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Archive for the ‘Canvaswork’ Category

I took a bit of a break from the ongoing long projects this week and have enjoyed learning and working a couple of new stitches. The first was a little canvaswork piece with a hearts theme. I do enjoy the odd spot of canvaswork and I immediately thought of Rhodes Stitch, worked as hearts. A quick Google showed me that you can work the hearts in a variety of sizes, although as they get bigger they do get bulkier. I found some yellow canvas and matched it with some daffodil yellow stranded silk and some variegated stranded silk in purples and golds that reminds me of pansies. The small yellow hearts were pretty straightforward, although having to fasten off after each heart because any carrying threads were visible was mildly irritating.

Then I added pansy coloured larger hearts to the middle. The bottom one was the fourth attempt.

  • Attempt  1 – too far up.
  • Attempt  2 – I miscounted the placement of the first stitch but didn’t realise until I tried to put the penultimate stitch in and there wasn’t enough room!
  • Attempt  3 – Stitched it perfectly – on the wrong side…
  • Attempt  4 – Count twice, stitch once. Check carefully which side is the right side. Finally, success!

The top heart went quicker but I was more careful with my counting this time. Then I tried out a new Rhodes Stitch version I’d come across while looking at the various sizes for the hearts – a Rhodes Stitch Butterfly. It’s a straightforward and very effective shape to stitch, but once again, careful counting is your friend. I decided to do two stitches for the body and I think that makes him nicely chunky.

The second new stitch was one I’ve had in mind to try for a while. I’d been asked to make a Mothers’ Day card for a friend and I was inspired by some cards online using sea glass fragments as pots with drawn plants. What if I used a piece of sea washed pottery as a pot and the woven feathered chain stitch I’d been wanting to try out to make a trailing plant? Feathered chain stitch first.

Then you fill in the loops with needleweaving, rather like making a picot but with only two threads. I definitely improved as I stitched these two stems – no guesses for noticing which leaf was my first one!

Moving onto the middle stems. The needlewoven leaves remind me of quaking grass.

After the final two stems, some French knots flower buds in silk ribbon and the pottery shard to check the scale. You can get a better idea of the size against my hand.

Lastly I filed a little off the bottom left hand corner to correct the shape and added a shadow in split stitch just to ground the pot.

Very pleased with the result. I used coton a broder and it has given the leaves a lovely sheen. I think a fine perle would work well too and a subtly variegated thread might look even better. I’m so pleased with it I’m just about to start something similar for my mum.

Stay tuned!

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I bit the bullet! I finally plucked up the courage to steam and cut the canvas round my Sue Hawkins needlebook and once that was done, the rest just fell into place. The waste canvas folded back a lot flatter than I thought it would and blanket stitching the felt down was a breeze.

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The rest of the felt gave me four internal pages and a finish.

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It feels very odd to have a roomy book to leaf through looking for needles instead of a scrap of felt half the size of a credit card!

Another finish was this broken vintage brooch…

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…to which I added some 3D beading on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene.

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The beading was set into the long channel down the spine of the brooch and I set cats eye beads instead of diamantes into the cup shaped settings.

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A jump ring and a gold plated chain completed the transformation into what my middle one calls the ‘fancy pea pod’ pendant!

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It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

The other finish is another upcycled pendant created from a section of broken vintage bracelet and a single vintage earring.

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This one is available here in my Etsy shop.

The fresh start is the third of my memory journals. Now Tattershall has been put to bed I can concentrate on the Kew journal, remembering one of the hottest days of the year last July when I visited the Chihuly glass exhibition with my son. I’ve completed the cover, another stitched on paper piece which I blogged about back in last August but now I can focus on the Kew pieces rather than being distracted by having all three on the go as I did last summer. So here it is ready to be filled.

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The first piece is based on an image of the Niijima Floats in the Japanese Garden. Hopefully I will have something to show by next week!

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Bullion roses first. In fact this is quite an old finish (early lockdown rather than later!) but one I haven’t blogged about at all. I began another tiny locket insert on silk carrier rod well before last Christmas, using silk buttonhole twist to make bullion knot roses.

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It stalled as other projects took priority but finally at the end of April I decided to crack on and get it finished.

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I was aiming for an asymmetric look but without it appearing to be unfinished and I am very pleased with the result which you can find here in my Etsy shop.

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Back to the Tattershall Castle memory journal. ‘It Rained’ is completed and I am really pleased with it. First the split stitch leaves and couched perle thread stalks.

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Then I added the raindrops. Flat backed teardrop shaped beads with an iridescent coating. They were the perfect finishing touch and I think this might be my favourite of all of the Tattershall pieces.

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This meant that I was now ready to assemble the memory journal, put it away and move onto the third one, documenting my visit to Kew last summer. I blanket stitched a border around the bollock purse…

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…and stitched into it with tiny stab stitches to attach it to the page.

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Everything else went on really smoothly but then I came to the canvaswork piece…

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Unfortunately I trimmed it really close to the edge and this has given me no leeway now I need to stitch it in place. I’m pretty sure that even if I try to invisibly stitch it down the handling will be enough to loosen the last thread on each edge and in any case, I don’t want the spiky bare canvas as an edging.

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So near and yet so far! So, dear readers, any thoughts, ideas or inspiration? All suggestions very gratefully received!

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I’m not exactly sure where the last week has gone. A lot of it gobbled up in household chores and eBay/Etsy listings, I suspect. I know it’s important not to get obsessed by what we have or haven’t done given the continuing situation but I am a bit irritated with myself that I haven’t progressed further with my stitching projects.

The last Tattershall piece, ‘It Rained’, has had a few more veins added.

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I’ve also had what I modestly consider a genius idea to attach the micro quilt so you can still see the back. I stitched on press studs!

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And then discovered it wasn’t centred… :o(

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The canvaswork needlebook is also finished. Well, the canvaswork bit of it is and I also made the closure cords.

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Next is the making up and I’ve stalled on that. I know I’m not alone in this but why is it that we so often baulk at the finishing off stage of a project? I really need a needlebook too, so you’d think that would give me the incentive to crack on and get it finished, but no, I’m dragging my heels like my youngest when reminded that she has flute practise to do instead of WhatsApping her friends.

I’ve made a few more bits of upcycled jewellery as well. A silver 1970s coin pendant, vintage carved bone disc and single silver earring…

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…became this:

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Available here in my Etsy shop.

I also restored a lovely 1950s diamante bib necklace section with a replacement diamante (the small blue one in the middle) and some reclaimed chain…

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…to make it into this:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

In fact, not too shabby for a week’s work, I suppose!

 

 

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The pesky last Tattershall piece is still not working out so I started to attach some of the already completed finished pieces to the accordion book in the hope that they would help inspiration to strike. The front cover is glued as it’s paper with a bit of stabilising calico behind.

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Then I added more stitching to the batik bricks in order to sew it to the brick fabric background.

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But still nothing, and I’m not sure how to attach the bollock purse or the canvaswork either, so that has ground to a halt. So I decided to do something completely different and start one of the two Sue Hawkins kits that have been my lock-down treat. The first one is the Bright Pyramid needlebook, purely because I need one and am too lazy to design my own!

There have been a few counting issues and associated bad language, but I’m just over half way through the design and it’s starting to come a bit more easily as bits of the pattern start to repeat.

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I know that the first two lines are not quite long enough – that was an issue I didn’t realise until I had stitched quite a lot of the hearts and flowers band. There was a lot of bad language at that point… I’m working up the enthusiasm to unpick the ends and restitch them.

On the plus side, I really like the braided effect of the long-legged cross stitch bands.

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And if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve just become the besotted owner of two more vintage hand cranked sewing machines.

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Sadly one of our elderly neighbours died recently (not Covid) and over the last few days it has been quite upsetting to hear relatives clearing the entire contents of her home into a skip. But with charity shops shut and no boot sales, what else do you do with the remains of a life? However, I was able to rescue, among a few other bits, these incredible machines. As both were locked I had no idea what would be inside until I got them home. It was like opening a treasure chest.

It was the fantastic inlaid but badly damaged case that alerted me to this one:

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The base is damaged as well, but I’m sure I can sort it out. No idea of the maker but I suspect it’s late 1800s, early 1900s in date. And it has mother of pearl flowers inlaid into the base plate!

And as the case was very simple, I almost left this stunning Singer in the skip! Opening the case was a revelation – the chrome is immaculate, the decals and bright and clean and it even has a Singer tin of bobbins etc. in the base compartment.

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We are lucky enough to have a fantastic local sewing machine repairers and once things are closer to normal, this one will be serviced and has already been claimed by my daughter.

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I still need to clean them and look at them properly, but I alternate between elation at how beautiful they are and horror that they very nearly went into landfill.

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The next memory journal combines two trips I made to Tattershall Castle last summer – the first a bit of quality time with my youngest in July after the end of term and the second to a fabulous tourney and medieval reenactment event in August.

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The first thing that hits you about this unusual castle is the fact it’s made out of warm chestnut coloured brick instead of stone and that extends to features inside like roof vaulting and some of the window surrounds.

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So bricks were the inspiration for this memory journal and canvaswork seemed a good place to start. Although the pattern is simple, as is the tent stitch I used, I put a lot of thought into choosing a range of threads that echoed the different shades in the bricks.

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However there was one thing I bottled out on – the brick bond. My design is a simple Stretcher Bond where you only see the stretchers, or the long faces of the bricks. Tattershall is built using English Bond as you can see below.

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The advantage of that is that instead of getting a wall that is one brick width deep (fine for a modern house), the row of headers give you a wall that is the whole length of the brick deep – much better for a castle.

However, although it may be better for a castle, it was challenging to get it to look in proportion on a canvas grid, so after two attempts I gave up trying to align the ‘bricks’ and concentrated on a simpler pattern instead!

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I keep reminding myself that it’s a creative response to the visit, not a slavish reconstruction, but the perfectionist in me keeps muttering that perhaps I just need to try that English Bond one more time…

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Our March meeting at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild was Canvaswork Stitch play, led by me. Unfortunately, due to a combination of everything coming on top of each other,  being ill and then completely forgetting about the workshop until about two months before it was due to happen, I wasn’t as well prepared with samples as I would have liked. But I am pleased with what I did manage to stitch.

First sample was the same thread but different stitches.

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The upright cross stitch was a revelation. You would never guess that it was just upright crosses – I just love the interlocking texture it produces.

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Then I worked a sample which was all the same stitch – cushion stitch, but stitched in as many different types of thread as I could. I am particularly pleased with the effect of the chenille (small pale beige rectangle at the bottom), which is such a difficult thread to actually stitch with anywhere else!

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I also had a lovely time running a Ribbon Roses workshop with Selby Embroiderers’ Guild. I had been experimenting with some pelmet vilene based brooches featuring the ribbon roses both with beaded blanket stitch…

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…and also normal blanket stitch edging.

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(The second one ended up as an emergency Mother’s Day card for a friend!!)

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So I decided to turn the design into kits, which went down very well.

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And I even managed to turn my sample/teaching example piece from the workshop into a birthday card.

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And finally another piece of jewellery upcycled with a ribbon rose and beautifully modelled by my little one, who is not so little any more. :o(

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Available as always,  here in my Etsy shop.

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A charity shop near the premises where my amateur theatre group meets has started leaving bits and pieces outside on the pavement at night for people to take. The other week when I arrived for a rehearsal (I’m currently directing Blackadder Goes Forth) I noticed an eclectic mix which included a child’s scooter and a fish tank! When I came out of rehearsal the scooter was gone, but it wasn’t until I was pulling out of my parking spot that I noticed something propped sadly up by the wall and half-hidden by the lonely fish tank. Something that was enough to make me brake and jump out of the car to rescue it.

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As I only have one frame like this and there is a very old and very long term project hogging it, I was over the moon to acquire a new (to me) frame. It’s missing one of the bolts but that should be easy enough to replace. The cross stitch design on it, which looks to be almost finished, must have taken hours.

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So sad that it ended up on the pavement, but the frame at least has gone to a good home. If anyone is interested in giving the cross stitch a good home then please drop me a message either in the comments or via email (scroll down to ‘Contact me at:’ on the right hand side of the blog) and I’ll happily post it out worldwide.

Like buses, these things never come along singly. I dropped off a bag of stuff at the charity shop yesterday and as I turned away from the counter, I spotted this sticking out of a miscellaneous box, priced up at £2.

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To be fair, it was the partly worked canvas work design which attracted me first and reminded me that I quite fancy doing a bit of canvas work.

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And what’s £2 these days? So now I have a frame I can actually use and a nice little piece of mounted up canvas work to have a play with.

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I enjoyed the canvaswork knot garden so much I carried on planting my beds.

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Rhodes stitch on the left and a composite stitch of upright cross stitches within boxes in green with diagonal cross stitches over the top in variegated orange on the right.

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Crossed cushion stitch – I love this one, especially as I was able to use a thinner thread over the top and so let the threads underneath peek through.

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Final beds planted top right and bottom left with a Smyrna cross stitch variant. The Smyrna crosses are worked in a trio of variegated green/yellow/orange threads. This leaves space for little upright crosses in between the larger ones, which I added in using the russety coloured stranded thread that has turned up in most of the designs.

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Just the central section to go. The original design was for a glass shisha ‘pond’ attached with shisha stitch, but I only had large flat sequins at home and they were nearly as wide as the central space so I cheated and covered a brass ring with buttonhole stitch to hold them in place.

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The space in the corners was filled with French knots in the same thread.

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Ready to make up now, but it’s been put to one side by two new projects. Firstly, turning this Country Living freebie notebook into a holiday journal:

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And secondly, winning this sad and sorry box from eBay.

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As you can see, it’s lost a fair amount of veneer and someone has had a cunning plan to encrust the spaces with odds and ends – an old watch face, a couple of broken earrings, a Renault emblem and other esoteric fragments. It must have once been beautiful. What’s left of the flame mahogany veneer is stunning – or could be, with polish and tlc.

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I couldn’t resist and it was mine for a little over a fiver, including P&P. Off have come the oddments.

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And I’ve made a template for the missing piece of veneer on the lid with some pelmet vilene.

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I’m going to make it beautiful again.

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This was the project at our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting before our summer break and it was exactly what I needed after a very hectic last week of work. Nothing like sitting quietly with the calming regularity of canvas stitches to restore your soul a little. At the end of the day I had managed to stitch most of the ‘hard landscaping’ of the paths in cushion stitch and ‘planted’ two and a half beds.

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Two in rice stitch…

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…and the half in eyelet stitch.

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I was enjoying myself so much I took it along to our theatre club panto script reading that evening to stitch the rest of the paths and do some more ‘planting’.

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It’s been the perfect project with which to unwind into the holidays.

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