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It seems that a lot of the last couple of weeks has been about creating cards. As well as the Fathers’ Day card I showed in the last post, I was also asked to make a first birthday card…

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…and a birthday card and anniversary card. For the birthday card I decided to revisit one of the experiments I did with some Angelina fibres, rubber stamps and an iron back in February 2012 and still have hanging about! I just added some simple gold herringbone and straight stitches. The Angelina is so blingy that I think less is definitely more.

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The anniversary card is one of the dozens of prints I took from Chris Gray’s huge wooden printing block collection when she led a workshop for our Embroiderers’ Guild back in 2016.

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I used just three threads in shades of green and purple to fill in the design with chain stitch, satin stitch, fishbone stitch, detached chain stitch and of course, french knots.

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Having had all these to put together, as well as one for my own dad, is partly why the pulled thread I had planned for the Kew memory Journal hasn’t progressed very far. The weather also hasn’t helped as I’m stitching in cream on cream…

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… and good daylight is a must. It just hasn’t been nice enough to sit outside and stitch very often.

Once I’m in the swing of counting I find pulled thread work has a very pleasing rhythm but unfortunately it seems that I’ve just got settled when at least one member of the family needs something – usually feeding!

I wanted a heavily raised stitch to echo the raked gravel of the Japanese Zen garden where Chihuly’s Niijima Floats were exhibited and I think the Diagonal Raised Band I chose does that very successfully.

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The picture has been transferred onto silk with transfer medium and will be stitched into the top corner.

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Now all I need is some decent light and a family who can feed themselves…!

I bit the bullet! I finally plucked up the courage to steam and cut the canvas round my Sue Hawkins needlebook and once that was done, the rest just fell into place. The waste canvas folded back a lot flatter than I thought it would and blanket stitching the felt down was a breeze.

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The rest of the felt gave me four internal pages and a finish.

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It feels very odd to have a roomy book to leaf through looking for needles instead of a scrap of felt half the size of a credit card!

Another finish was this broken vintage brooch…

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…to which I added some 3D beading on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene.

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The beading was set into the long channel down the spine of the brooch and I set cats eye beads instead of diamantes into the cup shaped settings.

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A jump ring and a gold plated chain completed the transformation into what my middle one calls the ‘fancy pea pod’ pendant!

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It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

The other finish is another upcycled pendant created from a section of broken vintage bracelet and a single vintage earring.

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This one is available here in my Etsy shop.

The fresh start is the third of my memory journals. Now Tattershall has been put to bed I can concentrate on the Kew journal, remembering one of the hottest days of the year last July when I visited the Chihuly glass exhibition with my son. I’ve completed the cover, another stitched on paper piece which I blogged about back in last August but now I can focus on the Kew pieces rather than being distracted by having all three on the go as I did last summer. So here it is ready to be filled.

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The first piece is based on an image of the Niijima Floats in the Japanese Garden. Hopefully I will have something to show by next week!

Finally finished, thanks to all your help, advice and ideas. I settled on a frame of brick fabric over an interfacing core to finish off the canvaswork bricks and a touch of Inktense to intensify the colours. It’s tacked in place here…

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…and slip stitched in place here.

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A closure of some grosgrain ribbon printed with maple leaves and a vintage snap was the final finishing touch, and I can now proudly present the Tattershall Castle Memory Journal.

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Unlike the Anderby Creek Journal this one is folded as a triptych with the bollock purse in the middle.

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And the reverse. The ribbon is stitched to the two folds and passes under the micro quilt which is press studded in place.

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I’m delighted to have finished it and am ready to move onto the third in the series – the Kew Gardens Chihuly Exhibition memory journal. I just have to find the black hole that my evenweave fabric has disappeared into first…

I also had fun making a Fathers’ Day card for a friend’s dad. I really object to the tired old football, beer, cars tropes that get trotted out every year, especially as neither my dad nor my husband are into any of those and neither is my friend’s dad. But he does love the Lake District, so I gathered some scraps of hand dyed fabric and started to experiment.

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A little bit of ironing later and I had this:

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It was a good way of showcasing the different textures as well as the variations in colour and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.

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It went down very well apparently, so another satisfied customer!

Bullion roses first. In fact this is quite an old finish (early lockdown rather than later!) but one I haven’t blogged about at all. I began another tiny locket insert on silk carrier rod well before last Christmas, using silk buttonhole twist to make bullion knot roses.

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It stalled as other projects took priority but finally at the end of April I decided to crack on and get it finished.

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I was aiming for an asymmetric look but without it appearing to be unfinished and I am very pleased with the result which you can find here in my Etsy shop.

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Back to the Tattershall Castle memory journal. ‘It Rained’ is completed and I am really pleased with it. First the split stitch leaves and couched perle thread stalks.

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Then I added the raindrops. Flat backed teardrop shaped beads with an iridescent coating. They were the perfect finishing touch and I think this might be my favourite of all of the Tattershall pieces.

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This meant that I was now ready to assemble the memory journal, put it away and move onto the third one, documenting my visit to Kew last summer. I blanket stitched a border around the bollock purse…

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…and stitched into it with tiny stab stitches to attach it to the page.

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Everything else went on really smoothly but then I came to the canvaswork piece…

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Unfortunately I trimmed it really close to the edge and this has given me no leeway now I need to stitch it in place. I’m pretty sure that even if I try to invisibly stitch it down the handling will be enough to loosen the last thread on each edge and in any case, I don’t want the spiky bare canvas as an edging.

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So near and yet so far! So, dear readers, any thoughts, ideas or inspiration? All suggestions very gratefully received!

I’m not exactly sure where the last week has gone. A lot of it gobbled up in household chores and eBay/Etsy listings, I suspect. I know it’s important not to get obsessed by what we have or haven’t done given the continuing situation but I am a bit irritated with myself that I haven’t progressed further with my stitching projects.

The last Tattershall piece, ‘It Rained’, has had a few more veins added.

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I’ve also had what I modestly consider a genius idea to attach the micro quilt so you can still see the back. I stitched on press studs!

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And then discovered it wasn’t centred… :o(

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The canvaswork needlebook is also finished. Well, the canvaswork bit of it is and I also made the closure cords.

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Next is the making up and I’ve stalled on that. I know I’m not alone in this but why is it that we so often baulk at the finishing off stage of a project? I really need a needlebook too, so you’d think that would give me the incentive to crack on and get it finished, but no, I’m dragging my heels like my youngest when reminded that she has flute practise to do instead of WhatsApping her friends.

I’ve made a few more bits of upcycled jewellery as well. A silver 1970s coin pendant, vintage carved bone disc and single silver earring…

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…became this:

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Available here in my Etsy shop.

I also restored a lovely 1950s diamante bib necklace section with a replacement diamante (the small blue one in the middle) and some reclaimed chain…

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…to make it into this:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

In fact, not too shabby for a week’s work, I suppose!

 

 

The last Tattershall piece is underway and coming out exactly as I wanted, even though I wasn’t sure what I did want! I’d set my heart on using a transfer I’d made from a photo in the booklet of some of Tattershall’s bricks but it was what to do with it that had me baffled. Then I thought back to the first visit with my youngest and I immediately recalled the rain storm which we sat out under one of the trees by the shop. Leaves and raindrops, I remembered and it all fell into place.

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The background is some more of the batik I did at our last Guild meeting and the tiny leaves are cut out of some hand painted fabric backed with stabiliser.

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I’m stitching them down with split stitch veins in fine silk before I add the raindrops.

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I’ve also done a fair bit more on the Bright Pyramids needle book. The double dark blue line is the spine and I’m already onto the last hearts and flowers panel. After that I just have four more rows of long-legged cross stitch:  two vertical and two horizontal along the whole width to do before making it up.

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Am still swearing but less often, which must mean I am improving.

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I made a little pair of upcycled butterfly earrings recently which sold to a friend almost as soon as I’d posted about them on Instagram.

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I then had a lot of fun turning a card booklet which had contained a free sample tea bag into bespoke packaging for them!

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The felt on the left is to cushion them when the booklet is shut.

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Contact details on the back and a ribbon attached to the spine with a miniature paper fastener as a closure.

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A very satisfying little make.

 

 

The pesky last Tattershall piece is still not working out so I started to attach some of the already completed finished pieces to the accordion book in the hope that they would help inspiration to strike. The front cover is glued as it’s paper with a bit of stabilising calico behind.

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Then I added more stitching to the batik bricks in order to sew it to the brick fabric background.

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But still nothing, and I’m not sure how to attach the bollock purse or the canvaswork either, so that has ground to a halt. So I decided to do something completely different and start one of the two Sue Hawkins kits that have been my lock-down treat. The first one is the Bright Pyramid needlebook, purely because I need one and am too lazy to design my own!

There have been a few counting issues and associated bad language, but I’m just over half way through the design and it’s starting to come a bit more easily as bits of the pattern start to repeat.

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I know that the first two lines are not quite long enough – that was an issue I didn’t realise until I had stitched quite a lot of the hearts and flowers band. There was a lot of bad language at that point… I’m working up the enthusiasm to unpick the ends and restitch them.

On the plus side, I really like the braided effect of the long-legged cross stitch bands.

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And if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve just become the besotted owner of two more vintage hand cranked sewing machines.

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Sadly one of our elderly neighbours died recently (not Covid) and over the last few days it has been quite upsetting to hear relatives clearing the entire contents of her home into a skip. But with charity shops shut and no boot sales, what else do you do with the remains of a life? However, I was able to rescue, among a few other bits, these incredible machines. As both were locked I had no idea what would be inside until I got them home. It was like opening a treasure chest.

It was the fantastic inlaid but badly damaged case that alerted me to this one:

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The base is damaged as well, but I’m sure I can sort it out. No idea of the maker but I suspect it’s late 1800s, early 1900s in date. And it has mother of pearl flowers inlaid into the base plate!

And as the case was very simple, I almost left this stunning Singer in the skip! Opening the case was a revelation – the chrome is immaculate, the decals and bright and clean and it even has a Singer tin of bobbins etc. in the base compartment.

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We are lucky enough to have a fantastic local sewing machine repairers and once things are closer to normal, this one will be serviced and has already been claimed by my daughter.

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I still need to clean them and look at them properly, but I alternate between elation at how beautiful they are and horror that they very nearly went into landfill.

The last brick piece is on hold. I sort of know what I want to do with it but the details of how are still a bit sketchy. Instead, I’ve started attaching some of the completed pieces to the accordion book and am awaiting inspiration…

So back to small projects. I found some printed motifs obviously cut from a larger piece of fabric the other day, but as usual I have no idea where they came from. They are the perfect size for cards though and as I have a Cancerian friend and one of the prints was a crab, I decided to embellish it with stitch and make it into a card for her birthday.

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I used some wadding behind to give a bit of three-dimensionality to the body sections when I outlined them in back stitch. I used split stitch down the middle of each leg and claw section, french knot eyes and Pekinese stitch and an eyelet across the back of the shell.

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Then I moved on to a kantha sample for a workshop that was postponed from March but which I’m still hoping to teach at some point.  It’s made up from calico, a batik cotton print and twinkly organza layered together and stitched with a variegated stranded cotton.

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I like to put an applique shape in the middle and work the kantha stitching around it and this time it was a leaping fish.  The batik was spotty so I followed the lines of spots with my stitching which gave it a watery effect that I was hoping for.

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The last little project was inspired by a fantastic tutorial for stitched ori-nui shibori on the V&A Museum’s Instagram account. I didn’t have any indigo but I did have a small amount of avocado, which was very disappointing on this scrap of calico:

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And some very out of date saffron which worked much better. I love this and wish I’d used it on the first piece instead of the avocado.

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And it even sort of overdyed some pale indigo dyed sheeting I had, if you look very hard.

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One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

First I added the couched outline in dark green. I always find this part of the process a bit nerve wracking. On one hand, the couching neatens everything up but on the other hand, I always worry that I’ve chosen the wrong colour and it will end up having too much or too little contrast.

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I used couching rather than split stitch for the folds of the purse as it gives a smoother line and french knots represent the knobbly bits on the edges of the belt loop and purse lid.

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Then it was time to add the highlights in cream split stitch – I was so nervous that it wouldn’t look right! The highlights on the yellow knobbly bits are done in silk rather than crewel wool. This is another very small piece worked in a 4 inch hoop and the wool was just too thick.

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It took a while before I was happy with the highlights on the purse lid and then there were just the yellow dots on the belt loop to add.

I’m really pleased with it as a representation of the original design.

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And it means that there is only one Tattershall piece left to create – back to the bricks!

 

A Purse.

In the early fifteenth century Tattershall Castle passed to Ralph, the third Baron Cromwell, who became Treasurer of England in 1433, prompting a serious upgrade to the castle. In many places, including all over the huge fireplaces, he included the image of a medieval purse to indicate his status and the source of his wealth and good fortune.

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This type of purse is sometimes called a ‘bollock purse’ for obvious reasons – this one clearly says mine is bigger than yours…!

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Much more modest.

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The purpose of the pieces in the memory journal is to spark off a memory or story linked to that day and the purse does that in a number of ways. First as a symbol of the powerful man who created the castle we see today, but it also reminds me of the second visit we made to see a medieval living history encampment and tournament a plaisance.

Walking round the encampment, I spotted a lady embroidering and we soon got chatting. Among other things she had stitched and completed the baby leaf tailed dragon from Tanya Bentham at Opus Anglicanum and made him into a cushion. So I decided to stitch the purse in the same style to remind me of our chat as well.

First I tweaked the above photo to emphasise the contrast before turning it into a pattern.

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Then couched and laid Bayeux stitch in crewel wool for the body of the purse.

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Knobs.

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And the belt loop and edge of the top flap. I like the way the diapered effect really shows up in the strong sunlight.

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And finally the detailing at the bottom of the belt loop.

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Next stage is to couch round the edges and add the details with split stitch.

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