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Being the Dame’s Dresser in pantomime involves nice quiet periods in between bouts of frantic physical activity where I am trying to haul one costume (including wig, jewellery, shoes etc.) off a huge burly bloke while trying to simultaneously shove him into his next frock and wig. So once I’ve tidied up the chaos and returned the changing room to a temporarily Zen-like place of calm, I get to stitch.

Ribbon roses at the beginning of the week for my Stitch Zone ribbon embroidery workshop the next Monday. As I was working under dressing room lights the colours aren’t great, but it’s purples and lilacs on a indigo dyed scrap of cotton.

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Then ribbon stitch leaves around the french knot buds and closed fly stitch leaves.

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Finally completing it with some tendril-like stems at the ends in split stitch and a couple more fly stitch leaves.

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At the end of the week I moved onto mushrooms! When we did the Bayeux Stitch workshop at Embroiderers’ Guild last July I was working on the baby leaf-tailed dragon, but I did have a sudden desire to stitch some big chunky mushrooms in Bayeux Stitch. I started by sketching a simple design freehand and then traced it onto some calico.

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The light in the changing room is good to stitch by but not to take photographs by and the green cap is really more of a teal.

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Salmon-pink spots, not red!

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And tan gills.

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Stalk in a darker brown which I think might have been vintage mending wool – it kept breaking.

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And then the outlining.

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A lot of fun to stitch. I’ve still got the gills to put in and the rest of the outline and highlights to do, but I’m really pleased with all the stitching (even the ubiquitous mending of seams, buttons and various fastenings etc. of show week) I got done during panto this year!

As regular readers will know, I am heavily involved in a local amateur dramatics group (Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club) and this time of year is panto time. As with last year I ended up doing costume again – hence the reason I’ve only just surfaced. This year it was Mother Goose, with a new script which I wrote as well as being Costume Mistress and Dame’s dresser. Not the least of my jobs was making hats for the goslings and trying to work out where was best to place the nostrils!

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But we’ve finished in theatre now – I just have every single costume (12 adults and 19 children, many with multiple costume changes) to wash and replace in our costume room.¬† It only took me until August last year…

But I did manage to design and stitch some Christmassy hoops for a workshop I taught before Christmas:

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And a single snowflake which I stitched in silk:

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The workshop, held at Jaylaurs, in Brigg was a great success. Just five ladies but they got on so well with the designs and two of them have since sent me lovely photos of their finished stitching.

I also had a go at chenille work, making a Christmas card for my parents. I started with a cardboard ring and used crewel work to stitch over it. Not satin stitch but coming up the same side and then going back over, to reduce the bulk at the back.

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It was a long slow job…

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…as it needed lots of layers to make sure I got the fluffy chenille effect at the end.

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Now the fun bit – the cutting. Carefully in the middle. That meant I could get the card shape out but left me with a distinct space where it wouldn’t cover the base fabric.

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Vintage trim to the rescue. I’ve had this particular very seventies trim since I was very young, when my mother would allow me a metre of ribbon or trim when she went to the local haberdashers, but not the sweets that like all small children I would have preferred! Anyway, sweets would not have solved my problem here but the trim that I’ve never used before did!

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I stitched it down with little gold beads between the ‘flower’ sections and added a hand made gold bow at the bottom.

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Very Christmassy and very pleased with it. (Was a nightmare to post though…!)

 

 

 

 

 

As my middle one finally left home in the summer her bedroom, conveniently downstairs, is now vacant. After an industrial strength cleaning session (who says teenage boys are cleaner/tidier than girls?!) it is now a thing of beauty and I have been slowly moving my jewellery making stuff in. It is fantastic to now be able to leave my work where it is instead of being at the kitchen table and having to work around mealtimes, which is probably why I’m being more productive.

I cut and shaped a badly dented vintage bangle and drilled a couple of lovely nuggets of Seaham sea glass which I then combined to make these earrings:

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They’re available here in my Etsy shop, but I am sorely tempted to keep them for myself!

I’ve also combined some more sea washed china and vintage settings.

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Stamped a music design onto a piece of beachcombed clay pipe stem and added a vintage earring drop to make a pendant, available here.

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Inspired by the found objects piece I did for the Guild meeting last month I embroidered french knots and starburst jump rings onto a piece of painted fabric…

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…to make a new centrepiece for a vintage brooch.

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I found the most amazing tropical blue nugget of Seaham sea glass which perfectly fits a vintage silver brooch which you can find here.

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And another incredibly rare piece is this tiny pink sea glass heart, for which I have finally found the perfect match – a sterling silver heart pendant.

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Thanks to my new work space, I’m on a roll – just have to hope my middle one doesn’t want to come home to her old room too often…!

At the end of October, just before it shuts up and snuggles down for the winter, I went with some friends to visit the textiles collection at Gawthorpe Hall. The items on show were all stunning and inspirational but I fell completely in love with this little early 20th century peony slip worked in Pekinese stitch.

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I love the texture and the layering and was completely inspired to do some of my own. Pekinese Stitch was one of the first stitches I learned from my mother’s Mary Thomas’ Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches as a child. It’s a variety of laced back stitch so an ideal one for a beginner to learn. I rediscovered it recently as a beautifully textured edging stitch, but although Mary Thomas does say it can be used as a filling stitch, I’d never considered it.

My first sample is on a piece of Japanese silk kimono fabric with stranded cotton.

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The shape was far too fiddly to work well – getting a very rounded loopy stitch into the points of the leaf was not easy! But I persevered and with a little bit of cheating to fill in those pointy bits, manage to finish it.

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I was unexpectedly given a ticket and a lift to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last Friday and one of my purchases was a spool of vintage metal thread in a lovely soft gold. Perfect for couching around the edge.

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Second shape needed to be interesting but without the tricky infills, so I chose a paisley, again stitched on Japanese kimono silk with stranded cottons.

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Definitely a better choice!

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It has an almost woolly look and texture.

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Finding the different gradations of stranded cotton was the most challenging bit so my next thought is to use a single cotton but in a variegated thread.

This month’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a talk given by the very talented Jessica Grady, whose vibrant work includes embellishments made from all sorts of upcycled materials.

In the summer, to link with this talk, our chair gave us all an identical pack of bits and pieces to create something. I did blog about the start of my piece back in September when I hadn’t read the instructions and thought it had to be done for October’s meeting!

My starting point was the pale green tubing and a huge metal ring, to which I added a copper coloured earring middle and a holed limpet shell.

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There were more jump rings in the pack which I stitched down with random straight stitches to echo the big one…

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…and I also found a broken agate slice pendant which was a good colour match for the copper earring.

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Next I added turquoise coloured beads from the pack.

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Using the same metallic gold thread for all the stitching helped to bring it together. A few more smaller jump rings from my tool box and some gifted flat beads completed it and I even manged to get it mounted three days before the meeting!

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Needless to say, all the entries were amazing and incredibly different, give that we all had the same starting point.

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The other finish for the meeting were the embroidered Folk Art doves that will decorate our Christmas tree at the local Festival of Trees. They were a lovely fun, relatively quick stitch. Mine looks like this:

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And these are some of his friends:

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Even though a few more arrived later, there isn’t enough here to fill a six foot tree, so the chair has been frantically stitching over the last couple of months to add extra additions to the flock!

Teabags!

October’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a brilliantly packed full day workshop with Fran Holmes based on teabags.

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Fran brought along loads of samples she had stitched using a base of dyed, opened out and ironed teabags with added lace and hand and machine embroidery for inspiration.

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Then it was our turn. We had been asked to bring some tea bags of our own, and I was quite pleased with the effect where a fruit tea bag had leaned up against an ordinary one and they two had bled into each other, but mine were nothing compared with the amazing patterns Fran had got on the ones she had done for us in our kits.

We experimented with all sorts of things, including various iron on products, foils, printing, inks, paints and stamps and so busy was the day that I didn’t actually add any stitching until the afternoon!

We ended up with four different bases for further stitching.

The first two were a mixture of lace, tea bags and net.

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I added some watercolour detailing on the lace flowers of this one.

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Then a base for stamping in acrylics.

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And lastly one with a subtle shimmery foil underlay which I layered with torn silk ribbon and a stamp.

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All four lovely backgrounds, ready for stitching.

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I finally managed a few french knots…

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Great workshop and lovely to do something outside my usual range.

If you are in or around North Lincolnshire on Friday 1st of November there are still places left on my Spectacular Spellbooks workshops at Normanby Hall Country Park.

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The workshops are suitable for anyone, whether adult or child, who is interested in learning two simple bookmaking techniques. First, you’ll make two origami books, each created from a single piece of paper with four basic folds and a cut. We’ll be making a blank ‘spellbook’ to fill with your own ideas…

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…and also one where you can collect and record fascinating facts and superstitions about¬†some ‘magical’ medieval ingredients which I will have on display.

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You will also be able to make a third slightly bigger blank book…

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…with a cover created from random papers and a twig binding that can be decorated with fancy threads, beads etc.

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Then just add your spells!

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I’m providing the materials to make all three books which you take away with you at the end of the session.

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Please note that Park entry also applies, or please display your annual membership.

Places may be booked here. I am really excited about this workshop and looking forward to the ‘awe and wonder’ moment when with one last fold, the origami book suddenly appears in your hands. Never gets old, that one. :o)