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Posts Tagged ‘laid couching’

School term is finished for the year, as is ‘In The Stitch Zone’, my lovely weekly stitching group. As today is the last guaranteed posting day before Christmas, things are quiet in my Etsy shop and the bricks and mortar stockists of my jewellery.

So there has been Christmas cooking – this is Chinese spiced beef which I make every year. I use a kilo of uncut shin which is slow cooked in a broth of soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, whole peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks and star anise. After about five hours I put it into a close fitting plastic container and press it under cans of tinned tomatoes in the fridge, like I would a tongue. It comes out as a dark, tender aromatic block which you can slice thinly and have in sandwiches or as part of the buffet lunches we love this time of year and the cooking liquor makes incredible stock for soup. I wish the photo had smell attached!

I’m also marzipanning my Christmas cakes today – quite a lot later than I did last year. They were made just after October half term and as we have no sherry in the house but somehow have ended up with an abundance of mead, they have been well fed with mead this year. The smell as I opened the box was pretty potent!

Lastly, the Christmas puddings which were made back in November to a recipe that has come down through my mum’s side of the family and we believe came from the Radio Times just after the war. It has a lot of grated carrot to reduce the sugar content and a mountain of breadcrumbs instead of flour and is always moist, light and delicious. I’m not sorry that none of the children like it (more for us!), although it does mean that sadly the family recipe won’t be passed on.

Quite a bit of supply work in the last week has meant limited stitching again, although I do have a little piece of Bayeux stitch embroidery to show. It’s a miniature version of one of the buildings in the Bayeux Tapestry – this one is part of Harold’s palace and famously has Halley’s Comet over the top.

I thought the open sections were interesting and a nice comparison to the heavier areas of Bayeux stitch. I’m not entirely sure how they have been worked, but I used blanket stitch.

As I was working very small I also decided not to include the two coloured section under the turrets. I had a bit of an experiment but the thickness of the wool on such a small scale, even though it is fine crewel wool, would have made it far too clunky.

A ‘thumb-for-scale’ photo.

As ever at this time of year I hope that all the jobs will get done soon and I can finally spend some quality time stitching. Wishing all of you the best Christmas you can have in these continuing very testing times. Take care and stay safe.

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It only a took a couple of stitching sessions in the end but after six years Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon is finally complete! When you last saw him back in February he looked like this:

I was struggling to stitch tiny neat split stitch circles along the line of his neck and in the end just gave up and let other projects come to the fore. But Baby L-T D was promised as a director’s gift for a show we did in 2019 and he really needed to be finished to be presented at a Memorial Concert in early November. Time to get stuck in.

I finished the circles on the neck first. They really highlight how uneven the wavy line is, but I don’t dislike the way they’ve ended up in pairs.

The his clawed and feathered feet. The feathery bits at the back remind me of the ‘feathers’ around the hooves of a shire horse. I did hope that I was getting better at the circles, but I’m not so sure about that, looking back at the photos.

And lastly the top section of his double tail. Highlight lines first and then more circles inside the trefoil leaves.

Finally, the veins on the large leaf and the last of the circles along the base of the tail to complete the stitching!

Then I removed him from the frame so I could see him in all his leafy glory for the very first time. I’m so pleased with him and a little bit sad that he’s going to go to someone else.

Now I need to sign and mount him – another job I tend to prevaricate about because I worry about getting it perfectly right…

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Podcasts at the ready, I got stuck into some of the more tedious stitching this week. All the motifs on the medieval tiles piece are outlined and I’m very happy with the alternating light and dark outlines.

The intersections are interesting too.

As is the back, where you can really see the subtle variegation in the threads.

I’ve still not completely settled on what to do for the background of the tiles but I’m inclining towards adding something to the inside of the motifs. Not sure if that is prevarication or not!

I had a couple of offcuts from when I printed the main piece.

I made one into a bookmark for a Christmas present and am turning the second one into another bookmark. This time I whipped the back stitch outline of the motifs and am pleased with the raised effect. It looks almost like I’ve edged them with a very fine cord.

I decided to add the more straightforward highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s wings while I was still dithering about the circles on his neck.

Emboldened by that success, I started the circles. Not sure the first one is fit to be seen, but the second and third are reasonably presentable.

I’m definitely ready to finish these projects and get on with something different, especially as I unearthed some rusted embroidered fragments the other day that I’d done ages ago with the plan of making an art quilt and posted some on Instagram. They got such a good response I’m tempted to get the quilt underway again…

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I thought I’d started the Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon in 2018, which would have been bad enough, but the blog post from September 2018 when I moved him from a hoop to a frame and really got going, says I started him in 2015 – July 2015 to be precise. I did quite a lot of work on him in 2019 and even got as far as starting to couch the outline but then, like so many things last year, he lapsed and it wasn’t until last week that I picked him up and finally finished the couched outline. The next stage was to add the split stitch highlights. I’m always worried I’ll put them in the wrong places and it will look odd, so I usually prevaricate at this point, but I decided to just get on with it.

The result was a lot less difficult than I thought (it usually is…) and so his lower tail is nearly done!

I’ve also decided to get on with the last two pieces for my Kew Memory Journal. I want to base one on the beautiful Chihuly Persian Chandelier that was hung in the Temperate House.

I thought the wavy edged circles could work either in needlelace or crochet and while I decided which one would be most effective, I started a small sampler of needlelace stitches.

Corded Brussels Stitch is my go to needle lace stitch and after having worked the Single Brussels – twice – I know why. The Corded Brussels is always worked in the same direction. When you get to the end of the row you run the thread across the front, back to the start and then work over it, incorporating it into the stitch. It makes the lace firmer and because there is something to work over, more even, and the stitches all run in the same direction.

The Single Brussels is worked from left to right and then when you reach the end of the row, back from right to left. I’m not very right handed and can work most stitches both right and left handed but I could not for the life of me get the rows even. On the left to right rows I could make the buttonhole stitch loops stay open but right to left they just wanted to flatten down to the stitch underneath. The second version is better than the first, but not by much.

However, as a sampler and a learning exercise, it’s been very useful.

The last old favourite is the final two kilt pin brooch kits.

Forest green, golden yellow, and brown.

and

Orange, bronze, brown, purple and gold.

Listed today in my Etsy shop with free UK P&P.

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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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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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Sneaks back in looking shamefaced… Sorry I disappeared – the summer has been a bit busy and trying to get all the various things I want to spend the rest of my working life doing off the ground has eaten up time in a frightening manner. I am trying to make the most of the evaporating minutes by being more disciplined, which includes making dedicated time for my blog again.

The free frame I found outside a local charity shop back in July was just what I needed to get back to my Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon, which I began back in 2015! I had started him off in a large hoop, but as I wasn’t happy with the tension I didn’t continue, but the frame was perfect and once I had stitched him into it, he was my project of choice to work on for National Stitching Day back in early August at 2021 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe.

Back in 2015 he looked like this:

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My first job was to finish putting the vertical threads in on the green section.

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And then to start couching them down.

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I really enjoy working this stitch. I love the texture of it once the vertical stitches are all couched down. Baby Dragon got a lot of interest from visitors, especially the men, who were more interested in the historical aspect and it seems that I’m not the only one who likes the texture – everyone wanted to touch it!

Once his back was completed, I moved on to the purple leaves on his tail.

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It is lovely to do something that works up so quickly, especially in comparison with some of my french knot work!

Since National Stitch Day I have had a couple of committee meetings and been able to move onto his tummy, legs and chest.

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He is a great deal larger than my usual meeting stitching projects but at least nobody sits too close!

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