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Friday, February 27, 2015

More on Maharani's Fish Pond

I have made progress on the border section of my Maharani's Fish Pond opus.

I folded the edges in and created 4 rows of running stitch to seal them. I then worked the wavy borders, and set about sketching in some motifs that could represent the garden border of the fishpond. I checked out photographs of kantha work to create the kind of motifs that might be used.

Having worked the wave around the outside border. I drew four trailing vines in pencil on the outer space and added a few motifs.

The inner border is blue on green; the outer is green on blue. In this outer section I am working on the notion of the garden at the edge of the pond.

 Stitching this is a great joy - no charts, no counting - just looking at some examples of Kantha work, my previous Kantha sampler and improvising.

It is giving me hours and hours of pleasure.

The next step is filling in the background of this outer layer.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Smocked nightdress

With another birthday this month so I dug out suitable nightdress material and set about smocking it for my eldest granddaughter. My standard child's nightdress pattern goes to size 12, her about-to-be age, but as I am programmed to make children's clothes a size bigger to allow growing room, I used the adult size 8.

I pleated up both front and back. The fabric is a pale pink batiste and I wanted to give it a bit of colour punch without losing the charm of the background colour. I went for blue and pink with depth.

For the back I chose a simple variegated blue. That way it is easy to tell at a glance which is the front and which the back.

As I made it up, I decided the sleeves were cut a bit deep so improvised.

I also had a notion to embroider a panel up the side of the nightdress. I found the collection of iron-on transfers
I inherited from my mother.

Most of these were produced in the 1940s and were meant for doilies, runners of table centrepieces. I chose a few I thought suitable and arranged them along the side seam.

I embroidered them in similar colours to the smocking.

The hem presented a bit of a challenge. I didn't want to use lace as in the pattern - I think it is a bit uncomfortable to wear. I couldn't fold the hem to the outside to embroider, without altering the side seams, so I folded it to the inside but featherstitched from the outside, making sure I stitched right through the folds of the hem.

I found the finished nightdress difficult to photograph.

The pink is way too pink - but gives some idea of the overall effect.

It has been well received - and fits!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Progress on Maharani's Fish Pond

I had to put the Maharani's Fishpond from the Summer School aside to make a birthday nightdress. That was a bit hard - it is such an addictive project.

Eventually, however, I was able to get moving on the background stitching - in some ways the most creative and enjoyable part.

I decided to use very pale blue and very pale green thread - single strand - hoping to give a sense of water.  Eventually I introduced a slightly darker green as well.

The design is carefully segmented by strands of floating plants, so I began by following the shapes each each section.

Eventually I got bolder, and worked circles and long lines like waterfalls.

It was such satisfying work - improvising and going where the project took my needle.

I then decided to work the whole piece of fabric, creating a further border on the outer edge of the fabric.

I made the inner border in green, and created blue 'waves' by weaving thread between the running stitches (as in the 2014 sampler). The outer border is blue and I intend to stitch green waves on the outer edge.

I have a few ideas for the gap between the borders, but need to play around a bit before deciding.

So much enjoyment from one project!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crochet lesson

For a while now I have wanted to learn to crochet. I did crochet a blanket of granny squares about 30 years ago - someone showed me how to make a square and join them together. I just kept repeating until I had enough. I have also improvised edgings a couple of times - but without knowing what I was doing, or being able to read a pattern.

My friend Susan (well, one of them, I  have a number of Susan friends!) also wanted to learn so I approached another friend who is an expert crocheter. Jennifer readily agreed to teach us and we organised a time - on my birthday as it turned out - and took the plunge.

I chose a pattern that I thought would take me through a range of techniques and stitches, but be manageable. It is Cosmos Cushion by Elaine Walker which I found through Patternfish.

We spent a most enjoyable afternoon learning the basic stitches on a little sampler. I could manipulate the crochet hook without trouble, but it is taking me a bit of practice to get the rhythm of double crochet as opposed to single crochet - not to mention programming myself to think either American or English terminology.

I originally intended to use up odd bits of left-over wool, but quickly decided that would not work with what I had to hand. A trip to Spotlight, therefore, has set me up with what the pattern suggests - 4 ply cotton in very attractive colours and I embarked on the back of the cushion.

At the next lesson, after a bit of homework, I discovered I had strayed from double crochet and invented my own stitch - so a bit of unpicking was in order.

Once I got into a bit of a rhythm and progressed on the fairly straightforward back, I moved to try some of the motifs for the front.

Left are my first attempts - Jennifer got me started by doing the green base square for me.

I managed to do a few more before the demands of the Embroiderers' Guild Summer School kicked in.

There are a few errors in these - but I'm making progress - and having a lot of fun!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Workshop: Italian Style Tassels

I recently attended a one day workshop on Embroidered and Italian Style Tassels, run by Christine Bishop for the Embroiderers' Guild Certificate Course. I am not enrolled in the certificate course, but guild members are welcome to attend. There were 20 attendees, 14 enrolled in the course, and 6 extras.

We were told to bring perle 8 and 12 thread in matching colours and some cotton tape. 

We learned quite a lot about Italian style tassels and learned to make three kinds.

The simplest was a "Turk's Head" tassel, so called because of its turban-like head.  This is a bit if a find as a technique, and would make multiple tassel making easier than the usual method.

The second tassel head was made by wrapping a roll of cotton tape in thread. The roll is first wrapped in thread to form 'ribs', which are used as support for a thread cover woven around the tape bundle.
The third tassel,we tackled was quite an elborate one, using needle lace over a rolled felt base.
I made fair progress with the second tassel, but realised half-way that I had not used the correct wrapping technique so my 'ribs' we're not raised on the outside. I swapped technique when I realised. I also had trouble getting sufficient thread coverage. I think I had the 'ribs' too tight, which results in catching some of the tape in the needle. I then went back over the work, adding more thread and also creating some additional pattern.
The third tassel I am putting aside for the moment. I may see if I can get some matching perle 5 and finish it using a larger needle. My eyes and patience are not up to working the whole tassel at the current rate of progress.

The workshop was nonetheless a lot of fun. The company was good, as was the learning. Once again, I'm grateful to Christine Bishop for sharing her considerable knowledge and skill. I also have a couple of useful tassels and effective techniques for making more.