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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kantha design construction and finish

When I last posted I had ordered some batik as background and backing to make a large cushion with my Kantha design. I chose a colour called Jungle Green from Batik Fabrics Online.

When it arrived I cut borders for the four sides of the Kantha, lined them with old sheet, and attached them. 
I then marked out a space to embroider a Kantha border around the edge of the Kantha and stitched four rows of spaced running stitch with the intention of applying two or three rows of wavy weaving.
I decided, however, that my running stitch lines were too far apart, so had to insert rows between. That was easier said than done, as the rows had been deliberately off-set to achieve the effect I wanted from the weaving. I managed to achieve a half=offset that worked if I exercised care .

To complete the edge I managed to find a little Kantha border arrow-head design that worked with my final row and the new spacing.

By now I was very anxious to finish my cushion, but I decided the bordered piece needed to be blocked again.

Here is the finished masterpiece. The photos do not show the size, which is a European pillow size - roughly 70cm square ( a bit of a change from pincushions!). I'm wanting it to be a comfortable cushion for sitting on the floor.

The shells don't show up in the photos, but I think they add to the effect without getting in the way of comfort.
I'm pretty pleased with this one.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kantha design progress

While recuperating from my knee operation I have been working on the Kantha design I began in the Barbara Mullan Embroiderers' Guild workshop in June.  In my last post on the topic I had a design on paper. I transferred the centre motif and the four large corner motifs to the fabric using a combination of sketching and tracing. I worked these before adding the other motifs.
The central motif is from a marine photograph of a star-fish-like creature.
Two corners have crabs.
The other two corners have octopuses. In between, jellyfish swim around and a variety of shell fish nestle.

For the smaller shells and the jellyfish I sketched the basic shape with pencil then improvised with thread.

Once I had the basic design stitched, I began the process of background stitching. I began with the piece in a hoop to maintain tension in the running stitch, but soon abandoned it as too slow. It is much more efficient to work the running stitch with a scooping, rather than a stabbing, technique and the mantra from my class last year at the RSN was 'never scoop in a hoop'!

Without the hoop I progressed more quickly. I worked a swirling circle around the central motif - a current taking the jellyfish around in a whirlpool and washing other creatures off to the edges.

This process took several days of stitching. When it was finished I did a little bit of padding to give dimension to a few of the creatures. I was a bit ambitious with scallop shell, distorting the fabric - creating the need to block the finished piece.

I was able to successfully block it overnight. I am pleased with this result. I've decided to make this into a very large floor-cushion. I've ordered some dark green batik with which to back the cushion and mount a border. The border embroidery and construction will be my next post.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Hospital project

I needed a project to take to hospital with me. It needed to be straightforward - without charts or elaborate instructions to follow but interesting enough to keep me occupied. I chose Gary Clarke's whitework bag Blossom from Inspirations 90.  I liked the design and the candlewicking technique as well as the finishing touches of corded sides, tassels and covered beads.I thought, however, the embroidered element might not keep me sufficiently occupied, so decided to go with the extended design outlined at the end of his Inspirations article - a block of nine of the designs. I figured this would make a much larger bag using the same principles.
I traced the nine designs on to a piece of ecru linen using pencil and assembled the various hanks of candlewicking thread I had in my stash. The night before I went to hospital I did a little practice on one of the designs to see how it would go.  To my horror, the soft candlewicking thread absorbed the graphite from the pencil marks. Although this would wash out at the end of the project, I couldn't face spending 10 days in hospital embroidering in the resulting dirty grey colour.       I therefore hunted through my stash and pulled out a range of coloured perle threads that did not absorb the graphite and packed those to use.
This proved to be a good tactic. The first I used was a variegated red hank. It covered the pencil well, had great texture and the variegation gave variety.
I then used some finer variegated purple thread over-dyed by the Embroiderers' Guild
and a heavy Perle 3 I think I originally purchased for huck embroidery.
This brilliant variegated combination is Poppy from The Bay Window.

It proved to be a great hospital project - eight of the nine motifs were finished by the time I came home, leaving me with the colonial knots to fill in the background.

The knots took me the best part of a week to complete.

I decided to place one motif on the back. I had used up most of my specialised perle thread by this time, so tried the most varied hank of Anchor stranded multicolour I had - using three strands. There was rather too much navy, I thought, so I removed some of the navy sections from the pieces I cut.

I selected a hand-printed heavy cotton as lining.

The original design has a twisted cord along the side of the bag and a tassel with covered cord on each lower corner. I decided that the larger bag would be better without these - at least in practical terms, if not aesthetic.

I'm pleased with this project. It had sufficient interest but the simplicity necessary when recovering from an operation and it has made an attractive and useful bag.