Friday, 23 December 2016


Today is my sister Juliet's birthday and for her card this year I made one of my special mushroom needlepaintings.

I thought you might like to see how I build up the picture with layers of fabric scraps from my collection of samples from my dress designer friend Luba.
I was inspired by this photo I took in England in October and as you can see I found plenty of suitably coloured scraps in the stash.
This first part of the picture making is quite exciting as I never know how this random seeming jumble of bits pinned to a larger piece of plain brown gabardine will turn out.  I then started to stitch it all down with zigzags overlapping pieces as I went.  It all looks a bit of a mess at this stage!
I then added some cords stitched at angles for twigs and a few cut out leaf shapes with the veins stitched on first.

A close up shows the stitching and you can't quit see it but there's a bit of frayed cord that turned out rather nicely as it fluffed up like lichen.
I had a lot of fun with the mushrooms, zigzagging the patterns on the caps and overlapping the shapes to make a pleasing arrangement.

I added a fifth mushroom after I took this picture as I feel that an odd number is always a better composition and I didn't like that one bending over in the middle!  Lots more cut out leaves stitched on and I think it's finished.
I  mounted the picture on some red card and made a frame to cover the cut edges and posted it off in time for Juliet to open it today.  Happy birthday little sister!

Saturday, 17 December 2016


I have a tiny Moleskine sketchbook in my handbag to use when I'm out and about but I haven't posted much from it lately.  Here is a sketch from October, just before I left for my visit to England.
This is one of many pink granite statues in and around the town where we live on the Cote de Granite Rose.  The sculptor has used several different coloured stones to make this charming statue of a girl with her dog.

One of our favourite afternoon walks is along this lovely beach with views across to the little chateau Costaeres built on an island that can be reached at low water springs.  The Sept Iles are in the distance with the lighthouse on Ile au Moines.

 I was in England to spend a few days with my daughters and while at Justine's I had the opportunity to see a few episodes of Game of Thrones, a series I'd heard a lot about never seen as we don't have Netflix or Sky TV channels.

Justine's annual fancy dress party had Game of Thrones as the theme so I was very interested to see the real thing, especially as I had imagined and made my own costume before going.

We spent several hours together on the Sunday afternoon binge watching TV and recovering from the night before and I was able to sketch all the beautiful dresses.

The costume designer had a fantastic imagination, each character had her own style and colour scheme which continued as the series went on.  I'm looking forward to seeing more episodes next time or maybe one day we'll get round to buying the box set!

Last weekend was our Marché de Noel in the village and I was there volunteering on the Twinning Association stand on the Saturday, selling English products like Christmas pudding and crackers. 

On the Sunday we met up with our friends to partake of the mulled wine and scallop kebabs followed by a performance by the choir in the chapel of Notre dame de la Clarté.
As you can see I took the opportunity to sketch as we listened to some of our French friends singing so beautifully.
I've found this drawing of the chapel from a few years ago so you can see what a beautiful old building it is, dating from the 15th century and built in the local pink granite of course!

Sunday, 4 December 2016


I finally found the time to complete the picture collage of the flowering shrubs I started drawing earlier in the year.  I think I've managed to draw them all but I had to add a couple of drawings from my folder to make up the 20 I needed to fill the frame.

Back to sketchbook no 38 which I keep on the coffee table so I can draw in the evening when I sit down with my aperitif.  This little Hellebore plant came from Lidl and is a delight with it's white flowers turning lime green as they mature.

I had wanted to sweep the leaves in the garden for a couple of weeks but the rain was too heavy and the wind too strong and when the sun finally came out they had all been blown away over the bank or into my neighbour's garden.  There were some leaves on the flower beds which the black bird flicked all over the grass again though.

On Thursday I walked down the lane to visit a friend and came face to face with a wild boar grazing in a field.  I was disappointed I didn't have my camera with me but I kept the image in my head to draw when I came home later. I must admit I was pretty scared as these wild animals have a reputation for being very ferocious!

My friend Rose Jones sent me a lovely mushroom picture to draw so I decided to try some pointillism, it took ages to do but I think worth the effort!

Another friend also sent a picture which I drew in the Triplus pens washed with water.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


Sketchbook 38 is still in progress since Inktober just not as frequently.  This sketch shows a handful of vegetables from my shopping one day.

I've seen these colourful fruit in the shops but never tried one so when I finally tasted it I was amazed at the delicious flavour.

Bob has a passion for single malt whisky and we treat ourselves occasionally to a small glass when the weather is depressing.
 I bought a parallel pen recently and I've been practising gothic script and drawing with it and although the ink runs when it's wetted, it has quite a nice effect.
This lovely mushroom was growing on the roadside so I picked one to bring home to draw.  I added the background later after catching a glimpse of the supermoon as it rose in the east on the 14th November.

A friend, Rose Jones, is a wonderful photographer who regularly posts her pictures on Facebook.
She gave me permission to use her pictures and this one caught my imagination.  I drew it first in the triplus pens and scanned it.

Then I washed the colour with water to give the misty effect.
Which do you prefer?

My granddaughter Sarah loves to take selfies to post on Facebook but I think she had some help with this one taken when she was sleeping on the sofa with her favourite cat!

Saturday, 19 November 2016


It's been another wet and windy week in Perros so I've been busy again with my sewing machine making a needlepainting from a photo I took while I was in England. Above is the finished piece before I stitched it into a cushion cover.
Here is the photo so you can see what I was inspired by, a fallen silver birch with a family of pale mushrooms growing in the crevices.

I thought you might like to see how I put it together so I took photos as I went along.  I started with a plain piece of cream linen and collected together a handful of scraps from my collection; mostly supplied by Luba from her fashion designing days.

I added pieces of string and cord to depict branches and some green patchwork fabrics for the leaves and mosses.  I had bought a pack of many different coloured threads recently so I was able to do lots of fancy stitching on top but unfortunately as they were a bit thinner than usual I had to go very slowly to stop the thread breaking every few minutes!

I built up the picture, layer by layer, decorating the mushrooms before I added them, my favourite is the lying down one just above the main group.

A couple of close ups so you can see the detail of the stitching.

I added some more leaves and crinkled voile for the bark under the mushrooms and decided that it was done.

I had some fabric left over from our living room curtains that I used to frame and back the picture and now it's a lovely cushion.

Here it is on the sofa with it's sister picture of Roussillon I made a few months ago.  Luckily the sofa is the one opposite me in the lounge so I won't be sitting on the cushion anytime soon but I can admire it from across the rug!

Saturday, 12 November 2016


It's been a wet and windy week here in France so I've been very happy staying indoors playing with my sewing machine.  I realised at the garden party last year that I needed to come up with some new products to sell as the hand bound books have slowed down in sales.

I have a lovely collection of printed fabrics that I use to cover the books and the idea of pencil cases or cosmetic bags came up.  They are so easy to make and only require the purchase of a matching 20 cm zip to complete.

I already had some iron-on stiffening to give the fabrics some body and by the end of the day I had made this lovely collection to put on sale next April at Justine's charity garden party.

I had a lot of fun photographing them too as I've only recently discovered, quite by accident, the 'creative shots' button on my camera.  It takes several views at a time, zooming in and cropping and changing the angle of the view.  I really love this last one, especially as it features the poppy bag, perfect for yesterday, November the 11th.
Here is the latest collection of sketchbooks I made and already some of the match the bags so I might be able to sell them as a set....

And finally here is a pretty summer top I made for my friend Carolyn after we bought some fabric while we were on holiday together in September.  We were at Rochefort-en -Terre and found a delightful craft shop selling handmade items as well as the fabrics and findings to make them yourself.  We had a wonderful time browsing while our husbands waited patiently outside on a bench, thankfully not worried about how long we were and how much money we were spending!
I couldn't resist making another little bag for her too as you can see in the background.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


I've just returned from my annual autumn visit to England to see my family and fortunately for the first time it coincided with Justine and Kevin's firework party.  They hold this every year with a different theme and this year it was Game of Thrones.  I had never seen the programme so I researched the costumes on the internet and discovered a wealth of beautiful mediaeval dresses with pointy sleeves and wrap over fronts. 

I had a search through my fabric box and came across Bob's old Japanese kimono with a dragon on the back.  He hadn't worn it for over 30 years, preferring something with less encumbering sleeves.
I completely dismantled it, keeping the red lining with each piece as the outer black fabric was very thin and slippery, and recut a long wrap over jacket using a dress pattern I converted.

The dragon just fitted on the front as the main feature and I used the front corners of the dressing gown to make those fabulous pointy sleeves.
I edged the neck and sleeves with some gold lycra from the stash and had a lovely couple of days sewing and fitting my new design.

The collar of the gown was lined in the red and long enough to be used as the ties which wrap across the front and pass through a hole in the right side seam so they can be tied at the back.

To finish off my outfit I decided to make a necklace using a bit of snake printed leather and the rest of the lycra.  I used a piece of Bob's electrical wire to stiffen it and make the spiral, then added some extra glitter paste to make it sparkle.

Justine said "wow!" when she saw my costume as I emerged on Saturday evening ready to party and I said the same to her in her amazing warrior costume and blonde wig.  Kirsty had also made a beautiful dress and here we three are waiting for the guests to arrive.  Everyone had made a special effort to dress up and after watching a few episodes of Game of Thrones on Sunday afternoon I could recognise a lot of the characters who had been represented.  By the way that's a dragon on my shoulder that was lent to me in my role as the "Dragon mother-in-law"
We had a fabulous evening with a very professional display of fireworks by Kevin and I was able to catch up with all of Justine's friends I've got to know over the years.