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Posts Tagged ‘french knots’

The next memory journal combines two trips I made to Tattershall Castle last summer – the first a bit of quality time with my youngest in July after the end of term and the second to a fabulous tourney and medieval reenactment event in August.

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The first thing that hits you about this unusual castle is the fact it’s made out of warm chestnut coloured brick instead of stone and that extends to features inside like roof vaulting and some of the window surrounds.

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So bricks were the inspiration for this memory journal and canvaswork seemed a good place to start. Although the pattern is simple, as is the tent stitch I used, I put a lot of thought into choosing a range of threads that echoed the different shades in the bricks.

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However there was one thing I bottled out on – the brick bond. My design is a simple Stretcher Bond where you only see the stretchers, or the long faces of the bricks. Tattershall is built using English Bond as you can see below.

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The advantage of that is that instead of getting a wall that is one brick width deep (fine for a modern house), the row of headers give you a wall that is the whole length of the brick deep – much better for a castle.

However, although it may be better for a castle, it was challenging to get it to look in proportion on a canvas grid, so after two attempts I gave up trying to align the ‘bricks’ and concentrated on a simpler pattern instead!

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I keep reminding myself that it’s a creative response to the visit, not a slavish reconstruction, but the perfectionist in me keeps muttering that perhaps I just need to try that English Bond one more time…

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…are one of my favourite stitches. I must have worked hundreds of thousands of french knots from the odd few dropped into something else…

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…to the full on french knot extravaganza that is the (still unfinished) Victorian box project.

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I find them invaluable in upcycling jewellery. I’ve added them to rings, earrings and pendants and the lovely textural quality of the closely packed knots never fails to get people’s interest. This one is set in a vintage silver setting and is available here in my Etsy shop.

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So when a friend asked me to upcycle a pair of earrings for her, my first thought was french knots. The earrings were a pair of sterling silver creole hoops which had been partly channel set with some baguette cut marcasites. Unfortunately the marcasites appeared to have been stuck in with school glue and most had fallen out. A local jeweller told her that it would cost far more than the earrings were worth to have them reset properly. So rather than scrap them, she asked me to work some upcycling magic!

I cleaned them first, to get rid of the glue residue and bring up the silver.

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Then I worked a row of french knots in silk thread on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene, carefully cutting it down to fit the channel which is about 2mm wide!

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Breathe, be grateful and relieved that you haven’t cut the thread or trimmed the vilene down too far and do the other one!

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As she lives locally I was able to take a slight detour on my daily walk and post them through her letter box. She was delighted!

I also found an interesting pendant when I was sorting a lot of broken jewellery and immediately thought french knots.

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I used some variegated silk thread again and stitched one french knot through each hole. Each knot has two wraps and is big enough that it won’t slip back through the hole.

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They fill the space nicely.

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The purple and gold of the thread made me think of drifts of pansies.

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So that’s what I named it and it’s just gone into my Etsy shop here. I think it will be a long while before I get fed up with these gorgeous little stitches, which is just as well, considering there is a still a long way to go on the Victorian box!

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Last February we had a fantastic Print to Stitch workshop at the Guild with Jan Dowson. One of the pieces I created was based on the paisley stamps she had made for us.

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Seeing my starting point now, after a year of covering it with stitch, it seems so bare!!

I started with some Pekinese stitch around some of the paisleys.

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Then seeding around the paisleys in a variegated stranded cotton. Doing that amount of seeding is pretty mind-numbing so I mixed it up with more decoration on the paisleys – split stitch on the right.

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It was a great project to take out and about, even making it to London with me last summer when the temperatures were through the roof and I was trying to keep cool in the Chinese galleries at the V&A.

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More seeding in seed stitch and french knots with chain stitch accents and woven and back-stitched spiders’ web stitches in the middles.

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Getting there… finished all the internal stitching on the paisleys and now just seeding at this point because I’m still not sure what stitch I want to outline the other paisleys. Something as bold as the Pekinese stitch but different.

IMG_20191116_091718It wasn’t until I began to explore Palestrina Stitch over Christmas prior to teaching it in a workshop that the penny dropped.

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Palestrina in a heavy perle was just right to balance the Pekinese.

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And the completed piece!

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No idea what I’m going to do with it, but that’s not the point. I love the colours, shapes and stitches and it’s been a pleasure to work. That’s all you need, sometimes, isn’t it?

 

 

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As regular readers will know, I am heavily involved in a local amateur dramatics group (Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club) and this time of year is panto time. As with last year I ended up doing costume again – hence the reason I’ve only just surfaced. This year it was Mother Goose, with a new script which I wrote as well as being Costume Mistress and Dame’s dresser. Not the least of my jobs was making hats for the goslings and trying to work out where was best to place the nostrils!

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But we’ve finished in theatre now – I just have every single costume (12 adults and 19 children, many with multiple costume changes) to wash and replace in our costume room.  It only took me until August last year…

But I did manage to design and stitch some Christmassy hoops for a workshop I taught before Christmas:

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And a single snowflake which I stitched in silk:

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The workshop, held at Jaylaurs, in Brigg was a great success. Just five ladies but they got on so well with the designs and two of them have since sent me lovely photos of their finished stitching.

I also had a go at chenille work, making a Christmas card for my parents. I started with a cardboard ring and used crewel work to stitch over it. Not satin stitch but coming up the same side and then going back over, to reduce the bulk at the back.

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It was a long slow job…

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…as it needed lots of layers to make sure I got the fluffy chenille effect at the end.

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Now the fun bit – the cutting. Carefully in the middle. That meant I could get the card shape out but left me with a distinct space where it wouldn’t cover the base fabric.

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Vintage trim to the rescue. I’ve had this particular very seventies trim since I was very young, when my mother would allow me a metre of ribbon or trim when she went to the local haberdashers, but not the sweets that like all small children I would have preferred! Anyway, sweets would not have solved my problem here but the trim that I’ve never used before did!

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I stitched it down with little gold beads between the ‘flower’ sections and added a hand made gold bow at the bottom.

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Very Christmassy and very pleased with it. (Was a nightmare to post though…!)

 

 

 

 

 

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October’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a brilliantly packed full day workshop with Fran Holmes based on teabags.

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Fran brought along loads of samples she had stitched using a base of dyed, opened out and ironed teabags with added lace and hand and machine embroidery for inspiration.

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Then it was our turn. We had been asked to bring some tea bags of our own, and I was quite pleased with the effect where a fruit tea bag had leaned up against an ordinary one and they two had bled into each other, but mine were nothing compared with the amazing patterns Fran had got on the ones she had done for us in our kits.

We experimented with all sorts of things, including various iron on products, foils, printing, inks, paints and stamps and so busy was the day that I didn’t actually add any stitching until the afternoon!

We ended up with four different bases for further stitching.

The first two were a mixture of lace, tea bags and net.

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I added some watercolour detailing on the lace flowers of this one.

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Then a base for stamping in acrylics.

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And lastly one with a subtle shimmery foil underlay which I layered with torn silk ribbon and a stamp.

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All four lovely backgrounds, ready for stitching.

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I finally managed a few french knots…

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Great workshop and lovely to do something outside my usual range.

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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 stumpwork course I taught at Ashby Link last week went really well, although I do need to be more realistic about the amount of work that the participants can reasonably do in the time allowed – I planned enough for at least two full days!

After learning some raised embroidery stitches and techniques in the morning, I created a little ball topiary design for them to work in the afternoon based on three of them: padded satin stitch, a french knot slip and raised stem band.

The french knots for the leafy part of the topiary were worked separately on a piece of calico in six strands of stranded cotton, partly so it worked up more quickly and partly to get a lovely textured effect. Great place to use up all those odd ends of stranded cotton!

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I used a circle of pelmet vilene to pad it out a little and then drew the calico up round the vilene…

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…before stitching it in place on my main fabric, which just so happens to be a piece of one of the shirts I chopped up for the cuff books workshop last week.

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Then the pot. Satin stitch over a base shape in pelmet vilene.

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The raised stem band rim is worked separately, and just sits on top of the pot. Guideline shape for the padding.

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Long stitch padding with the vertical bars.

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And the stem stitch over the top. Very pleased with the effect!

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Just the stem/trunk to add.

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I used several long satin stitches in stranded silk and then used a single strand of it to couch random threads down with tiny stitches.

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It’s reminded me how much I enjoy raised work and needlelace, so now the end of term is finally in sight, I might start dabbling again.

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