For centuries women have used cloth as a tool of comfort and as an expression of beauty within their homes. Creating cloth for warmth, cloth for shelter, our female predecessors embellished these linens with hand stitch using laborious and time consuming techniques thereby enhancing the functional beauty of objects which enveloped and protected their families. Inspired by these women I hope my creations pay tribute to and recognise the devotion expressed in cloth by our female ancestors .

''the use of traditional often time consuming process alludes to the devotion of a mother''. c K. A. Ruane 2007

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There are going to be a lot of grovelling apologies going on here tonight, I hope you can stand it. There are also going to be a lot of thankyou's too. First, I am sorry I have been away so long I really didn't mean it, more of that later. Second, I am so sorry if I haven't got back to you yet after your comments and e-mails. I really want to say thanks for all those comments and e-mails, your constant, positive encouragement really does keep me going. Also, thanks so much for caring about my eye, it is fine now, totally back to normal. I am feeling the strain a bit at the moment, sewing until the early hours, going to work, more sewing. I feel like I am meeting myself coming back and getting a bit stressed if the truth be told. Hence no posting for a while and no returning e-mails etc. I have a massive favour to ask.....could you please bear with me for a while? I have so much to do that I may not get round to you individually for a while. Believe me it is on my mind, constantly actually but I can't seem to make the hours stretch at the moment. I really wanted to post today to keep you updated on where I'm at, unfortunately nothing is quite ready for the final reveal yet, things to finish, things to damp stretch etc etc. Because of that I need to apologise for this. I think I may have posted about these way, way back and I'm sorry if you've seen it before but I have played with the images, shown more detail and I am hoping that this will interest you, the process and concept of these pieces.
This work was created in 2006 for a module of my degree course called 'Freelance and Studio Design'. The brief was to create wall art for contemporary living with the inspiration coming from the phrase, 'quintessentially feminine''. The mood board shown here says it all really, my inspiration, my design sources, the choice of pleats, lace, colour, everything. In truth this board was put together at the end but all the individual pieces were collected throughout the module and played a large part in the creation of the finished pieces.
The piece here is pleated paper onto which I had first printed shadowed images of some of my embroidery. It was then machine embroidered to mimic lace like patterns before being torn and put back together with hooks and eyes, (yes, I have been using hooks and eyes for a long time). I placed a panel of pleated metalic silk tissue at the edge as to me it references luxury and true femininity.

I made several pieces similar to the one shown below, a series of panels, one of which you may remember I used in a recent post. For these I printed an image from a costume book, heavily pleated the prints, overstitched with french knots and added this to embossed and pricked paper before finishing again with hooks and eyes.

Looking at this work, thinking about this work, makes me yearn to go back to that time to explore freely, to not feel permanently time pressured, to have the time to create another mood board, to sample in depth, to stick things down with glue, to collage, to look through millions of magazines and postcards for inspiration, for a snatch of a colour, to cut small squares from paint charts, to place them next to fabric and thread swatches. Maybe you can do some of that. Even though this work isn't new to me I would love it if it inspired one of you to explore, to create a mood board or even to start a little book of swatches, that would be lovely.
Now for the nitty gritty. In truth I only have 8 days to finish my prep for the fair because I still have 6 days at work to go. I will have something ready for damp stretching tonight before I go to bed. In the morning I will try and finish the applique on this. Then I must do more of this. I am off work until monday and hope by then to have both those things finished so I can then spend the rest of the time making smaller, more sellable things. This morning (at 6.30 a.m.) I practically emptied the shop for a little back up which helps pschologically. So I just wanted to ask, hang in there with me please. I promise I will post again before monday with some embroidery. x


Elizabeth said...

Karen, breath in, hold it and slowly out. Remember, blogging is fun, it is not a chore. I doubt very much that anyone is gonna stay away because you work yourself to your bones to get ready for the fair.

Love your mood board.

Remember, BREATH!!!!

and relax while you are at it.

Have a lovely evening.


Victoria said...

Yes, breath... no one can do it all :0)

The mood boards are beautiful and calming, and once again your work leaves me with my mouth dropped open. xo Vic

Jackie said...

Its really good to see these older pieces.
Don't overdo it.
And don't worry about replying. Just send me your address.

Anonymous said...

Oh No! I missed what was happening with your eye. I hope all is well - very hard to embroider with eye problems! I loved seeing your mood board. I like the dark teal-ish smocked peice. Delicate but moody - you're right, so feminine! Hope you feel back to yourself soon and that you get everything ready in time.

Walden said...

I love the torn and reassembled look! Good luck preparing and I agree with the other comments, take a moment, breathe. We will all still be here when you come back.

Miss 376 said...

The mood board is a work of art in it's own right. Go and relax and enjoy the weekend with your embroidery.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the above... Your work is amazing always. Please don't be so hard on yourself, maybe you need a holiday and some pampering to feel relaxed and good? ;) I drop in here from time to time, and it is always a treat and a feast for the eyes and imagination. Thank you, and no pressure from us readers, we'll be here when you return.
Best of luck with everything!

Bea x

Anonymous said...

Yep - I'm going to say what everyone else said. Don't be so hard on yourself, and try not to work so hard. Easier said than done, I know.

Threadspider said...

I echo everything said here already. Just enjoy what you do creatively-I know you do-and then decide if there is time for anything else. Most things will keep until tomorrow-or the next day.

Rachel said...


We're all happy to see what you post when you can, and we don't want you straining your eyes or your nerves for our sake!

Give yourself time to breathe, heal the eye, and come back refreshed!

Kayla coo said...

Take care Karen and enjoy your stitching.
Lovely to see your mood boards.x

Ingrid said...

beautiful work as always!
I agree with everyone else:-)
Good luck with the fair,and take care of yourself,ill be here when you return:-)

Amelia said...

good luck. I really know what tha pressure feels like and not having enough hours in the day.

Am too trying to make, to launch my art e-course and if you know anyone who would like 2 free tickets to the Affordable Art Fair in London. Do send them over!

This college work is beautiful, you should def do some more!


Sarah said...

Lovely - as usual. I thought that you might like to know that I have given you a sunshine award for your fab blog.

Read about it here...


Catherine Rosselle said...

I love your paperwork, this is a fantastic work.
Take care of you.

meandering pearl said...

this is most precious!!! i read this post last week but was unable to comment(our computer is a train station!)...i then thought about it all afternoon... im so glad you shared it, its absolutely exquisite!!! it really truly moved me...lovely wishes

Anonymous said...


I have a question for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use some of the information from your post above if I provide a link back to your website?


karen said...

FOR HARRY. I can't reply to you as I have no way of contacting you, you are a ''no reply'' commenter. drop me an e-mail and we can talk about it a bit more, Karen