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Sunday, July 23, 2017

B2B Bag progress

In June I set this project aside to finish the Mountmellick work from the March Lady Anne's Needlework Retreat.  In the last couple of weeks I've returned to it and made an effort to finish it. It is the fourth Project in the  Basics to Beyond course of the Embroiderers' Guild of SA                                                                                                                      I had always planned to add a series of round flowers in the centre of this piece - to echo the similar set in the Hussif from Project 3  so I thought the Dorset button I made as part of the Dorset Featherstitch workshop would fit in. Texture is one of the criteria for this Project.

I became a bit concerned with the extent of the fairly dour background fabric. I chose it for durability and blending with the lining fabric (as well as availability in my stash!) but began to see its limitations. I decided it needed quite a bit of sky. I began couching some wiggly wool threads I acquired out of curiosity from Australian Needle Arts then added some needle-felted wool roving. 
Next a patch of flannel flowers, giving me a chance to use some green seed beads from the Stitchy Box Just the Threads shipment my daughter gave me. As soon as I saw those beads I thought 'flannel flower centres'!
The stand of flowers in the centre gave me a chance to use shisha mirrors. I had mislaid the ones I had originally acquired for this purpose so had to order some more online - they are not in ready supply in Adelaide thread shops.   I'm happy with the results - and there are lots of hidden "j"s in this foliage to satisfy the requirement that this design be based around our initial.
 Above the patch of flowers I added a sheep - using some of the stumpwork technique I learned in 2015 at an RSN day-course- a felt base covered in French knots using six strands of cotton, blending two different colours.

No horns on this one - a ewe, not a ram.

I then went all out on the sky - filling as much as I could, using Bokhara, chain and reverse chain and a bit of couching of the wiggly wool. A hank of variegated blue shiburi thread came in useful.

I soon realised that I had a problem with the flowering gum tree. I either had to put in more foliage to provide a solid block-out of the sky, or I had to add sky behind the tree. Had I planned the sky from the beginning, I would have put the sky layer in first. The shiburi thread proved useful for weaving behind the existing stitching.

By now I was set to fill in the whole landscape. It took a while to finish the sky and fill in the land behind the trees. I did it largely without a hoop, so it needed blocking when I finished. I am, nevertheless, very pleased with it.

My lining fabric is a print of Australian wildflowers. It seemed a pity to only use it as lining, so I cut large piece, added a zip and created a pocket on the back.

The construction instructions were quite explicit. For the most part I followed them.  In order to make the lining more visible I reduced the turnover of the outer fabric, bringing the lining closer to the top of the bag. I also added a layer of wadding between the outside and lining.
I didn't manage to catch the lining in the seams of the false placket sides. I decided not to undo and redo them as the lining was holding the internal shape anyway.  The tacking, while it had provided excellent guidance for construction, did prove a bit difficult to remove.
There is a loose lining-covered panel in the base to hold the shape. I used a piece of plastic cut from a document folder. I also tacked it down at the corners to keep it in place.
This is the finished item. It has been a bit of a long haul. I'm pleased to be taking it in for assessment tomorrow - and very pleased to have learned so much about embroidering landscape. I plan to use this bag to carry all my B2B supplies and working project.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Crewel work sampler

At the Lady Anne's Needlework Spring Retreat in March, Phillipa Turnbull provided us with an extra project - a crewel work sampler in an attractive motif. Phillipa provided us with some examples of lesser-known stitches, a selection of Appleton's wools and an opportunity to experiment. I brought home the sampler and a couple of skeins of Appleton's ready to experiment.                                                                             Once my roundel and whitework projects were finished I got to work.
Because I could not remember details of the samples Philippa provided, I dug out my copy of the A-Z of Crewel Embroidery - to which Philippa contributed, as which has a couple of pages of the sorts of stitches she was suggesting. I tried out a number of these on the different leaves of the design.
I limited myself to the colours I had to hand. I quite enjoyed the challenge of a limited palette. I got absorbed in the range of stitches and combinations.
I opted to pad one petal with satin stitch and work the others directly on to the linen.
I only had two slightly different shades of green, so decided to use them on the scroll border, choosing Cretan stitch. This was very enjoyable and smooth to work. The curly bits, and a shift from lighter to slightly darker thread provided a sufficient challenge.

I chose to vary the colour of the French knot background.

This was so enjoyable. I really like exercises that give me freedom to play and this was an elegant design. I've got a bit of an idea for what I might do with this piece. I've also got an itch to do more crewel work!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Duftin Chicken bag

In between my more demanding projects I worked another Duftin embroidered bag, this time a pair of roosters. I worked this a while ago as a cushion. Again, I worked this mostly in stem and split stitch so it wears better than it would with the recommended satin stitch. It takes longer to stitch this way, but will last longer.
This project accompanied me on plane trips, car trips, visits to friends, Guild meetings. It was my grab-and-go project for about 3 months.  The ease of doing it was much enhanced by the threads provided by Duftin which were of surprisingly good quality, rarely breaking or knotting and producing a nice sheen.
After a while I even stopped putting it in its own bag and carried the project around in the bag itself. While there is a colour chart, the design is symetrical and once you have worked one bit there is a lot that can be done without referring to the chart.

It was eventually finished. washed and ironed. It is a really cheerful, useful bag and a good gift.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mountmellick ring cushion finish

This is where I got to at the Lady Anne's Needlework Spring Retreat with Nicola Jarvis's ring cushion in March of this year.

It sat reproachfully on my Lowery Stand waiting for me to finish the Blackwell Roundel and then focus on Mountmellick.

I was finding it difficult to proceed until I had worked out what I was going to do with it when finished. I didn't want a ring cushion. I can't imagine the circumstance in which I would want one. If my grandchildren were to ever want one, it should, I think, be designed especially for them. The work is rather too delicate to be displayed without glass, and I am not into framing work to hang on the wall. In the end, I hit on a display tray produced by Sudberry House and available through Australian Needle Arts. After much measuring, I found a tray that was the right fit and ordered it.  It took a while to come, but in the meantime, I could now get on with the embroidery.

On the Embroidery Retreat we had worked an example of each stitch on the project, but had not completed any section. I returned to Nicola's instructions and began at the beginning.

I had to work hard to get back into the rhythm, especially when I got to the satin stitch using a single strand of cotton.

I also learned a lot about working with white thread. Somewhere along the line I mislaid the stranded cotton and the cotton-a-broder. I had a supply in my stash, but the cotton-a-broder turned out to be not quite white - no doubt it had been so once, but it had discoloured slightly. The stranded stitched with small patches of discolouration - whether from handling or the affect of storage I don't know.

It does not show clearly in photographs, but it was obvious in the light. I purchased new thread and put another layer or so over the top.

In the end, I enjoyed the satin stitch!  When you break it down, step by step, and focus on the bit you are working, it is quite soothing.

It was, however, satisfying to get to the blingy bits at the end. This is where I discovered I had also mislaid some bugle beads and was just a few short.  I searched in the tin I inherited from my mother but found what I needed at Cottage Needleraft.

I was so excited when my tray arrived that I forgot to photograph it empty. I was concerned that, with the beading, there would not be enough depth for the piece. There was no way of telling until I had lashed the finished piece to card and tried it.

It worked! I now have a very useful and attractive tray, full of associations of original purpose along with wonderful memories of both the retreat and my subsequent work on it.

I have not been able to photograph it to show the sparkle to good effect. It glints and glitters in the light. I can use it for serving drinks - or for holding my stitching bits as I sit on my sofa.

It has been a lot of fun and hugely satisfying. I hope Nicola's original brings her much joy and sparkle.  It is such a generous project. I love the association - and the usefulness of my final product.

It also looks pretty good next to the roundel!