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Archive for the ‘stumpwork’ Category

Despite the heatwave and the end of term finally arriving, I have had a bit of a creative boost with both my stitching and upcycled jewellery making. I’ve completed my peas with little silk ribbon leaves worked in ribbon stitch – and remembered to show a finger for scale!

We’ve also had the last session for the stumpwork garden project at In The Stitch Zone which was adding strawberries. I started with trios of lazy daisy stitches to represent the leaves, which also come in threes.

Then I added paler runners with tufts of plantlets at the ends, flowers created from loose white French knots with a smaller tighter French knots in a thinner yellow thread in the centre and scarlet strawberries. These are a little too round for my liking so I may be tweaking them in some manner to make them look more strawberry shaped rather than like red flowers. So basically the garden is finished now in terms of elements to be added.

However, I still need to finish the strawberries, carry on adding French knots to soften the edge of the path, add some more leafy greens bottom left and finally, sprinkle some weeds throughout before I can mount it and put it to bed.

I’ve finally got round to using these tiny ribbon roses I stitched on some silk carrier rod at the Collection Artisan Market at the beginning of June…

….to upcycle a pair of vintage marcasite set clip-on earrings. Originally there would have been a large flat faux pearl in the central setting but when they came into my hands one ‘pearl’ was missing and the pearl coating of the remaining one was badly damaged so it seemed sensible to remove them altogether and create something new to complement the original settings.

It was a bit of a challenge to stitch ribbon roses that small, but I think I they sit very nicely in their marcasite frames and they do look very pretty on.

I’ve also been inspired to do something with silk cocoons. This pendant is a compete mash up of a hand made studio pottery porcelain button, two silk cocoons, part of a ‘silk’ flower, an odd earring, a stumpwork leaf I worked for some project back in 2010, and a reclaimed bale and chain.

Then, all enthusiastic about using up more of the silk cocoons and inspired by a jellyfish pendant I’d seen on Pinterest, made from a piece of sea glass and sections of chain, I combined a load of odds and ends of chain with some beaded sections and another silk cocoon to create this pendant:

Then I made a pair of jellyfish earrings using the bead caps I found when I went looking for a silver bead cap to go on the top of the silk cocoon for the pendant.

I do wonder if it’s a touch of displacement activity though, instead of tacking that Ruskin lace!!

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Despite the lack of space, the peas have fitted in nicely and don’t look too squashed or too small. I started with rows of variegated brown feather stitch ‘pea sticks’ and added the stalks over the top in whipped back stitch.

The peas are two straight stitches which start side by side at the top and go into the same hole at the bottom to give a point. I’m always up for some ‘plein air stitching’ and started adding them on a trip to Lincoln to meet up with Karen (Lincs in Stitches).

Once the peas were nicely spaced over the stalks, I finished them off with a trio of tiny straight stitches in a single strand of stranded cotton to create the calyxes. Next I need to find some 2mm silk ribbon for the leaves.

I know it’s not really the best idea to start yet another project when there are other things on the go and especially when I’ve not made any progress on my June AND July Move It On Project, but I need something straightforward to stitch while I’m out and about and Ruskin lace definitely does not come into that category. The Ruskin lace is to go into a 2015 holiday journal which needs some other stitching doing for it, including a version of the wallpaper in John Ruskin’s study at Brantwood, near Coniston.

It’s quite light and modern for a Victorian wallpaper and I particularly liked the motif with stars on the right so I chose it as one of the pieces to stitch for the journal.

I originally planned to do it in applique, but when I came to look at the design I’d printed out ready to go, it was clear that the stems were going to be far too narrow, so I’ve revised my idea and it will all be embroidered. We were up in the Lakes for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and as we visited Coniston, it seemed appropriate to start the stitching there.

The lines will be in split stitch to give the right sort of width and each leaf will also be outlined in split stitch and then satin stitched over. Nice and straightforward, easy to take out and about and it’s still moving old projects on.

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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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At the end of my two days at the Artisan Market at The Collection two weeks ago, my lovely neighbour, Lisa, gave me a couple of pieces of hand made felt she had left over from some wet felted vessels, in case I could do anything with them.

I certainly could! I decided to cut the pink piece into a front and back for a mandala brooch and the larger more orangey piece into an abstract shape for a barrette.

I used a variety of oddments for the mandala brooch, starting with a vintage bead cap and bead in the centre of a brass connector from a broken necklace. I added a second round with some more vintage bead caps, seed beads and some little springs which I salvaged from broken earhooks.

I did wonder whether to add a further round but I wanted to show off the felt rather than obscure it, so I stopped there and joined the front to the back (adding a circle of pelmet vilene inside for strength) with a simple beaded blanket stitch.

I’ve not had chance to do anything further with the barrette but I’m thinking of doing couching with some decorative chains… Another fun collaboration and I have a decent sized scrap left over which I can use for other things and some trimmings which I’ll wet felt into some dreadlocks. Nothing goes to waste.

I stitched the ring of leaves for another cauliflower in the block of three I’m planning for the stumpwork garden and while I was doing that I decided to take the French knots out of the one I’d already done. They were not only too white, but more importantly, too flat and even. I need to find a more suitable weight thread to stitch them back in.

And as you can see from the bottom left hand corner of the photo above, I’ve started fuzzing up my carrot tops.

It takes quite a while to carefully undo the twist of the coton a broder threads, so I’ll be saving that job for the next long committee meeting!

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I have to confess that I’ve not actually done anything with June’s Move It On Project yet. I know that it’s all to do with my reluctance to attempt the drawn threads, but I’ve also had a lot of other projects claiming my time so far this month. Chief among them has been my stumpwork garden. Last seen, I’d got this far:

The next vegetables to be added were the cauliflowers and this is where the larger scale of my second garden proved problematic. The cauliflower leaves are created with cast-on stitch and in the original, the caulis were small enough that the width of the cast-on stitch leaves were in proportion to the French knot centres. However, in spite of working the cast on stitch in the heaviest perle I had, the leaves for these look much less luxuriant and if anything, a bit mean. I’m also not happy with the very white looking thread I used for the French knots, so I’ve not stitched any more of the three I had planned to do while I work out if I can be bothered to take out those knots and re-stitch the centre again!

While I decide whether to unpick or not, I started the rather more straightforward carrots. These consist of a loose double wrapped French knot and then several loops of green thread worked over a cordonnet stick, as shown here when I was working them last year.

The loops are caught at the back with a couple of little stitches every two or three loops and then snipped to form the ferny foliage.

It’s easier to make all the loops first and then snip them but I got impatient and snipped my first row. So now I’m having to try and stitch the second row of loops while trying not to catch the loose ends from the first row…

I’ve also discovered, thanks to my ladies at In The Stitch Zone that if you run the needle through the strands that make up each thread, it fuzzes up beautifully and looks even more like carrot tops. But I am resisting doing that until they are all stitched!

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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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I’m leading our S.E.A.T.A. meeting at the end of this month and challenging our members to visit or revisit a stitching book from their shelves and use a technique or project from it to make a small item – a brooch, key fob, scissor keep etc. So I’ve been working some samples, including a pair of acorns based on a project in Beginner’s Guide to Stumpwork by Kay Dennis, published by Search Press.

I decided to follow the instructions to the letter which included stitching down the felt padding with stab stitches that run perpendicular to the edge of the felt shape. I was initially unsure about whether this would be any better than doing a line of stitches parallel to the edge but it works much better, giving a smoother transition from the flat fabric, so I was pleased to have learned something new.

Then I covered the shapes with satin stitch.

Next I ran two long stitches across the middle of the acorn and used them as a foundation line for the needlelace cup. I did say I was going to follow the instructions to the letter but it suggested Ceylon stitch for the cups and due to some recent experience with that stitch, I decided against it. Ceylon stitch looks beautiful but is not very forgiving when you need to increase or decrease, which I would have had to with the cap and also I really struggle with the tension to stop it wandering. So I gave up the idea of sticking to the project and worked the cup in good old Corded Brussels.

Same for the other acorn but in green. The variegated brown was a stranded cotton and although I prefer the satin stitch coverage, I like the needlelace cup better on the green one which was stitched in a random unlabelled thread which feels like a cross between crewel wool and mercerised cotton.

Next I satin stitched a twig over three long padding stitches, trying to vary the thickness so it looked like a naturally knobbly twig and mounted it over a sandwich of thick cardboard and felt.

Last of all, I added a beaded fringe.

A straightforward little project but I enjoyed learning new things from it and it’s good to have one sample completed.

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