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Posts Tagged ‘blackwork’

Just got back from a slightly different but very much needed and enjoyable week in North Cornwall. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen photos of our walks and beach excursions in my stories and I even managed to get some stitching done as well.

First, a piece of blackwork from a gorgeous design I found on Pinterest several years ago. I’m afraid I don’t know the designer, so if anyone does please can they let me know so I can credit them. This is stitched in a single strand of Gloriana silk thread on 28 count natural Cashel linen and yes, it is tiny! Most of the motifs are about 1cm square.

Stitching al fresco in Boscastle while my husband and little one went snorkelling in the harbour.

And again at Tintagel while we waited for our slot to cross the new bridge onto the headland.

Finally finished. I still love the design and I’m glad I stitched it, but I’m ready to move onto something else!

I’ve decided to stitch a Memory Journal style diary for this holiday. I’m going for images and memories from the whole week, rather than one piece to represent each day as I’ve done in the past. We went to Crackington Haven on the Sunday evening to watch the sunset.

And to have a little beachcomb – although as the tide was well in, it was only a little one. I love the slate pebbles of this beach with their scribbly quartz inclusions.

So the first piece I created was using the pebble fabric from the Anderby Creek Memory Journal and some flat slate pebbles from Crackington Haven beach over which I stitched my own quartz inclusions.

I’ve also been very taken with the way the prevailing winds sculpt the trees on the north coast. (Taken through the windscreen of the car, so not the best photo, but I love the shape of that tree.)

Start of my sculpted tree piece. I’m planning to couch the strands of cotton down to make the outline of the branches and then clothe it in leaves – possibly a few less than on the original so you can still see the framework of branches.

We visited a few beaches during the week but the beach finds were generally a bit sparse. However, I’m planning to use some of these bits I picked up at Tintagel for various stitching and jewellery projects.

Plenty of inspiration and hopefully now I’ve had a week’s recharge, I have the energy to get stuck into them.

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The record of my 2019 Mothers’ Day visit to the North Sea Observatory and walk along the coastal path to Anderby Creek was finally finished on a very different Mothers’ Day just a year later. After learning tonight that the UK has joined much of Europe in lockdown, I hope I’ll never take being able to walk freely when and where I want for granted again.

Anyway, to the stitching. The cover title is in split stitch (my favourite for lettering) on indigo dyed sheeting over a piece of lovely pebble fabric from the Knitting and Stitching Show last November. It has been stitched through the pelmet vilene of the accordion with the speckly (a variegated metallic thread) stitches along the lines between the pebbles – sort of invisibly!

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Our walk started at the North Sea Observatory, just north of Skegness. It’s an amazing and I think very beautiful building, angular and austere with wonderful views over the beach towards the sea. Perfect to be stripped right back to the simple shades and tones of black work.

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From the Observatory we started to walk along the beach. I used tiny scraps of fabric to represent dunes, sea and sky in a patchwork landscape that is only about three inches high. This was the last idea I had for the book and it’s my favourite.

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Of course, when on a beach, beachcombing is obligatory! One of the things that blew me away about this beach was the huge amount of shells. I’ve never seen a North Sea beach with so many different types. I chose this oyster shell  because it had holes in it already, making it perfect for attaching with stitch. In this case I used long buttonhole bars which I worked back into for the little cast on stitch curls.

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When I saw a scrap bag at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year with this pebble fabric in it I knew it was perfect for the memory journal. The beach is more sandy than shingly, but it fits in with the story of our walk so well. I gave it a felt backing to give the pebbles a quilted look when I back stitched around them in my favourite variegated metallic Madeira thread. The idea was to look like the twinkles of light you get through pebbles when there is water underneath.

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Part two later in the week!

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The Anderby Creek accordion journal is really starting to come together. The Cloud Bar felt applique is finished and I then started a little piece of blackwork to create the North Sea Observatory. The photo I chose to work from showed the Observatory at an angle, so at this point it’s all a bit experimental!

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Filling in the areas with different patterns to represent different shades started to work better, especially at more of a distance.

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And the block work really pulled it all together.

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I also had a brainwave for the last piece – sand dunes in layered applique/patchwork with marram grass at the bottom. The way the ‘clouds’ echo in the ‘sea’ with the scraps of hand dyed fabric for the sea and sky is a very happy accident!

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All eight pieces completed (two are already in the book).

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Now the fun bit of attaching them to the pages.

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My memories of our Mothers’ Day expedition last year now safely gathered together.

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The Anderby Creek Accordion Journal is making slow but steady progress.

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I found some lovely pebble fabric which was exactly the right scale and have used that for the cover:

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And also hand quilted with my favourite sparkly Madeira thread around the pebbles for one of the pieces inside.

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Inspired by the concrete cloud shapes at the Cloud Bar, I’ve started to add split stitch clouds to some indigo dyed fabric…

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…which will then be overlaid by a felt cloud shape…

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…based on some of my photos of the Cloud Bar.

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The blackwork version of the North Sea Observatory has only had a few more stitches added to it as I try to work out patterns, but the book is slowly filling up.

 

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I really do need to get it finished before the year is up!

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The little free cross stitch of the rhododendrons at Stagshaw Gardens from our Lake District holiday in May is completed, as is the journal itself, something of a super-quick finish given that I’ve only just completed my journal for our last family holiday in Dorset last July!

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The bluework has crawled on from this:

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To this:

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Not much change, apart from the beginning of some umbellifer-type flowers in split stitch, free cross stitch and french knots near the foot of the bowl.

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And as I went down to London at the end of last week to see my foster daughter get her PhD at the Barbican, I needed something small and easy to transport and work on. The result was some not blackwork.

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I had some oddments of blue Aida and decided that gold on blue would be nice. The patterns were freebies from the internet which I stitched as a repeat rather than single motifs. Sometimes it’s nice just to do little odds and ends.

 

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One or two finished and ongoing oddments.

First, the little blackwork project I started back in November with Alison Larkin. Interlaced border next…

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…nearly there…

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…completed!

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I can’t believe the last bluework update I posted was at the start of October! It’s gone slowly from this:

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to this:

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Eyelets as spiky abstract daisies at the bottom.

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And another shaded long and short stitch flower.

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Creative mending has been on the agenda as well. I needed to mend a slit right at the front of one of my favourite tops where a thread had given up the ghost. There was no way I was going to make it invisible, so I did the darning…

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…and added some embroidered trims over the top to make a feature. It’s so good to be wearing this top again, and the motif looks like it was always meant to be there!

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And lastly, the piece I started as a work in progress for the Stitch Play workshop. It’s so nearly done, I really ought to get it finished!

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Especially as I have a plan for a biggish stitching project in 2018…

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The lovely acorn tile black work design that I started at Guild a week last Saturday has grown steadily from this:

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I’ve just got the interlaced border to complete and as I’m enjoying it, I’m in no hurry to finish!

One other very lovely thing that happened at last week’s meeting was that I received my prize for winning the Yorkshire and Humber Embroiderers’ Guild regional competition for a piece of embroidery to be made up into a card: this fabulous book.

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For our July branch meeting we were asked to submit pieces of embroidery for the Regional Competition, the idea being that one piece would be selected from each branch and those pieces would go on to the regional AGM to select a final winner. I entered my North Cornwall Wallhanging, a piece of crazy patchwork that I pieced over several summer holidays in Cornwall and finally made up a few years ago into a hanging.

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I’ve blogged about both the individual pieces and the making up and if you’re interested you can search ‘North Cornwall Wallhanging’ and find a load more posts and photos.

Anyway, to my utter amazement it was selected by Scunthorpe branch and taken off to the the regional AGM where it was chosen as the final winner. Apparently, because there is so much going on, instead of just having one design, they are going to choose different areas and do several. I know which bits are my favourites, so it will be interesting to see what other people choose!

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For various reasons, this is the first Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting I’ve been to since June. Quite a number of our members are eager to get stuck into another round of Travelling Books so we had a lovely display of the initial pieces, ready for their next outing.

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We were joined by Hull Branch and the day was led by their own Alison Larkin. The last time we had a workshop with her was March 2014 when we stitched this miniature embroidery. She brought some of her exquisite miniatures along for us to marvel over. This one is about the size of a playing card.

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I tried to use the magnifier to give some idea of how minute these little stitched pictures are.

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I just love this Tudor/Jacobean style miniature bedspread. This is only about a third of it and the whole thing is no bigger than an A5 envelope.

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This time we had a talk in the morning about her big recent project, a recreation of a waistcoat stitched by Captain James Cook‘s wife Elizabeth. The original is stitched on tapa cloth, which is actually the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree, brought to Europe by Cook from one of his earlier voyages. Although the stitching has been completed, the waistcoat was never made up as Cook died in Hawaii in 1779.

Alison talked us through the whole process of researching the waistcoat, which was not only looking at the design of the original, which is held in a library in Sydney, but also working out the size, stitches used, methods of construction etc. before she could even start stitching. The finished item, much of which she stitched in period costume at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, is stunning.

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The tapa cloth has the look of a slubby silk dupion from a distance and it’s only when you get up close that you can see it’s actually a non woven fabric.

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In the afternoon Alison led a blackwork workshop, where we could try out various designs of hers on a variety of different fabrics. I opted for 18 count aida and a lovely acorn tile design.

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I love blackwork. The intricacies of the designs really appeal, so much so that I don’t even mind the counting involved and was happily engrossed for the rest of the afternoon in getting as far on with my design  as I could.

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This should be a nice quick finish and become a scissor keep for my big fabric scissors.

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As soon as I saw the lovely photograph of silver birches in the autumn at Clumber Park which the owner of the next travelling book had requested to use as a stimulus, I knew exactly what I wanted to stitch. This is usually fatal. I rarely find that my fumbling attempts in reality match up to the clear and beautiful picture in my head. But…this time it actually did!

The black and white graphic quality of the trunks said blackwork and once I’d found a close-up image from the internet to work from, I was away.

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I found some lovely mossy green hand-dyed aida for the background and a variety of weights of silk and cotton thread to stitch with.

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Rather than using blackwork patterns, I simply sketched the trunks from the internet picture in thread rather than ink. One of the key features in my mental picture was that there was no edge to the trunks, leaving the eye to fill in the gaps. This means that the image works rather better from a distance than up close.

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The right-hand page was already pre-coloured and the source photo can be seen top left. I added the image I’d used from the internet as well as a suitable quote on the inspiration page and mounted the blackwork on the right.

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Very proud of this one!

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After teaching 10-11yr olds for almost all of the last 14 years, it was a bit of a culture shock to take on a (large) class of 7-8 yr olds in September but I was determined not to let this stop me teaching them to embroider. I can’t physically get round 29 children to knot their threads, thread their needles and finish threads off, so we had a rigorous session on how to do these basics (no licking the thread, under any circumstances!) and then a starter activity couching down thread around a leaf shape. It went well enough that I dared plan a blackwork activity to fit in with our work on the Tudors.

I showed the children samples of blackwork, both virtual and real ones, demonstrated how to use squared paper to create a geometric design and held my breath.

The children rose to the challenge. After they had each produced their own repeating border design, they used cream binca and black soft embroidery thread to stitch them.

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I kept my input to a minimum. I demonstrated back stitch and how to keep their place in the design. I unpicked when they couldn’t, and helped them to work out where on the binca to start, but I didn’t stitch for them, so some were wonkier than others, but they are the children’s own work…

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…and that’s the important thing.

I can’t show all of them (and some were superb) as most of the photos I have are of the children holding their blackwork-turned-into-calendars up in pride (child protection issues etc. etc.)  but these five are a good cross section of what was produced. Three by 8 yr olds and two by 7 year olds, all entirely their own work.

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I gave the children who stitched these, some blackwork patterns I’d found on the internet, fine black perle thread and a piece of aida and sent them away to stitch. Their delight in what grew under their fingers was magical.

Which reminds me, I must encourage them to get finished!

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