box of birds robin

More than half the robin is sewn and I’ve already sorted out threads to stitch a blue tit simply because I’m enjoying embroidering birds at the moment.

I don’t want to use the traditional stumpwork needlelace method to make three dimensional branches for the birds to perch on so I’ve sorted out a few bits and pieces to try something different.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty and the messenger are off the hoop. I gave the piece a short rinse in cold soapy water and then lightly ironed it from the back before stretching it while still damp but I can see a couple of places where my marker still shows so when I return from Scotland I’ll wash and stretch it once more before taking it to the framers. The original John Tenniel illustration is only ever shown in black and white so the colours of the outfits are my choice. Calico background, DMC cotton embroidery threads, mainly long and short stitch and the messenger’s hat is needlelace.

humpty final


out of thyme

Well, that’s Golden Thyme stitched. I don’t like the whip stitch around the leaves – it looks like I did it with my eyes shut but the book illustration leaves look much the same so perhaps I achieved what Shachiko intended in her design. Watercress is next, with seeds in a pod. Should be interesting!


leaves and more leaves

Normally I’d work through one piece of embroidery from start to finish but after I made all seven stumpwork leaves for Golden Thyme on Saturday, I wanted a rest from using the magnifying light so I stitched the appliqu├ęd French knot slips for Apple Mint and then returned to Turkey knotting in Santolina. Yesterday I sewed for hours looking through the magnifying lamp while I made the two-colour stumpwork leaves for Apple Mint and was so pleased with how they turned out I just kept going until the whole piece was finished. Once again, even though I had the same DMC thread numbers that the book lists, they didn’t look the same so I chose my own colour palette which I think looks minty enough to be acceptable.DSCF3074


Thyme and Dill

The Golden Thyme leaves were causing me much grief and a great deal of silent cursing so I moved onto Dill, with an abundance of theraputic french knots and some wire wrapping. Quick, easy and enjoyable.

There are eight leaves in the Golden Thyme project, all wired and needlelaced and you can see from the ruler showing centimetres in the photo below how small they are. The larger leaves are supposed to be constructed in a way that suggests veins but as you can see in (a), I hardly succeeded. I had already ripped out two previous starts and the cursing would have been vocal but for Big Sis being in the room with me. At that point I thought I might just not do Golden Thyme at all but that seemed like a cop-out so I then tried free-motion machine embroidery over a layer of organza and water soluble fusible web (b below), but although it looks more like a leaf, it’s not quite in keeping with the rest of the design. At that point I went away and did non-stitchy things for a while and then started on Dill but I didn’t want to be defeated by a few bits of wire and thread so I went back to the leaves, attempting one which doesn’t need to show veins (c below). This was more successful than (a), even though it’s smaller and therefore should have been trickier to sew. Perhaps I was just in the right place mentally. I haven’t finished all the whip-stitching around the edge which is why you can still see wire in places but that will be done in no time. I started on Santolina late yesterday afternoon and that’s nearly done but today I will make time to sew more thyme leaves and hopefully improve my technique before too long.

thyme leaves

number 12

The twelfth project, French Lavender, will be added to the wall later today and now that it’s done I have to admit to being less enthusiastic about doing the remaining six projects of the book. I’m becoming more critical of the book’s choice of colours (particularly the greens) but having set myself the task, I ought to complete all eighteen. My mother often said that I was too keen to begin something new before I’d finished whatever I was currently doing – ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ was what she actually said – frequently, but there are too many stitchy things I want to try and life is too short to tarry with the things that I’ve grown bored with. Right again, mother.


forty shades of green

Well that’s the chillies finished. I’m not sure why the book suggests five different shades of green for this project and I think it looks a bit odd. Not keen on the stripe effect on the chilli either but that’s also what the book said to do. I admit that I exaggerated about the forty shades.

The needlelace is not brilliant but it’ll do and just as I thought, It was much easier to do using a cordonnet. The book says to use open buttonhole stitch but corded buttonhole makes for slightly fatter stitches so I could see where I had to insert the tapestry needle without resorting to a magnifying glass and it was fairly quick to do. The blunt tip of the tapestry needle also prevented split threads. The next project is actually to stitch chilli peppers onto napkins but I don’t fancy that idea so I’m moving straight onto Camomile but need to go out and buy another skein of DMC Blanc first once the plasterer/decorator team has been and gone but they’re already an hour and a half late. Time to make a phone call I think.