Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year! Choice . Chance . . or Luck?

One should always be appropriately dressed when teaching!

It's New Years Eve, how did that happen? 
It is a great time to look back over the past year and think of friends you have met, places you have been and the wonderful things you have seen.

2015 was a busy year with 2 trip to the Antipodes, 3 trips to Ireland - 2016 will be even more bonkers . . .

A sign on the wall of the World of Wearable Art exhibition in Auckland.

I have met a lot of you at the various shows that I do throughout the year, both for myself and for Vilene. We have wonderful chats and discussions about all manner of things as well as textiles, and of course, chocolate! 
One of the main topics seems to be how lucky I am. Until the middle of this year, I had never really though about it - I always say Yes! I am. A good friend of mine who also works on the stand with me, pointed out with great emphasis, that I am not 'lucky'. I have made the decisions and choices that have brought me to this point in my life. I have also worked quite hard in my field for the past 25 years. Having never really thought about it before, it was quite a surprise to think about my life as a series of choices and decisions (some good - some terrible). Of course, chance does come into it. But not as much as you think. One of the best decisions I ever made, was to be different. It took longer for me to get established - but it has been worth it.

My greatest support - my sister - Lynda, 
making Snowball cocktails on Christmas morning

Few of us get by without the support of colleagues, friends and family. They also play a big part. I have spent most of this holiday thinking and planning and taking stock - as you may have noticed.

Anyway - enough of the thinking, lets get on with the blog post.
2015 started with a trip to New Zealand - I LOVE New Zealand. I had been asked to teach at the Quilt Symposium at Palmerston North. 5 x one day workshops!!! I am always amazed at quilters wanting to do workshops with me. 
You have an idea of what a 'quilter' is and what sort of courses they might enjoy. Of course, they are just like anybody else, they want to try all the latest techniques and work with tutors they find interesting.

The tutors who taught at the symposium. From all corners of the world.

The Quilt Symposium was remarkable - over 1.000 students. It was incredibly well organised down to the smallest detail. I have worked at various residential courses both in the UK and in Australia, but I have never experienced anything quite like this event. It really was truly astounding. It was wonderful to meet and work alongside such fabulous tutors - we had a ball - we did work hard too.

One of the happy students on the 1 day version of 'A New Starting Point'.

All my courses were full, even the design one. . . it had a waiting list as well.

The group getting stuck into their 'journeys'.

If you would like to see more of this amazing event have a look at this past blog post.

After the North Island - it was onto the South Island and my mateys Denise and Christine. Having been to New Zealand a few times I have made some lovely friends. These 2 are the best - such fun. Christine had arranged for me to teach a design based workshop that led onto making printing blocks and printing fabrics. This was based in Blenheim. Everyone sees what I am teaching in the UK via the blog and Facebook - they then also want to play!

Christine and Denise looking at the 'journeys' on the wall.

Denise painting up her 2 colour way section from her journey.

The group chatting and printing.

Christine mucking about!

On of the designs made into printing blocks and then printed.

More of this workshop can be seen here . .

Back home in February is was on with the shows and more workshops. As many of you will know, most of my bookings are made 1 - 2 years ahead. Large events like the Symposium are booked 3 years ahead. So it is always great when a workshop that has been in the diary for a long while, hoves into view.

I taught workshops at Art Van Go in Knebworth, The Bridge in Brighton and for guilds in Newbury, Solihull and North Kent and Belsey Bridge and Chichester. I get the best students, they work hard and have fun.

I love the excitement at the end of a workshop when everyone is looking at the  work created on the workshop.

 One of the samples created on the Solihull workshop.
Lutradur applique cut with a soldering iron.

One of the greatest pleasures I have is teaching my Experimental Textiles course. I am currently teaching it at the IDC Studios at The Old Needleworks in Redditch. The course is going well. It is run over 9 weekends from June to March. If you are interested in the course, have a look at the website. 
This is the 4th year of my teaching the course in its current form. I will be teaching one more year after this, then I will stop and teach it online.

ExTex 4 drawing the still life.

The Vilene stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexander Palace

I appear to have created my job with Vilene. I am officially a Creative Consultant. As many of you will know, I have been working and experimenting with Vilene products for years. It seems I am employable!!! It means I get to do The Festival of Quilts and The Knitting and Stitching Shows, at least for the next 2 years. All the shows and dates are on the diary on the right of this post.

I dashed off to Australia in September to teach at the Geelong Forum. I flew into Melbourne and the day after I arrived I met the lovely Glenys Mann for lunch in Federation Square. I hadn't seen her for a year or so - it was a real treat to have a good catch up.

Glenys Mann outside one of the exhibitions we visited at Federation Square.

On the way to Federation Square I walked down one of my favourite lanes in Melbourne - the one that is full of graffiti.

This one caught my eye amongst all the colourful madness.

There is a lot more about my time in Melbourne and the graffiti here

Before I taught at the Forum in Geelong, I met up with my friend Gillian who is a member of the Geelong Embroiderers Guild and had organised for me to teach - yes,  you guessed it, my design workshop. So the journeys were painted, printing blocks made and printed fabric in abundance.

  One of the printed samples created on the Geelong workshop.

There is a lot more about this workshop and some more amazing graffiti on these posts.

Then it was onto the Forum - my goodness it was fun. Hard work with lots to do but very good fun. I met some fabulous tutors and great students. They produced some remarkable work - do have a look at the blog here 1  and here
My splendid group of girls - what fun we had, and I was introduced to Haigs chocolate -scrummy.

It was then home and straight into The Knitting and Stitching Shows, starting with Alexander Palace in London. I had 2 weeks off before the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show and spent it on the West Coast of Ireland. It is so beautiful there, I love the wildness of it. 
One of the many delights of teaching is you get you meet other tutors and make new friends. One if whom is Nicola Brown. We met on the Forum in Geelong. 
Nicola lives in County Carlow in Ireland and as luck would have it she was back home when I was there. So I drove down to see her and stay for a couple of days. She is very great fun and is a fabulous felt maker and eco dyer. I love her work.

Nicola on Carracloe beach.

I hope that I will have time to nip over to see Nicola again in 2016 and hopefully she will visit me in Brighton. To see Nicola's work - have a look here -

Are you bored yet? Nearly finished . . . 
Dear Viv from Art Van Go asked if I would work on the Artists in Action stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show. I had to get permission from Vilene as I was supposed to be on the stand - but they let me off for a morning. I had the best time and worked alongside my lovely friend Susan Chapman. 

Susan and I have an exhibition together and The Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch Show in March at the NEC. i really need to get on with some work . . .

Susan and I on the Artists in Action stand

So, you will be pleased to know that more or less brings me up to date - I leave for New Zealand on the 12th January. I hope to get one more post written before I leave about what is coming up in 2016.

Lake Rotoiti, South Island, New Zealand.

I want to thank you for being part of my life, whether you read the blog, are one of my students or a friend or colleague. 

Happy New Year!

x x x


  1. I'm so glad you love New Zealand and look forward to the time I can take one of your workshops . . . they fill up FAST!

    1. I will be teaching in NZ for 6 weeks in 2017. I am just finalising it now. 3 weeks on the North Island for the first 3 weeks of April and then onto the South Island. Once things are sorted I will post everything on the blog. x x x

  2. Enjoyed catching up with your year, all these amazing things you achieve certainly don't fall in your lap, you work very hard to have such a fun time ;) Happy & creative 2016!

    1. Thank you Emma, it does take a lot of planning. I do sometimes wonder what I am running away from!!!
      It's good to now someone is reading the blog. x x x

  3. Wow, what an energetic and creative year! Thanks for sharing everything so often with us all. By the way, running doesn't have to mean you're running 'away': couldn't it mean you're running 'to'? I don't normally reply but always read with great interest.

    1. Thank you Jane - maybe I am running to - we shall see. I appreciate your reply. x