Friday, 29 January 2016


Today my little sedate, sedentary, stalwart stitchers
(a fine example of illiteration for those of you who are
even remotely interested) we're off in our armchairs into
the realms of psychological phenomena.

However this does also involve the visual stimulus of the
mind to make it work but not necessarily a set of
jump leads.  Some of you may not wish to try this at
home and my response, in this instance, consists of only
one word!  No, not that one Alice dear, simply -
followed by much flapping of the elbows and loud
clucking noises.  A childish response admittedly but
nonetheless extremely satisfying.

Not a chicken but close - an owl.

So, let us continue on our voyage of discovery now that
we've weeded out the cowardy custards in our ranks.
We're going to perceive a familiar pattern of something
where none actually exists.  Yes - we're going to start seeing
things just like some of us did in the sixties but this time
without the aid of mushrooms and maybe not so many
flashing colours either.

The Jurist

There's nothing new about pareidolia, it's been around
for ever.  Leonardo da Vinci wrote about it in detail in his
notebooks and in 1566 Guiseppe Arcimboldo painted a
whole load of poultry and fish that looked like a face
in his work The Jurist.

What's this ear?

There's examples to be found everywhere if you only look.
Faces hidden in flowery curtains, little animals in the tea
leaves discarded in the sink (I really must compost more)
and even giant figures in rock formations or angels in the
clouds.  Why the other day I even thought I'd seen a man
in the dust that gathers so annoyingly under my bed but on
closer examination it just turned out to be an extreme example
of wishful thinking and nothing more.

Ssssssssh - I'm concentrating

Now we come to the climax of our psychological journey.
I want you to stare hard at this picture of Sean Bean, screw up
your eyes a bit, hold your breath, cross your legs, count
slowly to 17,594 and then tell me what you see .......

Here's my own guardian greyhound - can you see him?

You might just have caught a fleeting glimpse of the next
Long Dog masterpiece due for release later this year if you're
exceptionally lucky (or a fibber) and I'm not going to
share what I thought I saw for fear of making you all blush!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A woman of character .......

..... with a very dirty laugh.
Who am I talking about?
There's only one person it can be, apart from myself,
- my cousin, Jan Wright.

Jan has been involved in the textile business for many years.
She's well known in the UK for knitwear design and then
she discovered overlockers and her career took off (just like
her horse Sam), in a totally new and unexpected direction.
She has lectured all over the UK and Europe and has 
produced many books and videos on her subject.

One of my girl friends, Gala, can strip and reassemble a
Kalashnikov rifle in a matter of seconds, a skill she learned
during her school days in Russia, and I'm perfectly sure Jan
could give her a run for her money when it comes to a
Babylock Evolve!  There's nothing that woman doesn't know
or can't do with her trusty machine.

Jan's sewing classes are always accompanied by fits of laughter,
her bespoke concourse d'elegance costumes always bring gasps
of admiration, her horsemanship is inspiring and her jokes are
- unrepeatable even on my blog.

When I called round recently she was busy doing a thousand
things at once as usual so I climbed into her wonderful sewing
studio over bolts of cloth, half stitched saddle blankets, dogs
and various accoutrements (what a wonderful word don't you
think?) to settle down for a good old catch up over a cup of tea
and a couple of custard creams.

Now I've finally got round to what I wanted to tell you about.
Just look at these duvet covers she's put together out of bits and
pieces of surplus lengths of material that have been laying about
for ages waiting for inspiration to strike.  Aren't they something?
And all done on an overlocker!

Lady Muck - she's ever so posh!

If you want to find out more about Jan Wright go to the website  visit her on Facebook at Oh To Sew or watch out
for my little cousin and Sam taking part in horse shows 
and equestrian events across the UK - she's the one with the
big grin and all the rosettes!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A new year - a new design

And what a year it's going to be.
2016 isn't just any old year you know because
this summer Long Dog Samplers will be celebrating
twenty glorious, stitch filled years of designs each
one more dazzling and death defying than the last.

Each one stuffed full of colours, backstitches, 
cross stitches, happy stitches, Julia being really silly
stitches and the odd carnation and chick-a-birdie too
for good measure but also to fill in the spaces where
nothing else would fit.  See - my secret is out!

This new design is just the first of many projects scheduled
for release at intervals throughout the coming year with
the real "piece de resistance", the "Long Dog to end all
Long Dogs" (with a price to match) due to hit the road
running (because that's what Long Dogs do best)
this coming summer on our birthday.  You
have been warned so start saving your pennies now!

But to the business in hand, it is with glee and delight
that I give you the first flash of Band of Braves.

I really ought to iron these first but I hate ironing!

Band of Braves is heavily influenced by Native American
symbols and colours.  It measures 154 x 312 stitches in its moccasins,
is stitched throughout in DMC threads and the ransome
demanded on this occasion is £12.60 or a nugget of gold.

Now hurry up and buy yourself a copy before I go on the
warpath and send out a posse to bring you all in.

I'll be waiting for you!  Darn tootin' I will.
You will notice that I have refrained from adding
"yeehah" but the temptation was enormous.

Monday, 18 January 2016

It was Julie made me do it!

Yes, I know.  I said that I was going to have an enforced
break from all things computer - my blog, Facebook,
Google, chat rooms - but how was I to know that I would
receive a jolly email from Hong Kong this morning with a picture
attached that I simply had to share with you all or explode.

Hare Apparent & Hare Presumptive

And "hare" it is - don't they look magnificent.
The originals were stitched in red but I have to admit
that they do look really good in this colour.
Julie stitched them both on even weave material
and used Navy Blue Rico thread No. 124.

Bravo my woman, nice work.
Now I'm going to see if I can climb back on the
no-electronics wagon as if nothing had happened for
another few days.  Well until Saturday to be frightfully
precise when a new Long Dog is due to wiggle out of it's
chrysalis and emerge as a butterfly.  And that's not
a clue either.  It will be more bows and arrows than
butterflies and that IS a clue!

Friday, 15 January 2016

A new resolution, a bit of a challenge?

When I was a fag smoking, gin slurping party girl
way back in the day I never had any trouble
finding something to either give up. temporarily
abstain from or improve upon during the
ghastly, grotty, dreary month of January.

Just an average night out in Acle.

If you're going to make yourself miserable then
you might as well do it at the worst possible time
just to make the whole resolution business even
more bloody not only for you but for those poor
sods who have to live with you too.

I wonder if I'll get a free one for advertising?

Well now my life isn't like that.  Practically my only
little indulgence is a quick squirt of good perfume
every morning whatever I'm doing be it a trip into
the City or a spell of digging at the allotment.
The more expensive the better.

As I now live on my own and all my hormones are
either dead or in remission of some sort I think you
can probably guess where this is going - the sins of
the flesh don't feature on my list either.  (I thought
that was rather tastefully put by my standards)!

Wonder what happened to the poor dude's tail?

I would rather go up a skyscraper (they terrify me) than
give up my love of running dogs, I'd probably starve if
I gave up sewing so that only leaves me with one option.


No blog posts, no reading other people's blog posts,
no cheery photo's on my Facebook personal page or snaps of
crumpled, out of focus bits of stitching on the Long Dog one.
And, hardest of all - no leaving of comments(one of life's
little pleasures) or hitting the "like" button willy nilly.

Why do all the fun things look like they might be illegal?

Still I can always go for a walk, clean the Lock-Up,
tidy a few cupboards, read a book.  So what am I waiting for?

I have no idea either, I'll let you know when I work it out.

Wish me luck and see you on the 23rd when
I've got a brand new design to set your little hearts a flutter
and your Paypal balances dropping.  TTFN.  Over and out!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Post Downton blues

Well that's it.  Downton is over and a great
big hole has opened up in my television viewing,
Although War & Peace is doing it's very
best to plug the gap..

So no spoilers for those of you who haven't
been lucky enough to see the last series/episode
yet, especially you Candace.

But even though Downton will no longer be on my
"mustn't miss" list I don't seem to have managed
to get that era out of my system yet.

All that wonderful lace.

No Alice dear, the arrow isn't pointing to a nit.

Those fabulous hairstyles that I can only dream about.
Edwardian women had too much hair for their
own good in my opinion.  Just imagine getting
nits in that lot!

You should have thought of that before you pulled the strings.

Those cinched in waists.  No wonder they
all used to faint at the drop of a top hat.
I think I'll stick with elasticated waistbands,
not quite so elegant but certainly more confortable.

Can you see where it dripped?

Then there's always more of that beautiful
lace.  At least in those days they had servants
to get the red wine stains out for you.
This one looks like a very fancy bib.

And then there's the men - what time are
you opening today Mr Selfridge?
Looks like he might have had a bit of a late night.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Ravens of the Tower

What this has to do about anything I'd be hard pushed to
tell you except that I like ravens, particularly these ones
which I first saw when I was a small child living in London
after the war.

According to legend, if the ravens that inhabit the Tower
of London were lost or flew away, the Crown will
fall and Britain with it.

Posing with the Beef Eaters.

This belief dates back to the dark ages when, after a monumental
punch up between Matholwch, King of Ireland and
Bendigeldfram, King of the Britons the loser's head
was cut off and buried beneath the White Hill (where the
White Tower now stands) facing towards France as a talisman
to protect Britain from foreign invasion.

Over the centuries the superstition has been added to,
amended, tweaked and generally bigged up and to this day
a flock of at least eight ravens is held in permanent
captivity at the Tower where they live like kings.
No point in taking chances after all.

Who's a pretty boy?

But there's one little known fact concerning the Ravens which
dates back to the second world war - the Ravens are all
enlisted soldiers of the Crown.

After the heavy bombing of London only one Raven was able
to survive the Blitz and so Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime
Minister at the time, ordered more ravens to be brought to the
Tower to bring the flock up to it's correct size and from then
on all the birds were issued with attestation cards in the same
way as serving soldiers and the police.

Looks like misconduct to me!

And, just like soldiers, the Ravens can be dismissed for
unsatisfactory conduct.  Caw, stone the crows!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Today is Epiphany, we three kings and all that stuff.

If you happen to be in France it's the day to eat your
Galettes des Rois whilst wearing a golden crown
and trying to avoid breaking your teeth on the
little porcelain "feve" hidden inside.

Some of these traditional charms can be really beautiful
(depending on how much you pay for your galette)
whilst others are rather tacky, Disney style offerings
which don't seem to have anything to do with the festival
whatsoever.  First time round I nearly swallowed mine
so you have been warned!

Epiphany Spanish style!

El die de los Reyes in Spain is a major celebration
for which the Spanish turn out in their thousands to
see the parades.  It's also the day the children receive their
presents.  I wonder how many of them actually manage
to wait that long?

But for my money I think I prefer the other meaning
of "epiphany" - a moment of sudden and great revelation!

Epiphany - cat style!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The shape of things to come .....

On this occasion I've decided, never mind twelfth night,
tradition and all that stuff because my hall is no longer
decked with boughs of holly (truth be told it never was as
it's perilously narrow at the best of times).

I'm not going to tell him.

'Tis no longer the season to be jolly (thank goodness, I do
a good "mildly amused", my "cynical" is awesome but
"jolly" isn't really my thing).  The only remaining trace of
the festivities is the odd little sparkle of glitter still clinging
stubbornly to the rug that will probably continue to catch
the light until mid-summer when I give the hoover bag it's
annual empty and full suction returns once more to the

Where is all this leading?  Nowhere really but I do love a
good preamble to entice my readers in.  It's like the cheese
in a mousetrap or the smell of rotting meat given off by
the Venus fly trap which, sadly, only seems to work with
insects and health inspectors intent upon keeping the
public safe at all times by tracking down the source of
the foul odour.

However, in 2016 none of you will be safe in your beds
because Long Dog will be celebrating it's 20th birthday
this summer and I shall be releasing a series of utterly
amazing new designs throughout the year starting on
Saturday 23rd January.  Put in in your diary now!

He's over-excited already and it's only January.

So try to be brave (there's a clue there somewhere),
resistance will be futile as this new mutation of the
Long Dog virus has no known cure and the only way to
cope with the symptoms is to treat yourself to each new
design as it appears.

That's the word I've been looking for!

Lay back then ladies, gentlemen and those of you who are 
as yet undecided, and be prepared to give yourselves over
to absolute pleasure, it's going to be one hell of a year!

Would I lie to you?