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.

Silk threads

Spring is here, and there so many distractions. For one thing, the garden needs to be prepared for the seeds and plants, and it is so nice to be out in the sun.

Even so, my Su embroidery project is progressing at a steady rate.  I spend between 2 and 4 hours on it most days, with the occasional day doing other things which need to be done.  I am enjoying it but as the weeks pass my perception could change.  I have already broken off to prepare another, much smaller project which I can take to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, and it is tempting me.  I once took a project of this size to a meeting and found it very difficult not to keep knocking the people to either side of me.

Today I will address thread problems, knot-problems, and not-problems.

When I unpacked the thread for my Su embroidery project and spread it out it looked beautiful, gleaming up at me. On Youtube I had found how to deal with a skein.  Quite simple, straighten it out, find the knot, and snip through all the threads.  Then hold the thread in the middle and braid before putting onto a rod.  Professional embroiderers simply drape or knot the threads unbraided over a rod which is beside them as they work, so they can select each thread as it is needed.

By the time I got to deciding how to deal with the thread, some of the skeins were a little tangled and the brown was very tangled.  So the brown was straightened out, and cut as described, and eventually braided.  I did not cut the others, as I was not too sure about the length of thread to work with.

Someone who embroiders for a living can probably work successfully with a much longer thread than most people.  The others were just twisted and put onto a card.  It was a mistake not to braid the brown threads, as this stops them getting more messy.



The point I want to make here is that this is a problem, but not a disaster. It helps when working with any fine thread if your hands are not rough, to avoid snags.  However, filament silk is very strong, and a tangle like this can be remedied in a few minutes.  I simply took each thread in turn and pulled between my finger and thumb a few times and voila!


DSC00077 (1)


These are the same threads.  If you closely you will be able to see how the thread splits naturally in two roughly equal parts.  There are still a few fuzzy bits, but these tend to straighten out as the thread passes through the fabric.

The other problem I  had with the thread was to do with the colours.  As I mentioned, the printing was paler than the threads.  This means that I have tended to use less of the darker colours colours when stitching the leaves and stalks.  Maybe I have used the threads correctly, but I won’t really know until I have stitched the flowers.  At the bottom left there were more leaves which were not green.  Cream and coral pink and brown  were needed.  The  yellow thread is too bright and the pinks are too rose-y. I considered using some of my other silk threads, maybe splitting them and untwisting – too much effort.

Eventually I came up with the idea of colouring some of the silk with silk paint.  I tried a length of the first and third shades of pink, using yellow paint in an egg-cup, with a little water added.  It takes a little practice, to drain the thread without squeezing the colour out, before drying it.  Two immersions worked well.  The colour was a little uneven, but it really did not matter in this instance.  The dried threads then had to be ironed to set the colour before they could be used.


In case you are wondering I am working with a thread length of about 16″ (40cm), which is not so different to the length of a cut skein.  The demos on YouTube show the thread knotted onto the needle, leaving a small tail.  In the demos the stitches are quite long, so the end of the thread is reached before the knot comes undone.  Not so with mine, as my stitches are quite small in some areas.  Also there are a few occasions when I want to undo a stitch or two because the angle is all wrong.  That doesn’t happen in the demos!

As it comes off the skein, the separated thread has a slight twist, which straightens out as the thread passes through the fabric.  I keep giving it a little twist back, as this helps the individual fibres to stay together.

I have found it interesting to use a thread which I had not previously tried, and to learn how best to handle it.  Another thing I found as I used thread straight from an uncut skein, is that it becomes difficult not to tangle the skein.  To avoid this I wound all the threads except the brown onto the middles of used toilet rolls. Two colours fit on one cylinder. They have so many uses!

This has proved successful, as I don’t need to touch the wound thread.  I just pick up the card cylinder, hold the loose end, and unwind a length before snipping it off.

Next time I will discuss various aspects of this project with the benefit of hindsight

April 15, 2016. Tags: , , . Chinese embroidery, Embroidery, Filament silk, Su embroidery, Thread. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Goldwork Part 3

After taking out things I was not happy with, and trying  something else, here is the completed piece.  I have really enjoyed doing this, and intend to do some more, and maybe learn some more advanced techniques.


The parts which gave me the most problems were the leaves.  I didn’t want to make them too blingy.  In the end I took off the one on the right, and started again with a piece of silk carrier rod which has a lovely sheen.
At the workshop I bought some Ophir metallic thread, which is made by Coats.  In view of the problems I have had with other netallic threads, I was very careful with it, and I found that it behave much better than any of the others I have tried.
I have been looking at my file of possible designs, to see if any of them lend themselves to Goldwork.  I think I am going to be in design mode for the next  day or two. 
When I had finished I could see a grubby circle, which I have had to deal with.  I sometimes cover what I am embroidering with a piece of cloth with an aperture. so that this doesn’t happen.  Other times I hold the hoop with a piece of kitchen paper or a tissue so that my fingers don’t topuch the fabric.  The best solution might be a stand which holds the hoop, but that might have to be a hint for dear old Santa!

August 19, 2011. Tags: , , . Embroidery, Goldwork. Leave a comment.

Goldwork Part 2

I had a wonderful time at the Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, and at the workshop the following day.  We all learned five basic techniques using a selection of designs.  It will be interesting to see them finished at the next meeting.  Although the designs are the same, what goes into each section will be different, particularly the bits we didn’t complete on the day.

Five basic techniques

This where I got to on the day.  We did a couched circle, then attached and padded leather pieces.  Next we learned the techniques for attaching Pearl purl, and bright check.  Finally we did some vermicelli.  That was the one I found most testing. We all had such a lovely day.
I have done a bit more.  Everything else has been put away so that I can just concentrate on this piece.  when I have finished this post I will be looking at the work on Golden Hinde’s website, to give me ideas about how to fill the remaining sections.  One or two might need to be left empty, else the whole thing could just look overdone.  This is where I am up to now.
The first photograph was taken with flash, and the second without – amazing what difference it makes to the colours.
I will post part 3 when this is finished and I am happy with it.

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

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