Sunday, 10 December 2017


Hi everybody, sorry I've been away from the blog for a while keeping busy making things for sale as well as presents for family and no doubt you're all tied up with Christmas preparations too.  My needlework has taken over my life and I'm really loving interpreting my sketches as stitchpics.  Here is one of the strange yellow sky that happened in October after storm Ophelia.

While I was in England I acquired some water soluble stabiliser and couldn't wait to try making a picture with it using tiny fabric scraps and yarns from my wool stash.  I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I have made a couple more to make into cards for birthdays.

I went to my bookbinding friend in the village to collect some tape and while I was there Ann showed me her hand-made paper scraps left over from her professional bookbinding work which are far too pretty and precious to throw away.  I said I would be happy to take them off her hands to use for my artistic projects and came home with a bag full of all colours and sizes.

I wove some strips into a piece big enough to cover a book and I think it has turned out rather well.  There's plenty more to have a go with later when I get the time so I'll share them with you later.

I've been busy stitching Swedish Dala horses for another project and here is one I kept for myself to cover a book with.

It was just the right size for a square book, no 44 in my sequence so I stitched the number and year on the spine before I completed the binding.
My portrait collection is coming along too and here is Joanna my youngest daughter with her lovely smile.

And her son baby James a few hours after his birth nearly 6 years ago.
And finally Justine posing by a tree with her hair blowing in the wind, glamorous as always!


Saturday, 18 November 2017


One of the main reasons for going to England at this time of year is to be able to attend the annual Gage Halloween party thrown by Kevin and Justine every year for at least 20 now. This year the theme was games, traditional or computer.  Here's my favourite photo with Jimmy dressed as Batman.

Here I am with Stephanie, my middle granddaughter, dressed as Lara Croft.  Sorry I can't seem to rotate the pics, hope you don't get a cricked neck!

Eldest granddaughter Kirsty with boy friend Barney.


There were 2 black queens, I helped Mandy to make her crown.

Justine and Kirsty having a fake fight in the kitchen.

Young Sarah had fantastic make-up to match her green hair.

Jo and James came as Reverend Green and Miss Scarlet from Cluedo.

Justine and Kevin were characters from the arcade game they have in the pub,  Blue Valkyrie and Red Viking.

I made a quick sketch trying to visualise my skirt with a hula hoop to hold it in shape, sadly the hoop ordered from Amazon never arrived.

Drawing Justine's costume while she worked on it the day before was quite a challenge.

There was plenty else going too, one day Justine had a skating class and I spent a morning in Guildford shopping and drawing the famous clock that hangs over the high street.

Another day we went to Loseley for a picnic lunch with her friends who also volunteer to work in the gardens.
We went on some lovely walks in the countryside too but you'll have to come back next week to see where we went.

Saturday, 11 November 2017


 I'm back from my annual visit to the family in England.
 For the first week I had a fun time with Jo, James and Jimmy my grandson.  Here he is with the book we made together after he saw my tiny suitcase padlock.  He thought it would be great to have one to lock up his 'Mission Impossible' book. We shopped for the chain and other bits and pieces to make him a belt too.  He had acquired the book fabric for free earlier in the week when after waiting patiently in the shop for his turn the shopkeeper gave it to him for being so well behaved!

I showed Jimmy how to fold and prepare the pages before he stitched them together with the cardboard for the cover.  I cut and hand stitched the fabric cover and made an elasticated pocket for the front to carry the key ring as per his instructions. We then attached it to the card with wundaweb hem tape and with a colourful Marvel fabric to line the inside cover.  If you look closely at the writing you can see how proud he is of our joint production.

We had a day alone together when Jo was at work and what fun we had walking to the beach only 20 minutes down the hill from their home at Whitstable.  Here is Jimmy pointing out where they used to live, the Isle of Sheppey away in the distance on the horizon.
We pottered along the beach collecting pebbles to paint and shells to draw, how lucky we were to have such a beautiful sunny day.
Here are my sketches with Jimmy's signature.

Halloween was coming too so we made the traditional carved pumpkin and Jimmy added some luminous teeth as ears as well in the mouth!

I didn't have a lot of time for sketching as we were so busy doing other things but here is a quick one I captured when he sat still for long enough!

Anther sewing project we designed together was a tool belt using some fabric Jimmy discovered in the sewing shop, it's got pencil holders and a key clip as well as the hanging pocket. The Darth Vader belt carrier is attached with Velcro so it can be taken off and used as a wristband.  I had to wait till I got to Justine's to make it on her sewing machine and use her eyelet tools for the belt holes.  Jimmy was thrilled with it when I presented it to him on Saturday.

And finally, a bit of stitchpicking I found time for in the evenings when we were relaxing in front of the TV. A portrait of my darling grandson copied from a photo taken when he was only a day old.
I'll be back next week with part two of the visit, culminating in the big fancy dress party.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


What a busy month I've had so far! I'm off to England next week so I've been really busy making stuff to take for birthday and Christmas presents.  So here is a catch up of a few recent projects, but some will have to wait till later in the year!
Firstly this is the needlepainting I made of the sketch of the river at Chinon using organza, painted with acrylic inks for the water and in the trees.

In case you missed it here's the sketch that inspired the embroidery.
One day, sitting by the sea I was attracted by the different colours I could see in the water and when I came home I got out my fabric and yarns and stitched this little piece. I realised it was the perfect shape for a bookmark so I tidied up the edges and ironed on some backing, then gave it to Joanna who was staying at the time. 
Since then I've made several and given them away as cards with a simple mount that allows the bookmark to be removed for use ( for those of us who still prefer paper to electronic books!)
My friend Luba has given me so much inspiration with the fabric samples from her time as a fashion director that I wanted to make something special to say thank you.  I embroidered the picture while the lilies were in bloom and then bound it onto a notebook.  She was delighted when I gave it to her last weekend.

Here is one of my lily sketches from last year.  This year I sat by the pot, stitching and copying the shapes of the petals and adding the wasp when I realised that they were more attracted to the flowers than the bees were.

My lichen embroidery turned into a book cover too, a present for someone special.

I found a few scraps of this fun fabric from 'Get Cutie' in Brighton, part of the pack Justine gave me for my birthday.
I made them into a pencil case for Jimmy to go with the book I made for him in August.
Here's the book which he loved and drew lots of pictures in when he was here  for a few days holiday.

And finally my new hat.  No, I'm not planning to wear it in public, it's part of my fancy dress costume for Justine's party in November.  The theme is games and I've chosen to go as the black queen chess piece, hopefully I'll have some photos to share with you when I come back home in a few weeks!
I've prepared my sketching kit and a few yarns and fabrics to be working on while I'm away and I'm even hoping I'll be able to pluck up the courage to do some embroidery on the train to Paris and then the Eurostar (with Justine's encouragement).

Sunday, 1 October 2017


Staying at Montreuil Bellay for a week we had plenty of time to relax and explore the area.  We cycled out a couple of times along the 'Loire à velo' routes and found some pretty places and interesting sites. On the day we went north towards Saumur we turned back after about 10 km as the weather became too wet and we knew a storm was forecast, we were passed by a line of cars full of wine pickers on their way to the vineyards to start the harvesting before the grapes were damaged. 

When we went south we found a different landscape, fields of sunflowers instead of vines as far as the eye could see. Some had been harvested but most were brown and waiting for the farmer,  however there were quite a lot of self seeded plants in the fallow fields as well as along the verges and I managed to pick one and get it home safely in my saddlebag to draw in the sketchbook. It lasted for over a week in a plastic water bottle vase until after we came home.
The stormy weather blew a lot of bark off the plane trees and I couldn't resist picking up this brightly coloured piece to draw around and colour in using the inktense pencils.

We used the 'escalier St Pierre' to go back down to the campsite from the village after our daily beer in the café.  It's a pretty flower lined stone flight of stairs with fabulous views from the top and along the side an old wall with this partly bricked up interesting old doorway.
The yew tree continued to keep me fascinated while I was stitching it's portrait and one day I took a few twigs back to draw. There lots of berries and it was interesting to see the way the unripe ones were hidden under the leaves till they turned red.

After a week we were ready to move on to Chinon, one of our favourite towns where we've been several times since we started our camping car life.  I have already drawn the chateau so this time I sat on the wall by the river Vienne to draw the alley of plane trees and since then I have started another stitch picture which I'll share when it's finished.

Here is my interpretation of the plane tree bark and lichens, stitched on a scrap of linen in running stitch and buttonhole stitch.
Have a good week and I'll see you again soon.

Sunday, 24 September 2017


We're home at last after a lovely trip in the camper car to the Loire valley.
  We started with 3 days at Nantes with some friends who come over from England with their caravan to spend the autumn searching for the sun.  Their dog Florrie is adorable and managed to keep up with us as we walked over 20 kilometres around the beautiful city but had to be concealed in a shopping bag to be allowed to take the tram back to the camp at the end of the day.

We moved on to Montreuil-Bellay, a 'Petite cite de charactere' only 20 km south of Saumur. The campsite was by the river and just a short walk up the hill took us to the town and a handy bar to refresh ourselves in. This old Labrador kept watch on all the passers by and greeted all the regulars as they arrived for their morning coffee or glass of beer.

There was plenty to inspire me to draw in my new sketchbook, this is the view of the chateau from the ruins of Saint Peter's church. The chateau that dates from the 11th century and has been added to over the centuries is still occupied by the same family for the last 200 years.

I sat on a tumbledown wall and drew this in the inktense pencils I've had for years but keep forgetting about.  I love the effect when they are washed with water and the colours are perfect for this kind of subject.

The yew trees in the cloisters were incredible with twisted trunks and incredible canopies that spread almost to the edges of the space, giving lots of shade.  As I drew I was imagining the monks all those centuries ago, wandering about meditating.

This is the view along the street towards the chateau entrance from the terrace of the bar, actually across the road to catch the sun in the morning.  The waitress had to negotiate the traffic and several steps to serve the drinks but she kept everyone well served without spilling a drop.
On another day as we sat in the sun with our beers, I drew the bar itself and the next door cottage with it's pretty woodwork and plants.

On the Friday night at Montreuil-Bellay there was a heavy rainstorm with strong winds and in the morning the ground was littered with pieces of bark blown off the plane trees.  They caught my eye with their bright green lichens growing on the surface.

We walked all around the pretty town and found all the sights as well as the ancient walls where a lovely avenue of horse chestnuts had been planted.  I couldn't resist picking up a handful of conkers and a few golden brown leaves to draw.

 The yew trees in the ruined cloisters really caught my imagination and I decided to make a stitched picture using some variegated wool as well as fine sewing threads.  As the work progressed each day I went back to study the tree again and soak up the historic atmosphere.
There is more to come from my sketchbook and needle case so come back soon ...