Tuesday, 29 June 2010


My first sweet pea flowers came out yesterday and so this means that summer is really here as far as I'm concerned. That smell takes me straight to my grandparents garden where they grew wigwams full of them along a path in the heart of the garden. As a child I used to help granny pick bunches of the candy coloured flowers that were then put in bowls on the large dining room table.

Anyway, enough of the reminiscing... I've been printing small pieces of water colour paper again for some new cards. These are developing some ideas from some experiments I did a couple of months ago with summer-inspired colours.

The next stage is to stitch into the thick paper.

I've also been playing with ideas for fabric versions and had a good rummage in my box of dyed scraps. I enjoyed putting the different colours next to each other.

So as well as the newly coloured paper waiting for stitches I now have little piles of textile colour waiting for stitches too.

I just need a long train journey to get it all done...

Current listening: Mumford and Sons

Friday, 25 June 2010


I've just returned from the post office having posted a very large and unwieldy package off to Madeira UK. They run a student sponsorship scheme for final year students which, for the successful candidates, gives £100 worth of threads - not to be sniffed at! In order to apply you have to send off a number of boards with examples of stitch based work.

So this is what I've done, including examples from three different projects. The first is from my most recent stage two project which was called 'Loss' and was based on issues of cultural and biodiversity losses associated with deforestation in South American Rainforests. This project used a really luscious and rich colour palette of saturated colour, which contrasted with the subject matter in a way but provided lots of challenges in terms of getting the required depth of colour in dye and print processes. I learnt a lot!

The second featured a body of work that was developed from a summer project based on observational drawing of insects called 'metamorphosis'. This was very much based on transferring drawn line into stitch.

Third, I included work from the 15 Images project I undertook last summer.

So now I'll have to wait until September to find out whether I get the threads.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

girly weekend

I had a lovely weekend in Edinburgh with my daughter and my good friend Caroline. It was the first long train journey I'd done with Hazel on her own and it felt like we were embarking on a real adventure when we set off on Friday evening. I love that journey, particularly the section from Newcastle and north. Suddenly the Tyne and the distinctive quayside buildings are revealed through the jumble of bridges. I lived in Newcastle for three years and I was born in the north east, so it always feels a bit like coming home. Then as you go north the coast in closer and closer and there is anticipation of the time you first catch a glimpse of the sea.

There are so many lovely places to go in Edinburgh and we made a good go of sampling its delights.

We went into the Dovecot Gallery, not knowing what was on but found the degree show for Heriot Watt University's textile course. Well that was a pretty good start to the day as far as I was concerned. There was some lovely work, imaginatively displayed. There were also students demonstrating weaving and knitting, which was a lovely way to engage people visiting the exhibition. Hazel went straight up to the loom and asked if she could have a go!

A highlight for both generations was the National Museum of Scotland. This is a stunning building. I'm sure the exhibits are equally as stunning but as it was such a beautiful day we vowed we'd come back on a rainy day to do the inside. We headed up the the roof where there is a roof garden and the most wonderful views across Edinburgh and beyond.

This gave me lots of food for thought in terms of one of my possible themes for my final year...

After a Swedish lunch we took a bus round to the other side of Arthur's Seat to a beautiful little haven of a garden. Dr Neil's Garden was created for the people of Edinburgh but not many seem to know about. It is quiet, apart from the activity of the birds and the rustle of the trees and the reeds that grow by the lake that the garden looks out over.

This certainly isn't a garden that has been designed to within an inch of its life. It is relaxed and simple with paths that wind around the slope and between terraces. There are numerous places to sit and enjoy the tranquillity.

From here it was a short bus ride to the sea! Fish and chips for tea at the beach at Portobello, followed by a paddle in the evening sunshine - what more could you ask for?

Edinburgh listening: The Starlets

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

one year on

Today I've been with good friends who I last saw a year ago in Northern Spain for their lovely wedding celebration. This time last year we were having a really relaxing and food-filled few days in Cudillero, Asturias with friends old and new. As a late wedding present I made them a little book with copies of the sketches and notes that I made while we were there and I finished it this morning just (literally!) in time to give it to them over lunch.

There were sketches of the fishing boats coming in with their catch and then the catch being auctioned in the fish market...

There were sketches at the beach where various members of the party swam in the very cold sea...

There were sketches of the spectacular muddle of a roof-scape in the valley-confined village...

And sketches of the main square where the people of Cuillero spend their time sitting, drinking, eating and putting the world to rights...

Scanning my drawings and cleaning them up on the computer was fairly time consuming but it was actually constructing the book which was the difficult bit. The good quality water colour paper I used is fine to stitch through as long as you're not using a big wadge of it! Several broken needles and bleeding finders and thumbs later I had a complete book

which I could wrap

and present to my friends.

Book making listening: Schubert quintet in A major and quartet in D minor

Sunday, 13 June 2010

a bit of publicity

I meant to put this up earlier but forgot. There was an article about me on the Arts and Culture section of the Bradford College website, all about 15 Images. And, while we're talking about college, it is the final year show next week, starting with the preview on Thursday evening from 4pm. There will be lots of exciting things to see, especially in the textiles studio (not that I'm biased or anything!) with final year degree students and HNC weave and knit students showing their beautiful work.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

naked still

This beautiful poppy unfurled itself this morning in my kitchen window box. It found its own way there and I've watched it grow a little each day. Yesterday the goose-pimpled bud started to split a little at the edge and just show a tiny bit of the folded red inside. Today it delicately sat in the early morning sunshine like a flag, far more beautiful than any of the many flags that are adorning much of the country right now!

The tulips that are sitting, naked still, on the garden table have slowly changed colour.

They have a delicate pinky lilac tinge to them.

They've lain naked in the rain much of the week.

Current listening: The Swell Season: Strict Joy

Saturday, 5 June 2010


I lifted the tulips that had been so glorious a few weeks ago in this long trough ready to replace them with something more alive looking.

They are laid out on the table in the garden so that the leaves can continue to photosynthesise and they can pack the maximum energy back into their bulbs for next year.

They look naked, all exposed and vulnerable, lined up in rows. They are yellowing by the day as they dry out. When they are properly dry I'll store them away until its time to plant them out again in the autumn... cycles... routines... everything in its place.

In the trough I planted out some Tumbling Tom tomatoes with Californian poppies and Love-in-the-mist mixed in for good measure and cheery colour.

Things are growing well in this warm weather

And blue is still the dominating colour in my garden, with irises

and the big mound of blue that is the ceonothus in its prime.

Elsewhere the foxgloves are just starting to open

And with the bright sunlight today there are lovely shadows and a real depth to the detail when you look closely amongst the plants with their hairs and veins exposed ... naked but comfortable in their skin.