The final person in our group was Christina and her piece was entitled ‘Plenty More In The Sea!’

Plenty more in the sea 1

Unlike my other contributors, Christina’s inspiration had come from a piece of glorious fabric first with the sea element second. That’s not a complaint, just my delight in the glimpses these books have given into other people’s creative processes.

Plenty more in the sea 2

It must have been fabulous too, by what you can see in the bodies of the fish.

Plenty more in the sea 3

Hand embroidery stitches to enhance the fish shapes and seeding and french knots to texture the background.

Plenty more in the sea 4

Plenty more in the sea 5

Plenty more in the sea 6

It’s really made me want to play with reverse appliqué a bit!

The show I’m currently directing – ‘Cheshire Cats’ – is in theatre next week so there should be time for sewing back stage even if the week is probably going to be crazily busy. Fingers crossed for enough audience for us to make a profit. Even a small one would be nice!

The next addition to my travelling book was provided by Lynda who when she first took the book said, “Oooh, beach huts!” Not quite what I ended up with!

Lobster pot 1

But another wonderful response which led us to a great conversation about memories of eating crab and visiting the coast. Like Lynda, harvesting food from the sea was an important part of my childhood too. We lived a couple of miles from the sea and my dad and uncle jointly owned an off shore fishing boat, like a large dinghy, which they would often take out for pleasure, long lining for dabs, whiting and mackerel, trawling for sweet brown shrimps and also catching the odd crab. I only went out with them once (and nearly froze to death!) but I learned at a very young age to dress a crab (including getting the meat out of every joint of every one of the ten legs!) and boil and peel brown shrimps. They are gorgeous, but it takes ages to get enough for a good sandwich!

Lobster pot 2

I really like the different media she has used to create the pot and the crab is just cute.

Lobster pot 3

I love crabs – they have such attitude! – and the vintage beads work really well as beach pebbles.

Lobster pot 4

One of the best things has been the excitement of seeing what someone else has done in the book and every time being blown away by how different their response is to my thoughts and ideas.

Next person to work in my sea-themed Travelling Book was Janet. Several members had been a bit apprehensive about the idea of producing work for other people and I’m sure Janet wouldn’t mind me saying that she was one of them. But something they all found as the cycle wore on was that the genuine delight of other people in their work helped put those fears to rest and I was genuinely delighted with this and the contrast with Elaine’s ‘Sea of Buttons’.

Le Coeur de la Mer 1

Janet’s inspiration was the film ‘Titanic’ which was another aspect of this that I’ve loved: seeing the different places people have turned to for inspiration. Faced with ‘The Sea’ as a theme I would always default to the physical – waves, beaches etc. Thank goodness we’re all wired differently!

Le Coeur de la Mer 2

I love the simple lines of this.

Le Coeur de la Mer 3

It tells the story perfectly and the little details, like the shaded blue fabric, the distant school of fish and the portholes on the side of the sunken boat are lovely.

I couldn’t wait to see what the next person was going to create!

It’s our Embroiderers’ Guild AGM this weekend so the Travelling Books will resume their creative journeys. It occurred to me that I hadn’t shared the pages that other members had added to my sea-themed book and it was probably time to photograph them before the book set out again! This is Elaine’s double spread; the first one to be added after my sea glass.

A Sea of Buttons 1

She called it ‘A Sea of Buttons’ and I love the bold textural treatment of those sandy North Sea waves.

A Sea of Buttons 2

Vintage buttons have a real place in my heart too.

A Sea of Buttons 3

I love the inspiration pages as much as the textile responses – it’s fascinating to see the how and why of the emergence of the art work. To me they are inseparable. Without a raison d’etre the textile work is no less beautiful but it has no depth and less interest.

A Sea of Buttons 4

The inspiration picture obviously held wonderful memories for Elaine and that delight transfers to her piece. There’s something very special in being allowed a glimpse of someone else’s back story and her obvious pleasure in the piece she created for my book makes me smile every time I open it.

Next to be used was the yoke of the jumper. I thought about needle cases and then somehow made a leap to the idea of a case to hold stud earrings. For my prototype I cut two rectangles of felted jumper and folded them in half like a simple book. I added a silhouette of a woman’s head out of black felt, stitched it invisibly to the front of one piece and then used some fabulous variegated perle to add a decorative blanket stitch to the edge.

Earring cases 1

An odd earring made the perfect accent and a clue to the use of the case.

Earring cases 2

Once I’d blanket stitched all the way round the edge of the front I machine stitched the second piece in half to make a thick central page…

Earring cases 3

…and then stitched it to the spine with a simple running stitch in the same thread as I’d used for the edging.

Earring cases 4

Earring cases 5

And this is how it works: the studs go easily through the double layer of felted wool, you put the backs on and the soft wool covers protect the front and at the back of the earrings.

Earring cases 6 Earring cases 7

I was really pleased with the way the prototype had turned out and there was enough fabric in the yoke to make another two cases.

Earring cases 8

Earring cases 9  Earring cases 9

I want a closure on each one but I’m not sure what would look best. Any thoughts?

One of my jobs back in August was to tidy out a cupboard where I keep my creative stuff. One of the first things that came out was a baby blue wool jumper that I had picked up at a jumble sale for 10p earlier in the year. It had obviously been through too hot or too robust a wash and had felted slightly. One of the many things on my list of stuff to try is making things from a felted garment so I decided to put the tidying on one side and see what I could make out of the jumper.

I really liked the idea of making a cushion cover from the main body, with the rib at the back, button holes cut through it and big chunky vintage buttons as closures. I’d also come across some variegated roving which went well with the blue and ideas started to happen…

I cut the body into two rectangles and stitched them together across the middle. Then I cut the roving into smaller lengths, wound them loosely into rings and then needlefelted them to the middle area which I had marked out to be the front of the cushion. These were photographed in the evening and have turned out a bit too blue!

Upcycled felted cushion 1

Stabbing the roving repeatedly with a very sharp needle was very therapeutic!!

Upcycled felted cushion 2

A couple of evenings completed the rings…

Upcycled felted cushion 3

…and I was then able to sew up the sides. This is a much closer idea of the true colour.

Upcycled felted cushion 4

And the back.

Upcycled felted cushion 5

Next job is to trawl my button box for some suitable chunky buttons for the back.

I used little iridescent green delicas to create the beaded feather stitch on the right hand side of the piece. It’s a stitch I’ve used before but with ordinary seed beads and I’m not completely happy with the angular look the delicas give but I didn’t have any suitable seed beads and time was ticking on so it had to stay.

Red green crazy patchwork 1

The addition of french knot buds/flowers and lazy daisy leaves softened it a bit.

Red green crazy patchwork 2

More star stitched spotty birds outlined in chain stitch.

Red green crazy patchwork 3

And the whole thing is starting to fill up nicely.

Red green crazy patchwork 4

Lazy daisy flowers in two weights of Caron Christmassy red and green variegated thread with beaded middles.

Red green crazy patchwork 5

But then ‘stuff’ happened and on the night before our last meeting of the year I was only this far on!

Red green crazy patchwork 6

The beaded fly stitch leaves were still to be finished before I could even start to mount it in the book so I set my alarm for early on the Saturday morning and grafted! By lunchtime it was completed and mounted and I was able to head off (slightly late) to our knot garden canvaswork workshop.

Red green crazy patchwork 6

Red green crazy patchwork 7

Red green crazy patchwork 8

Red green crazy patchwork 9

It was slightly too big for the page so the fabulous Indian trim I’d found for the border has encroached on some of the designs a little too far and mitred corners would have looked much neater but time had pretty much evaporated by this point. I hope Elaine likes it anyway. I really must pace myself better in future!


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