Thursday, 26 May 2016


Wonderful mum and I have been doing a lot of embroidery classes recently, we're both really enjoying stitching and a lot of workshops seemed to appear! We did a needle weaving class at The Living Threads group recently.  I had no idea what to expect and quite enjoyed it.

We were needle weaving a little bird, the other object is its wing.  We started off with a piece of fabric, placed the paper pattern on top then covered it with sticky-back plastic.  We then had to couch the Perle 8 thread onto the outlines using ordinary sewing cotton.  It was hard work and it seriously damaged my thumb!  I had a 2 big gashes from pushing the needle through the plastic.

I thought it was just a bizarre way of avoiding pattern transfer, but it turns out that the plastic gives a good backing to the needleweaving, preventing the needle from piercing the thread as this is the only point at which you sew through the fabric.

The needle weaving itself was quite easy once I got into the rhythm of it.  We did a double brussels stitch.  I think.  It involved loops!

The bird filled up quite quickly, then it was a matter of catching the initial couched line in the final row.

The wing was done using a different stitch.  Single corded stitch maybe?  Oh dear, I seem to have forgotten all this!  

This is as far as I got in class.  I hope I can remember how to do that second mystery stitch as I still have to finish the wing!  Once that is all done it's blanket stitch round the outlines, then cut the white threads to release the bird from the backing fabric, it will be completely free-standing. 

Wish me luck and hopefully I'll be able to show you the finished item soon(ish).

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Hardanger #2

Happy Sunday everyone!  It's been three weeks since I introduced you to the latest WIP I'm tackling - Mabel Figworthy's Fancies Song of the Weather SAL from 2013, so it's time for an update.  This is where I left off 3 years ago:

I've started working on "October".  I took it with me on a short holiday we took to Alnmouth in Northumberland (beautiful part of the world).  Usually our breaks there are all about walking for miles during the day, often along the coast, then stitching in the evenings. Unfortunately this time I was ill, more about that later, so I didn't get that much done.

The kloster blocks were all in round the edges, so all I've done is add the pistel stitches (dark blue), the woven roses, and cut the threads in the triangular sections.  I've also started weaving the threads, almost there!  The star shape in the middle is for a woven ribbon rose but I didn't have any ribbon on me.

Here it is in context, you can see now why the hoop isn't centred, I was trying to avoid crushing the other embroideries.

I'm sewing along as part of a SAL, you can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

AvisClaireGunCarole, LucyAnnKateCathyJessSueConstanze

The illness I'm talking about is my depression.  I had a very sudden, very severe relapse which started the day before we went on holiday.  The day after we got back, I went to work, but very quickly realised I wasn't safe and contacted my Mental Health Crisis Team.  I also called my best friend who took control, called my husband to collect me and told my boss I was going home!  Luckily my boss was bloody brilliant and has given me his full support.  I've seen two psychiatrists at two different hospitals this week, I narrowly avoided being sectioned and I'm now at home for at least a week with instructions to rest.  Fingers crossed this is just a blip in the withdrawal process.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Silver bracelet

I finally finished another piece in silversmithing class.  I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago but keep forgetting to take photos as it's usually on my wrist rather than in a "to photograph" pile.

The task was to make a silver bracelet using links of soldered wire.  I chose to use a 1.5mm square wire, never one to make things easy on myself, I chose a wire that likes to twist itself round whilst you're trying to solder it!

I made 6 large links - they're about 1", then a slightly smaller link to use as a clasp.  I made some small links which are just over 1/4" to link them together.  I spent a LOT of time filing, sanding and polishing these links so the solder joint is completely invisible.

I made the toggle clasp using a piece of the wire which I hammered to get a lovely texture, I then soldered a little half-circle to the back which I could use to attach it to the bracelet with the jump rings I'd made.  When I put it all together, it was too big.  I was going to discard the link I'd made for the clasp but was worried the toggle would fall out of the larger link, so I experimented with putting the two inside each other and a design was born!

I am incredibly proud of this bracelet.  It took me many hours to make (mostly sanding!) and I love the accidental design.  It's barely been off my wrist and I was no opportunity to shove it in someone's face and say "I made this"!  Next up in silversmithing is a bezel-set cabochon ring.  No idea what that is?  You'll find out...  Just give me a few more weeks to do some serious sanding!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Silk ribbon embroidery

I took a day off work in April to go with mum to a silk ribbon embroidery class held at White Peak Embroidery in Darley Dale, the Peak District.  For those of you outside the UK, the Peak District is part of Derbyshire (the next county along from mine) and is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the UK.  I really want to go and live in Derbyshire, it's just gorgeous.  

I'd never been to White Peak Embroidery before, I'd never even heard of it.  A few weeks before the class me and Mr CA drove past it after a walk in the grounds of Chatsworth House.  I was very over excited, especially as we then passed a quilt shop not two minutes later.  When it turned out it was where the class was being held, I was thrilled to be visiting.  It's a gem of a needlework shop, full of gorgeous threads, fabrics, yarns and kits and has a little coffee shop too!  The actual class was held in Heirs and Graces, the patchwork shop a few feet away, but that was less exciting as the stock is, shall we say, more traditional.

Anyway, on to the class.  There were 6 of us learners so it was a good size class.  After an introduction, the teacher came round and showed us each individually the different elements.  She was an excellent teacher and we hope to take more classes with her in the future now we know the shop is there and runs classes.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a note of her full name, but her first name is Ann.

I didn't take any photos in class as I was far too busy enjoying the magic of silk ribbon embroidery.  And it is magic!  The way that you can pull a ribbon and it takes on a certain shape was a revelation.  This is what I got done in the class.  I'm really pleased with my work even though one of those blue flowers was done wrong - though without the class sample next to it, you have no idea which one!

I really enjoyed stitching this, and this is just half the picture.  I've been working on it at home and will show you the finished item soon (ish), when I get it finished that is!  

The teacher also brought out her antique crazy quilt to show us which was fascinating. Although very much not my style it was lovely to see the different forms of embroidery on a quilt over 100 years old.  She also had a selection of books that I had a good read through and yes, I did buy a book!  I bought The A-Z of Silk Ribbon Embroidery, and what a gorgeous book it is too!  Expect to see more of this on my blog.... though in several month's time of course, you know how bad I am at getting round to doing things!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Something totally not me - apron

Silversmithing is a messy business.  It's dusty, OK, so the dust is tiny particles of silver, but it's still dust.  From the beginning we were told to take and apron and it took me a full 14 lessons to remember I needed one!

Of course, it had to be handmade.  I had a flick through my many books and settled on a pattern in Sweetwater's Simple Home by Lisa Burnett, Karla Eisenach & Susan Kendrick.  There was one thing that annoyed me straight away.  The top has a scalloped edge.  Here is the pattern in the book.

See that?  Enlarge 200%.  Why??  Why couldn't you have just printed it bigger?  I'm seeing lots of negative space on this page... room for a bigger pattern clearly!  That's just laziness and thoughtlessness on the publisher's half.  I didn't have access to an enlarging photocopier so I decided to take a different tack.

I used this fabric with circles, I did my best to match 2 pieces up right-sides together and then sewed round the circles to create a scallop.

It doesn't match perfectly (this is the other side), but it's not bad!  Haha, take that lazy book publishers!

And then this happened.  Stupid Wendy.  

I think this took me less than 2 hours to make.  The ruffles were probably the most time-consuming part, after chosing the fabrics of course!  The main fabric is from Vintage Modern by Bonnie and Camille.  I thought the bottom ruffle was too, but saw it was a fabric by Valorie Wells.  No idea what the others are, other than the solid grey ties which are Kona Charcoal.

I really should have taken some measurements of my body before starting this.  It was designed for a size zero 6' woman.  Bear this in mind if  you make it.  I could do with another 4" or so on the width of the top part as this just kind of hovers between my nipples.  It's also too long, the top ruffle sits below my knee!  OK, so I'm a busty 5' 1", but I bet there are more busty 5' 1"s reading this than 6' size zeros!

At least it keeps me clean...

I wonder what I was showing you on this photo?  Clearly the back of the apron, but why?  Answers on a postcard...

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Speed Craft #5 - Origami notebook

Before we begin, sad news.  I thought I'd already told you but can't find any evidence.

We lost our beautiful Tiff.  Her cancer had grown very large and she suddenly stopped being the happy, nosey, boisterous Tiff that she'd always been.  She started sitting in a corner all hunched up.  I knew it was time and I knew what I had to do, but it was so painful (for me) and I still feel bad about it.

I loved her so much and I miss her.

A couple of posts ago I was telling you about the Speed Craft event that we went to at Debbie Bryan.  I still don't have my concrete or ceramic pieces back and I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to pick them up, so I'll tell you about the origami table, and then we'll have to move on and come back to Speed Craft later.

On our final table of the day, we made little origami books.  They were folded from a single sheet of paper (a lovely double-sided scrap book paper).  We could then decorate them with stitches, other papers, pens, stamps etc.

I had my first go at papercutting, cutting a W into the cover of my book.

I then decorated some of the pages with music paper and pages from books torn out.  

I stuck the W I'd cut out on the back page.

I cut my pages apart to have more pages in my book, so I needed to secure them together.  I used some Perle cotton to stitch the pages together.  It's not very well done due to the time constraints, but the picture is so bad you can't really tell!  In actual fact, it's sewn expertly, perfectly, professionally.  Honest.

We also made a little envelope, folded from a single sheet of origami paper.  I added three little stitches to hold it together.

I had fun making this little book and it got me all fired up with ideas about how else I could decorate little books if I had more time.  

And here's a photo of Kate, hiding in her nest.  She's still with us even though we couldn't pair her with Colin (they fought and Colin was badly injured - he started it though).  I'm fostering her for a bit and then we'll try pairing her with Harry.

I met a lady the other day who had been to Speed Craft and she said she thought that the crafts like this were pointless, but I disagree.  OK, I may have no use for a little decorated book in an origami envelope, but I enjoyed making it, I felt creative and I had a chance to experiment.  For me, that's all the point that's needed.  I don't believe crafts, or works of art, have to be practical, though of course everyone is different. I'd be interested to know what you think?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hardanger #1, first update

I'm still sewing along with the 3-weekly SAL (ladies, I think we need a name for this SAL!), but having finished the Viennese Waltz, I'm picking up an old WIP.  Back in 2013/2014 I was stitching along with Mabel Figworthy's Fancies Song of the Weather SAL. This was a SAL which I was doing as 2 pieces, each 2 x 3 blocks.  I completed January to June, then started on the next one, intending to go back and sash the first when I'd finished.  That never happened as I only got as far as September.  This is July - September.

I finished that in September 2014, you can see my last blog post here.  For the SAL I'm going to finish October to December, then I'm going to sash between the blocks with a Hardanger design from one of my books.  I'll pick up January-June as my next SAL project.

Wish me luck!

I'm sewing along as part of a SAL, you can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

AvisClaireGunCarole, LucyAnnKateCathyJessSueConstanze