Thanks for calling by. I hope you enjoy what you see, feel free to leave a comment and call again to catch up on my news.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Poppies and some scraps

I've been away for a couple of weeks in London. The main purpose of my visit, apart from visiting my family (of course), was to see these ...

... ceramic poppies at the Tower of London.

 A poppy has been 'planted' for each British man and woman who lost their lives in the first world war. They spill out of the top of the wall and they spread around three sides of the tower in what would originally have been the moat, because that is where the men gathered before marching off to fight.
It is a very moving sight, to think of so many lives lost in a war that was supposed to end all wars. Sometimes it seems that we've learned nothing at all in the past hundred years!!
Stitching whilst I was away was quite minimal, as you might imagine, but I did work on these little patches. 
 They're all made up of pieces of vintage lace stitched onto scraps of old men's shirting fabric.

Lots of bullion knots, french knots, buttonhole bars and wrapped threads.

 I love this piece which says 'home'! It came from the edge of a tablecloth which had obviously been worked to welcome someone home after a sea voyage as there were ships along with the words 'Welcome home' worked into the crochet border.

Not entirely sure yet what they're destined for ...

... maybe a patchwork piece, or a bag, or a cushion ...

 ... or maybe they'll end up inside another fabric book? Ideas on a postcard please

This last piece was a pocket from an old shirt of mine which I embellished with lots of knots.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

I've not been idle!

I know, I know, it's a while since I promised to update you on what I'd been doing - not sure where the time goes just recently. Anyhow ... better late than never they say don't they? So here I am, very late and this is really going to be a pretty long list of projects completed and in progress, and quite a few photographs.

 A couple of months ago I went on a one day course in a tiny village called Copt Hewick, which is near Ripon in North Yorkshire, to play with beautiful fabrics, silk cocoons and silk carrier rods. This is the result. I really want to do more of this kind of play as I have a whole box full of hand dyed cocoons, but just at the moment my time is otherwise occupied I'm afraid.

 This piece of 'blackwork' stitched in space dyed threads, rather than the traditional black, is destined to be a book cover for a whole series of blackwork samples which I've been working in odd moments.

This is the completed piece of goldwork samples which was begun at our Guild Summer School in a class with Llinos Spriggs. Traditional goldwork supplies (and some less traditional) and techniques but used in a very contemporary way.

 This little peacock was a cross-stitch kit which I bought in a National Trust shop on my holiday to Norfolk this summer. It was supposed to be a needle-case but I already have several needle-cases so I made mine into a little notebook. It kept my evenings occupied whilst I was away from home.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know about our Embroiderer's Guild's travelling books and this is my latest piece for these, inspired by the maple (acer) trees in my garden, which are resplendent in their autumn colours at the moment.

 I'm also busy making pieces of lace for my solo exhibition next April. That sounds very grand I know but it really isn't as it's only at a local haberdashery shop but it is still a bit scary and I know that I need to have ideally around eighteen to twenty pieces of embroidery to put in there. I'm nowhere near there yet. The theme I've chosen is 'Nature's Jewels' so there are butterflies and seed heads,

 storm clouds with silver linings,

more ...
and more ...
and yet more butterflies,
 and autumn leaves.

 I've also been making a workbook which I intended to fill with whitework samples, except that I find it really hard to work purely white on white. So some of my samples have space-dyed threads.

I've also begun another book - why oh why can't I stick to one project at a time?! - This one is going to be about the Lewis Chessmen, which were discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the West coast of Scotland sometime prior to 1831. The 93 pieces are carved from walrus ivory and thought to originate in Norway, and to date back to the 12th century. 82 of the pieces are on display in the British Museum and I intend to visit them when I'm next in London.

So I've been working on Celtic knotwork patterns -

 and here are my first two chessmen pieces - both sides of a knight.

I've just joined Karen Ruane's Simply Stitch 5 course and this morning was spent painting on paper for a workbook page. Lots of fun!

And finally (was that a cheer that I heard?!) I thought I'd show you my progress on my marathon cross stitch designed by Thea Gouverner of Mother of God, which is coming along nicely but very slowly.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Catch up on my work

I hadn't realised that it had been quite so long since I was last here before my post last week! There is a lot to catch up on I guess, so I'm almost bound to miss something. I've been on a few workshops and there's a little progress on some of the big projects I'm working on. A great deal of time was spent getting pieces ready for the exhibition which I told you about last week, but as that is now out of the way (or at least out of my hands) it's time to take stock and look forward to the future.

Back in May I went to Stitching in the Dales - this is a stitching weekend run by a branch of the Embroiderers Guild and set in the beautiful village of Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. The class I did (there were two alternatives) was entitled Textile Jewels and the tutor was Chris Gray. Chris had brought along lots of her Indian textiles and we were invited to choose one on which to base our own piece of work.Having chosen a wall hanging embroidered with images of stylised birds, elephants and flowers, I decided to make a book.

 Chris said that each of the images was intended to ward off evil spirits so I put this beach-found piece of metal on the front cover as I thought it looked and felt a little like something one would rub for good luck.

Inside there are lots of peacock images, stamped onto both paper and fabric and then embroidered and embellished.

Wrapped coffee stirrers and washers together with jewel coloured silk fabric make up this page.

And on the back cover I stitched a little pocket which contains an explanation of the book's inspiration written on watercolour paper dyed with walnut ink.

I'm doing a class on making sketchbook journals with Anne Brook and decided that I needed a new, larger pencil case so made this piece of random bargello canvas work in lots of lovely zingy peacock and lime green colours.

 At our May meeting of the Embroiderers Guild we were taught how to make miniature hats. They're embroidered with silk ribbon and perle thread - lots and lots of colonial knots.

 Then we added ribbon, roses and feathers. Made me want to make lots more and a hat shop to display them in.
A small group of us are working on travelling books, which I think I've mentioned in an earlier post. Each of us has an A5 book and each month we make a piece of embroidery, fix it into the book and then pass that book onto the next person in the group. A bit like a round robin with stitches. When the books are full we'll each get our own book back which will then be filled with lots of beautiful embroidery stitched by all the members of the group. This is the piece I've been working on this month - entitled Windmills of Your Mind.

The final class I've done recently was to make book covers from sari ribbons. Most people used a sewing machine to embroider theirs but my machine is way too heavy to transport to class so mine was hand stitched (the one on the left in the photo). I made one later at home using machine embroidery. 

Apart from my marathon Mother of God cross stitch piece I'm currently working on this small piece of needlelace entitled Stormy Weather as the doodle reminded me of a storm cloud.

I'm also working on a fabric book about the Lewis Chessmen. The first piece I've stitched (not quite finished) is this knight, quilted onto walnut ink dyed calico. I've been reading the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May and became fascinated by these 78 chess pieces carved from walrus ivory which were found on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831. My husband and I once had a wonderfully idyllic holiday travelling the 130 miles up the islands from Barra to Lewis in our motorhome so I have no doubt that some of those memories will find themselves woven into this new venture in some way.

 These are just a few of the chess pieces - the majority of which are now held in the British Museum in London while a few are in Edinburgh. Their faces are so expressive - especially this little rook ...

 And finally ... inspired by my recent holiday in Norfolk and destined for the holiday journal I'm making as a result, is my response to the many gardens we walked around whilst we were there. Painted onto a scrap of the calico left over from the knight this is now in the process of being stitched. Watch this space for the completed piece.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Exhibits and a journey through Norfolk

Sorry for my long absence! I don't know how so many weeks have passed by and now I hardly know where to begin to catch up. I'll take photographs of my recent pieces of work in the next day or two and post again with an update. But in the meantime, let me show you what I've been up to in the past week.
Our branch of the Embroiderers' Guild has an exhibition currently at the Bankfield Museum in Halifax (Yorkshire). For those of you who can get there it's on until the end of July. So last Saturday we went along to the preview and I have to say I was so proud of the ladies who have produced the exhibits.

Many of us worked on the huge tree of life - it's around 8 feet tall, which is the centrepiece of the exhibition. As well as couching the tree itself and the landscape along the bottom, we produced individual motifs as 'slips' (separate pieces of fabric) which were then stitched onto the tree.

 These are just some of the exhibits inside one of the display cabinets - including my butterfly garden casket. The pieces of work are an interesting mix of traditional and modern embroidery and include stumpwork, whitework, blackwork, crewel embroidery, silk painting and many others.

 And here are two of my pieces of lace. It felt so exciting to see them on display in a gallery!

Sunday I went away for a few days with my local National Trust group on a coach tour of North Norfolk. We saw lots of stately homes, masses of beautiful gardens, and some very special textiles, which I thought I'd share with you.

This bedspread was actually crocheted at the beginning of the 20th century but it is so beautiful.
This little beaded cushion was sitting on the bedside table.

These two pieces of embroidery were worked by Mary Queen of Scots whilst she was in exile. They were on display at Oxburgh Hall, a lovely old manor house which actually has a moat!

 This bedhanging was so relevant to our exhibition - a beautiful example of 17th century crewel embroidery.

 In Sheringham we went to the lifeboat museum where there was an exhibition of fishermen's ganseys. Each area has its own design knitted into the fine wool sweaters.

The local branch of the Women's Institute had made a quilt to be raffled to raise funds to buy one of the restored lifeboats, but the men liked it so much that they asked the ladies to make them another to keep and put on show in the museum.
 The final piece of embroidery that I have to show you is a bed hanging from Knole House in Kent and is currently being restored by the National Trust Conservation Studio, which is in Norfolk. It was fascinating to see how they conserve the beautiful old textiles in our many stately homes and palaces.

All in all a very good week!

And finally ... the wall of a dovecote we came across in one of the gardens, complete with white dove. Have a peaceful Sunday ... wherever you are.