Friday, 22 March 2013

Site launched

The new site has launched today - - enjoy

Friday, 22 February 2013

New Website

I am going to be moving over to a nice new website in the next week or so. Things shouldn't be disrupted but if you have any problems the web address will be the same - - please come and find me in my new home.  I will continue to blog there but won't be able to take all these old posts with me so they'll still be here on blogger if needed.

Meanwhile good progress is being made on Christmas Chrysanthemums, this piece is nearly complete. I haven't uploaded the most recent photos, I'll make that my first post on the new site.

I have decided to re-name this piece after a comment from Sapphire from 'Through the Sapphire Sky' She said "I love the background colour too. It looks like Akane-iro(the colour of dawn?!)."  So Dawn Chrysanthemums it will be.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Gretel Parker

It was with great sadness that I read today of the sudden death of Andy, beloved of Gretel Parker artist, illustrator, and needlefelter.  You may remember Jack who arrive with me a couple of weeks ago is a piece of Gretel's work.
Gretel has no siblings or parents to help her through this time financially, so two of Gretels friends have set up The Gretel Parker project on Indigogo to help out.  If you know Gretel or of her work and would like to support her at this time please visit to do what you can.  Please don't contact Gretel directly at the moment, she'll be back with us when she's ready.  

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Chrysanthemums and kangaroos

I've been keeping in out of the cold this weekend, doing some stitching and catching up on some blog reading.  I've also been thinking about my journey along the way of embroidery and how some designs seem to fight me all the way whilst others flow from my hand and needles as though stitching themselves.  Christmas Chrysanthemums is doing the latter, growing steadily with only a few changes here and there.

To give myself a break from all the padding and white silk on the petals I decided to fill in the centre of the flowers.  I've done this with 2 strands of #.8 gold, stitching just partly across the centre. I'll go back and put in a few knots later.
One of the few things I'm not sure about is the gold background, I put in a few random stitches (also in 2 strands of #.8 gold) but have taken them out again.  I quite like the effect but have decided I'll use only 1 strand of gold and I'll wait until all the flowers and leaves are done before I put this in.
A few more leaves have been added, they still need the veins.

This is about 1/2 the flowers, the others won't take long to do as they are much smaller.
In my blog reading last week I was catching up with Gretel Parker and her needle felting adventures.  She had posted about her new creation, Jack the kangaroo, who had been designed and made for an article in an Australian magazine - Felt.  Jack 1 had been sold, but I was lucky enough to manage to buy Jack 2 for myself.
A few days later I had a message from Gretel to say that Jack was on his way to the frozen north.  I'm pleased to say he survived his journey and seems to be settling into his new home.


I'm not sure where his final home will be, I'm going to have to move some things around.  At the moment he's on my bookshelf watching over my stitching chair and I'm very happy he's here.  Thank you Gretel.  

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Christmas Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums may not be a traditional Christmas flower but this design was imagined, drawn up and transferred onto the silk over Christmas, so Christmas Chrysanthemums it has become.  It may get another name over time ... who knows.

The fabric for this is a lovely deep orange silk shusu, it came from an obi I bought from Ichiroya.  While the surface doesn't have quite as much as a satin finish as some shusu it still has a lovely sheen.  I've made reasonable progress so far, in between going back to work and putting up new wardrobes (with help from my friend and fellow JE stitcher Colleen-thank you Colleen).
The design was transferred using chaco paper which worked very well on the smooth surface of the shusu.  I'm using a fair bit of padding under the petals to give more of a 3D effect.  The smaller flowers have 2 or 3 layers of self padding and are embroidered with 2F.  
The larger flowers have 2 layers of padding cotton (4 strands).  
The leaves are horizontal foundation and the veins will be a line of held thread, not sure what colour yet - I may use #3 silver.  Even though the inspiration for this piece was a stunning kimono colour scheme from one of my new books I was a bit concerned if it would have the same effect on my piece.  Well I need not have worried, the colours work beautifully, I think the finished piece will be very effective and eye catching.  
The colour below is a bit washed out because of the flash, but it does show the progress.  Should we get a nice bright winter day here in the North West I'll get a picture outside to show the colour better.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Stitches

Happy New Year to all.  I hope it brings you all good things.

I've been busy over the last couple of months.  The talks at the Ashmolean museum for the Threads of Silk and Gold exhibition went well, I had a wonderful time meeting all the visitors and seeing all the pieces again.  I feel both proud and privileged to have been a small part in this amazing exhibition.  If you've not had chance to see it yet do try and get there, it's on until 27th January.

Stitching the Gold Iris didn't take me very long and after it was off the frame I went back to two designs which had been in he planning stages for a while.  One is a joint project which I'll share with you all later in the year when the project is completed.  The other was a design inspired by a piece of fabric and some lovely Chinese silks.
The fabric is woven with lots of tiny butterflies, the shapes are basic, some are outlines, some solid and some have patterns.  My friend (and amazing embroiderer) Carol had got lots of lovely silk from China, the range and shades of colours were dazzling, my first thought on looking at them all would be to create a rainbow of butterflies by colouring in all the little butterflies in different colours.  I quickly changed my mind about this and decided to do a monochrome version.

In October I framed up the fabric and started work.  The Chinese silks do have a bit of a twist to them, not very much but but it seems a lot so someone used to the flat Japanese silk threads.  I did some experimenting and decided I didn't like the twist in the thread so I smoothed them out, they still have a bit of a kink but it works.  The silk doesn't seem as shiny as the Japanese silk but it could be because the motifs are so small and the colour so dark.
I have followed the designs woven into the fabric, outlining the outlined butterflies and filling in the full ones.  In he picture below you can see the end of my teko bari, I left it in to give a sense of scale.
The design hasn't turned out quite as I had it in my mind.  In following the designs of the weave the stitches travel in different directions and it looks odd.  I had decided not embroider every butterfly so the colour changes are so subtle at the moment that again it doesn't look like how I had imagined. 
I couldn't decide how to fix the design, so I left it alone for a while.  While I've been doing other things I've given this piece some thought and the plans are to go back and fill in every butterfly but instead of following the weave I'll either fill them in or do outlines only.  I'll let you know how it goes.

My friends know that I can't resist a nice book!!  And in November I treated myself to a couple from -  they mainly  deal in Chado items, books, utensils, etc, but they do have other things on the site, it's well worth a visit.  I'd seen this book on the site before and finally gave in and ordered it.  The description says it's a collection of obi and kimono for professional use, I'm not sure what the professional use might be, but the description also says there is a name of a obi manufacturer printed on the back. Perhaps it's a catalogue of their stock?
In any case when it arrived I was so pleased, the designs are very beautiful and it's full of inspiring designs.  This one caught my eye immediately.    
White chrysanthemums on a bright orange background.  I was so struck by the colour combination that I dug out some orange obi silk and drew up a design. 
As usual with these unusual colours it's difficult to get a good colour representation in the photos.  The colour at the top of the picture below is most accurate, it also has a slightly shiny surface. I used a traced version of the design and chaco paper to transfer the design.
While transferring the design I had an idea that it might be interesting to add some gold leaf to the design.  I've not done very much of this so I cut a small piece of the fabric and experimented.  I had planned only to put glue on the sections where I wanted to put the gold leaf, but when I tried it out the glue changed the colour of the fabric quite dramatically.  The gold looks great but it meant that I would have to put glue over the whole piece or have darker patches. 
I was hoping that when the glue dried the colour change wouldn't look quite as obvious but it still made quite a difference.  
In the end I've decided not to add  gold leaf.  I still like the idea but I'll stitch in gold highlights instead and keep the lovely orange tone of the fabric.  I've framed up and am off now to put in the first stitches of the new year. 

Happy Year of the Snake to you all.
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