The letter J – an embroidered flourish

An enjoyably quiet week has been pleasantly productive. Sometimes when I have several projects on the go I’m reduced to vacillating indecision, moving pickily from one thing to another, and achieving little. This week, overcome by a sudden desire to do a little embroidery around the letter ‘j’ and with the time to indulge in such a whim, things have sped on.  Happily, ‘j’ is the initial of my grandson’s nursery teacher, so this can also be his Christmas present to her as well. What’s nicer than killing two birds with one stone – no, that’s not at all right, I have no desire to kill any birds or to throw stones at any living thing – but you know what I mean.

Whitework J (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Whitework is too much for my eyes in the evening (and those white lights keep me awake even further into the night than is helpful – and probably healthful) so after our evening meal the knitting comes out. I’ve had a jumper for the 4 (nearly) year-old on the go for a while now and was waiting until I got to the neck to try to work out a higher neck than that which results from the standard Debbie Bliss pattern I’ve been using for ever (well, at least 3 years). I thought I’d cracked it but then realised the casting off may be a bit too tight for his head. I’m now finishing off with a very loose casting off  (remembering it’s called ‘bind off” helps when searching for a YouTube video!).  The proof of the pudding will be in the trying on and that will have to wait until the middle of next week, when I make a lightening visit to London just for the day. It’ll be back to the graph paper and a certain amount of unpicking if that fails as I’m determined to make the neck fit better. Finishing two projects on a Friday is very satisfying!

Whitework ‘J’: detail
(hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

I’ll post a photo of the framed ‘j’ tomorrow, as we’ve just had a dramatic flurry of what looked like snow but which turned into hail and I don’t want to make a dash for the garage where the frames are stored until it’s a bit warmer and less wet. The sky is a glorious mixture of blue across which dark puffy clouds lugubriously roll and from the edges of  which intermittent shaft of sunlight spill in full Tiepolo style – see  the first photograph above.

The letter was inspired by a calligraphic ‘J’ I saw somewhere and though lower case  I thought it offered such potential for embroidery, I couldn’t resist it. Once again I chose Anchor No 2 thread which has an ivory tinge. The flowers were appliquéd in ivory silk and then embroidered over, so you just get the hint of creaminess coming from the centre of the flowers.


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Monogram whitework H

Whitework monogram H (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

According to news reports for last weekend, people had abandoned London’s West End in droves and were spending their money online. This certainly wasn’t our experience when we ventured into central London. Pavements  from Picadilly Circus, along Regent Street to Oxford Circus and spreading down both sides of Oxford Street were heaving and the few shops we visited seemed to be doing brisk business. Queues even formed to get on to Liberty’s rather small wooden staircases, a problem compounded by 2 lifts being out of order –  one was visibly stuck 4 or so feet above the ground floor where assorted disembodied feet and legs, at eye level to the passer by, made for a mini surreal experience. (It also happened to me in Liberty’s on the same weekend 2 years ago, though I was only trapped for 15 minutes and the doors had the grace to remain closed for all of that time so that my wrinkly boots remained out of public scrutiny.)

Detail of whitework monogram H (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Present suggestions in newspapers leave me with no urge to buy – and when you live with journalists who take at least 5 daily papers, that’s a lot of present ideas to reject as unpleasant, unsuitable or just plain uninspired! I read recently that  Jeff Goldblum said something along the lines of how pleasant it was to go shopping and to see nothing he really wanted or needed to buy. I can’t remember where I read this but while hunting I found a London Standard interview with him of 2010,  ” I tend to visit Liberty, not necessarily to buy anything but just to see it.” which conveys a similarly contented feeling.

Detail of whitework monogram H (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

I did, however, succumb to some mugs in Anthropologie (English designer but alas made in China) and in Liberty’s, a clutch of skeins of embroidery floss, one each in every yellow they had, butter soft through to acid yellow and quite a lot in between. At Muji, I picked up a couple of their acrylic boxes with 5 drawers which I’ve recently discovered are brilliant for storing embroidery threads (but which are so bulky I can only carry a couple back home each time I come – I try not to shop on line). A break for lunch in Liberty (2 perfect poached eggs on spinach and lentils) and for tea in John Lewis and daughter No 3 and I were glad to get a seat on the bus back to Islington.

Wiener Werkstatte brooch

At home and it’s back to whitework as I felt the urge to have white thread in my needle and white fabric on my knee – much as the desire for fish and chips sometimes comes over one sometimes. This H is a William Morris style initial while the scrolling foliage was suggested by a piece of Wiener Werskatte  jewellery, possibly by Josef Hoffmann. I find the design of this style of jewellery lends itself well to embroidery and is especially inspirational with designing monograms.  The initial H is appliqué linen on a background of linen union while the leaves are silk satin.  I’ve used lots of satin stitch (probably my favourite stitch), running stitch and slip stitch (around the silk leaves which are held in place by double sided vilene.) (Note to self: the linen union is creamy white,  not as white as it appears here, so I’ve used Anchor Stranded Mouliné, colour No 2.) I’m not yet sure whether I’ll make this up into a cushion or frame it. Now, I have a tearing passion to make another monogram.

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