Thursday, 10 November 2016

They simply stitched...




Good morning lovelies!

A cold start to this November morning greets me...
So, slippers are keeping me warm, cuppa in hand and I have five mins
of saying hello before my busy day ahead.

My week has been a very mixed bag of moments...

English Paper Piecing.

Family History.

Hospital.

Travelling through The Fens.

Slow Stitching.

Reasearch.

Of course, if I was to sum up all of my varied days it would look like a jumbled patchwork throw...unfinished at that.
I guess the same as anyone else!



In our modern times life just seems to travel so flippin fast don't you think?
I wonder if our ancestors thought the same or even had time to think of such thoughts?

Slow stitching helps to ground me when I am needing some downtime.
When it is time to step off that hamster wheel of normality.
Isn't it strange how the thrill of a simple piece of metal and a snippet of thread can bring such joy....

I decided in the summer that my project over winter was to finally get around to
cutting out and then stitching my hexies back together again to produce
a snuggly lapquilt.
I have so many FQ's that are too small to add to a project but too big to waste.


English Paper Piecing has always been welcome in my heart since learning how to make a cushion whilst at Junior School.
I diligently stitched with eagerness each and every little small piece of cloth waiting for my jigsaw to appear.
of course in practise it was a really good way of introducing children to stitching and even wiser a good way to get them to practise their stitching without it becoming a chore.
i owe a huge thank to Mrs Walters for that...

Of course real English Paper Piecing (EPP) has a history something very different to what we perceive today...
It evolved from sheer necessity, like many sewing crafts.



Every tiny scrap of cloth able to be saved was added to the bag of scraps
and housewives would sit and stitch whilst hubbies were toiling the land 
during the summer months to produce a 'new' bed blanket quilt to keep their families warm
in the grueling hostile winter months.

I'm sure they didn't see it as therapeutic as we do today.

they simply stitched....

Not sure what they would've thought of our designs and styles today.



They used any scrap of paper they could get their hands on as templates to 
use to cut out their hexie shapes...
letters from family, telegrams, birthday cards, shopping lists, brown paper from the bacon or cheese they collected daily on their shopping trips to the grocers.

None of our pre-cut shapes back then.

No die cut shapes or machines to help quicken the process.

No fresh sparkling new fabric....

No...

As they stitched by gas light or low evening light, because that was often the only time
they were able to sit and stitch...
they would simply stitch, slow and steady but methodically to get the job done.

Would their mind wander as does mine?


I really would love to sit and chat with the women in my family who are no longer here that 
sat quietly and did the very same...



What do you sit and think about whilst stitching?

All our vintage whispers of thread will become hierlooms of the future.
Do you add special memories to your projects or are you happy to simply stitch also?

Do tell..
I love to hear your tales...




Monday, 7 November 2016

Seeped in history...



Hello lovelies...

Thank you for all your lovely comments following my last post.
It is so joyous for me to share my passion for my beautiful 
Fens with you all.

I know everyone favours the area they know best.... 
the area you were born into or the area you grew up in.

For me the ancient landscape known as The Cambs Fens
is deeply rooted within my bones.
My family history reaches back to a time when Fenmen waded 
through the boggy marshes on stilts; before there were dry fields and profitable farms.

Over time, man has forcibly sculptured every square patch of the land
for his own advantage despite Mother Nature putting up a big fight, resulting
in the flat land now famously known for the best arable land in the UK.



On a holiday in Cornwall a few years ago, a shopkeeper asked me if I had travelled far
on my hols...
When I replied I lived in Cambridgeshire,
 she quickly returned with "Oh....you live in the damp patch then..."

The damp patch?

Can't say I've ever been described as a damp patcher before!

A stubborn 'ol Fen bird yes.
A Fen tiger yes.
One of them odd fen folk yes.
But...never a damp patcher...no.



My Fens offer skylines that equal a winning National Lottery ticket.
Her sunsets are masterpieces fit for the Tate Gallery.

As a child I would sit for hours watching clouds, create characters
and building my own stories...
I loved writing stories and poems.


I take SO many photos of the Fens and her landscape you would think at my age I would be bored of doing so by now but no.
I especially love trees.


Fen trees have a special corner in my heart.
Any shape, any size...any age.

They are always full of silent energy that bring a smile or two
whenever I see them.
Prince Charles was famously ridiculed for talking to the plants and trees but
I have to say I'm with him on that one....

I'm a firm believer in trusting trees with their wisdom.
They know a thing or two about survival of the fittest.
The tough 'ol Fen winds whip up a Fen blow around 
their ankles that often cause distress to so many....
and yet they plod on like tired old soldiers to get to the winning post.
They hold their own.

They are like little treasure boxes holding secrets to our past.
If only they could talk back....



Off to grab a cuppa and do some slow stitching so
until our next chat folks...
Toodle- ooh for now!












Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Fenland Misty Mirrors


Hello lovelies...
November already?
Where does time go?

My poor neglected blog mirrors a very loyal friend who I return to when time allows and yet faithfully awaits my return for my next story...

As I am writing this post I am surrounded by the most beautiful Autumnal sunshine...
the sort that tricks you into thinking it may still be a little summery
out there but in reality it really is quite a shock to the system!

Spidery frost fronds decorate my garden with so many of Mother Nature's gems glistening in the sunlight.



Yes indeedy...Autumn has definitely set out her stall.
She is here to stay for a while so it is time to dig out those snuggly jumpers, tights 
and crocheted blankets. 
The array of colour, texture and smells delight my Virgo soul.
It really is MY time of year and for a couple of months I feel in vogue...



For me, Autumn has always been a reflective time of the year.
A time to start closing the door on life earlier in the day to snuggle under the warmth of home with my loved ones.



As usual I have a whole host of projects on the go to complete during the darker months which
will probably still be sitting there come Springtime but the intention is always good...

I have been working away from home alot this year doing various events and shows 
so it is extra special this year to be slowing down and putting my feet up a little more.

As much as I have absolutely loved doing all the events, exhibiting some of my work,
selling my kits, demonstrating various crafts and meeting so many beautiful people 
from all walks of life....
In truth, I am such a home bird...

My Fen roots are so strong that the feeling of nesting at home with my family whilst the
wild Fen winds blow all around me seep to the edge of every cell of my body.
I yearn for the simplicity of life.

Is that just a Fen thing or just an age related obsession?



So, with harvests all now in, flowers slowly fading, leaves finally falling 
and children already writing their Christmas lists it is time to wish everyone  
Happy Samhain

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season
 and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year.

Samhain allows my Fenland soul to rest her weary bones for a while and simply enjoy
the beauty around.
Don't get me wrong...
I don't enjoy the darker side of our year for so many reasons
but we must all embrace things in our lives that are often not our choice.
So with that in mind I welcome the dark into my life for a while
as best as I can...


As our rhythms of life begin to complete their full circle for this year we shall soon be moving on to the next circle.

Reflection...
2016 has been a very enlightening one for me.
I took a huge gamble at the beginning of the year to change direction slightly
and concentrate on projects I really wanted to do rather than was expected to do.
It was definitely a new direction to travel in, a scary one at times 
but none the less a very inspiring one! 
In allowing myself the freedom to explore through my much loved cloth and thread, my world of creativity has expanded immensely.

I've always enjoyed exploring and experimenting but lately
I've so enjoyed throwing loads into the mix of a textile collage, and just like watching a Victoria sponge being baked in an oven,
 watch it evolve right in front of my eyes.....


Capturing my ancient landscape with vintage cloth is just so beautiful to do.
I'm so pleased I haven't lost that 
well known dogged Fen determination deep in my genetic make-up to go against the grain... 
if anything I think it is getting stronger as I get older!
Either way it is making my soul so very happy.


"each new day is a path of wonder,
a different invitation..."
John O'Donohue



Until my next story...
Toodle-ooh for now 


Monday, 10 October 2016

Ally Pally Crafting for our Well-Being



Good morning my lovelies!
How are we all?

Today is a lazy daisy kinda day after spending last week working my little socks off at
the most amazing 'Knitting & Stitch Show' at Ally Pally in London.



I had the most A-maz-ing week surrounded by cloth, thread, yarn, embellishments,
vintage gorgeousness, and even handmade chocolates!

I've been in crafty heaven to say the least............
BUT
Do you know what really made me smile?

The daily taxi ride to Ally Pally through the back streets of London looking at the beautiful Edwardian architecture maybe?

The fabulous Indian restaurant I managed to discover?

The fantastic  plethora of wonderful inspiration on offer from so many talented people?

No.

The answer lies in human compassion...
Whilst at Ally Pally I have been overwhelmed by the beautiful warmth and kindness generously gifted towards me whilst demoing free motion embroidery on the Create & Craft TV stand


Your words and comforting smiles have all made me feel so humble in knowing how you feel I am able to offer you all a little inspiration and help with tips & techniques at times...
You've all shared your stories, your projects and your crafting worries and it has been lovely.

As you all know I am a textile artist who also appears as a guest presenter on TV at times.
Crafting for me is completely all about well-being, friendship and a gentle sharing of skills.
I know for many peeps crafting is often the only little ray of sunshine that helps to keep 
them smiling at times.
And I know through personal  experience when my husband was undergoing chemo treatment for bowel cancer, that sometimes you just need something like some gentle slow stitching, the hum of a sewing machine or the rhythmn of a pair of knitting needles to help to take you away from the harsh reality of life into a warm gentle happiness if only for a few minutes.


I am blessed to be in a very fortunate position of doing a job I absolutely adore and being able to walk my way through life in a gentle way sharing skills with so many others through crafting.
Hearing from so many of you; your stitching tales, your yarn rambles or your thread journeys and how they help to make up your own life's patchwork has been so inspirational and hugely rewarding.

Life often brings you riches in a variety of ways and sometimes not in a financial way.
You just have to decide what you consider is actually valuable in life...

A huge thank you for all of you who took the time and trouble to come and say hello.


Toodle-ooh -for-now folks!

Monday, 3 October 2016

My Love Affair with Ally Pally...



Hello my lovelies!
how are we all?
So as I write this, I am looking at a suitcase filled full of clothes, stitchy goodies and my train tickets... ready to venture off on my next little crafty jaunt.

Where am I going???

Well...let me tell you a little snippet of gossip...

I am trundling down by rail to the big smoke..aka London, for a fantastic event held in
a fantastic venue....


I fell in love with this event over fifteen years ago and have always loved it ever since.
I am SOOOO excited :)


So, what am I going to be doing?
Well...I am going to be spending the next five days working my little socks off chatting with viewers of  Create & Craft TV, other artisans, craft companies, bloggers, publishers, crafty peeps and many textile students.... as well as hopefully meeting loads of inspiring people with loads of crafty smiles.



My first visit to Ally Pally (of course officially termed as Alexandra Palace)
introduced me to a world of so many ideas alongside the crafts I was doing at the time.
I was enthralled by all the many designs on offer in so many different fields of craft.




Even if you are an amateur crafter I can guarantee you will find something that will bring a smile or two...or three or four.... you get the idea!
There are loads of retail opportunities to help stock up your stash of goodies as well as loads of exhibits, workshops, demos, free shows and tons of inspiration everywhere you look in every nook and cranny.
You will NOT be disappointed!


I shall be demoing on the Create & Craft TV stand with a fabulous Singer machine showcasing some
Free Motion Embroidery, decorative stitching and hopefully sharing some of my very easy tips & techniques for making your sewing journey a little easier...





Do come and say hello if you are visiting...
I'd love to meet you all!

Toodle-ooh for now...



Thursday, 22 September 2016

September Equinox...



Morning my lovelies!
How are we all?

Today celebrates our September Equinox which welcomes Autumn with all her beauty... 
a change in the seasons...



Evenings will become slightly darker soon, curtains will need to be closed to keep in the warmth and  our gardens will turn their thoughts towards closing their eyes for a little nap as Winter waits at the front door to be let in.


For me, Autumn brings such joy....

Having had a very busy summer working at a variety of events around the UK this year, I have to say I am really looking forward to getting back into snuggling up on the sofa with a good book or sitting down to blog. doing a little slow stitching or even crocheting...
It is also a time that I feel I can re-connect with Mother Earth a little more...


I always think Autumn allows us time to slow down a little to notice those treasured snippets of beauty.
We are only here for a fleeting moment on this beautiful earth and are often so busy simply getting through our daily lives that we miss Mother Nature's gems. 

We need to nurture our planet with human warmth and kindness.....
often a walk in the woods, a glimpse of a deer saying good morning, blinking at a flock of birds migrating or listening to a Robin's chorus can bring us those happy smiles.
These are just some of the ways we can chat with Mother Earth...
to keep us grounded with what is real in life.

What really matters.

We are simply keepers of this land until a new generation comes along and each season reminds us of our own walk through time.
Instead of feeling down about it we should be rejoicing in all of our new seasons with a warmth for the ever turning tides of history.
how many times do we hear or even say "gosh I'm getting old, time is slipping away too fast..."
I hear it all to often on my travels.
My answer is always the same.... 
enjoy today
enjoy minute by minute
simply enjoy...


Celebrate Autumn with a little love in your heart for this beautiful time of year...
Let her hold your hand and guide you through the cooler evenings,
She's only stopping by for a short time before she visits her next family.
So enjoy her company, relax in her glorious golden tones 
and simply 'borrow a moment or to' from her to add to your patchwork of special memories
however happy or sad those memories may be.


Toodle-ooh for now!








Friday, 16 September 2016

Saying Hello to Autumn....




Hello my lovelies!
Gosh I've missed saying hello...
Where did the time go???

I always think it's that time of year that seems to be full of change when we welcome the door to Autumn.
We close our album of summer memories and holiday smiles....


to embrace the coolness of a new season debutante taking her first bow...

Children start a new chapter in their lives, students venture into the unknown and our thoughts start to stray towards that 'C' word.....

As much as I love to welcome Summer in for a cuppa in June, I do have to say I am quite glad to say goodbye to the heat she brings with her visits...
As a sufferer of Fibromyalgia you would think I'd welcome the heat but I struggle to control my temperature in both extremes; so, in summer I'm wishing for a bucket of ice to jump into for most of the time and in winter I'm found snuggled in blankets wishing warmth would grace my weary bones.... you just can't win can you!

So...back to September smiles for me...
September brings SO many!

birthday celebrations, golden & olive hues beginning to grace my garden, misty foggy mornings with dewy spiderwebs, crochet blankets in the wash, and scrumptious blackberries...



What's your September smile?

So, with the evenings closing in on us my mind is wandering towards those crochet hooks, stitchy projects and romantic girlie films!


Dear September, I am so looking forward to sharing my evenings with you catching up on your  gossip, slobbing in my PJ's, snuggly slippers, and getting to grips with tidying my stitchy basket full of threads nestling next to the crackling fire...



Before I can hang up my stitchy boots for the year so to speak,though  I do have one more major event to visit....
For anyone wanting to have a lovely stitchy chat with yours truly... 
I shall be at Ally Pally at the Knitting & Stitch Show showcasing free motion embroidery on the Create & Craft TV stand....
Do come and say hello!

In the meantime, I can be found in my kitchen digging out my dusty slow cooker and checking out some old favourite Autumnal recipes...
So excited as I LOVE casseroles...and apple crumble puds!

Happy Autumn my lovelies.....



Enjoy....