Learning from mistakes

When I bought this fabric on the internet, it was described as blue.  As you can see it photographs as blue.  I was a little disappointed, because at the time I was thinking of doing this project mainly in white, with a midnight blue (ish) fabric.  Midnight blue would have too harsh, so as this looked a little softer, I bought it.  Needless to say, my enthusiasm for the project waned, and the fabric was put away.  Lesson 1 – make sure the colour of the fabric is what you expect it to be.



Then this weekend, I was enticed by a magazine listed on Ebay.   I looked at the seller’s other items, and saw two other items I was interested in, and immediately this project came to mind.  I was outbid for the magazine, but was successful with the other items.  So I have gone back to the original design, in a magazine, but then also looked at the designer’s website, where it is suggested that different colours might be used.   (White was not the main colour of the original design.)   This got me thinking…  I actually got the fabric out of the packet, to iron it, and found that it actually dove grey.   So I went to my thread drawer, and selected these soft shades.   I have not yet decided whether to use the cotton or the silk.

A few months ago I did a project, matching the colours quite closely to those photographed in the original design.   I am quite pleased with it,  but the colours are not what I should have used, as I used a much paler background fabric, and muted colours would have looked better.   Lesson two – make sure your threads look right with the backgound fabric.

Lesson three is about frames.   It is not always easy to find a frame when a project has been completed, unless it is being framed  professionally, which can be quite costly.   At a meeting of Embroiderers’ Guild a few months ago a lady pointed out it is a good idea to purchase the frames before the project is commenced.   While I have been writing this paragraph, I have remembered a frame which I bought from a charity shop.  I have been undecided whether to do all or part of the design, and the size of this frame, which is the right colour may be the deciding factor.

I am keen to get on with this, bit I know I must finish the whitework first.  It has hardly been touched since my last post, because I have been busy with other things.

In particular, I have been knitting with lace weight wool.  This is a new experience for me.  I had no idea how difficult it would be.  The lace pattern is quite complex, and a dropped stitch can be catastrophic.  This item is going to be a gift, but it might have to be for Christmas, rather than the birthday for which it was intended.  I was actually going to knit two, but it has become clear that the two skeins I purchase will only make one.  I think two might have compromised my sanity.  I am sure there is another lesson to be learned here, but I’m not sure what it is.

September 3, 2013. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, knitting. Leave a comment.

White on white update

I’ve finally got back to this whitework.  I was having problems making two pieces look somewhere near symmetrical, and having take stitches out twice, the fabric was getting a bit messy.  The only thing i could think of was to try to wash out the pencil lines which were not quite right, and the second attempt too, thus getting the fabric looking much better.  I pressed it before putting it back in the hoop, which gave the opportunity for a photo.


I reckon another week or so might see this finished.  Next will probably be a goldwork version of the same design.

I have got out all my copies of ‘Stitch’ magazine, and I am going to read all the articles properly.  I am hoping for ideas and inspiration.  In the past I have tended to skim through articles on the same way as I skimmed material when I was a student, then put the magazine on the shelf.  Now that I have more time, I must must make myself read things properly

In the mean time I have been tempted by some beautiful wool.   It is a lace weight made of baby alpaca, cashmere and silk.   I will take it to the craft group, and some lucky people will have a lovely lacy scarf for Christmas.

August 8, 2013. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, knitting, Whitework. Leave a comment.

Now that Wimbledon is over…

I may get some embroidery done.

I’ve been doing other things like decorating the house and seeing to the garden, so we can sell the house.

Here is my reward, just picked.  They taste as good as they look.

strawberries july2013

I have managed to do some embroidery, from a Rowandean kit.  I like oriental designs, and really enjoyed doing this, as the instructions were there for me and I didn’t really have to think too much (which colour, which stitch etc.).

lady with fruit

Today I have been to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.  I particularly enjoyed it as I missed last month, when we were away on holiday. Our speaker was Jenny Boyle, who spoke about beads, and brought some beautiful items for us to see.  Maybe I’ll give beading a try.  I did once make a name badge, using Peyote Stitch, and I have plenty of beads left, so it might just be a matter of finding a project.  Mustn’t buy too much, as we’re downsizing, and I have already reduced my stash quite a bit, so I don’t really want it to grow again.

And yes, reducing the stash was painful, but it had to be done, and I’m quite proud of myself for being ruthless.

July 8, 2013. Tags: , , . beadwok, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Resolutions update

The piece of Bargello I mentioned in my last post has now been attached to the empty coffee tin, and here it is.  I’m quite pleased with the finished item.





Once I had completed the stitching I decided to have a clearout, and sold some of my canvas and tapestry wool on eBay,  as canvaswork no longer has the appeal for me that it had when I bought them. The proceeds were very pleasing.

The next item I made was a pouch for my diary, as it is a very pale pink, and I don’t want to spoil it.  This was made with fabrics from my stash. The outer fabric is a from a sample book of curtain fabric, and is organza-ish. 



There is bondaweb on the back of the lining fabric, and I really like the effect.  There is enough fabric left to make an evening bag when I feel motivated.


Before Christmas I bought a kit to make an etui.  It consisted of precision cut cards, and instructions.  I didn’t realise until I read the instructions, that the etui is primarily made by glueing.  Not quite what I had anticipated, but acceptable to practice on.  The piece of braid needed to complete it arrived today, and here it is.



I am quite pleased with it, but just a bit worried what will happen along the line, when the glue dries out.  I have had to buy the fabric, and will probably sell the rest on eBay, as I don’t anticipate using the rest.  The braid also had to be purchased and proved difficult to find.  I was looking in the wrong places!  It is chair braid, so not found in haberdashery shops.

There’s not much embroidery at the moment.  I was not well on the day of the last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, so I am suffering withdrawal symptoms, and a lack of inspiration.

At present I am reducing my stash of knitting wool, by crocheting blocks to make… what?

Crochet blocks



Whatever it is will be colourful, with interesting textures.

For me, January has been successful.  as you will see above.  I have used or disposed of quite a lot of my stash.  The only materials were required for a planned project.

I have also managed to buy my lamp, and I LOVE IT.  I had not realised how yellow the light emitted by energy-saving bulbs can be.  It is good for embroidery, and for reading small print.  Earlier in the month when  i was still working long-and-short stitch on the tablecloth,  I was doing it without a magnifier, and making really quick progress.  I had been wondering whether I need a visit to the optician, but now I realise that the problem was with the lighting.


P.S. the new lamp is has a floodlight effect tube, with a colour temperature of 6500 kelvin, which is equivalent to overcast daylight at midday, so good quality, and not too bright.

January 31, 2013. Tags: , . Bargello, Craft, Crochet. Leave a comment.

Japanese Diversions

Last month at the Embroiderers’ Guild our speaker was Katie Chaplin from Japan Crafts.  This month we followed this up, and she came again to give workshops on Kumihimo Braiding, which I had done before,  and Temari Balls, which I hadn’t.   So Temari balls it was.   I really enjoyed it.

While we sat winding our thread round the balls it occurred to me that this was an excellent way to use up the many reels of thread which I acquired when my Mother died.  So many of them are bright colours which I would otherwise probably never get round to using.   I have since finished my ball, but I am less than happy with it, because of the  colours I  selected.   My fault entirely!

However, I am hooked.   Once I had finished it I was on to Google to see what could find.   The one which interested me was temarimath.info which goes into the mathematics of the designs.  It was all so fascinating.

I have since been working on another one, using scraps of fabric etc. to make the ball in the centre.    I also made two tiny ones fron wool which I felted. However,  I was not too well the weekend I was doing it, and most of the design had to be taken out.  I will get back to it soon.

This brings me nicely to the other diversion.  A few weeks ago I bought ‘Beginner’s Guide to  Traditional Japanese Embroidery’ by Julia D Gray. Like all the other Search Press books I have come across, it was set out very clearly with excellent photgraphs and detailed instructions.  On a sunny afternoon, I sat in the sun and read it all in one go.  Although I don’t think I will tackle this, there was so much to learn about embroidery generally.

Things like,  having the light source coming from the opposite side to your  hand which is  above the fabric, and stitching to to bottom and left to right (if you are right-handed), so that you don’t rub the area already stitched.  I will quote the bit which ties in with having to take work out.

“I discovered that it is impossible to stitch successfully in fine silk if you are unhappy or angry.  To stitch,  peace must first be attained, then the gentle rhythm of the needle and thread flowing throught the silk lowers your rate of breathing as you relax into your work.”

So I think we can include in that, feeling unwell,  and not feeling inclined.   It often takes longer to unpick something than it did to stitch it in the first place!

I have two more new books which I will tell you about soon, but I haven’t looked at them enough yet to do them justice

March 29, 2012. Tags: , . Craft, Embroidery, silk shading. Leave a comment.

Books Part 5

We’re getting to the end now.  First are books which have little or nothing to do with embroidery.

I was an avid hand and machine knitter at one time,  and tried to start a new branch of the Knitting and Crochet Guild.   I think we had a total of 7 members, but never all at a meeting at the same time!  After my back went I sold most of my machine knitting paraphernalia, but still have some yarn left.

‘Vogue Knitting’  is a  must-have – the description on the cover is  ‘The ultimate knitting book…’    It covers the basics starting with two methods of holding the needles, and how to follow a knitting pattern. It includes garment patterns and stitch patterns, but I also have The Knitting Stitch Manual by Lesley Stansfield.  These two books are all I need.

Next, Crochet – ‘The Vogue Dictionary of Crochet Stitches’ by Anne Mathews is much more than the title suggests.  It includes sections on techniques, instructions for garments, a comparison of  U.K. and U.S. terms, and Foreign Language Terms ((French, German, Italian and Spanish).

I bought ‘200 crochet blocks’ by Jan Eaton with the intention of using up some of the leftover wool in my stash.  I have done  few of them, but never really started in earnest.

‘The Technique of Crochet’, a 1987 book by Pauline Turner,  has designs for garments.  They are  a bit dated now, but I have kept this book because it is interesting for the different, less conventinal ways that crochet can be used.

‘Beautiful Bead Stitching on Canvas’ by Ann Benson is just what it says.  The designs are beautiful.  This book was a free gift when I took out a magzine subscription.  I have recently joined a craft group where some of the ladies are doing bead stitching on canvas, and it looks good.

At around the same time I acquired The Beader’s Handbook , which is  a publication from Bead & Button magazine.  Confession – I have never even looked through it!

Now for my design books.  The ‘Complete Book of Oriental Designs’ from Search Press has a wide variety of designs and some ides of how to make use of them. The book come with a CD so I have the designs on the computer.

A book I enjoyed working through is  ‘Drawing and Design for Embroidery’ by Richard Box.

‘Embroidery Design’ is a small booklet in the Needle Crafts series from search Press, written by Jan Messent.  I have found it very useful.

Last but certainly not least is  ‘Creating Sketchbooks’  by Kay Greenlees.  My ‘sketchbooks’ each have a different purpose.  That seems a good idea for another post.

December 8, 2011. Tags: , , , . beadwok, Crochet, knitting. Leave a comment.

Books Part 4 – Miscellaneous

These are books which didn’t quite fit into the catgories so far described.

The first is Needlework School, by the Embroiderers’ Guild Practical Study Group.  My copy has a cream cover, and was published in 1989.  Many of the photographs are in black and white, so it is a bit dated, but I love it.  There is a newer book published in 2000, with a green cover.

This book could have gone into any of the previous three posts, but I felt that it is different.  It covers designing, manipulating  fabrics, felt and paper making, and many kinds of embroidery.  This is a good book to dip into to find out about a type embroidery which is new to you.  Or you could use it as a needlework course, and work you way through it.

The next two books were purchased for very little money, and haven’t yet had the attention they deserve – maybe waiting for a rainy day.

Stitchery and Needle Lace from Threads magazine.  This is a series of 25 articles which I presume appeared in the magazine.  The ones which particularly appeal to me are Contemporary Needlelace,  Drawn Threadwork, and Net Darning.

Embroidery by Diana Springall.  This book accompanied a television series, broadcast from 1980, which I do not remember seeing.  It is a collection of items to make, and there are contributions from others.  Most of the items are useable or wearable, and I could see myself making some of them, maybe as gi

I bought Kit Pyman’s Embroiderd Flowers when I first got into embroidery with silk.  It gives several different ways of producing an embroidery of flowers.

Jane Lemon’s Embroidered Boxes was a must-have when it was turfed out of the library cupboard at the Embroiderers’ Guild. Tthe cupboard really was bursting at the seams.  It was published in 1980, so nearly all the photographs are in black and white.  There are boxes of different shapes, and other items  – bags and purses, cushions, blinds and curtains, and book covers.

In the past I have made boxes and Bags, and quite enjoyed the processes involved, apart from the lacing required for the boxes.  I also enjoy making book covers.  They are a good way to use a small piece of experimental work which is nice enough for someone else to appreciate.

The last section of books are those which are not embroidery books!

November 25, 2011. Tags: , , . Craft, Embroidery, Needle Lace. Leave a comment.