Saturday, December 21

A Few Textile Treats

 In March I was in Glasgow with Jeni, Swati and Murji, touring contemporary textile makers. One highlight was the showroom of Timorous Beasties.

In springtime a carload of us headed down to Farfield Mill near Sedbergh to enjoy a great display of contemporary quilters' talents - 
 including Pauline Burbidge and Lynn Setterington
 In July I loved a trip to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. Admired so many diverse styles and themes (and succumbed to some traditional kekfesto fabric squares which patiently await transformation any time now into...err...)
 In the summer I was able to do some indigo dyeing outside - what a treat!
 And stitch up a few block-print birds, inspired by cradle toys seen in Gujarat.

I've spun many yarns this year but almost the last I did was this one, which Pat Douglas of Carlenrig Farm (have you seen her lovely work?) knitted up to keep her Italian grand daughter warm this winter.

Hope you all keep warm and dry and merry this Christmas too!

Wednesday, December 11


 I like numbers - always happy when the odometer shows a pleasing figure, especially a palindromic one. And numerically pleasing dates are pretty fine too. Today is the last date this century with three consecutive numbers, (in this country at any rate - across the pond they will have 12.13.14)

But then I like irregularity too. Especially in my stitching, fortunately. This is the pantoran - wall or window hanging -  handstitched throughout - that I made as a sample to show Souter Quilters at the workshop a month ago.
 And you might remember I posted up some of the works-in-progress on the day.

Well Charlie's work looked like this - all planned out but still to be stitched.

 So I was delighted when she sent me photos of the finished work. Look at all that lovely kantha stitching highlighting the motifs she picked! I felt a wee glow of satisfaction that folk had such fun with needle, thread and hand printed fabrics.

Charlie Rutherford's work

As we head for mid-December, I have one fair left but this time I am simply arranging who goes where and then taking refuge in the hall kitchen to make bacon rolls and heat soup. Saturday's event is the little-but-lovely Christmas Fair in Southdean Hall - doors open at 12 noon and you can check out the hall's Facebook page to see some of the great makers we have rolling up on the day.

Monday, November 25


This was the last Woolgathering of the year, held in considerable comfort in the village hall. The open fire threw out lots of heat and for a chunk of the day the winter sun streamed in the window. We had hot drinks and home baking to sustain us and some lively new faces were made very welcome. 

Round the table there was baby jacket knitting, embroidering of felt Christmas trees, beading on a new wee bead loom, quilting, fine cross stitching, knitting of a cowl in Noro yarn, more fine stitching on a frame, quilting of recycled fabrics on a floor frame, and finally I was embroidering a piece of Indian block print. A really productive day for all of us and despite the appearance of universal concentration in these images, there was much good humoured banter too.

Lately I have found it a bit blooming nippy in Tart HQ. Spinning in the warmth of the kitchen is much more appealing and I am working on building up some stock again...

Thursday, November 21


When I was in Ahmedabad I visited the Gandhi ashram, on the anniversary of his birthday. I am sure there is always a serene atmosphere there by the banks of the Sabarmati river but that day the place was filled with visitors quietly (and musically) paying their respects.
A replica of the charkha - spinning wheel - he used was on show and you could try your hand at spinning cotton on it. Elsewhere in the compound was a painting of Gandhi at work.
Checking the spelling of charkha, I found this article where one of his portable wheels has just sold for £110,000....
The simple hand-driven wheel design is not uncommon but when I saw a wee Chinese replica wheel online I thought I might give it an appreciative home. It's about five inches long and travelled safely half way around the world to Tart HQ.
Here's my most recent batch of indigo-dyed skeins, hanging close to the kitchen stove. They did not all come back home again from the Art and Design Fair, I am pleased to say.

Thursday, November 14

Nearly ready..

...for the excellent Crafters Art & Design Fair starting on Saturday. 
I have labelling and packaging to sort, fibre to card, collages to wrap. Might even polish the spinning wheel and treat the bearings to a little oil. It deserves some tender loving care considering the miles it has clocked up in the last few months. 
Sadly the spinner herself needs something substantially more drastic to rejuvenate her.

But there are some local food producers showing at the fair too so perhaps a sampling of their wares will help, as well as the goodies the Macmillan cafe has on offer. I'll be pedalling the extra calories off again. (cough)

I'm aiming to get to Berwick to catch the Border Textile Group exhibition tomorrow, on a recycling theme. Promises to be a glorious display of creative textile work - you can read more here.

Thursday, November 7

Hands On

I love leading Indian inspired workshops! People have such fun working with bright block print fabrics, simple templates, a little bling and lots of imagination. It's so good to be directly in touch with your materials, assembling everything by hand. Wavy lines and uneven stitches are good, they tell a story and show that a real person stitched the piece with pleasure, slowly and thoughtfully. 
These images are from the day I spent with Souter Quilters in Selkirk recently. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to seeing some of the finished bags and cushion panels in due course.

Since then I have been to St Abbs for a fine Wool Festival.  Enthusiastic knitters and spinners came along to browse our stalls and partake of some excellent refreshments. I had the company of my felty friend Laura Brittain on one side and Alice from Whistlebare on t'other. Such a good name for a farm, isn't it? You can just feel the wind howling across the Northumberland landscape where Alice and family keep angora goats and Wensleydale sheep.

During tomorrow evening and Saturday I will be one of the craft stall holders at the Roxburgh Federation SWRI Show in Kelso. (Scottish Women's Rural Institutes, just in case you don't know, are groups of women who meet together across Scotland - they are interested in country life, home skills, family welfare and citizenship and they promote the preservation and development of Scotland's traditions, rural heritage and culture. With an awful lot of laughs along the way!)

The craft stalls are not the main event. On show will be the combined labours of local members who have entered over sixty different creative classes - an impressive array of talent by any measure. Many will come to visit the show over the next couple of days so I am hoping to tempt them with haberdashery supplies rather than finished goods (and invite them to our Open Days here in December, of course)

Friday, November 1

Festival time

It's Knitting Season so I am off to St Abbs 
tomorrow for a fine festival of woolliness!
 If you really don't do yarn and fibre and buttons 
and needles and felt and weaving then we will 
still let you come in for delicious refreshments.
If you just fancy a bracing walk along the clifftops 
and a visit to the lovely No 4 Gallery that's OK
 but you could come into the Ebba Centre
 - you never know, you may fall in wool-love
 And Christmas could be a lot easier for you
this year if you snapped up some woolly
gifts for your nearest and dearest.
 Just saying...

Sunday, October 27

Autumn lV

Before the rains came...

 Some experimental dyeing of cotton perle threads

 Putting the final touches to our Indian inspired banner 
at Borders Textile Towerhouse a few nights ago. 
Looks a little odd hung in front of a picture
 here but it will get a proper home soon.
 And a last reminder from me 
before Saturday's woolly celebrations

Saturday, October 19

Saturday, October 12

Autumn Colours ll

While out with the dogs this morning I found some little windblown acorns, and back home on the grass were rich red shades which I artistically rearranged for the camera.

Pauline whipped up this little maritime themed jacket to show off my indigo dyed double knitting. It was a lovely surprise and demonstrates perfectly how different skeins can complement each other.

Friday 2.45pm

Friday 3.00pm

I was just admiring my stock of handspun when along came Camilla and bought up the blues as a gift to a talented quilt maker in the American mid-west!