Inspirations Magazine

Hello everyone

Hope this finds you well and you are enjoying your summer holidays?

It always gives me a little thrill when I receive the email that tells me my new issue of Inspirations magazine has arrived!  As you probably know this is the world’s premier embroidery magazine from Australia and they are about to celebrate their 100th issue!  I have been subscribing to and contributing projects to Inspirations for about 20 years now and it just keeps getting better and better.


Although I have loved receiving the print copy in the past, our postal system to South Africa has become so unreliable that I opted for the digital subscription instead.   The digital subscription means I don’t have to wait for it to arrive in the post and I can download it to my Ipad and read it from the comfort of my armchair.  (sometimes I sneak a read on my computer when I am supposed to be working)…….. Reading it this way allows me to browse through the pages easily and to zoom in on the little details.

inspirations 2

There is a printable PDF provided for each project so you can print out the pattern and trace the outline, so clever!  Each issue is packed full of inspiring articles and there are so many beautiful projects to choose from, something for everyone.  I especially love reading the feature article and being kept informed on what is going on in the embroidery world, both past and present.  I feel privileged to be included in some of their editions and was especially honoured to be asked to contribute to their 100th anniversary edition which promises to be an exceptional issue – so look out for it.

You can find details on subscribing or purchasing a single copy here, and you can also purchase back issues and kits from the magazines while you are there.

Till next time, wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.






Online Donations

Good morning everyone, hope this finds you well this Monday morning.  I know most of you are in the middle of summer overseas but we had snow yesterday and it is freezing!


I have started work on the new book and the cold weather is the ideal time to bunker down and get stitching – so I will of necessity be away from my computer as much as possible.  There is a great Help Centre in both the Digital Store & Embroidery store with FAQ that will answer your questions, but if you are not able to find the help you need send me a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.


The donate facility for the Victoria Falls Embroidery group is now available in the Digital Store and the Embroidery store.  You will receive the normal order receipt by email – so you know we have received your donation.  There are of course no shipping costs involved – but if you add your donation to an order, you will be charged shipping costs for the items that need to be shipped.  I will keep you informed as to what the proceeds are used for.

Gail has asked me to let you know how much your support is appreciated and promised to send me regular updates on the group’s progress.  We have decided to make the donation facility available for 3 months to give the embroidery ladies time to train others and establish the business.  It is important that they become self sufficient, so once they are on their feet and have begun to sell their embroidery items, they will be able to purchase their own supplies with the proceeds from the sales.

Once again a big thank you for the overwhelming love and support.

Have a wonderful week.




Following up on yesterday’s post of Victoria Falls.  Thank you so very much to all of you for your kind offers to donate supplies to the group.  It is heartwarming to see such thoughtfulness and the response was totally unexpected!  I have given this some thought and although tempted to accept your generous offers it may not be the most practical solution.

The postal system in South Africa is very unreliable, in fact it does not work – so the chances are your donations would get lost in cyber space.  The only way it could reach us is if you sent it by Courier and besides the great expense to yourselves I would have to pay customs duties on each parcel when it arrived.  Then I would have to forward it to the Victoria Falls and again they would have to pay customs duties.  This is the way it is in Africa, duty is charged on all imported items.

I could put a donate button on my site and any donations received would go towards purchasing threads, needles and hoops for the embroidery group at wholesale prices.  A  donation of US$6 would be enough to purchase a whole box of DMC stranded cotton, and this would go a long way to enabling them to get going with their embroidery co-op and becoming self sufficient.   The amount you donate would be completely up to you and I could purchase the items and send them to Gail who would make sure they were delivered to Victoria Falls.  I will of course keep you posted with their progress from time to time and let you know what we donated.  How does this sound?



Victoria Falls

Hello everyone

Hope this finds you well?  We had a wonderful trip to the Victoria Falls to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday, and thought I would share some of the highlights with you.  I have been to the Falls several times but it never fails to amaze me – this time was no exception as there was an astounding amount of water coming over the Falls, the most  in 10 years.  We got very wet, but it was spectacular!falls11



We stayed at Illala Lodge which is the most wonderful hotel overlooking the Falls and the game sometimes wander up onto the front gardens – if you ever get to go there this is the place to stay.  Although the the town of Victoria Falls is vibrant with tourist activity and Illala is right on it’s doorstep, it is a little haven away from all the hustle and bustle of life in Africa.  We were waited on hand and foot and the breakfast buffet and dinner was awesome – best thing about it did not have to cook!

Illala Lodge

We treated ourselves to high tea at the Grand Victoria Falls Hotel – so full of history one feels as though time has stood still.  My Mum & Dad had not visited the Falls in 20 years and loved seeing it again, it bought back many memories especially for my Dad who had stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel as a child with my Grandparents and was able to impart stories reminiscent of those early days.



The highlight of my trip was that I got to run a little workshop with some of the locals.  Some weeks ago I was contacted by Gail van Jaarsveldt, the owner of Elephant Walk shopping centre at Victoria Falls.

Elephant Walk Shopping Centre
Made from recycled bottle tops

She told me the story of an Embroidery group in a rural location a few hours from the Falls, who for many years had been stitching items like tea clothes, table runners and handbags for sale to supplement their incomes.  This co-operative had been run by a lady who had taught them to do embroidery, but passed on a few years back and Gail had discovered three of the members trying to keep the co-op alive – sitting in their homes stitching on little pieces of scrap fabric, with old needles and whatever thread they could lay their hands on.

Embroidered elephants on a table runner, done in chain stitch
Demonstrating how to mount fabric in the hoop

She wanted to revive the group and was asking for my help.  She had bought my book Whitework With Colour and felt they could use some of the designs as inspiration for stitching embroidery designs with an African flavour, which she would then market from her shopping centre in the Falls.

chuckling at my attempt to draw an elephant 

I send donations of thread, needles and hoops and she managed to obtain some suitable cotton fabric for them to begin work.  I was invited to see their work and assist them in getting started on their embroidery, when I visited the Falls.  There were two ladies who did the stitching and an artist who created the designs for them.  I was amazed to find that he drew each design freehand with a pencil,  straight on to the fabric as did not know that you could draw one design and transfer it repeatedly using a light source such as a window!  I discussed with him ways to design an outline for embroidery and some useful ideas for finished items for sale.

how to make a hoop cover – big scissors all that was available

The ladies had only a basic knowledge of stitches so I was able to demonstrate, long & short stitch, satin stitch, dot and split stitch and show them how they could incorporate them into their designs.  We also covered all the basics like how to mount your fabric in a hoop (they had never used hoops) and how to keep it clean whilst stitching.   They had been using old sewing needles that were the wrong size, bent and a little rusty so you can imagine their delight at being given a proper, new needle to work with!  They were absolutely engrossed, and so appreciative of every little bit of help.  It was a truly humbling experience for me, I loved it, and would liked to have spent more time with them but sadly we had to leave the next day to come back to Cape Town.


It made me realize how fortunate we are to have access to basic embroidery tools and such beautiful materials at our disposal.  It was a sharp reminder of how I had first started embroidery in my home country, Zimbabwe many years ago.  I had used sewing cotton in various colours as we could not buy embroidery threads, and how thrilled I was when I purchased my first DMC stranded cotton on a visit to South Africa.  I could only afford some shades of pink and green, but I had shades, not just one shade of green, one shade of pink but 3 shades of each!   We have come a long way since then but its good to remember your roots occasionally and be grateful for the progress along the way.

Till next time wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.




Ordering The Handbook

Hello everyone

There seems to be some confusion over the two different formats of the Handbook.  These are the two options from the two different online stores:

  1. A printed copy – from the Embroidery Store, you will be charged postage and it will be shipped to you.
  2. An Ebook – from the Digital Store, you can download this instantly to view on your computer or tablet, no items will be shipped.

To clarify – there are no shipping costs charged on the Ebook, if you find you are being charged shipping at checkout,  chances are you are in the wrong shop!  Please read the product description for confirmation.

Thank you and have a good day.




Hello everyone

Hope your week is going well, nearly Friday!


The new Handbook is now available as an Ebook in the digital store.  I have received a few emails from customers who are unable to print the Ebook and thought I should just clarify.

Handbook new

An Ebook is an electronic version of a printed book which can be viewed on a computer, tablet or Ipad.  You will need an EReader such as Kindle or  Ibooks.  Unlike the PDF patterns which are just a few pages, the Ebook has many pages therefore cannot be saved as a PDF or printed on a printer.

Both Kindle and Ibooks can be downloaded for free.  There are many other EReader Apps available, any of them would be suitable. It is ideal for viewing on your tablet or Ipad as you can swipe through the pages and zoom in on details if required.  However, if you would prefer to have a printed copy of the Handbook they are available in the Embroidery store.  I am happy to refund you for the digital copy and you can order a printed edition instead.

If you are having trouble downloading your Ebook here are some step by step instructions.  Did you know that there is a HELP CENTRE in both stores that offers assistance or advice on many different embroidery related topics?


We received an abnormally large influx of orders this week and it was all hands on deck to get them packed and shipped.  There was a glitch with the Fedex Global shipping site yesterday which caused a bit of confusion but I am happy to say that all orders to date have now been processed.  Because of the Fedex Site fault it may take a day or two for your tracking to show up in the system, but rest assured it is on the way!  Orders placed today will be shipped on Monday.

It is my husband’s 60th birthday and we are going to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, with the family, from Monday to Thursday next week to celebrate.  My parents are both in their 80’s and have not been to the Falls for many years, so it is a big treat for them.


The Embroidery shop will be closed for 4 days.   I know the timing is bad with the recent closure due to the export license scenario but hope you will understand, and I am really looking forward to a break!  The Digital store will be open and my Virtual assistant will be on hand to help you if you lose your download:)

Enjoy your summer holidays and have a wonderful weekend.