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Posts Tagged ‘medieval tiles’

I don’t think I’ve ever actually shown the piece of stitching I’ve chosen as this month’s Move It On Project on this blog despite the fact that I started it in 2012. This of course was the year of the London Olympics. Each branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild was allocated a different participating country and their members were asked to stitch postcards inspired by that country which I believe were displayed in the Olympic Village (not sure, as I never saw mine again…). I decided to reuse this idea when I taught Year 6 textiles in the summer of 2012 and when the children and I did the draw for the countries, I ended up with Eire.

I didn’t get very far with my design during the term we stitched the postcards and my Newgrange inspired stitching stayed at school. I did most of the work on it during interminably long Sports Day afternoons when I was always allocated the delightful job of doing crowd control in the House ‘pen’ – trying to manage hot, bored children who had done their one race of the afternoon hours ago and were now making their own ‘entertainment’. It’s hard to crack down too heavily on these activities when you’re even more bored then they are. Anyway, the stitching came home with me when I left and has been in a drawer ever since. Time to move it on.

I started by couching down some amazing iridescent green cord in random swirls and spirals to give the feeling of the spiral carving on the Newgrange stones.

My plan was then to built up layers of felt padding with grey silk over the top and then quilt it with more spirals to look like the Newgrange stone. I’d got as far as stab stitching the first felt oval down. I have no idea why it has a chunk cut out of it and am wondering if that is going to make any difference when I put the next layer on or whether I should just leave it.

Apart from the nibbled felt, the first thing that occurs to me now I’m looking at it properly, is that I either need some more spirals top right, or I need to unpick that section and restitch it as it is rather lumpy and cramped. Luckily (and very unusually), I know exactly where that lovely green cord is. Finding the matching green couching thread, however, will be another matter entirely…

Thanks to another committee meeting, I now have the second Move It On finish of the year. The spiral seeding on January’s Print to Stitch medieval tiles piece is completed and I’m very happy with it.

However, this has turned into another job. I want to finish it as a notebook cover which will involve edging it – ideally with a quilt type binding. Unfortunately, as you can see, there is very little space along some of the edges and I’ve now stalled again while I mull over ideas of how to make a binding actually work and not lose any of the stitching. Any ideas very welcome!

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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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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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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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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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The embroidered upcycled lockets I make from time to time are quite popular and I was pleased to source another one recently. On a grey and miserable day last week I thought it would be cheering to stitch a blossom tree to go into the oval space on the front. It worked up really well and I was pleased with the way the grass at the bottom balanced it out.

Time to cut it out, following the faint pencil line you can see in the photo above. It was a little too big initially, so I picked up the scissors to trim it by eye. All was going well when my concentration wandered and I cut too far in between the bottom branches and the grass. Disaster. The vilene was so thick that all my attempts to remount it looked awful.

I didn’t want to throw away the little tree I had spent so long stitching, so I went looking for something else to mount it in and finally found a gorgeous silver mourning locket which just needed a couple of diamantes replacing. If I trimmed the grass off, it would fit into the frame. At this point I was happy to sacrifice the grass if it meant I could keep the tree! I reset the missing diamantes, removed the grass and backed what was left onto a circle of vilene which would be seen through the rear of the locket.

Here I had a bit of a crisis of confidence. The antique mourning locket is a lovely thing in its own right and once I had repaired it, in wearable condition. Usually I add embroidery to a piece of broken or damaged jewellery that wouldn’t normally be fit to wear as it is. I wasn’t sure whether putting the tree into it was the right thing to do. So I asked Instagram whether to add embroidery or not and the answer was an overwhelming yes!

I love the little glass door in the back of the locket – you can see why I needed a neat piece of vilene behind the embroidery. You can find it here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve finished all the edging of the Medieval tiles piece and am much happier with the visual weight of the lines. I was wondering about a third line of split stitch but I think this is enough.

Next job is outlining the motifs in back stitch, which I might whip to give a smoother but more raised outline. This is to give me a bit of mental breathing room while I consider what to put in the spaces around the motifs. I want something, to give the piece a density and weightiness in the hand but I’m not sure I want to use simple seeding this time. I’m toying with the idea of seeding with a distinct stitch, like tete de boeuf, detached chain stitch or fly stitch or possibly adding a kantha style background in a similar coloured thread to the base fabric but with stitched spirals centred around the middle of the motif.

Decisions, decisions!

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Happy New Year to you all and I really hope it is that; a year where we find and experience happiness alongside and in spite of what is going on around us. As friends are increasingly saying, “Be positive but stay negative!”

I wonder how many unexpected projects start with something like, “I went into a cupboard/a drawer/a box/the loft looking for X and instead I found…” It’s something I suspect I’ve typed more than a few times and here we are again. Just before New Year I went into a cupboard looking for some padded envelopes and I found eight kits for making upcycled jewellery kilt pin brooches like the one below which were left over from a workshop I taught back in 2019.

They were just popped into paper bags but it occurred to me that I could box them up nicely and put them in my Etsy shop. Kits seem to be quite popular at the moment and perhaps they would appeal to people who would enjoy the challenge of seeing what unique design they could make out of their kit rather than making the item on the front of the box.

I had some cardboard two piece boxes that I was given a little while ago (Thanks Ruth – I knew they would come in useful!!) that just needed making up and then I carefully cut the label off the paper bag and stuck it onto the front. The boxes are lovely quality and already they were looking really professional.

The original packs were designed for avid stitchers, but because these might be bought by or for someone who doesn’t have the vast amounts of stash that most of us do, I added an embroidery and a beading needle and a fat plait of assorted threads to the pack and reworked the instructions into a neat little booklet. This one is based on purples and reds (there are some lovely dusky purple seed beads hiding under the Magpie Pack) and is available here in my Etsy shop with free UK P&P.

This one is themed around autumnal russets and golds and is available here.

Yes, I did say there were eight kits and I’ve only listed two, but making up the boxes is taking a lot longer than I thought. As they are such good quality they have a triple fold plus tabs for each side and are taking me at least half an hour to make!

Over Christmas I’ve got into bad habits of browsing or playing sudoku on my tablet in the evenings so I’m trying to get at least half an hour away from the screen sewing before I go to bed. The last time I worked on my medieval tiles printed piece was in early November when I was playing embroidery chicken with the thread.

I’ve managed to find some roughly similar colour and weight perle thread to the lot that finally ran out on me and so I’ve picked this up as my before bed project. I’ve taken out the tacking stitches and am putting a second row of split stitch round the ’tiles’ to give the lines more weight (top left). There might be a third row yet but I’m seeing how it progresses.

I’ve also started back stitching round the motifs.

A nice straightforward project before bed but I just need to know when to stop. “I’ll finish when I get to the end of this piece of thread/the next piece of thread/the end of this motif,” took me until the other side of 1am last night…

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Stitching quicker and quicker as we realise we’re going to run out of thread (or wool – I’ve done it with knitting too…). Why do we do it?! It makes no sense at all – the thread will run out when it runs out!

My bout of Embroidery Chicken happened this week when I started stitching the ‘mortar’ round the medieval tiles, I was using a subtly variegated perle that was a one off skein from a long defunct independent seller.

I started filling in the spaces between the corners and then realised that there wasn’t a lot of thread left. So I started to stitch faster and faster, trying to estimate how much was left and how much I could reasonably get done; which would be the most important lines to do in the primary thread; whether I could find the matching stranded cotton; whether it would be better to match the colour or the thread type… My mind going round in circles until I got to this point…

…and realised that I was going to be able to outline all the blocks after all. Not with a lot to spare, but it was achievable. At which point my stitch rate virtually halved!

Luckily I still have plenty of the silk thread left for the boro pendant. The two sections are now ladder stitched together, stuck into the gold ring and I’ve made a start on the boro stitched cylinder beads for the bib section.

The smaller rectangle on the left of the strips is what will be seen when they are rolled up and that’s where I’m going to stitch. Tiny patches of indigo on indigo.

I’m also back onto birthday cards again and a Lake District themed one for a friend’s dad. Adding autumn colour to a vintage postcard of the Langdale Pikes with French knots in one strand of stranded cotton.

I’m glad I started in good time, because the knots are taking a long while as usual, but it is quite effective and I’m really pleased with the colour match of the variegated thread.

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After a bit of thinking I decided to stitch the medieval tiles piece not as a whole cloth as I had with the paisleys, but to separate each print into a tile shaped block. When I came to draw out the ‘mortar’ lines I was quite pleased that the ’tiles’ weren’t exactly in line with each other. It made it feel a bit more hand crafted in a way.

Then I started on the stitching which is going to be rows of split stitch to give a little bit of texture and hide definite stitch beginnings and endings.

I had a couple of good sized offcuts when I trimmed the printed piece down last week. Actually, rereading that has made me laugh. To me, a good sized offcut is anything larger than a credit card – I think most people would put my offcuts in the bin! Anyway, I didn’t. I decided to turn them into bookmarks for stocking fillers.

I edged the main motif in back stitch and then added seed stitches in a fine thread almost the same colour as the background.

Then I ironed on some interfacing which I dyed with silk paints and blanket stitched all round the edge.

Debbie pointed out that if you turn your head and look at the motifs from the side, they look like reindeer heads. Yup, they do and I can’t unsee it now!

A lovely accident for me is how on the back, the reverse of the back stitch pushes through the interfacing in ghostly lines like parch marks or earth works.

The other scraps I’ve been stitching are really tiny ones, about the size of postage stamps, to make a boro piece for an upcycled bib necklace. The inspiration was the gold coloured ring at the top – no idea what that might once have been.

I forgot to take a photo of it in my hand, but again, it’s small, just not quite as tiny as the recent lockets. Sashiko thread would have been too big, so it’s stitched in cream silk.

I chose a piece of shibori fabric for the back and gathered up and laced both pieces over circles of vilene to give them some body.

Next they need to be stitched together and stuck into the gold ring before I start on some boro fabric beads for the rest of the bib. Not done anything like that before so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

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