Confined to base for much of 2020 I turned to my textile work and in November I finished Lockdown Scapes, 27 panels of embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint felting, applique, leaf printing, rust staining and other various techniques to produce my second textile book.

This is Jimmy Perez’s house on the ocean in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles. I’d been watching the TV detective series, Shetland, based on the books by Ann Cleeves. Douglas Henshall’s accent was so strong that sometimes I had to watch it with subtitles! But I fell in love with the landscape of Shetland and booked to go on a small group trip in the summer of 2017. Taking the overnight ferry from Orkney I was met at Lerwick Harbour by James, a wonderful guide, and the first place he showed me was this house, used as Jimmy Perez’s home in the TV series. I painted the sky and added fabrics. Some of the yarn that I use to make the splashes are from a bookmark that Anna made for me. I ‘rusted’ the title fabric by allowing rusty nails to colour the fabric.
This is the entrance to Butts Green cemetery in Warley, where Samuel Gibson, one of my ancestors is buried, though I’ve yet to find his grave. The place is completely overgrown. I used the same rusting method to colour the background fabric and the ground is felted. The grave stones are felt cut outs. For the gate I used wire, painting it for a weathered effect.
  1. I wrote this poem in 2018. The background fabric shows the Piece Hall in Halifax and I purchased it in the quilting store in Halifax from the lady who had designed it.
  1. The 12:27 to Leeds is my poem about what you can see from the train window in the 40 minute journey to the centre of Leeds.
  1. This poem is a take off of The Old Sedan chair, a poem by Henry Austin Dobson that had to memorise for elocution lessons when I was a child. On a walk to Copley along the Rochdale canal I found a wrecked bench in the churchyard and this poem came to mind. I used a template for the embroidery of the lady sitting on the bench and then added the ‘real’ Copley church tower and apse.
  1. Lily Hall, situated on the road to Heptonstall plays an integral part in my family’s connection to Calderdale. My great great grandma was conceived out of wedlock and born in Lily Hall, fathered, literally by the man who lived next door to her widowed mother. Around the fabric of the ancient building I embroidered a lily, the wonderful views of the hills that would have been visible to the occupants, totally unchanged since their time. Lily Hall’s position on the hillside means that it looks out on the valley, and watches me as I walk the hills – hence the embroidered eye.
  1. A felted seascape from my trip to Iona in 2018, adding a sea pebble and a shell for decoration.

  1. A cross stitched embroidery of Staithes, a lovely couple of days with Anna when she came to visit in 2018. Up until this time my own encounter with cross stitching had been following other people’s pattern, using either counted cross stitch patterns or, preferably a printed pattern. Then one day I found a roll of cross stitch fabric in a market stall and I realized that I could design my own! This was one of the first I did. The location is significant in that it’s s version of a print by Kate Lycett, a local Hebden Bridge artist who lives in a home that one of my ancestors kept as an inn. Kate used the print as a note book cover which I gave to Anna and so when we went to Staithes we found the precise spot and I took Ann’s photo there, holding the notebook.
  1. A felted landscape with applique fabric showing the scar of the M62 motorway as seen from the bus to Huddersfield. I found the rusty metal leaves in a bag of old beads for sale at the Friday Hebden Bridge market. The inspiration was a photo of Windy Hill, the highest point on the M62, a photo in Andrew Bibby’s book ‘Backbone of England.’
  1. My poem describing my ‘discovery’ of Crow Nest Wood during the pandemic is shortly to be published in an anthology by the Wednesday Writers, a creative writing group that I participate in . In 2019 I read one of my pieces, about Todmorden market, at the Todmorden book festival, quite a prestigious affair with Simon Armitage participating. The embroidery is simply illustrating my walk through the wood in Springtime, with a daffodils as a tribute to my mum, who would have just turned 100 this week.
  1. A poem  recounting my participation in the remembrance day service at Halifax minster as part of the Halifax concert band. I found it very moving to remember the people who had lost their lives during wars in this setting where so many of my ancestors were married and baptized. Later that day I went up to Blackshaw head where a bonfire was lit, part of a whole range of bonfires lit on top of the hills around the Calder Valley. In Blackshaw Head, and commemorated on the war memorial at the chapel, lived one of my ancestors, Giles Sunderland, who lost his life in the first world war.  My poem is printed on a tablecloth from a charity store and uses a music ribbon to recall the last post.
  1. It wasn’t until I embarked on this cross stitch picture that I realized how long it takes to stitch even such a small picture. This is the view from my living room window and shows nature in all its spring colours. The house is Holme House, now apartments and beyond is the former mill where I spent my first summer alone  in Hebden Bridge in 2016. ‘A Room with a View’ refers to E. M Forster’s novel of 1908.
  1. A cross stitched landscape and a reference to Under the Sky, my signed copy of a book of poetry by Pete Sinfield, cofounder and lyricist of King Crimson.  The beads and metal leaves come from bags of broken jewelry purchase at Hebden Bridge market. The scene is Heights Road above Mytholmroyd from a photo I took on October 27, 2019.
  1. I stitched this poppy pattern during my trip to California in February 2019. It was during the purchase of this kit that I found the roll of Aida and realized that I could begin designing my own pattern. I have lovely memories of sitting in the historic Hinds House in Santa Cruz and in Anna’s apartment in Oakland, working on this piece. I added three pieces of origami paper that Rachel had sent me and I folded it into flowers.
  1. One of my favourite places to visit in Halifax is Dean Clough Mill, once the largest carpet manufacturing mill in the world, but now a collection of art galleries, studios, apartments, restaurants. I’ve taken  all my daughters at various times to explore there and usually we’ve stopped in at the Loom Café, decorated with themes from Alice in Wonderland. This poem was inspired by an ancestor of mine who had worked in the factory  from the age of ten, and also of an exhibition about the soldiers’ lives in World War one. The embroidery of the white rabbit in the teacup is based on one of the wall paintings in the café and the cut out card motifs were sent to me by Anna, thinking they might come in useful for one of my craft projects.
  1. In September, 2019, I spent five days staying at a hostel in Kendal in the Lake District. One of my walks took me along a stream in Grasmere with this sign Deep Water, which I recreated with cross stitch. Cold Earth is a reference to the 7th book by Ann Cleeves in the Shetland series. The metal leaf again comes from random bags of beads and jewelry.
  1. Wuthering Depths is a felted landscape of Baitings dam, Ripponden which I walked around for the first time in March, 2020. ‘Wuthering Depths’ by Bette Howell, 1989,  tells the story of a Yorkshire family, the Hawkweeds and their attempt to convert their historic old mill into a tourist attraction. I purchased the fabric on which I’ve embroidered the title from a shop in Paris where I spent five days with Anna in January, 2020.  The beads in the water come from a bracelet that Anna gave me which eventually fell apart through prolonged wear!
  1. One of the first piece in which I painted the sky on the felt background, and added embroidery to the felted flowers. A metal chain and the brown/orange edging suggests a framed picture hanging on a wall.  The ‘sky’ border fabric came from a quilting store that recently moved from Hebden Bridge to Mytholmroyd. I was able to schedule a half hour time slot to select my fabrics, being the only customer in the store.
  1. This piece started off life as a cross stitched piece but I soon realized just how much stitching that would take, so I painted the rocks in the foreground, added netting and various yarns being the splashing waves. The view is from a photo of the lighthouse in Santa Cruz that I took on my visit in February 2019. This place was ten minutes’ walk from my home for 10 years in Santa Cruz. Love of Country is a book by Madeleine Bunting, subtitled A Journey through the Hebrides. The book was a gift from a friend of Keith’s who gave it to me during a wonderful afternoon tea at her home in Bath because she knew that Keith and I were bound for our trip to Iona a few weeks later.
  1. The cross stitched scene here is a view on Iona of a gate into a garden at the bottom of which is the ocean and the hills beyond the bay. It was an idyllic view. The gate is applique felt pieces and the rest is cross stitched. The poem Knit 2, Purl 2 recounts my love of knitting. I rarely watch television without my knitting in hand and for the past ten years I’ve knitted baby blankets to donate to various charities. Only this week I volunteer from Mothershare collected another 20 baby blankets from me. I found the idea for the design of the balls of wool on Etsy.
  1. A felted landscape with the addition of netting for the trees and bushes, various yarns and pieces of clingfoil  to create the reflections in the water. Lower Laithes reservoir between Haworth and Stanbury with the moors atop which are the pylons which always remind me of the Martians in H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. I took the photo on December 27, 2019. It’s a special place for me because I celebrated my birthday in 2018 with all my daughters visiting from California at ‘The Friendly” in Stanbury, crossing the dam on this reservoir.
  1. One of the first felted landscapes I created. Waiting for the Sun refers to the third album of The Doors. The scene is from a day trip I the Southern Lakes and this photo was of a misty hike at Hutton Roof near Kirby Lonsdale on September 26, 2018.  
  1. In this poem I imagine a bus ride being recreated in fabric. I wrote it in my old apartment on Cheetham Street,  converted from a sewing factory and which still had the huge wheels attached to the ceiling which held the pulleys which powered the sewing machines, a fitting place to create works of textile art.
  1. The ghost town of Rhyolite in Nevada, one of my family’s favourite places to visit. I’d heard someone in my textile class mention that you could sew on paper with a sewing machine. I’d never heard of this before but I rushed home to experiment. This is a photo that I took for one of the ruined buildings in Rhyolite and printed onto paper. Then I stitched it onto the background fabric and stitched over some of the details like the railing and window frames. The outer fabric is the rust stained cotton and I’ve employed the Japanese technique of Boro, running stitch lines on patched cloth, another technique that I learned from my textile teacher at Northlights studio, Emma Wilkinson.
  1. Last year I played with some Autumn leaves by painting on the back of them and then printing them on paper, so this year I tried pressing them onto fabric. I used Autumn colours and I liked the effect. I then embroidered their veins and their outlines. I thought again about by ancestor, Samuel Gibson, whose collection of pressed palnts and fossils I’d gone to see in the Manchester museum. There’s even a fossil named after him: Gibsonii. It’s a tiny sea creature looking a bit like an Ammonite so I decided to add spiral shapes to the leaves to represent ammonites. I rusted beer bottle caps and then embroidered th spirals. Just to make them stand out from the leaves I added a little stuffing so that they are three dimensional. I’d bought some handmade paper which included flower petals and I added a few of these to finish the page.
  1. During lockdown I’d taken a couple of urban sketching art classes online and my first project had been to draw and colour the Innovation Mill in the centre of Hebden Bridge. There’s been a mill in that spot since the 1300s. I sat on the café patio behind the town hall for several mornings and within a few days I was asked if I wanted ‘the usual café mocha’ as soon as I walked in. This is the result and the title These Darkening Days is indicative not just of the season but my interest in the books of Ben Myers, who lives close by and sets his books in the local area.
  1. The back cover uses hedgehog fabric that I’d purchased in Oban, the hedgehog being my mum’s spirit animal! I completed the final page on 11.11.2020 and I thought it was a fun date to write. I sewed all the pages together and completed the project the week that my mum would have turned 100. I set up a little Día de los Muertos table in her honour, and filled it with hedghogs – of course!


  1. Abigail Matthews

    Heather this is so amazing. So wonderfully beautiful. I can’t wait to see it in the ‘flesh’! Looking forward to the publication of your poem. Love the fact that your mum’s spirit animal is a hedgehog and that you finished this delightful project in time for what would have been her 100 birthday ♥️

  2. Elaine Hook


  3. Nancy Leek

    Your book is beautiful! What a wonderful lockdown project.

  4. Amanda Boland

    You are certainly a very talented lady loved reading about all your adventures will be lovely to leave for your grandchildren to read and explore your life in Fabric

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