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I love spiky allium heads. After having done some ‘long shots’ on a couple of the sections in my bluework bowl, I decided that I wanted the next section to be a closer view and I chose an allium head for that.

First, the main stem in herringbone stitch and the stems which carry the flower heads radiating from a central point.

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Then a solid couple of hours stitching through a committee meeting got the six petalled individual florets in lazy daisy stitch added.

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I used the same variegated silk to outline the stem in split stitch and then built up adjoining rows of split stitch to form the leaf.

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As all the other sections are in Victorian china style blue and white, I wanted to introduce other shades of blue, but I’m not entirely convinced now…

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Our Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting for February was an all day Indian embroidery and fabrics talk and workshop led by Julie.

The Young Embroiderers started off at 9:30 with a kantha stitching around animal shapes project. My little one loves sea animals of any kind, so she chose to do a turtle. Liz, the leader of the group suggested a spiral pattern in the quarters of the shell which is looking very effective.

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Julie had borrowed one of the Guild folios as a base for the display and she and other members added to it with items of their own, making a very colourful and tempting taster for the talk and workshop to come!

Samples from the folio:

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And our own additions:

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So to begin the day, we had a talk given by Julie based on her visit to a recent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London giving a good overview of different types of fabrics, stitching and how the finished embroidery was used. I particularly liked the short videos that she had interspersed through the presentation which brought some of the elements to life.

After lunch we had the choice of two projects. Either a shisha mirror centred flower – these are Julie’s lovely sample pieces…

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…or something more like the Young Embroiderers were doing, an animal or similar surrounded by kantha stitching. I outlined my fish in chain stitch using a heavy variegated slate blue cotton thread.

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Then for the background I chose some variegated stranded cotton in pale blue, pink and yellow to tone in with the background fabric.

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It was good (but surprisingly difficult!) to deliberately work larger running stitches. When I usually do kantha style work my stitches tend to be tiny –  these are about 2mm long.

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And it takes ages! But the above piece is only about and inch by an inch and a half so I deliberately stitched larger on this one to match the size of the design and it was good to get some quicker results!

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It was interesting to notice how calm and quiet the atmosphere in the room was as we all sat stitching our pieces. There is something very mindful about running stitch…

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My Auntie Sheila was a wonderful woman. She was warm, kind, always elegantly dressed and effortlessly glamorous, arty and creative and I thought she was amazing. The only openly artistic member of our very practical family, she made it OK for me to be creative. I just wish I had really got into my textile art before she died in 2005. I know she would have been fascinated and supportive.

When she died, my uncle gave me a big box full of her craft bits and pieces. Most of it was card making type stuff, but there was a very pretty traditional style quilted patchwork bag, full of pieced paper hexagons. Some cut out ready to stitch, some covered but on their own, quite a lot formed up into flower shapes and some into larger flowers.

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Traditional hexagon patchwork has never really appealed, but Auntie Sheila had pieced these, so I put them in the back of the wardrobe as a possible project for the far distant future.

When I was packing for our holiday in the Lake District in May, I was looking for a fairly straightforward project to work on in the evenings alongside my (non-stitching) holiday diary and I don’t know what made me get it out, especially with so many other stitching projects littered around the house, but I did, and it was a winner. Since most of the hard work was done, it was quite soothing starting to put the larger flowers together and I worked on it again when we went away to the Scottish Borders in August.

I’ve nearly completed the middle section which is blues around a central cream and rust flower. It is a proper rust, not garish orange as the photo suggests.

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For the next round I’m starting to sort through the pile of smaller hex flowers for ones in cream and rust and there are some florals in a similar colour which I think I’ll incorporate too. I want to use as many of Auntie Sheila’s blocks and fabrics as possible but I also want it to work pattern-wise, so compromises will need to be made. A long-term project, this one.

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My little one has just started secondary school and has gone from packed lunches to school dinners. This has suddenly given me 10-15 minutes extra in the mornings and so I’ve started doing a little stitching before I head off to work.

The huge french knot piece is heading for the last leg. Last time I shared it, I’d got this far:

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But a summer’s worth of stitching at boot sales, meetings and these new morning stitching sessions has got me to this point:

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The bottom edge is now complete, the second corner defined and all I have left to do is the final edge. That said, there is probably hours of work still before I can put in the final stitch!

The other thing I’ve worked on is my amulet, although I’m thinking it’s more likely going to be a book cover. At the end of the workshop in July I’d feather stitched and beaded the printed fabric to the background felt and used beaded blanket stitch to attach a rusty washer to the centre.

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Since then I’ve used my favourite metallic Madeira thread to back stitch all round the printed design. Just enough metal wrapping around the core thread to give a subtle sparkle. It’s twinkly rather than blingy!

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To fit in with the found washer in the middle, I’ve added some large textured gold tone loops from a short section of chain. Each one is couched down and then french knots added at the ends of the couching stitches.

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I’m amazed at how much I’m getting done in these little sessions, although it is extremely tempting to just do a few minutes more – and then end up late for work!

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Back in May we had a goldwork initial workshop with Brenda Scarman and I started to work a letter ‘O’ for a birthday card for my mother. As it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago I can finally reveal something I’ve finished!

At the end of the workshop I had got this far:

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I simplified the scrolls in the middle due to the thickness of the double couching thread and added more chips of silver purl, silver seed beads, turquoise bugle beads and french knots to the border.

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Not happy with the squashed spiral on the lower left, so I restitched that.

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Carried on beading and french knotting…

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…until it was finally finished.

And then I decided I preferred it up the other way!

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Simply framed with grey card to become a special birthday card. And a finish!!

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I’ve also upcycled an odd clip on earring front to make a beaded brooch

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…and turned some of my huge collection of sea glass and china into rings.

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Loads more projects still to get stuck into though!

 

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The Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild AGM at the end of September was a real feast of embroidery. As well as some of the results from our workshop with Chris Gray in July from straightforward amulets…

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…to composite arrangements…

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…there were other lovely items stitched by members over the summer:

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We also enjoyed an exhibition of the work of one of our founder members, Margaret Riding, who brought in a huge range of her embroidery for us to admire.

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It’s become a tradition now for us to have some sort of collaborative consequences type activity at the AGM to be stitched for later in the year. In 2014 it was Consequences, last year (which I missed) were our acclaimed maps and this year Helen came up trumps yet again with Christmas Consequences. This time, instead of different people adding to the list of requirements, we each wrote our own wish list of things we would like to have on a Christmas gift to be stitched by another club member. The papers were folded and put into a bag and then we all pulled one out. Helen’s last stipulation was that the item needed to have a 3D element. This could be anything, from 3D embroidery on a card to the item itself – a decoration, bag, box etc.

This was the wish list I drew:

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After several rather grandiose plans I decided to go for something a bit closer to my usual practice and I have an idea that I’m really pleased with. Under wraps until the December meeting though!

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We had the OFSTED call this week. That acronym might not mean much to anyone who hasn’t been involved in the British education system but OFSTED carry out school inspections. And anyone who has been involved with them will know that they pretty much sow terror, despair and misery in their wake.

I head up our Nurture/Learning Support team and am also the behaviour specialist so it was decided by senior management that the few hard core behaviour problem children we have in school would be taken out of their various classes and corralled in the Nurture Room where instead of lessons they would do something interesting, arty and creative for the duration of the inspection (a day and a half) under my tender care. What I think about this is pretty much unprintable, but as these six boys are often violent and abusive, no one wanted to risk the outcome of the inspection on one of them kicking off.

So I decided that we would felt. First  I showed them some pieces of handmade felt and demonstrated how to pull tufts of fleece and lay them out in layers to form a big piece of flat felt (about 70cm by 70cm) for the base of the design. They used blue and white fleece to create a stream running diagonally from one corner to the other and I showed them how to ‘paint’ with tiny wisps of different coloured fleece to make pebbles in the stream.

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Then they added different greens all around the stream for grass and bushes and started to create the felt. While they took turns in pairs to roll the huge sausage of felt, bubble wrap, net curtain and fleece, I started the rest off rolling fleece around small balls to make flowers. Once the fleece had felted tightly around the balls I cut slits into the top to make petal shapes and they carried on rolling, watching the slits become holes and the felt gradually shrink further and further down the balls until they became little tight cup shapes.

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The next day they made a piece of green felt about 40cm by 30cm and designed some leaf templates. I cut leaves out of the felt while they added stitches and beads to make the centres of the flowers.

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Most of them had never embroidered before so we had to give quite a lot of initial support, but several of the boys really took to it and once all the flowers were done they began to add central veins to the leaves with whipped and threaded running stitch.

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Once each element was finished they told me where they wanted them putting and I needlefelted the flowers and leaves in place, which worked brilliantly and was much quicker than stitching!

The finished piece:

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They are extremely proud of it and I’m just pleased we managed to keep a powder keg dry for the best part of two days.

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