Make Time To Knit – Envelope #11

mixed-media envelope with knitting and pom-poms

I still have a bit of a love / hate relationship with knitting. The beauty of hand-knitted garments often astounds me and I love how warm and comforting they are to wear. However, almost as soon as I’ve cast on I want it all to be finished. I knit slowly, and my stitches are tight on the needles, my jaw often clenched. May be because there are so many other things I want to make and I just don’t have the patience it requires. I also get frustrated with losing my place in the pattern and having to count stitches and rows over and over again….is it just me?

The main fabric of this envelope came from a jumper I did actually have the patience to knit. I wore it almost constantly for about 5 years, until the elbows completely wore through. Then it was recycled and made into numerous brooches & purses. I really love the purple heather colour of it. The brighter pink is from a jumper I’m (supposed to be) knitting just now (and have been for 1 year and 3 months so far)…and probably will be for a very long time to come!


15cm wide by 23.7cm in height (including the pom-poms)


Recycled felt jumper, wool, old knitting magazine page, embroidery thread & safety pins


knitting, chain-stitch embroidery, pom-pom making, hand stitch.

If I’ve done a ridiculously poor job of convincing you to ‘make time to knit’ you might want to take a look at this article which explains the many benefits of knitting has for your body & mind. See, it really is good for you!

Take a peep here to see more of my mixed -media envelopes.


Warmest Wishes – Envelope #10

laing embroidered envelope

Warmest Wishes (c) 2014 Julia Laing

Warmest Wishes

I want to convey my warmest wishes to you… also, I was thinking about staying warm in these chilly days of early Spring. Often when I sew, my hands are freezing. Sitting still so long is no good for the circulation! While I was making this my hands got so cold that it made sewing on the crochet embellishments very tricky indeed but I’m not complaining –  it was also great fun! I used one of my Gran’s old crochet hooks, which I inherited from her more than 20 years ago. She would have approved of the bright scarlet. She was never seen without her red lipstick .


Width 14.6cm Height 15cm


Hand-embroidery and crochet on silk and vintage knitting magazine paper.



Help I Am Lost – Envelopes #7 #8 & #9

mixed media art

My submission for the Here We Are exhibition at Little Ox Gallery in Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh.

There was an open call for submissions by the Little Ox gallery, which I found out about after it was shared on Facebook. The idea was to produce artworks from old Ordnance Survey maps, provided by the gallery. It was billed as a fun exhibition so I thought, why not have a go!


The map theme immediately threw up several ideas to me and I began working them out in my sketchbook.I had a rough idea that I’d like to group several envelopes together. Lost was the one I began working on first. I’ll admit I’ve felt lost many a time in my life but glad to report that more recently I seem to be finding my bearings…'lost' mixed-media envelope

Next was Help. Rather than stitch through the heavy card, I decided to embroider the word on to cotton first and then apply it to the envelope.

'help' mixed-media envelope

Last of the 3 was I Am. This was the most troublesome part. I tried out a few different styles and sizes of envelope before I plumped for this one. (There’s every chance some of them will resurface as something completely different over the next few weeks…watch this space!) The placement of the words was tricky – I found it hard to make it work as part of the overall design, as they’re quite small but I suppose that means people just have to look a bit closer, which can’t hurt.

'I Am' mixed-media envelope

I liked the abstract design of the streets and buildings on the maps and highlighted areas with watercolour to make a feature of it.

When they were all done I spent what seemed like forever arranging them and rearranging them, wondering how to display them together to make a pleasing composition that actually made sense, with the writing flowing naturally. As it turned out I arranged them in the same way as the first sketch I made and already had a frame just the right size, which was a stoke of luck!Here We Are poster

The exhibition opens this Friday at 7pm and will be on throughout March. Very eager now to see how everyone else has transformed their maps…




Posting Mail Art

2014-02-25 16.18.35

Earlier, in between rain showers, I walked round to the post box… Finally I took the plunge and posted off my submission to Mail Me Art 4 . Hope it arrives safely!

It’s a while since my postcard was finished. To begin with I had mixed feelings about it and wasn’t even sure whether or not to send it. I even ordered a replacement post card so I could try again but after putting it out of sight for a few days I’ve come round to it again and like it more… All the frustrations involved in making the artwork clouded my judgement but it didn’t take long to forget about that and see it with more objectivity.

The written embroidery was chiefly what was annoying me. It was so hard to sew through the stiff painted paper that the writing doesn’t flow like my own hand-writing but on reflection I don’t think that’s important at all. More important is the sincerity with which it was written…so that’s it & that’s me.

What I do like about it is that the letter looks a bit like a little brightly glowing house, lighting up the darkness.

In my imagination, the patches of fabrics I added around the envelope are fireworks.

envelope collage

(c) Julia Laing Yours Sincerely Envelope Collage


Envelopes Project #6 Hello

mixed-media envelope

(c) Julia Laing 2014

Measurements – 14.7cm wide,17.8 in height

Materials – Paper from vintage knitting magazines, silk ,cotton,embroidery thread, mother of pearl buttons.

Hello…thinking about parts of letter writing, in this case, the salutations. For this simple message greeting I used a back to basics, pared down monochrome colour scheme . The word itself was sewn onto cotton by hand using chain stitch.

The word craft was cut out and applied to the paper interior of the envelope as a playful hint to the process involved in its making.


Envelopes Project #5 Reduce Tension

mixed media envelope

(c) Julia Laing 2014

Measurements – 15.5cm wide, 19cm in height.

Materials – Used paper from vintage knitting magazines, hand-dyed silk, cotton, embroidery thread, vintage buttons and safety pin.

I enjoyed being playful with the words; some are cut from old knitting magazines and others are hand-embroidered. The phrase ‘reduce tension‘ came to mind as I started to work on this envelope. Some people knit to relax but I’ve always been a very tense knitter, so ‘reduce tension at end of row‘ made sense to me. The word row has a couple of meanings and it can also be read as ‘to make up reduce tension at end of row’. I like that whoever views it will read something different from it, depending on what they’re looking for.

Don’t think the colour and tone of the green works too well as the writing is not very distinct. If I was doing it again I would use a darker colour to make it clearer to read.



Envelopes Project Catch Up – #1, #2, #3 & #4

I think I mentioned that I was going to restart a project, that never really got off the ground, from last year – that is, to make 100 mixed-media envelopes, with paper and fabric.

The reason I’m giving it another go is that I think a longer-term project will help me satisfy some of my creative urges and help me develop my personal work. I want to look at ideas to do with communication and craft and the envelopes seem a good vehicle for these explorations.

My aim is to explore different techniques so I can improve my skills, but just as importantly, I want to create a routine, where I sit at my desk and work regularly, so the work flows.

Although this was the first envelope I made, I’ve had the idea on the back-burner for years, so have a few idea bubbling away…

So here’s a catch-up on the Envelopes from last year.

Envelope #1 – Fresh Start

Envelope Fresh Start

Materials – cotton, vintage printed linen table napkin, thread.

Measurements – Currently, I’ve mislaid this envelope but will update when it reappears.

A bright, bold, optimistic message to celebrate a new year with a fresh start and a new project. Features hand stitching and the piping emphasizes the construction and shape.

Envelope #2 Now Do It

Envelope 3

Measurements – 14.8cm wide 17.8cm high

Materials – Paper, buttons, recycled diary pages

Typing, collage, paper-cutting & stitch. An internal monologue of negatives and ‘reasons’ not to, needs a bit of personal advice to help combat the resulting procrastination – ‘Now Do It’.

Envelope #3 Wish You Were Here

envelope 3

Measurements – 22.7cm wide 18.3 cm high

Materials – Acrylic paint on brown paper envelope, fabric, postage stamps, thread, glass seed beads.

This is a bright and exuberant envelope, which has been made to look like a closed envelope, with lines of hand-stitching to create the flap and corners.  It began with me arranging the stamps on the envelope and then adding paint and then deciding on the wording, which was cut out with a sharp knife. Mainly I was just concerned with creating an interesting composition and play of colours on the surface. The bright colours look exotic to me and are a sharp contrast to the muted colours of home in Scotland.

Envelope #4 – Trouble Brewing

envelope 4

Measurements – 15cm wide, 16.3cm high

Materials – Paper, ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, buttons, thread, scraps of older drawings and fabric.

Started in 2013 and finished on 5th Jan.

This was the final one from last year, begun when I was starting to feel unsettled, low and just a it lost, last Summer. Finished this year, with the addition of black and yellow, which I think create a disturbing feel.

I’ve finished another couple this year, which I’ll blog about soon.


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