Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nursery quilt

This is the post I wrote just before I went away - it even had the photos in place. I just didn't get around to giving it a final look and posting it!

Inspired by the wonderful nursery quilts made by Lorraine Bode, a Cape Town quilter and teacher, I collected nursery print fabrics to make my 2 year old grandsons each a quilt. Each boy has associations with South Africa, America and Australia. so in among the other blocks they will find elephants, giraffe, cowboys, kangaroos and koalas.

Once all the blocks were cut, it was time to audition the sashing fabric. The grey blue I wanted to use turned out to be a bit dull.  Instead I chose a navy because it made the colourful blocks pop out in contrast.

Chain piecing - fun and quick to do.

Getting there..

 And sometime later ... two quilt tops which I hope will give the boys hours of enjoyment.

The tops are now folded up and in the cupboard, waiting for their backing. I am also rethinking just how big to make them. My first idea was something small, but now I'm wondering if bed size is more useful...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Clip-on magnifiers and clip-on readers

I had an interesting morning yesterday trying out clip-on readers at my local optometrist. I have been using a pair of clip-on magnifiers and can see clearly to do fine embroidery with them. The problem was they don't fit my specs very well. They snap themselves off every now and then and have resulted in more than a few pricked fingers as suddenly without any warning they clatter down onto my embroidery!

Clip-on magnifiers
As a comparison I took along the clip-on magnifiers that I'd bought some time ago from Cape Watch. The only way to compare them was to take along my embroidery, sit down and try first the readers (+1), then my magnifiers (x2), then the readers (+1.5), then my magnifiers again, then the readers (+2.0) and so on.

To my surprise there was no comparison. My magnifiers worked better for me than the readers. I have been doing pulled work on 60-70 count fabric and I couldn't have done it without magnifiers. The magnifiers actually make the tiny threads and holes a bit bigger and I can see exactly where the needle has to go in.

I know several embroiderers who use readers quite successfully with their specs. Perhaps I am past the stage already where clip-on readers will improve the vision I have with my specs.

The optometrist acknowledged that they couldn't improve my vision with their readers and graciously made some adjustments to my magnifiers so that they don't flip themselves off my specs when I least expect it.

I asked about the difference between magnifiers and readers, but all I learned is that a "2x" magnifier does not relate in any way to a "+2" reader!? They are different. Perhaps it has to do with the magnifiers being situated a little distance from the spec lenses while readers fit right next to the lenses?

But then I don't really need to know the answer to this to do my embroidery, do I? All I can say is its important to try out various options and see what works best for you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Goldwork and Bayeux Stitch at Embroidery Exhibition


As I mentioned in my last post, there is currently a wonderful embroidery exhibition on in Cape Town. Titled 'Threads of Gold', it showcases the work of Penny Cornell and it is showing at the Irma Stern Museum. The work encompasses a variety of embroidery techniques including goldwork, stumpwork, beading, canvaswork and freestyle embroidery and is both beautifully executed and displayed. Someone emailed me to say that I hadn't shown much detail of the embroideries. With Penny's permission here are a few photos of individual pieces that are on display.
Notice how the flower is bordered by canvaswork in this piece. Flower detail is below.

I kept finding myself looking at the goldwork flowers to make sure that they were actually stitched. And they are - mostly with row by tiny row of precisely couched gold thread. 

The background of this splendid one is couched too.

Also on display are: An eye-catching combination of canvaswork and patchwork:
 Textured freestyle hangings:

And this charming piece, embroidered with Bayeux stitch and gold thread:
It is one of a series of  Bayeux birds and I could really appreciate them after trying out Bayeux stitch myself. You can see my wobbly effort in this previous post
There is lots more beautiful embroidery to see at the exhibition and there are photos too in the Gallery on the website of Penny Cornell. You can also read more about Penny and the exhibition here.
Gentle caution: If you are visiting the exhibition and stairs pose a difficulty for you, do note that the exhibition is upstairs and there is no lift.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Threads of Gold Embroidery Exhibition

If you are in Cape Town between now and 3 August give yourself a real treat and visit the Threads of Gold embroidery exhibition which on at the Irma Stern Museum in Rosebank. Penny Cornell has mounted a solo exhibition of the work she has done over the last 10 years and it is well worth a visit.

There is a wide range of work on display in the three rooms, but for me the highlights of the exhibition were firstly, the exquisitely executed gold work pieces:

Secondly, a series birds embroidered in Bayeux stitch - all the same but all surprisingly different:

And then, the fascinating books Penny has covered and filled with notes and stitched samples of some of her creative ideas:

(All the photos here are used with Penny's permission.)

There is lots more to see but if you can't get to the exhibition, visit Penny's gallery on her website to see some of her beautiful work.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Home again

Its been some weeks since my last post. I have just returned from my first visit to the US in 25 years to see family and do a little sight seeing. It was a whirlwind trip and quite wonderful to see the family again but the post I intended to complete while I was away is still waiting for the photos.

Back in wintry Cape Town this week I did visit a superb embroidery exhibition and I will let you know more about it soon, together with lots of lovely photos of the embroidery on show.

Till then happy stitching and if you're in Cape Town keep warm.