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Archive for the ‘Move It On Project’ Category

It occurred to me as I stitched this month’s Move It On Project this week, that how much moving on each of these projects gets seems to depend largely on their portability. If I can pick it up and take it with me to an appointment, meeting or wherever, then I work on it more. If not, like the Ruskin Lace, which requires concentrated effort, then there is much less moving on.

September’s project, happily, is easily portable and therefore we have progress. Adding veins and a stalk in stem stitch and straight stitch has improved the basic leaf shapes in the Autumn section. I will be adding some more, and possibly some swirls of wind, but I wanted to see if the extra details would work first.

I already had one flower in the Summer section made by combining a yellow ring with a with a smaller green one inside and adding French knots for the centre and also to catch it down. I liked it as it was, but also quite liked the idea of adding lazy daisy stitch petals.

However, after experimenting with some lay outs, I felt that adding petals would make the flower much bigger, so I could only fit a couple in the section, or I would have to layer them. As well as that, the sections I had stitched already are quite simple. The idea is to showcase the rings and what you can do with them, so disguising the ring with extra stitches all round the edge, although a good idea for something else, isn’t right for the premise behind this piece. So there will be three flowers all in a neat row along this section, using some of the rings I’ve already made. I like the heavy sheen of the rayon cord on the left.

So things are moving on quite well.

I also had a lovely day with Lincoln Textiles Group on Saturday…

…teaching this design for the Richly Textured Ribbon Workshop I’ve been working on over the last six months.

The five pages of instructions, including drawing my own stitch diagrams like this one for the twisted ribbon stitch used for the tentacles of the anemone…

…and creating a photo sequence for the zig zag couching I developed for the body, took a lot longer than the actual stitching of the sample, but all the hard work paid off as the designs took shape around the room with minimal input from me. There are still a few tweaks needed but it went down extremely well and overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome of a lot of very hard work!

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September’s Move It On Project dates back to August 2020 and I blogged about it in a post here. I don’t appear to have mentioned it since, but back in 2020 and at the beginning of the month when I picked it back up, it looked like this:

I’d had the idea following a workshop on making buttonhole rings, of doing a piece with manipulated rings based on the four seasons. So Spring is top left, represented by spring showers making ripples in puddles…

…and Summer has been started far right, with a flower created from a tiny green buttonhole ring nested inside a larger one in yellow perle and filled with French knots.

I also had a little collection of random rings I’d worked in the workshop as examples. Autumnal coloured ones for the falling leaves I had envisaged for Autumn and a beaded buttonhole stitched one for Christmas baubles for Winter. Or I might do some small white ones and make snowflakes. Or possibly I could somehow have both!

While I mulled over the respective merits of sparkly beaded baubles and intricately stitched snowflakes, I decided to start on the autumn leaves. It’s proved a bit more tricky than I hoped to shape one end into more of a point, but I think if I add a central vein to each one it might help.

Thank you all for your support on the satin stitch direction for the Brantwood wallpaper motif piece. It’s not niggling at me any more and I’m enjoying the different way the silk catches the light, depending on the angle of the stitching. So much so that I’ve finished all the blue and moved onto the red. I decided to stick with silk thread but I don’t have any red of the same type and weight so I’m using the thinner but fabulously named ‘Tart’s Knickers’ from HDF.

The Brantwood piece is proving the perfect portable stitching which is why it’s moving on at a reasonable rate despite the actual stitching being pretty mindless – outline shape, satin stitch over shape, repeat. But sometimes it’s good to have that choice from challenging projects that demand your full attention right the way along the spectrum to the straightforward ones which you can do with half an eye on something else. Yet another of the many joys of stitching.

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I’ve finished my August Move It On Project! (Well, the stitching part at least – I’ve still got to block it and make it up into a card…) Last week I had completed all the outline stitching and it looked like this:

Once the outline was in I realised I should have stitched that first before I even thought about adding the colours as adding the greens was so much more straightforward. I have no idea why on earth I didn’t, but lesson learned. Dark green first, and I also found a suitable thread to fill in the missing scrap of peach lower right. It’s more like the light peach but it will do.

Then the mid green and a highlight of lime green on the left hand leaf.

Many thanks to Debbie for supplying the perfect match for the dark peach I needed to complete the last few stitches on the petals. Once I’d finished those, the next section to complete was the pale green. Finally, the simple and soothing element I had been looking for as all I had to do was fill in the spaces inside the circle.

To make sure I had sufficient thread, I worked it all in half cross stitch. Just as well, as there was only just enough. Apart from the slight element of thread chicken, it was so straightforward and soothing that I went through it at a rate of knots and rushed straight onto the black before I remembered to take a progress photo!

More straightforward stitching and now I was on a roll, I got my head down and finished the whole of the black in less than an hour.

I’m still not sure exactly what it is, and the name of the design appears to be ‘Neville’, which tells me nothing, but it’s pretty enough, will make a useful card and is out of my to do pile, so wins all round. And I also get extra time to decide on September’s project…

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I’m not much of a one for kits usually as I have more than enough of my own ideas that I’m yet to get round to stitch, but some years ago I couldn’t resist a Liberty canvaswork card kit for 50p in a local charity shop. It was a slightly odd design – I’m still not completely sure what it’s supposed to be beyond a flower/flower bud of some kind – but an unopened Liberty kit for 50p was a no-brainer.

I started stitching it pretty much straight away, but soon came up against the first problem. The instructions suggested you use three strands of the six-stranded cotton provided, but I felt the coverage was far too thin so I upped it to the full six strands. As there was not an overly generous amount of threads in the kit to start with (and I bet it wasn’t cheap originally…) I soon realised that the chances of me running out of some of the shades of peach thread were pretty high. I’d probably have some matching thread somewhere but that would require turning out far too many boxes and bags… So that’s where it stalled and that’s where I picked it up last week for this month’s Move It On project.

After the stress of the Ruskin lace I thought a bit of canvaswork would be nice and soothing. Of course it wasn’t. It’s counted and anything counted has the potential to go seriously awry. I started by playing the peach thread chicken to see exactly how much I would need to find and in which of the four shades. The thread use wasn’t helped by the fact that the kit specifies tent stitch, which due to the extra thread across the back, uses up more than good old half cross stitch. As I neared the end of the threads, I wished that I had ignored the instructions and done it all in half cross stitch from the beginning. Especially as after having congratulated myself on completing all the pale peach and peach stitches, I discovered as I added the dark peach, that I had counted wrongly and the middle section of the lower right petal was out in at least two places.

I took out the scrap of peach before reason kicked in and pointed out that it wasn’t the end of the world and no one would really know if I just worked the dark peach and brick red round my ‘mistake’. However, the scrap literally was just enough to cover the few stitches – no room for a needle to work it – so now I was looking for peach as well. Luckily there was enough brick red but the dark peach has come up short.

I also couldn’t understand why I’d stitched some of the cream perle outline and not the rest, so as a break from trying and failing (of course…) to find a distinctly salmony-peach thread among the literally hundreds I own, I decided to finish the perle. Which is when I found the second counting error on the top left hand edge of the left-hand petal. This time I decided just to work round it and alter the last stitch to make the petal join. I really don’t think it’s noticeable so not unpicking was the right call. But so much for it being soothing and easy!

The shishas and couching pieces has moved on to here:

And I’ve been working on more of my upcycled jewellery pieces. This one has been a particular joy. It started off as two odd pieces of two separate mid-century belt clasps or clothing clips.

But one happened to be one with the ‘hook’ and the other had the ‘eye’, and when I idly put them together, they fitted beautifully and I loved the asymmetric shape they created.

Next I reset the missing stones. I was originally going to stick with the original clear diamantes but after finding that some vintage faux coral stones fitted some of the spaces perfectly and gave a fantastic pop of scarlet, I reset them with a combination of the two.

Lastly, I needed something to fill the curved spaces on the left. I had some pieces of a silk cocoon in the same bright red as the faux coral left over from this pendant I made a couple of weeks ago.

Cutting them to shape was a bit of a challenge but they have a lovely subtle texture and silk sheen which was almost impossible to photograph.

I’m delighted with the result and I hope it finds a good home when I list it in my Etsy shop later this week.

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It’s taken two months, but I have sort of moved the Ruskin Lace on. When I showed you the project at the beginning of June I’d worked the hem and had started to withdraw some of the threads.

And there it sat for two months while I tried to find the courage and opportunity to move it on. Which I finally did this weekend. Carefully re-reading the instructions and checking what I’d already done, I withdrew the remaining threads for the four-sided stitch border. I’m still not quite sure if they are required for anything in the design so I’ve just pinned them back for now.

Next, the four-sided stitch border. This was a little different to the four-sided stitch I’ve used in Casalguidi and other pulled thread work as the working thread wraps around each group of threads twice. But once I got into the rhythm it stitched up nice and quickly. I’m using a natural linen thread which is nearly the same colour as the linen and as the weave is very open, it’s made much more of a feature of the stitch.

So this is as far as I’ve got with the Ruskin lace and it isn’t really even the actual lace bit yet! It looks like I need to do a whipped inner border next but I’m not sure whether that happens before or after I withdraw the central square. I need to go over the next stage of the instructions very carefully again but that will be at some point in the future. August needs a new Move It On Project and I have yet to decide on what I’m doing for that.

At the Stitch Zone we’ve been learning how to attach shisha mirrors using both shisha stitch and a ‘cheat’s’ way which involves buttonhole stitching round a ring and trapping the shisha underneath it. I also worked over some large sequins and an old coin for variation and added a fly stitch border to one of the ‘cheaty’ shishas.

The couching element is sari silk thread – one of those sort of things which you buy at the Knitting and Stitching Show and then never quite know what to do with it. It’s lovely and thick with a fabulous sheen and a random sprinkling of colours along each length which makes it work perfectly with the sparkle and multicoloured stitching of the shishas.

It’s a nice change to work more freely than you have to with any type of drawn thread work, but now I’ve made a start on my Ruskin lace, I’m much more tempted to keep at it than I was, which surprises me. Watch this space!

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The last time I posted an update on the progress of my stumpwork garden I’d just started feathering the carrot tops and it looked like this:

You can see more cauliflower leaves taking shape behind but I still wasn’t sure about the rather flat looking curds on the one I’d stitched. In the end I did take it out and restitched it with the other two in a thicker thread and varying the number of wraps in the French knots to give it a lumpier texture. I also gave them a bit of a wash with some Inktense blocks to add shading and a creamier colour.

Then a patch of ‘leafy greens’ in woven picots. The main problem I’m having with this version of the garden is that I’ve stitched it a lot bigger than the original, so in a lot of cases the veg has to be scaled up not only by making bigger stitches but also by using heavier weight threads. These picots are stitched using a 4 stranded cotton from 21st Century Yarns which is thicker and more tightly twisted than a standard 6-strand but unfortunately it was an oddment and as I don’t have any more of the same colour, this is a solitary clump!

With lettuces, strawberries, and peas still yet to add, I realised I’m fast running out of room!

Lettuces next, created by nesting bullion knots stitched in all six strands of a variegated DMC thread. I was pleasantly surprised at how neatly they worked up as I find the separate strands of stranded cotton tend to shift when you make the wraps and make the knots look untidy, but these aren’t bad at all! You can also just see in the top left corner the extra patch of leafy greens I put in by the cauliflowers to fill a space.

These are worked in a slightly loose perle-type thread which has given them a rougher more natural texture.

Garden so far. They might have to be very small patches of strawberries and peas!

And a confession. You may have been wondering where my progress report was on the Ruskin Lace I chose as my Move It On Project piece for June. Well…not only have I been busy (as ever), and it’s definitely not a piece to take out and about as it required absolute concentration, but to be perfectly honest, I am still completely paralysed by the thought of moving it on. So, I’ve decided to carry it on as July’s project. Hopefully when term ends I will get some days back where I can sit down, re-read the instructions and get stuck in. That’s the plan…

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Well, the lonely courgette now has some friends and as they are almost big enough to be called marrows, I left the flowers off.

I used the same interfacing backed painted cotton for the leaves as I did for the original stumpwork garden and the same method, which has scaled up very satisfactorily.

Next, I added big blowsy cabbages in a 1cm wide bluey-green silk ribbon. I made sure I worked the woven spider’s web stitches nice and loosely and let the ribbon twist and bend to give a more natural look to the leaves.

Lastly, a patch of radishes. As this garden is about three times the size of the original I needed to enlarge the original tiny line of detached chain stitch pairs. This time I gave the radishes at least four leaves each and increased the weight of the leaves by using a thicker thread and nesting one detached chain stitch inside another. I gave each one a little pink base to the leaf stalk to hint at the crunchy pink radish growing just under the surface.

To give an idea of how much bigger I’m working, here is the garden so far side by side with the original version. The hoop is 6 inches in diameter – this is practically enormous for me!

As it’s the end of the month, time for the update on May’s Move It On Project. Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as I had hoped with the Casalguidi work, although for a nice reason this time. Last week was half term, so we’ve had a lovely family holiday in Northumberland and all the stitching I did was to go in my holiday journal. But the overcast trailing is finished and more importantly, I have a book I can use for the flowers when I pick it up again.

June’s Move It On project is well out of my comfort zone. I’ve seen and admired a lot of Ruskin Lace during our holidays in the Lake District and for our holiday in 2015 I created a very ambitious altered book/holiday journal which I still haven’t finished! One of the things I wanted to stitch for it was a Ruskin lace sample.

I bought myself a Ruskin Lace book but after reading the first chapter, I bottled out big time. I hate the thought of cutting, withdrawing and weaving threads back into a piece of stitching and these are core skills for this type of embroidery. But I also hate the thought that it’s getting the better of me and recently managed to get as far as hemming a piece of linen following the instructions in the book before I gave up again. I’m determined to move the 2015 journal on and I’m hoping that once I’ve got my head round the cutting threads bit, the needlelace element should be more enjoyable.

This is where I am at the moment, cutting threads to form an internal border.

I’m using some of the linen I usually use for pulled thread work and am a bit worried that it’s going to be too open, but that’s what the Move It On Project is designed for. If it works, then that’s great – if it doesn’t, I’ll have learned useful lessons. Fingers crossed.

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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 d├ęcor 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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