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Posts Tagged ‘stumpwork’

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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The poppies harvest wreath has moved on a little further and I’m a bit happier with the balance of the flowers, given that they are pretty random.

I also, in another variation of: ‘Things I’ve Found While Looking For Other Things’ came across some Tyvek this week, which has prompted a little bit of playing (and encouraged me to clear a few bits off the ironing pile while I had the iron out!). I used water soluble oil pastels on both pieces but left one as it was and added water to blend the other to see if there was any difference once I added heat.

In the end there was no difference in the way they behaved apart from the unblended one leaving smudges of oil pastel all over the baking parchment. Probably should have seen that one coming…

I preferred the way the bottom one crinkled up but thought the top one would be easier to stitch into – and it happens to be my comfort zone colours too. So I chose a section to experiment with:

The colours reminded me of some tiny offcuts I couldn’t bear to throw away from the felt I used here:

I thought they would work well with the colours of the Tyvek and provide a textural contrast. A scrap of viscose tubular ribbon ruched and held down with French knots gave me a starting point.

The larger scrap of felt was stitched down as invisibly as I could as there was already a lot going on in it, but I used a series of fly stitches to attach the smaller piece.

I quite like how the melted Tyvek looks and I didn’t want to cover any more of it up, so I added some lines of stem stitch just to follow some of the patterns in the Tyvek and anchor it to the felt.

What I really should have been doing was getting some more pieces of upcycled jewellery made. I need to do a complete stock change from gothic/Hallowe’en to something more Christmas party/presents in Arttopia in less than a week; a stock refresh along similar lines for the Bricktree Gallery in Caistor and then I’ve realised that it’s less than two weeks until my first Christmas Fair with two more following quickly after that!

I’ve made some upcycled pendants from some odd vintage earrings, the centre of a bracelet (the silver flower) and a selection of odd beads and charms and am working on some earrings using sections of broken bracelets.

All I really need are about another 8 hours in each day…!

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As you can see if you go to the In The Stitch Zone tab at the top of this page, we’re back!

The first session last week worked very well and it was lovely to see so many people returning after so long. The room is airy despite having no external windows and we were able to spread out quite well while we caught up and experimented with some Rhodes Stitch hearts and butterflies.

This week I’ve been playing with samples for our Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch workshop. It’s been a new stitch to me this year and I’ve utilised it in a number of different pieces and with a variety of different threads. I decided to try working it in a circle for the first two samples and use perle, which seems to have been the most successful type of thread and I find gives the best definition of the lovely braid effect.

First a very heavy vintage green perle. The braid was good, but I struggled to join the ends of the wreath and I really wasn’t happy with the messy join at the bottom.

It was giving me serious Christmas vibes at this point so I wondered what would happen if I added straight stitches around the inside and outside to make it look like fir branches.

Much more successful than I hoped and even better, it disguised the horrible join! Next tiny gold beads…

…and a bow.

The second wreath used a variegated lighter weight perle (8) that reminded me of autumn wheat fields.

The join isn’t quite as bad on this one but it’s still lumpy and I really need to think of a better way to manage it. As the braid starts with a vertical straight stitch, and continually needs a chain put into the working end to fill out the pattern, it’s quite tricky to join up.

At this point it suddenly occurred to me that if you extended the initial stitch, short sections might make rather effective bull rushes. I put the wreath aside and this happened:

So yes, they do! Back to the wreath.

The harvest colours made me think about wrapping it in poppies. I used split stitch for the stems and then another new stitch to me – Raised Cup Stitch – for the poppy heads with French knot middles.

I had been thinking about something along the line of Rosette or Oyster stitch for the flowers but I much prefer this more raised effect. The flowers are created by literally tying knots around a base formed from three stitches in a triangle as you can see on the right. They are very forgiving if you can’t quite see where to put the knots which suits me perfectly!

I may add some little stalks of wheat in among the poppies too but just a few so I don’t lose the braided effect of the wreath.

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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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And not a lot else! A few more have appeared as kale-like leaves in the stumpwork vegetable garden. I was initially unsure about them, especially as unlike the other vegetables I had no idea what they were! However, as I’ve added more, they seem to fit in better. I think I need a few more near the path and perhaps another couple at the other end.

The other picots have been used to finish off the upcycled poinsettia pendant I was working on back in July. I finished adding the picots for the second layer of bracts…

…and added a cluster of French knots to the centre. Next I needed to cut the pelmet vilene behind the poinsettia to fit the missing section of the pendant.

I ended up cutting a plain one as well, as the section was deeper than the thickness of the vilene. It was doubly useful as I was able to use the plain one as a template for cutting behind the poinsettia before I set it in the pendant.

There was a nasty moment when I thought I’d nicked one of the poinsettia picots.

But it was a false alarm and it works exactly as I’d envisaged it in my head, spilling over the edge of the pendant.

Finished off with a black thong with sterling silver mounts.

I only sold five pieces of jewellery at Normanby Country Fayre on Monday and once again came home wondering if there is any point in carrying on. But then I have an idea for upcycling a piece of jewellery that is too pretty to go into landfill and I have such a great time creating it, like this one, that perhaps I’m not ready to give up just yet.

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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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As I suspected, finding the right white for the vertical glazing bars of the Temperate House was a pain. I ended up with a selection of white threads, ranging from good old Anchor stranded cotton to some fabulous Gloriana 12 strand silk called ‘Fresh Snow’ which is too perfectly white, silky soft and beautiful to use!

After standing in the sunny garden laying threads out alongside the ribbon and seeing how just one or two strands compared with the way the thread looked in the skein, I finally settled on a Dinky Dyes stranded silk in ‘Natural’.

I initially used back stitch rather than my go to split stitch as I wanted a stronger line but I wasn’t happy with the breaks between the stitches, so I whipped it to give more solidity.

The lines are similar rather than identical to the original, but when I referred back to the source photo, I realised how subtly the spacing and angles of the bars changed as their perspective to me altered. Had I drawn this from memory, all those lines would have been parallel and evenly spaced. It was a very useful lesson in observation.

I’ve also continued with the or nué acorn and started the coloured couching in single strands of stranded silk. Despite my initial concern that it was at an angle to the gold, I felt the first part of the cup worked well. It was only when I came to add the highlight that it started to get a bit challenging.

I wanted the highlight to curve round the cup, but working in straight lines makes that difficult, especially as this piece is so small. Not really knowing what else to do, I just carried on stitching to see if I could make it work out. By this point I had started the acorn, so things were ramping up on the difficulty scale, not least having four needles on the go at once.

I know I have the tendency to overcomplicate things, but I did think an acorn would be a relatively simple thing to stitch! Once I had sort of wrangled the highlight on the cup I realised I needed to add a lighter colour to the acorn. Unfortunately I think I should have introduced it at least a row previously…

It wasn’t working and I needed help to see where the shading was, so I added some lines to give me an idea of where the changes need to happen. Suddenly I feel more confident about it.

I think I will have to go back and unpick some of the darker green on the row or two above and add the mid green, but I’ve decided to continue and finish the design first and see how it looks. This is very much a first attempt at a new technique and it will do me good to not obsess about everything I do having to be perfect straight out of the box.

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This piece, which I gave you a preview of last week, came together from a whole host of ideas that had been swirling around.

Firstly, I’d been wanting to return to a bit of stumpwork for a while but the nature of the memory journals I’ve been working on means that they have to close, so anything bulky either has to go on the cover or the back page and even then it can’t be too three dimensional or the book just won’t sit right.

I was looking for the fabric for the dragonfly’s wings when I found some patchwork offcuts, including the autumnal coloured fragment I’ve used for the background in this piece. I’d seen some lovely Hallowe’en/autumnal themed crazy quilting some years ago on the internet and really fancied the idea of a stumpwork pumpkin.

Finally, when I opened a bag of broken vintage jewellery I’d recently bought on eBay and found an unused gold tone vintage pendant frame in it, everything just fell into place.

Initially the pumpkin wasn’t quite the right colour, but as it’s very small as usual (that’s a three inch hoop in the photo), I went with the right fabric – one that was fine enough to gather up. Then I added some stalks of wheat behind it in detached chain stitch and straight stitch.

I know that they’re a bit big in comparison with the pumpkin, but it’s artistic license!

Then I used my Inktense blocks to turn the pumpkin a vibrant orange.

Next the leaves and the trailing stems of the pumpkin. Initially I wanted to do some free-standing needle lace leaves but I couldn’t make a wire outline fine enough, so I had to fall back on some scraps of the hand painted fabric I used for the leaves in ‘It Rained’. As they are so tiny, I stabilised the fabric with textile medium so it didn’t fray but was still stitchable.

The stems are in split stitch, which is the only stitch I can get to make tight curls and twists at this scale. A few more stems and a second leaf completed the design.

I gathered it round an oval of buckram to give it body before I put it into the pendant frame and added a felt backing.

After the horrible weather last week it was wonderful to wake up to blue skies this morning and have autumn sunshine to photograph it in for my Etsy Shop.

It’s available here in my Etsy Shop with free UK postage and packing. A little bit of autumn!

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Or at least one jump ring! And there were quite a lot to undo and then replace when I took a couple of odd earrings…

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…deconstructed them…

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…and with the addition of some reclaimed chain and a load of jump rings, reconstructed them into an upcycled bib necklace.

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The gold tone sections are nice and light so even though the whole thing has quite an opulent look, it isn’t too heavy to wear. It’s available here in my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

I have managed to set a few stitches too. After the mini workshop I taught on making buttonhole rings at The Stitch Zone last December I had an idea for manipulating some rings to create a four seasons piece.

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It seemed like a good way back into stitching since the Kew pieces are still proving problematic. I came across Quaker Stitch here on Mary Corbett’s Needle n’ Thread recently and was looking for an excuse to try it out.

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It’s a cross between stem and split stitch and really sits up beautifully on the line. Then I made a load of rings in various shades of blue and couched them down to form puddles or ripples.

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They don’t quite make sense until you add the rain…

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…and that’s Spring done! One stitch at a time.

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The stumpwork course I taught at Ashby Link last week went really well, although I do need to be more realistic about the amount of work that the participants can reasonably do in the time allowed – I planned enough for at least two full days!

After learning some raised embroidery stitches and techniques in the morning, I created a little ball topiary design for them to work in the afternoon based on three of them: padded satin stitch, a french knot slip and raised stem band.

The french knots for the leafy part of the topiary were worked separately on a piece of calico in six strands of stranded cotton, partly so it worked up more quickly and partly to get a lovely textured effect. Great place to use up all those odd ends of stranded cotton!

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I used a circle of pelmet vilene to pad it out a little and then drew the calico up round the vilene…

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…before stitching it in place on my main fabric, which just so happens to be a piece of one of the shirts I chopped up for the cuff books workshop last week.

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Then the pot. Satin stitch over a base shape in pelmet vilene.

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The raised stem band rim is worked separately, and just sits on top of the pot. Guideline shape for the padding.

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Long stitch padding with the vertical bars.

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And the stem stitch over the top. Very pleased with the effect!

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Just the stem/trunk to add.

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I used several long satin stitches in stranded silk and then used a single strand of it to couch random threads down with tiny stitches.

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It’s reminded me how much I enjoy raised work and needlelace, so now the end of term is finally in sight, I might start dabbling again.

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