A Year of Stitches – Days 1-26

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Having stuck to one of my new year plans (not I’m not using the word resolution) for nearly a month I thought I would share it with you. The project isn’t called ‘1 Year of Stitches’ and the idea is that you do some embroidery every day and post your progress in social media. There are no rules. I am following  the approach taken by the originators of idea and just sewing whatever I feel like. I want to develop my more creative side, use my imagination etc as most of my sewing is done through kits. Others have worked out designs which they are doing a bit of each day. If you want to have a look at others check out #1yearofstitches or @1yearofstitches on instagram. If you are interested in taking part there is a Facebook page you can join.

 

 

 

 

Things that make me happy

a delightful book of horticultural sewing inspiration

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I have a weakness for books, for plants and gardens and for embroidery so to discover a book that brings all these together makes me very very happy indeed.

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I came across a review of this book, The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki,  in the latest edition of Stitch magazine and of course it was too late to ask for it for Christmas so, well.. I just ordered it for myself as an early Christmas present and I am thrilled with it.

I think my embroidery style is quite traditional.  I see a lot of very contemporary embroidery, mainly machine embroidery, which doesn’t inspire me very often but there is something, to my mind, very special about some ‘simple’ traditional hand embroidery.  However, this book seems to move it just a little along the path towards modernity because if you look very carefully at the front cover you will see that the hatching at the base of the arrangement is actually tulle which has been applied.

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I also love this project which is a modern take on the Victorian obsession with collecting and displaying butterflies but in this case no butterflies will be harmed in the process.  I think it would be fun to do this based on British butterflies and get it framed in a Victorian style frame and I love the butterfly brooch.

So I am a very happy bunny flicking through the pages and pondering what to have a go at first; in the meantime I must finish the cross stitch Christmas cards.

 

Embroidery update

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My writing prompt relates back to the poll I put up earlier this week. I am supposed to write something arising out of what readers have asked for.   Someone asks for an update on my embroidery project so here goes.

I have been working on the Spring Trellis project since March 2015, actually not as far back I was expecting.  The plan is from a book by Hazel Blomkamp called Crewel Twists which gives a modern twist to crewel work.  I set out on the project as I wanted to learn how to use beads and also more crewel work techniques.

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It’s a large project, probably a bit over ambitious but that’s me.  I have one large motif to finish and then the last one in the bottom right hand corner.  Then I need to do all the connecting stems and leaves and finally some trellis in the background.  I started on the largest motif and I think looking at the last few I have done (top left and then top right) show that my technique is improving.

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This is the motif I am working on at the moment although that is not strictly true as I am taking a break from it.  I have a hankering to do some Christmas cards and other Christmas decorations and I don’t want to leave it until late November as I did last year which is just too late.  So I have got some cross-stitch kits and am having fun undertaking simple embroidery.

Christmas Chick

This is the image of the one I am working on at the moment but familiarity breeds contempt.  I had whizzed along in the evenings and completed most of the bird’s body until I realised that I should have been using double thread and not single.  I suppose it doesn’t seem that important but the single thread gives a very pale appearance.  Anyway, I spent last night unpicking the whole thing – a good week of evenings work destroyed but I know it’s the right decision.  I also have some ideas for Christmas tree decorations which I hope to have time for as well then its back to the Spring Trellis – maybe.

Spring Trellis – Motif 2 Completed

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The second motif on the Spring Trellis crewelwork embroidery is done and I am really pleased with my progress to date.  The instructions are from Hazel Blomkamp’s book Crewel Twists which brings fresh ideas to Jacobean embroidery.  Basically, I think, the idea is that you take the basic stitches of Jacobean crewel work and you embellish them seemingly with masses of beads.

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This is how the second motif fits with the first motif – kinda.  I didn’t transfer the pattern very well so some of it is rather free hand but then I think it brings its own individuality to the work. I’ve felt more confident with the second motif and I think I have stopped worrying so much about whether the finish is as good as in the book.  After all I started on this project as a way to learn new stitches and new approaches and to help me feel braver.

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This photo shows the overall design (sorry for the glare) and having discovered it at the end of the instructions it reassures me as I think the finish on this version isn’t that dis-similar to mine.

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So onwards and upwards to the third motif, the flower at the top left.  This has two pages of instructions which initially lead me to believe it wouldn’t be too bad but looking at it carefully I suspect the author has made some assumptions based on the first 6 pages of instructions and it really is as complicated as the first motif.  First up is some more of the multi-colour checker box satin stitch which is incredibly time-consuming and nearly put me off completely in the first motif as it really showed up my inconsistent satin stitch.  However, can you see the bottom petals, they look rather interesting and a new challenge!!

 

Sample of a Sampler

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I haven’t posted about my crafty exploits for a while so I thought an update was due.  Having completed the Sheep Pincushion I had started on a beaded scissor case from the same supplier but it was all rather fiddly and for some reason I had fallen out of love with it.  I was in that horrid place where you think I really ought to get on with that and then go off finding other things to do.

Anyway, a few weeks back the latest edition of The Stitch magazine plopped through the letter box and I was instantly drawn to the sampler pattern featured in it.  It was exactly what I needed – simple and straight forward.  Lots of repetition and not on so small a scale (like the scissor case) that I was thinking I needed to get a magnify glass to supplement my glasses.

I ordered the material choosing to go for the colours shown in the magazine as they appealed to me and I wanted to try out the tonal threads.  I am sure I have enough embroidery silks stashed away to use up left overs but I was really after a no-think project.  This might sound strange but work is so demanding at the moment that I come home with my head spinning and in need of peace and quiet in the evenings with no more information or thinking coming my way.  I am even too tired to really engage in social media aside from keeping the blog going.  Sitting watching a drama on television while I stitch a repetitive row is just my level at the moment and it is surprisingly relaxing and rewarding.

The perfectionist in me twitches at the photo above as the stitches aren’t spot on but I then remind myself that this is its charm.  An added bonus was that I have already learnt two new stitches – fern and chevron.  There’s a way to go yet and maybe when I have finished it I might feel inclined to finish the scissor holder (or maybe I will just put that away for the foreseeable future!).

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Sheep Pincushion finished

2014_12060021I am thrilled with the Sheep Pincushion now it is finished. The kit is from Lorna Bateman and it is one of two kits I bought to help me learn some new stitches and try some different types of embroidery.

Whilst doing this kit I learnt how to do drizzle stitch and couching.  I was also meant to have a go at stumpwork by making some thread covered horns but to be honest I was concerned that they would dominate the finished piece of work.  I have found doing the faces and ears of the sheep challenging.  I can do the stitches but achieving the effect I am after hasn’t quite worked. The sheep above looks more like Dennis the Menace’s dog than a sheep!

2014_12060023What really impressed me was how the piece of work was completely lifted when I added the grass and flowers.  The cording is not as regular as I would have liked and I know that I didn’t quite get the technique right.  But then again I think this has more charm to it than bought cording.  Assembling the pin cushion was very easy as you just gather up the edges of the piece of work and slide it over the pad which is screwed into the wooden base from below.

2014_12060025My next project is a scissors case which will give me the opportunity to have a go at some beading work and also learn stitches such as bullion knots, roumanian stitch and palestrina stitch.  And of course it means that I get to play with the pretty sparkly beads!

I have bought some fabric so I can practice the stitches first and I plan to work up a sampler over the course of time just as I have seen on Pintangle

Once I have done this kit I will have my sewing kit all ready and I then plan to go back to crewel work which I think is more my style – I prefer the neatness and patterns it uses to the freestyle approach above.