The Worktop bin – finished

Edges turned in
Edges turned in

There is always more “engineering” involved in these projects than you expect. Once I’d turned in the edges and done the herringbone stitch “piping”, I realised that the top of the bin was probably going to be on show on the inside. I found some felt to line it with, but since it was a spare offcut, I decided to run a line of straight stitches on the inside, just in case there wasn’t enough of it!

Felt lining attached
Felt lining attached

I attached the felt with small stitches, not too tightly, but just enough to make sure that it doesn’t move unless I want it too. It’s almost a pre-felt, not too dense, so it showed some adventurous tendencies. Some firm treatment, a tug or two, and it settled down nicely.

Vertical Seam
Vertical Seam

Which allowed me to consider tackling the seam turning it from a flat piece to a tube. After some of my usual thoughtful staring, it finally occurred to me that I already had the answer: Herringbone stitch, just like the edge finish at the top.

Obvious, really, isn’t it! It makes a sturdy seam which won’t permit much lateral movement, and since I’ve used it on the top edge, it doesn’t introduce yet another texture.

Finished and in service
Finished and in service

When it came to sorting out the base, I put the sawn-off milk bottle inside to make sure I made everything fit, and folded in the canvas, holding it with a few rough stitches.

Finally I attached a piece of very dense felt to the bottom to hide all the canvas edges and make sure they don’t scratch any of the furniture. It is already in use, and you have to admit it’s very much better than an unclad sawn-off milk bottle would be!

 

Coalbrookdale in Cross Stitch

Coalbrookdale - Detail
Coalbrookdale – Detail

Many years ago I used to design counted cross stitch kits, and did some for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. I did think of turning a certain very famous picture into a kit, but since we never finished the test stitch, it is just as well they decided not to go with it.

This is something else we’ve found in a fit of tidying up, and thought,”hmm, we should finish that – it will look good!”

"Coalbrookdale By Night" by Philip James de Loutherberg. Copyright The Science Museum
“Coalbrookdale By Night” by Philip James de Loutherberg. Copyright The Science Museum

It was done in the early days of computer-aided cross stitch design. I scanned a postcard of “Coalbrookdale By Night”, in the somewhat apocalyptic vision of Philip James de Loutherberg, and then spent some time tweaking the number of colours the computer used to render the design as a cross stitch piece. One of the problems with this form of computer design was that, no matter how much human intervention was involved, the design tended to end up being a bit spotty.

Coalbrookdale Cross Stitch
Coalbrookdale Cross Stitch

You can see that spotty effect in the detail picture above.

The human intervention did at least result in the removal of the entirely superfluous lime green stitches that the computer package used to scatter across every design it was involved in. I never did understand why that happened, but the first change I always had to make was to change the lime green into something more suitable.

What I have to do now is think of something useful to turn it into when it’s finished….

17 UFOs in 2017

Still More Circles
Still More Circles

Meredithe (Pomegranate and Chintz) and Anne (Frayed At The Edge) are running a challenge for the year – 17 UFOs in 2017. The idea is not necessarily to finish, but to make substantial progress, on 17 UFOs.

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Now, I’m not sure I have that many UFOs, and I have many new projects I want to work on (more on those soon), but I do have a good few that are stalled, or that I’m not sure whether I’ve finished or not, so although I’m not going to join in regularly, I will try to use the impetus of the challenge to remind myself to assess progress.

Blanket Stitch Fans
Blanket Stitch Fans

1 Eve in the Garden of Eden – I really want to finish this so I can sign up for the Stumpwork Lion!
2 Nefertiti Shawl – well, clearly, I want to be able to wear this!
3 Queen Anne style teacloth – this is a travelling project, so it depends on where I go and whether I have light or time to work on it.

From The Back
From The Back

4 The Modern Stitch-Off – I’m not sure whether this is finished or not, so if I can at least decide that by the end of the year, I’ll be pleased.
5 The Christmas Angel – I was going to work on the Christmas Angel last year between Christmas and Epiphany, and never set a stitch on it.

Shoulder Cape
Shoulder Cape

6 The Faience Necklace – this has been a real trial to me, as I can’t bring the design into focus. I’ve got some lovely silk thread so maybe that will help me to get started.
7 The Swan – I got the first layer of Laid and Couched work done, and have had trouble working out the detail layer…

Swan - First Layer
Swan – First Layer

8 The Unicorn – again, first layer done, details escaping me.

Unicorn - the first layer
Unicorn – the first layer

I have a lot of other things I want to do, which are barely begun, never mind finished, and as I have said, in the case of several of these projects it is not a matter of simply stitching, so much as deciding what to stitch, and then stitching it.

My real target for the year with these eight is to have finished the Nefertiti Shawl and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Anything else is a bonus!

Continuing The Worktop Bin Cover

Bargello Panel
Bargello Panel

Once I’d settled on a pattern, it fairly romped along. Ten count canvas is such a lovely rest after the forty count linen of Eve In The Garden Of Eden!

As with the Crazy Canvaswork Cushion, I’m not buying extra wool for this, hence the row of light stitches which aren’t the same shade as the other two. Most of the thread is Paterna Persian Yarn, but the odd one out is Appletons. The texture and level of shine are different, but then, anything will be better than a sawn-off milk bottle!

Edges Turned In
Edges Turned In

The next stage is to turn in three of the edges. I’m going to use the canvas at the bottom to help create the bottom of the bin, so I’ve left that, but the short edges will be seamed together – somehow (I’ve not solved that puzzle yet!).

Herringbone Edge
Herringbone Edge

I’ve learnt, over the years, that it is better to finish the folded edge of a piece of canvaswork than it is to try to fold the edge to be completely invisible.

So what will be the top edge of the bin has now been finished with herringbone stitch. It creates a lovely piped effect, much denser and firmer than a simple overcast stitch, and that will be very useful to help the bin stand up!

 

Poppies And Wheat, Cleaned and Conserved

Some of you may recall that some time ago, my mother and I were planning to reframe one of my Grandmama’s embroideries, and discovered to our horror that it had been glued to a backing board made of strawboard.

In due course, we found a textile restorer, not too far away, and I took it to her. And now we have it back again. In the course of the work, it was discovered that two different sorts of glue had been used. One of them was unstuck fairly easily, but a particularly acidic glue had been used on the back of the embroidery itself – almost as if the framer did not believe the work had been finished off properly. Which it had – apparently it was very difficult to find some threads to take out to test for colourfastness!

The fabric and thread are both much brighter than they were, but the very acidic glue that was used is the reason for the bloom of staining around the embroidery. It’s much reduced, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to remove it entirely.

So, Gentle Reader – be careful with glues and boards. Avoid if you can, use neutral-pH as far as you can, or someone in the future will be muttering imprecations in your direction!

Small canvaswork worktop bin

First Trial
First Trial

I have a small plastic bin – cut down from a milk carton – on the worktable beside my chair. It’s very useful for odds and ends, but it scarcely adds to the ambience.

Since all my embroidery at the moment – “Eve in the Garden of Eden”, and something I’m planning for “Dreams of Amarna, but haven’t quite got ready for stitching yet – is fine and detailed, I’ve decided to work a cover for it in bargello work.

One stitched and one drawn
One stitched and one drawn

I’m using another of those offcuts of 10-count canvas. Ideally I would use something finer, but since I want a rest for my eyes, and in particular to use up some more of that persian yarn, I’ve been playing with various patterns in an old book. In this case, one pattern drawn on, and the other stitched, partly in wool, and partly in a fine silk, just to help me with stitch placement.

Another trial
Another trial

I’ve decided to use the rusty colour, which I have rather a lot of, as the main colour, and I’m trying to find a small pattern that won’t dominate the room. I don’t think the “pomegranate” pattern qualifies…, but this one might…

Harrogate Haul..

The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate is my main opportunity to stock up on thread, fabric, materials and oddities.

Yes, I know we all buy online these days, but so often I am looking for something slightly obscure, or I know what I want to achieve, but not how. The opportunity to look and feel before buying, and to talk to the specialist suppliers who are there, is absolutely invaluable.

Flat Silk for Necklace Embroidery
Flat Silk for Necklace Embroidery

This time I was semi-organised, and as soon as I arrived, I went to Midori Matsushima’s stand with a shopping list of colours for the Faience Necklace designs, when I get to them. I’m hoping that now I have the silks I will have an incentive to pull my ideas into focus, because I feel that the Dreams of Amarna panels need more colour in them.

Felt and Thread
Felt and Thread

I also bought some wool felt and silk threads, some because I have plans for it, and some to have something frivolous to do. I still have a couple of those wooden pots to put pincushions in…

This slightly less dense felt – some from 20th Century Yarns and some from Oliver Twists – is much easier to stitch than the dense felt sold to crafters which is stocked everywhere. I also like the somewhat rougher texture.

Silk fo Spinning
Silk for Spinning

I went to a workshop introducing wet felting, which I am planning to use as the initial colour blocking for the “Vision of Placidus” panel, but what I actually bought was more silk to spin into thread for the second layer. I’ll have to wait until the sore elbow and shoulder have healed, but this is something I can do in preparation for the project while I’m still working on the Dreams of Amarna. I’m thinking about Placidus quite a lot in my odd moments!

A good reference book
A good reference book
Blanket Selvedge
Blanket Selvedge

Finally, I bought a book – only one, but it’s a cracker! – and a ball of wool selvedge, for purposes that will remain a mystery for now…

Playing with brooches again

Gauze Spiral
Gauze Spiral

I was very taken with a length of gauze ribbon i found when I was rummaging for bits of teal fabric, and spent an idle moment or two running a gathering thread along one edge. I wasn’t at all sure where I would go from there, but as I pulled the gathering thread up the ribbon settled naturally into a tight spiral reminiscent of an Elizabethan ruff. Hmmm. Promising!


In the end, I covered another self-cover button with two layers of a rather gorgeous silk fabric which I originally bought for my mother to line a bookbox she made for a fine binding of “The Wind In The Willow”, and created a cross between a winner’s rosette and a new species of flower.


I think it will be fun to wear, but the real delight is the ruffle… It has “loft”, and a gentle glimmer, both from the gauze and from the silk button. More of a spring than an autumn piece, with that light spring green and and the gauzy ruffle, but I’ll look forward to the treat!

Satin and Tweed
Satin and Tweed

Talking of unnatural flowers….

What I would really like to do is think of something else to do with the tweed fabric in the centre of this. It was cut off a pair of trousers which were too long for me, but it is a nice fabric and I want to create something fun with the scraps.

Thinking caps on, then…

Finished – Tiny – Flame Stitch Pincushion

Flame Stitch Finished
Flame Stitch Finished

There are in fact several errors in the stitching here. However, since I kept losing them and finding them and losing them again, I decided to let them stand. If even I can’t keep them in sight, no-one else will find them…

I enjoyed using the silk thread for the stitching – but then I keep saying that, don’t I? Silk seems alive somehow, in a way that cotton, linen, and even wool, don’t.

Finished Flame Stitch Pincushion
Finished Flame Stitch Pincushion

What really surprised me was just how small the pincushion was when I finished it, using a spare fragment of silk fabric for the back. It was really quite astonishingly fiddly when it came to turning it inside out and especially when it came to the corners.

Still, here it is, done, and stuffed, and the final side closed up neatly..

Isn't It Tiny!
Isn’t It Tiny!

And then I put it in the palm of my hand and finally realised just how small it really is…

Another one for that eventual Winter Decoration Corner, I think – in my chaotic workspace, a pincushion this size would sink without trace!

Making Brooches

Haul from L'uccello
Haul from L’uccello

Those who follow me on Instagram may recall that I posted a picture of goodies acquired from L’uccello, on Swanston St in Melbourne, when I was there over the summer. Since I went in with no particular end in view, I was completely bewildered by the range of possibilities I found, so I didn’t buy very much, but now I know where to find them, I will do my homework in advance!

Felt Flower
Felt Flower

When I came home, vague and somewhat jetlagged, I sat and played with the felt and thread (a cotton from Sajou, a brand I’ve heard of, but never used before) that I’d bought, blanket stitching the felt shapes I had bought, and then attaching the felt ball using a whipped spider’s web stitch, pulled tight to flatten the ball slightly into the stacked shapes, and made a brooch. It works well, and there’s a lovely shine from the cotton.

Teal Circles
Teal Circles

I enjoyed myself so much (somewhat to my surprise, as small, fiddly projects don’t go well with jetlag!), I started thinking of other brooches I might make. You may have noticed that I love Teal, in almost all shades, so my next effort was to cover different sizes of self-cover buttons with different teal fabrics. In fact the most difficult thing here was to devise a backing that might help to stack the buttons as I wished them to be stacked. In the end, I created a roll of felt, and sewed the buttons to that. The finished brooch looks a lot better than in the photo, which has killed off the colour.