Journalling with Abby Monroe 13th July 2019

Image credit Abby Monroe

Image credit Abby Monroe

image credit Abby Monroe

image credit Abby Monroe

Image credit Abby Monroe

Image credit Abby Monroe

A snippet of EdieRoseAshley’s beautiful botanical dye journal

A snippet of EdieRoseAshley’s beautiful botanical dye journal

A dye journal by  EdieRoseAshley

A dye journal by EdieRoseAshley

My botanical journal; this page with a poppy in remembrance of my Great Uncle who had died just a few days before.

My botanical journal; this page with a poppy in remembrance of my Great Uncle who had died just a few days before.


Remembering a sunny Spring day with my Mum and nieces. I was anxious about mum’s forthcoming operation.

Remembering a sunny Spring day with my Mum and nieces. I was anxious about mum’s forthcoming operation.

Watercolours in ceramic palettes.

Watercolours in ceramic palettes.

Abby Monroe is coming to the studio next weekend (Saturday 13th July) to teach a blissful day of journalling. We are going to learn how to make our own paper journals (with stitched binding) and decorate the pages however we like with old papers, stamps, fabric and tracing paper, adding little pockets for pressed flowers and other found treasures. Abby will talk to us about the benefits of journalling and how we can try to fit a little bit of slow creativity into our busy days. With everything available digitally now it is so lovely to hold a beautiful paper journal bulging with favourite scraps of fabrics and little notes from loved ones; even shopping and to do lists are nice to keep and will one day inform social history.

I think the word ‘journal’ is a little intimidating. It alludes to creative arty types writing in the wee hours; endless pages of beautiful script and thoughtful prose. But actually a journal is just a sketch book or a notebook, filled with things you want to remember. Whether that’s bread and bananas from the shops tomorrow or the way your little girl mumbled something sweet in her sleep.

Prettying up your notebook and holding onto things you find and love is an easy way to incorporate some creativity in your life every day. An easy way to slow down, think about your day and plan your week. I have lots of journals, still on the go now. I have a botanical journal full of pressed flowers that I started in 2016, a sketchbook (or two) full of embroidery designs and a little book I made from the post-it notes I used to quickly scrawl funny, or cute, things my family has said over the years. The latter is very basic but quite sentimental to me now as I have been adding to it for ten years.

A favourite ever gift was the exquisite book hand made for me by a friend who wanted to treat me when I started The Stitchery ‘because you always send post to make other people smile and I thought you should have some happy post too”. The pages are constructed of beautiful handmade rag paper, quality watercolour sheets and even old lace handkerchiefs. There are tiny pockets and envelopes on some of the pages and thoughtful little snippets from old books and magazines. It has its own creamy antique linen cover and a little pen made from an old twig. It is divine and so very special to me.

I am so excited about making a new little journal and I have been trying to decide what I will use it for. There are so many uses, but I am favouring:

  • A little book of very favourite recipes from friends and family together with little illustrations or tiny photographs* of the ingredients and finished dish.

  • A record of this year’s holiday; brief notes on what we did, what craft project I was working on, little photographs of the scenery, receipts from cafes and cute things my nieces said.

  • A record of craft projects; dated, with pattern details, colour palettes and snippets of fabric, threads and yarn used or considered. I could write where I was sitting, what I was watching and what the weather was like as I worked. Bullet points of my thoughts rather than huge longhand missives.

  • A ‘mood board’ book’; little collections on a theme, just because. Wildflowers or trees would be a lovely topic and there is lots of inspiration in Castle Ashby.

  • A little book of colour; gatherings and found items with separate little journals for each colour. I quite fancy making a sepia-themed book full of old paper collages with antique photographs, little sepia sketches and gathered nature finds. In one of my first art classes I painted a little sepia barn in a field and I rather need somewhere to keep it.

  • A dye journal; inspired by EdieRoseAshley at a botanical dyeing workshop she taught last week. Rosie shared her beautiful dye journal and with its snippets of dyed fabric and notes on colour recipes, I am totally going to start my own. Too beautiful for words. (I’ve included a couple of pictures above.)

Come and join us if you can. There will be lots of shared ideas and inspiration; papers, string, prints and washi tape. Don’t worry if your handwriting isn’t the prettiest, I have rubber stamps, typewriters and old letraset transfers to play with! We will be cutting up old books, newspapers and antique documents and creating pages on which to write and draw.

Book here; the course price includes a full day of tuition and all of the papers and materials you need to create and start your own journal. There will also be a delicious two-course lunch provided by Castle Ashby Deli with plenty of tea, cake and fruit to keep us refreshed throughout the day. There is ample parking and the Castle Ashby grounds are beautiful to walk around at the end of the day if you need some fresh air. It is the loveliest way to spend a Saturday.

Hope to see you then - have a wonderful week!

Nicki xx

*there are lots of ways to easily print pictures from instagram and I have a lovely portable printer than makes teeny tiny photograph stickers for my journals.