Spam List Awareness Update!

I have just checked the comments stored in spam. I can see why half of them are there, it is nice that someone feels I should join them for aquarobics, but not today thank you. But others seem more genuine – I wonder why they are there. I am doubtful about interfering with the settings – I have had struggles before getting away from spam demons, and the first contact is usually so innocent!

If you have posted a comment without any response, I do apologise, and ask that you try again. Or perhaps cut straight to email – link is on the Me page or use the dread facebook if that is easier, each blog is automatically posted onto my artist page, again link is on ‘Me’.

As to the idiosyncratic approach to spelling, I usually blame the twitchy laptop keyboard, or point out the deliberate bits are the product of a slightly deranged imagination.  Currently I am blaming the neighbourhood cat for this, the stress of seeing it sleeping so luxuriously in my garden while I am inside slaving over a hot sewing machine is more than mind and body can bear!

Cat lifestyle envy. Happy Wednesday.


Website Woes. No Stitching!!!!

What a week.

Decided to rehash the website.                                                                                                 Um.

Different web builder – looked fab, all modern and shiny. Very nearly achieved slick.  Then continual problems with the programme.  Scrapped the lot. Ouch.(general ranting)

Back to the old site ( a short term trial just to see if I could ( now ancient)). Having to relearn where, what and how to. We seem to think in different ways.                             Pah.

Have now linked to a calendar.                                                                                           Oooooh.

Have now added animation because adding a slideshow seemed to open access to anyone to play with my files. Gnashing of teeth. (quite like the idea but cannot control the speed! Is driving me to drink)                                                                                       Grrrrrr.

It is better than it was. Honest. The idea of setting it up as an on line shop etc frankly terrifies me. There is a sales page but people have to contact me to arrange – so old fashioned!                                                             Wibbly noises – don’t know how to spell them.

See what you think :

Next is buying a short and snappy domain name for it. And working out how to …………

Is it too early to go back to bed? Have good book about Henry VII – mass extortionist, remover of heads, political conspirator, generally very dangerous to know.  May consider a career change.

Never mind. It is only frustrating, aggravating, painful, non-productive,

but I do have icecream.

Did have fun at the Knaresborough Feva festival. The work looked great and is still up until mid Sept. Now in final prep mode for the GNAS show at Ripon!

Observations from the House of Brammer.

Truths about my textile art:

You will be inspired by a view from the most inaccessible plaHorsedale,Huggatece or at the top of the highest hill. There will always be a sheep there. Or nosey cows.


What looks good in paint or pencil doesn’t work in the same way in thread. Guessing how it will work is pointless, it will tell you it its own time.


When ever you find the perfect base fabric at a fabulous price, the supplier goes bust, emigrates, goes on a Buddhist retreat.

You will never have exactly the right colour,P1170407

weight or type of thread. Doesn’t matter what you buy, the one you put back was the right one.


You will always run out of the perfect thread just moments before completing. Usually just as the local supplier has closed for the day.

It is your needle’s mission in life to break.

Being the last viable needle in your possession is too much pressure. It will break, again just as the shop closes.

Mess with the bobbin tension gods at your peril. They will always seek retribution.

If using a hoop the bit you want to sew next will be under the frame.P1060885

If using an air pen to mark the fabric it will fade away before you finish stitching.


If it all goes well, it will look awful. Every piece needs an argument.


If the room is tidy when you finished, the work wasn’t worth it.

Count the coffee breaks rather than the hours.

The tighter the deadline the more intriguing whatever is happening outside the window.


The gallery/exhibition always wants the piece you have just sold.

The framing is always wrong. Or the fittings, or the label.

P1170426The photos you have are always the wrong size or resolution.

If rushing to get an on line submission together, that is when the auto updates kidnap your computer and it configures for ever, and then scrambles up the internet connection.

Facebook is a black hole for time and sanity.

If accepted for 2 exhibitions that overlap, they will want exactly the same pieces to show.

Only the pieces you never want to see again are praised, only the ones you secretly want back are sold.

And, of course, the back will look better than the front!big beastie crop

Middleton Wolds


The Wolds.

Chalk upland. Mix of arable and pasture, characterised by steep, dry valleys, scattered with small, isolated villages.

Never told me about the nosey cows.  The wind.  Wild flowers and small, high speed, unidentified squeaky things.

What was a little walk became 8 miles and took forever! Loved it.

I have been struggling with a piece over the last few weeks  based on this landscape, still trying to redefine how I work and use colour  for these very different hills.

Trouble is I have got so used to the Moors and Dales, the sparse often gnarly hills, the subdued colour, the spaces.  I saw these hills in bright flat sunshine, there was no depth in the shadows,  I was half way up one side of a tight dry valley, couldn’t see the bottom and even the tops were rolling away from me.  I sat for ages just soaking it up until I stopped looking analytically and just absorbed. It became patterns,  the linear qualities dissolved. The movement of the wind through the barley on the hill tops became more important than the shape of the trees. It waved and rippled and then broke into squares and diamonds and back again.  The light was so unforgiving that the barley shone as brightly as the sky and the whole sparkled with reflected colour.

In this piece I set up a flat perspective, tried creating definition and depth with blocks of fabric before stitching. The grand stitching plan was little  down to lots, again trying to push the tops away and bring out the foreground with denser stitch patterns . And again with the colour – lighter and subtle  down to brighter,  mixed and contrasting. Having made friends with purple, now it may be time to work on orange.

It all made sense but it was the result was flat and as unexciting as an elderly Jaffa cake ( found some in the cupboard – very disappointing). Too safe and too considered, where was the personal narrative, the fun, the unexpected elements?

Since finishing (1st time) the piece has been attacked with the demon tweezers, the horizon has been broken up, sections of land turned into sky and the land pattern quilted up into the sky  trying to blur that boundary.  The diagonal of the path up the face of the hill was too strong,  a lot of fabric has been pulled out  and re coloured to soften that. The trees are upside down, colour stitched onto roughly dyed green fabric, spot the orange. Rather than tone the stitch patterns show the differences in the hedgerow. The darkest tone was a deep blue/green put on the second bank of trees and worked as a single colour.   The foreground is stitched vertically with small inclusions to break it up.middleton wolds nearly done

Since finishing (2nd time)  This has been festering, on the wall, under the table, at work, in a bag. Working in perspective lines would have been so easy, but so predictable, so safe.  So…. demon tweezers – the rematch,  soften the horizon even more. Draw the attention away – bright yellow stalks crossing foreground/middle ground boundary, contrast detail colour shouting  about that same boundary – red on green was the loudest option.  P1170439

Has it worked? Does the  piece have more life? Does the simplistic composition give rather than take? Has the colour and pattern compensated  for the narrower tonal range? Do I want to make the trees to the right more distinct- or is that old thinking?

middleton wolds machine embroidery

And this is now finish 3. This has been difficult, but happier now. Not entirely convinced still…..   time to move on.

Okay may be give it a day before the really official declaration of Finishedness.

Don’t forget – Summer Salon exhibition in Knaresborough from next weekend and there opportunities still available this month to come and join a Stitchy Day  workshop.

Lustre Saga Concludes.

Short version –  not sure.

Longer version – umm

Not even sure I got that the right way round.freehnd machine work

Test piece –  not complete but enough done to show –  The shadows are polyester and cotton threads. There is a depth and richness to The canopy I under sewed in yellow to lift the finer thread but this  area and grass are mostly  40wt rayons over silk fabrics. . Do  you notice the difference?  Annoyed at the grass – but will show on a close up.



sunlight garden test detaill 1

Spot the bright green to the left of the tree trunk? That colour is all the way through the grass area. In the horizontal it just does not show!  This could a major pain – I rely on directional stitching to give definition and form. These horizontal rows  I did with the normal machine settings – and it did not like it. The top tension ended up looser than when I drop the feed dogs, actually had to re-tighten for scribbling in the grass at the base of the trunk. You can see tiny pinpricks of dark across all the grass, that is the bobbinfil pulled up from below. Nice visual texture – would have preferred to plan it.detail from test piece

The canopy to the shadow is a better contrast, although the shiniest bits are the fibres from the  silk  scraps underneath!  Does work well against the 30wt variegated cotton used on the trunk.

General conclusion – not life changing but nice enough.  Will I buy more?  As a treat, and use as a top dressing over other threads/textures. Still haven’t forgiven them for the incredible vanishing colour trick.   “Why don’t you just turn it round?” said an ex-friend –  if  my lawn was vertical there would be even less chance of me mowing it!

Life beyond The Lustre Saga has continued –  These are happy few about to be launched upon the unsuspecting world next week in Knaresborough. All just about this year’s vintage-  the dancing trees is a revision with violence , but I see a shift towards colour and  now pattern is happening.  Not exactly subtle.  I blame purple.P1170426

Also check out the website  if you fancy owning a piece of this insanity – I have just put a load  ( 5 or 6!) of samples and small  test bits on the sales page.


Well I have used the Wonderfil, and I have not used Wonderfil. Was there a real difference? Did the work suddenly shine seductively in the afternoon sunlight? Was the work enhanced?


June BarleyI took a selection to an art event at Sledmere House on Sunday, set it all out and waited. And waited. And waited. Lots of very flattering  comments, ego definitely swelled, lots of interest, some very knowledgeable visitors and plenty of enthusiasm.  But no one  rushed impetuously across the room crying ” ooooh what a lovely lustre! ”

Folk wanted to  understand how the images were  built, and insisted on telling me how long they must have taken, but most common was are they really stitched? Not actually asked  why? but…..

So  either they were so well used and integrated that they looked so right that comment was not necessary, or, they had sunk without trace.  I am finding this difficult to judge. I am still finding the degree of lustre stops me seeing the colours with clarity. See what I mean? thread painting lustreThis should be zinging with acidy greens, yellows, pale purple.  Spot the difference between this and the mostly cotton threads on this one-Moor Path thread painting I think I will have to find a different approach to using these threads.  Umm.

At the moment I am thinking of them as an indulgence, and a greedy one . I need them to be in the spool box, potential and limitations understood, waiting to be used.

So thought shift – how about this as a start point?  As part of the sunlight in the garden series? Use them for the light, contrast against the deeper colours of the matt threads working the shadows. Probably need a warm, strong ground colour to lift them. Oh er, that could be this week sorted then!


New Toys!

More like tools than toys really.  The choices of thread colour, thickness and quality are a major part of the vocabulary I use to build an image.

In the last creative spurt I have cleaned out a lot of thread, especially the nice, useful, basic colours and some of the fancies. I decided it was splurge time so went for a coordinated set to try out with….  I have not dealt with this brand before, nor have I seen it in my usual suppliers but was feeling brave, so,  thanks to the magic of the internet, these new babies came knocking, courtesy of Wonderfil ( and Mr Paypal).

First impressions – ooooh.  Shiny. Thin. Pretty. Want to stroke them……P1170407

The main local competition is Sulky/Gutermann Rayon ( can buy from local shops((big tick)) or Madeira Rayon, outlet in Ripon (20 odd miles away, boo) or online.  All claim to be 40wt and Rayon, and all want me to use them for machine embroidery.

dancing detail 3

The blue/green is Sulky, the green across it is W’fil. Spot the difference.


Visually the Wonderfil looks finer and with a less noticeable twist. The colours and lustre are soft, less strident than the remnants of Sulky and Madeira that I have left. Worked out to about £1.40 per 100m, but the really big question is how would the machine take to it? How would it sew? becomes expensive if it is not used.

dancing detail

The white is Madeira, the others are cotton or polyester. The pale olive is W’fil.


The new-ish machine (Probably Malcolm) has been getting a crash course in don’t be fussy and shut up and get on with it approaches to stitching and is bearing up very well under the onslaught. Swapped the new stuff in, threaded it and stitched, no adjustments, no frills or favour. Sewed brilliantly. Considering it was Moon thread on the bobbin it took to the machine very well. I have had trouble with the Madeira 30wt  fraying on the needle in the past ( should really buy specialist needles but….)  but while this looked and felt just as soft, it has behaved with perfect manners. Even switched to bobbinfil without any hassles. This is my kind of sewing. Plug it in and go, no temperament, no fiddle.  The piece was a reworking of the Dancing Trees, so multiple rough, uneven layers of fabric, enough to test the stitch consistency of any set up.

dancing new season

See how the delicate lines merge in?


Concerns – It does sew very fine – I guess the 150ms won’t cover a huge amount of ground.  The sheen can be a distraction, the colour doesn’t work in the same way as a matt thread would and tends to show up  much lighter and not as rich in tone when in a rugby scrum of a mix. I do like it though and will certainly make use of the set. May be I should take a look at the rest of the threads Wonderfil do –  something a little thicker for the bigger pieces perhaps.

Does any one else use these?  Or any thing else?

My upcoming dates – 23rd July at Art@HomeFarm, Sledmere House, Yorkshire.

Summer Salon – August,  Feva Festival, Knaresborough.

Great North Art Show- September, Ripon Cathedral.