Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Crewel Birds

Open for pre-ordering

I heard yesterday afternoon that the ship carrying my Crewel Birds book has docked in Cape Town.  This means that within a very short space of time, boxes and boxes of books will be arriving at our gate.  So exciting when this happens, almost as good as receiving the advance copies.

I have spent this morning publishing everything on the website and opening it all up for pre-order, if you want to get in there quickly.  Not that we intend to run out of anything.

If you want to order the book you will find it here.

But.  Before you do that, we are doing a launch special.  We have put together 5 specials, all of which include one of my previous books along with the Birds book, both together at a good price.  So, if you want one of those older books along with the Birds book, now is the time to get that book.  You will find those specials here.

What about the packs you might ask?  Well, those are up there, ready to be ordered too.  If you order them now, along with the books, we will put your order together and hold onto it until we can add the new book.  Be assured, your order will go out on the day that the books arrive.  So, here are the links for the packs for the six projects in the book.

The packs for Claude the Phoenix are available here

The next project in the book is Colin the Rooster and you can find the packs for him here.

Then there's Dave the Pheasant and you'll find all the paraphernalia for him here.

Dave is followed by Kevin, also a pheasant but more fanciful, designed to be more 'Jacobean'.  His packs are here.

Named after a beautiful boy dog that I had some years ago, Dick the Duck's packs can be found here.

Last but by no means least, there is Nigel the Flamingo and his packs are to be found here.

All of these projects are approximately the same size and were designed with the intention of putting them together in one 'rag book', instructions for the making of which are in the Crewel Birds book.  So that they would be sufficiently stable to form the page of a book, they have all been sandwiched and quilted.  We fully expect that many of you will not want to do that as without the quilting rigmarole they will still make a beautiful framed picture or even a cushion.  If you order the full kit, you will get the batting.  If you don't want the batting, order each pack separately.  

So, there you go.  Do you worst. 

And while you're on our website you may notice that it's had a bit of a spring clean.  It now looks cleaner and crisper, ordering information that, I hope, covers all the questions I am asked is up there, as are photographs and information on all our staff - so you know who you are communicating with. 

I didn't upload the information for the last two books, someone else did.  Someone who didn't spell very well (my favourite being the indelible ink that was inedible). It seemed like a good idea to make the time to correct all of that while we were waiting for the new book.  If you find any more spelling mistakes (I dare you) you'd better let me know.  I'll hang my head in shame and correct them. 

With kind regards,

Monday, 29 July 2019

World Embroidery Day 30th July Promotion

World Embroidery Day 30th July

At around lunchtime on Saturday, this past weekend, I finished writing my forthcoming bird book.

My husband had arrived home with a couple of boxes of cupcakes which he had bought at a local child welfare charity event and in order to celebrate I indulged my sweet tooth by making a jolly good effort to eat the lot - no I didn't eat them all, but I gave it a good try. But stuffing my face with baked goods is not really enough and as the end of that huge task almost coincides with world embroidery day, I can't think of a better reason to have a little promotion on our website.

So, if you go to World Embroidery Day Promotion in the Online Shop on our website you will find that all of the books I have written have been marked down by 25% for the next week. In addition to the books, we have a selection of full kits that have been marked down by 30% if you buy the full kits and 25% if you buy the packs individually.

So, have fun and in the meantime here's a little taste of the birds. The book will be called Crewel Birds and in it you will find:

Claude the Fanciful Phoenix

Colin the Rooster

Dave the Pheasant

Kevin the Fanciful Pheasant

Dick the Duck

and a not great photo of Nigel the Flamingo

It's a way off yet as we still need to do the photo shoot - which will only happen in early October as I have to travel to Australia and back before I get myself down to Cape Town for that.  Then, of course, Metz Press do the book design, it goes off to print and then they are all loaded on a ship to get to us here in South Africa and the various other countries.  At the moment I don't have any projected publication date but I am going to say March/April 2020.

So, there you have it.  In the meantime, have a look at our promotion and - because I can't help myself, I am going to finish with a photo of Tony.  

A few weeks ago, Lily and I met up in a park with a few of the puppies from her litter.  Monica, who I kept, came too as did, amongst others, Tony who went to a friend.  They walked and ran, roughed and tumbled, climbed up grassy hillocks, had so much fun and on the way home in the car Tony was so tired that he just fell asleep without taking the time to lie down.  We're meeting regularly and it is quite the best way to spend a few hours on a weekend afternoon.

Till next time, 

Saturday, 6 April 2019

We've come up for air.......

We've had a really slow start to the year with building alterations to our studio.

We added two extra rooms and, best of all, tiled the floors throughout. This building was originally a double garage and servants' quarters, so not great floors and dust was a huge problem.

So, with the floors being done, we had to move out completely and put everything in my house. Kit stock bins, crates of thread boxes, stationery, sewing and winding machines - you name it, the spare bedrooms, the lounge and dining room, the passages, even one of the bathrooms and the kitchen didn't escape and this was for the whole of January and most of February. We continued to work, get the orders out, from our study which suddenly became inhabited by extra computers, printers, etc.

Building, by its very nature, always takes longer, costs more than you anticipate and makes a mess. If the truth be told, we should have done these alterations years ago but one has to face all this, along with one of our dogs that barks incessantly when we have workmen on the property. So, we didn't do it. But eventually needs must and all that.

Eventually it was all finished and we moved back into what is now a wonderful space, in the first half of March. We have enough space for everything - in fact, more than we need but you can be certain we'll fill it up, that happens. We even have electrical sockets where we need them, lights as we want them, with floor space for dog beds, gotta have the dog beds.

So now, having got ourselves supremely sorted out, stock recorded, website up to date, we are ready to celebrate with a 25% off everything sale.

If you go to our website, everything is marked down for the next two weeks. We have good stocks of everything, but as is normally the case, don't wait too long as stock tends to go fast when we have a promotion. Our website works in such a way that things disappear when stocks have run out so, if something doesn't appear it is because that particular item has sold out already.

As far as the rest of the year is concerned, I will be in Australia in September teaching at the Perth Embroidery Guild's 50th anniversary Threads of Gold convention. I will be travelling over a couple of weeks before the convention and doing a bit of a round trip, teaching in Brisbane, Caloundra, Geelong, Bendigo and in the Perth Hills. These workshops have been organised by the guilds and various groups in those centres and may or may not be open to non-group/guild members but if you would like the details, email me on and I will put you in touch with the relevant person.

Before I leave for Australia I intend to finish (have to finish) my Crewel Birds book. The intended publication date for that book is around March/April 2020 and it will comprise 6 birds - 2 of them in a very Jacobean style (firebird, phoenix, that kind of thing) and the other 4 will be quite non-traditional. A rooster, a pheasant, a mallard duck and a flamingo. Here's a little taste of two of them and I hope that they will garner approval from you.

I so enjoyed designing and stitching the birds in my Crewel Creatures book that I felt the need to do more, so a whole book of them. Currently being stitched and written under distracting circumstances, however, because we have seven weapons of mass distraction.

Bred with my heart and not my head with Lily, who has her father's beautiful temperament and her mother's mischief, the perfect dog. Perfection that had to be passed on. Father is Freddie who belongs to a friend and also have a lovely nature, as well as being a very handsome chap. They were born by C-Section on the 6th of March and are now just over four weeks old. At around 3 weeks, they turned from little blobby, ratty things into dogs. Puppies that play, bark, fight, eat hungrily and give us endless hours of pleasure. We just sit and stare at them, even if they're not doing much at all. Puppies do that to you.

Unlike her mother's litter which had to be hand-reared when Brenda got terrible mastitis, this has gone so smoothly. Lily is the most exceptional mother, all the puppies are healthy and we are in puppy heaven. And there are three white puppies, like Grandad, so I'll be keeping one of those, for sure. One of the little girls and her name is Monica.

We did try to let her have the puppies naturally but had expected that not to happen because Brenda and Brenda's mother didn't go into second stage labour and Lily obviously has the same genetic thing, so after a few hours at home in the early hours, I took her into the animal hospital as soon as they opened, and the decision was made. It was an interesting morning at the vet, even landed up with an article in our local newspaper and if you want to read about it, you can access it here. Talk about being exposed, my potty mouth. The vet who wrote that does a regular column for our local rag and is an old friend of mine. We often swear at each other.

Freddie, the father, in the meantime has gone in for the chop, poor boy. A day or two before the puppies were born he got into an altercation with a monkey in his garden and came off second best. He was stitched up, got rabies' boosters, lots of antibiotics, all sorts of things and learnt nothing from the experience. The moment he was feeling up to it he was out chasing monkeys again, so he sealed his fate. But at least we got a really nice bunch of babies before all that. Silly boy.

So, having given you an update on Boxer dogs in Africa, all that remains is to say take advantage of our 25% off sale. We hope to switch on our computers to a full inbox on Monday and, as always, will get everything out to you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Till next time, Hazel


Friday, 16 November 2018

We've got some really nice specials for you.....

It's that time of year when, after a really busy time, we sit down, take stock, think about what we're doing next and - while we're about it - try to give our loyal customers an end of year 'gift' in the form of specials. And no, this is not Black Friday. We don't do Black Friday, we prefer to just be nice to you when we can find the time to do that.

So here we go.

This book, a collaboration between Di van Niekerk, Monique Day-Wilde and myself, came out about two months ago and, I'm afraid, with not a lot of fanfare from me. I was in Australia and not in a position to write to all of you. So, to make up for that, I'm doing it now and to make up for my tardiness, we are running a special.

We don't stock all of the kits on our website, only the ones where I was involved in the stitch design. You will find all of those on our website on the Mandala Special page. For the next two weeks, if you purchase 3 full kits of any of the designs on that page we will send you the Mandala book for nothing. To sweeten the pill some more, we have put a 10% discount on all of those kits for the same period. You will also find the same thing happens on our normal Mandala Page.

My Crewel Creatures book has been so well received and I have received so many compliments, so thank you all for that and to celebrate the fact that you like the book, we are offering full kits of all the creatures on our End of Year Specials page at a 30% discount.

In amongst the Crewel Creatures are the Tumbleweeds Series, currently our other popular line and also at a 30% discount for the full kits.

And also..............the bead flower brooch. Specifically designed with instructions that take you through 3-dimensional bead flowers, I did this for those that need to have more extensive instructions that there is ever space for in any book or similar publication. I am in the process of putting a whole bead embroidery book together, similar to the Needle Lace and Needle Weaving books but these things take time. So until I've actually come up with that book, the bead flower brooch gives you some fairly good instructions and we are offering our stock at a 30% discount.

And now, onto the subject of threads. It has become difficult to get Anchor threads - which is a pity because they were really nice with some sublime colours, but that's life. Because of this, I made a decision to, therefore, up our range of DMC threads and in the next month or so the last of the stock should arrive. When it does, we will have the entire ranges of: Stranded Cotton, Colour Variations, Coloris, Light Effects, Satin, Perle #12, Special Dentelles and Diamant metallic threads. I will send out a newsletter with a complete list of our DMC stocks when everything is here. In the meantime, it is only the Special Dentelles and the Diamant threads that are waiting for the last few colours.

One of the problems that I encounter when I am playing around with needle weaving and needle lace techniques is the limited range of colours in the DMC Perle #12 and Dentelles ranges. The solution to that is Presencia threads. They really do have a fabulous range of colours in the Finca Perle threads and I have started bringing in some of those in Perle #12 (simiilar to DMC Perle #12) and Perle #16 (simiilar to DMC Dentelles). I'm slowly building up this range and if you click on the links to each page you will be able to see what we have in stock at present, remembering to check in from time to time to see what we've added. On both of those pages are links to colour charts, so have a look at those. Such a fabulous range of colours and, having worked with it over the last year or two, I can tell you that it is good quality thread.

So, that's it for now. Must get on with the next thing that has to be done and we do hope you will be tempted by our specials.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Going Round In Circles

Going Round In Circles

Around the end of November last year, a week or so after I had my shoulder fixed - so my arm was still in a sling - we had a bit of a dog fight here.  With blood. Never nice when that happens and I was to be found doing an emergency dash to the vet with a distressed Maltese and my own dicky right arm.  I left her there to be fixed up and came home somewhat unhappy myself and set about sorting out the root of the problem - another Maltese who was living with us and was upsetting the balance.

Halfway through organising her a fabulous new home (where she is now settled, spoilt and very happy) I received a message from my publisher asking me if I would collaborate with Di van Niekerk and Monique Day-Wilde to stitch and write a book on hand embroidered mandalas.  Being a most agreeable person I said yes, no problem, absolutely fine and got on with my day which ended with me picking up poor little Phoebe the Maltese from the vet, still a bit confused from the anaesthetic and with all sorts of drains coming out of her worst wounds.  I'm pleased to report that she got back to normal very quickly and all is now happy in the Blomkamp Dog pack or, as I call them, our armed response team.  Because we have crime, they are our first line of defence.

But back to the mandalas.  I woke up the next morning realising that stitching 25 mandalas (between Di and me) in four months was going to be a bit of a stretch.  Actually, impossible.  So, got on the blower to Di and said we are going to have to find a team to help us.  By the end of our conversation we had identified 11 people who we could ask to help and we set about asking them.

And this is what I want to tell you.  

Every time I phoned one of them I did so with trepidation.  It was a big thing to ask.  I fully expected some, if not all of them, to refuse and to tell me a thing or two whilst doing that.  Well, that didn't happen and currently there are 13 of us, all over South Africa, madly stitching till late every night.  Di and I do a wedge of each circular design, put the threads and beads together, write up basic instructions and a stitch guide and send it off to whoever is going to do the repeats and turn it into a completed project.  We have people popping into our homes to fetch (and as of a week ago, deliver) and Aramex Couriers are being kept very busy delivering, fetching and delivering back to us those that are being worked in other centres.

Every single person we asked - and admittedly we only asked people who we knew were competent along with being nice people - has come to the party with enthusiasm and some even said they felt honoured or excited, said thanks for trusting me.  

I probably don't even need to mention that, on the whole, I trust dogs more than I trust most people but this is the second time in less than a year that I have been pulled up on this, the first being the wonderful response to Inspirations Magazine's request for donations of needlework supplies to the ladies in Harare, Zimbabwe.  Wow, was that amazing and did it go a long way to restoring my faith in humanity, particularly in these turbulent times.

And now again.  What a wonderful bunch of ladies we have helping us.  Our work party.  

It's too soon to tell you anything about this forthcoming book other than to say that it is going to be varied, colourful, but also with some more muted mandalas.  Monique's designs are out of this world and it is such fun working out stitches and colours to do them justice.  The wide range of designs will be divided up into skill levels so that there will be something for everyone - from very simple to the more complicated techniques - and we envisage that it could also be a great teaching tool for all you tutors out there.  We haven't yet got as far as a publication date, but I will keep you posted on this.

In the meantime, I am sitting some 8 to 10 hours a day doing circles and loving the process.  Some of them remind me of previous circular designs I have done and because I'm so enthused I decided maybe we should do a special on some circular designs. 

So here they are.   Full kits for all of them have been marked down by 25% and they are available at this price until the 22nd February or until stocks run out, whichever happens first.

Midnight Meander featured on the cover of Crewel Twists and remains popular.  If you would like to order the full kit at a 25% discount, click on the image above or here and choose "full kit" in the drop down menu when the page opens.

Jacobean Tangle turned out to be the most popular design in the Crewel Twists book and features small areas of needle lace, along with more conventional crewel stitches - and beads.  If you would like to order the full kit at a 25% discount, click on the image above or here and choose "full kit" in the drop down menu when the page opens.

And then two designs that are similar to mandalas in that the projects involve repeats.  One would think that it would be tedious to repeat what you have already done but my experience is that this is not the case.  You are watching the whole thing come together as you stitch and that is not at all boring.

Monochromatic designs don't show up particularly well in photographs - well not if you have my lack of photographic skills - but I loved doing 8 Shades Of Beige.  It is delicate and filled with really interesting needle lace stitches, bead embroidery stitches and, of course, crewel stitches.  If you would like to order the full kit at a 25% discount, click on the image above or here and choose "full kit" in the drop down menu when the page opens.

And the last one is a mandala design that I did a few years ago.

Called Mandala Magic, it is full of my 'tricks' - weaving, needle lace, beads, you name it.  My original intention was to mount it in a pole screen and I am still going to do that one day.  Just have to find the time to have one made.  If you would like to order the full kit at a 25% discount, click on the image above or here and choose "full kit" in the drop down menu when the page opens.

So, there you go girls.  Get in quickly because these specials usually go fast.

My new book, Crewel Creatures, is about six weeks away.  If you want to get a small preview of what the book looks like, either go to my home page or click here.  You'll be able to have a squizz at the back and front covers along with a selection of the content pages.

When I know that the arrival of boxes of books into my studio is imminent, we will be uploading all of the packs - along with the books - on the website and I will let you know they are there.  We intend to do specials on a selection of the full kits, so watch out for that.

And now I'm going to go back to stitching mandalas.  I think I'm on number 13 but, actually, I've lost count.

Till the next time,

Monday, 13 November 2017

Two New(ish) Books

Some of you will remember, and will have purchased, my needle lace and needle weaving stitch guide books. 

I put those books together as a teaching tool, a place where all of the techniques relating to either needle lace or needle weaving, as one would use them in hand embroidery, were in one place with easy access.  I then sent a copy of each to Mary Corbet who reviewed them on her blog.  If you want to read that review (and its update) you'll find it here.

And things went crazy! As they always do when Mary Corbet says something about anything. With justification of course. Mary is always worth listening to, no matter how clever you are (or think you are).

As a result of Mary's post, Search Press asked me if they could publish them on my behalf. I have a great relationship with Search Press in the UK, because they publish my other books in conjunction with Metz Press in South Africa. They redesigned the books to suit their regular format and those books are now available.

Actually, they're been available for a while but as I have only just received stock of them, I have held back on writing about them until now.

So, what do you need to know if you already have them in the old format?

The content of each book is identical to what it was before. If you buy the new editions you won't find any additional stitches or information but what you will find is strong binding, books that are really well put together. I really am not trying to tempt you here, just raving a bit because they really are nice.

The way they have been put together allows you to be able to put a magnetic board and ruler under each page, having folded the covers back. This makes it easy to keep track of where you are. I will be putting together a short video clip of how this works, so watch out for that.

For those of you that would like to order them from me, you will find them here and here on my website.

If you are in South Africa, then it would probably be where you would want to order them from. You will also be able to find them at places like Exclusive Books, Bargain Books, CNA and, of course, on

If, however, you are elsewhere in the world you will find it cheaper from the shipping point of view to order them from places like Amazon (here and here), Book Depository (here and here) or, of course, you local needle work supplier. I know that a lot of the needle work suppliers that I deal with in Australia and New Zealand have got them in already, so it's a good idea to check with them first if you're in that part of the world.

Unlike my other books and also my forthcoming book, Crewel Creatures, these two books are stitch and technique guides. They do not include any projects, are a reference for you to use in your own embroidery, rather like those stitch guide books from days gone by (the TH de Dillmont book, Mary Thomas's book, the Weldon's book) and those from recent times, my favourites being the A-Z guides put together by Inspirations Magazine and now published by Search Press.

I have already received a couple of emails from those who have enjoyed my other books asking me how they're going to use these books and to this end I have spent the afternoon putting a lot of information onto the product pages for these books on my website. That information includes the designs that, in each instance, use the techniques described in these new books.

So, even if you are going to order from a supplier close to you, it might be worth looking at the product pages here and here. When you get to these pages scroll down to where there are lists of designs. Each one has a link ascribed to it and a simple click will take you to the page for each of those designs that use either needle lace or needle weaving techniques - or both in many cases.

It goes without saying that my forthcoming book, Crewel Creatures, features quite a few needle lace and needle weaving stitches. When that is ready for launch, I will add the relevant designs to the product pages for these two books.

The most useful way to use all of these stitches is in crazy patchwork either in conjunction my own book, Hand Stitched Crazy Patchwork, or any other crazy patchwork that you'd like to try.

So, having inundated you with information today, I promise to shut up for a while. Life is busy and somehow, becomes compartmentalised. I stitch every single day, but then I'm also doing diagrams, writing, dealing with order issues, couriers, post office, website.........and so it goes on. Then just when everything seems to be going smoothly, a dog gets sick (two of them last week because I have altogether far too many dogs), so they have to go to the vet.

'm sorry that both of these got done on the same day and I hope I haven't (in the words of my wonderful son) cooked your collective brains. If I have, I apologise.

Till next time (which will be a while, I promise)


Showcasing Crewel Creatures

About ten days ago I received the first proofs of Crewel Creatures from Metz Press. That's always an exciting time for me because I am always amazed at how Wilsia Metz and Liezl Maree take my ramblings along with the photos from the photo shoot and weave them into a work of art. They have, once again, produced a beautiful book.

Some years ago I spotted a painting of an owl in the window of an art gallery in a quaint village area of Montreal. Although it was probably in what is known as the 'steam punk' style, it was the clock face tummy that caught my eye. I obsessed for the rest of my Canadian trip over how I could interpret that idea, particularly the tummy, in Jacobean embroidery. Owlfred was the result and while I was stitching him it dawned on me that there was absolutely no reason to stop with an owl, why not other animals and birds?

It's been about two years in the making and Crewel Creatures is the result of those imaginings.

In the book you will find:

The shell of a tortoise is an area which cries out for Jacobean elements. Norman, as he is known, is colourful and decorative.

Living in Africa, as I do it was inevitable that I would choose to interpret the animals and birds that reside on this continent. Audrey is worked, not in the normal colours of an ostrich but rather, in the colours of the Klein Karoo, the area in South Africa where you would expect to find these large flightless birds.

Having enjoyed Owlfred, I wanted to do another owl for the book. One in full flight, about to pounce on the rat that, as is happens, ate my ethernet cables at about the time I was dreaming about it, the rhodent that left me with no internet for a while. Maureen is a big girl. She needed to be large if the Jacobean elements were going to look like anything at all so she is a long project but really will take pride of place on any wall when completed and framed.

To my mind, the hood of a cobra is an area just waiting for Jacobean embellishment. Despite this, a snake is a subject that may not appeal to many even though it often formed a part of the old Jacobean Tree of Life pieces, so it took a while to make the decision to include Janet and of course, she needed to be a happy and pretty snake. So, plenty of small glass pearls and a smile on her face. I have to say, I did enjoy stitching her.


hat could be more African than an elephant and also, the next and final design, a Rhino. Shirley is a stylised elephant with large, decorative ears. It is those larger ears that distinguish the African from the Asian elephant and, having seen images of so many decorative elephants that come from Asia, it was very difficult to not automatically fill her with red and gold elements. Instead, she is altogether more muted which, despite the common belief that Africa is mostly a continent of bright orange sunsets and brightly coloured Ndebele art, are very much the shades that you will find on this most colourful of continents.

Both of these animals are on the endangered list, the Rhino critically so with Rhino poaching being one of the great scourges of our time. At least every week there will be footage and mention of Rhino slaughter on our local television news and all of this because far away men from another continent believe that its horn, ground into powder, is an aphrodisiac. I had a lot of fun with Roger's hide and the trees behind him - using a freestyle variety of stitches to create texture.

I'm privileged to have seen both of these large animals many times, and in their natural habitat. I hope that they will still be around for future generations to be equally privileged.

So, when will you be able to get this book?

As mentioned, it is still in its production phase. I expect to have copies in late February to early March, that being for the South African market. With regard to the rest of the world, that will be a little later, around the beginning of June. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Book Depository, Fishpond and I would imagine other book websites No pressure then for the author. It's quite nerve wracking when you're still busy with it and it's already out there. If you click on the book site links above you will be able to pre-order right now. But best not to tell me you've done that. It's nail biting stuff until I receive the advance copies and know it's real.

As soon as I get boxes of the book available in my studio, the packs will go online. They will be the normal packs that we provide - i.e. print packs, bead packs, thread packs and speciality thread packs. Obviously you will need the book for the instructions and we provide the packs to make it easier for you. No tracing onto fabric, no trying to source threads and beads from all over the place. All in one place from us.

But what are you going to do in the meantime if you would like to start on a creature. Maybe this will solve your problem.

We have full kits of Owlfred available on our website at a discounted price. Well, only 8 of them because that's what we have in stock. We've got them at that price until the end of November so if you want one at a good price, probably get there quite quickly. Click here and you'll be taken to the place where you can order one.

So, that's Crewel Creatures.

I'm afraid that you're going to be hearing from me again very soon because I also have two other new books. I'm going to write a separate newsletter about that, just so that we don't mix things up too much.

Till then, Hazel