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Archive for the ‘General Embroidery’ Category

More teaching this week and we’re now into show week for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club‘s long awaited production of ‘Gaslight

It was first cast back in January 2020 which seems a very long time ago. I’m doing the props for this one which mostly involves dressing the set to look like a dark, gloomy, overstuffed Victorian parlour and I’m glad to finally get all the bits and pieces I’ve been accumulating for it out of the house.

I also made several local charity shops very happy by taking a large number of huge, old fashioned and frankly unsaleable pictures off their hands!

It’s been quite a challenge to find Victorian looking bits and pieces. My choice of décor is almost exclusively mid-century, so I’ve been very limited in what I’ve been able to source from home and our show budget only runs to charity shops, not antiques centres.

I’ve done my best but I’m hoping that the ten yard rule most definitely applies.

While I was waiting for the set to go up I managed to get a little further on with May’s Move It On Project, the Casalguidi work. From here:

to here:

Thankfully I’ve nearly finished the overcast trailing now and I can get onto the flowers.

I also got stuck into all those French knots and have finished the In The Stitch Zone Stumpwork Garden Workshop garden path, all apart from some little white or lilac French knots to suggest flower heads on the low growing plants and some taller weeds around the edges.

Note the lone raised stem band courgette on the left. It needs some friends, leaves and stems by Monday!

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Too many days supply teaching this week and coming back shattered in the evenings has meant minimal stitching but I have made a little bit of progress with the Casalguidi work. I’ve planned out where the meandering stem is going to fill the rest of the square, pinned it in place instead of just making my mind up as I go along and done a bit more of the trailing overcast stitch.

Last week this was my starting position:

This week I’ve got as far as here.

However, I have had a real stroke of luck with the instructions for the needlelace flowers. After a fair amount of fruitless Googling I decided to use an image search instead in the hope that a picture of what I wanted to stitch might link to something helpful. And it did! I’d only gone through about half a dozen images before I landed on a blog. The writer hadn’t given any instructions on how to construct the flower in her photos but she had posted a photograph of the cover of the book from which she had taken the instructions. Hang on a minute… I recognise that book! A minute or so later I was pulling my copy of ‘Embroidery Techniques Using Space-Dyed Threads’ by Via Laurie, published by Search Press, off the bookshelf. I couldn’t believe I actually owned the book she had recommended!! So once the trailing is done, I can get straight onto the flower.

We started the first session of the Stumpwork Garden at the Stitch Zone last week with the garden path and I decided to make this one rather larger than the tiny original, with satin stitch slabs set in French knot gravel with patches of moss.

I’m happy with the texture and colour of the variegated 21st Century Yarns stranded cotton but am now regretting my choice to surround my slabs with gravel!

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This month’s Move It on Project is a sample I started at a Casalguidi workshop for what was then Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild back in May 2017. We ordered one of the Guild’s folios on the subject to have a look at some examples…

…and then started on our own samples which we could use to make the front of a little pouch or lavender bag. All traditional Casalguidi embroidery is worked on top of a background of four-sided stitch and that was my starting point. I have a bit of a mental block where this stitch is concerned. I have to really concentrate to work it with the stitches in the same order because if you don’t the stitches lay differently. But I persevered and from this, which is all I managed to stitch in the workshop:

…by the following August, eleven months later (!) I had finally managed to complete the background panel. Now time for the more interesting part of the design.

But in the end it took until April 2019 before I got round to adding some stem stitch bands.

Then I started the trailing overcast stitch, working over a bundle of stranded threads and simply meandering across the panel.

To say it’s effectively a very narrow padded satin stitch, it’s surprisingly difficult to keep neat and even.

So that’s where I am at the start of this month. I plan to finish the overcast trailing, add some needlewoven bars and picots for leaves and smaller flowers and perhaps make one of the big statement needlelace flowers if I can find some instructions. A quick look for online Casalguidi tutorials seems to mainly focus on the big raised stem stitch bands so that might be a bit more of a challenge.

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First of all, Happy 11th Birthday to this blog, which I actually began on May Bank Holiday Monday, the 2nd of May in 2011. It wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake, so please have a calorie free virtual piece of this strawberry pavlova on me!

Things have been very busy as usual, and with three workshops and two days teaching in the last nine days and with all the workshops needing samples and instructions I’ve been working flat out.

Tomorrow I’m teaching my Kamal Kadai workshop to Selby Textile Art Group. It’s a technique I’ve taught at least twice before and so I already had a folder containing all my samples etc. I thought I’d just stitch another piece with smaller unbeaded Kamal Kadai flowers to add to the samples…

…and I’d tidy up the instructions and do some templates for stitching the variant through four-hole buttons. Not a lot to do. Famous last words…

Good job I got the folder out in plenty of time. For a start, my button variant samples were nowhere to be found and even though I’ve turned every workshop folder inside out and emptied the box and cupboard they live in, still no sign. So here are my two new, frantically stitched button variants of Kamal Kadai.

I’m particularly pleased with the red one as I’ve added a smaller button decoratively stitched over the larger one.

Also, now I have more experience of leading workshops, the samples I was so pleased with three years ago, just looked untidy, so I ended up re-mounting them all. It took ages to do them properly but it does look a lot better.

Just one more button piece to mount and then I’m ready for tomorrow.

Next, the final update on April’s Move It On Project, the Newgrange stone. I found a good reference picture of the spirals to work from but unfortunately because of all the workshop preparation I just didn’t have the time to do anything else to it. However, I am pleased that I got the silk attached with the needle-turn applique and now it (hopefully) should be a relatively quick finish.

May’s Move It On Project was started in June 2017 and to my surprise, I’ve only blogged about once, in reference to the Embroiderers’ Guild workshop in which I started it, when it looked like this:

It has developed quite a bit further but May will be the time to see if I can move it on properly.

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Our first workshop of the Summer Session at In The Stitch Zone is looking at Composite Stitches and after some research, I chose four as a starting point. It’s also been sunny and warm enough to work in the garden and I was delighted to be back in my outdoor office to start stitching my samples.

First was what I’m calling Blossom Stitch, which is a pretty combination of feather stitch and detached chain stitch.

I used perle and stranded cotton for the feather stitch and all six strands of stranded cotton for the detached chain stitch flowers. I separated all the strands out and then recombined them to give a fluffy, blowsy effect to the flowers.

Next was Blanket Stitched Chain stitch, the first of two chain stitch variations I found on Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread blog. It’s simply two close rows of chain stitch which then have blanket stitch worked into them but it creates an interesting heavy line stitch, especially when the blanket stitch is worked in the same thread as the chains, as in the middle example.

The second Mary Corbet stitch was Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch. This time the blanket or buttonhole stitches are worked into the outside loop of each chain, rather than across them, which makes for a pretty edging, especially when you buttonhole both sides of the chain.

I tried out some different weights of thread both for the foundation and chain and the buttonholing. Perle on the left and stranded cotton on the right but I think I prefer the finer mercerised cotton in the middle.

The last sample is what I’m calling Peacock Feather Stitch which I think I found on Pinterest. It’s constructed from two nested detached chain stitches with a French knot inside the inner one and straight stitches around the edges.

As they are all tiny samples I’ve mounted them onto a larger piece of card so they can be handled more easily.

April’s Move It On Project is coming along nicely. I bit the bullet and got stuck into the needle turn applique this week. Most of it went pretty well but I just couldn’t get the the final section (top right) to lay as flat as the rest. I’m hoping that once I start to stitch into it, it won’t be noticeable.

Just the spirals to stitch into the stone now, and with the end of the month hurtling closer, I need to think about what to pick for May’s Move It On Project.

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I don’t think I’ve ever actually shown the piece of stitching I’ve chosen as this month’s Move It On Project on this blog despite the fact that I started it in 2012. This of course was the year of the London Olympics. Each branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild was allocated a different participating country and their members were asked to stitch postcards inspired by that country which I believe were displayed in the Olympic Village (not sure, as I never saw mine again…). I decided to reuse this idea when I taught Year 6 textiles in the summer of 2012 and when the children and I did the draw for the countries, I ended up with Eire.

I didn’t get very far with my design during the term we stitched the postcards and my Newgrange inspired stitching stayed at school. I did most of the work on it during interminably long Sports Day afternoons when I was always allocated the delightful job of doing crowd control in the House ‘pen’ – trying to manage hot, bored children who had done their one race of the afternoon hours ago and were now making their own ‘entertainment’. It’s hard to crack down too heavily on these activities when you’re even more bored then they are. Anyway, the stitching came home with me when I left and has been in a drawer ever since. Time to move it on.

I started by couching down some amazing iridescent green cord in random swirls and spirals to give the feeling of the spiral carving on the Newgrange stones.

My plan was then to built up layers of felt padding with grey silk over the top and then quilt it with more spirals to look like the Newgrange stone. I’d got as far as stab stitching the first felt oval down. I have no idea why it has a chunk cut out of it and am wondering if that is going to make any difference when I put the next layer on or whether I should just leave it.

Apart from the nibbled felt, the first thing that occurs to me now I’m looking at it properly, is that I either need some more spirals top right, or I need to unpick that section and restitch it as it is rather lumpy and cramped. Luckily (and very unusually), I know exactly where that lovely green cord is. Finding the matching green couching thread, however, will be another matter entirely…

Thanks to another committee meeting, I now have the second Move It On finish of the year. The spiral seeding on January’s Print to Stitch medieval tiles piece is completed and I’m very happy with it.

However, this has turned into another job. I want to finish it as a notebook cover which will involve edging it – ideally with a quilt type binding. Unfortunately, as you can see, there is very little space along some of the edges and I’ve now stalled again while I mull over ideas of how to make a binding actually work and not lose any of the stitching. Any ideas very welcome!

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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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As I’ve said before, this year’s Move It On Project is about revisiting and evaluating old projects and if any get finished during the month, then that’s a bonus. However, we have our first finish! I did say last week that there was a very good chance of this one being finished as it was pretty close already, with only the laborious job of marking out the diamond grid of background stitches to complete.

I ended up by counting the warp and weft threads to work out where to place the markings as it was more accurate than measuring but even then, I made a mistake that I didn’t spot until I was two columns in and so they aren’t quite exact, but close enough for a Holiday Journal piece.

Adding the pairs of straight stitches over the top was quick and easy, even if the finished motif does look like a grumpy moth!

With Mothers’ Day fast approaching I’ve had my usual commission from a friend to make a card for their mother and my starting point was a postcard sized piece featuring lace, tea bags and painted lace flower trims I started in a workshop I did with Fran Holmes back in November 2019.

I decided that it didn’t need much doing to it apart from stems and leaves for the daisies and took it with me today for some ‘plein air’ stitching when we went for a walk in Sherwood Forest. We were joined for lunch on this bench by a very confident robin and a cheeky little woodmouse, both of whom were well rewarded with titbits.

I’m using fishbone stitch for the leaves, which is pretty dense and as a result the closeness of the stitching holes at the edges of the leaves is shredding the delicate tea bags despite my best efforts.

Just going to have to hope that the stitches and the underlying bondaweb can keep it all together!

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March’s Move It On Project actually has a chance of being finished. I chose a sample I started stitching on our 2019 holiday to the Lake District based on an Arts and Crafts style table runner with a sycamore key design I saw at Blackwell, The House of Arts and Crafts, near Windermere.

By the end of the holiday I’d got as far as here:

I’m only doing one element of the pattern but I’d stalled on the odd curved shape underneath the keys. I couldn’t work out from the photo what stitch was used as it appears to be quite raised on the top edge and then it just got put to one side.

I chose it as March’s Move It On Project as it’s the last thing I need to finish to complete my holiday journal for 2019 and there wasn’t a lot to do to complete it. Then looking at it next to the photo, I realised that as I’d deliberately chosen not to stitch an exact copy of the original anyway, getting the stitch ‘right’ for that curved bit was irrelevant! So I’ve done it in the same thread and used Satin Stitch over a back stitch edging as I did for the edge of the keys.

The final stage is the grid of background stitches. I think from the photo that they are pairs of vertical straight stitches, but they are perfectly placed in relation to the weave of the fabric, so I think a ruler, a sharp pencil and very good light are my next requirements!

In other news, Dylan the Psychedelic Snail has a friend! Over the last two weeks I’ve run him as a workshop for the In The Stitch Zone group I teach at Scunthorpe Central Library (details in the Stitch Zone tab on the header) on a Monday afternoon. The first week we created the Raised Stem Stitch Band spiral for the shell.

And the second week we added the needlelace body.

I wanted a purple body for my new snail but could only find this very light variegated lilac in quite a stiff mercerised cotton or similar. I still think it’s a bit too pale but I love the way the firmer thread really shows up the texture of the Corded Brussels Stitch. Someone on Instagram actually thought the body was knitted!

So, meet Ermintrude! And of course, the obligatory photo to show just how small she actually is!

I always worry about repeating a design in case it doesn’t stitch up as well as the original, but despite the centre of her shell being less neat than Dylan’s I’m very pleased both with my second snail and also how the workshop went overall. A win-win!

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On Saturday I taught my first workshop to our new Independent Stitch Group: Scunthorpe Embroidery and Textile Association or SEATA, formerly known as the Scunthorpe Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. I had decided to teach my Scrappy Nine Patch Rings workshop (in the Workshops tab under Found Objects) based on this piece I stitched back in early 2019. The idea is to use up those tiny precious scraps which you can’t bear to throw away by layering them in strips and as frames/backgrounds to help showcase the different ways to attach the plastic/brass rings.

As well as the nine patch, which I finished as a mini quilt, I also spent most of last week making some individual samples to demonstrate some more ways of attaching the rings to the backgrounds. A scrap of dyed aida was the inspiration for this one and I created a blackwork style pattern for it which served to stitch down the ring in a rather attractive pattern that I hadn’t anticipated.

I was determined to use a grass printed offcut from the Dames’ cow dress for the next one and I had just the vintage trim to go with it. This ribbon trim dates from the 1970s when my mother allowed me half a yard of ribbon or lace if I was good on the occasional shopping trip instead of sweets. My childhood self would much rather have had sweets, but my adult self has made good use of the trims! It was pretty rather than practical, as when you cut it, the flowers all unravel, which is why so much of it still survives.

I added lazy daisy stitches and French knots in green to the trim to help attach it as well as lazy daisy daisies and kantha around the machine embroidered butterfly and hand dyed purple flannel. It’s backed on a piece of stormy lilac colour catcher

This one was purely about the combination of fabrics and I also wanted to try out the possibility of using bullion knots to hold down the ring. The answer to that is yes, the bullions work, but there is some trial and error involved in getting them the right length, so some of mine (bottom right) are a bit slack. And also because I used such a fine cotton, you have to look very closely to see that they actually are bullions and not just a thick corded thread, which rather defeats the aim of using them!

I played about with back stitch and herringbone to enhance the machine embroidered silk scrap and added metallic feather stitch to the crinkled hand dyed organza scrap.

The final sample was started so I had something to work on in the session, although I didn’t actually get to set needle to fabric until well into the afternoon. The printed central piece is another offcut of the medieval tiles print to stitch piece form February 2019 – I really am getting the most out of every scrap of that fabric – and I outlined it in back stitch before blanket stitching the ring on top. Seeding next.

Lastly, the final update on February’s Move It On Project, my Chihuly chandelier. Unfortunately because of the workshop preparation I wasn’t able to add any more stitching to it this week, but again, the aim of the project has succeeded. I wanted to see if I could make the design work and end up anything like the real thing and the answer to that is yes, using back stitched spiders webs and crocheted circles. I’ve not finished it, but I know what I need to do to complete it in the future. Now to decide what I’m going to choose for March’s entry into the Move It On Project.

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