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Posts Tagged ‘raised stem band’

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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More teaching this week and we’re now into show week for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club‘s long awaited production of ‘Gaslight

It was first cast back in January 2020 which seems a very long time ago. I’m doing the props for this one which mostly involves dressing the set to look like a dark, gloomy, overstuffed Victorian parlour and I’m glad to finally get all the bits and pieces I’ve been accumulating for it out of the house.

I also made several local charity shops very happy by taking a large number of huge, old fashioned and frankly unsaleable pictures off their hands!

It’s been quite a challenge to find Victorian looking bits and pieces. My choice of décor is almost exclusively mid-century, so I’ve been very limited in what I’ve been able to source from home and our show budget only runs to charity shops, not antiques centres.

I’ve done my best but I’m hoping that the ten yard rule most definitely applies.

While I was waiting for the set to go up I managed to get a little further on with May’s Move It On Project, the Casalguidi work. From here:

to here:

Thankfully I’ve nearly finished the overcast trailing now and I can get onto the flowers.

I also got stuck into all those French knots and have finished the In The Stitch Zone Stumpwork Garden Workshop garden path, all apart from some little white or lilac French knots to suggest flower heads on the low growing plants and some taller weeds around the edges.

Note the lone raised stem band courgette on the left. It needs some friends, leaves and stems by Monday!

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This month’s Move It on Project is a sample I started at a Casalguidi workshop for what was then Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild back in May 2017. We ordered one of the Guild’s folios on the subject to have a look at some examples…

…and then started on our own samples which we could use to make the front of a little pouch or lavender bag. All traditional Casalguidi embroidery is worked on top of a background of four-sided stitch and that was my starting point. I have a bit of a mental block where this stitch is concerned. I have to really concentrate to work it with the stitches in the same order because if you don’t the stitches lay differently. But I persevered and from this, which is all I managed to stitch in the workshop:

…by the following August, eleven months later (!) I had finally managed to complete the background panel. Now time for the more interesting part of the design.

But in the end it took until April 2019 before I got round to adding some stem stitch bands.

Then I started the trailing overcast stitch, working over a bundle of stranded threads and simply meandering across the panel.

To say it’s effectively a very narrow padded satin stitch, it’s surprisingly difficult to keep neat and even.

So that’s where I am at the start of this month. I plan to finish the overcast trailing, add some needlewoven bars and picots for leaves and smaller flowers and perhaps make one of the big statement needlelace flowers if I can find some instructions. A quick look for online Casalguidi tutorials seems to mainly focus on the big raised stem stitch bands so that might be a bit more of a challenge.

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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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As is always the way, the final leg of the stumpwork garden only took about half an hour. First I finished the last of the kale/chard slubby silk picots. I was a little uncertain about them to start off, but they’ve worked up into a very healthy looking clump.

Then the courgette leaves. I’d already decided I was going to cut them out of some painted fabric. However, when looking for a source picture, I found countless photos of courgette leaves online, all different, which didn’t help and was probably why I left this job until last.

The first tentative one looked OK in terms of size and shape so I cut out another couple and laid them over the courgettes. They weren’t quite right. They looked flat and completely obscured the courgettes, which is what the leaves do in real life, but I didn’t want to lose the stitching underneath. I was resigning myself to stitching in minute veins to make them look less 2D when Debbie, one of the friends I was stitching with, suggested I put a tiny pleat in the base.

It was like magic. Suddenly the fold suggested veins and depth.

As there was to be no stitching of veins, the last stage passed in a flash. I pleated each leaf and used the thread to attach each one to the courgette plant. Pleating the leaves also meant they would no longer lay flat and solved the second issue about covering and losing the courgettes.

The leaves stand up beautifully (the fabric is backed with a light weight interlining to help stop it fraying which helps) and are only connected at the base of the leaf so as you move the stitching you can still see the courgettes, even though the leaves cover them. A genius solution!

My completed vegetable garden. It’s been a delight to stitch and had a lot of interest (for me!) on Instagram where it’s currently my most interacted with post, so other people seem to love it as much as I do.

I also ought to post a shot to give you an idea of scale.

And against my hand – please excuse the state of my fingers – it’s that time of year when I seem to be constantly peeling and prepping fruit and veg from the real garden.

I’m definitely going to offer this as a workshop. I’ll suggest some different vegetables and lay outs so not everyone has to stitch an identical copy and it’s a good introduction to some raised embroidery techniques. Anyone interested, shout up. Contact details are on my workshops page (tab at the top).

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Not much stitching this week as I’ve been dealing with the end of term in various ways, but the miniature garden now has some bullion knot lettuces in a very subtly variegated thread:

And I’ve started some courgettes. I think I might cut the leaves out of some fabric like I did with the pumpkin pendant…

…rather than embroider them as they are quite big. The only other way I can think of is to make them as needle lace slips and I don’t really want to go into that level of complexity. I’ve tried out an experimental courgette made from the tiniest raised stem band with a trio of lazy daisy stitches for the flower. Hopefully the head of the pin gives an idea of scale!

The wind sculpted tree has gone from this:

To this:

I needle felted a sheep for a birthday card:

And finished a doodle with some of my reticulated brass scraps and gold pearl purl on sapphire blue silk.

Must try harder!

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Our Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild June meeting was an all day workshop on Casalguidi work. It was led by Pauline,  who bravely stepped into the breach as the lady who was supposed to be leading it was been seriously ill this year. We started off with a display of examples not only of Casalguidi but also other types of whitework, including some Ruskin lace, from one of the Guild portfolios.

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The Ruskin lace was stunning and equally as good as any of the pieces at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston.

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But it was the heavier Casalguidi work that we were focusing on.

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Pauline had provided plenty of threads, linen in different weights and worksheets for us to practise some of the basic stitches, such as four-sided stitch, a pulled thread stitch used to create the background texture of the embroidery, and raised stem band.

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So, after we had oversewn round the linen to stop it fraying, it was time to practise. Four-sided stitch at the top and two raised stem bands, one showing the foundation stitches, at the bottom.

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I started off in a neutral coloured thread, but after using an oddment of variegated perle in yellow, leaf green and cream to mark out the little bag we were going on to make…

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I couldn’t resist ditching the beige thread for something a bit more interesting. In the end, after working a couple more samples, I decided to make a start on the main design for the bag. It’s not a quick stitching project as it’s a form of counted stitch work and not only do you have to concentrate on making sure your counting is right, but you also have to make sure the pulling is even and the stitches in the right order. So my results, even after a bit of stitching since, are not very exciting.

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It’s getting there slowly as I need good light and not to be tired when I’m sewing, but I am enjoying it and looking forward to getting the four-sided stitch ground finished so I can play with some of the other elements.

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This month our Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a full day workshop run by a couple of our members on abstract stumpwork, focussing on getting to grips with some of the stumpwork techniques such as creating slips, needlelace etc. In the morning we practised techniques and in the afternoon we worked a little sampler piece about 6cm square using a variety of the techniques in a colourway of our choosing. Blue of course, on a lovely piece of indigo dyed calico, for me.

Stumpwork sampler 1

I’ve done raised stem stitch band before and loved the effect, so I was keen to use some variegated sashiko thread as a base and start with a line of that. But something went wrong and instead of a lovely closely woven surface, I ended up with something more open. Moral of the story: don’t assume that having done something once (in 2009!) that you can automatically do it again without the instructions!

Stumpwork sampler 2

Anyway, I quite liked the lacy effect, with the variegated thread underneath so ran a couple of lines on chain stitch down each side to tie it in to the fabric and got on with the next element, using a lovely lustrous silk thread to buttonhole stitch over a washer, which I then attached to the fabric with well spaced french knots.

Stumpwork sampler 3

My third element was a lovely piece of soft blue leather over which I’m working detached buttonhole bars in a variety of threads.

Stumpwork sampler 4

Not quite finished but despite the small size, plenty to go at!

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