January 2021 newsletter

Happy New Year and welcome to 2021!

As the Covid news keeps getting darker, and the Vaccine news seems a dim glimmer at the moment we must all brace ourselves for further restrictions, with no sunshine or gardening to distract us. Let us be thankful for glowing fires, warm socks and the gift of joy in creating textiles to keep us happy.

Our Living Threads committee wish you all a better 2021 to come. We will get through this, and Brexit shortages and delays, during the coming months. Shortages – be it food or fabrics, makes us more creative, finding ways round the problems, using stuff we forgot we had, cooking up new dishes, etc. In fact, the only thing I don’t want to get creative with is the loo paper!

I had a disaster on Christmas Eve – Virgin Media ‘lost’ my email address! It has completely gone from their records, although the internet and phone sections of my account remain. I wasted three hours of a very precious day on the phone with technicians trying to sort it all out, to no avail. Hence I have had to change my email address to gillitheokritoff@gmail.com so please, if you have sent me anything recently to go in the newsletter, resend to the gmail address! However, I still managed to get all the presents wrapped and mince pies made, so Christmas wasn’t ruined!

Meanwhile Annette Budzisz shares with us her experiences over the last year:

Throughout the pandemic I have tried to stay positive, and like many other folk have experienced the highs, and sadly some devastating lows too, but thankfully during the spring and summer months there was always plenty to occupy my time in the garden.

While busy digging and planting I began to daydream about my early childhood and remember stories of ‘The Faraway Tree’, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Thumbelina’.

I had a few old garden ornaments, and began to play with them, grouping them together to make a story, creating mysterious pathways   for my characters to follow and thoroughly getting absorbed in the land of make-believe!

Fortunately for me, none of my neighbours were peering over the garden fence at the time, but even if they had, I was so involved in play (just like a young child again) that even had they called to me I doubt I would have heard them.

In a bizarre way being in Lockdown, unlocked my childish imagination which had been hidden away for decades, and just like an old friend it was so good to be in touch again. All the constraints of daily life faded while I was in the garden.

Easter was approaching and I found myself not only decorating the living room with displays of spring flowers, chicks and crocheted Easter eggs, but I made Easter wreaths and took the idea of hanging eggs into the garden much to my neighbours’ surprise!

As families began to make rainbows, and messages appeared in windows acknowledging our wonderful health workers in the NHS, I joined in by crocheting bunting and a rainbow to hang up on my garden gate.

Summer came and brought so many beautiful flowers, particularly sunflowers that seemed to pop up in many front gardens and bring so much pleasure to the walkers who were exploring new streets and avenues.

Soon it was time to take the crocheted red, white and blue bunting down and replace it with a crocheted harvest of fruit and flowers on the garden gate.

We had enjoyed a long warm summer with many showers to extend the growing season, but now autumn was coming and with it came Halloween and Bonfire night. A time to crochet pumpkins and swirling red, orange and yellow leaves, spiders, spooks and witches on brooms…

The wind howled and the rain clattered, but the crocheted autumn display clung onto the bars of the wrought iron garden gate and miraculously survived everything October and November threw at it.

Meanwhile the display changed yet again, and neighbours and strangers woke up to poppy wreaths and Snow White doves to remind us of our brave veterans in the two world wars and beyond.

That same day I went to my postbox and found a lovely note of thanks for my simple display, and I was moved to tears by the kindness of the words I read.

What had begun as a childish fantasy in the privacy of my home and back garden had gradually extended to my garden gate and was now on show for anyone passing by to enjoy.

All those balls of yarn, scraps of card and various odds ends I had squirrelled away for many years had found a new purpose, and will continue to reflect the changing seasons and events that mark this very strange time in all our lives.

Maybe one day, there will be just one, very happy crocheted face, smiling at all the neighbours and strangers as they pass the gate, holding a long-awaited message ‘Safe at last!’

Stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Annette Budzisz

We asked our members to send me a note about their favourite tool for their work, for a new monthly feature.

Greta Fitchett replied:

My favourite tool at the moment is the flower stitcher attachment for the sewing machine.

It will do eyelets, but there are lots of other creative uses as well!

The tool pivots the fabric so that circles are stitched, and adjustments allow for large and small circles.

Thanks Greta! I’ve used the flower stitcher before as well. It’s fabulous and can do most decorative stitches in quite large circles.

Viv Denscombe responded to the Favourite tools request:

“Choosing a favourite arty item was a really tricky choice between a couple of things, so hope I can cheat a bit and have two! 

My favourites are Gesso and Gelli plate – really couldn’t be without either.

Gesso – I use it for sizing thinner paper and fabrics ready for journalling; as white paint, as it gives a lovely matt finish; as a glaze, to tone down too bright colours; basically, a real ‘go-to’.

Gelli plate – quick and very easy tool to create a whole stash of layered, coloured papers and fabrics with unique finishes; My go-to tool for those creative block times – once the paint comes out and the stash starts building, ideas come flooding in.

If I think about this, I’m sure there’s loads of ‘favourites’ – but these two are ‘deffos’”.

My husband surprised me this Christmas with a quilting present – a pack of 64 ‘Spoolhuggers’. These curly bits of silicone wrap around your thread spool to hold onto those tails of thread that otherwise tangle into a mess. I had bought a Black Friday bargain of spools of Wonderfil Eleganza Perle threads and was worrying about how I was going to keep them in order and these are just the answer! For once I got the perfect surprise gift (past disasters have included a frying pan and a garden spade…)

Please do keep your bits of news and favourite tools coming in, it is really useful to us all. Maybe you got a good book for Christmas? Let us know – gillitheokritoff@gmail.com

I’m preparing to do a new online Quilt-Along, run by Nicholas Ball, via Instagram. I’m not a huge fan of negotiating Instagram but it starts on 5th January from his @quiltsfromtheattic Instagram page. He’s also doing a 3hr online workshop on the project via www.craftymonkies.com on 16th January.

Nick is an Improv quilter – no measuring or rulers, just-go-for-it attitude. Very liberating, EASY and great fun. The project is his quilt Shoals – beautiful sleek silver fish in dark blue water. It’s from his book, see photos below. Improv curves – not tried them before…!

If you have any newsletter contributions, puzzles, recommendations, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or email me directly at gillitheokritoff@gmail.com We do all love to see what others have been up to, or hear news related to our love of textiles. Otherwise it will be all about my sewing life again!

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check our website at: www.livingthreadstextileartists.com  or email us at: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or check us out on Facebook. The website has been brightened up, with new additions so do go and have a look. Our Virtual Exhibition of 6” squares on the theme of ‘Gardens’ is up there now.

We wish you all a speedy recovery if you or family have been unwell or had Covid-19, and that the rest of us manage to avoid it.

Everyone please stay safe and keep creating. We will get through this and come out the other side. The vaccine will eventually mean we can all meet up and share our stories and textile work.

Until February


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

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