Still doodling

Having been away on holiday I am having my usual problem.  I can’t get up any enthusiasm for the piece of embroidery I started before I went away, thinking that it was simple and quick and would be done and gone, ready for me to start something new when I came back.  But it wasn’t done, and so far I have only managed to force myself for an hour or two, twice.  I know that I will be pleased with it when it is done, but until then I am making all sorts of excuses not to get on and finish it.  And I’ve been back from holiday for over 3 weeks now!

A few days ago, when I started this post, I decided to get together all my threads, apart from the once with the current piece.  They were scattered around, a lot of them with projects, either planned or in progress.  Some which had been with one project had been taken out ‘temporarily’ to another project.  So I thought it best to put them all away in their various storage boxes.  Of course, some did not fit in the box which I had used before,because there were more of them.  So I also had to rearrange them among the boxes, and find new boxes. And then not all the boxes would go into the drawer they had previously lived in.  There is now a serious danger that I won’t be able to find something when I desperately need it!!!

Next I saw a post on Facebook about soluble fabric.  Aha!  I have some soluble fabric, I thought – I must get it out and have a go while I think of it.  Although the post involved the plasticky shiny soluble fabric, and mine is the non-woven fibre type, I continued.  I put a fairly large piece in a hoop, then had second thoughts and decided to practice on a smaller piece, too small for a hoop. I wanted to experiment and find out if it was possible to create a small piece if embroidery which hangs together without using a sewing machine.  I am using up small lengths of thread,and in effect doodling on soluble fabric, and making sure that I join the parts together with a stitch or two.  Only then will I decide what to do with the larger piece – if anything.  It might just get taken out of the hoop and put away again.

While looking for the soluble fabric I found all sorts of goodies which I have bought at various times, and never used.  All very tempting.

No wonder I can’t get back to the project which on hold.


July 24, 2016. Tags: , . Embroidery. 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 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.

The Red House saved

This week’s local paper reports:

Red House Museum has been saved following massive public outcry over plans to close it.”

A working group will  look at ways to generate income.  The council provides a lot events free, including the Craft group at Red House, and a monthly talk at our local library.  I’m sure those attending would be happy to pay a small charge for these.

Not much stitching has been done lately, due to the problems with my arm.  Monday was the first day it did not hurt!  I have been very careful with it, only stitching for a short while, making progress with my ‘handbag project’.

On days when I have not stitched, I have been working on new projects.  The fabric for the baby sampler is ready on the frame, and just needs threads to be selected from my stash.   On Friday and Saturday I was working on a paisley design for a cushion. The fabric is prepared, in that a backing fabric has been basted to the cream silk dupion.  The design has been enlarged to a suitable size.  I have been working with coloured crayons to decide the colour sceme and stitches. I’m not sure which of these projects will be next.

My conscience told me I should get my act together, and do some work on a Jacobean motif before the next Embroiderers’ Guild meeting!   So I have transferred my motif onto some fabric, and made a start.  This is an ideal opportunity to use up small amounts of thread, and a piece of fabric not large enough for anything else.  I do try to use up my stash, but I still keep looking on eBay every few days for bargains!

February 9, 2012. Tags: , , , . Embroidery. 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.

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.

Orts and Buttons

Sewing the sides was not as difficult as I had anticipated – there is a bit of leeway at the middle of each side to take a little bit out of the corner being sewn if you need to. I had wondered if not using an evenweave or canvas was a mistake, as the method I found for sewing the sides involved backstitching round the edges, then stitching theough the backstitches to assemble the biscornu.
I stuffed using orts.  These are pieces of thread which I collect.  When I straighten fabric edges, the drawn threads go in my tin. When I am sewing or embroidering, the ends of thread which are not long enough for anything else go in.  Tacking stitch threads, and bits from taking out unsatisfactory work also go in.  The only threads which don’t go in are metallic ones.  So the resulting mixture is ideal for stuffing an item such as this.  When I had finished, my tin was empty.  However it now has a few bit in it to  start me off again, as I have just done some mending  jobs.
The buttons came from my box, which is fairly well organised.  The tubes are what some of my husband’s cigars are packed in.
Stuffing process

June 3, 2011. Tags: , , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Little progress

At last I am ready to assemble the Biscornu pincushion.  I spent all last night struggling with the outlining in stem stitch which I’d thought would have looked nice.   Well, it would have , but I had such problems with the metallic threads.  They kept shedding the metallic bit as I pulled the thread through the fabric.  I tried using beeswax, but that didn’t help.   I tried three differnt threads.  So having pulled out the debris three times, I tried outlining with stranded cotton, and it did not look good, so that came out as well.

It has taken ages to mitre the corners and get both parts into a 4″ square.  I am now thinking that it may not be that easy to get the spacing right, so a lot if tacking stiches will be needed before I stitch ‘for real’.

I can’t account for the little dome in the middle of the right hand one, as I used a hoop throughout.  However it will not matter at all as the two centres will be pulled together with a button or somehing on either side.  It might even look better!

June 1, 2011. Tags: , , , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.


Here is an embroidery which was completed recently – not yet framed.   It took about two months to complete.  It was from a design in Stitch magazine, and I used a kit from Pearsall’s.  I enlarged the design, and made the peacock’s tail longer.  After all, it was my embroidery, and the way I see things, a pattern is a guide, not compulsory.

October 29, 2010. Tags: , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.