I did it again

Today I will show you my entry for a competition.  I won the competition in 2010.  This year I won it again.  This means that I have a trophy to keep nicely polished for the next year!  I have just taken it to be engraved.

I had been looking at a picture of a dramatic wave off and on for weeks, but I spent so long thinking about it that I didn’t have time to stitch it and do it justice. I need to do something simpler.  I thought about Japanese wave patterns, so there is some Japanese influence in the final piece.

 

I took a piece of polyester fabric, which has just a few fine slubs in it, with the idea of making wave pintucks.  I didn’t want nice evenly spaced tucks, as would be found on a cushion, but uneven ones, to embellish to make to look like sea waves.  It didn’t work, so I took this photo, and drew outlines of the the waves in it to use as my design.  I unpicked the stitching and washed the fabric, and thankfully the stitchholes disappeared.

I used various shades of turquoise and white threads from my stash, to try to get the feeling of movement.  There is a mixture of Cretan, Blanket, and Straight stitches, with French Knots to indicate the foam at the edge of the wave.  I embellished a little with two kinds of beads to try to give a sparkle, as would happen if the sun were shining on the water.

Here is my winning entry.

dsc00322

A few weeks ago I took a holiday, and the rest gave my damaged thumb time to heal properly.

Recently I have been working on several small projects, mostly practice pieces and experiments, and also on the linen tablecloth which I mentioned earlier in the year.  Two corners have now been completed, and as it is nearly Easter, and everything will be cleared away for a few days, I am just pottering, rather than start another corner, or anything else which might take more than a few days.

I have always enjoyed embroidery which is three-dimensional.  For a while I have been looking at a stumpwork project in a magazine, and that led me in to having a new look at Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery.  I have been practising stitches and flowers using different threads, some with a Z twist and some with an S twist.  For those who wonder if it matters, yes, for some stitches it does.  If you go to Mary Corbet’s website http://www.needlenthread.com and do a search on ‘z twist’ you will find further information.

I have been looking for books, which are not easy to come by, as a lot of them seem to be out of print.  I have also been looking at kits, with instructions.  These seem to good value.  Another possibility is to buy cloth and threads (available from Viking Loom in York).

I find some designs for Brazilian embroidery somewhat overwhelming, with too many colours. However, even with a kit, I am not bound to keep to the same colour scheme if I feel the need to tone it down a little.

The stumpwork project has also been looked at in more detail.  The Materials list is long.  I have some of the items, such as scissors and needles, but there would be over 40 individual items to source and buy.  A red light is flashing in my brain, so it seems the Brazilian Embroidery gets the vote.

Before going any further I may just try a small project using z-twist thread in one colour only, just to see how it works out.

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April 9, 2017. Tags: , . Brazilian, Dimensional, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

The post I forgot to publish

About this time last year I bought a Su embroidery kit, and posted several updates as I proceeded through the project.  When I had finished I wrote this post, but forgot to publish it

 

Su embroidery kit – review

 

Am I pleased that I did it – Yes

Would I do another – I don’t think so.

Why not?

A kit is a good way of trying something new.

The problem with this one is that I was worried until about a week from the end that I would run out of the three of the palest colours.  I did run out of one green shade, and had very little of two pink shades left.  It would be expensive to buy more thread from China.  It’s reassuring to know that the thread being used in a kit can be bought either over the counter or from an internet shop in the U.K.

I also got annoyed with the fabric. Although it seemed to be a firm enough fabric, holes pulled at the edges of petals as I stitched, and they were not easy to disguise. Maybe I should have had a backing fabric after all.  When I had finished, and pressed the work, I was really disappointed at the amount it had pulled in.

And I have too many other things which I want to try competing in my brain to be my next project

For a first attempt at this kind of embroidery a much simpler design would have been better.  There was not much space in which to stitch and blend from the lightest of the darkest colours.

At least I didn’t get to the point of telling myself that I was crazy to the on this project!

What I might have done differently

Often we try things and they either do not work, or we realise that there is a better way.  These are things I decided not to do, or did, and wished I had not.

1.At the beginning I mounted the fabric on a backing fabric.  Then I decided, because it was not the correct way to do things, to take it off, and mount the silk in the way that I did.  It was not the way that this embroidery should be done.  So I have mixed feelings here – it was correct, but did not work out.

2.  Next I cut the brown silk skein, as recommended.   If I had been able to suspend the thread on some kind of rod, it would have worked.  but I couldn’t, and it didn’t, so I would not do this again. It was much easier to use the silk if it was wound onto toilet roll centres – two shades fit nicely on each.

3.  I commented that the needles provided were not shiny.  One of them snapped in two.  In the past I have bent many needles and pins, but never broken one (except machine needles).  So I would say that if a piece of equipment does not come up to the standard expected, don’t use it.

4.  Although I got out a magnet when I set out, I decided not to use it.  Although magnets can be very useful they do magnetise everything which contains iron.  That means needles, pins and scissors for a start.

5.  I divided the thread in two.  If I were doing a smaller piece I would definitely divide it into at least four, possibly eight, for a better finish.  This would mean that the project would take much longer, and there would be a strong likelihood that  would have to put it way for some reason, and never get it out again.  I already have three UnFinished Objects stored away

And what I would do again.

1. Simplify the petals. It was difficult enough with the simplified version

2. Do the preparatory work.  The drawing with stitch directions was particularly worth doing.

And finally

I am pleased that I did this project. It was a challenge, and I have a sense of achievement now that it is done.

Afterthought

My next project is something really small, and quick.

I still have not framed this piece of work.  I had a frame and mount ready, but they were no longer suitable because the fabric had pulled in too much.

January 26, 2017. Chinese embroidery, Embroidery, Filament silk, Filament silk, silk shading, Su embroidery. Leave a comment.

How to keep sane when you can’t stitch

For a moment, just think about your thumbs.  You use them for all kinds of daily tasks.  Whether it is unfastening a button, sliding a zipper, or steadying the handle of a cup, you need your thumbs.

So now, think about if one thumb was out of action.  You can use the other hand for some things, but not all of them.

I have damaged my right thumb.  I don’t know how.  I woke up about a week ago, and it felt as if I had bent it back with some force.  What is worse is that I am right-handed.  The thumb joint has clicked a couple of times, but I am still swollen, and it still hurts, even during the night.  I have tried a few short bursts of stitching, but I don’t think it is helping my recovery.  I was forced to go to a Knit and Natter group and just Natter!

Because we use out thumbs for so many things it is difficult to rest them completely to help the healing process.

On the first day I occupied myself by planning future projects, rummaging through fabrics and threads. I feared for my sanity.  The next day I was rescued.

The answer is a new book.  So far I am enjoying it, and I may write a review. I want to make notes as ideas come to me, but it hurts to hold a pencil.  Thank goodness for the computer keyboard!

The book is ‘Stitch, Fabric and Thread: An inspirational guide for creative stitchers’ by Elizabeth Healey.  It is published by Search press, so not expensive.  So far I am enjoying it.  However, before you rush out to buy it, I have to say that you will need good eyesight.  A good proportion of the text is in a very fine font, which, although it is not small, is not the easiest to read.  A good reading lamp helps.

I did start on the table cloth I mentioned in my post ‘Upcoming projects’, but sadly it is in a box for the time being.

Maybe next week I will be able to get back to it.

January 26, 2017. Tags: , . Embroidery. 1 comment.

Upcoming projects

I just love silk, but I also quite like linen.  I had the chance to buy a linen tablecloth for not too much.  One attraction was the size, about 122 cm square.  A lot of commercially available tablecloth kits are just not large enough for my dining table.  I just had to have it.  When it arrived I found that there was some double-printing of the design on one corner, so I have scrubbed at it, and washed it in very hot water, to try to remedy this, and also to try to lighten the outlines in general.  Before doing this I did trace the design, which has been useful, just in case the design washed out completely.  The design is lighter now, but there is a slight blueish tinge, which will probably be less noticeable once the stitching has been done.

Copies have been made of the tracing, and I have used these to do quite a lot of planning, deciding on stitches and colour schemes for the first two corners.  This project is likely to be a long one, so realistically it will be best to do one corner, and take a break before starting the next.

I really ought to look at my U. F. O.s first and maybe spend a few days getting a little further with one of them. When we get past new Year I will get started on the tablecloth in earnest, and see how it goes.

For me, it is a good idea to have a small portable project on the go, to take to Embroiderers’ Guild meetings, and other events.  I am stitch doodling onto fabric at present.  Kits are available with lines already printed on a small piece of fabric, but I want to be more free than this would allow.  My idea was to doodle with a black thread instead of marking the fabric, and see how it goes.  The first one is a Mandala. I found myself making lines with coloured threads before I could stop myself. it just seemed to be the natural thing to do.

December 28, 2016. Tags: . Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Recycled sari silk

I thought I would share with you my experiences of recylcled sari silk.  I had looked at it at shows, and online, but didn’t buy it for a while because I  try not to buy anything for which I have no immediate plans.  I am always trying to reduce my stash, but I also like to try new things.  First I bought some sari silk thread.  Strands of threads were twisted together to form a cordlike thread. It was exactly as shown in the photograph when I bought it, but I was now at a loss to know what to do with it, so it was put away for a quite a while.

At the end of 2015 I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Harrogate.  I went to a workshop about printing on fabric, as this is something I have been curious about.  I also had a list of what I wanted to look at on the stalls, and a small budget.  I found small bundle of sari silk ribbon, and chose my colour.  It was mostly purple with a little green.

The first thing I did with is was to separate the individual pieces, and then I washed and ironed them.  A lot of dye came out, and what I was left with was strips of different widths, different fabrics, and different shades of purple.  There was very little green on the fabric and only in blotches, and  a little gold coloured thread.  It looked as the colour had been removed from the fabrics, some of which had been patterned, and they were then dyed.  Some of the colour was very uneven, as the fabrics had obviously been dyed in a bundle.  I think I would have preferred to have fabrics that were still their original colour and design.

Then I decided to select some of the longer strips, to make a striped cushion cover, with the threads couched over the joins.

Two of the strips had a line design which was barely visible, so I drew over the design with a silver gel pen, and stitched over the lines.  The end result was really pleasing.

Then I began to couch the thread down.  This was not easy.  The result was not good, and I wished I had fastened the strips to the backing fabric more securely.  As I usually do when something is not working I put it away, to think about it.

Then at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting we had a talk about unblocking our creativity.  As a result of this I got the piece out again and thought about it in a different light.  What could I salvage?   Two pieces were stitched through the backing fabric, so I would either have to leave them, or cut away both layers of fabric.  I decided to stay with them.  It was a pity that I had not decided to start again before I trimmed the length of the fabric strips and the threads, because I now have a lot of short pieces.

This time I made a much better job of securing the strips to the backing fabric, with either hand or machine stitching.  I found strips of lace and ribbon to add, and did some more stitching.

Then I just happened on instructions for making fabric flowers on pinterest.com.  They were just what I needed to make the piece a bit different, and they were so easy to make with some of the finer pieces of silk fabric.  These were stitched on firmly, and some buttons added.  I bought a piece of fabric to make the back of the cushion and an inner, and as I was pushing the last bit of inner into the cushion cover, the silk split!

So the inner came out, and the cushion cover was partly deconstructed, so that I could replace the damaged strips.  I looked carefully at the strip of fabric and decided that it must have been on the outside of the bundle when is was being treated and re-dyed and got some wear.

Here is the finished cushion.

Sari silk cushion

And here is a close-up

Cushion close-up

Cushion close-up

Now you can see the stitching over the original design which was done with a silver metallic thread, and with a shiny rayon variegated thread. You can also see the frayed edges which were left as a feature, and the flowers.

Unfortunately I have now noticed another tiny split in the silk, but not in a noticeable area.  So the finished cushion is delicate, and not really fit for purpose.

Clearly durability is an issue, so anything else I make with this silk will be for decorative purposes only.

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

December 23, 2016. Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Whitework

In the last few months I have been making all sort of things, some of them nothing to do with embroidery. I have tried two kinds of whitework embroidery which were new to me.

Mary Corbet posted a design for a cutwork angel on her needlenthread.com website.  I printed it off and decided that it would make a nice angel for the top of a Christmas tree.  Here she is, a slightly simplified version of the one on needlenthread.

angel

She is stitched on Cotton Jean fabric which is used for Mountmellick work.  I chose this because it is tightly woven, so would take stitches that were close together, and be stiff enough to go on the Christmas tree.  I did try some Paverpol at different dilutions on the corners of fabric I cut off, but when I had washed the finished piece I thought it was firm enough.  The Paverpol seemed to make the fabric a little less white, which was another consideration. The stitching is done with Coton a Broder.

angel

I also came across an ancient kit for Carrickmacross lace.  I didn’t like the design, so I did my own using the materials in the kit.

I did exactly as described, layering fabrics and designs, and found tutorials on Youtube, and off I went.  The result was Absolutely Awful.  So I unpicked it, not having gone too far, and had a rethink for a week or two.  The problem seemed to be that the thread supplied was not nearly thick enough to look good.  I also found it very difficult to stitch through the organza and net, but not the pattern.

The second time I drew the design on a piece of Solusheet, laid net on top, topped with organza, and tacked the layers together.  This worked much better for me. Once again I used Coton a Broder for the stitching.

Carrickmacross

 

I decided to finish at this point, but now that I have photographed it I can see that design is not central.  That’s because I grew tired of doing this and missed out some parts of my design, which just were not working as they should.  If I have a better idea about what to put on either side of the stem, more work can be done later.

At present I have a few ideas floating round my head for new projects, some large, some small.  My current piece is very small, so that I can get it finished before Christmas, and maybe start a Very Large one in the new year.

December 18, 2016. Tags: . Embroidery, Whitework. Leave a comment.

Still doodling

Having been away on holiday I am having my usual problem.  I can’t get up any enthusiasm for the piece of embroidery I started before I went away, thinking that it was simple and quick and would be done and gone, ready for me to start something new when I came back.  But it wasn’t done, and so far I have only managed to force myself for an hour or two, twice.  I know that I will be pleased with it when it is done, but until then I am making all sorts of excuses not to get on and finish it.  And I’ve been back from holiday for over 3 weeks now!

A few days ago, when I started this post, I decided to get together all my threads, apart from the once with the current piece.  They were scattered around, a lot of them with projects, either planned or in progress.  Some which had been with one project had been taken out ‘temporarily’ to another project.  So I thought it best to put them all away in their various storage boxes.  Of course, some did not fit in the box which I had used before,because there were more of them.  So I also had to rearrange them among the boxes, and find new boxes. And then not all the boxes would go into the drawer they had previously lived in.  There is now a serious danger that I won’t be able to find something when I desperately need it!!!

Next I saw a post on Facebook about soluble fabric.  Aha!  I have some soluble fabric, I thought – I must get it out and have a go while I think of it.  Although the post involved the plasticky shiny soluble fabric, and mine is the non-woven fibre type, I continued.  I put a fairly large piece in a hoop, then had second thoughts and decided to practice on a smaller piece, too small for a hoop. I wanted to experiment and find out if it was possible to create a small piece if embroidery which hangs together without using a sewing machine.  I am using up small lengths of thread,and in effect doodling on soluble fabric, and making sure that I join the parts together with a stitch or two.  Only then will I decide what to do with the larger piece – if anything.  It might just get taken out of the hoop and put away again.

While looking for the soluble fabric I found all sorts of goodies which I have bought at various times, and never used.  All very tempting.

No wonder I can’t get back to the project which on hold.

July 24, 2016. Tags: , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Just doodlin’

 

Some time ago Meg Evershed from The Nutmeg Company came to our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.  Her 3D embroidery kits are so cute!  I dug a Gingerbread House out from my stash. They involve cross-stitch and back-stitch, adding a few embellishments, and assembly. What could be simpler?  I thought this would be an ideal project after the long one I have recently completed. I even thought about preparing everything, making a start and putting it away to take on holiday later in the year.

A re-think is in order.  The roof of the house is stitched on evenweave, over 2 threads, using 2 strands of cotton.  I started by stitching the ‘snow’ by going along the ridge of the roof.  After a while I decided it would have to come out, so the unpicking tool was used.  It was much easier to stitch in the other direction and this time it looks reasonable.  However, I am struggling with the ’tiles’ on the roof, so it has been put aside for now.  I have looked on the website, and I notice that the roof parts are now stitched on aida – so much easier.

So now I am stitching the walls.   In spite of tacking lines at 10 thread intervals, the unpicking tool has been needed again, because I have stitched more than one window in the wrong place.

However, I am enjoying this as a diversion from the kind of embroidery I usually choose.

I think a break for a day or two might be in order, so I have got my doodling pens and pencils out. I looked into doodling on Youtube some months back, and found some useful tutorials.  My thinking was that I might come up with some designs for embroidery.

My first search was for mandalas, and this was the first attempt.

 

First Mandala

First Mandala

 

A Mandala starts in the centre. All doodles have to start somewhere. So next  was a doodle which started with a word.  It doesn’t really matter what is the starting point, as it may not be obvious when the doodle is complete.  I’m not sure if this is complete, or if I might add one or two tiny bits more.

 

Fiorst doodle

First doodle

 

Once I had done a few doodles, I needed somewhere to keep them.  I have some books which I have made mainly from recycled items. This one has a front and back made from a discarded book, and recycled A4 paper.  The cover is made from strips of scrap fabric, embellished with machine stitching and ribbon.

 

Doodle book

Doodle book

 

Anything that is A5 or smaller fits nicely in this book.  Some doodles are not to my liking, and as I do the main drawing with ink, so there are two choices. One is to carry on and hope it gets better.  The other is to abandon it, but rescue the best bits. They can then be the inspiration for other doodles.

 

A4 doodles

A5 doodles

 

I am quite pleased with the bottom page shown above., but again I might add a bit more at some point.

A doodle can be as small or as large as you wish – a spare moment using the back of a shopping list, or an hour or two with a nice large piece of paper.

The largest so far are on A4 paper.

A doodle gets more interesting with shading of some parts, filling in of others, and the use of lines with different thicknesses.  I haven’t yet tried using different colours.  I need to check first whether the ink pens are water resistant. If they are not, then careful addition of water with a soft brush could produce some interesting effects.

Doodling is so relaxing.  Like crazy patchwork there are no rights and wrongs, and I like the way ideas come to me as the piece progresses.

June 12, 2016. Tags: , , , . Crazy Patchwork, Cross stitch, Embroidery, Recycling. Leave a comment.

It’s finished

My Su embroidery was finally finished yesterday. It has been pressed and is ready to be framed.

Peonies

Peonies

 

Before I started I found a mount to fit.  As you can see it doesn’t fit any more. In spite of being stitched on a frame, it has pulled in.  I have a plan B, but may need a plan C…….

May 26, 2016. Embroidery, Filament silk, silk shading, Su embroidery. 2 comments.

Almost done

It’s almost done now.  I expect to finish by the weekend.  All that remains to be done on the flowers are the bullion knots for the stamens, and possibly a few more stitches to fill any gaps.  Bullion knots are not my favourite stitch by any means.  The dark parts at the bases of the petals look much better now that the in-between shades have been added.

The leaf veins which have already been done are definitely not right, so they will be taken out and re-done.

 

DSC00113

 

I still have to decide how to stitch the twig at the bottom of the picture. some knots might be parts of the solution – not out of keeping with Chinese embroidery.

A day later….

Since writing the above I have spent over two hours stitching the twigs.  I tried to get a gnarled effect by placing stitches in different directions.  It didn’t work.  It looked awful.  It drew attention away from the flowers.  So I spent the next half hour unpicking most of what had been done.

Now I am trying something else, much simpler, which seems to be working a lot better.

When the project is finished I will post a review of what i have done, and the kit.

May 24, 2016. Chinese embroidery, Embroidery, Filament silk, Su embroidery. 1 comment.

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