Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Fashion & Embroidery Show 2018

The Fashion & Embroidery Show was held last month at the NEC, Birmingham.  I go every year and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of skill and talent out there that can produce these wondrous textile treasures. Enjoy........ 

 I am a huge fan of Laurel & Hardy so I couldn't resist this one.

3D embroideries on water soluble fabrics by the very talented Claire Muir 

A felting workshop in progress with a very majestic looking Aslan-like Lion supervising the proceedings with his friend the Lamb. 

The Embroiderers' Guild stand was very busy with drop-in workshops and two great exhibitions

The Junior Embroiderers section of the Guild (JETs) is devoted to encouraging and supporting young people who want to take up embroidery and textiles, from those just making their first stitches to students wanting to base their careers on this area of art and design.  This very talented piece was by Jessica in the 9-12 age group from Leamington Spa Embroiderers Guild JETs

The Ruby Squares Exhibition from Solihull Embroiderers was in pride of place this year as they are celebrating 40 years since the group was established.   A little bit of self interest here - this is my square...

The other exhibition on display was called Page 17 - Imagination, Interpretaion, Inspiration a specially created exhibition of textile artistry where each piece takes a book as its inspiration. As an embroiderer and book lover I was blown away by some of the exhibits....

Who didn't have a Ladybird book when they were little? 

Or an Observer Book?  I remember having the Observer Books of Wild Flowers and British Birds. I wished I had kept them now.  This is by talented wildlife textile artist Anne Kelly.

Janet Payne's inspiration was a book on photography - London, A Celebration in Photographs

Amanda Wright's inspiration was The Poetry of Birds by Simon Armitage 

Loved this one from The Monster Family Knitting Book

Dog Training the Mugford Way

Marilyn from Extraordinary Chickens 

I forgot to note down the title and artist of this magnificent artwork.  Maybe a book on fairytales.  I still have my treasured 1966 copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales given to me by my mum and dad and have now passed on to my daughter. I could never resist a fairy tale, one of my favourites being Hans Christian Anderson's The Princess & the Pea.  This always springs to mind whenever I am at Ikea and running the gamut of the various thicknesses of mattresses, mattress protectors and mattress toppers that you get these days.

But who can resist a little bit of Jane Austen!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Little Top for Summer

Feeling really chuffed with myself about a little top I made recently. For a while now I have wanted to get back into sewing my own clothes because every time I go to the shops to buy or look at clothes I can never see what I want or they are way too expensive.  Don't even get me started on the sad demise of M&S and is it me but I think that shop has seriously lost the plot on fashion!  Frumpy or what?!!!! So I looked through my stash of fabrics and found this lovely pink paisley pattern cotton lawn I had bought at one of the big sewing shows at the NEC a couple of years ago.  

The pattern I used was from Lauren Guthrie from Great British Sewing Bee. Why the BBC cancelled that programme I have no idea?!! I think it was more political than to do with viewing figures. They were running scared after Bake Off was poached by Channel 4 and didn't want egg on their face again, never mind that sewing and crafty pastimes are just as popular as cooking and look how many cookery programmes there are!  Lauren has a fabulous book out called Learn to Sew with Lauren and the pattern is actually the yoke top she is wearing on the front cover. My mum would have called this a sleeveless blouse but I think the word blouse always sounds rather an old-fashioned term to me -  a bit like frock and indeed my mum would always refer to dresses as frocks.     

I haven't done any dressmaking for years but I found the whole process very therapeutic and even though it took me a while to get back into the swing of bias binding, French seams, inter-facing etc. it all came back to me the way my mum had taught me when I was a teenager. 

I used odd buttons from my button jar


Lauren's pattern and instructions were very easy to follow and I will certainly make a couple more for summer from my stash, and even if I do say so myself I think the quality is better than some shop bought clothes (buttons that come off after one wear - Toast!!  Fraying hems M&S!!) and unique to boot!  Happy sewing!!!

Monday, 19 March 2018

A Cosy Hygge Day

With so much snow around lately there is nothing like a spot of Hygge to give yourself a warm glow inside.  Hygge is the Danish state of living well, that is to say "the art of cosiness of the soul and taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things." I recently picked up a bargain copy of the bestselling book "The Little Book of Hygge" by Meik Wiking who is CEO of the cosily and wonderfully titled Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. Denmark has been named one of the happiest nations in the world and it is because of their hygge approach to life and well-being that helps them survive winter.

Denmark has more that its fair share of snow and lack of daylight hours but because Danes spend most of their time indoors from November to March they make the most of it and hygge at home by for example wrapping themselves up in cosy blankets in front of the fire and lighting candles every day that bring a warm glow not only to their living rooms but classrooms and offices too. Denmark burns more candles per head than anywhere in Europe, around six kilos of candle wax per person each year. That is a hell of a lot of wax but  I do agree that candles add cosiness to a room and I love to light candles once it has gone dark, outside too in the summer.  

Us Brits of course by tradition moan about the cold, dark, damp weather but for lots of people the winter months can be a really down and depressing time of year.  But if all this sounds a bit too twee then maybe we should just try a spot of hygge ourselves and start enjoying the winter months a bit more instead of dreading it and wishing the months away until the first daffodils burst forth. From a personal point of view I don't mind winter at all, in fact I get the the whole hygge thing because I love sitting in front of a log fire, knitting or sewing, wrapped in a blanket, sipping hot chocolate or a glass of cheeky little red.

Yesterday for me was very much a hygge day as we had a good fall of snow again so I sat on my bean bag in front of the fire and got my knitting out.  I have been knitting a pair of woollen socks for quite a few months now or at least attempting to knit as I have never knitted a pair of socks before and even with all my knitting experience turning the heel was somewhat of a battle but now well onto the second sock. I have to admit though that a weekend hygge day is better than a working hygge day as it's no joke when you have to battle the inadequacies of public transport just to get to work and I can't help but think that the Danish transport system probably copes a lot better with the snow than here in the UK.  

The Danes have a popular hygge saying which goes "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing" and I can't help but agree as I could really have done with these cosy woolly socks a few months ago not now that spring is almost sprung.