And now for something different

I decided that I was not really happy with a one-column blog, so here we are with two columns.   Now the content which was at the bottom has come to the top, where it can be seen more easily.   I am learning about blogging as I go along.   I look at other people’s blogs and wonder, how do they do that?

That’s not all – something different to show you.

These photographs were taken in the ‘Discover Mexico ‘ museum in Cozumel.  My husband doesn’t really do museums, art galleries etc, so I was really lucky that day the he did come in, and not just stay outside, in the sun, enjoying a cigar.   It was he who first spotted these, and suggested that I photograph them.   Whether I should have done is another question!

The reason I decided to post these is that Hannah on has posted some photos of Mexican embroidery, and they reminded me of these.

I think this is my favourite of the three.  I like embroidery on dark backgrounds, as it makes the colours more vibrant.  I think this was done on black velvet.

This is interesting because of the content.  Someone took the time to think this out, and then stitched it so carefully, for posterity.

I finished my crazy quilting pouch at the weekend.

I am still not taking photos close up as I would wish, but at least you can see the finished piece.

The other thing I spent time on at the weekend was sewing edges.  I bought some small pieces of silk dupion on E-Bay, so I ironed them all, and sewed the edges so they don’t fray, before I put them away.

I haven’t started anything new yet.  I want to get the area of ‘Melencholy’  that I am working on finished before I put it away.  The lady will then have her face neck arm, hand and hair finished.  It looks as if theer is nowhere near enough of one of the threads – this was a kit which was open when I bought it, so I am not really surprised

July 26, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.

‘Melancholy’ progress

Progress is slow with this piece.  There are 196 stitches per square inch, most of them cross-stitch, with  half cross-stitch for the background and a bit of back-stitch.  The finished piece is 10″ x 12 “.  That’s well over 23,000 stitches!  Anytime now it will be put away again and I will start something new.

I have also made a bit of progress with crazy patchwork.

This time I have used fewer pieces, and not used any ribbon.   I like it a lot better.

I had been looking at transfers of oriental panels, with a view to doing something quite large on silk dupion.  The content of the panels was much the same – a mountain at the top, water with birds at the bottom, a bridge over the water, trees, a pagoda, a path winding through  fields with corn sheaves stacked, and people.  I spent a happy afternoon with my A2 paper pad, and in the end came to the conclusion that the whole project was probably just too big.  So I am now thinking about doing one (or maybe two) smaller panel with fewer objects.

In the meantime…. I downloaded this design from the Dover Sampler which I subscribe to.  The original is on a black background, so I didn’t want to print it out, and use a lot of printer ink.  So I traced it from the computer screen,  tweaked it a bit, darkened the outline, and used my lovely 3-in-1 to make a copy. 

The colours are just to help me se the shapes.  I think I will tweak the design a bit more.  This may well be the design to use some silk hankies which have been waiting since the Knitting and Stitching Show last November.

July 20, 2011. Tags: , , , . Crazy Patchwork, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Trial and errors

On Saturday I went shopping.  I was looking for scissors – goldwork,  hardanger and ‘lift and snip’.  I was really disappointed that the shop in the centre of Leeds had none of these – in fact I don’t think the girl who asked if I needed help know what I was talking about!  So I have ordered the last two from an eBay shop, and they are in the post. 

I had a rummage round the remnants stand in the same shop.  There were some very small pieces for between 5 and 40 pence, so I bought a few.  One of these is a piece of white cotton twill, long and thin, which will make two small embroideries – maybe crewel?  I could dye with tea or coffee for a better colour.

Then I went to the market to look at the haberdashery and fabric stalls.  A fabric still had a pack of  ‘fabric samples’ for £1, so I got one of those too. There were six pieces so I was pleased with them.

I had been intending to have a go at crazy patchwork, but wanted to do something small first.  This piece was going to make a small pouch to go in a handbag, to contain emergency items – headache and indigestion tablets, and some plasters.  I said was.  It has not been without a hitch or two.

Above you can see the pieces laid out, with Bondaweb on the back, ready for the iron.  I took a photograph of the pieces in position, so that I could get them back when I had removed the backing of the Bondaweb. I was being so careful!

At this stage I realised that the outer part would be in the seam, so I needed to reposition the piece with the rose, so that it would look good on the front of the pouch. Then I ironed the pieces of fabric and three pieces of ribbon in place, using baking parchment.  So far not so good. I had already made my first mistake.

I then decided to use the sewing machine, and stitch some of the edges with decorative stitches.  I liked these, soI did all except the ribbons. There was a crackling noise – it was coming from the two pieces of ribbon.  I had not removed the backing from these.  The paper was removed, and here is where I made the Big Mistake.  I switched the iron back on, to fasten the ribbons, which I could just have stitched down by hand or machine . And then……

I put the hot iron onto the piece, with no baking parchment, and the two ribbons melted.  The base plate of the iron took some cleaning!

When I had sorted that mess out, I snipped the remains of the ribbons out, and had a think.  I could us Bondaweb to replace the pieces, so that is what I did.  Then I realised that the ends of the ribbon would fray, and here is where I made the third mistake.  I dabbed the ends with Fray-check, and put the piece away. I just got it out again to photograph, before I sew in the ends of the thread and add the hand stitching, and the Fray-check has seriously marked the ribbons.









At this point I think I will put this piece in my samples folder. Unless anyone has a better suggestion.

I have learned a lot from this exercise-

1 –  THINK before you put a hot iron on anything at all

2 –  making the pieces so small was not a good idea – it made too much work

3 –  Fraycheck works, but it marks, particularly on lighter colours


And now for the good news.  Yesterday I reserved a place on a Goldwork workshop at our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.   That is when I hope to buy the Goldwork scissors

July 12, 2011. Crazy Patchwork, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Pleased with myself

The competition piece is finished.  I did the last stitching  just before bedtime last night, and I did the lacing first thing this morning.  I did it then because I HATE  lacing.  It has to be done, and it this stage I usually wish I had used a slightly larger piece of fabric.  First I backed the piece with wadding, the after the lacing I tidied up the corners.  When I put it into the frame, which was plain wood, I decided that it needed a coat of clear matt varnish.  This has just given the wood a bit more life, as you will see when I eventually post a picture of the front of the finished piece.

This afternoonI have  finished the cushion, not without some trials and tribulations.

I managed to attach the back of the cushion cover to the zip, and then sewed all round – but the zip was closed.   Fortunately I had left a gap of just  few inches where the end of the cord meet, as this was a more bulky area – I was just able to get my hand in to open the zip – problem solved!  The moral of this is – read you instructions first.

I have consulted my lists, and I have only 4 incomplete projects.  One is the holiday project, and another is the Stitch- a-Month.  I have three months to catch up on, but that won’t take long, so I’ll leave it for a time when I need something quick.  The other two are long-term projects. 

One is a Christmas Garland tablecloth.

 I think I have been doing this for about 10 years.  I remember discussing long-and-short stitch with a lady who had just completed a Millenium sampler.  I was not happy with the stitches, and she suggested to try using 1 strand of thread instead of two.  I tried this, and it was no better.  Another problem is that the design is printed in a strange lime-green which is not easy to see.  When I joined the Embroiderers’ Guild, I took this with me, and under the fluorescent lighting, I could see the design much better.  Now that we have the energy-saving light bulbs, I wonder if it will be easier to do at home.  In that case it would be best left for the dark winter nights.

The other is also a kit, which I acquired at the annual Bring and Buy sale at the Embroiderers’ Guild ( in aid of Branch Funds).   It is called Melancholy.

I keep getting this out for a week or two, but it is hard going.  There are eight shades of thread ranging from white through flesh and peach shades to dark brown.  It is sometimes very difficult to be sure of using the correct shade.  This usually lives in the bag I take to Embroiderers Guild meetings.  As I have got it out to photograph, I might as well do some for the next day or two, while I wait for that little bit of inspiration  to strike.

So, will it be a practice piece of Hardanger?  Or shall I get the threads selected for a Japanese Lady?  Maybe a Jacobean design in Crewel Work, or  a Bargello Cushion? Or maybe something completely different will occur to me.

July 6, 2011. Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Out of the Doldrums

Yesterday I found a link to a blog which said ‘handbag embroidery’.  So I followed the link and found that it was not an embroidered handbag, which is what I was expecting. It was in fact a project which is small enough to carry round in a handbag, so that if you ever have a few spare minutes, out it comes.

I had been meaning to use this useful box for just that purpose. As you can see, there is room for design, threads, fabric, and scissors.

Mary Corbet ( has been showing progress on her 15  minute project, and that is what put this in my mind.  Mary’s project was a miniature embroidery, and it took her 5 months, as there were over48,000 stitches!   My idea for this kind of project is something much smaller.

The project which got me out of the doldrums is in fact for a competition in September, so for the time being it is ‘under wraps’.   I knew what I was going to do, so I got on and designed the piece.  Now I have got started, because otherwise it would get left too late, and it no good doing things in a rush.  I feel that I must put in a good entry, as I won the competition last year. 

I have also had the opportunity to take a close-up photo with my new camera.  The instruction book for the camera is quite lengthy, and I must get on and try the camera out properly, as I can take it back within 28 days if  it is not suitable for my needs. It was an offer I could not refuse, as have been getting so frustrated with my other camera.

All this means that I have not yet finished the cushion.  I need to psyche myself up in order to do it, as I am not looking forward to joining the back to the front now that the cord is attached.  It would have been a lot easier with no cord! Why do we make things difficult for ourselves?

July 3, 2011. Tags: , , . Embroidery. 2 comments.