My weekend of Dances of Universal Peace (with embroidery as an added ingredient!)

Birmingham Mike Hadden 091107

Last weekend, there were two good one-day Dances of Universal Peace events on, both within driving distance of where we live. As we couldn’t choose between them, we decided to go to both!

The first one was at the Friends Meeting House in Hall Green, Birmingham. This one happens monthly, and we manage to go most months. The building is lovely – Victorian, I think, and cosy with a quiet feel to it. The day is led by Mike Hadden and his wife, Suzanne, who have their own website with information about the Dances and dates of upcoming events.

Friends Meeting House Hall Green
The Friends Meeting House, Hall Green, Birmingham

We danced from 10.30 till 4pm, with a break for lunch (brought by the participants). Several of the dances were new to me – a couple, in particular, were really lovely. One, called ‘Namaste’, had the lines ‘I honour the place in you where the entire Universe dwells. I honour the place in me where the entire Universe dwells’. It was a very slow, meditative dance, done in pairs. The other dance I don’t know the name of, but the words were something like ‘There is a secret One inside us, All the stars and all the galaxies, Run through Her hands like beads’. It’s based on part of a poem by Tagore, I think. Anyway, it was great, too.

Sheffield Yoga Centre Gulzar 091108
The altar table at Sheffield

On Sunday, we went to the Sheffield Yoga Centre, and had another great day of Dances led by Christina Lausevic (her Sufi name is Gulzar). She plays guitar to accompany the dances she leads, and my husband, Chris,  plays drum for some of the dances, too (when he’s not dancing, that is). Gulzar adds other practices to her Dance Days, so we also did some drumming, and walking meditations.

A beautiful Indian embroidered panel, over the doorway to the room where we danced
A beautiful Indian embroidered panel, over the doorway to the room where we danced

As I’m always on the lookout for embroidery, it didn’t take me long to spot this gorgeous Indian wallhanging, as it was strung across the doorway into the room where we danced.

Sheffield door embroidery detail
A detailed view of the wallhanging

It was lovely – lots of tiny shisha mirrors had been embroidered on it, and, although it was a bit worn in places (it’s obviously quite old), it was a very carefully made piece. I just love the colours!


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How does the embroidery design inspiration process take shape?

A doll’s house miniature carpet (called ‘Judith’) designed at the ‘right’ time!

I was thinking about how I actually start designing, today, as I can sometimes go for weeks without any inspiration, and then, like buses, several ideas come along at once.

The embroidery design inspiration process, for me anyway, is a strange thing. I can be inspired by so many things for my doll’s house embroidery kits – colour schemes, historical artefacts, shop window displays, nature – almost anything, really. But one thing that I know now DOESN’T help, and that is to push an idea out when it isn’t ready. In the past, I have felt pressured to perhaps ‘get four designs out this month’, or something like that, and forced myself to sit down at the computer and produce something. But it simply doesn’t work like that, so I don’t try any more. With writing, I can do it, but with embroidery, it has to come of its own accord.

Also, I have noticed that my design spurts are linked to my hormones! Not to put too fine a point on it, there are times of the  month when I can design stuff that I’m really pleased with, and times when what I design is only fit for the round filing cabinet on the floor. Unfortunately, though, part of the ‘hormone effect’ is that the rubbish that I design at the ‘wrong’ times, seems fine for a few days, until common sense returns and I can see it for the drivel that it is. I have noticed that colour schemes, in particular, are affected by the hormone effect – shades that look strange together look vaguely alluring when it’s the wrong time for me to be trying to design. It’s a bit like having cravings for foods which don’t go together, I suppose!

This doll’s house miniature carpet (called ‘Tanya’) was definitely designed at the ‘wrong’ time! It has since been discontinued.

When I am designing a ‘good one’, though, the test that I apply is quite simple – I keep on tweaking the pattern until I start to get the itchy feeling of  ‘I want to start stitching this one NOW!!’  Then I know it’s finished – if I keep going, I’m just going to overdo it.


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What is the well-dressed Sufi wearing at Dance Camp?

People doing Dances of Universal Peace in the Big Top at a Dance Camp
People doing Dances of Universal Peace in the Big Top at a Dance Camp

In August of this year, I went to Dance Camp for the first time, in Dorset. It was quite an experience! 300 or so people camping in a field, cooking in groups of around 20 around open fires, and doing Dances of Universal Peace in ‘Big Top’ tents for several hours every day. Other things to do included yoga, harmony singing, drumming, meditation…

It was all good stuff, even when it was raining sideways!

One of the things I realised, once I got there, was that I’d brought totally the wrong kind of clothing. OK, I had the waterproof coat, plastic overtrousers, thermal socks, and so on (after all, this is ENGLAND in the summer 🙂  ), but one thing I didn’t have was ‘suitable’ wellies. I had remembered to bring my boring old navy blue gardening wellies (‘just in case’, ha ha) – and I ended up wearing them for most of the week – even INSIDE the tent, sometimes (I kid you not). However, I noticed that many of the other women were wearing the lovely, brightly coloured wellies that are available now, to go with their bright and jazzy clothes. That made my boring old blue ones seem even more…well, boring.

So, when I got home, I searched online for something more interesting to wear, ready for next time. Now, the problem I have is that, for an adult, I’ve got tiny feet. I take size 2 (33.5 in Continental sizing; size 4 in US sizing). That’s SMALL. So small, in fact, that it’s become such a problem to get shoes to fit me that a few years ago my husband started his own business, importing specially made shoes in small sizes, to try to cater to this market, and stop me moaning at the same time! (It worked – I’ve  got several dozen pairs of lovely Italian shoes, now. And I don’t moan. Much.)

So, to buy wellies in small sizes is not easy. My husband has no supplier to try. No online (or offline, for that matter) shoe shop sells adult wellies in a small size – there’s just not enough of a market. Still, I thought, if it’s jazzy patterned wellies that I want, children’s ones will do fine. They’ll be a bit short in the leg, but that’s OK. I started looking by doing a Google image search, and couldn’t believe my luck.

The Sufi emblem - the 'Heart with wings'
The Sufi emblem – the ‘Heart with wings’

Now, for people who don’t know, the Sufi ’emblem’ is a heart with wings, and many people who do Dances of Universal Peace, such as me, are following the Sufi spiritual path. So, when I came across these Western Chief cowgirl wellies, I was really pleased! They might not have been designed specifically with Sufis in mind, but the logo on these definitely looks like the Sufi one to me!

Western Chief cowgirl wellies, with what looks like the Sufi emblem, to me!
Western Chief cowgirl wellies, with what looks like the Sufi emblem, to me!

Can’t wait for next year’s Dance Camp now, so that I can show them off 🙂


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Finished embroidery – look at this beautiful doll’s house embroidery stitched by my customers!

My customers often send me photos of their stitching, and I love seeing them. My customers are so creative, it’s great to see the many different ways people can use the embroidery kits to make their doll’s houses come alive. This week, I’ve uploaded a new batch of images to the Customers’ Gallery page of my website. Here’s a taster of what you’ll see there:

A beautiful georgian style doll's house belonging to Sue from Berkshire
A beautiful georgian style doll’s house belonging to Sue from Berkshire

Sue from Berkshire owns this beautiful house, and has been making the soft furnishings for it for several years. The house was lovingly made by her father, with great attention to detail.

The doll's house bedroom, with a William Morris needlepoint carpet
The doll’s house bedroom, with a William Morris needlepoint carpet

This cosy bedroom features the needlepoint carpet called ‘Carole (pastel)’. It measures about 8 inches by 5.

The 'second bedroom' with a needlepoint carpet and a wallhanging
The ‘second bedroom’ with a needlepoint carpet and a wallhanging

The wallhanging to the left is based on the William Morris tapestry ‘Orange Tree’, and measures almost four inches square. It is stitched in Anchor stranded cotton. The carpet is stitched in Appleton’s crewel wool.

Janet B from Birmingham is a very keen stitcher, and owns several doll’s houses. Here is a picture of the bedroom in one of her doll’s houses. Isn’t the teddy cute?

A pretty bedroom in shades of pink, with lots of detail
A pretty bedroom in shades of pink, with lots of detail

The most recent photo I’ve had sent to me is from Susan C. She made a ‘hobby room box’, in contemporary style, and filled it with miniature versions of the hobbies that she enjoys – such as miniatures (obviously!), knitting and using her computer. She used one of my chart packs to create her own colourway of one of my carpet designs (this one is called ‘Josie’). I think it’s come out beautifully, and really sets off the room.

A hobby room in miniature
A hobby room in miniature

Aren’t my customers a talented bunch?!


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