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Saturday, 6 January 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR


Happy new year to you all and I hope you had a good time over the festive season.
I thought I should start the year with a catch up on the latest drawings in my sketchbooks. 
I have finally completed no 41 which I started in January 2017 with these drawings from some photos taken while I was walking with Justine in the Surrey hills in November last year.


The ground was littered with red and gold leaves and the fallen branches silhouetted against the sky were very sculptural, making lovely frames for my photos.


While I was in England my middle granddaughter Steph who is studying geology at Cardiff university showed me some photos she had taken of microscopic sections of rocks. 
I couldn't believe the colours and patterns that appeared.

I asked her to email some to me as I was inspired to try and draw them with a plan to later turn them into embroideries.


I had a lot of fun on the rainy winter evenings using water soluble pens and crayons in my square sketchbook.

As the patterns are very intricate it was very hard not to get bogged down in the detail but I managed to get looser each time I tried a different one.


They look like planets spinning in outer space and as I have just re-discovered my grandmother's black velvet shawl I'm planning to use it as a background when I start the textile versions.


And maybe they lend themselves to some free machine stitching embroidery. 
I'm enjoying my new found love of hand stitching so much there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything!  I've got a bag full of felting supplies waiting to be tried, my ongoing family tree portrait project and a head full of other ideas so I will never get bored. 
We're off on our travels soon and I've already packed some fabrics and threads as well as my sketchbook and pencils to keep me occupied in the winter sun of the Canaries so look out for my next blog when I hope to have some new things to share with you.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

 
It is nearly Christmas so I can now share with you my cards for this year.

 
My daughter and her family are going skiing in Sweden this year so I decided to base their cards on a typical Swedish symbol.

 
The Dala horse has been made in Sweden for centuries, originally by carpenters for their children using up scraps of wood and then for sale to earn some extra money.

 
The traditional colour is red and they come in many sizes but I decided to use some of my fabric scraps to embroider using my own wooden horse as a model.  This mauve fabric is from a cashmere jumper Justine gave me a few years ago,  I love the contrast against the zigzags.

 
Although most of the horses are red or blue I had a lot of fun choosing suitable backgrounds for each person.  I gave Kirsty the hearts as I feel she's a romantic person.

 
Sarah loves trees so she got a scrap of silver birches, a favourite tree seen all over Sweden.

 
Steph got the blue sky as she loves geography and is a bit of a dreamer, often found staring into space!
 
 
And finally here's the card I made and printed to send to the rest of the family and friends, a drawing inspired by the Christmas tree mat my mother embroidered when I was a baby.  We were living in Sweden at the time, 1950, and I was the first of four children.  The mat has been used every year since then although for the first time it's now under Joanna's tree as I thought it was time to pass it down through the family.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before I handed it over, maybe I'll have to ask her to take one for me.
Have a very Happy Christmas everyone and I'll be back soon. 


 

 
 
 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

STITCHPIC SKETCHBOOKS

 
Hello everyone, thank you for popping in to see what's going on in my blogland, no doubt you're all busy with Christmas preparations so I thought a couple of escapist images might cheer you up!
I have been busy hand stitching little pictures and I came up with the idea of putting them on sketchbooks as gifts for family and friends.

 
These first two are for a charming French couple who we met through Luba and HervĂ©.  Michel gave me a huge stash of knitting yarns recently when he was clearing out his ex wife's house after she died and I have used some of them in this picture of the sea at Perros, attached to a piece of Luba's linen.

 
This was my first stitched cover, sketchbook no 43, inspired by a photo taken by an English friend Rose Jones.
 
 
 
My lichen got attached to a sketchbook for my niece Esther's birthday.

 
Luba got the lily I stitched using more of the samples she gave me in the spring.

 
I spent a few weeks in the autumn embroidering Dala horses for my family Christmas cards but one got left behind so I added some Japanese style boro stitching to bring the thin layers of the fabric background together and attach it to the velour spine and back of the cover.
 

As you can see I've already put the year and book number on the spine, something I usually do in gold outliner pen when the book is completed.  This one is coming on holiday with me in January when we go to the Canaries for some winter sunshine.
 

 
And finally a very special project I made for my granddaughter's 17th birthday in November.
She has left school and begun to study art at college and I wanted to give her a memorable sketchbook to use.  Thinking about her love of trees and her interest in graffiti I collaged her name in scraps of nature inspired fabrics onto a piece of black linen then stitched all over in pale green. 
The book is A4 in size, the biggest I've ever made and quite hard to handle when stitching the signatures together. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the finished article so you'll just have to imagine the cover with her name wrapped around from front to back.  I'm looking forward to my next visit to see what she has drawn in it.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

BUSY WINTER STITCHING

 
Hi everybody, sorry I've been away from the blog for a while keeping busy making things for sale as well as presents for family and no doubt you're all tied up with Christmas preparations too.  My needlework has taken over my life and I'm really loving interpreting my sketches as stitchpics.  Here is one of the strange yellow sky that happened in October after storm Ophelia.

 
While I was in England I acquired some water soluble stabiliser and couldn't wait to try making a picture with it using tiny fabric scraps and yarns from my wool stash.  I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I have made a couple more to make into cards for birthdays.

 
I went to my bookbinding friend in the village to collect some tape and while I was there Ann showed me her hand-made paper scraps left over from her professional bookbinding work which are far too pretty and precious to throw away.  I said I would be happy to take them off her hands to use for my artistic projects and came home with a bag full of all colours and sizes.

 
I wove some strips into a piece big enough to cover a book and I think it has turned out rather well.  There's plenty more to have a go with later when I get the time so I'll share them with you later.

 
I've been busy stitching Swedish Dala horses for another project and here is one I kept for myself to cover a book with.

 
 
It was just the right size for a square book, no 44 in my sequence so I stitched the number and year on the spine before I completed the binding.
 
 
My portrait collection is coming along too and here is Joanna my youngest daughter with her lovely smile.

 
And her son baby James a few hours after his birth nearly 6 years ago.
 
 
And finally Justine posing by a tree with her hair blowing in the wind, glamorous as always!
 



 
 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

MORE FROM MY UK VISIT

 
One of the main reasons for going to England at this time of year is to be able to attend the annual Gage Halloween party thrown by Kevin and Justine every year for at least 20 now. This year the theme was games, traditional or computer.  Here's my favourite photo with Jimmy dressed as Batman.

 
Here I am with Stephanie, my middle granddaughter, dressed as Lara Croft.  Sorry I can't seem to rotate the pics, hope you don't get a cricked neck!

 
Eldest granddaughter Kirsty with boy friend Barney.

 

 
There were 2 black queens, I helped Mandy to make her crown.

 
Justine and Kirsty having a fake fight in the kitchen.

 
Young Sarah had fantastic make-up to match her green hair.

 
Jo and James came as Reverend Green and Miss Scarlet from Cluedo.

 
Justine and Kevin were characters from the arcade game they have in the pub,  Blue Valkyrie and Red Viking.

 
I made a quick sketch trying to visualise my skirt with a hula hoop to hold it in shape, sadly the hoop ordered from Amazon never arrived.

 
Drawing Justine's costume while she worked on it the day before was quite a challenge.

 
There was plenty else going too, one day Justine had a skating class and I spent a morning in Guildford shopping and drawing the famous clock that hangs over the high street.

 
Another day we went to Loseley for a picnic lunch with her friends who also volunteer to work in the gardens.
We went on some lovely walks in the countryside too but you'll have to come back next week to see where we went.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

ANNUAL AUTUMN FAMILY VISIT



 
 
 I'm back from my annual visit to the family in England.
 For the first week I had a fun time with Jo, James and Jimmy my grandson.  Here he is with the book we made together after he saw my tiny suitcase padlock.  He thought it would be great to have one to lock up his 'Mission Impossible' book. We shopped for the chain and other bits and pieces to make him a belt too.  He had acquired the book fabric for free earlier in the week when after waiting patiently in the shop for his turn the shopkeeper gave it to him for being so well behaved!

 
I showed Jimmy how to fold and prepare the pages before he stitched them together with the cardboard for the cover.  I cut and hand stitched the fabric cover and made an elasticated pocket for the front to carry the key ring as per his instructions. We then attached it to the card with wundaweb hem tape and with a colourful Marvel fabric to line the inside cover.  If you look closely at the writing you can see how proud he is of our joint production.

 
We had a day alone together when Jo was at work and what fun we had walking to the beach only 20 minutes down the hill from their home at Whitstable.  Here is Jimmy pointing out where they used to live, the Isle of Sheppey away in the distance on the horizon.
 
 
We pottered along the beach collecting pebbles to paint and shells to draw, how lucky we were to have such a beautiful sunny day.
 
Here are my sketches with Jimmy's signature.


 
Halloween was coming too so we made the traditional carved pumpkin and Jimmy added some luminous teeth as ears as well in the mouth!

 
I didn't have a lot of time for sketching as we were so busy doing other things but here is a quick one I captured when he sat still for long enough!

 
Anther sewing project we designed together was a tool belt using some fabric Jimmy discovered in the sewing shop, it's got pencil holders and a key clip as well as the hanging pocket. The Darth Vader belt carrier is attached with Velcro so it can be taken off and used as a wristband.  I had to wait till I got to Justine's to make it on her sewing machine and use her eyelet tools for the belt holes.  Jimmy was thrilled with it when I presented it to him on Saturday.

 
And finally, a bit of stitchpicking I found time for in the evenings when we were relaxing in front of the TV. A portrait of my darling grandson copied from a photo taken when he was only a day old.
I'll be back next week with part two of the visit, culminating in the big fancy dress party.