Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Bottle Cap Pincushion Done

When I completed the embroidery for the milk bottle top pincushion, I looked back at my previous post here and realized that I forgot to include a photo of the plastic milk bottle tops I'm using.

I found it interesting that the bottle caps I collected in Cape Town seem to be identical to those on the 2 litre milk containers here in Brisbane. Perhaps the machines that produce the plastic milk bottles and their tops are made and sold internationally. If so, it's no wonder the bottle tops are the same.

You can see in the photos that the strip of embroidered felt that forms the side of the pincushion is quite a bit wider than the height of the bottle top.

Don't worry, it will be supported when the top of pincushion is fitted into place. The circle for the top is filled very firmly and tied off leaving about a 2cm gap.

I rather like the closed buttonhole stitch, a variation of blanket stitch, that joins the embroidered strip to the top and bottom of the pincushion. Although I'd seen the stitch a few times in embroidery stitch books, it didn't seem like one that I'd want to use. When I tried it out on the pincushion, it was just the right stitch. It gives the effect of a narrow braid joining the top to the side. It defines the embroidered band nicely too.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Shorncliffe Pier

The temperature jumped from a comfortable 27 deg C on Thursday to a whopping 37 deg C on Friday. It's not often we use the airconditioner, but by Friday afternoon we were sweltering. As the sun approached the horizon we took a drive down to Shorncliffe Pier on the beachfront.

The wind had been stong all day and the air was deliciously cool. The haze was from the devastating bush fires raging to the north of us.

The water was rough and it's unusual to see breaking waves. The bay is well shelterd by Moreton Island.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the walk along the pier.

It was a lovely restful end to the week.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Elephants are afraid of bees

Checking in to the news, there's much to be glum about when it comes to the environment. A comment in a recent New York Times article by Elizabeth Cline had me a little disturbed yesterday. The viscose-rayon in a t-shirt may well have come from a tree in the Amazon!

Viscose-rayon is a wood pulp product. How does one know where the wood for the viscose was sourced? And here I thought shopping for clothes and keeping to cotton, linen, wool, viscose or rayon and avoiding polyester (a plastic) was doing a good job for the environment.

Degradation of the environment - like deforestation of the Amazon, the impact of climate change and the far-reaching effects of plastic pollution are ever-present topics in the media. So it was a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom to come across a positive, uplifting story. It's set in Sub Saharan Africa.

Digging crescent shaped trenches, courtesy Justdiggit
The region south of the Sahara desert has become badly degraded and the once fertile grassland is largely barren. This is partly due to climate change but also due to overgrazing by cattle and the increasing pressure of a growing population. The result is a denuded landscape, lacking in its natural cover of grass and trees. With the exposed bare earth local temperatures have increased, rainfall has become erratic, and in places soil erosion has washed away up to 30cm of top soil. This all has serious implications for the local people who live off the land and whose cattle are their source of wealth.

The good news comes in form of the Justdiggit organization. They believe that 'if we can warm up the earth, we can also cool it down.' They have devised a number of projects to regreen huge swathes of land. The impressive thing for me is not just the scale of it or the success of the undertaking, but that it is being carried out by the local people who are being trained to implement the beneficial methods and who recognize that some of them were traditional practices that have become lost over time.

Who would have guessed that simply digging crescent shaped trenches, an ancient water harvesting technique, could regreen unproductive land? These 'bunds' trap precious rainwater. They allow it to percolate deep into the soil, raise the water table and sustain the germination and growth of seeds.

Who knew that elephants are afraid of African bees? Placing beehives around a fenced off plot of land keeps the elephants out and allows the trees and natural vegetation to regrow. Harvesting honey provides income for the women who look after the hives.

Who would have thought that trees cut down for their wood would send up shoots from their stumps that can be trained and regrown into useful trees? The trees cool and protect the area around them and this encourages other vegetation to regrow and in turn provides a further cooling effect.

Some women have been trained to grow grass seed banks. These little plots provide grass seeds that can be harvested and sold for reseeding grassland elsewhere. The grass can be cut and sold as hay when pasture is inadequate for the cattle.

Those are just some of the initiatives that have been implemented. And they are so successful in Kenya and Tanzania that a number of north African countries have expressed interest in implementing similar programmes. The scale of the undertaking is vast and the results have to be seen to be believed.

There are some videos on the Justdiggit website that are well worth watching. Each one reveals a little more about the regreening programme. Click here then click on the projects and scroll down. Click though the photos till you find the videos.

How delightful to have such good news, to know that it's possible to rehabilitate large areas of land, improve the lives of local populations and also have a positive impact on global warming and climate change - something which affects us all.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dresden Lily Kit in My Shop

Last weekend I was looking for something in my sewing room. I came across some kits I'd prepared for a Dresden Lace Class a few years ago that sadly I didn't end up teaching. See previous posts about it here, and here.

The class was intended for intermediate to advanced embroiderers, with complex pulled thread combination stitches and a traditional way of transferring the design without leaving any marks on the fabric. I'm not going to be teaching anything like this anytime soon. Looking at the kits, suddenly the light went on. I haven't worked up any new patterns for my on-line Etsy shop recently. Perhaps it's time to let the kits go.

Dresden Lily pulled thread (*see acknowledgements)
To put the kits into my shop Lynlubell I needed some photos, and the more the merrier. Taking photos is not my strong point. With some suggestions from Etsy, I took a few trial shots that I thought I'd share with you. What would the embroidery look like in a frame?

I liked the gold frame with the white embroidery. My husband likes the quirkiness of the photo.

Maybe grouped with items that have an old worldly feel to them? 

I should have stopped the pendulum of the clock. It makes the clock look like its slowly sliding off the sideboard. It isn't.

Next to the candlesticks, a wedding present from my grandmother? Pity I left the modem and my orts jar in the background. Reminder to myself - I need to polish the candlesticks.

How about in the garden with the white spirea, one of my favourite shrubs? 

The shadows are interesting.

Perhaps a bit of colour?  

I like the pink with the white embroidery. I wish I knew the name of the pretty pink shrub. But how about the fence in the background? 

And then the sun disappeared and the sky became very dark so that was the end of taking photos for the day. We did have some much needed rain though. What a blessing to smell the damp air!

Anyway, this week has been busy. I've checked through the kits, investigated shipping options from Australia to the rest of the world, visited the post office to check the weight, taken more photos and edited them, and finally written a listing and put the kits in my Etsy shop. Click here if you'd like to see it. Just to let you know that I have only a few kits left and I will not be making up any more once these have been sold*.

I would never have guessed when I prepared the kits in Cape Town that we would emigrate, that the kits would wing their way to Brisbane with us when we moved, and then eventually make their way into my Etsy shop. I wonder where they will travel to next.

Till next time happy stitching!

*The original design was adapted with permission of the copyright holder, author Heather Toomer, for limited circulation only.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bottle Cap Pincushions and the Bayside Stitchers

I made some bottle cap pincushions a few years ago. It's a nice small project that you can tuck into your bag and take with you to stitch when you want to keep your hands busy but not work on a large project or something that needs more concentration.

I've joined a local craft group at the Sandgate Library, but more about that later. I wanted a little portable project that I could stitch while getting to know some of the local stitchers. I have been meaning to stitch up a few pincushions to keep in the cupboard as small gifts. These little pincushions are just the thing.

I've cut out the small circles of felt to fit the milk bottle caps, a strip to cover the sides and a large circle for the top. The big round of felt will be stuffed and form the top of the pincushion.

What I really like about the pincushions is the freedom to stitch whatever comes to mind, like flowers, or simple line stitches that lend themselves to the narrow band of felt. The other aspect is an opportunity to use a variety of threads and colours, often small lengths of thread left over from other projects.

Many of us use a pattern to embroider and keep to that quite closely. Or we have a definite plan of what we want to stitch. These little pincushions are a holiday from those constraints and are a fun little interlude to the more serious embroidery. There wasn't much to show after my first morning of stitching but I did enjoy it.

Back to the library. I've been to just a few meetings of the Bayside Stitchers craft group which take place in a cozy corner of the library, but 'times they are a-changing'*. The library is going to be refurbished. Both the layout of the library and the hours will change and it will no longer suit the group for our meetings. As a temporary measure we hope to move to a nearby community centre and then will decide what to do in the future.

It is sad that the group which started seven years ago will probably have to move permanently to a new venue, and also that it may not be in our little town of Sandgate. The new, demolished and rebuilt, Bracken Ridge Library which opens at the end of November is a possible alternative.

For those in the Brighton or Sandgate area who would like to recycle bottle tops like milk bottle tops or coke bottle tops, take them along to Dunne and Dusted. Its the little coffee shop in Nathan Street. The bottle caps which are a good quality plastic are being collected for making into prosthetic limbs using digital printing and the limbs will be donated to charity. Things certainly are a-changing.

Till next time, happy stitching


* Bob Dylan 1964

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Traditional Chinese Shu Embroidery

Every now and then you come across an embroidery video that shows some technical aspects which provide food for thought. A number of things struck me about this one that I found on Caroline Foley's website Caro Rose Creations.

I was struck by the confidence with which the silk is ripped, rather than cut; how the silk is framed up, stretched and laced ready for stitching; the little rod that rests on the rolled up frame to support the working arm and protect the embroidery fabric; taking a pair of scissors to the fine silk stitching to cut out the offending stitches; and finally how the embroidery is cut out of the garment it was originally made to embellish and beautifully framed by the embroiderer herself. Lots to think about.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody

I just had to share this rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody by the Rustenburg High School (Hoerskool Rustenburg) in the North West Province, South Africa.

Click here to listen.

Image courtesy IOL Cape Argus

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Embroidered Camouflage Netting and a Coronation Gown.

Camouflage netting may seem like an unusual textile to embroider, but that is just what the Royal School of needle work has done. The Duchess of Cambridge commissioned an embroidered textile for her Back to Nature Garden.

Back to Nature Garden Courtesy Shoot
It drapes over a wooden structure and makes a little den in the garden.You can see it here on the RSN's website. I can just imagine the children having fun peeking through the needlelace openings.

On a different note, there is a very instructive video on the RSN's website showing the work on the restoration of Lady Carnarvon's dress worn to the coronation of George V in 1911. Click here to go to the link. I would love to see the restored dress when it goes on display at Highclere Castle in September. Highclere is now also known as Downton Abbey.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Crazy Patch Embroidery and Book Review

Some while ago I tried a couple of crazy patch pincushions. This was the more successful one where I used Anchor variegated threads. You can see more examples of how the threads stitch up in my blog post here.

Herringbone and feather stitch seemed like the obvious choices to decorate the seams. And cretan stitch looked like a good stitch too because it also spans the seam.

Once I started stitching I found two aspects of crazy embroidery that needed quite a bit of thought and attention. Spacing the individual stitches required very careful judgment and exact placing to get the spacing even. Otherwise it looked rather untidy and higgledy piggledy. Along the way I had quite a bit of unpicking to do to make the lines of stitching look fairly neat.

The other aspect that required some thought was how to embellish those lines of stitching. Plain lines of feather stitch or herringbone looked rather uninteresting and needed something extra to liven them up. This is the really fun part of crazy embroidery. I found ideas here and there but it took some time to unearth them.

Today I found a review of a new book called Stunning Stitches for Crazy Quilts by Kathy Seaman Shaw.  The book addresses both the challenges I had with crazy embroidery. Kathy includes templates for spacing a whole range of stitches and has plenty of suggestions for embellishing them too.

Courtesy Floresita of Feeling Stitchy
You'll find the review with a lot of photos over on Floresita's blog Feeling Stitchy here. There is also a giveaway of one digital copy of the book. And visit Kathy's website here for a link for another chance to win a book tomorrow.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Embroidery Mini Market

The Cape Embroiderers' Guild are having their Winter Embroidery Mini Market on Saturday 13 July from 10h30 to 16h00. Entry fee R20.

If you are going to be in Cape Town it's well worth a visit. So stop in at St Thomas' Church Hall in Rondebosch and join the embroiderers for a little stitching inspiration and a cup of tea. Plenty of parking too.

There will be displays of embroidery, demonstrations of different types of embroidery and all sorts of embroidered items, books, fabrics and threads for sale.

Spring Tea 2017
You will also be able to see the completed Rainbow Leaf wall hanging that was first displayed at the Spring Tea in 2017. There is just a glimpse of it in progress on the far wall in the photo above. Members were asked to stitch a leaf using any type of embroidery and contribute it to the hanging.

Happy stitching and enjoy the weekend wherever you are!