Tuesday, 29 March 2011


I’ve had a bit of a dodgy week – felt really under the weather and had scary symptoms like waking up five or six times in the night with numb hands, or pins and needles. A quick look on the web convinced me that I had something really nasty and life-threatening so I high-tailed it to the docs to be diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel syndrome.

Not very nice but greatly preferable to some of the things I thought I had. So I have to have some tests and possibly injections to begin with. It was something of a relief really. I think it might subside on its own if I lay off the hand stitching for a while, as it has been quite intense.

I’m doing three pieces for an exhibition at Ramster Gardens next month and they are big on silk paper and hand stitching. I’m only going to show you teasy bits as they form part of an article for the June issue of Workshop on the Web which is about translating designs into stitch. We have a wonderful article on sketchbooks from Anne Menary and some super stuff from Janet Crowther on generating ideas for stitch, so I thought a practical write-up on the transfer process would be good. My base is silk paper with water-soluble inserts. Plus lots of stitching.


Having had the diagnosis, I reverted to machine embroidery for these alien birds which form the top of a panel. The inspiration is an imaginary planet with a cut-through section. Imagine it rotated 90deg left - for some reason, blogger keeps turnng this one round.

On another subject, I do hope that the cuts leave our libraries alone. Ours does fun things like this initiative. A mystery book hidden in an envelope. I’d never heard of Rebecca Stott but 'The Coral Thief' is a fabulous read and both Clive and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Although we have a kindle for ebooks, I still use the libraries a lot. I love the fact that you can download a whole chapter free to see if you like a book. There’s never time in a shop to read enough and I have made very few mistakes since we’ve had the kindle. If I like a book, I sometimes order it from the library, although I’m building up an e-collection.

Do you think there would be a market for stitch books in e-format? Some years ago Val and I did a great book for the Guild (The Machine Embroiderers’ Workbook) – starting from scratch and building up. I got the rights back when they didn’t reprint so could publish it. It wasn’t in colour but a website could be used for that. The original book had blank pages for readers to put their samples in and we saw some wonderful books. Maybe that would be better online so the pages could be printed out and saved in a file. What does anyone think? Must go now and give the wrists a rest!




Lynne said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed your mystery book. Those of us that work in libraries appreciate all the support we've been getting lately. I haven't got into e-books yet as I'm not too keen on the idea of reading a novel in that format but I have been hoping that stitch and craft books would be produced as I think I would be much more tempted by a book that I refer to and dip in and out of rather than read cover to cover. I would be pleased to see you produce an e-book.

Heather said...

You must be so relieved Maggie and I do hope you are feeling better and that resting your hands will do the trick. Love the 'teasy bits'. The mystery book idea is great and libraries are so important for people of all ages. I enjoy 'real' books so much that I don't think I would get on with ebooks, but that is just my opinion and I'm sure there will be plenty of takers for your idea.

Gina said...

Let's hope rest does the trick Maggie... we can't have you not stitching! I'm not convinced by e-books yet.

Linda K. said...

So sorry to hear about your carpal tunnel. I hope you get relief soon!

As for the fibre arts e-books, I must say I prefer art books that I can hold in my hand. I love my Kindle for novels, but I still like to flip through pages and look at beautiful full colour images in art books.

P.S. I agree that the ability to read free sample chapters is fabulous!

Julie said...

Sorry to hear about the Carpal Tunnel, Maggie. I hope it clears up without surgery. I have been hand sewing and doing detailed work a lot this week and my thumb joints are groaning so I sympathise.

I heard someone on a coach to the NEC extolling the virtues of the Kindle last week but I'm not convinced. It does sound a good way to preview a book though.

Jensters said...

So glad your problems are not as bad as you thought....ive been told not to do as much and rest my wrists as i have Tendonitis....love your sneak peeks Maggie, as for e reading im not convinced either.

liniecat said...

Ive had both hands operated on and if it comes to that Maggie, it'll surely to bring you complete relief.
10 days with stitches in, had it done within the day so home that night, one hand at a time is best.
But I was forever awake with painful and tingling hands, driving and holding the phone brought it on too. I've never looked back since the simple ops and they were several years ago now.
Hope it sorts out for you soon.
Fab teasy bits and wonderful colours!
I love handling, smelling and holding the written word too much to go the kindle route but could see that many would like that idea.
Certainly worth trialling surely.

JaneO said...

Hi Maggie, sorry to hear about your hands, hope the treatment works. I would be lost without my Kindle and if the formatting was right, I would use it for craft books, but the drawback would be the quality of the pics and lack of colour(I re-read WOW on it but need the computer to enjoy the articles properly). Diagrams work well and I love having articles handy for quick reference.

Lexa said...

Sorry to hear about your wrists. That is a painful condition, but at least it can be improved/cured. Not being able to stitch is unthinkable. I have not tried e-books so cannot comment for or against. WoW works well as it can be printed and walked about with.

Linda D. said...

I too am sorry to hear of your CTS, lets hope the rest and the medication works, even if painful - before I had my fibromyalgia diagnosis it was thought that I had CTS and was given injections. Not pleasant. But if they'd worked I wouldn't have minded, lol.
Re your silk paper and hand-stitching, lovely work. I made my first silk paper last week and am now trying to decide how and what to stitch on to it. Having no machine, it will have to be hand stitched. Thanks for the inspiration :)

Stephanie M said...

So sorry to hear you have CTS. I've been managing mine without injections or operations for 4 yrs now, as mine is mild (but I do have numb fingertips). The tests will assess the severity for you. I found these exercises really useful http://boingboing.net/2009/03/31/carpal-tunnel-syndro.html and also have regular treatment by an osteopath. Doing the exercises regularly helps me to continue with stitching.

Robin in WNC said...

Sorry about your carpel tunnel, get control of it now before surgery is required.
About the ebook, I have a Nook and love putting ebooks on it, the color is great. I love having books and articles stored in it so I don't have the paper version somewhere in my studio but cannot find it. I know it is in my nook. I also like the format for just reading, after getting bifocals having to turn my head with ever line was a real pain, now I can read a page with out turning my head. Also I can read without having to find a light for these "older" eyes.

jacky ives said...

ooh nasty, carpal tunnel syndrome, I had that when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had never even heard of it until then... I still get twinges occasionally, especially driving long distances, pushing supermarket trolleys, and now the grandsons buggy!!

Sarah Knits said...

We had a fab time up in south cheshire - your talk was amazing and everyone loved it, thank you! The reason for my comment is really a suggestion for your CTS - try a power ball (from amazon)it is supposed to very good for the condition and can help remove the need for surgery! Hope it feels better very soon and you are back up to full power stitching again!

Diane said...

I can relate to your hand problem Maggie. It was such a nuisance especially when I had to get Brian to use the roller cutter for me - what a mess!!!.
Brian did an e-book. Initially we sold a lot then sales eventually dropped off to none. It can't be printed out only read on the PC. A firm contacted us wanting to promote it. They were given a copy for review but made several copies and then decided it wasn't what they wanted after all!!! Images are unable to be printed out but the information has been used for other military books/movies/documentaries etc. Is it really worth it? I have to say that I find it difficult sitting at the computer reading for ages.

Diana said...

my sympathies ref your wrist maggie. i broke my (right) wrist just before christmas and even though long out of plaster am still suffering big-time with ongoing stiffnesss, so i really know what it's like. i do hope you get better soon.
on the subject of e-books i think the jury will be out as there are fors and againsts. it's great to be able to click on an image, for example ,and see it right up close, but for me there is no substitute for having a 'real' (!) paper book in my hands and being able to take it around with me, wherever that may be - to show other people, or to flick through in an idle not-at-computer moment, maybe. but i do think there is a lot of interest in the concept generally and that you probably can't g wrong.

Wabbit said...

Embroidery e-books??? OMG, yes, I certainly think so. Look how many of us enjoy WOW. Have you looked at Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors online? I like being able to zoom in as much as I like to get really into the details. Plus, I always know where the thing is. My house may be a disaster but my hard drives are orderly. I love real books too much to ever give them up, but I don't have much more space so where I can, I'll reserve the space for the biographies and history books I love to read.

When the Kindle goes to a color screen, it would be great for all sorts of books, but right now I like them best on my PC.

I'm so sorry to hear about your hands. Be sure to keep your fingers and wrists straight when you aren't doing something and to stretch the fingers out often. What helped me the most was to wrap a small towel around my hands and wrists so I couldn't make fists under my pillow while I slept. And resting my wrists on a cold compress for 20 minutes a few times a day also helped.


Rachel said...

Hi Maggie, I usually lurk, but have to join in on your query about e-books. I had a paper subscription to Quilting Arts for a few years then postage costs almost doubled the cost of each magazine posted to Spain, so I went for the e-mag. What a disapointment. Novels etc may be great, but give me a hard copy magazine or specialist book anyday. Continuously zooming in and out and scrolling up and down to see a full page is irritating and necessary unless you have a large size computer screen, so something small like a kindle would be an absolute no no in my opinion. The only advantage for e-technology for me would be cost, but I´ve gone back to hardcopy by choice. Please, please keep publishing your lovely books in paper format. Good luck with a solution for your CTS. Rachel

Becky Vigor said...

Maggie, I really hope you won't have to suffer too much with your hands. From other people's comments it does sound as if the condition can be managed. Whatever happens, don't let it stop you stitching!

What a fab e-book debate! As you know this is just the kind of question I'm lookinf for answers to atm so am very glad you raised it.

Here's my customer view: Being visually impaired I am just loving the kindle because at last I can get access to so many books I want by audio. Only 1% of books published each yera are produced in audio format but the e-reader can turn any book into a large print or audio for me. Up til now I had to read very slowly and laboriously or have someone come and read to me, since i got my kindle from my family for Christmas I have at least doubled my reading. I would definitely read art and craft books this way, how fab to be able to look at the pictures and listen to the words. The downside is that for now it's all black and white, but if they bring out a colour kindle that would be perfect.

Here's an idea, and I don't know how possible this is - to produce an e-book but with a link on purchase to a site where you can download and print the images.