Zodiac, Taurus

•September 30, 2014 • 11 Comments

Don’t know why he ended up red, but I love the look on his face, and the way his horns balance on his head.


That’s my dad, that is.

( you might notice it’s wonkier than normal, that’s because I did the wet stretching – Gareth is better at it)


•September 27, 2014 • 8 Comments


Gareth took this, he says it’s what they do when were out. I assume he means that Hobbes watches telly and eats pizza whilst branston sips a cappuccino and reads the times culture section…

Actually they’re both little sods for licking out the cup when Gareth has cuppucino, and I’m not sure coffee is good for cats.

Branston made me stay in bed and cuddle him til quarter past nine this morning, because I’ve been up at half five every day. He’s now sulking because I got up and the chinnywubs stopped.

Freehand blackwork.

•September 26, 2014 • 4 Comments

I hadn’t realised this, but booking for the freehand blackwork day at the ashmolean has only just opened up, which doesn’t give anyone much of a chance because it’s next Friday, but it’s

http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford to book online, by phone its 01865 305305 or in person at the Oxford Playhouse box office.
http://www.ashmolean.org/assets/docs/WhatsOnSoon.pdf is the link to the What’s On where it is advertised on page 30 under workshops.


•September 21, 2014 • 28 Comments

I have some pictures for you, but wordpress won’t upload and I’m too ill to argue with it. I’m waiting for a hospital appointment for a tooth extraction, and said tooth began to abscess Thursday. Oddly, pain doesn’t affect me when I’m working- I have some sort of performance switch in my head that allows me to ignore it, so I was ok Friday during the day, although I’m not entirely sure how I managed the drive home. Had to have a very traumatic dentist visit Saturday ( I’m extremely phobic due to my mums dentist deciding to let her nurse hold me down whilst she performed unneeded filling without anaesthetic when I was 14) and now am on lots of painkillers hoping the antibiotics kick in enough for me to work in the morning.

So, I will try to upload my latest zodiac pic again later. In the meantime, bleargh.

Silly Sunday skirt.

•September 14, 2014 • 15 Comments

I think the quilters will agree with me that printed cotton is the crack cocaine of the fabric world. I don’t even quilt but I always think “ohh I’m sure I could find a use for half a metre or so of that, and it’s sooooo cheap”

Compared to the wools I use for costume, the £4 a metre stuff on leeds market is like sweeties.

This is why Gareth ends up with so many mad shirts.

Also, lots of little leftover bits that I don’t have the heart to throw out. So at the beginning of summer I started sewing them together to make a ruffly skirt.

Honestly, I think there’s a mad skirt gene running down my mothers side of the family.


I did take this to our neighbour, Charlotte, yesterday, because unlike me Charlotte is a proper seamstress who actually knows what she’s doing. I asked her if she thought it was too foofy.

She said no. I think she may have been having a laugh at my expense.

But it has- Asparagus, Buttons, COws, Dolls house furniture, Elephants, Foxes, Greenhouse windows, Hearts, Iced cakes, Killer bees, Liquorice all sorts, Maps, Notions with which to sew, Old postage stamps, Poultry, Questionable florals, Russian dolls, Safety pins, Tape measures, Union jacks, Various polka dots, Wheels, X-rayed dinosaurs, and Zoo.

Amongst others


stitch along part one A

•September 11, 2014 • 11 Comments

I know I said I’d do this MOnday, but I’ve been full of cold and just didn’t have the energy.

IN the mean time Sue very kindly made a group for everyone on flickr
: https://www.flickr.com/groups/opusanglicanum/

so you can post progress pics

I tend to outline in split stich, as I find this easier to do with work under tension – I have to work without a frame to do stem stitch.

I apologise if a few of these are a bit blurry, gareth normally takes my detail pics for me, and these looked ok until I blew them up. I will also refer you to my early post on stem stitch, as split and stem stitches are essentially the same stitch, its just that with split you split the stitch and with stem you push it to one side.

bring your needle up and make a small stitch about 4mm long (four or five threads of the wool canvas if you’re using a kit)


then go halfway back and bring the thread up through the stitch


Your next stitch will be about the same length as the first, but because half of it covers the first stitch, you will only advnace half the distance. When you come back to split the stitch it should be in roughly the same place the intial stitch ended.


and repeat ad infinitum. I’ve remembered why I always draw stitches for my handouts. The crucial part is that in order for the front of split stitch to look neat, the back of it should look like backstitch, without gaps



Many people are tempted to get theri split stitch done quicker by stretching the stitches out. By making the stitch a little bit longer and not going halfway back, perhaps maybe only a quarter instead.



split 7

and as you can see, this way scraggliness lies.

See how much I love you. I did appalingly bad stitching and took blurry photos of it. Its like the bad 70s porn of needlework.

Right, now we’ve got the basics out of the way (and seriously if needed I can re-post better pics at the weekend, just tell me) you can start outlining your dragon.

The dark outline stitches are shown on the second pdf in the first post. Some are worked over the laid and couched work, others go along the edges.

when working an edge be careful to use the same holes as the edges of the laid and couched work in order to get a neat edge


I’ve worked the eye as a negative space that lets the white canvas show through, but you can give him white irises if you wish. Working the eyeball can be challenging as small circles are difficult – you will need to make your stitches much smaller and tighter.


He’ll still look a little flat until you start filling in the white (pdf 3 I think)


There isn’t really a way to mark where the inner lines go. You just have to have confidence and trust yourself, it’s really no harder- and certainly a lot slower – than drawing the lines with a pencil, and most of these lines are really simple.image

the wallet saga

•September 8, 2014 • 18 Comments

so I had this wallet that I loved. I bought it in the sales for a tenner.

I think most people are kind of particular about how they like to carry thier money around, we all know what works for us. And this wallet was just right for me – the right number of compartments without anything superflous, not so small it got lost in my complete midden of a handbag, and large enough that I could shove my mobile phone inside and dispense with the handbag entirely in security concious museums and galleries.

The fact that it was pink with kitties on was just a bonus
wallet 1

I even liked the plasticyness. I know I love natural fibres and handmade things, but sometimes there is also a childsih joy to be found in the kitsch and tacky (and also, kitties!!!). But then the plastic has it flaws, and as you can see it started to split.

wallet 2

I saw a wallet I really liked two years ago but couldn’t afford it because it was £90, it had cut out panels of gilded leather. I almost stretched to it, but then didn’t because although I liked the idea, I didn’t love the actual designs that were cut out.

I’ve been meaning to have a go at my own version for months now, and that crack was getting really bad, so I allowed myself one day to do something that was actaully for me.

However, this meant sacrificing my old wallet and dismembering it so I had a template. That proved to be quite tough and difficult to neatly dissect – especially for something that appeared to be falling apart!

wallet 3


I was looking for a new supplier of gilded leather, so I ordered a scrap packet. They had red metallic leather and I have a complete perve for all sorts of red leather (seriously, my ex once almost lifted me up and dragged me out of fenwick in newcastle cos I was getting a bit too excited on a big red leather sofa) I didn’t use the red yet, but I decided it would be fun to use all the different colours and textures for the inside of the wallet. Gareth rolled his eyes and said it was very me in that disparagng way he has that implies he thinks I have the taste of a toddler (I may have blown a big raspberry in his general direction).

I started with the side pocket because that looked like the easiest step

I did all the stitching in red because nothing was going to match everything. This may have been a mistake because my stitching wasn’t that neat. The reallly big mistake was buying topstitching thread adn not realising that it was polyester. All polyester thread is the work of beelzebub.

however I got both sides done and they didn’t look too bad

wallet 6


Then I glued the cardboard onto the interior. I recently discovered gluedots and I’m converted. I used them a lot on this in place of pins – you can’t really pin leather because it scars, but with this needing a fair amount of precision I needed to hold things still.

Next came the central change pocket – it was at this point I was really glad for the ritual sacrifice of the old wallet, otherwise I would never have realised the flappy bits are actaully asymetrical in order to make the pocket sit neatly inside the zip

wallet 8

wallet 9

The outer too a lot of thought. I considered dragons, but in the end decided to stick with tradition and go for kitties. Then is took me all afternoon to draw kitty silhouettes – an operation complicated because opbviously they had to be recogniseably maine coon kitty otherwise branny would be deeply hurt.

So I eventually cut them out and sewed the gold leather underneath – again using gluedots to hold the leather together whilst sewing

wallet 10

wallet 11

wallet 12

Then I spent what felt like forever carefully glueing the zip around the edge, making sure it worked ok, and glueing the outer over the zip.

Then I machine sewed the whole thing together.

It was a total mess, the stitching was all over the place and had scarred the leather horribly. I had to discard the whole outer layer with it’s carefully cut and sewn kitties and start all over again.

I was pretty pissed off.

Also I didn’t have time to do it all again right there and then, so I carried everything around in a pencil case for a week.

Last night O got back to it, and this time I handsewed the last stage

wallet 13

wallet 14

Ok, so it’s a long way from perfect- the stitching is all over the place (leather is hard, even soft leather), and I wouldn’t be happy to give this one as a gift, but I finally have a functional wallet again.

I want to have another go, but I think I’ll be asking santa for a better machine for Christmas (am using an ikea one at the moment due to long indecision over what I want to replace the big machine with. poor little thing is a tropper but I dont think it was quite up to this). I also really want to have a go at a metallic leather/tweed version.


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