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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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As I’ve said before, this year’s Move It On Project is about revisiting and evaluating old projects and if any get finished during the month, then that’s a bonus. However, we have our first finish! I did say last week that there was a very good chance of this one being finished as it was pretty close already, with only the laborious job of marking out the diamond grid of background stitches to complete.

I ended up by counting the warp and weft threads to work out where to place the markings as it was more accurate than measuring but even then, I made a mistake that I didn’t spot until I was two columns in and so they aren’t quite exact, but close enough for a Holiday Journal piece.

Adding the pairs of straight stitches over the top was quick and easy, even if the finished motif does look like a grumpy moth!

With Mothers’ Day fast approaching I’ve had my usual commission from a friend to make a card for their mother and my starting point was a postcard sized piece featuring lace, tea bags and painted lace flower trims I started in a workshop I did with Fran Holmes back in November 2019.

I decided that it didn’t need much doing to it apart from stems and leaves for the daisies and took it with me today for some ‘plein air’ stitching when we went for a walk in Sherwood Forest. We were joined for lunch on this bench by a very confident robin and a cheeky little woodmouse, both of whom were well rewarded with titbits.

I’m using fishbone stitch for the leaves, which is pretty dense and as a result the closeness of the stitching holes at the edges of the leaves is shredding the delicate tea bags despite my best efforts.

Just going to have to hope that the stitches and the underlying bondaweb can keep it all together!

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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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The thing I most enjoy about being on Instagram is connecting with other artists. I’ve ended up on the periphery of the print community via a customer who bought an upcycled pendant a couple of years ago, and was recently contacted by one of the lino print artists I follow asking if I would be up for an Art Swap. Definitely!

As this guy is a printer, I decided to go for the print theme in my swap items. First was this screen print on calico using a paper mask which I did at a workshop way back in November 2013 with Dionne Swift.

Then back even further to February 2012 to some experiments I did with ironing Angelina fibres onto rubber stamps. This was one of my favourites and the last one I have left of the batch. It sort of fits with the printing theme.

I chose some purple cotton and gold silk for the background and started by edging the motif in a goldwork thread. I’m not sure of the name of this type of thread, which is gold wound round a soft core. I think it’s either Jap or passing, but would welcome a positive identification!

Then I used a running stitch round the edges of the purple block to connect the layers of fabric.

Lastly, as it’s a big part of my practise, I stitched some found objects to the centre.

The third piece was a bookmark made from offcuts from a piece I printed using the same quatrefoil stamp as in the Angelina experiment at a Print to Stitch workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019.

I cut the six whole quatrefoils off for my Medieval tiles piece. and made the offcuts into a couple of book marks. One I gave as a gift last Christmas and the second just needed a Bondaweb backing and a blanket stitch edging to be completed.

I used an eyelet setter and a perfectly matching eyelet for the tassel.

Which was made from a slightly darker green stranded cotton than the blanket stitch.

They arrived safely last week, to the absolute delight of the recipient. It’s always lovely having glowing feedback from another artist, but somehow when that artist is someone who doesn’t work in the medium of needle and thread, there seems to be much more of a wow factor. Perhaps those of us who stitch have become accustomed to the wonderful textures and effects we can get from textiles and are less blown away by them. It was good for my ego, anyway!

Very much looking forward to the prints I’m getting in return which should hopefully arrive this week.

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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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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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Onto the second side.

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The applique felt cloud shape echoes the concrete seats at the Cloud Bar with split stitch silk thread clouds on indigo dyed sheeting sky and seeding on the crinkled gold satin sand.

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I’ve used pulled thread work and specifically irregularly worked diamond stitch for ripples in the sand before and it’s one of my favourite styles to work so I decided to use it for the back ground to some beachcombed finds – seaweed, a tiny bit of drift wood and a shell with a very convenient hole already drilled into it.

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At the end of the walk was the lovely Anderby Beach Cafe and I used fabric paints to copy their clever logo onto a piece of fine cotton, turning it into a sort of receipt to remind me of the posh hot dog (local butcher’s sausage) and latte I had enjoyed for my lunch, partly obscured by an appliqued splodge of tomato sauce!

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I’ve also started another memory journal for a visit to Tattershall Castle last summer which is inspired by the bricks it’s made from.  The pelmet vilene base for this one has been covered in an appropriate fabric rather than being painted and it will have six slightly larger panels rather than the eight for Anderby Creek which will fold slightly differently.

DSCN7868I’m considering batik, canvaswork and reverse applique to record my memories of this visit.

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Last February we had a fantastic Print to Stitch workshop at the Guild with Jan Dowson. One of the pieces I created was based on the paisley stamps she had made for us.

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Seeing my starting point now, after a year of covering it with stitch, it seems so bare!!

I started with some Pekinese stitch around some of the paisleys.

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Then seeding around the paisleys in a variegated stranded cotton. Doing that amount of seeding is pretty mind-numbing so I mixed it up with more decoration on the paisleys – split stitch on the right.

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It was a great project to take out and about, even making it to London with me last summer when the temperatures were through the roof and I was trying to keep cool in the Chinese galleries at the V&A.

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More seeding in seed stitch and french knots with chain stitch accents and woven and back-stitched spiders’ web stitches in the middles.

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Getting there… finished all the internal stitching on the paisleys and now just seeding at this point because I’m still not sure what stitch I want to outline the other paisleys. Something as bold as the Pekinese stitch but different.

IMG_20191116_091718It wasn’t until I began to explore Palestrina Stitch over Christmas prior to teaching it in a workshop that the penny dropped.

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Palestrina in a heavy perle was just right to balance the Pekinese.

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And the completed piece!

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No idea what I’m going to do with it, but that’s not the point. I love the colours, shapes and stitches and it’s been a pleasure to work. That’s all you need, sometimes, isn’t it?

 

 

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As I’ve mentioned before, my middle one has finally left home and her worldly goods and chattels are slowly following. While looking for some art materials she wanted, I found an embroidered initial she had almost finished when she was part of our Young Embroiderers’ Group aged about 10 or 11. I love the colours and the design and her stitching is pretty good too.

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Although she hadn’t quite completed it, it was clear that she intended to finish it off by filling  alternate rays with seed stitch. This gave me an idea… I managed to find a close match for the thread she had started using and finished the seeding.

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Then I pinned it onto a cotton tote bag. Unfortunately for some reason the corners had been clipped too close to be able to make a neat square and I didn’t want to fold the edges under right up to the stitching.

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So I ladder stitched it in place and chose four vintage buttons which I stitched down decoratively to hide the raw corners!

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It also gives it a bit of weight and impact on the bag.

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I travelled down to Birmingham to spend her birthday with her last week and our collaborative bag was part of her birthday present. I think she liked it!

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Etc. first. I’ve finally completed all the seed stitch background for an embroidered print I started with Chris Gray in July 2016 and last blogged about eighteen months ago, where it looked like this:

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It currently looks like this:

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Not sure whether to seed stitch the inner circle as well…

I don’t think I’ve shown this piece of upcycling before. One of my mixed lots of junk/vintage jewellery contained a gorgeous brass spinning fob, to which I decided to add some embroidery based on knot gardens.

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It’s now got as far as this:

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French knot hedges and eyelet stitch flowers in variegated silk.

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Near enough to get on and finish now!

Brooches next. I loved the closed fly stitch falling leaves design I stitched for my friend Debbie’s necklace catch a few months ago and decided to do it again on two odd vintage stud earrings which were the same shape and size, but different colours. The initial plan was to make a pair of earrings by covering them with embroidered fabric.

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I stitched one and covered it and started on the second.

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But the second wasn’t close enough in design  – the leaves were further spaced out. Added to that, the gathered fabric and more crucially, the covered pelmet vilene backs, really made them too bulky to be successful as earrings.

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So the posts came off, were replaced with brooch backs and Plan B went into action.  I worked a beaded edging in pearlescent green and metallic copper beads to frame the design and am very pleased with the result which can be found here.

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The second one is still in production! Most of this stitching was done over the Easter weekend at my parents’ in Suffolk which had to include some beachcombing. I was only allowed a short spell under the pier at Southwold, but still managed to find three nice nuggets of sea glass, a piece of carnelian, a big chunk of tile which has weathered to a lovely faux Medieval feel…

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…and some small pieces of driftwood, including one which had a gently shaped front and a flat back perfect for turning into a brooch. I auditioned a fair few piece of broken jewellery to put with it, but when I found this single broken vintage clip on earring of a swallow, it was a perfect match. The plate of the clip was still attached and I used it to mount the swallow onto the driftwood so it stands slightly away from the base, which I like.

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I’ve called it One Swallow (in hope of some more to make a summer!) and put it into my Etsy shop here.

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