Better Than Expected

I am not, by and large, a painter.

I can bodge my way through a passable watercolour, and the enforced oils on paper that I did at my foundation course has been lovingly framed by my dad, but it’s not a medium I’m very comfortable with.

In fact, the  painting tutor at art college could only summon enough enthusiasm to pass me with, ‘Well, you turned up to every class, and you did try…’

So when I half-heartedly signed up for a school fundraiser, (buy a canvas, paint it and it will be auctioned off), I thought I was going to embroider it or something.

Of course, I promptly forgot about the whole thing over the summer, until I got an email saying they were going to extend the deadline.

(Although the last two photos are unintentionally out of focus due to a problem with an Android update, I really like the way they look. It runs along an idea I had to try to take photos which show how things look to me without contacts in.)

So out came the paintbrushes…

In the end, I’m pretty pleased with it, I’m almost sad to give it away.


Dear Little Lion,

Here is your name embroidery, let me explain it to you.

You are called Malka – Queen. Queens demand respect, they are self-assured, and they make their voices heard. So far, you are living up to your name in style.

I have been looking at the goddesses of Egypt for inspiration. Sekhmet is a lion goddess, a warrior and a goddess of healing. She is associated with Ma’at who represents truth, justice and fair dealing at all levels of society. The disk behind your name is both a crown and a dish on the Scales of Justice, you will have to wear both of them.

I know it’s a lot for a (fairly) small person, but I think you can do it.

Lots of love,


PS. If you feel hard done by, ask your brother how he feels about being named after someone who was given a job he didn’t want to do, ran away and sat in a fish for a while, and then was regurgitated and went and did the job after all.

Just Like That

I gave myself a little Misericordia sabbatical over the last few months. I thought it would be restorative, but it just made me feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything, so here I am back again.

Plus 6 cm - Misericordia 2017

Procrastination is my specialist subject, so I was happily dithering over the next installment of the Ark Project when all of a sudden, I took out the iron and the shears and cut out the fabric for the last phase of this set of furnishings. I was just as surprised as you are.

Roundabout - Misericordia 2017

Allow me to walk you through the design difficulties of this particular piece.

The mantle is the most-handled  part of the set. The Torah is carried around, undressed and redressed by many hands during the service. The fairly flat rectangular shape and set it and forget it-ness of the curtain and bimah cover meant I could use three dimensional loose banners for the text and leaves, but the mantle has to be Ballet Costume Stable.*

The final aesthetic challenge is a lack of decorative space. Torahs are meant to be royally attired, which means a breastplate, crown and a sceptre (which is really a hand-shaped pointer so you can keep your place without getting your mucky fingerprints all over the scroll; my religion takes books very seriously indeed). Once you’ve got the bling on, there isn’t much available space for decoration. Most of the time the dressed Torah is out of the ark, it’s cradled against someone’s shoulder, which covers even more of the front.

By Sultan Edijingo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sultan Edijingo (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

It’s going to call for a complete change of approach, where the previous two pieces were designed as images, this one is going to have to be draped on a Torah form!

Watch this space for a cardboard Torah dress form, coming soon…

*Ballet Costume Stable: Is there anything that will catch on people or other fabrics? Can you spin around 32 times without anything falling off it? Can you put it on and take it off in the dark within 32 beats of music?

More and More of Less and Less

Painting with Toddlers - Misericordia

We’re hitting the Age of Great Turmoil (nothing political for a change, just a Little Lion starting to navigate the 18 month – three year rapids) and I’m finding myself stripping things down to my most basic needs.

Designing a Prototype Bag

Cutting a Prototype Bag

After a rather unfortunate run of bag disasters while in Japan (I broke two straps in two weeks), I decided that the solution was not to carry less stuff but to make a stronger bag. So I’ve made a prototype bag and I’m road testing it. I’m pretty pleased with it, but I’ve hit a snag at the fabric stage.

Waxed Fabric Choices - Misericordia

While I investigate the options (I’m pretty sold on the yellow for the body of the bag, but I’m not sure what to make the waterproof base out of), I’m trying to finish up another pair of trousers and knit myself a hat. Pretty much anything in order to avoid going to the shops and participating in the seemingly endless awfulness of people to other people in the name of commerce.

Prototype Bag - Misericordia

I’m even stripping back my camera usage and seeing what happens if I use my phone photos for the blog (reviews are welcome).

Kipling at Work - Misericordia

If you need me, I’ll either be sewing or resorting to the prop of all parents of young children, hiding in the cupboard eating cake.

Craft Fair this Saturday, 12th November

I’m just going to assume that we’re like those pals who mean to meet up but sometimes don’t manage it for months at a time and then slot right back into the groove without mentioning the fact that one of them is a pretty rubbish correspondent.

Good? Great.

Since my last post I have:

Finished the table cover.

Failed to photograph the table cover before delivering it.

Been to Japan.

Realised that I booked a craft fair last year for this Saturday and that I should really prepare for it.

Voted really, really hard.

Prepared for the craft fair.

Googled ‘How to make political art’

Decided I should just start working on the 40 minute pelvic floor workshop I’m running instead.

Ate a lot of cake.

So I’m mainly checking in to say that if you’re in Edinburgh on Saturday, 12th November you should come to Greyfriars Kirk and see me. There will even be some rather gorgeous-looking cake.

Musn’t Grumble?

It’s not technically true that I have nothing to report.

Myrtle and Willow - Misericordia

I have been working away on the myrtle leaves, but the progress isn’t visually thrilling (neither is it giving much of a sense of progress).

Ibuprofen - Misericordia

So instead of progress, I have a cold, a professionally embarrassing back injury (I did it while sitting down and putting my teaching shoes on), and a pair and a half of trousers.

Trousers with Cat and Hankies - Misericordia

Churidar trousers notes - MisericordiaTrouser perspective - Misericordia

Still, each leaf snufflingly stitched is one more increment towards leaflessness.

On the Shelf

Do you remember Emmeline? Little Lion’s godmother Liz made her, and has been adding to her exquisite wardrobe, in the manner of Sarah’s doll in A Little Princess.

Emmeline - Misericordia

I felt bad that she was tucked into the bookcase (to keep her safe from little hands), so an appeal to eBay gave us this rather lovely handmade wardrobe.

Emmeline's Wardrobe - Misericordia

I think it might take a little renovation (I might paper the inside and at the very least change the knobs on the door), but at least it gives her a safe space to sit.

Hang up your things, dear - Misericordia

(Does she look like she wants something to read?)

The Leaf, the Ruler and the Wardrobe

I wish I had some more exciting photos to show you, but I started tacking the myrtle leaves into their positions and realised that things were looking a bit thin in spots. So, I’m back to cutting out leaves yet again.

Leafless - Misericordia 2016

I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed by the scale of it, so I’ve been breaking things up by draughting trousers and starting a new jumper!

Draughtine trousers - Misericordia 2016

Still, this time next week, school will be back in and hopefully I’ll get back to my routine with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for leaves!

New black jumper - Misericordia 2016

Waving Them Off

While I do have another 76 new myrtle leaves that I could show you, I thought for a change, we could have something different.

Two of our favourite members of staff at Dragon and Little Lion’s nursery are moving on to other things. We decided to make them  a little something to say thank you for all their care and patience over the years.

I spent the first six months or so of Little Lion’s nursery career popping in to feed her on my way to work, and had lots of time to chat about the joys and trials of our kids with E. As befits a young lady with very strong opinions, I thought a rather Tudor colour scheme and regal font would suit her daughter.

Millie hand embroidery - Misericordia 2016

L was one of Dragon’s favourites, she shared his love of Star Wars and general sillyness. He spent years pulling on the neck of his t-shirts and stretching them out of shape, and it was only recently that we realised that he was trying to copy an off-the-shoulder top that she wore (which led into a useful discussion about what sort of necklines would be best for that sort of thing), and he still pops into nursery for a chat with her.

She’s off to start a university course, so we decided to make her something inspirational for when the studying gets a bit dreary.

May the Force Be With You - Misericordia 2016

It was a bit of an emotional handover, but I was really glad that we were able to give them something to remember us by.

Next week it will be straight back to the leaf updates.

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