Welcome to the blog for Embroidered Originals, where I'll keep you up-to-date with all the goings on at our little cottage industry. You can also view our website and shop online at embroideredoriginals.co.uk Marion x

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Munro Bagged

Here are a couple more photos of the great Aviemore weekend before everyone gets bored. These are taken at the top of Cairngorm and if you look at the picture above you'll see a patch of blue far away down the hill. That is Loch Morlich which featured in yesterday's post. We were camping on the shores of the loch.
Anyway I have to confess that I wasn't the one up the hill - that was Bob. He's the Munro bagger ( the what?). Google it if you want to know, I can't be bothered explaining tonight. Okay, okay a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet and there are hundreds of them. People with nothing better to do make it a sport to climb them all - bagging them.
I'm afraid my wee fat legs are not very good on hills. I can maybe just about get up them with much moaning and whining, but it's ten times worse on the old knees trying to get back down, not to mention the vertigo. Enough said.
It is pretty spectacular up there though - these pics were actually taken last year at the Trade Show weekend. This year it was more overcast, but he climbed it all the same. Bob has a habit of climbing the same small number of Munros over and over again, which means he'll never get round to doing the lot. But he's not competitive - so what.
By the way, talking of spectacular photos, have a look at these . Bonnie Scotland, eh?
Before I go I meant to say yesterday that the new designs (shown on this blog before anywhere else), were a success at the show with healthy orders for them all. Rather satisfying, she said smugly. Goodnight.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Spectacular Sunset and Trade Show Tales

We're back. A mini working holiday and the Aviemore Trade Show is over for another year. The printer finally co-operated, we got the brochures printed, the van packed, the camping stuff assembled, the last minute orders and customers seen to, the house( kind of ) tidied up, and we were off. This was our home from home for the weekend, our trusty old trailer tent. It always reminds me of a big pram with the hood up, and it usually attracts some attention when we camp beside the super duper caravans, but it has an amazingly comfy bed and is very cosy.
We stayed at Glenmore campsite ( 10 out of 10 for amenities and situation) and this was the scene that met us when we took our first evening stroll. The campsite is on the shores of Loch Morlich and the sun was just setting.......
The loch was like a sheet of glass, not a breath of wind and the colours just made you stand and grin like an idiot.. We stayed for an hour or so watching the sky changing and deepening in colour and the sun sinking behind the hill. Fabulous.
Back in the trailer tent, all zipped up and cosy for the night, we found there was no reception on our little TV because of the mountains, but who cares - with views like this to drink in.

I managed to read an entire book - something I haven't managed to do for so long due to ridiculously late bedtimes recently - and had an average of 10 hours sleep per night. Talk about recharging your batteries, I don't need to sleep again till October!
I of course was on a working holiday, so was at the Trade Show during the day. Not that I minded at all. Bob was doing his thing, climbing hills and going for long bike rides but also being my servant, cooking me a bacon breakfast, doing the washing up and keeping the tent tidy. All I had to do was tart myself up in the morning in my best business clothes - an odd sight I have to say among all the happy campers in walking gear and outdoor clothes, and then have a pretty sociable time with other exhibitors, many of whom are good friends I only see at Trade shows.

So... was it successful? Well, on the whole, yes. I took a reasonable number of orders from some of our existing trade customers and had an interesting chat ( polite way of saying interrogation) with a representative of a very large organisation. No names but suffice to say they look after stately homes around the country and have gift shops attached to them. Anyway, I think there was a policy to try to beat the craft worker down to get the cheapest price possible for their products. I'm pleased to report I stood my ground! That's probably snookered me for getting their business but I'm not losing sleep. If they want to stock our cards in their shops, fine, but I'm not going to be intimidated into selling them at knock down prices. Each card is handmade after all.
Another calming sunset, quick, before I lose my cool!

The other good things about the show... The chance to buy some gorgeous Scottish handmade products for our own shop - no haggling by me either. This year I chose some necklaces by
Jewellery by Katrina in a wonderful array of colours and look forward to receiving them.
And I also stocked up on more candles by Karen of Dekassa. They are little scented candle tins
with images from our own cards reproduced on them. They'll be on the website soon.
And the icing on the cake? I found that a good friend and fellow craft worker, Margaret of MethilMoggies fame, has been harbouring some fabric ( Buchanan tartan, Barbara!!) that I have been seeking for years and what's more I have been harbouring some fabric (Lindsay tartan) that she's been seeking for years. So a neat swap is in order.
And last but not least, I came home with a bag of SIXTY bottles of that certain fabric paint, no longer made, which is CRUCIAL for our card making process (and which I would give my right arm for). This was courtesy of another kind crafter Fran Harkes who is famous for her quirky clothing company McAnaraks and her newly launched website for handmade buttons http://www.mcanaraks.com . (PS Just had a look at Fran's buttons and they are fabulous.) Thank you Fran, from the heart of my bottom!
Home again, unpacked, washing machine going full pelt and the orders waiting. It's a good life.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Sneaky Peak

We've been busy over the past few days, putting together some new designs for the latest trade brochure ( for our wholesale customers). As soon as that's complete, I'll turn my attention to the website and update that too. But here's a sneaky peak at a few of the new designs.
Nothing is ever simple and straightforward in the run up to a Trade Fair and this was no exception. The printer was the first casualty - well, not really broken - just refused to work and wouldn't tell us why - made us jump through hoops until we found the answer. Sorted again, thank God.

Then there was the continuing story of the new stand design. Well, I did make some headway in that, at least I think so. Bob agreed to make another of the boards to display the cards so there should be enough room now for all the designs. Not perfect, but better than nothing. One day left before we go and there's one hell of a lot of stuff to do. Basically we need six of each design of card and I've not counted, but there must be 150 different ones at least. Once we've got that done, there's everything to pack. That includes the stand displays, tables and lighting etc, the paperwork -brochures ( not printed yet) order forms etc, plus all our camping things ( we're staying in our old trailer tent) and I like an element of creature comfort, so that includes a fan heater, mini TV and cosy bedding. Finally Bob's walking gear and if there's still room in the van, his bike as well.
If you've never been to Aviemore, I have to say it's set in breathtaking scenery in the Cairngorms. I of course won't see much of it as I'll be spending three days in a hall, but Bob loves hill walking and there are plenty hills to choose from.
Once the van's packed, we've then got to rescue the house from the mountains of things which aren't in the place they're supposed to be, if you know what I mean. Time for Kim and Aggie, I think. I never like going away and leaving the place in a mess, and this time we have friends coming to house-sit, so they need to have somewhere to sit. At the moment every seat has a pile of "something" on it.
OK, so that's tomorrow taken care of! I love it really.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Build Up

The Wee cat looking his cute "mouse wouldn't melt in my mouth" self, as usual posing with his alter ego.

This was our stand at the Glasgow Trade Fair in January

Apologies for the absence of a few days, I've been otherwise occupied getting ready for the Aviemore_Trade_Show which starts on Sunday.

As usual, the best laid plans...
Months ago I decided to give our trade fair display a makeover. It's absolutely true that you have to make an impression in a second as potential buyers walk past, and our display system was looking rather tired.

Full of good intentions to create an eye catching display at the end of the last Trade Show, I came home with sketches and plans.
And they're still sketches and plans!

When you have a business that's thankfully busy, all the time is taken filling the orders that come in.

So here we are just a few days to go and no new display. Well, the next show is in September, maybe then...

BUT- I have been using my time productively, and there's a clutch of new designs to showcase, including some Christmas ones.

I'll be photographing them for our Brochure in the next day or so, so I'll let you sneak a peak then.

Hopefully the weather will hold until the weekend, as Bob will be doing his customary hill walking in the beautiful Cairngorms while I man the stand at the show. And more importantly we'll be camping in our trailer tent (!) so sunshine and warm temperatures please!

The Wee cat is looking forward to a weekend of pampering when our house sitters come to look after him. We have him on a diet just now, but I reckon he'll be spoilt rotten.

Away from work work, if you know what I mean, I've been making friends with talented embroiderers and textile artists all over the world since I've started to join groups and forums online. It's been an inspiring experience and a privilege to view such a variety of styles. My head is buzzing with ideas and I'm determined to make the time to continue my own textile journey.

Just need to get this Trade Fair over with!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Market Weather

Thursday is Bob's day away from the workshop. He's out and about in the van making deliveries to local shops and collecting work from Fiona, but manages to squeeze in a swim and a walk too. Today he took the camera round the Links Market in Kirkcaldy. This is the oldest market in Scotland, I believe, and probably the coldest. People round here talk about "Market Weather" when the wind blows cold from the East - it always seems to at this particular time of year.
The sun shone though and intensified the colours - lots of amazing patterns and colour combinations. Plenty of inspiration here.

And despite the wind and price of the rides, it was as busy as ever. I have to say I'm glad my days of standing shivering by the hobby horses and waving to whichever offspring was hanging on for dear life, are past. My purse is too!
I stayed in the warmth of the workshop and fretted about the stand design for the Trade Fair, blethered to Barbara ( while we both worked, of course) and listened to the howling wind.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Building Stock

At last - we've found a day to concentrate on replenishing the stocks. It's been a case of catch up for months now, basically just racing from one order to the next. The card displays in the workshop are frankly quite embarrassing at the moment. No sooner do we stock them up than we're raiding them to supply the Farm Shop or other trade customers. It's not too bad for our regular customers - they know to ask if they don't see what they want, and I can usually make something up for them there and then - but it's not too inviting for new visitors.

Anyway, there was a good batch made today and more again tomorrow, and we should see a better looking shop.

I've also got some new ideas floating around in the goldfish bowl of my brain - not telling what yet - but I'm going to aim for some fresh designs to preview at the Trade Fair. Not much pressure there then!

Well, I'm half way through making the list of cutting out jobs for Fiona this coming week. This is a Wednesday night job which is quite a complicated task, checking which designs need to be topped up and compiling the list for her. We do use the services of a laser cutter for most of the shapes we applique on to the cards, but there are always plenty of others for Fiona's scissors. Better get back to it.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Chilly Winds and Trade Fairs

Back to work today. Just as well, as the wind has changed to the East and is blowing chilly air off the North Sea. We sent four large orders out this morning, and I thought we were pretty much up to date, with some time to draw breath, build stock and prepare for the Trade_Fair which is looming ahead, when another order arrived. Ah well, shouldn't complain. This was a special card made a day or two ago for a 40th birthday.
And today, I made up this little order for a new baby boy - a keepsake box and a personalised card for the new parents and one for the grandparents. The keepsake box is a popular gift idea which we sell in the workshop, with designs suitable for babies, weddings and anniversaries. We don't make them ourselves but hand paint the lettering on them to personalise them. They will be on the website in a day or two, along with some other personalised items which are new.

Wee Cat and Wemyss Cat

It's pretty late and I was just thinking about shutting down for the night when I heard the cat flap rattle. Just our cat ( Wee Cat is his name) coming in from the nightshift, I thought. But no, he is curled up asleep on the settee. So who or what is trying to get through the cat flap?!! We don't have any other cats on the farm and we almost never have visitors, four legged ones I mean, so I went to the door with some trepidation. Nothing there - spooky! I posted this picture way back when I started this blog, but I thought it would stand a another showing. Our Wee Cat - so named because we used to have another one who was much bigger - posing with a "friend". This was not set up, by the way. I looked up one day and he was just as you see him, giving me enough time to grab the camera. The "friend" is a beautiful specimen of a Wemyss cat which is made at a pottery near here from a traditional design. He was a special birthday present from Bob a year or two ago.
That's the Easter weekend over and it's back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Not quite Easter colours, but aren't these gerberas stunning! They are part of a beautiful flower arrangement which was delivered on Thursday - an Easter present from my Mum. She likes to send flowers at Easter because they're less fattening than chocolate, and our local florist always does an amazing job.
So, thanks Mum, and Happy Easter to you all. Hope your weather is as good as ours - wherever you are!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Happy Chocolate, Daffodils and Bunnies

None of the above apply to Easter at the Embroidery Workshop - well the daffodils maybe. So far, no chocolate to be seen in the shape of eggs, bunnies or anything else. No kids left at home, you see.
Ah well, it would have been bad for the waistline anyway.
I treated myself to a lovely pottery jug in colours to match my kitchen, when I was down at the Farm Shop yesterday morning so that's my Easter present.
Not a lot of work done today, on account of a flying visit from daughter. Except it wasn't a flying visit - she usually flies, but this weekend she drove for six hours to get here for one day!
She's back home again now safe and sound, and it was lovely to see her, albeit for such a short visit.
We had a nostalgic trip to our old Art College yesterday. Bob and I had been there in the early '70's, and our daughter studied there too, many years later, doing the same textiles course as me, and even with some of the same tutors. So we had a walk round, and were surprised to see nothing had really changed, apart from us of course!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Two Walks, Three Cards

Two walks today since the sun was shining - first one along the beach in the morning to buy the paper and visit Mum, and another after lunch, up past the farm and down through Letham Glen. Sundays are sort of days off as the Workshop is closed to the public, but more often than not we have work to complete for dispatch next day, and today was no exception. There was a batch of cards to make up to finish off a few shop orders (that was tonight's homework), and a "special" to do for a 40th birthday. I managed to squeeze in a couple of ideas for new cards too. I think there might be something worth developing in these as an addition to the large cards. There's no message on them as yet, but I would imagine they would be suitable for birthdays. They are actually old ideas re-worked.

This one below is the 40th birthday order.

And to end the day we picked the first batch of rhubarb from the garden this year and made a pud tonight - we don't usually have one - but good old rhubarb sponge...lovely.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Fusing Fabric Fun

Well, as promised in my last post, I did have an afternoon practically to myself and did spend a few hours doing some exploring with some new textile techniques, in this case, Fusing Fabric with a soldering iron. This was only a year overdue, as I had treated myself to an interesting book by Margaret_Beal a while ago and had even invested in the soldering iron she recommended, but ran out of time. Today, I made a start in a tentative way. Nothing planned, or finished, just some experiments and samples for my sketch book. This is the amazing soldering iron which can be used like a pen and which fuses layers of fabric together with heat, and will even burn patterns into the fabric like stitch lines.
And this is my once tidy desk with everything pulled out to make my tiny samples. ( I have managed to tidy it up though which is a first. I think I'm finally growing up!)

Apologies for the poor photo, but it was a dull and rainy afternoon and the light was bad. This was the culmination of the afternoon's work - not anything to be proud of or even worth showing here - but it's here just to prove that I had been working. The interesting thing is that all the fabrics are fused together, not stitched, glued or bonded and the technique is open to experiment. There is a long long way to go yet, but there are some seeds of ideas beginning to grow.

Finally, page one of my sketch book which records some experiments I played around with, working on different backgrounds.
Anyway, I'm indebted to Margaret Beal for her inspiring book, and I will spend more time getting to grips with the technique and making it work for me.
Just don't expect anything soon!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Rose and Cream

Just been working on a batch of our latest colour collection of Patchwork cards - Rose and Cream. We're combining some of the softest pinks and faded rose patterns with ivory and cream mixes. As usual no two are the same - some are decorated with hand painted hearts, others with leaves and buds. This particular batch is destined for Drymen near Stirling, and will soon be displayed on the shelves of Drymen Village Shop.
The next two orders to be completed are, by coincidence, both for shops on the beautiful Isle of Arran, one of my favourite places. It's very tempting to deliver them in person, but sadly time won't allow.
By the way, the roseandcream patchwork cards are now for sale on the website at £2.00 each, or six for £10.00. Click the link to find them.
And the weekend is ahead - nothing particular planned, we'll be open as usual on Saturday, but if you pop in you might find me taking some time out from card making to get back to my roots - proper embroidery and fabric "stuff". I'll be happy to show you what I'm doing.
I've been meaning to do that for ages now, but there hasn't been the opportunity. So, I'm going to grab what time I can tomorrow. Hopefully!


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