new books

I bought the following with a recent birthday gift voucher and I think one will form the basis of my next project although I’m not sure which one. Any suggestions?

I haven’t been able to find the post/article where I saw this book mentioned recently but I was intrigued enough to buy a copy. It’s a 1985 edition, mainly printed in black and white but the diagrams and photographs are very clear and seem easy to follow.


A idea for a modern style of raised embroidery on a casket/box has been brewing in my mind for a while and the following two books might help me formulate a proper plan.


The last item is a gel printing plate. I’ve got lots of acrylic paint and medium to turn it into fabric paint, and I’ve begun collecting things with textured surfaces to use as stencils and mark makers. Any successful printed fabric will be used for future textile projects – perhaps even for the covering of a box or a bag! My brayer will be wiped of paint onto my sketchbook pages to help avoid the dreaded blank page syndrome.

Exploring texture and pattern 2

Since Sue Stone’s course (see my previous post) came online just over a week ago, I’ve hardly thought about anything else stitch-wise. So far I’ve made grid samples of running stitch, back stitch and mock herringbone stitch and I’ve never found it so difficult to sew a straight line of stitches as I have for these samples but that seems to be a common problem for more than a few of us doing this course so I don’t feel so bad.

Like millions of others, I’ve had a Facebook account for years but I could count on one hand the number of posts I’ve written. I rarely log-in and frequently consider deleting the account but as a member of the FB group set up for this course I now find myself happily checking-in several times a day to look at the images posted and to read how others have interpreted the challenges set or to empathise with the difficulties they’ve also found in accomplishing what at first glance appeared to be an easy task but wasn’t particularly.

I stuck the words of the stitched and painted fabric on the front of an A4 notebook which I’m using for notes and details about the samples I’ve made. The samples will later be made into a separate book. Each challenge asks questions at the end and I find these more difficult to answer than the practicalities of stitching. For example, “How might what you discovered in today’s creative challenge inform a piece of textile art?” I haven’t answered that one yet because I don’t do textile art (?) but it’s making me think, so that can only be good.

Here’s my running stitch sample so you can see what I mean about my non-straight stitching lines!

Exploring Texture and Pattern

I’ve been reading lots of articles on lately and some of the content really resonated with me – particularly this one! The website is run by Joe and Sam Pitcher whose mother is Sue Stone (Woman With a Fish) and after signing up for and watching Joe and Sam’s free video training sessions several times, I registered for Sue’s online course, Exploring Texture and Pattern. (Enrolment is possible until Friday 23rd June if you’re interested.)

Amongst other things, the course will involve making a stitch sample book so I thought I’d prepare the book cover fabric in advance. I used another of my rubbishy painted fabric pieces, wrote the course title with Inktense blocks, and outlined the letters with free machine stitching. The image makes the text look huge but it’s only roughly 14 cm (5.5 ins) square.

Pretty parrot 1

This wip is Parrot on Boysenberry Bush, another project from Jane Nicholas’s book Stumpwork and Embroidery, Designs and Projects. The faint lozenge-shape on the right hand branch of the tree is where the parrot will sit later this week. I sometimes can’t get my head around the scale of things in stumpwork but this time it’s the instructions that have caused a fair amount of head scratching and ripping out of stitches. The trunk of the bush is supposed to be stitched in padded stem stitch but I didn’t like how my first two attempts turned out so I stitched some samples using other stitches and settled on feather, chain and straight stitches as being the most realistic. As if realism mattered! This is stumpwork, where bees are as big as dogs and birds are the size of dinosaurs!

The grassy mound is French knots stitched with tapestry wool on a slip of calico. The tree is several strands of soft tapestry cotton, twisted and couched down then over-stitched in several shades of brown embroidery thread. The leaves should be stitched using padded buttonhole stitch but it’s impossible to continue the ridge effect all the way round when stitching a leaf shape and it therefore looked as if I hadn’t finished stitching so that got ripped out too. I thought it was an odd choice of stitch and I couldn’t find anything online which suggested using it for something with a curve like a leaf. In the end I opted for that trusty stalwart, padded satin stitch, sewn either side of a fine line of chain stitch.

I have to remind myself now and then that it’s okay to not follow instructions. I stitch for my own pleasure and if my end result is different to that of the book, what does it matter?


sketchbook collage

I keep seeing fabric book covers on craft blogs and always think that I would have no use for them, but I swapped my sewing samples into a larger folder yesterday and I’m now thinking that I could make make use of a fabric cover after all although I’m not yet sure if I’ll incorporate any of the samples in it or start afresh. Something for another day however as today I’ve been busy with my fineliner pen and some black ink wash. (No rulers were harmed in the making of these drawings.)


something new

If you’re a regular reader of my posts, you’ll know that I don’t do a great deal of embellishment. Embellishment to me means ‘adding more to a finished item in the form of beads, lace, trims and bling’ but I can’t remember the last time I did that so I wasn’t filled with enthusiasm at the prospect of spending the day doing just that at an embellishment workshop with Jayne Emerson. I had booked the workshop on the recommendation of a lady in my local Janome Owners’ Club and thought it might be an enjoyable way for big sis and I to spend a day. I needn’t have worried about the beads and bling as it transpired that there was no specific programme for the day, the downside of which is that unless you arrive with a specific idea in mind, it can take a while to get up and running. I didn’t want to spend the day on free motion embroidery so when Jayne suggested that the five of us ‘have a go’ at needle felting, I was happy to try it. Big sis does not much enjoy ‘winging it’, claiming that she’s no good at coming up with ideas of her own (which is rubbish of course, but I can’t convince her otherwise), so she was less keen to work without specific direction and didn’t enjoy the day as much as I did.

Jayne demonstrated how to use both the hand-held felting tool and the embellishing machine (like a sewing machine but with multiple needels and no thread or bobbin), and passed round felted samples. With carte blanche to use anything that we found in the boxes or shelves around the room, we were off on our own. Needle felting is an easy process – layer the fabrics you want to felt over a dense brush and bounce the felting gadget over the area to be felted. The barbs on the needles are what cause the fabrics to blend together.
These are my efforts of the day. The landscape piece is actually larger than the single tree one and yet again, the photo doesn’t do my cornfield justice!

needle felting 1

needle felting 2
Needle felting isn’t something I’ve ever thought I’d have much use for and I haven’t changed my mind. I had a very enjoyable day out and I’m glad I went to Jayne’s workshop but I think I need to stick with needles of the unbarbed kind for a while longer. And yes, it hurts, a lot, if you stab your finger instead of the fabric.

an old wip

Had another tidy up the other day and put all but one of my stitchy samples and trials into plastic sleeves and then into a folder as they were beginning to acquire a layer of dust. This stitched attempt at a portrait remains my oldest work in progress. It’s been on the wall for a few months now and I really ought to get on with it but I keep forgetting to buy more grey threads. Poor excuse I know. There’s a lot done on it but many more hours of work still to do.

I was in Stroud the other week to look at an exhibition of ‘Magic’, pieces made by the Stroud branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. The work on display was fantastic! Unfortunately, I have no photographs to show as the two ladies at the desk didn’t know if it was allowed for photographs to be taken so I didn’t, but what I saw there has me wondering whether I should join my own local branch of the EG. It’s all very well reading books and magazines and surfing the net for ideas and inspiration but it would be good to be able to meet with other like-minded folk and they give talks and run classes on various textile techniques. I used to think that the EG members sat around a table and did nothing but hand embroidery (apologies!) but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Have a look on the EG website if you’re interested. I’ve also been thinking about doing an online course in creative textiles or similar but the fees kinda made me gulp. The large financial outlay plus ongoing costs of materials during the course would be difficult to justify. Another back burner idea I think.