Friday, 28 March 2008

Etsy shop

Very quick post tonight. I've been having a go at making up some silk jackets from all the lovely kimono silk I have. I tried one out last year when I went the the World Exhibition (picture below) and it was much admired, so have been having another go.

Pink isn't really my colour, but this bolt has a lovely design of fans and flower circles and has turned into a lovely jacket.

Only three jackets listed at the moment check them out at, more to come.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Every cloud has a gold lining

Had a go at one of the gold cloud sections on the fan, to see what it looked like and to break up the gold couching which is not one of my favorite techniques.

On the instructions for this section it doesn't give any details on what colour couching thread to use. Standard couching thread for gold is red but there are other options, gold for example. On the colour picture I have it looks like gold couching has been used as it's very difficult to make out the twists and turns of the gold thread. I decided I wanted to make these curves more obvious so used red couching.

I really like how this has come out and am very pleased I decided to use the red couching. The second section of gold will go in the gap between the pine and the waves, but I'll give myself a break from couching now.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Treasure Hunt

Well, I've had a bit of a break from Treasure ship since I came back from our stitching week in Bournemouth and my worries about starting this piece have subsided a bit and I'm now looking forward to getting on with it. It's quite a large piece, so in order to make it more manageable I'm breaking it down into it's various sections and will just concentrate on one section at a time.

First some pines. I've not worked pines this way before, so this is all new to me. This technique contradicts two of the rules we usually follow in Japanese embroidery, one is to stitch the foreground first, the second is to leave a 'one point open space' between each motif.
Starting with rear pine motif padding cotton is couched round it's edge, then it is stitched with flat silk, then the padding cotton is put round the edge of the next motif so that it overlaps the silk just stitched.

One side of the pine is worked, then the other, and lastly the centre motif. After all the motifs are worked the veins are put in using a karayori thread, I still have to work these on the pines below. The veins can be worked using a different colour to the main pine, but I decided to use a slightly lighter colour so that they don't stand out too much. Working the pines this way seemed a very odd way of working to start with, but once I got into the flow it went quite well. You can see here how the motifs overlap one another.

Once I'd got my head around the pines I decided to have a go a different section, the fan. I'd put in the black and gold foundation before I went to Bournemouth, so the next step was to put in the waves. I chose the brightest colours I had in the colour scheme for the waves knowing that working on black fabric bleaches out colour. The top of the waves are worked using flat silk.

Once all the tops have been worked the lines underneath are worked using a tightly twisted karayori. I've still got to complete the fine lines on the other colours, but had to twist up some more karayori so have to wait now until they've dried. The black gap at the bottom and right of the fan is another cloud like the black and gold one at the top. I'll be working those in #4 gold for a nice contrast.

And for a bit of contrast before I go tonight, introducing my lovely assistant Bonnington, as you can see she's ready to spring into action at the drop of a needle!!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Bamboo Circle finished (nearly)

Well I've managed another few hours of stitching this week and Bamboo Circle is nearly finished.
In the last post I said I'd try and get a better picture of the plum blossoms and here it is, think they look quite pretty now they are all done.
So here we go Bamboo Circle in all it's glory, well nearly!! Missing from this photo, but I have stitched it, is the bamboo which you can just see on the right of the design. There are another two sections of bamboo which go round the bottom of the design. Then the only thing left was the over stitching on the cord, got about half of it done and then ran out of #1 gold, how annoying. Oh well, dashed off a quick email to my tutor with an order for some more so I'll just have to wait until it arrives to finish off the cord.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

A perfect stitching day!!

Sometimes, just sometimes, you get one of those days when everything goes right. With Japanese embroidery, because our work has to be so precise they don't happen often, but when they do they are just sublime, I'm sure my fellow stitchers will agree. Today was one of those days, the silk behaved itself, the needles always seemed to be in the right place, every stitch which went in stayed in, and Bamboo Circle is sprinting down its path to completion.
On Friday I twisted up some katayori threads (which have to be made in advance) and did a little bit of work on the kikko leaf and today I planned to get the waves completed. The waves are a stylised arch which you can see in the photo below. The katayori threads are couched with a very thin thread of the same colour and the ends of the threads are then pulled through to the other side of the fabric (sunk). I've deliberately left the ends you can see here a bit long while I work, but before they are sunk they are trimmed off to just a few mm long.
There are two sections of waves on this leaf and I had completed most of the colours when I decided that the colour scheme was too 'pastel'. So I twisted up the brighter green and orange you can see below, I thought these would work as they are brighter shades of colours already there. I'm very pleased I added them as I definitely prefer this colour scheme.
While I was waiting for the extra katayori to dry I went onto some finishing off on the kikko leaf. The little pine motifs had been stitched in either twisted silk or twisted gold thread but they still needed their needles. As I don't have a box chart (list of instructions) for this design I only have a colour photo to work from, it was a bit difficult to see how the pine needles were worked. I could see that they were in gold on the orange and green pine, but couldn't really tell how they were worked on the gold pine. So I decided to stitch them with #1 gold HH and couch them with red couching thread. HH means we hitch the gold thread through the eye of the needle so when we stitch the two threads lay side by side.
I worked the orange and green pine first but when it came to the gold one I decided to use black couching thread as I wanted to make the needles stand out a bit. I also stitched the branch in .5 black silk rather than in #1 gold. The persimmon fruits didn't need much work to finish off so I decided to work these next. The orange one just needed veins on the leaves and the seeds to complete (well I think they are seeds, the little gold blobs at the top of the fruit?).
The gold persimmon fruit then got it's leaves and seeds.
To finish this leaf off only the little ume (Japanese plum) blossoms needed stitching. I'd already worked the padding they required so in went the silk and then the stamens and pollen. I used twisted gold thread for the stamens and a gold s twist for the knots for the pollen.
This isn't a great photo, once the natural light goes it's difficult to get a good shot on this fabric as the electric light and/or camera flash just bounce off the gold fabric. It does make the flower look quite big, in actual fact they are only a little over 1cm across.
And suddenly as if by magic ... the leaf is done. Again this isn't a great picture, but it gives you and idea of what it looks like.
And so after a great day stitching and blogging, it really is time for bed. The cat is giving me an evil look as if to say I'm keeping her awake!!
And a quick PS to Carol-Ann, that little voice is very quiet today!!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Treasure Ship, a new journey begins!

Well I'm back from our stitching week and I don't know about my stitching colleagues but I'm exhausted, but for a change didn't spend too much money!! It's really amazing the number of wonderful things our tutors bring along to feed our habit of Japanese embroidery!!
This time I resisted buying more designs because I want to get Bamboo Circle or Iris Stream finished so I can concentrate on Treasure Ship.

I always forget how tiring a week of stitching is. We may not be jumping around the place, but such concentrated focus for six hours a day (and that's only the official stitching time) takes a bit of recovering from so I won't be doing any stitching for a few days, so thought I'd do a quick blog about one of the sections I started work on last week.

The sail on the ship is decorated with stitched shippo, a series of interlocking circles, each circle is about an inch or so across and has a tiny little golden flower in the middle.
First using a twisted thread I stitched the centre blue shippo shapes.
Next I did a little bit of experimentation, the red and white lines each have to cover half of the next section but it was a bit difficult to judge exactly how thick the lines needed to be, it's such a small space, these are stitched with flat silk.

In the picture above, you can see the difference in thicknesses of the red and white threads.

Once I decided I had got the spacing set in my mind I took out the red and white thread, completed the blue shippo and then re-stitched the red and white. This may sound simple but there is a twist, the stitching needs to be worked in a clockwise direction in order to get the correct curve and each piece of shippo is treated as a separate item so the direction can change. So to explain, starting with the bottom right shippo the red and white threads were worked from bottom to top and the same for the next one. On the top shippo the red and white threads were stitched working from right to left. Then on the top left shippo the direction of working goes from top to bottom but it's still going clockwise round that particular bit of blue shippo, next one the same and the very bottom shippo was worked left to right as we look as it.

Confusing??, again not really, well ok, it is and you really have to concentrate to remember which direction to stitch. It's sometimes difficult to separate each individual item out from the whole, in this case it felt a bit odd because although the red and white sections were each worked clockwise round their own bit of shippo if I looked at the whole I was actually working anti-clockwise! And having re-read this post in the cold light of day I realised that I'd actually explained it wrong so have done some editing and I think it's right now :-). It's just occurred to me what I could compare it to - one of those line drawings of a cube - if you alter your focus the cube faces a different direction. For the especially curious out there who might want to know more and who also follow Threads Across the Web (by Carol-Anne one of my Japanese embroidery stitching colleagues) ask her about clockwise working!

Anyway, now I've confused you all. Next step, the little golden flower. First I padded the petals and centre with two layers of one strand of yellow silk, you can see the two layers in the photo below, then each petal is finished with #1 real gold thread. Real gold is much easier to work with than imitation gold, so I always try to use it.

The centre of the flower only needs one stitch in gold to complete and each petal has only five stitches, so they don't take very long, it's just a bit fiddly because it's so small.

So here we are one completed shippo which took the best part of five hours to stitch - only 24 more shippo to go!!

Now I'm going to take a step back on the journey and complete Bamboo Circle before I do anymore on Treasure Ship. Having three pieces on the go is too much so I have to get one completed before I do any more on this one.

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