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I had a very enjoyable day at Scunthorpe Arts Showcase at Heslam Park last Sunday and as it quietened down in the afternoon, I cracked on with the stitching for the locket insert I showed you last week. The rose bush now has daisies underneath with petals no more than 2mm long.

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The inside of the locket was a bit shabby so I lined it with more of the silk carrier rod. It has such a luscious lustre.

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I also played with some needle felting to upcycle a silvertone pendant blank. One of the children said it reminded them of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ picture, which was very pleasing! The background is a mixture of merino wool and silk and the spirals are tiny scraps of hand spun crewel wool.

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We also had a family day out in Filey, on the Yorkshire coast.

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It is a delightful unspoilt seaside town with the most amazing stretch of sand with rock pools at the north end. It yielded enough treasures to keep me happy.

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I’m particularly pleased with the fossil shell I spotted in a rock pool.

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And the heavily crazed piece of pottery.

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We were entertained by the cutest hermit crabs in the rock pools, enjoyed great fish and chips and had a fabulous day out.

It seems odd to be thinking about Christmas in the middle of the summer, but I’m currently in the middle of creating unique upcycled jewellery for various Christmas markets I’m booked into.

First, another felted spiral brooch. I have no idea where the initial felted dreadlock came from for this – it’s an interesting mix of colours that I wouldn’t have thought of putting together. IMG_20190718_220121.jpg

Once rolled up and stitched I liked it even more.

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Finished with a beaded edging that echoes the colours of the felt.

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Then with the boro and sashiko work I’ve been doing recently I had the idea of doing a tiny piece with fragments of indigo dyed fabric and a single strand of silk to go into a vintage silver tone brooch. The needle gives an idea of scale – the whole oval is the size of the pad of my thumb.

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Finished and mounted in the brooch.

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It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

Lastly, another locket insert on silk carrier rods. This originally had a trellis behind it but it was too fussy and the trellis looked like it was hanging in midair, so I carefully unpicked it and am going for just the rose bush.

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Still not completely happy with it but it’s getting there. I’m definitely going to try and do more with the boro though.

I missed almost all of the June meeting with Gilli Theokritoff at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild as I was working that day, but I did make it through the door in time to lay my hands on the kit for the afternoon project which was stitching samples of hitomezashi sashiko, which are more like all over patterns than big designs. I didn’t manage to start the kit until I went down to London to visit my eldest a fortnight ago but it was perfect to stitch on the train.

The difference with Gilli’s method is that she has a piece of interfacing already marked out with a regular pattern of dots ironed onto the back of the fabric. You work from the wrong side and don’t have any marks on the front to get rid of.

The first sample starts as jujizashi (cross stitch). I used a variegated sashiko thread in lovely shades of blue.

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Then you add one set of diagonal lines.

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The second sample was kikkozashi, or tortoise stitch. This starts with a foundation of yokogushi, which are staggered vertical rows. The horizontal rows are formed by weaving the thread under the opposite stitches to give an effect like the plates of a tortoise’s shell.

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Finally I added some straight stitches in the middle of the ‘plates’.

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They are going to become book covers, so I’ve laced them over some squares of greyboard.

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And am probably going to line them with this gorgeous scrap of Japanese kimono fabric.

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Just need to decide on fabric or paper pages.

We’ve just had our final meeting of the year at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild and it was a fantastic all day long affair, with a talk about the costumes and embroidery in ‘Game of Thrones’ in the morning followed by the opportunity to look at some of the incredible work some of our members have produced over the last year and were entering for the branch’s yearly hand embroidery prize.

Some pieces have come from past workshops, such as the paisley piece below which was started in Jan Dowson’s ‘Print to Stitch’ workshop back in February, or responses to objects in the local museum for our exhibition earlier in the summer, as with the Winterton mosaic piece at the top on the three circles.

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Contemporary, modern, traditionally flat or 3D, like the stumpwork flowers and tiny embroidered houses.

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Restrained and subtle or gloriously over the top and encrusted with bling.

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Sometimes a visiting speaker chooses the winner but this time we did it in our usual way by voting in the blue and white saucers with beads. Thank goodness we get five beads each. And even then choosing five places to vote was an almost impossible decision! But after the counting, the winner was announced: Sue’s fabulous blue ammonite, one of the pieces for our museum exhibition.

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Glad I didn’t put anything in as I would have been seriously outclassed!!

Then after lunch, a workshop on Bayeux Stitch. I’ve used this stitch on several projects, including Shy Bird,

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…the sycamore leaves from Blackwell…

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and of course, the Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon kit from Tanya at Opus Anglicanum which I bought and started a disgracefully long time ago!

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I really enjoy working this stitch. It works up quickly, which is always a huge bonus and I love the textured effect the couching gives to it.

We had some lovely examples to inspire us, from medieval style designs to working it as an all over pattern to create a solid embroidered fabric as in the purse below and some very contemporary pieces.

 

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Although I was very tempted to explore the contemporary design ideas, it was a good opportunity to get a bit more done on Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon.

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Every little helps!

Stumpwork

The stumpwork course I taught at Ashby Link last week went really well, although I do need to be more realistic about the amount of work that the participants can reasonably do in the time allowed – I planned enough for at least two full days!

After learning some raised embroidery stitches and techniques in the morning, I created a little ball topiary design for them to work in the afternoon based on three of them: padded satin stitch, a french knot slip and raised stem band.

The french knots for the leafy part of the topiary were worked separately on a piece of calico in six strands of stranded cotton, partly so it worked up more quickly and partly to get a lovely textured effect. Great place to use up all those odd ends of stranded cotton!

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I used a circle of pelmet vilene to pad it out a little and then drew the calico up round the vilene…

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…before stitching it in place on my main fabric, which just so happens to be a piece of one of the shirts I chopped up for the cuff books workshop last week.

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Then the pot. Satin stitch over a base shape in pelmet vilene.

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The raised stem band rim is worked separately, and just sits on top of the pot. Guideline shape for the padding.

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Long stitch padding with the vertical bars.

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And the stem stitch over the top. Very pleased with the effect!

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Just the stem/trunk to add.

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I used several long satin stitches in stranded silk and then used a single strand of it to couch random threads down with tiny stitches.

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It’s reminded me how much I enjoy raised work and needlelace, so now the end of term is finally in sight, I might start dabbling again.

I first had the idea for putting a pamphlet stitched booklet inside the cuff of a shirt or jacket about 6 years ago and although I’ve since seen images on the internet, I’m proud to say it was it was an idea I had all by myself!

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It’s a great method for making notebooks to carry around in a bag or pocket as the button (or snap) on the cuff holds the pages closed and you have the length of the cuff to decorate.

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So I was delighted to be asked to teach it as a workshop for Brigg Allsorts group last week.  Men’s shirts, my main source of cuffs, often are patterned in stripes or checks and the patterns are a great set of guidelines for keeping your stitches straight, so I chose a checked one and decided to have a go at some chicken scratch embroidery with cross stitch and rice stitch.

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I also replaced the boring button with one covered in scarlet silk. It’s fascinating how adding even simple stitches can alter your perception of the background design so much.

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One of the early projects on the seven week crazy patchwork course I’m running for North Lincolnshire Adult Education at Ashby Link was to piece three tiny scraps of fabric together with feather stitch and enhance them with stitches to make a crazy patchwork brooch. This is my example. Black and gold silk covered with lace on either side of a scrap of printed Japanese style cotton with a gold coloured metal motif stitched onto it.

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Kantha stitch knocks back the brightness of the print in the middle. Whipped back stitch and threaded chain stitch to the left and bullion roses with stem stitch stems and nested lazy daisy leaves on the right.

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I went for a very closely worked blanket stitch edging as the pieces of silk fabric were fraying very badly. It took a lot longer to finish, but I think the neat effect is worth it.

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One thing about teaching these courses, I have to get things finished to keep up with the learners!

 

Our family holiday in the Lake District was over a month ago and despite the persistent rain, we had a fabulous time and I managed to get some stitching done to go in my holiday journal.

I still love to combine found objects, paper and stitch and that’s what I did with a couple of fragments I picked up from the shores of Grasmere.

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The wheatear stitch has a lovely weight to it and works really well for holding down the ring pull.

I insisted on having a day at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, near Windermere and as the girls and I managed to persuade the men to go on a walk without us, we were able to spend a leisurely day there, just wallowing in the utter beauty of the Arts and Crafts rooms and furnishing without being chivvied on. My little one drew, mostly on her phone but also with a real pencil and paper (!)

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Her older sister sat in an inglenook and wrote.

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And I found a window seat in the Great Hall and sewed.

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I’ve worked embroidery inspired by Blackwell before, namely a whitework sample I stitched back in 2015 for my altered book holiday journal…

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…based on a pillow case, which you can just about see on the other page of the book spread.

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The entire place is just stuffed with inspiration in every craft discipline, but this time I was very taken with an embroidered runner in the Great Hall which had a repeating pattern of sycamore keys.

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So I decided to work my own version for the holiday journal. It felt rather odd, but was a real treat to be able to get up and walk over to the original for reference instead of working from my photos!

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Outline in stem stitch.

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Then the solid part of the seeds in satin stitch.

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My single sample is rather bigger than the originals though and the satin stitches were too long and loose in this scale, so after trying various couching methods, I went for good old Bayeux stitch.

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I also decided to stitch a bit of fun, to represent the amazing meal we had on the way at the Brown Horse in Coley. We always stop here for lunch (and have never been disappointed with the food) on the way up to the Lakes. For us it’s where the holiday starts. So…salad leaves…

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… with Stilton…

 

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…pepper salami and parma ham!

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I will be adding olives later!