Friday, February 28, 2014

Stretching embroidery and finding a cork board

Most embroiderers will know that the way to flatten out your embroidery once it is complete is to damp stretch it. But do we all do that? Mmm...  well, not me.

I did try stabbing pins into my ironing board to stretch out and hold my damp linen but the pins didn't go in properly or stay in very well once I started stretching out the fabric. In the end I simply steam ironed the work face down on a thickly folded towel, pulling at various points as I went. Not too good either because the towel left little rough marks pressed into the linen and if I pressed down too hard the threads, especially the numbers 8 and 5 perle cotton, would flatten out and look squashed and sad. The thing to use seemed to be a cork board and damp stretching. I did look for a board from time to time but they have been a little hard to find.

For some time I have been reading Karen Ruane's stitching blog and besides the beautiful photographs of her work I was fascinated by how pristine and crisp the embroidered pieces always look once they have been damp stretched. Karen kindly sent me the link to a post on how she does the stretching and you will find it here. She uses a cork board.

After some more determined searching (what did we do without Google?!) I found cork boards made by Andrew Lundin at Get Cork here in Cape Town. Andrew was extremely helpful in making sure I got what I wanted, advised me on what type of cork may be suitable, kept in touch with me about the progress of the shipment of cork he was awaiting, and finally the making of the board. You can have a board made to size and if you are looking for an unusually shaped cork board this is where you will find one. I couldn't resist snapping this one in Andrew's workshop.

With my board safely home I did a test stretching with a white handkerchief just to see how it went. The damp cotton picked up very slight pale orange marks in 2 places in the centre, and where the pins pierced the fabric a ring of colour about 5mm in diameter also appeared around each pin. (Sorry I didn't take any pics). Further advice from Karen was that some cork does seem to give off colour and that sealing the cork works well.

My dear husband took on the task of the sealing and 5 coats later, though the instructions recommended only 3, I have a very nice sealed cork board to use.

This is the sampler I want to stretch. Its pulled thread work and the linen has become quite distorted between some of the rows of pulled thread squares. The question is: Was my tension far too tight - I do tend to work tightly - or will the wrinkles stretch out?

I'll take some pics as I go and put them up on my next post. Till then happy stitching!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


A friend and I spent the morning picking roses and having coffee under the trees at Chart Farm during the week. I was surprised that there were any roses to pick after the heat wave we have had. The colours in the rose gardens were so enticing but I tried to stick with pinks.

The buds opened really quickly and the colours are glorious. I put them in the passageway between my sewing room and the kitchen so I could stop and smell the roses every time I went past. 

The best scent is from the cream rose with the deep pink-tipped petals.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Felt Christmas Stocking ornament and a clever boy

Yesterday an embroidery friend told me this story. Her daughter had bought two of my Felt Christmas Stocking kits some while ago. Before Christmas she gave them to her 8 year old son to work.

Usually a child who finds it difficult to keep still, he stitched the entire little stocking himself, only asking for help with a knot to begin and ending off the threads. Then he stitched up the second stocking, saying to his gran that he thought he would change the pattern a bit and he did!

The two little stockings hung proudly on the Christmas tree. When it was time to decorate the table for Christmas lunch, he decided he needed a small Christmas tree on the table so that he could hang the stockings on it. He happily hung his two little stockings - on a small fern that he dug up from the garden! After lunch the stockings were returned to their place on the Christmas tree. I wonder what happened to the fern?

The rest of the story was that the boy wanted to know why his mom hadn't bought more of those little things for him to make! Thanks so much for that lovely story Lois. Its always good to hear that your patterns or kits are being used and enjoyed. It makes all the time you put into preparing them worthwhile.