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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Croatian costume embroidery

The June workshop for the Embroiderers’ Guild Certificate Course was taken by Dragica Sosa on Croatian Traditional Costume Embroidery. It was really interesting and a lot of fun. 

Dragica had brought along a number of costume pieces from the collection of the Lenek Folkloric Dance Ensemble, which we were able to examine in detail. Regretfully, I didn’t take photos. They were truly beautiful and a treat to see.

Dragica also talked about her own experience of learning and practising Croatian dance and of the differences between costumes in the four geographic areas of Croatia.

Much of the traditional Croatian embroidery is pattern darning and Dragica had charted a series of traditional designs for us to try. I used a 28 count linen. 30-32 is more commonly used but even with 28 I need magnification!

I worked my way through the designs. It took me several days to work them and there are a few errors in there. It was compelling - so satisfying seeing the patterns emerge. I found it easier to hold the linen in my hand and maintain tension by grip than keep moving a hoop. I find pattern darning is also better scooped than stabbed.

By the end the piece was quite raggy so blocking was required .

I decided to turn it into a pouch. I had thought to line it with silk but the red I had was too dark. I played around with two pieces of cotton. I went with the plain red, purchased a red zip and had it done in no time. I went with the red fabric on the back as well. Plain white 28 count linen didn’t feel right. I would always think I should have embroidered the back as well!

I am delighted with my finished piece. I could see myself using these patterns on the yoke of a dress. 

For now, however, I am very pleased with my bag and the learning that went into it.

Thanks Dragica and to Christine and Barbara who run the Certificate Course.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sashiko Workshop

I have a number of printed Sashiko cloths in my stash, so when Barbara Mullan offered a Sashiko workshop at the Guild, I jumped at the chance to enrol, even changing tickets I had for a Voces8 concert at Ukaria in order to go!

I didn't regret my decision.

An enthusiastic and eager group of us gathered on the day. Barbara had thoughtfully reorganised the tables so we could see and hear each other.

I had read my preparation instructions carefully and assembled a bag with the items. The day before the class I bought myself the last item - a fat quarter of blue fabric. My mind not being what it once was, I did not immediately put the fat quarter into the bag I had prepared, so found myself at the class without my fabric! 
Barbara, of course, came to the rescue, with some fabric she had 
indigo-dyed some time ago at a class at Marden TAFE. It was lovely, and I only used the minimum I needed.
Barbara had prepared templates of some Sashiko patterns. The suggestion was that we choose 4 of these and work them on four squares of fabric, backed with cotton.

I had my cotton, so tacked it on to my four squares (well, rectangles, anyway) and began with a very simple triangle.

We learned the conventions (rules?) of evenness of stitch, even numbers of stitches and dealing with corners. All these were new to me and invaluable in doing anything with the printed pieces I have.

I tried to move from simple to more complex. I had variegated Sashiko thread in blues and yellow/orange/red as well as white. I had thought to use the blue, but it didn't show up well on Barbara's lovely hand-dyed cloth so I went around the original blue, 

which worked, I thought, quite well. 

I then switched entirely to yellow/orange/red for the last two pieces.

We learned too, how to finish the edges off with slip-stitch so that the backing did not show. Miss Monk, who first taught me slip stitch, would not be happy with my work here. I had, however, by now the germ of an idea of what I would do with these pieces, and it didn't require invisible slip stitch!

I dug out a bag I had made ages ago (can it really have been 2011? Afraid so!) from an old pair of jeans and applied the patches.

From my fabric stash I retrieved a shirt of Jim's that I had kept because I knew he would have wanted to be part of future projects.

The two fronts were a perfect shape for cutting a lining for this odd shaped bag and the colour was just right.

The original idea stopped here - but the bag cried out for more - so off I went, using, after an initial experiment, the blue thread.

I kept going

and going.

I attempted to cover the whole bag with running stitch, but beyond this point the bag twisted out of shape, so I stopped. I added a button to the pocket where one was missing.

I'm not sure how and where this bag will end up being used, but I've had a lot of fun and learning making it.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

More knitting

I've been on a bit of a knitting binge of late.

I had the best part of a ball of wool left from the jacket and hat I knitted for myself. It was  Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom - a heavy 8 ply and very warm. (It is now on special until the end of the financial year -tonight!)
As I am trying to use up wool as I go and there were a couple of simple things I had wanted to try for a while now, I used up the left-over wool to knit, first, a headband for Veronica.

I was well into the swing of cables, so stuck with that, measured her head and knitted this simple headband, secured by a button.

I'm not sure she will ever wear it, but I have at least tried it out - and used a bit of wool!
My second project was a messy-bun hat for Niamh. I have always wanted to try one of these too. Again, I stuck to the cables. This was harder to get right.

Before I congratulated myself, the hat turned out to be much too long, so I undid the last rows and shortened it. I think I am more enamoured of messy-bun hats than Niamh, but again, I've made one, satisfied my curiosity, learned a bit - and used up all the wool!

I then launched into using up some of Bendigo's Mystery (no longer available) with a pattern for the Brindabella Cowl from Australian Alpaca Yarn. It's more a poncho than a cowl, and I could see it in this wool, so thought I'd try it out before buying any more alpaca.

Even though Mystery was listed as 8ply and I had 100gm more than the pattern recommends, it felt more like 10 ply and did not reach the length needed to pull over the head as a hood.

It nevertheless looked fabulous - such great texture. I love the really chunky cables and it knitted up quickly in the round.

After some consultation with, and modelling by, family I brought it in at the top to keep it snug around the neck and shoulders.
It is very warm.

I'm so pleased it proved to be useful for Katherine at the Netball carnival this morning - and the girls are through to the semi-final!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Zenbroidery finish and construction

A short post to catch up. I am clearing the decks for a long post in the next few weeks - about my piece for the Guild's upcoming SALA Exhibition.

This is the Zenbroidery piece I had not quite finished when I went to England at the end of February. I like Zenbroidery projects when I am travelling, as they are 'grab-and-go', but there was only an hour or so left to do on this one, and it was not worth the luggage space.

I finished it in the days after my return

I had already identified the lining and zip needed  to turn it into a bag. A piece of Liberty lawn given to me by a cousin as part of a 70th birthday present was pretty near perfect.

Side 1

I really love the result.

I haven't as yet decided what to keep in the bag, or who might like it as a gift, but I think it is lovely.


I'm sure it will find a good home.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Knitted vest/jacket finish

In my last post on this vest I was contemplating the way the yarn variegations had turned out. The two fronts are quite different.  I ruled out re-doing a front - although I had a ball of wool left that might have proved a better match to one side.

This is the finished product. The  sleeves were meant to be about half the length  pictured, but I lengthened them to cover my elbow.

I tried to figure a way of softening the contrast and came up with the idea of pockets. I knitted two large squares in the cable pattern and attached them to the non-cable part of the fronts.
It does modify the contrast - even more so if I wear the vest (which should more properly now be called a jacket!) caught together in the front with a pin or brooch.

It is certainly warm!

As I had a full ball left over, I found a pattern for a slouchy beret with cable and set to work.

It took  longer than I anticipated. The result was also bigger than I has expected (that’s my size 39-40 foot next to it). I considered turning it into a bag!

However, it is warm and comfortable and my granddaughters approved, so I threaded a round of hat elastic through the band to make it a little tighter, and I’ve been wearing it through our recent cold snap. It’s not glamorous - but it is a bit funky - and this is the weather for it!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Fool-proof bag

I attended Christine Bishop's Fool-proof Bag class at the Embroiderers' Guild in February this year. The concept is a linen bag, put together using counted thread embroidery techniques, and adaptable in size, colour and decoration.  The class teaches the basic construction and foundation stitches.

While I have done a little basic counted thread work, it is not my strength, and this year I wanted to improve my counted thread skills. The two-day course was a lot of fun.

Between the two days of the course I dug out a book with a design for a cross-stitched flannel flower and added it to my bag at the crucial stage - before the sides were sewn together.

I was very happy with the result.

Christine pointed out that the bag lends itself to using up off-cuts of linen - or left over bits and pieces.I didn't need to be told twice! I made straight for my stash of left-over linen oddments and tried it out.

With the help of some silk scraps for lining I made another bag in which to store jewellery and preserve lustre.

I then followed Christine's advice, and tacked the hems on a range of off-cuts, putting them into a bag for those rainy days when I need a quick project.

Some of the linen is fine and some fairly course.  Each piece, however, has potential to make an attractive and useful bag.

I confess to taking these to England in the bottom of my suitcase but not progressing any. That's because, as I travelled, I was able to continue work on the projects from the embroidery retreat.  The linen bag pieces did not take up much room - and would have come into their own had I run out of stitching while away (Heaven forbid!).

It's another great idea from Christine. I owe a lot of my growth as a needlewoman to her.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Knitted vest

In spite of all my good intentions not to buy ANY more wool until I have knitted up what I have, last year I succumbed to the temptation of Bendigo Woollen Mill's special lot of Bloom wool.

I ordered enough to make myself a jacket/cardigan in the 'wine' colourway, along with this pattern.

My agreement with myself was that if I bought it, I had to get on with it straight away. It was not to join the three drawers of unknitted yarn I already had.

I began well. It knits beautifully. I finished the back.

On the fronts, it holds the cable really well.
It is a great pattern to knit. The cable is easy to remember. It's a great pick-up-put-down project.

Admittedly, because I have had a number of embroidery projects to finish, it has been put down more than it has been picked up!  Not a lot got done over Christmas period but I made good progress in February, finishing the first front.

I am now working on the second front, but have just begun to wonder if the variation in the colour rotation in the balls of wool is going to matter. This is the variation between the two fronts

and between the three pieces. The huge difference wasn't apparent to me as I knitted each piece.

I'm certainly not going to stop now, but it may look a bit odd when put together. 

We'll see in a week or so when I finish. Maybe it will prove to be a(nother) declaration of an eccentric old woman!