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Posts Tagged ‘needlelace’

Well, the lonely courgette now has some friends and as they are almost big enough to be called marrows, I left the flowers off.

I used the same interfacing backed painted cotton for the leaves as I did for the original stumpwork garden and the same method, which has scaled up very satisfactorily.

Next, I added big blowsy cabbages in a 1cm wide bluey-green silk ribbon. I made sure I worked the woven spider’s web stitches nice and loosely and let the ribbon twist and bend to give a more natural look to the leaves.

Lastly, a patch of radishes. As this garden is about three times the size of the original I needed to enlarge the original tiny line of detached chain stitch pairs. This time I gave the radishes at least four leaves each and increased the weight of the leaves by using a thicker thread and nesting one detached chain stitch inside another. I gave each one a little pink base to the leaf stalk to hint at the crunchy pink radish growing just under the surface.

To give an idea of how much bigger I’m working, here is the garden so far side by side with the original version. The hoop is 6 inches in diameter – this is practically enormous for me!

As it’s the end of the month, time for the update on May’s Move It On Project. Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as I had hoped with the Casalguidi work, although for a nice reason this time. Last week was half term, so we’ve had a lovely family holiday in Northumberland and all the stitching I did was to go in my holiday journal. But the overcast trailing is finished and more importantly, I have a book I can use for the flowers when I pick it up again.

June’s Move It On project is well out of my comfort zone. I’ve seen and admired a lot of Ruskin Lace during our holidays in the Lake District and for our holiday in 2015 I created a very ambitious altered book/holiday journal which I still haven’t finished! One of the things I wanted to stitch for it was a Ruskin lace sample.

I bought myself a Ruskin Lace book but after reading the first chapter, I bottled out big time. I hate the thought of cutting, withdrawing and weaving threads back into a piece of stitching and these are core skills for this type of embroidery. But I also hate the thought that it’s getting the better of me and recently managed to get as far as hemming a piece of linen following the instructions in the book before I gave up again. I’m determined to move the 2015 journal on and I’m hoping that once I’ve got my head round the cutting threads bit, the needlelace element should be more enjoyable.

This is where I am at the moment, cutting threads to form an internal border.

I’m using some of the linen I usually use for pulled thread work and am a bit worried that it’s going to be too open, but that’s what the Move It On Project is designed for. If it works, then that’s great – if it doesn’t, I’ll have learned useful lessons. Fingers crossed.

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I’m leading our S.E.A.T.A. meeting at the end of this month and challenging our members to visit or revisit a stitching book from their shelves and use a technique or project from it to make a small item – a brooch, key fob, scissor keep etc. So I’ve been working some samples, including a pair of acorns based on a project in Beginner’s Guide to Stumpwork by Kay Dennis, published by Search Press.

I decided to follow the instructions to the letter which included stitching down the felt padding with stab stitches that run perpendicular to the edge of the felt shape. I was initially unsure about whether this would be any better than doing a line of stitches parallel to the edge but it works much better, giving a smoother transition from the flat fabric, so I was pleased to have learned something new.

Then I covered the shapes with satin stitch.

Next I ran two long stitches across the middle of the acorn and used them as a foundation line for the needlelace cup. I did say I was going to follow the instructions to the letter but it suggested Ceylon stitch for the cups and due to some recent experience with that stitch, I decided against it. Ceylon stitch looks beautiful but is not very forgiving when you need to increase or decrease, which I would have had to with the cap and also I really struggle with the tension to stop it wandering. So I gave up the idea of sticking to the project and worked the cup in good old Corded Brussels.

Same for the other acorn but in green. The variegated brown was a stranded cotton and although I prefer the satin stitch coverage, I like the needlelace cup better on the green one which was stitched in a random unlabelled thread which feels like a cross between crewel wool and mercerised cotton.

Next I satin stitched a twig over three long padding stitches, trying to vary the thickness so it looked like a naturally knobbly twig and mounted it over a sandwich of thick cardboard and felt.

Last of all, I added a beaded fringe.

A straightforward little project but I enjoyed learning new things from it and it’s good to have one sample completed.

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March’s Move It On Project actually has a chance of being finished. I chose a sample I started stitching on our 2019 holiday to the Lake District based on an Arts and Crafts style table runner with a sycamore key design I saw at Blackwell, The House of Arts and Crafts, near Windermere.

By the end of the holiday I’d got as far as here:

I’m only doing one element of the pattern but I’d stalled on the odd curved shape underneath the keys. I couldn’t work out from the photo what stitch was used as it appears to be quite raised on the top edge and then it just got put to one side.

I chose it as March’s Move It On Project as it’s the last thing I need to finish to complete my holiday journal for 2019 and there wasn’t a lot to do to complete it. Then looking at it next to the photo, I realised that as I’d deliberately chosen not to stitch an exact copy of the original anyway, getting the stitch ‘right’ for that curved bit was irrelevant! So I’ve done it in the same thread and used Satin Stitch over a back stitch edging as I did for the edge of the keys.

The final stage is the grid of background stitches. I think from the photo that they are pairs of vertical straight stitches, but they are perfectly placed in relation to the weave of the fabric, so I think a ruler, a sharp pencil and very good light are my next requirements!

In other news, Dylan the Psychedelic Snail has a friend! Over the last two weeks I’ve run him as a workshop for the In The Stitch Zone group I teach at Scunthorpe Central Library (details in the Stitch Zone tab on the header) on a Monday afternoon. The first week we created the Raised Stem Stitch Band spiral for the shell.

And the second week we added the needlelace body.

I wanted a purple body for my new snail but could only find this very light variegated lilac in quite a stiff mercerised cotton or similar. I still think it’s a bit too pale but I love the way the firmer thread really shows up the texture of the Corded Brussels Stitch. Someone on Instagram actually thought the body was knitted!

So, meet Ermintrude! And of course, the obligatory photo to show just how small she actually is!

I always worry about repeating a design in case it doesn’t stitch up as well as the original, but despite the centre of her shell being less neat than Dylan’s I’m very pleased both with my second snail and also how the workshop went overall. A win-win!

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The other day I wondered to myself, as you do; what if I worked Raised Stem Stitch Band in a spiral? I think this came from something I’d seen on Instagram but when I went looking I couldn’t find anything so it was time to experiment. I’m sure there are probably a handful of tutorials on YouTube but it was good to work something out independently. I started with a sketched spiral and a thick bundle of grey perle a little longer than the spiral to give me room to plunge and finish off the ends.

I used the same grey perle to couch the bundle down.

So far, so good. The thread was rather wavy from having been in a plait for donkey’s years but the couching controlled it effectively. At this point I was quite surprised at how easily and neatly it formed the spiral and even plunging all the ends in the centre wasn’t as difficult as I expected.

For the stem stitch, I chose a Stef Francis coton a broder thread in subtly variegated shades of orange.

I love the way stem band works up and the slightly corded coton a broder gives a beautiful texture to the stitches.

I was pleased with the coverage of the grey as well, having remembered a bit too late that the padding sometimes can show through, and the way the edges of the spiral have become three-dimensional.

It started out as a ‘what if’ experiment but now there was only one way to go… Meet Dylan the Psychedelic Snail.

His body is outlined in back stitch which was the foundation for his Corded Brussels stitch needlelace body in this fabulous rainbow thread.

Couched down green chenille gave him a bit of grass to slither over and his antennae are short lines of split stitch topped with French knots.

He’s adorable, even if I do say so myself, and a really nice project on which to practise some fairly straightforward stumpwork and needle lace stitches so I’ve added him to the workshops I offer – just click on the Workshops tab at the top to see the full list.

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I was very tempted to get straight into the fun bits of needle lace and crochet, but realistically it was more important to work out the background first to make sure all the little twiddly bits were to scale. I chose this photo:

because the lines of the Temperate House glazing form an interesting but not overpowering background. I turned it into greyscale as I did with the bollock purse from the Tattershall Journal so I could focus on the lines and patterns and then transferred the design onto a piece of indigo dyed cotton.

My white pen is obviously running out but as it’s one that develops over time, I can’t tell that at the point I’m tracing the design! At least there was enough of the design marked up for me to start stitching. I decided to use very fine ribbon for the thicker bars to contrast with whatever line stitch I choose for the thinner bars and have blanket stitched the first one down with fine sewing cotton.

Unfortunately further stitching was curtailed by two and a half days supply teaching followed by my first Covid jab and 24 hours lost to feeling rough from the after effects. Looking at it again, I like the width and solidity of the ribbon but I’m not sure about using blanket stitch to attach it. It looks a bit too raised and I’m wondering if I might try stitching the next one down with tiny stab stitches to keep the ribbon smoother.

I did manage to do a bit of playing with a sample of Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch at the weekend. I’d seen someone using it on Instagram and was rather taken with the result. Mary Corbet came up trumps as usual with an excellent tutorial which you can find here and this is the result of my experiments.

I’m really pleased with the weighty, corded effect it gives and the colour changes in the variegated perle thread.

I love stitches that looks as impressive as this one but are in fact very straightforward to work. Another new one for the repertoire!

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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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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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It’s reading for a new show time again and so I have managed to sit and stitch through a number of small finishes. Firstly, one of the designs Ruth produced for us at November’s Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, made up into a card.

The border is in feather stitch, the centre in a spiral of split stitch, the main oval parts of the petals in Corded Brussels stitch (needlelace) and the ends in satin stitch.

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Then I decided to make up a little magazine kit I bought from eBay in 2009. Simple stem stitch and lazy daisy stitch for the wheel barrow and the flowers/leaves.

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Then french knot middles to the flowers and my first ever attempt at a Dorset Button for the wheel.

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I was fairly pleased with it until I put the kit picture next to it for comparison…

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Obviously a technique I need to work on but it has made a nice little card.

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This was my starting point:

dscn2537The only other stipulation we were all given was that the finished article must be three- dimensional in some way. I had an initial load of over-complicated and grandiose ideas, but soon realised my best bet was to stick to what I know so I decided to make a book.

I’ve made what I call lotus-fold books before, with origami square bases stuck back to back and opening like a concertina, but several years ago my middle one came home from Guides with  one she had made which opened up and folded back on itself to make a star. I’d always loved the idea and it was perfect for this project.

I started by making a double sided copy of the carol ‘Ding Dong, Merrily on High’ and ageing it with a deftly wielded tea bag. Odd coffee granules added a foxed look and then I cut the sheets into squares and folded them into a set of square bases.

20161210_230756_HDR.jpgThe next stage was to stick the square faces together to form the star shape. You can see the gap at the bottom right hand corner which is where the covers will go.

20161210_231039_HDR.jpgNext job was to embroider the cover. I experimented with applique and various other techniques on some lovely dull gold silk  but came back to needlelace using some Mulberry Silks I’ve been saving for a special occasion. The medium and heavy weights make the most fabulous needlelace.

20161215_171828_HDR.jpgAlso, one of my required elements was couching, and the stitch is buttonhole couching.

20161215_232203_HDR.jpgMy lace element was the bow and after I had added gold kid leather clappers to the bells the cover was laced over a piece of mounting board.

20161217_103827_HDR.jpgI trapped a piece of gold ribbon between the cover and the endpapers as a closure when I stuck them together…

20161217_104141_HDR.jpg…and did the same with the back.

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As well as tying a bow to close the book up, the ribbons also hold it closed and form the hanging loop when you bring the covers together to make it into an ornament.

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And best of all, Sandra was delighted with it. :o)

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I showed you this amazing book

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in my last post. Without even opening it, it’s a thing of beauty, from those William Morris-esque willow leaves sprawling across the spine and cover to the black and gold DMC logo end papers. And so small, only 5 and a half inches high, 4 inches wide and an inch and a half thick so it sits snugly in the hand.

Rachel is right – I have so much I want to do that I don’t think I’ll get round to any of the projects any time soon, but it is just lovely to sit and browse through.

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Although I am very tempted to try out this canvaswork Shell Stitch.

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Knitting is covered…

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…as is crochet…

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…tatting…

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…embroidery on netting…

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…openwork…

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…various types of lace…

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…tassels…

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…and so much more.

I’ve done some more finishing of small projects. Firstly the french knot encrusted blue velvet spiral brooch from the sample piece I started on the Lush, Plush and Crush workshop we did at the Guild with Josie Storey a few months back. From this:

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to this:

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I’ve also created a pair of silk strip wrapped and beaded hoop earrings using some lovely ombre dyed silk strips from Stef Francis and vintage seed beads and sequins over a pair of vintage plastic earrings.

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Having fun!

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