Saturday 21 February 2009

Stitches, Layers and Strips


Robin - don't throw anything away. I'm sure we can do something with it - good idea to start another catalogue off - I feel this project may call for several experiments.
Welcome back Arti - I wondered where you had gone. Nice to have a wedding, though.
Penny - if your catalogue looks too thick pull it apart into two or three - mine is quite thin. Alternatively open it up part way through and distress a new bit - then it could have fat 'pages' and be the ultimate altered book.
Hi Beverly and welcome. I can't remember when we started this nonsense but basically you just put out a catalogue and allow the elements to do their worst for a while.
Then you disinfect it (cats) and dry it. The next stage has yet to be revealed.
My friend Liz has popped up on the snowballs blog of February 5th - would love to see her dog with the snowball ears. Great to chat again, Liz.
Things I have done this week:
  • Eaten too much
  • Exercised too little
  • Lots of stitching and writing for the next book
  • Met with Michael and the design team, also for book
  • Took GCs to local stately home to see snowdrops
  • Bought Smudge a collar with a bell which is driving him to distraction
  • Nearly set house on fire with soldering iron

The last bit was really scary - I unplugged the sewing machine instead of the soldering iron. I am usually quite paranoid about pulling out all plugs in the workroom when I leave it but I thought I was going back for more. Luckily Smudge had knocked the soldering iron onto the floor which helped as it was near to some papers before. I have a hole in the workroom carpet but, as we are now staying in this house, I may get a more sensible floor covering.

The snowdrops at Kingston Lacy were as wonderful as usual but photos don't do them justice. I like the misty effect of this bank with trees behind.
Then we played a game with the boys called 'Looking through'. You have to find something to peer through for a photo, so here is Jungle Boy.
Followed by 'Jailbird'.
We will draw a line under the episode of little Toby's 'looking through' - the Gents toilet door! Also the race through the mini maze with Turbo-grandad, during which several innocent bystanders were almost upended. Good fun was had by all (except the bystanders).
We have had a great time with the book planning. Our designer Liz lives in Australia which means that Michael becomes nocturnal during the final stages of preparing to print. However she was staying with MW in London with her partner Drew - the Photoshop wizard. We had a great brainstorming session on forthcoming books which made me feel really inspired.
I am working on fragments at the moment - all layered and tatty, burned, torn, crusty and distressed.
I am, of course, fortunate in having my own, private, fabric distressing machine.
Chewed lace is the latest thing, don't you know?
I've also seen some photos of the work that Carol and Lynda are doing for their d4daisy book - wonderful stuff. The books are selling really well - in spite of the recession and problems with one of the wholesale distributors who supply Amazon. This is why Amazon have so many books showing as 'out-of'stock'. I'm sure it will be sorted soon but, if you are trying to buy my Textile Translations or Julia Caprara's book on colour, go to to get them right away.
We are being courted by several firms of distributors for wholesaling and even have someone who wants to buy the rights for a Swedish translation. Amazing.
I have thought of a new title for the book. Stitches, Layers and Strips - along the lines of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. They might think it's me doing the stripping though - not a good thought.
Ah well - back to the distressed stitching.

Monday 16 February 2009

Spring is Sprung

Yes, you are all quite right about pics and there are some signs of life in the garden at last (and I have a new handbag camera to play with).

Focus not quite right for these crocuses.

But the Hellebores have come out really well. I may be forced to read the camera manual.

Spring is Sprung
The grass is Riz
I wonder how the catalogue is?

A good time to check on them. - the one below is still in the ground. It would have been a great photo for Valentines Day - those crossed leaves make a perfect heart and I didn't arrange them - they just happened. I shall bring this one out of the flower bed this week and gouge out some holes. With my gloves on, of course. Then it will be a good spray of disinfectant and in the garage to dry.

The one below has been drying off for a while but is still a little damp to decorate. I shall place it in a window in the sun. It has lots of holes in it but they don't show very well. All the text has gone, which is a bit annoying but leaves me free to embellish all over. I shall show this soon, possibly with a video, so watch this space.

The final one, below, has been manipulated more than the others as I wanted it to be three dimensional. It needs more distressing but has been out for ages so I shall put the hose on it and attack with a wire brush. The folds are very firm so it is only the surface that needs attention. The catalogues will all be very different and I will be offering prizes (in stages) for the best, so keep in touch.

Went to London with Fiona and Sophie on Saturday. Was so looking forward to taking Sophie to the Natural History Museum - the bit where you go through the middle of the earth on an escalator. She didn't like it all, was quite scared and kept saying 'We don't have to go back that way, do we?' However the dinosaurs were a big hit and the treat of a taxi ride past Buckingham Palace restored the magic.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Trying to Help

Yes, I think Megan and Lisa are right, it's better to send money right now - the needs are immediate. I've been to the Red Cross site and donated and also found this great blog, thanks to Dale.

They are sending comfort packs to the little ones who have lost everything and must be so bewildered. You can send materials to be made up into bags, or order on their secure site and they will send packs of brand new stuff on your behalf. I've ordered a baby pack and a couple of toddler packs. Such a great idea and they have suppliers donating stuff, too. Makes one feel a little less helpless - but not much.

Oh, Jen - it sounds awful. We are doing the praying for rain thing (but not for Queensland!).

My Sydney son is a geologist - consultant on water schemes and, although Sydney based, often travels around Gyppsland, Lakes Entrance etc. He's not the world's best at keeping in touch when he's on his travels so we were a bit worried. He's been in touch and is safe in Sydney, thank God.

i see that Horsham has been affected - we did the Forum there a while ago and loved the area.

Does anyone know my friend Karen Coldrey, from Melbourne? I've lost her email address and need to know that her and the family are OK.

I've been working very hard but it doesn't seem right to put any pics up while it is all so awful for our mates over there.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Our Aussies

Not a pretty blog this time - just wanted to say how awful the Victoria fires are and that we are all thinking of you and sending love. It was heartbreaking on the News last night and we have so many good friends in that part of the world. Son Ian says he is fine (in Sydney) but so many people are not.

Does anyone know if there is to be an appeal fund? When the Tsunami happened we did a book auction (loads of people donated hand made books) through Workshop on the Web and raised quite a bit of dosh. Could we all make bags? Or something similar? What does anyone think? I feel we should all do something, it must be so awful.

Suggestions welcome.

PS just found that Trashie has appeal details and info

Sunday 8 February 2009

Snow Designs

Thanks for comments - I think we are enjoying the snow at the moment but that may be short lived.

fibrenell, it seems unbelievable that the sun melted your hosepipe. I'm so sorry about the awful fires in Oz - such a worry for you all and we're thinking about you.

Clive was forced to go to Bournemouth to do some banking on Friday so I went with him as I am fed up with my clothes and needed new jumpers. On the way, the rain turned into a howling blizzard and, even on that short journey, the roads were getting slippy. We agreed to press on and C left me in Marks, saying that he'd be back for me in twenty minutes and I had to be all paid up and ready to go. Well girls, it was like a trolley dash, the time limit went to my head and turned me into a shopaholic, throwing all manner of unsuitable garments into my trolley, on the grounds that I could change them later! I spent a fortune - and having got them home haven't even tried them on yet. A form of insanity, obviously.

It was a horrid journey home but we followed a gritter for some of the way. Our county is supposed to be using table salt, having run out of the rock variety. I have a few large pots 'salted' away in the workroom, perhaps I should flog 'em to the Council, and get my M&S money back.

Jane said it was wonderful being snowed in at Urchfont and I quite wished I'd gone. She is home safely now.

I have a new camera - a tiny little Nikon Coolpix S210. It was very cheap and I needed a new handbag snapper. Trouble is, it is so tiny I can't pick it up without pressing strange buttons by accident.

So - out in the snow looking for marks that I could turn into backgrounds. The snow was at the icy stage of being part thawed and then frozen.

A strange creature kept popping into the viewfinder.

Footprints with a top layer of pastel colour are quite fun.

This area of lawn was duplicated in the Layers mode and then had a pale gradient on the top layer. The gradient was in bands which gave the result below. I used a Coloured Edges filter to give a little definition.

The ice on the decking was quite spectacular as you can see below

It was coloured with a stripy gradient, as before.

And then displaced with a Celtic motif.

Loved this effect, so just gently coloured the same image - see below.

To give this result.

Used the same Displacement Map and grabbed a Selection to make a design for a cuff, below. I have several talks booked on 'Designing and Making with a Celtic Theme' so I will try to turn this into stitch.

Thursday 5 February 2009


I should really be at Urchfont college for a glorious couple of days of uninterrupted stitch. However, snow was forecast and duly arrived. Some brave souls got there but I don't like driving in this weather and I have things to do next week. It did occur to me that if I got snowed in, with a good supply of 'stuff', I could finish the book in a week.

I'm peevish as, apart from a good stitch'n'chat, I was planning to miss the plumber, who is coming today to fit thermostats to our radiators. Not that I dislike Martin Plumber, but he makes a mess. As we are going to have a woodburning stove installed (on the basis that we are not getting any interest on our savings so we may as well spend them) we need to be able to turn some rads off. Sorry about that boring domesticity but I'm quite excited about the stove. Wish we'd got it before all this weather happened.
Last night we had the most amazing snowfall with massive flakes. It was like God throwing snowballs!

I had to rush out and take photos. You can see the size, above and below.

I won't show too many snow scenes, although I took loads of photos. I did find the effect of melting snow on crazy paving interesting, as you can see.

I arranged the hose in the hope that it would snow again and it obliged, giving this result.

I thought it would make a good Displacement Map in PSP, as strong colour contrasts always work well. Here it is on a blank page which was filled with a stripy gradient. Looks quite like batik.

Thanks for all comments.Glad you all enjoyed Jackie's work as much as I did. She is definitely one to watch.

Wabbit - it was my final altered book - or rather the piece that went on top, that Smudge was eating. Nothing that has a pipe cleaner in its construction is safe from him.

It's raining now and washing the snow away. I wonder if it's too late to go to Urchfont and miss the plumber?

Sunday 1 February 2009

An Inspiration

Thanks for all the comments. I am managing to blog more often, in spite of getting both WoW and Quiltwow (March issue) ready for proofing. The articles are all especially good this time for both mags. I gleaned two new authors from the Knitting and Stitching show: Jackie Langfeld and Nita Bruce, who has been a mate for ages and is doing amazing things with knitted wire and rust. This fits in so well with Anna Nowicki's article on rusting fabrics. I always try to plan so that a balance is achieved but the articles don't always arrive when you think they will.

If you saw Jackie's amazing armoured figures at the show, you won't have forgotten them. Here's a back view.

For the article, she is working on smaller but equally delicious pieces, using mostly cardboard and string. This is a detail.

She started me thinking about using one of her techniques in a different way and I've had such an exciting time with it. Will show you more when I get a clearer picture. Isn't it great when we all inspire each other?

Thanks for all the good wishes about the cold. It still comes and goes, but was only really horrid for a couple of days. Now, of course, I have the cough.

Sandra - hope your cold is better.

Darlene - thank you so much for the blog award. I'm very flattered as I just sit here and witter on. Now that Annabelle is a Buddha instead of a Witterer, I may have to take over her old title.
Penny - we have seen your predicament on TV over here. Terrible heat , awful fires. Just hang cool and wait it out. We are freezing here with snow forecast for tonight but that is easier in many ways.

Jude - love the smoking jacket idea for Smudge. He'd love it as he is a cat with attitude. Perhaps that should be Cattitude. Here is the photo of his vampire teeth that I forgot to put up.

I had a bit of a workroom clear up and found these tags. They show the effects of texture gels with various paints. On the back is noted the effect and the colours used. Neat idea - I must make more.

I also found the same idea that shows edgings. I think I did it for Val for a book, but I can't rememeber if it was used. It's a great aide-memoire.

I have to end with a cat thing. My friend Elli has a new female kitten. She also has two big boy cats and when I asked her what the new one was called she said 'I've called her Boudicca because she came rushing in, put on her woad and her breastplate and terrified the inhabitants'. She has a lovely turn of phrase.