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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.

Kantha spiral

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…

I knew it was a while since I started this piece, but was stunned to check back through my archive and find it was 2012! We were doing a redwork workshop at Embroiderers’ Guild, stitching cups, plates, teapots etc. in various stitches with red threads. I’m not the biggest fan of red, so don’t have a lot of red threads and also, crockery to me always means blue and white, so I went off piste a bit and started to stitch this bowl.

More bluework 2

It’s a big piece for me and shortly after I took this photo, something else became more pressing and it lapsed. As the huge french knot piece is currently still in abeyance, I wanted something slightly more long term to stitch and the bluework fitted the bill. I’ve not done an awful lot more, but I have finished the leaves on the ribbon rose section, which are two lazy daisy stitches nested inside each other.

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I even managed to find a close match for the thread – there was no chance that after 4+ years I was going to remember what I’d originally used!!

My plan was that each section of the bowl would be filled with a different flower design, using different techniques and styles, so several happy hours have been spent on Pinterest gathering inspiration and I’m looking forward to getting going with it again.

It is high time I started to practise my metal-working skills again so I decided to start small, cutting out a rose leaf shape from sheet brass and piercing it with holes before I textured it with the hammer.

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Then I used some green perle and using the holes, put in the foundation stitches for a woven spider’s web which I worked in a gorgeous variegated pink and green silk ribbon.

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It worked out perfectly so I had a green centre shading out to the deep pink edge. I neatened it up with a piece of pink kid leather over the back and added a jump ring to turn it into a sweet little mixed media pendant.

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One of my Christmas presents was a Dremel engraver so I had a bit of a play with that, first using one of the included stencils to add a rustic star shape to a piece of sea glass which I then turned into a pendant.

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Then I moved on to a piece of reticulated brass which I created on the silversmithing course I took in Sheffield a few years ago. I had deliberately worked the reticulation from either end of the piece of brass in order to leave a smooth bridge between them for some text. Finally, I had the tool to add the lettering!

I used uncial script and the H of ‘haven’ looks a bit like an R, unfortunately, but I really like the way the engraver worked on the brass.

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I turned this into yet another pendant and gave it a lovely vintage sari silk strip ribbon to hang from in crimson and gold.

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My other Christmas present thanks to some vouchers was a doming set and I was dying to have a go at doming some old coins that I’d accumulated. Tiny bronze British decimal half pennies seemed to work best and I combined one that I’d hammered into a hemisphere with a ‘cornflake’ of reticulated brass that I’d also domed. I drilled them both through the middle and chose an odd stud earring with purple diamantes like stamens of a flower to connect them together.

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I’ve got a piece of fantastically patterned gilding metal to which I hope to attach the ‘flower’ which I can then turn into a brooch. It’s been good to play with metal again!

A couple of years ago I was delighted to come across a vintage white metal brooch with spaces I could fill with stitching. An offcut of pelment vilene and a few french knots later, I created one of my first upcycled brooches.

So I was delighted when I found a very similar brooch recently. Pink vilene this time…

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…and tiny stem and lazy daisy stitches in a single strand of silk made tree branches with leaves.

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Another branch on the other side with cream french knots for cherry blossom and odd blossoms and leaves in the central section.

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Mounted into the brooch.

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And popped into my Etsy shop. Another quick finish.

I’ve had flu for the first time in years and it’s been a bugger to shift, so my involvement at last Saturday’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was limited to sneaking in half way through the afternoon to hand over Val’s Travelling Book and pick up Sandra’s, staying by the door and keeping my germs well out of the way. Everyone looked like they were happily stitching though, so I hope a good time was had by all.

For Val’s book page I worked a piece inspired by the work of Sue Spargo. I bought some gorgeous heavyweight pure wool felt before Christmas and cut simple leaf shapes in a soft green to go on a cream ground. I wanted to use the uncluttered shapes to showcase the embroidery, particularly new stitches.

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Then I got out a whole pile of books on embroidery stitches and started to stitch! The blanket stitch round the outside of the first leaf is actually called Berwick Stitch in the book I used and is a blanket stitch with a sort of added french knot where the needle enters the background fabric. Very nice to work and the knot gives a lovely finish. Then a row of running stitch and the dark green is twisted chain.

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After I’d worked the line of twisted chain I felt the gap was too big between it and the running stitch, so I added a row of split stitch in variegated perle. Inside the twisted chain I stitched a row of whipped running stitch before finishing it off with a row of closed fly stitch.

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Leaf two was held down with Knotted Buttonhole Stitch. It’s a lovely looking stitch but working the knots at the start took a bit of practise. Then a neat row of chain inside that.

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I wasn’t happy with the lone line of running stitch on the first leaf so at this point I went back and whipped it. Much better.

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Back to leaf two and courtesy of Mary Thomas, Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch. Another new stitch to me and a gorgeous one (once I’d got the hang of the tension). I really like the way this sits on the fabric.

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The inside was finished with stem stitch, back stitch and Pekinese stitch.

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I mounted it up into the book and added my inspiration page which included a printout of a photo of the leaves labelled with the different stitches.

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This was a complete joy to stitch and a lot of fun finding new and interesting stitches to add to the old favourites.

It’s reading for a new show time again and so I have managed to sit and stitch through a number of small finishes. Firstly, one of the designs Ruth produced for us at November’s Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, made up into a card.

The border is in feather stitch, the centre in a spiral of split stitch, the main oval parts of the petals in Corded Brussels stitch (needlelace) and the ends in satin stitch.

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Then I decided to make up a little magazine kit I bought from eBay in 2009. Simple stem stitch and lazy daisy stitch for the wheel barrow and the flowers/leaves.

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Then french knot middles to the flowers and my first ever attempt at a Dorset Button for the wheel.

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I was fairly pleased with it until I put the kit picture next to it for comparison…

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Obviously a technique I need to work on but it has made a nice little card.

My inspiration for my page in Janet’s Travelling Book came from finding the rusted fragments I was working on for an art quilt a while ago, including a fragment of very old soft sheeting scattered with rusted marks. I added a scrap of rust coloured silk, variegated thread, silk ribbon and some rusty washers and sat down to stitch.

I started by attaching the silk with a line of back stitch and the largest washer was couched down with metallic Madeira thread.

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Then I added parallel lines of kantha stitching with the variegated thread, weaving around blobs of rust and paint, (I think the fabric was part of an old paint cloth I ‘borrowed’ from my dad’s workshop when I brought home a load of rusted bits a few years ago!) the washer and the silk scrap.

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French knots on the silk strip in a variegated turquoise and rust coloured silk ribbon were joined by metallic thread straight stitches and then I couched some brass watch cogs into some of the spaces.

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I added an explanatory paragraph with little photos of some of my rusted fragments…

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…and attached the finished rusty piece to the next page.

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Janet’s spattered page backgrounds work really well with the colours of the fabric and threads.