DECEMBER 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to December, and the first snow flurries over the weekend. I’m glad to say I was wrapped up warm inside, looking out on the cold white scenes outside. The COVID news seems to get worse every day, with the emergence of Omicron (sounds like an alien invasion doesn’t it?) but my booster is booked for this weekend. I survived my husband’s recent COVID infection so my immune system seems to be working, but I’m sure it could do with a top up.

Having been nursemaid to my sick husband in October, it has been his turn during November. Some of you may be aware that I fell off a stepladder (while tidying up my fabric stash) and severely sprained my knee and bruised my coccyx. Sound painful but it doesn’t encompass the myriad of other small strains and bruising that made absolutely everything difficult. Nurse Nicki had to bring a bed downstairs for me, wait on me hand and foot, drive me to doctor and physio appointments and do all the shopping and cooking, while still suffering through post viral fatigue. He’s been a real brick, but not necessarily a compassionate one. That has been the forte of all my visitors, who endlessly turn up to amuse me and raise my spirits. I’m so grateful to belong to such a fabulous textile community of mutual support and shared interests. I think COVID has taught us to treasure those around us and to forge links where we can. My WhatsApp groups have been fantastic, standing in for classes I haven’t been able to teach. Luckily I am finally making progress and can do more for myself. Hopefully next week I might be driving again.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent some time doing some research and hearing about interesting things.

Anne Bruntlett has sent me this link with some super examples of fabric books:
https://www.greenchairpress.com/blog/?cat=21
I think I might have found my next obsession!

Viv, our Chair, sent out some suggested Leicester-based exhibitions to members last month, but they have finished now. Likewise, the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, which I had to miss. However, one Leicester-based exhibition I will definitely get to is:

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at Leicester All Saints Church
Have you ever dreamt of stepping into a painting? To become completely immersed in the work before you, making reality around you fade into the new world created by the artist? This is where you can!

It has been on for a few weeks but is now extending booking until 31st March 2022. Booking is required but there is plenty of space at the moment. A friend went recently and loved it. Huge galleries of giant images create a really immersive feeling and, at the end, you can take an optional Virtual Reality experience to go with it. (Seated in a chair, not lurching blindly round the room).
 

 

Visit ArtFundwww.artfund.org – to find out about exhibitions and galleries around the country, and to read and see articles about what’s currently going on, indoors and outdoors, in the art world.
 
Join textile artist and writer Claire Wellsley-Smith as part of the Fashion and Textile Museum’s programme of on demand events. Claire discusses her new book Resilient Stitch: Wellbeing and Connection in Textile Art, in a pre-recorded conversation. The recording lasts about an hour and costs £5. Then you can treat yourself to her book or put it on your Christmas list.

https://ftmlondon.digitickets.co.uk/

Enforced rest has meant a lot of lying on the sofa watching TV. I started a Now subscription and have been enjoying Sky Arts Portrait and Landscape Artist of the Year re-runs. So fabulous to watch creative people capturing likenesses and views in so many different ways. Mainly paint, of course, but also stitch, lino cut, crayons, etc.
 
I’ve enjoyed Bake Off and Handmade, which have concluded now, but I hear that there will be two celebrity Great British Sewing Bee Festive Specials over the winter, so we have those to look forward to. They will have a new host, Sarah Pascoe, as Joe Lycett has stepped down. I’m expecting she will be a good host. I’ve become quite familiar with her comedy, having watched quite a lot of Taskmaster while laid up.
 
I’ve also become addicted to You Tube’s series of Haute Couture videos. Yesterday I spent nearly an hour watching the construction of Dior’s iconic red Bar coat, in mind blowing detail.
Truly marvellous engineering, such talent and understanding of drape and construction, perfection in sewing , tacking, etc.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAXksLhLFAA.

You Tube’s Haute Couture also shows the runway shows from recent collections and lots of other detailed classic costume creations. Well worth a look.

I also love to check out Collosal (https://www.thisiscolossal.com/) – an arts and crafts images website full of fantastic inspiration and ideas. I’ve subscribed (free) which means I get sent a daily image, which I often set as a background on my computer screen. Here’s a crochet piece by Jo Hamilton, one of their featured artists.

When it comes to Christmas ideas, I was going to research lots of little things to put on your lists, but sadly my ability to sit at a computer was restricted, so here are some more books I fancy.

Textiles Transformed. Mandy Patullo uses vintage textiles and stitch to create gorgeous little pieces to treasure. I’ve done several classes and even been on a week’s retreat with her in France, enjoying the pleasure of slow stitching. I know I will love this book and all the images.

How To Be Creative in Textile Art. I don’t know anything about this book, I’ve not seen a copy, but I love Julia Triston’s work, so that’s good enough for me. I have attended one of her talks and done a workshop with her and she is a creative and inspiring teacher.




Last year I subscribed to a treat from Aurifil Threads. Each month I get a box of three 50wt threads on their 1300mtr cones in toning colours. I also took the plunge and subscribed to the 40wt threads too. I intend to phase out most of my other threads as Aurifil are just so yummy and have a huge colour range. The colours glow, the thread doesn’t fluff and it moves through the sewing machine like a dream.

I get my subscription from debsfabrics.com but they are also available from Cottonpatch.co.uk and other fabric and thread retailers. 2022 also features a variegated version, but I like Superior Threads King Tut or Wonderfil for variegated machine threads, as their colour gradations are so subtle.


 

Date for your diary:

Living Threads Exhibition, Trent College, Wednesday 30th March – Friday 8th April 2022. Start spreading the news…!

Any more reviews or New Year suggestions are very welcome, as I’m sure readers would appreciate some ideas and inspiration for 2022!. Please send them to me via the Living Threads email address: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or email me directly at gillitheokritoff@gmail.com
   
Everyone please enjoy the season and keep creating.
 
Cheers,

Gilli Theokritoff,
Newsletter Editor

November 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to November, the season of mists and bonfires. I do hope that this finds you well and you are managing to enjoy some of the autumn colours before the rain washes the leaves away. Halloween is barely over but all the Christmas goodies are cramming onto the shelves already. I find I have already bought advent calendars and ordered my Christmas beef!

I hope as many as possible of you are having your boosters and flu jabs. My husband contracted COVID last week and we have been in isolation since. Apparently I don’t need to isolate as I’m testing negative, but that seems bizarre to me, so I’m staying safely at home, with my man flu victim. I seem to still have enough antibodies to avoid the virus despite being in close quarters with an infected person, which is a relief.

Fortunately he is not too bad, just very fatigued and hating being without taste and smell. The TV and a roaring fire have helped!

I’ve no stories or photos from members this month, but I have suggestions for visits and podcasts.
 
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It’s the Knitting & Stitching Show at Harrogate soon –18th– 21st November, with lots to see and do. Have a look at https://www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/harrogate/the-textile-galleries featuring artists: Maria Thomas, Hannah Lamb, Sabi Westobi, Omone Otite, and the Embroiderers’ Guild will be bringing its current exhibition “Exquisite Containers” to the show.



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If you fancy some fresh air and a walk: The Weston Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park will be transformed by Annie Morris’ vibrant sculptures and intricate ‘thread paintings’ –  Wakefield   25th Sep 2021 – 6th Feb 2022  Annie Morris’ installation creates an immersive experience of the artist’s own studio, mimicking a creative environment where the immediacy of her drawn and stitched work sits alongside sculptures in various stages of creation. Aptly named The Stacks, the colourful structures are precariously balanced in towers to demonstrate a sense of instability and fragility. They poignantly represent themes of grief and loss, as the artist took inspiration from a tragic event in her own life whilst creating them, the death of her first child before birth. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new monumental bronze work that will sit in the park outside, marrying Morris’ work the striking Yorkshire landscape.

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At the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, from 9th Oct – 20th Feb 2022 you can see the work of a pioneering painter of women, war and marginalised people. Laura Knight’s staggering success in the male-dominated art world paved the way for the recognition of women artists.

With a style that sat somewhere between figurative painting, realist tradition and English Impressionism, Laura Knight (1877-1970) is considered one of the most prolific 20th-century English artists. She was particularly known for her work as a war artist during the Second World War, shining a new light on women’s role in the war effort, and for her fascination with the backstage world of ballet, theatre and circus, often painting marginalised people.

As an artist Laura Knight was constantly breaking conventions and challenging stereotypes – notably she was the first woman elected to full membership of the Royal Academy. The exhibition will feature 160 of her powerful works, from commissions created during the Second World War, rarely seen paintings and graphic works, to ceramics jewellery and costume.



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If you are in London over the Festive season, Don’t forget about: Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.  1 October 2021 – 13 March 2022.

Frilled shirts, Regency brocades and velvet trousers – there’s plenty in this exhibition to inspire you to push the boat out with your costume this Halloween. Beautiful People explores the designers who defined radical fashion in the 1960s, driven by freedom and flamboyance. The exhibition is an explosion of colour, materials and decorative design – the perfect way to brighten up the greyest of days.

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On Saturday 20th Novemberthere will be a Closing Down Sale at Pentrich Village Hall, 10.30 – 4pm. Ann Mayner, owner of Quilt Essential, Cromford Mill, is retiring and moving away. She has always stocked a great range of fabrics and notions, so that should be very worthwhile.

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In Nottingham I urge you to visit the Castle Museum for the Paul Smith exhibition. It’s exciting and inspirational, full of colour, character and images. For this exhibition he focuses on photographs and colour and his eclectic use of both. It’s on until February, but if you go out-of-holiday times there’s no need to pre-book and you can wander round at leisure. The Castle has been revamped with two cafes and the shop has plenty of goodies and gift ideas.    

Another shop with great gift ideas is at the Contemporary Museum in the Lacemarket, Nottingham. It’s my go-to spot for quirky and unusual gifts, art books and children’s toys. Closed on Mondays.   

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A new Podcast to listen to: Meet Me at the Museum – new series. The Art Fund podcast features well-known faces taking someone they love to a favourite museum or gallery, to explore what’s on offer, have a chat about what they find, and generally muse on life. Previous series have featured guests including comedian Mae Martin, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and actor Mathew Horne, all exploring museums they love. As well as getting a peek behind the scenes, finding out what makes a museum tick, their visits are also the starting point for some great conversations about life, the universe and everything. Oh, and also a chance to eat lots of cake in the cafe. (You will have to bake your own of course!)  

On TV
I’ve been watching interesting craft contests. Channel 4 hosts HandMade, a weekly show featuring competing woodworkers, with a different set of challenges each episode. It is fascinating to watch the designs coming to life, the energy and, in some cases, excellence of the craftsmanship.  

On Netflix and You Tube there is a show called Blown Away, about glass blowing. Very American in nature, but each episode is only a half hour long, so very compulsive! Mindblowing and very instructive, I absolutely love it.  

I also love the Thursday episode of Strictly: It Takes Two when they have the costume people showing the outfits for the next dance show. They often discuss the structure of the garments, show their plans and current work, but that often evolves during the Friday dress rehearsal and changes get made. Fascinating.

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I’ve been compiling my Christmas list, from my armchair. Books on my list are:
 


I’ll review them in January, if I find them under my Christmas Tree! Any more reviews or gift suggestions are very welcome, as I’m sure readers would appreciate some ideas.

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I also attended a lovely in-person workshop at Hope & Elvis, up at the Harley Gallery near Worksop. Fabulous workroom with a delicious hot lunch. The class was run by Mandy Patullo, a friend and fabulous stitcher, who mainly uses antique materials and quilts in her work. We made small hand stitched dolls. Here are some of Mandy’s and our class efforts.



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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 It’s a hopeful time of year and but we still need some tips and interesting  or amusing snippets!

Email us at: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or check us out on Facebook.

We wish you all a speedy recovery if you or family have been unwell or had Covid-19, and that the booster keeps us all safe.
 
Everyone please enjoy the season and keep creating.
 
Until December
Cheers,

Gilli Theokritoff,
Newsletter Editor

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