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!

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