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Posts Tagged ‘found objects’

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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Cleaning a load of broken vintage jewellery the other day I immediately spotted two obvious opportunities for upcycling in the form of the two brooches in the middle, both missing the central focal stone.

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And both crying out for ribbon roses! First the gold and pink diamante brooch.

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This has a silk ribbon rose stitched onto coloured pelmet vilene with nested detached chain stitch leaves and a shiny rayon french knot nestled in its heart. Available in my Etsy shop here.

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If the round brooch was small, the bar brooch is even smaller, with the central bezel tray I was looking to fill measuring just over 1cm wide!

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Time to scale down to 2mm wide silk ribbon and single strands of silk thread to create a tiny spray. I love the way this turned out – even though I know it’s stitched, at first glance it looks like micromosaic!

Also available in my Etsy shop here.

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I was playing with some scraps of upcycled felt a while ago that I’d made in the washing machine from some 100% wool garments that were past wearing. I added some broken jewellery pieces and a kilt pin that had been part of a job lot of broken/unwanted jewellery and came up with this little pendant brooch.

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From this brooch came the idea for a workshop and some more samples. Firstly, an octagonal piece of broken earring, a scrap of felt and sheaf stitch, detached chain stitch and french knots in a funky variegated thread became this brooch. Finished off with beaded blanket stitch around the edges and blanket stitch to attach it to the pin.

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I realised that some little metal tags from my found objects box looked like the bodies of fish and so I started another sample, stitching them down with long and short stitch to create flamboyant tails.

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Palestrina and feather stitch creates fronds of seaweed and also helps hold the ‘bodies’ of the fish in place, and french knots form the sea bed.

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I like all my samples, but those fishes have a special place in my heart – they came out exactly as I’d imagined them!

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One of the stitches that my Stitch Zone embroidery group wanted to explore was Palestrina Stitch; also known as Double Knot Stitch. Palestrina is a line stitch with regularly spaced knots, often looking like a line of beads. It’s reasonably challenging to work initially, but once you get the hang the overs and unders, it has a pleasing rhythm to it. Mary Thomas shows it worked left to right, but I find it much easier to work vertically downwards where gravity helps with the loops you need to work into.

I started off with by stitching a sampler, experimenting with a variety of different threads, different spacing between the knots and varying the length of the stitch through the fabric, which gives ‘legs’ either side of the knot.

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I like the chunky knots you get with the heavier perle threads but also was very pleased with the effect of finer threads, such as the very fine perle second from the left in the photo above.

Learning a stitch that gives you a knotted line is all very well, but I wanted to use it in ways that exploited the texture and shape of the stitch. My first experiment was using it to echo the texture of bark and I used a variegated perle-like silk thread to embroider a winter tree.

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The stitch worked really well for the bark and I’m curious as to what it would look like if I filled in the spaces between the lines of Palestrina with satin or split stitch in the same thread. Something else to experiment with in the future perhaps.

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I also wanted to try beading the stitch and that led me to working a more typical sea themed piece.

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I used two pieces of perle to make a really heavy line of knots and then a single piece of the same thread with random seed beads. The bead goes on first and then the knot is formed as normal into the stitch after it. I think you lose the knots to some extent, but it’s an interesting variant.  The feather stitch is to vary the textures and lighten the design.

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I also used it to stitch down a holed scallop shell and found it surprisingly easy to work. The stitch through the fabric serves to hold the shell down and then the knot is worked into the thread where it comes out of the hole, exactly as you would on a flat piece of fabric.

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It was great to do some experimenting to find just a couple of ways of developing this stitch and I’ll definitely keep it in my repertoire.

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This month’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a talk given by the very talented Jessica Grady, whose vibrant work includes embellishments made from all sorts of upcycled materials.

In the summer, to link with this talk, our chair gave us all an identical pack of bits and pieces to create something. I did blog about the start of my piece back in September when I hadn’t read the instructions and thought it had to be done for October’s meeting!

My starting point was the pale green tubing and a huge metal ring, to which I added a copper coloured earring middle and a holed limpet shell.

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There were more jump rings in the pack which I stitched down with random straight stitches to echo the big one…

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…and I also found a broken agate slice pendant which was a good colour match for the copper earring.

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Next I added turquoise coloured beads from the pack.

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Using the same metallic gold thread for all the stitching helped to bring it together. A few more smaller jump rings from my tool box and some gifted flat beads completed it and I even manged to get it mounted three days before the meeting!

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Needless to say, all the entries were amazing and incredibly different, give that we all had the same starting point.

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The other finish for the meeting were the embroidered Folk Art doves that will decorate our Christmas tree at the local Festival of Trees. They were a lovely fun, relatively quick stitch. Mine looks like this:

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And these are some of his friends:

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Even though a few more arrived later, there isn’t enough here to fill a six foot tree, so the chair has been frantically stitching over the last couple of months to add extra additions to the flock!

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In the end, Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon wasn’t finished for show week and in total, I only managed to put half a dozen stitches in him on stage the entire week, most of which had to be unpicked and restitched later! But ‘The Fifth Elephant’ went well and we had lots of positive comments from Pratchett fans, some of whom had travelled some distance to come and see the show.  No rest for the am dram wicked though – last performance of ‘The Fifth Elephant’ on Saturday and tonight (Monday) is the first casting reading for panto!

I did manage to get some stitching done in the interval though, so all the Bayeux Stitch is completed and I’ve started the couched outline. It neatens the edge up a treat.

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Since the Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon and his frame were props for a scene in Act 1, I had to find something else to sew before curtain up and I decided to experiment with a banner style brooch using an odd kilt pin. I had a few small pieces left of a wool jumper I felted a while ago and turned variously into a cushion cover, a pair of mittens and some earring cases.

I added some commercial grey marl felt and an odd earring drop…

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…blanket stitch, french knots…

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…sequins, a bead, split stitch and detached chain stitch…

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…before finishing with a kantha stitched back ground in shimmery blending filament, a beaded blanket stitch edging which joined it to the grey felt back and blanket stitching it to the kilt pin in stranded silk thread.

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A fun little project and I particularly like the subtle sparkle you get from the blending filament.

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The applique for Lady Margolotta’s bat themed blouse is finished!

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The biggest ones took 20-30 minutes each to stitch on and the smallest ones 10 to 15, so all twenty together have been quite a long job. Stitching with black thread on black felt has also limited when and where I can stitch, but in spite of that, it’s done with time to spare, thank goodness.

Baby leaf tailed dragon now has leaves sprouting from his lower tail.

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He would have had another leaf completed but after a busy evening rehearsing and stitching, I went to put the couching stitches in and realised that I had put a whole leaf’s worth of laid stitches in vertically, instead of horizontally… He learned some new rude words that night.

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Before the summer break, our ever-inventive Chair gave everyone who wanted to take part a pack of odd and interesting found objects to create a piece of found object embroidery. She included an instruction/guideline sheet as well, which I did refer to, noting that the finished piece should be no more than 7 inches by 5. However, I didn’t note that it was to be due in for November’s meeting. I assumed it was for the AGM last Saturday. Result – frantic stitching last week until a friend who had read the instructions properly, pointed out that I was two months too early. Moral of the story; don’t skim read and make the gaps up as you go along, Alex!

There was a load of thin plastic tubing in the pack and that suggested spirals to  me straight away.

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It’s couched down with gold thread for some sparkle and then I played with widening some of the lines with more of the tubing to give the spirals a bit more weight.

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Next to be added from the pack was a very large metal ring which I also couched down with gold thread in a starburst pattern. The broken earring front fitted perfectly in the middle of it and I love copper and green together.

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Then I added a holed limpet shell from my own collection  to echo the shape of the loop of tubing.

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At least I’ve made a start and hopefully won’t be rushing to complete it for November’s meeting!

 

 

 

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Our family holiday in the Lake District was over a month ago and despite the persistent rain, we had a fabulous time and I managed to get some stitching done to go in my holiday journal.

I still love to combine found objects, paper and stitch and that’s what I did with a couple of fragments I picked up from the shores of Grasmere.

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The wheatear stitch has a lovely weight to it and works really well for holding down the ring pull.

I insisted on having a day at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, near Windermere and as the girls and I managed to persuade the men to go on a walk without us, we were able to spend a leisurely day there, just wallowing in the utter beauty of the Arts and Crafts rooms and furnishing without being chivvied on. My little one drew, mostly on her phone but also with a real pencil and paper (!)

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Her older sister sat in an inglenook and wrote.

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And I found a window seat in the Great Hall and sewed.

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I’ve worked embroidery inspired by Blackwell before, namely a whitework sample I stitched back in 2015 for my altered book holiday journal…

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…based on a pillow case, which you can just about see on the other page of the book spread.

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The entire place is just stuffed with inspiration in every craft discipline, but this time I was very taken with an embroidered runner in the Great Hall which had a repeating pattern of sycamore keys.

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So I decided to work my own version for the holiday journal. It felt rather odd, but was a real treat to be able to get up and walk over to the original for reference instead of working from my photos!

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Outline in stem stitch.

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Then the solid part of the seeds in satin stitch.

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My single sample is rather bigger than the originals though and the satin stitches were too long and loose in this scale, so after trying various couching methods, I went for good old Bayeux stitch.

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I also decided to stitch a bit of fun, to represent the amazing meal we had on the way at the Brown Horse in Coley. We always stop here for lunch (and have never been disappointed with the food) on the way up to the Lakes. For us it’s where the holiday starts. So…salad leaves…

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… with Stilton…

 

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…pepper salami and parma ham!

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I will be adding olives later!

 

 

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Apologies – March has been mad. Between trying to shake illness and most of my workshops and courses all coming at once, things have been crazy. So, to catch up!

The found objects plastic rings piece I blogged about back in February, came together like a dream. I wanted to use it as a sample piece for a Found Objects Workshop I taught at Hull Embroiderers’ Guild at the end of March. (There is a lovely post about the workshop on their Facebook page.) It was a lot of fun trying out different ways of attaching the rings, including lazy daisy stitch, sheaf stitch and chain stitch.

I finished it as a quiltlet, with a border of strip patchwork, which makes it nice and robust to handle.

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Love the indigo dyed back.

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I also taught a Beaded Oglala Stitch workshop with Brigg Allsorts (a local stitching group) the same week, so after having made a sampler of variants of the stitch…

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…I started another found objects piece I could use with both workshops as it combined Beaded Oglala with found objects. It worked surprisingly well as a method of attaching the vintage key and I’m very pleased with the effect.

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I had a fabulous time teaching the workshop with the ladies in Hull and they produced some lovely work.

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We also had a fantastic workshop ourselves at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild in February, doing Print to Stitch with Jan Dowson.

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Jan had made us some great kits with paisley shaped printing blocks in them as a main focus…

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…but I had a couple of my own stamps that I wanted to use as well. Medieval tile first.

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Then the paisley. We used acrylic paints and instead of rollering it onto the block, I dabbed random areas of paint to get a mottled effect.

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Jan had also put some pieces of compressed foam into the kits. You can cut them with scissors into any shape and then drop them into water to get a sponge printing block, which is how I got  the over-printed tear drop shapes inside the paisleys.

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Lastly I had a shell stamp from home to play with.

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I love the look of the paint on the stamps…

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…and on the palettes.

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Once we had our printed fabric…

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…time to stitch. The border of the paisleys was a perfect place for Pekinese Stitch. Rayon back stitch for a bit of shine, interlaced with all six strands of a variegated stranded cotton thread.

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I will try harder on here, honestly! It’s all Susan from Stitchery Stories‘ fault – she recommended I got myself onto Instagram and I have been properly sucked in. It is so much quicker when you are busy – or lazy!!

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That’s just my Kamal Kadai work! I did wonder a few weeks ago what would happen if I used a very tight tension on the needle weaving bit of the Kamal Kadai work and since I had a partly worked piece from the workshop, I decided to find out. This is what it looks like when you ensure the weaving isn’t pulled tight:

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And this is how it turns out when you pull each row up tightly:

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French knot middle in rayon thread. It’s the perfect colour, but behaved appallingly. I really hate rayon thread!

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I’ve also started a piece incorporating found objects – plastic rings of varying materials and ages – and fragments of fabric on a hand dyed indigo background.

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Exploring different ways of attaching the rings.

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It’s exercising my ingenuity and very gently pushing at the edges of my colour comfort zone. I still couldn’t bring myself to use a riot of every colour in the scrap bag but it isn’t just blues and aquas!

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I’ve just started teaching a monthly embroidery class at Jaylaurs, a fabulous fabric and sewing shop in the nearby small market town of Brigg. I worked with three lovely ladies at the end of last month, all of whom enjoyed experimenting with some new stitches and I hope that they and some others will come along to the next one on the 30th of November. I created some more Stitch Play samples using more basic stitches, mainly based round running stitch, chain stitch and split stitch…

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…but it was the more complex stitches like knotted buttonhole stitch, Pekingese Stitch and feather stitch that they wanted to try out!

Jayne, who runs Jaylaurs, asked me to create some purse flyers to give to people who expressed an interest in the classes and while looking for some suitable images and ideas I found some work I had done as examples of lessons I taught to Y5s and 6s a few years ago based on couching and whipped and threaded variants of running stitch.

They had been doing some batik and I wanted to get them to embellish some of their test pieces. This one is my sample piece with simple leaf shapes.

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I had just bought a load of fancy threads for textile work and threaded and whipped running stitches were great ways of using threads that were far too thick and slubby to be used to stitch with themselves. The chenille thread on the left works particularly well.

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The other sample was again to use the fancy threads, but this time couching them down in various patterns.

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The thread with the fluffy ‘flags’ was very fine, so I remember couching it down backwards and forwards along the line to build up a thicker layer and seeing where the ‘flags’ fell as I worked along the thread. I hadn’t planned it, but they seemed to always end up together in clumps!

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And then I found this: an early bit of found object work, using various bits and pieces that I had picked up around school. It includes an odd stud earring (flanked by two short screws) that was never claimed after PE and finally found its way into the school piano and a broken trouser fastener (centre) kindly donated for use in the piece by the lad in my class at the time. His trousers had suffered a catastrophic fail as a result of an overenthusiastic tackle in football at break and he spent the rest of the day in his PE shorts. The fastener was recovered from the playground following the incident.

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A bit of fun and some good memories of some of the amazing children I have taught over the years.

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