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!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Pulled Thread, No Frame

Pulled thread work should be done in a frame or embroidery hoop. That seems to be the generally accepted wisdom and that's the way I have been doing it.

Then I came across an old book which mentioned stitching pulled work in the hand. Really?! I wish I had kept the reference and not glossed over it and dismissed it because I realized later that although I was used to working with an embroidery frame, I had never really found it particularly comfortable.

About to start on a small pulled thread sampler, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the idea of working in the hand without a frame. At first figuring out where to put my fingers and hold the linen was very awkward and I almost gave up. It was difficult to keep the fabric threads at right angles to each other so that I could count the threads and get the stitch pulling in the right direction.

But once I had figured out how to hold the fabric I found it most pleasurable. It's a more tactile experience having the cloth slide through your fingers as you move the linen and line it up for the next pass of the needle. And doesn't linen feel good? Also I seemed to have much better control of just how much tension to apply to each stitch. This may have been because it was an unfamiliar way of working and I was paying close attention to every stitch and each pull on the thread.

The more I worked the more I began to 'feel' the fabric in my fingers and the better I was able to control the tension and keep the fabric threads at right angles to each other.  I found it useful to be able to get my fingers right to the area where the needle is forming the stitch. The other advantage is that you can use a sewing motion of scooping up the fabric rather than the stab stitch method. This made it far quicker. The other plus for me was that I found working withour a frame easier on my fingers and shoulder.

Working on a large piece of linen may be a different story, but for now I am reasonably pleased with the result. I'm not throwing out my embroidery frames just yet, but stitching in the hand is a good exercise in concentration that makes you focus on the formation of each stitch and it's good practice for paying attention to the tension. That's been good for me as I tend to work too tightly.

I'd love to hear of your experience of doing pulled thread embroidery without a frame or a hoop.

Till next time, happy stitching.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Paper Bark Tree

A couple of weeks ago one of the trees in the little park at the bottom of the garden burst into flower. It's a paperbark tree. For a brief spell each morning the sun reflected off the white flowers and made a glorious picture. Usually the tree blends in with the rest of the grey-green foliage and I hadn't noticed just how big it is.

The 'forest' was planted many years ago by local school children. Perhaps it was a project to observe  ecological succession or maybe it was simply to green the area with indigenous plants. They must have planted hundreds of trees and shrubs on that small plot because there is hardly any light that penetrates between the leaves and in some places it looks as though it would be impossible to push your way through the closely packed stems. 

Walking along the path next to the trees you can see some of the faster growing pioneer species are beginning to die off, leaving the larger canopy trees to dominate the area. We do have a large variety of birds in the area so the wide assortment of trees and plants in the forest does provide a perfect feeding ground and also plenty of shelter for them. 

I would love to get a closer look at the paperbark tree but I haven't ventured into that dense growth. You can't be sure just what might be lurking in there!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mother's Day Gift Idea

I spent the day adding a gift suggestion to some of the listings in my Etsy shop. Etsy provides support and ideas for shop owners and I followed the suggestion to add ideas for gifting an item for Mother's Day. 

'Flowers and cushion stitch' and 'Rhodes and roses' pincushions

The embroidery patterns in my shop are all digital patterns. Most are for pincushions. Customers usually download the pattern, embroider it and make up the pincushion as the gift.

You could also print out the pattern so that the pattern itself becomes the gift and add the threads that are required.

Alternatively, print out the pattern and add a few other useful embroidery items as well. A packet of the recommended needles or a pair of embroidery scissors would make a welcome addition for your favourite embroiderer.

The patterns, thread and other requirements take up little space. They are ideal to take along as a small project on a long trip because everything can easily be tucked into your bag. Except the scissors if you are flying!

Visit my Etsy shop Lynlubell to see the patterns by clicking here. There are needlepoint or canvas work patterns, as well as pulled thread and Australian cross stitch.

Happy Mother's Day for Sunday 12th May!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sewing Table

I need to do a tidy up of my sewing table. It's a beautiful African mahogany table made for me by my father especially for laying out dress fabric and cutting out sewing patterns. The big surface means there's also lots of space to 'put things'.

I have been doing some pulled work and experimenting. There's not much to show but I'll tell you more about that soon.

'Till then, happy stitching.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Notre Dame

It was very sad this week waking to the news from Paris that the Notre Dame had lost it's roof and been damaged by fire. I had visited it twice and found it difficult to believe that a solid cathedral that has stood for over 800 years had painted such a dreadful picture with it's roof in flames. There is an informative pictorial description of the Notre Dame as it was and of what was damaged here. It was good to learn that the magnificent rose windows have survived, the building still stands and that many of the treasures were saved too.

Notre Dame before the fire. Image courtesy Ian Kersall Pixabay
Chilly Hollow has listed links to needlepoint canvases that commemorate the Notre Dame. There is also a link to a free line drawing of the front of the cathedral that can be used for embroidering. Click here to see the list of sites and their links.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Thread Detective

This Good News article made me think of my varsity days in the chemistry lab doing practicals and seeing little smudges of colour appearing on blotting paper. All I remember is that it was a paper chromatography experiment and my partner seemed to know a lot more about it than I did.

But in this case it's the thread that changes colour after detecting certain dangerous gases in the air.

Courtesy of Good News Network
I can just imagine going off to work at the local chemical plant wearing a blue shirt and finding halfway through the morning that it's turning brown, or yellow. And if you're not sure whether you are imagining it, taking out a smartphone camera. Apparently it can tell you of even small amounts of harmful gases in the air. Isn't science amazing?

I wonder if embroidering a shirt or a badge with this type of thread would be sufficient to let you know that the air you were breathing was becoming hazardous.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A little more Reticella

In my previous Reticella post here, Susan B kindly left a comment suggesting a look at Giuliana Buonpadre's colourful work and her book Herbarium. If you are looking for Reticella with a contemporary look, take a look at Giuliana's book here. 

To see a beautiful white on white Reticella square embroidered from one of Giuliana's patterns, visit Yolande's blog Fils et aiguilles here. Both sites have English translations.

I hope you will be inspired.

Till next time, happy stitching.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

First Stitches

I  recently listened to Phillipa Turnbull's interview with Gary Parr on his podcast Fiber Talk. I was interested to hear her comment that beginners find it easier to embroider with wool rather than "slippery cotton" and I had an idea. I had some crewel wool that I purchased from the CEG sales table a few years ago.

Yesterday my grandchildren aged 6 and 8 were introduced to a needle and thread. They enjoy arranging the glass-headed pins in my pincushion but had not yet done any stitching. Both were surprised to find that unlike a pin, the needle had a little hole in it. And, the thread actually has to go through that little hole.

I edged squares of loosely-woven Aida-like fabric to make coasters and started them off with a row of running stitch. The idea was to teach them a few basics like how to hold the needle so the thread doesn't slip out of it and how to sew in a straight line and keep stitches all the same length.

After a few protests of "I can't do this. It's too hard", silence suddenly reigned. And I threaded needles. Then, one tied a knot so that the thread wouldn't come out of the needle and learned that it makes it harder to pull it through the fabric. We all learned lots of valuable little lessons.

I took a photo when the children had a break. The six year old  carefully tried to keep her running stitches all the same. The eight year old quite simply followed his own plan and drew lines with the needle and thread. To my surprise he used back stitch, something which he picked up after watching only once how I began the row of running stitch for him.

Although they did more stitching I didn't manage to take another photo before the coasters were eagerly wrapped and ready to give to their mom who returns from a 10 day business trip later night.

The wool worked well for little fingers stitching their very first project. I think I'll probably use it again for the next one.

If you haven't listened to a Fiber Talk podcast and want some stitching company while you stitch you'll find lots to choose from on the website here. I have particularly enjoyed hearing the voices of embroiderers whose embroidery I admire as well as learning a little more about them and their work.

Till next time, happy stitching.