Monday, 14 December 2015


In spite of the loss of some beautiful oak and chestnut woods razed in this summer fires, until last week one could still see the gentle palette of autumnal colours in large areas of the Sierra spared from the devastation.

I find autumnal colours very inspiring. And I love to see this rugged landscape bathed in its golden-bronze light. So back in September when I decided I would try stitching another Ahir inspired peacock in order to improve - hopefully - on the design, the stitching and the colour combination, I tried to get inspiration from the range of colours one usually associates with this season.

With only a week away for the start of winter it is quite possible that these colours will remain in my work basket for the coming months. Although I hadn't done a piece so densely embroidered for a while, I still have a few stitches to add and a couple of corrections to make. And then when I make a bag out of it I hope the second side will also explore some characteristic Ahir stitches and motifs.

Monday, 11 May 2015

back at La laborteca in Madrid...

It was really nice to be back at La laborteca in Madrid this Saturday repeating the 'Introduction to Indian Embroidery' workshop I had taught there back in February. It was especially nice to see familiar faces again: Eugenia and Dolores had attended this workshop previously, and both brought their nearly finished peacocks to show. I was really pleased to see not only their work, but also their interest and appreciation.

Dolores and Eugenia

Everyone made a tremendous effort to learn. And was it good to see how they remained deeply concentrated throughout our time there:

Gema and Marian learning to attach the mirror

Angela and Susana learning new stitches

Luisa and Irene concentrating

Rocio and Beatriz - barely visible to her right

It was a lovely experience once again, and I really hope we can do the second part with more advanced stitches soon. It's a pity I'm so far from Madrid though - it would have been good if we had more time to carry on practising. But on the other hand, I must say, it's wonderful to be back to the peace and quiet of home.

A view from my current favourite walk

Monday, 27 April 2015

once again...

I'll be in Madrid again in a couple of weeks to repeat the 'Introduction to Indian Embroidery' workshop. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

better light

What a difference good light can make when photographing embroidery! I think this last picture shows the colours much better:

Monday, 16 February 2015

peacock ready

It took me much longer than I had anticipated. I changed colours a few times along the way. I had more mirrors to attach.

And for some strange reason my stitching just wasn't turning out as neat and even as I would have liked. I was beginning to despair to be honest. Then I remembered the words of a wise friend who lived in India for some years and who would often advise me against being too perfectionist. She told me that Indian craftspeople often leave imperfections in their work - and this quite deliberately - to remind themselves that everything in this life is relative and imperfect, and that only Brahman (or God) is perfect. With those words in mind I resigned myself, accepted my imperfect stitching and decided not to struggle too hard. Hopefully next time my stitching will come out neater. In the meantime here it is, my Kutch inspired peacock.

I took this picture just after sunset so the colours are not quite right. Maybe I'll post another one in the next few days. 

Also, I hope that in a few weeks, when I'm a little less busy, I'll be able to review the wonderful book that inspired this piece.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

my 'Kutch inspired' peacock - getting on...

Although I love to play with colour combinations I don't always  find it easy to decide on the final colours I'll work with. This is what happened with the 'Kutch inspired' peacock I'm working on for the next workshop I'll teach, this time at La laborteca, in Madrid. I wanted it to bright, happy and colourful. But my first attempt wasn't exactly successful:

Doesn't look very serious, does it? The darker shades of orange and blue that I had chosen earlier (see here) turned out a bit brighter than I had wanted, so I decided to go for subtler colours and make the peacock's neck a little more discreet:

But in addition to my problem with colours, when I got to the drop shape at the centre, which represents a cowrie shell, I realized my drawing skills also leave quite a lot to be desired. After I added the outline in open chain, which is quite thick, the neck ended up too thin and the tail too narrow. And to make things worse I drew a cowrie shell that is far too big. Well, my sense of proportions seemed to have left me... What I find really hard is trying to picture in my mind how my drawings will translate into embroidery. On paper things may seem fine, but then, when I put things into fabric and thread, how come things change so much? 

But yes, although the drop shape at the centre is far too big, I think that so far the stitching is coming out all right. And hopefully when the border is done and the highlighting stitches are added one won't notice it's thin neck so much.

I hope it will be finished by the end of the week. I'll try to post a picture of the finished piece as soon as it's done.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


Another workshop coming up - this time at the lovely la laborteca, in Madrid, on Saturday, 28 February. We'll only have 4 hours this time - as opposed to the 7 hours I had on my previous workshop in Valladolid - and I've learned from experience that I shouldn't aim so high. Yes, I know a thing or two about Indian embroidery, and yes, I love to share. But there is a limit as to how much students can take in in one day. So our project this time will be a little simpler, and by this I mean fewer stitches involved. 

With less than 4 weeks to go, just recovering from a very bad flu, and with lots of work waiting to be finished off, I have no doubt February will be a very busy month for me.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

new project in the pipeline

It's a little bit worrying, but it's been nearly two months or so now with hardly any rain. Considering that from May to October it rarely rains here we do need those wintry downpours. But on the other hand the sierra has been looking really splendid. And with these very cold days and with this very soft light that bathes everything at this time of year I couldn't help going for very gentle colours for my next project. Maybe I should name it winter mood... It'll probably be Indian inspired again - as regards motifs only!

The fabric on the left is one of three that I bought at mimarinita on my last visit to Valladolid - came back a week ago excited witih my purchases.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

walking down the hill

From time to time it's good to see things from a different perspective...