Monday 27 October 2008

Sad News

You may have read on Dale's blog the sad news that Julia Caprara died on Friday. She has shaped the lives and work of so many people. Her use of colour was so inspiring, her sketchbooks were delicious and her stitching was both considered and gloriously riotous at the same time. She was also such a lovely person. I did an interview with her for Workshop on the Web (now on the D4Daisy site) and she took so much trouble over her responses that it was one of the longest and I think, the best, interview I have ever conducted.

She had been ill for some time and it was amazing that she was able to finish the book. I am so glad that she saw it and that she was pleased. Michael rushed to show her, straight from the printers, and she sat up in bed and went through every page with him. She was delighted. I think we were so privileged to have been able to work with her in this way.

It doesn't seem very long ago that we were both doing talks at a Guild Regional day in Bournemouth and took the chance to catch up. Julia seemed so vibrant that day and her talk was great.

We shall all miss her so much and our hearts go out to Alex and the family.

Sunday 19 October 2008

A Very Secret Society

Sorry about password confusion on the free classes site. Clive used a very nifty piece of code and we tested it well but it transpired that most auto Windows settings didn't like it. It was such a secret society that only seven people were allowed in! We've taken off the password for the Requirements list and will put it back as a PDF password on the lessons.

Lots of people joining the class Yahoo group and lots of chat about decaying catalogues. This masterpiece was sent to me by Beverly (Ayling-Smith) of Opus. It is lying outside the staircase of a carpark where Beverly goes to the gym and the windows are glazed so it can't be got at. Personally I think she should skip the gym and climb up a few stories of car park to grab it.

Thanks for all the Stevens sympathy - the sad thing is that she is not that old - about ten, we think. She has had all possible tests and an endoscopy but thanks for the warning about needles, Rebecca. Will keep a closer watch on Smudge. The steroids do seem to have boosted Steven's appetitite - I am constantly filling the bowl. Smudge, of course, has to have a little something at the same time and will soon be enormous. He is going for the chop on Tuesday, his cathood will be dented but it might calm him down and we don't intend to breed them.

It will be great to do the regional talk, Jackie - looking forward to that. We once did a regional talk where the projector at the venue didn't work so we used ours. Infortunately the built in screen was really high and Clive worked the projector while standing on a stool, placed on a table with two branch members holding on to his legs. It was hilarious.

Three books at once sounds like inspirational overload, Sonja. But a discerning purchase, I must say.

We trundled up to London in the van and collected another load of books from Michael. Clive drove more slowly this time, so it was much better and we explored Pinner while Michael got the books from the storage place. When we got home we had to unload and stash nearly two thousand books, many of which are now living behind sofas in my house. This works well - the cats love sitting on them, hidden from view - but makes for less floor space. When we got back I sent MW a short email: Home safely, books unloaded, home smaller.

Friday 17 October 2008

Requirements List

I’ve been busy writing the classes and have now got the list up on the Textile Translations page of the d4daisy site. Go to and follow the link for the free classes. You will come to an enormous blue button (does my button look big in this?). Click it and a dialogue box will come up. You will need the book for the password. When you've found the password, overwrite the word in the box and say OK.

There is a Yahoo group for the classes - details on the same page - and I hope you will join. That could be good fun. I’ve never set up one before, so many thanks to Doctor Dorothy who talked me through it.

I said ‘See you tomorrow’ on my last posting - that was a bit hopeful. We have had such a mad week. No chance to get over the show because the book selling has been manic. What with the secure site and the wholesale orders, we have run completely out of books. The Julia book is selling by the truckload, too. So tomorrow it is the rackety old van for us and off up the M3. Must remember to take some Quells. I’ve always prided myself on being a really good traveller but being a passenger for six hours made me feel really ill. Would be better if I could drive but I can’t because of my lack of insurance cover.

I had a sad day on Tuesday as I decided that poor old Cat Stevens was so poorly that I had to do the deed. Haven’t posted much about her as I’m rather depressed and don’t want to let her go, but she has been so sick lately and is losing her fur. She did seem to get better when we got Smudge but is very low now. We’ve spent abou£1500 at the vets to no avail and you have to ask how much further you can go. However when I talked to Suzivet she suggested a course of steroids as a last resort. She’d had some success with this in another case. So Stevens is being fed expensive paté with pills in it and she does seem a bit brighter already. That might be the paté of course!

Today I’m working on my Grungeboard article for the next Workshop on the Web. I’m having such fun. I’m not sure why it is so much better than cutting shapes from felt or card, but somehow - it just is.

I took a photo of one of my ‘riper’ catalogue, slowly melting on the patio. Couldn’t resist making a few more rips and gouges.

Took a photo and then made a displacement map from it. Love this - I can see a cross in it.

It reminded me of a commission I took on, to make a Reredos panel for a church based on an Ango Saxon poem - The Dream of the Rood. In it the poet saw the cross with one side blazing with glory and the other dark and weeping. I made it from wrapped cords - gradually changing from bright gold to dull copper and the tears were tiny crystal drops. Wish I could find a photo.

Thanks again for such lovely comments. Just answering a few but do appreciate all.

Jordi - I thought she looked familiar - that’s why I asked what make she is. My son in Oz has a Portuguese Water Dog - I guess they’re the same. I’ve only seen a photo, so am dying to meet her when we go out next year. Ian says she has webbed feet but I’m not convinced he’s not teasing!

Clive appreciates the nice comments but says he won’t be repeating the look any time soon.

Susan - a shallow tray - like a kitty litter one would work for the catalogue. Water frequently.

Sonia & Dale thanks for kozo info. We just soak it in water and then play with it!

Miclep - so good to meet you all. Thanks for the support.

Arlee - had a good chuckle about the drool. Hope it doesn’t buckle.

Monday 13 October 2008

After the Show

Back from the show and excited to find so many comments. Just lovely to hear from you all. I’m so glad you like the book, I am really pleased with it. I shall have to be very careful in future about fastening off all my thread ends - those big, clear pics show up every detail.

Julia’s Caprara’s book, Exploring Colour, is now available on-line. (Ta-Da!!). Go to Michael did so well to get it to the show on Friday. He collected it directly from the printer and then the Ally Pally guys (that’s not what we called them on the day!) wouldn’t let him drive up to unload it, even though he had a pass. He had to carry the boxes up from the car park - what a hassle. Big thanks due to Jan Beaney’s husband Steve, who gave him a hand.

Julia is delighted with the book and it is selling like hot cakes. The colour and quality is amazing and Julia has sections called ‘Colour School’ that follow on from each section and suggest practical assignments and projects to reinforce her colour message. I’m very taken with the idea of making a ‘book of brilliant things’ and plan to start this afternoon.

General points before we talk about the show :

  • Catalogues should be left until soaked right through (positively mushy) and not dried before that happens.

  • Ignore all reports that the truth about catalogues will be revealed on 1st April. That Clive is such a tease.

  • I’ll get ‘on the case’ about the kozo fibres in the USA.
Garnered Stitches - great to see the catalogue photos and, no, you were not the only one. It was huge fun to hear every-ones catalogue stories and I think it prompted several onlookers to buy the book and find out more - not that they will, yet.
Hey, Leanne. I’ve been to Whistler and loved it. Our friends Bonnie & Ron from Vancouver took us when we stayed with them - didn’t ski but enjoyed the trip up in the cable car and the café at the top.
The show was great. I loved so much - Ruth Issett’s colourful display - detail of her banners here.

Jan and Jean were on great form and we had lots of giggles. Their show was an amazing body of work. They manage to be totally individual while still producing an overall display that fits perfectly. Will write more on this later.

I’ve had a blog skim and lots of people are rating the Graduate showcase this year. They are so right, it was awesome. Here is Jackie Langfeld’s work on paper warriors.

A great explanatory panel, too.

Her small pieces were wondrous and I’ve snapped her up for a WoW article.
Our stand looked good, I thought. I resisted my usual urge to cover the screens completely and ran this banner of work from the book along the back. Went a bit mad on the sides though.

I have to show you the sartorial elegance of Clive. At the Festival of Quilts he escaped quality control and it transpired that he had only bought his tatty set-up day clothes!!!! This time I supervised the packing.

I did lots of demos but my brilliant idea about making the pieces for the next exhibition did not work at all. People wanted to know how the samples were made and I just concentrated on showing them. I have made lots of things toward the classes, though and have some new ideas. You always learn new things when playing with a limited range of materials - although sometimes you get egg on your face when experimenting with something new in front of a crowd.

I had some large gatherings and was glad that the aisles seemed a little more spacious than usual. Outstanding moments were with two lovely young students, about fourteen years old, who said ‘Wow’ in unison at every relevant stage. Then there were the three ladies from France. All that way, just for the show. We spoke Franglais and had a great laugh. For all the rest of the demos I described the amount of salt as a soupcon.

No doubt there will be more on the show tomorrow. Suffice to say we had a horrid trip home - stuck on the North Circular for an hour.

Smudge has been to boot camp with daughter Claire, who bred him. He has played non-stop with all his relatives and has been fast alseep in the thread basket since he got home.

Claire is painting her sitting room so you will note that he has paint on his trousers.

Monday 6 October 2008

The day before the next day

What lovely folk you are - all those comments. I shall pick one of your names out of the hat when I get back from the show and send a thank-you pressie. I'm so glad you like the book, such a relief when it comes from the printer at last, but I'm only really convinced when you lot give it the OK. I took it to Beyond Stitch today and they all liked it too. Spent the day doing my samples for Ally Pally and they were all getting excited and coming up with more ideas. I can't understand tutors who won't share new ideas - I find that for every one you give away, six come back. I once went to a class where a student asked about a piece of work on a board and the tutor said 'That's another class and I can't tell you about it'. Mean.

Here is what the Beyond Stitch girls were doing today.

Books with Glynda Morison, one of our members. We often do workshops within the group as most of us are teachers and it helps to try out new stuff for our classes. This is one of Glynda's books. The cover was a computer design resulting from one of the group sessions we had with Ruth Issett. It was printed on a heavy linen and built up wth stitch. Looks great.

This is by a lady whose name I have forgotten. It might have been Helen Tudor - I shall ask Glynda and report back. It was a travel memory book or Formosa and each page was delightful. This page is a tree made by blowing ink with a straw.

This page has a small envelope containing mini paintings of her daughter in law, who travelled with her.

I promised to show some of Jane Wild's drawings from her painting holiday in Italy. These are both charcoal studies. She did some super paintings too, but the charcoal does it for me every time. This was the face of a sitter that came to the class.

And here's a study of an Olive Tree.

Looks so much like figures, that I turned this detail upside down.


Thanks to all of you who pointed out that they'd forgotten my name on the Quilting Arts article. Lots of folk who emailed me added - we knew it was you, as we know how you work. Is it time I changed my style, do you think? I'm sure they will give me a credit in the next issue.

Sara - hope your pain management course works for you. My mother suffered badly with nerve pain, post shingles, and the pain clinic really helped her. Horrifying kitten story, he sounds even worse than Smudge. This morning I was lazily cutting into a huge roll of fabric without putting it on a table. He jumped up after the scissors and caught his paw, luckily they were not very sharp and didn't cut him but he looked very sad for all of five minutes.

Jude - you will have a great time with Sue Rangeley. We very much hope she is going to do a d4d book next year.

Ibby - we can't get the 'old-fashioned pelmet Vilene now and they call the new stuff craft Vilene. They are very similar. I shall do some more work on the glossary after the show - keep 'em coming.

Annette - my elf has been on overtime! She thanks everyone who has commented on the swift delivery. She really does try to send orders out on the day they arrive and hardly ever fails. We are lucky to have her. I can't believe how quickly they've arrived overseas.

Diana - so glad it turned up. I was about to send out another. We will have fun when the classes start. I shall put up requirements in the week after the show. Mostly working with Vilene or felt, gesso and Hearty/Model Magic to start with. I have some new ideas to build upon the ideas in the book.

I love the smell of books, too Lynne. Clive has just had a birthday and got lots of new books so I've been inhaling them. I have borrowed 'The Book Thief' (after he read it, of course) and can see why he was so caught up in it.

I have had such a giggle thinking of you all with the decaying catalogues. Mags R (Digital Gran) has a hilarious post on her discovery. The pic looks just wonderful. We will be spraying them with disinfectant before we do the final dry out and then they will be coated so they shouldn't be too nasty to touch. Gloves are advised until disinfected! Yes, we are mad (there's alot of it about).

Hi Helen - glad you popped up. Do introduce yourself at the K&S.

Well, I'm off to make some more cast paper and then crash with a bit of hand stitching.

Thursday 2 October 2008

The Day After

Today life almost got back to normal. We managed to have a shower, do some washing and, at last, we have food. This is thanks to Mr Tesco and his van. We have been so frantic that we've been living out of the freezer for ages, so last night we thought we would eat out to celebrate the book's arrival. In the end there was a minor panic on the Julia book and I had to raid the freezer again.

I have to tell you that we mined the culinary depths with the 'been in the bottom of the freezer for years' crumbed haddock, twinned with Auntie Bessie's Yorkshire puddings (ran out of potatoes) and frozen peas. Not a combination to be repeated in a hurry!.

I shall make a Jamie Oliver 'special fish pie' tonight to redeem myself.

Julia's book has gone to the printers. Hooray. It looks so colourful - here is a spread.

More on that another time. I also had a visit from Jane Wild today, which was great. She has been on a painting holiday and the work she did was wonderful. I'll see her again next week so will take some pics for you. I was making up a board for the K&S using some of the work she loaned me for the book and, deep joy, she gave me one of the pieces. I think she despaired of getting it back, actually. I do like to drool over Jane's work. Here it is.

And this is the board for the stand. Not glued down yet, but looking interesting.

Just a by-the-way: Clive has put up a new, big taster for workshop on the web so have a look. There may be a back issue you haven't seen before.

Thank you all so much for ordering the book and for the enthusiastic feedback.
Diane is so right. When I first edited the Embroidery mag we had some very iffy printers and I know what she means. Our printers are fantastic and have done a great job. Michael is very particular about colour matching.

You will just love the Embellisher, Wabbit. I have a course on it running next month and I am longing to get back to it and do some new samples.

Ibbygee, your course subject sounds fascinating. I think I told you that Clive and I were very involved in our local Mencap and we used to arrange sessions using aromatherapy, together with music and a light show. It was amazing how it calmed everyone down.

Smudge hasn't said anything about the book but he is getting to be less of a handful. His behaviour is more catlike - if nothing is going on he goes to sleep. Having said that he knocked over a big box of paints this morning and savaged a wrapped pipe-cleaner that was stitched into a piece of work.

Lynne - don't think that the book will be at this Harrogate show but it will be at the next, I'm sure.

Edie - yes, let's stop watching the news. It's all so depressing. When I worked for a insurance company we went in mortal fear of the financial watchdogs and now it seems they were not watching at all.

Sharne - I'll put one by for you - introduce yourself, won't you?

Penny - the encaustic wax is a very solid block. Needs a lot of heat to melt it. I must dig out some of my old samples. I used to use it a lot. Will do a post on it after the show.

Thanks so much to all who have said they like the book. So good to hear - thank you.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

The Book is Here

At last - the book is here and the secure site is up and running. You can order here

We got up at five and trundled up to London so that we could deliver some things to Michael and collect loads of envelopes for the book. Then on to Tunbridge Wells to the printers - who had temporarily lost the book. They eventually found it and great excitement ensued. Always such a relief when it looks good and I am so pleased with it - the pics are really big and the colour is wonderful. Val and I once had to have a Batsford book reprinted because the colour was wrong and that was awful. Here is a copy of TTMM sitting on my untidy desk, just to prove it is really here.

Having collected 1000 0f the books we set off for home - just as the wind howled and the heavens opened. The van was not the ideal vehicle for these conditions and it was a nightmare journey. I couldn't help with the driving as I'm not insured for other vehicles, so Clive had to do it all. On the way back MW rang to say we had forgotten the envelopes!!!! So he had to drive through the motorway river and meet us at a service station on the M3. I've never been so glad to get home and we went to bed at 10pm.

It was worth it to see the piles of books today. Now we are working on Julia's which is bursting its covers with all the colour it contains.

Diana - have your tried refreshing the page? That should do the trick (Function key F5 on a PC) but the link to the classes page is here

Wabbit - thanks for the advice for Jacqui. Working on the same design is fun and one of the group exercises the Beyond Stitch group has tried is to make a black and white photocopy of a famous painting and cut out a section. Then each member has to interpret it. Good fun and very interesting.

Jennywren - I'm sure Dale has it at

Let me know what you think of the book.