Warning- Abnormal Load Ahead

Thought I might have a go at recounting the last few days for you and intersperse a few references to my latest creations and a bit of local scenery.


Christmas morning rainbow.


Dec 27th. Day before birthday. We travel south to see parents for a few days only to get stuck in the worst traffic on M25 so came off and wriggled through very posh parts of the world, saying ‘Hello’ to anyone in Windsor Castle (which wouldn’t be the Queen as she is in Balmoral tucked up with a cold). Rather late, we arrive at parents’ and start to unload.  

‘There’s something on the back seat’ says Dad. ‘I’m not quite sure what it is, but it looks like something of Rachael’s’.  

Doesn’t bode well for an artist such as myself.

‘It’s my artwork, Dad,’ I reply.

‘Oh…they look like, like those things, those hats that people…’

Well Him Indoors reduces my makings to two types of apparel (and one of those isn’t a hat) and this is not going to become a family affair. 

I quietly take my pods-in-making upstairs to my room. 

Dec 28th. My birthday. Yeah!

Dad, bless him, comes downstairs looking dreadful and sounding worse. ‘I think you may have an infection’ says I. An hour or so later I’m taking him to the doctors. It was very cold, so I toyed around with offering him one of my pods to cover his head but thought better of it.  

Dad unfortunately consigned to bed, whole family lunch took place. I had a headache so I took something for it and helped make the gravy. Can I offer you a word of advice? Do not tip spoonfuls of gravy granules into a large boiling pan of meat juices. My brother did and Mount Etna erupted all over the cooker. As impressive as it was, I didn’t need to be chipping off gravy lumps on my birthday.  

Eventually, I unwrapped my presents, feeling a little spaced out I have to say.  

Mum was insistent that Auntie Eileen should be shown my book that I have written. I shall explain more about that in a mo. Mum knows it’s something interesting but has yet to decipher the workings of her daughter’s mind. Eileen, who unknown to me wrote and published stories in her youth, understood what I wanted to say and just got it. I was so chuffed to be able to share my musings with her. It was a revelation.

Teatime and I took another pill. Headache still bad. Mum had bought me a surprise birthday cake in the shape of a hedgehog, which came out at lunchtime only to rapidly disappear again until tea, and daughter had gone out especially to get candles. Two pairs of enormous birthday spectacles later celebrations finished in style.  


Brother and family went home and I headed for the pill cupboard again. I had noted that the Paracetamols in the box looked different to mine, but this time my eyes set upon the name of the pills. Not Paracetamol. Let’s just say that the drug of choice would be enough to stun a buffalo and rather explained my inability to find words and remain present in the moment, or indeed awake at all.
Once the house had quietened, I brought a pod down to do a bit of stitching, which was a tad reckless in my condition. 

Mum leaned over, ‘They look a bit like bra cups, how do they work then?’ 

I folded one over, and showed her how the bra cup would become a pod shape once I had stitched it. ‘Oh, you are clever, imagine having a brain that thinks like that. I don’t know where you get it from,’ says she. 

Soon after that I felt it was time for bed, to try and clear the drug induced stupor.

Dec 29th. Day after birthday.  

Almost normal.

Sat in the afternoon stitching French knots over my bra cup. I was wondering if I needed them all over or to leave some spaces when dad says, ‘You know what it reminds me of?…’. My buttocks clenched in anticipation.

‘A whale’.

Could have been worse – buttocks unclenched.
‘Yes, it’s like a fish’ says mum. And to be honest, I had to admit that it kind of did. I didn’t have the courage and personal resilience to show them the other pod-in-making. I could only venture to guess what similes might have issued forth. Best left for now. 



So that brings me to today, heading back home with a half-knotted bra cup which might also double as a hat in a medical emergency if required. I am thankfully in my right mind writing this in the car on the way home, although that is being tested due to queuing behind an abnormal load. If they only knew what abnormal load lay on my back seat!  

So to turn this into something of the blog it’s supposed to be, I have been working on a series of pods. Not bra cups, fish, hats or other dubious items of attire. They are part of a project about noticeable edges and I have in mind to make a few of these which will hang together. Neither of these are finished yet and they will have some company – I’m hoping to make at least five. 



I have recently finished another one which sits rather than hangs. This one took a long time as the large button hole rings can take up to half an hour to make. The body is made from the usual base of teabag paper and cmc paste, and this one has been covered in scrim and then over-painted to emphasise the ridges. The rings were glued around the top in a way I hope makes the eye travel, and some have been cut out in the centres so you can see through. The pods can all be reshaped in the making by spritzing them with water and re-inserting a balloon back in and leaving to dry. This way, you don’t have to worry if the shape changes with stitching, unless you like what’s happening. 



I have to say that Hair n’Swear has been remodelled to become a different shape with a bit of interior interest.   This was mostly due to a couple of anatomical remarks about its previous form which are best left unwritten.  

The other thing I have been doing is writing a small book about the different stages of creative and critical thinking. It has examples of my work in it, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the putting together of it. It is just a very small affair, but will be available in some form in February when I have been given a demonstrator stand in Manchester at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycraft show Feb 2nd to 4th, Event City, Manchester. 


It’s a subject that I find fascinating and something I don’t believe many may have considered. It’s just about learning some tips for thinking better at different points along the way in creating a piece of work. I hope to have the balance of theory and photos about right and whilst it isn’t a blog, it’s written with a bit of humour here and there.  If you are around, do come and say ‘hello’ and introduce yourself. 


I recently helped organise a workshop which Alysn Midgelow-Marsden led for our group, and spent a weekend sewing into metal. She was a wonderful tutor and lovely to spend time with. Alysn was also at Knitting and Stitching and I hope you may have seen her extraordinary metal dresses and sculptures. Alysn had sourced a large amount of fine steel ‘cloth’ and I have some to play with. Burning it produces some wonderful colours and I’m wondering if I can make a kind of armoured pod of sorts which will highlight the coloured edges?  I may not show mum.  I love the colour combinations produced – they sit well with my love of muted tones. Heated copper is also impressive but I particularly like this steel. 
Here are a few scrumptious edges: 



Well I hope you had a good Christmas, and the New Year brings much goodness for you. It was quite a year for me in moving, changing job role and setting up Hillstone Fibre Arts and there is one more change to come in about six weeks when my first grandchild is due to arrive. Can’t wait to meet her and have my first cuddle. 😊 

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11 thoughts on “Warning- Abnormal Load Ahead

  1. I loved seeing your pods at Manchester, and am intending on looking for some teabag paper to play with. I wish I had seen your book, is there anyway to get hold of it?

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