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.

Before and after

Here is ‘Melancholy’ with all the cross-stitch and half cross stitch completed.

And here it is again with the backstitching done.


It has taken ages and I found it a real chore.  It was very difficult to find where to stitch from the chart, as I had already covered my stitched guidelines, and the colours used are similar in colour and tone.  I may have missed some on the hair, but I don’t think the backstitching on the hair and the bodice show at all.  On the other hand, on the rest of the piece, it certainly makes a difference.

Now I need to find a frame.  There is no way this piece will not be displayed.  I don’t like to think how many hours it has taken!

So what is next?

For my birthday I received Pat Trott’s book, ‘Beginner’s Guide to Mountmellick Embroidery’.  I have been meaning to give this a try.

In November 2010 I bought some Mountmellick thread.  When reading the book, I realised that I need more than one thickness of thread, and I had no idea which thickness I have.  That’s what happens when you buy things at shows, without actually needing them for a specific project!  I bought the thread from Empress Mills, so I phoned them, and they were able to identify it from the colour of the cone.

The correct fabric for Mountmellick work is not easy to come by.   A few weeks ago I sent for the Empress Mills catalogue .  I remembered the wide range of good I had seen at the show.  They are just a little too far away for me to be tempted to visit them, and the postage on my order will probably be less than the fuel would cost!

The other thing which has been tempting me is Needle Lace.  Some ladies at Embroiderers’ Guild have inspired me.  I tried this a while back, having been given basic instruction by an elderly lady. I cannot find my original piece, which is annoying me!.

From the library I have borrowed Catherine Barley’s book, ‘Needlelace Designs and Techniques Classic and Contemporary’.  I am glad I didn’t buy this without seeing it first, as it is not a beginners’ book.  I hadn’t realised  how many types of needlelace there are!  I have been investigating the history of the different types.  The book covers Gros Point de Venise and Point de Gaze, which appeal to me,  and Hollie point, which does not.

I am thinking of making some small pieces to adorn the flap of  my white cotton work bag.   Other ideas, such as drawn thread work are also floating round my mind.  The Mountmellick thread I have will be ideal for this.

So I think for a while I will be trying out new techniques, before setting out on a major project  (or finishe-ing any that are already started)


July 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cross stitch, Drawn thread, Embroidery, Needle Lace. Leave a comment.

Jubilee Weekend

After the trauma of my computer problem being fixed, only for the monitor to give up the ghost 3 days later, then the whole thing refuse to boot two days after that, I bought a new computer.   I needed someone to help me set it up, and rescue my files from the hard drive, and we seem to have got there.  A new operating system and new software take a bit of getting used to.  That’s why I have not managed to post any news.


Fortunately, just before all this started, I had decided that ‘Melancholy’ just had to be finished, at one sitting, so to speak.  It’s the boring bit – acres of half cross stitch, all in the same shade.   How relaxing it has been during this difficult time to have some stitching which didn’t require too much concentration.  When this is done, all that remains is the backstitching which should bring the whole thing to life.


It has been a great weekend.  On Saturday we were at Epsom racecourse, near the top of ‘the Hill’ .  All we could see directly of the Queen was the convoy of cars as they drove along the track.  However the large LED screens meant that we probably had a better view than many of the people who were closer.  It was such a lovely event, in fact, amazing.  So many thousands of people close together, eating, drinking and generally enjoying themselves.  What I found truly surprising was that over the two days we were at the track we did not see a single child misbehaving or crying!


Then yesterday the pageant on the river was very interesting and entertaining.  I am looking forward to the concert tonight, in front of Buckingham Palace.


June 4, 2012. Tags: . Cross stitch. Leave a comment.

Books Part 3 – Types of Embroidery

I could’t decide whichof these to list first,  so I decided that the alphabet has an accepted order for a good reason – so here we go.

Beautiful Bargello,  by Joyce Petschek,  has 20 different charted designs,  with instructions to make a wide range of different items.   Cushions are the more obvious ones,  but there are also other items like a doorstop  (a covered house brick),  a box,  a waistcoat,  and a bag.   I have a stash of tapestry wool and lots of canvas,  and the intention of using them!

Brazilian three-dimensional Embroidery,  by Rosie Montague.  I love working in three dimensions, and some of the designs would lend themselves to other techniques.

New Canvaswork,  by Jill Carter.  Canvas makes me think of tapestry and Bargello.  This book gave me a new insight into the range of things which can be done with canvas.  The book gives many ideas for a differnt approach to using canvas as the base fabric for your work.

Wild Flowers in Cross Stitch, by Jane Iles.  This was a gift from a friend.  Again, apart from the designs, there a many ideas for making things with a cross-stitch design.  I did the cover design to make a cushion – see my post of July 12th, and also adapted a poppy design for another piece.

Goldwork – The Search press book covers the Histoy of Goldwork, and Church Embroidery.  There is a section on Goldwork Techniques, and  page about attaching jewels, glass, beads, and stones.  There are some interesting designs, but you would have to work out for yourself how to execute them.

Goldwork by Hazel Everett.  What can I say?  I am totally knocked out by this book.  I have not got all the way through it yet, but will probably do a review when I have.

Glorious Needlepoint, by Kaffe Fassett.  Again, this was a gift.  I loved Kaffe’s first knitting book, and went to a talk he gave in Halifax (many years ago).  But if I had seen this book first,  I would never have bought it for myself.   It is just not my thing.

A – Z of Stumpwork,  Inspiration Books.   There is agood instructional section, and a lot of varied designs.  All the outlines for the designs are on pages at the back of the book, and the pages are wire-bound.  This means than it is easy to scan a page, then enlarge the design to the rquired size.  I have used bits and pieces of stumpwork, and enjoyed getting that third dimension into some of my projects.

Painting with a Needle, by Young Yang Chung is another favourite.   This is a silk embroidery book.   I find the pieces shown inspiring.   The instructions for the projects are very clear,  literally step by step.  Sometimes I just get this book off my shelf, and look through it.  I found he information about traditional silk embroidery very interesting.

I hope you are enjoying these posts about my books.   Why not let me know which are your favourite books – perhaps the top five.

November 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Bargello, Brazilian Embroidery, Cross stitch, Goldwork, Needle Lace, silk shading, Stumpwork, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.