London Trip part 2

I was prepared to be completely overwhelmed by the New Designers exhibition, and not in a good way.  I don’t really like new venues where it will probably be busy.  I tend to react by not eating or drinking much so I can get everything done faster & leave.  I was slightly concerned that there were going to be 3000 designers to get round by 6pm, which is when I’d decided I’d have to set off to get back to Kings Cross in order to get my train home.

Fortunately this was remarkably painless.  I think the 3000 designers is over the two weeks, so they are split into two parts.  Also there is a free plan of the stands which is extremely helpful so that you can mark off which bits you’ve done.

Although I was nominally there to look at textiles, I started off in ‘Jewellery & Contemporary Design Crafts’ which is basically things that aren’t textiles.  Metalwork, ceramics, plastics, wood, glass.  It wasn’t too busy & I got to admire a lot of work & talk to a lot of designers.  Sometimes it was quite difficult to decide how I should be looking at things – as an idea for my visual diary or as an object that I liked and might have considered buying.

I had a slightly worrying moment when I realised it was almost 12 and I was still in Jewellery – how on earth was I going to get round everything?  I would just have to be more disciplined about stopping to compliment people or spend ages chatting.  Stepping up the pace (fewer sketches) I finished that section & also whizzed round the ‘One Year On’ section (picking up business cards left, right & centre).  On to the textiles.

One of the first things I noticed was that there were a lot of print.  Bradford College (where I am studying) has print studios but we don’t use them so much on the course I am on.  There is an embroidery option (me) and a weave option.  Print & Knit aren’t really on the radar for me.  Or at least not in that context.  At New Designers though, embroidery was definitely in the minority – LOTS of print (written like that in my notes from the day), also lots of weaving & machine-knitting.

It makes sense though – New Designers is very much a networking, talent-spotting show, from what I can make out.  It is the kind of place where John Lewis sources new freelance print designers.  Slow hand-stitching isn’t really on the cards – not as commercially viable, or at least not directly.  Perhaps as a design idea – but then that is always an undercurrent to any time where designer-makers get together.  Not in a bad way, although that does unfortunately happen sometimes – you see your ideas all over the high street without you getting any credit for them.  But to see other people’s creativity, to talk to them, be inspired by the work that they do.  To think ‘I like that idea’, can I incorporate that stitch in my work?

As part of that, I was chatting to a jewellery designer (Naomi Elaine Smith – she had a lovely Art Deco piece which reminded me of something Peruvian) and I mentioned that I’d mended my shirt that morning with some contrasting fabric & thread – visible mending.  I’ll try to add a photo of the mended bit of shirt.  I don’t imagine my fix will translate particularly well as jewellery, but it could be the start (or a part) of an idea.

Ms Smith, as a new graduate (and all the other people I got chance to speak to) will soon be back home, starting off on the next steps of her career.  I hope that the visual & verbal exchange of ideas that has happened and will continue happening over the next week and a half helps inspire some more creative design, both for the graduates whose work was shown, and for the not-yet-graduated (me included) who got chance to see it.  Thank you for a great show!


June 29, 2018 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Mini Trip to London

I got back last night from a whirlwind trip to London.  A couple of weeks ago my college tutor suggested I go to the New Designers exhibition, but I was about to go on a big family holiday so I didn’t do anything about it.  We got home from that late last Friday, so on Saturday I started looking into all the things I’d postponed.  Oh – New designers is coming up.  Right.  Can I get train tickets (yes).  Can I get anywhere to stay (yes).  Can I get exhibition tickets (yes).  Anything else I can do in London while I’m there (yes).

Travelled down to London on Wednesday & headed straight for the V&A’s ‘Fashioned From Nature’ exhibition (well worth a visit for those interested in fashion/textiles/environmental issues), and that took up enough time that it wasn’t worth my ‘doing’ another museum or gallery that day.

Thursday was interesting before I even got to the New Designers Exhibition (which might even go in a separate post).  I walked from Earl’s Court YHA to Notting Hill Gate tube station (past some interesting galleries that I’ll hopefully remember for some other visit).  Changed tubes at Holborn without incident but when I changed at Euston there was an elderly gent with a walking stick & a suitcase.  I offered to help him up the stairs (it wasn’t too heavy) but once up the stairs it turned out that he couldn’t manage escalators, so couldn’t get up to the main line trains.  I asked a handy tube worker what was the best route.  Unfortunately the elderly gent was a bit free with his language.  This (quite understandably, even though it was unintentional) upset the TFL guy and they really didn’t get on very well.

We got it all sorted out & eventually I deposited the bloke (and his suitcase) on to the right platform (down lots more stairs) with a train pulling in.  I really hope he made his train at Euston, without having to tackle any escalators.  Step free access is great unless escalators are an issue.  If that is the case, go to Kings Cross & get the bus from there.

The rest of the journey was straightforward & I decided I’d have enough time to pop in to Cass Art Supplies which is quite close to where the New Designers exhibition is held.  Just about managed not to buy all the things in the shop by reminding myself that I’d have to carry it all.  Did get some more oil pastels (for my sketchbook stuff which needs to be handed in soon) but they don’t take up too much space.  Right, on to the show…!


June 29, 2018 at 10:21 am Leave a comment

Warning – grief expected?

Somehow it seems like all I have to write about on this blog is people who have died.  It feels like the rest of my life has enough of a creative outlet so that I don’t need to write so much, but I don’t necessarily want to put all my emotions in the same place.


My father died last week.  We weren’t close but we used to be I think.  Life moves on I suppose.  He met someone else and after a while he moved away.  I went to Uni & after a while met someone else & moved away.  Anyway, we both settled down.  Occasional contact, maybe 2 or 3 visits a year.  So we weren’t close.


Although he kept us at arm’s length throughout his short illness, we did see him a few times – a flying visit when he was in hospital.  A day when he was in the hospice.  I was getting updates from his wife then passing them on to my brother & sister who both live abroad.  He was back at home for a few days, then I got the update that he had taken a turn for the worse so set off straight away. 


By the time I got there he was no longer talking.  He’d said his goodbyes to us before, in the hospice.  I stayed anyway – my brother was flying over, my sister was ill.  I slept downstairs, in the next room. 


In the morning he was worsening.  At the end, I was pacing.  I couldn’t be still. 


His wife & step-daughters were by his bedside.  They did ask me if I wanted to join them – made space for me, but that moment went long ago, when he moved away.  They belonged there, I didn’t. 


He picked somebody else and although I don’t think I resent that (I’m glad he found someone he wanted to share his life with), it changed our relationship.


Now I don’t know what I feel.  Numb maybe?  I don’t expect that I’ll feel the full 5 or 7 stages of grief (depending on which school of thought you adhere to).  We were strangers for too long. 


I wrote a list of memories to send in my sympathy card to his wife (of over 20 years).  I am sad that most of my bright memories (Ones that stand out in my mind.  Not necessarily good ones, but ones that are solid and leap out of the jumble of thoughts) are from such a long time ago.  I struggled to find memories that might include both of them, although I did manage to find a few to help make his wife feel better.  Twenty years that didn’t make any really special moments for me.


So, what now?  His wife & her daughters are meeting with the funeral director today.  I had planned on going – partly because I am the only one of his blood-family that lives in this country.  But also because of the bright memories. 


Unfortunately, life gets in the way sometimes.  Monkey is 9 today, and also has chicken pox (again).  I spoke to his wife yesterday to apologise for not being able to go. 


I’m hoping we’ll be able to go to the funeral (assuming Monkey is better by then, whenever it is), but either way I’ll mourn that the memories are from so long ago, and make sure I learn from him and try to keep making bright memories for all the time I have with DH, Monkey & the rest of my family.

May 14, 2018 at 7:10 am Leave a comment

To my Husband, on his Mother’s Birthday

Today my lovely, sweet Mother-in-law would have been 80.  She was such a caring, gentle person and I admired her for so many things.

We drove over to visit her grave today – DH planted some snowdrops while Monkey supervised.  It is quiet there – which was very like her.  Quiet and calm, despite all the things.

The hills were beautiful – snow and mist but not too much of either.

We mourn her most, perhaps, in autumn – when she died.  Fallen leaves in a glass on the windowsill.

Time passes.  Not so much, yet.  Hopefully the snowdrops with thrive and spread.  A little understated cheer – like a hug from a small, slight lady.

January 20, 2018 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

Looking in Both Directions

This is not going to be a post about road-safety, although you might well think that.  I mean more looking backwards & forwards.

Backwards (‘The Past’ – unless you are Dr Who) seems a sad place sometimes.  Particularly around this time of year for many people.

For me – today is 10 years since my dearly loved & loving Grandmother died.  But I can’t look at it like that – that isn’t how I work.  So it is also 10 years since she stopped being in pain.  Rattling with tablets & tables of when to take them all.

That seems all very black & white written down like that.  I suppose the reality is something in-between.  Perhaps sometimes we never get over the fact that a person we love won’t answer my ‘we’re here!‘ and maybe hope that she never noticed that it used to be ‘we’re home!‘.  Because in a way it was home.  She was home.  The first thing I see when I think about her is her sitting & knitting.  Sometimes for herself, but mostly for her family.  I think I knit because she did.  Unfortunately DH & Monkey prefer shop-bought jumpers, and whereas I’m probably quite a good knitter, I’m terrible at choosing what to make that I can/will wear (and also sewing the ends in).

But all the other crafty things that I do – they don’t come directly from her.  By the time I knew her, she didn’t really do dress-making.  I don’t think I ever saw her embroider.  But I think that just being around her – being aware of her patiently creating a thing that worked.  Figuring out a difficult stitch pattern to make a complicated jumper that I still wear sometimes, and always with pride.

That is something I strive for.  To make things I love to make.  To be proud of the things I make, even if they have to be passed on because they don’t fit me, or because I picked colours that looked good together rather than looking good on me.  To get better at what I do.  Not to win a prize but just to be proud of what I can finish.  Really should sew some ends in.

Which brings me to the ‘forwards’ part.  In a couple of weeks I start a textiles course.  There probably won’t be much knitting involved, but I’m hoping to learn a lot from it – how to make things that work will be a large component I think.  And I can then carry that forward again into the hodgepodge of ideas I always have floating around in my head.

So I’m sorry that she won’t be there to see the things that she partly helped happen.  But two of my closest friends – my Mother & my Sister, who still struggle more than I do with the loss of my Grandmother, will be cheering me on the whole time.  And as they are also a part of the biggest thing she made – her family – that seems quite appropriate.



December 26, 2017 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

ATC Swap – Not Going According To Plan

I recently signed up for another ATC swap – ‘Small’ (thank you VeryBerry).  I had a good idea & most of the supplies I would need & the other bits I got last week (I have quite a while before it needs to be sent).  I got started a couple of days ago – I got my lettering picked out & arranged on the computer, I had my lace ribbons out to check spacing & I found the right kind of needle for sewing on fine-ish linen.

I got the first of my two ideas sorted pretty easily – I just did the word in small cross-stitch.  I was then going to cut a rectangle around it & join it to the lace to make it the right size with insertion stitching.  I didn’t want to cut it straight away so I started on the other idea.

This one, the plan was to do the letters in Hardanger, which basically means you sew some bits then cut some of the threads of the fabric.  You pull the special threads out & it leaves a pattern of holes.  Then you do some more stitching.  I got as far as the second set of stitching & it just looks awful!  You can’t tell the letters, they just merge into a block & it looks really clunky, so I abandoned that & did another in cross-stitch.

Now I have two the same, I did some mini-stitch samples to work out how to join the lace differently and it just isn’t working.  I need to go back to the drawing board & try some more things.  But I’m really pleased I tried the Hardanger, I have been meaning to use this technique for the last couple of swaps but just couldn’t make it work.  I’ve done a kit before & like the effect – hopefully I can find a way of using it next time.

As for this swap, I shall put the lace away & go look at some books for inspiration.  Hopefully without losing my nice needle down the sofa in the process!

November 2, 2017 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Towards the end of a weekend…

This is all probably going to be a bit back-to-front. It is kind of getting close to being time to cook dinner, but not quite, so I thought I’d unpack, as I got back from a fabric stencilling weekend a couple of hours ago. Getting started with some Alabama Chanin-style garments.  My aunt started a jacket and my Mum and I started a skirt each.

Anyway, normally what happens is the suitcase gets abandoned somewhere in the house. The laundry gets taken to the laundry pile and much of what is left gets, er, left.

This time I was determined to do something about it before DH and Monkey get back from their trip to the Great Western Brick Show in Swindon in a few hours. However, as usual I was distracted. The fabric I used for my skirt, well there is quite a lot left so I’ll need to find space for it on a fabric shelf. Then I remembered that. All my jersey fabric is in a pile on the floor from when I was deciding which to take for the weekend. So I’ll need to sort it out properly at some point. But then I don’t really have room to store it all, so I may as well use it. I get into a circular argument about what to spend the time doing – finishing the skirt I started, or a different project which is ongoing (like one of the quilts) or tidy up.

So I wrote a blog post instead. It was going to be about an idea I had for tidying up, but I just decided it wasn’t a very good idea. The new plan is to finish this post, sort dinner out, then go do a little tidying up before I eat. I can then watch a video or something and do some sewing before the boys get back.

Wow, decisiveness! Of course we’ll just have to see how far I actually get with it…

October 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

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