Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Pour l'amour du fil, adventures in France

Well, we returned more than a week ago, but I have been busy dealing with backlog of work which inevitably piles up when you go away, and though it was a working "away" ... we had such a lovely time at Pour l'amour du fil that we began to think of it as a holiday ... anyway, who wants to be lying around in the sunshine with nothing to do? Better by far to meet many new, and like minded friends and see many inspiring things coming home full of ideas and ready for a refreshed start!

Mind you it was a bumpy start .. my old banger failed it's MOT three days before we had to leave and there was a panic until we found another old banger to torture with a 6 hours drive there and back ... but we did it! What a relief to be on the ferry finally and on our way from Dover to Calais.

And France was glorious on the journey down, clothing itself slowly in green the further down we drove ... arriving late in Nantes with  nowhere to eat left open but MacDonald's ... oh dear the less said the better. Still we were comforted by the prospect of better eating over the next few days.

Now I am not going to bore you with a blow by blow account of the show, though I might talk about some highlights in detail as I go ... but I think I will make it a visual account mostly, and also a contact library of the artists and craftsmen who were there. Needless to say Nantes is a beautiful city on the Loire, it's cathedral a splendour to behold restored immaculately after a fire nearly destroyed it in 1970s ... oh and there may have to be some plates of food ... sorry, just this once.

We will definitely go again next year if we are asked to, so make it a date too and you will not be disappointed for sure!

Nancy Nicholson Stand at Pour l'amour du fil
Our stand at Pour l'amour du fil

Samples of Cake and Lovebirds made into a cushion

My class from second workshop
My class of lovely ladies from the second workshop

Little lovlies
All the lovely little 'things they had, made from scraps, needle cases, scissor ... things, little bags for thread .... so different! Also see the embroidered espadrille worked on by Milo my indispensable interpreter! And what a great idea! You made it all very relaxed Milo Thank you!

Class at work! We learnt stitches then worked on Birdie 2
We learnt some stitches then applied them to Birdie 2

Cecile Franconie stand at Pour l'amour du fil
The wonderful Cecile Franconie a huge inspiration for many people and it was amazing to meet her and see her work.
My neighbours at Pour l'amour du fil

Some of my new friends and neighbours from the show.

1. Elfie Tricot and wonderful animals (3) and also her beautiful little old dog (4)who was curled up under the table ....
2. Rachel John with her enormous luxurious knitting ... managed to stay cool. Our chum for the week!
5. Margaret, the first English voice to greet us from Fabric Affair click to find out more as they exhibit their lovely kits all over England too.

Exhibitors at Pour l'amour du fil

1. I have bought a needle punch hoop and needle and just now need time to DO! But so inspired by this stand Lo Spazio del Cuore
2. What an amazing mouse house and incredible business ... La petite boutique dodile 
3. Demonstration of needlepunching technique which caught my attention! Lo Spazio del Cuore
4. Incredible sashiko kits by Sashiko-ya, who we talked to more at the BANQUETTE! Really want to have a go at this1

Exhibitors at Pour l'amour du fil

Quiltmania stand and some of my fellow exhibitors and visitors ...

Exhibitors at Pour l'amour du fil

1. Beautiful Fabrics and wooden stamps at Neelam
2. Fabulous collections of buttons and craft kits from Atelier bon Heur du Jour
3. Beautiful Fabrics and wooden stamps at Neelam
4. I bought an antique spindle from this lovely stand but failed to take a card. I could have bought many treasures here but I think THIS is the place to go!

Exhibitors at Pour l'amour du fil

The stand I kept going back to, which made me want to make quilts again was Dutch Heritage, Den Haan Wagenmakers The examples were delicious and the fabrics too beautiful.
Irene Blanks quilts
Irene Blanks quilts are extraordinary see HERE for more

Le Comptoir des Fluerettes

Another stand which kept drawing me back was Le Comptoir des Fluerettes. Everything you need to make your own individual jewelery by stitching the metal plates (above) embroidering felt balls etc etc ... see their FB page by clicking on their name above ... yes I bought some and will post the results. Also look here

Tomi Nagano quilts

Quilts by the stars ... Tomie Nagano

Bill Volckening

An inspiring display of antique quilts from Bill Volckening

More from around the show ...

Tomi Nagano quilts

 More from Tomie Nagano

The FEAST! Mountains of oysters and prawns, salads and meats, pate, local cheeses, desserts to die for, wine, coffee ...


Here I am with Rachel John and the lovely couple from Sashiko-ya enjoying the INCREDIBLEY generous banquette which the organizers laid on for the exhibitors ... it was delicious and unexpected! THANK YOU!

The whole picture ... exhibitors and organisers Pour l'amour du fil

And finally ... some tarte from a French service station ... yes! No burger and chips to be found.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bird Embroideries

I am really happy to have been taken on by Yellow House Licensing recently and look forward to new horizons as a result. So I have had to collect images of work for them to make a portfolio to represent me. These two bird embroideries were made some years ago, maybe 4-5? and it has been great scan them properly as I never had time when I made them ... but I am definitely feeling it's time to make some more machine embroideries ... time? I must make time. The cottage is now going on the market so I have to keep it tidy and clean and as my kitchen is the nerve centre of this business that is quite a challenge .. also doing these embroideries is incredibly messy and it is a requisite to empty out piles of scraps to rummage through, resulting in myself, the cottage and the dog are then covered in trails of threads ... but I have explained to the agent this is a place of work as well as a picturesque and perfect kentish cottage.

If anyone is interested in a very unique, beautiful 400 year old cottage on the edge of heaven, please contact me .... 

Orange Cuckoo Machine Embroidery using velvets and silks, applique, wool base
Orange Cuckoo

Pink Cuckoo Machine Embroidery using velvets and silks, applique, wool base
Pink Cuckoo

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Embroidered Butterflies and France!

it's amazing how many blogs I read start posts with an apology for not writing for a while ... I am joining that throng here but I have an excuse, as do the others but it has been very busy here and writing the blog though very necessary has been a luxury of time I simply have not had ... and there is so much to post too. 

Firstly, the latest fluster is getting ready for Pour l'Amour du fil" which is "An International Show of the Arts of the Thread" Embroidery, Quilting, Knitting and Sewing in Nantes, yes that's France ... so off we go on 20th April with all our good and chattles ... driving in my dirty old Clio all the way to conquer France with the kits! It's all quite exciting. 
See here a short video of last year's event 

IF you are in Nantes to come to this wonderful happening please do find me and come and say HELLO! I speak maybe five words in French and I won't tell you what they are, and I am running two workshops so that will be interesting. There will be a lot of smiling and gesticulating. 

Then below are the latest downloadable designs of which there are going to be 10 this year ... The three below are Set 1 click here and the one at the bottom is one of two for Set 2 which will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Set 1 Butterfly Embroidery pattern download
Use these butterflies on a garment or as a sampler or singly as a small framed gift
Set 1 Butterfly Embroidery pattern download

Set 1 Butterfly Embroidery pattern download

Set 1 Butterfly Embroidery pattern download

Use these butterflies on a garment or as a sampler or singly as a small framed gift
Here is one I made for friend's birthday ...

Downloadable pattern for Hand Embroidery
Here I have stitched them on a coloured background

Downloadable pattern for Hand Embroidery

Monday, 26 January 2015

My next challenge is the Heals Modern Craft Market. I imagine it will be quite something so do come along and say hello to me and the other craftsmen there. There will be workshops running through the two week event, my own will be on the 14th click here to see details http://www.heals.co.uk/page/nancy_nicholson
I will be designing a special kit and sampler for my class where you can learn some zippy little stitches and use them to create your own picture.


Alongside me will be Stephanie Hosmer from Miss Papercut  and she will be taking a papercutting class ... information here truely wonderfully clever girl she is too! We both studied at S4CS last year!


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Top Drawer London January 2015

Finally sitting down to catch up with the blog ...
It has been non stop since at least a month before Christmas. Really busy with orders and the usual Christmas frenzy craziness! Oh dear I do find it incredibly over the top then PHOOF! it's all over as though it had never happened and everyone resumes to normal behaviour. Call me a scrooge if you like but there you are. There's a lot about Christmas I like ... the feeling of good cheer, visiting chums, the cooking and making... the travelling away from here to see the boys in Berlin (photos in next blog post, one thing at a time!) and there's some things I could do without ... But when you are also working flat out it becomes very stressful indeed! I am moaning, new years resolution not to moan ...
As soon as I got back from Berlin I had to get on and get organised for Top Drawer. But we got it done and put up in time after a lot of lugging about on trains full of football supporters, but we put it all up in about two hours! Yes on a metre square cube/plinth.
Please forgive the terrible photos ... there is no excuse just did not work out!
I travelled up and down the first two days then stayed in a hotel just six minutes away on Monday night ... feeling very independent and grown up and excited, even though it was basic it was warm and comfortable and a quite bolt hole after the noise and bustle of Olympia. Then home home on Tuesday after a frantic breakdown and an hour waiting to get out of the car park ... all the stand holders desperate also to get home and take stock. Thanks to Emma Rene who also had a stand in the craft section and makes lovely jewellery (sorry no link) Thanks also to my cousin Carol from www.cutaboveproductions.co.uk and Kristina Avery from www.a-c-a.biz for coming in to help me out so marvellously!

Also had a lot of fun chatting to my fellow Spotted friends ... and many others

Euan Cunningham from www.commissionahouseportrait.com
Kate Samuels from www.katesamuelsdesign.co.uk
Anna Rumsby from Colourcutie (no website yet) but find her on twitter
Samantha Dumont from Atissu www.atissu.com
and of course www.alfredandwilde.co.uk

Loved all the chat and bonding ...

I received so much encouragement and am still ploughing through all the business cards and orders I received, and there is still some news to come but it can wait till I am sure ...

My stand at Spotted area at Top Drawer

My stand at Spotted area at Top Drawer

My stand at Spotted area at Top Drawer

My stand at Spotted area at Top Drawer

My stand at Spotted area at Top Drawer

Next up is Heals Modern Craft Market which is taking place from 2nd Feb to 14th Feb in Heals (obviously) Tottenham Court Road. I will be there at the weekends and am running a workshop on 14th from 12.30-2pm for which you have to book if you would like to come. This is what the blurb says ...
Discover what it takes to be a modern craftsman in our exclusive hands-on workshops hosted by the exhibitors of the Heal’s Modern Craft Market. 
Join us as the Heal’s Modern Craft Market learns the art and craft of stitch-work with Nancy Nicholson. During this workshop you will be shown many of the specialist stitches that Nancy uses in her designs, which will also be on display throughout the duration of craft market. You will also be provided with a printed motif for you to stitch and take home to enjoy.
Location: Heal's, Tottenham Court Road
Date: Saturday 14th February
Time: 12.30 -2pm
Cost: £12

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas Bauble Tutorial 2014

Christmas Decoration Tutorial All four

I had to do this ... after several trials with felt and cardboard I discovered the craft foam ... I had bought some about 10 years ago and it was lying in my paper stash drawer since then waiting for this moment. What could be better? felt, craft foam and thread, oh an a hand operation on my right hand. I have probably delayed recovery by stubbornly making these, but I had already promised I would design some new ones this year and felt duty bound. My operation was for a trigger release on my middle finger which I have needed for months. It has made doing what I do very very hard for all that time, getting increasingly painful and stiff. All I have now is a small healing wound and hopefully less pain and more agility in my hand, before the next operation on my pointy finger on the same hand ... sorry index finger. So the execution is not perfect but I did my best ...

Enough moaning! This tutorial is now available on the website and is for all four decorations with full instructions, stitch library, templates, and stitch guides. 
It has been a busy month too ... Christmas orders are rolling in (thank you to all who have toiled for me while I have been less able!) 

And I now think I can reveal that i am supplying THE NATIONAL TRUST! Yes it is true! Or have I already said ... anyway do let me know if any of you spot one of the kits or Interactive Stationery in a NT property near you! I don't get out much you see ...

ALSO! I am shutting up shop on DECEMBER 10th, so no orders after that date. 

Christmas Decoration Tutorial Bauble 1

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Cat

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 3

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 2 and 3

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 3

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 1

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 2

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 2

Christmas Decoration Tutorial ... Bauble 3

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Teaching Days... Kindergarten to Year 4 Textile Project

I had a great two days teaching last week, at the school in Cranbrook where I was artist in residence for a while ... I was a little nervous as I have not taught small children for four years and really unsure if the project I devised would work for them ... on top of that I found out I only had half an hour with each class in the older age group which meant changing my initial idea for them ... I suppose I would see about 200 children in all.

But it's amazing how it just came back as soon as I was sitting in front of the first class that Monday morning, some of the youngest only just 3 years old! Once I had my toes in the water I was swimming happily again as if it were only yesterday! 
I did manage to squeeze myself into the tiny chairs without breaking them ... almost without realising I had done it, so there you go ...

With some great help from parents we showed them how to think about colours and preferences and how to make choices, and feel textures ... they constructed a wonderful pile fabric and thread wound pipe cleaners which we joined together to make the wall hanging in the images below. It would have been great to carry on this project and make a much larger hanging and of course it could have been assembled in many different ways. We also added circles and balls of covered balls of fabric for weight at the bottom ... oh ... the possibilities are endless for this project. 

At the end of the day I remembered something else about teaching ... I could barely remember my name and had to eat nursery supper of 4 sausages and potatoes and a gallon of tea and mindless telly before I felt remotely human again.... and then there was Day Two! Please scroll downward!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!

Kindergarten Project ... some finished components!
More finished components

Kindergarten Project ... mother's helping hands
Mother's helping hands

Kindergarten Project ... the finished hanging, made from pipe cleaners, fabric, thread

Kindergarten shoes
Take off your indoor shoes and put them in a line ... the change into waterproofs for lunchtime walk up to canteen in the rain 


First lesson in, first class of Year 4s ... 8.45 hit the ground running ... 6 classes to go ... wrapping 400 matchboxes throughout the day, with wool and then embroidering with very basic embellishment ... at the end of the day they would be arranged on a metre square board of MDF, glue gunned (teacher's privilege) Below are the first ones off the press. The children really took on the challenge and steamed through it, working hard and most achieving at least two each. My voice still clear, not cracking, getting into the swing ... the best comment has to be a little boy in year 3 who did a fabulously coloured offering with a whole spectrum of colours said to me, dead pan, when I enthused, "these are the same colour as my pants ... " I do miss the great one liners ... these are the professionals. And there was chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce for lunch which was rocket fuel for the afternoon. 

And in the end it was better than I had ever hoped. We still need to complete more matchboxes to cover the board but I will post the finished wall hanging, and being autumn term there are lots of wet breaks coming up to beaver away. I am ready with the glue gun! Happiness ... 
My clothes when I got home had that very familiar and unmistakable smell of school ... in a good way, and it took me a day of talking in words of one syllable only as my brain and body recovered ... I don't know how our teachers do this every day ... oh yes, it's the chocolate pudding ... silly of me.

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4 ... the first ones finished!
"Put your finished boxes on the table ... line 'em up"

Detail of finished boxes

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Detail of finished boxes

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Detail of finished boxes
Detail showing some of the embroidery and wrapping

Matchbox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Glue gunning in progress

ox wrapping textile project Years 1 - 4  Glue gunning in progress
Here I have begun the glue gunning in place on the back panel