Wednesday 20 June 2018

It started with just a little thread...

Morning lovelies!
What a gem of a morning...
The birds are nattering while the bees are meandering.
A delightful day if ever there was one!

It seemed like the perfect time to share the news with you all
that soon my book Stitched Memories will be available to purchase.
I am beyond delighted to say the least.

Never in a million month of Sundays did I think that this little 'ol Fen bird who
is as as odd as the most quirkiest being about, 
would be lucky enough to write a book...

You see....coming from the Fens...well it's not something you usually do is it?
Now if you had said when I was growing up that
I would be the owner of a potato picking firm or 
a tractor driver, well you'd probably be much nearer the mark!

But as I've already mentioned I'm an odd bod.
I like to look for the unusual in the ordinary.
Someone who loves to capture those everyday stories and turn them into a treasured
marriage of cloth and thread...

So how did I get to write a book?
You may well ask...
Like everything in life, it's simply the luckiest thing of
being in the right place, at the right time,
talking to the right person indeed.

I've dreamed of writing a book since I could read and write
but this frizzy haired wild bird was rubbish at school. I got bored easily.
Science and Maths dumbfounded me and still do at times. And yet they totally fascinate me.
The only subjects that grabbed my attention were Needlework, Art and English, oh and Cooking (to which my waistline showcases very well!)
But you see, those subjects have done me proud...

As many of you know, my background was in Education.
I am a trained Visual Impairment Advisor, specialising in Early Years.
Over the years, I have been privileged to help support and teach many
beautiful children and young adults with additional needs and disabilities.
Knowing my own struggles has helped me really sympathise in understanding how a One Size Box does NOT fit all sizes.

 Alongside my teaching days, I always crafted.
It was a passion of mine from an early age
and eventually it has ended up that I am now teaching the joy of being creative through stitching full time.

What's the secret to inspire others?
It's easy....

Simply show the beauty and wonder of the world that surrounds us in every minute of every day and help others to see it's Ok to not be perfect.
Not to be precise is considered a No No in sewing and yet...
Our Mums and Grannies often didn't look at things that way.
Sewing was more often than not a necessity and so with it came the responsibility
of making things work with warped cloth, using not so perfect thread, piecing together scraps to create a whole.
I'm afraid, for me that is what sewing really entails....

When it was suggested a couple of years ago by Search Press, (the world's finest art and craft book publisher I might add) that I write down my ramblings to help inspire others in the form of a craft book, I jumped at the chance.
I was totally blown away.
The fact that someone thought I was capable of writing a book...

As I've got older and wiser, I truly believe that everyone has a gift in some way or another.
Mine is simply to share my love of cloth and thread and use my skills as a tutor
to inspire and guide you...

And so through many many stressful hours of writing, a book evolved.
Two thirds of it was left on the cutting room floor because I had written too much information due to space constraints...something that took a while getting my head around to be honest
but now I've seen the final copy I totally forgive my editor!
I've decided to write those snippets here on my blog so you don't miss out...

So, where to get hold of my book?
Well there are a variety of ways...

I shall be doing lots of book signings with Search Press at some of the big
Needlework Shows this year as well as some smaller events at some of my favourite
workshop venues which will include some scrumptious vintage tea parties...
You can find details here on my website

I will also be offering the chance to get a signed copy of the book on my website with a little extra surprise gift as well
as appearing on the Sewing Quarter Channel with a Book Launch on 30th July.

Lots going on!

I will of course be shouting from the rooftops on my Facebook page also.

So for now I will simply leave you counting down the days to Mr Postie arriving....

Thanks for dropping by and saying hello!

Friday 8 June 2018

A Beautiful Love Story...

Hello lovelies...
How are you all?

Do you ever have those moments in life where you question why? what? when?
I'm a curious bod, always have been and guess I always will be.
Since a young child I've always questioned everything!

At times, especially during my school years it has landed me in deep water...
...and yet at the grand 'old age of 50 something I'm still curious and still asking 'but why?'

In everything I do and see I try to see past the obvious.

I believe things are often laid down in front of us for a reason, 
sometimes unbeknown to us as to why at the time...
And yet I still question 'why?'
I love relaying stories, finding out a past history and creating new tales.
If you never ask 'why' how do you ever find out the beautiful information?

So why am I saying all this?
well I want to share a beautiful tale with you all that I discovered on my holiday in Cornwall recently....
I've already posted snippets on my Instagram and Facebook pages and received such an enormous support to continue to look further that I have decided to share it all with you lovelies.
(The details I have discovered below are all online so I hope that I
 have made the right connections)

Vera & Charlie...

After arriving at our little cottage in Cornwall we were very keen to explore our new little Cornish home so started out on a little car trip of our area and discovered Penzance.
This really where my story begins...

Having never really known what was there we were surprised to find a good old fashioned promenade, you know the sort..... iron railings all along the shoreline coupled with benches at prestigious gaps to rest those weary bones; 
to take five mins to sit and take in the air as you reflect as you gaze out to sea.

So, of course strolling along the prom, as you do, Mr T and I thought it would be rude not to partake in choosing a seat to take in the view, as our Edwardian ancestors would have done all those years ago...

A wooden bench greeted us with the most beautiful view overlooking the bay towards St Michael's Mount.
It was still quite early for a holiday resort to be alive so there very few people about.
The sea was smiling as she glistened in the morning mists.

As we sat there Mr T and I felt a real serene calmness.
It was the start of our two weeks in Cornwall
and all was well with the world.

We watched Penzance slowly awake as people walked or rode bikes along the prom. 
Pushchairs bustled while babies slept.
Joggers perspired taking in the morning heat.

And dogs walked their daily strolls.
And all the time Mr T and I 'took in the view'.

After what seemed like an absolute age we decided we really should make a move and on leaving our spot I noticed there was a small plaque on the back of the bench where
we had been sitting...

So of course.... you know what I'm going to say...
I was inquisitive straight away.
Who was Vera, our land army girl?
Where did they live etc etc...

My first task was simple...
Could I find any records of Vera and Charlie?

I was so pleased to find the following printed in 2014 -

James Charlie and Vera Platinum Wedding Anniversary
Happy 70th Anniversary December 16th 1944-2014
Have a lovely day together
Many years of hard work, love and devotion to each other and your family.
Loving you always Mum and Dad
Nanna and Grandad
Caroline, Tim, Cora and Joe

The next piece of the jigsaw was to find a little more about them both...
Sadly I found the following -

James Charlie
On Thurs 23rd June 2016
William Frederick Charles, aged 92 yrs,
passed peacefully at home.
Formerly of Bodrifty Farm, Newmill and Penzance.

Dearly beloved husband of the Late Vera James 
and a much loved dad and grandad.
Funeral service to be held at Gulval Parish Church
on Mon 11th July at 11am.
Followed by cremation at Treswithian Downs Crematorium,
Cambourne at 3pm.
Family flowers only please; but donations if so desired
for Oxfam and R.N.L.I.

And so the next corner to turn was to find out a little more about Vera
if I could.

How easy would that be?
I so wanted to know more...
I was so over the moon to have found the next jigsaw puzzle piece.

I found a snippet via a google search  in a book written by
Julia Summers.

I really hoped I had the right lady...

Here is some of the text for you to read:

Vita Sackville-West felt sorry for the Land Girls:
"their uniform seems to suggest a bashful camouflage of
green and fawn to be lost against the grass or stubble.

She knew that many of them had worked in towns and cities
before the war and had worn silk stockings and jaunty hats,
but now were consigned to corduroy and clumping boots.
Vera James was just one such young woman.

Before the war she had worked as a court dressmaker in London
making ball gowns and coming-out gowns for royalty
as well as the Queen of Yugoslavia, who spent the war
in London.
Vera James joined the Land Army for a change in scene.
And a change it certainly was:
the first message given to girls who arrived at
the Duchy of Cornwall Farm at Stoke Climsland after joining up was
'cut', 'cut', 'cut'.
Nails had to be short, especially for milking cows.
Despite this, Vera came to love life in the country and she never did
return to dressmaking in London.
She married a Cornish farmer even though, she admitted
"I could not understand what he said a lot of the time".

Can you imagine what I thought as I read that?
Not only had I found out a little about Vera...
she was a dressmaker!
My little heart was singing....
I wanted to speak to her so much.

Of course, I could have mixed up the wrong Vera with the wrong Charlie
but for me it felt right.
It felt Vera had let me know it was the right story when we had actually sat on her bench.

How many times had her and Charlie sat and 
watched the tide change?
In all of their troubled times,
how many times had they been calmed by the gentleness of a shimmering sea?
Hoping beyond all doubt that a new horizon would bring peace and happiness to the 
troubled world about them.

How many sunsets had they seen?
What sadness or happiness had they shared?
I so wanted to know more...

As hubby and I often sat and looked out to sea during our two weeks holiday 
I really wanted to believe in my heart that Vera and Charlie were a happy story.
That they shared a lifetime of smiles
 despite the hardship they had obviously endured during the war.
To ask her what life was like as a court dressmaker?
How different was wading in wellies, milking cows!

I have a feeling we could've whiled away a few hours over a cup of tea and 
slice of homemade cake with many a tale...

You never know with the power of the internet 
I might come across some more gems of their lovely story 
but for now I am happy to leave their romance 
safely tucked away in the moorlands of Cornwall.
I will of course keep researching as and when as I'm a little hooked on a little romance being the old romantic that I am....

Much love
x x x

Wednesday 30 May 2018

A Cornish Chill....

Hello my lovelies!
How are you all doing?

Today sees me back at the computer,
back in normal mode
back home here in the Fens...

For the past couple of weeks Mr T and myself have been investigating 
the gorgeous delights of southern Cornwall, right at the very end of 
civilization as we know it, here in the UK!

What do I mean by that?
Well, simply put, we have been holidaying amongst the
most rural part of our little island in amongst the
granite and moss, walking in amongst the wildflowers and
hedgerow lanes.

It doesn't sound alot really does it?
For us though, it was a holiday of a lifetime.

Following Mr T's diagnosis of cancer four years ago and then secondary cancer last year meant we haven't had a 'proper' switch off holiday in four years; and even more poignantly for us, we weren't really sure we ever really would have again...

Cornwall stole our hearts a few years ago and it was Cornwall that took us in her arms
to soothe our worried souls when we first received the diagnosis four years ago.

Naturally, it seemed the perfect place to return to in order to 
recover a little from last year's journey....

Our intention was to do nothing...
but for anyone who knows this part of our island, that's not easy when 
 there is simply too much
history and natural beauty for an old Fen bird like me to ignore!

We stayed as far south of Cornwall as you can get,
 amongst the ruggedness of an ancient moorland that holds 
some of the most beautiful tales and stories.
Sadly, it also holds tales of  the sad reality of an immense hardship 
from an industrial mining area many Cornish folks had to endure..
I think coming from the Fens, I could totally relate to the community comradeship
that many families took as normal life.

Everyone associates this area with the romantic view of Poldark now but visiting many of the small hamlets and villages and tuning in to the history of 'Kernow' (Cornwall)
you really couldn't be further from the truth if you tried.
The average life span for a miner back in the 19th century was only 39 years if he was lucky.
Most children worked in the mines from the age of 10 and then were sacked at 16 so owners didn't have to pay an adult wage.
Their stories write our history and like many tales from our past, sadly
it is not a way of life many of us these days are happy to hear about and yet
we all have a connection to these memories in some way or another.

Southern Cornwall makes no apology for their style of tourism.
What you see is what you get!
There are no fancy frills, no twee bunting like in many Cornish hotspots.
You are greeted with an attitude of 'this is us, take it or leave it' 
which as a Fen 'gal I quite like!

Of course there are some absolutely beautiful gems to be found if you only search for them...

These three-cornered leeks were everywhere and I fell in love with them!
Aren't they the most adorable little gems?
Their stems are what they say...three-cornered!
Little Cornish booties dancing in the breeze...

In amongst the down time of not walking, photographing or exploring,
I loved investigating the flora and fauna of the Cornish hedgerows around us.
Colour was simply everywhere.
May is definitely a beautiful time of year to see her sparkle.
And the added bonus of course to that is that there is so much inspiration 
for my little doodles and designs....

It was absolutely beautiful to sit in the Cornish sunshine watching the wildlife chatter about me
whilst I captured the sights around me...
I felt like Beatrix Potter with the bunnies skipping in the buttercup meadow!

I've always loved Beatrix but spending two weeks studying bunnies I have a new found admiration for her.


Well, she didn't rely on taking snaps with her camera or mobile as we do today.
She relied solely on her ability to observe, for what must've been absolutely hours, to then follow with sketches in order to draw her illustrations.

There is way too much to write about Cornwall in one post so I've leave that for another day.

In the meantime, here is a little snippet of few Cornish memories...

Wildflowers, granite tors, azure seas,
art & design, a new language, Living Stones,
ancient history, Cream Teas,ever-changing skies,
ferns, harbours, sunsets, meandering lanes leading nowhere,
Colour, vintage gems, an old way of life,

If you've never explored this part of the British Isles, 
I thoroughly recommend you give it a go...

I will post more pics on my Facebook page so do pop by...

In the meantime
I'll say toodle-ooh for now!

Monday 23 April 2018

The British Quilt & Stitch Village

Hello lovelies!
Happy St.George's Day!

In celebration of all things British I thought it would be a good time to post about my visit to The British Quilt & Stitch Village last weekend...
It was my third year of attending and I have to say I always love going as it is one of my favourites in the calender of sewing events here in the UK.

I know each event has it's own merits but I love this one simply because
it is such a gentle one despite the crowds...
The sort where you can meamble around at your leisure, stop for a cuppa comfortably,
find a decent loo and more importantly receive some friendly smiles and chatter from the exhibitors.

There are always loads of exhibits, competition entries and workshops of differing abilities to see and do, where you can gain a plethora of inspiration regardless of your interests.

If you've read my previous post you will know that I entered another exhibit this year 
called 'Mercia', 
depicting life in the Fens with all their Myths and legends...
I gained a rosette which I was super chuffed with!

(excuse the shocking photo!)

My competition neighbour was this amazing coat which was an incredible piece of art
...totally my cup of tea!
It's been a few years now since I've made myself some wearable art like this simply due to time constraints but I love it and it reminded me to get sewing for myself!

Here is the winning entry in our category...
perfect for a Spring day!
A gorgeous cushion full of daffodil gorgeousness.

So what else was on offer?
Well a little bit of this...

And a little bit of that....

and loads of these....

Textiles, quilts, embroidery, slow stitching,
mixed media and so much more...
It really is like being in a sweet shop full of stitching smiles just waiting to be picked.

The hours of work put in for the show by exhibitors was outstanding.
I'm sure that there would have been many frazzled hours of frustration, pricked fingers,
ragged broken nails, torn cloth, tangled threads, and many a few 'blue' moments for many...

Do you ever think that
someone has stitched their little heart into that piece you are staring at?
It may look odd or not reach the standard of a City & Guilds certificate but do you know something?
That person was brave enough to enter a competition to exhibit their work.
They were brave enough to stand up and shout out their love of cloth and thread.
Something I so applaud!

Happily or sadly however you look at it I only heard a couple of negative comments.
The majority and I really mean the VAST majority of the visitors 
loved seeing the inspiration of offer.

It was so lovely to hear sentences like

 "how did she do that?"

"wow look at all that hand sewing..."

"look at that beautiful fabric..."

Wow I love her patterns.."

Now, lovely reader have you ever considered entering a competition?
Don't be put off...
In order to make an event fresh and exciting we need sewers like yourselves to be like those brave peeps above.
Will you consider giving it a go just for little 'ol me?

If you are interested in entering for next year, the theme is 'The World About Us'
A fabulous scope for so many beautiful things!

There are numerous categories you can enter covering a multitude of skills.
I just know so many of you would be able to create some gorgeous pieces.
I have to say I am very excited. I have my thinking cap on already!

I will post all other photographs on my Facebook page so if you fancy a nosey you can click on the link below ...

Before I go, I must say a HUGE thank you to everyone who visited my stall, took part in a Tilly Rose workshop or simply stopped by to say hello...
I hope you enjoy stitching with the goodies you all purchased and 
create some lovely memories whilst doing so especially if you are dabbling in to the world of mixed media!

I am so blessed to be doing a job that I love and part of that is connecting with so many like-minded peeps who adore some form of stitching, one way or another.

Without you all, there would be no show so thank you for travelling and dropping by.
There are too many of you to mention names and I would probably miss out someone even if I tried...
Just rest assured I very much appreciate your love and support.
Here's to next year at Uttoxeter...