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Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

After September’s AGM, Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild were back with needles in hand for our October Meeting, which is designated ‘Friendship Day’ in memory of the members we have lost over the years. It’s usually an all day workshop and often, as last Saturday’s was, run by our talented members.

This year, a small group led by Val introduced us to the world of embellished seam treatments and crazy quilting. I have done a fair bit of crazy patchwork, but I only ever use feather stitch along the seams and for me, it’s the embellishment of the patches which is the focus. My patches are also raw edged, unlike the neat seams of crazy quilting, so I was looking forward to doing something a bit more precise than my usual method of working!

It was a busy weekend on the am dram front as I organised both our annual Hallowe’en costumed trail at the local museum on the Friday and our first ever Spook-tacular Scare Walk in the grounds of Normanby Hall on the Sunday, so I grabbed the brown and indigo left overs from the Indigo Diamond quilt I made last June, a handful of toning threads and I completely forgot to pick up any needles! Thanks to Debbie for letting me scrounge some of hers.

First job was to cut three pieces of fabric and to stitch them onto a calico backing. As the block only consisted of three sections, we stitched the seams by hand, which was nice quiet repetitive work, especially when you can chat to friends while you’re doing it. As well as the blue and brown I also picked up one of my rust dyed fabrics for the third colour.  All ready to embellish the seams.

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I wanted to echo the curved lines in the rusted piece, so I used a cotton reel to trace half circles along my first seam, alternating between the blue and the rust, and used a heavy almost corded cotton thread in rusty browns to cover it in chain stitch.

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The thread was almost too heavy to use, but I love the effect.

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Next, to take it a bit further. I wanted something fan-like in the semi-circles so I decided on buttonhole wheels.

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Nice idea, but not happy with the execution. The wheel was a bit uneven, so I tried to hide it by filling the middle with a smaller, woven buttonhole wheel. Then I stitched the second one (on the right) and it came out much more like I had imagined.

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So the first one is in the process of coming out!

It was a lovely workshop. We constructed our blocks in the morning, leaving the afternoon for the creative fun of developing the seam treatments and there were some gorgeous results.

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Really looking forward to finishing this piece now Hallowe’en is out of the way!

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It was a real success.

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The weather was lovely and we had a steady stream of interested people through the doors to admire a room full of beautiful textile art including both people’s own projects…

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…and work from the last couple of years, such as the goldwork initials on the left.

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Bovver birds. (Wearing bovver boots…)

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Outcomes from Mary’s Sea Workshop:

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Chris Gray’s amulets:

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My Stitch Play:

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Competition Pieces:

Sandra’s beautiful heliotrope fan won the Regional Award for the Competition – ‘A flower beginning with…H’.

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And I believe this William Morris inspired competition entry on the left is Lynda’s. Each one of those sunflower petals is an individual free standing woven picot. Stunning!

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Some of our Alice Fox work:

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As well as more projects, new…

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…and old.

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And in one corner, my jewellery stall (complete with my budding archaeologist on the left). Upcycled jewellery on the left, original jewellery in the middle and beachcombed jewellery on the right among the driftwood.

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I half hoped I might sell a couple of bits, but in fact I sold nine items and had so many lovely compliments and conversations that it’s a wonder my head got through the door at the end of the day!  I am so grateful to the committee for suggesting I have a stall and I am definitely ready to do something like this again – I just have to find the right type of fair/market.

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For me, this blog is a place to express and explore my creativity and so I rarely talk about the other parts of my life, but those of you who have been around for a while will have probably worked out that I am, or was, a primary school teacher by trade. That was until just over three years ago when I was moved into the school’s Nurture Room to work one to one with a child who was unable to access classroom teaching due to some very complex needs. At the same time, the school’s Learning Mentor went off sick (and never returned) and I found myself covering her role.

I loved it. I managed a small team and for the first time found myself outside the toxic culture of the primary classroom, where nothing you do is ever good enough. I liaised with outside agencies and support services on behalf of our vulnerable children and families and designed and ran programmes to support children with a whole range of behavioural, emotional, social and mental health problems. It was the most interesting, creative and rewarding period of my entire working life.

Then last year the academy provider decided that the school would be better served by me returning to the classroom. When the current Y6 cohort, which contained some of our most challenging children, left there would (apparently) be no need for my role and the work I was doing three days a week would be covered by other members of staff (it hasn’t…). Bullshit. It was really just about saving money.

It broke my heart. I never even made it as far as the first day of term and spent eight months off work with stress and depression until I took redundancy in April. It was the biggest finish of my life, shutting the door on a nearly thirty year career.

I’m nowhere near retirement, so I need to turn my finish into some new beginnings and now I find myself like a child in a sweet shop, not knowing what to choose as there are so many things I love doing that could become potential careers.

I want to get back to writing. I have a second book of short stories ready to go, a novel I’m about a quarter of the way through, a panto script on the boil and an idea for a book about effective behaviour management techniques.

I also desperately want to carry on doing the sort of nurture/behaviour management stuff I was doing when I was working, perhaps as a consultancy. My behaviour management methods really work and I would love to be able to train and advise teachers, schools and teacher training courses.

And then there are all my creative things. I’m working on a couple of pieces of upcycled furniture at the moment which I am really excited about, as well as all my embroidery and my upcycled and original jewellery. I still love the mechanics of teaching and I’ve really enjoyed the workshops I’ve run at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild.

It’s like trying to choose off an amazing menu. Each time I think I’ve settled on one path, I think about the others and get really excited about them and change my mind. So I’m not choosing. I’m going to try and work on all of them and see how and where that goes.

I’ve started working as a Primary Behaviour and Social-Emotional Support Specialist with some initial pro bono work for a friend to get my name out there and have updated my LinkedIn profile accordingly. It’s reminded me how much I relish the problem solving and enabling children in crisis to find strategies to help them.

I’ve also started offering textile/embroidery workshops and have already had a few enquiries, which is encouraging. I even designed a flyer to help with publicity so if you’re interested then please get in contact. I can do full days, half days and evenings and am happy to travel (in the UK).

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And then there is always Etsy, eBay, car boot sales and I’m hoping to find some markets and fairs to attend. I’m dipping my toe this Saturday when Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild have our 21st birthday exhibition. Some very long time readers might recognise the embroidery on the poster – my North Cornwall Wallhanging!

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I’m having a stall with a range of beachcombed and original jewellery and also a selection of my upcycled jewellery which has been embroidered or is textile-based in some way. I’ve read reams of stuff on how to have a successful hand made stall and have everything crossed. It will be fun!

 

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Some of the near finishes I blogged about recently in ‘Brooches etc‘ have become actual finishes!

First the Chris Gray amulet from summer 2016. It’s gone from this:

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To this:

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I sandwiched the felt backed front and a piece of black felt for the back on either side of a piece of very firm stiffener than Chris provided us with to give the amulet body. Then I blanket stitched the three pieces together with the same variegated thread I used for the seeding stitches.

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I added a ribbon loop at the top and a cluster of beads, chains, sea glass, shell etc at the bottom from an assortment of broken jewellery.  The long blue tyvek or similar bead was one of two we were all given as part of the original workshop.

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The Knot Gardens pendant is also finished. I coloured the pelmet vilene around the knots to look like soil/paths and sandwiched both knots together with another circle of vilene inside to make it thick enough to sit in the swivel part of the fob properly.

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It’s in my Etsy shop here.

I also completed the second of my autumn leaves embroidered and beaded brooches. The first had a green and copper bead surround:

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The second has a fiery gold and orange sunburst surround. I love doing these beaded edgings – they work up quickly and look really effective. I’ve got my fish name badge to do next.

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And lastly, an empty watch face pendant and a piece of embroidered felt came together to create another upcycled pendant which is on Etsy here.

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It’s really good to get so many quick finishes sorted, or may be it’s displacement activity because I have some mending that needs doing…!

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Embroidery as promised. I not only finished off the faux driftwood piece I stitched at our sea-themed Embroiderers’ Guild March workshop…

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…but also found a framed ceramic plaque for £1 in a charity shop which after a bit of sanding and dry brushing with some pale blue emulsion paint yielded the perfect frame.

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The beaded fish is now nearly a name badge. I just need to add a brooch back, ladder stitch the two sections together and bead it round the edge.

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On Saturday it was our April Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and an opportunity to revisit the embroidery we produced in March after Mary’s workshop. It was lovely to see such a variety of outcomes.

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This was followed by a fascinating talk by Alice Fox, learning about her creative journey and focusing on her ‘Findings’ body of work. Anyone who beach and pavement combs and turns the oddments she finds into works of art is a woman after my own heart. We had a workshop booked with her on the Sunday but I’m going to blog about that separately.

I’ve also been embroidering more pieces of silk carrier rod to inlay into upcycled jewellery – two lockets and a pendant. The pendant was first: vibrant green carrier rod with a crimson ribbon embroidery rose circled by five little leaf stitch leaves.

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This went beautifully with a stamped filigree brass frame to become June Rose.

Then I moved onto the smaller of two gold tone lockets. I used a wintry blue carrier rod and embroidered it with tiny snowflakes in two weights of silk thread. 20180426_114304_HDR.jpg

It really is very small – the central oval is about 2cm by 1.5cm and the finest thread is thinner than normal sewing cotton. The snowflakes aren’t quite well stitched as I wanted, but embroidering something that intricate freehand was quite a challenge.

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Snowflakes is available here.

For the second locket I returned to a familiar design, an undersea landscape of waving feather stitch fronds of coral or seaweed and tiny nuggets of sea glass.

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I chose a variegated pink and turquoise thread as a starting point and teamed it with turquoise/blue carrier rod, three nuggets of multi-coloured Seaham sea glass and a couple of darker pink threads.

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The Coral Garden locket is quite a bit bigger than the Snowflakes locket at about 4 by 4.5cm. I really like the colour combination. I wouldn’t have necessarily put the two colours together but they worked so well in the variegated thread.

I really love stitching these little vignettes and using them to make bits of junk jewellery into things of beauty again.

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I learned a lot stitching the samples for the Stitch Play workshop and it wasn’t just adding new stitches to my repertoire.

I know that thread makes a significant difference to how the stitch looks and sits on the fabric, but I don’t often take the time to experiment. Usually, I start stitching, realise it isn’t right for the look I’m trying to achieve, and restitch it in the ‘right’ thread. The samples gave me the opportunity to really explore the different effects of different threads, especially the heavier threads which I tend to use less.

My first sample piece was based on the leaves and flowers pairs I stitched for Sandra and Val in the last round of Travelling Books. I liked the way the satin stitch worked up in the variegated thread and also the effect of the knotty Portuguese Stem Stitch.

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After having worked some bigger shapes with multiple stitches used on each, I wanted to showcase smaller shapes with just a couple of stitches used but a different stitch to edge each one for my second sample piece.

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I enjoyed using these wintry blues and am particularly pleased with the effect of the sheaf stitch around the edge of the central circle.

I thought it was also useful to label the samples with the name of the stitches used.

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Two samples in, I started to look for shapes to include on the worksheet and found some lovely vase silhouettes.

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Having worked on finding lots of different edging stitches for the spots piece, I went back to simple blanket and Berwick Stitches to hold the vase shapes down. Then I could go to town on linear stitches to create the bands across the vases. Chain Stitch is the only repeated stitch on this piece.

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I really liked the effect of the four legged knot stitch (3rd row up from the bottom).

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I looked at my three samples so far and sighed as I realised that once again, I’d stuck to my favourite green and blue palette and each one was stitched in shades of a single colour. I decided that for the last sample I was going to use rows of bright clashing colours. Yeah, right…

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I simply couldn’t do it! But at least there are other colours than blue and green going on…

The Guilloche Stitch at the top is a composite stitch, with french knots, stem stitch top and bottom and a threaded thing going on down the middle. It’s a stitch I would never use normally, but it was perfect for the band going along the edge of the cup.

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I love the feathered chain/chained feather stitch along the top of the mug and I also reused a few stitches from the vases sample. The raised chain band (5th row down) was worked in all six strands of a stranded cotton, as opposed to the perle on the first green vase (also 5th row down) and the effect is much richer and fuller.

I also found that using a heavier weight perle on the scroll stitch (2nd row down) than I did on the second green vase (also 2nd row down) helped it to sit better.

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They were fun to stitch, but I was ready to return to something different by the time the workshop came round!

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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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