I finally decided what the waves needed to finish them off for inclusion in my Travelling Book. As usual it was very last minute but in terms of effectiveness and being exactly what I wanted, it was worth waiting for inspiration!


I chose fine white perle crochet cotton, two tiny steel Victorian crochet hooks (one of which belong to my great-grandmother) and a canvas needle to create the foaming white tops of the waves.

The top one is a line of slip stitch worked directly into the machine stitches (seriously tricky!) with a row of double crochet on top of that and then a layer of several trebles into each stitch to give the ruffle effect.

On the right I whipped each machine stitch, went back with a row of buttonhole stitch, returned with longer buttonholes and then put 5 or 6 more buttonholes into each loop.

Bottom left is a lacier affair with lengths of chain caught down with trebles.


The others are all minor variants of these in either crochet or buttonhole loops.


Then the piece was stretched over card and mounted into the book with an extract describing the waves which I love from Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with words by Walt Whitman.

By this point I was working against the clock and instead of being able to tea dye the music I had to give it a quick wash of watercolour which was the wrong shade. :o(


But I at least made the deadline and I’m really excited that my book has gone off on another adventure!

This was the intriguing title of our full day workshop with Josie Storey at Embroiderers’ Guild last Saturday, so armed with some very lush velvet and the usual sewing stuff I headed off without any real idea of what I was going to be doing!

The technique we were going to be playing with involved ironing prepainted bondaweb onto velvet and then using the stickiness to embellish with anything and everything to create a rich textured surface.

I started with some gorgeous Oliver Twists hand dyed velvet called ‘Stormy Seas’ and so I had to go for wave shapes,

Lush plush and crush 1

with silk waste, carrier rod strippings

Lush plush and crush 2

and scraps of painted melted plastic.

Lush plush and crush 3

Lush plush and crush 4

By this point I’d decided this was going to be the next piece in my travelling book, so when I got home I layered it up with wadding and calico and quilted round the wave shapes with my sewing machine. From this:

Lush plush and crush 5

to this:

Lush plush and crush 6

No hand embroidery – yet…

Finally got onto two of the sides! From this:

Onto the sides

to this:

Onto the sides 1

It does look like tiny fields from above.

Onto the sides 2

Onto the sides 3

Wish I’d recorded the hours its taken so far. But then, probably not a good idea – I’d have a better idea of how many hours there were still left to do!

Theatre has rather taken the place of embroidery for the last couple of weeks and apart from a few more patches of french knots on the encrusted piece, nothing much else has happened until this weekend when I was inspired by a new batch of broken jewellery to make something to add to my Etsy shop.

The starting point was a pink and gold diamanté bracelet. The catch was sound but the middle section of the bracelet was broken and quite a lot of the diamantés were missing from the strap section. I removed the broken bit and once I’d reset the spare diamantés from the broken section into the gaps in the strap, I had this:

Pink corsage bracelet 1

For the middle section I decided to needlefelt over a slim metal hoop which had been an old earring drop with some leaf green roving and then to define the edge I added a fringe of green, gold and pink seed and bugle beads.

Pink corsage bracelet 2

Putting it in place to gauge the effect.

Pink corsage bracelet 3

Now for the hard bit, working out what to add to the front of the needlefelted circle. This was my first try – a beaded stem and beaded fly stitch leaves with woven spiders’ web flowers.

Pink corsage bracelet 4

it was late last night and I was taking against the embroidered flowers so I decided to go to bed and sleep on it. I liked them no better in the morning so went looking for some flower beads with which to replace them. All the flower beads were too bulky but I did find some vintage gold tone bead caps which with seed bead centres worked much better.

Pink corsage bracelet 5

Then all that needed to be done was to use jump rings to connect the central corsage piece with the straps.

Pink corsage bracelet 6

And one sad and sorry bracelet restored…

Pink corsage bracelet 7

…and in my etsy shop waiting for a new owner.

Sounds like something you might need to get some cream for…! However in this case it’s just an update on the embroidered veneer piece I’m working to restore the top of a Victorian mahogany writing box. Just before Autumn Term started it looked like this:

More encrustation 1

I’ve worked on it on and off around directing three nights a week and my eternally ‘interesting’ day job and I’m starting to feel like I’m finally getting somewhere with it!

More encrustation 2

As ‘Cheshire Cats’ is in theatre this week (with two small yet very appreciative audiences so far) my role is to sit back and quietly support. And of course, stitch.

More encrustation 3

Perfect for lowish light levels in the dressing rooms and working while I have half an ear on the show.

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.


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