March Stitching News 2020 (3)

What would we do without the Internet!  With the enforced restrictions that we are now having to adjust to, I am certainly relying on the internet for keeping in touch with friends and family more than ever! So often we have decried the intrusion in our lives and have made determined efforts to limit the time we are on it But, to be fair in the circumstances we now find ourselves in, I am sure it is a life saver for many people. Personally I don’t use Facebook, but I do post on Instagram. With a couple of exceptions I just follow the wonderful creating stitching community,  and it is a joy to keep up with the lovely creative work that is posted.

Welcome to this month’s newsletter the contents of which are;

  • Birthday card
  • Seaweed printing
  • decorating
  • Distance Learning course Machine Embroidery

This week it was a dear elderly friend’s birthday. She is an avid stitcher, and constantly interested in “stretching her brain”.

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So, I made her a birthday card, with a decidedly contemporary style. I knew she would be intrigued, so I also included the method inside explaining  how I approached the finished result”

Below is a closeup photograph and an explanation.




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There are three layers to the worked surface; dressmakers tissue on top, with newsprint underneath, and finally a layer of fine iron-on Vilene to protect the upper layers from perforation and tearing when I was stitching.

The piece of news print was one of my layers underneath the tissue, protecting the table as I painted the swirls. It was just one section of the paper, and had several marks layered up on it!! As you can see I have machine stitched the outlines of the swirls with bright red thread, everything else is hand stitched. The long very thin lines are stitched within the “spaces” of the newsprint lines, or actually on top of some of the printed straight lines which were sectioning off an item.
I like the hand stitching down the centre of the swirls where I have used a hand dyed thread. A lady deserves flowers on her birthday, so that is the reason for the double daisies! A few french knots just finished it off.

Rob my husband was taking part in an annual seaweed survey earlier in the month.

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So, I just had to have a go at eco printing it.

Janine, my friend in Abu Dhabi, was so excited when she told me how she had got some good results from pressing seaweed between paper, which had only been sprayed with white vinegar. Weights were put on  the parcels in order to try to maintain an even pressure and contact with the paper. She decided not to steam them (the normal way of obtaining eco prints) I just had to have a go. I was very impressed, with my results. She recommended that they were left to dry naturally, and I left mine in our conservatory, for about 4 days.

Since I separated them they have sat in the glorious sunshine we are enjoying, and the prints have gradually got stronger. One can only presume that the salt is a factor in this process.

Two weeks ago, when suddenly everything in my diary had been wiped out within about three days, I began to feel rather “directionless!” I knew I needed an injection of fresh energy and a more structured week than what seemed to be looming ahead. So I decided to become a “student” again and booked onto a Distance Learning Design and Machine Embroidery Course with Anne Griffiths.

Anne Griffths, Contemporary Textile Art :

Anne and I were colleagues when we both taught in further education  in Cheltenham, and have remained very good friends ever since.

It has done the job!! I am feeling a different person. Now I have a structure to my days and weeks. Strangely it has also given me fresh incentive within everything else I suddenly have space and time to do! I am enjoying more experimenting with cooking/baking. My husband and I have put some structured time table in for small bouts of gardening regularly in the week, as well. I have a sudden urge to spring clean, and we are even decorating as well. After all we are not going to have visitors or even drop in callers, so what does it matter if some of our space is totally upside down for several days!

I am also enjoying the space and quiet and calm as we have our daily walks around the harbour.

I had my preparatory chat with Anne, when I rang to discuss it all. It is not easy teaching another tutor, albeit one who’s discipline is different, so I do understand her apprehension.

It is reciprocal! What will be expected of me! I am rusty now, very rusty, which is why I decided to learn new skills during this period of forced containment..

I assured her that I wanted to be treated exactly as any other student. to be given advice; sorted out when I “just don’t get it!” I know absolutely nothing about machine embroidery! Yes…I clearly know how to drop the feed dog on my machine, and free machine stitch, but I would say that is the limit that I have ever needed to do. This is marketed as a one year Course with 6 Units.

So I was sent the Introductory Unit, and Unit 1. I must say, they are very well written; clear, concise, with plenty of suggestions and advice, and photos of some work, along the way. Lastly it is very easy to follow. A brilliant start! She recommended that I let her know how long I would like to working on the first Unit, and I decided on one month. With everything else I am packing into a day, I felt that was about right.

This first Unit is divided into three sections with two or three exercises in each section.

It is the “old” one year C&G Course, which was one of the courses she taught in College, and therefore also covers the design element on which samples etc may be based. She has no affiliation with C&G now, so she is unable to offer the certificate…….that does not change the course! It is suggested at this stage we just work in neutral colours; whites and  blacks and see what else develops.

I have been working through some mark making exercises…. preparing a selection of marks on different papers using different mediums. Then doing similar ones on a range of fabrics. Anne gives a suggested list of mark making implements, as well as different media to use.

Below are two photographs of mine; the first are marks made on paper, and in the second photo I have been making marks on fabrics.

Anne give lots of ideas, to get you going, and as I have always said in the past; “it’s the doing, which brings more ideas into your head. Ideas don’t just leap in, especially when you are a novice, but while you are experimenting you gradually begin to think; “I wonder what would happen if I did “so and so”…..the answer is, just try it.

Anne says “nothing is wrong”. What you work through are your own personal ideas. If one student interprets the text in one way, and another interprets it in a completely different way, that is absolutely fine too. It is the individual student’s own way of working that produces innovative and fresh ideas, as well as developing her own style.

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I am enjoying myself! I have almost finished the first of the 3 sections, in Unit 1, and have started the second, and have got on well with that. I wanted to give myself time to reflect on what I have done so far, so beginning the next section has been a nice break and change.

The last section is all about stitching! Can’t wait to get on with that!

I have a great structure to my days and weeks ahead now, and something interesting,  and challenging to get my teeth into. I shall have a completely new set of skills at the end. What could be better!

Stay safe, and try to make the most of every day. Very best wishes to you all for remaining virus- free or for the strength to fight the virus, if it does affect you.

Happy stitching, until next time.



4 thoughts on “March Stitching News 2020 (3)

  1. Hi Di, lovely to know you are joining Anne’s ‘Distance Learning’. I learnt such a lot from Anne and yourself when we were at Blundsdon. During this unfortunate time, our patchwork club have set up a group Whatsapp to keep us in touch with each other and show our work. With all this time on our hands, we are producing quite a few finished pieces. Stay safe Di.
    Best Wishes


    1. Hello Glenys, How lovely to hear from you. I am using WhatsApp such a lot these days. We video calls with our sons, one of whom is overseas in the USA and its magical to see them all. So many groups can keep connected now! are now having group conversations. Thank goodness for technology which is helping us all stay together.
      Stay safe yourself Glenys. xx


  2. Hello Dia lovely newsletter as always. I do so admire your enthusiasm for new ideas and methods and the course with Anne will be great fun. Good for you!Lots of love and please both stay safeLindsay xx


    1. Hello Lindsay, How lovely to hear from you. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, kind message. Isn’t this a terribly serious situation. Who could ever have even imagined it! We must all look after ourselves and keep in touch with friends and families the best way we can. Do take care, yourselves, and ,as you say, stay safe. Di xxx


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