Wednesday, 28 September 2016


During the summer wonderful mum and I took a class at the Bead Shop Nottingham to make a needle case.  I've often admired beaded needle cases but I've never made one and I didn't understand how they work.  

It turns out they have a little wooden needle case inside them, like the one in the picture below.  This picture shows how far I got by the end of the class.

It was peyote stitched, so the technique wasn't difficult, but it was difficult following the pattern and remembering when to use the correct beads!  The pattern I followed was one made by Steph as I loved the design and colours.

A few weeks after the class I finally sat down to finish it - it only took about 20 minutes, more senseless procrastinating!  All I need to do now is glue the beadwork to the tube.  I have a stack of almost done projects waiting for some glue before I show you!

I've just realised I don't know how big this is.  About the length of a long beading needle?  Probably about 6cm/2 and a bit inches long.

This was a nice, simple, enjoyable project.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Mellerstain Parrots #1

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  It's time for the 3-weekly update on my latest WIP.  I finished the Princess Bride for the last check in, and now it's time to present my next project.  I am cheating slightly for this update, I haven't actually stitched on it at all, but thought I'd show you where I'm starting from.  I've had a busy three weeks, including a weekend down near Bath at my brother's wedding.

I am stitching on Mellerstain Parrots by the Crewel Work Company.  My kit is actually the fireguard, which I couldn't find on the website, but is the same design.  I must have started this 4 years ago.  I was stitching it as a sample for the Crewel Work Company as she was developing the kit.  I got about half way through and was waiting for the rest of the stitching instructions.  I emailed her several times but never got any response and have never heard from her since.  I wasn't supposed to show it on my blog until it was finished, but as I've lost contact, I'm going to show it.  It got put to one side as I don't have the stitching instructions for the rest of the design.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to wing it!

All the leaves are done, so all (!) that's left is the acorns and the parrots themselves.

Also the little berries.  I'm worried about those as I'm pretty sure they are in satin stitch and satin stitch circles have got to be hard!

The linen was pre-printed, which is great.  You can just get on and stitch instead of faffing around trying to transfer the pattern.  This design also includes so stitch directions marked on the fabric, so that's useful.

I'm quite looking forward to starting this, I hope I get a chance this evening.  The problem I'm wrestling with at the moment isn't time, I have time, but motivation and energy.  My new meds make me tired all the time, often too tired to even stitch.

I'll be back in 3 weeks to show you my progress.... if there is some!

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

AvisClaireGunCarole, LucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusan

Feel free to come and join us, just contact Avis.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

shadow work

Summer has been a flurry of embroidery workshops and new techniques.  In August wonderful mum and I went to a workshop in shadow-work at The Living Threads group.  Our tutor, Susan, was brilliant, very patient and with the ability to teach - very important that!

We worked on pieces of organdy.  Organdy is a cotton fabric that has a very stiff drape.  Organza is made from silk or man-made materials and is very frayey.  Yes, frayey is a word.  The fabric is quite transparent, so the stitches are on the back, showing through as a coloured shadow.  The photo above is the front of the work.  The photo below is the back.

We used perle cotton and herringbone stitch to stitch a row and a leaf shape.  That is all the technique that's involved!

We traced the pattern onto the fabric using a pencil, this was very easy as the fabric is ideal for this kind of work!  We then hooped up, adding in a piece of tissue paper to the front. The tissue was torn away a bit at a time and was to keep the fabric and work clean.

Here I used a pale blue to stitch my initial.  You can vary the look of the piece by stitching tiny stitches close together or bigger stitches further apart.  I was aiming for a closed block of stitching.

I used a darker blue for the flower then added yellow french knots.

Unbelievably, I left with a finished piece!  There was the perfect amount of time in the class to finish the piece.  But, and there was always going to be a but, I haven't framed it yet!  Ridiculous, I know.  I have a lovely piece of green organdy to put behind the stitching and I have a hoop of the right size... so why haven't I done it?

Monday, 19 September 2016

latch hook rug

In the spirit of finishing things off, I finally finished a project I'd almost finished in June 2014 - see this post.  I'd then done a little bit more and put the photos into a blog post ready, it's been sitting in my dashboard since then!  Well, I finally finished it.

It was my latch hook rug.  The following two photos are the ones that have been hanging around for 2 years.

I was very pleased that the kit contained the right amount of wool, I even had some left overs.  They are sitting on a shelf in my craft room, I have no idea what I thought I would do with them!

This is where I'd left the project.  Completely hooked, but not finished off.  I know I'd spent a lot of time researching how to do it and only found posts about hooked rugs on hessian fabrics, not this kind on a canvas.  When I picked this up again a few weeks ago, I decided to just go for it.  I'd bought some herringbone tape which somewhere had recommended I use, and a very thick needle and some waxed linen thread.

I cut around the canvas, leaving 3 threads.  I folded this over to the back and whip stitched it to the canvas, making sure it wasn't showing through on the front.

Look at the size of that needle!  You don't want to know how many times I stabbed myself with the damn thing!  It was a lot...  When it was all secured down, I sewed the herringbone tape over the top to neaten it.  I genuinely had no idea what I was doing!

I stitched using a running stitch, wow did that heavy thread and that massive needle hurt my hands!

The whole time I was making this, I was trying to think of somewhere to put it.  Mr CA asked me a few times and I just said I didn't know.  When I'd finished sewing on the tape, I plonked it down in front of the fire to get it off the sofa.  Yep, that'll do, I can live there!  And yes, that is an Easter egg.  Mr CA's.  He's not bothered about chocolate so he won't eat it, but I'm not allowed to eat it either!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Silencing the windchimes

I seem to have been writing about clay rather a lot recently, it just happens sometimes that classes come in waves, and over the summer we did several clay workshops.  Back in July wonderful mum and I went to a workshop at Katherine Fortnum ceramics to make windchimes.  You can see this post to see the unfinished item.

I made a flat style of windchime to hang against a wall.  I wouldn't dare leave something like this outside as it would be likely to get smashed by some of the less desirable people that live in the area.  (I know that sounds really snobby, but we have been burgled and someone set fire to our garden gate, right next to our rabbits, one night, also you should see the amount of rubbish in the streets and young or drunk people hanging around)

This is the hanging bar.  I had to carve out the back so that the clay was all roughly the same thickness otherwise there'd be problems with it drying and in the kiln.  I painted the whole thing in the same blue/minty green shade.

I varied the patterns on the hearts so that the outside ones were the same, but the middle one was different.  All the hearts get smaller as they get towards the bottom.

The middle string has one extra heart on it, just for a bit of interest.  It's all strung together with Fireline, a jewellery making material that's similar to fishing line.

The hearts are only painted and engraved on the front, so the backs are a boring brown colour, but that's up against the wall and doesn't really matter.

I hung it on the first floor landing.  It's all alone on that wall, but maybe one day I'll fill it with quilts and embroideries and other made pieces.  The rate I'm going I'll fill the whole house!  I don't think Mr CA has noticed it yet...

Hmmm.... maybe I should have measured that Fireline so they were hanging symmetrically! 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

cabochon ring

I have another silversmithing project that I haven't yet shared, and, as I wrote that, I remembered that I've been working on a bracelet too and was meaning to finish it during the summer break!

This is a cabochon ring.  A cabochon is a flat backed stone (or piece of resin, plastic, whatever), I've used them before in bead weaving and bead embroidery.  To mount a cabochon, using whatever technique, you create a bezel, in this case a strip of silver which surrounds the stone.

When I bought the supplies for this project, I didn't want to spend too much money and luckily, the stone I liked the best was this blue goldstone.  I think it cost me all of £1.90.  I don't have it on as I type this, so I can't check, but I think it's about 8mm diameter.

The process is to cut a piece of bezel strip (thin silver) to the right height using tin snips.  The day we made this I had terrible shakes due to the medication withdrawal so Lisa (the tutor) had to do it for me.  Usually I hate a tutor doing any part of my project for me, but I had no choice, I just couldn't do it, the fact they were right handed tin snips and I'm left handed didn't help but I'm usually quite good with right handed tools.  I formed it into a circle to fit the stone, then soldered it to a piece of 0.8mm silver sheet, I then pierced out around it with a jewellery saw.  The stone was put into place and then the top of the bezel strip is pushed down on to the top of the ring, just slightly round the edges so the stone can't escape.

I made a simple ring from 2mm round wire, though of course you could use any kind of wire, or flat sheet, you could texture it or stamp it first... the possibilities are endless.  I found it a really fiddly process and couldn't see myself doing it again, but I like the finished ring and I bought another stone at the same time (can't remember what it is now!) so I might have to try another.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Bobbin Lace take 2

I seem to be flitting from one craft to the other recently, never finishing anything off.  I don't know if it's the weather, or my new medication, or just my illness, but I struggle to find motivation to make anything.

Eagle-memoried readers may remember that I went to a bobbin lace class back in June (see here), and that it was not particularly successful.  We both still wanted to learn this technique so we did some research and found a tutor in Derby which isn't far from Nottingham.  We took a class with Louise West and immediately signed up for the next one, she was an excellent teacher and we both really enjoyed it.

Our weapons of choice.  We pricked out the pattern and then drew pencil lines to connect the dots.  This is done on a piece of glazed card (the brown one).  After penciling in the lines, we had to go over it in ink and then rub the pencil lines out.  I thought this was a bit of a faff, but on more complex patterns it is probably essential.  We then chose some colours of Perle 8 cotton.

Apparently, I didn't take one single in-progress photo, I clearly was enjoying it!  I managed to finish the whole piece in the class which was great, no UFO!  We made a bookmark.  

There are a variety of stitches, or rather stitch combinations, in this piece, I'm going to list them as an aide-memoire for me, if you're curious to know what they are, you will have to learn bobbin lace, I know a good teacher!  I started at the top with cloth stitch, followed by half stitch which is so hard to keep track of.  I then moved onto half stitch with a twist at each end to make the lacy bits.  After this I added in a twist in the middle, and finally, on the last section, a twist after every stitch.

I really enjoyed making this, I had grand plans to make some more in different colour combinations, but of course, that hasn't yet happened.

The crazy thing is, considering I'm a crafter and that most of the crafts I practice can whip up a bookmark in minutes, I don't have very many book marks and had been using a receipt before I made this!