Janet Haigh : Her Work

Textiles: ideas, drawing, design, stitching….

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It’s a Tough Job – But Someone Has To Do It

boysie window

how much is that doggie in the window?

We are launching the new book, Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique, on Tuesday 15th September at the American Museum, near Bath. Things are a tad hectic here, even my old dog Boysie is getting in on the act posing in the Heart Space Studio window for the Ribbon book display….and all of us who are working hard on this part of the publicity keep laughing and saying to one another – “it’s a tough job…….”

Meanwhile other people have been posing in this window – all in my efforts to publicise the book

window model

model Patricia Yaker Ekall looking resplendent in studio window

But to start at the beginning, the books have finally arrived in the building, boxes and boxes of them.


first box of books from printers

We have a small UK edition and are selling copies at various book and craft shops and galleries and of course at Heart Space Studios. The first opportunity to advertise came in the form of a photo-shoot for local press featuring the neighbouring businesses in Coldharbour Road, organised by Sue Fyfe-Williams. To make the best use of the fashion models on offer, we made masses of ribbon beads – I mean masses….


assembling the earring

angel beads

our guardian angel bedecked with ribbon beads











and One Solitary Earring……

So when we saw our model Patricia, in a lovely tailored jacket by The House of Sheldon Hall, with her severe hair by SK109 – we just knew that the combination would make spectacular images

modle &mother

Patricia and her mother Clare, in Heart Space club room waiting for the camera

But first make- up and lighting checks…

make-up from Jenny Davies


lighting from Photographer










and then…..


Ta Dah!

the most amazing thing about these beads is that they are made of all the left-overs of ribbon scraps from the other projects in the book – and they are the most popular item in it – we have sold out our launch Making Ribbon Beads workshop at The American Museum , but of course we are running them later this year at Heart Space.

But that’s not all – off we went this week to mount a display for the launch at the museum. Jane- Marie Mahy, Ilaria Padovani (2 of our amazing  volunteers) and I arrived at the very cool and elegant Gallery Shop.

museum shop

gallery Shop at the American Museum in Britain

what would our hotch – potch of brilliantly coloured Kaffe Fassett inspired projects look like here?


detail of Kaffe’s Corner

We needn’t have worried – perfect colour co-ordination with Kaffe’s section of the shop…..was it Ruskin who said that only the noblest minds concerned themselves with colour?


Ilaria pressing the aprons


Jane- Marie arranging the projects













eventually everything was in place


detail of the shelves with Ribbon Book projects displayed

and then the gals took piccies….colour co-ordinated or what?



now all that is left to do is make the ribbon packs for the Museum to sell alongside the books; sort out the bead workshop materials and pack, get some workshop leaflets printed, organise guests to get into museum with the invitation, bring extra blue tack just in case…oh and turn up on the day in time for the launch itself……….




Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique: the Story behind the Book


opening the package of the advance copied of Heart Space Studios’ first book

Here it is, my very first look at the proper printed books – Heart Space Studios’  Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique,  inspired by and featuring Kaffe Fassett’s wonderful ribbons. And this is the English edition, and it is published by Heart Space Studios…But oh the hopes and fears were in equal measure when I saw that neat white package of the first 10 advanced copies of the book…


all the angst and problems of getting the UK cover perfectly coloured have paid off

Originally the book was commissioned by the American publishers, Taunton Press ( and uses American terms and measurement – bliss – I was educated using inches and yards) and then I was offered the opportunity of producing a small UK edition and this is it. And as a consequence I have spent a large proportion of the last 9 months working on this and other publications involving Kaffe Fassett’s ribbons and fabrics……

first ribbons

the 5 original reels of ribbon I designed with

I was first asked, by Susan Berry, a book producer concentrating on textile crafts (whom I have worked with for many years) if I had any design ideas for using the beautiful Jacquard ribbons designed by of Kaffe Fassett and produced by Renaissance Ribbons. Susan advised me to see them at his exhibition at the American Museum in Britain, that took place in 2014. Then I was sent a few reels of ribbons to ‘play’ with and this is what I came up with in the first few days….

yo yos

single and double ribbon yo-yos

I have a vintage – quilt hanging on my studio door and I immediately thought that this system may translate to the ribbons; so I just cut some random lengths and using running stitch gathered them up to form these pretty circles…some worked and some didn’t  – see above; but it is a designers task to make them all work beautifully – so lots of samples later I made this, below, which I intended to grow into a huge throw or curtain.

yoyo curtain small

yo-yo hanging – sadly this failed to make it into the book – it proved too complicated to show how to stitch together simply….

Then of course I thought of crazy patchwork, and this eventually became the heart-shaped cushion on the back of the UK edition cover

hand emb copy

crazy patchwork with ribbons hand embroidered into position between the patches of shot cottons

of ribbon with the loose yo yo’s, easy -peasy as these ribbons have been designed to work together – a rich mix but what else would you expect from Kaffe Fassett?

original design - KF ribbons PW

ribbon and yo-yo strips – first ideas

I just took lots of photographs as I researched, and sent them off with rough ideas for a book of small patchworks made of ribbon and plain fabrics – but the journey from playing with ideas to a finished book has been long and let’s say  problematical –  ideas are always easy for me to come up with, making them work for inclusion into a “how to do it” book is not easy at all.

ribbon samples

new ribbon combinations

sample ribbons2

getting the new ribbons into colour combinations – here are the brights















The first thing I realised was that I needed to put some other ribbons and fabrics with these intensely patterned Jaquard ribbons. So I included the Grosgrains, or Petershams,  fine ribbed ribbons that come in many sizes and colours, Renaissance Ribbons have many different versions – and they duly sent me some and more of the new ribbons from their Kaffe Fassett range; and then I needed a ribbon that could be used to tone with the 2 brights – I chose my old favourites – tartans. Tartan ribbons are universally available now on-line, and they conform to the clan colours so I felt sure that most buyers of the book could get hold of them easily. But then which fabrics to use for the patchworks particularly the crazies?


my stash of shot cottons selected to tone with the ribbons toning ribbons

I am a fabric hoarder, like most textile designers, and I found some small pieces of ‘shot’ cottons – the warp and the weft of the fabrics are different shades or even different colours from one another so the woven fabrics are subtle colours and so more easily used with other materials; and by chance who were these shot cottons designed by? Kaffe Fassett. So that was an easy decision as well and I sent off to The Cotton Patch, (who have the best user – friendly, on-line ordering fabrics service) for more samples of these lovely fabrics. I started designing approximately 20 different samples of ribbon patchworks and appliques.

But I fist made myself some new fabrics – out of the ribbons themselves….

more ribbons Nov

designing ribbon combinations for ribbon fabric

crazy ribbon fabric

trying out different ribbon fabrics for crazy patchworks









what I needed to realise is that when you are making your own ideas for a book, it is important to be able to demonstrate by using photographs, drawings, diagrams and words how someone else, who has not got your knowledge and may even be a complete beginner, can easily follow the instructions …a lot of lovely ideas and more complicated designs got thrown out in this process.

But here are some examples of 20 samples that made it, from first ideas, through to illustrations of the steps involved and finally the 20 projects that I made with the samples. There are 4 types of patchwork and applique techniques in the boon, strips – see below, crazy, squares and yo-yo’s.

heart ribbon start

putting several ribbons together onto my work top, trying to make up a new ribbon fabric

heart mask

designing another variation of ribbon stripes for a heart shape applique













from the work table to the finished book in one bound!

ribbon illo

illustration to make the ribbon fabrics

heart bag

page from the book to show the heart shaped applique















and eventually this design turns up on the contents page as well….

open book1

content page of finished book completed with the same Ribbon Fabric

the yo yo designs quick and fun to make and design with, within the book they come single, embroidered….

hat band illo

hat band yo yo with button stitching ribbons


small yo yo patch

embroidered double yo yo square patchwork











halved and giant.

yo yos band

half yo yo bands


large yo yo

and one very very big yo yo.












in fact I could have written another book about making and decorating with yo-yos


project section of the book – with lots of different things to make

I could write for days about the book and all that it contains – but then why would anyone buy it? As I write I am waiting for the large consignment of books to arrive from the printers….it is a small edition but I have plans to advertise it, it is being launched on September 15th at the American Museum in Britain, well it is full of the American Kaffe Fassett’s ribbon designs… and for this I am giving a special bead – making workshop. ( more of which in a  later post )Then the book is being sold with special packs of ribbons and fabrics on the Cotton Patch stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in October; but meanwhile we have a lovely display in the shop window of Heart Space Studios, devised by our style guru, Jane- Marie Mahy, please see below and I have devised a whole set of classes to complement the book – go to http://www.heartspacestudios.co.uk/workshops/ribbon-patchwork-hearts-half-day-class/. for more information. And eventually we will be selling the new book on our website – watch this space


photo 3[1] copy

Heart Space Studio window display by Jane-Marie Mahy












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Almost Shaun the Sheep

sean sheep

Shaun the Sheep plays it cool.

stitching post

Paula and I hand stitch the knitting onto the lamppost

Shaun the Sheep – the popular cartoon character from Aardman Studios, Bristol’s world famous animation company is being celebrated with a series of decorated sheep statues being deposited in a trail throughout Bristol (and London). The local high street community, including Heart Space Studios, has sponsored a sheep sculpture and he arrives in the first week of July….meanwhile Heart Space have decided to welcome him with a knitted yarn bombed lamppost and bunting.


Paula New stands beside her creation – the knitted sheep lamppost


We recycled an old length of knitted bunting by giving it a really good wash and then Paula made lots of crocheted flowers which I stitched into place to liven it up; we are really pleased with our efforts and all our neighbours are delighted to see our new bunting, they keep photographing it…..the local children come and hug the lower area of the lamppost and we made this particular design as all proceeds for Shawn go to the Bristol Children’s Hospital


recycled knitted bunting

So to add to the funds we once again, by popular request, ran a children’s workshop this time to decorate bags….Paula also helped out with this – I kept well out of the way, just occasionally took the photographs….it looked very  lively in the main studio..


patterns, fabric, felts, buttons and beads all ready to for the children to decorate the sheep bags

we had provided sheep patterns for the sheep, prepared fabrics with bondaweb, found buttons beads, eyes and all kinds of stuff to play with.


all sorts of stuff neatly laid out for decorating

as soon as the children – boys and girls – arrived they started to trace around our specially drawn templates, and using special fibre pens coloured,

draw2     draw1








stitched and appliqued…..stitch1 Mothers helped as well – with the pressing,

mums iron

everyone joins in the making session.

we also had boys making their own characterful versions of sheep …..

shep draw7

get those blue eyes!!!!

sheep 6

now that’s what I call a pig ready for a party!

choices, choices choices….the children’s imagination knew no bounds when it came to decorating the simple drawn outline.













after refreshments – provided by Ilaria and her mother, who was visiting from Italy,


the table full of wonderful hand made cakes and biscuits from Ilaria and her mother..

the bags were finished finished

and everyone had to be photographed as they left the studios.

fini1     fin7

















we had lots of happy people leaving with their own very personalised bags….


fin3    fin4















and we raised money for the charity as well.fin2


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Kantha Club

kantha 2

Indian modern Kantha fabric – from Liz Hewitt’s collection – wonderful patterns to start us all stitching

New to Heart Space Studios – Kantha Club; started as so many people who have been to our day classes, tutored by  Susi Bancroft,  have become fascinated by this simple method of hand quilting. We have 3 trial sessions being held once a month – each meeting is 3 hours long – enough to get re-acquainted with the technique and start something to take home to develop further.

susi kantha samples

3 different Kantha pieces from  Susi s collection demonstrating the different types of fabrics, colours and patterns afforded by this  technique

susi kantha introSusi, had brought lots of different pieces from her own work, the most interesting for me are the tiny patches of patterned fabrics all held together with simple rows of running stitches  and by allowing frayed and ripped fabrics to be caught in place, dense and rich cloths have been developed.

One of the things that I find interesting in Kantha is that each side of the cloth looks different depending on the choice of fabrics – so a simple ground will show up the stitches but a patterned ground is given another layer of pattern – the fabric below shows this very clearly.

back and front

Kantha strip showing back and front of the stitching – intriguing

Several people had brought in their own samples, some from earlier classes that they now wanted to develop….others already used the technique for their own practice and just wanted to meet up and develop and discuss the work with other people – we are hoping that the new textile clubs we are planning at Heart Space, will enable like-minded people to develop new work together….the 2 pieces below are by makers who has studied Kantha previously,  Kay Swancutt, and Liz Hewitt , 

samples 1

beautifully simple stitching by Kay Swancutt

liz 2

detail of Liz Hewitt’s densely stitched Kantha hanging











but some people although used to stitching, came along for a new experience – they brought other types of things – the different types of work were really interesting, I am looking forward to seeing how everyone develops in the coming months.

stitch run

small perfectly stitched quilted heart – but enough to get a maker to the next stage of developing new ideas and techniques

working 4

beautiful etheral embroidered and lacy fabrics combined with Kantha stitches by Nicky










After the introductions we all started to work on our own projects

kantha class1

the club gets down to real stitching, and Nicky is stitching the piece  above right

I have joined the club as well as I want to develop new work using this technique – I have played with this way of setting up rhythms across fine fabrics  and I brought in several pieces of old work to demonstrate how I wanted the work to develop – I want to make a stitched sea/sky/land scape – very large using images from my  photographs of the views of sunrise and sunsets from my windows at home.

jh research

series of my sky photographs from over the Bristol Channel

working jh1

my first attempt at putting the sky fabrics together








I am layering transparent fabrics so that many subtle colours are made to represent the sky, then held held in place by rows of running stitches. As my home view includes a stretch of the Severn Estuary and the Welsh hills, the textures and rhythms of the water, mud flats and tidal salt marsh in front of the house, could successfully be rendered using this technique, we will see…

working jh2

the layers of transparent fabrics are eventually held in place by massive tacking stitches

when everyone got to working Susi provided us with background fabrics and a wonderful array of her own threads, as well as books and a variety of other materials to help us help ourselves.

susi stash

Susi’s own stash of threads; and just visible my “kantha bible” The Techniques of Indian Embroidery by Anne Morrell

Several people started developing different motifs as samplers, using the books that Susi provided..

kay working

continuing older work using new inspiration


working 5

 working a sampler directly from the books provided










So we ended the first week with everyone having a piece of work to develop (or not!) for the next meeting…there were a few surprises in store.Some people had started new pieces and developed different techniques….

working 2

embellishing a ready printed fabric is a really good way to get started…

some really adventurous samplers have been started..

naomi wk2

Vibrant Kantha motif sampler on hand dyed base – Naomi Clarke

then there was this perfectly ordered piece of quilting on top of a traditional Indian fabric heart

2nd w 03

Heart Kantha by Jo Hurst

Others continued to develop their own work – I do like the ancient next to the modern in the image below – traditional stork embroidery scissors, hand made pin cushion and mobile phone!

2nd wk 06

continuing to develop the first colourful sampler – Jo Hurst

The motifs seem to be very popular but, like me Anne is trying some new colour background fabrics strips – really looking forward to seeing this develop

week 2 anne

strong coloured ground strips for experimental work by Anne Harrington

I hope she has more luck than I did! Eventually I want to make a large piece of work – at least 1 metre wide – so I had started off using wide strips – but found that the rhythms of the stitches started to develop a mind of their own, which I couldn’t get to grips with – so I chopped my original work into smaller segments and really let the running stitches go where they would – it is very exciting to work with…..but where do I go from here?

jh wk2

my tiny but wayward stitched sampler of sky and sea kantha

Well  – where else but back to the third Kantha club meeting to see how everyone else has developed and if they all feel that they want to carry this experimental approach forward into a functioning club, with membership, regular meetings, guest speakers, exhibitions and all the other benefits joining a club entails….watch this space.













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Story Boards To Go

cema storymm

mixed media story board – Ceema McDowell

The second class in the mixed Media Sampler Course at Heart Space Studios began by looking and assessing the finished story boards; several people needed help to get everything organised but here are the results so far….Ceema (above) has refined her theme, she has kept the silvered wallpaper but added a lot of spirals an various forms as well as exquisite Chinese style florals.

jo -mm sb

rich and saturated colours in ripped collage formation by Jo Clarke

It is interesting to see how they have developed from last session, Jo (above) gave herself just a tiny bit more information to work with – the Kaffe Fasset postcard on the left hand side, has added a whole set of new information to play with – patchworks, Japaneses style prints, roses, decorative leaves  and diamond patterns- so just a small addition  can add a whole new continent to a theme!

mm story board 2

First Story Board by Marion

As I suspected, some people could just not make up their minds exactly which “story” to develop, often a real problem that stops the maker from progressing; every time they get stuck – they keep retuning to other ideas they have set aside! But the beauty of this discipline, and it is a basic design discipline, is that once you have embarked on this set of stimulus you just have to keep to it….I will make sure of it!

story board again

Second Story Board by Marion Conlan

Marion brought in 2 boards, as she liked both so we put them up on the wall and had a group vote….the romantic mauve one won – but i said to keep hold of the vibrant red and gold version for other projects – nothing creative is ever rally wasted.

sophie storymm

Gold Control by Sophie Bristol

well Sophie’s work will have to be gilded, richly coloured and silky with very refined imagery in lots of stripes….

mmstory board 5

lots of contrasting  imagery here from Shirley Paske.

Shirley has made a really eclectic patched and spacious board with lot of white space around the images, but an evocative warm colour palette that is redolent of rich cultural heritages. I can see, Indian textiles,American rural, Islamic carvings, and dyed and distressed fabric  and paper samples  – should be interesting to see this colour emerge in the different materials.

Naomi sbmm

pale, ethereal, silvered and stitched by Naomi Clarke

Naomi, has made a collaged picture – more a “mood” board than a story board – but this is an alternative name for this dicipline..mood boards are more nuanced, lees graphic – but I will still expect her to develop samples in the different media that conform to this look…

start stitch wallpaper

Sartting to stitch wallpapers – this could be a really good theme to develop for Naomi

and looking at the way she has started to develop the theme she certainly intends to work with stitching decoratively on the papers – which was the theme of the second session.

sopjie stashmm

Sophie’s stash of threads ready to stitch prepared papers to correspond with her story board.

we prepared fabrics and papers by bonding them together in order to have the strength and resilience to take being stitched, either by hand or machine.


bonding silk threads onto paper prior to cutting into shapes


the right side to the silk ravel bonded into position

we got a lot of different materials ready to be stitched and collaged for the following sessions – everyone preferred the back of the silk ravells seen through the hand made paper.

story board yarn selection

wonderful ravel of silk threads for Ceema to start stitching with.

but whatever we stitch with and whatever we apply in terms of materials and imagery – one thing has been established – the colours and quality of the inspiration….more to come.

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Story Boards

1 story board for Mixed media course

1 story board for Mixed media course with inspirational post card

New this term at  Heart Space Studios is a course of 9 sessions – working with mixed media. Debby Bird and I  are working together – we both started with Paper for the first session – later in the term we will add Leather and Suede, or felted  materials for the vegans amongst us. Working over a prolonged time (18 weeks) means that we need to develop some overall colour scheme and theme.


colour story/mood board for book, Colour on Colour – Janet Haigh

So we started with a show and tell of our own mixed media work and I showed the group a series of colour stories or mood boards used in textile design companies to show the atmosphere and colour gamut of a collection. I use the same system for showing publishers to show how my books will look.


a old postcard collection is the inspiration for the paper project .

I brought in  a pile of art postcards and other images for everyone to choose 1 or 2 or even 5 – from this they each had to develop their own story board, isolating colours, textures from their cards. At home they can inject their own imagery and  details.


just 2 postcards selected here, a Fra Angelico angel and a modern quilted vest; but the tone and the colour is immediately apparent.

the  selections were very different from one another….


selection of stronger colours and images Indain Painting , a Korean gown and a Polish naive paining.

we also offered a whole table full or wallpaper samples, Japanese papers, maps, books, tissue papers, paper-lace doilies, Chinese New Year Money – anything and everything to give inspiration


wall paper samples ready for selection

papers ready for selection

soon everyone was  at the table – it was a veritable feeding frenzy

feeding frenzy

a flurry of paper selections

then the room went quiet as everyone tried to make some sense out of what they had chosen and the editing began…the first step of design.

discussing what to choose and where to place it

discussing what to choose and where to place it

slowly the selection became richer and more subtle.

one simple   strong textile provides inspiration for a beautiful clear and rich colour gamut

one simple strong textile provides inspiration for a beautiful clear and rich colour gamut

lots of variations follow…subtle and softly coloured,


wide selection of subtle coloured and printed papers

and even more variations….


rich strong colours elicited from 2 cards – a modern embroidery and a mosaic arch from 12th century Ravenna

some people just believe that more is more – as do I!

wonderful array of ripped papers from the Heart Space stash

wonderful array of ripped papers and fabrics

then when everyone was settling down Debby showed them  how to dye papers using simple wax resists……

preparing papers with resist dyes.

preparing papers with resist dyes.

subtle and refined papers were prepared when attention was given to the original post card images.


2 papers subtle papers have been prepared by studying the worn surface of an old painted door

now these could be added to the mix. and attention given to the type of cutting or ripping and alignment of the papers to reflect the atmosphere and colour of the original selected postcards – learn to trust you initial instincts when starting a new design

cutting refined outlines when adding prints

cutting refined outlines when adding prints

eventually everyone managed to resolve their ideas into a piece of collaged work to take home and add some  more personal embellishments.

sophie 2

softly coloured story board romantic and refined


vibrant collage with strong sense of rhythm



fresh and jaunty board of layered toning papers

Story Boards are a visual statement of intent – so we will be drawing everyone’s attention back to their finished board each time we sample a new technique over the coming weeks ….watch this space

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First Bristol Wool Fair

wool fair mascot

Gertie the Sheep at the Bristol Wool Fair

Gertie the Sheep just about sums up what the first Bristol Wool Fair held on Durdham Downs (which still has ancient grazing rights for sheep) was all about…amusing, colourful and very woolly in all parts…..The Wool Fair is the brain child of Sarah and David Harris who run a large and fully stocked yarn and fabric supply store called “The Spinning Weal

gertie start 2

first day gets underway decorating Gertie.


Second day for Gertie

Gertie was the first neighbour I saw when I arrived to set up the Heart Space exhibition and stand. she was placed on a table with hundreds of lovely crocheted flowers at her feet…her face already made-up and a flower ticked behind her ear. each day she got more a more of the flowers added to her coat, by anyone who cared to assist. She was slowly dressed up each day and by the end of the show she was ready for her progress around the show ground – in a basket on a push trolley.


end of second day


Gertie on her final day

Heart Space Studios was invited to attend as part of the educational content alongside the various fibre and fabric guilds. I decided to mount an exhibition of the only completely woolen embroideries that I work – they are designs for the canvas work kit company Ehrman Tapestry.

set up

The Heart Space Studios’ stand at the Wool Fair – featuring my designs for Ehrman Tapestry Company

we also exhibited any of pur current workshops that feature wool – so knitted lampshades and some lovely beaded knitwear.


detail of art- work and finished canvases in the exhibition with samples from the autumn workshops, knitted lampshades, felt jewellery and beaded knitting

Heart Space also gave demonstrations of various workshops ion offer, Amanda Jones, had a fascinated audience for knitting with beads – the beads are threaded onto the yarn first and then the fun begins…


everyone enjoying the demonstration of beaded kitting by Amanda Jones.

Heart Space also helped with teaching anyone and everyone to learn to knit and crochet, several members of out Knit and Stitch clubs volunteered their services.


Paula New, who runs the Wednesday morning Knit and Stitch club teaches a group of young people to get a grip of those large knitting needles

other demonstrations held by our tutors were also very popular; the children’s activity book made using felt  applique got a really attentive crowd.

ilaria demo

Iaria Padovani demonstrates the charms of teaching numerals in her felt activity book for younger children.

To be continued……