I think it’s time to catch up with all of you.
I’m not great at putting out newsletters and that’s mostly because we’re so busy getting on with all of the things that need to be done to create what we create and get those products out to you. I have, however, gone a bit quiet – particularly on social media – over the last few months and there’s a reason for that. It’s the learning curve, the journey that we’ve all been on since the whole world went online, started Zooming.
In September last year I acquired a wonderful new video camera, on the advice of someone who knows a lot about these things. It is one with high resolution – sometimes too high – and I sit most days, 7 days a week, making new stitch and technique videos. As I do each one, I work up new illustrations and instructions. Then I upload them on our tuition site.
I am fully aware of the fact that I don’t make things easy. I modify ‘other’ needlework techniques for use in embroidery, I invent things and I also tweak existing stitches to make them somewhat out of the ordinary. Then I must teach people what to do because as much as I explain them in my stitch instructions, sometimes it is just better to demonstrate, show how it’s done.
As much as I have had plenty to say about the political reaction to Covid (and don’t get me started on the vaccinations, I was one who had a reaction to it), the one thing that it did do is to force all of us kicking and screaming into doing things online. It forced me to learn how to do videography, a thing I was always a bit scared of (if I’m honest).
I started with a GoPro on my head. It worked and worked quite well but all the time, I knew it wasn’t quite good enough. With a bit of homework, a bit of experience, a bit of advice, I am now satisfied – with the new camera – that the resolution is darn good. Other than my fingers sometimes getting in the way, you really can see exactly what I’m doing and that is why I am redoing every single clip.
Other than updating the clips on the existing online workshops, most importantly, I am updating the online needle lace dictionary. My needle lace techniques book is no longer available and I’m not sure that it’s going to be reprinted. I might put out a publication in the future but for now, I am making all of those stitches available online, in that dictionary. Each stitch comes with a video and a downloadable pdf instruction sheet. One that includes a diagram and, as always, the words.
If you’ve already bought that product, you will find that every time you access it, it has changed slightly. Been added to, video clips changed, and pdf instructions added. If you haven’t and would like to buy it, click here and you’ll be taken to the page on our website where you can order it. Once you’ve completed the order, our website automatically emails the access document to you, you click on the link, the access document opens up and you just follow the instructions to get into the private domain. It’s a good idea to save it somewhere on your hard drive so that when you want to access it again, you know where that document is.
You might not want to have the entire needle lace dictionary or, you might want other stitches. Maybe the needle weaving or some of those tweaks and inventions of mine. Whilst still being added to, those are available by clicking here. If you surf through that category on our website, you’ll find all sorts of embroidery, needle weaving and embroidery techniques which are available to purchase at a very reasonable price. Each one consists of a video clip and pdf instructions with diagram/s and like with the needle lace dictionary, when you place the order, access is automatically emailed to you.
Or not. Because sometimes things decide not to work like they’re supposed to. But then, you just drop me an email and I make sure you get what you need to have.
If you want to see the quality of the videos and instructions, have a look at this page. It will give you a reasonable idea.
In between all this high-powered technological stuff, I have completed my bead embroidery techniques book and it is currently at the printers being printed. It is available as an e-book here but for those of you that would prefer a hard copy, it’s on the way and as with most things, when we have it in stock, I’ll announce it on our Facebook Page.
If you don’t already follow us on Facebook, may I suggest that you do. We find that it is the best way to get things out to everyone and we use it whenever we have something to announce. I post on Instagram as well, but I find that I’m not very good at that, so Facebook is the better option.
In between all of this, I still stitch. Believe it or not. The image above is a small design, colourful, interesting stitches and well, just pretty. One of my proof stitchers is currently busy stitching through it and as soon as she’s done with it, we’ll print the books of instructions and make the kit available on our website.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I get the urge to work in monochromes. So, that’s the image above and like with the previous design, one of my proof stitchers is currently busy stitching through it and as soon as she’s done with it, we’ll print the books of instructions and make the kits available on our website.
When I sent my crazy patchwork book off to my publisher, she phoned me to tell that it was a veritable encyclopaedia. This prompted us to count up all of the techniques featured in that book, and it came to something like 160. The main reason for that is because my original idea for the book was to explore the concept of embellishing crazy patch ‘from scratch’. In other words, why stitch on a piece of machine-made lace when you can work needle lace in situ. Why turf on a button when you can put a 3-dimensional beadwork flower in that place. I took it even further by doing one or two of the designs that were truly from scratch. Even the ‘patches’ which would normally be pieces of fabric, were worked with weaving, needle lace or embroidery techniques to resemble crazy patchwork.
I had such fun working up that book and there is a special place in my heart for the embellishment of crazy patchwork because each little area is like a small project on its own.
So, coming soon – as soon as I’ve finished the other videos – is an online workshop which I am going to call the Embellishment of Crazy Patchwork. It’s an extensive workshop that will involve some live sessions and also, lots and lots of access to videos of the techniques on the tuition website.
Also on their way are some of the workshops that I did online for the EGA last year. Specifically, Tumbleweeds 1 and 3.
When these become available, you can choose to do them on your own or – having now got some experience of online workshops, my advice is to do them in groups. Because online teaching is somewhat remote, we have found that when people are gathered in groups, they help each other here and there. Because one person understands the concept quicker and better than others and can assist those that haven’t quite got it.
I find it so frustrating when I hear someone battling in the background and can’t just say, ‘give me your hoop, I’ll show you’. But those gathered in groups tend to help one another and at the end of the day, everyone gets it – even those sitting on their own at home. It just takes longer.
So, keep an eye on our announcements. As soon as all these things are ready, we will announce them.
And if you thought I had given up writing books, I haven’t. Phillipa Turnbull and I are collaborating on a book that will best be described as A Timeline of Crewel Embroidery. Phillipa, with her historical knowledge and expertise, will be doing the historical stuff and I will be doing the more modern interpretation of this wonderful genre. We are both providing three designs. One each a floral design, one each an animal design and then, one design that starts off with an identical drawing which will be interpreted by each of us. Great fun to do and as I am always getting requests for designs that incorporate pets, as opposed to wild animals, my animal design includes a tabby cat.
Here's a little hint of the kitty.
We don’t have cats because Boxer dogs and cats are not a good mix. Not kind to the cats. My son has a tabby cat called Tiny (because he was found in the wheel arch of a truck, very tiny, very young and was hand reared to adulthood). I send him phone photos of my progress and he assures me that what I’m doing looks just like Tiny.
So, somehow between all of this we manage to still play with the dogs in between working. Duke the Bulldog and Donald the Boxer love their tugs-of-war with the rope toys every morning, throughout the morning and we keep going between our power cuts – I’m currently working in the dark with my computer on an inverter.
It is worth mentioning, while I have your attention, that the electricity problems in South Africa are so bad that it is not out of the realms of possibility that there will be a complete grid collapse. The whole country will go down and apparently it will take two to three weeks to get it going again. We have alternatives in the form of generators, solar and inverters in our own home but I suspect that if the grid collapses, internet and communications generally will disappear.
So, if you have emailed me and don’t get a reply in a reasonable time, google something along the lines of ‘South African power grid collapse’. You might find that it’s happened and you’ll then just have to be patient, knowing that I will get back to you as soon as I can.
You can also think about the fact that we will be surviving on the tinned and dry goods that we have stocked up on. Because we won’t be able to buy anything. We won’t be able to draw cash and the card machines won’t work. Oh well. Maybe it won’t happen but if it does, we have prepared for it.
So, that’s my catch up. As I’ve said, keep any eye open for our announcements. As soon as I get all these things finished, ready to roll, we’ll announce it on the Facebook Page. Click on the link to begin to follow us, if you don’t already.