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Posts Tagged ‘bullion knots’

With this month’s Move It On project safely put to bed, I’ve been able to think about other things, including a piece inspired partly by a recent trip to Withernsea beach which always turns up some interesting beachcombed treasures, and partly by some recent images that caught my attention on Pinterest of densely encrusted stitching around seashells.

I rediscovered a fabulous piece of silk matka which looks like a hessian sack but feels like velvet, some scraps of organza to add subtle shading to the background and some assorted shells and literally started to doodle in stitch.

I had an odd pony bead and I knew I wanted to cover it in stem stitch band like one I did for the North Cornwall Wallhanging. I used a much thicker thread for this one but it still has the sea urchin sort of look that I was looking for. The raised cup stitch that was so successful as poppies on the Harvest Wreath was a complete disaster here, so I filled them with seed beads and started to surround them with French knots to try and blend them in.

Next I added feather, threaded chain and Palestrina stitches over the strips of organza to hold them down and continued to build up the French knots and add some little mottled sandy coloured beads.

I love the depth and texture of the stitching.

More French knots interspersed with bullions and pearl beads. I liked the shaded effect on the needleweaving on the left from the variegated silk threads I was using so I added some more of those.

Finally finished. Well, in the end I had to tell myself to put down the needle and walk away. With this sort of free form stitching it’s so tempting to just add another dozen French knots or another seaweedy frond. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!

I finished the Mothers’ Day card in good time too and am told it went down very well with the recipient. Despite my best efforts the the tea bags did shred a bit and the whole thing had to be restabilised by stuffing scraps of Bondaweb under the flapping areas and ironing carefully. You can see some spidery areas of glue but it’s less obvious in real life and was much better than having bits dropping off!

Next job is to decide on April’s Move It On Project and I’m torn between revisiting an existing project or starting a kit that’s been hanging around for a while and of course, also needs moving on.

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On Saturday I taught my first workshop to our new Independent Stitch Group: Scunthorpe Embroidery and Textile Association or SEATA, formerly known as the Scunthorpe Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. I had decided to teach my Scrappy Nine Patch Rings workshop (in the Workshops tab under Found Objects) based on this piece I stitched back in early 2019. The idea is to use up those tiny precious scraps which you can’t bear to throw away by layering them in strips and as frames/backgrounds to help showcase the different ways to attach the plastic/brass rings.

As well as the nine patch, which I finished as a mini quilt, I also spent most of last week making some individual samples to demonstrate some more ways of attaching the rings to the backgrounds. A scrap of dyed aida was the inspiration for this one and I created a blackwork style pattern for it which served to stitch down the ring in a rather attractive pattern that I hadn’t anticipated.

I was determined to use a grass printed offcut from the Dames’ cow dress for the next one and I had just the vintage trim to go with it. This ribbon trim dates from the 1970s when my mother allowed me half a yard of ribbon or lace if I was good on the occasional shopping trip instead of sweets. My childhood self would much rather have had sweets, but my adult self has made good use of the trims! It was pretty rather than practical, as when you cut it, the flowers all unravel, which is why so much of it still survives.

I added lazy daisy stitches and French knots in green to the trim to help attach it as well as lazy daisy daisies and kantha around the machine embroidered butterfly and hand dyed purple flannel. It’s backed on a piece of stormy lilac colour catcher

This one was purely about the combination of fabrics and I also wanted to try out the possibility of using bullion knots to hold down the ring. The answer to that is yes, the bullions work, but there is some trial and error involved in getting them the right length, so some of mine (bottom right) are a bit slack. And also because I used such a fine cotton, you have to look very closely to see that they actually are bullions and not just a thick corded thread, which rather defeats the aim of using them!

I played about with back stitch and herringbone to enhance the machine embroidered silk scrap and added metallic feather stitch to the crinkled hand dyed organza scrap.

The final sample was started so I had something to work on in the session, although I didn’t actually get to set needle to fabric until well into the afternoon. The printed central piece is another offcut of the medieval tiles print to stitch piece form February 2019 – I really am getting the most out of every scrap of that fabric – and I outlined it in back stitch before blanket stitching the ring on top. Seeding next.

Lastly, the final update on February’s Move It On Project, my Chihuly chandelier. Unfortunately because of the workshop preparation I wasn’t able to add any more stitching to it this week, but again, the aim of the project has succeeded. I wanted to see if I could make the design work and end up anything like the real thing and the answer to that is yes, using back stitched spiders webs and crocheted circles. I’ve not finished it, but I know what I need to do to complete it in the future. Now to decide what I’m going to choose for March’s entry into the Move It On Project.

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It’s been a lovely Christmas with all the children together for a couple of days. Now the older two have gone back to their respective homes, it feels more like normality and I’ve started to think less about producing the next meal for the hungry hordes and more about the New Year and where I want to take my stitching.

I’ve largely managed to free myself from the need to finish everything I start, but as well as the unfinished pieces that have served their purpose, whether that’s, “What happens if…” or, ” Given it my best shot but I still really don’t like it…” I still have partly worked projects that I would like to complete. So my focus this coming year is to work with what I have, start new things when it’s appropriate, but be more mindful about moving on the stuff that is still ongoing. In this spirit, here is the Bluework bowl I started in March 2012, which scarily makes it almost a decade old. The last time I posted about it (which was also the last time I actually worked on it) was July 2018 when it looked like this:

Not a lot left to do really, apart from finishing off the cherry blossom and thinking what to put in the final section. The biggest problem with the cherry blossom was finding the thread, or at last a close match, for the branches, but it looks like I’ve either already had that problem or deliberately used slightly different shades to give the impression of depth and shading. I extended the branch into the space above and scattered it with cherry blossom in French knots – a few too many in hindsight as the space looks crammed. I think I’ll probably take them out and restitch the crowded section when I get better light for the unpicking.

I ran through lots of ideas for the last section before settling on a recent favourite – woven feathered chain stitch in what I think is a very softly spun silk. It made the weaving a bit interesting as even with a canvas needle it was almost impossible not to keep piercing the foundation stitches but the sheen on the woven leaves is lovely.

I finished it with woven spiders’ web wheels for flowers in a darker blue Gloriana silk. Apologies for the awful photos but it’s impossible to get decent photographs at the moment – even when it’s light the weather has been so horrible over the last few days that photos outside are nearly as bad as those inside.

So after almost ten years, it’s finished. Well sort of. I’ve already decided to re stitch the cramped cherry blossoms and there are some sections where I’m wondering if it’s a bit too busy and others where perhaps its not busy enough.

Perhaps I’ll keep it on the in progress pile but I certainly will try and get some better photos of it.

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As is always the way, the final leg of the stumpwork garden only took about half an hour. First I finished the last of the kale/chard slubby silk picots. I was a little uncertain about them to start off, but they’ve worked up into a very healthy looking clump.

Then the courgette leaves. I’d already decided I was going to cut them out of some painted fabric. However, when looking for a source picture, I found countless photos of courgette leaves online, all different, which didn’t help and was probably why I left this job until last.

The first tentative one looked OK in terms of size and shape so I cut out another couple and laid them over the courgettes. They weren’t quite right. They looked flat and completely obscured the courgettes, which is what the leaves do in real life, but I didn’t want to lose the stitching underneath. I was resigning myself to stitching in minute veins to make them look less 2D when Debbie, one of the friends I was stitching with, suggested I put a tiny pleat in the base.

It was like magic. Suddenly the fold suggested veins and depth.

As there was to be no stitching of veins, the last stage passed in a flash. I pleated each leaf and used the thread to attach each one to the courgette plant. Pleating the leaves also meant they would no longer lay flat and solved the second issue about covering and losing the courgettes.

The leaves stand up beautifully (the fabric is backed with a light weight interlining to help stop it fraying which helps) and are only connected at the base of the leaf so as you move the stitching you can still see the courgettes, even though the leaves cover them. A genius solution!

My completed vegetable garden. It’s been a delight to stitch and had a lot of interest (for me!) on Instagram where it’s currently my most interacted with post, so other people seem to love it as much as I do.

I also ought to post a shot to give you an idea of scale.

And against my hand – please excuse the state of my fingers – it’s that time of year when I seem to be constantly peeling and prepping fruit and veg from the real garden.

I’m definitely going to offer this as a workshop. I’ll suggest some different vegetables and lay outs so not everyone has to stitch an identical copy and it’s a good introduction to some raised embroidery techniques. Anyone interested, shout up. Contact details are on my workshops page (tab at the top).

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Not much stitching this week as I’ve been dealing with the end of term in various ways, but the miniature garden now has some bullion knot lettuces in a very subtly variegated thread:

And I’ve started some courgettes. I think I might cut the leaves out of some fabric like I did with the pumpkin pendant…

…rather than embroider them as they are quite big. The only other way I can think of is to make them as needle lace slips and I don’t really want to go into that level of complexity. I’ve tried out an experimental courgette made from the tiniest raised stem band with a trio of lazy daisy stitches for the flower. Hopefully the head of the pin gives an idea of scale!

The wind sculpted tree has gone from this:

To this:

I needle felted a sheep for a birthday card:

And finished a doodle with some of my reticulated brass scraps and gold pearl purl on sapphire blue silk.

Must try harder!

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Bullion roses first. In fact this is quite an old finish (early lockdown rather than later!) but one I haven’t blogged about at all. I began another tiny locket insert on silk carrier rod well before last Christmas, using silk buttonhole twist to make bullion knot roses.

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It stalled as other projects took priority but finally at the end of April I decided to crack on and get it finished.

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I was aiming for an asymmetric look but without it appearing to be unfinished and I am very pleased with the result which you can find here in my Etsy shop.

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Back to the Tattershall Castle memory journal. ‘It Rained’ is completed and I am really pleased with it. First the split stitch leaves and couched perle thread stalks.

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Then I added the raindrops. Flat backed teardrop shaped beads with an iridescent coating. They were the perfect finishing touch and I think this might be my favourite of all of the Tattershall pieces.

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This meant that I was now ready to assemble the memory journal, put it away and move onto the third one, documenting my visit to Kew last summer. I blanket stitched a border around the bollock purse…

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…and stitched into it with tiny stab stitches to attach it to the page.

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Everything else went on really smoothly but then I came to the canvaswork piece…

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Unfortunately I trimmed it really close to the edge and this has given me no leeway now I need to stitch it in place. I’m pretty sure that even if I try to invisibly stitch it down the handling will be enough to loosen the last thread on each edge and in any case, I don’t want the spiky bare canvas as an edging.

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So near and yet so far! So, dear readers, any thoughts, ideas or inspiration? All suggestions very gratefully received!

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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!

Denim cuff books

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.

Leaves book cover 1

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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Now I have another section of the bluework piece which is more of a turquoise blue, I’m a bit happier: it’s looking more balanced.

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The lavender now has three layers: a foreground of bullion knot lavender heads, a mid-ground of simple straight stitch lavender heads in a heavy weight perle thread, and a background layer of distant heads in a thin single strand silk.

DSCN6375.JPGNote to self. Stitch the background first – it makes slotting stems in behind the foreground elements ever so much easier…

 

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The bluework is coming along slowly. I’ve added a centre to the lighter coloured flower on the right hand side.

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However, that part of the design has lapsed as I need to redraw the rest of it and I never seem to have my fabric marker handy when I’m working on it, so I went for another section altogether. My first attempt at this type of bullion knot roses with my favourite fly stitch leaves and stem stitch stem.

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That was a relatively quick stitch, so I thought I’d stay with bullions and create some lavender.

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It looked a bit sparse, so I used a variegated perle thread in a similar colour to create some more heads in the background with nested lazy daisy stitch leaves and split stitch stems on the lavender in the foreground.

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I might use some fine silk to put the suggestion of another row in even further away when I’ve finished the perle.

And the bluework so far…

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I do believe I’m over half way!

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It was a pleasure to finish the little Bossa Nova Rose from our Embroiderers’ Guild Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery workshop last weekend. I didn’t follow the instructions when it came to the leaves, going for fly stitch over blanket stitch and not adding the fine pale green edging it suggested because I felt the sheen of the thread gave enough definition.

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And then quickly finished as a card.

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My first sea glass and pocket watch case pendant positively flew out of my Etsy shop and I’ve started another one to go with a harlequin case of a gold coloured collar and engine turned back. I’ve got some tiny pieces of very rare yellow sea glass and some ordinary brown to add to this.

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I also turned some off cuts of hand dyed fabric, the batik I’m using above and some cotton print in shades of brown into some strip patchwork which I used to cover a grotty looking cabochon pendant…

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…turning it into an upcycled patchwork pendant with added vintage lace and flower trim.

Lots going on!

 

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