Thursday, 24 March 2011

A stitch in time...
Have I ever told you how much I love embroidery?
Well I do.
I love hand embroidery, but find I don't much have the time for it. I started a huge old treasure map for the ginger one's 4th birthday.....
He will be 8 in a couple of weeks time.
One day.
But I really love machine embroidery.
I'm not sure how technically great I am being almost completely self taught, but I do love it.
I say almost completely because my very good friend Miss Moonie Moon is ever so ever so good at it, and I spent a few weeks sharing a table with her when we were working on "Gladiator" ( Yes that Gladiator) many moons ago,
I was zooming away making vaguely roman garments
and she was doing a wonderful job embellishing them all with gold thread.
So I kept my eyes open and asked the odd question, there really is a lot you can absorb through osmosis, let me tell you.
Though I never could manage to machine my beads on like she does.
Any way the love of machine embroidery was born.
What I really love is the fact that when I'm doing it I have to really concentrate, so all the other stuff goes away.
I'm not thinking about the constant deadlines I work to, I'm not thinking about the effect an insomniac child is having on us all, I'm not thinking about the state of the house, or our finances, or friends, or family, or the shopping, or the boring politics at the college.
I'm just thinking about the thread and where it will be going next.
Afterwards I always feel quite calm and fresh headed.
Guess maybe its my form of meditation.
Wish I could do more of it.

All the tutors past and present have been asked to submit a piece of their work for a book celebrating the foundation course at Wimbledon College of Art.
This is because it is closing, the site being sold for development, and the ragged remnants of what was once the best foundation course in the country merged with the ragged remains of other courses and about 700 students(!) shoved in to what I have no doubt will be a woefully inadequate and understaffed new site.
But Hey lets not get me started on this subject as I may be here until the middle of next week ranting on without drawing breath.
Any way back to the point, the book, I decided to submit a piece of embroidery I did a while ago to advertise a sewing machine workshop I was running.
The remit was that it should be a drawing, and I thought drawing with thread was about the best I could manage!

To continue with this embroidered theme I made this for a friend who recently did me a huge favour.

She sadly lost her mother last year, and in the process of clearing out her house saved all the old cotton reels for yours truly.
I used one of the afore said wooden reels to make this, I used up lots of bits of the thread she had given me to do the embroidery.
The fact that it was near to pancake day when I made it and used the "lemon" cotton reel appealed to my sense of humour.
Making a special memento for some one out of junk that once belonged to someone they loved was a really great feeling.

And finally Beth Nicholls great big stitched postcard swap.
What could appeal to me more?
The theme was "love".
So using my new found friend the typewriter and a little bit of inspiration from Cole Porter.
I made this.

It was only when I uploaded the pictures here that I realised what it was that had been
bugging me about the bee.
No wings.
The lesser known south London flightless bumble bee.
However I was very very pleased by my educated flea.

You can find many more tales of other people's creative spaces over here.
Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


What with all the upset, destruction and horror of the last couple of weeks old Nora has been feeling a little upset.

I'm trying to work out an idea for a fundraising event for the Japan Tsunami appeal.
But at the moment its all hinging on my non existent origami skills.
Humm well we shall see what happens.

To cheer me up this week we have had some visitors.

Felted woollen birdies.
Lots and lots of felted woollen birdies.

Most of these are presents for the ever growing number of
new babies that are being born
and one for an extra special little girl I know and don't see anywhere near enough of.
But some are for a workshop I am running in a few weeks time.
Read all about it here.
And some were for a workshop I ran a week ago. (more about this at a later date)

Any road up, I thought you all needed a bit of cheering up too,
so in the spirit of the self portrait challenge
I bring you.....

Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Someone was walking to the station the other morning and found a group of teenage girls clustered round the Ninja Knitting at the entrance to the tunnels of death, aka stab alley, stroking the wooly cozys and saying the above.
Ever since the Ninja Knitters were abroad a couple of weeks ago
we have had a slightly weird time.
There has been so much interest, with on line articles in a couple of local blogs,
people stopping us in the street asking about it,
loads of people want to become Ninjas and
every one really wants to know what we will be up to next.
But that my friends is not just TOP SECRET information.
Given out only to those who have been initiated in to the ranks of Ninja, with instruction to memorise the information, then burn the evidence and scatter the ashes to the four winds.
Any one who blabs in is deep do do.
They will have their tongues cut out and be fed the liquidized remains.
Very serious stuff this Ninja knitting!
At this point I must pause in my waffle to say that the Ninja knitters fame is spreading, not only because we did something funny, interesting and colourful at the very dreary part of the year, but because one of the Ninja's made the
If you haven't watched it yet, I urge you to do so.
Ninja Cristina is a clever girl and has made quite a few local films, though probably none as funny as this one. Or as well viewed so far the film has had over 700 views on You Tube.
All this activity does seem to have sparked a knitted graffiti turf war,
which is rather exciting.

The serendipitous stitchers have taken over the other side of the tracks and decorated it with their own style of wooly embellishment.

And from the sheer volume of finger knitting used I think it is safe to say at least one of them has a little girl or two hidden away at home!
I am secretly rather excited about two things, first that I think we have managed to convert one of the serendipitous stitchers over to the true path and secondly at the idea of some kind of knitted tag war starting up.
And still the story doesn't end, we all woke up yesterday to find we had been "chalked".

All around our area a group known as Chalkers had been at work under cover of darkness chalking the outlines of shadows cast by the street lights.

I have a feeling I know who they are as I had a special message round my chalked car.
In fact at the risk of sounding boring, I think one of them has been recruited to be a Ninja!

I am feeling if any one out there wants to join in the Ninja knit in let me know and induction in to the ranks of Ninjadom can begin.
Happy street art.
Love Nora xx

Sunday, 13 March 2011


This week has been a busy one working here and there but mainly here in the day job and the students are all of a flap and deep in the throws of their
final major projects at college.
In the mean time I received a lovely package of scraps all the way from Canada
from Janet of Caribou crossing.
As part of the Very Berry Handmade fabric scrap swap.
Lots of interesting bits and some lovely gifts.

The fabric went straight in the scrap box,
which in turn got well used last Saturday at
The Puppet Nation.

Lots and lots of lovely children, some familiar faces, some new ones all getting creative on the puppet front.

There are lots more pictures of the day over on Flickr
But the second half of the week has been taken over by worry and horror.
Worry about my old college friend Yuki, who though she is with her husband in Germany, her family and friends are all still home in Japan.
Thankfully they are all ok.
And horror just watching the television coverage of the disaster unfold, feeling helpless and some what in awe of the forces of nature.
I guess there will be things we can do to help and these will become
obvious as time moves on.
But in amongst all this life continues, yesterday was the morning of the annual pancake fundraiser in our sleepy corner of South London.
This year for Spires a local charity for the homeless and disadvantaged.
I spent the morning making the racing pancakes this year in purple and green.

Many many children with full tummies and sticky fingers spreading their favourite toppings and stuffing their faces.

Ending in the traditional pancake tossing competitions on the street out side the pub.

Which in turn becomes a competition to see who can throw theirs furthest along the street.
Which in turn ends up with an interestingly decorated tree.

I ended the day with my friend Jane doing a bit of guerrilla gardening.

Hoping next week is full of Happy.
Love Nora xx

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Alan Bennett.
Right thats it, they are gone, gone, gone.
I gave away the last few of my books at lunchtime today.
I was really lucky to be picked as a world book night giver.
One million books to be given away from Saturday onwards all over the country.
48 copies of Alan Bennett's "A life like other peoples" later
and I am still reeling from the whole thing.

This Friday was a rather special night for a few of us South London girls.
Bizarrely there were 3 of us Mums from our school who were all picked.
We picked up our wrist bands at the allotted time,
put on our warm coats and boots and
headed off for an extra special night out.

The world book night launch in Trafalgar Square.
Every minute of the two and a half freezing hours spent there was fantastic.
My highlight was Alan Bennett reading a very moving piece about his Mother's last days, and then going on to have a good old rant about library closures.

But David Nichols reading from "One Day" and Sarah Walters reading from "The Fingersmith" were equally memorable.
Seeing Margaret Atwood almost made me forgive her for the truly terrible
" Year of the flood" that I had to read recently, almost, but not quite!

Then the giving began.
My friend and glamourous assistant in the sewing class department, Kirsty and I had both elected to give away our books at school.

Me because I thought it would be interesting to give away a book so quintessentially English, with such a wry English sense of self depreciating humour in such a multi cultural school (there are over 60 languages spoken in our playground!)
Kirsty because she thought "One Day" by David Nichols would appeal to Dads, and they would in turn make good role models for their sons and
encourage them to read more.

Any way what ever the reasons a free book is a free book and they all went with in 15 miniutes. It was great walking through the playground afterwards seeing so many people clutching their books and imagining the hours of pleasure they have ahead.
I saved a few and gave them away at the college I teach at this lunch time, but
we could have given away twice as many, still there is always next year.
Happy reading
Love Nora xx

Wednesday, 2 March 2011



I Think This says it all and needs no extra wordage from me.
Love Nora xxx