Monday, 21 October 2013

The World's Longest Embroidery

Saturday morning saw DH and I visiting our local museum to take a look at The World's Longest Embroidery and the Embroiderers' Guild travelling exhibition called Finest Stitches.  Our museum is comparatively small and was closed by the local council under a cost cutting exercise.  It has recently opened on a part time basis run by volunteers who have worked hard to gain full Arts Council accreditation.  The Embroiderers' Guild exhibition is really exciting for the town and I hope it gets lots of support.  

So, what can I show you of the exhibition?

I had a good look round the embroidery but havn't yet been able to find Emma's stitches.  I'm going to go back for another look and to add my own stitches.

Alongside the longest embroidery were pieces from Regional branches of the Embroiderers' guild and from their travelling exhibition.

The displays above are from Boston and Lincolnshire branches.

The items from the travelling exhibition range from the 18th century until the present date.  

Cas Holmes 'Bluebell' above. 

Chanting Cloth by Julia Caprara.
The White Tulips by Audrey Walker (detail).

I was surprised and delighted to find these works by Dionne Swift whose classes I have taken both online and in real life.

Mid 20th century hand embroidered with wool threads.

A selection of postcards made to welcome the athletes of the world to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

This beautiful sampler is astonishing in the fineness of the stitches and the thread.  I could never work so precisely.

Finally, Grantham is the birthplace of Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.  This very striking painting painted towards the end of her life caught my eye.  Apparently Mrs Thatcher thought it looked a trifle fierce but the artist had an answer for her:

The painting is actually one of 5 studies painted by Lorna May Wadsworth in preparation for a much larger work.  She said she wanted to paint the portrait of the Margaret Thatcher of her childhood.

If you live near enough to Grantham come and see the exhibition and have a look at our beautiful parish church while you're here.  Don't forget to visit Stitchcraft Studio while you're here too.  The shop has nearly doubled in size since it opened and you'll be sure of a warm welcome.  They have a cafe and cake too!

Friday, 18 October 2013


Back in September, DH and I were off gallivanting again, this time to Scotland for two weeks.  We started off by joining our local coach company for a coach holiday based in Fort William.  The point of that trip was to ride on The Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, a famously picturesque journey that I had been hoping to travel on for a long time.  The trip did not disappoint despite some typically Scottish weather (well, typically western side of UK weather really).

This is the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter fame.  DH had to hang the camera out of a tiny space between the windows and hope that when he pressed the button he would have a photo.  His luck was in!  Sadly it was raining so much that it was impossible to take any photos through the windows so I can't show you the beautiful countryside we passed through.  Sterling work was done with tissues to clear the condensation from the windows so that we could see but photos weren't happening.

The end of the line at Mallaig did allow for some photography and as ever we were alert for creative potential.  

The beautiful Isle of Skye was tantalisingly close but just out of reach for the time being.

The sculpture on the pier was made by Mark Rogers of Airor in Knoydart.  (You need to scroll down to read about the sculpture if you follow the link.  Information is sparse on the 'net).

On our return from Mallaig we visited the Commando Memorial which proved to be very poignant with its recent Area of Remembrance where people have left tributes to friends and family members affected by and lost to conflict.

We had a day to explore Fort William and explored the museum as a way of dodging the showers.  If you are ever in Fort William the museum is free and is well worth a visit.  We had a fascinating time and were glad we'd taken shelter.

This beautiful stained glass door panel is a recent addition to the building which was originally a bank.  We received a very warm welcome the minute we walked through the door and were invited to photograph anything we wished.

On the fourth day of the coach tour we said goodbye to everyone and left at Kyle of Lochalsh to continue our holiday.  I had the madcap idea of using the coach trip as a way of getting to Scotland without having to make the long drive myself and it turned out to be the ideal thing to do as we picked up our hire car and headed for Skye.

First port of call was the Bed & Breakfast run by Emma and Dave of Heaven's Ocean.  You probably knoe Emma better as the author of A Little Bit of Everything blog.  I have been following Emma's blog for such a long time and as with so many blogging friends felt as if I already knew her.  We arrived as Emma was busy with her exhibition which was happening in the beautiful village of Plockton.

Emma had worked very hard for this exhibition and it was wonderful to see her work close too rather than on a digital screen.

Emma's B&B is in the most wonderful, peaceful location and she and Dave made us so welcome.

We had fun negotiating the large puddles on the lane to the cottage but they soon dried up as the rain abated.
How would you fancy waking up to this view every day?  This was the view from our bedroom and from the breakfast room. 

No sooner had we arrived on Skye than the weather fined up.  We counted ourselves very lucky.

Emma is now my bestest friend (not that she wasn't before!) and I can't wait to get back to Skye to visit with her again :-)  It might take a year or two though, god willing. 

This is Emma's very beautiful cat whose name escapes me but who was very affectionate and kept a watchful eye on us at breakfast from her comfy chair.  Tam also made us very welcome in his doggy way but I don't seem to have a picture of him.  Talking of pictures I need to do some resizing so I'll be back soon with more of our wonderful skye holiday, such a beautiful place.

News Flash!!!!  Grantham is finally on the map!  The world's longest embroidery is coming to Grantham tomorrow!  In fact it's already here.  I'm sure I've seen this work in progress at the Sewing For Pleasure show early this year so I am above excited that it will be on show from tomorrow and I will get the chance to add a few stitches (I was too shy to do it at the exhibition).  If you live within reach of Grantham come and see it and all the postcards that were made for the Olympics.   If they let me take photos I'll share it with you.  I've just noticed, I'm going to miss the associated Craft Fayre on 26 October as I will be on a secret mission in Cornwall - and DH isn't coming!  

PS  I must apologise to everyone who commented on my last post and who I didn't reply to.  I do value every comment I receive and normally reply but Yahoo have been messing with their email service and it has got very confusing and frustrating with the comments all arriving in one email which then has to be dissected to enable replies to be sent.  I have manged to delete replies instead of sending them.  Grrrrr!

Thursday, 10 October 2013


You may be aware if you are a friend on Facebook that we've been away again!  This time to beautiful Scotland but I'll come back to that in a future post.

I think it's time I included something creative on here so I'll share with you what we did on our once-a-month play day yesterday.  Four of us have just started getting together to share techniques, ideas and inspirations and so far have explored discharge printing and printing with Inktense bars and pencils.

Using a home made screen (from a picture frame and voile) I laid the screen down onto a sheet of freezer paper (not the waxy side) and sketched with the oilbars keeping the idea of the sea in mind.

When I picked the screen up, as expected, loose colour from the bars had dropped through.  I sprayed these with water to dissolve the pigment and took a direct monoprint.

This is the print on cotton, it is a little stronger in real life.  What I particularly liked was the subtle specks of colour from the waterspray on the edges.

Turning to the silkscreen I pulled the first print onto Evolon with a layer of organza on the top and with a stencil between the screen and the organza.  Initially we used printpaste to pull the print but by the time we had washed that out it left a very pale print.  Evidently the paste puts the pigment into suspension instead of releasing it into the fabric fully.  I decided not to rinse my prints out as these early prints will probably go into my sketchbook for future reference.

This above is the organza print and below is the print on evolon

 If I had taken more time and care I could have masked out the hard outlines but the prints in themselves are exciting.  We were thinking of other ways of getting this effect of colour gradations with printing and couldn't think how else it could be achieved.

Just a belated word of warning, Inktense bars will stain your screen so don't use your best one! 

I made this print over earlier prints that I had made with Dionne Swift. I used a stencil based on the London streetplan by ArtistCellar Stencils.

And of course, I also had the positive print from the map stencil.

As I said earlier I havn't washed my prints out as I would expect to lose too much colour.  Apparently you can use Aloe Gel or even sanitising gel to pull the prints so I will have another try with one of these and see how the colours hold up.  It will be interesting to experiment with other watersoluble media too.

As well as having a play day I have been busy making a baby quilt for a friend who is expecting later this year.

I am really pleased with this quilt and as it is made from a panel it went together relatively quickly.  I added a border to square it up (not that it is very even) and patched together a backing.

The panel is by Hoffman fabrics but I can't remember where I got it from or what it's called.

I've also done a workshop recently and made a sewing roll, although the method could be adapted to a roll for any number of purposes,

Well, that's enough for one post. See you soon!