Flame Stitch Pin Cushion

Pincushion Instructions
Pincushion Instructions

I hadn’t intended to do any of the Frostings Box designs, because I was intending to keep all the threads for my own purposes, but I’ve not been able to settle to anything this summer. I lost my “Dreams of Amarna” notebook (and found it again!), and although I have several pieces I want to do for it, I have no idea how I want to do them!

So I’ve been starting lots of little things to do in the intervals of the next major project.

Test Stitching
Test Stitching

I’m determined not to buy anything for these projects, so I fished out a random piece of linen, and then the next thing was to discover how many threads to use. The instructions said four strands of Soie de Paris, but since I have no idea where the linen came from or what count it was, I thought the choice was worth testing. The left section is in two strands and the right is four.

Four it is, then!

Colour Schemes
Colour Schemes

The next decision was colour scheme. As it happens, I don’t have the colours specified, so I decided to play around until I had something that looked interesting.

I’ve decided to go for green and brown.

 

Suddenly Re-Thinking

Drawing Design
Drawing Design

I bought the turquoise pashmina with the intention of working one of the Stitch-Off designs on it, but as I was playing around with colours, I had a sudden thought…

It’s an absolutely gorgeous faience colour, so why don’t I choose colours inspired by my Dreams of Amarna project. And while I’m about it, create a design inspired by those patterns I’ve been playing with…

That famous bust of Nefertiti
That famous bust of Nefertiti

In the end I’ve decided to take my inspiration from that famous bust of Nefertiti, discovered by Ludwig Borchardt in 1912. It would therefore have been known to Mary Chubb. This picture is a Creative Commons-licensed image I found online, but in this particular case, all I wanted it for was to check on the distribution of small and large segments and colours.

So that’s garnet or carnelian coloured sections, lapis-coloured sections and jade-coloured sections, all outlined in gold. In this case, I don’t want to use metallic thread, so the gold will be rendered in golden-yellow.

Choosing Colours
Choosing Colours

I’ve been working on making a design printing and transferring board, so I pinned out the end of the pashmina I want to embellish on the board, and simply drew straight lines as a guide.

Then I had a wonderful time fishing out jewel-coloured silk threads.

All I need now is some idea of the stitches I intend to use!

Something Simple(-ish)

Briggs Transfer
Briggs Transfer

The Azorean Cutwork was not a very successful travelling project, as it needed to be precise, and the poor light of the average hotel-room made precision difficult.

I think this tea-cloth came from the same lady responsible for my fragment of the Quaker Tapestry, and the extra embroidery frames I knew I hadn’t bought. The instructions suggest a welter of unlikely colours and an excess of satin stitch, and I was nearly weak enough for follow them.

Blanket Stitch Fans
Blanket Stitch Fans

Then my mother pointed out that I’ve just done a single-stitch project, and should maybe cut loose a bit.

No sooner suggested than taken up! The wild colours are staying, but the stitchery will be a little more diverse…

After doing yellow satin stitch daisies with orange centres, I used blanket stitch fans for the next flower. I’m sure I’ve seen this before, or used it before, but I can’t remember where!

Nested Fly Stitch Petals
Nested Fly Stitch Petals

The design is composed of four corner designs and four straight sections which are all the same. I’m working each bit as I decide on it, rather than working one whole side and then copying it three times. That means that the puzzling and decision making is alternating with the stitching, rather than an orgy of decisions followed by the tedium of doing the same thing over and over and over again.

The purple flower is part of the corner motif, and alternates fishbone stitch (the dark petals) with nested fly stitches. The centre is a circle of blanket stitches with some random interlacing to fill them in.

Still more work on Topsy..

Sleeve Lace
Sleeve Lace

Report Number Three, including a hiatus or two…

The choice of this lace pattern is teaching me to use two gimp threads and to create a honeycomb effect – training me for the more complicated lace for the edge of the dress. I had a bit of a problem with this as I have the designated pairs of 15 bobbins plus the gimp and seem to be one pair short in the ground. After taking it out three or four times, changing where I hung the bobbin pairs to see if that made things right, the problem didn’t disappear so I developed my own fudge which seems to work!

(Inset: I even asked for help on Twitter, and everyone was as flummoxed as we were!)

Embroidery For Dress
Embroidery For Dress

Despite the complications above, I completed the first stretch of fudged lace for the sleeve in two weeks! I think that is because I am now lace-oriented, so that instructions are more readable, need less working out! Obviously, I’ve misread something, or I wouldn’t have to fudge – maybe the second piece of lace will resolve the matter. This project is taking less time than I thought it would, though I can see the final stretch of lace for the dress itself taking a lot longer.

While I was working on the lace for the dress, I made and embroidered it. Topsy’s long dress is embroidered across the skirt and on the sleeves. I kept the embroidery on the dress simple. Blue is my favourite colour and it goes very well with her dark skin. The design is built up of small transfers arranged to give a pleasing flow – and the stitching not too varied. As she is a baby doll, a light touch in the design and in the stitching seems appropriate.

Sleeve Embroidery
Sleeve Embroidery

So, the larger flowers are either Blanket Stitch or Reverse Blanket Stitch, the smaller ones suggested in Lazy Daisy, as are some of the leaves. The larger leaves are in Feather Stitch. The main stem is, not surprisingly, in Stem stitch while the thinner ones are Backstitched.

Long-standing readers may recognise the flower forms from the Flowered Blouse I embroidered using transfers from one of my issues of “The Needlewoman” inherited from Grandmama….!

Inspired By Spring Flowers – 3

Four Stitched Panels
Four Stitched Panels

I decided to create a chequerboard effect for the pincushion. The four panels are stab-stitched together with the raw edges visible. I think that makes for an interesting effect, although it can be over-used.

The first panel has a few French Knots, lots of straight stitches, and some singleton scroll stitches around the base of the stems.

The second is lots of French knots, and palmate leaves made of lazy daisy stitches.

The third is primarily lazy daisy stitch, with the flowers made using blanket stitch.

The four panel is feather stitch with French Knots.

The pincushion
The pincushion

The pincushion is only lightly stuffed. I felt that somehow stuffing it to the point of solidity wouldn’t be quite right, although I don’t know why.

In this case I closed the edges with glove stitch. This is really a sort of variant on overcast stitch, so it isn’t difficult, but – even with shaggy bits of embellished fabric appearing around the edges! – it gives a slightly more “finished” effect.

One of those details that most people don’t consciously notice, but it still has an effect…

The Set
The Set

The finished set looks cheerful and springlike, in spite of the increasingly distant relationship between the stitchery and the spring flowers that inspired me.

I’m rather pleased; even if it took me months to find the inspiration, the final result makes me smile!

A Pause In The Modern Stitch Off

From The Back
From The Back

I’ve reached a sort of sticking point with the Modern StitchOff project, so I’ve decided to pause and think about it.

I took the blanket outside (all four and three-quarter pounds of it!) and hung it on the washing line to stare at, and photograph for you.

This is the reverse side – that is, the side you don’t see when sitting at the embellisher, trying not to break needles.

From The Front
From The Front

This is the front. It can be quite fluffy – the hexagonal net keeps fibre in place while embellishing, but at the cost of sometimes failing to realise it hasn’t been firmly enough attached. I’m learning that I need to make a first pass with the net, trying to be thorough, but then take off the net and go over the same area again.

I’m also noticing that although I used two different types of felt for the leaf shapes, and they behave differently under the needles, the effect on front and back is sufficiently similar that in future I will pick the felt which felts easily (if you follow me!).

The reverse has a rather intriguing spotty effect. When there’s only one layer of embellishing it is easy to see that it is one tiny dot of colour for every needle (which makes sense!). The front varies rather more, sometimes flat and densely textured by the needles, sometimes fluffy and fly away.

My challenge now is to work out how to extend the colour and texture to the rest of the blanket, and then to decide, do I add some lines of roving, and if so, how. Although if anyone suggests using a hand-embellisher, my howls of outrage will be heard by NASA’s “Juno”!

Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off – A Traycloth

Don't Do This
Don’t Do This

One of the few things that made being poorly tolerable when I was a small child was the way my food arrived – on the good china, on a tray, covered with a traycloth. A hand embroidered traycloth, no less!

It wasn’t enough to encourage me to malinger, I hasten to add. But anything to give the invalid a lift…

Not surprisingly, the family stock of traycloths is somewhat reduced since those days, many of those traycloths having disintegrated after long and faithful service, so I though that I would use some of the flower sprays found among the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off patterns to embroider some more.

I decided to make my own transfers, and promptly discovered a forgotten hazard that I should have added to that post on Transferring Designs. Whatever you do, if you are using a steam iron, Switch Off The Steam! Not only is the transfer not usable again, it didn’t work the first time!

Flower Spray
Flower Spray

Once I’d got the steam switched off, things improved, and I got two sprays transferred onto diagonally opposite corners of a traycloth I found lying around, unadorned. It’s linen, too, so I’m amazed it has taken me this long to embellish it!

Starting The Spray
Starting The Spray

I’m no botanist, so I can’t hazard a guess at the flower this is intended to be. It may not be intended as anything up a pretty combination of shapes, of course, in which case any eccentricities of stitching are unlikely to matter very much..

I’ve decided to go for some bright, cheerful yellows – to cheer up any invalids who might see it!

Azorean Cutwork Finished At Last!

Stretching the Azorean Cutwork
Stretching the Azorean Cutwork

It has taken a long time, but I have finally finished the miles of close blanket stitch, the buttonhole bars, and the eyelets on the Azorean Cutwork, which I began in 2013. The idea was that it would be a good travelling project, but it really wasn’t. White on white rather needs good light, and good light is one of the things I rarely get when travelling.

I threw it in the washing machine, and stretched it on a cork board as soon as it came out. Already it is looking better!

Stretching Azorean Cutwork - SecondTime
Stretching Azorean Cutwork – Second Time

The next stage was to cut out all of the internal spaces, and then wash and stretch the piece again. The cutting is fiddly, and a bit anxious (what if I cut through one of those buttonhole bars? what if I cut through one of the edges?) and it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to be able to stretch it out to see whether I had damaged something. The edges allowed me to do that.

Some of the sections I was plainly too nervous to cut out well enough, so I was also hoping that agitation in the washing machine would help settle the stitching and slightly fray the edges that need more trimming.

Oh dear!
Oh dear!
Repaired
Repaired

Then there was some repairing to do. This wasn’t the only section that needed repair, and they actually didn’t take that long, but there were a few growls, all the same!

Trimming The Edge
Trimming The Edge

Next I had to trim the edges. The challenge lay in finding the right pair of scissors. I have loads of pairs, but what I really need is a sharpener. So many of them are only sharp at one part of the blade, and then the fabric simply gets chewed. “The scissors ate my homework” may sound eccentric, but it certainly felt like that!

Azorean Cutwork Finished
Azorean Cutwork Finished

Washed (yet again!) and ironed, I have finally finished it!

I may have some more repairs to do, when it’s had a little use, but in the meantime, it was an interesting exercise, if rather more fun in retrospect than it was at the time. I would do the buttonhole bars differently another time – they went too deeply into the borders, and caused a lot of muttering!

Eucalyptus Leaf Napkins

Finished Chairs
Finished Chairs

Some of you may remember the dining room chairs that I finally finished about four years ago. The Eucalyptus pattern – which is similar to a frieze I stencilled above the picture rail – is a nod to my husband The Australian, and I have been intending for some time to work some napkins echoing the pattern.

In fact, I found some yellow cotton napkins and bought them some time ago, but didn’t get around to doing the embroidery until now.

I only got around to it now, because my back went into spasm a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been alternating stretches with sitting still in hopes that it would recover. The blanket is too heavy, and I can’t sit upright at a frame, so I’ve been casting around for embroidery to do in the hand….

Double Branch Motif
Double Branch Motif
Single Branch Motif
Single Branch Motif

Since there were four napkins, I’ve done two in a double branch motif, and two in a single branch motif, which I sketched out freehand, and then traced and transferred with prick and pounce.

The singles took an evening each, and I think the doubles took two – instagrammers will have seen them in progress.

Eucalyptus Napkins
Eucalyptus Napkins

What hasn’t worked at all is the photography. The napkins are a lovely bright, warm, golden-yellow, and I’ve not managed to get a true colour from either my smart phone or my camera.

But I assure you, they look delightful, and very appropriate in the dining room, echoing the golden yellow of the walls below the frieze, as they echo the pattern above it…

Amarna Geese – stage 2

Detail Added To The Geese
Detail Added To The Geese

I’ve started adding more detail with needle and thread. The chevron pattern, the eyes, and the detail on the beak are all made using straight stitches in single strands of Appletons wool. I can’t think where I got a whole series of greys, unless it’s from hand-me-downs. I’m glad I have them now, but it isn’t a colour I much like and I can’t imagine going out and buying them!

For the legs, I have used three different colours of wool in the needle. I can see that for all my staring at photographs and trying to sketch, I’ve not really got a clear or accurate idea of the details of goose anatomy! And somehow, for all my care in placing the cut out felt geese, they’ve ended up attached in not-quite-the-right place.

Geese Needlefelted
Geese Needlefelted

Still, let’s not despair.

I’ve also added some ground below the the geese. Three strands of different colours of wool, again. I did a sort of loopy knot stitch crossed with a split stitch, which I couldn’t reproduce if I tried. But it produces a very good broken-ground effect, so as long as I don’t decide I need more ground, we’ll be fine.

Then I sat down at the embellisher and tried to blend the fabrics together. This meant quite heavy embellishing, but fortunately the fabrics are none of them dense, so there was room for the fibres to mingle.

When I noticed that the legs weren’t getting caught in, I twisted some more threads around them. That’s better.

Then another pause. Do I add leaves, to match my vague memory, or shall I leave well alone?