About Jane

I began playing with PaintShop Pro back with Version 7, before it was taken over by Corel. I used it to edit photos for my cross stitch website, Coal House Designs, a little family business begun in 2001.

Unfortunately in 2005 when I was told that arthritis had worn out my thumb joint and I had to stop stitching I couldn’t face designing and not ever stitching, and so Coal House Designs went into retirement. It was a huge blow; my disability put extra strain on my little joints and wore them out quickly. I found digital scrapbooking a great replacement, a little kinder on the hands and learned a whole lot about image resolution and taking digital photographs. That knowledge would have been invaluable in my cross stitch career because many of the photographs I took were way too small to show off the designs properly!

Photographs From My Knee

Ancaster Church 2006

Ancaster Church 2006

Digital photography was a great boon for me. I could balance the camera on my knee, or any surface, to take photos by looking through the viewfinder at the back. I managed a few good photos for digital scrapbooking before illness kept me at home. My photography diminished as there’s not a lot of interest to snap around my house.

Except that’s not really true is it?

I have a real fascination with daily life from years ago; a TV programme called Back In Time For Dinner on the BBC reawakened my interest with its detail of the food we ate and events and gadgets of the time. I’ve been working on my Family History for a few years too and always I want to know more.

Ali Edwards agrees and says, “Tell me more. Tell me the reason why. Tell my why this photo is meaningful to you. Tell me something I can’t know by looking at the photos.

Tell me why you are taking the time to record this moment, this day, this period of time, this photo. Tell me what and who you’re thankful for and who makes you laugh best of all.”

I don’t live the most interesting life but it’s all mine. Maybe in 50 years, or 100 years if my projects survive, someone will be fascinated by how I lived, the daily details that make up life in the 20th and 21st centuries.


I was inspired by the #myselfiescrapbook challenge in April 2015, and it was a great way to get started with photography and journaling again. This final post by Julie tells you all about it and how you can still take part. You can see my contributions in this category link #myselfiescrapbook.

Over the Summer of 2015 I took part in Find Your Voice from rukristin and I can highly recommend it. It’s the first online class I’ve taken where I haven’t been disappointed, and I’ve taken a few in my time on the web. You can find some of my pages here on the blog under Find Your Voice 2015.

I am also rather taken with Becky Higgins’s Project Life™, a method I wasn’t interested in trying before. However, I have trouble with standard page sizes like 12 x 12 inches or even 8 x 8 inches because albums become heavy and unwieldy for someone with my hand problems. So I’ve sort of adapted it into pages that are 7 x 5 inches instead – Seven By Life™ – and these I can also have printed as photo books.

I intend to create stuff to use; papers are one of my favourites to make. I find inspiration strikes at unusual times – 2am in the morning and in my mind’s eye I saw the General Election 2015 kit! That was great fun to make – and if you can overcome political loyalties the papers are great for any occasion.

I Love Poldark Cross Stitch Design | Coal House Designs

Cross Stitch Design | Coal House Designs

When I’m not playing in PaintShop Pro then I do a bit of cross stitch design. Yes, I am finally over my sadness at being physically unable to stitch and have dusted off some old designs and reopened Coal House Designs.

I have to say that one of my favourite designs is this I Love Poldark coaster.

Who, what, where? Cornwall, handsome man, red-haired beauty, tin mining and skulduggery!