Chicken scratch embroidery

I bought this gingham fabric when I was on holiday earlier in the year, intending to do something craft-y with it.  Then I remembered Chicken Scratch embroidery which I saw on Mary Corbet’s website.  I found this free design on Nordic Needle’s website.  It was fun to do, with just three different stitches.  I also have another piece of fabric of the same colour which I bought to go with it, so it will be a cushion cover.

chicken scratch kitten

This kind of embroidery has other, more pleasant, names. It is also known as Amish embroidery  or Snowflake Lace.

It wasn’t until I had decided to use the fabric that I realised that the check design is not woven, but printed. It made things a little more challenging.  That’s another mistake I can learn from!

 I finished this in just a couple of evenings, but hoped to have made the cushion cover before this post, but a holiday, and Christmas shopping have intervened. I have also acquired two new (to me) books, on Whitework and Drawn Fabric.
Since then I have been planning more projects, in particular the Goldwork.  It’s amazing how long the preparation takes.  It has taken an afternoon and two evenings just to prepare and mount the fabric on a frame, and transfer the design using small tacking stitches.
I was about to take this photo, and I have just noticed that I have basted the backing fabric to the wrong side of the top fabric.  I have a BIG decision to make here – do I dismantle it, and start again, or do I leave it and carry on?  I like things to be right, and the ‘right’ side of the fabric does have a lovely sheen.  I have this nice pair of scissors with a notch in the blade for just such an occasion.  The scissors are about to be used.  It may be some time before the next post!

November 24, 2013. Tags: , . Drawn Fabric, Embroidery, Goldwork, Whitework. Leave a comment.

Mountmellick finished at last

This Mountmellick piece is finished at last.  I had problems deciding which filling stitches to use, and which parts should be left unfilled.  The flower on the left has net stitch, and the one on the right has cloud stitch, which were both new to me, but interesting to do.  I decided to leave the centre flower as it is, because it looks dramatic.  If it had more stitching it would not stand out.


I have been working on several future projects.  All at once I have lots of ideas.  I eventually made up my mind what to do with the butterfly, and decided that keeping things simple was the answer.

The goldwork piece in the same design as this is making progress, but the butterfly will be next, followed by something else which should be very quick to do.

October 31, 2013. Tags: . Embroidery, Goldwork, Mountmellick, Whitework. Leave a comment.

Where have I been?

Well, I’m back.  It’s been a while since my last post, mainly because I have hardly done any embroidery.  I damaged my arm a few weeks ago, and it was getting no better, so I have been trying to rest it, and take lots of painkiller/anti-inflammatory pills. I have even moved my mouse-mat to the other side of the computer table and tried only to use my left hand.  I ironed small things left-handed, and my ‘other half’ helped out with the rest.

Needless to say, not much housework has been done.   I am not a fan of housework.   It’s not like embroidery, where stitches are there permanently, unless I decide otherwise.  Housework somehow regenerates itself.  I wipe away all the dust, and clean the windowpanes.  Just a few hours later, there is dust accumulating, and the windows are showing smears.  If I ever have enough money, I will pay a cleaning person, so I don’t need to feel guilty about it.  Failing that pehaps someone has ideas for a self-cleaning house.

I have had quite a few sessions with Haewl Everett’s book ‘Goldwork Techniques Projects and Pure Inspiration’.  The book does exactly what it says on the cover. It might even be the best embroidery book I have EVER come across.  I found myself having to re-read some paragraphs and/ or pages, as there is so much information, and I wanted to make sure it was going in.  The brain cells are not quite what they used to be.

Quite often a book will have a section, or even a few chapters at the beginning, outlining the history the materials to be used etc, and stitches.  Then the rest of the book is devoted to projects.   However lovely these projects are, many of them soon look outdated.   So to come across a book where about two thirds is devoted to the technical stuff means that, from my point of view, it is extemely good value for money.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Goldwork, particularly if, like me, they are fairly new to this kind of embroidery.  Hazel manages to explain everything in great detail, which gives me the confidence to have a go myself.  The explanations of how to do different things are  illustrated with photographs and diagrams, which means that all that is required is abit of practice before setting out on anything major.

And the Bugs which are among the pages at the back of the book are still calling  to me.  I have checked out what wires and threads I have, so it won’t be long before I ‘have a go’.

January 15, 2012. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Goldwork. 2 comments.

New Year decisions

Happy New Year everyone.

Time for some decisions to be made –  not resolutions.  I have not done much stitching for the last two weeks, as I have been celebrating Christmas and the New Year, and doing other things.  I have been through all my embroidery needles to check for any that were bent or tarnished, but I don’t think I need to go through anything else, as it is all fairly well organised.

So decisions have to be made as to what to do next.  I have no holidays booked, so I think I had better finish the ‘holiday project’ before I lose all interest.  On my last holiday, the light indoors was poor, and it was windy outside, so very little was done.  I found it difficult to motivate myself, which is often a problem for me when I have had to leave a project, and then go back to it.

I have also brought forward a project which is for a little boy.  It was going to be for his birthday, but as he will be having a new brother or sister in July, it might be better for him to have a present at the same time as the new baby.  So it is my ‘handbag’ project. So I am also looking for a nice chart or kit for a birth sampler.

Once these are out of the way, I shall be consulting my lists of projects to see where to go next.

I have been reading Hazel Everett’s book.  At some point I really want (need?) to tackle some of the lovely Bugs. I am hoping to incorporate them in another project already in progress.

Happy stitching!

January 4, 2012. Tags: . Embroidery, Goldwork. Leave a comment.

Silky Stitches

Unfortunately the piece I am working on at the moment does not photograph well, and progress is slow.   This is partly because Christmas is coming, and there are so many things to be done.   The other reason is that a lot of what I am doing is trial and error.   I have taken out a few lengths of stitching because the colour is just not right.

This is the background I prepared for a peacock.  The peacock is now on the back burner,  because I just can’t get the balance right.   But I love this piece, so I am proceeding with the expectation that it will eventually have butteflies added.   In Hazel Everett’s book (Goldwork) there are three different butterflies.

I still have not read this book properly.  I am saving it to read between Christmas and New Year.  All my embroidery will have to be put away for the duration, so I am intending to snuggle up with this book for an hour or so at a time, so I can do it justice.   But I keep having a peek.   There are a lot of bugs which I am itching to try, other lovely projects too.

Tomorrow I am going to an Embroiderers Guild Meeting.  I have been away for the last two meetings , so I am really looking forward to it.  No doubt we will be talking about the Knitting and Stitching show, and what we all bought.  We are having a ‘fuddle’, so I need to bake this afternoon.  Last year our December was called off, because the weather was too bad, and the kitchen was out of action, so the caterers who were to be coming would not have been able to prepare their food.  This winter is not so bad as last, but of course we don’t lnow what is still to come.

December 11, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Goldwork. Leave a comment.

Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate

Phew!  It was busy yesterday, but I thought not quite so bad as last year.

I had a lovely day, but it was exhausting.  Apart from trying to see all the stalls that interested me, the Textile Gallery deserved a quota of my time.

The displays I enjoyed most were the late Beryl Dean’s Ecclesiastical work  (lots of goldwork), and Diana Springall’s.  Diana’s drawings, paintings etc. from the design stages are shown, which I found interesting.  It seems that I am going about things in a similar way to Diana, which reassures me that I am on the right track.

I was disappointed that two exhibitors I purchased from last year were not there.  Maybe that was because last year, on the Sunday, the weather was atrocious, and some were ‘snowed in’.  What I bought was mostly bits and pieces, and most of it for planned projects.

Down on the lower floor I found Richard Box.  It was good to see some of his work for real, rather than in a book.

There were quite a few male embroiderers showcased.  I mention this because so often we assume that needlecrafts are the domain of females – not the case in some cultures.  I liked Edward Taylor’s work.

The Embroiderers’  Guild and the Quilters’  Guild both had prizewinning work by children among their displays.  I was impressed by what they had done.  Well done!  (The children, and the Guilds for encouraging them.)

Now I need to put away my purchases and spend some time looking at the other ‘stuff’ I have brought home – booklets, flyers, business cards- and look at web-sites to see if they are to be added to my list of useful ones.

If you can get there  ( it ends on Sunday 27th), it is well worth a visit.  We came across one lady who does no stitching, but just goes every year to see the beautiful work displayed.

November 25, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Goldwork. 1 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.

Re Progress with Hardanger

To say progress is slow is an understatement of the facts.  At first I really struggled,  and I was just doing some Kloster Blocks.   What could be simpler?   It depends how good you are at counting threads to stitch over.   I spent a lot of time undoing the stitches which were wrong.

So I decided to stitch some motifs.  I still struggled because the sheen of the perle thread sometimes makes it look as if stitches at right angles to each other are not the same length, when they are.   Stars and ships emerged, and things were looking a bit better

Then I decided to try four sided stitch,  and that was not quite so bad.

So I got really  brave, and decided cut out some threads to do some woven bars – quite therapeutic.

Next was a bit of Cable stitch and Double Running stitch.

Having done those,  I was ready for some filling stitches.  Dove’s Eye, Twisted Bars, Spider’s Web  and Circular Filling stitch followed.  I really enjoyed doing these.

There are still more filling stitches to try,  which means going back to the Kloster Blocks again.

In the Anchor Book of Hardanger Embroidery there is a small sampler of stitches  (Hemstitch and Variations)  which would be good to try.


This is two small buts,  followed by a really big one.

I have been in design mode in between the Hardanger stitching, playing with paisley designs,  and another design with a peacock.  These may end up in the same project.  I have also resurrected a large piece of wool felt which has more wool embellished onto it.  This may end up being the background fabric, but on the other hand it might well be something completely different!

I have also been trying to get the garden ‘put to bed’  for the winter, and now is the best time to do it.   So I go out there and work away until my back tells me it has had enough.

Now for the big BUT.

I feel as if I am confessing to something really awful – my new book arrived a couple of hours ago.

It is Goldwork Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett.  I have had a quick look through, and I have to agree with Mary Corbet.  When she reviewed it,  (  26th September)  she said,  “You Need this book”.  That was what made me decide to buy it rather than get it from the library.   I did seriously need it.

I don’t think there will be much stitching for a day or two.

October 24, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Goldwork, Hardanger. Leave a comment.

More goldwork finished

You may have been wondering why I have not posted anything lately.  It is because I have been so busy with my goldwork.   I have really got hooked.

Yesterday it was the exhibition of work which our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild holds every two years, and I really wanted to get it finished and framed. We had a great day and raised money for our local hospice.









At the beginning of the week was our monthly meeting, and we had our annual competition.  This was my entry.










The prize was won by a stunning picture of a lady, done in black cross stitch, from an old photo.  It could probably be described as blackwork.  If I had remembered to take my camera with me yesterday I would have been able to show you.

The last two evenings have been spent finishing some Christmas cards for a Christmas Fair at the beginning of  December.  Now I think I will finally get round to learning some Hardanger stitches.  I have rooted out some fabric, and my book, so I have no more excuses.

September 18, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, Goldwork, Hardanger. Leave a comment.

More Goldwork

Having enjoyed the goldwork workshop so much, I have embarked on another piece.  The materials in the kit for the workshop were generous, so I have been able to start, and the additional wires etc. I ordered have arrived very quickly.  I am still getting to grips with the different threads and wires, and how to get the best effects from them.  However the learning curve seems to be levelling off now that I am getting more familiar with how to handle them.

This time I have found my own design, and have worked out how to proceed with each part of it, so I am feeling pleased with myself.   I am making steady progress, but not enough yet to show you a photograph.

Now I am looking forward to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate in November, and thinking about what I want to look at, and what to buy.  I will be travelling there by coach with the other members of our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.  Although this make for a very long day, I don’t think I would want to be driving home from there after a tiring day on my feet.  I will be looking at last year’s brochure to remind myself of the stalls I particularly enjoyed looking at or buying from, and also any that I think I might have missed, or might be more interested in this year.  I shall have to make a list and set a budget.  I didn’t go far over budget last year, but I still have some items which have not yet been used.  If I see something unusual, I just have to get it, but at least last year I didn’t buy things as soon as I had seen them, but made a note of the stall, and a lot of what I bought were in the same colour scheme, which means that I am much more likely to make something really good with them.

In the next day or two I am going to try out some fabric medium, and will post details of what I acheive.


August 25, 2011. Tags: . Embroidery, Goldwork. Leave a comment.

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