Thursday, October 18, 2018

Heliotrope 'Cherry Pie' Pincushion

Earlier in June I started a piece of purple Bargello, or Florentine, that I wrote about in previous posts here and here.

As I worked I noticed a straggly shrub out in the garden with flowers of the same deep purple colour.

See how closely the colours match?

The delight of moving into a house with a nice little garden is discovering through the seasons what the previous gardener has planted. The shrub I found is heliotrope and it has the most heavenly perfume. It reminds me strongly of vanilla. Apparently it is also like the aroma of a freshly baked cherry pie! Hence the shrub known as heliotrope 'Cherry Pie'.

The Bargello pattern for the Heliotrope 'Cherry Pie' pincushion is now in my Etsy shop Lynlubell. Click here to see it. As a customer very kindly remarked, this is much more than just a pattern. It's a step by step tutorial with lots of canvas work tips, and many photographs to illustrate the techniques.

There is also a larger version of the pincushion pattern that could be mounted or framed. It could be made into an oblong pincushion or even applied to a cushion cover to update the colour scheme of a living room.

Heliotrope, fashionable in Victorian gardens of the 19th century, has seemingly made a comeback here in Brisbane. I can see why. It has a long flowering season, tolerates hot dry conditions and some varieties have a remarkable fragrance. The one in my garden is planted next to the carport and every time I get out of the car I am surrounded by a soft cloud of its lovely scent. I wish I could send you a little breath of its gentle perfume.

In the meantime, enjoy the gardens around you, and happy stitching!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Smyrna Cross Stitch

The progress on the canvas work spectacle case, that I wrote about in this post here, has been spectacularly slow. There's been more unpicking than anything else.

A gremlin in a stitch diagram had me puzzled. Eventually I drew up my own diagram based on the photo in the kit. Smyrna cross, also called Leviathan stitch or double cross, is a good textured stitch for canvas work. This is how I stitched it in a vertical row. The next diagram shows how the rows were spaced.
Smyrna cross stitch
Once I'd got the spacing between the rows right, I filled in the straight stitches to form the trellis. The number 5 perle that came with the kit was a very pretty pale green but I found it thick and hard to pull through the holes of the 18 count canvas. So more unpicking. Instead, I used a number 8 perle in almost the same shade. Some of the impact of the thicker thread was lost, but it was much easier to pass the four thinner threads through the same hole. 

Smyrna cross with a trellis
The third step of the spectacle case is a row of cushion stitch around the central trellis. And yes, that I have unpicked - three times. All down to my miscounting. As they say, a bad workman always blames the tools, or in this case, a temporary lack thereof. My new sewing room has poor light, even during the day. So, I have since had my dear husband re-assemble my magnifier light. And it makes a big difference now when I stitch. 

The spectacle case? It's back in the UFO box. 

Till next time, much success with your stitching!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Canvas Work Spectacle Case

I've started to stitch a little kit that I've had for years. It's a spectacle case designed by Kathryn Cilliers-Louw. The needle was pinned into the canvas for so long it's completely rusted. It's definitely time to do that stitching!

First stitch is Smyrna cross. It's a double cross stitch also known Leviathan stitch. I'm using three strands of rayon floss which gives little bumpy squares. I like the feel of them when I run my finger over them.

The rayon is proving just what a mind of it's own it has. Thank goodness for my thread conditioner and a drop of water. They do help to tame the thread. I have often marveled at how the embroiderers of Brazilian embroidery manage those slippery threads and produce such perfect stitches.

My pattern calls for five different threads and somehow I have only four with my kit. I'll have to add in something from the threads in my cupboard. All in all it hasn't been the best start to this little project. It is relaxing though to be stitching from a kit. Someone else has worked it all out and ironed out all the tricky bits. I can just stitch.

'Till next time, happy stitching!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Canvas work portraits

A little stitching inspiration for the weekend from the needle of Marie E. Pieres.

Marie E. Pieres

This portrait is the work of artist Marie E. Pieres. I am captivated by not only the figure of the girl but also the texture, colour and variety of the canvas work stitches used in the background. 

There is some detail about Marie's creative process on the My Modern Met website here. And more of her work on her website here. Have a look at the portraits gallery and also the rogues gallery where you will find a portrait of Hugh Grant!

Till next time, happy stitching!

Friday, July 27, 2018

London Pencil Case

A London themed quilting fabric jumped out at me from the shelf when I saw it in the cute quilt shop Pretty Quilts. Incidentally it was not in London, but in Bangkok! And sadly Pretty Quilts is no more. My younger daughter spent a few years working in London so I thought I'd make something as a memento of her time spent there, and the couple of very happy family trips we made to see her. The question was what to do with the fabric?

A zip pouch is always useful and would fit the piece of fabric. A strip of batting and simple machine quilting gave the quilt fabric body.

I had to cut the small piece of fabric that I bought quite carefully. I realized only later that the way it was printed it was impossible to get all the well known landmarks fully included. The little angel charm I attached to the zip pull reminded me of Eros at Piccadilly Circus.

I have a zip bag that I use for small sewing and embroidery supplies. It's rather worn so I won't show you that one. It is faded and very well travelled, but it comfortably carries threads, a needlecase, scissors, tape measure, a thimble and other odds and ends that I think I may need while I'm away.

A zip bag works well as a pencil case too. I made a few recently for a school carnival and I'll show you those soon. I'm still working on transferring photos from my phone to my PC so that I can edit them before posting them up on my blog.

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and happy stitching.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Thread Colour Converter

Sometimes the occasion arises when you are looking for an embroidery thread in the same colour but a different  type of thread. Thanks to a free colour converter on the Cross Stitch Guild website, you can look up threads of a similar colour in a number of different brands and thread types.

DMC stranded cotton and Paterna wools in similar colours
Being able to do so online beforehand and compiling a possible list of alternatives will save you time later when you reach the embroidery shop. It's also useful if you don't have an embroidery store nearby and must order by phone or online.

Below is a screenshot taken when I looked up the DMC stranded cotton equivalent of colour number 932. This screen shot gives you an idea of the thread manufacturers included in the list. I was looking for the Paterna equivalent of DMC 932. It's the 11th down the list on the left. The Paterna colour closest to my thread is number 505.

Screenshot of colour converter from The Cross Stitch Guild 
To use the thread colour converter, choose your thread type from the "Choose" box on the left, enter the colour number in the little box opposite and the converter lists the most closely matched colour for each manufacturer on the list.

Don't expect to find an exact match. In this example the corresponding threads to my blue DMC 932 vary from quite a similar blue to darker, greyer blues and even some quite green. The Paterna wool colour 505 turned out a little different to what I had in mind for a small project I wanted to try. I eventually used the DMC threads that I had on hand, but I was glad that I had found this useful little tool.

The colour converter is a useful guide to similar colours in other ranges. It's a good starting point. However you may wish to see the actual threads before you make the final choice for your embroidery. Click here to visit the page on the Cross Stitch Guild website. Enter you thread type and colour number and see what comes out.

Till next time, happy stitching.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

No email notifications about blog posts

Today I came across a number of comments that had been left on some of my previous blog posts. Usually I receive an email that draws my attention to these comments so that I can read them and reply. No such emails have arrived recently, Blogger!

A few weeks ago I read a blog post on D1D2 about this problem but I didn't think I had been affected. D1D2 is a lovely embroidery blog.

If you go to your blog dashboard, click on comments and find recent comments that you didn't know about then visit D1D2 here. There is a detailed explanation of how to fix the problem. It's a quick fix of deleting your email address, saving it, then retyping and resaving it in your blog settings.

Till next time, happy blogging and happy stitching.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Embroidery Classes at Ighali 2018

There are still some excellent embroidery classes available at the Cape Embroiderers' Guild Ighali embroidery convention. You will find the full brochure on the Embroidery Network South Africa website here.

Ighali, which means 'threads' in a local language, is taking place in Cape Town from 19 to 24 September 2018. It's an opportunity for embroiderers to attend classes presented by the leading embroiderers in South Africa. It's also a time when embroiderers get together, make friends and share their love of stitching.

You can still find a spot in these classes:

  • Margie Prestedge's Smocked dress. You just do the smocking. Wow!
  • Alice Wilson's Modern sampler - ideal for beginners and looks like great fun! 
  • Creative Canvas Work Knot Garden by Vyvyan Muller
  • Lorraine Weers' gorgeous Heritage Box 
  • Lesley Turpin Delport's imaginative classes

I wish I could attend a couple of those. You are certainly are in for a treat if you are one of the lucky ones who do attend. Here are contact details if you are interested in attending.

This year the venue for Ighali is in the heart of beautiful Constantia. Below are photos taken in the area at an open garden a couple of years ago.

Constantia mountain view
Constantia is an historic wine growing area of the Cape, with sweeping mountain views and noteworthy historic Cape Dutch houses.

Historic house Constantia, Cape Town

Find out more about Ighali by visiting the ENSA website or the  CEG Facebook page here.

Happy stitching!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Laying Tool

The little piece of ultraviolet Florentine, or Bargello, that I am stitching, turned up a connection to both beading and medicine. I'm using 6 strands of DMC stranded cotton for the embroidery. You can read about my colour choice in a previous post here.

When you use multiple strands of thread, stroking the threads with a laying tool as you form each stitch gives a nice smooth appearance to the embroidery. Mostly my pieces are quite small and I make do with a large tapestry needle in place of a proper embroiderer's laying tool.

This time I kept dropping the tapestry needle and had to search around on the floor to find it. To make the needle easier to find and keep track of, I attached a few beads. A bonus was that the weight of the glass beads settled quite comfortably in my hand and it made holding the needle a little easier. A few more beads would make it even more comfortable to hold but, if I were to stitch a large project and spend many hours working on it, I'd rather use a laying tool with a solid handle.

Basically, you hold a laying tool in the left hand and stroke the threads to keep them smooth and untangled. At the same time you use your right hand to insert the working needle into the canvas and take the next stitch. Sounds complicated but it's not. Once you get going, it becomes straightforward.

Serendipity! This week the Chilly Hollow blog published a link to a Tulip beading awl, at a reasonable price, that could also act as a laying tool. That jogged my memory.

Some years ago my daughter and I did a beaded jewelry making course in Hawaii. A quick look at my beading tools, and there was a tool with a long metal spike attached to a plastic handle - a perfect laying tool. I wish I could remember whether it came from the big, comprehensive Ben Franklin craft store in Kailua. The label on the little instrument doesn't say but it does say it's a teasing needle.

Apparently a teasing needle is used for medical dissections when a scalpel would be too large. Oh!

Who would have thought that this type of simple tool would be used for embroidery, beading and surgery. It seems rather gruesome to use it for embroidery and beading too, but it's practical and it certainly does the trick. It's also inexpensive compared to a well crafted embroiderer's laying tool.  My daughter pointed out that this teasing needle with its blue plastic handle is unlikely to be suitable for surgery. It was my beading awl. Now I think I'll call it my laying tool.

Enjoy your weekend and happy stitching!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Cape Embroiderers' Guild Mini Market and Embroidery Exhibition


will hold a
14th JULY 2018
St. Thomas’s Church Hall, Rondebosch, 
Cape Town
10h.00 – 16h.00
Entry R20 – Refreshments available
Enquiries ph. 021 761 5052


Click on the link below to visit the CEG Facebook page.