It is surprising just how much time I spend round cats. I didn’t know until I had to knit this away from felines, as Julia is allergic to them…

Eleanor from Knit Nottingham had kittens about this scarf (sorry, couldn’t resist!) because I stashbusted some Malabrigio (sp?) and Noro for it. It should have been charged at replacement rates, but cos Julia has been so nice about stocking AVI fundraising scarves (3 kinds, check ’em out) I made it at mates rates, with no intention of replacing them. Using purple so thoroughly for C&G has left me a tad jaded, which will pass, but the whole point about stashbusting is using stuff that otherwise will sit there. There’s also King Cole Riot, doll wool, felting wool and lovely embellishing yarn, but no one piped up in their defence. Jazz gave me the Malabrigio and I was so thrilled, it feels great, it is a really lovely midnight to electric purple and…it was too good to use! Nooooooooooooooo! I managed to use a bit for some C&G embellishing but it felt like putting the Derby winner to hauling coal…so when Julia

wanted a purple scarf I leapt at it. And dug out the Noro while I was at it! You can see the lovely flecky goodness of that at the bottom of the second photo.

And I made Julia laugh telling her about all this – who knew making a scarf could be so hard? I guess it comes back to the two kinds of stash, the ‘bought because it is beautiful and must wait for a perfect project’, and the ‘bought because it will bring beauty into any project’. I really didn’t enjoy the feeling of trying to think up a project good enough for those two superyarns, and seeing Julia so pleased while  making space for the turquoise felting mixes that are next in line, definitely equals that mythical value.

More on the stashbusting front – want to see what the inner reels of 18 kilometres (10 miles in old money) of thread  look like?

Oh yes………

I have four of these fishing tackle boxes, and they used to be full of thread.

Now two are full of thread and two are handy embellishing lengths and tapestry/canvaswork wools.

These are going to a better place – a carrier bag marked weaving bobbins, for when I do mixed media entanglements, and need to keep track of many ends.

O happy day!


I was really inspired by the two books I mentioned in the last post, also by playing around with pelmet vilene and canvas. Unfortunately I also had a couple of bad days with collarbone pain and extreme tiredness, but today I got down to some more playtime 🙂 so there are things to show you. This is one of those triumphs of process that is really hard to explain to non creatives………I was just messing around with organza, hat netting (millinery gauze?), the painted rug canvas and some snips of threads. Trying out zigzag spirals on the canvas went well and I suddenly thought of the scorched velour samples I made on C&G and got a dark brown one out, added some coppery woven fabric given to me by a corsetry student, some thread snips and made an oval embellishment. This then made me think of bird’s eye maple and birds’  heads and then I was making samples for a piece about bereavement, based on ravens pecking your eyes out as a metaphor for losing your ability to enjoy life. And I didn’t really know until I was doing it, if you see what I mean. My process involves allowing plenty of space to let these events happen, rather than following a design schedule. Making samples is a really good way to generate the leaps, but sitting down with a sketch book and directly designing a piece is almost pointless without the samples and the leap.

You can see from my thumbs that these are not so big, though I’m always bewildered by how small most embroiderers can work – I start to feel like my fingers are sausages when it gets much smaller than this – and I’m trying to show you heads at different stages, just a flash of glittery blue braid for the eye and the scorched velour, through to layers of stitching and thread and fabric snips, to one mounted on the painted rugging canvas with the first few lines to build up the image – at this point I’m thinking a multiple view image, so the brown head acts as an eye on the mesh head. I have some very gaudy feathers that might take a black bath tomorrow! At this early a stage I just have a very loose idea of how things will be strung together, though I’m thinking a 3D structure, that could easily change, so to keep my options open, I’ll be leaving edges on everything for a while yet.

I was talking to my therapist today about the way my art process has to adapt to what’s going on around me, and that making components for mixed media work is very relaxing, because until the final assemblage (and even then, mwahaha;))things can be adjusted and tweaked, whereas with painting one blown line can take weeks to re resolve, (no pressure there then!). I think leaving things very open or till the deadline is very high risk  with the technical limitations of oil painting, it’s not exhilarating at all to just miss, but have no time to resolve, because you need three weeks drying time, so now you’re a painting short…But assemblage is really forgiving by comparison and by trusting the process, a ritual of paying attention as you make is rewarded by confidence in your own making, and a spiral of trust builds up…if the components are pleasing and/or significant, then the work will be simple to assemble because one action will lead to the next, and particularly in site-specific work, the space will give you feedback. Rigorous intuitive thinking is disciplined, but open ended; to me, it harks back to the religious mystics who held that work is prayer. An early monastic word for the ritual of prayer was observaunce and I think artists who embrace process are very much in this tradition, regardless of their religious affiliation, (if any). The power of Navajo or Tibetan Buddhist mandala painting with coloured sands is even stronger than the illuminated calligraphy of Bede : to make such beautiful pieces, which make huge physical, mental and spiritual demands, knowing they will be blown to the four corners in days, is such an affirmation of the act, the process over the the result, the product.

Again, to me, there is a link here between the consumerism of capitalist society and the art market and contemporary art industry and the loss of direction in so many people’s lives, people replace being with having. My neighbours on one side really look down on me for being so poor, which as I feel they have a totally impoverished lifestyle is very funny. They are always buying furniture so I beg the cardboard sheets off them to make permaculture beds – I offered them courgettes and tomatoes as a thankyou but was told they don’t eat vegetables, and I know their little girl thinks I must be very poor because I grow my own fruit! Real fruit comes from shops, but is only eaten in jam or pies…..oh dear, it takes all sorts….

I really love the way Picasa lets you play with values and saturate colours, I find myself taking photos to be in that game. The business of taking reliably accurate reproductions of my work is still unpredictable and tedious at times, but playing with the random shots is great fun. These are the rotary clothes line post in a mess of weeds, a detail of chiro quilt sample 1 and a piece of fence. Or, a nightmare flooding landscape, aerial bombardment of a city on a river and a beach with the tide long out…..I would love to be able to paint or stitch that last one, but am just not good enough at satin stitch….

The next three are a bit more possible for my skill level, but then why re invent the wheel?

I’m playing round with mixed media ideas, laminating images as components in installations…….mmm….

I’m reading a couple of really inspiring books at the moment  : ‘New Canvaswork’ by Jill Carter and  ‘Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art’ by Diane Maurer-Mathison. Lots of eye candy, lots of times when a sharp intake of breath signals a technique I can use to improve my work. Cherry Simone was round today for crafty fun and we printed and painted pelmet vilene – check out her blog for beautiful bold images, that art journalling course is really giving her wings – and I stencilled through rugging canvas and net lace again, consciously working on staining them for use in assemblages where the machine embroidered pelmet vilene will also be an element. The canvas bit is directly inspired by Jill Carter’s suggestions for alternative surfaces for stitch. I seem to be getting a new process, where I prepare and gather many components to assemble, enjoying each stage. I have so many more ways

to create and use elements now, and it’s a pleasure to enjoy the process of each stage, knowing even the trim offs will be used in something. It can be a snag keeping projects from blending and eventually muddling and using different colour palettes is what I’m trying at the moment. I’ve got the coffee/blue/maroon and a green/teal/gold running in parallel at the moment….

Both the pelmet vilene and the canvas I stencilled it through can be used with the confidence that of course they share the same hard to match palette. I’ve started the free motion on the vilene and I’m sure  Jill Carter’s diagrams for hand stitching will have me using windmill stitch  and Half Rhodes before I know it! It is lovely to see a new path before me, as I’ve said, I love to learn, and the C & G course has opened a lot of doors for me….

A new project is definitely a good reason to get up early before the clocks change tomorrow night!

Dancing Dervish and Lovely Lailah came over last night for tea and crafts – they have a favourite friend in Denmark they are missing, so we decided to send her a packet of crafty goodness, and as Lailah is an acknowledged queen of bunting, and DD needs to learn to make bunting for new nevvy, the race was on. How much bunting can you make in a few hours, if you pool skills and stash? I dragged out cloth, ribbons and embellishers and sat at the sewing machine as they cut templates, chose fabrics and trimmed ends. Gradually the pile of plain triangles became brave pennants and more and more embellishing materials spilled across the floor. Pumpkin soup and onion and seedy bagels had set us up, but coffee and chocolate were called into play, with music, chat and laughter carrying us through…

There are some dyed mother of pearl bracelets in the £shops at the mo’ and they make ready drilled embellishers (drilling holes in shells is much harder then you’d think!) and of course my stash is full of ribbon and yarn and lace, but I also dug out some UFOs from some 6 years ago and used them (happy feet!) and some leftovers from the kimono. Lai made a really pretty leaf collage and some lovely spirals, DD made a collage including clothes pegs!

with a slight mishap – we decided her leggings were not a suitable embellishment and cut her free, fear not, no bunting was hurt in the course of that exercise, tho’ we all had tummy ache from laughing so much 😉

Lai got to pick up her festival top but I forgot to get a picture of her in it. I guessed it nearly right, tho’ I made her straps a little wide she was so happy with the teal and orange that allowances were easily made 🙂

It was such a lovely evening that I’ve decided to get a craft group going again. I’m talking to the Women’s Centre in Nottingham about it, partly to make squares for the International Women’s Day component of the Memory Squares Project, but hopefully to draw women crafters together in a nice cheap venue – bringing a flask would be fine. If you are interested in a Second Saturday or Third Thursday monthly bring-your-own knit and natter/craft and connect group, probably 12-3pm, let me know in comments and I’ll keep you posted on progress – also alternative venues that are wheelchair and poor friendly, crowded cafes are a bit challenging for some of us.

Oh yes, that is pompom wool as danglers, I knew I was right to buy it when I saw it, thank you Lidl!

Well, I just visited the Stash Manicure Blog and I was feeling the tiniest bit smug, cos I spent lots of last week moving furniture and making a better workspace and then, then I saw today’s post and it’s a real “look on my works, ye mighty, and despair”  kind of thing cos the guest blogger has the MOST organised stash IN THE WORLD! Also possibly the largest….you kind of wonder how much someone can do if their stash is that sorted, but I guess you save so much time on wild goose chases that you can file and subdivide to your heart’s content……? And of course you would clear up every thread and wisp as you went along? Mmmmm, food for thought…

new work station my back and neck have not enjoyed working at the foldout table, so a change was needed. Luckily the dancing dervish came to stay, so things became possible and even easy with her help 🙂 the high workbench came back from the bedroom and into the space where Andy’s workbench was, which moved to where the chest of drawers were, which had moved to where the workbench was in the bedroom. Still with me? Then a big remnant of carpet went down in the living room, with a trim off over the creaky boards in the bedroom. We also swapped my clapped out mattress for the good one in the painting studio spare bedroom. Emilia also offered me a long loan of her good mattress while she is away, so the guests won’t suffer too long 🙂 Altogether, a lot of fuss, bother and itch, many homeless spiders, many disgruntled cat moments, but…………so worth it! My back loves the new to me mattress and working at the right height again. I love having done this, after chuntering on about it for ages. My knees are a bit achey after cutting carpet and I broke my scalpel handle and will have to invest in another one (a whole £1 from the Polish £shop at Broadmarsh,) but I didn’t need to light a fire yesterday, so I’d say the insulation effect was working and the bargainaceous carpet will pay for itself in a few weeks 🙂 and the bedroom and living room are getting so tidy the cats are confused 🙂 and I am starting to know things are in positions they will stay in. Phew! The Shakers defined tidiness as a place for everything and everything in its place and I can see there from here!

It helps of course that things are leaving – another two boxes  of Andy’s stuff, mainly photos and slides, and three large shelves with Andy’s hotknifed painting decorations on them went to his sister on Monday; a big bag of stuff went to the charity shop and I actually put some stuff in the bin (shock, horror, collapse of the solar system!) Ok, I exaggerate, I filled the recycling bin almost to the brim, and maybe one carrier bag in the landfill bin. I also filled 4 (count them, 4!) pillowcases with fabric scraps for the rescued animals projects. This liberated some space for stash to be sorted a little better (yeah, she kinda rained on my parade……..:)) and I even got a box of papermaking kit off the kitchen floor and onto a counter I tend to clutter. Why is this good? Well, now if I need that space, I just lift the box out and there it is (as opposed to sorting through a messy pile of gardening and diy tat) and the space on my kitchen floor is almost doubled! Less risk of visitors thinking it’s a bin, too…..

I had a day in bed after all the upheaval, mainly cos I had a chill and thought that yucky cold everyone’s having was getting me, but feel better for making the improvements. Most of the follow on cleaning is done – a sort through the debris on the foldout table is called for, but my new workstation is independent of it, phew!

I had a play with pelmet vilene tonight, so you have some eye candy. I wish I’d photographed the stages, at one point they were sooooooooo ugly!  I printed the spirals with a homemade stamp (the foam insulation for laminate flooring on a sweetie tin lid) and stencilled the mottles using a net curtain lace band and strips and chunks of latchhook  rugging canvas. I mixed different strengths of acrylic paints – thick as cream to print, thinned  to milk with cheap lustre acrylic and water for stencilling with a cheap bristle brush and really watered down to wash over the dried prints. The strong red, gold and green looked very stark and ugly – mottling with a maroony beige (sounds awful, I know!) and then a milky hot chocolate colour with added bronze Brusho lustre really helped, making a sort of autumnal effect. Then I made a prussian blue thinned with gold lustre to a petrol blue to print with, stencilled with a coffee maroon and washed with a thin bluey purple for the second batch. Sometimes it is necessary to go through that ugly stage to understand what you want to make. These all turned into something useable, and because I do keep going, they probably always would, but it’s very important to let yourself make  those ugly/mistakes/wrong turns to get to the real path, which is of course, your own, not the broad track or superhighway the craft industry wants you to follow. Remembering Cherry Simone’s stories about the scrapbooking paraphernalia of exactly measured extremely expensive items at the class following the joyful freedom of art journalling reminded me to keep going, to see where the ugly took me, what it could teach me. And that turned out to be a lot! I’ve been working in a vivid palette for a year or so, and the brashness of the bold colours I’d mixed suddenly made me want something softer and muted. October is drifting into November and some really interesting colour mixes are around, ashy pinks and browns, misty buffs and greys, wet blacks and umbers, mmmmmmmmmmmm….

These are all for free machining, so follow up photos should appear soon. I’m really on a roll with the journal covers, so xmas presents here we come 😉

When Holly Golightly takes up knitting in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s a sign of meltdown, but knitting scarves is a lot easier than sewing 260 squares together with ribbon (thanks Lynn and Pauline for doing the other 30!) and stringing them between banisters on a fairly busy staircase….;)

It is a gleeful thrifty who greets you today, a week of public art combined with ten days of broadband/Vista interface problems has taken its toll, but   the xhib went down very well with lots of people, we got a nice photo and write up in the Nottingham Post, Nottingham Mental Health Week want the fabric follies to plan a show with them next year, the market had not too many visitors, but all in a buying mood, so the best stall I’ve ever had with just crafts, £95 plus a £25 reserved machine embroidered diary cover, to be collected in a couple of weeks!

That’s a lot of wins – dosh for AVI, and for Family and Friends of the Beeches; Lynn’s very happy with the links the xhib helped build with M Health Week and the local primary school – the children were very sweet and thoughtful with the residents and drew some great images on their squares – I got to meet Rosemary Renouf, who Penny from Making Waves had told me was lovely; and I told her about the Bi-Polar Bard’s Cape and she’s keen to have it in next year’s MHW events ; the residents enjoyed the happy memory conversations (on the whole – one guy was not impressed!) and the staff were really supportive, bringing coffee and sandwiches and letting us in and out and helping clear the dining room, and seemed really interested and to enjoy the art – two women both wanted Pauline’s picture and I suggested that handbags at dawn might be needed, but all was resolved happily!- another home wants the squares project to go there, The Beeches want Pauline and Lynn to do a day workshop soon, the Women’s Centre want me to do an International Women’s Day version…………there’s also the impact on the follies – this was our first show and we ended up with very little preparation time, so it’s truly amazing how well everything came together! Photos will follow on Cherry Simone’s return from the flatlands….

Hi! I’m siging in for PrettyThrifty superwoman as she has asked me to tell you that her tintanet is down!

This, very sadly, means she can’t update you on the magic that’s happening at the special Mental Health Week at The Beechs (though, lucky me, I can hear about it over the telephone and visit for myself! mwhahaha!). But if you’re near than come along and enjoy some of the pretties and making for yourself:

The Beech
Darnhill Crescent Bracebridge Drive
Bilborough (or NG8 4QA, to your satnav), Monday 11th to Friday the 15th, 2 to 4
OR! The craft fayre on Saturday, the last day you’ll have a chance to see for yourself, 1:30 to 4:30 for the craft fayre!

ta-ra pet!

 love from Cherise (MakeMe) and the household zoo!

Thomas Edison:  “There are no rules here. We’re trying to accomplish  something”

Someone used this on Liberated Quilters today, and I’m going to use it as my mantra for a fortnight, cos I’m crazy busy for the next ten days with the Fabric Follies events.A4 Beeches art exhibitiondocx(2) is a link to click for the poster, if you’re in the area, please do come 🙂

Some progress reports:

Nico and Emilia pruning the big hawthorn tree in the back garden

the bath is now a purple sprouting broccoli and chard bed and lots of those branches are drying out for a solstice garden fire

The chiro quilt sample went down very well and gave me lots of ideas for the overall design – I am a process artist so very happy leaving lots of space for improvisation, in fact I find drafting a whole design and following it exactly very draining.

There will be 16 or 20 blocks with borders and a framing/sashing edge. Each block has a central piece about 18″/45cm square, which is embroidered or embellished to  connect with the lake outside the window. This sample is an abstract representation of leaves and the reflection of foliage floating in the water, the lake edge and the fires of autumn, both real and the bright hedgerows…. These central pieces are individually worked and then framed with parti-blocked borders in plains, if you can call the sumptuous shot taffetas I’m using plain….these are all to be joined up and quilted with a variegated gold thread to unify/resolve the piece as a whole. I am so looking forward to this piece!

Next I have to make samples of wadding/filling and when they are approved I can really get moving 🙂

The 3D memory squares quilt/ installation is getting a great response, and I’m having to cut hundreds more squares – some groups are cutting and embellishing their own, which is lovely, the carers/ family and friends group Lynn from Fabric Follies set up is having a training session on Friday and they are going to use the squares to talk about memories with the residents at the Beeches, it makes a very easy lowkey way to start that conversation so I’m really pleased the timing has worked so well for this. When the school groups come in next week to embellish squares, working on their own memory square and one for a resident will hopefully bridge some gaps – and at home too, maybe.  I used to love hearing my granny’s stories of being in service and when the street burnt down – the colliery houses were built of wood, so the whole street went up, and my mum was born in the back garden! – but also how she would cook a meal for 6 on an open fire, what washday was like……

Making the request for a happy memory has generated some very positive conversations already!

Stashbusting continues, this is the pile for the chiro quilt, but two large (think cushion or duvet) bags have left with Cherry Simone  for her to build stash and to share with her fellow art journallers and sewers for fun, and a bundle of pink went off to someone expecting a girl soon, and the squares are another large carrier bag sized gap! An empty shelf appeared and is now a current project boxes area. Emilia said you could see a difference today from a month ago! I will be taking embellishing ribbons and yarns with me to the Beeches next week, so that will help too.

A little voluntary project I’ve taken on is making comfort cushion cat and dog beds for the local animal shelters –  the lovely, lovely Colleen who used to run Hucknall RSPCA shop has set up an independent shop supporting all the local animal sanctuaries/projects. The new shop is on Watnall Rd and I went in to ask if  they could save pilled up fleece blankets for me, to use for wadding in quilts. One thing led to another and now they are saving any old bedding that’s too tatty to sell, tearing the sheets and duvets into hand width strips if there’s a quiet moment on the till, then I stuff old pillowcases and stitch them up. You roll the strips into loose bundles, wrap the ends in and mix them with any fabric snips or old duvet wadding and it makes a nice cosy, washable bed for a distressed animal,  Nonie jumped straight on the one I made last night and started paddling, so it works! Don’t put thread bundles in, cats and dogs often shred their bedding when they’re distressed, and would choke or get internal obstructions if they swallowed lots of tangles. But they’re very quick and pleasing to make, a good way to help those lovely people who take in the strays others have abused or abandoned and a good way to really use stuff up completely.

I introduced the lovely Cherry Simone to me and PoetrySue’s favourite dealer fabric shop on Wednesday, oohh! Nice things! Even though the sale is over, there are still the remnant crates – bottoms up!

We trawled the depths and found too many good things – I even put some back! I was shopping for watery fabric for the chiro quilt as it will henceforth be known. He liked sample 1 so once loft/wadding issues are settled I can let rip, which I am sooooooooo looking forward to. I only bought about a quarter of what I’ll use, first I shopped my stash, all the brocade samples I’ve been putting away for the right project, leftovers from my taffeta jacket, sari fabric and a stack of ribbons all came out.

but just to prove I bought far less

than I pulled

see! Much less in the new pile on the right. I am so wanting to start cutting up and playing pretty, these will be so inspiring to work with for water:

the meander lines on the two pattern woven fabrics are just asking for a little  cable stitch doodling with metallic thread in gold and silvers, blues and turquoises to enhance the wateriness, while the two tone/shot taffetas will just be ravishing with thread painting in pinking zigzag………mmmmmm!

So why is the grass greener?

Cos what I’m doing right now is cutting out hundreds of 4 and 5″ squares for the memory weave installation. It is very satisfying to see my stash shrink – I took a tip from the Stash Manicure blog and cut squares for this, but sorted fabric out into upcoming projects as I returned it to the shelves, so all the fabric to be dyed is now collected in two boxes, all the chiro quilt fabric and ribbons are together in one bulging box, I even palmed a huge carrier bag of offcuts off on Cherry Simone, so one shelf and one box are empty! A win! (What shall I do with my box? Answers on a postcard….)

I should not be stretching my neck over the fence saying I want to be in November making the quilt – the memory weave is shaping up nicely. I think I just always find it easier to work to my own schedule rather than fit in with all the variables involved in public art, plus publicity is really daunting for me because of the agoraphobia. Funny really, I know lots of people who would be dreading making to a deadline, in public, that bit isn’t the problem, it’s phonecalls that have me tied up in knots 🙂

Look at the grass in front of me. It’s not so bad. Pretend to be a cow with five stomachs to digest this grass without too much bother, chew the cud, ruminate on the pleasure of this grass.

Cut more squares………chew, chew…….

I feel quite a bit better today, enhanced by finding 3 Tom Holt novels for £8.25 at my favourite 2nd hand bookshop and hanging out at KnitNottingham on the town end of Mansfield Rd, where a couple of King Coles found their way into my backpack, to further the tapestry and become a scarf, in that order. I also got some plants at the Vic Centre Market stalls and some bargain backcopies of Stitch, 3 for £5 at WHSmith. Retail therapy high!

So I have a lovely to do list:

plant out ornamentals White Nancy lamium ( deadnettle family) in the shady forest bit of the garden

rosemary under the living room window,imagine that next summer!

purple sprouting broccoli in the bath and tubs

buy fabric (extra to box sorted from stash) for chiropractor’s quilt and start design samples (ooooh!)

relax with books and dvds, thanks to Cherry Simone for sorting out the update on my laptop!

re assemble final project  C&G piece to go on display at xhib

plan installation for xhib

all these are a breeze/inspiring/fun/pleasing – the next chunk is rewarding, kinda different………..%)

make a draft poster for memory quilt installation and if Lynn oks it, blitz Bilborough, Mental Health Week events, Community Centres, Colleges and Libraries, Galleries and cafes with the 5″ squares and a CD marker to collect the raw ingredients of the installation.

remind/persuade Lynn that she wants to do the talking face bits, I am so not in that space at the moment, but hope as this xhib benefits the charity she’s set up that she’s ok with that

check the xhib and craft market are listed in the right places on line – Cherry Simone? You know you want to 🙂

email with attachments to many addresses – PoetrySue? You’ll never get a better chance to show off your manicure 🙂

Why is art fun and publicity so, so………unappealing?

Bribery to self  is indicated……

This house is full of art that should be out there, publicity is so worth it,’k?

See you after the salt mines……