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Archive for the ‘Workshops’ Category

At In The Stitch Zone, the weekly embroidery class I run locally (information in the tab at the top) we’re working on a longer project based on my avocado dyed long cloth which I began back in 2011 and am still stitching into on an occasional basis.

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Time to make up packs of natural dyed fabrics, threads, lace, ribbon etc. for everyone. I found some avocado, red cabbage and walnut dyed fabrics from sessions I’d done before, which was a good start.  I’d only even dyed with red cabbage and a touch of vinegar, so hearing that you could get an amazing range of greens with bicarbonate of soda I decided to experiment. The greens really are gorgeous – especially against some avocado and red cabbage (with vinegar) dyed pieces!

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DSCN7529 As I dye everything in the kitchen using my ordinary utensils, I don’t mordant and only use food stuffs as dyes. I know red cabbage is supposed to be fugitive, but some of the pieces I found (admittedly in a drawer) from the last lot of dyeing I did are eight or nine years old and are still a lovely colour.

I also bought some annatto seeds from our local oriental grocer and they were an complete revelation! Bright orange initially with golden yellow as the dye bath became exhausted and they even dyed a piece of nylon lace (which I unfortunately forgot to get a photo of…) No filter needed on these silk samples.

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As the annatto seeds are incredibly hard and I didn’t want to stain the coffee grinder bright orange, I crushed some in a pestle and mortar and when that got too difficult, just put the whole lot into the slow cooker to create the dye bath. Then, of course, they were nice and soft, so after I’d done the first lot of dyeing, I whizzed them up in the food processor (didn’t stain it, I’m glad to report!) and got a second dye bath out of the pulverised seeds. A softer golden yellow, but still lovely.

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Packs for everyone plus some spares.

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They are slowly turning into some gorgeous pieces of work!

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Last February we had a fantastic Print to Stitch workshop at the Guild with Jan Dowson. One of the pieces I created was based on the paisley stamps she had made for us.

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Seeing my starting point now, after a year of covering it with stitch, it seems so bare!!

I started with some Pekinese stitch around some of the paisleys.

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Then seeding around the paisleys in a variegated stranded cotton. Doing that amount of seeding is pretty mind-numbing so I mixed it up with more decoration on the paisleys – split stitch on the right.

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It was a great project to take out and about, even making it to London with me last summer when the temperatures were through the roof and I was trying to keep cool in the Chinese galleries at the V&A.

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More seeding in seed stitch and french knots with chain stitch accents and woven and back-stitched spiders’ web stitches in the middles.

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Getting there… finished all the internal stitching on the paisleys and now just seeding at this point because I’m still not sure what stitch I want to outline the other paisleys. Something as bold as the Pekinese stitch but different.

IMG_20191116_091718It wasn’t until I began to explore Palestrina Stitch over Christmas prior to teaching it in a workshop that the penny dropped.

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Palestrina in a heavy perle was just right to balance the Pekinese.

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And the completed piece!

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No idea what I’m going to do with it, but that’s not the point. I love the colours, shapes and stitches and it’s been a pleasure to work. That’s all you need, sometimes, isn’t it?

 

 

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Being the Dame’s Dresser in pantomime involves nice quiet periods in between bouts of frantic physical activity where I am trying to haul one costume (including wig, jewellery, shoes etc.) off a huge burly bloke while trying to simultaneously shove him into his next frock and wig. So once I’ve tidied up the chaos and returned the changing room to a temporarily Zen-like place of calm, I get to stitch.

Ribbon roses at the beginning of the week for my Stitch Zone ribbon embroidery workshop the next Monday. As I was working under dressing room lights the colours aren’t great, but it’s purples and lilacs on a indigo dyed scrap of cotton.

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Then ribbon stitch leaves around the french knot buds and closed fly stitch leaves.

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Finally completing it with some tendril-like stems at the ends in split stitch and a couple more fly stitch leaves.

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At the end of the week I moved onto mushrooms! When we did the Bayeux Stitch workshop at Embroiderers’ Guild last July I was working on the baby leaf-tailed dragon, but I did have a sudden desire to stitch some big chunky mushrooms in Bayeux Stitch. I started by sketching a simple design freehand and then traced it onto some calico.

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The light in the changing room is good to stitch by but not to take photographs by and the green cap is really more of a teal.

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Salmon-pink spots, not red!

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And tan gills.

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Stalk in a darker brown which I think might have been vintage mending wool – it kept breaking.

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And then the outlining.

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A lot of fun to stitch. I’ve still got the gills to put in and the rest of the outline and highlights to do, but I’m really pleased with all the stitching (even the ubiquitous mending of seams, buttons and various fastenings etc. of show week) I got done during panto this year!

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As regular readers will know, I am heavily involved in a local amateur dramatics group (Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club) and this time of year is panto time. As with last year I ended up doing costume again – hence the reason I’ve only just surfaced. This year it was Mother Goose, with a new script which I wrote as well as being Costume Mistress and Dame’s dresser. Not the least of my jobs was making hats for the goslings and trying to work out where was best to place the nostrils!

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But we’ve finished in theatre now – I just have every single costume (12 adults and 19 children, many with multiple costume changes) to wash and replace in our costume room.  It only took me until August last year…

But I did manage to design and stitch some Christmassy hoops for a workshop I taught before Christmas:

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And a single snowflake which I stitched in silk:

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The workshop, held at Jaylaurs, in Brigg was a great success. Just five ladies but they got on so well with the designs and two of them have since sent me lovely photos of their finished stitching.

I also had a go at chenille work, making a Christmas card for my parents. I started with a cardboard ring and used crewel work to stitch over it. Not satin stitch but coming up the same side and then going back over, to reduce the bulk at the back.

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It was a long slow job…

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…as it needed lots of layers to make sure I got the fluffy chenille effect at the end.

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Now the fun bit – the cutting. Carefully in the middle. That meant I could get the card shape out but left me with a distinct space where it wouldn’t cover the base fabric.

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Vintage trim to the rescue. I’ve had this particular very seventies trim since I was very young, when my mother would allow me a metre of ribbon or trim when she went to the local haberdashers, but not the sweets that like all small children I would have preferred! Anyway, sweets would not have solved my problem here but the trim that I’ve never used before did!

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I stitched it down with little gold beads between the ‘flower’ sections and added a hand made gold bow at the bottom.

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Very Christmassy and very pleased with it. (Was a nightmare to post though…!)

 

 

 

 

 

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At the end of October, just before it shuts up and snuggles down for the winter, I went with some friends to visit the textiles collection at Gawthorpe Hall. The items on show were all stunning and inspirational but I fell completely in love with this little early 20th century peony slip worked in Pekinese stitch.

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I love the texture and the layering and was completely inspired to do some of my own. Pekinese Stitch was one of the first stitches I learned from my mother’s Mary Thomas’ Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches as a child. It’s a variety of laced back stitch so an ideal one for a beginner to learn. I rediscovered it recently as a beautifully textured edging stitch, but although Mary Thomas does say it can be used as a filling stitch, I’d never considered it.

My first sample is on a piece of Japanese silk kimono fabric with stranded cotton.

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The shape was far too fiddly to work well – getting a very rounded loopy stitch into the points of the leaf was not easy! But I persevered and with a little bit of cheating to fill in those pointy bits, manage to finish it.

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I was unexpectedly given a ticket and a lift to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last Friday and one of my purchases was a spool of vintage metal thread in a lovely soft gold. Perfect for couching around the edge.

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Second shape needed to be interesting but without the tricky infills, so I chose a paisley, again stitched on Japanese kimono silk with stranded cottons.

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Definitely a better choice!

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It has an almost woolly look and texture.

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Finding the different gradations of stranded cotton was the most challenging bit so my next thought is to use a single cotton but in a variegated thread.

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If you are in or around North Lincolnshire on Friday 1st of November there are still places left on my Spectacular Spellbooks workshops at Normanby Hall Country Park.

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The workshops are suitable for anyone, whether adult or child, who is interested in learning two simple bookmaking techniques. First, you’ll make two origami books, each created from a single piece of paper with four basic folds and a cut. We’ll be making a blank ‘spellbook’ to fill with your own ideas…

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…and also one where you can collect and record fascinating facts and superstitions about some ‘magical’ medieval ingredients which I will have on display.

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You will also be able to make a third slightly bigger blank book…

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…with a cover created from random papers and a twig binding that can be decorated with fancy threads, beads etc.

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Then just add your spells!

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I’m providing the materials to make all three books which you take away with you at the end of the session.

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Please note that Park entry also applies, or please display your annual membership.

Places may be booked here. I am really excited about this workshop and looking forward to the ‘awe and wonder’ moment when with one last fold, the origami book suddenly appears in your hands. Never gets old, that one. :o)

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I’ve been asked to run some hour long spellbook making workshops at Normanby Hall Country Park  for Hallowe’en and have had loads of fun designing and making some printable origami books and a blank book with a twig binding. Both types of book are simple enough to be made by even quite small children, but I think the results are good enough to appeal to adults too, so I’ve made it age 6+ to adult. The workshop details can be found here if you’re interested.

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I’ve been making origami books with children for years now and I reckon I can fold and cut one in about ten seconds flat! It’s a real ‘awe and wonder’ moment when you fold the cut sides over and a real book forms under your hands!

I’ve also discovered that I can use Publisher to design a sheet of A4 which when you fold it, the pages come out the right way. So as part of the workshop the participants will make an origami book to gather information about some plants and stones that were considered to have magical properties in the Middle Ages.

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Then another origami book for their own spell book

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And a bigger twig book…

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…with a corkscrew hazel twig that can be decorated for the binding.

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Which can also be decorated and made into a spell book.

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Fingers crossed now that people like the look of the books enough to want to make their own..!

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We’ve just had our final meeting of the year at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild and it was a fantastic all day long affair, with a talk about the costumes and embroidery in ‘Game of Thrones’ in the morning followed by the opportunity to look at some of the incredible work some of our members have produced over the last year and were entering for the branch’s yearly hand embroidery prize.

Some pieces have come from past workshops, such as the paisley piece below which was started in Jan Dowson’s ‘Print to Stitch’ workshop back in February, or responses to objects in the local museum for our exhibition earlier in the summer, as with the Winterton mosaic piece at the top on the three circles.

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Contemporary, modern, traditionally flat or 3D, like the stumpwork flowers and tiny embroidered houses.

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Restrained and subtle or gloriously over the top and encrusted with bling.

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Sometimes a visiting speaker chooses the winner but this time we did it in our usual way by voting in the blue and white saucers with beads. Thank goodness we get five beads each. And even then choosing five places to vote was an almost impossible decision! But after the counting, the winner was announced: Sue’s fabulous blue ammonite, one of the pieces for our museum exhibition.

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Glad I didn’t put anything in as I would have been seriously outclassed!!

Then after lunch, a workshop on Bayeux Stitch. I’ve used this stitch on several projects, including Shy Bird,

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…the sycamore leaves from Blackwell…

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and of course, the Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon kit from Tanya at Opus Anglicanum which I bought and started a disgracefully long time ago!

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I really enjoy working this stitch. It works up quickly, which is always a huge bonus and I love the textured effect the couching gives to it.

We had some lovely examples to inspire us, from medieval style designs to working it as an all over pattern to create a solid embroidered fabric as in the purse below and some very contemporary pieces.

 

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Although I was very tempted to explore the contemporary design ideas, it was a good opportunity to get a bit more done on Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon.

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Every little helps!

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The stumpwork course I taught at Ashby Link last week went really well, although I do need to be more realistic about the amount of work that the participants can reasonably do in the time allowed – I planned enough for at least two full days!

After learning some raised embroidery stitches and techniques in the morning, I created a little ball topiary design for them to work in the afternoon based on three of them: padded satin stitch, a french knot slip and raised stem band.

The french knots for the leafy part of the topiary were worked separately on a piece of calico in six strands of stranded cotton, partly so it worked up more quickly and partly to get a lovely textured effect. Great place to use up all those odd ends of stranded cotton!

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I used a circle of pelmet vilene to pad it out a little and then drew the calico up round the vilene…

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…before stitching it in place on my main fabric, which just so happens to be a piece of one of the shirts I chopped up for the cuff books workshop last week.

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Then the pot. Satin stitch over a base shape in pelmet vilene.

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The raised stem band rim is worked separately, and just sits on top of the pot. Guideline shape for the padding.

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Long stitch padding with the vertical bars.

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And the stem stitch over the top. Very pleased with the effect!

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Just the stem/trunk to add.

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I used several long satin stitches in stranded silk and then used a single strand of it to couch random threads down with tiny stitches.

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It’s reminded me how much I enjoy raised work and needlelace, so now the end of term is finally in sight, I might start dabbling again.

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I first had the idea for putting a pamphlet stitched booklet inside the cuff of a shirt or jacket about 6 years ago and although I’ve since seen images on the internet, I’m proud to say it was it was an idea I had all by myself!

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It’s a great method for making notebooks to carry around in a bag or pocket as the button (or snap) on the cuff holds the pages closed and you have the length of the cuff to decorate.

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So I was delighted to be asked to teach it as a workshop for Brigg Allsorts group last week.  Men’s shirts, my main source of cuffs, often are patterned in stripes or checks and the patterns are a great set of guidelines for keeping your stitches straight, so I chose a checked one and decided to have a go at some chicken scratch embroidery with cross stitch and rice stitch.

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I also replaced the boring button with one covered in scarlet silk. It’s fascinating how adding even simple stitches can alter your perception of the background design so much.

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One of the early projects on the seven week crazy patchwork course I’m running for North Lincolnshire Adult Education at Ashby Link was to piece three tiny scraps of fabric together with feather stitch and enhance them with stitches to make a crazy patchwork brooch. This is my example. Black and gold silk covered with lace on either side of a scrap of printed Japanese style cotton with a gold coloured metal motif stitched onto it.

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Kantha stitch knocks back the brightness of the print in the middle. Whipped back stitch and threaded chain stitch to the left and bullion roses with stem stitch stems and nested lazy daisy leaves on the right.

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I went for a very closely worked blanket stitch edging as the pieces of silk fabric were fraying very badly. It took a lot longer to finish, but I think the neat effect is worth it.

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One thing about teaching these courses, I have to get things finished to keep up with the learners!

 

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