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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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Firstly, the Niijima Floats piece is finished – all apart from stitching on the press studs. I had initially thought about continuing the lines of the trapunto onto the binding to try and disguise what to me had become glaring errors, but Debbie pointed out that by doing that I would lose the lovely contrast between the smooth binding and the furrows of the trapunto.

Then I found the sycamore leaf template I used for ‘It Rained’ in the Tattershall Journal and had a bit of a brainwave. I cut two leaves out of a very fine felt I made for a project that ended up not happening, stitched on veins and popped them strategically onto the binding.

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Not only do they hide the mistakes, they balance the colour pop in the top corner and remind me of the beautiful Japanese maples around the garden. It’s been a long slog, but I think this piece has finally got there!

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This gave me renewed enthusiasm to tackle the reeds again. It’s going very slowly as I put the tiniest of stitches in to attach the silver fabric, but at least it’s going and I’m starting to enjoy the process.

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And lastly, I trekked out to Cleethorpes in torrential rain on Friday to get the first batch of my upcycled jewellery into Arttopia – an amazing shop full of all sorts of art and craft by local artists.

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What with the pandemic and all sort of other issues, it’s taken a long time to get here, but I’m delighted to finally be part of this group of talented people.

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Great position right next to the till – I just hope the customers like my work enough to buy it!

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Another way of working round Embroiderers’ Block I suppose, is to do something that you fancy doing, so I’ve started a third design for the Kew Memory Journal, based on English Paper Pieced patchwork.

First of all I cut a rectangle of paper slightly smaller than the page of the book and divided it into a few smaller rectangles. One needed to be big enough to be the background for a vintage 1990 Kew Gardens stamp, and I fitted the rest around it.

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I usually cut the pieces out one by one so I don’t forget what order they go in and put them back into the design when they’re covered. Taking process photos also helps in case of disaster!

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Then the pieces need stitching together. I use ladder stitch because I like my stitching to be as invisible as possible.

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Once the pieces were all stitched together I gave them a quick iron to press the edges under so they would stay when I took the papers out, and then ladder stitched round the outside edge to attach it to a piece of pale green felt.

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This stabilises the edges, gives the whole thing a bit of body as I’ve used a variety of weights of fabric including some very fine silk and means I have a firmer background to attach it to the page.

I trimmed it next and carefully back stitched the stamp in place. The pink and blue tones in the stamp don’t quite work with the greens, but I had to remind myself that this is a memory journal and the Pagoda is part of it.

The memory it holds is of having lunch in a shady grove of trees near the Pagoda and then, as it was one of those two insanely hot days last July, we sat on a seat under the bottom tier and decided it was much too warm to go up all those steps!

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I like embroider on these types of patchwork pieces as I did with my 2012 Cornwall Holiday Journal (August 2012 in the ‘Recent Posts’ part of the sidebar if you’re interested) so I’m probably going to add a branch to the top right hand corner.

I’ve also made the middle of a flower on the buttonhole rings piece. The big ring is attached with french knots, the inner one with invisible stitches to pull it down inside and the centre is filled with a few french knots.

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Now I need to decide not only on the colour of the rings that will become the petals, but also whether to keep them as circles or stretch them into petal shapes.

 

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As I continued to stitch the Diagonal Raised Band I became less and less sure that it was right for the piece. It’s a lovely and relatively simple stitch to work as it’s based on diagonally placed cross stitches and the lacy background is beautiful, but in spite of all its good points, it still didn’t feel right.

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It was too stiff and just didn’t reflect the soft curves of the raked gravel cradling the Niijima Floats in the Zen Garden. So I finished it off…

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…and started stitching into some silk noil. It’s difficult to see as it’s double running stitch in cream silk thread on cream silk noil but it’s supposed to be a series of parallel channels like the rake lines.

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I planned to experiment with trapunto quilting by stuffing the stitched channels with thick wool. And to my delight, even though the only wool I could find in the right thickness was green, it worked!

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Stuffing the other channels which aren’t open at both ends has been an interesting task but with the help of a stiletto I managed to get this far.

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And with the transferred picture.

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Suddenly it works. The lines of trapunto quilting even almost match up with the lines of gravel (which was a complete accident). I’ve been fighting the pulled thread work all week but when the right technique falls into place it just comes together so easily that I actively want to stitch it instead of it being a chore.

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Finally finished, thanks to all your help, advice and ideas. I settled on a frame of brick fabric over an interfacing core to finish off the canvaswork bricks and a touch of Inktense to intensify the colours. It’s tacked in place here…

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…and slip stitched in place here.

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A closure of some grosgrain ribbon printed with maple leaves and a vintage snap was the final finishing touch, and I can now proudly present the Tattershall Castle Memory Journal.

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Unlike the Anderby Creek Journal this one is folded as a triptych with the bollock purse in the middle.

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And the reverse. The ribbon is stitched to the two folds and passes under the micro quilt which is press studded in place.

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I’m delighted to have finished it and am ready to move onto the third in the series – the Kew Gardens Chihuly Exhibition memory journal. I just have to find the black hole that my evenweave fabric has disappeared into first…

I also had fun making a Fathers’ Day card for a friend’s dad. I really object to the tired old football, beer, cars tropes that get trotted out every year, especially as neither my dad nor my husband are into any of those and neither is my friend’s dad. But he does love the Lake District, so I gathered some scraps of hand dyed fabric and started to experiment.

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A little bit of ironing later and I had this:

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It was a good way of showcasing the different textures as well as the variations in colour and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.

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It went down very well apparently, so another satisfied customer!

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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’m not exactly sure where the last week has gone. A lot of it gobbled up in household chores and eBay/Etsy listings, I suspect. I know it’s important not to get obsessed by what we have or haven’t done given the continuing situation but I am a bit irritated with myself that I haven’t progressed further with my stitching projects.

The last Tattershall piece, ‘It Rained’, has had a few more veins added.

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I’ve also had what I modestly consider a genius idea to attach the micro quilt so you can still see the back. I stitched on press studs!

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And then discovered it wasn’t centred… :o(

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The canvaswork needlebook is also finished. Well, the canvaswork bit of it is and I also made the closure cords.

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Next is the making up and I’ve stalled on that. I know I’m not alone in this but why is it that we so often baulk at the finishing off stage of a project? I really need a needlebook too, so you’d think that would give me the incentive to crack on and get it finished, but no, I’m dragging my heels like my youngest when reminded that she has flute practise to do instead of WhatsApping her friends.

I’ve made a few more bits of upcycled jewellery as well. A silver 1970s coin pendant, vintage carved bone disc and single silver earring…

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…became this:

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Available here in my Etsy shop.

I also restored a lovely 1950s diamante bib necklace section with a replacement diamante (the small blue one in the middle) and some reclaimed chain…

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…to make it into this:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

In fact, not too shabby for a week’s work, I suppose!

 

 

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The last Tattershall piece is underway and coming out exactly as I wanted, even though I wasn’t sure what I did want! I’d set my heart on using a transfer I’d made from a photo in the booklet of some of Tattershall’s bricks but it was what to do with it that had me baffled. Then I thought back to the first visit with my youngest and I immediately recalled the rain storm which we sat out under one of the trees by the shop. Leaves and raindrops, I remembered and it all fell into place.

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The background is some more of the batik I did at our last Guild meeting and the tiny leaves are cut out of some hand painted fabric backed with stabiliser.

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I’m stitching them down with split stitch veins in fine silk before I add the raindrops.

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I’ve also done a fair bit more on the Bright Pyramids needle book. The double dark blue line is the spine and I’m already onto the last hearts and flowers panel. After that I just have four more rows of long-legged cross stitch:  two vertical and two horizontal along the whole width to do before making it up.

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Am still swearing but less often, which must mean I am improving.

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I made a little pair of upcycled butterfly earrings recently which sold to a friend almost as soon as I’d posted about them on Instagram.

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I then had a lot of fun turning a card booklet which had contained a free sample tea bag into bespoke packaging for them!

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The felt on the left is to cushion them when the booklet is shut.

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Contact details on the back and a ribbon attached to the spine with a miniature paper fastener as a closure.

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A very satisfying little make.

 

 

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First I added the couched outline in dark green. I always find this part of the process a bit nerve wracking. On one hand, the couching neatens everything up but on the other hand, I always worry that I’ve chosen the wrong colour and it will end up having too much or too little contrast.

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I used couching rather than split stitch for the folds of the purse as it gives a smoother line and french knots represent the knobbly bits on the edges of the belt loop and purse lid.

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Then it was time to add the highlights in cream split stitch – I was so nervous that it wouldn’t look right! The highlights on the yellow knobbly bits are done in silk rather than crewel wool. This is another very small piece worked in a 4 inch hoop and the wool was just too thick.

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It took a while before I was happy with the highlights on the purse lid and then there were just the yellow dots on the belt loop to add.

I’m really pleased with it as a representation of the original design.

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And it means that there is only one Tattershall piece left to create – back to the bricks!

 

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In the early fifteenth century Tattershall Castle passed to Ralph, the third Baron Cromwell, who became Treasurer of England in 1433, prompting a serious upgrade to the castle. In many places, including all over the huge fireplaces, he included the image of a medieval purse to indicate his status and the source of his wealth and good fortune.

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This type of purse is sometimes called a ‘bollock purse’ for obvious reasons – this one clearly says mine is bigger than yours…!

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Much more modest.

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The purpose of the pieces in the memory journal is to spark off a memory or story linked to that day and the purse does that in a number of ways. First as a symbol of the powerful man who created the castle we see today, but it also reminds me of the second visit we made to see a medieval living history encampment and tournament a plaisance.

Walking round the encampment, I spotted a lady embroidering and we soon got chatting. Among other things she had stitched and completed the baby leaf tailed dragon from Tanya Bentham at Opus Anglicanum and made him into a cushion. So I decided to stitch the purse in the same style to remind me of our chat as well.

First I tweaked the above photo to emphasise the contrast before turning it into a pattern.

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Then couched and laid Bayeux stitch in crewel wool for the body of the purse.

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Knobs.

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And the belt loop and edge of the top flap. I like the way the diapered effect really shows up in the strong sunlight.

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And finally the detailing at the bottom of the belt loop.

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Next stage is to couch round the edges and add the details with split stitch.

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