Which canvas are you?

Do you enjoy personality tests?

We’ve all experienced them at one time or another, whether serious ones when applying for jobs (INFJ* if you’re interested), or the marginally less serious ones in personal-development books, online-dating, dieting, and of course the entirely spurious ones in countless magazine features – they crop up all over the place.

For some reason, when I was fishing through my stash of canvas the other day, I couldn’t help thinking that our preferred choice of canvas might well be an indicator of our personality.

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– straight-forward, upright, focussed, likes sticking rigidly to the rules…

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– needs a bit of structure, but bends the rules a little from time to time – prefers having some flexible of space to work in…

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– pretends to conform, but actually quite a rebel, frequently moving off in different directions…

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– entirely unpredictable, potential anarchist…

Yep, use them all – what does that tell you?

Happy stitching!

*Myers-Briggs test.

False starts and moonbeams…

What do you do when something just won’t come together the way you think it should?

I’ve just had a stitching false start. The piece I thought I knew what I was doing with, didn’t agree. We couldn’t come to terms, it was deeply frustrating.

And although I like the old Robert the Bruce adage of ‘if at first you don’t succeed…’, I do not have the same mettle as fugitive medieval kings or patient cave dwelling spiders.

No, I failed, and so I did what was the most satisfying thing I could think of at the time – I ripped it out of the frame.

Instead, I am now working on a new piece inspired by a gorgeous silk yarn from Eleanor at Solstice Yarns – Moonbeams on a Mystic Sea.


I am in love with this silk and I’m back in the flow – phew!

Ta Dah…

Well thanks to a productive weekend, it’s done! Thank you so much to everyone who commented with ideas on a name for the latest piece. Something nearly always suggests itself to me while I’m working on a canvas, but this time although I’ve really enjoyed stitching it, there was a deafening radio silence as far as names were concerned, so it was really helpful to hear your thoughts.

There was considerable consensus on a title that spoke about flow, movement and nature. Something about it evidently evokes a Jacobean feeling, and the colours are distinctly autumnal.

As I’ve been stitching during the last week or so, I’ve been mulling over all your comments, playing around with word associations and combinations, waiting for the name that felt right to emerge.

Now when I tell you what happened, you’ll have to remember I am a true child of the ’60s, certain experiences molded me at an early age. So when Alister at The Bargellist mentioned in his comment being able to see snails, it triggered a chain reaction in my head. First I had a little giggle, because although not designed as snails, I could see precisely what he meant, I’m forever drawing spirals, they crop up in lots of things I make, and yes, there is a distinct snailiness about this piece.

The obvious thing was to call it snails, but…

…the trouble is, I am of the The Magic Roundabout generation, for me all snails have but one name, and so, although I tried hard to think of it as something a trifle more elegant, in the end I give you…

IMAG4881… Brian

You might be interested to know that in Christian art, snails symbolise laziness or the deadly sin of sloth…

Thank you to Catherine at Knotted Cotton for introducing me to A Scientific Romance – I’ve just bought a copy and will add it to the reading for the  ‘A Year in Books’ project.

If you want to indulge in a little Magic Roundabout nostalgia, click here.

Time for bed

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This, that and the other…

Well, THIS is where I am with the current piece…

IMAG4548Would anyone care to suggest a title? Usually something pops up in my mind, but I think my creative impulse is taking a spring break…

Here it is a bit closer up…

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While THAT – below– is what happens when you finally get your old easel out and play with paint all afternoon.


Although I always felt most at home with oil paint,  the practical difficulties of using it in a house where there’s no space to leave your kit set up and where you have to snatch opportunities ‘as and when’, has prevented me from painting for years. But lately Number One Daughter and I have been dabbling in gouache and acrylics, which although not the same as oil, do give you the chance to use similar techniques, and can be tidied up fairly painlessly – (the kitchen gallantly doubles as a studio, but sooner or later it has to revert to primary function).

So as it was SO MUCH FUN, I shall probably do it again…


And THE OTHER news…

I’ve been going all soft and gooey over the delicious yarns from Eleanor at Solstice Yarns (be warned, a visit to her Etsy shop will have you dribbling and/or grasping for your credit card)

IMAG4556This little bundle of silky joy is my latest acquisition.

And on a more mundane front, I have just bought these little chaps…


I’ve had so much trouble with very sore fingers over the last year or so, sometimes I wondered if I was allergic to the yarn or scrim, but then I read something recently about nickel allergy and a penny dropped. Of course it might not be anything to do with it, but I’m going gold-plated for now to see if things improve.

Happy stitching!


Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Sending a huge thank you to Tanya and Elizabeth for giving me the confidence to go all the way – and wet the tree.

I’ve pussy-footed about steaming odd bits before, but never had the guts to get everything really wet, now, thanks to the encouragement from you all, I’ve done it.

treeAnd it worked! 

I am absolutely delighted and will now be giving the same treatment to the rest of the pile of wonky pieces sitting on the self – I just need to invest in another couple of packets of drawing pins.

Now that it’s square, the finishing options are much more straightforward – so I’ll start nagging the Other Half for the promised frame (who knows, at this rate I’ll probably end up making it myself).


And in other news…

Anyone who’s been having the occasional peep at the snaps in the sidebar, might have seen the new piece I’ve started. Here it is…

IMAG4260Take no notice of the colours I’ve drawn in, I’m working in a more red/green palette – err, well it looks like this…

IMAG4257I needed to go couching again after months of tent stitch, – it’s a weird kind of release, and I like to watch and see where the yarns decide to go.

IMAG4264So that’s me on the stitching front. Hope your projects are all coming along the way you want them.

Happy stitching!



Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter. 




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IMAG3286The word of the week here is WAITING….

Perhaps that should be anticipating.

I’m waiting for some new crewel threads to arrive for the current project – I’d sorted out the yarns I was going to use for the rest of it, but the tapestry wools were just proving too thick for the scrim – not fun to deal with, so I’ve ordered a selection of solid colours to complement the delicious 4-plys I’m already using.

My excitement at embroidery actually making it to the TV last week, has set me off feeling experimental – so I’m also waiting for a delivery of different canvas materials – I want to see what I can do with some alternative base fabrics – well it’s good to flex those creative muscles from time to time. I know I’m never going to be a proper embroiderer, but give me a piece of loose-weave canvas and well – who knows…

I’m also waiting for some extra long and strong bulldog clips to arrive – these will – I hope – make it easier to clip the thicker parts of the worked canvas to the frame (this is what passes as technical stuff around here) – suffice to say, the air can get quite blue around me when the plastic clips ping off the frame, leaving the canvas floppy and recalcitrant – I’m pinning great hopes on these new clips.

And a BTW – I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new field guide to mushrooms (readers at Mostly Motley will remember) – found the recommended title online second-hand and a bargain to boot – thank you Catherine.

In the meantime, happy stitching.







The story so far…

It’s very nearly the end of the month, so I thought I’d show you a quick update on the current piece I’m stitching. I haven’t given it a proper name yet, although the astute amongst you might be able to see a tree hidden in the pattern, and I suppose tree might feature in the name eventually, but I’ll wait to see if it shows itself more clearly as I stitch, or whether it decides to remain obscure.

So don’t get too excited, this is slow art remember…

IMAG3165Nearly two months in and perhaps a quarter done.

I know you’ll be questioning the sanity of anyone who opts to use tent stitch only on a piece that’s the best part of 2′ square, but what can I say – it feels right to me, or should I say it makes me feel right, because there is undoubtedly a soothing sensation that comes with the act of stitching something relatively fine. And after the textures of the last piece, the urge to create something smooth was undeniable.

Many of us find a peace from the process of stitch – in its many forms – and this is especially true for me in this piece. There is nothing extraordinary about filling little areas of scrim with yarn, and yet, inch by inch, as I sew, the focus of my mind changes and I know I’m calming down, feeling tranquil. It’s that transformation that I love – the fact that at the end I can see a little more filled in canvas, is just an added bonus.

I continue to be delighted with the way both Natalie and Victoria’s knitting wools are performing, they stitch brilliantly, but best of all, as the tiny sections of colour grow and you stroke your finger over it, it feels soft and warm – it’s sensual.

I’ve started to incorporate a few sections in silk. It’s much more of the prima donna to work with – there are creative tantrums, but I want the occasional shininess to slip into the piece and silk does it like nothing else, so in it goes – in moderation.


So there you are – at this rate probably not going to be ready by Christmas, but that’s ok.

Happy stitching!





Spring flower…

needlepoint flower


I hope you’re not reading this from beneath a ten foot snow drift – my other half keeps referring to the weather as ‘a cold snap’ and I keep reminding him, that this weather has been consistently atrocious since November, and snap it certainly isn’t.

But in other news…

Slow progress is being made on the – shall we call it flower?

I have a fairly clear idea of how the flower is going to develop – I’ve put a couple of baskets of yarns together and I keep looking at them, imagining where I’m going to put them all – so to contrast with the couching of the flower, the outer sections are rather more restrained.

The recycled sari silk is delightful to work with. The thickness varies quite widely, and some sections are decidedly fluffy, so stitching it in becomes experimental – I like the feeling that the yarns are deciding the texture of the piece for themselves – putting the stitches in, feels almost passive.

detail of recycled sari silk couching

Just before the weekend snow, I nipped outside and took pictures of the few brave buds to have risked showing their faces this winter…

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I’m wondering if I was getting subliminal messages about the colours – notice any similarities between the flowers and the flower?


Happy stitching – stay warm.




Moving on…

I put the last few stitches into the Gothic Window on Tuesday evening, and as usual, it will now go on the pile while I decide what if anything to do with it – am I the only person who loses interest once the stitching is finished?

Strange really, because I feel very attached while I’m working them, but once they’re finished, I want to move on to the next piece. If there’s anyone out there with a burning need to finish off, frame, hang, or otherwise use a pile of needlepoint, I have a stash that could keep you busy for yonks.

Anyway, moving on…


I didn’t intend this as I was drawing it and painting up the canvas on the kitchen table yesterday, but I think months – or perhaps years – of watching Flog It! at tea-time (mainly to annoy the girls!), has affected me – can you spot any Moorcroft influences here?

In my mind, I’m working out how I’m going to stitch the design, and I thought I’d couch the edges of what I’ll loosely call the petals (you might prefer strange splodge shape), with the recycled sari silk, then see what works in the layers between. Perhaps it’s that edging that makes me think most about Moorcroft.

As ever, I don’t expect the finished piece will look much like this, but I need a place to start.


It’s about 24″ square, so should keep me off the streets for a while.

Happy stitching.





Gothic window…

The stitching has been especially slow for the last few days – isn’t it unfair how much life sometimes intrudes on stitching time…

But here is the current piece of work-in-progress, Gothic Window.


I’m struggling with the light (or more accurately, lack of light), but you get the idea.

I wanted to try adding some gothic structure to the piece, I know I’m obsessed with stained glass, but I thought I’d see if I could contain it in a semi-gothic frame.

Of course, my hopes for anything to stay straight while I stitch it have been dashed. I know I could go back to using interlock, but I’m still having too much fun with the scrim, despite the way it laughs contemptuously at my lines.

I’ve painted some of the canvas with acrylic inks to give it a tiny bit more bite and stability – it also stops me getting snow-blindness, sewing on the white scrim.

I had a mixture of twinkly blue threads that called out to be used in this window, although you can’t really tell from the pictures – it does look quite sparkly in real life.

If I can keep all the spinning plates in the air this week, I’ll hope to show you some progress next week – no promises mind, we all know where plans get us.

Happy stitching.

Indulging in hedonism…

Now, I’d be telling a porky-pie, if I said it had been a brilliant January – sick child, sick dog (when will they learn to use a bucket), leaden skies, snow, ice, more snow and more ice, frozen shower, sick car (amusingly timed trouble with the clutch – great fun on icy roads) – you know – very January.

But – while all that stuff was going on, I was also having a whale of a time with the piece of experimental couching/needlepoint I started at the beginning of December.

This piece has seen me through all the pre-Christmas stressiness, the relaxing time between Christmas and New Year and the grot of the last couple of weeks. I’ve loved every moment! (click on the picture if you want a closer look)


Something about the curviness drew me in completely. As it progressed, it demanded jewel colours and lots of twinkly threads. The day the first red went in, I held my breath, but it was right. So here it is, gaudy, swirly, shamelessly glittery – and I love it.

The only thing it never acquired while I was stitching, was a name.

But then as I thought about it, just one word popped up – hedonism,

Sensual indulgence – the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires), is the highest good and proper aim of human life. (Dictionary)

I think that’s what it wanted…

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Happy stitching.




Why it is dangerous to make plans…

There’s a quote attributed to Woody Allen, that goes,

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

Well, I think the gods must be having a good old giggle over me this week.

At the beginning of October, I (rashly as it turns out), declared my intention to draw trees every day of the month.  I also promised a friend, that we’d have our long-delayed coffee and cake get together  at the end of last week.

Well, you can guess can’t you, within hours of making those two simple plans, things started to go pear-shaped.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had two daughters laid up in bed with grotty colds, one husband laid up with man-flu, a nasty cold myself (not that that was allowed to get in the way…), and just as things looked like picking up, my coffee and cake friend’s daughter came down with the same bug. So, not much drawing, and no coffee and cake.

I haven’t been entirely lacking in the tree department, but that will be the subject of another post. This is just to say that with all the additional time sitting around with sickies, I’ve managed to finish the needlepoint I started on the linen scrim.

The finished piece is approximately 13.5 inches square. I had a quick look at calculating the number of stitches that have gone into it, – not something I normally do, but this was the smallest gauge I’ve ever needlepointed, and I was fascinated to know. The answer – give or take a few, is 72,900.

I started it at around the 8th of September and finished on the 11th October – so about a month. Not as bad as I thought it might be at the outset.

I’m telling you all this, because if I’m honest, although I liked the material, I was hugely daunted by the tiny holes when I began this, and I thought I might just call it an experiment. But having got into it, I’m not feeling nearly so negative.

The biggest downside, is that it really needs working in quite fine wools or silks, and my stock is mostly tapestry wools – too thick for the scrim. A good excuse for some more thread sourcing!

So, I think I can say it’s a thumbs-up for the linen scrim. I desperately need to find some new neutral colours to work in – I’ve realised that the stone texture piece won’t work with the palette I currently have available. I’m optimistic that I’ll find something suitable in knitting wool, but that will exclude the possibility of using the scrim.

Sounds like I have a bit of homework/shopping to do – could be worse – just don’t  go telling anyone – please.