In this work Hannah wants to help the stones and prevent them from becoming sand.”


The “Reveal” group’s “Unfolding Stories” exhibit was one of my favourites, and you can see a lot of it on their website. Kerry Mosley’s free machined portraits on an open knitted wire mesh always stand out – my kind of technique, if not my kind of subject. Fiona Rainford had felt seedpods in lovely subtle colours (so much felt work is anything but!). And Jennie Merriman used clear acrylic with simple stitching and marks to construct a large sculptural mobile which cast beautiful shadows (you might know I’d enjoy that); also little books.

O2 Textiles, “Curiouser, Curiouser and Curiouser” was also really interesting. Click here to watch a fantastic slideshow of all their work. Zoe Cox’s details of butterfly wings caught my eye; I did some very similar dense FME ones myself years ago. But she’d gone further and done others with row upon row of tiny scales of coloured organzas. And Chris Bojan’s  work was fresh and funny – especially Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area”, b/w photos of a supermarket with a bright fabric/stitch fantasy creature at the checkout!

The only piece I tried to buy was from Natalie Simone Davies, in the Graduate Showcase – but she wouldn’t part with anything before the end of the show! I really liked her laser cut birch ply with French knot texture showing through the holes.



Oh yes, and mustn’t forget Jean Draper, always a favourite of mine – maybe because of the Arizona landscapes that inspire her, and because her work is so different to anything I can do myself. Unfortunately there aren’t any images of this new work, ”Landmarks”, and she has no website – but she does have a book coming out next autumn so I’ll have to wait for that.

So, that’s K&S over for another year… no, I won’t be going to the new spring one in Birmingham. Let’s hope the new ownership of Twisted Thread doesn’t ruin “our” show.

Monday, 5 November 2012

And the winner is…




Picked by Himself (I hope you didn’t think that was my hand!).




Iz, of Threadnoodle, it’s you! Please email me your address and the brooch will be on its way to you shortly.

I’m grateful to all those who left me a comment, including some who prefer not to do the “Follow” thing – I do understand, and it’s been a really interesting exercise. If you’d still like a brooch, you can use the coupon code frogblog10 to get 10% off a similar one in my Etsy Shop. Or anything else, for that matter… why not make a start on the Christmas shopping?!

(This offer is valid until Monday 12/11/12 at 9 a.m. GMT) 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sample Project 2012 – October

It’s that time again! Another batch of my weekly samples, each inspired by one of the wonderful photos for that week in “Underwater Eden” by Jeffrey L. Rotman.


Week 40: Sheet Coral

Free machine embroidery and quilting on hand dyed calico, plus French knots.






Week 41: Crinoid

Hand stitch – couching.

The feathery arms looked just like bead fringes. But I didn’t have suitable beads - let alone the patience.






Week 42: Gills of whitetip reef shark

Curved tucks, overcast, on hand dyed cotton velvet.

A lot of close ups of sharks – skin, teeth, eyes - in this section of the book. Not the most inspiring stitchy subjects. 



Week 43: Skin of epaulette shark

White, black and tan felt plus tan net, melded together using the embellisher. Quite pleased with how close this came to the scaly, spotted skin in the end! And some interesting effects I might be able to use again.


Only two more months, nine more samples to do now to complete another year. Already wondering what, if anything, to do next year… perhaps I should give up, to prove that I can?! 

PS My little giveaway (see previous posts) closes in about 12 hours – leave a comment and Follow/Join to be in the running!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Blooming Daft


What was I thinking… the deadline I set for my first attempt at a little giveaway was far too short. Especially as it’s half term, I hadn’t realised. Sorry, I’m really not with it at the moment.

So I hope nobody will mind, but I’ve decided to add on a week. Follow me and leave a comment by 9 a.m. GMT on Monday 5th November to enter the draw for a Bloom brooch (see previous post).

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hand Stitch Perspectives and a little something extra

A new stitchy book! It’s a rare thing these days. My shelves are already close to collapse, it’s one in, one out. And to be honest, most of the new releases don’t appeal – so often full of the same old basics, simple projects to copy, and “discoveries” that us old hands have seen (and done) before.


Hand Stitch Perspectives has been compiled by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating. It’s the natural companion to their previous book, Machine Stitch Perspectives - a serious consideration of hand embroidery from various points of view. Whilst there are plenty of photos, this isn’t a “picture book”; it’s a collection of thoughtful essays. I haven’t read much of it yet, and I think it might make my brain hurt, but some of the subjects look fascinating – such as Embroidery and the F-Word (feminism of course!), and Tom Lundberg’s personal journey.   

Ooh, and at the back there’s an “inventions stitch glossary” – exciting samples including cable chain stitch in clay, rubber bands couched onto cardboard, cross stitch tent poles on grass. You can see some of them here.

So if you love embroidery and fancy giving the grey cells a bit of a work out, it might be one for the Christmas list.

And my little something extra? Well it seems this is my 100th post – ta-daah! I’m still only a beginner at this blogging business (just as everyone else is spending more time on Facebook, ha), and I’ve slowed down recently as life has got tough. Also, my blog has very few Followers, although quite a lot more people (especially in Russia and Turkey!) seem to read it.

BloomBroochSo I’ll combine a little giveaway with a shameless bid to gain a few Followers. Leave a comment on here by 9 a.m. GMT on Monday 29th October, and if you’re also a Follower you’ll be entered into a draw to win this “Bloom” stick pin brooch. It’s my own design, built up from layers of lacy free machining on dissolvable fabric. Similar ones are for sale in my Etsy and Folksy shops, but those have different brooch pins – I’m still not sure which I prefer. 

Go on, you can always un-follow me after the draw… but I’m hoping you’ll forget!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Winter Lux


Tomorrow sees the opening of this Christmas exhibition at the lovely Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, Lancashire. There’s a nice little slideshow here to tempt you along.


“Star Lace – Orion” (above) is one of my framed pieces that’s included, along with a selection of Bloom embroidered brooches (below).


The lacy brooches are also available in my Etsy and Folksy shops if you can’t get to Clitheroe!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sample Project 2012 - September

I found this month’s pictures a bit challenging. And I still struggle to remember that I don’t have to try and reproduce the chosen one! I must keep trying to loosen up – all I’m aiming for is a little sample triggered by the “Underwater Eden” photo, it really doesn’t matter if I haven’t got the right colour fabric or thread!


Week 36: Caribbean Reef Shark (eye)

Machine stitch and applique, using Lutradur foiled with Misty Fuse, organza, felt and metallic fabric.






Week 37: Glassy Sweepers

Blurred image of moving fish.

Viscose fibres embellished onto felt. Rubbish, this one, but I’m proud of myself for accepting it and moving on instead of wasting time trying to perfect something that didn’t grab me.  



Week 38: Yellowfin Goatfish

These fish had striking yellow tails and lines along their bodies so I managed to just do those!

Fly stitch on background of embellished felt and scrim.




Week 39: Marine Iguana

An abstracted section of part of the iguana’s spiny back against the rock, weed and ocean.

Embellished background of felt, Wensleydale wool and bamboo fibres; blanket stitch.



Only three more months to go now!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Badger Murdering Licences Available From Today

This blog is normally all about textile art. Today that seems too much of an indulgence. If you don’t care about wildlife, I’m sorry (very very sorry), this post isn’t for you.  


Following the failure of a legal appeal last week, the first licence was issued today, allowing landowners and farmers to shoot badgers (a protected species) without risk of arrest.   

Can you stand by while up to a third of this country’s badger population is wiped out? I can’t. It makes me sick. It is immoral and stupid.

Farmers and the government claim that badgers spread TB to cattle. Surely that’s the wrong way round - bovine TB is a problem of the farming industry, it is their responsibility to remove it from the cattle population and stop them infecting our native wildlife. The badgers were here first!

If you’re not up to speed on this issue, you can read about it here.

The science says no. The simple truth is that a decade-long scientific trial of badger culling concluded that it would not help and might well make the situation worse. And yet the government has given the go ahead, bowing to pressure from farmers.

It’s not about money. The government's own impact assessment concluded that it would cost farmers more to carry out the cull than to do nothing and suffer any losses from bovine TB.

Vaccination is the obvious answer. The last Labour government said an oral badger vaccine would be ready by 2015. The coalition cancelled five of six trials of injectable vaccines.

Killing. And it gets worse still… the authorised cull will be carried out by marksmen “free shooting” the badgers – cheaper than the trapping method used in the trial but less reliable and humane. Lots of fun for men who enjoy killing though…

None if it makes any sense, does it? But what can you expect from a government which now has a climate change denier in charge of Environment  and a homeopathy fan in charge of the NHS. Mad, bad and dangerous.

So what can we do?

1. Petitions

e-petition set up by Brian May and promoted by the Badger Trust, Chris Packham, David Attenborough and many other naturalists and other scientists.

38 Degrees – Rethink the Badger Cull

Enough names on these really can make a difference by getting the issues in front of parliament. 

2. Support the Badger Trust, the organisation fighting the cull in the courts

3. Boycott English Dairy Products (and beef if you’re not veggie).

Sign Viva’s pledge here, money talks! Wales has called off the planned cull in favour of vaccination, so I’d rather buy Welsh products. 

4. Spread the word 

Please pass on the petitions (at least) to as many people as possible.

Let’s hope something can be done to save the badger population from this cruel, morally and scientifically unjustifiable policy. It makes me ashamed of this country.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sample Project 2012–August

A five sample month. And two thirds of the way through.

More stitchy bits inspired by photographs from the book “Underwater Eden –365 Days” by Jeffery L. Rotman. Each week I choose one of the seven photos relating to that week to work from. Lots of fish with jazzy skin turned up this month!



Week 31: Bicolor Parrotfish

Needle felting, using layers of commercial felt.








Week 32: Steepheaded Parrotfish

Machine embroidery (built-in scallop pattern) on brocade fabric.







Week 33: Honeycomb Cowfish

French knots on needle felted background.





Week 34: Colonial Anemones

Lutradur 30 shapes attached to black cotton fabric by free machining their centres only.







Week 35: Smooth Brittle Star

Bonded organza ribbons, Kunin felt applied with free machine embroidery.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

New Brooches


This week I’ve been working on some new little brooches along the same lines as my bowls and bookmarks. Well not everyone can offer a suitable home for a bowl that’s not intended to hold anything, can they? And lots of people have Kindles so they don’t need a bookmark…


Note my valiant (?) efforts at “styling”… I find this so difficult, trying to come up with suitable props and backgrounds. I need to work on it though, as apart from adding interest, it helps with the problem where pieces show up at many times life size in my shops – NOT flattering for free machining!

The first few of these are in my Folksy and Etsy shops now.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cloth and Memory


Quick trip to Saltaire this morning to catch the “Cloth and Memory” exhibition before it finishes on Monday.

It’s two textile artists and one painter responding to the history of Salts Mill – “the memory of cloth and the making of cloth that has seeped into the fabric of the building”. 

I was especially drawn to Beverly Ayling-Smith’s “Fragmented Memories” pieces, comprising faint prints (?) of a child’s dress on fine white fabric, totally fragmented and then loosely pieced together again. And her “Embedded Memory”, a few simple stitches suggesting a similar tiny dress but appearing to be worked into the actual white brick walls. Some pictures here, including the stitched wall.

curtain detail

Carol Quarini used net curtains “…as a metaphor for the duality of home as sanctuary and prison…” . Huge curtains covered in tallies formed from thousands of pins and needles suggest marking time or laborious counting. Small net curtains are embroidered with phrases such as “I can see through you”, hinting at what they have witnessed. On Carol’s blog you can see and read how the work was developed right through to installation.

Bob Smith’s paintings of cloth and clothing were impressive in combining work on a grand scale with subtle layers of almost hidden detail, all in a striking orange palette. But I’m sorry, just not to my taste – I need the depth and extra dimensions that textile art delivers!   

Do have a look at the website, there’s a lot of info and pics on there. And if you missed this exhibition, as I so nearly did (never saw much publicity), Cloth and Memory 2 will take place in 2013.







There are images here and  

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Lots of Lovely Links


Back in ye olden days (late 1990s!) I set up my first website as a place to store all the textile art links I’d found. There was nothing like it around at the time, so lots of people took to using it, especially students.

Over the years search engines evolved, the web grew exponentially, and it became much easier for everyone to find textile art for themselves. My site gradually focused more on my own work.

But my link collection is still there, and still growing. I list artists, galleries, supplies & services, arts organisations, and publications, all in alphabetical order. Websites, not blogs – there’s other ways to collect those.

I don’t do “reciprocal links”. I just add anything I personally find beautiful, interesting or useful, so it’s obviously biased towards my tastes – lots of embroidery, some paper, not so much quilting. And the suppliers are mostly UK ones.

I’ve just finished checking and updating it, so I thought it was a good time to share – why don’t you grab a cuppa and enjoy a browse? I’m sure you’ll find something new or forgotten, I always do!   


Sunday, 12 August 2012

One door closes…


Yesterday I attended my last meeting of Textilia III, the textile art group that has been a big part of my life for 10 years.

I’ve learned, shared and enjoyed such a lot over that time; it’s been full of challenges but great fun too. So leaving is a huge step into the unknown. But I felt I was stuck in a comfy rut and needed to shock myself into seeking out new opportunities. I can’t do things by halves – being committed to Textilia, its monthly meetings, workshops, frequent exhibitions, plus running the website, meant I couldn’t think of committing to anything else in textile art, but it was time for a change.

So now I’m free to… what? Start a new group, aim for a solo exhibition, write a book? Or something else altogether? I have no idea what the next step is.

Watch this space! And wish me luck, it’s not going to be easy…

(Photo – ploughing on through stormy seas. Antarctica, 2009. Apt?!)

Monday, 6 August 2012

Sample Project 2012 – July

All sorts of techniques this month. I’m just sorry I can’t show you the wonderful photos in “Underwater Eden – 365 Days” that inspired them.


Week 27: Northern Sea Stars

French knots on a background of embellished felt.




Week 28: Candy Cane Starfish

Red synthetic sheer fabric free machined over calico in spotty pattern, then burned away with soldering iron to reveal cream calico below.





Week 29: Queen Triggerfish

Loose knitting with crewel/embroidery threads. Embellished onto felt while distorting.




Week 30: Hawksbill Turtle

Pale mottled Kunin felt over black wool felt, free machined polygons, zapped with heat gun.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Folksy Summer Sampler

Look what popped through my letterbox!


It’s Folksy’s “Summer Sampler”, sent out to tempt more people to take a look, get involved, spread the word about the UK’s alternative to Etsy.

It folds out to A2, with a lovely selection of hand crafted goodies on one side and makers’ stories on the other.


Why did I get one? It’s those bowls again! One of my Cottage Garden bowls is pictured in the “Stuff We Love” section. <blush>


Aren’t I lucky? A big thank you to everyone at Folksy, and let’s hope it brings us all lots more friends and customers.

Friday, 27 July 2012


Or, flowers… but did that grab your attention?!


Hot off the Bernina – a batch of “Bloom” brooches, now launched in my Etsy and Folksy shops.

The design was inspired by alliums, and they did start off in suitable shades of purple, but the colours have branched out a bit now… there’s no limit really, I could do rainbow ones! Each flower head is made up of four layers, free machined on dissolvable fabric and put together to make a lacy, three-dimensional structure.  

I made the first few for Textilia’s recent exhibition at Farfield Mill, to tie in with one of my framed pieces, and they sold out. But for this new batch I’ve switched from stick pins to tiny brooch backs. They looked good on long metal “stalks”, but that effect was lost when they were pinned on clothing, and the stick pins were a bit thick anyway. These will work better on fine fabrics I think.

Only trouble is, they look HUGE in the photos in my shops – bigger than life size, of course they don’t seem as delicate and lacy as in real life. Hmm. There’s an awful lot to learn with this online shopping business.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sample Project 2012 - June

Running a little late, thanks to a sunny holiday (sorry!) – none of the stitching I took along was touched. But yes, I’ve kept this latest weekly sample project going for half a year now!



Week 23: Prickly alcyonarian coral

Machine embroidery using built-in pattern in ombre thread.







Week 24: Scarlet sea fan

Synthetic organza machine stitched over black cotton then burned away with a soldering iron.






Week 25: Blotched puffer fish

It was a ball of spines! Machine stitched on dissolvable fabric (shown against separate black background).






Week 26: Gorgonian coral

Red felt embellished onto pink, hand embroidery.