The most wonderful piece of bad luck

A volcano erupted in Iceland sending a cloud of volcanic ash across Europe yesterday. You may have heard about it, seen the pictures, thought it bizarre.

4619861760_2d2486cfdb_zRangarvallasysla, Iceland Credit: Neil MacWilliams

As the cloud has filled the airspace, the airports have shut down one after the other and it has left an estimated 600,000 people stranded – including me! I was in Geneva, supposedly for a day. But my flight back was cancelled and the earliest I can get home to England is Monday evening on the Eurostar train. So what is a girl to do but head to Paris for an impromptu weekend of cafes, galleries, wandering and dreaming?? Oh life is hard.

It’s quite odd actually as I had been dreaming about going to Paris in the spring. Unusually for me I  had no plans this weekend, and I accidentally bought an ‘anytime’ instead of fixed time return train ticket back from London so even that is still valid when I get back. I only had my handbag with me, so no laptop = no work, and no clothes = excuse to buy new ones. Funnily enough what I did have in my handbag were every girl’s true travelling essentials: credit card, camera, chocolate, sketchbook and mascara. What more do I need? And an old friend from the US just happens to have also got stranded and is heading here right now. What a wonderful piece of bad luck. Even ash clouds have a silver lining…

If you also happen to be in Paris or have any tips on must-visit ateliers, flea markets, cafes or stationery shops please do share!

A bientôt.

More Paris posts here:
Paris je t’adore
Shopping in Paris
Travelling Light
Random acts of generosity

Spring is…

…trying to emerge from a long dark winter, seedlings wiggling up through the ground, trees preparing their new wardrobe, daffodils blooming courageously.

Snowdrops and Daffodils. Credit: Dominic Alves

Snowdrops and Daffodils. Image credit: Dominic Alves

 Is it just me, or do they look like they are whispering secrets?  

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

This feels like a good time to reflect, breathe in and look forward. A time for something new…

Knitting for good


Yesterday I added my two stitches to the world’s biggest knitted textile! Force of nature Ingrid Wagner had brought her 4-metre long(!) needles to the Twisted Thread Stitch and Craft Show at Olympia, showcasing her particular style of ‘big knitting’ and raising money for Breast Cancer Care.


Ingrid holds the Guinness World Record for knitting with the biggest needles, which were over twice as long as she is tall! She said that it made her feel like she was a character in The Borrowers – either that or she was knitting a scarf for a Big Friendly Giant…


Ingrid also makes divine wall hangings and rugs out of this ‘big knit yarn’ which is about 4cm wide.


Watch out for the giant needles coming to a town near you, and knit a stitch or two for Breast Cancer Care. There’s nothing like women supporting women.

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong

Apologies if you are a fan of quilting, but for years I just didn’t get it as ‘art’. I had it in my head that quilts were ‘granny blankets’ from a pre-duvet era, favoured by ladies in rocking chairs who passed their days patiently stitching hexagons together into symmetrical pastel patchworks, which usually ended up in the spare room to keep visitors warm as they slept.  An important homemaker’s skill and well-loved craft, for sure, but art?

Boy was I wrong.

When in California recently, I wandered into the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, lured by a pretty scarf in the shop window. The main exhibition on at the time was called ‘Poetic License: The Art of Joan Schulze’, displaying 40-years of ‘art quilts’. As usual, my curiosity got the better of me, and I had to have a look.

And am I glad I did.

Joan Schulze - An Angel Equation
 ‘An Angel Equation’ – image reproduced with the kind permission of Joan Schulze

Inside I discovered a retrospective of Joan Schulze’s prolific career as a fiber artist, a stunning collection so far from my naïve image of ‘quilting’ that I was genuinely shocked. Moody digital photographic images on silk, fused with painted textures and markmaking, stitch and funky storybook collage in a palette of breathtaking colours. It was nothing short of exquisite, and has changed the way I look at quilts forever. And I think that is much of the point of art – to make us question our own views and preconceptions.  I might even buy myself a sewing machine.

The exhibition is on until May 9th. Do go and see it if you can. Peer at the work from up close, squint and stare, stand back and breathe it in. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Books of the week 

ART: Layered, Tattered & Stitched by Ruth Rae – inspired by my new-found interest in all things stitched(!) I bought this great book, which is full of gorgeous fabric art project ideas

ADVENTURE: The Wild Places – written by an old friend of mine, Robert Macfarlane, this book is breathtaking in places. As urban society encroaches ever further into the countryside, this dreamy book explores the few wild places left in Britain

STORY: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister I read this in one sitting on the plane back from the US. A delicious novel for foodies.

And here are a few I made earlier…

One of the great things about An Artful Journey was being able to experiment with new techniques, without being worried about the outcome.

DSC_1170_workblog by ChrissyMe scribbling notes furiously – thanks to Chrissy for the pic

We created 20+ individual pages fairly quickly (or should I say ‘in a chaotic creating frenzy’), using a variety of mediums and methods – acrylic paint and glazes, alcohol inks, distress inks, embellishments, vintage ephemera, stamps, Shiva’s oil Paintstiks, pens, pencil, old maps, texture tools, embossing powder, etc.  Anything was OK, and it was amazing how everyone had the same instruction and materials but produced completely different work.  Here are a few examples of my pages, that have been pulled together into a lovely chunky book.


Lots of ideas to take away and use in other places…