Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Thursday, 25 December 2014

It's Christmas!

Best present goes to personalised Nutella - thank you husband

Best reaction, Toby "this is the best Christmas ever - I only wanted the Guardians Sandman book and I got it!"

Best Crackers - balloon modelling ones from TKMaxx 

Best 'nope can't see much' present - a telescope

Best cat present - as little disruption as possible and maybe a catnip filled dangly Christmas tree.

(My thoughts are with those nearby that I can't begin to imagine what they're going through - huge love to you Sarah and Will, stay strong both of you you've been inspirational)

Monday, 15 December 2014

It's all for Charity...

The rather talented Jenny Lockyer, musician, storyteller and we see her in the pub - has a charity single out for Christmas in aid of Shelter. If this weather doesn't make you think about people living without a roof over their heads I don't know what will. Jenny's passionate about the cause - and rather than thinking she's only gone and done something about it!

The single "Give it Away" (nowt to do with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) is available to listen to and download and all Jenny asks is if you possibly could donate that would be marvellous.

Now, there is a Toby link to all this. When the song was being recorded Jenny thought it might be good to have children as backing vocals on the chorus the trouble is getting the kids and for them to cooperate... well Toby was the one that did but him alone does not make much of a choir so she decided to go with the original version - which is marvellous.... go blinkin listen!

Jenny Lockyer with a teeny bit of help from Toby

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Rising Vamp

I won't like I'm in shock - Croydon's having one heck of a revamp but I never expected to see work from likes of Robert Motherwell, Peter Blake or Andy Warhol.

Gallery owner and art saviour of Croydon , Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison has plans beyond his new Rise Gallery for our concrete city he see's the hope in Croydon that most ignore. I've gone on about the talent that has come out of Croydon School of Art and Kevin has also lectured there. His vision is an art quarter, studios, public art... if anyone can make this real it's him after talking to him for ten minutes crikey that man knows what he's talking about and is passionate to make it a reality.

Croydon will always be butt of jokes if it doesn't change - I don't mean yet another shiny new shopping centre, the arts have been sold, trampled on and discarded in CR0 and it looks like the light has come! Places to live need art and a cultural side - ignore it and well you get ... well Croydon add a respect for creativity and appreciation for art, galleries, general public art, places for artists to thrive and as if by magic you'd have one hell of an area.

Am looking forward to meeting with Kevin again. If you are near here go see what I mean Rise is in the most unlikely part of Croydon too (7- 9 St Georges Walk) which makes the project even more fascinating. Hoorah St Kevin and thank you.

Monday, 10 November 2014



from 11am

lots of offers to tempt you with your Christmas shopping

*if anyone wants to collect orders please get in touch - the 6 for 5 mug offer applies but do let me know in advance so I can bring your order email me

Monday, 3 November 2014

Was Doogie Howser Happy?

Early this year Channel 4 managed to create a modern freak show 'Child Genius', a hideous MENSA quiz for children. None of the 'cast' came out of it well, you were either screaming social services at the screen or hiding behind cushions cringing. If you were to ask the average person would you give money to a charity that helped gifted and talented children - quite honestly you'd be laughed at.

The reality is there is a charity doing just that previously the National Association for Gifted Children and renamed Potential Plus UK has been going for 47 years. If you did watch Child Genius you'd be forgiven for wondering what on earth the charity does but when it comes to G&T please put that bloody programme out of your mind! The fact is that gifted and talented children aren't the odd, lacking in social skills, with weird parents kids that your primed to think.

Children with higher intelligence are more likely to suffer depression and eating disorders as young as 6. Their brains do work differently so it's not that they can't socialise it's just they want to socialise with children on the same level as them. A high number of kids that schools can't cope with talk about killing themselves and the only option is to home school them.

Most of us of a certain age remember watching Wogan and seeing 'the freaky antique boy' that then turned out to be trans gender, Lauren. Basically there has never been any thought or sympathy towards the children that are afflicted by what is meant to be a gift. Both boys and girls having 'teenage' illnesses such as depression - it's not something to be laughed at. The team at Potential Plus not only support parents who have no where to go for help they also help with training teachers to deal with pupils that need different teaching, when help with changing schools comes up they're there and they give the chance for like minded kids to meet up and realise they're not alone.

This is a hard post to write, we knew Toby was gifted we didn't know what level we knew he had nothing wrong with him, nothing on the autism spectrum which is the first thing that pops into minds when they see a clever child. He recently had an independent assessment just to see how his brain worked. Toby is in the 99.99 percentile his IQ is 154, he is a genius. I could hear what he was being asked, and from a day lasting from 10am till 5pm I could answer about 2 questions, yes it says more about me I know.

I wouldn't wish this on any child, he can't play with friends at school, he runs around the playground so he 'looks busy' he loves going to parks to meet older kids that he can play with or other children that can play on his level but he has had dreams about killing himself, he's not a happy 7 year old, he's got more empathy than any adult I know (another side effect) as parents we feel like we have an egg that we can't drop and all we want is for him to be like 'the other children' and be happy not to analyse everything. We need help to find Toby the right school - thank goodness for Potential Plus because otherwise just how long do we leave him lonely and miserable.

So if you can see the importance of charities that deal with depression can you imagine how magnified it is to have help for vulnerable pre school kids that depression and eating disorders relish? I'm well aware how many children struggle to keep up at schools but how happy are they in the playground? how much does it effect there every thought? This is about tiny kids with brains that are doing their best to fit in tiny heads and somehow they miss being children, adult thoughts and sleepless nights - we should just be feeling proud of Toby instead he feels like a dirty secret we need to keep under wraps for fear of ridicule.

Potential Plus UK do heaps of research alongside amazing support for parents and children - I can't imagine how many lives they've saved - but they have - thank you.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Toby says.....

"I don't know what's going on but its very interesting.... hmmm interesting" Toby (age 6) on the Ashford Hijab by Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Seven Year Stitch

Well the October 18th can only mean one thing in the world of Boo, Toby's birthday. This year is one that feels slightly strange, age 7 in 2014 is like entering teenage hood and seven years is the same amount of time that we tried to get him here in the first place. 

Yesterday was my reminder of not only how long Thread Drawn by Tobyboo has been about but also what we went through to become parents to the real Toby. I know each year I bore anyone reading about our struggle and luck but maybe for some this is the first time hearing it all and in fact might be interested.... or I could as ever be talking to myself. 

If it wasn't for Toby I wouldn't be doing what I do, I started up Tobyboo as a hobby because I couldn't afford friends baby presents but had to make it work to earn me a living because after 7 years of not working due to disability what choice did I have?

I'm still disabled, I'm in a lot of pain but I am on a huge cocktail of meds that mean I can move and sew and walk - I consider myself so, so lucky - I am lucky. 

So this week it came out that the Welfare reform minster, Lord Freud, claimed disabled people are not worth minimum wage... not sure how to swear at that. Most people's perceptions of disability are 
a) something you're born with 
b) wheelchair 
c) it's physical 
d) if you can stand, see or hear you clearly aren't disabled. 
People need to be educated about what it means to be disabled and not go social media mad when they see someone get out of a wheelchair.
No one looks at me and thinks I'm disabled unless I'm in the wheelchair, if I use the stick most people think I've done something to my leg. Disability is massive umbrella which unfortunately means having to try harder than those that don't. As someone who was in full health before I work and try 10 times harder than I did before, I can't imagine what it's like to only know the struggle and discrimination all the time. The annoying thing is that as a self employed disabled person I do earn less than £2 an hour....

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Votes Were In....

Last week was a marvellous first for me I exhibited at the Museums Association conference and exhibition which was held at the rather majestical Wales Millennium Centre. Not exactly a trade show that buyers attend but felt it was an opportunity to meet museum folk all the same.

I pretty much was a soloist on the designer front but surrounded by some amazing gadgets and exciting tech that was more like magic to me; communicating paintings like something out of Hogwarts, apps that recognised images and could give you every ounce of info on the object in question and other apps that could give guides in the middle of nowhere.... I was all surrounded by such a lovely bunch people I'd do it again just for the fun of it!

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the museums association and yes of course there was a party to celebrate! Women 30 feet in the air doing synchronised dancing on curtains what else would yo expect at the Cardiff National Museum?! 

There were also 2 awards given out that were voted by the delegates that attended the event; best looking stand and best product. Now, bearing in mind how much money and gadgets the other stand holders had I didn't exactly have a shot, they were slick and techy and one even had  gorgeous looking pick n mix selection to entice and yet shockingly I won.
(me on the left there and Best Product went to Atlas AV with there amazing interactive magic table)

The following day I had such lovely comments from lots who had voted congratulating and telling me they had voted for me. I've not felt so proud in ages, so thank you voting types!

I know the competition within free embroidery artists is becoming greater, when I started I genuinely couldn't see anyone else doing it commercially and just because others use the same medium doesn't mean our work is the same - no one says to a photographer "I know someone that's like you" because they work with a camera. Anyway I've been getting bored of hearing from some people "oh I've seen artists that work like that" of course you have, I've seen lots of artists that draw with pencils and more than a dozen that use paint! Shocking I point is it gets soul destroying hearing things like that so last week was a fantastic one of recognition and I loved every second, well except the going on stage and photo part!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden

I am a lucky bunny - I've had commissions from some of the countries most amazing places and the latest client, was Kew Gardens.

The inspiration was not the stunning flora or majestic trees but a little known remedy garden new Kew Palace. The garden was a wealth of inspiration with old English sayings by each plant. I will say one of my favourites was "Welsh Onion; to increase thy sperme" but we decided to leave that one ....

Lychis Coronra 
 Hyssopus Officnals is 
 Allum Lily

The end result? a beautiful (even if I do say so myself) and original set of fine bone china and tea towel.

available from Kew Gardens and online here

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Disney (bad) Dreams

I love Disneyland but please, please stop using images like these. The reality is you queue up at certain points to see chosen character and some queues are over an hour; there are no chance meetings, random hugs etc it's not fair for kids to think this is what its like.
Two years ago I jabbered on about the first time we went to Disneyland Paris, how it lived up to the hype, the magic, the shimmers... blah blah blah well we've just come back from visit #3 not quite the same.

I won't lie this has nothing to do with the parks themselves this is to do with Disney Hotels. The thing is that 'Disney' should be the icing on the donut, no excuses they make enough money out of (mainly) kids and nostalgia and to staying in the land, staying in 'THE' hotel - the one at the park entrance, the one that looks like a sugar coated doll house, the one that costs an absolute fortune - that one.

When we went before we stayed in the Sequoia Lodge, lovely - 10 mins walk from the entrance and priced really well, next to a big lake, swimming pool, felt like you were in the cabin that the hunter that shot Bambi lived but still. We had no plans to go anywhere, well no money but decided that Toby really deserved it; he's been more like a stressed middle aged man and needed to start acting like a six year old so where better. Using his (ahem, yes his) savings we blew it all on less time, so only two nights staying at the Disneyland Hotel. What we imagined/were told/believed the hype was that you felt like a blinkin' Princess there, but after she met the Prince so you know - happy n all (birds changing the bed linen, mice doing the cleaning that sort of thing) no, not that sort of thing more characters in the hotel, stealing your breakfast, staff bending over backwards to make your child feel like they were special and not just one of billions and for this it costed £1000 more than the hotel we stayed in before.

The staff:
Disneyland Hotel: well they seemed to think that it was ok to ignore you while they jabbered on with their own conversation (3 times I got bored of being ignored in the end)
Sequoia Lodge: ok you had to wait a bit but crikey they were nice and helpful.

The lobby:
DH: yes, amazing - made you feel like you were in a very special place
SL: fine, trees, chip 'n' dale, Rockies sort of thing going - but not crazy special.

The room:
DH: I thought I'd gone into Secret Cinema version of some bad 80's film, you could take it for that in a bad/good way, but bathrooms that you thought a tramp had gone to first and showers that spray everywhere because they're rusty and loose - that ain't 5*.
SL: nice, fine - it was clean what I expected!

The breakfast:
DH: queue outside the restaurant, character with photographer in the lobby bit.
SL: queue outside the restaurant, character with photographer in the lobby bit.

Toby said at breakfast "I thought this was a fancy hotel? this is just a hotel, fancy would be characters coming around like the picture shows (one in the lift that said characters at breakfast) I give this 2 and a half stars, I give the other hotel (SL) 4 stars." THAT'S FROM A 6 YEAR OLD! was he happy, no more than he would be at home at that point no.

So I decided to leave it, he was ok when we got to the park but he started saying how he thought the special hotel was meant to be better and he preferred the Sequoia, after a bad shower and staring at the mould in the bathroom I thought I'd sneak off and moan to reception. After being ignored - twice I was at simmering point thinking how much it was and that all we wanted was for Toby to have an artificially happy time at Disney. I finally got to speak to someone, the reaction was bluntly "this is a 5* hotel" - "no, it really isn't its the same as the 3* over there"
"that is miles away this is just 'ere"
"no, that's 10 mins away at most"
"this is a five star hotel"
"yes you said that, (then I decided that maybe every fresh faced person checking in needed to hear this) IT'S THE SAME AS THE OTHER HOTELS ONLY DOUBLE THE PRICE!" 
The manager came out to shut me up
"what can I do madame?"
"well we're checking out in an hour so not much I suppose"
"how about I extend your checking out time till 4pm and have a surprise for your son, whats his favourite character?"
- he made it about making Toby happy, fine ok this could all be rescued. 
"right I'll arrange a present and balloons - and watch his face he will love it! if you make sure your out of the room between 1-2 I'll get it sorted"

I went away thinking just how surprised the boy will look and was happy.
Dave wasn't happy because lunch had to be paid for despite the travel agents saying we had vouchers for one main meal a day. So, after the £140 was spent in their restaurant I had the camera ready, we opened the door to... NOTHING not even our beds had been made.
I stormed downstairs to speak to Patrick the manager who didn't seem to know any Disney characters for a start, he apologised and said he'd get it ready for 3-4 well we were checking out at 4 so he'd have to. So we went off and came back at 3.50, same thing camera ready, the door was on the latch we were excited..... THE BEDS WERE BEING MADE!
Boiling and ranting point had reached - "oh yes I have his present here madame" - THIS ISN'T ABOUT PRESENTS THIS IS ABOUT WISHES AND SURPRISES! I shall not bore you with my very loud rant his answer was "this is a 5* hotel" for most of it. He gave Toby his present (a small Frozen doll set that I picked out for him, I should have picked the £100 castle) and said he had a bunch of balloons, well Toby liked a good balloon who doesn't - you'd think he'd get this...

well he got this...

not exactly 5* balloons eh? non.
Disneyland is a fantastic magical place that every child should get the chance to go to (I got to go age 30 the first time and felt like I was 5)  but unless you've stayed in another Disney hotel you think the overpriced Disneyland Hotel Paris is amazing but YOU GET THE SAME DEAL IN THE OTHER DISNEY HOTELS!
My tip would be to stay in either the Newport Bay or Sequoia Lodge and have a meal at Inventions which is the restaurant at the Disneyland Hotel, go see the lobby, the shop those bits are fancy BUT DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY STAYING THERE!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

10 x 10 Drawing the City of London

This is the second year that I've been invited to take part in Article 25's 10 x 10 auction. Article 25 globally provides shelter and housing. (25th article of the universal declaration of human rights housing and shelter is a basic human right - see)
This year the grid stretched from St Paul's down to the New Kent Road - my section was around Cannon Street (D2)

At every corner I had something completely different, Georgian house next door to modern curves, building, cranes.... so it made for one heck of a challenge.

To start with I decided to embroider on paper, but that just didn't work - then I did this...
the reaction from the husband was pretty silent so I knew that wasn't working then I cut both pieces up to create this...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Summer in the City

The summer holidays are upon us and so is the need to find as many free things to do as possible, this weeks spot was Archikids Festival more than anything its not that easy to say but what a find! Dotted around London (main spots being 30 St Mary's Axe, Broadgate, St Paul's and Leadenhall were fantastic creative activities for kids (half the adults were getting in on the act!). It was like Open House but for children.

Our first stop was the top of One New Change where drawing the skyline on transparent was the aim... hmmm I think I know this one.....!

(no, not like this!)

More like this

Next stop was the Gherkin, they had a Lego Gherkin being built and a sculpture to create! For the sculpture, the kids each had a windowed piece of card with slots and acetate to draw on, there were no pens when we got there so Toby decided to draw with the blue tape they had - genius! He did it all by himself and it stood out over the sea of faint drawn ones.

Yes, he was impressed!

It's like "Say Anything" (can't you just hear Peter Gabriel playing)

It's the Gherkin, see?

We also got a chance to spot the book benches with a cry of "where's the Harry Potter one?" each time and "What?! there isn't one!" I know I witter on about London a lot but they do so much for families (to be honest you really didn't need a kid to enjoy this one) how could I not?! Too many parents harp on about going to the coast and the country but they're missing so much that's happening half the time. Thank you London, you are rather marvellous and so much more entertaining than than pebbles! 

Friday, 11 July 2014


Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to meet Clem from Save Britain's Heritage she explained how their rather small but dedicated charity fought to - well ... what it says! One of the missions was trying to rescue London's Smithfield market from a (hideous) redevelopment. This beautiful but neglected Victorian building is one so many pass by but when you look at the details, the windows the shapes - it's just stunning and I was only to honoured to design a mug as a fundraiser for them.

(photo urban space management)

I look forward to the sympathetic evolution of this glorious building. To read all the details have a look at the SAVE site.