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Archive for the ‘Workshops’ 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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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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Finally I can show a project that has been ongoing since I was asked in February to create an unusual ribbon embroidery workshop for Lincolnshire Textiles (formerly Lincoln branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild). The remit was for something ‘richly textured’ but after some heavy googling and falling down Pinterest rabbit holes, I was fed up of looking at flowers, lovely though some of them were, and completely lacking in inspiration. It wasn’t until I was working on one of my sea themed upcycled pendants a few weeks later that a germ of an underwater idea took root.

I did some doodling with some oddments of silk ribbon just to see what was possible. French knots are definitely textured but quite greedy on ribbon. However, I liked the idea of ruching up ribbon on the surface using French knots – perhaps working them in thread rather than ribbon.

The loose twisted ribbon stitches for the tentacles of the anemone worked well from the start, although I was less pleased with the satin stitch body.

What I had taken away from this doodling was that an underwater themed piece would definitely work. The anemone was a definite, if I could create a smoother body and I wanted to use the ruched ribbon for brain coral. Doodling take two. On the right, a shorter satin stitch body. Still not right as the ribbon gathers as it goes through the fabric, leaving rough top and bottom edges. On the left, an idea for surface couching inspired by something I saw on someone’s Instagram of a section of a Jenny Adin-Christie kit. I’ve no idea how the effect was worked, but it was a wide flat thread of some type folded in a zig zag pattern and after a bit of trial and error, I managed to get the ribbon to behave and couched it down to produce the smooth edges I was looking for as well as giving an interesting textured effect.

Time to finally draw the design and use the anemone body I’d just trialled to make a prototype.

Some feather stitch and threaded chain stitch seaweed gave the design a bit of balance and added more textural interest. This was enough to give me a finalised design which I finished stitching this week.

That’s the easy bit – instructions complete with diagrams next! Good job the workshop isn’t until September…

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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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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 décor 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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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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First of all, Happy 11th Birthday to this blog, which I actually began on May Bank Holiday Monday, the 2nd of May in 2011. It wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake, so please have a calorie free virtual piece of this strawberry pavlova on me!

Things have been very busy as usual, and with three workshops and two days teaching in the last nine days and with all the workshops needing samples and instructions I’ve been working flat out.

Tomorrow I’m teaching my Kamal Kadai workshop to Selby Textile Art Group. It’s a technique I’ve taught at least twice before and so I already had a folder containing all my samples etc. I thought I’d just stitch another piece with smaller unbeaded Kamal Kadai flowers to add to the samples…

…and I’d tidy up the instructions and do some templates for stitching the variant through four-hole buttons. Not a lot to do. Famous last words…

Good job I got the folder out in plenty of time. For a start, my button variant samples were nowhere to be found and even though I’ve turned every workshop folder inside out and emptied the box and cupboard they live in, still no sign. So here are my two new, frantically stitched button variants of Kamal Kadai.

I’m particularly pleased with the red one as I’ve added a smaller button decoratively stitched over the larger one.

Also, now I have more experience of leading workshops, the samples I was so pleased with three years ago, just looked untidy, so I ended up re-mounting them all. It took ages to do them properly but it does look a lot better.

Just one more button piece to mount and then I’m ready for tomorrow.

Next, the final update on April’s Move It On Project, the Newgrange stone. I found a good reference picture of the spirals to work from but unfortunately because of all the workshop preparation I just didn’t have the time to do anything else to it. However, I am pleased that I got the silk attached with the needle-turn applique and now it (hopefully) should be a relatively quick finish.

May’s Move It On Project was started in June 2017 and to my surprise, I’ve only blogged about once, in reference to the Embroiderers’ Guild workshop in which I started it, when it looked like this:

It has developed quite a bit further but May will be the time to see if I can move it on properly.

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Our first workshop of the Summer Session at In The Stitch Zone is looking at Composite Stitches and after some research, I chose four as a starting point. It’s also been sunny and warm enough to work in the garden and I was delighted to be back in my outdoor office to start stitching my samples.

First was what I’m calling Blossom Stitch, which is a pretty combination of feather stitch and detached chain stitch.

I used perle and stranded cotton for the feather stitch and all six strands of stranded cotton for the detached chain stitch flowers. I separated all the strands out and then recombined them to give a fluffy, blowsy effect to the flowers.

Next was Blanket Stitched Chain stitch, the first of two chain stitch variations I found on Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread blog. It’s simply two close rows of chain stitch which then have blanket stitch worked into them but it creates an interesting heavy line stitch, especially when the blanket stitch is worked in the same thread as the chains, as in the middle example.

The second Mary Corbet stitch was Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch. This time the blanket or buttonhole stitches are worked into the outside loop of each chain, rather than across them, which makes for a pretty edging, especially when you buttonhole both sides of the chain.

I tried out some different weights of thread both for the foundation and chain and the buttonholing. Perle on the left and stranded cotton on the right but I think I prefer the finer mercerised cotton in the middle.

The last sample is what I’m calling Peacock Feather Stitch which I think I found on Pinterest. It’s constructed from two nested detached chain stitches with a French knot inside the inner one and straight stitches around the edges.

As they are all tiny samples I’ve mounted them onto a larger piece of card so they can be handled more easily.

April’s Move It On Project is coming along nicely. I bit the bullet and got stuck into the needle turn applique this week. Most of it went pretty well but I just couldn’t get the the final section (top right) to lay as flat as the rest. I’m hoping that once I start to stitch into it, it won’t be noticeable.

Just the spirals to stitch into the stone now, and with the end of the month hurtling closer, I need to think about what to pick for May’s Move It On Project.

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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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