Category Archives: books

Scrap Happy: Textile Book Cover

Joining Kate and her band of Happy Scrappers

This is going to be a bookcover.

The black and white ticking is from some old kitchen curtains circa 1989.

I am using some bits of rust dyed fabric that weren’t beautifully rust-marked, and other bits and pieces. I have yet to weave in a lot more scrappiness.

The book cover method is one being taught in a online course I am following called ‘The Magpie’s Nest’, on Jean Oliver’s ‘Creativity is Calling’ website.

I discovered this site via Instagram, during lockdown, and have followed a couple of courses. Every so often there are special offers and that is how I came to sign up for The Magpies Nest, which is my favourite so far.

You can see lots of examples from this course on Instagram #themagpiesnestworkshop


Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show 2021

Phew! Now all that Christmas malarkey is done and dusted, I can tell you more about my fabulous trip to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show 2021.

The photo above is of Helen Birmingham’s Stitchbook Collective gallery Stand. I was honoured and delighted to have been a volunteer helper on the Stand.

The Kimono you can see was being raffled in aid of MIND, a mental health charity and raised over £2,000. The stands to the right of the kimono hold our Stitchbooks there were nearly 100 on display.

We, the members of the inaugural Stitchbook Collective, had started our textile books in 2019, little knowing how important they were to become to us during 2020. You can see details and a video of my book here.

As we neared the end of making our Stitchbooks, I put a message on our Facebook Page asking if there was anyone who would like to work collaboratively on more slow stitching pieces of textile art and 42 members of the Collective said yes! We are a closed group now.

Our aim is to make pieces of textile art to sell or raffle in aid of MIND and other local mental health charities. Our group is called Stitched Together

and Helen very generously invited us to have a table of our work on the stand.

I was there to chat to people about the Stitchbook Collective in general and how our group works in case anyone else was interested in setting up their own group.

That’s me in the face visor and the black T-shirt.

The Stand was very popular and very inspiring to a lot of people.

One of the absolute joys of the day was talking to students about the stitches and techniques. One school have especially asked GCSE students to visit the stand.

and these two girls spent a long time looking at the Stitched Together books and the rest of the stand.

It was such a wonderful event to be part of.

More to come in another post.


The Stitchbook – Ta Dah!

I signed up for this project in May 2019

150 of us joined Helen Birmingham’s STITCHBOOK COLLECTIVE and the journey began.

Who knew when we got our first box of goodies in September 2019 how important this project was going to be for keeping us busy, creative and connected.

Each month for 12 months we recieved a kit through our letter box, and even though we had paid for it, many of us felt like it was a present arriving through the ether to cheer us up – happy post!

We chatted via our Facebook group, encouraging and inspiring one another

We were initially working towards exhibiting the books at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show. This was cancelled, but we kept on stitching – the cancellation gave some of us the much needed time to finish the project.

I get very excited at the beginning of a project. I loved the feeling as inspiration flooded in with each new box – but then I go off at a tangent and make a multitude of my own experiments and lose focus.

I am so good at NOT finishing things – anyone else out there like me?

I wonder if I ever would have pushed myself to complete it if it hadn’t been for Helen’s flexibility and gentle encouragement to get me over the finish line.

The covers done and the book bound together with bead spacers – it sat there – it did not feel finished – bizarrely, it did not feel mine.

It was a huge effort for me to focus on the covers, make them to Helen’s specific instructions and get the book exhibition-ready. The front cover has tabs on it so that it can be displayed for exhibition. The effort to get the covers made took away some of the joy, so it had to sit in a corner for a while.

Seeing other finished books online and a few text messages with Cathy (thank you Cathy!) gave me the kick of enthusiasm I needed – out came the beads, the stamps and the paint brush

and here it is – Exhibition-ready!

AND £3,344.00 has been raised by Helen and the purchasers of her kits for the mental health charity, MIND. 

Feel good project all round.

You can see other posts about this book by typing Stitchbook into the SEARCH box and here is a video of the finished book.

A HUGE thank you to Helen Birmingham for this project and to the other members of THE STITCHBOOK COLLECTIVE community.

Yarn Along: Mosaic Crochet

Daisyknots Mosaic Crochet, Santa Cruz, on Ravelry

I am having a go at Mosaic crochet for the first time.

The pattern calls for Aran weight yarn, but I have so much SSDK in my stash, I am using that in 5 colours of Stylecraft Special DK and a 4.5mm hook.

The colours are Parchment, Cypress, Lincoln, Copper and Silver. This will be for my nephew (aged 30).

The pattern is Santa Cruz by Moira Douglas of Daisyknots, on Ravelry

I am left-handed and at first I thought I had to flip the charts over to follow them, but no, they work if read from left to right.

It is easier to create these patterns than I expected it to be. Moira’s You Tube videos were a great help to get me started.

My top tip is not to cut the yarn at the end of each row until you have completed the next row, because it is easy to make mistakes in the placement of each stitch. Put the yarn on a stitch holder until you have finished the next row.

Warning: this is addictive, it is hard to put down as you just want to see how the pattern works out.

Which makes it hard to read a book right now, but I have been lent this book and it comes highly recommended. Have you read it?

Delia Owens and mosaic crochet, yarn along

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Textile Book

My eldest Granddaughter, Miss E has just had a birthday, and I was thrilled to be able to give her this book – I have been making it for ages.

The fabric I have used for the cover is from 1946. My mother-in-law used that fabric to make a cot mattress cover for her baby son (my husband). When my first son was born she gave me the fabric. It felt so precious I never found the courage to cut into it to make anything with it … until now.

Where the desire to make books comes from, I don’t know, I have been on several courses and started quite a few books, but this is the only one I have finished to date.

This book was started during a wonderful few days one-to-one with Frances Pickering in Spring 2016;

then a day’s one-to-one workshop with Kim Edith. in Southampton in 2018. I can highly recommend both workshops. I learnt many things I have yet to put into practice;

and now I am making a Stitchbook with Helen Birmingham,  also highly recommended.

I am not quite sure what it’s all about, but if I discover why, I’ll let you know.

Miss E has been watching this book take shape and she beamed with delight when I gave it to her – I asked her if it was ok for me to share the video and she gave her permission.

I hope you enjoy it .



A line of dialogue in the television series ‘Shetland’ by Ann Cleeves, 

Hairy Fairy

knitted fairy

In Nanacathy’s Knit and Natter on Friday she told us about a book that had grabbed her attention ‘Knitted Fairies’ by Fiona McDonald – I have this book and have made a Hairy Fairy. Cathy said she would like to see her – so here she is.

I made just one Fairy – but I was not pleased with the floppy limbs – they need pipe cleaners in themhairy fairy

and I couldn’t get the face to work

sad fairy

she looks a little sad, or bored, or fed up!

She probably needs a friend.

I haven’t tried any of the great characters from the other book yet,  but one of the jackets inspired my Fairy Jacket patternfairy pattern for sale

which you can find in my Etsy shop

Have you made any fairies, wizards or pirates? If so, I’d love to see them – it might spur me on to give my Hairy Fairy a playmate.




deep thinking

even at six years

darkness lurked


Ronovan has given us DARKNESS and DEEP this week in his weekly Haiku Challenge.

Mixing that with our Photo Prompt – FICTION.


My childhood was not always a happy place to be. There is a hint of that in my expression in the photo of me at about 6 years old, that little frown. The photo is in its original 1950s frame.

My Grandad and step-grandmother, Dabbity, provided me with a haven of books, cooking, gardening and needlework, I was always supremely happy when I was with them.

I learnt to read early and loved reading fiction as an escape. Perhaps that is why I hardly ever read fiction nowadays – no need to escape.

These are three favourite books of my childhood: Swiss Family Robinson, Monty Woodpig’s Caravan and Miss Richard’s Mouse

The illustrations in Miss Richard’s Mouse are a bit deep and dark and I remember feeling a bit scared of this book






Please leave your link to your work of FICTION in the comments, we’d love to see them.




Photo Challenge Prompt: MUSIC

Ronovan’s Haiku Prompts: BELLS and RING

I know many of you will be getting festive, but I am retreating into my own little world of creative solitude – bliss!!!!!

Haikus don’t seem to be flowing at the moment, maybe I’ll add one later if inspiration strikes.

The photo above is of a textile book I am putting together as a Baby Book, i thought Rock-a-Bye Baby would be good as the centre page.

I’m making pocket to tuck little records indsc_0010-1

and photo frames and a pen holder inside the front cover


Sending you all a pocket of peace.



16 for 2016 August and September

Here are the targets I have set myself for 2016, inspired by Cathy. Pop over and see how well she’s doing.

16 WALKS (of more than an hour)

10 done, 6 to go.


  1. In August a walk along the beach to Cogden and then back to Burton Bradstock, including a Beach Clean of course.

2. In September an hour long walk on Newgale beach, Pembrokeshire.


11 done, 4 to go


7 done, 7 to go


11 done, 2 to go.


6 done, 6 to go.

I missed August and a September would just show you how the weeds have grown since my back was turned – it’s a jungle out there!




6 done, 4 to go


3 started, 6 to go

None this month. This feels more like a wet weather project.


3 done, 5 to go.

7 PAINTINGS (or other pieces of art)

3 done, 4 to go

Both are 8″x8″

And this one, which I entered in our local County Show. I will write a post about the show when time allows. But here is a quick update: We did not get any prizes for the painting, but I did get a first in ‘An Item of Crochet’ for one of my wigs and a couple of Highly Commended in other classes

DSC_0001 (1)-1

6 BUS RIDES (using my bus pass)

2 done, 4 to go

None this month


4 done, 1 to go

No new ones this month. So far I have tried Pilates, Belly Dancing, a Dance Class, a Zumba-like class.




1 done, 2 to go


One done, one to go

Not quite what I had envisaged at the beginning of the year, life sometimes has other plans. It seems unlikely now that I will be making a trip this year, although I have not completely let go of the idea.

I’m never sure about giving money into a general pot but I was so moved by hearing of the work of Liz Clegg in the Calais Jungle on Woman’s Hour that I donated some money directly to her work of providing a women and children’s centre.

And I still have some ‘Squares for Blankets‘ on the go.



Hurray! ‘Enchanted August’ by Brenda Bowen got me there.

A gentle read. A fanciful tale of a group of people spending a month on an island in Maine, US. Not great literature, it didn’t tell me much about Maine and a bit clunky in places but it suited me fine. I enjoyed it.

And I’ve nearly finished a second book which I ordered from the library: ‘The President’s Hat’. Another pleasant read.



Thank you Cathy for this idea, although things have slipped over the last couple of months, it is still good to look over the things that have been achieved.

Yarn Along on the beach


Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along, where she invites us to share a yarny project and a book we are reading.

At last I am reading a novel! This is one of my 16 for 16 challenges, I am on page 133 and am still with it – I’m relieved!

I used to love reading, but nowadays I spend so much time reading and writing blogs that I think that might be one of the reasons I haven’t read a novel for ages. The other reason is that the story has to be cheerful, interesting with very little jeopardy, but not too trashy – definitely nothing to do with war, death or violence – that cuts out a great many.

So far so good with ‘Enchanted August‘ by Brenda Bowen.

I was attracted to it because it is about Maine where Melissa of The Aran Artisan comes from. I’m not sure how much I will learn about Maine, but I’m fascinated with all the very English place names, Dorset being mentioned a lot.

As you can see in the photo above, I was taking a break from Beach Cleaning on Monday morning, (more photos here) by reading and knitting a wig. You can see more wigs, and patterns for them, in my Etsy shop

The wig will look something like this when it is finishedDSCF8973

Cards, Kits and Abstract Designs

I am still loving playing around with colouring the paper using Frances Pickering’s method, which can be found in her book ‘Under the Cover’.

DSC_1015 (1)


and thought these might make a cheeky entry into the Daily Post ‘Abstract’ challenge.



I do love the way the colours blend and am wondering about framing some of them.

They are perfect for making birthday cards and this one went to Big Sister (6) to go with her letter ‘A’

She really liked it and asked me lots of questions about how I had made it. She wanted to make a card like it, but as I did not have all the necessary ingredients with me I said I would send her some of the paper and cut-outs to make some cards of her own – here is the little kit I put together for her.

3 folded cards and some bits and pieces to stick on them.


I’m looking forward to seeing what she makes.



Textile Book 2

As mentioned in my 16 for 2016, my goal is to make 9 pieces of textile art. One for each of my grandchildren and one for me.

I went on a wonderful course with Frances Pickering on making textile books and made a start on a book for Miss E.

The next one will be for Big Sister (5). I started by experimenting with dyeing some threads


I wrapped Anchor Stranded Thread around some paper and ran it under the tap to wet it. Then I had fun dabbing on different coloured dyes.


It seemed to work pretty well so I wound a lot more on the next piece of paper.DSC_0989

Next was white DMC embroidery cotton


and then they all went on the fire guard to dry.


Don’t you just love how the colours all merge and blend


A few hours playing with fabric and colour makes for one happy me!


And look at the great marks made on the paper


all good collage material.

Big Sister is about to be a bridesmaid so this piece of fabric is perfect for her book. The thread made a good outline of running stitches.


I wondered about putting the picture on the front cover…..


but that broderie anglaise is so beautiful, something more subtle needs to go with it I think, so the fairy bride will go on the first page of the book.


A few hours of glorious play ……. now the sun is shining so I must get out into the garden.

Creating Pages

Eager to continue making more textile books I stopped off to buy lining wallpaper on the way home from Margate and started making some more paper pages even before I unpacked the car. The creative force was far too strong to resist.


The colours and the random shapes made make my heart sing ….


and following Frances Pickering‘s method the process is quick, simple and serendipitous!paper3

providing a background for adding doodles, text and photographspaper4

and then I had an idea to use strips of torn paper to act as a resist to the dye and add to the patterns


and am excited by the results


the last one thrills me to bits, I’m going to see if I can recreate this effect again today.

Now I’m thinking I can use this colour-washed paper for greetings cards and homemade postcards for the Post Card swap.

Going into mass production!

Textile Art: #1

I had a delightful day today learning how to make textile books with Frances Pickering.

imageSuch fun tearing fabric and sloshing paint to make the pages. This is going to be the first of my 9 pieces of textile art for my 16 for 2016 list.

It feels so good to be using bits and pieces I have had stashed away for years.

imageAll the pages are made, plus a fastening and a dinky bookmark.

Tonight I’m thinking about what to put on the pages


I am LOVING it and already have ideas lining up for the next 8.


Looking forward to tomorrow!

Wabi Sabi

DSC_0051Ok! Before I start – just imagine fireworks actually exploding in glorious technicolour right out of the screen!


That’s how my heart felt when I received this wonderful book in the post from my lovely friend, Linda.  ❤  THANK YOU LINDA!  ❤

It hits so many targets! There are collages as illustrations and a sweet fable of a story about finding beauty in unexpected places. Haiku are sprinkled throughout, with references to classic Haiku Masters at the end. The haiku are also written in Japanese. This book is so utterly beautiful to me.DSC_0057

Set in Kyoto, it is written by Mark Reibstein with art by Ed Young and published by Little Brown and Company.

I am drawn to all things Japanese at the moment – still head-over-heels in love with the place. So this book is a delightful feast and a lovely book to be looking at as I knit a stack of hats.

In February my family is gathering for a weeks holiday together – to have all my children, their partners and their children under one roof is such a treat and something we only manage every other year. I have a picture in my mind of all 8 grandchildren in knitted Aran bobble hats, I want the photograph!

I could not find a suitable pattern so I am creating this one myself. It will be one of the new patterns that will go in my Ravelry and Etsy shops (one out of 4 new patterns for my 16 for 16). It takes several knit-throughs to get the pattern right and ready to sell, and I need to do them in 3 different sizes.

Here is a hat before sewing up the seam, the rib will fold up to give a double thickness to keep little pink ears cosy.


The mock Aran cable does not need a cable needle so that I can knit away quickly and get the 8 finished in time.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Do you know of any other knitting, crochet or yarn meme’s to link in with?

Update: Thanks to Cathy for pointing me in the direction of Frontier Dreams, I’ve linked in.




Bluedaisyz Weekly Photo ChallengePURPLE

Master R has asked for a blanket to be mainly purple and green – a bit of a challenge for me. I have persuaded him to let me add a few more colours.

I have started colouring a page in ‘The Enchanted Forest” in purples to play with colour combos

DSC_0640 colouring bk

Have you seen these books

very relaxing to do on holidayDSC_0641 DSC_0642 DSC_0644 DSC_0645 DSC_0646

Bad Ads

My ‘READ’ post (2.March.2015) was followed up with a conversation with my sister about her advertising days, and going through these 60’s and 70’s ‘Housewife’, ‘She’ and ‘Woman’ magazines we poured over these terrible ads!

DSC_0002 so wrong in so many ways!DSC_0013The magazine above was printed in 1967 – I was 15. It explains so much about my Mum and Dad’s relationship. It is this hideous culture of sexism and LOOK!!! – racism – that we grew up in. DSC_0034

How insulting to a culture that keeps the female form covered and then below an array of some swarthy white men in fancy dress – it is SO extraordinarily BAD!!!!!!DSC_0031 DSC_0032And this is not that long ago!DSC_0015 we are talking 60s and 70s when I was a teenagerDSC_0009 Annabel can’t even be there in her own right – she has to be GEORGE’s sister!!!DSC_0009 - Version 2

Oh I do so hope young women in the West appreciate what my generation fought for. Sadly these attitudes linger on.
DSC_0011 DSC_0012

I laugh at them now, but squirm to think that this is the world I grew up in – we have come a long way – haven’t we????!!!!!! Do the current generation of 30 somethings realise what we have been fighting for?

And don’t get me started on the ‘Mad Men’ series, I can’t watch it. A friend of mine loves it because she worked in that world and says it is so true (my sister says it rings true for her as well) – after watching the first episode I forced myself to watch it the next couple on this recommendation – but no more!


Phew! Rant over!!!


This week’s subject, READ for Bluedaisyz 52 week photo challenge ,has made me think about the power of the written word ……

Crossing space: There is a scene in the film ‘The Mission’ when a native Colombian whispers something to one of the main characters, who writes this down and takes it to another who reads it out. The native is amazed. That scene has stayed with me as a wonderfully simple demonstration of the power of being able to read. (I searched on You Tube for the clip but could not find it – if you have a link to it please let me know).

Crossing time: I went to collect a whole load of 60s and 70s magazines offered on Freecycle. I thought I might find some vintage knitting patterns or good collage material. My sister used to work in advertising in the 70s and 80s, so when she came to stay I left a pile of these ‘vintage’ mags for her to look through.mags She devoured them!!! And was delighted to come across an article written by an friend of hers, Disc Jockey, Paul Burnett – anyone remember him on Radio 1? pb Click this link to see an interview with Paul Burnett in 2009, and then here he is  back in the day. My sister met Paul through her first husband, Golly, who was in the pop music world. They married in, June 1983, and the wedding made the front page of our local paper as so many Radio 1 celebrities were invited down to sleepy old Dorset.. DSC_0271Many of them, including Paul B (second from the left in the Echo photo, next to Peter Powell) stayed in my house over the weekend. Tony Prince (2nd from the right) took my boys for a walk on Weymouth beach. And behind Sue there is DLT and Mike READ, with Kid Jensen on the right and Golly, Sue’s husband, peeping over her shoulder.DSC_0272 Doesn’t she look beautiful!

Sue and I spent a wonderful hour or so chatting over her wedding weekend and going through all the old ‘She’ magazines to find ones with Paul’s column in them. Sue was then able to take them and give them to him – apparently he was delighted! I love the way these magical little synchronisities work out! So… which is my picture for the photo challenge – it will have to be the photo of Paul Burnett’s column above.

And for the haiku (which is not part of the 52 weeks of photos challenge, but Melissa of The Aran Artisan and I are in cahoots about creating a haiku each week to go with the photo – however Melissa takes this challenge even further – she’s amazing! go take a look at how she manages to incorporate yet another challenge in her weekly post ) ……

Crossing time and space                                                                                            Words bring us together, once                                                                                   Again we connect

Time for a little review of this great challenge – each week there is a one word subject for a photo.

The whole 52 weeks are already laid out for us – I love this as I can plan ahead and start thinking about each subject way in advance. I like to have a creative project running as a seam through my everyday stuff, and this is nice and gentle and makes me look at things in new and sometimes surprising ways.

Week 1: New   Week 2: Cold    Week3: Light   Week4: Small    Week 5: White   Week 6: Smooth   Week 7: Blue     Week 8: Create   Week 9: Read

And next week the subject is: ‘Think’  – biggest challenge yet – nothing is springing to mind right now Then Shape and then  Crisp Please do join us, it is more fun than I ever thought!

And you will be very welcome!

And if you are looking for something to READ this book ‘When God was a Rabbit’ comes highly recommended by Sarah at So Here’s The Thing

Links to ‘READ‘ photos from the others: Jamie, Melissa, Erika, Garry


Hey – there’s a lot to READ in this week’s post – hmmm, funny that!!

Team Work

So Miss E told me that she wanted Granny Squares with flowers on them, and there had to be big and small flowers. She wanted a big flower that was pink in the middle with blue petals because they are her favourite colours. I found a pattern on Ravelry ……

pink and blue

She asked me to write the colours she wanted, down on a piece of paper, so that I wouldn’t forget: pink, blue, red and orange and purple.

And – and this is genius – she wanted a pocket on the back of the cushion to put some special things in.

So here is the front of the cushion:


I was careful to check out each step with her – we arranged the squares and before I appliquéd the small flowers on I showed them to her and how it would look. It was a wonderful process to see her consider each decision and for her to have an input at each stage.

We decided on a pretty edging:



from ‘Happy Hooker’ which is brilliant, with easy to follow instructions.

I love that Miss E, is so sure of herself and her ideas and it is a real privilege to be able to bring them to life for her……

Next post … the pocket!

(ps. a previous collaborative project was inspired by iHanna’s post card swap)