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Posts Tagged ‘kantha’

I bought some traditional and brightly coloured modern Harris Tweed from eBay back in 2020 and dabbled with this little experimental kantha piece:

It wasn’t a complete success as the lovely variegated thread didn’t really show up, but I really liked stitching into the thick tweed – so much of what we stitch on for hand embroidery is either calico or something of a similar weight and it was a lovely change to work with a fabric that is significantly different both in feel and how it responds to stitch. I filed it away for a possible future idea.

Nearly two years later, that idea has resurfaced in the last two workshops I’m teaching for the Stitch Zone before Easter. Last week we used small tweed circles and stitched straight over them to meld them into the background. Because of the thickness of the wool you don’t get the same sort of crinkling of the fabric that you do with kantha but it does pull the little circles down into the back ground fabric which gives a very pleasing texture.

This week we’re using larger circles and going round them, rather than over them. The sample piece I’ve been working on has taken longer than I planned as I initially used one strand of thread and found that in spite of it being bright blue on grey, it pretty much disappeared into the back ground, which meant I had to go over each stitch again with a second thread to bulk up the stitches enough to be seen.

As there was so little distortion of the fabric in the sample with the parallel lines I was somewhat surprised to find that the concentric stitching around the blue circles pulled it into distinct mounds. I’m not sure if I like the effect or not, but it’s certainly interesting!

There is movement on this month’s Move It On Project too. I found the iridescent cord I’d used for the couched spirals and loops and although I’m not sure where the sewing cotton I used to stitch it down is now, I found a close enough match. I unpicked the cramped area I was unhappy with last week:

And restitched it to fill the space more evenly.

I’ve also added another layer of felt over the nibbled one.

Next stage is to put the grey silk over the top and that means needle-turned applique. I’ve only had one go at this technique before and I did not enjoy it. I think the pieces of fabric I was using were a bit on the small side and I just couldn’t seem to get a nice smooth edge, in spite of my best efforts and smallest stitches. I’m hoping that as this will be a bigger piece of fabric with more seam allowance and gentler curves, that it goes a little better.

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On Saturday I taught my first workshop to our new Independent Stitch Group: Scunthorpe Embroidery and Textile Association or SEATA, formerly known as the Scunthorpe Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. I had decided to teach my Scrappy Nine Patch Rings workshop (in the Workshops tab under Found Objects) based on this piece I stitched back in early 2019. The idea is to use up those tiny precious scraps which you can’t bear to throw away by layering them in strips and as frames/backgrounds to help showcase the different ways to attach the plastic/brass rings.

As well as the nine patch, which I finished as a mini quilt, I also spent most of last week making some individual samples to demonstrate some more ways of attaching the rings to the backgrounds. A scrap of dyed aida was the inspiration for this one and I created a blackwork style pattern for it which served to stitch down the ring in a rather attractive pattern that I hadn’t anticipated.

I was determined to use a grass printed offcut from the Dames’ cow dress for the next one and I had just the vintage trim to go with it. This ribbon trim dates from the 1970s when my mother allowed me half a yard of ribbon or lace if I was good on the occasional shopping trip instead of sweets. My childhood self would much rather have had sweets, but my adult self has made good use of the trims! It was pretty rather than practical, as when you cut it, the flowers all unravel, which is why so much of it still survives.

I added lazy daisy stitches and French knots in green to the trim to help attach it as well as lazy daisy daisies and kantha around the machine embroidered butterfly and hand dyed purple flannel. It’s backed on a piece of stormy lilac colour catcher

This one was purely about the combination of fabrics and I also wanted to try out the possibility of using bullion knots to hold down the ring. The answer to that is yes, the bullions work, but there is some trial and error involved in getting them the right length, so some of mine (bottom right) are a bit slack. And also because I used such a fine cotton, you have to look very closely to see that they actually are bullions and not just a thick corded thread, which rather defeats the aim of using them!

I played about with back stitch and herringbone to enhance the machine embroidered silk scrap and added metallic feather stitch to the crinkled hand dyed organza scrap.

The final sample was started so I had something to work on in the session, although I didn’t actually get to set needle to fabric until well into the afternoon. The printed central piece is another offcut of the medieval tiles print to stitch piece form February 2019 – I really am getting the most out of every scrap of that fabric – and I outlined it in back stitch before blanket stitching the ring on top. Seeding next.

Lastly, the final update on February’s Move It On Project, my Chihuly chandelier. Unfortunately because of the workshop preparation I wasn’t able to add any more stitching to it this week, but again, the aim of the project has succeeded. I wanted to see if I could make the design work and end up anything like the real thing and the answer to that is yes, using back stitched spiders webs and crocheted circles. I’ve not finished it, but I know what I need to do to complete it in the future. Now to decide what I’m going to choose for March’s entry into the Move It On Project.

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Back in May 2019 I ran my Ribbon Roses workshop (details in the Workshops tab at the top of the header) for what was then the Selby Embroiderers’ Guild. In the afternoon those who had moved on through the morning’s activities stitched a Ribbon Rose Brooch from some little kits I’d made up.

I came across the remaining kits last year when I was creating my Upcycled Kilt Pin Brooch kits but as they were designed to be a follow on activity for someone who had already stitched the closed fly stitch leaves and the woven spiders’ web roses, the instructions were quite sparse and not suitable for a similar makeover.

However, I felt that they would still make a good subject for a kit when I got round to being able to sit down and create suitable photographs and instructions. And that was this week! I chose the kit in the above picture to photograph while I made it up and enjoyed an easy morning’s stitching to get to this:

It was a lot of fun to stitch and although having to continually stop and take photographs of every stage kept breaking my flow, it’s an easy project which stitches up quickly and can be completed in an hour or two, depending on your level of confidence and familiarity with the various stitches used. It was also useful to confirm that there was enough of everything in the kit, apart from the ribbon as I had to find another piece to work the French knot buds.

Unfortunately the process of writing up the instructions, creating the designs and images is taking an awful lot longer than the brooch did to stitch in the first place!

The Harvest Wreath is finished and I’m really happy with the balance of the leaves.

And last but not least, this week’s update on January’s Move It On Project. Thanks to a committee meeting and an actual face to face social read of our next pantomime script this week, I’ve now completed the kantha spirals on five out of the six tiles. I’m happy that I continued with the spiral backgrounds as I really like the way the pattern of the stitches works at the point four tiles meet and I couldn’t see that when I’d only stitched three.

It’s not the most exciting of things to stitch at this stage but being well over half way is a big boost. I’m unlikely to get it finished in the 36 hours left of this month, but that’s not a problem and not the aim of the Project. I’ve moved it on, solved the thread issue, decided on the pattern for the background and will definitely finish it at some point, probably turning it into a book cover. So all in all, month one of my 2022 Move It On Project has been a great success!

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Last week, I was at a bit of a standstill with the print to stitch medieval tiles piece which I’ve chosen as January’s Move It On Project having completely run out of thread that was anywhere near close. However, thanks to Debbie who has an affinity for these lovely warm autumnal shades and a huge collection of appropriately coloured threads, I now have a bobbin of the right coloured stranded cotton and no excuse not to move things on! I finished off the tile I was stitching in the darker thread and as it’s the outer ring of stitching, I don’t think it looks out of place.

I was also toying with the idea of giving up on the spiral kantha and going back to seeding for the back ground of the last three tiles but having trialled it, it looked odd, so I’ve continued with the kantha and now completed four out of the six tiles.

The beauty of this piece is more in the way it feels with the wool felt backing and the dense stitching than the way it looks, so I’ve been working on my Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch harvest wreath, which is a bit prettier! Last time I shared it back in October, I was most of the way through adding the Raised Cup Stitch poppy flowers.

I’ve since finished them and given them all French knot middles.

So next I’m adding some leaves, using a free form of fly stitch which I’m stitching back into to fatten up parts of the leaf. It’s a slow job, working in a single strand of stranded cotton, but I think the wreath needs it for balance.

Lastly I’ve added a new Flotsam pendant to my Etsy Shop.

It’s a lightweight and easy to wear combination of Suffolk driftwood, Seaham sea glass and a lovely chunk of beach pottery and comes with a new faux leather thong with a sterling silver clasp.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

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It’s been a bit of a miracle but we’re successfully out the other side of panto week.

How we didn’t have an outbreak of Covid in the cast and/or crew I really don’t know, but it’s all done and dusted for another year – well apart from the four massive bags of washing that are currently dominating my hall.

The cow print dress was a huge success and I actually remembered to get a photo of our dame wearing it over a hooped petticoat. As you can see, he’s a big girl!

I spent most of the Saturday get-in darning a j-cloth…

The cleaning costume I made for the Dame in Puss in Boots in 2015 has a gingham skirt decorated with rosettes made from gathered j-cloths and pan scrubbers.

But it wasn’t until I got it into theatre that I discovered that one of the rosettes had suffered a bit over the last seven years in storage. As the j-cloths have faded a bit I couldn’t easily replace it, so I had to go for the mending option.

Luckily it turned out really well and not only lasted the week, but I think if I make sure it’s stored properly this time, could easily do another panto.

There is usually some mending to do as the show goes on but this one was quite mending heavy. One character had a major failure of all the seams on her trousers – the costume was so old the thread had simply worn out so I spent most of the opening night frantically hand stitching all the seams every time she came off stage. Then it turned out that the Velcro I’d used for the back of the cow print dress was either ancient or very poor quality, as after three performances, all the edges started to disintegrate so I had to restitch all the stitching to hold it down and blanket stitch it all the way round to contain the fraying edges.

So unlike 2020, when I had the opportunity to do plenty of my own embroidery, I did very little this time. But I have chosen and made a start on my January 2022 Project – my print to stitch Medieval tiles pieces. I created the printed fabric at a workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019 and started the stitching on it in October 2020, so compared with some of my other projects it is a relative newcomer!

This is as it stands at the start of its session. Two of the six ’tiles’ have completed spiral kantha stitching and I’d ground to a halt on the third as I’d run out of thread. As usual I have absolutely no idea what it was, beyond stranded cotton, and as I’m trying very hard to work within what I already have, I hunted out a couple of possible replacements and discovered in the process that I am very short of tan/orangey-brown threads.

The printing and the hand dyed fabric both vary in colour so I am trying not to mind too much that the new thread is a bit darker.

I’m also not that taken with the spiral kantha – it feels like there is too much of the motif in the way for it to work well. Also, there isn’t enough of the new thread for me to be able to stitch spirals round the last three ’tiles’ so at the moment I’m thinking I might go with a completely different thread to tone with the slightly darker prints and go back to simple seeding.

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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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