ago today the Longhope lifeboat answered a shout to go to help the Irene, a
cargo ship which had lost power and was drifting on to rocks on the east coast
of South Ronaldsay. The weather was
horrendous, with hurricane force winds, and the Pentland Firth, one of the most
dangerous pieces of water in the world, was boiling with mountainous seas. Eight men were aboard.
morning the lifeboat was found upside down in the Firth. All eight men were in the cabin. The coxswain still had his hands on the
about a mile across the water from Flotta where I lived until recently. The graveyard is beyond the village. A lonely and lovely spot. As you enter, the memorial to those eight men
is visible between the pillars, stark and haunting. A simple representation of courage. The graves of the men who died are nearby.
videos about the disaster.
The first includes interviews with two men who helped launch the lifeboat that day.h
is a song written by a local girl with photos and paintings of that day.
The third shows how much all of Orkney relies on the lifeboat crews. St Andrew’s School is on the East Mainland and they produced this video.
first blog post about my embroidered pictures I showed you some of the pieces
where the embroidery was used to enhance a photo. In this part I am showing you some examples
where the embroidery has been used to add something to the photo.
above came from the same shoot as the last one from my first post. Here I used ribbon flowers to mimic the
rosebuds on her dress in colours taken from the photo on the fabric.
I used this
technique on several portraits. This is
a girl I knew who hoped to go into modelling and she asked me to take some
portfolio shots. (She got taken on by
the agency!) Again, this shot cried out
for ribbon flowers.
Flowers did not feel appropriate for a male friend, so I used needle lace leaves instead. These are made by attaching the wire to the shape you want to a piece of card, then stitching as required before taking the leaf off the card. It is a technique I enjoyed very much.
photo feels empty. It needs ‘something’
to give it a focus. That is what I felt
about this photo – it needed someone on the bridge, but nothing too
complex. I therefore decided on the
dress and parasol only, and enhanced the trees to bring the focus right in.
scene was another empty shot. When I saw
the flat rock, I knew it needed a mermaid.
Once she was complete, I felt it needed something else to balance the
picture, and the boat she was luring on to the rocks seemed just right!
took shots with embroidery in mind. An
example of this was a row of trees below.
We had been watching hot air balloons from my parents’ house so I looked
out for a suitable place to photograph what I wanted.
original photo for the picture below was a small section of a photo of shadows
on grass. I wanted to embroider a garden
and it formed the ideal background.
One of the last pieces I made used a photo of a lochan on Hoy. There were hundreds of huge dragonflies flitting about, but they were too quick and too translucent to photograph with the camera I had that day. So I added my own. This is again goldwork, but this time most of the embroidery is not on to the fabric, but on wires. The four wings were made separately as the leaves above. The body was made with two strands of quite thick wire, embroidered over in gold. The eyes are gold beads This was then attached to the photo fabric and the wings attached to the thorax. A flat bead was added over the wings to form the thorax, then the wings were bent into the right shape.
Yesterday evening I noticed, through the window, that the sky was looking colourful. Over the next 20 minutes or so I took this series of photos from the back of my carport. Photos have been cropped slightly, but the colour has not been altered. Enjoy!
In the days
when I could hold a needle comfortably I did a lot of embroidery of different
types. I have also always taken
photos. One day I thought I would try
combining the two. In those days (the
1980s and 90s) it was not easy to get the photos on to the fabric, but now that
it can be done easily with a home printer and an iron, I thought I would show
you what I was doing back then.
came to me after seeing the local (Dover) print shop putting photos on
t-shirts. I thought it might work to put
photos on to other fabrics. They were
happy to try, and it worked! I used
bought and hand-dyed wool, cotton and silk threads of varying thicknesses,
bought from many different places.
attempt was this one (still one of my favourites!).
is of the Callanish stones on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. In those days, when there were very few coach
tours and tourists, you could wander amongst the stones – it was a magical
thing to do with this picture was to embroider the central stone. But then I thought it might be better to
leave that one alone, and enhance the others.
At the same
time I did another from the Western Isles, this time from Harris. A road had been built along the east coast of
the island, in an attempt to bring prosperity to that area. The land is low-lying and very boggy so was
very expensive to build. That led to the
local nickname for the project – the Golden Road! It is an achingly beautiful place, with
hundreds of lochans, lochs and inlets separated by rocky outcrops.
This next one was taken about 50 yards from where we lived at the
time. On 6th May 1994 they
ran a steam-hauled Golden Arrow from London to Dover as part of the
celebrations for the opening of the Channel Tunnel. In the age of steam this was the train which
ran every day taking first class passengers from the heart of London to the
dock in Dover. There the passengers
could step off the train and across the ‘platform’ on to the gangway of the
ship which then took them over to France, where another train, La Flèche d’Or, was waiting to take them on to Paris. There is a bridge over the railway at Dover
station, which at the time had a broken window right over the track where the
engine, Britannia, was waiting to continue her journey. It was raining, and dark, and the stop was
unscheduled, so Nick and I had the bridge to ourselves!
I also played with black and white images on to
coloured fabric. Winter trees…..
… and spring lambs were ideal for this treatment.
After my first trip to North Ronaldsay, I HAD to do
another sheep one, this time of a North Ronaldsay ewe. By then I had learned to spin, and so I used
hand-spun yarn in a variety of colours for the fleece.
Finally, for now, one from a session I did taking
pix of a friend’s grandchild. Goldwork
was called for here, both couched and stitched!
This is another favourite – the untidy hair and determined look
contrasting nicely with the halo and wings!
A bit ago I
was asked by The Knitter magazine to design four shawls for them. I could choose size, shape and everything
I had been
looking at some of my (many!) lace knitting books and so I had ideas at
once. I decided to have 4 different
shapes from 4 different traditions – a sampler wrap using Austrian stitches, a
square using Estonian stitches, a pi shawl using American stitches and a
In time all
four were published and in time the rights returned to me. So I put them out together.
Austrian wrap is knitted here in 4 ply yarn.
The stitch patterns come for a series of three stitch libraries called Bauerliches
Stricken, by Lisl Fanderl, published
by Rosemheimer. I was told about
these books by a member of my Ravelry group and they contain many interesting stitches. I chose to use a selection of patterns to
give interest to the knitter.
I wanted to use the
pi shaping for one shawl, so it had to be the one using stitches from Knitting
Lace by Susanna E Lewis, published by Taunton Books, a
dictionary of the patterns in a 19th Century lace sampler in the
Brooklyn Museum. It had to be called
Miss American Pi…
As well as the two
fairly recent stitch dictionaries of Estonian lace, I have a copy of the older Pitsilised
Koekirjad by Leili Reimann. I used
stitches from these to make a square shawl knitted from the centre out. These include both nupps and gathered
stitches, the defining characteristics of Estonian lace.
For the final shawl
I used a stitch pattern from a Faroese book,
215 Sjalmynstur by Olivia Joensen, for the traditional lace pattern
above the hem, but shaped the ‘wings’ to give a crescent shawl. It is knitted in the traditional way from the
bottom up, so you start with lots of stitches and decrease quite rapidly.
The main thing I remember about this January is the skies. I never tire of skyscapes, and Orkney never tires of providing stunning ones.
Morning walks started in the dark, and as the month progressed the sun rose earlier and earlier. The saturated neons of the first half of the month gave way to pastels just as the cold spell hit us.
I love snow – even little bits! The past couple of weeks have been below zero with ice making the roads and pavements like a skating rink. Fortunately my granny wagon is excellent in the ice, so it was walks as usual.
At the very end of the month, we had a slight thaw, and I saw these snowdrops. Spring will come!