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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  1. ceci
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I can’t see anything superstitious about wanting good wishes for your replacement wedding ring! Thank you for sharing the sketches for the wonderful monogram – so fun to see behind the scenes.

    And yes, fabric buying is frustrating – I have had mixed luck buying linens on line, some have been terrific for clothes and drapes, others too thin or flimsy. Some places will send swatches but that requires more delayed gratification than I can tolerate.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 12, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      I’m never quite sure where the boundary is between superstition and just wanting to feel certain things give a positive boost to what is important in your life, so thanks for the support over blessing of wedding ring.
      I’ve almost given up on John Lewis for fabric now – I wander round in hope but come away disappointed. The Cloth House was great but I’m a bit cross that I forgot to look for a little piece of white silk which I use for the appliqué letters. Must try elsewhere for that now. I agree with you, swatches are fine in theory but you can go off the boil with the idea of what you want to make by the time samples have come, orders placed and the much wanted piece has appeared. And I do like to have a feel of the fabric on the roll and see how it falls.

  2. Posted February 9, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I think our local John Lewis only sells packs of quilting cotton now. I live in hopes that the world is beginning to change and people may fall out of love with polyester..

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 12, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Well, Rachel, that is really disappointing about John Lewis. And now I’m fed up about number – and colour – of zips on offer there. Fortunately tiny little Ray Stitch had plenty to choose from – though I seem to have come away with the wrong pale blue (to replace a broken on on a cushion)!

  3. Nella
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Good wishes for your husband’s treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital. As a child I had to attend Moorfields for many years for a problem left eye. I have fond memories. As to your beautiful embroidery; I’m sure I would be very happy to wait several years until it arrived! In the 1960s my mother used to trek up to John Lewis in London from Surrey on a Green Line bus to buy her dressmaking fabric. Sadly, neither the Green Line nor the fabric is available now it seems!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 12, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Botox injection went well and as usual we’ve come away from Moorfields feeling how wonderful they are, efficient, thorough and positive.
      The decline in John Lewis for fabric and haberdashery has speeded up considerably over the last few years. Not long ago the Oxford Street shop used to have a large part of the ground floor devoted to sewing and knitting. Then a few years ago they decided Men’s Fashions were a bigger pull and, at a time when handcrafts were undergoing a revival, we were sent upstairs to a smaller department. The help, however, both there and especially in the Cheltenham branch is very good, so everything’s not going downhill!
      The image of your mother on her Green Line bus coming up to town for dress fabric in the 60s presents a vivid picture. Would she remember The Needlewoman in Regent Street – a lovely old fashioned double fronted shop (on Regent Street since the 1920s) which only closed in 1885? https://trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/organisations-and-movements/companies/needlewoman-shop Or The Danish Needlework Shop at the top of Sloane Street. And don’t get me going about the demise of the provencal fabric shop Souleiado for all too short a time on the Fulham Road. Liberty’s fabric is still lovely but they have concentrated on the lawn (and furnishing fabric) and cut out most of the other weights of fabric. Woe.
      My husband is for ever bemoaning the disappearance of bus services like the Green Line. In Cheltenham, it was The Black and White Coach Company. It became a major changing point in summer and he remembers whistles blowing at 2pm every afternoon when great swathes would depart to all compass points!

  4. Amara Bray
    Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed your reply above almost as much as the post. I think the tide is starting to turn on plastics, so hopefully the fabric world catches up with that too very soon.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more, Amara.

  5. Sharon
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Feb. 18, 2020 at 3:43 p.m. USA
    Your blog is fabulous and inspiring because I enjoy embroidery, especially crewel and silk and metal thread.
    While researching Elizabethan embroidery, I came across your post about Tudor insect designs which added to my knowledge. I’m I also keen about England and look forward to reading your blog on a regular basis.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 18, 2020 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      So kind and so inspiring to hear you enjoy my blog. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s much appreciated.

  6. Sharon
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:14p.m.

    Forgot to tell you I live in central New York state in the U.S.A. and have visited England three times.
    For me, being in England is like being wrapped in a snug shawl and it’s always hard to leave.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 18, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s lovely to hear what you say Sharon. I hope you’ll visit England many more times.

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