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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Morocco Projects-Certificate Course

On the last Saturday in January there was a large gathering for the first of the SA Embroiderers' Guild's Certificate Workshops.

One of the convenors of the Certificate Course, Barbara Mullan, takes embroidery tours to India and Morocco. A number of Guild members, including Christine Bishop, the other Certificate Course Convenor, accompanied her to Morocco in 2018.

This workshop presented information about Morocco and taught three aspects of Moroccan embroidery.

No wonder so many attended the workshop!

Our first project was making a Djellaba button. A djellaba (the purple garment on display to the left) is a garment worn outside, over other clothes, by Moroccan men. It resembles a kaftan, and is secured all the way down the front by tiny hand-made buttons.

Fortunately for us, Phyllis Coxhill, who taught this segment of the workshop, had prepared a much larger teaching tool!

I'm sure, once you have the hang of it, this becomes quite rhythmical and practised. It will take me a while to reach that point!

Our second project of the day was Fes Embroidery, taught by Christine.

This is counted thread work, in double running stitch, on linen, usually two-toned, and often blue.  It usually follows a border and corner pattern. Some Moroccan women seem to do this work by eye, without actually counting.

Christine charted two edging motifs for us.

The third stitching session for the day was on design, using Berber symbols. We were asked to design a carpet, or more accurately, a rectangle, which we could stitch, using running and weaving stitches found on Berber carpets.
My effort was certainly not complicated, but I have ideas for it!

At home I got carried away with Fes stitch. This is going to be a year of improving my counted work.

The fact that Moroccan women often do this work by eye, rather than counting, gives me encouragement. I did count, but when my eye-sight lets me down I am not going to stress!

I took this work with me when I visited Sydney for a few days the week following the workshop. It worked well as a grab-and-go.

On my return home, I was inclined to leave the piece in one colour, rather than filling in the shapes with light blue. I was encouraged by several Guild members to leave it as is, so I did.

I found a piece of Japanese cotton in my stash (yes, a bit of cultural impurity) with which to line it, pulled some threads and worked a gusset with loops.

I then made a twisted cord.

I had intended to make djellaba buttons for the ends of the cord.

After a bit I gave up, and covered the plastic tubing with needlelace.

I am delighted with week's work and my bag.

I also have a plan for my carpet design - but that's another story!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Zenbroidery 3.1

I last posted an update on my latest zenbroidery project in September 2018. This is a grab-and-go project that has not seen much activity in the light of the other things I've had on the go.

I have worked some of the larger, more solid flowers in a version of Portuguese knot stitch and lots of the leaves in a variety of filling stitches - trying things out.

I've tried to flow the colours across the piece, shifting from red-yellows into blue-purples.

I just love working these pieces. It is freeing, experimental work and the results make useful bags (always an incentive!).

I've played with bullion knots  needle-weaving and stars.

I still have a bit to finish, but  probably not enough to take it with me when I travel in March. It is a good grab-and-go project, but only has a few hours left in it, so it is in my sights to finish before the end of the month.

Let's see how I go!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Embroidery Roll

I should have had an embroidery roll a long time ago, but put it off. The work I've been doing in Basics To Beyond, on a counted thread sampler, reached the stage where I really did need one. I popped into the Guild's shop to buy one at the end of the Members' Exhibition in October 2018, but they had sold out.

There was nothing to do but make one.

I found a cheerful piece of cotton fabric which I had bought 7-8 years ago when my eldest granddaughter was interested in snakes. it was about the right size.

I dug out some gauze as a lining/fabric protector and a cardboard roll that had been the support for a roll of wrapping paper.

It was just a matter of hemming the non-selvage edges of the fabric, laying them together and creating a gusset at one end for the cardboard roll.

The finishing touch was stuffing the open end of the roll with fibre-fill and creating a covering.

A ribbon tie completed the construction and it was ready to roll (literally!).

While looking for fabric to make this, I came across a Japanese cotton panel that my late husband had brought me back from Japan in about 1995. It occurred to me it would make a great roll - and get seen more than it does now.

I repeated the process using the Japanese panel. It is long and thin, meaning that for most pieces of embroidery it does not require a lining fabric to protect the embroidery, but can be folded back over the embroidery. The print is on both sides.

It is a very good size for my Basics to Beyond sampler.

The end on this one is made with a piece of silk ( drat that cotton thread in the photo!).

The larger one was perfect for housing the Crewel panels I had finished for my chair.

So now I have two rolls to keep my embroidery clean and unfolded - I'll make a proper embroiderer yet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

B2B - Basics to Beyond with Embroiderers' Guild of SA

I attended the Embroiderers' Guild monthly Basics to Beyond classes all last year, working on my counted sampler - the fifth project in the B2B course. It has been slow,  rewarding work. Generally speaking, I have worked one row of the sampler each month, getting help to get started during the meeting, then finishing the row at home.

The first three rows to be done were a variety of counted thread patterns. I chose a bargello, a Sollerosom, a pattern darning from Yvette Stanton's Smoyg and a  variation on a Kogin chart from Phyllis Maurer's Techniques of Japanese Kogin.

In between the bands I worked a single row of a variety of stitches, a series of linked horizontal fly stitches, chain stitch. feather stitch and a couple of variations on cross stitch.

The remaining bands were worked in a series of drawn thread.

This one was simple but, I think, effective.

I had a bit more trouble with the needle-weaving but managed in the end to produce a pattern.

In the last class of the year, I began the pulled-thread border around the piece. I have now finished that. It looks predictably scrappy - but will block up nicely when finished.

I have the hem to do. I've decided to leave that until my first class this year, which will not be until April. On the day of the February class I will be boarding a plane for England, and returning just after the March class.

One of the joys of B2B is taking time - progressing at  your own pace and learning as you need.

It's a mindful exercise.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Chair progress - Jacobean Stag finish

When I last wrote about my project to cover an ikea bucket chair in crewel work, I had just finished the Running Hare and purchased three more kits to work and add. Those kits arrived in good time, and in between Christmas projects I have been working on the Jacobean Stag.

I used Phillipa's sitting-hoop-with-cling-wrap method (plus her cover-with-shower-cap-to-keep-clean trick).

I began with the stag - loved the rhythm and instant effect of the shaded long-and-short stitch.

The flowers were equally satisfying - the red is fantastic.

Left to my own devises, I doubt very much that I'd have got the shading right. The colour combinations were not ones I'd have chosen - but they worked a treat.

I needed to move my hoop twice to fit all the design in. The last move allowed me to work on the left side of the hillock on which the stag is standing.

I loved the comfort of this piece - a good variety of stitches, but within my comfort zone. I really enjoyed the addition of Portuguese knots.

I finished the piece on 30 December and blocked it overnight, tightening it several times in the drying process.

On New Year's Eve I began the process of adding the panel to the chair.

To fit the panel to the curve of the chair I needed to shape one bottom edge of the panel. This gave me a triangular off-cut that I inserted in the gap at  the top of the chair in the curve. I stitched it in by hand using machine thread, then embroidered over it with wool.

I managed to crib another triangle from the Running Hare panel to insert on the other side and repeat the process.

It isn't perfectly balanced - but, hey, I'm not an upholsterer. I'm following my grandmother and mother in making-do, using what I've got in terms of both materials and skills.

I have a bit of a plan for covering the strips at the side of the seat panel, but it will need to wait until I've covered the back. I may also extend the triangle points right down between the panels to the base.

The photo to the left was taken before I had secured the bottom edge of the panels. The panoramic view below was taken after the lower edge was secured.

This is a work in progress, but I'm very pleased to have reached this point at the beginning of a new year - and to be able to write about it as the first post for 2019  (and my 481st since 8 October 2010).

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Extending the use of one-use containers - another mad idea.

South Australia has been a pioneer in legislation to encourage recycling. We have had deposits on all drink bottles for 25 years now and on single-use supermarket bags for more than a decade.

Recently, however, I became aware of how much rubbish I generate. I tried composting my food waste on my balcony - and killed several plants before realising that it takes months, not weeks, to make compost, too long for my balcony system.

I then turned to the plastic packaging I put into the recycle bin, and into the ordinary rubbish collection each week. While some of this (such as meat trays) I can eliminate by how I shop, some, like berry containers, are not so easily eliminated (except perhaps for a few weeks at this time of the year when I could go to local berry farms and pick my own!).

I go through at least two punnets of strawberries and one of blueberries each week. I decided to see if I could find a way to reuse the containers.

I began with the idea of embroidering them - tracing a pattern on them, making holes along the pattern and stitching between the holes. I also tried using the holes around the sides of the containers to thread ribbon through and weave it. The coverage wasn't good enough - and was unlikely to be better using embroidery thread.

I decided to try a kind of fabric decoupage. I got out my bin of small fabric pieces, a pot of glue and some lacquer.

It's a relatively messy business.

The olive oil spread container that I happened to be ready to throw away proved an easy beginning.

It held its shape and looked OK.

Then for the strawberry container.

It wasn't easy to get full coverage, and I needed to be careful not to cover the edge that clips the top to the bottom.

But it more or less worked.

The blueberry container worked in about the same measure. With the help of a bit of lace, I got a bit closer to the edges in coverage.

All in all, three or four of these I could find a use for. Three or four a week is too much of an ask. These will need to go into our apartment block recycling bin and hopefully be usefully recycled. I also note that a couple of supermarkets are beginning to use more readily recycled containers - not yet, however, for berries.

Then, in November, a couple of things happened. I discovered that two supermarket chains in Adelaide collect soft plastics for recycling. This includes cling wrap, chip packets, linings of cereal boxes, bubblewrap and postbags. Then Adelaide City Council announced a composting scheme. Our strata opted in immediately. I now have a composting bin and biodegradable bin liners that I empty into a collection bin near my carpark. Between these two initiatives, I have had no rubbish go into landfill in the five weeks it has been operating.

I'm glad I satisfied my curiosity and had a go at covering these containers - but still more glad that local recycling advances have overtaken me. I can recycle the containers without feeling the need to reuse them!

I am posting this before the end of the year - mad idea behind me! More conventional embroidery projects in 2019.