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First the french knots…

From this:

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to this:

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I’ve focussed on finishing the top edges and am trying to reduce the amount of white at the bottom. It’s still very slow going!

And now for something completely different. I’m upcycling another damaged brooch.

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Apart from the loss of one of the ribs, it’s in lovely condition.

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My idea, to fill the ribs with weaving.

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A nice heavy spring green perle has a lovely shine to it.

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The silver metal central vein and the edges should contrast nicely with the glossy thread and a little ladybird charm will sit over the damaged area.

At our Stitch Club last Saturday I was all set to begin some Ruskin lace work for my last year’s Lake District journal. That was until I realised I’d forgotten to pack a frame. So instead I selected a piece of hand dyed vintage handkerchief, an oddment of slubby thread, a piece of calico to stabilise it and a fine thread to couch with and started to doodle.

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It wasn’t entirely aimless. I’m in the middle of some upcycling ideas and one of those was to create a rich jungly background for a single plastic orchid earring and then turn it into a barrette. After I’d doodled the slubby thread all over I added trails of feather stitch over the top in a variegated cotton, made up a pad of felt and pelmet vilene and began to lace the embroidery over it.

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Then I stitched on some gorgeous little polymer clay beads – more dangles really – that I’ve had for ages.

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Next the orchid went on.

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Finally I attached a commercial new barrette clip to a piece of grey felt and blanket stitched it to the back…

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…before popping it into my Etsy shop here.

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So pleased with it – that earring was just too pretty not to have a new lease of life!

I did manage to finish the Travelling Book in time. Well, I was only an hour late to stitch club so that’s success for me! Those knots…

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So pleased with the effect of them en masse though.

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Done, dusted and passed on. Now for some fresh things to play with!

 

This was the theme for the next travelling book to reach my hands and it very nearly undid me. I love poetry. I get huge pleasure from reading and writing and performing it and I couldn’t even whittle down my favourites to a long-list of 100 poems I could do without! But one line jumped straight into my head as I flicked through the pages.

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough…”

And I jumped at it. The other poetry could argue as much as it wanted. Picking the first poem to come to the front of the crowd (and sticking to it) was the only way to get anything stitched in a month!

The next thing was to find a suitable photo to work on. I’ve enjoyed the effect of stitching on paper recently and cherry blossom just lends itself to french knots. A vintage 1970s calendar picture of cherry blossom near Wray Castle in the Lake District was a good starting point. I trimmed the image and fused it to some indigo dyed cotton to make it easier to stitch.

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You do have to look closely…

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Better get back to the stitching – Saturday is coming up fast!

A Shropshire Lad. 1896

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A. E. Housman (1859–1936)

Firstly, a quick update on the french knot marathon. It’s still trailing around with me and has gone from this:DSCN0222 to this:

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I’m focussing on finishing the shaped bits at the top first, while also adding gradually all the way round.

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Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting before Christmas was a lovely quiet laid back affair in the midst of the rush with wonderful food, courtesy of our Chair, Mary, and some steady stitching for name badges. We had some stamped calico to work from and I chose the rabbit/hare.

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I used some slubby thread in dark grey for his outline, couched down with a variegated stranded cotton, and a thick stranded silk for his coat, couched down in spirals with my favourite variegated metallic Madeira thread. Where there is an area too small to be included in the spirals I’m going to add something like eyelets or perhaps a woven spider’s web.

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Another piece on the go is an aside from our ‘Lush, Plush and Crush’ workshop with Josie Storey in the autumn. I cut a spiral from Bondaweb and stuck it to the velvet, added some gold markal stick and then some french knots for texture.

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This is destined to provide the upcycled centre for an vintage brooch.

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And there’s my “inspired by poetry” piece for the Travelling Book this month. Plenty to be going on with.

One of the pieces for my last year’s Lake District textile holiday journal was a piece of whitework, inspired by one of the pillowcases at Blackwell, an amazing Arts and Crafts house near Windermere. It was going pretty well, I thought.

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And then it stalled so I took it away with me over New Year to finish. It was a quick and easy finish and I was so pleased with the middles of the last two leaves I restitched the middle of the first leaf too. Photographed it on the first decent day and…

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…shades of off-white. Of course, it was stitched by artificial light and under artificial light, two threads I had looked identical.

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But very clearly they were not. Aaaarghh!!! To leave or to restitch? It’s only a sample piece for my journal, so I’m minded to leave it, but talk about frustrating!

A friend brought me two water-worn fragments of slate from the shores of Coniston Water in the Lake District last year and it was a little before Christmas that I turned one of them into a pendant. I love this rippled surface so I left it natural.

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The other side, however, I polished smooth before using my dremel to carve out a disc in the slate. I then set a pretty vintage marcasite roundel from a broken earring into the hollow.

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It was missing a gem from the centre but none of my marcasites were big enough to fit and it was too shallow for a paste stone. I went through a number of beads, stone chips and other ideas before I remembered I had some tiny beach glass pieces from my Seaham haul. One of those sat very nicely in the top…

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… leaving only the jump ring to attach through another drilled hole. This lovely soft dark grey slate was really easy to cut and shape unlike the Langdale slate which I’m still struggling with!

Very pleased with this assemblage of found objects; one from the English North-East and one from the North-West, hence the title. It can be found here in my Etsy shop.

 

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