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 Werskstatte  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.


I made this into a cushion and then promptly forgot to photograph it. Just received photos of it from daughter No 1.

Cushion with appliquéd and embroidered letter H (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Cushion with appliquéd and embroidered H (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

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  1. Posted December 2, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you, seeing nothing I want to buy. Isn’t it wonderful to be able succumb to your tearing passion for a monogram!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      It is very pleasant to be back with white linen and white embroidery thread once more!

  2. Louise
    Posted December 3, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    In September I went to London with my eldest son, I had not been there since I was a child, 57 years ago. The only shop we spent a lot of time in, (apart from all the beautiful shops in the museums and galleries) was Liberty’s. It was utterly thrilling and so much more wonderful than I had hoped for, although oddly, we didn’t buy anything. But it was a memorable experience.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      That’s lovely to hear, Louise. I get the feeling you don’t live in Britain – after 57 years London must have felt very different. All the museums and galleries have improved immeasurably, including their shops and cafés but i’m not so sure about the shops. I’m glad to hear Liberty’s made a wonderful impression.

  3. Amara Bray
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Oh I am horrible about buying online. I am faithful to a few local shops for toys and groceries and clothing, but especially at Christmastime I am frazzled and succumb. Visiting Liberty is one of my dreams though. Someday I hope to spend a long time on the other side of the Atlantic to see all of the things I have read about since I was small. Too bad I can’t still get into Narnia from England, but there are plenty of other sights to see!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I know Amara, I’m not at all critical, we buy plenty of things online – I just let my husband do it! For some strange reason I prefer not to buy online myself but to place an order by phone – though now many companies don’t even give a phone number on the website! (and Muji, I’m looking at you)!
      I do hope you’ll get to see more of this side of the Atlantic one day, probably when your children are older. Though change is everywhere, there is much energy devoted to restoration and conservation – walking through Cheltenham with my husband, he is keen to point out areas he knew (40 + years ago) as neglected but which are now splendid and well cared for.

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