Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year and a Smocked Dress

To end off my last post for the year here is a photo of my granddaughter on Christmas day.

She is wearing the very first smocked dress I made, not for her but for her mom all those years ago. I used a variety of stitches and colours and just had fun. She is a real girl and loves dressing up and putting on shoes. But yes that is a car she is holding! Her big brother who is 3 likes to play with her and teaches her how to play cars.

The last day of 2013 already and tomorrow the start of a new year! How time flies. I wish all my readers a very happy, healthy 2014 and lots of pleasant times for stitching. Thank you for all your comments and support. It's been lovely chatting to you whether through comments, email or in person in the supermarket.

Till next time, Happy New Year and Happy Stitching!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Stocking for the Christmas Tree

Someone reminded me this week about my little Christmas stockings. She had just come across one that she had made after a workshop I gave at an Embroidery Guild Christmas meeting a few years ago.

I've put all my workshop notes together, and the pattern for the Christmas stocking is now available in my Etsy shop Lynlubell - just in time for you to make one up before Christmas.

The finished stocking is about 9.5cm high and is ideal to hang on the Christmas tree. You can even add some small surprises as a little gift for a special friend.

You could also add some beads or sequins to the little stocking for extra Christmassy sparkle.

If you'd like a pattern, click here for the link to my shop Lynlubell on Etsy.
We have family visiting for Christmas so it may be a while until my next post. It will be a busy time with two little grandsons in the house but what fun it will be to enjoy Christmas through the eyes of a 3 year old.
Till then, happy stitching and have a wonderfully happy and safe festive season!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Space dyed yarn

Its a while since I did any knitting and using spaced dyed knitting yarn was new to me. It gives the effect of fair isle knitting but without the careful counting of stitches and the changing of colours every few stitches. The results seem unpredictable until you've knitted a few repeats of the dyed lengths of the yarn, but its intriguing to the last stitch. 

This was for my soon-to-be 1 year old granddaughter. The pattern was a free one from Red Heart and the yarn was Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter double knitting.

If you are looking for a good wool shop in Cape Town try Orion Wool and Crafts in Gardens. Roger provides a friendly, helpful service and has a good range of knitting yarn and some embroidery threads too.

At the same time as I knitted the pink jersey, my daughter knitted a tiny blue one using King Cole Splash double knitting.  We had quiet, companionable evenings sitting together knitting and comparing notes as we went along. Yes, we knitted in the steamy heat of Bangkok! Who notices the heat when you are visiting from another continent and you have an opportunity to sit and knit with your daughter?

The blue jersey is a very small size and the repeats of the dyed length are longer so the results are quite different. I just love the pretty band of coloured fair isle of this one.

One thing we did discover is that to get the fronts to look similar, and the sleeves to look similar, you have to make sure that you start the second front, or sleeve, at the same spot along the length of the dyed repeat of the yarn. We really wanted those bands of colour to match up on each side or we'd have had the random look which seemed a bit too busy for a baby. We were a little puzzled as to how we were going to do that, but once you have knitted the back and then one of the fronts you get to know the wool and how the pattern of the space dyed yarn works. Perhaps this is all quite obvious to experienced knitters. It took us a while to figure it out.

Knitting for babies is rewarding because it goes quickly. The fair isle effect of the space dyed yarns makes for interesting knitting and I'd love to try another little jersey soon.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas presents

In my last post I said I'd been busy making pyjamas for my two grandsons. Here they are ready for wrapping and posting, together with a pair for a little cousin who is the same age.

Its a while since I have been able to buy pure cotton t-shirting to make my own t-shirts. These t-shirts are from a local chain store. I simply cut out cars from the pants fabric and appliqued them onto the t-shirts so that they 'match' the pants.
Usually I leave my Christmas shopping and present making to the last minute. In a way this year is different yet not too different. One pair of pyjamas has to reach Brisbane by Christmas Day. Tomorrow I'm off to the post office.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dresden Lace Whitework Embroidery

For years I have been fascinated by Dresden Lace embroidery and wondered whether it is possible for me to do something similar. Most pulled work today is done on linen, but the Dresden Lace embroidered in the 18th Century is very fine and that is what I find so appealing. The embroidery itself is mostly counted work and usually includes a wide range of pulled work stitches combined with shadow work and a limited number of surface stitches.

Its taken a while to find suitable fabric - fabric that is made from a natural fibre, is fairly transparent and that has a high thread count.  With this fine fabric, I have found that a magnifier and a good light are a must to be able to see and count the threads.

The year is drawing to an end and on reflection I seem to have done rather little embroidery. I did however put a couple of small items on the CEG exhibition a couple of months ago. This Dresden Lace Lily was one of them. Its one of a number of similar pieces that I have been working on during the year.
1. Dresden Lace Lily embroidered by Lyn Warner.

The design was adapted from a sleeve ruffle which appears in Heather Toomer's book Embroidered with White. Another challenge was to find unusual stitches and stitches that vary in texture.

2. Dresden Lace Lily embroidered by Lyn Warner
The other piece I had on the exhibition was a small canvas work book cover and I'll post a photo of that soon. Now to get back to the pyjamas I'm making for my little grandsons - pyjamas with cars on them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Superhero Capes

What do you do when your 2 year old grandson appears on Skype and asks you to please make a superhero cape for him?

First you find a free sewing pattern for a superhero cape courtesy of Google. The pattern I found at threadridinghood.com comes in two sizes - for toddlers up to 4 years. It was easy to print the pieces of the pattern and tape them together ready for cutting out. There is also a clear step by step tutorial on the website here on how to make it up.

Then you dash off to the fabric shop and buy some bright red fabric.  Home again you search through your boxes of fabric that you can't bear to throw away because you might use them one day and you find that red lining that you've had for 20 years. Actually its even longer than that! And it matches perfectly.

Then a Google search for an image of a superhero symbol to applique onto the back of the cape. The request was for a Lightning McQueen cape, but I had decided to make two capes, one for a friend to wear or for a little sister or brother when they got a bit bigger. The Superman symbol seemed simpler than some of the others to use for machine applique.

Since I have two grandsons aged 2 and I wanted to make two capes for each one, the one cape I was originally asked to make became 4!

(The capes were a nice red and not that funny bluish colour!)

Jake flies around in his superhero cape until he's red in the face and ready to drop while Lila, complete with dummy, unpacks the dishwasher. Supergirl!

P.S. Liam prefers to carefully fix the cape around Grandpa's neck and then watch him fly around the basketball court. I laughed so hard I missed taking that photo.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Embroidery Exhibition - Cape Embroiderers do it again

Back from my travels to visit family in Bangkok and Brisbane, I was just in time to see the Cape Embroiderers' Guild embroidery exhibition on its opening day. There is some truly outstanding work on display and a good variety of techniques to interest you no matter what type of embroidery you enjoy. If you are in or around Cape Town do go and see it.

The drive through the vineyards of Constantia along this tree-lined road is worth a visit in itself - even on a rainy day.

And now for some of the embroidery. Here is the charming result of a Guild project where members were simply asked to embroider a 12 cm square for a 'Flower Garden'. We all wondered how the different colours, types of embroidery and range of canvas and fabrics could possibly be put together coherently. What a lovely surprise this was to see.

A two hundred year old sampler was recently donated to the guild, in a fragile, crumbling state. Old samplers are rare in South Africa so we were delighted to have it. It is in the process of being conserved by mounting it onto a supporting linen. Careful research has enabled the tracing of the family history of the embroiderer and a direct descendant of the embroiderer has been found and interviewed in Cape Town. She is pleased to know that the sampler is being cared for and is now bringing pleasure to so many.

Next to the faded antique sampler is one that has been recreated as closely as possible to the original. It took 464 hours to stitch on a 40 count linen!

Some wonderful three-dimensional gold work and a cheerful set of place mats designed for a Christmas lunch:

Below are four canvas work pictures all the result of workshop, and some beautiful counted thread pieces. You may recognize the pulled work on the cover of the book in the right hand corner? It was pictured in issue 77 of the Inspirations magazine.

On the top shelf of the display unit look out for these tiny embroidered houses:

Another group of canvas work pieces, this time four of them are the result of a Bayeux stitch workshop. Yes, that's the same stitch as on the historical Bayeux tapestry but variegated and shiny threads give the stitch a completely different, modern look. On the lower shelf don't miss seeing the exquisite hardanger pincushion in a tea cup.

These samplers were made for a Band Sampler Challenge. All started out the same, but ended up oh so different!

Amidst the beautiful hardanger and counted work on show,

I wish you could see the embroidered swan. His wing feathers are stitched strand by strand just like the structure of a feather and the water at his feet is a shimmering froth of French knots and beads.

Overlooking the garden is a cosy corner of beautiful cushions and I really did like the blue smocked one in the centre made with a striped blue fabric and a single colour of thread.

There is lots more embroidery to see including outstanding crewel work and there is a sales table with some beautifully embroidered items too. Before I left I took a walk in the big shady garden which lies beyond the tea garden at the venue.

Its a haven for birds so birders take your binoculars with you and you may see one of the tiny waxbills that are resident in the area.

The exhibition ends on Sunday 3 November and you will find it at the Little Stream Conference Centre, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town. Its open between 10h00 and 17h00. Entrance is R10. Take your time along the road, it ends rather abruptly around a corner at the gates of the Klein Constantia wine farm. Little Stream is right next door.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Embroidery Exhibition of the Cape Embroiderers' Guild

The Cape Embroiderers' Guild Exhibition opens on 29 October 2013 and runs until 3 November. There will be a wide variety of beautiful embroidery on show for you to see and a sales table too where you can find small embroidered items and second hand embroidery supplies and books. The exhibition takes place every two years and is always a most worthwhile event to visit.

This year the exhibition is at the Little Stream Conference Centre, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town. Its open between 10h00 and 17h00. Entrance is R10.

I hope to be back in Cape Town in time to see it, jetlag and all. If you are unable to visit the exhibition you can still enjoy seeing some of the embroidery done by members by going to the Gallery page on the Cape Embroiderers' Guild website here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Not much stitching

With the arrival of my new grandson, embroidery and stitching have been put aside for a while.

Aidan Joseph arrived weighing 3.57 kg on 12 September and is the cutest little boy.

His big 2 year old brother just loves him.

And I am a very happy granny.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rain and Embroidery

This is about Rain, but not the wet watery kind you may be thinking of. Its about the store called Rain. My niece Genae spent some time in Cape Town recently and while she was here I visited her at work one day at the Rain store at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Rain produces handmade, eco-friendly bath products and accessories.  It provides work for many local women in South Africa who both gather the natural ingredients for the products and also hand manufacture the products and packaging. There are lovely naturally fragranced soaps, hand creams, bath salts and so on to choose from, but what caught my attention were the hand stitched and hand embroidered items.

Much of what is on offer in stores these days is mass produced and imported from other countries. It was particularly heart-warming to see these handmade items and know that they were stitched locally in South Africa.

Bath mittens, blankets and slippers are hand knitted or crotched.

The woollen slippers are then felted.

Sachets and other bathroom accessories are decorated with hand embroidery.

I saw the simple embroidered daisy motif you can see in the photo below on a few items in the store. Its a double lazy daisy stitch worked in a soft white thread and it looks really stylish. It was very nice to see hand embroidery on high end products like these.

I'd forgotten my camera at home the day I visited the store, so Genae specially took these photos and sent them to me so I could share them with you here. Thanks Genae!

You can find out more about Rain and its products here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cross Stitch bibs

Two bibs for two grandchildren, one of them due to arrive any day now. I hope to be visiting them soon.

The train pattern is from Cross Stitcher August 1997. The rocking horse is adapted from a Cross Stitch Ideas pattern - the pages that I have don't have a date on them.

I have always wanted to embroider a bib for a grandchild but the bibs are hard to find. These came from Joann's in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Embroidery calendars

The Cape Embroiderers' Guild celebrate their 30th anniversary next year. To mark the occasion they have published two lovely calendars that are not only good to look at, but are also sure to inspire you to take out your needle and thread and start stitching. If you are beginning to think about Christmas these would make a nice gift for a stitching friend. The first is a calendar for 2014.

There is a page for each month of the year with a photograph of a different type of embroidery. The embroideries included range from counted thread techniques like canvas work and pulled thread to goldwork, needlepainting and freestyle embroidery like this one:

The second calendar is a perpetual birthday calendar that you can keep for years to come.

There is a page for each month with a photograph of a different type of embroidery.  There is also plenty of space next to each day of the month for writing in the names of family and friends with birthdays or anniversaries on that day.

If you are interested in either of these two calendars you contact the Cape Embroiderers' Guild through their website here.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Washington visit

A few weeks ago I spent a couple of wonderful days sightseeing in Washington. On the way to our hotel we passed this beautiful old house near DuPont Circle.

And then this one too.
Lafayette Park opposite the Whitehouse was a good spot to watch the passing tourists and hopefully catch a glimpse of the President or some visiting VIP's, but no such luck on the day I was there.

I was surprised at how close the house is to the street. The road is closed off just here and we watched a TV news crew filming a reporter against the backdrop of the Whitehouse for their broadcast. When after a while they decided to step up onto the pavement close to the fence for filming, several security guards materialized from nowhere and moved them back onto the roadway where they finished off their news report.

It was pouring with rain during our visit but that didn't deter us. There is so much to see. We crossed the Mall in the pouring rain to the Air and Space Museum and stopped briefly for a look at the imposing Capitol. There were rows of tents being set up along each side of the Mall, perhaps for the Saturday market the following day. I didn't envy them out in the rain.

I find the Air and Space museum quite awe-inspiring especially when I think of the brave men who set out in the aeroplanes and spacecraft on display. My photos of Bleriot's wood and canvas plane that he flew across the English Channel unfortunately didn't come out.

What a feat for the Russians and Americans to build their respective spacecraft and successfully link them up in space during the Apollo-Soyuz space mission. The green capsule is the Soyuz.

Nearby a collection of deadly missiles tower overhead.

The display of the aft end of the Saturn rockets that boosted the Apollo spacecraft into orbit is fascinating because there are only one and a quarter boosters in the room. A clever staging of mirrors makes it possible to see reflections showing all five as they would have been arranged for an Apollo lift off. It was difficult to capture all five in the mirrors but you do get an idea of how three would look in the photo below.

The leader of Mission Control Gene Kranz wore a white vest for each space mission, each vest made by his wife. It rang such a bell when I saw this vest and reading the information board vividly recalled seeing Ed Harris wearing such a white vest in the movie Apollo 13.

Although the display is dimly lit, I couldn't resist trying to capture a photo of the moon buggy.  It looks something like a beach buggy but the wheels are filigree-like and you can see right through them. Imagine this fragile vehicle driving across the surface of our moon.

Then later, making our way through the sculpture garden it was amusing to see real birds using the branches of this full-size stainless steel tree as perches, though I wasn't quick enough to photograph them.
I wanted to visit the Natural History Museum to see two things.

The first was the Hope Diamond, a large deep blue stone, measuring approximately 2.5cm (1inch)across. I found the white diamonds surrounding it quite dazzlingly beautiful. The Hope Diamond itself was so dark that I felt it lost some of its beauty.

Walking through the gemmology section I learned that beryl is a mineral and that both emeralds and aquamarines are simply different colours of beryl. The world's largest aquamarine crystal weighs around 60 pounds and is 14 inches tall. It has been cut and faceted in an usual way and the way it captures and reflects the light is stunning. I could have stood there for ages just looking at it.

The museum was about to close for the day but I just had to go and have a peep at the dinosaur exhibit, the second reason I had for wanting to visit the museum. The head on the left is of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and the skeleton on the right is of an unbelievably long 22m herbivore. Standing here I could just picture the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park.

A last glimpse of Washington from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and we were on our way.
And for me, from a water-poor country like South Africa where rivers are few and far between, crossing the wide expanse of Potomac River was amazing.

Embroidery? Yes, I have been stitching recently and I will post some photos soon of what I have been doing. I'll also sort through more photos of my US trip for a future post.
Till then, happy stitching!