Sixth Time Lucky


Finally I made it to the Sixth Contemporary Textiles Fair at Teddington, just down the road from me. I told the family that I would be away from the house for “about 2 hours”. When I realised that I had been in the place for almost one hour and only seen 3 stalls/booths I realised that I would have to get my skates on. Names that you may be familiar with are: Alison Ellen (knitting) Jenni Stuart-Anderson (rag rugs) and Lizzie Houghton (felt).

The lovely woman picture above is Maggie Martelli who does not have her own website and couldn’t see the benfits of haviing one. I asked if I could photograph her work for my blog and so here is the result. This was her biggest piece and in wonderful earthy colours. The work is a cross between chenille (she has at least four layers of fabric in the hanging and the top and subsequent layers are slashed), quilting, embroidery and sculpture. The springy spirals were formed on her dibber so she obviously has real earthy connections, not just her colour scheme. Her design was inspired by the bark of a tree with her springy spirals representing the knot-holes on the trunk. Viewers of her hanging have told her that they see the ripple marks left on the sand by the retreating tide and her springy spirals, the worm casts left behind.

She takes commissions, especially for bags and decorated boxes. I can’t give you the URL of her website because, as I told you,  she doesn’t have one. Pity.


“I’m ready for my closeup now”

THE ABNER – A Day For Light Refreshments starring my daughter

You can see my little darling underneath the words “filmed in glorious Abernarama”.

School Colours


Over on Harriet Devine’s blog I was reminded, by the colour of her grandson’s jacket, that it often takes quite a while till we can bring ourselves to wear anything the colour of our old school uniform. The colours of mine were maroon and yellow.

Here you can see Class 2x, with form teacher, Miss Cooper (alias Kiss Mooper) in the summer of 1970. The uniform was in the transitionary stages from belted, gatherered, solid yellow dresses to shapeless sacks with a pattern of fine white grid lines on yellow. I can also see the two allowed styles of regulation indoor shoes, for of course no young lady would dare to wear her outdoors, indoors. Rumour had it that two 4th years had been hung, drawn and quartered for such an offence in 1962 during the height of the rule of the tyrant “BX”.

I am horrified to note that several members of the form appear to be flouting the “no more than 3 inches above the knee” rule. Kiss Mooper’s hemline seems dangerously high as well. It is no wonder that by 1972 one or two of the staff began to wear trouser suits.

Can you spot me amongst this motley rabble? In the photo are future:

Doctors x 3, Vet x 1, Fashion Editor of Vogue, Other Journalists x 2, Archeologist, Professional Musician, teacher x 2, Nurse turned Homeopath, Nurse, Local Govt Official, Tax Inspector, me and the rest unknowns.

Have you found me yet and is it sad or wonderful that I can tell you the name of every single girl in the photo, without the slightest hesitation?

Moon shots



Sometimes, don’t you just wish you could take a decent photo?

Bet you didn’t know that I was actually a published photographer, did you? Not a lot of people can lay claim to having one of their photos published in an edition of DHL NEWS. In case you are interested it was issue No.7 and it was a picture of Pulteney Bridge, Bath. My detail, of a wall in Kent, was published, just bigger than a postage stamp, in a summer issue of Country Living Magazine. Finally one of mine was savagely cropped till it was so slim it was anorexic, flipped and then used on the front page of that posh estate agents FPD Savills. Please don’t try to push to the front of the autograph queue, I will make sure everyone gets one.

Wooly spiders


Despite good intentions I haven’t made anything recently or even played with anything. Th elast few days seems to have been filled with drainage and electrical emergencies. After phoning the Thames Water emergency line and reporting tha at the very least we and the next two houses in the road had nowhere for our effluent to flow to it was more than 24 hours before the combi-unit arrived down the road to sort the problem. It’s not the fault of the combi team, it’s just that they cover an area roughly from Gatwick to Reading. Go on get your maps out and SEE how big an area that is!!

On Sunday it was the turn  of the electrics. I was in the kitchen listening to the Archers omnibus with the washing machine doing its thing when suddenly, no more Archers. I got up to push the plug solidly home because sometimes it works its way out of the socket when someone moves the ironing board, when I realised that the washing machine was dead as well. A quick dive under the stairs revealed that that of the circuit breakers had popped so I grabbed my leccy bill and phoned the emergency line to check if there was a power cut.  A young man called David made me stick myhead under the stairs again and tell him the exact posoition of all our leccy bits, up, down etc. His expert diagnosis was that it was just us and to call back in half an hour if we still had no power. Ten minuted later when I phoned again, because he decided not to dspatch an engineer, I couldn’t get through for a few minutes. When I did, guess what? There was an underground fault with over 300 houses without leccy. In other words just what I had told David. No power. I can’t have been the only person listening to the Archers, can I?

Back to crafty things. I thought I ‘d share something I made earlier. You may recognise the brown piece on the left. It is my first piece of weaving on my rigid heddle loom. It was the one that got away. I made the mistake of using some of my own handpun yarn for the warp.  This was before I found out that warps should be tighter spun to give them strength. Ping, pind, several warp threads gave way and so I removed the whole sorry mess from the loom. And so I discoverd a new way of starting a piece of freeform crochet.


1.Cut at least 12, maybe 20 pieces of yarn, each at least one metre long (they should all be the same length).

2. Holding them all together, tie and a knot roughly in the middle with all the threads together. You now have a bunch of thread with a large knot in the middle.

3. Stick your crochet hook into the knot so that it goes under two or three threads. Holding only one of the threads start doing chain stitches. carry on till you have used almost all the thread then pull the thread through th elast chain to finish it off.

4. Now go back to the knot  and using the next thread crochet dc (double crochet or in the US sc, single crochet) into the previous row.

Does that make sense? You can see it best in the purple version. The rows begin to dradiate out from the big fat knot. You can crochet into the front or back loop of teh previous row, depending on whether you want a ridge or not. And of course, remember the first rule of FREEFORM CROCHET – there are no rules. So just do your own thing! How you carry on from there is up to you. You could pick up some of the “outside stitches” of your wooly spider/butterfly/flower with dpns (double pointed needles) and add some freeform knitting to your piece.

Have fun.

Legs uncrossed…finally

I thought all that rain was “a good thing”. It would all help to water our gardens and keep the reservoir levels up.

Unfortunately those sudden extremely heavy downpours two days ago meant that, in the technical terms I have recently acquired, the mains are up as well.

I was beginning to think that I should head over to SURVIVAL BOX and order a few foldable loos.




Seriously. The tell-tale slow disappearance of fluid down our cloakroom (don’t you love that word) loo caused me to gather up my torch with its obligatory on-its-way out battery and head to the end of the drive to gaze down the storm water drain. Ah ha, if I can see water about half a metre from the top then you can bet that the drains running down the middle of our road are actually not running anywhere. So I called dearly beloved Thames Water and so began the saga of the crossed legs. I love these incidents to be logged so I went next door and asked my neighbours to call TW as well. He can’t resist a look down a manhole so he had a look down the one in his garden – all clear, then the one in our drive . Suffice to say that was not all clear.

I could do my grumpy old woman act on this subject for hours on end but for the sake of my reader I will cut a long story short and just say that it took them just over 24 hours from the original call for TW to give us the luxury of having somewhere for our stuff to go after we had gone!!


Just don’t get me started on how many flats a developer wants to build on the land he will have when he knocks down a perfectly decent early 1920s verandah-wrapped bungalow.



Switched Allegiance

ladies paradise

Rather dismal photos but put up t illustrate that I have put Zola’s “Ladies Paradise”  aside at page 266 because of the arrival of “Women and Craft” by Gillian Elinor et al. This book was put together in the 1980s and contains interviews with women about their memories of where and how they learnt ordinary craft skills and what they are doing with them now. The bookis driven by a feminist agenda but is not overtly aggressive. Rather it is a celebration of the continuation of women’s ability to make the most of what they have. Although it dips slightly into feminist theory the book is a light read for those with an interest in the practice of useful art and the place it has in providing an outlet for the drudgeries of life.

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