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Archive for the ‘Printing’ Category

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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Last week, I was at a bit of a standstill with the print to stitch medieval tiles piece which I’ve chosen as January’s Move It On Project having completely run out of thread that was anywhere near close. However, thanks to Debbie who has an affinity for these lovely warm autumnal shades and a huge collection of appropriately coloured threads, I now have a bobbin of the right coloured stranded cotton and no excuse not to move things on! I finished off the tile I was stitching in the darker thread and as it’s the outer ring of stitching, I don’t think it looks out of place.

I was also toying with the idea of giving up on the spiral kantha and going back to seeding for the back ground of the last three tiles but having trialled it, it looked odd, so I’ve continued with the kantha and now completed four out of the six tiles.

The beauty of this piece is more in the way it feels with the wool felt backing and the dense stitching than the way it looks, so I’ve been working on my Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch harvest wreath, which is a bit prettier! Last time I shared it back in October, I was most of the way through adding the Raised Cup Stitch poppy flowers.

I’ve since finished them and given them all French knot middles.

So next I’m adding some leaves, using a free form of fly stitch which I’m stitching back into to fatten up parts of the leaf. It’s a slow job, working in a single strand of stranded cotton, but I think the wreath needs it for balance.

Lastly I’ve added a new Flotsam pendant to my Etsy Shop.

It’s a lightweight and easy to wear combination of Suffolk driftwood, Seaham sea glass and a lovely chunk of beach pottery and comes with a new faux leather thong with a sterling silver clasp.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

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It’s been a bit of a miracle but we’re successfully out the other side of panto week.

How we didn’t have an outbreak of Covid in the cast and/or crew I really don’t know, but it’s all done and dusted for another year – well apart from the four massive bags of washing that are currently dominating my hall.

The cow print dress was a huge success and I actually remembered to get a photo of our dame wearing it over a hooped petticoat. As you can see, he’s a big girl!

I spent most of the Saturday get-in darning a j-cloth…

The cleaning costume I made for the Dame in Puss in Boots in 2015 has a gingham skirt decorated with rosettes made from gathered j-cloths and pan scrubbers.

But it wasn’t until I got it into theatre that I discovered that one of the rosettes had suffered a bit over the last seven years in storage. As the j-cloths have faded a bit I couldn’t easily replace it, so I had to go for the mending option.

Luckily it turned out really well and not only lasted the week, but I think if I make sure it’s stored properly this time, could easily do another panto.

There is usually some mending to do as the show goes on but this one was quite mending heavy. One character had a major failure of all the seams on her trousers – the costume was so old the thread had simply worn out so I spent most of the opening night frantically hand stitching all the seams every time she came off stage. Then it turned out that the Velcro I’d used for the back of the cow print dress was either ancient or very poor quality, as after three performances, all the edges started to disintegrate so I had to restitch all the stitching to hold it down and blanket stitch it all the way round to contain the fraying edges.

So unlike 2020, when I had the opportunity to do plenty of my own embroidery, I did very little this time. But I have chosen and made a start on my January 2022 Project – my print to stitch Medieval tiles pieces. I created the printed fabric at a workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019 and started the stitching on it in October 2020, so compared with some of my other projects it is a relative newcomer!

This is as it stands at the start of its session. Two of the six ’tiles’ have completed spiral kantha stitching and I’d ground to a halt on the third as I’d run out of thread. As usual I have absolutely no idea what it was, beyond stranded cotton, and as I’m trying very hard to work within what I already have, I hunted out a couple of possible replacements and discovered in the process that I am very short of tan/orangey-brown threads.

The printing and the hand dyed fabric both vary in colour so I am trying not to mind too much that the new thread is a bit darker.

I’m also not that taken with the spiral kantha – it feels like there is too much of the motif in the way for it to work well. Also, there isn’t enough of the new thread for me to be able to stitch spirals round the last three ’tiles’ so at the moment I’m thinking I might go with a completely different thread to tone with the slightly darker prints and go back to simple seeding.

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The thing I most enjoy about being on Instagram is connecting with other artists. I’ve ended up on the periphery of the print community via a customer who bought an upcycled pendant a couple of years ago, and was recently contacted by one of the lino print artists I follow asking if I would be up for an Art Swap. Definitely!

As this guy is a printer, I decided to go for the print theme in my swap items. First was this screen print on calico using a paper mask which I did at a workshop way back in November 2013 with Dionne Swift.

Then back even further to February 2012 to some experiments I did with ironing Angelina fibres onto rubber stamps. This was one of my favourites and the last one I have left of the batch. It sort of fits with the printing theme.

I chose some purple cotton and gold silk for the background and started by edging the motif in a goldwork thread. I’m not sure of the name of this type of thread, which is gold wound round a soft core. I think it’s either Jap or passing, but would welcome a positive identification!

Then I used a running stitch round the edges of the purple block to connect the layers of fabric.

Lastly, as it’s a big part of my practise, I stitched some found objects to the centre.

The third piece was a bookmark made from offcuts from a piece I printed using the same quatrefoil stamp as in the Angelina experiment at a Print to Stitch workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019.

I cut the six whole quatrefoils off for my Medieval tiles piece. and made the offcuts into a couple of book marks. One I gave as a gift last Christmas and the second just needed a Bondaweb backing and a blanket stitch edging to be completed.

I used an eyelet setter and a perfectly matching eyelet for the tassel.

Which was made from a slightly darker green stranded cotton than the blanket stitch.

They arrived safely last week, to the absolute delight of the recipient. It’s always lovely having glowing feedback from another artist, but somehow when that artist is someone who doesn’t work in the medium of needle and thread, there seems to be much more of a wow factor. Perhaps those of us who stitch have become accustomed to the wonderful textures and effects we can get from textiles and are less blown away by them. It was good for my ego, anyway!

Very much looking forward to the prints I’m getting in return which should hopefully arrive this week.

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Podcasts at the ready, I got stuck into some of the more tedious stitching this week. All the motifs on the medieval tiles piece are outlined and I’m very happy with the alternating light and dark outlines.

The intersections are interesting too.

As is the back, where you can really see the subtle variegation in the threads.

I’ve still not completely settled on what to do for the background of the tiles but I’m inclining towards adding something to the inside of the motifs. Not sure if that is prevarication or not!

I had a couple of offcuts from when I printed the main piece.

I made one into a bookmark for a Christmas present and am turning the second one into another bookmark. This time I whipped the back stitch outline of the motifs and am pleased with the raised effect. It looks almost like I’ve edged them with a very fine cord.

I decided to add the more straightforward highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s wings while I was still dithering about the circles on his neck.

Emboldened by that success, I started the circles. Not sure the first one is fit to be seen, but the second and third are reasonably presentable.

I’m definitely ready to finish these projects and get on with something different, especially as I unearthed some rusted embroidered fragments the other day that I’d done ages ago with the plan of making an art quilt and posted some on Instagram. They got such a good response I’m tempted to get the quilt underway again…

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This is pretty much how I feel about most of my current projects. I’ve added one line of highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon and bottled out of the circles above it because they are tricky to stitch accurately and I’ve realised that although the gills of the mushroom are now going in the right direction, the reason it still looks odd is that the stem should go up to meet the edge of the cap. This will mean either stitching more stem over the gills or, more likely, unpicking the gills completely and redoing the whole lot. I do love both projects but at the moment we’re not speaking.

The medieval tiles are moving slowly. Outlining the motifs in back stitch feels like it’s taking forever simply because they have so much outline, and I had a moment of real love-hate when I realised I wasn’t going to have enough thread for them all. Luckily I had managed to outline three and after a major trawl through my threads (not a quick job…) I was back to the problem I had the last time I played embroidery chicken with this piece – do I go for a similar type of thread or a similar colour? This time I’ve gone for similar type in a rich subtly variegated dark brown. I was a little unsure about how well it would work, but after having stitched my first motif in the darker thread, I’m happy with it alongside the lighter outlines.

At the moment the best thing I can say about it is that I’m over half way through the outlining.

I have managed to stitch one thing this week that I love, which is a scrap of crazy patchwork representing my comfort zone. I’ve been working through some bags of scraps with the idea of using them up and had my eye on the bag of purples. But one by one the scraps weren’t quite right. Too pink; too patterned; not the right weight. The only one I wanted to use was a piece of colour catcher (top right) which was a sullen grey -purple. Then a piece of patterned blue and black silk caught my eye and I was off on a completely different track into the bag of blacks and greys.

Comfort zone means feather stitch, some kantha and french knots and somehow it became a response to the current snowy weather courtesy of the Beast From The East 2.

Good to have made something I love – now back to wrangling the other projects.

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Happy New Year to you all and I really hope it is that; a year where we find and experience happiness alongside and in spite of what is going on around us. As friends are increasingly saying, “Be positive but stay negative!”

I wonder how many unexpected projects start with something like, “I went into a cupboard/a drawer/a box/the loft looking for X and instead I found…” It’s something I suspect I’ve typed more than a few times and here we are again. Just before New Year I went into a cupboard looking for some padded envelopes and I found eight kits for making upcycled jewellery kilt pin brooches like the one below which were left over from a workshop I taught back in 2019.

They were just popped into paper bags but it occurred to me that I could box them up nicely and put them in my Etsy shop. Kits seem to be quite popular at the moment and perhaps they would appeal to people who would enjoy the challenge of seeing what unique design they could make out of their kit rather than making the item on the front of the box.

I had some cardboard two piece boxes that I was given a little while ago (Thanks Ruth – I knew they would come in useful!!) that just needed making up and then I carefully cut the label off the paper bag and stuck it onto the front. The boxes are lovely quality and already they were looking really professional.

The original packs were designed for avid stitchers, but because these might be bought by or for someone who doesn’t have the vast amounts of stash that most of us do, I added an embroidery and a beading needle and a fat plait of assorted threads to the pack and reworked the instructions into a neat little booklet. This one is based on purples and reds (there are some lovely dusky purple seed beads hiding under the Magpie Pack) and is available here in my Etsy shop with free UK P&P.

This one is themed around autumnal russets and golds and is available here.

Yes, I did say there were eight kits and I’ve only listed two, but making up the boxes is taking a lot longer than I thought. As they are such good quality they have a triple fold plus tabs for each side and are taking me at least half an hour to make!

Over Christmas I’ve got into bad habits of browsing or playing sudoku on my tablet in the evenings so I’m trying to get at least half an hour away from the screen sewing before I go to bed. The last time I worked on my medieval tiles printed piece was in early November when I was playing embroidery chicken with the thread.

I’ve managed to find some roughly similar colour and weight perle thread to the lot that finally ran out on me and so I’ve picked this up as my before bed project. I’ve taken out the tacking stitches and am putting a second row of split stitch round the ’tiles’ to give the lines more weight (top left). There might be a third row yet but I’m seeing how it progresses.

I’ve also started back stitching round the motifs.

A nice straightforward project before bed but I just need to know when to stop. “I’ll finish when I get to the end of this piece of thread/the next piece of thread/the end of this motif,” took me until the other side of 1am last night…

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Stitching quicker and quicker as we realise we’re going to run out of thread (or wool – I’ve done it with knitting too…). Why do we do it?! It makes no sense at all – the thread will run out when it runs out!

My bout of Embroidery Chicken happened this week when I started stitching the ‘mortar’ round the medieval tiles, I was using a subtly variegated perle that was a one off skein from a long defunct independent seller.

I started filling in the spaces between the corners and then realised that there wasn’t a lot of thread left. So I started to stitch faster and faster, trying to estimate how much was left and how much I could reasonably get done; which would be the most important lines to do in the primary thread; whether I could find the matching stranded cotton; whether it would be better to match the colour or the thread type… My mind going round in circles until I got to this point…

…and realised that I was going to be able to outline all the blocks after all. Not with a lot to spare, but it was achievable. At which point my stitch rate virtually halved!

Luckily I still have plenty of the silk thread left for the boro pendant. The two sections are now ladder stitched together, stuck into the gold ring and I’ve made a start on the boro stitched cylinder beads for the bib section.

The smaller rectangle on the left of the strips is what will be seen when they are rolled up and that’s where I’m going to stitch. Tiny patches of indigo on indigo.

I’m also back onto birthday cards again and a Lake District themed one for a friend’s dad. Adding autumn colour to a vintage postcard of the Langdale Pikes with French knots in one strand of stranded cotton.

I’m glad I started in good time, because the knots are taking a long while as usual, but it is quite effective and I’m really pleased with the colour match of the variegated thread.

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After a bit of thinking I decided to stitch the medieval tiles piece not as a whole cloth as I had with the paisleys, but to separate each print into a tile shaped block. When I came to draw out the ‘mortar’ lines I was quite pleased that the ’tiles’ weren’t exactly in line with each other. It made it feel a bit more hand crafted in a way.

Then I started on the stitching which is going to be rows of split stitch to give a little bit of texture and hide definite stitch beginnings and endings.

I had a couple of good sized offcuts when I trimmed the printed piece down last week. Actually, rereading that has made me laugh. To me, a good sized offcut is anything larger than a credit card – I think most people would put my offcuts in the bin! Anyway, I didn’t. I decided to turn them into bookmarks for stocking fillers.

I edged the main motif in back stitch and then added seed stitches in a fine thread almost the same colour as the background.

Then I ironed on some interfacing which I dyed with silk paints and blanket stitched all round the edge.

Debbie pointed out that if you turn your head and look at the motifs from the side, they look like reindeer heads. Yup, they do and I can’t unsee it now!

A lovely accident for me is how on the back, the reverse of the back stitch pushes through the interfacing in ghostly lines like parch marks or earth works.

The other scraps I’ve been stitching are really tiny ones, about the size of postage stamps, to make a boro piece for an upcycled bib necklace. The inspiration was the gold coloured ring at the top – no idea what that might once have been.

I forgot to take a photo of it in my hand, but again, it’s small, just not quite as tiny as the recent lockets. Sashiko thread would have been too big, so it’s stitched in cream silk.

I chose a piece of shibori fabric for the back and gathered up and laced both pieces over circles of vilene to give them some body.

Next they need to be stitched together and stuck into the gold ring before I start on some boro fabric beads for the rest of the bib. Not done anything like that before so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

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Most of my stitching time last week was given up to organising a selection of my upcycled jewellery to go into The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle and knitting some socks (exciting!) and a lace scarf which I can’t show because it’s a Christmas present so things are a bit sparse this week. However, I did finish the last locket – this time with a peacock feathers design.

The feathers start with two nested detached chain stitches in royal blue and turquoise with a dark blue French knot in the centre.

Then I added straight stitches in a very fine green silk thread all the way round and gave the feathers split stitch quills…

…before setting it into the locket.

Thursday was the most perfect day for a trip to Horncastle with the autumn light turning the fields and trees of the Wolds golden. The Old Stables Studio is literally just off the Market Square and is a hidden away gem with a very tempting looking fabric/sewing shop next door.

I did have a little look round the town before I headed home and picked up a fantastic needlelace book from a second hand book shop, so there may be some needlelace samples coming shortly.

But instead of clearing old projects, I’ve started something else new instead. Inspired by Debbie’s recent return to the Print to Stitch workshop we did at Guild with Jan Dowson in February 2019, I’ve hunted out one of the other pieces I printed at that workshop, a medieval tile based one.

Trimmed, it now looks like this:

I wouldn’t normally show the back, but it’s basted to an unusual piece of felt I made during lockdown.

Before lockdown, my youngest managed to put a three cornered tear in the knee of her grey 100% wool M&S school trousers (charity shop bargain!). I had been trying to work out how to invisibly mend this tear for a while, but as the school year wore on, I realised that she wouldn’t be going back to school until September, when she would be Y11. At her school, the Y11s wear black trousers and sweatshirts, not grey like Years 7-10 so the trousers would be redundant. She wouldn’t wear them in real life and they couldn’t go to a charity shop. But they could go into the washing machine with a load of towels and become fabulous felt which they did! Oh waste not, want not!!

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