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This was great fun to make. The starting point was a flat golden ring which came in one of my usual job lots of broken jewellery. No idea what it once was, but I love something I can use as a frame.

I combined some scraps of indigo dyed cotton with sashiko stitching to make a centre for it. I can’t bear to throw away even tiny scraps when they are so pretty and this boro style of stitching is the perfect way of letting them shine.

I gathered up the boro stitched piece around a circle of buckram and then made another plain one with a lovely shibori pattern running across it for the back.

I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the whole thing into the frame.

I wanted to flank the pendant with some cylindrical boro beads, so I stared with a long rectangle of fabric and wound it round my buttonhole ring stick to get an idea of how much fabric would be visible around the outside of the bead when it was all wound up. I stitched a square of fabric – these pieces are getting progressively smaller and smaller! – onto the outside section…

…and then wound the fabric back onto the stick, pinned it and started to buttonhole stitch around the edges to hold it in place.

Once I’d buttonholed top and bottom I continued the stitching over the raw edge to neaten it and close it up. Then onto the second one.

Once that was finished I could get a better idea of how the necklace was going to look.

I felt the fabric beads needed something, perhaps with a different texture, to keep them away from the pendant, so I started hunting through my beads. These hand made glass beads were perfect – the same colours as the embroidery but the shine of the glass contrasts well with the softness of the fabric.

With the addition of a couple of jump rings stitched to the back of the pendant and a gold plated chain, we have a finish!

Available shortly in my Etsy shop!

Nothing big this week – instead the focus seems to have been on taking the old, broken and unloved and breathing new life into them. The vintage postcard to which I gave extra autumn colour with dozens of French knots gradually went from this…

…to this – with the help of numerous podcasts…

…and finally to this:

I combined a 1970s watch strap and a broken brooch to make a statement bracelet which is currently in my Etsy shop here.

And some jasper and art glass beads and vintage clock hands to make some more statement earrings.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the starting point for this pretty little pendant, which had the longest journey of all.

It literally started off a small chunk of a much larger broken brooch and I only knew that because it still had the hinge and pin, which was twice as long as the flower, attached. It was filthy, missing all the stones and had a couple of bits of metal sticking off at random angles.

After removing the pin, tidying up the shape and drilling a hole for a jump ring so I could turn it into a pendant, I gave it a thorough clean and polish before resetting it with tiny blue vintage paste stones and a vintage pearl with a wire attached which went into the hole I discovered in the middle of the ‘bell’.

That really was treasure from trash!

It should be in my Etsy shop shortly. There is nothing quite like turning literally a piece of rubbish into something that hopefully will be loved and cherished for years to come.

Stitching quicker and quicker as we realise we’re going to run out of thread (or wool – I’ve done it with knitting too…). Why do we do it?! It makes no sense at all – the thread will run out when it runs out!

My bout of Embroidery Chicken happened this week when I started stitching the ‘mortar’ round the medieval tiles, I was using a subtly variegated perle that was a one off skein from a long defunct independent seller.

I started filling in the spaces between the corners and then realised that there wasn’t a lot of thread left. So I started to stitch faster and faster, trying to estimate how much was left and how much I could reasonably get done; which would be the most important lines to do in the primary thread; whether I could find the matching stranded cotton; whether it would be better to match the colour or the thread type… My mind going round in circles until I got to this point…

…and realised that I was going to be able to outline all the blocks after all. Not with a lot to spare, but it was achievable. At which point my stitch rate virtually halved!

Luckily I still have plenty of the silk thread left for the boro pendant. The two sections are now ladder stitched together, stuck into the gold ring and I’ve made a start on the boro stitched cylinder beads for the bib section.

The smaller rectangle on the left of the strips is what will be seen when they are rolled up and that’s where I’m going to stitch. Tiny patches of indigo on indigo.

I’m also back onto birthday cards again and a Lake District themed one for a friend’s dad. Adding autumn colour to a vintage postcard of the Langdale Pikes with French knots in one strand of stranded cotton.

I’m glad I started in good time, because the knots are taking a long while as usual, but it is quite effective and I’m really pleased with the colour match of the variegated thread.

After a bit of thinking I decided to stitch the medieval tiles piece not as a whole cloth as I had with the paisleys, but to separate each print into a tile shaped block. When I came to draw out the ‘mortar’ lines I was quite pleased that the ’tiles’ weren’t exactly in line with each other. It made it feel a bit more hand crafted in a way.

Then I started on the stitching which is going to be rows of split stitch to give a little bit of texture and hide definite stitch beginnings and endings.

I had a couple of good sized offcuts when I trimmed the printed piece down last week. Actually, rereading that has made me laugh. To me, a good sized offcut is anything larger than a credit card – I think most people would put my offcuts in the bin! Anyway, I didn’t. I decided to turn them into bookmarks for stocking fillers.

I edged the main motif in back stitch and then added seed stitches in a fine thread almost the same colour as the background.

Then I ironed on some interfacing which I dyed with silk paints and blanket stitched all round the edge.

Debbie pointed out that if you turn your head and look at the motifs from the side, they look like reindeer heads. Yup, they do and I can’t unsee it now!

A lovely accident for me is how on the back, the reverse of the back stitch pushes through the interfacing in ghostly lines like parch marks or earth works.

The other scraps I’ve been stitching are really tiny ones, about the size of postage stamps, to make a boro piece for an upcycled bib necklace. The inspiration was the gold coloured ring at the top – no idea what that might once have been.

I forgot to take a photo of it in my hand, but again, it’s small, just not quite as tiny as the recent lockets. Sashiko thread would have been too big, so it’s stitched in cream silk.

I chose a piece of shibori fabric for the back and gathered up and laced both pieces over circles of vilene to give them some body.

Next they need to be stitched together and stuck into the gold ring before I start on some boro fabric beads for the rest of the bib. Not done anything like that before so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

Most of my stitching time last week was given up to organising a selection of my upcycled jewellery to go into The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle and knitting some socks (exciting!) and a lace scarf which I can’t show because it’s a Christmas present so things are a bit sparse this week. However, I did finish the last locket – this time with a peacock feathers design.

The feathers start with two nested detached chain stitches in royal blue and turquoise with a dark blue French knot in the centre.

Then I added straight stitches in a very fine green silk thread all the way round and gave the feathers split stitch quills…

…before setting it into the locket.

Thursday was the most perfect day for a trip to Horncastle with the autumn light turning the fields and trees of the Wolds golden. The Old Stables Studio is literally just off the Market Square and is a hidden away gem with a very tempting looking fabric/sewing shop next door.

I did have a little look round the town before I headed home and picked up a fantastic needlelace book from a second hand book shop, so there may be some needlelace samples coming shortly.

But instead of clearing old projects, I’ve started something else new instead. Inspired by Debbie’s recent return to the Print to Stitch workshop we did at Guild with Jan Dowson in February 2019, I’ve hunted out one of the other pieces I printed at that workshop, a medieval tile based one.

Trimmed, it now looks like this:

I wouldn’t normally show the back, but it’s basted to an unusual piece of felt I made during lockdown.

Before lockdown, my youngest managed to put a three cornered tear in the knee of her grey 100% wool M&S school trousers (charity shop bargain!). I had been trying to work out how to invisibly mend this tear for a while, but as the school year wore on, I realised that she wouldn’t be going back to school until September, when she would be Y11. At her school, the Y11s wear black trousers and sweatshirts, not grey like Years 7-10 so the trousers would be redundant. She wouldn’t wear them in real life and they couldn’t go to a charity shop. But they could go into the washing machine with a load of towels and become fabulous felt which they did! Oh waste not, want not!!

Successes!

The snowflakes brooch take two is completed and has worked much better this time around. The blue silk makes the snowflakes really stand out and the actual snowflakes are definitely better executed. I finished it by gathering it round an oval of buckram to stiffen it…

…and then made another plain piece to cover the gathers on the back. I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the resulting ‘sandwich’ into the brooch setting.

I also got round to making the practice piece for the Chihuly Reeds to trial the alcohol inks. I was concerned that they might either run off the metallic fabric and bleed into the back ground or the applique stitches would wick the ink down into the fabric, but in fact, neither happened. There is some bleeding, but that was where I touched the tip of the brush onto the fabric – not easy to avoid, given the size of the piece.

Onto the main piece, feeling much more confident. I did catch the background fabric in a couple of very minor places but I think the variegation of the back ground fabric helps to hide it.

Then I added the dried grass around the bases. I’m really happy with the way the combination of the metallic fabric and the translucent inks has captured the shimmering glass. Success number two!

And success number three is that the lovely The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle is going to stock my upcycled jewellery! I had a scenic run out there last week and met Kate, the owner, who is passionate about upcycled and handmade and happy to stock a selection of my jewellery. So that’s where Snowflakes Take Two will be going, as will this underwater themed locket which I finished this morning.

Fingers crossed – that’s all I can do at the moment.

Well, almost two, as I’ve only just restarted it. I also decided to stitch onto silk and found a scrap of this lovely midnight blue silk dupion to use for the second take. The snowflakes are also neater this time round, so perhaps it was all for the best anyway.

Part of the reason that the snowflakes brooch is only partly completed is that I’ve finally managed to get all the padded applique reeds done for the Kew Memory Journal.

Next I need to stitch a sample one and see if I can carefully colour the metallic fabric with alcohol inks without it running into the background fabric to get the red/orange flame colours of the Chihuly glass.

I was looking for fob watch cases a few weeks ago and after having been distracted by finding the box of clock hands that was with them, I finally started sorting the fob cases out this week. In with them was a lovely mid-century silver tone ladies watch case which sparked off an idea to upcycle it into a pendant.

First I stitched a silk ribbon rose and rosebuds onto a scrap of pink silk dupion and added foliage in fine green silk thread.

Then I gathered it round a couple of circles of buckram the same size as the watch case….

…before inserting it into the case. Luckily the front section comes off easily.

Then to finish it off I added a sterling silver chain and found a little silver and marcasite swallow to hang from the bottom loop.

This isn’t available in my Etsy shop at the moment because I’m hoping that some of my upcycled jewellery will be stocked by a shop in Horncastle which champions in upcycled items and if I’m successful, this will be one of the pieces that will go there. Fingers crossed!

I’ve finally finished the English Paper Pieced patchwork page for my Kew Memory Journal with an embroidered branch across the top in split stitch and detached chain stitch.

Apart from the front cover it’s the first page I’ve fully finished. I really need to get down to stitching the snaps onto the Niijima floats piece – stalling again with only a tiny bit to finish! And the Reeds are closer to being finished that they were. There are only two more to stitch down but it is laborious putting the tiny stitches into the silver applique and not very interesting compared with all the other exciting things I want to play with – like snowflakes.

The plan was for the snowflakes to feature on the central insert for a broken vintage silver tone brooch. Indigo dyed fabric all hooped up and ready to go.

Improvising snowflakes in silk thread. So far so good. I liked the large and medium snowflakes and then I planned to seed the background with French knots for small distant snowflakes.

Ah…

Far too busy now and the detail of the bigger snowflakes is hidden. I added some blending filament to give them a bit of sparkle in the hope that it would help, but no. Definitely a back to the drawing board moment!

I’ve also upcycled a vintage watch face casing which was missing its face and mechanism. I found a sterling silver flower which had been a broken stud earring and fitted perfectly into the case.

Then I used an odd silver earring hook a fabricate a hanging loop and a loop to attach the baroque pearl dangle before adding a sterling silver chain.

I love silver and gold (gold tone in this case, I suspect) together and was so pleased with the way this worked out. If you like it, please check it out here in my Etsy shop.

This piece, which I gave you a preview of last week, came together from a whole host of ideas that had been swirling around.

Firstly, I’d been wanting to return to a bit of stumpwork for a while but the nature of the memory journals I’ve been working on means that they have to close, so anything bulky either has to go on the cover or the back page and even then it can’t be too three dimensional or the book just won’t sit right.

I was looking for the fabric for the dragonfly’s wings when I found some patchwork offcuts, including the autumnal coloured fragment I’ve used for the background in this piece. I’d seen some lovely Hallowe’en/autumnal themed crazy quilting some years ago on the internet and really fancied the idea of a stumpwork pumpkin.

Finally, when I opened a bag of broken vintage jewellery I’d recently bought on eBay and found an unused gold tone vintage pendant frame in it, everything just fell into place.

Initially the pumpkin wasn’t quite the right colour, but as it’s very small as usual (that’s a three inch hoop in the photo), I went with the right fabric – one that was fine enough to gather up. Then I added some stalks of wheat behind it in detached chain stitch and straight stitch.

I know that they’re a bit big in comparison with the pumpkin, but it’s artistic license!

Then I used my Inktense blocks to turn the pumpkin a vibrant orange.

Next the leaves and the trailing stems of the pumpkin. Initially I wanted to do some free-standing needle lace leaves but I couldn’t make a wire outline fine enough, so I had to fall back on some scraps of the hand painted fabric I used for the leaves in ‘It Rained’. As they are so tiny, I stabilised the fabric with textile medium so it didn’t fray but was still stitchable.

The stems are in split stitch, which is the only stitch I can get to make tight curls and twists at this scale. A few more stems and a second leaf completed the design.

I gathered it round an oval of buckram to give it body before I put it into the pendant frame and added a felt backing.

After the horrible weather last week it was wonderful to wake up to blue skies this morning and have autumn sunshine to photograph it in for my Etsy Shop.

It’s available here in my Etsy Shop with free UK postage and packing. A little bit of autumn!

The dragonfly pouch commission is complete and I’m delighted with the result.

The back stitched wing veins took a long time lining them up with the source photos to make sure they felt accurate but it was definitely worth it. I just wish I could capture the shimmer of the fused fabric wings.

I hope the recipient likes it as much as I do!

I’ve also finished the silk cocoon and driftwood pendant I started a couple of weeks ago. I added seed beads, freshwater pearls and tiny turquoise nuggets to the end of the points to give a bit of weight and a change of texture.

Then I lightly sanded and waxed the chunk of driftwood and carefully glued the cocoon to the top.

Next I fabricated a hanging loop out of an old odd sterling silver earring wire and recessed that through the top of the cocoon and into the wood to carry the jump ring bale. The vintage sterling silver belcher chain is a perfect weight to match the chunkiness of the pendant, although the driftwood is actually a lot lighter than it looks.

A real statement piece of jewellery; available here in my Etsy shop.

Lastly, a sneak peek of my next embroidered upcycled jewellery project.

Going for something a bit more seasonal!

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