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Monday, April 25, 2016

Gilaf borders

I forgot to mention in my last post that a gilaf is a book bag - designed to hold a copy of the Koran - so an important, protective item. 
The centre of my Kantha gilaf needed blocking to return it to something like the square it was meant to be. The doctor's flannel was fairly pliable and I was able to measure and tack a reasonably straight border.

I used fine pencil dots and tacked both the inner and outer border.

The inner border is filled with whipped running stitch. I used an ecru coloured silk for both the rows of running stitch and the whipping.

The outer border is a series of 'trees and huts', worked in the two colour ways. I decided to use some more of the Gloriana variegation I had introduced into one section of the centre to help me transition from one colour way to another. It drew the eye in the centre piece and I thought, rather than undoing it,  using it in the trees might be more harmonious. I think it worked.
One side of the border ended up (unintentionally) with four trees while the others have five. The pattern, however, blends quite well so I'm sticking with it. I love the way the trees extend the central pattern. It reminds me of Australian Aboriginal dot paintings.

All in all I'm very pleased with this piece. It is deeply satisfying, calming work. I'm looking forward to filling the corners and finishing the construction.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Gilaf: More Kantha Embroidery

I jumped at the chance to do another Kantha class with Barbara Mullan when it was offered as part of the Embroiderers' Guild Autumn class offering. The project looked enticing. I couldn't see how we would get the stitching pattern in the photo.

Our preparation instructions were to prepare a piece of felt (preferably nuno) or wool or cotton and bring threads in two colour ways. I left the fabric to the last minute. I had no suitable felt in my stash and the wool blanketing I had seemed a bit thick. I ended up buying a piece of doctor's flannel and another remnant of blanketing (bound to come in handy!). 

I decided on the doctor's flannel and transferred the design - a six pointed star in the centre of the fabric piece.

The class was over two consecutive Sunday's. I was going to be away for the second class but wanted to do it so much I enrolled anyway. Barbara offered to help me when I got back if I was in strife.
It was such an enjoyable class - five students all keen on Kantha and a really expert, flexible teacher.

I should have checked my Kantha Bible before attending.
The answer to the puzzle of how we could get the pattern of stitches was, of course,  - ants!                                                                                            For those unfamiliar with Kantha embroidery, there are a number of traditional stitch patterns using running stitch. One such pattern is called 'ants' because it resembles an army of ants on the move - rows of running stitch advancing in a regular or semi- regular manner. By working the pattern segment by segment you achieve a continuous waving line  and the regular organising structure disappears.
Alternating colour ways adds to the effect. I find it addictive. After the class I couldn't stop doing it. For several days I abandoned all other projects and stitched ants at every opportunity.
I finished the ant centrepiece before I left for 10 days in Sydney and Canberra, taking it with me in the hope of working on the border.
I'm really sorry to miss the second day of the class. I think if I had to choose only one form of embroidery to work on a desert island it would be Kantha. 
Now for the border.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

This is a piece I began in a class last year. I came across it while organising my storage cupboard recently. It took me a while to remember any details of the class until I realised it was the class I did the day before I went to the UK last year. I had done a few leaves and stems in class then turned my head to packing and departing. No wonder I couldn't remember much!
The class was for the Embroiderers' Guild Certificate Course and taken by Eleni Dickson. She provided a kit and excellent notes - so I soon refreshed my memory and got stitching. I have been hoping to use Brazilian embroidery to work some Australian native plants. I had, however, never learned to use the Edmar threads.

Eleni's hints and instructions were very helpful and I was able to manage the synthetic thread - something I haven't done before.

The piece, though small, used a good, manageable range of stitches, including needle lace, bullion knots, leaf stitch, stacked stem stitch and colonial knots.

I liked the couched and beaded spray.

I have a number of these small Brazilian designs printed on to trigger cloth. I enjoyed doing this one so much I'm tempted to make up the eight or so that I have and put them together on a bag. This one was not on trigger cloth, so may not fit into such a scheme.
Discovering this unfinished piece led to a very enjoyable day finishing it off. It also gave me confidence  to revive my plan to work some Australian designs using Brazilian techniques.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tea wallet adaptations

After making the tea wallet prototype, I was fired up with ideas to improve the design, so using the remainder of the fabric, I set about narrowing the size of the wallet. I cut the fabric narrower, but the same length - about 18cm wide instead of the original 27.5cm.

This produced a wallet about the size I had in mind.

I followed the same procedure of blanket stitching the edges then crocheting a chain.

This time, however, I created a side opening as well as the interior pocket opening. This enables the user to remove a teabag without opening the wallet and introduces the option of carrying different flavour teabags in different parts of the wallet.

The overall finish is the same.

This shows the size of the adapted model compared to the original.

I got a bit carried away using up the remainder of the fabric and experimenting with styles.

I even created a little crocheted flap for one of them.

I had a lot of fun playing with these and created a set of wallets that tea-drinking friends who carry their favourite teabags around with them will find useful. And I am so chuffed to be crocheting edges.

It occurred to me as I was doing this, that this shell edge is a variation of that my grandmother used to edge the handkerchiefs she made out of old shirts and bedlinen. It pleases me no end to be making teabag wallets for my daughters and granddaughters from fabric my mother bought me and in the pattern my grandmother used for the handkerchiefs I still have!