Sunday 27 July 2008

Going Bonkers

I have to tell you that we have really gone mad this time and we've put our house on the market. We were going to do it early next year, when I'm not teaching and we had more time, but we saw a place for sale in the area we want. Not that we are expecting to sell quickly in this funny market but we thought it was worth a try. We are very much of the opinion that, if it is meant to be, it will happen and we are not getting excited.

So now we have two mags getting to deadline, a book, also close to deadline, two big shows coming up and a looney kitten. I expect we shall survive - lets hope Smudge does, too. He is positivly suicidal in his desire to go outside and runs at doors just as we are shutting them. I am thinking of getting a tiny dog harness and taking him for walks.

Exciting news! The Image to Stitch book has sold so well that they are having to reprint already and they printed more than usual to start with. I have good stocks for the shows so shouldn't run out. I have never known a book to provoke so much comment - I've had lovely feedback. Thanks to all of you.

On to Comments.

Many thanks to you all for birthday wishes.Fiona has found a Wii Fit so I am now Eddie the Eagle on the ski jump. I have password protected my wii fit age and such details as weight and BMI.

Lorraine - you are quite right that we should revel in birthdays. I shall just stop counting.

Writer in res - you were the only one to sing to me and it was much appreciated.

Kate - no. Not sending passwords yet so don't panic.

For any BT users having problems, Clive has put details of what to do on the WoW website FAQ page

I want to make a vessel for my MM book. One of my sources is rocks and cliffs so I scanned in a quick, on location, drawing made with pen and Graphitint pencils.

It was a surface with lots of circular pebbles so I though I would emphasis this with a displacement map.

The I used the Balls and bubbles filter, with these settings.

This produced this effect. Rather fun, I thought.

To make it into a vessel I used the Polar co-ordinates.

Liked the result so I copied and pasted it a couple of times to produce this bowl. I shan't be covering computer stuff in the next book but I do find it useful for ideas.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

In which Maggie has a birthday and Smudge gets an ASBO

It's my birthday today and the family are out in force - although personally I'd rather ignore birthdays from now on. I've had an IOU for a Wii Fit from Fiona and her brother (impossible to buy at the moment), plus a super necklace and some smellies. Clive went mad and got me a bracelet with black onyx stones to match the ring I bought in Oz many years ago. I've been looking for a match ever since.

Awaiting the other daughter, plus the four kids, for more pressies. And I've been out to lunch and had a day off. What more could one ask?

Aaaah! The day has gone downhill as I have just spent hours 'talking' to BTinternet about why so many of their customers (our subscribers) have not received their passwords. Apparently, BT has taken upon itself to decide that all group messages are spam and then put them into a folder that their clients cannot access without asking BT to unlock it. Once you are blacklisted within that folder all emails from your server are withheld from the subscriber even if you hit the reply button from a received email from their client. I shall have to contact all our BTI folk to tell them this and I'll have to do it by post! The wonders of the internet. If any Btinternet subscribers are reading this, let me know that you're on the case, please.

Then I had a phone call from the folks who do the furniture hire at the shows asking us why we hadn't booked our tables. I had and I sent a cheque so that is another muddle, not of my making. I think they are out to get me.

Interesting comments from you all.

Sue - it was the illustration and sculpture that we felt lacked oomph this year. Also the Asian arts.

I do think you are right about going every other year, Jackie. It was a biennial show until quite recently and better for it. I do agree that the ambience is a big part of it - the sitting with pancakes, Pimms and music is priceless. I also think that it was partly me - I was very tired when I went and just walking around seemed exhausting. Walking on grass is hard work. I think the brain has to keep re-adjusting for the surface levels. Interesting that the experience of viewing can be so affected by ones own mood and state of health.

Karen, I think you are right about the source to design not being covered and the success of the recent book by Leslie, Claire and Jane bears this out. Mine will also cover techniques - both for sketch book and stitched piece so, hopefully we'll cover all the bases. I am enjoying working on it and yes, I have been working on the Earth from the Air book, Sue and the designs and work will appear in the new book. Will show some pics next week, so I'm not teasing too much.

Chrissy, I would love to see the kozo ruff. Can you put a pic on your blog?

Diana - I'm inclined to agree that Interpretations is a bit heavy. What about Textile Translations? Any other ideas from blooger unanimous gratefully received.
I am collecting work for the Festival of Quilts - here are a couple of details of Naomi Renouf's wall-hanging. She was in the last Quiltwow. I found her in Jersey and I love her work. May even start quilting. Actually I am making a large 'quilty' piece, with lots of gesso, for the book.

Smudge has been given an Anti-social Behaviour Order and excluded from the sitting room. This is due to his habit of launching himself from the sofa onto a pot plant - now a late pot plant. Added to the chewing of TV wires, attacking Stevens, running up the curtains and coming perilously close to knocking over a laptop. All of these we thought were beyond his reach - some hopes. On the plus side, he still has three rooms to run through and Stevens, who is a glutton for punishment, goes in to keep him company.

Sunday 20 July 2008

Art in Action

Many thanks for all the lovely comments.

Kitten distressed textiles - there's a thought, Guzzisue. Very hard on the hands when the said kitten misses the target! However Verobirdie has a good point about regrowing the needles. I've just managed to break a hand-held felting needle - that must take talent.

Icfzx - what can those initials mean? Know what you mean about cats creeping into spaces. They are always the wrong side of doors, too. Clive often describes himself as a cat butler.

Artisue - I think you are right about colour - it's the first thing that draws me to examine a piece more closely and then other considerations come into play. It doesn't have to be a vibrant scheme though, as I am just as drawn to mono colour schemes with just a hint of colour about them.

Glad you all liked the fireworks - I've been picking up rocket sticks ever since.
I still need a couple of addresses (from Margaret and Stephanie) but most of the goodies have gone. I enjoyed the give-away and will do another one soon.

Meantime I'm sorry for not blogging much this week but inspiration struck with a vengeance and I've almost finished the text of the mixed media book. I've been having wonderful fun with the making, too. Plus getting WoW and Quiltwow ready for the September issue and lots of admin stuff.

Did manage to get out this week and met my friends Maria and Beverley at Art in Action, near Oxford, on Thursday. Beverley was over from the USA and we were her 'surprise lunch date' for the trip. Here we are in our 'when will we three meet again' mode.

I tried my book ideas out on them and got it all a lot clearer in my head. It's going to cover some 'design to stitch' stuff - taking a source, doing sketch book work and then lots of ideas for using mixed media - gesso, kozo, papers, etc. together with paint effects and, of course, stitch. I thought a good title would be Textile Interpretations: Mixed Media. What do you think

I could see that this could go on to cover textile interpretations in a variety of techniques and media. It will be a d4daisy book, with Michael Wicks, so it may even be out for Ally Pally, although it is slightly embarrassing to have two new books out at once.

Here is some more from Art in Action. It was so good to catch up with Alice Kettle, who was looking great. Haven't seen her for ages and we spent some time catching up. Also Rachel Howard who has been doing some lovely work with schools.

I was just a little disappointed in the show this year. For those who haven't been, it covers all the arts and crafts and features the artists at work - so you get to see glass blowers, calligraphers, potters, painters and, of course, stitchers. I loved the work of Gaynor Goffe who teaches calligraphy at West Dean College. Here she is at work.

I love this style of calligraphy. Perhaps I'll send Clive on a course!
Sandra Meech had a big crowd watching her using the 'Picture This' product for design transfer. Her work is amazing.

Smudge went back to his previous human mummy for the day and disgraced himself by doing his dragon hissing act with all her cats. Eventually his cat mother boxed his ears and he settled OK. I had hoped that Stevens would calm him down a bit, but the reverse has happened and Stevens is now in touch with her inner kitten. So the pair of them are racketing around chasing balls or toy mice and arguing over a floppy fish that they both love. This was not the idea.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Virtual Fireworks for the Winner

WoW! What a lot of comments - good to meet new ‘commenters’?? commentators?

Now we know how to bring you out from the shadows. Thank you all for the encouraging words - they really do mean such a lot. Too many to answer individually so I’ll just pick out a few.

mycamera - so glad the bit about dry cat food helped. Stevens has been poorly again, which is very disappointing but seems on the up again now.

Anna - yes, I’m hoping to do oodles of work for the mixed media book I’m working on.

Jill, the flower foot is good on older Janomes - which model do you have?

Maybird - so sorry to hear of the fall. Use the fallow time for thinking - it can send you in a whole new direction. If you have one good hand do some drawing with it - even better if it is not your usual hand as it will be more abstract.

Jac - Flower Stitcher usually fine on Berninas but you may need to get the shank extension.

Doreen K - holding kittens is a mixed blessing. Clive and I bear the scars.

Hi, Judy in Tassie. I’d love to go there - Ken Smith has been telling me tales of possum and wonderful scenery.

Maggie - of course you can go in the hat. Fiona is going to do the draw later today and I shall report it ‘live’ as she does it!

Verobirdie - you may live to regret taking in that cute little kitten - pack away your breakables.

So glad you enjoyed the talk, Kate J. You were a great branch to talk to - it really does make a difference. I think two kittens are often so in tune with each other that they don’t need humans. It takes a bit longer to get them to cuddle you.

Phew - that was a busy bit. I’m typing this into Word this morning so I can paste it into the blog this afternoon when Fiona is here to do the draw. Then I shall type into the blog live as she does the draw - so look at the end for the winners.

We will also have an on-line firework display to celebrate, so I hope you all enjoy that.

I took a trip to Dorking branch yesterday for a talk and it was great to meet so many folk who read the blog - Hi to all of you.

Stitchwise, I have been finishing a vessel which was a bit of an experiment with wooden strips acting as a support. While I was working on it (before the bottom went in) I discovered that, actually, it was not a vessel but a cat tunnel.

I was too mean to buy Smudge a tunnel in the pet shop, so it serves me right.
I am quite pleased with the piece. It was much distressed by embellisher and kitten.

I am doing an article on the technique for Quilting Arts - will I have to include Smudge? Here is the 'proper' piece.

Clive has decided that we now have Cat Stevens and Cat Astrophe. It’s like living with a cartoon character as he hurtles from chairback to chairback, then winds up dangling from the windowsill by his front paws until rescued. While we were unpacking the food shopping today, he got stuck in the handle of a ‘bag for life’ and we had to cut it to get him out. Trust us to have a disaster area for a kitten.
This evening I have to take Smudge to the vet for his injection and Clive to the doctor’s for a check up. Hope I don’t muddle them up!

Michael Wicks has just said that he wants my next book, ready to print, by the end of August. There is a good reason for this which I will tell you soon, but I am thrown into such panic that my mind has gone blank and I am unable to write anything. I shall have to go and do some more garage clearance to find inspiration.

Later, that same day.....

Fiona is here and, as I am typing this into the blog she has pulled out - Ta Da...

Stephanie Pettangell, who wins a Flower Stitcher....


.....Guzzisue wins a Flower Stitcher

Ooh, that was a great firework. Did you see it? We've drawn the curtains so they show up really well. Onwards...

Marjorie from Toronto wins a Gizmo

Margaret S from Stockport, Cheshire wins a Gizmo

Gosh - that was a banger!

Teacher Carol in Swansea, Wales, wins a Gizmo

Finally ……(fanfare) ..

Penny from Victor Harbour, South Australia wins the stitched piece.

Please email me on and tell me your snail mail addies and I’ll get the goodies off to you.

Here’s the set piece - amazing how they could set it up in our small office.

Back soon folks. More giveaways to come.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Bit of a Giveaway

Thank you so much for all the comments. They all made me smile and also realise how many of us are catophiles. Apologies to the catophobes.

Jordi says 'now you are in for it' - how right you are!

Trouble is a great name for a cat, projectneo. Think I might rename Smudge. He is settling in well but is very noisy - I think there must be a bit of Siamese in there somewhere as he is very vocal. He has been asleep for most of the day as he stole Stevens large breakfast and ate the lot.

Be great to see you at Textiles 21 Anna - I'm going in October, too.

Doreen - how could you fall asleep at the sewing machine? That takes a very particular talent.

Stevens thanks all her readers but is still sulking. Her body language says it all.

Arlee - I haven't tried cat's fur on the embellisher but on one of my courses a lady brought in her apricot poodle clippings and some brave souls tried it. Quite nice with a bluey grey silk.

Tum much better, thanks Diana.

Chrissy - don't have any more. I'm finding one and a half is too many.

I'm loving your cyber fyber inclusions. Very thought provoking. Haven't worked out what mine will be yet but I do think that the arty-stitchy stuff can sometimes be very isolating and I love the cameraderie and encouragement, plus all the giggles, too.

I have some hardware giveaways plus a small piece of work to celebrate both my year of blogging (I missed the actual day last month) and the fact that I have started clearing the cupboards.

I have two flower stitch feet, which look like this.

They fit most low shank machines, or those which take extensions. The Pfaffs are sometimes a bit iffy, although my 7570 is OK. Here is a belt of Val's, made with them.

I also have three Gizmo makers which look like this.

And make things like this.

That you can extend to this.

Or, with wrapped pipe-cleaners, this.

There is also a small piece of machine embroidery looking for a home. It is an abstract interpretation of a Canadian Tulip Festival that we went to with our friends Bonnie and Ron. It is fixed to a piece of mount board for ease of sending and can easily be framed. Lousy pic - sorry.

Leave a comment to go in the hat and say which item you would like - you can put in for all three if you like. Unlike Linda,I haven't got access to a young hunk but will ask Fiona to do the draw next week sometime.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

The House of Chaos

I am writing this blog under almost impossible circumstances as young Smudge has taken up residence. In an effort to keep him company and still get something done, I’m sitting on the sofa with my laptop. Not a good idea, as he is alternately attacking the mouse or jumping on the keyboard, chasing my moving fingers. I have just deleted a page of carriage returns. Clive once nodded off while typing a report on his laptop and when he woke up he had 64 pages of the letter S. Well, it was late evening.
If you wish to skip the cat part of the blog, textiles will resume at ***below.

In addition to the Smudge hassle I am not a well person as I have a nasty tummy bug. So this post will be written in intervals between rescuing the kitten and other necessary dashes.

We picked him up late yesterday afternoon - delayed due to one of the worst drives of my life. I was coming home from a Wessex Textiles meeting in Salisbury and went through a cloudburst. The roads turned to rivers - really scary. Took ages to get home and, boy, was I glad to get there. Picked up Clive and we collected and carried home our little treasure.
He seems to be satisfied with the equipment provided.

He has wrecked my house, terrified Stevens, chewed my Sebastian Faulkes paperback, attacked Clive’s beard, knocked over the furniture and caused chaos on an unimaginable scale - but he’s ever so cute!
The cats have sorted out their eating arrangements - he is eating Stevens’ chicken and she is eating his kitten food. They both seem happy with this.

On the plus side he has a fine eye for a photo opportunity, as you can see. He is eating well and is using the litter tray. He cried a little last night but seems fine this morning.

"If I stand on this handy embellisher machine I can eat my way through the wicker".

The biggest problem is that he keeps attacking Stevens - he puffs himself up, arches his back and runs sideways at her. He looks like a smallish dragon and I can see why she runs away. Stevens sits on the highest windowsill we have and looks at me reproachfully.

He does wear himself out quite quickly, so there is a brief respite - as you can see, below.

*** Stitchy bits

I see that lots has been written about the Urchfont open day. It really was wonderful and below are a couple of pics that you may not have seen. This you will have seen - Anna's wonderful rusty garment - find her on

Janet Crowther and Lynn Horniblow were very brave to carry on with Val’s classes and she would, I know, be delighted with the results. I loved doing the Heirlooms C&G course as it is possible to do your own thing within the syllabus with just enough structure to make you concentrate on the research etc. I do hope this course runs on. I think this piece, below, is by Margaret Wester - apols if wrong. Don't know about the bottom one, but I loved the book.

Jane Wild has been on a painting holiday to Italy and brought some work to show us. Clive couldn’t wait to see it so he dashed off with Jane to her car to see her etchings. (Well, that's what they told me). I caught up later. Here’s a carved door interpreted in charcoal.

And then a further free exploration. Brilliant.

Jane had some of her 'Whispers' series on display at Urchfont. She is a member of Textiles 21 which meets at the college to allow members to progress their own work. I am hoping to join them - the thought of a weekend of just getting stuff done is appealing. Nothing to do with the Urchfont grub, of course!!
Thanks so much to all who responded to my last blog, asking for your views on blogging. This is to be made into a piece of work for the Cyber Fyber exhibition. Your replies made very interesting reading. Still time to leave a comment, if you haven’t yet done so. I do want this embroidery to contain a part of all of us - there is such a strong community feel to blogging.

Friday 4 July 2008

Help me with Cyber Fyber

Very exciting - just been 'talking' to Susan Lenz about the work I am putting in the Cyber Fyber exhibition. Do go to her blog and see her video of her exhibition. Wonderful work.

I'm going to send my Genetics of the Fruit Bowl piece which you have all seen (if not look at the labels). This was based on the keeping qualities of fruit and why apples now keep so well. It was based on ideas about modified DNA and so on.

I am going to make a new textile for the exhibition based on The Genetics of the World Wide Web. It seems to me that there is a real correlation between the web and the concept of DNA - think genetic codes and binary codes, the zip of synapse compared with the zoom of emails around the world. Enough of the concept - you get the picture.

What I want to include is text about what makes a blogger and I think it would be fun if lots of comments from you all could be included. We'll make this piece together! I can't guarantee that all the words will be readable, as the technique I plan to use distresses the fabric. But I will copy and paste everything you all say and include it.

So loads of comments please on what characteristics make up the generous, colourful world of the blogger, or any other thoughts on blogging - has it changed your life? It has mine in many ways - never had so many mates!

I also plan to digitise and stitch out some of the little pics that people use when they comment. They won't really be recognisable but let me know if you don't want yours used. You'll find the Cyber Fyber exhibition details on