How to keep sane when you can’t stitch

For a moment, just think about your thumbs.  You use them for all kinds of daily tasks.  Whether it is unfastening a button, sliding a zipper, or steadying the handle of a cup, you need your thumbs.

So now, think about if one thumb was out of action.  You can use the other hand for some things, but not all of them.

I have damaged my right thumb.  I don’t know how.  I woke up about a week ago, and it felt as if I had bent it back with some force.  What is worse is that I am right-handed.  The thumb joint has clicked a couple of times, but I am still swollen, and it still hurts, even during the night.  I have tried a few short bursts of stitching, but I don’t think it is helping my recovery.  I was forced to go to a Knit and Natter group and just Natter!

Because we use out thumbs for so many things it is difficult to rest them completely to help the healing process.

On the first day I occupied myself by planning future projects, rummaging through fabrics and threads. I feared for my sanity.  The next day I was rescued.

The answer is a new book.  So far I am enjoying it, and I may write a review. I want to make notes as ideas come to me, but it hurts to hold a pencil.  Thank goodness for the computer keyboard!

The book is ‘Stitch, Fabric and Thread: An inspirational guide for creative stitchers’ by Elizabeth Healey.  It is published by Search press, so not expensive.  So far I am enjoying it.  However, before you rush out to buy it, I have to say that you will need good eyesight.  A good proportion of the text is in a very fine font, which, although it is not small, is not the easiest to read.  A good reading lamp helps.

I did start on the table cloth I mentioned in my post ‘Upcoming projects’, but sadly it is in a box for the time being.

Maybe next week I will be able to get back to it.


January 26, 2017. Tags: , . Embroidery. 1 comment.

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.

White on white update

I’ve finally got back to this whitework.  I was having problems making two pieces look somewhere near symmetrical, and having take stitches out twice, the fabric was getting a bit messy.  The only thing i could think of was to try to wash out the pencil lines which were not quite right, and the second attempt too, thus getting the fabric looking much better.  I pressed it before putting it back in the hoop, which gave the opportunity for a photo.


I reckon another week or so might see this finished.  Next will probably be a goldwork version of the same design.

I have got out all my copies of ‘Stitch’ magazine, and I am going to read all the articles properly.  I am hoping for ideas and inspiration.  In the past I have tended to skim through articles on the same way as I skimmed material when I was a student, then put the magazine on the shelf.  Now that I have more time, I must must make myself read things properly

In the mean time I have been tempted by some beautiful wool.   It is a lace weight made of baby alpaca, cashmere and silk.   I will take it to the craft group, and some lucky people will have a lovely lacy scarf for Christmas.

August 8, 2013. Tags: , , , . Embroidery, knitting, Whitework. Leave a comment.

Now that Wimbledon is over…

I may get some embroidery done.

I’ve been doing other things like decorating the house and seeing to the garden, so we can sell the house.

Here is my reward, just picked.  They taste as good as they look.

strawberries july2013

I have managed to do some embroidery, from a Rowandean kit.  I like oriental designs, and really enjoyed doing this, as the instructions were there for me and I didn’t really have to think too much (which colour, which stitch etc.).

lady with fruit

Today I have been to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.  I particularly enjoyed it as I missed last month, when we were away on holiday. Our speaker was Jenny Boyle, who spoke about beads, and brought some beautiful items for us to see.  Maybe I’ll give beading a try.  I did once make a name badge, using Peyote Stitch, and I have plenty of beads left, so it might just be a matter of finding a project.  Mustn’t buy too much, as we’re downsizing, and I have already reduced my stash quite a bit, so I don’t really want it to grow again.

And yes, reducing the stash was painful, but it had to be done, and I’m quite proud of myself for being ruthless.

July 8, 2013. Tags: , , . beadwok, Embroidery. Leave a comment.

New Year Resolutions

Have you made any?

I’ll just stick to those which are relevant to embroidery

My first two are the perennial ones

– finish some of the projects already in progress

– reduce the ‘stash’, particularly by buying only those items which will be needed for a planned project.
(This means I must NOT be tempted to buy something just because it is beautiful/ a good price/ hard to find.)

I must also add a third one

– spend less time doing meaningless/timewasting/non-productive things in order to make more time for embroidery and other valuable activities.

If anyone would like to comment, and maybe share their resolutions, I might just have to increase the list!

Happy New Year to you all

January 1, 2013. Tags: , . Embroidery. Leave a comment.

Back to normal


Well, at last my arm is pain-free, and I am able to do all the things I want to.   I have got going again in the garden, as the weather has been so good.   I have also had to catch up with the housework.

This embroidery is quite different to anything I have done before.  I have had to wait until I had completed all of the main outline so you could get the general idea of the design.

The fabric is silk dupion, which I have backed with a piece of cotton.  First, each of the component parts is outlined by couching a thick shiny thread.   I suspect it is rayon, but can’t be sure.   It is couched down with one strand of the same thread,  which splits into four threads quite easily.   Then the detached chain stitch needs to be completed before proceeding to the next part.

When I took this out of the hoop to photograph it, I was dismayed.   It is not centred on the fabric!  And I have no idea if this was deliberate.  I am hoping it will look ok when it is finished, but have already re-tried it on the cushion pad three times!

Now that March is here, and it feels much more spring-like, I am feeling so much brighter.   And I am so looking forward to March 24th.   It is the day we put our clocks forward one hour before we go to bed.  Losing an hour’s sleep doesn’t bother me – an hour extra light in the evening is what I love.  Being able to go for a walk in the evening again is something I am really looking forward to

March 2, 2012. Tags: , , , . Embroidery. 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.

Getting back on track

In my last post I should have mentioned our last branch meeting at the Embroideres’ Guild.   It was  ‘sewing day’, where we have all day to sit and stitch, or do whatever else we take  to the meeting.   We also have the library and equipment at our disposal.  And of course everyone is very sociable , so there is always a buzz of conversation.

So it was an opportunity to get a little further with the Group Project.  The scope has been widened, from Jacobean to C17th embroidery.  It is planned that some people will opt for something modern in the traditional style, while others go for traditional.  We have been gathering information in our workbooks.  Some people have put a lot of effort into theirs, and we displayed the work so far for the rest of the members to see.

I have to admit that mine was not one of the better ones.  However I have been looking at Gutenberg Press, and have downloaded a couple of old books which look as if they will be useful.

Some people expressed concern about the stitches which are to be used.  So it was suggested that we each try to take Jacobean motif, decide on the colours and stitches to use, and use it as a practice piece.  Gold was used at that time, so my piece will probably have a little somewhere.

How we will manage to work on a joint project hasn’t been decided yet.

I mentioned that I was looking for a Birth Sampler design.  I found one in the EG library.  I have been adjusting the shape from rectangular to square, so that I have plenty of space for lettering,  and have spaced out the elements of the design a little.  I have also managed to find a square frame, so now that I know how big it is going to be it seems it will be on 16 count Aida fabric.  Can anyone guess which count is the one I don’t have in my stash?  I suppose that was a silly question.

I have also done a little on my ‘handbag project’, but at present it is not going to look good on a photo, so there is nothing yet to show you. My arms is still improving.  I’m not sure what might aggravate it, so I am doing a lot of different activiies, but none of them for too long at a time.

January 20, 2012. Tags: , , . Embroidery. 2 comments.

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.

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.

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