The merit of mistakes

Anyone who’s even been to one of my classes knows that, sometimes, often, I bang on about how mistakes are the only way we learn.

Well, I’ve just proved my own point and I’ll explain why.

Last week, at one of my favourite charity shops, I found some really beautiful vintage crewel wool. (I don’t know what that is, please explain someone?)

I thought it would be perfect for the bees and for the landscape pictures I’m teaching at The Brewhouse Theatre soon.

Today, working on Bee53, I thought I’d use some for the wings. Now, my logical brain knew it wouldn’t work, not THROUGH firmly felted wool – too tough, too dense.

Surprise, surprise, the yarn snapped- d’oh and duuuuh!!!

But look at the result…I love the way the wings are floating in the air.

Will I keep them like this?

Are they finished?

Can I recreate it?

Who knows, but it’ll be fun finding out.

So, children, adults, makers, artists etc – let’s make mistakes. Do share!


Taking time

Remember this book, “Do you have the time, Lydia?”

Well, today I am dog-tired.

No, that’s a silly expression – ‘cause my dog Charlie is completely full of energy, a little bit bonkers, and when he’s tired, he just sleeps (and wakes us up early).

But I am completely done in because of the many, many long exhausting hours of planning and admin for coordinating the next FIFTY BEES.

There’s still a huge mountain to climb to bring it all together but as all the next #beeartists have been sent information about their #bees, I’m going to make time for some self-care.

Time to restoke my fire.

Dog walking.

Hot bath.




Then back onto it tomorrow.

And what about you? How are you taking care of yourself?

A year ago, how time flies

It was a year ago yesterday that myself, Polly, Joy and Donna had a meeting at ACEarts to discuss the FIFTY BEES exhibition. We sat on the sofas, measured walls, talked and talked and decided that these three wonderful women would be called the beekeepers.


Well, with fifty artists to coordinate, it made sense to share out some of the work. Now, I look back at this picture with amazement.

We had no idea how it was going to work, whether the story of the bees would translate into an exhibition, whether anyone would be interested.

But, wow! It was wonderful. The fifty artists made such a wide variety of art, amazing responses to these incredible creatures.

But it wouldn’t have worked without the enthusiasm and keenness of them all as well as Nina and the team at the gallery.

Now, we’re gearing up for the next leg of the journey at Richard Jefferies Museum – can’t wait. Thanks everyone.




#vintagecontainer #bees #fiftybees #artists #somersetartist #opencall #interconnectedness

reason 1 to buy blackdogandgingercat needlefelt kits

So, to celebrate the upcoming blackdogandgingercat birthday, here’s the REASON TO BUY blackdogandgingercat Kits countdown….NUMBER 1

1.jpgOur appreciation, love and support of important charities such as SANE, as seen here in our #blackdog kit.

IMG_5378.jpgAnd in turn, the sales of all of the other kits help to support my other work alongside charities such as ACEarts, MIND, and Somerset Wildlife Trust, as seen in the ongoing FIFTY BEES project.


So, thank you everyone who’s ever bought one of my kits – you are wonderful.


The last day of #SeptTextileLove – where did September go to? So, this is for hero.

And I’m sharing with you the work of Jenni Dutton, an artist who uses many different media but for the dementia darnings used textiles.

The exhibition, which took place at ACEarts earlier in 2017, just took my breath away. If you ever get a chance to see this work, do.

They are at the same time moving, complex, confusing, uplifting and sorrowful. 

When looking at the pieces, one gets lost in ideas of technique and subject, by the subtlety of the colours, the looseness of the stitch, the person making the work and the person in the picture – and of course, ideas of family and our own mortality. 

Incredible work and I can honestly say it’s one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

And Jenni? Well, she’s rather lovely too 😊😊😊 as if that’s any surprise!

Thanks Jenni for your inspirational work.

OPENING TODAY – Bees: the interconnectedness of all things at Bruton School for Girls 

The girls worked so beautifully hard and enthusiastically to produce a fabulous collaborative installation.

Three days, 80 plus students and a handful of staff produced a whole host of British bees which are now hanging in the gallery at the Bruton School for Girls.

‘Taught by Lydia Needle, Bruton School for Girls students will sculpt tiny, lifesize British bees in wool, representing just a few of the 260 varieties left in theUK. 

The bees become artworks as part of a whole school installation in the school’s gallery. To follow up this work, the students will research the habitats and ecosystems, the flora and fauna that rely on bees, to create companion artworks. Our objective is to raise awareness of the diversity of bees in Britain and to spread the story – using art as a medium – as far as possible.’ SAW guide 2017. 

Watch out – long post from a very full day, fab! 

Yesterday was a day in three amazing parts.

The first part involved doing needlefelt landscape experiments with residents at Wessex House Care home – just love these pieces.

Great British tones in great British Wool.

I’d like to include this as Seam Collective #SeptTextileLove prompt for today which is ‘happy accidents’ because I’m a very keen exponent of the idea of experimentation, play, accidental discovery and making mistakes – this is how we learn.

What’s the expression….”A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” —- so true.

So let’s play, I say!!!

Then I met up with Donna Vale and we trundled off to Frome’s Black Swan Art to see the exhibitions there but first lunch and surprise meet up with David Smith – much talking and laughing.

Then onto the ‘Hinterland’ exhibition by Gladys Paulus.

It’s pretty hard to get across what an amazing exhibition this is. On a purely craft level, Gladys’ work is second to none – the pieces are truly beautifully made; as a felter, I am always amazed.

But this exhibition is so much more. It is so, so moving – the pieces have a real presence and I know I will HAVE to go back for another look, or two. The pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll share a few more.
Such presence,

So moving,

And resonance.

If you have a chance – get there.

And the final part of my day was at @tmac_taunton with an Arts and Health Speed Networking event!!! Whooohooo!

There I met a whole host of people and ‘networked’, oh yes I did. We talked and learnt about a whole range of arts and health providers and the links that are being made between them.

I also talked FIFTY BEES to a few people too!