an orchard

A charity shop find of the BBC publication of Erica Wilson’s tv series of the 1970s, Erica on Embroidery, included a crewel wool version of one of Van Gogh’s orchard paintings and my version of Erica’s orchard is what the sneak peak of the last post hinted at. (Four episodes of the original tv series are available on youtube if you fancy a touch of nostaglia.)

Now that it’s finished I confess I’m not a fan of it. There are more wrongs than rights with this piece and the fox and the birds were only added because JP commented that it was boring and I agreed. The fox has injected a little life into the piece but not enough to make me feel it was a great improvement. Once I pressed ‘publish’, I was all set to consign this piece to a dark deep cupboard and just clock it up to experience but the more I’ve looked at the photograph, the more I think I’ll actually unpick a lot of the orchard floor and re-sew it with a different range of colours.


Big Sis’s wip 4

Another update on my progress with Big Sis’s wip. Not much more to do now.



It’s been a while since I turned on my sewing machine and I was feeling guilty about that so today I did some free-motion embroidery. Trees were my topic and this is the result of an hour or so using straight and zig-zag stitches across a piece of hooped cotton fabric with a hole cut out. I haven’t stitched over such a large space before without using a stabiliser and it was a little scary to begin with but fun, and the threads didn’t get caught up in each other the way that they can do with stabiliser. I like the skeletal look of the trees early on in the process but I like how they’ve ended up gnarly and a bit twisted and I think I’ll do more of these another day.





muzzled parrot

I’ve spent more time free-motion machine embroidering today and my machine behaved itself beautifully. Dropping the feed dogs on the machine is usually recommended for free-motion stitching but I seem to have fewer problems if I leave the feed dogs up which is what I did here. The fabric is very thin poly-cotton fabric and I didn’t bother to back it with anything, just put a single layer in a flexible hoop before I began sewing. The parrot wearing the muzzle was a test piece and measures approximately 6 x 10 cm. I didn’t intend to stitch a muzzle but that’s what it looks like to me! The birds on the branches will face each other when this piece is made into a tissue holder which is what I plan to sew after my next cup of tea!



between the rains

This was taken yesterday. I haven’t seen a sunset like this since before Christmas because of all the rain we’ve had so I took a few photos to prove to myself that I wasn’t just dreaming. Happy New Year all.


silly little birds

Last week I came across a book on how to illustrate children’s books but the only thing I remember after a brief look was the recommendation that when you get an idea for a character, you should draw, draw, draw and keep drawing that same character until you can draw it inside out. I had been doodling some embroidery ideas for a bag front and when I got to the end of the page, I thought my leaf shapes looked a little like cartoony birds so this morning I took the idea further. The lines of birds were drawn from right to left but I’m not sure they improved along the way. I patently still can’t draw birds for toffee* but believe me, they look more like birds than any I’ve drawn in the past!


*I remember the phrase “I can’t (insert appropriate skill) for toffee” from my childhood but have never been able to figure out what relevance toffee had to not being able to do something. Do you know?

through the woods



Through The Woods9″ x 7″. Scraps of fabric painted with diluted fabric stiffener then appliqu├ęd by machine onto silk. Hand embroidery for the trunks to add definition. As usual, my photography doesn’t do the actual colours justice!

where did the sun go?

I think it’s safe to assume that summer is over. My body is telling me that the temperature is much lower today than it was yesterday and the leaves of the trees seem to have turned golden very suddenly. The distant hills are almost as grey as the sky and the sun has obviously gone walkabout well away from here. It’s also been chucking it down with rain for the past hour and more. I’m considering hot soup for lunch today and a warming stew or two for dinners this week. I might even turn on a heater or two quite soon. Hello autumn, welcome back.

rain and sun

This afternoon the rain was battering down –

This evening the sunset painted the bare tree branches with reds and golds –

Thursday already

How the week has flown and I haven’t really done much. On Tuesday I took a stroll into town to buy new camera batteries and a few other bits and pieces. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the camera with me so I missed a few photo opportunities but I did take this one with my phone camera and was surprised at the clarity and detail and even more surprised that it doesn’t appear to have any signs of camera shake.

I’m at day seven on my ‘photo a day’ project and I bought a lovely book by Michael Freeman called The Photographer’s Eye to help me with composition. I hadn’t yet read any of the book when I took this one of the buddha. Mr F would no doubt have suggested that I had taken time to plan my composition but I liked the shadow and was mainly just testing shots without using the camera’s Auto setting. That’s my excuse anyway!

I have spent many hours this week surfing the net for information on photography, hoping that I’ll find that one remarkable site that will explain it all to me in plain language and that I can then effortlessly put into practice what I’ve read but I’m not that naive. I’m sure that some things are already sinking in but the problem might be when I try to bring those things to the surface…

Yesterday I had a lovely day of pure retail therapy and catching up with my friend S and cameras didn’t even get a brief mention. I had been prepared to walk home when I got off the train but 1st son was waiting with the car. This was extremely welcome as S and I had taken turns at lugging a weighty mixing bowl around all day and I still wasn’t sure I’d manage to get it home in one piece. Besides, my tired feet did not relish the walk home. The bowl was a bargain from TK Maxx that I knew a friend would be delighted with so I just had to buy it when I saw it early in the day. It got even better when we arrived home to find that dinner was in the process of being dished up by JP and to top it all, I didn’t have to do the clearing up or dishwashing later. (To be honest, I don’t often do the washing up – as there are generally at least two dishwashers in the house at dinner time – a son and a machine!)

Today I have had a very lazy day indeed. I didn’t get up until gone seven this morning (late for me) and apart from sowing some spring onion seeds which came in their own pot, a process that took all of five minutes, I have been surfing the net yet again looking at all manner of things and talking on the phone to big sis about her new mobile phone. She will have no excuse not to take photos of her forthcoming holiday, even if she forgets to take her camera when she’s out and about! Get practising sis!