Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally

It's years since I last made it to K & S at Ally Pally, I'm so glad that I managed it this year as I was treated to several excellent exhibits.
The two standout shows for me were 'Un-Fold' and Debbie Lyndon.
Un-fold's exhibition "Curious as an object" comprised the work of four artists: Christina Ellcock; Sally Skaife; Sarah Welsby and Christine Chester. It was spare, pared back, stark and beautiful work.
Christina Ellcock's 'Coastal Notes' was a framed collection of mini compositions, including found objects, evoking Dungerness. They reflected the bleakness of this scenery.

Sally Skaife's work represented a deep study of Oyster shells, dyed, stitch monotone prints that captured the essence of the rough, knobbly external feel of the oyster.

Sarah Welsby's circular forms in strip formation really caught the eye with their stark colour pallets, clean lines and minimalist feel.

Christine Chester's large hanging dominated the wall opposite the entrance and drew you to examine in details the tiny tubes that formed the centre of the work.

Debbie Lyndon's gallery was an exciting collection of pieces reflecting the North Norfolk coastal landscape. Two bodies of work showcased her talents in successfully mastering the small and the large scale. 
The Sluice Gate Cloths, in linen, dyed, painted, layered, distressed and incised allowed the viewer different perspectives as one moved in from of the Cloths. Subdued and moody these were powerful pieces

In contrast the collection of mounted mini landscapes reflecting the flat, open marsh land of the coastal area were exquisite gems. I am so cross with myself for not having bought one of these gems as we both love that part of the world and visit regularly.

Dionne Swift's gallery of spare landscape in pastel and stitch were interesting and have become more abstract and pared down since I last saw her work at Excel several years ago.

I was impressed with many of the Embroiderers' Guild 'Capability Brown' exhibits which shone despite the casual and haphazard way in which the pieces had been curated and hung. A shame as this did detract from the impact the work should have had and given the quality of the exhibition areas of the other artist's I have highlighted here.

I did come home with a lighter purse and heavier bag: a stunning length of beautiful linen in a burgundy/brown for clothing and as background for a textile piece forming in my head at the moment; a backing for a baby quilt which will also be showcased on the top as well; a piece of Nene Jallow's hand dyed cotton from Maggie Ralph and some undyed sari strips I want to try knitting! The retail area was horribly crowded and very knitting or yarn dominated with far fewer exciting fabrics on offer! 
I loved the day, made so much easier by being brought almost to the door and back by coach!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Khadi paper printing

Khadi paper printing

Chris and Sheena at CQ Weedon Bec group generously showed us a technique for printing onto paper that can then be stitched. It was an eye opener! A lovely way of stitching into an image without the sheen one gets with some of the fabric sheets sold for printing.
I had to buy CMC Gum. Harborough couldn't source it but my friend online shopping got in for me very quickly! I had Khadi paper and scrim or muslin.

Mixing the CMC Gum is the hardest part of the whole process. It must be fiercely agitated as the powder meets the water and as I made a small quantity in a jar I then shook the jar for some while before the lumps disappeared.
I cut scrim just larger than the paper. Painted the Gum on the paper and then smoothed the scrim over the paper ensuring that there were no creases and that all of it was adhering to the paper. It then needed to dry completely.

I then trimmed off the excess scrim making sure there were no loose ends to get caught in the printer.
My Khadi paper was smaller than A4 so I needed to tape it to an A4 page so that it would feed into the printer.
I then scanned the image and printed it.

I put wadding beneath the paper and then worked free machine stitch over the image.

I'm really pleased with it.

Thursday, 13 October 2016


After working on a series of quilts inspired by the behaviour of different bodies of water I found myself bereft of ideas of what to do next. Such a drought is an uncomfortable feeling. Creating keeps me sane. When I don't know what to create the absence looms large and feels claustrophobic, my sewing room door beckons and then it dawns on me that I don't know what I'll do if I go in. For me, it affects my life, I'm slightly off kilter not quite right. I have suffered this for most of the summer.
I tried to do something positive, went looking at gorgeous gardens, full of amazing colours, with sculptural leaves and plant shapes, visited ancient houses with stone work and carving, tapestry and ancient tomes, and still I remained uninspired. I even tried to go back to basics and make a traditional quilt top, this too was hopeless, it's a grim piece in fabric that's not really "me" and will probably end up as a Linus quilt. I couldn't even muster the enthusiasm to go to Festival!

The drought was ended when I spent a week in north west Scotland facing telling the lovely group I belong to that I wasn't going to be able to make any pieces for our exhibition on the theme of Journey. It was an odd saviour, reading about General Wade, sent up to garrison the wilds of the highlands, he first had to build the roads for his army to march on. These constructions passed through some of the finest scenery, through birch wood and over heather moorland passed villages later to be 'cleared' to make way for sheep. I felt a connection. My imagination fired. Three very different possible pieces took form in my mind. There followed a frenzied period of creation and joy at being back to something like normality.
I embraced the creative process, took pleasure in making samples, trying out ideas, dyeing my fabrics, finding the right threads and an intense six weeks of stitching has resulted in three pieces I'm really pleased with. I think I'm back again, but the acid test is about to happen. What do I plan to do next? I'm really hoping that I can manage to move on to new work without the long fallow period I've just been through returning.