Wednesday, 5 February 2014



Let's start at the very beginning. After all, I have to start somewhere and it is, as the song says, a very good place to start. I've always enjoyed fiddling around with fabric and thread - dressmaking, embroidery, crochet, crafty bits and bobs, that kind of thing. But I'm not really very good at it, and I'm hopeless at drawing and painting. However, I've always wanted to learn how to do things properly, how to turn my ideas into 'real' creations, and how to be a bit my structured in my approach. So I've finally plucked up the courage to enrol on the Embroidery Foundation Course with Distant Stitch, and have set up this blog to keep track of my efforts, and submit work to my tutor. I'm very excited about taking on a new challenge - and very nervous. Am I up to the task, I wonder? Will I be able to cope? Will my work be good enough? Whatever happens, I shall have fun, and that is the most important thing.
Over the next two months I have to study a wall, looking at its textures, colours and shapes, and to use my observations as the basis for embroidery samples and two final pieces of work. Actually, I rather like walls. During the last year I've tried to go for a walk at least two or three times a week (depending on the weather and my mood) and I've taken lots of photos of walls. I like their duality - the way they can keep things out, or keep them in. And I like the way they crumble and crack, and the mosses and lichens which cling to them, and how the colours and shapes vary at different times of the day, and in different weathers.

Anyway, instead of jumping straight in, and then embarking on my usual scatter-gun approach, which means I get sidetracked in all kinds of different directions, I am going to be organised! I downloaded the Student Handbook and the Module, then spent my first evening as a stitchery student trying to persuade the printer to work properly because, wonderful though computers are, I would rather look at printed pages! Even the Man of the House, who is very good with modern technology, was about to give up. Then, in sheer desperation, he picked the printer up, and shook it - and it rattled! So he turned it upside down, and shook it again... And look what popped out...
Apparently it's a tip from from a screwdriver with interchangeable heads, and we have no idea where it came from, but the printer, which has always been a little idiosyncratic, is now behaving itself and working perfectly. So I have copies of the handbook and module, which I have sat and read very carefully, before drawing up a rough schedule, so I have a plan to follow and won't fall behind.

Embroidery books which may be useful are stacked on the dining room table, the camera is ready for use, and I made a list of things I need for the course, then turned the spare room upside down searching through the threads and fabrics I've hoarded for years, and the various bits and bobs I've kept in case they come in useful one day. And I've looked through the art supplies left behind by my elder daughter when she moved away, so I do have quite a lot of stuff that I can use.

I even ticked things off as I found them, and made another list of things to buy, before heading off to the shops! For example, we have tissue paper in every hue, except the required white and black. Ditto the oil pastels. And the wax crayons were in a sorry state because I grated them and ironed them on to bits of material... The major buy was a spiral A5 notebook, with cartridge paper, which makes me feel like a proper artist, even if I'm not. So I'm all ready to go. Next up are photos of walls. Then I can make rubbings of my chosen surface.

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