Category Archives: Musings

…and the results are in…..

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my previous post, where I talked about the possibility of either expanding this blog from being only about embroidery to including posts about my three doll’s houses as well, or whether to start a second blog to write about them. That post became my ‘personal best so far’ as to comments – over four dozen of you commented, and it was really interesting to read all of your opinions.

It became quite clear, from reading them all, that the vast majority of those who commented would like me to combine the two themes – embroidery and the miniatures hobby – into this blog, rather than start a new blog for the minis. To be honest, I had set up a second blog, and written a couple of posts already (just not publicised it), but it wasn’t working for me, somehow.

This blog has been going since 2009, and I have a very large, regular readership now. I was a bit torn as to what to do, as I know that some of you are purely ‘stitchers’, and many of you do both hobbies. But as several of you said, to have two blogs would not only be more fiddly for you all to keep up with, but it would also be more work for me to maintain.

A couple of people also said that they like the idea that whatever I write about would be showing what I *as a person* am interested in at any one time, and I think that is what has been the most persuasive factor in my deciding to stick with the one blog.

This is the first mini-quilt that I made - it measures about 20 inches by 16

This is the first mini-quilt that I made – it measures about 20 inches by 16

For instance, in the past I have written a few times about patchwork and quilting, as I ‘dabbled’ a couple of years ago with that hobby (I still have three mini quilts kitted up, ready to make). And a couple of times I’ve talked about things that are completely ‘non-craftlike’, depending what occurs to me. So, to blend the blog’s usual topic of embroidery with other topics isn’t completely new, but I am definitely planning to do some different things in the coming months.

My Georgian style doll's house

My Georgian style doll’s house

I own three doll’s houses now – one was bought fully built and painted on the outside – I’ve had that one for 34 years, now! The other two have been bought in the past couple of years as flat-pack kits, so I intend to share my decorating and collecting stories with you. I have many doll’s house scale kits of various types (miniature flowers, furniture kits, dolls, etc.), which I will be doing kit reviews of, too.

But the blog posts to do with embroidery will still continue – my stash isn’t getting any smaller, despite me always making stuff – while I make one thing, I seem to buy two more projects, so there’s always lots of gorgeous things to create and then write about!

I’m aware that a few of you said that if the focus of the blog changed from being almost exclusively embroidery-based to being less focussed on stitching, then you might not follow it any more, but although that is your choice, I think that would be a shame, although I know I can’t please everyone all the time. But I’ve always found that the hobby of miniatures can appeal to lots of people, even if they don’t make things themselves – the attraction of the tiny just draws people in! So hopefully most of you will stay, and see what I write about….

A tiny doll's doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall

A tiny doll’s doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall

Thanks again for all the feedback, it really did help to clarify things for me.

New direction for this blog

I’ve been having a think over the New Year about how I’d like this blog to develop. I still love doing embroidery of all kinds – not just the mini sort, that I sell as kits for adult doll’s houses in my business Janet Granger Designs, but also the surface embroidery, stumpwork and cross stitch designs (sometimes my original designs, and sometimes kits and charts by other designers) that I have kitted up and have ready to go in my huge stash.

The print room in my first doll's house

The print room in my first doll’s house

But I also spend quite a bit of my time making and collecting miniature things for my own doll’s house collection – I now have three doll’s houses, with two of them being ‘newish’, and never written about before.

The collection of 'smalls' from the Carolyn Pearce 'Home Sweet Home' workbox etui set

The collection of ‘smalls’ from the Carolyn Pearce ‘Home Sweet Home’ workbox etui set

So, my decision needs to be about this: do I ‘diversify’ this blog, and start sharing more about what I do for my mini hobby (making and collecting), or do I keep it purely ’embroidery focussed’? Do I start a separate blog, to keep ’embroidery’ posts separate from ‘miniatures’ posts, or blend the two in the one blog (this one!).

I’d love a bit of feedback here, so please comment below and let me know what you think. Would you enjoy reading about both subjects? Do you, too, have an interest in both hobbies, or not? Would you prefer there to be two blogs, so that you can visit or follow the blog that interests you, and not read the other one?

Talk to me!

Stolen embroidery

I posted recently about two needlecases that I’ve made during my life – one when I was 12, and one much more recently. In that post, I mentioned that the first needlecase (on the right in the image below) had been part of a set, but that the scissors case had been stolen out of my bag on the day I took both pieces into school to show my needlework teacher.

It made me think over the other times in my life when I’ve had stitching stolen. It’s a horrible feeling when something you have taken so much time and care over gets taken from you, because it can never be replaced. I’ve also found, over the years, that even if I still have the pattern for a particular project (which I obviously do if it’s one of my own designs!), for some reason I can’t face stitching it again. Most of my embroidery, then, is a ‘one-off experience’. I don’t want to have the same stitching experience twice, if you see what I mean. And knowing that I would be stitching something simply because the original had to be replaced would just make the whole experience unpleasant, somehow.

After having the scissors case stolen, my stitching collection was ‘safe’ for several decades. I must have got complacent! About ten years ago now, I had been visiting a friend of mine who is also an embroidery designer, so I had taken my latest finished project to show her. It was an Elizabethan sweet bag from Inspirations magazine, Issue 36. A really lovely piece to embroider. I did it very much like the one in the picture below – only changing the thread colours a little, as I stitched it in Anchor stranded cotton, rather than the shades suggested in the magazine. I really enjoyed making it – it took about two months of  ‘spare’ time.

On the way home from visiting my friend, my husband and I went to the wedding reception of other friends of ours. Obviously, you can’t walk into a wedding reception with your suitcases, so we left our stuff in the car. Bad idea. Halfway through the receoption, there was an announcement that the owner of a blue Ford Fiesta needed to go and speak to the Hotel Manager. You guessed it – our car had been broken into while the wedding reception was in full swing. All our luggage had been taken, including the embroidered bag. What almost made it worse was that, when I was explaining to the police what had gone, and I mentioned the bag, one of them said, ‘Oh, they wouldn’t be interested in that. That’ll be tossed in a hedge somewhere. I meant anything of value’.

And that’s part of the problem, really. It makes it worse if you know that what’s been stolen won’t even be valued. Who steals embroidery to order, anyway? It’s not as if it’s ‘art’, apparently.

However…..

The last needlework show I attended as a standholder was a two-day event at Bakewell, in Derbyshire, about five years ago. I had attended dozens of shows over the previous ten years, but I was starting to reconsider whether it was financially worthwhile to attend shows, with all the hassle of getting there, setting up, staying in hotels, etc. Online selling is so much easier! My husband and I set up the stand with our kits for doll’s house embroidery, as we always did. The first day was OK, but not that busy, but we were assured that the Sunday would be busier. As usual with these multi-day events, at the end of the first day, we just put dust sheets over the stand, and went to our hotel for the night. In the morning, we didn’t actually notice that someone had got to our stand before we had, and had taken some of our stitched models of the doll’s house carpets that we sell, and had moved the rest of the models up so that a gap wasn’t noticeable.

‘Elizabeth’ miniature carpet design – it measures 9 x 9 inches, and is stitched on 18 count canvas with one strand of Appleton’s crewel wool

The two carpets that they stole were large ones (by doll’s house standards, anyway!). And, as I don’t do commissions, I presume they weren’t stitchers, and felt that to buy a kit and stitch it themselves just wasn’t their thing. Anyway, the designs they stole were ‘Elizabeth’, the first design I ever stitched as a miniature carpet (it’s the design featured on the front cover of my book ‘Miniature Needlepoint Carpets’), and ‘Karen’, which was named for my friend Karen who lives in Wales, and who loves William Morris designs. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to face stitching them again, as stitched models are often used in publicity photos in my business, but I haven’t been able to get to that point yet.

This doll’s house room setting shows the ‘Karen’ carpet design, along with several other designs from my range of kits

I am very wary, now, of taking any of my stitching out of the house. Of course, it’s still possible that one day we could be burgled, and things could be stolen anyway, but the risks seem to increase out of the house. I don’t really know what the answer is. And I don’t feel that insurance is the way forward, either – for one thing, insurance companies simply don’t understand the value of stitching.

Reading back over this, it sounds like quite a depressing post – sorry! I didn’t set out to write a depressing post! What I think I’m saying is, appreciate the stitching you’ve done, but be aware that it might not always be around. Value what you’ve done, and the time you’ve put into it.

And if you ever see a little Elizabethan sweet bag on beige damask with forget-me-nots made out of blue seed beads, with gold tassels along the bottom, and the initals JLG on the back, would you let me know ?  🙂