Open for pre-ordering
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.
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.
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 Takealot.com.
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)
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