Dragonfly sweatshirt

Sweatshirt with dragonfly and Achillea flower heads (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

In recent years January has been the month for getting unpleasant things done. This isn’t the only year my teeth have been a problem – still, better cosseting  yourself and languishing indoors when it’s horrid outside than nursing a sore jaw when everyone else is out and about busy and active.  Then, last week, it was feet, and the removal of a corn in an expensive but life enhancing medical pedicure (an asked for Christmas present; my husband will have his next week.).  Caught up in the  swing of getting to grips with things not quite right, I then stepped right out of character and bought a new computer! For some time now, it’s become increasingly clear that my mobile takes far better photos than my camera but as I don’t have, and can’t afford, an iPhone, I’ve put off trying to solve the problem of transferring phone photos to my computer (recently celebrating its 7th birthday). Meanwhile, rather surprisingly my husband had been thinking independently about my computer needs. He noticed that Apple had not only a good offer on a new computer but would also trade in my old model for nearly £100.  ‘Go on, just get a new one’, the wise one urged, ‘and solve all your (computer) problems all in one go’. Tempted, I was led into town and along to our local Apple dealership where money changed hands. Happily, much about the operation of the new beast remains the same, though the whole downloading of photographs bit is still keeping some of its secrets from me. (I will replace the above photo for a better one in which the flowers aren’t out of focus when I have worked out where the other photos are – which may require another trip into town.) Oh God, don’t you hate the way technology shouts, “keep awake at the back there” just when you thought you were quietly cruising and nicely getting to grips with what you needed to know and no more!


Dragonfly sweatshirt with achillea flowers

But to get back to embroidery… My latest piece is a sweatshirt for the smallest person. I wanted to embroider a dragonfly but thought she’d find just an insect a bit boring so I added a couple of sprigs of  Achillea which dragonflies really like. Achillea is a bit of a weed in its white form but is so loved by gardeners that various brightly coloured forms have been developed. For this  sweatshirt I definitely needed a non white form but as my stock of embroidery threads is at a very low level I had to make do with a deep magenta rather than something with a bit more zing to it. I think it’s ok and works well enough.

DMC Colour Card

And talking of resupplying embroidery threads, I’m infinitely grateful to DMC for making available a full chart of their ranges complete with little windings of the threads themselves so you have no trouble working out if a photograph or image on the screen is just the colour you want. The chart costs between £30 and £40 but is invaluable and I just wish Anchor did the same thing. Very few shops stock either of these 2 main brands any more (woe on you, John Lewis) and they seem to be replaced by ready packaged groups of threads which though cheaper are more matt, are slightly rough and in general handle less well. (I sometimes like this matt effect but at other times really want colours to shimmer and catch the light.)

I’m doing lots of reading at the moment, veering from non fiction to crime with nothing in between. Television has in general been woeful but we have greatly enjoyed rewatching re-runs of the Bolton Steeplejack, Fred Dibnah, as he documented the dying days of our great engine works, decayed factories, and the glories of still functioning  pumping stations and heritage railways.  Watching him walk up the roof of Ely Cathedral in his signature blue workman’s jacket and flat cap for all the world as if he were walking along the pavement outside your house contrasted nicely with him in top hat and tails picking up his MBE from Buckingham Palace, having driven his steam engine, hooked up with green wooden caravan, from his home in Bolton to London. (He wasn’t allowed to park in the palace grounds but a place was found for it at nearby Kensington Barracks). It’s hard to believe he died in 2004 and sad it was at a comparatively early age in his mid sixties.

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  1. Mary
    Posted January 31, 2022 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on the new computer…but yes, it seems to me that the tech folks like to make little (or sometimes big) changes in how devices work just for the heck of it. Can drive one mad and make the term “user friendly” an oxymoron.

    Adding the sprigs of Achillea to the dragonfly was inspired. A picturesque touch. As for embroidery thread, I still have quite a decent stash (given that I’ve not done any embroidery for an age). A local chain sewing store is still selling many colours individually…for now. I dislike the idea of buying packaged colours in groups. Given the beautiful work you do, it must be quite frustrating when you want to get a very specific hue or sheen and can’t easily put your hands on it. The DMC colour card must be a lifesaver for finding just the right thread.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 31, 2022 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely, Mary. It often feels like change for changes sake, when something was perfectly serviceable as it was.
      As to threads, of course, you can get almost any colour you want online but then you get the problem of colour matching.
      We too have a small local shop which sells either Anchor or DMC. I’d forgotten about it but by chance happened to go past it today. I must go in there and see what they have. Thanks for reminding me to shop locally!

  2. Posted January 31, 2022 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    It’s a very fine dragonfly. And yes, it’s frustratingly hard to get hold of the good thread at times. I have quite a bit of Madeira as well, and as long as I’m improvising, it’s ok…

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 31, 2022 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      You’re very kind about the dragonfly.
      I know what you mean about improvising with what threads you have but now improvising too is proving to be a problem, so I’d better restock!

  3. Bev S.
    Posted February 1, 2022 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Dragonfly! Good for you for having foot surgery done AND a new computer. It actually sounds like January has been a good month to get things done that needed to be done (never fun though).

    My husband and I both got new ones recently (through our work). Mine was from 2014 and ancient by today’s standards. Things were just wearing out on it. I’m happy to have a new one and hope that it will last for quite awhile!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 2, 2022 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      That’s it Bev. Confined to home more by cold and darkness, it forces you to think about getting things done that sunshine and getting out more might make you put to one side. Rather than keep thinking about those things you reach a point where it’s easier to just do them.
      Best of luck to you and your new computers. Mine wasn’t nearly as bad as I was dreading – and anyway is quicker and clearer.

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