World Embroidery Day 2015

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It seems to me that every day of the year is a national or international something day but I was interested to discover that today, 30th July, is World Embroidery Day.  The day was established in 2011 by the Sweden Embroidery Guild whose manifesto is “The importance of embroidery must be made known and World Embroidery Day will spread around the world. Make 30th July a day filled with creativity for the sake of Peace, Freedom and Equality.” I discovered this fact via Inspiration magazine which sends out a weekly email with all sort of information and gossip from around the world relating to embroidery – and there you were thinking it was a quiet past-time of ladies from yesteryear. The purpose of World Embroidery Day is obviously to raise awareness of the craft and to encourage people to have a go.  The Sweden Embroidery Guild encourages sewers to take their embroidery out into cafes and other public places which would be very nice if I didn’t have to work plus I don’t think I want to take my work into an environment where there is potential for it to be damaged. Inspirations magazine also share this view but they are encouraging their readers to take to social media to raise awareness of this  almost minority craft.

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I first embroidered as a child and into my teens.  Above is a tray cloth I must have worked around the age of 12. I have always been somewhat of a restless soul particularly when I am meant to be watching television and so I have always had some sort of handicraft to occupy me. If I don’t keep my hands occupied I end up chewing my fingers without realising which causes callous, not a good look.

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Back then I always did my embroidery from kits with the picture pre-printed on the material and following instructions.  Above is a picture I must have done around the age of 15 when I was obsessed with Australia.  Anyway, I grew up, life got interesting, children came along and the embroidery stopped.  It was replaced by various things like knitting and sewing particularly making things for my children.  Now, as I near 50 I have re-discovered my love of embroidery and with it a sense of calm.

I started again with a cross stitch sampler and some other kits which were interesting but not challenging at all and I need a challenge.  I have a mind that is thirsty for new things – it occurs to me that I may be slightly hyperactive! Anyway, for Christmas my sons bought me Hazel Blomkamp’s Crewel Twists and I have been slowly working on the Spring Trellis design which I have blogged about from time to time.

However, as I said I have recently discovered Inspirations magazine which is based in Australia and published four times a year (I think) and it really lives up to its name. It seems that there is a very active embroidery world out in the Southern Hemisphere which is intriguing.  You quickly realise that cross stitch and the printed kits are only the beginning, there are so many techniques and styles to learn.  I have even managed to find a couple of fellow embroideries on twitter and facebook and through them I have learnt about the benefits of using a stand for my work and also I have witnessed, via videos, the stunning constructions of some of the hauteur couture creations which feature embroidery.  It makes me wish I was a teenager again and could maybe follow a career in this area.

My passion for embroidery is growing so rapidly that it is beginning to via with my gardening and blogging.

So I do support World Embroidery Day as embroidery lets me channel my creative energies and helps me to relax and recharge after a stressful day  – why do have a go yourself?

Creative Thursday – Skinny Scarf

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I have included the odd post on here about my creative exploits.  Aside from my botanical painting which is definitely on the back burner at the moment, there has been the tiny clothes for my mother’s toy goose, a skirt and more recently a crocheted scarf.

I want to re-discover my creative side. When I was a teenager and when my sons were little I was always knitting and sewing.  In my late teens I used to make my own dresses and skirts often from complex Vogue designer patterns and I had some success but then I met my ex-husband and due to his personality problems my confidence went and I stopped dressmaking and knitting.  When the boys were little, and I was on my own I started making fancy dress outfits for them and even trousers from an old pair of mine.  They were very simplistic but they worked.  I have had knitting projects on the go frequently on and off over the years but last summer the pattern I was attempting just wouldn’t work and I lost my confidence, then the aforementioned skirt didn’t come out as well as I would have liked and I really threw in the towel.

I then decided to learn how to crochet as I thought learning a new skill would  give me a bit of confidence.  I have subscribed to the Art of Crochet and am learning step by step.  I also returned to tapestry work which is easy to do when you are watching television and quite therapeutic but now I want to make the tapestries into cushion covers and my first attempt  was awful.

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The crocheting has given me some confidence and on this post you can see a skinny scarf that I finished a while ago.  The fabric is quite itchy so I think it will be something I wear with a jacket more when I go out but it was good to work through something steadily and build  confidence.  I particularly love the long tassles!

In recent weeks I have been inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2.  The thing that encouraged me the most was that the contestants had been chosen from lots of entrants and they were still making mistakes, the type I have made recently.  It showed me not to give up so easily and that practice will help.  I have bought the book which gives a range of projects from cushion covers, curtains to a range of clothes.  The book shows you have to put in a zip and other skills.  I always avoided zips when I was dressmaking before and being self-taught I tended to stick to the simpler buttonholes.  My biggest problem with dressmaking again is the cost and a lack of confidence in what suits me.  When I was younger, I was very slim and seemed to be able to wear anything, this is not the case now.   I have decided to work on some very simple dressmaking/sewing projects first and then maybe try a simple A line skirt to build confidence.

I have enjoyed crocheting the shoulder bag I am working on at the moment and am currently trying to decided whether to follow the instructions fully and felt it in the washing machine or leave the ‘fabric’ as it is – it is rather lovely.  There is something wonderful and satisfying about having made something yourself and I am planning on using this blog to record my journey and the things that inspire me – these posts will be on a Thursday, though I doubt  if  it  will be every Thursday.