Friday, 24 October 2014

Five on Friday - (k)not work

Right, better make this quick - this has seemed like a long, dark week - and I need a glass of something restorative and a sit on the sofa! 

(I'm undecided - I will welcome the lie-in on Sunday because all week our 6.45am reveille has felt like getting up in the middle of the night. On the other hand, I hate hate hate the dark afternoons. Bring on Solstice and the lengthening days!)

1. Still no progress on the seascapes and knots. No surprise there then, as I have no definite brief at the moment. Not like me to work without a deadline!

2. I have, however, gathered lots and lots of source material. Our local charity bookshop was the source for all this lot and more, for the princely sum of £7.

3. I have also spent a week creating texture and colour swatches for my seascape project, and while this has been a wonderful procrastination, I am now thoroughly bored of it and not sure I like the result! It was also a bit worrying to realise just how much of this stuff I have in the house already to be able to do this:

4. On the subject of all the stuff I have in the house, as you know, I don't have my own room. YET. There have been mutterings - the same person who swore that he could never "work down the end of the garden" has been thinking that he might like to, what with his desk being surrounded by a sea of fabric, laundry, paper and other people's sewing machine trolleys and what-not. I have always dismissed the idea of taking over having the office as my studio, as the ceiling is split level and lower towards the window, which I think makes it hard to consider working in there standing up - and I spend a lot of time on my feet. 

But himself then had the utterly BRILLIANT idea of moving the GIRL into the office, and the Girl's room becoming a studio. (I have no idea why this hadn't occurred to us before - maybe because the Girl absolutely detests change of any sort??!) Anyway, he immediately regretted saying anything at all, as of course I have now spent the last week perusing the online catalogue of a certain Scandinavian furniture outlet and drawing little plans on graph paper. Such fun! We have to demolish and replace the summer house with a bigger one, which we can't afford to do yet, but still - you have to plan these things!

5. Finally, but by no means least of all - I did finish some work. This started out as a teaching sample, then went drastically wrong and I considered chopping off the offending lower portion. I have been dreading tackling it, as I wasn't sure how to rescue it. But I'm now VERY pleased with how it has turned out. Hooray.

Have a great weekend everyone, and thank you for reading!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Teaching Tuesday - bunch of flowers!

In September Lucy Goffin came to speak to our Guild. At the time, I was planning what to teach this term - hardly surprising then that this should happen!




also Libby


Carole H

Christine (work in progress)

Vix (work in progress)

Meg (work in progress)

Judith (work in progress)

Maureen (this is work in progress - it is now finished, but I forgot the photo!)

How did we do it? First, choose four or five fabrics for the background; Bondaweb them to calico (overlap them slightly)

Lyndsay (work in progress)

Start arranging flowers and leaves; don't worry about a vase for now.

Maggie (work in progress)

(you'd never guess that Maggie used my own stash of fabrics here? I just LOVE how this is totally different to what I did with the same fabrics!)

 Pin or hope for the best and then go for it, stitch them down - free machining - in swooping lines, starting from where the vase will be eventually! Use a cocktail stick to hold things in place while you stitch, not your fingers...

Carole B (work in progress)

Continue with the swooping lines to hold everything down, but don't knock the texture back too much. You can add further layers of petals and flowers on top, and keep it loose and open.

Sheila (work in progress)

 Morag used thread daisies on her finished piece, so we also had an impromptu thread-daisy lesson for the uninitiated!

If you want to learn how to make them too, get some calico nice and tight in a hoop, and free-machine some circles

Stitch around twice; cut out your circles (keep the fabric in the hoop).

Start stitching (free machining still) in the calico somewhere, then take a deep breath and go off the edge and across your empty circle - remember - it is just a sewing machine - it doesn't "know" there isn't any fabric there...

Reach the other side, take a few stitches around and breathe, then go back across.

Cross over in the middle but don't obsess about crossing your lines perfectly. Continue to build up a mass of threads

(NB When I do the first few lines, stitching across space, I find that my machine is "happier" when I push the hoop away from me (i.e. stitching towards me) rather than when I pull the hoop towards me (stitching away from me) - so I rotate the hoop to stitch back across, rather than push it back and forth. I do this until it gets a bit busy in the centre of the daisy, then I don't worry so much)

So now your daisies can be cut free!

and the holes can be re-used to make more daisies - enjoy!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Five on Friday - old and new

1. Old habits die hard and yes, I did visit the Knitting and Stitching show last week. But this is new - at about 3pm I stopped looking. Needed a sit down and a cup of tea. Age?!

New things did come home with me, and while I consider myself largely immune to passing fads and fancies, I did buy a gelli plate. Otherwise I was very constrained, and stuck diligently to my shopping list and usual colour and texture palettes.

2. A visit to an old favourite on Wednesday, for a possible new venture. I await news, so you must too I'm afraid (there may not be any after all). Cryptic, huh?! Hedging my bets...

3. A new creative group for Uckfield Newtown.

Last night we held the third meeting for the Newtown Art Collective. We all participate in Art Trail but wanted to continue the collaborative spirit and general supportive vibes beyond one weekend in July. We hope to have a stand at the school Christmas fair, and we have arranged to exhibit members' work at a local care home, on a monthly rotation. Allana was very brave and volunteered to be first, and then it's my turn to be Miss November! We have ambitious plans, no budget and zero experience of organising anything remotely like this, but you only learn new things by trying!

4. Old and new, I have continued to investigate and experiment with my long-held love of all things knotty and sea-y! I have been finishing up pages in my (now very old and well-travelled) holiday sketchbooks

and I drew these knots while waiting to donate an armful on Tuesday afternoon.

This morning I started gathering more colours and textures

and I painted these mountboard strips, and inadvertently painted yet another seascape!

I'm going to wrap them in my fabric, papers and fibres, creating a kinda inspirational swatch sort of thing...

5. Old. Beautiful. Slightly scary. For one day, out of a three week holiday, we ventured beyond the Pays des Abers and Pays d'Iroise, and waddyaknow - an embroidery exhibition! Cue much rolling of eyes from family, but I managed to drag the Girl around with me as the alternative was a hearty walk along the Nantes-Brest canal in the drizzle. 

I learnt the difference between Bigouden

 and Glazig

loving the colours and patterns....

but a little disturbed by the Barbie-doll heads and mannequins

which amused the Girl so she forgave me for loitering and taking zillions of photos.

The old black and white photo at the top of this post shows ladies at a Breton wool market, but could very well be the scrum at Knit and Stitch last week! I've been waiting two months to use that photo...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Teaching Tuesdays - masses of free machine embroidery!

Thank you for all who read their way down to the end of my last post - it was much longer than first anticipated! I hope you've enjoyed visiting the blogs I nominated (apologies in advance for the Google-suggested translation for a certain sentence in Ingrid's post - I have suggested an alternative to Mr Google, but he's ignored me so far!).

Right, where were machining, I think!

In class we have been continuing to practice our free machining skills, now using free motion stitching to "colour in" - in small areas 

(and demonstrated far better than I could, by people like Linda Miller and Gina Ferrari, here and here)

but we've also used free machining to fill in, shade or add interest to larger areas:

(again, demonstrated far batter than I could, by people like Dionne Swift).

For stitching the small things, it is important to try and keep the stitches flowing, not too tiny, and with not too much overlapping - otherwise the background fabric gets tougher and tougher to stitch! Larger stitches also catch the light and glisten (particularly if you use machine embroidery rayon thread) and the glistening can help to disguise any missed bits! 

For stitching larger areas, it is also important to keep the stitches flowing - the key is to move the fabric (or hoop) smoothly and confidently, keep everything relaxed and smooooth....

Here's how we've got on with the small pieces (there are a lot of owls as I found some lovely ones just the right size to stitch on the Girl's violin music folder!)

Di (going off-piste with her redwork owl!)



Owl in progress, but I can't remember who he belongs to! Sorry!

Libby (owl in progress)

Carole B (a robin in progress)

Carole H


and last but not least, Judith...I'm a bit concerned about this Russian doll, she seems to have got herself into a bit of fistycuffs...

Not everyone enjoyed working so small (and I must admit, I've not really done much of this intense, dense stitching - must be a reason!) Then again, the option to work bigger was a challenge as well! 

The idea I presented was to work in an abstract way, not worry about creating a picture, but just practice the stitching - keeping things flowing and smooth. I know not everyone is pleased with their results, but the point was not to create a pleasing composition but to practice the stitch! So I think all those who attempted this were very brave, to work in such an unstructured way:


Sorry - my brain has gone blank again and I can't remember whose this is!



Morag (the bottom sample was over-painted after stitching)


So we are going to continue our free machining, but not the abstract work! Next time we will be using free machining to applique again (but in a slightly different way) and to construct backgrounds.

Until then!