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Archive for the ‘Holiday Journal’ Category

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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The project I’ve chosen to focus on for this month’s Move It On is a relatively new one and the reason that my Kew Memory Journal has stalled. I’ve already done four of the six pieces for it and last spring I started the fifth, based on a photo I took of one of Dale Chihuly’s Persian Chandeliers which was installed in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in 2019.

I drew out the pattern of the glazing bars on a piece of indigo dyed cotton and as of last April, using thin white ribbon for the thicker bars and whipped back stitch for the thinner ones, had got as far as this:

The fun bit was next – creating the frilly circles of the chandelier – but at this point I froze up because I didn’t think I could stitch anything that comes close to representing Chihuly’s amazing art. I had various ideas about making wired edged needle lace slips, crochet circles using my tiny Victorian metal crochet hook and woven spiders web stitches. I reminded myself that I was only aiming for my impression of the chandelier but I was really reluctant to start and instead, put it to one side.

So this is where the Move It On project will hopefully help. By the end of the month I should know whether I can make this work or whether I abandon it and create a different fifth piece for the Memory Journal. The hard bit is going to be actually making that start!

As I’ve had the Inktense blocks out, colouring some pelmet vilene for the Ribbon Rose Brooch kits, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to stitch an embroidered centre for a silver Victorian brooch I’ve had for some time. I think these type of brooches were originally designed to be set with coins, but the empty frame makes an ideal surround for a piece of miniature textile art!

I went with my favourite colour palette and one of my favourite themes as there are so many stitches which suggest waving seaweed such as the feather stitch and threaded chain stitch…

…and a line of Palestrina stitch to fill in the gap on the right.

I’m very happy with the stitching but I feel it’s a bit flat, so I’m toying with ideas for a bit of extra dimensionality. I think it might be a bit too small to add even very tiny pieces of sea glass so I was thinking beads or possibly picots at the bottom. Or possibly a little silver fish… Any thoughts?

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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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As I suspected, finding the right white for the vertical glazing bars of the Temperate House was a pain. I ended up with a selection of white threads, ranging from good old Anchor stranded cotton to some fabulous Gloriana 12 strand silk called ‘Fresh Snow’ which is too perfectly white, silky soft and beautiful to use!

After standing in the sunny garden laying threads out alongside the ribbon and seeing how just one or two strands compared with the way the thread looked in the skein, I finally settled on a Dinky Dyes stranded silk in ‘Natural’.

I initially used back stitch rather than my go to split stitch as I wanted a stronger line but I wasn’t happy with the breaks between the stitches, so I whipped it to give more solidity.

The lines are similar rather than identical to the original, but when I referred back to the source photo, I realised how subtly the spacing and angles of the bars changed as their perspective to me altered. Had I drawn this from memory, all those lines would have been parallel and evenly spaced. It was a very useful lesson in observation.

I’ve also continued with the or nué acorn and started the coloured couching in single strands of stranded silk. Despite my initial concern that it was at an angle to the gold, I felt the first part of the cup worked well. It was only when I came to add the highlight that it started to get a bit challenging.

I wanted the highlight to curve round the cup, but working in straight lines makes that difficult, especially as this piece is so small. Not really knowing what else to do, I just carried on stitching to see if I could make it work out. By this point I had started the acorn, so things were ramping up on the difficulty scale, not least having four needles on the go at once.

I know I have the tendency to overcomplicate things, but I did think an acorn would be a relatively simple thing to stitch! Once I had sort of wrangled the highlight on the cup I realised I needed to add a lighter colour to the acorn. Unfortunately I think I should have introduced it at least a row previously…

It wasn’t working and I needed help to see where the shading was, so I added some lines to give me an idea of where the changes need to happen. Suddenly I feel more confident about it.

I think I will have to go back and unpick some of the darker green on the row or two above and add the mid green, but I’ve decided to continue and finish the design first and see how it looks. This is very much a first attempt at a new technique and it will do me good to not obsess about everything I do having to be perfect straight out of the box.

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After having stitched the next section of ribbon for the glazing bars of the Temperate House at Kew down with stab stitches, it was clear that the original blanket stitches had to come out. Much better.

This has made it less bulky, so I decided to take Rachel’s (VirtuoSew Adventures) advice and run the bars right across the background.

Next I need some white thread for the thinner vertical bars, but there is white and white, as I found out a few years ago when I stitched a whitework piece and discovered that the threads I thought were identical under artificial light certainly were not in daylight! So I’m leaving the thread matching for a day with good natural light.

I’ve just added this sweet little upcycled sea glass brooch to my Etsy shop. It was one of those satisfying moments when after having trawled through a large pile of sea glass finding pieces that were almost but not quite right, I picked up this gorgeous green oval and it clicked into the vintage brass brooch setting like it had been made for it.

As if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, this week I’ve started a little or nué design of an acorn. I painted it onto some indigo dyed calico, left over from the Persian Chandelier piece with my Inktense sticks, which I love.

Then I started couching down the gold threads, using Pearsall’s ‘Gossamer’ thread. It’s so thin, it’s literally like stitching with spider’s web, so perfect for the job. It was a bit challenging to make the gold thread turn as tightly as possible at the ends , but so far, so good.

As I approached the edge of the acorn, I realised I hadn’t made things easy for myself. I was going to hit the acorn at an angle, rather than straight and this was going to potentially make it more difficult to get the shading right.

However, considering the amount of time it had already taken me to get this far with the gold, I have decided to keep on and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be an important lesson and remind me to do a bit more research before I blithely jump into a brand new technique!

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I was very tempted to get straight into the fun bits of needle lace and crochet, but realistically it was more important to work out the background first to make sure all the little twiddly bits were to scale. I chose this photo:

because the lines of the Temperate House glazing form an interesting but not overpowering background. I turned it into greyscale as I did with the bollock purse from the Tattershall Journal so I could focus on the lines and patterns and then transferred the design onto a piece of indigo dyed cotton.

My white pen is obviously running out but as it’s one that develops over time, I can’t tell that at the point I’m tracing the design! At least there was enough of the design marked up for me to start stitching. I decided to use very fine ribbon for the thicker bars to contrast with whatever line stitch I choose for the thinner bars and have blanket stitched the first one down with fine sewing cotton.

Unfortunately further stitching was curtailed by two and a half days supply teaching followed by my first Covid jab and 24 hours lost to feeling rough from the after effects. Looking at it again, I like the width and solidity of the ribbon but I’m not sure about using blanket stitch to attach it. It looks a bit too raised and I’m wondering if I might try stitching the next one down with tiny stab stitches to keep the ribbon smoother.

I did manage to do a bit of playing with a sample of Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch at the weekend. I’d seen someone using it on Instagram and was rather taken with the result. Mary Corbet came up trumps as usual with an excellent tutorial which you can find here and this is the result of my experiments.

I’m really pleased with the weighty, corded effect it gives and the colour changes in the variegated perle thread.

I love stitches that looks as impressive as this one but are in fact very straightforward to work. Another new one for the repertoire!

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The snowflakes brooch take two is completed and has worked much better this time around. The blue silk makes the snowflakes really stand out and the actual snowflakes are definitely better executed. I finished it by gathering it round an oval of buckram to stiffen it…

…and then made another plain piece to cover the gathers on the back. I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the resulting ‘sandwich’ into the brooch setting.

I also got round to making the practice piece for the Chihuly Reeds to trial the alcohol inks. I was concerned that they might either run off the metallic fabric and bleed into the back ground or the applique stitches would wick the ink down into the fabric, but in fact, neither happened. There is some bleeding, but that was where I touched the tip of the brush onto the fabric – not easy to avoid, given the size of the piece.

Onto the main piece, feeling much more confident. I did catch the background fabric in a couple of very minor places but I think the variegation of the back ground fabric helps to hide it.

Then I added the dried grass around the bases. I’m really happy with the way the combination of the metallic fabric and the translucent inks has captured the shimmering glass. Success number two!

And success number three is that the lovely The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle is going to stock my upcycled jewellery! I had a scenic run out there last week and met Kate, the owner, who is passionate about upcycled and handmade and happy to stock a selection of my jewellery. So that’s where Snowflakes Take Two will be going, as will this underwater themed locket which I finished this morning.

Fingers crossed – that’s all I can do at the moment.

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Well, almost two, as I’ve only just restarted it. I also decided to stitch onto silk and found a scrap of this lovely midnight blue silk dupion to use for the second take. The snowflakes are also neater this time round, so perhaps it was all for the best anyway.

Part of the reason that the snowflakes brooch is only partly completed is that I’ve finally managed to get all the padded applique reeds done for the Kew Memory Journal.

Next I need to stitch a sample one and see if I can carefully colour the metallic fabric with alcohol inks without it running into the background fabric to get the red/orange flame colours of the Chihuly glass.

I was looking for fob watch cases a few weeks ago and after having been distracted by finding the box of clock hands that was with them, I finally started sorting the fob cases out this week. In with them was a lovely mid-century silver tone ladies watch case which sparked off an idea to upcycle it into a pendant.

First I stitched a silk ribbon rose and rosebuds onto a scrap of pink silk dupion and added foliage in fine green silk thread.

Then I gathered it round a couple of circles of buckram the same size as the watch case….

…before inserting it into the case. Luckily the front section comes off easily.

Then to finish it off I added a sterling silver chain and found a little silver and marcasite swallow to hang from the bottom loop.

This isn’t available in my Etsy shop at the moment because I’m hoping that some of my upcycled jewellery will be stocked by a shop in Horncastle which champions in upcycled items and if I’m successful, this will be one of the pieces that will go there. Fingers crossed!

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I’ve finally finished the English Paper Pieced patchwork page for my Kew Memory Journal with an embroidered branch across the top in split stitch and detached chain stitch.

Apart from the front cover it’s the first page I’ve fully finished. I really need to get down to stitching the snaps onto the Niijima floats piece – stalling again with only a tiny bit to finish! And the Reeds are closer to being finished that they were. There are only two more to stitch down but it is laborious putting the tiny stitches into the silver applique and not very interesting compared with all the other exciting things I want to play with – like snowflakes.

The plan was for the snowflakes to feature on the central insert for a broken vintage silver tone brooch. Indigo dyed fabric all hooped up and ready to go.

Improvising snowflakes in silk thread. So far so good. I liked the large and medium snowflakes and then I planned to seed the background with French knots for small distant snowflakes.

Ah…

Far too busy now and the detail of the bigger snowflakes is hidden. I added some blending filament to give them a bit of sparkle in the hope that it would help, but no. Definitely a back to the drawing board moment!

I’ve also upcycled a vintage watch face casing which was missing its face and mechanism. I found a sterling silver flower which had been a broken stud earring and fitted perfectly into the case.

Then I used an odd silver earring hook a fabricate a hanging loop and a loop to attach the baroque pearl dangle before adding a sterling silver chain.

I love silver and gold (gold tone in this case, I suspect) together and was so pleased with the way this worked out. If you like it, please check it out here in my Etsy shop.

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