Still writing the wolds-


Bit of a mad week  working on other things so this only happened on Sunday.  I was invited to have some work on display in the Merchant Taylors Hall in York for the Residents’ Festival – when locals get to play tourists around our own city .  They were happy for me to bring a machine and work in progress and be actively stitching as well as engaging with the visitors.  Great idea, shame I forgot my glasses ( needle threading courtesy of the neighbouring florist), but it was good fun, lots of chat, really well looked after and the work made a bit of a leap forward as well.  Still got lots to do but it is now showing its bone structure and only fleshing out remains. Should be done by the end of the week.

The question is how much of the writing do I want to see, how much should be legible?


I am not sure about the long area of hatching either. Might be done by the end of the week. Now looking at some of transitions, it may be the end of next week.

I am taking the series into Blossom Street Gallery to see if the will display all/ some of them for the literary festival in March. It will be good to get some feedback.

And of course there is the Open Studios to look forward to  in April!YOS Logo Short_CMYK 2018


Progress 2


Thinking the back looks great! Getting more and more like an old document. At least here you can see the sewing that has been going on – well actually you probably can’t-  been using white bobbin thread .  The top surface has been getting so crusty and uneven that keeping an even tension is wishful thinking. The machine is doing well but quick changes of direction and tight circles do tend to pull the bottom thread up in places, and the white doesn’t show, and being cotton I can colour it if it does.


Progress so far –  the layers are stitched in,  beginning to blend some of the text into landscape,  beginning to work across the add-ons and into the background, more hand sewing into the trees.

The landscape is from the Western edge of the Wolds, between Thixendale and Leavening, it is more about being and seeing there than photographic “accuracy” so don’t be surprised if you don’t recognise it!

I will confess to only having done a couple of hours of machining on it. I plead achy  jaw and then deciding to paint the workroom as distraction therapy.

It won’t be any better this coming week, doing a couple of days of costume making, helping out making dress-up costumes for Scarborough Art Gallery.  Could be a good thing as I will be at the Merchant Taylor’s Guild Hall on Sunday for residents’ weekend and promised to take something along to do as a rolling demo- this will still be very much work in progress, so perfect!




Well the body of the piece is together, all the water soluble is washed out, leaving great water marks. As predicted some of the lettering has unravelled, decided to encourage it in the background areas to start a sense of aerial perspective. I have been plucking at the trees on the right ready to work over on machine, even did some hand stitching on the big one to give a bit more colour and texture/pattern to it.

The text is White’s (1840) in the background, Baines’s Yorkshire (1823) in the middle and a Domesday Book translation for Pocklington (1086) in the front-  thank heaven for Google books and the local library.      Now thinking that it should have been the other way round, the oldest at the back as the history the other two were built on. A bit late now, live with it decision made.

Next on the task list is to establish the landscape fully, bringing in more colour and surfaces. The lettering is to be part of the land, not separate from it or superimposed upon it. Lots to do, but I think the back of it is broken now and it should be faster and faster towards the finish now.

Having ideas is such a pain,  If this was a simple, straightforward image it would be done-ish. I’ve been at this for weeks and it is just getting to the picture stage! Pah.

Progress may be a little delayed, so I don’t recommend the holding of breath. Am having a bit of a self pity wallow post dentist visit, and have promised to paint the workroom! Double Pah.


Writing the Wolds

Happy 2018!

Some things do not change – I am still working on this series, trying to respond to the landscape in more than an oooo isn’t it pretty,  or a purely practical factual way.  These local hills are self contained, even a little out of place – chalk uplands happen across the South of the country, very few outcrops occur in the North. They are less dramatic than their more famous neighbours of the Moors and Dales, but have their own charm and character.


The latest effort has its own charm too. Somewhat eccentric and well hidden charm.

The premise was simple. The research I have done threw up contradictions, this landscape and  attitudes to it  are quietly dynamic. What we see are the results of time, fashion and economics , as well as the odd ogre events such as William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North. I wanted to include some of these things into the landscapes that I create.



This is the background, textured cloth backed with


Outside, on the washing line during Storm Eleanor!

calico and covered with machined excepts from  Wm White’s 1840 History, Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of  Yorkshire. This describes the transition to enclosures and plantations of trees, also the changes in crops and land use. He was optimistic, changes were happening for the better, the place had a future. The rayon thread was perhaps a bit too subtle – an attempt to stain and dye took the newness off the cloth but no more. It also caused wobblage and bobblage of the surface fabric making it even harder to read! I can’t press it out yet – it would fix the marker pencil I’m using.



On top of this are going to be scraps and remnants from previous landscape work. Shredded and frying edges should help to bring the layers together…..P1170725 still experimenting…

The foreground text is a translation from the Domesday Book about Pocklington, how it belonged to Earl Morcar valued at £56 but now to the King at £8. Many manors are described as “waste” – still not having recovered any  taxable value since the Harrying. This is worked out from the remnant onto a layer of water soluble fabric (prob not a good idea). P1170740Strips of colour and texture are going to be added to give more form to the landscape so some of the words may well get lost, others may unravel (will), but a few may still be there. A little like the evidence of Norman occupation of the Wolds themselves.


More fragments and excepts  are planned – the trees to the left are earmarked for Baines’s Yorkshire , but all of this is going to be worked over with a pictorial landscape- knowing how much to do and in which sequence is giving me a head ache. I have tried ways of stitching the layers but have yet to get it work, text on the water soluble is also hit and miss, the misses offer as many  opportunities as the text does. So how much effort do I put into getting it to work? How do I wing it and just work with what happens?

And then framing this series ……. nightmare……

But new opportunity for workshops to be investigated, showing work at the Merchant Taylors for Residents Weekend v soon,  some pieces to sort for Literature week for the gallery in town, and of course Open Studios to work for! So why don’t I feel busy?




The mission over the last week has been to tattify and break up an existing piece and re use it.

I can now say with some authority that a cheese grater (Particularly the bit for zesting) works on fabric.  The edges are fluffier than intended  but the general effect is worn and shredded, as desired.  I feel this has improved this fragment of the despised piece of work no end so it is nearly ready for its reincarnation into the next ‘words and Wolds’ effort.   I have a background of text to do and images to decide on, and then into construction again! Hurrah.

The grater also works very well on skin and nails.

There is a lack of foresight – a well trained and focussed hamster could have achieved much the same without the pain.

I am sure the wounds will heal soon.


Words and Wolds. Fact or fiction?

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P1170707What has happened to November?  Who’s nicked it?  I started the big mission piece and have just resurfaced to find that  a month has gone!  Admittedly not every spare moment has gone into the piece but  it has gobbled up time and so much thought and energy. It has been on the wall  having fester time for  about 4 days –  since when I have constructed a toile for a new  jacket  pattern,  started little embroideries for the Tree Project, made stockings for the local foodbank appeal,  been to the Knit and Stitch Show in Harrogate, taught a whole day workshop at the Viking Loom, and have sorted out a day of sewing to do today (silk velvet!!!!).

The fester time was supposed to allow detachment, a separation between making mode and  hard eyed assessment.  It may be working too well., I was  expecting a dialogue about the legibility, the weight of the image, the relationship of past and present, but as  yet have no traumas, arguments or quibbles.  I even have new angles and  proposals to take the core idea forward, and instead of slog,  the future  making looks exciting again.

….. I am     content   with it,  at the moment.



A Stitchery Interview.

I made a pact a few years ago not to say ‘no’ to new  opportunities just on auto pilot.  Self made ruts can be very deep and then become destructive. Being ‘safe’ isn’t always safe. When things go wrong there is always comfort eating (indulgence), hillwalking (exertion) or attacking the garden with sharp implements (aggression).

This is why I said yes, cautiously at first,  to the approach made by Susan Weeks to ‘appear ‘ on her stitchery stories podcast.stitchery stories

I hadn’t come across Susan’s work or site before, well worth a look/listen, the interviews are fascinating ( go very well with a coffee and bourbon creams).

I hate the sound of my own voice,  cringe at the pompous vocab left over from the formality of the education world, and generally like to change my mind and opinions every time the wind blows from the west. So, yes, an obvious thing not to do. The last interview I did was for local TV news when doing costumes for the York Mystery Plays – seriously embarrassing – even my specialist doctor saw it and commented on it several months later!


So said yes and did it – over the internet, so not even properly face to face! Feel the terror at giving up control! Susan was very good, easy to talk to and completely professional in her approach and preparation – unlike me.   Thank you  to her for the opportunity and outcome!  It was broadcast last week.

Fran-Brammer-Stitchery-Stories-Textile-Art-Podcast-Wide-Art               podcast interview

Not yet decided if this was a masterstroke or not , so I am  viciously cutting back several huge buddleia bushes ( with a bow saw!) and indulging in pre-emptive comfort eating, again.

In the mean time –  don’t forget – I will be selling bits and pieces at Askham Bryam  next Sunday, have only  the Twisting Tree stitchy workshop day  left before Christmas, still have work up in Art in the Mill, Knaresborough,  work is for sale  on the website ( nowhere near  all is listed so just ask for availability/ price etc) and don’t forget the offer of  gift vouchers to use against workshops, purchases or commissions, and the new ‘stitchiness’ group on facebook ……

For some reason I don’t feel busy!