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Archive for the ‘Beachcombing’ Category

With this month’s Move It On project safely put to bed, I’ve been able to think about other things, including a piece inspired partly by a recent trip to Withernsea beach which always turns up some interesting beachcombed treasures, and partly by some recent images that caught my attention on Pinterest of densely encrusted stitching around seashells.

I rediscovered a fabulous piece of silk matka which looks like a hessian sack but feels like velvet, some scraps of organza to add subtle shading to the background and some assorted shells and literally started to doodle in stitch.

I had an odd pony bead and I knew I wanted to cover it in stem stitch band like one I did for the North Cornwall Wallhanging. I used a much thicker thread for this one but it still has the sea urchin sort of look that I was looking for. The raised cup stitch that was so successful as poppies on the Harvest Wreath was a complete disaster here, so I filled them with seed beads and started to surround them with French knots to try and blend them in.

Next I added feather, threaded chain and Palestrina stitches over the strips of organza to hold them down and continued to build up the French knots and add some little mottled sandy coloured beads.

I love the depth and texture of the stitching.

More French knots interspersed with bullions and pearl beads. I liked the shaded effect on the needleweaving on the left from the variegated silk threads I was using so I added some more of those.

Finally finished. Well, in the end I had to tell myself to put down the needle and walk away. With this sort of free form stitching it’s so tempting to just add another dozen French knots or another seaweedy frond. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!

I finished the Mothers’ Day card in good time too and am told it went down very well with the recipient. Despite my best efforts the the tea bags did shred a bit and the whole thing had to be restabilised by stuffing scraps of Bondaweb under the flapping areas and ironing carefully. You can see some spidery areas of glue but it’s less obvious in real life and was much better than having bits dropping off!

Next job is to decide on April’s Move It On Project and I’m torn between revisiting an existing project or starting a kit that’s been hanging around for a while and of course, also needs moving on.

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After a very grey and wet Christmas period it was great to finally get out for a bit of a leg stretch yesterday along the beach at Withernsea. Since I first went last September to see the Pebble of the Day exhibition at the lighthouse, it’s become a firm favourite for a seaside walk and beachcomb. I love the massive variety of pebbles you find on the beach due to the underlying boulder clay and I was lucky enough to find a few fossils. I especially love the little one in the middle which looks like it has a set of tiny teeth!

I always seem to find really big chunks of sea glass at Withernsea. The slab of safety glass is an unusually large inch and a half by an inch and there are at least two other pieces of a similar size.

I also found a few nice pieces of beach china, of which at least two will be perfect for china pots for woven feathered chain stitch plants.

I’ve also been thinking about the direction I want to go in 2022 and I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on unfinished projects; revisiting them to see if there is anything to be gained by moving forward. So my idea is to pick one project a month and focus on it around other things that need doing. At the end of the month I’ll hopefully know whether it’s worth continuing with or not, rather than setting myself a potentially unrealistic goal of finishing it. A finish is a bonus but even if that hasn’t happened, I should have moved it on.

There are some very tempting projects in my box: buttonhole rings, Blackwell House of Arts and Crafts sycamore keys and some Casalguidi work…

…embroidered book covers and crazy patchwork…

…and a few kits from various places.

But first, it’s panto costume time (oh yes it is…) and the big item I’ve been putting off. This:

…needs to become Dame Durden’s opening dress for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club’s 2022 panto Jack and the Beanstalk. Opening on the 11th January – hopefully, Covid cases and restrictions permitting. Time to bite the bullet and set scissors to fabric.

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Just got back from a slightly different but very much needed and enjoyable week in North Cornwall. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen photos of our walks and beach excursions in my stories and I even managed to get some stitching done as well.

First, a piece of blackwork from a gorgeous design I found on Pinterest several years ago. I’m afraid I don’t know the designer, so if anyone does please can they let me know so I can credit them. This is stitched in a single strand of Gloriana silk thread on 28 count natural Cashel linen and yes, it is tiny! Most of the motifs are about 1cm square.

Stitching al fresco in Boscastle while my husband and little one went snorkelling in the harbour.

And again at Tintagel while we waited for our slot to cross the new bridge onto the headland.

Finally finished. I still love the design and I’m glad I stitched it, but I’m ready to move onto something else!

I’ve decided to stitch a Memory Journal style diary for this holiday. I’m going for images and memories from the whole week, rather than one piece to represent each day as I’ve done in the past. We went to Crackington Haven on the Sunday evening to watch the sunset.

And to have a little beachcomb – although as the tide was well in, it was only a little one. I love the slate pebbles of this beach with their scribbly quartz inclusions.

So the first piece I created was using the pebble fabric from the Anderby Creek Memory Journal and some flat slate pebbles from Crackington Haven beach over which I stitched my own quartz inclusions.

I’ve also been very taken with the way the prevailing winds sculpt the trees on the north coast. (Taken through the windscreen of the car, so not the best photo, but I love the shape of that tree.)

Start of my sculpted tree piece. I’m planning to couch the strands of cotton down to make the outline of the branches and then clothe it in leaves – possibly a few less than on the original so you can still see the framework of branches.

We visited a few beaches during the week but the beach finds were generally a bit sparse. However, I’m planning to use some of these bits I picked up at Tintagel for various stitching and jewellery projects.

Plenty of inspiration and hopefully now I’ve had a week’s recharge, I have the energy to get stuck into them.

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I’ve been wanting to create some more watch case pendants for a while and last week I finally got round to hunting out the box they live in. I was also determined to do one at a time that I could actually finish, rather than planning all of them at once and overfacing myself.

I had a lovely little rounded piece of driftwood that I wanted to use for this one and teamed it with a pretty gold flecked batik cotton.

Seaweed first, in good old feather stitch and some overcasting with added cast on stitch picots to help hold the driftwood in place.

Then some maidenhair stitch and beading. Maidenhair stitch is a feather stitch variant where you stitch three loops gradually increasing in size on the same side before stitching three on the other side, rather than alternating as in ordinary feather stitch. It’s a new stitch to me and I really like the effect it gives, especially when you curve it like a plant stem.

Some more feather stitch and Palestrina stitch to give a different texture.

After one more swirl of Palestrina knots with a touch of purple, time to add the sea glass. The sea glass nuggets are held in place with a dab of superglue just to make sure they don’t go anywhere before I work the holding stitches over them.

Lastly I gathered the design over a piece of pelmet vilene before setting it into the watch case.

It just needs a silver plated chain attached (somehow…) and it’s a finish.

My not so little, little one turned 16 at the weekend and as I was completely out of inspiration for an original card, I used a pattern from the internet to cross stitch one of her favourite characters from Star Wars:

I was reminded how long it takes to cross stitch even a relatively small and simple design (best part of four hours for this one and I don’t think I was stitching particularly slowly) but it was worth it – she loved him.

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With the reopening of non-essential shops this week, the Persian Chandelier and most other ongoing projects have been put aside and my stitching and making has been focussed on building up my jewellery stock.

First, a new sea glass necklace.

I started with a vintage rolled gold pendant which had lost its stone and found a sea glass piece that fitted it perfectly in my dwindling collection of Seaham multis – this one clear with a smudge of pink. Then I added a delicate rolled gold necklace and found some perfectly frosted pink and white glass beads to replace the existing beads which luckily match the sea glass piece perfectly.

It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve also been altering another fabric brooch from a job lot of junk jewellery. This one was simply a piece of woollen checked fabric needle felted onto a square of black wool with a random button and a brooch back sewn on. I removed the button and while going through my found object stash for the Mandala Brooches, I found what I think might have been part of a fishing fly and a hemispherical panel from a bracelet which both appealed.

I used my go-to variegated metallic Madeira thread to stitch both elements down and add stitches into the fabric around the main part of the fishing fly. It isn’t supposed to be anything in particular but I think it looks a little like a comet!

Sashiko stitching on tiny scraps of indigo dyed cotton with silk thread mounted in a vintage brooch setting have become another boro-style brooch.

I’m really pleased with the sashiko pattern on this one, especially as I did it by eye, and it really pulls the separate scraps of fabric into a whole.

It’s available in my Etsy shop here.

Lastly, some experimenting with knotted stitches in this sort of crewel work style sample. Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch and French Knots on the left, German Knotted Buttonhole in the middle and middle right and Palestrina Stitch and Pistil Stitch top right. Chain Stitch and Four-Legged Knot bottom right and the stem is Coral Stitch and Satin Stitch.

Hopefully I can get back on track this week and I have high hopes of being able to stitch outside if the weather stays good!

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As promised from last week, here is the second china pot fragment, this time filled with ribbon embroidery irises, which have worked out rather nicely. The flowers are lazy daisy stitches with a stitch threaded through the bottom of the chain to give the falling petals, the leaves are done with ribbon stitch and the stems are two rows of split stitch.

I ended up finishing it late at night and the only photos I have of the finished piece have huge shadows round the sides of the pot which look like stains! Anyway, it was done in time for Mothers’ Day and went down well.

I’ve been working away on a couple of upcycled pieces of jewellery. The first was a fairly easy conversion from a broken 1907 silver and hardstone shamrock brooch to a pendant. The c-shaped catch was in good condition and substantial enough that I could twist it round to create a hanging loop. There was very little left of the pin hinge so I was able to carefully saw the remains off and neaten up the scar.

With the addition of a jump ring and a silver chain it’s good for at least another hundred or so years.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

The second make was a bit more of a puzzle. A chunk of abstract fused silver with two holes and a short length of tube on the back.

I wondered if the tube was supposed to be a bale, but it was very narrow and you would have struggled to get anything but the finest chain through it. And a very fine chain would have been out of proportion to the chunky pendant. So I decided to use the top hole as the hanging point and removed the tube. That left me with what to do with the second hole. I couldn’t hang anything from it as it was too far up, so I went through my odd stud earrings to see if there was anything to inspire me. I found a couple of round studs with semi precious cabochons in silver settings which were attractive before a little frog stud tumbled out of the bag. I’m not sure why I tried him in place, but he somehow turned the abstract chunk of silver into a sort of stylised lily pad.

He just works perfectly!

Mr Frog is available here in my Etsy shop.

As our second Mothers’ Day under lockdown in the UK rolled around, it reminded me of the memory journal of my beach walk on Mothers’ Day 2019 which I finished on Mothers’ Day 2020.

And that in turn reminded me that I have two pieces still to do for my Kew memory journal from June 2019. The recent needlelace sampler was a half hearted attempt at testing out some ideas for a piece based on the magnificent Chihuly Persian Chandelier which hung in the middle of the Temperate House.

But I’ve decided that I need to stop faffing and get on with it, so this morning I assembled some delicious Mulberry Silks, my tiny antique crochet hooks and a piece of lovely indigo dyed calico.

Time to stop overthinking and see what happens…

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With the outlining done on the medieval tiles piece it was time to make a decision about how to fill the space surrounding them. Seeding was a bit of an obvious go to and something I used in the last print to stitch piece, but I wanted something different. I toyed with seeding in a more distinctive stitch, like a tete de boeuf, fly stitch or detached chain stitch, but they all looked too heavy, so I fell back on an idea I had a while ago of a kantha spiral based on the centre of the motif. Typically, I chose one to start off where the motif wasn’t in the middle of the ’tile’ so I couldn’t quite see whether it was going to work as I hoped – mainly, I think, because the initial rows of single stitches were quite overpowering – until I got to the outside rows.

Stitching in circles and skipping the printed areas has pulled it up into a bit of a dome! I think there will definitely have to be something couched along the motif to try and flatten it. I think I like it. I might need to play with the couched lines before I can be certain one way or another.

I’ve finished the little needlelace sampler. Goodness knows why I thought it would be a good idea to work in wedge shapes and have to decrease as well as working the stitch. It’s not a huge problem with the Single and Corded Brussels, but created some interesting effects with the Double Corded Brussels (DCB) and the Ceylon Stitch.

I really like what happens to the lace as the stitch spacings get smaller on the DCB. The early rows have a lovely open trellis effect with the cord taking centre stage, whereas in the later ones it is much less obvious, becoming a pattern of double stitches and holes. It’s useful to see how different spacings can give you different effects.

The Ceylon Stitch loops were tiny from the start and as the spacing got smaller, I had to decrease in the middle of the pattern as that was where it was the mostly tightly packed.

It is such a lovely looking but incredibly unforgiving stitch that you can see every single place where it isn’t absolutely perfect. It also took forever and so I am not redoing it – it can stand as an useful object lesson!

I intend to carry on stitching some more needlelace but the next sampler is going to be based on rectangles. However, I might work another sample of the Ceylon stitch in a rectangle just to prove I can do it perfectly when I don’t have to keep decreasing!

I’ve not made much jewellery for a while as I’ve been trying to list a backlog of vintage jewellery on Etsy, but when an odd earring I was cleaning came to pieces, leaving me with a rather nice silver mount, I was inspired! I set it with a lovely and very unusual piece of beachcombed Victorian pottery and added a 16″ silver chain to make a unique pendant.

It’s available here in the Beachcombing section of my Etsy shop.

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Having finished Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s tail with the white circles…

…I decided to add the details to the head section next. Extending some of the outline to give him a jawline and define the ears was straightforward, as was adding the highlights around his neck, ears, mouth and nose. Then it was the eye. The eye more than anything gives him his personality and I really didn’t want to get this wrong, so I cut out a paper template and moved it around until I was happy before I started stitching. It’s amazing how even a small alteration in placement can make a big difference to expression and personality. After a reassuringly small amount of unpicking, I was pleased with the way he looks. Definitely cheeky!

I had a pair of trousers to hem yesterday and while looking for the right colour sewing cotton, I bumped into the Bayeux Stitch mushroom I started last January during panto.

I’d got as far as putting the gills in but they were going in the wrong direction. I knew they were wrong but simply couldn’t work out what the right direction was, so I put the hoop aside and left it – I didn’t even bother to finish unpicking the gills. So this was what appeared as I moved my mending pile:

As I picked up the hoop I could see instantly where the lines needed to go! Trousers were postponed and gills were couched in place. I also outlined the spots on the cap and next stage is… the highlighting. I really need to get over my nerves about stitching highlights on these pieces!

I’ve also been adding some more upcycled jewellery to my Etsy shop. These drop earrings I made in January from a fragment of Art Nouveau pressed brass frame in the shape of olive branches is similar are available here. I’ve added faux pearl drops and new gold plated sterling silver earhooks.

The broken silver ring I shaped into two Celtic motifs has been teamed with a couple of iridescent Czech glass beads to become this rather elegant pair of earrings which are available here in my Etsy shop.

Then a couple of beachcombing pieces. Several years ago I found four glass beads which had obviously once been part of a necklace or bracelet on a tattered piece of thread at a Cornish beach. I love the way they have been worn by the sea and have been looking for just the right project for them ever since. Inspiration struck when I came across an odd earring with a hanging loop inside. I made a piece of silver wire into a headpin and two of the beads fitted perfectly. You can find it here in the Beachcombing section of my shop.

I had a silver pendant which had a very odd looking flat part under the garnet. It was a little while before I realised it was a backing plate and whatever had originally been stuck on it was long gone. Perfect for a piece of sea washed pottery and this fragment of Victorian spongeware worked perfectly. The finished pendant has a new silver chain and is available here.

And the final highlight is the upcycled mourning locket I wrote about in last week’s post.

Within an hour of listing it on Etsy it had sold! A great boost on a cold and snowy day.

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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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Onto the second side.

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The applique felt cloud shape echoes the concrete seats at the Cloud Bar with split stitch silk thread clouds on indigo dyed sheeting sky and seeding on the crinkled gold satin sand.

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I’ve used pulled thread work and specifically irregularly worked diamond stitch for ripples in the sand before and it’s one of my favourite styles to work so I decided to use it for the back ground to some beachcombed finds – seaweed, a tiny bit of drift wood and a shell with a very convenient hole already drilled into it.

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At the end of the walk was the lovely Anderby Beach Cafe and I used fabric paints to copy their clever logo onto a piece of fine cotton, turning it into a sort of receipt to remind me of the posh hot dog (local butcher’s sausage) and latte I had enjoyed for my lunch, partly obscured by an appliqued splodge of tomato sauce!

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I’ve also started another memory journal for a visit to Tattershall Castle last summer which is inspired by the bricks it’s made from.  The pelmet vilene base for this one has been covered in an appropriate fabric rather than being painted and it will have six slightly larger panels rather than the eight for Anderby Creek which will fold slightly differently.

DSCN7868I’m considering batik, canvaswork and reverse applique to record my memories of this visit.

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