camera, orchard and Alice

For a few months now my camera has been showing intermittently that the card is protected although it’s not. My solution was to remove the card and re-insert it but last weekend it showed ‘card protected’ no matter what I tried or which card was inserted. It’s now away for investigation and in the meantime I’ve only got my phone camera or an older camera with batteries that don’t hold the charge for very long so any images here for a while will be even poorer than normal.

The orchard embroidery has been partially unpicked but not re-stitched so far. The absence of any comments on the orchard suggests that anyone who reads this blog agreed with me about the general bleh-ness of the piece and was just too polite to say so. That’s quite alright. I put it to one side while I made more chicks but I didn’t take any more chick pictures before handing them over for the shop window display. The latest ones are almost identical to the first ones anyway so you’re not missing anything by not having a picture to look at today.

I’ll soon be off to Beyond Up North (aka Scotland) and because much of my time there may be spent indoors, I wanted to take a long-term embroidery piece with me so I’ve chosen the John Tenniel illustration Painting the Roses Red from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Calico again for the ground fabric (what else!) and some background colouring done with Inktense blocks and wax crayons. After starting to stitch the leaves with satin then fishbone stitch and deciding that neither looked right, I’ve settled for fly stitch.

an orchard

A charity shop find of the BBC publication of Erica Wilson’s tv series of the 1970s, Erica on Embroidery, included a crewel wool version of one of Van Gogh’s orchard paintings and my version of Erica’s orchard is what the sneak peak of the last post hinted at. (Four episodes of the original tv series are available on youtube if you fancy a touch of nostaglia.)

Now that it’s finished I confess I’m not a fan of it. There are more wrongs than rights with this piece and the fox and the birds were only added because JP commented that it was boring and I agreed. The fox has injected a little life into the piece but not enough to make me feel it was a great improvement. Once I pressed ‘publish’, I was all set to consign this piece to a dark deep cupboard and just clock it up to experience but the more I’ve looked at the photograph, the more I think I’ll actually unpick a lot of the orchard floor and re-sew it with a different range of colours.

 

sneak peak

Recently, I was lucky to buy a decent amount of mixed embroidery wool for just £2 from a local charity shop. Last week I finally got around to sewing something using it plus the Appleton’s wool I already had. I didn’t have the usual linen union fabric recommended for crewel wool work and since it’s outrageously expensive to buy, the back of an old linen shirt of JP’s had to do instead but it has actually been a joy to stitch on. Here’s a little peak:

paper posies

I had a notion to make some flowers this week from paper instead of embroidering them. I have two books on making flowers but I didn’t have the patience to colour and then stiffen any silk fabric so of course I scoured the internet and having watched a pair of beautiful hands on You Tube make fabulous flowers of all kinds, I expected to be able to make a few passable versions with the crepe paper that I bought from a local stationers. Wrong. More times than not, when I gently twisted my paper as per the demo, it ripped. Turns out that there are two grades of crepe paper – the kind I bought in my local stationers and florist crepe paper which is much more flexible and stronger but is more expensive and only available online. Hmmm. I then remembered that I had lots of paper twist, which I bought for a long forgotten project many years ago. It wasn’t as flexible as I would have liked it to be but the results were acceptable. I have zero floral arranging skills so I won’t be showing any of the other flowers that I made, only these two little posies. No need to set myself up for further ridicule is there?

Summer garden 3

I finished the Summer garden yesterday evening and although I’ve enjoyed sewing three gardens from Diana Lampe’s book, it will be a while before I chose to do another project from it.

6 scary chicks

I began making these chicks last December and until yesterday, I still only had two completely finished. I deviated from the original pattern after the first two were made (can’t remember now why) so I have two as per the pattern, and four with varying body shapes and skinny heads, as well as long legs. Let us just refer to them as ‘designer’ chicks and leave it at that. My original idea was to make a couple of dozen of these little birds but I couldn’t shape the wire into a consistent size and shape for the feet/claws even though I’ve made lots of samples. I solved the problem yesterday by making a jig from thick cardboard and pushpins, which I clamped to the edge of the worksurface. The jig turned a chore into a pleasure (almost) and as I had always planned to make a dozen or more of these chicks I now have no excuse not to have them made before Easter – this year.

6-scary-chicks

This image shows the underside of my little jig. I didn’t need four pins in the end but I did add a few more at the other end so that the cardboard wouldn’t crumple at the other end under the pressure of the clamp.

wire-jig

embroidery stand part 2

Others have written reviews about the Lowery Workstand and there are images as well as one or two You Tube videos to boot but there isn’t much detail available regarding the dimensions. I bought my stand from Sewandso.co.uk and apart from limited information in one or two customer reviews, the website gives none at all in any of the product details tabs which is surprising. The Lowery website is not much better. Hopefully my review will fill in some if not all of the gaps.

The first image shows all the pieces: the blue on the base is protective film (attached to both sides) and the assembly sheet recommends that the film be left on the underside ‘to protect your floor covering’ but I can’t see how a thin film alone would be sufficient to do so. The ‘L’ arm resting on the baseplate is the longer one, and the standard one is already inside the main upright which together with the clamp, a large allen key for securing the upright to the base, and the height adjuster, all came shrink-wrapped to a cardboard sheet.

lowery-package

The Lowery base is made from a tough grade of aluminium and the other parts are I think, made from steel.  The ‘L’ bars are solid so I think they’ll stand up to a lot of wear and should not crack under pressure from the lever screw.

The short arm of the standard ‘L’ bar is roughly 6″ (15cm) long and the addition of the clamp arm extends this by approximately 5″ (12.5cm) at most, depending on which point along the ‘L’ bar you choose to secure the screw.  If your sewing chair arm means is wider than 6 inches (15cm approx) then you’ll likely want a wider ‘L’ bar as I did.

The larger ‘L’ bar measures 12″ (30.5cm approx) along the short side and added an extra third to the total cost. The longer side of both ‘L’ bars is approximately 18.25″ (46.5cm). If you sew whilst in a bed, you might need an even bigger ‘L’ bar but the Lowery website states that custom lengths can be ordered.

The main upright is screwed to the base with the supplied allen key and is 19.25″ (49cm) long. The holes that take the height adjuster are 2″ (5cm) apart and the workstand can be adjusted between 20″ and 36″ (50 – 91cm) up and down. The height adjuster (which I would call a split pin) comes with a protective cover for the split end.

The workstand took only a few minutes to put together. The information sheet gives several suggestions to solve any tipping problems caused by the weight of the work, such as putting telephone directories on the base but when I lifted the skirt of the settee cover to check the available gap, there wasn’t enough space for a directory even if I’d had one, so I wedged the stand in place with two spare rubber doorstops which I had handy (don’t you?). So far, this option is working well.

lowery-base

If you want pretty, this stand is not for you. If you want a stand that visitors will admire for its beauty, this stand is not the one to choose. Industrial was what JP called it and I agree, but if like me you appreciate simplicity and good engineering it could be what you’re after. (I suppose you could yarn bomb it to improve the aesthetics.) The hoop/frame clamp is heavy but extremely sturdy and easy to loosen or tighten. I chose to pad my hoop with heavy duty duster cloth plus two scraps of lightweight wood before tightening the clamp to better protect the fabric, any existing stitched areas and the hoop edge. I’m sure it will be well worth it. The red ribbon visible on the neck of the screw has one of those spring-loaded badge holder fitments attached from which hangs a small pair of scissors.

lowery-clamp

This last image shows my working setup from the front. It may not stay this way but so far it’s extremely comfortable and I can keep my reference pictures/book on my lap rather than spread over the settee or coffee table. Unlike some seat stands I’ve used, I don’t have to adapt the Lowery for stitching as a left-hander – a big plus in my book. The scrap wood in the clamp at the front holds my magnifier quite securely and I can easily change the position of the magnifier by moving it along the length of the scrap. I’ve also added two sticky magnets to it to hold needles and a ring at the top of the hoop hold whatever threads I need for the part of the embroidery I’m working on. Out of shot down the side of the settee is the lever screw which keeps the ‘L’ arm in place. The screw is the same as the one on the clamp arm and is easy to loosen or tighten. The only downside is that I keep forgetting to loosen it before swinging the arm away when I want to get out of the chair. When I first used the stand, I had the clamp screw facing upwards, which is incorrect and having rectified it, I can confirm that it’s less in the way when on the underside.

lowery-setup

Overall, I think the Lowery workstand is going to be a winner for me. I like the uncluttered look of my new setup and I won’t have to constantly tighten wingnuts. I should also be able to use the Millennium frame on it and I might even be able to clamp that tapestry I began in the early 1980s and maybe even finish it! I won’t toss my hybrid lapstand just yet as I can’t see the rail network being happy to find a Lowery workstand in the aisle on my journeys to Scotland!

I hope you’ve found this review useful. If you have any questions you think I can answer, leave a comment.