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When I went to visit my parents at Easter I spent some time with my dad in his workshop. He turned me a couple of pairs of knitting needles from yew last year…

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…and I used one pair to knit him a hat but the knobs on the end were a bit too small and they were a little on the short side so he turned me a version 2:

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in lilac wood

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with laburnum collars over the ends to make the knobs a better size.

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Laburnum is a fabulous wood. Who could have guessed that the small slender trees which rain down their clusters of golden flowers in suburban gardens at this time of the year have such rich dark wood. I’m not sure where my dad has managed to get so much laburnum from, but you can really see the deep colour of the wood and the dark, spiralling grain in a mouse and egg he made years ago.

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Anyway, whilst in the workshop, to my dad’s bemusement,  I managed to score an assortment of scraps and offcuts of various woods. This is apple, which he has used to make some gorgeous chopping blocks.

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I added some kantha style rusty doodling. (That rusted sheet came from the workshop too, as I remember…)

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With some pieces of watch mechanism added…

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I think this will probably become a brooch.

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Also time I was thinking about upcycling a random notebook – the sort of thing that comes full of gorgeous pictures and inspiring ideas inside glossy lifestyle magazines – into a holiday journal. Usually I just fuse fabric to the inside, but there was more writing on the front than I wanted, so I made a cover sandwich, with fabric inside…

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…and outside.

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I’ve just started to blanket stitch the edge for decoration, to keep the edges of the fused fabric from flapping up and also for adding strength to the cover.

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I’m using a slightly lighter weight perle that I have done before with these journals and so have put the stitches closer together which means I need to concentrate on keeping the spacing neat!

It was our Embroiderers’ Guild Meeting the Saturday before last and between taking my little one for her tennis lesson and not checking the timings on the extremely clear and useful newsletter which our secretary always sends out just prior to the monthly meeting, I managed to roll up late as usual.

By the time I sidled in, everyone was engrossed in their English Paper Piecing project set up by our chair, Ruth, in the morning. As well as providing fabric and sheets of templates, Ruth had brought a fabulous display of books, works in progress and completed projects to inspire.

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Debbie had been inspired by one of Ruth’s patchwork pouches and was well on with her own version in some glorious sunflower fabrics.

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I had gone for some oddments of prints and hand dyes in coffee shades with some indigo dyed cotton for my fabrics.

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Since I’ve been working with hexagons in Auntie Sheila’s patchwork project I decided to go for equilateral triangles for a bit of a challenge.

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I really enjoyed getting quite a few pieced in various fabrics so I could play around with some arrangements and I even got some stitched together, but not entirely sure where I’m going to take this next, which is irritating as it was a really good workshop and I like the colour and shape combinations. I’m sure something will come to me when I’m thinking about something else!

In June the Embroiderers’ Guild are having a stand at the annual Lincolnshire Show and members from various branches in the area have been asked to make some little bits and pieces which could be sold to raise funds and at least cover the cost of the stand. I had seen some little pincushion brooches on Pinterest which were made from puffs of stuffed fabric on a flat metal brooch type background. It just so happened that I had some new flat brass discs among my jewellery making kit, so I used a scrap of silk, a length of vintage crochet thread, a gold bead and a small amount of stuffing and made a prototype.

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There were ten of the stamped brass discs in the packet, so I decided to use all ten. Works in progress…

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And a couple of the finished articles.

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They are now all neatly packed up and ready for the Show. Apparently our branch alone has amassed nearly a hundred items to sell!

I’m on a roll!

An upcycled bracelet,

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Pisces necklace,

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Branch necklace,

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Green daisy necklace,

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Broken vintage brooch turned into a pendant

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…and another upcycled broken brooch. This one does actually have embroidery in it!

The main piece was a ring brooch in lovely condition with all the original stones intact, but no pin, so I got rid of the remains of the pin mountings and decided to fill the middle with a back stitched spider’s web, rather like a Dorset button.

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I’d got about a third of the way through the stitching when I looked on the back and decided I preferred that effect. So out it all came and I started again!

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Much better.

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Filling up the space nicely…

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…and completed.

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The thread is quite a thickish cotton and the web is really firm and sturdy. The back is neat too, but I’m pleased I chose to restitch it.

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I added a vintage bar tie-pin as the brooch back and it covers the scars of the old closure quite nicely.

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Very pleased with this!

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The only other sewing I’ve been doing is a major repair job on one of our Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club costumes – a wartime woollen coat that somebody has turned into a pirate captain type coat. Various seams have given way and the gold braid is coming adrift everywhere.

Not creative in quite the same way, but extremely satisfying.

 

Fun stuff

I’ve been upcycling jewellery recently and having a lot of fun putting bits and pieces together to make something from nothing. I had a small lot of vintage 1970s silver tone ring blanks which were crying out for some nuggets of sea glass.

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Then I used freshwater pearls and seed and bugle beads in a variety of shades of green to create a set of sea-themed dangles for my Mermaid’s Garden dangle ring. The centre is finished with a piece of ‘coral’ I beach-combed from Claigan Coral Beach on the Isle of Skye as a child in the 1970s. I always thought it was actually coral, but according to the internet it’s ‘desiccated and sun-bleached algae’ which is much less attractive sounding!

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Then an assemblage piece – Ship’s Wheel Locket. The original vintage goldtone locket had a slight depression in the front so I shaped a piece of polished broken abalone to fit into it and then added a lovely ship’s wheel charm on top of that so the sea green swirls of the abalone can be glimpsed through the spokes of the wheel.

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Lastly I reverted to embroidery for the Cottage Garden pendant. This gold tone pendant had a pierced pattern around the edge which was just begging to have some sort of thread added. I chose a heavy Caron cotton thread in lovely muted cottage garden shades and added a simple row of slanted stitches, following the pattern of the holes.

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Then it occurred to me that I could do a sort of back-stitched spider’s web around the champagne coloured diamantes and turn them into flowers, which worked very well.

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Always good when a plan comes together.

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…

Last Saturday was our March Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and we had a talk from Mary Sleigh about some of her collection of African textiles, from strip woven West African fabrics…

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20170325_155336_HDR.jpg… to heavily embroidered wild silk ceremonial robes, bark cloth. indigo resist and all sorts of other embroidered and embellished fabrics.

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The raffia cloth fascinated me. Remembering piles of scratchy unravelling hanks in the back of art cupboards, I couldn’t quite get my head round how something like that was going to create a fabric, but although there was a slight stiffness to the cloth, it was an amazing transformation and I love these applied geometric shapes.

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My head was a bit of a shed on Saturday and although I have photos of my finished kantha fish from February’s meeting…

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…I completely forgot to photograph the other pieces that people brought in. Oops!

Only four of us in the group this time, so this one, stitched for Sandra in keeping with her flowers theme, is my last page of the round. I enjoyed discovering new stitches when I stitched Val’s leaves last month, so I went for the same Sue Spargo inspired idea in turquoise and purple/pink.

First new stitch courtesy of Mary Thomas: Braided Edging Stitch. It looks like blanket stitch from the top, but has a lovely chained effect on the edge. Getting the tension right was interesting initially, but I really like the effect.

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Then whipped running stitch ‘petals’, using a very slubby pure silk thread for the whipping.

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I filled two of the ‘petals’ with Trellis Stitch…

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…the top one with Vandyke Stitch (not too happy with the stitching on that, but I needed to work in a thickish thread – the full 6 strands of stranded cotton – to get the right sort of coverage)…

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…and the two bottom ones with Buttonhole Filling and a Woven Spiders Web Wheel to hide a multitude of sins in the middle!

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The second flower had Berwick Stitch with its lovely edging knots round the outside and then I couched down a line of fabulously soft, thick, loosely twisted, variegated silk to follow the shape.

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I decided to use the same thick, soft silk to work Back-stitched Spiders Webs in each of the petals. Foundation stitches first, using a template to make sure they were all the same.

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Then adding this glorious silk.

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Lastly I filled in the centre with a chain stitch spiral and they were good to go!

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Nobody’s book to complete this month so hopefully I can get stuck into the bluework.