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Posts Tagged ‘kantha’

With the outlining done on the medieval tiles piece it was time to make a decision about how to fill the space surrounding them. Seeding was a bit of an obvious go to and something I used in the last print to stitch piece, but I wanted something different. I toyed with seeding in a more distinctive stitch, like a tete de boeuf, fly stitch or detached chain stitch, but they all looked too heavy, so I fell back on an idea I had a while ago of a kantha spiral based on the centre of the motif. Typically, I chose one to start off where the motif wasn’t in the middle of the ’tile’ so I couldn’t quite see whether it was going to work as I hoped – mainly, I think, because the initial rows of single stitches were quite overpowering – until I got to the outside rows.

Stitching in circles and skipping the printed areas has pulled it up into a bit of a dome! I think there will definitely have to be something couched along the motif to try and flatten it. I think I like it. I might need to play with the couched lines before I can be certain one way or another.

I’ve finished the little needlelace sampler. Goodness knows why I thought it would be a good idea to work in wedge shapes and have to decrease as well as working the stitch. It’s not a huge problem with the Single and Corded Brussels, but created some interesting effects with the Double Corded Brussels (DCB) and the Ceylon Stitch.

I really like what happens to the lace as the stitch spacings get smaller on the DCB. The early rows have a lovely open trellis effect with the cord taking centre stage, whereas in the later ones it is much less obvious, becoming a pattern of double stitches and holes. It’s useful to see how different spacings can give you different effects.

The Ceylon Stitch loops were tiny from the start and as the spacing got smaller, I had to decrease in the middle of the pattern as that was where it was the mostly tightly packed.

It is such a lovely looking but incredibly unforgiving stitch that you can see every single place where it isn’t absolutely perfect. It also took forever and so I am not redoing it – it can stand as an useful object lesson!

I intend to carry on stitching some more needlelace but the next sampler is going to be based on rectangles. However, I might work another sample of the Ceylon stitch in a rectangle just to prove I can do it perfectly when I don’t have to keep decreasing!

I’ve not made much jewellery for a while as I’ve been trying to list a backlog of vintage jewellery on Etsy, but when an odd earring I was cleaning came to pieces, leaving me with a rather nice silver mount, I was inspired! I set it with a lovely and very unusual piece of beachcombed Victorian pottery and added a 16″ silver chain to make a unique pendant.

It’s available here in the Beachcombing section of my Etsy shop.

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This is pretty much how I feel about most of my current projects. I’ve added one line of highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon and bottled out of the circles above it because they are tricky to stitch accurately and I’ve realised that although the gills of the mushroom are now going in the right direction, the reason it still looks odd is that the stem should go up to meet the edge of the cap. This will mean either stitching more stem over the gills or, more likely, unpicking the gills completely and redoing the whole lot. I do love both projects but at the moment we’re not speaking.

The medieval tiles are moving slowly. Outlining the motifs in back stitch feels like it’s taking forever simply because they have so much outline, and I had a moment of real love-hate when I realised I wasn’t going to have enough thread for them all. Luckily I had managed to outline three and after a major trawl through my threads (not a quick job…) I was back to the problem I had the last time I played embroidery chicken with this piece – do I go for a similar type of thread or a similar colour? This time I’ve gone for similar type in a rich subtly variegated dark brown. I was a little unsure about how well it would work, but after having stitched my first motif in the darker thread, I’m happy with it alongside the lighter outlines.

At the moment the best thing I can say about it is that I’m over half way through the outlining.

I have managed to stitch one thing this week that I love, which is a scrap of crazy patchwork representing my comfort zone. I’ve been working through some bags of scraps with the idea of using them up and had my eye on the bag of purples. But one by one the scraps weren’t quite right. Too pink; too patterned; not the right weight. The only one I wanted to use was a piece of colour catcher (top right) which was a sullen grey -purple. Then a piece of patterned blue and black silk caught my eye and I was off on a completely different track into the bag of blacks and greys.

Comfort zone means feather stitch, some kantha and french knots and somehow it became a response to the current snowy weather courtesy of the Beast From The East 2.

Good to have made something I love – now back to wrangling the other projects.

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I didn’t get round to replacing the Totoro bag zip in the end, I dug deep and made my first ever pair of loose curtain linings to replace the ones I discovered had rotted when I tried to wash them back in May. My mum is the curtain maker and I had always assumed that there must some sort of mystery to it. Surely it’s not just a large rectangle of fabric, hemmed and with heading tape attached? Well, yes, it is and the only mystery is how anybody would be able to sew more than one without dying of boredom as the sewing machine chugs along through miles of lining fabric. But I now have a lot less light coming through my bedroom curtains and they look and feel so much better.

I’ve also had a bit of a dabble with some Harris Tweed, another first. I fell for some oddments on eBay and had also bought some punched tweed circles in fabulous colours, planning to use them together to make some kantha pieces and possibly small kits. The trapunto Niijima Floats piece has stalled again as I can’t find the right fabric to bind it (I’ve stitched and unpicked two bindings already) and I wanted a nice quick calming stitch.

I chose a gorgeous hand dyed green shading to purple stranded silk for the stitching and I thought it would show up against the grey but it really didn’t.

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Close up it is gorgeous…

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…but from a distance that subtlety is lost. Oh well, I still like it, it’s only a sample piece and all learning is useful.

I’m going to see my middle one for the first time since December at the weekend and you may remember that she laid claim to the Singer sewing machine that I rescued from the skip back in May so I thought it was probably time I got it out of the garage and investigated properly. Having checked the registration number I believe it to be a Singer 28, made in 1937, so ten years younger than my Frister and Rossmann.

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It stitched straight out of the box – for a while – and then the bobbin thread gathered up and broke. It wasn’t running easily in the shuttle, so I referred to Google and was soon deep in blogs and sites about looking after old machines.

As a result, yet another first and one that I am even prouder of because it was mechanical and I don’t really do engineering type things. I managed to work out why the bobbin wasn’t rotating (build up of lint in the bottom of the shuttle), take it apart and clean it.

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Clean as a whistle! Then I cleaned and oiled the whole machine and finally with my husband’s help, freed up the rusted pull out section of the bobbin winding mechanism. It now sews like a dream and I did it all myself!

However, it was very interesting to compare it with my F&R and to be honest, there is no comparison. The F&R is full of little details which make using it so much nicer. I’m afraid the Singer looked and felt a bit crude by comparison. Beautiful it is – just look at that engraved head plate:

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But I wouldn’t swap what somebody once called my ‘Cleopatra handcrank’ for the world. Boosted by my success with the Singer, I then serviced the F&R like a pro. It always sews like a dream but after I’d finished, I swear it purred!

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The last brick piece is on hold. I sort of know what I want to do with it but the details of how are still a bit sketchy. Instead, I’ve started attaching some of the completed pieces to the accordion book and am awaiting inspiration…

So back to small projects. I found some printed motifs obviously cut from a larger piece of fabric the other day, but as usual I have no idea where they came from. They are the perfect size for cards though and as I have a Cancerian friend and one of the prints was a crab, I decided to embellish it with stitch and make it into a card for her birthday.

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I used some wadding behind to give a bit of three-dimensionality to the body sections when I outlined them in back stitch. I used split stitch down the middle of each leg and claw section, french knot eyes and Pekinese stitch and an eyelet across the back of the shell.

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Then I moved on to a kantha sample for a workshop that was postponed from March but which I’m still hoping to teach at some point.  It’s made up from calico, a batik cotton print and twinkly organza layered together and stitched with a variegated stranded cotton.

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I like to put an applique shape in the middle and work the kantha stitching around it and this time it was a leaping fish.  The batik was spotty so I followed the lines of spots with my stitching which gave it a watery effect that I was hoping for.

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The last little project was inspired by a fantastic tutorial for stitched ori-nui shibori on the V&A Museum’s Instagram account. I didn’t have any indigo but I did have a small amount of avocado, which was very disappointing on this scrap of calico:

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And some very out of date saffron which worked much better. I love this and wish I’d used it on the first piece instead of the avocado.

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And it even sort of overdyed some pale indigo dyed sheeting I had, if you look very hard.

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One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

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Sorting some of my beachcombed treasures led to a couple of pieces of jewellery. First was a chunk of school ruler which had frosted beautifully in the waves. I paired it with a piece of beachcombed metal swarf with a lovely milled texture to make a brooch, now available here in my Etsy shop.

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Then I managed to find two vintage panel bracelets which are great for setting with sea glass and pottery like this one. There is just something about blue and white sea-washed china that I love.

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I also like to use panel bracelets to turn groupings of odd vintage earrings into unique assemblage bracelets. The theme that developed here was floral soft blues and greys with a central enamelled dragonfly. Available here in my Etsy shop.

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I also managed to list the brooch I made during show week from a scrap of felted woollen jumper, a vintage kilt pin and an odd earring drop and it’s available here.

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Definitely in my blue period!

I’ve also had a bit of a spurt with one of the pelmet vilene accordion book memory journals I’m working on. This one is based on a visit we made at the end of March to the North Sea Observatory and Anderby Creek beach in Lincolnshire. The shell strewn beach was unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the North Sea coast and then we had a stroll along the sand dunes to the lovely Anderby Beach Cafe for lunch before heading back home.

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I stitched a fragment with cast on stitch and one of the big flat holed oyster shells in the summer but then things lapsed until a piece of evenweave gave me an idea to do a piece of pulled thread work. I used natural coloured silk thread and Diamond Stitch to create a random pattern like ripples in the sand.

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Then I added some dried seaweed, a clam shell with a hole in and a little piece of driftwood.

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I love the very clever Anderby Beach Cafe logo which uses part of the structure of a traditional deck chair as the initial ‘A’ and the hot dog I had for lunch that day, using local butcher’s sausages was delicious. So that quickly led to a hand painted and stitched applique ‘receipt’ on calico, featuring a splodge of ‘tomato sauce’ to remind me of how much I enjoyed my lunch!

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Ideas forming for the North Sea Observatory and the Cloud Bar…!

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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 fish is my name badge for Embroiderers’ Guild and another quick finish. Well, quick is a relative term. Technically it was as long in the making as last post’s hedgerow pinwheel given that I’ve been a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild for ten years now and it’s taken me that long to finally getting round to stitching my name badge…

The fish was printed at a Sea themed workshop led by one of our talented members, Mary, in March 2018 and I actually did the vast majority of the stitching and beading in the workshop.

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I finished split stitching my name and laced the fabric over two circles of pelmet vilene…

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…but so close to the finish, it stalled and languished in my projects bag until Easter, when I finally found the time to finish it with a beaded ruff and a brooch pin.

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I’ve just started working as a casual tutor for North Lincolnshire Adult Learning and taught my first full day workshop on kantha and boro stitching last month. The elephant was my sample kantha piece for the afternoon activity.

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He’s cut from a scrap of Indian printed silk scarf and blanket stitched onto a piece of painted/dyed cotton that I acquired from somewhere. The background is then covered in running stitch using some softly variegated green and purple perle thread.

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I love the way the kantha tones down and smooths out the colours of the fabric behind and it is so incredible tactile.

I also stitched a little modern kantha sample using some circles of Harris tweed in vibrant oranges and golds on a piece of heavy weight cotton.

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Not my usual colour palette at all but it was interesting to move away from my blues and greens and also to stitch with Harris tweed, which is a new one for me.

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Our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is having an exhibition at the end of June and a week last Saturday was the deadline for handing in completed pieces of work from the last couple of years to the organisers. We had very helpfully been given a list of all the meetings and workshops to jog our memories so I went down the list, annotating each one as to whether I hadn’t been at the meeting, hadn’t finished it or if it was finished, where it was. There seemed to be two main outcomes – didn’t finish, or made into a card and sent to somebody! The only finished pieces I could lay my hands on for the last two years were my faux driftwood piece…

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…the Chris Gray amulet…

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…and the Brazilian embroidery rose I’d made up into a card but not sent because I couldn’t bear to part with it!

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So it ended up a busy week, so busy that I forgot to photograph both the nuno felting which I turned from this:

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…into a simple seascape and a piece of the paper stitching we did with Alice Fox recently which I mounted as a card.

The kantha fish…

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…was the first to be finished by stitching him onto a piece of indigo dyed fabric with rows of running stitch that merged into the kantha and then mounting over a 7 x 5 inch canvas.

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I also finished a selection of little stitched fragments for my Alice Fox book.

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But the really big finish was my English paper piecing. I get bored easily with the piecing process and when we did the workshop, I chose small equilateral triangles – probably not the best shape in the circumstances! At the end of the day I had a pile of triangles in shades of browns and indigo and absolutely no idea what to do with them.

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Seeing the workshop on the list I wondered if it was even possible to finish the project, but I had what promised to be a lengthy committee meeting that week and repeatedly stitching together triangles looked like the perfect way of passing the time. It was: by the end of the meeting I had all the finished triangles stitched together and an idea very firmly in my head.

Without using half triangles the shapes you can make with equilateral triangles are rather limited, so I created a diamond which I planned to stitch onto this gorgeous piece of hand dyed indigo with some quilt wadding in between and a plain piece of indigo dyed cotton for the backing.

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My trusty Frister and Rossmann coped easily with quilting through all the various layers along the lines of the triangles.

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Then I joined a number of strips of woodland themed fabric in three different brown colourways to get enough and had a go at a tutorial I found online (where else?!) for adding a binding with mitred corners as you go. It worked!!

 

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I tidied the ends up, wrote (no time to embroider) a label…

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…added a hanging sleeve and couched some glittery thread around the edge of the diamond to hide the line where I had machined it down. In hindsight and with more time I would have appliqued it invisibly to the top.

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From a handful of triangles…

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…to a mini quilt…

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…in about three days. I still can’t believe it!

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When I went to visit my parents at Easter I spent some time with my dad in his workshop. He turned me a couple of pairs of knitting needles from yew last year…

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…and I used one pair to knit him a hat but the knobs on the end were a bit too small and they were a little on the short side so he turned me a version 2:

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in lilac wood

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with laburnum collars over the ends to make the knobs a better size.

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Laburnum is a fabulous wood. Who could have guessed that the small slender trees which rain down their clusters of golden flowers in suburban gardens at this time of the year have such rich dark wood. I’m not sure where my dad has managed to get so much laburnum from, but you can really see the deep colour of the wood and the dark, spiralling grain in a mouse and egg he made years ago.

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Anyway, whilst in the workshop, to my dad’s bemusement,  I managed to score an assortment of scraps and offcuts of various woods. This is apple, which he has used to make some gorgeous chopping blocks.

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I added some kantha style rusty doodling. (That rusted sheet came from the workshop too, as I remember…)

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With some pieces of watch mechanism added…

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I think this will probably become a brooch.

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Also time I was thinking about upcycling a random notebook – the sort of thing that comes full of gorgeous pictures and inspiring ideas inside glossy lifestyle magazines – into a holiday journal. Usually I just fuse fabric to the inside, but there was more writing on the front than I wanted, so I made a cover sandwich, with fabric inside…

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…and outside.

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I’ve just started to blanket stitch the edge for decoration, to keep the edges of the fused fabric from flapping up and also for adding strength to the cover.

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I’m using a slightly lighter weight perle that I have done before with these journals and so have put the stitches closer together which means I need to concentrate on keeping the spacing neat!

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Last Saturday was our March Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and we had a talk from Mary Sleigh about some of her collection of African textiles, from strip woven West African fabrics…

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20170325_155336_HDR.jpg… to heavily embroidered wild silk ceremonial robes, bark cloth. indigo resist and all sorts of other embroidered and embellished fabrics.

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The raffia cloth fascinated me. Remembering piles of scratchy unravelling hanks in the back of art cupboards, I couldn’t quite get my head round how something like that was going to create a fabric, but although there was a slight stiffness to the cloth, it was an amazing transformation and I love these applied geometric shapes.

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My head was a bit of a shed on Saturday and although I have photos of my finished kantha fish from February’s meeting…

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…I completely forgot to photograph the other pieces that people brought in. Oops!

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