Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

A Stitch in Time

AllyPally1Earlier this month I took a trip to Alexandra Palace (affectionately known to most Londoners as Ally Pally). Situated on high ground in North London, Ally Pally is also called ‘The People’s Palace’ because it was one of the grand Victorian constructions which was intended as a recreational centre for the people of London.

Ally Pally was destroyed by fire just sixteen days after its opening, in 1873.  Astonishingly, it was rebuilt within only two years, AllyPally3and in 1935 the eastern part of the building was leased by the BBC, and became the centre for the first public TV transmissions in 1936.  The building was again gutted by fire in 1980, but once more it was restored, and it’s now a venue for exhibitions, music and sports events.  Set in 7 acres of parkland, it’s also a great place for walking and enjoying the spectacular views.  My picture doesn’t do them justice, but from here you can see the Millenium Dome, Docklands, and The Shard, along with most of North, West and central London.

But I wasn’t there to take in the scenery.  Every October, Ally Pally is host to The Knitting and Stitching show and the enormous Great Hall, and several other smaller halls are full of colour.  Wool, fabric, buttons, beads, needles, embroidery silks, thread… you name it, it’s there.  There are also workshops and galleries of artists’ work.  And from the number of people who were flooding into the exhibition areas, the gentle art of sewing is still very popular!

For me, sewing’s always been an odd mix of practicality and sentiment.  As a child, I loved sorting through my mother’s sewing box, and better still, her button box.  I was taught how to knit, crochet and embroider and I started to collect the tools I needed.  Threads, hooks, needles, scissors, odd buttons and pieces of fabric and ribbon, a thimble and a tape measure.  They’re still in my sewing box today, along with new treasures that I’ve added over the years.  And there are some other trinkets which aren’t anything to do with sewing, but somehow don’t seem to belong anywhere else – an old penny, a farthing, a hat pin which belonged to my grandmother and my Girl Guide and Cycling Proficiency badges.

And although I neither knit or sew as much as I used to, I do still find it relaxing.  Perhaps because you can’t hope to finish most projects in an evening or two, and so it’s a matter of doing something for the sake of it – for the journey and not the result.  Perhaps because it’s got a kind of continuity about it – it’s something I’ve always done, and often shared with friends and family.  Or perhaps it’s because the fabrics, yarns and threads, along with the tools to work them, are just so pretty.

Whatever the reason, the contents of my sewing box always make me smile.  Do you feel the same?  Or do pins, needles and pieces of unravelled thread drive you crazy!

Annie x

coverP.S.  And talking of pretty things – here’s my new cover!  ‘Once Upon a Christmas Night…’ is available in November/December.


21 thoughts on “A Stitch in Time”

  1. Ooh very Christmassy cover, Annie and love love love the title!!!
    As for crafty things…let’s just say I’m not hanging up my keyboard for a career in textiles :-/

  2. Thanks Amy, I’m over the moon with the title, too – really love it. And as the book’s got a storytelling theme I think it’s very appropriate.

    Stay away from the textiles! The thought of you hanging up your keyboard sends shivers of horror down my spine 🙂

  3. I can barely sew a button on, Annie! I love the cover of your latest release- and the title. I’m looking forward to reading it- especially now you’ve intrigued me with its theme.

    1. You know there are some days when I wish I couldn’t, Anne – then I wouldn’t feel duty bound to snip all the buttons off my old clothes and save them. And, of course, when I need a button I never seem to have the right one 🙂

      I really loved writing this book – I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it’s as much fun to read as it was to write!

  4. Oh, Annie – I love your new book cover. And the pictures, especial the vista of London from afar.
    My mother sewed many of my clothes and I remember sewing a dress or two (from store-bought patterns) when in junior and senior high school. I also learned to knit and remember making a muffler or two, then moving on to crochet and completing a lap blanket or two. When my kids were born I got some cross stitch kits and made all kinds of decorations for their rooms and a Christmas stocking for both of them. Then something odd happened. I stopped. When quilting was all the craze, I didn’t sew a thing. I’m not sure what happened, but I totally get your analogy about handmade projects taking time and effort, and that’s the beauty of them. Sort of like writing our books, right?

    1. Thanks, Lynne! It’s true, isn’t it, that things which are created with love are special. I’m sure that even though your children are grown, they still love the Christmas Stockings that you stitched for them!

      I’d never thought about it, but you’re quite right – writing’s a lot like that too. Something created with time, effort and love, which we hope is going to give others pleasure.

  5. Hi Annie love your book cover! So festive!

    Alas, I am not a member of the ‘it’s the journey not the result’ club- I want to start and finish (perfectly) a project NOW! Sadly, I never do- so I end up getting bored, losing patience and barely achieving things that are far from perfect! However, this does not appear to have stopped me trying these things in the past – I have cupboards of unfinished projects, fabrics, thread, knitting, cross stitch- none of which will see the light of day! I’m always in awe of anyone who can do these things well and complete them!

    1. Thank you Louisa!

      Oh, the dreaded Unfinished Cupboard! One of these days, I’ll get around to doing something with the things that didn’t quite work out as I thought, or that I changed my mind about and decided I really didn’t like them all that much. Just not today…

      This year I managed to confine myself to some small and easy ideas from the show – some Japanese paper with instructions on how to fold into birds and flowers, to hang in my office. I’m assured they’ll only take me a couple of evenings 🙂

  6. I love the cover and title too. [/cover-envy] 🙂

    I was fascinated by my grandma’s sewing box when I was little(the thing might as well have been a toolbox, it was massive) I despite loving the implements, I can’t sew at all.

    I do crochet and I have been needle tatting for … 50.5 weeks! (I started on my birthday which is soon). Funnily I can needle tat well, but I can’t sew at all. Which I’ve recently been reminded of. My mom’s a nurse and her facility only lets them wear the pale blue scrub tops… so I got several and have been trying to tat pretty collars and trim for them all for Christmas. And I really stink at sewing! Taking way longer to sew those trims on than to make the darned things to start with!

    1. Thanks Amalie! I’ve seen examples of your tatting on Facebook – gorgeous! I can’t tat, but your work is beautiful and has tempted me to give it a try.

      What a lovely idea to make collars for your Mum’s scrub tops. Something small and pretty, which makes all the difference.

      1. Thank you!

        It’s surprisingly easy to do needle tatting, so I encourage everyone who wants to do it to give it a try. The needles aren’t badly priced(get a set of 4 different sizes for about $10). And it’s kind of knitting-like, actually. You cast all your stitches onto a really long needle, and then pull the core thread through it rather than taking them off one at a time again. If you want to make a ring, you catch the core thread before it’s totally through, slip your needle through and then gently tighten it all down until it’s a ring, if you want a chain you just pull through. It’s something you can learn to do in five minutes and then spend years perfecting, but it’s so much easier than the kind of tatting my great grandma did(shuttle tatting). Lots of tutorials on youtube.

        And your projects can be small enough to get done in an evening if you need some instant gratification in your crafts! (Yay earrings)

  7. Hi Annie,
    I am just back from a weekend in London with my six year-old granddaughter and to say I feel shattered is an understatement! No, we didn’t make it to Alexandra Palace but we saw most other places…and I came home with a knitting project!
    Isobel was entranced to see all the tiny bobble hats piled up in a window display ready to go out on Innocent Smoothie bottles. The firm who makes the smoothies will donate 25p for every hat they receive to Age Concern and Isobel is determined that we (me!) are going to make at least one. So it’s time to dig out my knitting needles, find some wool and set to.
    Wish me luck. Knitting was never my forte – I was always much better at sewing but I have promised….
    Anyway, enjoy your sewing etc. I love looking through my own button box and remembering all the outfits they belonged to.

    1. Hi Jennifer, your weekend with your granddaughter sounds wonderful – I hope you both had a lovely time. And how cute are those little hats! I have to have a go at making one tonight 🙂 (Think I may go for the crocheted owl…) Have fun making yours!

      That’s the trouble, isn’t it? Something catches the eye and there’s another thing started.

  8. Annie, i have a lovely necklace made from buttons! i used to sew and quilt but now I just do short, sharp, totally uncomplicated projects. Currently knitting a blanket for the Fistula Foundation in Ethiopia.

    1. Thank you Fiona – and welcome back from your travels. Can’t wait to hear all about them!

      A button necklace! There’s a remedy for the button box. This blog is making my fingers itch, with everyone’s new ideas :). Go you with the blanket – it’s not just about keeping someone warm, is it? Hopefully the person who receives it will also know that someone cared enough to make and send it.

  9. Annie, I used to love getting into Mum’s button box! And I used to occasionally get into my nana’s as well. It was like a journey of discovery! I’ve got a decent collection of buttons now too though I don’t do as much sewing as I used to. Mostly mending these days – and it’s a very handy skill to have!

    1. Hi Sharon, I don’t know what it is with button boxes but they’re a little piece of magic, aren’t they? I think I learned all my colours and numbers from the button box, and I still like to tip mine out on the table and have a sort through it – even if I don’t always find what I’m looking for 🙂

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