Whitework embroidered alphabet: letter I

A whitework alphabet: letter I (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

There will be no coasting gently through the last 2 months of 2019. A general election has been announced for December 12th and now the next 6 weeks promise to be  even more tumultuous and disruptive than the run up to the Christian festival we shall try hard not to name usually turns out to  be –  especially if you have two or more of the following – small children, an extended family, a job, a tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), uncomfortable winter shoes, an insubstantial winter coat and a cat who has decided not to leave the house until spring. (Strike that last one. Deciding not to leave the house is very helpful as we can go away and the cat sitter won’t have to worry about letting her in and out.) I only mention this as from now on I shall be zig zagging up and down to London more than usual to support the political journalists in their domestic needs – hence, embroidery as well as blog posts will probably become a bit more erratic.

Whitework Dragonfly (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

And aren’t I glad it’s Great Western Trains to and from Cheltenham. On Tuesday I went to Euston to meet daughter No 3 and her two little charges off the Virgin train from Chester. With a big suitcase, a large backpack and a car seat, getting off a train and maintaining control of the 2 year old was always going to be a real challenge – one not helped by the train being delayed by about 40 minutes due not only to a signalling failure but also, apparently, cows on the line near Rugby! Many Virgin trains were cancelled or delayed and the concourse was as packed at Nottingham Forest’s Trent End used to be on a match day in its heyday (no seating and few rails to lean on). I gather this is not unusual for Virgin. And Euston Station is not the loveliest of places at the best of times. Paddington and GWR, I salute you for making my journeys to and from London so pain free and even enjoyable – would I be willing to come down to help so much if journeys were regularly disrupted…

Whitework butterfly and beetle (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This week I is for insects and fluttering around a capital I of appliquéd silk are  dragonfly, beetle and butterfly. Insects, with their often intricately marked bodies, many jointed appendages and wings of lace filigree (not all have wings), make good subjects for embroidery.

Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks and illustrated by Dawn Cooper (published by Red Shed Books, 2016)

I borrowed  Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks with illustrations by Dawn Porter from the grandchildren. Full of large and very colourful images, the book is visually very gorgeous, though almost more as a design source book  than a teaching aid, for the text is minimal (but then I’m not really their target audience!). Screen printing a set of curtains or a full 50s style skirt with big bold praying mantises, dragonflies or stag beetles in shades of lemon, lime, coral, aubergine and turquoise is very tempting, reminding me of a couple of couture embroidered stag beetles in just these colours on an Alexander McQueen shirt (see below). Of course, they appear with my I in whitework … but now I’ve had the idea of curtains – well, perhaps a hanging – I’ve got very excited. The list of things I want to do just gets longer and longer…

Alexander McQueen shirt with beaded and embroidered beetles


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  1. Jane from Dorset
    Posted November 3, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I’m concerned about the insubstantial winter coat. Do scour there charity shops for a better version at once. No wonder you feel sad especially with uncomfortable shoes too. It’s these things that really matter, not the election whatever the politicians would have us believe.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 3, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      No, no, Jane, don’t worry for me – my winter coat situation is fine and also now I’ve discovered Skechers little ankle boots (to go with their heavier lace up cousins for the really cold weather) my feet are fine too. I was just musing how at times of national ferment, things like not having the right clothes or shoes can really tip a normally perfectly happy path through life into a weary trudge! (I don’t get SAD either!)

  2. Posted November 3, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you on the importance of comfortable (and leak-free!) shoes.

    And yes, Virgin’s trains from Chester to Euston and back can be horrors. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing Euston has going for it is Matthew Flinders and his cat, Trim!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 3, 2019 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Ah Rachel, thank you for confirming my suspicions about Virgin trains – wouldn’t want to be critical of them on just the one experience!
      Is Matthew Flinders and his cat the statue I couldn’t really see as the press of people at the entrance was too great?
      No, now I’ve had a look that statue is Stephenson. There was no way I was ever going to see Flinders and his cat which scarcely rises above head level – unless I actually bumped into it!

      • Posted November 8, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Yes, if you want to pet Trim, you practically have to shoulder people aside to do so. Matthew Flinders wrote a rather charming biography of Trim, which is whimsical and delightful in a way one doesn’t expect the Georgians to be!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted November 10, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          Interesting – I shalln’t be able to resist looking it up.
          Thank you, Rachel.

  3. ceci
    Posted November 4, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    I think this is my favorite of all your embroideries – insects are such a wonderful subject, and your dragon fly is especially charming the way it is hanging on the side of the letter I. And the idea of insect curtains is enthralling; I wonder if I can get a copy of your source book. I need something to take my mind off politics.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 4, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I’m sure you’ll find a copy of the book – only published 2016.
      The colouring of the insects is inspired rather than true to life but make them even greater design potential.
      Have fun!

  4. Nella Logan
    Posted November 4, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear Mary, just as you had got back to your sewing and embroidery along comes something else to interrupt you. At least we will know what’s keeping you when you start to go AWOL from this blog! As always such beautiful embroidery, thank you.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 4, 2019 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      I think I shall be able to get a weekly post out – a new piece of embroidery or knitting but just not much writing!
      So lovely to hear from you again, Nella. Thank you.

  5. Phil
    Posted November 4, 2019 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m loving browsing back througn your embroideries. What will the letters be when all finished – or have I missed that post?.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 4, 2019 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying my work, Phil – it’s kind of you to tell me.
      I haven’t decided what to do about the letters (One full alphabet in colour and this second one in whitework).
      I started doing the letters while I was working on bigger projects as I could produce one a week and they just kept piling up.
      In a way, they’ve become little weekly exercises that keep me ticking over.

  6. Nilu
    Posted November 10, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Your letters are utterly exquisite. May I ask would you embroider letters as a commission? I’ve been looking for someone to embroider a C,G,N, X & M. Do let me know if you are interested I’m
    Most grateful. Nilu

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 10, 2019 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Nilu. It’s nice to hear you like the letters.
      Unfortunately, I don’t do commissions as I have several large sewing projects on the go and when my lap isn’t full of sewing, it’s full of grandchildren instead.
      Have a go yourself!

  7. Amara Bray
    Posted November 19, 2019 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    I seem to have missed quite a few posts! What a treat. I have always thought certain insects are extremely decorative. Putting them all in white emphasizes their interesting shapes too!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 21, 2019 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      I think, if I’m honest, I like the decorative quality of most insects more than the reality.

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