OPL Mongram and a little bit more embroidery


OPL Monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A good busy week taking in hospital appointments, a nest of new born kittens, and 2 lunches with two pairs of old friends lured to Cheltenham with one of my husband’s monthly U3A Art Appreciation classes as bait. Oh, and a letter from our insurers to say they’ll pay for my replacement wedding ring. Little sewing but much catching up.

Detail OPL Monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Our night at Daughter No 2’s was spent in Daughter No 3’s bed, which she had kindly vacated for us. Mabel, the cat, had very cleverly chosen to have her kittens in this room, obviously in full knowledge that in Daughter No 3 she had to best possible gatekeeper to filter out any unwanted visitors. The 6 kittens were just two weeks old and stayed tucked away out of sight in their cardboard box cave, Mum Mabel came out from time to time to enjoy a bit of peace, sprawled out on a cool window sill. A very young mother – nowhere near a year old herself, Mabel had about her the air of one fighting the grip of overwhelming duty at the same time as fending off the desire for it all to be over. It’s probably 25 years since we had our last set of kittens and I was certainly way beyond remembering what it had been like. The kittens were very quiet – too quiet ?- and mum came and went silently with just a gentle thrum of a purr when she’d got all the kittens latched on and where she wanted them. I slept badly, worrying that so little noise meant the  kittens were not thriving … or even worse. Morning dawned and all was well. Since our visit they have had the once over from the vet and declared to be in good shape and healthy, though Mabel should be watched in case mastitis develops. All are girls, though the sexing of kittens is not a perfect science. Happily, 4 of the six are already spoken for.

Detail OPL Monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Daughter No 1 and family are here for the weekend. Daughter No 1 likes to go off for a day every month for a surfing lesson, although Storm Brian – or Dennis as I now realise it’s called! – has put a stop to that this weekend. Instead she will join her husband, children and me on our child friendly trip to The Wilson (Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum). I am in the middle of devising a set of questions which the small person must answer to find various items in the museum. So far, I have:

Detail OPL Monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Q: Find a mode of transport with 0 (zero)  wheels, no steering, no brakes and anything from 32 to 48 legs. (A: a dog sled- in the section devoted to polar explorer Edward Wilson.)

Q:I’m tall, green, covered in flowers and used to go tick tock. (A: A green lacquer long case clock covered in Chinoiserie flowers.)

Q: Now you use an Oyster, when I was little we just got punched. (A:a bus ticket.)

Q: A country scene. Make hay while the sun shines, men with their scythes, women making stooks. The lord of the manor observes progress on horseback. Meanwhile in a corner of the picture, Morris dancers twirl their twirls and wave their hankies. (A:One of two very big paintings showing life during harvest time at Dixton Manor, Gloucester. Dating from 1715, it is one of the earliest images of Morris dancing.)

Q: What am I? My Greek sisters stand between shops looking out over Montpellier Gardens. (A: A caryatid, based on the famous figures supporting the entablature of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis.)

Now to do some more questions.

OPL Monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This monogram is one I did a while ago, shown in a blog post about Kaffe Fassett (here) but thought it looked a bit plain compared to that I did for her sister (see last week), so I added a border of flowers.  Now I can send them both together,


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Embroidered Monogram IBL with flowers


IBL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Sun (though not really with any warmth), flowering shrubs (quince in the hedge, pink camellias and pale pink viburnums visible in next door’s garden), slightly lighter evenings and a temporary tendency to hibernation have meant this week has been quite productive with the needles and I’m almost tempted to to believe I’m catching up with my backlog. As you might have noticed this monogram is for a girl born in 2011! Some backlog! Oh well, better late than never, etc. A bit of jolly floral embroidery is always a lovely thing to do and though I did a detailed sketch, I found I kept changing things as things progressed and as  the mood took me. As well as this monogram, I’ve completed a couple of whitework initials, knitted all but the sleeves of a little cardigan and satisfied myself with a sample Fair Isle panel for another cardigan.

Detail of IBL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Next week is full and there will be little time for hands on sewing. Monday and Tuesday we are in London for another appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital where my husband hopes his eye problem is sufficiently stable for them to give him Botox to treat a long standing squint and double vision. This has worked brilliantly in the past and we are hopeful  it will again.

Detail of IBL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

On Tuesday, while he sees people in The National Gallery to talk about his research, I shall go to The Cloth House and wallow in looking at all they have to offer without being in a rush to catch a bus or train. I now need more plain white linen of a nice weight and handle for monograms and embroidered cushions. Sadly, places selling such a simple, basic, quality fabric are getting few and far between. I love John Lewis but am grief stricken at the decline of their fabric departments – dressmaking but especially furnishing. For years I bought their wonderful Appleby fabric – 55% cotton 45% linen (or it might have been vice versa). I’d wash it at 95 degrees C so it would shrink no more and from it I made blinds for all the rooms in my 6 bedroom London house and a box pleated valance for a double bed. (People knocked on the door to find where I had my blinds from. I sold them for next to nothing with the house – should have saved them and used them elsewhere.) Appleby also came in numerous lovely colours, which were tough enough for floor cushions yet smart enough for the sofa too. Appleby next came with 13 % nylon, but still mainly cotton and linen, which was just about ok. Then it disappeared altogether. At this point I moved on to Heavy Casement – 100% cotton, quite rough with a slub but so reasonable at £8 a metre. I made blinds for my daughter’s house out of this.  Now Heavy Casement too has disappeared but even worse, John Lewis seem to have no similar fabric that doesn’t have polyester. I do despair. The Cloth House is also great for hand blocked Indian cotton and I shall be tempted to buy some of this to cover scrap books and files for embroidery sketches. I may visit the big John Lewis but with a heavy heart. Hope the company’s new chair Sharon White has had time for some home sewing during her meteoric rise and can look at the relevant departments with a kindly eye.

Sketch for IBL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Thursday and Friday we have this month’s U3A Art Appreciation which David does at The Wilson (Cheltenham At Gallery and Museum). I sent out numerous Christmas cards suggesting to old friends that they come over for one of these sessions and  combine it with lunch – wouldn’t you know it, more than enough positive replies came back such that we’ve had to suggest March’s sessions too!

Alternative sketch for IBL monogram Suzani style.

I still have an unadorned fourth finger on my left hand – which feels very strange – but last week we met up with the maker of the original ring who has taken away my engagement ring so a new wedding ring will fit along side it. The old one had been blessed by a priest who later became Bishop of Monmouth but has since retired. I’m wondering whether we should seek him out to bless the new one – or am I letting what amounts to niggling superstition get the better of me?

Tomorrow our spring like weather is about to break and we are forecast the most severe storm since 2013, far too prettily name Storm Ciara, which is the third named storm of the season.  We hope we can get to London.

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