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Posts Tagged ‘workshop’

It occurred to me as I stitched this month’s Move It On Project this week, that how much moving on each of these projects gets seems to depend largely on their portability. If I can pick it up and take it with me to an appointment, meeting or wherever, then I work on it more. If not, like the Ruskin Lace, which requires concentrated effort, then there is much less moving on.

September’s project, happily, is easily portable and therefore we have progress. Adding veins and a stalk in stem stitch and straight stitch has improved the basic leaf shapes in the Autumn section. I will be adding some more, and possibly some swirls of wind, but I wanted to see if the extra details would work first.

I already had one flower in the Summer section made by combining a yellow ring with a with a smaller green one inside and adding French knots for the centre and also to catch it down. I liked it as it was, but also quite liked the idea of adding lazy daisy stitch petals.

However, after experimenting with some lay outs, I felt that adding petals would make the flower much bigger, so I could only fit a couple in the section, or I would have to layer them. As well as that, the sections I had stitched already are quite simple. The idea is to showcase the rings and what you can do with them, so disguising the ring with extra stitches all round the edge, although a good idea for something else, isn’t right for the premise behind this piece. So there will be three flowers all in a neat row along this section, using some of the rings I’ve already made. I like the heavy sheen of the rayon cord on the left.

So things are moving on quite well.

I also had a lovely day with Lincoln Textiles Group on Saturday…

…teaching this design for the Richly Textured Ribbon Workshop I’ve been working on over the last six months.

The five pages of instructions, including drawing my own stitch diagrams like this one for the twisted ribbon stitch used for the tentacles of the anemone…

…and creating a photo sequence for the zig zag couching I developed for the body, took a lot longer than the actual stitching of the sample, but all the hard work paid off as the designs took shape around the room with minimal input from me. There are still a few tweaks needed but it went down extremely well and overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome of a lot of very hard work!

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It’s taken two months, but I have sort of moved the Ruskin Lace on. When I showed you the project at the beginning of June I’d worked the hem and had started to withdraw some of the threads.

And there it sat for two months while I tried to find the courage and opportunity to move it on. Which I finally did this weekend. Carefully re-reading the instructions and checking what I’d already done, I withdrew the remaining threads for the four-sided stitch border. I’m still not quite sure if they are required for anything in the design so I’ve just pinned them back for now.

Next, the four-sided stitch border. This was a little different to the four-sided stitch I’ve used in Casalguidi and other pulled thread work as the working thread wraps around each group of threads twice. But once I got into the rhythm it stitched up nice and quickly. I’m using a natural linen thread which is nearly the same colour as the linen and as the weave is very open, it’s made much more of a feature of the stitch.

So this is as far as I’ve got with the Ruskin lace and it isn’t really even the actual lace bit yet! It looks like I need to do a whipped inner border next but I’m not sure whether that happens before or after I withdraw the central square. I need to go over the next stage of the instructions very carefully again but that will be at some point in the future. August needs a new Move It On Project and I have yet to decide on what I’m doing for that.

At the Stitch Zone we’ve been learning how to attach shisha mirrors using both shisha stitch and a ‘cheat’s’ way which involves buttonhole stitching round a ring and trapping the shisha underneath it. I also worked over some large sequins and an old coin for variation and added a fly stitch border to one of the ‘cheaty’ shishas.

The couching element is sari silk thread – one of those sort of things which you buy at the Knitting and Stitching Show and then never quite know what to do with it. It’s lovely and thick with a fabulous sheen and a random sprinkling of colours along each length which makes it work perfectly with the sparkle and multicoloured stitching of the shishas.

It’s a nice change to work more freely than you have to with any type of drawn thread work, but now I’ve made a start on my Ruskin lace, I’m much more tempted to keep at it than I was, which surprises me. Watch this space!

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Finally I can show a project that has been ongoing since I was asked in February to create an unusual ribbon embroidery workshop for Lincolnshire Textiles (formerly Lincoln branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild). The remit was for something ‘richly textured’ but after some heavy googling and falling down Pinterest rabbit holes, I was fed up of looking at flowers, lovely though some of them were, and completely lacking in inspiration. It wasn’t until I was working on one of my sea themed upcycled pendants a few weeks later that a germ of an underwater idea took root.

I did some doodling with some oddments of silk ribbon just to see what was possible. French knots are definitely textured but quite greedy on ribbon. However, I liked the idea of ruching up ribbon on the surface using French knots – perhaps working them in thread rather than ribbon.

The loose twisted ribbon stitches for the tentacles of the anemone worked well from the start, although I was less pleased with the satin stitch body.

What I had taken away from this doodling was that an underwater themed piece would definitely work. The anemone was a definite, if I could create a smoother body and I wanted to use the ruched ribbon for brain coral. Doodling take two. On the right, a shorter satin stitch body. Still not right as the ribbon gathers as it goes through the fabric, leaving rough top and bottom edges. On the left, an idea for surface couching inspired by something I saw on someone’s Instagram of a section of a Jenny Adin-Christie kit. I’ve no idea how the effect was worked, but it was a wide flat thread of some type folded in a zig zag pattern and after a bit of trial and error, I managed to get the ribbon to behave and couched it down to produce the smooth edges I was looking for as well as giving an interesting textured effect.

Time to finally draw the design and use the anemone body I’d just trialled to make a prototype.

Some feather stitch and threaded chain stitch seaweed gave the design a bit of balance and added more textural interest. This was enough to give me a finalised design which I finished stitching this week.

That’s the easy bit – instructions complete with diagrams next! Good job the workshop isn’t until September…

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First of all, Happy 11th Birthday to this blog, which I actually began on May Bank Holiday Monday, the 2nd of May in 2011. It wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake, so please have a calorie free virtual piece of this strawberry pavlova on me!

Things have been very busy as usual, and with three workshops and two days teaching in the last nine days and with all the workshops needing samples and instructions I’ve been working flat out.

Tomorrow I’m teaching my Kamal Kadai workshop to Selby Textile Art Group. It’s a technique I’ve taught at least twice before and so I already had a folder containing all my samples etc. I thought I’d just stitch another piece with smaller unbeaded Kamal Kadai flowers to add to the samples…

…and I’d tidy up the instructions and do some templates for stitching the variant through four-hole buttons. Not a lot to do. Famous last words…

Good job I got the folder out in plenty of time. For a start, my button variant samples were nowhere to be found and even though I’ve turned every workshop folder inside out and emptied the box and cupboard they live in, still no sign. So here are my two new, frantically stitched button variants of Kamal Kadai.

I’m particularly pleased with the red one as I’ve added a smaller button decoratively stitched over the larger one.

Also, now I have more experience of leading workshops, the samples I was so pleased with three years ago, just looked untidy, so I ended up re-mounting them all. It took ages to do them properly but it does look a lot better.

Just one more button piece to mount and then I’m ready for tomorrow.

Next, the final update on April’s Move It On Project, the Newgrange stone. I found a good reference picture of the spirals to work from but unfortunately because of all the workshop preparation I just didn’t have the time to do anything else to it. However, I am pleased that I got the silk attached with the needle-turn applique and now it (hopefully) should be a relatively quick finish.

May’s Move It On Project was started in June 2017 and to my surprise, I’ve only blogged about once, in reference to the Embroiderers’ Guild workshop in which I started it, when it looked like this:

It has developed quite a bit further but May will be the time to see if I can move it on properly.

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Our first workshop of the Summer Session at In The Stitch Zone is looking at Composite Stitches and after some research, I chose four as a starting point. It’s also been sunny and warm enough to work in the garden and I was delighted to be back in my outdoor office to start stitching my samples.

First was what I’m calling Blossom Stitch, which is a pretty combination of feather stitch and detached chain stitch.

I used perle and stranded cotton for the feather stitch and all six strands of stranded cotton for the detached chain stitch flowers. I separated all the strands out and then recombined them to give a fluffy, blowsy effect to the flowers.

Next was Blanket Stitched Chain stitch, the first of two chain stitch variations I found on Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread blog. It’s simply two close rows of chain stitch which then have blanket stitch worked into them but it creates an interesting heavy line stitch, especially when the blanket stitch is worked in the same thread as the chains, as in the middle example.

The second Mary Corbet stitch was Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch. This time the blanket or buttonhole stitches are worked into the outside loop of each chain, rather than across them, which makes for a pretty edging, especially when you buttonhole both sides of the chain.

I tried out some different weights of thread both for the foundation and chain and the buttonholing. Perle on the left and stranded cotton on the right but I think I prefer the finer mercerised cotton in the middle.

The last sample is what I’m calling Peacock Feather Stitch which I think I found on Pinterest. It’s constructed from two nested detached chain stitches with a French knot inside the inner one and straight stitches around the edges.

As they are all tiny samples I’ve mounted them onto a larger piece of card so they can be handled more easily.

April’s Move It On Project is coming along nicely. I bit the bullet and got stuck into the needle turn applique this week. Most of it went pretty well but I just couldn’t get the the final section (top right) to lay as flat as the rest. I’m hoping that once I start to stitch into it, it won’t be noticeable.

Just the spirals to stitch into the stone now, and with the end of the month hurtling closer, I need to think about what to pick for May’s Move It On Project.

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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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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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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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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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At In The Stitch Zone, the weekly embroidery class I run locally (information in the tab at the top) we’re working on a longer project based on my avocado dyed long cloth which I began back in 2011 and am still stitching into on an occasional basis.

Avocado long cloth 1

Time to make up packs of natural dyed fabrics, threads, lace, ribbon etc. for everyone. I found some avocado, red cabbage and walnut dyed fabrics from sessions I’d done before, which was a good start.  I’d only even dyed with red cabbage and a touch of vinegar, so hearing that you could get an amazing range of greens with bicarbonate of soda I decided to experiment. The greens really are gorgeous – especially against some avocado and red cabbage (with vinegar) dyed pieces!

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DSCN7529 As I dye everything in the kitchen using my ordinary utensils, I don’t mordant and only use food stuffs as dyes. I know red cabbage is supposed to be fugitive, but some of the pieces I found (admittedly in a drawer) from the last lot of dyeing I did are eight or nine years old and are still a lovely colour.

I also bought some annatto seeds from our local oriental grocer and they were an complete revelation! Bright orange initially with golden yellow as the dye bath became exhausted and they even dyed a piece of nylon lace (which I unfortunately forgot to get a photo of…) No filter needed on these silk samples.

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As the annatto seeds are incredibly hard and I didn’t want to stain the coffee grinder bright orange, I crushed some in a pestle and mortar and when that got too difficult, just put the whole lot into the slow cooker to create the dye bath. Then, of course, they were nice and soft, so after I’d done the first lot of dyeing, I whizzed them up in the food processor (didn’t stain it, I’m glad to report!) and got a second dye bath out of the pulverised seeds. A softer golden yellow, but still lovely.

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Packs for everyone plus some spares.

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They are slowly turning into some gorgeous pieces of work!

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