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I just had a couple of items to finish off for the Craft Fair at Gainsborough Old Hall on Sunday, one of which was another embroidered locket. I started off with some silk carrier rod, variegated soft silk thread and french knots and lazy daisies.

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The french knots reminded me of the spires of goldenrod that ran riot in the garden of our old house.

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Lazy daisy leaves in buttonhole twist silk. The twist has a wonderful lustre and always makes me think of the mice in ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ – no more twist!

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I had plenty enough fortunately and after adding stems and leaves to the goldenrod, the little panel was added to the locket.

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Creating these little embroidered panels to upcycle lockets is one of my favourite things to do and a perfect use for my silk carrier rods. This trio were much admired at the Fair, (although I do wish people would look with their eyes, not their fingers!!) but sadly, only the snowflakes locket sold so the other two are back in my Etsy shop.

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I had a good day and learned a lot, including the need to bring a shawl (we were in Victorian dress and the Old Hall is seriously chilly!) and lights for my stall. It was very gloomy and that’s not helpful when people are trying to look at small piece of jewellery.

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But it was lovely to chat to people about my jewellery. I was quite surprised how many people were actively interested in the upcycling aspect and as well as the sales, I also made contact with a WI who are interested in having me as a speaker and someone local who has suggested another possible craft fair. All good!

I was delighted to get a stall for this Sunday at Gainsborough Old Hall Christmas Fair.

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It’s a big new thing for me but I am looking forward to chatting to people about my upcycled and hand made jewellery and hopefully selling some!

Stall signageSo this week it will be a mad rush to get everything organised and to finish off some pieces of jewellery that have been put to one side for various reasons, one of those being my snowy stitching.  One of our local churches has a Festival of Trees organised by the Rotary Club every Christmas. Organisations in the town and surrounding area put together Christmas trees decorated in such a way as to reflect their organisation as well as being Christmassy. This year is the first year that Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild has had a tree and in September, Ruth, our chair, gave us all a plastic hoop with the simple instruction to stitch something suitable. I went for a mixture of blue and white fabrics and a snow/snowflakes theme.

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The big snowflake is crocheted in coton a broder and stitched down with lazy daisy stitches at the points to finish it off.

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The commercial embroidered silk got a bit of a make over with back stitch outlining and french knot snow.

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Then I had fun with stitch combinations to create snowflakes. Mostly fly stitch and straight stitches.

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A seeding of smaller snowflakes in straight stitch and french knots on a metallic fabric.

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And finished with a couched down border of a fancy white thread.

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It all ended up being a bit last minute as usual, so I don’t have any photos of the finished. neatened version but I really like the way it turned out in the end and looking forward to seeing it on the tree next month. Back to the fair prep for me now!

I’ve just started teaching a monthly embroidery class at Jaylaurs, a fabulous fabric and sewing shop in the nearby small market town of Brigg. I worked with three lovely ladies at the end of last month, all of whom enjoyed experimenting with some new stitches and I hope that they and some others will come along to the next one on the 30th of November. I created some more Stitch Play samples using more basic stitches, mainly based round running stitch, chain stitch and split stitch…

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…but it was the more complex stitches like knotted buttonhole stitch, Pekingese Stitch and feather stitch that they wanted to try out!

Jayne, who runs Jaylaurs, asked me to create some purse flyers to give to people who expressed an interest in the classes and while looking for some suitable images and ideas I found some work I had done as examples of lessons I taught to Y5s and 6s a few years ago based on couching and whipped and threaded variants of running stitch.

They had been doing some batik and I wanted to get them to embellish some of their test pieces. This one is my sample piece with simple leaf shapes.

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I had just bought a load of fancy threads for textile work and threaded and whipped running stitches were great ways of using threads that were far too thick and slubby to be used to stitch with themselves. The chenille thread on the left works particularly well.

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The other sample was again to use the fancy threads, but this time couching them down in various patterns.

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The thread with the fluffy ‘flags’ was very fine, so I remember couching it down backwards and forwards along the line to build up a thicker layer and seeing where the ‘flags’ fell as I worked along the thread. I hadn’t planned it, but they seemed to always end up together in clumps!

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And then I found this: an early bit of found object work, using various bits and pieces that I had picked up around school. It includes an odd stud earring (flanked by two short screws) that was never claimed after PE and finally found its way into the school piano and a broken trouser fastener (centre) kindly donated for use in the piece by the lad in my class at the time. His trousers had suffered a catastrophic fail as a result of an overenthusiastic tackle in football at break and he spent the rest of the day in his PE shorts. The fastener was recovered from the playground following the incident.

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A bit of fun and some good memories of some of the amazing children I have taught over the years.

There seems to be an awful lot of stuff getting in the way of my jewellery making at the moment but I was able to sit down on Sunday and make a couple of pretty things. First, I upcycled a vintage brooch with some bud-shaped nuggets of sea glass.

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I only have a couple of tiny pieces of red but this one fitted perfectly and then I had great fun choosing some more tiny nuggets in unusual, vibrant colours and setting them into the brooch. It’s available here.

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I have been mulling over ideas for this fantastic broken bracelet for some time. It’s unmarked silver with translucent lime green enamel and everything about it is superb quality.

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The green enamel proved to be impossible to match even from my extensive collection of beads and other findings, so I decided to go for a contrast of pale pink and use some lovely rose quartz beads I had wired and ready to go.

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After taking two loops off each bracelet panels and reusing the jump rings that were left, I started to join the components. I also added some sterling silver beads and curved tubes, some cat’s eye beads in two shades of green and some reclaimed silver belcher chain and a clasp to create this:

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It has taken some time to get to this point but I finally think I have done justice to the sad and sorry remains of that once stunning bracelet and it’s here in my Etsy shop.

After September’s AGM, Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild were back with needles in hand for our October Meeting, which is designated ‘Friendship Day’ in memory of the members we have lost over the years. It’s usually an all day workshop and often, as last Saturday’s was, run by our talented members.

This year, a small group led by Val introduced us to the world of embellished seam treatments and crazy quilting. I have done a fair bit of crazy patchwork, but I only ever use feather stitch along the seams and for me, it’s the embellishment of the patches which is the focus. My patches are also raw edged, unlike the neat seams of crazy quilting, so I was looking forward to doing something a bit more precise than my usual method of working!

It was a busy weekend on the am dram front as I organised both our annual Hallowe’en costumed trail at the local museum on the Friday and our first ever Spook-tacular Scare Walk in the grounds of Normanby Hall on the Sunday, so I grabbed the brown and indigo left overs from the Indigo Diamond quilt I made last June, a handful of toning threads and I completely forgot to pick up any needles! Thanks to Debbie for letting me scrounge some of hers.

First job was to cut three pieces of fabric and to stitch them onto a calico backing. As the block only consisted of three sections, we stitched the seams by hand, which was nice quiet repetitive work, especially when you can chat to friends while you’re doing it. As well as the blue and brown I also picked up one of my rust dyed fabrics for the third colour.  All ready to embellish the seams.

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I wanted to echo the curved lines in the rusted piece, so I used a cotton reel to trace half circles along my first seam, alternating between the blue and the rust, and used a heavy almost corded cotton thread in rusty browns to cover it in chain stitch.

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The thread was almost too heavy to use, but I love the effect.

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Next, to take it a bit further. I wanted something fan-like in the semi-circles so I decided on buttonhole wheels.

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Nice idea, but not happy with the execution. The wheel was a bit uneven, so I tried to hide it by filling the middle with a smaller, woven buttonhole wheel. Then I stitched the second one (on the right) and it came out much more like I had imagined.

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So the first one is in the process of coming out!

It was a lovely workshop. We constructed our blocks in the morning, leaving the afternoon for the creative fun of developing the seam treatments and there were some gorgeous results.

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Really looking forward to finishing this piece now Hallowe’en is out of the way!

Not together though! Firstly, the technology. Last Tuesday I was very excited and also initially pretty nervous to chat to Susan Weekes of Stitchery Stories via Zoom – a technical first for me – as she recorded me for this week’s podcast which goes live on Wednesday 17th October.

Looking at the sort of people who she has already had as guests on Stitchery Stories I can’t quite believe I am going to be among such amazing company! We were chatting before the recording about social media in general and Facebook in particular. Having seen the sort of hassle Facebook causes during my time in teaching I have never had any inclination to be part of it, but I am aware that I really could do with promoting myself a bit more on social media. Susan recommended I start using Instagram and so, another technical first – I am now on Instagram as Underatopazsky.

Not sure how I feel about it yet. I don’t find it very intuitive and keep clicking on the wrong icon, but I do like the immediacy of it and the ease of use, as opposed to making  time to sit down and write a blog post. I definitely won’t stop blogging, but I will probably carry on Instagramming too.

Now to sea glass. These gorgeous little nuggets of multi-coloured Seaham sea glass have finally found homes that showcase their beauty. I love the subtle layers in this one.

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And the two colours in this one which only really reveal when you hold it up to the light.

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I put the blue nugget into a vintage silver tone cage pendant which you can find in my Etsy shop here.

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And the aqua/green multi into a silver cage pendant which can be found here.

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Then I added a fabulous lilac and clear multi to a vintage 800 silver pendant. I really love this one. The shape and colour of the sea glass fits so perfectly with the leaves.

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It’s in my Etsy shop here and was also one of the first things I Instagrammed!!

Last week I directed ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club – hence why I’ve been awol again.

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Everything was going swimmingly until two weeks from show week we discovered that we didn’t have First World War period evening dresses for ‘Bob’ and Lieutenant George in the ‘Major Star’ episode. Nothing in the Club stock and nothing available at the place we were hiring the uniforms from. It was too late to buy the dresses available on eBay as they were in China and so the only option was to make them. That job ended up on my plate.

I can sew. I can use a sewing machine and I made the tree costumes several years ago for one of our pantos, but that was under supervision from my mum, who is an experienced dressmaker. This was going to be flying solo with a deadline and with the memory of my one and only other excursion into making clothes hanging over my head.

My first needlework project at middle school was to make a blouse so my mum equipped me with a paper blouse pattern and some horrible yellow polyester. In the first lesson it obviously didn’t occur to my needlework teacher to tell a class of eleven-year olds that when you have a paper pattern from which you can make different versions of a garment, you only need the pieces for the style you plan to make. I did as I was told: I opened the packet, cut out all the tracing paper pieces, pinned them onto the fabric and cut every one out. I was then promptly held up to ridicule in front of the whole class. I never did finish it and that was the end of my sewing for a long while.

So I bought a pattern, hunted through the Club’s fabric stock for something that would be suitable for evening dresses and ten days before show week, I made a start on the first frock. It was…interesting. And challenging. And thank goodness a) I’m not working at the moment because I ended up pulling some seriously long days and b) I was able to ring my mum and get her advice when I couldn’t make head or tail of the instructions or the pictures. It was not the straightforward pattern I had hoped for as a complete novice.

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My 90 year old Frister and Rossmann coped superbly with taffeta, lace, satin and organza. Multiple layers? No problem? Different fabrics? Easy. I love that machine sooooo much!

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There was a lot of hand stitching and finishing as well – the Friday before our Sunday Get-In I stitched for thirteen hours with breaks for cooking and eating meals, but I am pretty pleased with the results. Firstly, Bob’s dress.

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There wasn’t enough of the floral print for a whole dress but the taffeta matched the turquoise flowers perfectly and she was literally on stage in it for less than three minutes.

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George’s dress had to be made for a very tall and skinny bloke, which was another interesting challenge, but thanks to the purple lace I found in a box while looking for something else, I think this one worked a treat.

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My middle one loves it and had to be dissuaded from taking it back to university with her!

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I’m proud of the back.

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Well out of my comfort zone, but I think I may have finally laid the ghost of that bloody awful yellow blouse. And the show was a triumph too.

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