Sunday, 25 August 2013


I started my embroidery without the aid of a hoop, initial project just hand held and the only tension my wondering if it would work out OK.

A but then I discovered hoops, wonderful hoops.  All sorts of sizes and a variation on shape (although mainly round).  Wonderful for stopping the design going all wobbly and astray.

Then joy of joys the quilting hoop, I love my hoops.

Hoops for all tasks.
Embroidery and Quilting

Of course as I have mentioned, hoarding is in my nature so my collection of hoops has grown.  After all if you want to do several projects all at once you need enough hoops to accommodate that, don't you?

I don't generally use a hoop for cross stitch however, I prefer to hold it in my hand and mostly still mange an even tension and a flat finish.  My one (so far) exception to this rule was the smallest count design I have ever done, but it deserves a post of its own at a later date.

I am not so keen on the three blue plastic hoops with the metal inner, I don't find they have enough hold and the material slips as you work.  I keep them because I do that, and someday perhaps when I am busy spreading the sewing bug I will find someone who does like them and I can be confident they are off to a good home.

Just in case you were wondering the biggest hoop (quilting) is 21 inches.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

more celtic touches

Celtic Knot bookmark
since I mentioned the illuminated gospel inspired quilt I have been looking at the other items I have made with Celtic knot work.  It is a lot more than I had thought, though I do not know why I am surprised the designs are so strong and their beautiful complexity so stunning that they lend themselves readily to craft projects.

Here is a stitched book mark. I appear to make a lot of bookmarks of one sort or another which is ironic as I tend to use anything but a bookmark to hold my place. Receipts, corners of envelopes, used bus tickets (that is a whole other blog) sweet wrappers the list is endless, but not the ones I make.  In general other people get gifted or inflicted with those.  so expect to see more of them as I find them tucked away and snap a picture or I make more.

This particular example shows how effective variegated threads can be when combined with a Celtic knot.  The emphasise the flowing lines beautifully.
Celtic knot detail

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Sewing thread dragons

 More hoarding discovered.
Nine patch dragon cushion cover
This little nine patch cushion was one of my early moves towards sewn decoration.  The dragons were completed using ordinary sewing thread and not a specialised embroidery floss.  The colours are different thicknesses of thread, the light grey  and golden yellow were easier to work with than the dark.  This cushion was made about three years before the grey log cabin quilt in my earlier entry. You can see the lessons learnt from pinny to cushion to quilt decoration is quite a marked one.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Proof positive

not sadly that I was a stitching child prodigy but rather that I am a hoarder!

Another search through my craft stuff, looking to catalogue my frames this time and I came across further projects from school.

school apron

Another item from junior school, but a year or two later and another from the first year at senior school.  Each item with the same purpose, both red yet with different designs and levels of decoration.

This first has a whipped stitch boarder and ties just at the waist.

School pinny

The later version loops over the neck and ties at the waist. The pockets are decorated with a mermaid and what is supposed to be a large shell with my initials in and a couple of fishes.
Decorated pockets

Sadly although I had access to proper stranded thread I had no idea that the thread should be separated to suit the size and style of the design.  So using the full six strands my mermaid is rather a chunky thing.

Six strand mermaid
She does show however, that less than stellar starts can lead to better things.  At least I do hope you will think so when you see some of my later embroidery projects.  Mind projects to wear, are less of a progressive story.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cushions and spangles

now these are not cushions for sitting on, lying on or even just admiring.  These are the lace making cushions I was referring to in my 'touch of lace' blog.  They are also called pillow by some by you would not want to try sleeping on one.

The larger of my cushions, has a lace edging in production.

Bobbin lace
The card pattern is called a pricking, as you prick out the pattern with a needle (or there are special tools you can get) and the holes tell you where to put the pins as you work.  The pattern is in two pieces, as you finish one section and get about halfway onto the second you take all of the pins out of the first section of lace and move the pattern ready for it to be the third section, and as you work the second second piece of pattern moves to be the fourth.

As you can see I am using a mix of the basic wooden bobbins which I painted with enamel paints,( red on my first set first set and black on the second ) and some turned wood, bone, horn versions I have added over the years.        

Lace bobbins
                                                                            The beads at the ends of the bobbins help stop them rolling about, and they look pretty.  I like to have a small silver charm or a special focal bead at the middle of the loop of beads. The more expensive bobbins tend to get the equivalent quality of focal charm or semi precious stone in their bead loop.

The second smaller cushion I use has sloped edges on three sides this helps with the tension when working the lace and can be used with un-beaded bobbins but it is no good for patterns that turn corners, just small straight designs like book marks or lace cuffs. Indeed the pricking on the pillow pictured is for a bookmark.  
Lace making cushion

Bookmarks, like this one were indeed the most likely product of my lace making.  One similar to this made its way to China as a gift for the wife of a Chinese gentleman who came to my fathers factory for a working visit.  He in turn gifted me with a pack of playing cards from China.  I hope his wife liked it and it has been if some use.

Lace bookmark in three colours

But bookmarks and dollie edgings are not the pinnacle of my lace making to date.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

back through the mists of time

well possibly not quite as far as that.  During a recent trip to the loft, repository of craft overflow, to search for some yellow material (found it but not quite right so will look to get some more) I stumbled across a long forgotten craft item.

Now had I been asked prior to the loft discovery "what was the first applique you did?" I would have laughed and said a dragon, what else.

This is the item I would have been referring to. A small randomly patched cushion, and I do mean small, with the dragon in a fine dress weight velvet.  The satin stitch edging is a bit higgildy (or as members of the quilting group would say, a little unique) but I am still rather fond of it.

dragon applique

However my sojourn in the loft has shown that answer would have been incorrect.For there tucked into one of the bags, only one of its wooden handles still attached lay the truth.  My first applique was a swan, a brown swan (I wanted the blue one but I was last to pick) running stitched onto a hessian bag.

Long necked duck (swan) bag
I think I was seven, this was a school project, all the class made one. Having found the bag memories came back of trying to make the best of brown over blue, of being quite disgruntled there were so many letters in my name that there was not enough thread left for me to do my whole name in one colour. Or in the same shade when it came to my surname.

Although when it comes to waterfowl I prefer ducks, the swan was OK, just a long necked duck really (there once was an ugly duckling) and in many ways ugly was how I thought of my bag once it was done.

I was not at the time upset when the handle got broken, in fact I was almost pleased not to be able to use it while it waited to be fixed.  It has been waiting a long time.

More name than thread
I like it better now, perhaps a touch of nostalgia has made it more appealing, or perhaps my tastes now encompass the subtle as well as the bold.  So I guess I am looking for wooden handles so I can finally fix it and allow it back out of the loft and I guess as a non-plastic bag it is all fashionable now!