Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spring has sprung and summers here-ish.

Front of Smithbrook Kilns
Life has been somewhat hectic, thanks to a disturbingly full schedule and therefore there is so much to catch up on. The new studio (yes a real studio not a spare bedroom) is pretty much complete after much sanding, painting and moving of boxes. How can one person acquire so much stuff and not be able to part with any of it! Decorating and moving in seemed a very idyllic concept before I had to figure out what I needed, and then hardest of all, what I wanted - What a mammoth decision, and one that seemed so final. But with lots of help the blinds are up, the furniture is painted and the place is ready to rock, although as you can see family helps with the work load but spaniels are never so eager to be of assistance.
An empty studio being mentally filled
New staff working hard

So with running water and the paint fumes finally gone I can ready myself for the huge task of re-packaging all my kits and have space for the vast number of deliveries which are now flooding in after a few easy card payment days on the internet ordering copious amounts of threads, needles, fabric and other strange goodies (such as medical sample bottles - everything has its use!)

Most important, tea and coffee is all set up and ready for some inspiration drinking
 More pictures of a finished and working studio will soon be taken - when it's tidy rather than looking like the back of a scavenged garden shed.

Most exciting is my gorgeous new stationary. Fiona and her awesome team at Flourish have designed me the most inspiring new logo and paperwork that is totally me and uses all their superior colour theory knowledge to make me all inspired and stitchey and stuff.

I am happily home based now until the end of July as I have been away to Liverpool for an Creative Stitches show, Hexham to meet the lovely embroiderers their and inspire them into a love affair with whitework and to Birmingham for the Sewing for Pleasure show as the guest of Madeira threads to show people the wonders of their hand embroidery threads, and although I already used their stranded cotton I am a complete silk convert! I feel a new silk shading kit on the way chock-a-block full of gorgeous Madeira threads.

Aside from massive kit production I have flowers in the back of my mind. There is a small raised bed next to my studio, currently happily housing some rather vivacious weeds. After asking permission I am allowed by the lovely people at smithbrook kilns to plant what I like there as long as I don't kill it (quite a task for me) but the soil is heavy with clay, so any suggestions on clay hardy flowers which are nice and bright would be greatly appreciated. 

Happy stitching bloggettes, 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ideas and Input Please

Exciting news!!! Soon (not quite soon enough for my excitement) I will have a beautiful new logo and a whole new brand identity for my work and business, and one that makes me smile and do a little dance everyday! This is all due to the wonderful, creative and inspiringly awesome team at Flourish!

Have a look at the work they have done for me so far and please let me know what you think - ideas welcomed. I can't wait to get it all up and rolling for you all to see!

Click on the link below to see more of the inital ideas and Fiona's insightful information.

keep stitching!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Stitching in a New Year

Ok so I know that it has taken me far too long to get this upto date, but I do have my reason's; an evil kidney has taken hold of my body and been holding me hostage for almost 3 months now, and my poor computer is very sick and trying to get my stuff onto another has been a compete pain. And then finally, Christmas is fast approaching and my lovely boy's parents are visiting from South Africa, so tourist trips are a plenty, and I am supposed to be making Crimbly presents too!

So excuse's over and apologies made it is now time to bombard you with some, and I do mean just some, of the hundreds that I took at the stunning and inspirational Eden Project in Cornwall. I found the place endlessly intriguing and almost filled my camera in the day with image after image of amazing flora and fauna that made my fingers itch to stitch! So apologies for the blast of photos but I wanted to share just some of what I found:

The amazing bio-domes.

Who would have thought to plant kale, spinach and the rest of your greens in such beautiful formations?
Amazing Aloe

Eggplant beauty!
Such a lovely boy, being patient while I take far too many photo's.

Stunning lines and contours

The most awesome statue, embedded in the surroundings

Gorgeous Echinacea, could do with some of that now!
Silk shaded corn maybe?

Maybe more traditional for silk shading?

Orange Beauty

A fabric lovers favorite plant!

Even the floor was stunning

Truly beautiful flowers everywhere

The worlds boldest Robin who posed for over 50 photo's, he was practically voguing
Ok so enough of the bombardment of floral photograph's, apologies again but I found it so hard to narrow it down, I think I am definatley banned from taking my camera out in future. But seriously I cannot reccomend the place highly enough, the atmosphere is amazing, there is so much to see and do, full of things for big and small kids and the coffee is great too!

Even in an obscure shipwreck museum in Charlestown I managed to sniff out the buttons!

This caused the boy much hilarlity, personally I think its a sign

The Happy Fisherman

Cornwall feels so long ago now but the last part of the year has flown by so fast between teaching classes, (photo's to follow) my latest magazine article coming out, designing new kits and of course snow and Christmas but more on these soon, well once the computer is properly mended!

Exciting plans for the new year are afoot with a new open studio to get up and running as well as a new years set of classes and talks to be experianced. So here's to a new year and new inspiration (and a working computer soon) and lots of sewing time. And apologies again for starting this before christmas and finishing in the new year, time for more resolutions methinks!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cornish Ice Cream

Greetings from Cornwall. Its a beautiful sunny October week as I finally get my summer holiday (and the weather is almost making us believe that it is August)

The last few weeks have been manic as usual. Apart from the usual working, college has started back up again. That's a funny one, feeling like your 16 again as your back in college and surrounded by pimply faced teenagers but studying on a PGCE course designed for adults, so feeling like a kid and teaching adults - no wonder we need lots of tea breaks.

I also taught a lovely Introduction to Embroidery class at the lovely Creative Quilting in East Molesey:

I had a lovely group of ladies in a wonderfully relaxed setting. It is so nice to have a change of pace and teach a smaller class like this one, allowing me to spend more time with people. It was also a nice back to basics for me. I've  been teaching so many in-depth classes on specific techniques that I've not had the chance to do a back to basics class in quite a while, and this is something I always love doing - showing people something new they can do, or add to their other favorite crafting techniques, and simply re-introduce them to the beauty of embroidery (especially after often disastrous experiances at school!) The ladies sped through the various stitches, showed us examples of things they had done at home, planned future projects for embroidering on their quilts (and even some redwork) and then finally, exhausted but, hopefully, re-invigorated, went home.

This is what we stitched: (Sorry, no full computer of pictures to use when in Cornwall!)

The end of September saw me pack up the car with all my pictures, kits and tactile goodies and head to Devon to the ICHF Exeter show. The four days were fantastic. Set up day is always a bit nerve wrecking for me, I never know when to stop preening and fiddling with everything so I usually gauge it by when the coffee stand has closed for business!

I have done show's with ICHF before in Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool and Harrogate but this was the a first at Exeter and a first in the 'Quick and Handy' demo's section. This meant that for one hour of every day I took fabric, needles, threads and designs down to the communal class area and taught a hugely diverse group to 'stitch'. Some of course were expert stitchers, some had never sewn a button on, and some thought I was there to teach them to Crochet (if only I knew how!) I was lucky to have an hour, the usual order of events is 15 minute sessions, but luckily ICHF had the foresight to see that 15 minutes may mean only a few threaded needles. The sessions were wonderfully manic to do, and always caused much giggling and gossiping - which of course just goes hand in hand with stitching.

Overall the show was a success for me, I meant some wonderful people (and a few slightly crazy ones - one lady thought I was Japanese!) and have made some great contacts, including meeting my wonderful show neighbour Rachel Powell:

Her beautiful textiles are quite the opposite of mine and I love that. Her style is fresh and tactile, and she dyes her yarns the most beautiful colours. I admire the unplanned nature of some of her work - never knowing how something will work until its dyed or spun or woven. When I have a smidgen of free time she's promised to help my dye my own natural embroidery threads so watch this space and check out her work.

So here are a few pictures of the stand before the hordes appeared and surrounded it:

That's ME that is!

The rouge's gallery.

The Tactile Table - the sign peeking from the corner reads 'Please feel free to touch' and always gets a few giggles and encourages people to get their hands on the fabrics.

 So Exeter over, and time for holiday and relaxing time......

a hint of things to come: the Eden project and photography mania, local cider, Tintagel and Boscastle, the new holiday read which is almost finished and quilting and countryside heaven.....

(now to get ready for tomorrow - I'm off to catch me some Mackerel!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Long awaited, and very belated!

Such a long awaited post I know. I have been working away like a Hobbit in his Garden (not too sure where that analogy came from, I must need a holiday!) So what has this busy bee been up to? Well the Festival of Quilts at the NEC was a fab few hectic days, the Creative Quilting stand was heaving and lovely people and beautiful fabrics were in abundance. I even had a bit of time to run around and buy the fabrics I needed to start my log cabin quilt (and managed to get them in under budget!) The first few blocks have been worked but when I have a few more I'll take a photo for you to see - but be warned, its no traditional peaceful log cabin with a red centre.

The Festival of Quilts had an overwhelming exhibition of Quilts of all styles, with far to many to mention. I took far too many photos and will get around to uploading them to Flikr but have posted here some of my favorites for you all to see. 

So, after breakdown on Sunday night, I was straight back to stitching and preparations for Stirling. A stitch, stitch and a stitch later, the sample was mounted and framed (beautifully by my lovely framer) instructions were written, kits were made, threads were measured out and suitcase's were packed and I was whisked off to the airport. (all in a bit of a whirlwind)
The Stirling Summer School was so well run I really didn't have to worry about a thing. Picked up from the airport, I was driven to the beautiful Stirling University. A huge campus based university with its own cinema and theatre, and Loch (it was all rather Hogwarts esque) the scenery was gorgeous, the students were welcoming and so hard working, and the days were fantastic (even with a nasty cold and a strange 'fire' alarm incident.)
I don't think I have ever taught such a hard working group, working from 9 in the morning and not finishing until 9 in the evening (obviously with breaks) on fine whitework with thread counting, straight grains and net darning - they were champions! It truly was a wonderful first summer school experiance so thank you Scottish Embroiderer's Guild!

Here's my motley crew:

I had a rather long journey home, being at the airport 4 hours early, and with a flight delayed I had a lot of time to waste. So I happily sat my self down in the airport lounge and knitted, and actually managed to knit about 2 feet of the giant scarf - its almost finished and i'll post a pic when its off the needles.

So, NEC Birmingham, then Stirling Scotland, and finally home and back to my duvet. Back to normal life and a bit of a paperwork catch up (boring but had to be done) But then last week I was off to my next wonderful location - Luton Hoo hotel and spa. A fantastic group of Australians were over on a needlework tour with the lovely Maureen of Australian Needlework Tours:
They were over to stitch and visit stately homes and historic landmarks, and I was able to spend the day teaching them in the beautiful surroundings of Luton Hoo. Such a fun group of embroiderer's, who were amongst the best 'chat and stitchers' I'd ever met - thank you for an entertaining day working! (Maybe one day I'll go back there and spend time in the spa!)

So one more task for September - the ICHF creative stitches show in Exeter. A fab four day show where I am currently demonstrating and teaching one hour hand embroidery classes.I have lots of photos for you and lots of lovely info but I may leave that for tomorrow (or the next day, depending on when I can get an internet signal again in the beautiful Devon countryside.)

Phew, that was mammoth, thanks for sticking with it. Here's a glimpse of what I have been working on for the last two days: