Progress but slow

In the UK when you buy a house, it’s all very exciting at first but then there are weeks and weeks where nothing happens. The buyer’s and seller’s solicitors are all busy doing land searches, drawing up contracts, and asking each other questions. In the meantime you can’t do anything because there aren’t any dates for exchanging contracts or actually moving. Until contracts are exchanged, the buyer or seller can change their minds and withdraw at any point. It’s quite stressful even before you start packing.

So, for now, it’s a question of being stoical, trying to keep calm, and carrying on.

This doesn’t look any different, despite hours of work. Another case of art reflecting life.

hedges in progress

It is actually quite calming.

hedges and boundaries

I made a repeat pattern based on the fields and sampled it on a little zipper pouch from my RedBubble shop:

zipper pouch

As a result of seeing it in real life I tweaked that weird wedge-shaped field/hedge and re-uploaded, so the current design looks slightly different. Better, I think.

fields design – lots of choice

Maybe next week there might be some news…


Another month; 31 daily leaves taking us to the beginning of winter.

October complete

I really enjoyed this one. My template just has plain leaf shapes but you can adjust and adapt the outlines as much as you want to. I made some of my shapes into oak leaves, for instance, and I added saw-tooth edges to some of the others.

early October

Mostly the stitches are very simple – running stitch, whipped running stitch, couched yarns, seed stitch, straight stitch. They can look really effective in hand-dyed thread, where the colours change subtly or unpredictably. There is nothing very difficult here. If you want to begin this practice yourself, you might find my online course helpful.

late October

There are just two pages left in my cloth book of the year, which seems unbelievable. Pages are each about 9″ x 12″ or thereabouts – September and October in their double page spread (or 61 days of my life):

September hagstones and October leaves

Between stitches I’ve been playing with Procreate again, taking the tumbling leaves vibe into digital form with some Procreate watercolour brushes. Surprisingly satisfying, though nowhere near as messy as the real thing:

digital watercolour leaves

This design is now in my Red Bubble shop and can be printed on all kinds of things.


I don’t enjoy the whole self-promotion side, by the way, but the Marketing Manager post is still vacant and generally you have to do these things yourself.

Next month, boxes:

November tomorrow

I find it amazing how these things turn out sometimes. When I designed these templates ten months ago, moving house was absolutely not on our radar. And yet here we are: boxes ready to be stitched, and if all goes well there could be real-life boxes ready to pack. Art mirroring life, or the other way round?


I hope no one’s bored with book covers yet. I’m making a cover for a 12” square sketchbook – though I expect it will be more of a notebook, really, with drawings. Somewhere I can jot down ideas and designs for Red Bubble.

Book cover in progress

I’ve always enjoyed seeing red and turquoise together. It started me thinking about the concept of clashing colours, and I’m not sure that I agree there is such a thing. In my experience, you can generally put any two or three colours together and they will sit side by side fairly happily. Red seems to go with pretty much anything; so does purple. I think there is the potential for a problem when you put too many different colours together, but even then you can generally tone them down by adding some black and white.

Front cover, about 12” square

The main problem I’m having is trying to get an accurate photograph. If the red is right, the turquoise is wrong, and vice versa. Suffice to say the colours are richer and deeper in real life.

Moon flowers

The design initially started with the red circle, which is a piece of shot silk from an old sari layered over a circle of felt. I was going for a fairly obvious red bubble, but then the little flowers popped up and it’s turned into a kind of moon flower arrangement. These things happen. I find the thing that grows organically in its own way is usually better than the thing I was aiming for. You just have to trust the process sometimes. The turquoise background is pieced together using strips from the edge of a hand-dyed vintage tablecloth. You can see the creases, which formed the edge of the cloth where the fabric had been doubled. They won’t iron out, and in any case I quite like these scars from a previous life.

And then I found a piece of really ugly fabric. I don’t often have dye disasters, but this poor thing was definitely one of them. Usually you can rescue a disaster by over-dyeing it, but I think this one has been over-dyed a few times and never looks any better.

A dye disaster

But actually it looks ok here. It looks as if it has found its place in the world. Maybe ugliness is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty. Maybe there is even no such thing as ugly. Beauty is, after all, one of many problematic cultural concepts that just excludes the non-conforming. It’s not exactly a match made in heaven, but then most of us can rub along ok with most people most of the time. Perfection is virtually unattainable. I will settle for OK on this occasion.

The back almost made itself. I already had the patchwork circle, pieced a while ago when I was gathering together some scraps of red print. These are mostly shiny/glitzy silk and satin, fabrics I wouldn’t ordinarily use much. But put them together, cheek by jowl, and they seem very happy.

Patchwork circle, paper-pieced, about 9” diameter

I often think auditioning fabrics to see which of them looks good together is a bit like sending them on a blind date. Sometimes they instantly find true love, and sometimes they never want to see each other again and end up back in the drawer. Eventually there will be something for all of them, even if that turns out to be solitude. Some fabrics don’t need others; they do just fine on their own. Some need company. Sometimes which of them ends up together is more luck than judgement.

Red and gold glitz

Digital files

There has not been much textiles work here apart from the stitch journal, which is keeping me sane and centred.

Stitch journal with templates in progress

I am spinning a few plates at the moment, two of which are intangible. I’m continuing to find my way round Procreate, the digital drawing app, and am really getting to like it.

Design for my RedBubble shop, inspired by a 1938 Paul Klee painting ‘Dancing from Fright’

This design takes figures from Paul Klee’s painting ’Dancing from Fright’, which I think is an intriguing title in itself. And slightly funny, though of course there’s nothing funny about being frightened. I like to think these little dancing figures are happy rather than afraid.

I’m also impressed by RedBubble itself – they have photos of what your design will look like on various products. I like this one:

Notebook in my RedBubble shop

I’ve now had my first sales, which is encouraging. Slowly but steadily I’m trying to get myself to the point where I can spend more time focusing on my creative work. Ideally I want to get to a point where I no longer need the day job.

The other intangible product of the week is a PDF file, which can be purchased from my online shop. It contains the monthly templates for my stitch journal, plus some notes about how you can use some very simple stitches to create interesting effects. Special introductory price until 31st July, after which the price will be increased.

PDF available from my online shop, page link in the menu bar

I’ve really enjoyed creating the PDF, and I hope it will encourage others to start something similar. Daily stitching by hand can be mindful and restorative, and allows for time to be still and quiet. And I think we all need a bit of that.

A red bubble

Apart from splashing a bit of paint around last week while on annual leave, I’ve also made a start on setting up a shop on RedBubble. It’s a print-on-demand site where you upload your work, then people can purchase it in various forms (stickers, T shirts, phone cases, etc), and you get 10-20% of the sale price.

New shop on Red Bubble

It’s still very much a work in progress, and I will be adding to it/tweaking it over the next few weeks and months. Just dipping a toe in the water to see how it goes. It may work and it may not, but you never know unless you try these things.

I’m also teaching myself to use Procreate, a digital drawing app. It is fun and frustrating, as well as surprisingly absorbing. I have probably had too much screen time and not enough stitching time recently, but it will balance itself out eventually. New things always take longer than you expect.

My shop banner is very simple but I quite like it.

Simple banner made in Procreate using a photo of a silk embroidered moon

Most of all this past week I have enjoyed the freedom of not having to go out to work, and the luxury of time to do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Time is one of the most precious things we have and last week it was all mine.

Quick watercolour sketch
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