Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The last of my Christmas photos

I bought pens for the boys and last week I decided that I needed to give them something handmade to go with the pens. The rest of the family would open up handmade gifts on Thursday morning and it didn’t seem quite fair to me for them to miss out. So I found two notebooks and spent nearly a week working out how to make a lined cover for each (and less than a day actually stitching the covers).


This exercise could also have been a TIF offering for June. About 20 years ago my daughter made these interesting screen prints and discarded them. I could not bear to throw them out and have allowed them to mature quietly in the cupboard. I also discovered a remnant of red gabardine from some ancient project that almost matched. These covers are the result – the whole project was a total stash raid!











I have cooked 4 of the 5 Christmas cakes I hope to make – fortunately we like and eat a boiled fruit cake – plenty of whisky makes it very festive! There is other cooking to get done in the next few days so I can’t imagine that I will manage another blog entry before the big day – so Happy Christmas to everyone – have a wonderful day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Christmas!

















Christmas week has arrived and I have finished all the Christmas presents I planned – well almost all. I did intend to make a couple of small items but they feel by the wayside. Surely that is normal - definitely for me. Usually I start Christmas planning with the best of intentions and most of those intentions remain just that! So I am very happy with where we managed to get this year - and absolutely amazed that I have them all wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning. For many years wrapping was something I did at 11.30 on Christmas evening. So some things do improve with age!

I used five of my TIF embroideries as inserts for little wooden boxes that my husband made to fit the embroideries. He has done a wonderful job. These are for our four children and my sister. I hope they like them.














Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Cushions







The cushions are finished and ready to be wrapped.
These are gifts for my three granddaughters and they are 6, 7 and 7 years old. They all love pink - however I decided that although I had embroidered with a preponderance of pink threads I needed to make the cushions in another colour.
Amazingly I managed to find some pale green gaberdine in my fabric stash (probably not surprising at all - there is so much fabric in that cupboard.

I am quite happy with the finished result . Thanks to Paula's instruction I lined the covers with carefully (?) quilted fabric - Warm and Natural wadding machine quilted onto some sheeting. I am grateful for Paula's advice as this made a big difference to the finished look of the embroidery on the cushions.
My Christmas stitching is almost finished Maybe I can manage to make one or two embroidered ornaments - I had great intentions to make a number of these for the tree this year but so far have stitched none. There is still a little time. Our tree will go up the week before Christmas when, hopefully, there will be plenty of volunteers for the job and all I have to do is sit and offer advice. Putting up the tree is never a problem but guess who gets to pack it all away in January!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My December TIF

Well this will be a record - I can write up my TIF effort by the 3rd of the month. Sharon has given the concept of generosity for the month's theme. Now December is a very busy time in this household - we have visitors as well as the big celebration of the year so I have decided that since the gods are smiling on me I will be grateful that I can finish the year on such a positive note!

What is even more wonderful is to complete the year with this concept and feel it has really come a full circle. You may remember that in January the theme was based on the idea of considering someone you look up to. My chosen person is the most generous person I know so this was the attribute I considered for that theme. At that time an outstretched hand seemed to me to be the most appropriate way to portray this attribute and I still like this symbol.



Also because it was January and my enthusiasm for the challenge was at its peak I even managed to produce a piece using the chosen colours for the month so, if I withdraw my generosity piece, I still have produced 12+ pieces for the year , despite my using a slightly mature piece for November.

I have enjoyed the year's challenge very much and want to participate in next year's exercise that Sharon is offering on relatively unknown embroidery styles and stitches. To what extent I will do so I am not sure at this stage. I have found the years exercises really made me think and certainly extended what I had learned from the Sumptuous Surfaces class both in how I approach a concept and my stitch vocabulary. However I now have a number of directions I want to explore in embroidery and, as well, I am really getting anxious to try the loom again and find out if I have forgotten how to weave or not.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Undulations - real and perceived.



Side 1 4CDW Reverse 4CDW

.

Ripple Scarf

(Sometimes Blogger drives me crazy - I cannot put these photos in the order I would prefer so I will leave them thus and give up!) Please view the photos in reverse order to make sense of the text.

Neki and I have been talking about texture in weaving. This helped me remember a scarf I wove a few years ago - the aim of the exercise simply was to produce a cloth with texture. Many weavers have done this much better than I have ever managed but I was quite proud of this result. I am not quite sure at this distance in time exactly where I got the idea. I think the original fabric inspiration was a 3/1 , 1/3 striped fabric of Bonnie Inouye’s. Since I used 3/1, 1/3 twills often in my weaving it was an easy design to play with, and even easier to weave. The warp was a fairly loosely spun cream wool, 2/18 or thereabouts, (as you can see this was well documented!) and the weft was a more evenly spun 2/24 wool. The secret to the ripples is in the afterwash treatment. After milling, I hung it from the clothes line (quite wet) and tied a half full milk container of water from the other end and pulled the scarf into shape as it dried. Then of course, no pressing! This scarf is so soft and warm - it is one of the few I still own but I am pleased that I managed to hang onto this one.


My next piece is, in some ways, much more interesting – it has marvellous ups and downs but is a smooth piece of fabric. I do hope you can see these undulations in the photos. The structure is one of my favourites – four coloured double weave. The yarn is 2/20 cotton – the musk pink thread in the warp is unmercerised but the other three yarns are mercerised. I am not sure why or how I managed to acquire that musk pink (and I had a kg) but was over the moon to discover I could mess around with its ugliness as well as I did in this piece. Colour is so intriguing!

From the time this fabric started to appear and I realised what was happening I was smitten . From then I felt that I only wanted to weave cloth with hills and valleys. I have not always been as successful as I would like. Whereas sometimes it occurs without even trying - on other occasions it can take a great deal of effort. It all seems to depend on a mysterious interaction between colours (both hues and values) and structure. I have also achieved the effect using a shadow weave structure and 6 colours. It is just magic that sometimes you can make all these elements sing in tune.

From this one warp and a variety of weft colours I made a series of table runners with coordinating plain weave serviettes . Some of the colours had deeper furrows than others. Not sure I have any photographs of them, unfortunately, as I have given away all those runners and this is the only scrap left.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November TIF


November ends today. Now can anyone tell me where the year has gone? The television weather reader tells me that today is the last day of spring. What kind of airconditioning has she been languishing in for the last month or so? We have had temperatures well above the mid20's most days and even some as high as 34!

My planned TIF embroidery based on jacaranda colours is still mainly a plan - definitely an idea I want to take further but not this year. Nonetheless I refuse to let the month go without something to show for the challenge. Does it matter that I wove this in 2006? I think not.







I wove some coffeecosies and decided that they mustbe lined with handwoven fabric.This particular draft was the result of many hours of sweat and tears. I had decided that the structure would be summer and winter - so easy to make images in that structure! Ha, ha! Yes the letter shapes were easy to put in the tieup but it took me forever to work out exactly which way to get them to sit so that the white lettering read on the green background (I used 2/20 mercerised cotton for warp and both wefts). It would look correct on PCW but then appear in a completely different orientation on the cloth as it came over the front beam.


Then I had to complicate the process further by deciding that I wanted them to read the other way up on the other side of the lining - more tears!


This was definitely an exercise in letter shapes rather than actual words - the words were easy, getting the shapes right was not so easy for the 'bear of little brain'! However I did get there and as well as a series of linings I made a mat with the leftover fabric - just in case noone recognised the puzzle on the cosy!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Handkerchief Edges

With a few days of enforced rest recently the crochet edge on the Grandma’s cloth is finally done. There are now just a couple of tiny details to stitch that she missed and the marks to be washed out of it before I post the finished item.

Crochet is a nice restful occupation, especially when there is no longer a need to consult the instructions. Unfortunately this also means I don’t find it particularly challenging so of course don’t have the patience to sit at it for hours.

With this piece finished it was important to have something under way , just waiting for that errant moment! Mind you, I have to admit that I am not sure about errant moments but I definitely have an errant brain! I have just found a linen handkerchief with an almost finished edging – when I started to crochet it I have no recollection – probably early last year.


I am one of a dying breed who refuses to use paper tissues except when I have a terrible cold. I just don't like the feel. Although I use cotton hankies for everyday it has always made sense to me to put my time and energy into linen. I may have to change this attitude as my supply has almost run out (this is the last, I think) and they are ridiculously expensive these days , even if I can find a supplier. Maybe I had better invest in a few as I think I have given away all but one of the many I have crocheted over the years.




Although I can’t remember this edge, I like it very much and it fulfils my criteria for crochet – the design must be fairly simple, no more than 4 rows deep and definitely not too lacy.

I have been collecting handkerchief edge designs for years and years. Some came from lovely old Myart, Paragon, Penelope, and Semco books , while others were pulled from magazines – this one was from a Family Circle, May 1982. I still occasionally find a book I don't own in an op shop or at a market. Is there anyone else out there who can remember the days when every department store and all those wonderful little haberdashery shops each had a rack of nice fine steel crochet hooks and a tremendous choice of cottons and the small pattern books? Now to find anything like that necessitates a hunt and a drive to goodness know where or else a shop over the web.

I have to apologise for the scan but it does give an indication of the edge and I promise to take a better one when it is finished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogs and Awards

Quite some time ago Carol Anne and Paula gave me awards. I feel I must apologise for not doing anything before this. I had not been blogging very long and while I felt very honoured I could not respond to these as at the time I was unable to use the hyperlinks. Everyone said it was easy, and it turned out to be so when I discovered how! Nonetheless it took me some time to discover how to do it.

Since then Shelley at Mermaids' Purse has tagged me so I am taking the easy way out and following the rules for ‘tagging’ and will give you 7 random facts about me –

1. I am a veracious reader and while I may have slowed down in other aspects of my life I can still consume written matter at a good pace.
2. I am a vegetarian – by circumstance not by intent – still prepare meat dishes for the rest of the family. I am allergic to chili and this makes the choice of recipes difficult.
3. I am a retired librarian who loved being a librarian but who really enjoys her retirement.
4. I like to cook if it doesn’t interrupt my other activities - my other blog is even more neglected than this one.
5. The kitchen tool I can’t live without - my knife set, which is sharp!!!
6. I only discovered that there is a right side and a wrong side to a needle eye quite recently.
7. I have run out of random thoughts.

Now, I am supposed to tag a number of other people but I won’t do that because I realise that some people have said recently they are not interested in tags or memes and of course I can't remember who they were but will take the easy way out and give you a few of the blogs I visit regularly and the reasons why I can’t stay away from their sites. I think they are all worthy of awards – and if anyone would like to regard themselves as tagged please do.


I seem to spend a too much time on the web and there are dozens more I could mention but these came to me first. I hope everyone else I think does a wonderful job will forgive me for not including them . I do intend to add a blogroll sometime soon. One can't hurry these things - how long have I been blogging?


Paula of The Beauty of Life – a friend who makes me laugh – and happens to be a magical embroiderer.
Christine of Lily and Paris – another friend who is generous and incredibly talented with her machine
Elizabeth of Quieter Moments – whose approach to embroidery is unbelievably detailed
Neki of amoveablefeast whose website I discovered because she is a weaver but much later discovered her amazing talents in so many directions.
Alice Schlein of Weaverly – the weaver par excellence with a wonderful sense of humour
Jude of Spirit Cloth – a patchworker and embroiderer with a very interesting approach to her work
Jocelyn of Pins and Needles - another meticulous embroiderer
Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread – a generous needleworker
Megan of Elmsley rose – if anyone can interest me in historical needlework it will be Megan .
Susan of Playing with Needles – a needlewoman who thinks and writes beautifully
Sharon of Pintangle – who started me on my embroidery voyage and continues to inspire me with her challenges
Carol Anne with wonderful Japanese embroidery
Rayna Gillman whose shibori and stories fill me with joy
I cannot omit a reference to Grace Lister who does not have a blog but has some really exciting embroidery on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another pitiful attempt!

I had a good friend once who seemed to be always telling me "A little humility is good for the soul". I am not sure I liked to hear that, then or now!


Nonetheless, I will show you my first attempts at Hardanger with its many mistakes. It was just on a scrap of linen so there was no room for the hoop (of course I didn't have time to add any calico!) and that did not make for nice even stitching. Many of the books say that you don't need a hoop but I am sure I would have been more comfortable using one.

I couldn't count threads properly and ended up with the most peculiar point to my original shape of kloster blocks. This wasn't what I had intended but I could have made it a design feature. However I decided to simplify the whole thing and made the groupings with the needle weaving and the Dove's eye (Spindel) (another mistake in it) and my ambitious Skraspindel or square filet filling. Also it is obvious why a new sharp pair of scissors, more suitable than the ones I own, is at the top of my Christmas wishlist (Santa has promised to oblige!).

Once again my eyes let me down and this is work (on 28 count linen) that can only be done in small bites.

I did learn! I used #5 perle for the kloster blocks and feel that they would have been much more satisfactory in #8. I will use a hoop in future and probably take the time at the beginning to mark out the fabric.

Last week after an extended library loan it was necessary to return the library books on Hardanger I had borrowed - one by Jill Carter and the other by Yvette Stanton (one amazing needleworker!).

Not sure whether I prefer Carter's book, Hardanger Embroidery , because it is the one I read first but I find her easier to follow than Stanton. I am certainly not wanting to denigrate Elegant Hardanger - it is up to her usual high standard - beautifully illustrated descriptions of all the steps . I am just expressing a personal preference. In fact, I will probably buy the Stanton book because I can't find that particular Jill Carter book at a reasonable price. I would recommend either of these books to a beginner.

It goes without saying that this is an embroidery style that I want to pursue further. Much as I would love to own a runner, I am thinking realistically I might manage maybe a coaster, or two when I polish my technique a little (or a lot).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pintangle and Jacarandas

I didn't do this very well yesterday. Sharon has moved her blog to pintangle - she has given it a spring clean so go have a peek. Make sure you she gave us a day or so ago. I have added the Christmas decoration design she has shared to my 'to do' list. Should be an interesting exercise as I have not tried couching yet.

Sharon initiated an interesting discussion on blogs and whether or not it is important to stick to the topic has come up. This made me think about mine and my first question would have to be "Why am I writing this blog?" Is it for me? Or the readers? I can only answer for myself .

The main reason is for me to have an easily accessible record of my work - I wish I had started a blog years ago when I was dyeing and weaving regularly. While I did keep quite detailed paper records the ability to access any particular draft or dye recipe has become so very time consuming now- sometimes I think it might be easier to start again.

Then last year I rediscovered embroidery - something I never anticipated I would ever do again. I find myself absolutely rapt. So now I need to keep a fairly detailed record of this wonderful new adventure. It never fails to amaze me that other people might also be interested in what I am doing,

I reply when I can to comments and I delight in the new blogs I discover this way. My textile world has widened beyond belief since I started this journey about 16 months ago.

As for "off topic"I find I am interested in all sorts of things, the books other people read, their photos, their vacations, their gardens, their cooking adventures, the ups and downs of their daily lives - these all keep me enthralled - sometimes to the detriment of other things I might be doing. Some of my favourite 'textile ' oriented blogs venture far and wide and I realise how much I do enjoy this.

After all this introspection I have decided that I would like to try to widen my focus and start to include other things slightly off topic. I am an avid reader when I get the time - so be prepared to find details of my current reading in this in future.

I have also made a New Year resolution to be a better blogger (Yes, I know New Year is not quite here yet, but aren't the best resolutions test driven well in advance?) My textile output is fairly slow so some off topic input may help.

Now for the eye candy - definitely on topic - these photographs are the inspiration for my November TIF. I hope I can deliver. This tree is in the park around the corner and was at its best in late October.




I really love jacarandas and have left mature trees we planted in various gardens around the country. There are 3 magnificent ones on the 2 acres we had to leave three years ago when we returned to this little block in the city. Unfortunately not even I am optimistic enough to think that we could grow one on this miniblock, but that does not prevent me from revelling in the clouds of blue flowers all over Brisbane each October-November. When I was at Uni the accepted folklore was that if the lovely blooms had already appeared it really was much too late to start to cram. I am unable to verify this - never really brave enough to test it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A failed experiment!

This seemed to be an exercise in "what not to try again". I have never managed to do more than one or two of the TAST stitches that Sharon Boggon ran on her blog in 2007. For many reasons - not the least, I did not discover TAST until the challenge and the year was well under way and even then I had trouble threading a needle, much less attempting any of those "fancy" stitches.

Well life moved on and with 3 of Sharon's classes under my belt I have decided to take on the challenge. I have made the decision not to join the TAST group on Stitchin Fingers - I feel I am unable to commit to a timetable and really want to work through these at my own pace.

I have girded my loins and printed off Week 1 and am ready to go with Herringbone Stitch. I did use herringbone in some samplers for the PLOS class last year - I need to see exactly what I have already done.

Whilepasting the printout into my journal I was taken by two examples of varying heights - as these were two illustrations which I labelled them #7 and #8. Sharon has done these on dyed Aida. I am always on the lookout for stitches that might be suitable for pulled thread work and since I had already used freehand pulled herringbone for the background in my last TIF piece I wondered if these variations might be interesting possibilities.So I filled in one of the squares in my sampler for stitchalong - here is the back view of #7 and #8 .



- not very exciting but better than-



the front view. For #7 I 'stacked' the rows with no threads in between while I left 3 threads between the rows in #8. This took most of the afternoon - my eyesight is not the best and today was greyand dull.

I am definitely not complaining about the weather - after all, we did not even lose power on Sunday afternoon while some people in the western suburbs are still without power and , in many cases, without a roof! A horrific storm came through late afternoon and left devastation in its wake. The rain is still falling - filling the dams - but a headache for the emergency teams. There is a news story here.



Pulled Thread Sampler so far -this must surely qualify as 'slow cloth' . I spent some time recently stitching the outlines for this sampler so have crossed Back Stitch off my list on the stitchalong.

Now I need to get onto my November TIF - I like the idea of playing with my initials but then how can I resist using those gorgeous jacaranda colours that Sharon has given us for this month? Jacaranda trees are favourites of mine - my next post will feature some photos I took recently.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Four sided Stitch


I have not done any stitching for the last fortnight except for this small sampler section. I had used four sided stitch a few times so had no intention to put it in my pulled thread sampler just yet - I really need to investigate stitches I have not used previously! One of the disadvantages of pulled thread stitches is that it is often difficult for me to envisage exactly how it will turn out on my fabric (also an advantage - as I love the surprise I sometimes get when I try a stitch for the first time).


However, after borrowing Tracy Franklin's Contemporary Whitework and seeing some of the interesting things she does with pulled thread work, it was of utmost importance to see if I could possibly manage the doubled version. You use two pieces of fabric of the same count and stitch through both layers at once. I thought this might be quite difficult to achieve but I tacked them together carefully and there didn't seem to be too many problems.


I love the stitch used singly as a background and haven't quite worked out how I can incorporate doubled foursided stitch into my embroideries. No doubt I will happen upon an idea one day.
Can you imagine the possibilities for other stitches? Three sided Stitch - in fact, many of the pulled thread stitches would provide interesting ideas, I am sure.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My loom room - hideaway.

Here is the promised shot of my stitching workroom - in probably as tidy a state as one could ever hope to find it. The sewing machine is behind the photographer and there is a large notice board to the right of the loom. I am extremely lucky - while I know we looked very hard for a house to fill a workspace requirement this was probably the best we saw. The room is the full width of the house and has more windows than most, with two at each end. Its only drawback is it is on the western end of the house which is on a small lot. However I am a 'morning' person so have the perfect excuse for not being able to work at the wrong end of the day. Not that that is much of an excuse as there are fans and, in really hot weather, the air conditioner can be used. The biggest problem is that I need to shut the blinds at the back to keep the sun out of an afternoon.
When I look at this photo I know why I feel so comfortable, settled and at peace whenever I sit down to work, or not, as the case may be.
When I think about my comments on Patricia Bage's book yesterday I do hope I have not misled anyone. While I was disappointed when it arrived it was because I expected something more. The title of the book is perfectly correct - it seems to provide a very thorough introduction to drawn thread work and I am not sorry I have bought it. There seem to be very few new books published on a number of subjects in which I am interested - whitework, drawn thread, pulled thread and blackwork. I am always delighted whenever I find anything. I have quite a list of classics that I would like to find. Yes Paula and I both seem to enjoy searching the second hand shelves in the area . She has very kindly lent me a number of books that will probably only add to my list of wanteds

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not quite cheating! TIF October challenge. Some new books

This is not quite what I intended to do for my answer to the October challenge - how does my workspace affect me? I have had a busy month and had hoped to finish my star that is intended for a Christmas box and then get onto my TIF embroidery. Very early in the month I knew exactly what I was going to do - just how I was going to do it took a little longer to decide. However by the end of last week I knew exactly what and how I would stitch it. Unfortunately life got in the way and I have only just completed this piece. I was beginning to feel quite sad about the prospect of ever managing to do the challenge for October as November is just around the corner - my daughter arrives for a visit tomorrow and then I will be out of commission for the fair part of next month. Suddenly it occurred to me that the feeling of this piece was exactly the same as the feeling I get whenever I settle down in "my" space to stitch.

So here is my offering for October, with no apologies. My Christmas star imparts the feeling of peace and joy I get working in my workroom. I have a rather good sized room at the back of the house. When we were looking to buy it was important that we found somewhere for my loom which occupies more than a four foot cube. The loom and sewing machine area is at one end; there are bookshelves along the back wall (so the loom room serves also as a library ) and at the other end there is a comfortable chair (a nice place to relax and stitch or just think) , a very big coffee table and a high smallish work table where I can sit and stitch or use my laptop. What more could anyone want? Nonetheless, I have to admit I seem to be forever looking for somewhere more for storage for all the odds and ends that one accumulates almost without realising. I will do another post with some photos of the loom and the workspace.

This piece goes back to my first Sumptuous Surfaces embroidery last year - I used only French knots, whipped stem stitch and , in this one, pulled herringbone instead of pulled cretan, as well as the beads and sequins. Unfortunately much of the sparkle does not show up in the scan. The pulled thread work is done using Moonshine, a very fine acrylic weaving thread with a lovely pearlised finish. Neither it or the pearls have any gleam in the image above.

Now I am cheating - I won't put pulled herringbone on my pulled thread sampler that I am stitching for the stitchalong but will certainly cross it off the list of stitches (otherwise I will never see the end of that list - it would help if I didn't keep finding stitches I want to try that are not actually listed!). It does make an effective background and I like the fine thread especially.

I have acquired two new (to me) stitching books by Edith John - Needleweaving and Filling Stitches - both in mint condition and published in 1967. I love her books and suggestions for stitches. Also I got a new copy of Patricia Bage's Beginner's Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery. This one came from Amazon, sight unseen - not my preferred method of buying books. I was slightly disappointed as one of the reviews said there was contemporary work but it appears to me that the only contemporary idea was using colour as well as white and natural fabric and threads. Maybe I am unfair as I really know nothing about drawn thread work and she certainly gives me a good grounding in how to work the stitches. However I would love to have had access to drawn thread used in a contemporary fashion - some people are never satisfied!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Flower Embroidery #3

Well the embroidery is finished on all three designs - unless I add a name to each - am considering doing that in stem stitch. Despite my grumbling about the "pinkish" focus I have really enjoyed doing these and, surprisingly, was a little sad to add the last butterfly bead. The shape for this design came from a recent Ispirations but there the resemblance ends.
Adding the name in my own handwriting in stem or chain stitch has become an issue since I recently reread Claire Bloom's The Inspired Needle. I bought this book in 1962 (or so the flyleaf tells me) - and have read it many times over the years. A wonderful story about her life with a needle much of in wartime - if you can pick up a copy do so. Claire Bloom wrote mainly fiction but I also enjoyed her autobiography. She advocates using script, one's own, in embroidery.

Back to the cushions - I dug in my fabric stash and found pale green gaberdine for the cushion cover - a perfect colour, I think. Now I just have to make time for some machine sewing.
In the meantime I have been stitching a number of my TIF challenge embroideries to card - a job I hate, by the way - and will take some photos when the finished pieces are complete. This will be an embroidery Christmas!!! They might all encourage me to go back to weaving!
Also I have begun to sample Hardanger and started a new embroidery with French knots as the main texture stitch!!! Who promised herself to not start anything until she finished the previous piece? Just a collections of WIPs - however I am enjoying the ability to change direction . Also the hardanger is impossible to stitch correctly (and I quickly discovered it is impossible to fudge things in Hardanger!) without a magnifier so there are very definite limits to the length of stitching time.
For some unknown reason beyond my comprehension I have managed to add some text above the picture! Bloggerland is an amazing country!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stitchalong - a new pulled thread stitch.


Another stitchalong sample finished!


I love pulled thread work - have I said that before? I am not sure why but I feel a real sense of peace and contentment whenever I start this work. Maybe it is working in monochrome? Maybe it is the repetition that I enjoy? Whatever it is - it really doesn't matter but it is wonderful that it happens.


I have a TIF challenge piece to do as well as some dressmaking to finish. However the other day while rifling through Edith John I came across a stitch she calls Chinese Stitch which is basically just two vertical stitches crossed over the single horizontal stitch. The temptation was too great. The two top sections are in perle cotton #12 and the bottom section in filasil - a machine rayon thread. I tried the fine thread for my last stitch sample and have decided that it is interesting to see how each stitch looks in a very fine thread.
I think I prefer the two rows slightly separated as the first and the third. However,I am sure there will be a use for the closely worked kind.
Also I have only tried the regularly stitched version - there are a number of "what if"s that occur to me. What if I make longer horizontal stitches and use more verticals for each one? What if I make regular changes eg. one with 3 vertical stitches, the next with 5, another with just the two again? These could be arranged symmetrically or assymetrically as the mood takes. What if the verticals are different lengths? I could probably come up with a few more variations - just need the time (and good light) to try these out.

Chinese Stitch is an interesting name - I have looked in my other stitch dictionaries and cannot find it. However Mary Thomas uses Chinese Stitch as an alternative name for Pekinese Stitch - quite a different beastie! Interesting to realise that not only weavers like to confuse eg. the weave that is honeycomb and waffle, depending on the country of origin!



I have also finished the third cushion piece but that is another post. Another reason that pale stitching is agreeable - I have discovered one CAN have just too much pink!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

UFOs, WISPs and WIPs - a treasure!


Earlier this month Sharon Boggon had a post on her blog about finishing projects. This led me to think about my UFOs, WISPs and WIPs. I have some UFOs that have been part of my baggage, literally and metaphorically, for up to 50 years. Yes, one would think that it would be easy to dispose of something that has sat around for that length of time. Not so, I find that when I think it might be time to get rid of something in this category, guilt overwhelms me and it doesn't happen - maybe the day I will really finish it is tomorrow.


When I took up embroidery just over twelve months ago (well I should probably say resurrected my interest in it after a long hiatus - like nearly 50 years) I made the resolution to stick to small items and not to indulge myself by beginning too many projects. So far I have kept to this and while I have a couple of very slow projects there is nothing one should classify as a UFO.

Well the point of this post is to document a long term UFO that transformed into a WISP early last year. My grandmother took up embroidery late in her life, at almost eighty. I find it difficult to believe that she would not have stitched in her youth but it was only in the later years that I remember her doing so. Despite her failing eyesight she did manage to stitch quite a number of centres and tray covers. They were all traced needlework on Irish linen that was freely available in the 1950s. At some stage, probably in the mid-fifties, she gave me this piece - one of my favourite patterns - the Blue Willow pattern - when the embroidery was complete. It needed a crochet edge. I felt I wasn't sure I could do justice to something she had embroidered so this unfinished piece came with us from one side of Australia to the other and back again . In March last year I finished the edge on a linen handkerchief and then looked for something else to do. The season had arrived and the centre has two of its three rows of edging complete. I do work on it spasmodically but hope to finish it within the next 6 months. It is something I will treasure as it is the only piece of her needlework I inherited.


Unfortunately while in storage a number of stains have developed - hopefully they will come out when I wash it - I was loath to do so before I completed the edge. I hope Grandma would be happy with what I have done - she was a very cheerful soul and an indomitable character - a very special person.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flower embroideries - #2



Well I am not sure I am not jumping the gun when I say this is finished! I feel that perhaps I should do further stitching on this one. Part of my problem is that it is an Inspirations design and I would like to add my own 'bits' to it. I have not used the colours suggested nor is it an exact copy - however there is not enough of my 'own work' in the design to completely satisfy me. Nonetheless, I think that I will say it is finished for now and go ahead and begin #3.
I have had a wonderful time stitching lots of bullion stitches and French knots.
Added later: I meant to point out the wonderful little butterfly beads that I found for these embroideries - they just happened to be in a bag of beads leftover from the ones I used for the girls' embroidery boxes last Christmas !!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Flower embroideries - #1


Wonders will never cease! Here I am with four blog entries in three days after a hiatus of weeks! I have been stitching, just not spending time on my blog (and very little else on the computer). There just does not seem to be enough time to do both.


I decided to start some flower embroideries for my granddaughters for Christmas - they are six and seven years old so any colour as long as it is pink will be great! I had borrowed Diane Lampe's book from the library and my first one is based on her season embroideries but the flowers are not as realistic as in her book .
The patches are intended for the centre of some cushions - not sure at this stage what to use for the actual cushion cover.

The stitching is in cotton thread much of which is stranded floss, the rest, perle. The fabric used is a quite good quality calico. What is interesting is how much easier it is to stitch some stitches on the tighter weave of the calico as opposed to on 28 count linen - my usual fabric. I love using linen and know there is no comparison of quality, but French Knots, in particular, seem to cause me problems occasionally on the linen but never on the calico. The cushions are meant to be used and enjoyed - so will get dirty and must be washable.
I had lots of fun stitching this one and am already half way through the second and ther are only three to do! Maybe this is the year I will manage to complete the handmade gifts I had planned .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Network drafting and how it started for me

Sometimes I wonder why I am not weaving more!

Yesterday I photographed a jacket I had woven some time ago. This weave was my very first network drafted twill. Alice Schlein had written a book about Network Drafting and I spent hours reading it and playing with curves on graph paper. (Alice's blog is worth a visit especially if you are interested in weaving but she often has wonderful photos without any connection to weaving). The book changed my weaving life and most of the weaving I have done for the last few years has been based on a variation of a network draft. No need to use anyone else's design now!



The jacket is woven in Australian woollen yarn - white warp with a black weft. The pattern, a Marcy Tilton design, was from vogue patterns. I lined and trimmed it with commercial fabric. It is a much travelled garment, having gone to and from Vancouver for the HGA Convergence fashion parade in 2002.

Memory training

What a fiasco yesterday! Sorry about that! I imagined that everyone was familiar with Buzan's memory training technique. After Paula's comment (thanks Paula) I went hunting on the web for it in case I was totally confused (it does happen -my memory is not as good as I would like). However I could only find references to his workshops and a Wikipedia article on Buzan. Neither gave the details I wanted and, of course, I can't find the book!

I did add a line on 'my' version of this - and will try to explain better. A picture is worth a 1000 words so instead of trying to remember the ingredients of a cake I found images to use. I chose fauna - to spell it out - Butterfly represented the butter ; Snake, sugar; Elephant, eggs and so on. I hope this is not as clear as mud! I did say that I didn't find the method particularly helpful.
I really needed something for my September TIF and I didn't want to stitch the Tower of Pisa.

One good thing has come out of this exercise - I have decided that redwork embroidery would not be for me! There is only so much stem stitch I can do at any one time. Back to my flowers and pulled thread sampling!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September TIF - Lists and Lists! Anyone for afternoon tea?


This is as you can see unfinished as I am not sure what to do with the separate blocks. The theme for this month was "lists". My first thought was a stitching of the leaning tower of Pisa but fortunately I decided against that - Paula has done a much better interpretation of that meaning than I could ever have managed - do go see her Whale Makes List .


I then thought of Tony Buzan's memory aid (I am sure he can be found on the web but this is from memory - I read his book in 1979 so I hope I am correct). He suggests if you have a collection of things you want to remember then draw a picture in your head for each - beginning with the same letter as the item - e.g. I need some sugar then the image I choose is that of a snake. I did not find this particularly helpful. It always seemed to me much easier to remember the actual item rather than an image I had dreamt up to replace it.
However when it came to this month's TIF challenge I decided to stitch a "list" of what I might need to make a cake!!


As may, or may not be, obvious I also used the month's colours - possibly a mistake as I think the images would have been more attractrive in primary colours. All the pictures are worked in stem stitch in stranded cotton - two strands - on calico scraps. I don't know if this will ever be finished but I did find some fabric in my stash that could be used as background. The only problem is that I am not a patchworker.
This was a fairly speedy exercise - whereas I usually spend a couple of weeks on the TIF challenge, I only started to stitch these on Sunday.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another stitchalong sample.




After deciding that I was not that excited by Festoon Stitch I was prepared to feel the same way about Frost Stitch - they are not very different, after all- and thought that it would probably be a week or so before I picked up the sampler again. However, while I was leafing through Mary Thomas looking for her version of Frost Stitch, I came across Back Stitch Trellis. She didn't suggest that it could be pulled but said that it is used in Jacobean work and was suitable for a light filling. I had to see what it would be like as a pulled version. The possibility of various shapes of varying sizes made it attractive I really like pulled thread stitches that easily allow variation - pulled satin and Algerian eye, for example.


I began with 12 perle in cotton and decided that the definition of the spaces could look batter in something finer. Then there was Isafil in the smaller triangle - a horrible thread for Pulled Thread work as it breaks easily. The Molyncke white machine thread for the small square performed much better. If I had not decided to preserve the monochrome idea I might have tried a Gutermans metallic machine embroidery thread - I think it look good .

Then there was the possibility of changing the number of threads in each block. The large triangle and the square are 2x2 thread squares while the smaller triangle is 3x3.


Now Frost Stitch will probably be next. It isn't in my edition of M.T. but I do have it in McNeill who says it was developed by a student who made a mistake in stitching Ringed Back - just the sort of thing I would be guilty of - misreading the instructions!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Treat for Friday!!!


Yesterday I had the most wonderful experience - Paula and Moo joined us for morning coffee. We had our mandatory 'show and tell' and I was the winner! I know that sounds as though I had something exceptional to show but no! I had the opportunity to see and feel Paula's wonderful book of fruit. She has blogged about this on The Beauty of Life - do go and visit.


I had studied the book on her blog and thought it looked very lovely - definitely the understatement of the year! It is a treasure, a piece of art, and, hopefully, a family heirloom. While the photos do show each page well, to really appreciate this beautifully integrated piece of beautiful needlework one needs to view it in its entirety. I think she should be very proud of what she has achieved. It goes without saying - I had a lovely morning.


Afterwards I finished the second section of my pulled thread sampler for the Stitchin Fingers . I am working through Sharon's list (well the pulled thread component) alphabetically. I know that Algerian Filling stitch wasn't there in the alphabetical list but I wanted to do that and I regard it as a version of pulled satin stitch. Also I have done Algerian Eye and Ringed Back Stitch in a number of different TIF pieces so I did not repeat those at this stage. Hence the Festoon Stitch. I did a couple of rows of this as illustrated in Mary Thomas, then reversed a row and joined it to the previous one. I tried joining the curved section to the flat section of the one aboved (both rows in the same direction for this one) and the bottom two rows consist of moving every second movement across and leaving a gap between. Hopefully the scan will explain better than my words! I realise that doing this sampler in monochrome is not assisting reproduction - however I made a conscious choice to do so as I want to have a sampler of stitching without the distraction of colour.
I have also promised myself to try to complete a section of this sampler each fortnight - we shall see!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August TIF challenge - balance in my life???


"What is balance to you? Do you maintain a balanced life? How do you balance aspects of your life? That is the challenge this month - balance." This was the challenge that Sharon offered to us for August.
Well, since I had done very little on July's TIF when August arrived I had plenty of time to think about the question. And think I did!
Balance! That was something I managed very well in the past - many years ago when I had 4 children living at home, I worked fulltime and still found time to do the chores around the house and time to spend in the garden and, even time to work on whatever craft appealed to me at the moment. Sadly now I am retired with only two of us to cook for - verylittle demand for my attention - I find that balance is something that no longer exists in my life!
How could I show this? I talked about it at length whenever we stopped for a cup of tea (why do I need more of these breaks than I ever did? Perhaps that is one reason I have less time than previously!) One morning it occurred to me that I have the balance of a yo-y0. I am totally rapt in whatever it is I am doing at the moment and everything else tends to suffer until I can't stand the mess any longer! Then there is no stitching done until I catch up.
have used algerian eye (the diagonal one came from Fangel's Danish Pulled Thread Embroidery (thankyou Paula of Beauty of Life for the loan). pulled satin and Algerian filling stitch as well as ringed back stitch. The threads are all Finca or Anchor perle of various sizes. The one exception is the yoyo filling which is metallic machine embroidery yarn (thankyou Grace for that hint).
As ever I am not quite sure I am satisfied with the end result. May it not have been better to have done the ringed back stitch in the variegated yarn with the other pulled thread in the natural? Also perhaps the outline of the hand and yoyo should have been a stronger colour. Ah well, there is always next time when I will give more thought to these aspects. Nonetheless I do spend hours agonising over colours for these challenges before I take a stitch.
I have recently picked up the A-Z of Bullion Knots so I have also been practising some of these on calico scraps. The results are very mixed up to date but it seemed a good idea to practise whenever I am at a loss.
A postscript - In this post I have also reached a milestone - for the very first time I have managed to add a hyperlink! Hallelujah!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pulled Thread sampling


As I have said a number of times - I really enjoy Pulled Thread work and the effect it can add to an embroidery. I have difficulty in deciding how a particular stitch in a book will look when it is acutally worked on the fabric. Since I have begun to use it as background in my little embroideries I have wanted to do a sampler to have as a guide. However in my usual fashion it was always something I would do 'one day'.
Then along came the stitchin fingers Stitchalong - here was the impetus I needed. I find the idea of stitching a sampler tedious (that was what I had so much trouble doing when I was in primary school - I hated that dirty piece of fabric covered with thread marks that caused me so much angst! Mary Thomas' stitch dictionary has an incredible series of pulled thread samplers so I decided to be a complete copycat and follow her illustrations. Here is the first example of Algerian filling - an interesting one, I think, that will be most useful when I want a subdued background.
When you look at some of the beautiful work done by Sharon and Mara (I wish I could add hyperlinks!) mine is very tame but I have no doubts it will be useful.
In between time I am looking at the TIF challenge for August (yes, I know the month is half over, already) and thinking about the theme for the month "Balance in my life"? How interesting! I am sure that I don't really manage much balance in my life these days so it is a challenge.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

July TIF Challenge





Hello everyone. I am so sorry that I haven't managed even one post in such a long time. I spent six weeks totally absorbed by Sharon Boggon's Studio Journals course. The course was, like all of Sharon's, a tremendous course but I was left with no spare time.
Over the six weeks I did very little embroidery but did start this piece. It is derived from two kaleidoscopes that I produced during the course. I became totally addicted to making these using www.krazydad.com/kaleido .


The challenge for July was Half Way Mark - my interpretation is very simplistic - this is the first side of a biscornu that I embroidered.
This is very late and I need to start my August exercise since we are well into the month. The second half of the biscornu will probably wait until I have stitched the August TIF.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June Take It Further Challenge - Shell, Stash and Stories


This was a delight to stitch. The theme and colours that Sharon provided us with this month were made for my project!
"What stories could our stash tell us and what stories will it provide when we use it." is my interpretation of the theme.
The shell, I have based the stitching on, is a beautiful specimen that I inherited from my mother. It sits in the bathroom and the children love to listen to the song it sings. I would love to know the history of this shell but, unfortunately, I can't translate that song. I don't know where or when it was acquired but it was a very long time ago - more than 70 years.
The subject for this month's TIF for me had to have some relationship to my mother who was not an embroiderer but was a knitter and dressmaker, extraordinaire. She shared these skills with me although I never achieved her level. Nothing was wasted or thrown out if it could be used for another purpose. I inherited much of her stash as well as her stash collection propensities. While this particular shell can serve only as an inspiration it is certainly a symbol of that stash.
Time spent stitching just flew. I managed a new pulled thread stitch - Algerian eye - and made some woven spiders for the first time. Both of these I will use again. I tried some cast-on stitches for texture but I am still unhappy with my efforts there.
Now it is onto July with a new theme and colour scheme and a stitch along with Stitchin Fingers - but before then, Sharon's new and exciting Studio Journal begins on Saturday. I will be busy in July.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

May TIF - Version 2


Finished, I think. This time I used the colour challenge as well as the theme for last month's TIF. While my small granddaughters will probably love it, it is a tad pink for me!
I love the butterfly - definitely an improvement on Version 1. There is something about pulled thread work that appeals to me enormously - both the process and the product.
I am not so sure about the total piece and can see some things I would do differently in Version 3 (not sure when I will manage to do that one). It needs to be in portrait mode but I find thinking in landscape easier - can't imagine why. Maybe Version 3 should be in monochrome. Is that the wrong order in which to work?
Interestingly, I used only DMC floss for the buttonhole wheels and missed the texture of the perle from the previous piece. I haven't found much difference in my work previously except for ease of use - perhaps as my techniques improve (ever so slightly) the differences are becoming more marked.

Friday, June 13, 2008

On the Loom once more!


The loom is singing along again this week. Although I had not done any weaving I was thoroughly sick of looking at the black and white warp . It has been on the loom for almost two years.
To finish quickly (and start a new warp sooner) I decided to use one colour only in the weft - three coloured double weave instead of four - and produce a series of samples. After two inches with an Iris weft it was Marine's turn. What a shock! After weaving to free up the loom I was suddenly interested in what was coming off it! There should be just enough warp for fabric for a vest. It is interesting and is a lovely indigo colour.
Embroidery is not at a complete standstill - I am slowly stitching a second version of the May TIF and enjoying the process no end. However the June TIF is still only an idea.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thankyou for the feedback

How wonderful! Thankyou to everyone who generously made comments on the previous two entries. I do learn so much from this helpful criticism. Despite my uneasiness about the piece I find that objectivity is difficult to achieve so I really appreciate the effort made.

I certainly hadn't occurred to me how wrong the black is in the butterfly but once Meg said it I realised, how true- maybe a dark blue or a very deep black brown would have been much more satisfactory.

Megan's suggestion that I shift the butterfly is a good one. Originally I had intended to use long and short stitch but when I thought about the sett of the linen weave I decided on the French Knots. I am fairly limited in my stitch vocabulary - I keep trying to expand it but it seems to take considerable time to improve my proficiency in each new stitch. I do try to include a new one each month. This time I was happier with my Bullion so it stayed in the piece. Hopefully the stitch-along with Stitchin' Fingers will help me improve my techniques.

Deb you have made me understand my feeling regarding the knots in the butterfly and the flower textures - the butterfly is meant to contrast with the flowers but I think it turned out to be a very 'uncomfortable' contrast. I am not sure how else to describe it.

No, I did not weave the linen - it is my favourite fabric for stitching - 26 count I think. Not great for long and short stitch without a backing.

I will certainly try another one - same design, more or less - different colours and some different stitches. Thankyou for all the positive things you have said.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can't leave well enough alone!


The only trouble is I am definitely not sure that this is well enough to start with. After sleeping on it and spending the morning coming back to have another look I feel that I should do something -I have tried adding some of the blue contrast among the flower sprays. I am in two minds whether to pull out the French knots in the butterfly (I am not sure that butterfly is not the perfect example of a "sore thumb") and redo it in a noncontrasting colour and not in knots, or, whether to keep it as an example and stitch the design again - I tend to the latter as I really like the basic shape and would not mind trying it in different colours with a few minor changes.
Any thoughts , gentle reader?
Here is another scan in portrait mode and with the addition of a few blue knots. In portrait the pulled satin looks loads better as well. What a learning experience!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Phew! A day to spare!


My TIF challenge for May just made it. What do I call myself? Well, as I said last post I am a weaver. However, over my life I have played with many textile forms. I began with French knitting on a cotton reel with nails and made yards and yards of knitted braid. Did I use it for anything? Probably only food for clothes moth!
I progressed to 'real' knitting - white cotton face washers.
Primary school samplers were disastrous however in my teens I tried 'fancywork' as it was then called. Traced designs on linen in bright colours.Later came learning how to crochet and tat. Dressmaking became all important and occupied most of my spare time.
About 25 years ago I learnt to spin and discovered a Visual Arts course offering a semester of spinning instruction- sheer heaven! However next semester the subject on offer was weaving. A new challenge! And one that was meant for me. The spinning wheels sat idle. There have been forays into bobbin lace and kumihimo - all to be used for embellishments for fabric from the loom.
About 18 months ago with an enforced break from the loom I was bored and while web surfing I discovered Sharon Boggon's "Sumptuous Surfaces" course on line. I just had to learn how to make that gorgeous sea horse. After nearly 50 years break from embroidery my hands won't behave as they should but that has not diminished the enjoyment very much. Improvement comes slowly at my age but it comes.
All that history is a roundabout way of saying I consider myself a dabbler in textiles - just as the little butterfly grub samples as many leaves as possible I have sampled many textile experiences over my lifetime. For quite a long time I was totally wrapped in my weaving - rather like the grub in his woven chrysalid - when suddenly I was unable to weave there turned out to be other textile experiences to enjoy. I am just a happy venturer in this wonderful world of textiles.
Am I happy with the piece? Sort of! I had originally intended to stitch this piece in May colours but after starting out I decided that it wasn't working for me. The colours are lovely but for some reason I couldn't make them work. Colour can be difficult. I did want to stitch something in the challenge colours so will keep them in mind for another biscornu when I ahve some spare time. I enjoyed working with two Anchor variegated cottons. I was not sure whether they would be satisfactory for the purpose but was delighted with the result. I also used a variegated Stitches and Spice stranded cotton that I bought at the Craft Show - practically my only purchase on that trip. I tried bullion stitch yet again and this time it has improved sufficiently for me not to unpick - something that has been necessary for the last couple of months. If I can try a new stitch each month I am happy.
The butterfly in French knots - well, I am not exactly delighted with how it turned out. In future if I need to do an area in french knots I will back that section of linen.
Next month and the new challenge are only just around the corner and there is the stitch-along on stitchin fingers to keep me occupied. And I keep promising my loom I will be back weaving soon! Not enough hours in the day!

Friday, May 16, 2008

TIF Challenge for May




What do I call myself and why? While I have been stitching the parterre I have been considering this question and have to admit that I feel a little like Paula from The Beauty of Life and wonder why I have to call myself anything.


However until quite recently I was quite happy to call myself a weaver as that was how I spent all my spare time. While I still think of myself as a weaver I have not done any weaving for 18 months. Hopefully this situation will change in the near future.

My challenge piece for the theme for May is the photograph above. This is a jacket I made from my handwoven twill fabric . (Is that cheating? Never mind!)

I am very fond of this jacket. I find it very versatile and can wear it with a black dress (handwoven cotton huck lace) or with trousers. The dress is fully lined but the jacket has only lined sleeves. Since I am a slow sewer and since weaving is not a particularly fast exercise anything I weave and sew for myself has to have longevity. Who mentioned 'slow cloth'?


This twill draft was derived using a random number table from the internet. There are some lovely 'snowflake' twills available but I wanted something that was uniquely mine. I am always looking for different ways to use my weaving software. The inspiration to use a random number table was borrowed from an article I had read in a scientific journal in 1986. The 'organic' jumper had been knitted with cables that changed direction and size according to the numbers on such a table. I did try this as knitting exercise and produced the front of a jumper . However the cables, which were quite exciting, made the jumper front much too tight so it was necessary to unpick the whole front and start again - this time I settled for stocking stitch- not nearly as interesting but much more predictable.


For the cables I found the random number table in a textbook but now there are some amazing sites on the internet that will generate random numbers any way you like. This draft was a much simpler exercise than knitting cables - to derive the it I used ascending twills for half the numbers and descending for the others. Having got a reasonable section of draft it was then reversed for symettry and woven as drawn in. I wrote an article on this for the Complex Weavers CAD study group and can dig it out if anyone is interested.


Offhand I can't remember exactly what the sett was but I did set the 2/20 cotton closer than I would normally for twills as I wanted a fairly firm fabric. The black dress underneath is also of 2/20 cotton and that would have been set at 30epi.
So I think I still call myself a weaver but I am happy to try anything that interests me in textiles - at the moment that is embroidery.

Hot off the hoop!





Well, my parterre is finished at last. It still needs to be washed. The scary part!

I have enjoyed this exercise and learnt a few things. One of the reasons I don't follow instructions (beside the fact that I am basically a rebel) is that I feel I learn from my mistakes. I certainly hope so.

What have I learnt?
1. The silk and wool twill fabric, although lovely to handle, was probably not as suitable as calico may have been.
2.I need to make sure I pull my thread firmly for each knot.
3.Colour choice was a little haphazard. My plantings were not chosen with any great plan in mind (typical of my gardening style!) I think the brick colour for the pavers is a tad dark.
4. There is a right way and there is a wrong way to thread a needle, especially a #10 crewel.
5. And finally, I like doing this work and want to try again sometime.

Friday, May 9, 2008

On the right path?

I have finished the flower beds and started on the paths - I think they help. This is slow especially as I only work in the morning to maximise the daylight in my workroom. However it is a very relaxing pastime.

Despite working in bright daylight I am not sure my knots have improved very much. The only thing is - I am managing to keep all the knots on the front of the fabric! A relief!

The fabric I used is not calico as recommended in the book but some silk and wool twill fabric left over from a previous dressmaking exercise. The fabric is fairly closely woven and comfortable to stitch into.

I am quite excited! Yesterday I found a copy of Christine Harris' French Knot Pictures at a Lifeline store - a great bargain at $9! It is in pristine condition - dustcover and all. Now I have some ideas for a picture but need to finish this piece first.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Maggie's garden grows.


I am not sure my pansies are all that successful. I have been studying my gardening books for colour combinations to use. While the pansies' colours were accurate, combined in such a small space they didn't look as good as I had hoped. I found some variegated thread for the nasturtiums and heliotropes. I leave it to your imagination which is which.
Since my last blog entry I discovered another book by Christine Miller - French Knot Pictures . She uses the same techniques and produces some beautiful garden landscapes - again, all in French knots. Maybe I need to stitch a landscape at some future date!
Sharon's TIF for May is available. The colours are soft blues and pinks so the palette should be enjoyable. The concept is "What do I call myself? And why?" I am not sure this one is for me. However I am still trying to decide whether I will take up that particular challenge or not.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Started planting


Choosing colours has been fun - unfortunately they don't show up on the scan as well as they should, especially the greens. The garden edging is actually the colour of lavender foliage not grey. The flower colours are not too bad. This is a bit like real life gardening - after it is planted and flowering I often wonder why I chose a particular plant for that position. Ah well! And just as in real life I don't have the heart to pull up a flowering plant so I haven't changed any of the colours I have chosen so far.