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Posts Tagged ‘stumpwork’

At the end of my two days at the Artisan Market at The Collection two weeks ago, my lovely neighbour, Lisa, gave me a couple of pieces of hand made felt she had left over from some wet felted vessels, in case I could do anything with them.

I certainly could! I decided to cut the pink piece into a front and back for a mandala brooch and the larger more orangey piece into an abstract shape for a barrette.

I used a variety of oddments for the mandala brooch, starting with a vintage bead cap and bead in the centre of a brass connector from a broken necklace. I added a second round with some more vintage bead caps, seed beads and some little springs which I salvaged from broken earhooks.

I did wonder whether to add a further round but I wanted to show off the felt rather than obscure it, so I stopped there and joined the front to the back (adding a circle of pelmet vilene inside for strength) with a simple beaded blanket stitch.

I’ve not had chance to do anything further with the barrette but I’m thinking of doing couching with some decorative chains… Another fun collaboration and I have a decent sized scrap left over which I can use for other things and some trimmings which I’ll wet felt into some dreadlocks. Nothing goes to waste.

I stitched the ring of leaves for another cauliflower in the block of three I’m planning for the stumpwork garden and while I was doing that I decided to take the French knots out of the one I’d already done. They were not only too white, but more importantly, too flat and even. I need to find a more suitable weight thread to stitch them back in.

And as you can see from the bottom left hand corner of the photo above, I’ve started fuzzing up my carrot tops.

It takes quite a while to carefully undo the twist of the coton a broder threads, so I’ll be saving that job for the next long committee meeting!

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I have to confess that I’ve not actually done anything with June’s Move It On Project yet. I know that it’s all to do with my reluctance to attempt the drawn threads, but I’ve also had a lot of other projects claiming my time so far this month. Chief among them has been my stumpwork garden. Last seen, I’d got this far:

The next vegetables to be added were the cauliflowers and this is where the larger scale of my second garden proved problematic. The cauliflower leaves are created with cast-on stitch and in the original, the caulis were small enough that the width of the cast-on stitch leaves were in proportion to the French knot centres. However, in spite of working the cast on stitch in the heaviest perle I had, the leaves for these look much less luxuriant and if anything, a bit mean. I’m also not happy with the very white looking thread I used for the French knots, so I’ve not stitched any more of the three I had planned to do while I work out if I can be bothered to take out those knots and re-stitch the centre again!

While I decide whether to unpick or not, I started the rather more straightforward carrots. These consist of a loose double wrapped French knot and then several loops of green thread worked over a cordonnet stick, as shown here when I was working them last year.

The loops are caught at the back with a couple of little stitches every two or three loops and then snipped to form the ferny foliage.

It’s easier to make all the loops first and then snip them but I got impatient and snipped my first row. So now I’m having to try and stitch the second row of loops while trying not to catch the loose ends from the first row…

I’ve also discovered, thanks to my ladies at In The Stitch Zone that if you run the needle through the strands that make up each thread, it fuzzes up beautifully and looks even more like carrot tops. But I am resisting doing that until they are all stitched!

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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 d├ęcor 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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Too many days supply teaching this week and coming back shattered in the evenings has meant minimal stitching but I have made a little bit of progress with the Casalguidi work. I’ve planned out where the meandering stem is going to fill the rest of the square, pinned it in place instead of just making my mind up as I go along and done a bit more of the trailing overcast stitch.

Last week this was my starting position:

This week I’ve got as far as here.

However, I have had a real stroke of luck with the instructions for the needlelace flowers. After a fair amount of fruitless Googling I decided to use an image search instead in the hope that a picture of what I wanted to stitch might link to something helpful. And it did! I’d only gone through about half a dozen images before I landed on a blog. The writer hadn’t given any instructions on how to construct the flower in her photos but she had posted a photograph of the cover of the book from which she had taken the instructions. Hang on a minute… I recognise that book! A minute or so later I was pulling my copy of ‘Embroidery Techniques Using Space-Dyed Threads’ by Via Laurie, published by Search Press, off the bookshelf. I couldn’t believe I actually owned the book she had recommended!! So once the trailing is done, I can get straight onto the flower.

We started the first session of the Stumpwork Garden at the Stitch Zone last week with the garden path and I decided to make this one rather larger than the tiny original, with satin stitch slabs set in French knot gravel with patches of moss.

I’m happy with the texture and colour of the variegated 21st Century Yarns stranded cotton but am now regretting my choice to surround my slabs with gravel!

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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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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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With this month’s Move It On project safely put to bed, I’ve been able to think about other things, including a piece inspired partly by a recent trip to Withernsea beach which always turns up some interesting beachcombed treasures, and partly by some recent images that caught my attention on Pinterest of densely encrusted stitching around seashells.

I rediscovered a fabulous piece of silk matka which looks like a hessian sack but feels like velvet, some scraps of organza to add subtle shading to the background and some assorted shells and literally started to doodle in stitch.

I had an odd pony bead and I knew I wanted to cover it in stem stitch band like one I did for the North Cornwall Wallhanging. I used a much thicker thread for this one but it still has the sea urchin sort of look that I was looking for. The raised cup stitch that was so successful as poppies on the Harvest Wreath was a complete disaster here, so I filled them with seed beads and started to surround them with French knots to try and blend them in.

Next I added feather, threaded chain and Palestrina stitches over the strips of organza to hold them down and continued to build up the French knots and add some little mottled sandy coloured beads.

I love the depth and texture of the stitching.

More French knots interspersed with bullions and pearl beads. I liked the shaded effect on the needleweaving on the left from the variegated silk threads I was using so I added some more of those.

Finally finished. Well, in the end I had to tell myself to put down the needle and walk away. With this sort of free form stitching it’s so tempting to just add another dozen French knots or another seaweedy frond. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!

I finished the Mothers’ Day card in good time too and am told it went down very well with the recipient. Despite my best efforts the the tea bags did shred a bit and the whole thing had to be restabilised by stuffing scraps of Bondaweb under the flapping areas and ironing carefully. You can see some spidery areas of glue but it’s less obvious in real life and was much better than having bits dropping off!

Next job is to decide on April’s Move It On Project and I’m torn between revisiting an existing project or starting a kit that’s been hanging around for a while and of course, also needs moving on.

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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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Much to my surprise and delight, the Chihuly chandelier is working! I’ve not done very much more as there have been a lot of other time-sensitive things this week, but all of a sudden, I can see my way clear. I realised that the edges of the ‘frilly plates’ were quite pointy-looking, like the points of the spokes of the back-stitched spider’s webs, so I’m not filling the spokes completely to echo this.

I’m so pleased with the way its coming together that I’m slightly resentful that other things have kept me away from it and also rather sheepish that it stalled for so long in the first place…

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about this underwater scene which I’d stitched onto dyed pelmet vilene and set into a silver Victorian coin brooch. I just felt the seaweed was a bit flat on its own and it needed a bit of something else.

One of the ideas I threw out was to add a silver fish and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the answer. I had some tiny offcuts of textured eco-silver left over from the band of a ring I’d created when I did my silversmithing course back in 2013.

The right hand side of the bottom piece already looked a bit like a fish, so I used that line as a starting point and I carefully cut my fish shape out.

I filed, polished and refined it and added a simple drilled hole for an eye.

I realised that it needed to go behind at least some of the seaweed, so I took out one of the lines of feather stitch, put the fish in place and stitched the feather stitch back over the top.

I also added another line of Palestrina stitch in Sylko thread to hold the tail down before setting it in the brooch.

There was a little tube on the back of the brooch and it occurred to me that if I could get a jump ring through it, then I could make it transform into a pendant as well which would give it twice the opportunity to be worn. In the end it needed two jump rings, but I think they work well as a bale and a silver chain completes the transformation.

Unfortunately this weekend hasn’t been the best time to take decent photographs of it!

This is going to be a piece that will be very hard to part with and it was so good to get back to the silversmithing again. I’ve called it the ‘Silver Darling’ and it’s in my Etsy shop here.

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