Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hardanger Progress

Some projects seem to be destined to spend a long time in my UFO box. The coffee table runner I wrote about here in my last post has spent many years in that box. 

It was this Hardanger pattern that caught my attention - because of the cutwork fillings embroidered in a contrasting colour and those pretty Maltese crosses and eyelets. 

I found it in an old Burda magazine, a special Hardanger edition, full of beautiful items to stitch. 

I adapted the pattern from the Burda magazine to fit my rather long coffee table.

With the Kloster blocks finished and the buttonhole edge done, it's just the eyelets and the cutwork to be completed.

The little Maltese crosses are a lovely dainty filling and I have done quite a lot of them. 

But, I have found doing the cutwork and filling stitches a little boring and that has meant I don't spend long periods of time doing it. How I admire those embroiderers who work on one item at a time, and finish it, before moving on to the next.

To be honest, there is another reason that I feel disinclined to finish the coffee table runner. I designed it for a coffee table that we no longer have. Unfortunately it was quite badly damaged in a move and has been replaced. The coffee table we have now is a treasure, made by my father, and it is smaller and a much better size for our lounge. 

The other place where I could possibly use a long runner, is on our dining room sideboard. But, the runner is about 10 centimetres longer than the top of the sideboard. The edges would hang over the sides and that would bother me. I did look into unpicking some of the embroidery. I would have to unpick and rework it from the ruler in the photo to fit the sideboard attractively. Decisions decisions!

So, for now the cloth is rolled up, ready to go back into it's pilowcase in the UFO box. 

In the meantime, to liven up my stitching time while still isolating and social distancing to avoid the dreadful coronavirus, I joined a stitch-along organized by the local Queensland Embroiderers' Guild. I'll tell you more about that next time.

'Till then keep safe, be well and happy stitching.


UFO - UnFinished Object

Friday, May 15, 2020

Hardanger and Scissors

I'm working on a coffee table runner I started mmm... let's just say a long time ago. It was after doing my first Hardanger course with my friend Priscilla. Every now and again I take this piece out and do a little more. The title of today's post should give you a clue as to what I am now doing.

I've completed all the Kloster blocks and the buttonhole edge. Doing the cutwork part, which I saved for last because it looked like the most interesting part to stitch, has been rather more tedious than I thought it would be and the runner has spent many years in the cupboard. It's time to make some progress on it.

For cutting the threads I originally used my then best pair of embroidery scissors, a pair of orange Wilkinson Swords. On a subsequent Hardanger course with Hardanger expert Lynne, I learnt that scissors with a finer point and thinner blades made the cutting of fabric threads much easier. That was a long time ago.

Yesterday I started using my little orange scissors and I found I was having some difficulty accurately inserting the points in between the fabric threads. And the cuts were not as crisp and free from fluffy bits as I wanted them to be. This morning I remembered that I keep a small pair of scissors tucked away especially for doing cutwork. And what a difference they make!

The blades of the small brown pair are much narrower and thinner, and the points are much finer too. All I know about the little pair of scissors is that they were made in Japan. And, they work very well for cutting the threads for the openwork on my Hardanger.

So, on with cut four, and leave four.

I hope you are safe and keeping well.

'Till next time, happy stitching.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Love in the Garden

I've been stitching a new canvaswork pincushion to add as a digital pattern to my Etsy shop. For some years I have been wanting to embroider a small design that included a heart. Finally sitting down with graph paper and a pencil I came up with three little hearts as the centre.

Around the centre, small pink and green cushion stitches reminded me of a picture on an old fashioned chocolate box, so they stayed. After all, why not have some fun and indulge in a bit of nostalgia?

Then I added a round of flowers, five on each side, also based on cushion stitch. Cushion stitch is a straightforward canvaswork stitch but with heaps of possibilities.

It was only when I started taking photos and looked more carefully at the finished embroidery that I found the mistake in a row of pink half cross stitch.

And I unpicked the wrong row!

Luckily that was easy to fix.

Now came a difficult part. I don't have much imagination when it comes to naming my pincushion patterns. Hearts and Flowers seemed to fit quite nicely. Descriptive yes, but it did seem a bit mundane. Thinking hearts in the name was apt, I Googled hearts and eventually half-heartedly(!) settled on 'Hearts Desire'. That was the name I worked with as I wrote up instructions, labelled photos, drew up stitch diagrams and even started working on my final Etsy shop listing.

Then I put the question of the name to my family. My youngest grandson, who is 6, thought 'Squares and Circles' was a good one. Really?! I'm still thinking about that idea.

Love in the Garden
Instead of Hearts Desire, my husband came up with Love in the Garden. It's a more romantic name he said. My daughter reponded to that with 'Oooh that's a good one', so, that's the name of my new pincushion pattern, 'Love in the Garden'.

You can take a further look at it in my shop by clicking here. The pattern is a digital download and it is available for you to download from Etsy as soon as payment is confirmed.

There is still time if you wish to stitch a pincushion before Mother's Day. Or if your mother or grandmother is an embroiderer, perhaps print out the pattern for her and add some pretty threads as a thoughtful gift. The design was stitched with Paterna wool, a favourite thread of mine. But because of travel restrictions and difficulties that you may have in getting supplies, I have included suggestions with the pattern for using DMC stranded cotton or choosing a selection of five different pinks and one green thread from the embroidery threads you may already have.

For now, I hope you are stitching happily and making something lovely that will remind you of how you successfully navigated your way through the lockdown and this very uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Till next time, be careful and stay well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fine Needlelace

If you are a fan of needlelace you may want to watch this short video from the Musee des Beaux-arts et de la Dentelle in Alcernon, France. I've watched it a few times.

The video is on the Museum's Facebook page. Click here to see it.
Lace was a much prized luxury in the fifteenth and sixteenth century in Europe and it attracted high import taxes in countries where it was not locally made. A lace-making workshop was established in France to produce lace similar to the renowned Italian needlemade laces and so reduce the expenses of the extravagant French Court. A unique style developed and the lace became known as Alencon Lace.

 Although the production of labour intensive handmade lace declined with the introduction of machine made lace, a small band of dedicated embroiderers are working to ensure that the tradition of Alencon Lace continues. 

The video shows some of the steps in the creation of this most exquisite lace that is painstakingly embroidered with a needle and thread. The attention to detail and the level of perfection is a joy to see. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lovely Pulled Thread Stitch

Sometimes you come across a stitch that grabs your attention and you just have to try it out. I found an interesting stitch on Luzine Happel's blog here. Although it's a Schwalm filling stitch, I wanted to try it as a Pulled Thread stitch, that is without any threads being cut and withdrawn from the ground fabric. The stitch is a variation of Honeycomb stitch. More about that later.

I rather like the usual Honeycomb stitch. It's a pretty pulled stitch with a good surface texture too. And it's easy to embroider.

I took these photos on a dreadfully dull, dark day but you may be able to see how the stitch changes with the angle of the light. The overall look of diamonds on the surface changes to a strong diagonal pattern sloping off in one or the other direction.

Going back to the new Honeycomb variation, it's embroidered around a central group of threads instead of in the usual straight rows. It took me a few tries to change my way of thinking and get into the rhythm of the stitch to complete one round.

I don't know if you also talk yourself through a stitch or not, but eventually I was saying to myself  "backstitch; up over 4 and scoop; backstitch; down over 4 and scoop; and backstitch across the corner. Repeat." This will make more sense once you start experimenting with the stitch. There are step by step instructions on Luzine's blog and there are good photos to illustrate the steps too.

Once the first round is complete, the subsequent round lies touching it. At this point, you do need to turn the work counterclockwise 90 degrees before you start on that next round. For me, it became easier to work the second round if I totally ignored the previous completed one. Honeycomb is an easy stitch but this variation of it needs more attention.

I first tried stitching over 4 threads, so that one whole round formed a block over 12 threads. See on the left below.  My second sample on the right is embroidered over 3 threads so that each block is over a total of 9 threads. They almost look like two different stitches.

I still need more practice with quite a few aspects of the stitch: counting and planning where best to start; the little holding stitch on the back that you need before moving to the next round, and always, tension. Now to complete the two areas I started on my sampler - while I remember how I was doing it!

I'd love to hear from you if you try this variation of Honeycomb stitch. I do like the way the stitch is working as a Pulled Thread stitch. It's interesting that the lacy look comes more from the surface threads than from the pattern of holes as I'd usually expect from a Pulled Thread stitch.

'Till next time, happy stitching!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Turquoise and Red Canvas Work Pincushion

When working on a new pattern for my shop, Lynlubell on Etsy, it takes a few stitched samples to get to the final colours and the design of the pincushion that will be listed in the shop. This pincushion was designed by Beryl Saunders.

I had to embroider another one for photographing - the one lying flat on the table. I like to have a photograph of the stitched top included in the pattern and I had forgotten to take a photo before I attached the back.

Turquoise and Coral Triangles pincushion
Recently I came across the pincushion top while looking for something else and I thought to was time to make it up. It's not my favourite job. A pretty patchwork fabric toned in well with the colours of the embroidery and it motivated me to finish off the pincushion.

Beryl has an attractive basket in which she keeps her collection of pincushions. Mine are kept in a shoebox. We had to dispose of all our baskets when we moved to Australia so I used a glass bowl instead when I wanted to display them.  

Hahaha! Making the pincushions stay where you want them in a slippery glass bowl is almost impossible. It requires a delicate balancing act. 

I did enjoy seeing all the pincushions again, and holding them in my hand as I tried to arrange them. Embroidery is so tactile. 

I think I'll keep a lookout for something more suitable for displaying the pincushions next time. For now, all my samples are packed back in their shoebox, and one more UFO has been finished.

Till next time, happy stitching!


*UFO - UnFinished Object

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pouches for Rescued Animals

In response to the original request by the Animal Rescue Craft Guild (ARCG) for handmade items for animals recovering from the Bushfires, I started to make some Joey pouches. At the time of writing this, the response has been overwhelming and more items are not required. This may change at any time.

To keep in touch with any needs of the ARCG, check their Facebook page and look under the 'Announcements' tab. I have written more about this in my previous post here.

It took me quite a while to find the requirements, the patterns and the instructions. It's all on the Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page, but you do have to look for it, and read through it carefully. Just where to look depends on whether you are using a PC, phone or iPad, so it may take a bit of searching to track it all down. On my PC, the tabs are down the left hand side of the Facebook page, while on my phone, they appear near the top, across the page.

If you are interested in the pouches, the Sewing Requirements are under the 'Files' tab. There you will also find PDF's of all the Patterns, and the Sewing Instructions.

The PDF patterns print out over a number of pages and must be taped together. I printed the first 7 (of 10) pages to see how it all worked and get an idea of the size of the fabric I'd need.

Pattern by Piccolo Studio
Each pouch requires 3 separate liners, a bit like removable nappy liners. The liners can be removed and changed by the volunteers to keep the animal clean and healthy. Then they are washed and dried ready for the next change. The outer pouch stays with the little animal. It provides some comfort with its own familiar smell on it while it is recovering.

I cut out the pattern pieces for XX Small, and X small sizes - outer pouches and linings.

It's a long time since I have done French seams, but the sewing instructions are good and I found it was quite straightforward to do. Two outer pouches done. Six linings to go.

French seams are preferable because small claws get hooked up in zig-zagged or overlocked edges. A lot of thought that has gone into the designing of these patterns.

That's one lining completed and slipped into the outer pouch with the cuff folded over. Now to turn the other 5 pouches for the second seam. Ten minutes of sewing here and there soon adds up.

My plan for now is to complete the two pouches and the six inner linings that I have started. Then I'll await further announcements from the ARCG group about if, when, and where to send them.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bushfires and Social Media

Being summer, it's bushfire season and we are constantly aware of that. Thankfully here on the northern edge of Brisbane we are safe and the effects of fires have been minimal. But as you may know, the news in Australia has been dominated for weeks by the devastating bushfires further south.

The average temperatures across Australia hit new records in 2019 and the drought is widespread. The result is that this season's bushfires are burning hotter and being more destructive than usual. It was astounding to see a photo of a car with rivers of molten metal solidified into the tar around it. Fire temperatures there were estimated at over 600° C and possibly as high as 1000° C!

The scale of the destruction of the landscape is difficult to comprehend. Some have calculated that is is almost 20 times as much as was destroyed in the 2018 California fires. The loss of millions of animals and their habitat is heartbreaking. Only very good and widespread rains have any hope of quelling the fires. It's a tragic start to the new year.

Social Media
On the positive side, many injured animals have been found and rescued.  They are being treated by vets and teams of volunteers with a view to eventually returning them to the bush. But a way of lending a little material help to them appeared on Facebook, by way of the Animal Rescue Craft Guild (ARCG).

I joined the group on Facebook and downloaded some patterns to sew up pouches for injured wildlife.  However, I wasn't the only one to join. The appeal went viral and within a week 100,000 other crafters from around the world also responded to the need and joined the group.  They have been sewing, knitting and crocheting bat wraps for flying foxes, nests, joey pouches and animal beds.

Joey in pouch: Courtesy of Piccolo Studio
These items are used by volunteers who are looking after and nursing the injured animals. Australian marsupials including wombats, possums, kangaroos and koalas all need pouches in which to grow and thrive.

Baby Koala: Courtesy of Piccolo Studio
Such is the power of social media that the ARCG have been inundated with donations. In the face of the kind, caring but overwhelming response, the ARCG group administrators have now asked crafters to 'pause' in their efforts They need time to sort and allocate the avalanche of items to the various rescue centres.

They also need to take stock of what they have, and assess further needs in a planned, manageable way. Actively managing a Facebook group of now close to 200,000 is a big undertaking and needs much time and attention. Then there are the logistics of collecting the goods, storing them, and getting them distributed.

Meanwhile, we crafters can perhaps complete what we have begun and then wait to hear from the ARCG. They are doing a splendid job and will no doubt let us know when they are ready to accept more items.

If you do wish to help through the ARCG, check the 'Announcements' tab on the Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page before going any further. All the information you need is published there and it's updated regularly. Patterns have been carefully designed to meet the needs of the animals.  Natural fibres like cotton and linen are best for little animals that are learning to eat and explore the world by chewing and tasting what is around them.

I'll tell you more about my pouches in my next post.

Till then, happy stitching!

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Start to the New Year

The beginning of January saw our overseas family safely back home after a busy and very happy Christmas staying with us. Our whole family were together for much of the two weeks. The four cousins, aged 6,7,8 and 9, were inseparable. They rushed across the little creek at every opportunity to get together and play. Often at 7am!

There were ten of us for dinner most evenings. And if everyone had gathered at our house, we'd leisurely sit chatting out on the patio afterwards. And try and keep the mosquitoes at bay!

It's taken a while to adjust to being just the two of us in the house again and to tidy up and put things back in their usual places. We're slowly settling back into a routine and planning for the new year.

I've started a small sewing project in response to the bushfires and will tell you more about that soon.

May 2020 be happy, peaceful, and safe for you.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Christmas Wreath, But Not Embroidery

The appeal of embroidery has diminished with the unrelenting heat we have been experiencing in Brisbane. I far prefer hot weather to cold, but this has been extreme, even for me, and any thought of Christmas stitching has flown out the window.

Instead, to get into the spirit of the season, I attended a workshop with my daughter to make a Christmas wreath with fresh plant material.

Christmas Wreath workshop - The Soul Pantry
Each person had a bunch of flowers ready prepared for them and we couldn't wait to begin.

We were first shown how to lay down a base of cypress and a little gum. This foliage formed the background.

Then came the flowers, pretty little sprays of pink or white Geraldton wax, a protea, and a few different leucadendrons. Geraldton wax is indigenous to parts of  Western Australia. Since it has been introduced into gardens and moved to grow in new areas, it has become an invasive species - ironically, in Western Australia itself! 

Big industrial-sized fans on each end of the warehouse kept us fairly cool while we worked. 

I didn't quite finish my wreath during the workshop and I was able to take my bunch of flowers with me to finish it at home. Although it was originally going to be a hanging wreath, I think I will keep it it on the table where it lends a special festive, Christmassy air.

Merry Christmas!
On another note, we are looking forward to the arrival of my daughter and family from Dubai this weekend. Then it's the buildup to Christmas with all the grandchildren. There's a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks and with all the excitement and festivities, it will be the new year before I post here again.

'Till then, have a very happy and peaceful Christmas! And happy stitching!