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Wow! Thanks for all the comments on my french knots project. In light of some of the questions I thought I’d post a recap (since it started about a year ago).

This is the beautiful flame mahogany veneered Victorian box I bought for a fiver on ebay last year.

Sad box 3

The box is basically in good shape – the joints are sound, as are the hinges, but the lost veneer is a huge issue and when I got it, someone had started to upcycle it by sticking various oddments of broken jewellery etc to the missing areas.

Sad box 1

They were easily removed and I had the idea of making a series of patterns in pelmet vilene to match the lost pieces and then encrust them with embroidery. I’d done some small scale encrusting work before, mostly with my embroidered jewellery

Desert Rose ring 4  Moss pendant  DSCN1540

and I favour a mix of eyelets and french knots.

I made a pattern for the missing veneer on the top and sides of the lid and chose a selection of threads in shades of green and orange for the embroidery.

Sad box 4

Last August it went off on holiday with me and I made a start, also incorporating some of the sea glass I love by stitching the nuggets down under a piece of chiffon.

Sea glass under chiffon

How pristine the vilene looks there!!

It soon became apparent that this was going to be a very long project and I don’t do well on long projects due to a very low boredom threshold. However, what has helped is the unstructured nature. As there is no design, I just load my needle with a length of thread and work french knots and/or eyelets until it runs out. Working so many means that I can do them without thinking and as I’m placing them without spaces, I can embroider in less than perfect light levels and while other things are going on – like meetings. And boot sales, hence the progress I’ve made since last week.

DSCN1787.JPG

Yes, all those knots are french knots,

DSCN1785.JPG

not punchneedle, although I can see the similarity. Had it been punchneedle though, I would have completed it a long while ago!

And so you can get an idea of how it will work:

DSCN1780.JPG

DSCN1782.JPG

I can see the end in sight – well of this bit at least, as there are other much smaller areas of missing veneer which will need the same treatment. It’s been one of the longest continuous projects I’ve done to date and amazingly, I still don’t hate french knots!

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After making a vilene template for most of the missing veneer on the top and sides of the lid, I chose my colours. I’d enjoyed working in the green/gold and orange palette for my canvaswork knot garden so for my holiday stitching I gathered up lots of threads in that colour way and began what I knew would be the very slow process of encrusting my big chunk of vilene in french knots and eyelets.

Box - first steps 1

While selecting my threads I found a small packet of green sea glass and a strip of brown chiffon which I’d had left over from an Embroiderers’ Guild workshop the other month. I used the chiffon to hold down the glass by putting a line of back stitch around each nugget.

Sea glass under chiffon

Then off to North Cornwall – Boscastle for a week of great food, great company, walking, beaches, and just being on holiday. I stitched quite a lot in the evenings and by the time we returned home I’d got this far:

First french knot cluster 1

First french knot cluster 2

First french knot cluster 3

First french knot cluster 3

Not very much compared with the vast expanse of white vilene, but a start.

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I am so pleased with this one! It started off as a very basic white metal vintage brooch.

Summer meadow brooch 1

I just thought the holes were an ideal place to put some embroidery, so I started by colouring some pelmet vilene.

Summer meadow brooch 2

And then drew round the holes to give me a template for how much space I had to stitch into.  Straight stitches in a single strand of variegated silk thread gave me the grassy meadow and lazy daisy stitches gave the middle section a bit of variation.

Summer meadow brooch 3

Then the french knots, again in a single strand of variegated silk thread.

Summer meadow brooch 4

Next I made a careful template of the brooch shape, with cut outs for the clasp and cut the embroidery to fit.

Summer meadow brooch 5

After it had been carefully attached to the back of the brooch, I added another bit of vilene to cover the back of the stitching.

Summer meadow brooch 6

And listed it here in my Etsy shop.

Summer Meadow brooch 7

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Early in our holiday we walked the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow and while in Padstow visited the National Lobster Hatchery as my youngest wanted desperately to adopt a lobster. I bought a gorgeous retro-styled tea-towel in the shop which came with a hand stamped tag depicting the two lobsters of the Hatchery logo that I had to incorporate into my journal.

Lobsters hiding in seaweed was my first thought.

I started with a base of light-weight hand dyed calico with splodges of deep green and then added some strips of dark green hand dyed scrim, which was all bunched up and curled up on itself. I stitched the scrim strips loosely to the background with blanket stitch and then cut round the fronds I’d created with a pair of sharp scissors, also adding some fronds of the base fabric to fill in any spaces.

Lobster Hatchery tag 1

I had some of the pale green silk organza ribbon I’d used to edge the cover left, so I cut it into shapes and used it to back some of the fronds by couching a line of green chenille thread down the middle of the whole frond.

Lobster Hatchery tag 2

I pierced holes in the edge of the tag and stitched through them with a simple running stitch in turquoise which I then whipped twice with a slubby thread.

Lobster Hatchery tag 2a

With the tag in place on top. The stamp hadn’t quite printed the whole image so I completed it in pencil and added black ink later.

Lobster Hatchery tag 3

Next, I cut a lobster claw shape from vilene and coloured it with water-soluble oil pastels. Reaching cautiously out from under the seaweed…

Lobster Hatchery tag 4

Stuck in place in the journal.

Lobster Hatchery tag 5

And the full spread.

Lobster Hatchery tag 6

Just need to add some text, possibly using one of the tags I made when I created the journal.

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The reticulated brass paisley shape at the heart of the design was attached using a modified curve stitching pattern.

Paisley brooch - finishing 1

And then it was time for the making up.

Paisley brooch - finishing 2

I cut and laminated together two piece of pelmet vilene the same size as the overall shape and laced the design over them. I covered another single piece of vilene in the blue silk, stitched a brooch back to it and then ladder stitched the two covered pieces together.

Paisley brooch - finishing 3

The basic shape is a kidney shape, which made getting the fabric to evenly go into the dent of the kidney quite challenging and even after my best efforts, there’s still a slight pucker on the back.

Fortunately the french knot edging on the front hides any imperfections.

Paisley brooch - finishing 4

And boxed ready to join my other completed pieces.

Paisley brooch - finishing 5

My summer holiday job is to open an etsy shop for my jewellery. Watch this space.

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