Thursday 21 March 2013

Giveaway Winners and a Thin Week

It has not been a good week as I have succumbed to proper, old fashioned flu. The kind that comes with fever, aches and pains, cough, cold, headache and general grumpiness. 

Not only have I felt horribly ill but I have missed several things that I have been looking forward to for ages. Namely:

  • The Kingcombe Stitch Retreat, four days of heaven with my mates.
  • West Country Embroiderers Dorset Day
  • My favourite cousin's big birthday lunch

To add insult to injury I have also given the flu to my friend Elli.

My friend Jane (Wild) has also been a victim - one day ahead of me. Our suspicions that we caught it at a singing workshop were given credence when our singing tutor had to cancel a class due to flu, another victim.

The one bright note was our daily phone calls to check on each other, not so much conversations as prolonged coughing sessions - Jane on her phone, me on mine, spluttering at each other. At least it made us laugh - which made us cough more.

I am on the mend at last but I have such pains in my ribs from all the coughing, Poor  Clive has been worn to a frazzle looking after me.

Winners of the Book/Softsculpt giveaway are:

June Carroll, 



Susan D, 


Anna Nowicki, 


Jacky Ives,


Naida Willis,

Angela Collins,

Jean Dobbie,

Pian Bates.

I shall try to contact you via your blogs but, if you'd like to save a sick woman a lot of trouble, contact me with your snail mail addy, please.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Give-away Time

I have a give-away today (more on that below) but first an apology. I have been a bad blogger and not answered comments lately. Slapped wrist. I think it is because the only blogging time available lately has been in the evenings, on the tablet and it’s not so easy to open a blog twice and jump about.


Your comments on the embellisher post were thought-provoking and I agree with Heather that the embellished pieces are generally more interesting when added to another piece of work – after all it is just a tool and all our tools should work towards making cohesive work. However, my experiments using just the embellisher have proved fruitful and I am now moving on to adding slips of stitch. Planning to push ahead with the knitting and embellishing now for the article – liniecat’s chopped-up bits sound fun. Tried that once and it wasn’t great but I shall revisit it.

I am not going to rush the DVD but will try to have fun with it, Ros. It will be out sometime before the autumn, I guess.

Heather, I think that flow-improver would work with acrylics in a similar way to extender but it might make the paint too runny for collagraphs.


I find that I have lots of Softsculpt that is surplus to requirements. It works really well as a print block – just heat it and press something hard into it while hot. When it cools down, it will keep a deep impression and can be used as a stamp or block in the usual way. Heat in oven, with heat tool or iron but be very careful not to overheat – and be especially careful when picking it up after heating.

However, I like it best as a base for stitching as it can be shaped very easily. For this ‘book’, I heated it with an iron and then placed it over two bottles to get the shape of an open book. It is easy to lay up fabrics and stitch them to the softsculpt using a strong needle - see below. Stab stitch through to attach fabrics and adornments.

I also use it as edging and spurs, impressing with a pattern, painting and then buttonholing the edge (see right).

This is not a good photo but the arrow points to the Softsculpt strip. The piece in this photo was pressed with the lid of a potpourri pot so look out for interesting things to use as pressers.

Dale Rollerson has kindly given me some of her booklets ‘Let’s Play with Romeo’ to give away. Her ideas for using dissolvable film could go really well with the Softsculpt.

Anyway, if you would like to try for the goodie,s just leave a comment on the blog. Say which you would prefer, book or Softsculpt.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Old Books and Bad Cats

I am going great guns with the stuff for my embellisher DVD. I have also roped in a couple of my friends who have specialised knowledge of bits I am not good at! So we will get to visit them and they both have exciting studios. I am keeping their identity a secret for now so you can have a surprise.

Have also been buying materials - why do you never have the right stuff? Foolishly left my expensive silk chiffon on a tabletop and it got Smudged - interesting design but not what I had in mind.

Washed it and silk dyed some for sampling and now it is sitting in soggy lumps due to the weather. We haven't had rain (or sun) for ages so dyeing this must be the equivalent of a rain dance.

I am determined to make a jacket out of this yardage of excitement, so I had to look back at one of my old books for a pattern. This one was the first book I had anything to do with. It was a collection of projects by people like Ruth Issett, Sian Martin, Sarah Burgess and several other eminents and was edited by Val CH. This was the cover of the American version: the UK title was Starting to Stitch Creatively, which we all hated.

I made some little flat pots with hand stitching and machine auto patterns - see below. It was fun working with all those great people. I much prefer the American cover and title.

The reason I needed to refer to it was the fact that Ruth had made a jacket with Markal decoration, taping off areas as resists and brushing Markal (Shiva) oilbars onto the fabric with a toothbrush.

I loved this jacket so much that I bought it from Ruth. I still wear it sometimes and it always gets comments. She gave a scaleable pattern which I might try, although I think my fabric is too floaty.

This is nearly the end of the stitchy part of the embellisher movie and I am about to move onto the mixed media ideas. It is so good to be working properly on big pieces. Loving it.

Don't you love this elephant below. My friend Maureen Beale made it and I kept forgetting to take a photo for you. I think this wonderfully channels the current vogue for stuffed heads on plaques (have you seen the sequined zebra that keeps appearing in the Sunday supplements?).

Off now to see if the rain has stopped enough to hang out my sample pieces. Otherwise it's going to be the workroom floor and the hairdryer - too impatient to wait. I am having a give-away soon, so keep checking the blog.