No conkers

Nearby we have a large Horse-chestnut tree, which overhangs the footpath and road.  Usually when the leaves fall there are many conkers among them.  I noticed this morning that there were none to be seen – not even empty cases.  This just show how bad the summer was this year.  What will the children do next week when it is their half-term holiday?  Sadly , I suspect that they won’t be missed by the majority.

Let’s get another gloomy bit out of the way.  I decided that the jumper I have been knitting at the Craft Bee at Red House Museum needed to be finished, so I worked hard at it for two weeks, and completed the front which is rather complicated with cables and bobbles, and the back.  It was only when I realised how little wool I had used that I began to wonder if, although it is intended to fit reasonably snuggly, it might me a bit small.  I tacked it together to try on and it looked awful!  So it has been pulled out, and I will start again tomorrow.  My tension was just a weeny bit out, so I will have to knit the next size up.

Now the nice bit.  I am really pleased with the piece of embroidery which is ongoing.  It was really pleasing that I managed to source all the materials from my stash, and I have had the opportunity to try out a water erasable making pen.  I took some photos in the early stages, but events (too bad to tell ) have delayed progress.  Now that  I am so close to finishing I have decided not to show or tell anything until you can see it finished.


Last Saturday I managed to get to Pudsey Lace Fair.  I have never been before, and really enjoyed it.  It was worth the entrance money to see the exhibition of work which was on the first floor.  Well done all those whose work was displayed!

As I am not currently planning any lace projects, I was not intending to buy much, rather to look at the different threads which are available.  Now I will have more idea when planning my next needle lace project, as to what is available, and it probably won’t be plain white. I did make one small purchase – £1.40. Wasn’t I good?

October 26, 2012. Tags: , . Embroidery, Needle Lace. Leave a comment.

Too many distractions

Well, the last 14 weeks have been unusual, in that we have had so much going on in the U.K.

First the Royal Jubilee, then the Torch relay, which went on for weeks.  Eventually we got to the Olympic Games, and now the Paralympic Games.  I have never learned to much about different sports. I have been enthralled, excited, and amazed.  I sat through the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games with stitching in my hands, but very little got done.  I could not take my eyes from the TV screen.

My niece’s baby arrived at the beginning of August, so I switched to finishing the Birth sampler, which was posted off two weeks ago.  Then it was back to some more needle lace, and here it is, almost done.


It will be used to cover a pencil tin, stitched to the silk dupion you can see in the photo.  The lilies had stamens on the original design, and I am now thinking about the best way to add these,  (what stitch to use, and whether to make them the colour which stains everything the pollen gets on).  I decided to take the photo, and post now, because once it is on the tin, it will be more difficult.

So now my thoughts are turning to what I might do next. Shall I try another kind of lace, or  needle lace with different threads?  I have so many ideas, not all of them written down.  I also have a few things started and not finished, so maybe one of them will come out while I get to develop some of the ideas.

September 8, 2012. Embroidery, Needle Lace. Leave a comment.

I’ve got the needle lace bug

I tried needle lace a couple of years ago when a dear lady called Mary was showing another lady at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.  More recently, other ladies at our branch have been bringing lovely pieces they have made to the meetings, and I have caught their enthusiasm.  There were two books in the Guild library, so I have borrowed them, and got started.  Since then I have bought a more elementary book, which I have started reading.

Maybe this  was a bit ambitious for a first piece, as the areas for the different lace stitches are relatively small, and there are a lot of them.  Now that I have the basic book, I can see that some things were not done quite as they should have been, but nothing of any great consequence.

I have used a crochet cotton for the cordonnet, which I couched with a cream sewing cotton.  The lace stitches were done with No1 Mountmellick cotton.  I wanted a matt effect because this is likely to appear on the flap of my white cotton work bag.  There are actually a pair of these.  The second one still has most of the cordonette (buttonhole stitching over the cordonnet) to be done. It was a good idea to use a slightly different colour for the couching, as it made it easier to remove the last of them from the back of the piece when I had completed it, and removed it from the backing. I am quite impressed how sturdy the piece feels.  But then when I think about how many stitches, and how many threads of crochet cotton there are in the cordonette, it is hardly surprising

I am quite happily sitting doing this while I wait for my niece to give birth.  Then I can finish the Birth Sampler which I started a few months ago, and get it sent to her.

So now I am thinking about what comes after that.  I quite fancy a colourful piece of needlelace, possibly in silk.  Maybe a corsage?

July 26, 2012. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Needle Lace. 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.

Spanish Needle Lace

Needle Lace La coruna

Needle Lace Vigo

Needle Lace is on my list of  ‘must do’s.   An older member at the Embroiderers’ Guild gave two of us some tuition,  and believe me,  it is very satisfying to do, but requires a lot of concentration.

When I am on holiday,  and I see some nice needlework,   I just have to take a photograph.   oth these shop windows were in towns in the North-East corner of Spain.   Often,  in tourist areas, the goods on display are machine-produced and/or not good quality work.   But I was really impressed by the standard of these pieces.

I have great admiration for the patience which must be expended in producing work like this.   The larger pieces must take ages to complete.   Of course the price of these articles does not reflect this at all,  as they must be priced to attract customers.  Craft workers all over the world are underpaid for their work.   I just hope that the recipients of these items will appreciate them.

December 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Needle Lace. 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.

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.