Whitework cushion with fern embroidery (update)


Whitework embroidered cushion with ferns (hand embroidered y Mary Addison)

I first blogged this cushion here, 6 weeks ago but put it to one side not being entirely happy with it.  Most of the whitework cushions I’ve done recently have an initial or a monogram in the middle and this one definitely looked a bit empty without something there. The obvious answer often stares you in the face and it didn’t take too much thinking to realise that what this cushion needed was an extra fern. Much happier, I went on to make up the cushion.

Detail of maidenhair fern: whitework embroidered cushion with ferns (hand embroidered y Mary Addison)

In terms of maps showing the extent and intensity of coronavirus spread, we live in the South West and as such have not been subject to severe restrictions. But – as anywhere we might go in the near, and even not so near, future has – we have decided to spend the next 6 months or so at home gradually refining our possessions. Our local Red Cross bookshop is limiting book donations to 2 bags per week, which suits us just fine. My husband has found this gentle pace conducive  to sorting through what remains of his theological books – much better than having to make a sudden onslaught at them which could leave him panicky and depressed. This way you can put some books to one side, think about them, even re-read them, and then send them off at a later date. I’m working through a shelf of books I’d quite like to read again but not to keep. I’m on my second Sophie Hannah psychological thriller – very clever but a bit too wordy as to psychological justification for my taste. These I shall be quite happy to read again and then get rid of. It may even make me look for secondhand copies of her books which I haven’t read … and then they too, once read, can go back to the Red Cross for someone  else to enjoy.

Whitework embroidered cushion with ferns (hand embroidered y Mary Addison)

As with books, so with fabric. So, it’s been more storage bags (out of fabric languishing in a role on top of my wardrobe), mended children’s clothes that can go off to the grandchildren, repaired dolly’s knickers (can I remember where the doll is?) and tea towels made out of some soft Madras cotton that used to curtain my kitchen 20 years ago when I lived in London. I now have my eyes on making Christmas stockings out of a patchwork quilt that never really worked and making old mattress protectors into pillow protectors for the family in London.  And embroidery is still there for relaxation after hours at the sewing machine!

This morning’s rain has stopped and weak sun slants through my window. Now is the time to get off to the garage to find that half finished patchwork quilt. It’s a good evening on the TV for unpicking – ‘Strictly’ early on and two episodes of the Scandi drama later on.

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Embroidered AAW monogram


AAW monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

UK Government advice exhorts us to think Hands, Face, Space before we do – well – almost anything. According to a Times letter writer (5th of October) should you feed these words into the global locator system what3words, this would direct the population of the UK to a 3m by 3m square of sea just off Llandudno, which, as the letter writer suggests, “will make social distancing difficult.” Should you ever need to be rescued from a certain spot in the middle of the South Atlantic, typing forgotten.previous.husband into the app on your phone should alert the emergency services to your exact whereabouts, while imaginary.future.husband would pinpoint your whereabouts somewhere in Russia. People with plenty of time to spare have great fun with this website, while people in dire need of help have been beyond grateful and even owe their lives to it!

Detail AAW monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

AAW is my last monogram for my friends in the States. For both this and the IPL monogram of the post before this one I tried using DMC’s Magic Paper to transfer my design and I must say it’s absolutely amazing (see below if you want more details.) With Hockney colours in my needle – burnt oranges, bright yellows and luscious greens, spikes of red and violet – my eye was caught by similar colours illustrating an article on Hockney’s latest work in a recent Saturday newspaper. Settled in Normandy during lockdown, in a “little seven dwarfs’ house in the middle of a four-acre field” he began to walk round his house, drawing as he went and producing the beginning of a 360 degree panorama, which like the Bayeux Tapestry will run the length of a wall in his upcoming show in a Paris gallery (about to open – or not – given the recent surge of the pandemic). He has become increasingly fascinated by the tapestry, which he admires for its narrative technique, like a Chinese scroll painting, and for its pictorial flatness – no shadows, no reflections and no perspective. At the moment he’s aiming to emulate that sense of time captured in pictorial space. It’s just wonderful and inspiring when a contemporary artist takes lessons from such a piece of venerable sewing!

Detail AAW monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Detail AAW monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Another amusing entry from The Times Diary. A reader who had worked on the Iraq Inquiry emailed the diary to say that one day she was asked by her boss to pass a message on to the chairman, Sir John Chilcot telling him to get in touch with Gus O’Donnell. The message, succinctly and with usual abbreviations read “For JC, please telephone God, yours, Mary”.

Drawing for AAW monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

More colourful children’s monograms blogged about:













Using DMC’s Magic paper:

Normally I mess around using a light box (drawing underneath, linen on top) and end up with a wobbly pencil line drawing of varying degrees of visibility. With Magic Paper, you quite simply copy your drawing on to the sheet of Magic Paper (using a small light box), peel off the backing paper, place the top layer with the drawing on to your fabric and then, when it’s in exactly the right place gently press this down. (Although stuck to your fabric now, there is some leeway for peeling off and repositioning.) The thin layer of fabric-like paper also acts as a stabiliser which means you don’t need an additional stabiliser underneath (which later must be torn or cut away). When you’ve finished your embroidery, gently wash away the magic paper with water. At this point I roll my embroidery in a couple of clean towels (one at a time) to remove as much wetness as possible, give it a gentle tug and lay it on a towel (another) on a not too hot radiator (or you could block it on a towel on a cork board and let it dry more gently). I then iron it carefully, not pressing on the embroidery very much at all. Magic Paper may well have transformed my life. It’s not cheap, £4-5 for two A5 sheets but it gives such a clear and firm image (and one that I can even see when the light is poor or at night under artificial light)  that I think it has saved me time and energy.

DMC’s Magic Paper applied to linen with embroidery design

DMC’s Magic Paper (2 sheets A5 in a pack)

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