Monday, 18 February 2019

The Lost Words - I am lost in the the wonder of it


The book "The Lost Words" by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane, is a call to arms for us all to act on how we are destroying our environment. I have written before about seeing the lyrical paintings,  and these are on display this year at Nymans in West Sussex until June.

The remarkable thing about this book is how many charitable and artistic endeavours it is inspiring: crowdfunders to get the book in to schools, care homes ; murals for hospices; outdoor theatre for young people; teaching resources for schools ; library projects.

Last Tuesday, I had the privilege to be in the audience in London, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, for the most recent collaboration, The Lost Words - Spell Songs.

Spell Songs is a collaboration by too many people to name here, but the public face is the group of musicians who have worked with Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to create the most moving music I have heard for a long while.

Describing the book as a "beautiful protest" and " a wee, clenched fist against the destruction of our world" the musicians truly wove spells amongst the members of the audience. Strangers spoke to each other - yes, in London, at a concert! The ushers welcomed everyone with smiles on their faces as they had seen and heard the rehearsals.

Many, many handkerchiefs and tissues were discretely used during this event as the emotional power of words, music, and collaboration came through to the audience. Jackie Morris was on stage, conjuring her otters, on traditional, hand-pressed paper, from Two Rivers Paper,  as the music soared.

Listen to the music here, wonder at it. Read Jackie Morris' blog about the concerts.

Live this day as a guardian of the future of our world.

Monday, 11 February 2019


In an effort to distract myself from the imminent disaster of Brexit, I have returned to shirt making, this time for me. One of the joys of the internet is being able to learn from people that one has never met. After several hours looking at patterns, I decided on The Granville shirt, and having read all of the comments, made the following adjustments:

  • shortened the sleeves by 4cm
  • Shortened the shoulders by 1cm
  • raised the bust dart by 4cm ( wrong decision)
  • took a lot of fabric out of the hips, about 20cm all round in the end - this pattern is for very curvy women
  • did not add the pockets

I followed many tutorials, and stitched test yokes, collars, many, many collar points, cuffs, sleeve plackets, front plackets,  buttonholes and devoured the content on Off The Cuff, a superb sewing blog.

The results?

Sleeve placket


Back yoke


Inner yoke, and collar stand


Front placket


Finished shirt


The fabric was a beautiful voile from Seasalt. They very generously make many of their fabrics available by the metre, even from current ranges.

I like it, I will wear it, I will make another one - all in all a successful make, even although the pattern matching was rather tricky, and I had to cut three sets of collars before I got the orientation of the colour swatches correct!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

February journal, Brexit 2

Brexit 2. Twenty seven circles of graduated shades of yellow, overlapping in to one cohesive circle, with a tea-dyed Union Jack hanging off the bottom, obscured by threads of black and white.

Hand-appliqued circles, trapunto stuffed, with FMQ in blue variegated thread in inner
circle and yellow thread around outside.
It is flat, but my phone camera is acting up in many odd ways. 

This is very different from my original sketch, but the overlapping circles appeared very early on in the construction phase, and they seemed to say more about cooperation than the original, radial design.
If you need to escape from the impending disaster, enter the land of fantasy and go to see Dior, Designed of Dreams. Tickets are available from May, and it is on until July. Photography and sketching are permitted.

Friday, 8 February 2019

February journal planning - Brexit 2

The madness continues as the UK heads on a course of self-destruction with no-one apparently able to stop the idiocy. The Brexit theme of the journal quilts has to continue.
How to convey 27 nations working together, and one as an outlier?

Initial sketch
My travel schedule with work means that any stitching project in the first quarter of the year has to be mostly completed by hand, and has to get through airport security, hence hand applique, using my favourite technique of wash-away stabiliser.

 Glue pen at the ready
Circles all glued, ready for stitching

Testing oil sticks to give some variation of colour on commercial fabrics.

Checking colour gradation in black and white

Full colour gradation

Monday, 28 January 2019

Journal quilts 2019, January, Brexit 1

A new year, a new stitching challenge. A4 size, four quits to be made with a sewing technique, four to be made with fabrics other than just cotton, four to be made using a different technique to make a background. The first sewing technique was an opportunity to re-visit appliqué of bias strips, something I have not done for years.
Initial sketch
In development, tea-dyed Union Jack fabric, and very useful, very short appliqué pins. Bias strips ( 1/4 inch) made using a bias strip maker, not essential, but saves burnt fingers.
Sewing down the strips, background is a piece of blue satin from my recent pantomime costume-making. Strangely appropriate for this piece.
Finished and quilted with FMQ, bound with satin stitch.
Does this look like my initial sketch? Mostly yes, but I made these changes
  • the twisted chain was too complex in a piece of this size and with this width of strips. It would work on a larger scale
  • the strip representing the UK went off the piece to the left in the initial sketch. With everything that is happening in the UK, it was a better representation that it went off to the far right
  • final piece of the UK strip is tattered and fractured, linked together by a thin thread
  • FMQ on the left is swirling and co-operative, FMQ on the right, where the UK strip is heading,  is a maze of never connecting boxes
  • FMQ in the centre is dense and closely connected