Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm A Bit Sick Of The Colours Here But Then I See It Every Day And I've Moved On. 1996 Is Ten Years Ago!

The initial is from the 'Encyclopedia of Needlework' by Therese De Dilmont, that beauty I refer to here and there. It's straight out of the book, enlarged a bit, but otherwise exact. I used an antiqued cord, with the ends Satin stitched over. If you can get the book, do. It's the 'Desert Island' one. You know... if you could only have one... etc. etc. The date is one of my daughter's birthday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Traditional Wheat Like You See On Old Bread Cloths...

This lovely design came from I can't think of her name...sorry! The book was/is called 'In Stitches' and was written by an English comedian who used to do her embroidery during breaks on set. Great book. I learnt a bit from her attitude and dedication to beautiful work, and to 'going for it'. She did a few pictures, one of her son lounging on the couch, a pig and something else that I liked a lot.
Please tell me if you know who I mean so I can give credit where it's due.
I chose my own stitches for the design, using... Padded Closed Buttonhole (all the heavy sections of the stems), Closed Herringbone (for the small sticky-out-bit coming off the left-to-centre wheat head, it's called Plait stitch in link but it's really Closed Herringbone), Whipped Stem stitch (for the skinny sections of stems), Satin Stitch (for all of the wheat heads) and Straight stitches (from the wheat heads).
Easy Peasy! Simple stitches. Closed Buttonhole, or Broderie Perse (no-one's told me if that's the right name yet)... is such an easy way to get the fullness of Satin stitch without the need for such finess. It's very pretty and effective. The 'spine' of the Buttonhole gives a strong, graphic edge to any design, so it can be better than Satin, often. I love Satin stitch though. I want you to know that.
You can see one of the butterflies I worked out for the 'Butterflies In The Meadow' kit, just above the wheat.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cutwork Heart And Crown

I have an old, unfinished doyley my Grandma had been making which inspired me to lend my hand. The motif that you see is worked in Broder cotton, an absolute favourite of mine. It's easy done, with pad stitching underneath the buttonhole. What's that called, when you work the buttonhole close like that, to make it Satiny? Some French name... Broderie Perse?

At the moment I'm working on some Reticalla lace with Buttonhole Bars and Detached Buttonhole, can't show you my design yet but I will.
The fur fabric is peeking through.
P.S. If you follow the 'Directions' link at the bottom of the page on the 'Reticalla' link you'll find some good info.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Another Swallow From The Big Crazy Quilt

There are more Bag pictures to show you yet, but I have to keep the mystery and intrigue going so I thought I'd post some others from the quilt instead, although, the night is young.
This picture was taken from a stick-on pretend tattoo I bought from a Show. Like an agricultural type show. I'd intended to wear it to one of the quilt show presentations, just peeking above my left breast or something, but accidently left it at a newsagency in their photocopier, never to be seen again.

The top tail wing is annoyingly crooked, but you get that. 'Eitlean Beag' means 'Little Bird' in Irish Celtic. The words are around the other way, that is... 'beag' is 'little' and 'eitlean' is 'bird'. I was sitting at the Hoddles Creek Draught-Horse Festival, embroidering as a demonstrator for someone or another, and an oldish Irish gentleman came up and talked to me for some time. I could have listened to him all day too, with his gorgeous accent. I'd been embroidering the Armstrong motto (my maiden and maybe soon to be reclaimed name) which is 'Invictus Maneo' ('I Remain Unvanquished'... a lie, by the way) and I asked him if he could give me some Irish, since he told me he studied the Celtic. I'll always remember him.

The swirley surrounds are from the yugoslavian Embroidery book I keep mentioning. I miss that book.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More Details, Hope You're Not Bored Yet??

Here is the pattern for my butterfly. It's all Knots and Bullions, with a Stem stitch outline (I'd do it thicker if I did it again, more significant), Satin stitch pink spots with Stem stitch outlines... It's all written there on the diagram.
When I say Velvet stitch, you might know it as Ghourdies or Turkey Knot? I can't see a suitable link else I'd conveniently and typically, helpfully and (always) happily give it to you.
Make the Knots FAT and many-wrapped, using all 6 strands and keep varying how many wraps you do, you know... 4-6-8. Something like that.
Show me if you do one! I get all alone and lonely if you don't share.
You probably didn't notice, but I've missed a bit. Not on purpose, I just didn't notice and now I don't care.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Detail from Somewhere On The Bag

These borders are pretty. The Chain scallops with Fly stitch edges and Lazy Daisy centres is a variation of the border on the front of the bag, I thought it up all by myself! I think. Or did I adapt it from one of the books? Hmmm...
The other one... with the roses... is surely from a book. It's always hard to tell because we rarely follow exactly, hey? Either/Or... Nice! The fatness of the velvet and of the threads is lovely in the flesh.
'My love's like a red, red rose that's sweetly something in June
my love is like the melody that's sweetly sung in tune..."
Sorry! But I can't remember.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Sides Of The Bag

You can see I love that Maidenhair stitch. And that good old Chevron stitch! Really, there's nothing much else here, excepting some Buttonhole (you're not getting a link to that!), some Bullions and another Maltese Cross. Er... ah... Lasy Daisy... Hmmm..? As I said before, the idea was to keep the bag chunky and fairly simple.
It annoys me how I revert to old favourites instead of TRYING OUT THE CRAZY BORDER STITCHES! What is it that I havn't done that yet after TWO extremely dedicated attempts? I'm a bit thick!
To tell you the truth, one of my favourite Crazy Quilts is stitched ONLY in Feather stitch with a wheat-gold coloured thread, like a heavy perle or silk. Beautiful. It doesn't weem to matter how well its stitched or how limited, Crazy always looks good. You can't go wrong. Carole Samples book, magnificent and the best ever though it is... is very sterile in its perfect stitching, in my opinion. My most professional, art-schooled, cleverest side of my (otherwise humble) opinion.

Monday, May 22, 2006

But I'm Just Going To Show You A Bit At A Time

Otherwise there'll be too much to tell.

This is (obviously) the front, or back of the bag. Once again, I had no intention of working any PICTURES! For goodness sake! I just can't stick to that SIMPLE plan! I made it to help sell some hand made wooden handles Bustle & Bow's had got in, but in the end the handles didn't suit the bag, so I took these off an old tapestry bag I'd been given (which was useless because the side gusset was so narrow you couldn't get your hands into the bag).

I began to make a 'Carpet' bag in all brown velvets, with green and gold threads only... which got boring pretty quickly. Very quickly. Again, as with the big quilt, the idea was to showcase the incredible borders from (particularly) Sarah Bonds little brown book. The butterfly-looking border below the 60's trippy butterfly is an adaptation from Carole Samples book on Crazy Quilt Stitches.

I liked the old, old friendship quilts where the women wrote their names in ink... and in keeping with that I wrote the poem in indelible ink:

'A fair little girl sat under a tree

Sewing as long as her eyes could see

Then smoothed her work and folded it right

And said "Dear work, Goodnight, Goodnight!"

When and if I get to writing a book of my designs and methods, I have always set this poem aside for the last page. It's by Baron Houghton.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Grandmother's Fan Detail

Otherwise known as 'Japanese Fans'. I call it 'Grandmother's Fans' because of my darling Grandma.
I put a lot of the woven Maltese Crosses over the quilt, particularly on the fans. If you take your time, they're not difficult, I promise, and they're fun. I space the outside stitches a bit... that is, don't have them meet in the middle (you'll see where I mean if you look at the link), this accentuates the cross a bit.
The spiders web is worked in some mohair I pulled out of a fancy knitting wool. It had ribbon and this and that all bundled together.
Using the Holly-Hock old-fashioned fancywork as a border also works well. I did a big one on the Lion & the Unicorn cushion cover I'm making too.
The black line you can see at the bottom of the photo is the outside binding/border.

Crazy Quilt Detail

I thought I'd pop in a few of the less pictorial details from the quilt. This one shows an amazing piece of Indian metal and silk weave I bought. It was already crinkled, so Smocking seemed an appropriate response.

I find that adding texture like this works well if you keep it to a minimum. Rucching and abstract folding also looks nice, but too much and you've got a mess. Remember that the Crazed effect is already a bit messy, so it doesn't work when you get too carried away with the texture (in my humble opinion).
The border to the left is done with two rows of a Feather stitch variation (work three on one side, then jump over the other side for three), which is couched at the junction, then Knots. Bullion roses with Fly stitch leaves finish the border combination.
Please excuse the inadequate illustrations for stitching, they are the best I can find at the moment. If anyone has a better source of instructions, please send me a link!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tropical Fantastical Ceylon Stitch Tree

It's either called Ceylon stitch or in this case, Vandyke stitch with the single loop in the middle as you see in the picture (see here for genuine unadulterated Ceylon stitch). I think it's called Loop stitch too. Depends upon where you look. The tree trunk is Stem stitch, worked up and down, then Buttonhole stitched over the top. Oh, and a few stray Knots for fruit.

I've decided to call these knots Pekin Knots, which is the true name, excepting I've wrapped a few times. I grew up when French Knots were single wrap Bullion stitches, and they sit differently. Colonial Knots do that figure-eight thing. Pekin Knot is truly, really correct.
My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Couched Tree

I bought a hank of beautiful hand-spun linen some years ago from one of the first Stitches and Craft type shows, the first one I'd been to at least. Each hank had a variety of shades, and I used the browns here in the trunk of the tree. They are each couched down with a lighter shade of silk. Foliage is worked with Appleton's crewel wool in Leaf stitch. Easy. Grass is Bullion.

'C' is for Claire, my eldest daughter. This patch of the quilt looked very dark in comparison to the rest, so I had to bring in more reds and yellows... before it was put together I lay them all out to see how they worked together and figure out a final order for the pieces. The little cross-stitch pansy is worked on hand spun silk and (the design) comes from an old book, or a newish book of old designs at least.
Just peeking out from the right of the bigger picture is a Shisha mirror, ensconced in a Buttonhole flower.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Appliqued Bee

The Bee was a long time favourite of mine. So much so that family and friends bought me bee things all of the time... Bee cards for my birthday, Bee ornaments etc. One little girl made me a Bee embroidery, which was such a lovely gift (I'll find it and show you).

The fact is, Bees are lovely things and well suit embroidery. Have a look at my so named Rabbit Cushion for another example. There are others besides, either not finished or worn out. I need to buy a scanner so I can give you precise patterns here abd there.

This one is appliqued in a crushed velvet. with silk/metallic fabric wings. Usually I work the legs in Double Herringbone stitch, but these are simply outlined and filled with Stem stitch, with a single Fly stitch on the end. An open Cretan stitch background works well as it looks like honeycomb (see the Rabbit Cushion again), and I'm sorry, but I can't find a link to show you how!

The fiddle on the wings and for the feeler thingy's are just Back stitch. Easy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Detail Of St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow.

And no, I've never been there, nor am I Russian in any way. It's just such a beautiful and astounding building. My friend Pia Beck embroidered an amazing series of street-scapes from photographs she'd taken in India, and it inspired me to include this building on my quilt.

The embroidery is worked using machine rayon, single strand DMC, some fine silk and er... ah... a bit of metallic old-gold. Hmmm, have to think hard. I stitched the white bits in Chain stitch firstly, with Satin stitch over the top. What else..? Long and short stitch, or needle painting for the larger areas, some Buttonhole on one of the little striped onion domes. The 'Norman' tower (an artistic addition) is worked in Ceylon and Detached Buttonhole stitches.

The cathedral took a few weeks and a trip to the optometrist to complete. I'd strained my eyes so much with the ridiculously close work that I was going cross-eyed. I couldn't focus, anyway, I don't really know it I was cross-eyed, but I absolutely couldn't focus. The optometrist said it was because I was holding it so close, my poor eyes had to fight for focus, and since I sewed for hours on end they got tired and decided not to play anymore.

He also said it is not possible to damage your eyes by bad light/eye strain etc. Which is good, huh!

To the right, just above the cathedral, is a lovley 'tulip' looking border I found in a book of Yugoslavian embroidery. I'll draw it out and take a photo for you if you want. I've used the design elsewhere too. Great book, but it was lost or stolen from the library and so I can't get to it anymore. Not at Amazon either.

One of the cift cards features St. Basil's too, over on the Bobby's Cards link, if you're interested.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Only Piece Of Whimsy On The Crazy Quilt

Using machine rayon, it's worked mostly Chain and Fly sitches. It was fun playing with the colour and, although the stitching is fine and took a little while, it was very simple. I don't mind if you copy the design, if you want to. You don't have to. It's not an assumption that of course you will want to and I'm being a big head. It's just that, on the off chance that you do and you wonder if it's ok, it is ok.