Books and Samplers

The sampler stitching was inspired by Caron Penney‘s weaving, the book structure by LaPlantz, and the style and contents by Tetenbaum and Chen.


Checking in after 6 months…

If there’s anyone out there who actually reads this, apologies for the gap. I haven’t been posting, except on my other blog, Cheshire Cheese.

I have carried on with Brenda Gael Smith’s Monthly Art Project on Facebook, and Sharon Boggon’s Beyond TAST, and Stitch (nearly every) Day, although I haven’t been posting regularly on those either. Of course it helps when One project, my band sampler, encompasses all three of them!

I’m not going to post images of all of the sampler, but just to prove I have been working on it, here’s what it looks like rolled up. Unrolled it’s almost 10 metres long.

I have also gone back to an earlier love, book arts. I bought a new book, Shereen LaPlantz’s The Art and Craft of Handmade Books, and that got me going again, especially her section on tacket bindings, which were new to me. I also found my copy of Tetenbaum and Chen’s Artists’ Book Ideation Cards, which provide random suggestions for book structures and content. I never stopped making books, but they’ve just been quick and dirty constructions made for a quick fix. The combination of LaPlantz’s book and Tetenbaum and Chen’s cards makes me slow down, take my time and really think about what I’m doing. I’ve even plucked up my courage to add illustrations to the books.

This is the latest book, structure from LaPlantz, and colour from T&C’s cards, as was the choice of illustrations. One prompt suggested photographs, another incorporating art by someone else. I found some old drawings made by my husband of this house, and as we are, we hope, about to move after 27 years here, that led to a collection of images of the house.

it’s not perfect, but it has a bittersweet feel to it which suits the subject matter. However the colour I pulled for the pack for the next said ‘favourite colour’, so that one is going to be a bit brighter!

Monthly Art Project

I signed up for Brenda Gael Smith’s Monthly Art Project on Facebook, combining it with Sharon Boggon’s Beyond TAST, and Stitch a Day. I tend to pick boring, safe colour schemes for my work, so I decided to use the 12 months of the project to be more adventurous.

Brenda encouraged us to write SMART targets for the project, which is something I haven’t done since I retired, so I had to refresh my memory of what was involved. This is what I came up with.

In each month I will add a section to my band sampler exploring one of the primary, secondary or tertiary colours in the 12 section colour wheel.

Each week’s section will involve one of the following colour schemes (not necessarily in this order):




Split complementary.

In longer months I will add a section using that month’s main colour plus black and white.

I will make my choice of stitches experimental as well. Mistakes provide learning experiences and should not always be unpicked. Experimentation is more important than perfection.

I will use fabric and threads from my stash. I will not buy any new supplies during the year.

The image is of my progress so far. January’s colour was red-purple, this month’s is red. One thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of variations on those colours, and telling them apart with ageing eyes in winter light is not easy. But like the targets say, mistakes provide learning experiences. I’m keeping an embroidery notebook and adding comments on what worked and what didn’t. So far I’ve been agreeably surprised by some of the combinations, although I’m still a bit challenge£ by red and green.

Moving on…

from Simple Stitch Patterns for Embroidery, to the second of my collection of Anne Brandon Jones’ books, Stitch Pattern and Design for Embroidery. It’s in this book that she first outlines her use of gauges to mark the cloth. I haven’t been using them, because I’m working on evenweave fabric, but I shall try them out when I move onto non-evenweave.

Brandon Jones uses a wider range of stitches in this book, which makes it more interesting – I was getting a bit bored with just variations of chain and fly stitch.

When I got my first Brandon Jones book I fossicked around on the internet, in search of more – which is why I now have three. I also found out a bit more about her, chiefly from a Wikipedia article about her son, John, who was an architect. (It turns out he designed this, which I drive past several times a week.)

I’ve tried to find out a bit more about Anne, using the internet and Find My Past, and drawn up a provisional timeline of her life. Some of these bits I’m sure about, others are based on adding 2 + 2 and getting 4.5. If you know better, please let me know!

Annie (not Anne) Brandon was born on the 25th August 1878 in Hendon in Middlesex. I think she was one of the seven children of William Brandon, a police constable, and his wife, Martha. There were at least two other Annie Brandons living in Hendon at the end of the 19th century, but this Annie seems the most likely candidate. In 1901 this Annie, aged 22, was living with her parents and working in a book shop.

At some time, it is unclear when, she attended the Central School of Art and Crafts, now part of Central St Martins.

In 1907 she married Philip Jones, who had been born in Leicester in 1876. To 21st century eyes, the merging of their names seems like a feminist gesture, but I don’t think we can make this assumption – perhaps they just liked the name Brandon Jones!

In 1911 they were living in Hendon, and had a son, John, born in 1908. Wikipedia suggests that the family were involved with the Arts and Crafts Movement, a strong influence on John’s architecture.

Annie and Philip had three more children: Noel (1911) and Mary (1914), both born in Hendon, and Una (1916) born in St Albans.

In the 20s the family moved to Berkhamsted, where Philip taught at Berkhamsted School. It was in this period that Simple Stitch Patterns for Embroidery (1926), Stitch Patterns and Design for Embroidery (1929) and Colour Pattern For Embroidery (1932) were published. Annie also seems to have been writing for Good Housekeeping magazine.

By 1939 Annie and Philip, now in their 60s, had moved with Una to a flat in St Pancras. In the 1939 Register, compiled just before the start of WW2, Annie describes her occupation as a landscape and flower painter.

Philip died in 1944. In 1947, Annie sailed to Australia, where her daughter Mary had gone in 1939. Annie returned the following year, and died in 1968 in Richmond on Thames.

I am in the process…

of embroidering a quote from Louise Bourgeois: ‘The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair’. I have already embroidered a similar quote from her about needles, but I felt I had to do this one as well.

When I first sat down with my sampler this evening , I wondered why I was doing so, because I found myself brooding about a trivial but annoying event which occurred today – someone who won’t take no for an answer. Why was I stitching – which I can do while thinking – rather than playing computer games, which I can’t? And why I was wasting so much emotional energy on a minor hassle, when there are much more stressful things going on in my life to worry about?

From that I drifted into wondering whether I agreed with Bourgeois, rather than just thinking it was an interesting quote about sewing to add to the sampler. And if so, why?

Well, I did spend a few moments imagining I was stabbing my needle into the people causing the stresses and hassles, and thinking about making a doll to stab pins into, but that didn’t last very long. (I don’t believe this will harm the person you are imagining stabbing, but I think it may be enjoyable for the one doing the stabbing.)

However my thoughts soon turned to the meditative nature of sewing, which I assume is what Bourgeois was talking about. When the current stress in our lives started last spring, I did spend a lot of time doing things which stopped me thinking – computer games, reading etc. But over the last few weeks I have been doing much more embroidery than I have for ages – very traditional, structured embroidery, exploring other people’s ideas. Why? Perhaps because it is straightforward, or because the only decisions I have to make are about what to do next and what thread to use – but perhaps also because it allows me to be creative without requiring the mental energy that more original work would need?

But whatever the reason, thinking about it all and then writing this has taken my mind off stresses and hassles – and to get it all into proportion, perhaps. We are gradually moving towards a resolution of the stress, and the hassle will go away if we keep saying ‘no’ – and, if necessary, block the hassler’s phone number. All we have to do is wait. That seems like ’emotional repair’.

On the other hand, we have decided to move house this year, which will be a major source of stress. I’ll keep plying the needle, it’s better than drink or drugs

Biting off more than I can chew?

I’m quite pleased with myself for having finished this collection of spot motifs from Simple Stitch Patterns for Embroidery before I ran out of year. Because, although I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (been there, tried that, never kept them) I am very good at taking on too many internet challenges, group activities, etc.

In 2018 I am contemplating doing:

1. The 64 Million Artists January Challenge. I tried the full year last year and failed dismally, but 31 days should be doable, shouldn’t it?

2. The 100 Days Project Solstice to Equinox Challenge. I’ve done full 100 Days challenges before, but I decided it was a bit much to do it now with everything else I’ve committed myself to. Solstice to Equinox is weekly, so, inspired by Lize Bard’s wonderful blog, I’m planning on writing a weekly haiku. Of course, the Solstice was nearly 2 weeks ago, but better late than never.

3. One Year of Stitches 2018. Which is really just going on with the band sampler, which I was planning on doing anyway. (For some reason FB won’t let me download a link to the group…)

4. Sharon Boggon’s Beyond TAST. This is a bit of cheek, because although I’ve started TAST several times in the past, I’ve never got very far with it. I’m hoping I can also combine Beyond TAST with the band sampler, perhaps alternating/combining it with my Anne Brandon Jones project.

Can I do it? Watch this space!