Friday, February 1, 2019

Reticella - Should it be White?

Reticella embroidery has always intrigued me. It's a form of whitework embroidery that combines cutwork and needlemade lace and it's generally identifiable by the square shape of the motifs.

South African embroiderers may remember the extraordinary embroidery of embroider and designer Hetsie van Wyk. See photos of Hetsie's embroidery here and here. Following the detailed instructions in her book Embroider Now, I once tried doing a little piece of Reticella - in pink.

I had just been on a visit to family in Zimbabwe and I had been able to find some Zimbabwe cotton. At the time it was a favourite among local embroiderers because it was an inexpensive evenweave type fabric that could be used for counted thread embroidery, particularly cross stitch and pulled thread work.

It was ideal for experimenting and trying out new stitches and techniques and I was tempted to buy not only the traditional white or ecru, but also small lengths of coloured fabric.

I find there is something especially alluring about white embroidery on white fabric. The question was to see how a piece of traditional whitework would look when embroidered on coloured fabric with matching threads.

Although I need more practice with the technique, I was fairly happy with this little piece of Reticella on the pink Zimbabwe cotton. But, I still think it's hard to beat whitework embroidery embroidered with white thread on white fabric. I'd love to know what you think.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Happy 2019!

I hope that you had a happy Christmas and that 2019 will be a very good year for you - healthy,  rewarding and happy.

This Christmas was the first time all four of our grandchildren were with us. Talk about excitement!

Our two daughters and their families had dinner with us almost every night and the four children (ages 5,6,7 and 8) got on so well together that there were tears when the cousins had to part.

Photo taken by Cindy on the Nudgee Wetlands boardwalk
After a busy but very happy couple of weeks our routine is slowly returning to normal. Cindy and family are back in Bangkok and getting ready to return to school and to work. Bronwyn and family are camping down on the New South Wales coast and we are looking after their two cats.

Besides taking up hems and sewing on buttons, I seem to have done little with my needle and thread recently. Any embroidery inspiration has vanished. I'm sure it will soon return. In the meantime I have been reading and enjoying being able to source e-books from the Brisbane library. The weather is balmy and our patio overlooking the little park is, as my son-in-law put it, 'the best room in the house', a great place to soak up the peaceful surroundings, watch the birds .... and stitch.

I hope you are relaxed, refreshed and inspired after the holidays.

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!