releasing the hounds

•June 17, 2019 • 3 Comments

I finished my hounds that I started last year

I’m still tempted to put a border round them, but I left them is for the kit in order to keep them the same price as the majority of the other kits.

I sold quite a few at the wool monty event in Sheffield this weekend – they turned out to be my best seller.

I’ve also listed them on my new shop

you can also get to it by the shop icon on the right, and I’ll be adding a few more things and some new cards over the next few weeks


dyeing again

•June 13, 2019 • 4 Comments

Lots of nice colours, blue and green from indigo and woad over the yellows I dyed a few weeks ago. Annoyingly I was really after a dark brown from my compound colour, which was already dyed with madder, weld, and walnut, but I got proper black instead. Black is useful, but it can be a bit harsh, so I like very dark brown for a lot of things.

The reds were dyed because I started assembling the women’s labours and decided it needed a red border. I didn’t have quite enough to dye a big piece of cloth with cochineal (cochineal red is a dominant colour throughout the 12 panels) and I didn’t want to order more dye when I have stuff lying around. Instead I took the 100g of madder I had and boiled it five times to extract enough red from it to fill the big dye pot (needed for cloth because it need to move around more than thread to get even colour) and then added a couple of teaspoons of cochineal to boost the red.

The two darker red cloths were both done at the same time. The bigger, more orangey piece is the stuff I use for embroidery, the smaller, more densley brick red is an old bit of wool challis – it has about the same drape as a cotton, and I mainly use it for viels, but I wanted some very flexible thin red for binding the edges of the rossetes that will go over the joins, so this will make good bias tape for that.

The heather  pink colour is a strip of sheep’s grey manx tweed left after I cut the panels for the Guthlac roll. The tweed was a single, so only 30 inches wide instead of the usual sixty, and there was a bit about a foot wide and seven or eight metres long leftover after I’d cut the panels. I used some as was for the filler on the women’s labours, and I thought using up the exhaust to dye the rest would be a good idea – I will put it aside to make the fillers on Guthlac in a few years time.

After that lot the vat still wasn’t exhausted though, and I didn’t want to throw colour away, so I dyed a piece of lightwieght silk taffeta and some 2/18 wool that was lying around. The 2/18 is slightly thinner than I use for embroidery and was sent by mistake, but I couldn’t return it because the mill went bust – it’s good for tablet weave though.

The silk is perfect a viel at 35 inches has a lovely drape, but pastels just look awful on me, so I’m selling it for £15.

And there’s way more weaving wool than I need, so they’re also up for grabs. The 70g skeins are £12 each, and the 100+gram skien is £15. There’s also  small skien of two ply rough silk for £8. plus post, pm If you would like any



•June 9, 2019 • 2 Comments

December, for the women’s labours.

the theme is party, and I gave her nice christmassy colours, as well as a glass of red in one hand and a glass of white in the other, because she couldn’t make her mind up.

December’s convivial cats are smoky, who made Gareth and feel very welcome when we first stayed at Jude’s house, and also Klaus and Sam, who live next door. Klaus invited poor stray Sam to come and live with him, sadly he died about a month ago from a heart murmur.

laborious progress

•May 29, 2019 • 3 Comments

Back from a hectic weekend of teaching in Oxford. It was lovely to see everyone, but the long drive home on Sunday night wiped me out, so I’m refusing to drive until I ahve to work next week (other than taking my poor cat to the vet for his limp).

I finished the annoying little flowers, which are pink, but I’ve been thinking of them as the blue flowers.

They are to cover the places where the circles butt together in the women’s labours. I haven’t cut them yet, and won’t until I’ve dyed some cloth to bind the edges. I’m dying a very lightwieght wool challis for the edge of these, and the usual wool that I sew on for the edge of the main hanging. Both are going in the same dye vat so hopefully they will come out a similar shade of red, chosen to echo the sides of the main panels

I have started sewing it together. You can see if you look closely that there are some little bald patches that the flowers will eventually cover.

I’m going to be monopolising the dining table for the next few weeks whilst that goes on. It’s a very boring job, so I’m doing 45 minutes each morning – which is handy because Gareth likes to watch the news in the morning, which means I can’t get my embroidery frame out because there’s no room on the sofa, so I can come through to the other room and do this instead. My tolerance for BBC breakfast is about ten minutes a day, perhaps a little more if Naga is wearing something particularly wierd and I’m trying to figure out what it is – she appeared to be wearing her gran’s old curtains this morning.

I think this is going to look much better than the men’s labours , which will end up looking quite clunky by comparison – this will also be about 25% smaller, because although the pictures are about the same size the borders are slimmer. IT’s really the borders making the difference, I think, not just to the size but to the overall look. The men’s labours was my last major project with commercially dyed wool, so they will be very interesting to compare, and for me and interesting example of how one’s work progresses in many different ways.

IN other news, limpy cat has upped his scissor fetish into worrying a fascination with the rotary cutter. He’s guarding it so he can watch me use it.

We’re hoping the limp is just arthritis, he’s on a course of anti-inflamatories to see if it improves. If it doesn’t the vet says he’ll have to be sedated for further examination, because she’s scared of him.


new wallet

•May 22, 2019 • 2 Comments

Many years ago a made myself a  wallet. It wasn’t bad for a first attempt, but wasn’t brilliant either – more functional than polished. But I liked the kitty design and used it for the last five years.

however, It’s been falling apart a bit since christmas, and I finally got round to wallet mark two.

This time I used a pretty tweed on the outside, which ought to be pretty hardwearing.

It’s the same basic design and layout as mark one, but looks a lot neater because the tweed as an outer layer was considerably more forgiving – I needed more than one attempt to sew the inner and outer layer together. One of the big mistakes I made with mark one was sewing the outer zip with too much overlap – you really have to do it with barely a 3mm overlap.

my favourite thing about the first wallet was the multi-coloured metallic leather lining, which I replicated, but this time i learned from my mistakes and put in an extra, tiny seam to stop the middle section wiggling around.

My very own innovation on mark two was something that every wallet needs – a built in needle case.

I would really love to do one with dragons on, and a couple of other designs as well, but I can only use one wallet, and although I’m happy to use this one, I really don’t think I could make them well enough to sell, so maybe I’ll ahve dragons when the purple kitties wear out.


•May 17, 2019 • 7 Comments

I felt like a needed a few days off this week. I have a lot of things that need doing, and which one to do next was confusing me, and they were all complicated and required much brain. So I did something different. And pretty brainless, because nothing is more brainless than plain sewing.

Honestly, I only meant to take one day for this, and then leave it unfinished to work on later, but I enjoyed it so much I took two and a half days and finished it(And I found a box set on netflix, which combination kind of sealed my couch zombie status tbh). Partly because it was such nice silk to sew, heavy (the finished dress weights two and a half pounds, which is a lot ofr a silk frock) and well behaved, not nearly as flighty as most silks.

It would have taken less time if Gareth had been at home. You see, Branston doesn’t do lap when Gareth is in the house, he sits next to me lest gareth think he is some kind of wussy mummy’s boy – which he is, and which everyone knows he is, but which Branston viamently denies.

But because Gareth was out, branston was all “ooooh! are you sewing that expensive silk you’ve been hiding? I see it has lions on it – I , also, am I lion – I will lend you my expertise and invasive grey fluff”


But it’s finished now, and luckily fluff doesn’t stick to silk the way it does to wool

Sorry about Trubble’s arse. Unfortunately he thinks “buggeroff” is his middle name – he tells me it’s a legacy from a long lost Russian branch of the family, a noble line who lost everything in the revolution.

Mostly I want this for Evesham in August, because I explained my dillemma with my other silk dresses either matching the king’s dress or the curtains, and it feels extraordinarily wierd not to be finishing it the night before I need to wear it.

Although it isn’t strictly finished, as such. I want something around the neck and cuffs but I haven’t decided what yet. Gold, pearl and jewelled embroidery was my first thought, but now I’m wondering if it would look nice if I took a piece of the leftover fabric and cut one of the circle motifs out to use as a neckline – obviously with some gold and pearls.

Can’t decide. But I have a couple of months to stew over it, so no doubt whatever I eventually decide to do will be done the night before the event, so that balance can be restored to the costuming universe.

last roll of music

•May 10, 2019 • 4 Comments

Now I have to get gareth to take a proper official photograph of the whole thing

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