Little Clicks and More Stitches

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by suetortoise

Violet in Silk - over halfway

Just over three weeks ago, I became aware that some damp was getting into the mansard roof here at the Tortoise Loft (and the roof is partly my front wall, as my flat is in the attic). Nothing too bad, but some obvious signs at one end of the living room, probably from the long-neglected guttering above. And the next day I heard a strange little noise coming from the same bit of wall.

A brief “tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk” sound at irregular intervals. It didn’t make sense as any kind of natural noise from water ingress, so what was it? A bit of web-searching revealed the answer: deathwatch beetles in the old oak timbers that have got damp. (There’s a recording here on Wikipedia which gives you a good idea of the sound. It isn’t like a watch ticking, but it is very like someone winding an old-fashioned pocket watch.) Needless to say, next morning I got in touch with the housing association that I rent from. I’ve already had a visit from one of their surveyors, with another surveyor from the company that owns the building due next week. So, with any luck, they will be able to make arrangements to get the offending roof and guttering repaired and deal with the leaks and my little clicking friends. But I could have done without this upheaval, and rather wish that they had done at least some preventive maintenance on the roof in the last 14 years I’ve lived here!

Meanwhile, I’ve been pressing on with my violet embroidery. The picture above was taken this morning. It’s slow progress as I can only do the fine stitching when the light is excellent and my patience for this detailed silkwork only lasts for a few needle-fulls at a time. (If I do too much, or work in bad light, I end up spending half the next session unpicking. I somehow doubt that I am the only stitcher this happens to!) But the plant is really starting to take shape now, so – provided I don’t rush and ruin it – I think I will be quite pleased with the finished piece.

I will be spending Easter with my Dad. I would like to get that big leaf finished while I am there.

And For My Next Trick…

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2014 by suetortoise

Primrose in Silk complete

The Primrose in Silk  has been finished for some time. (This is not a very good photo, but it’s surprisingly hard to photograph – I’ve had several attempts.) It’s not a flawless piece of embroidery – but I’ve learnt a lot in the stitching of it. I enjoyed the process and I’m quite pleased with the finished result. In fact I enjoyed this silk work so much that I have just started a companion piece – with violets.

I couldn’t find a suitable design, so I made my own drawing. (It’s largely based on Mabel E Step’s illustration in Wayside and Woodland Blossoms Series I  by Edward Step, published in 1905, but I also used photos and other references.) It’s roughly the same size as the primrose and I’m using the same fine silk dupion and fine silk threads from Devere Yarns as well as some very old Gütermann silk buttonhole twist (divided into three strands). I am going to enjoy translating it into stitches. I hope I can make use of all the lessons I learnt from working the primrose, and I hope that I’ll learn some more skills in the process.

Violets in Silk, 1 - a start

I’ve been asked to list the various stitches used on the primrose, so here goes. The petals are in long and short stitch with an outline of stem stitch worked afterwards, the flower centre is a coiled bullion knot and the calyx is a mixture of fly stitch and stem stitch. The stems are filled with an under layer of diagonal satin stitches, covered with feather stitch and edged with stem stitch. Rather a long and loose stem stitch makes the midrib and veins of the leaves. The leaves are filled with French knots and outlined with stem stitch. The underside of the leaves and the main root are in chain stitch, with stem stitch again for the small roots. I think that’s all except for various odd stitches here and there to fill in gaps.



Dots, Stripes and Good News

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Family and Friends with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by suetortoise

Primrose in silk, 5 - leaves started

Let’s start with the very good news: my father is home from hospital, and is doing very well indeed. Apart from a slight slurring of his speech when tired – and he gets tired very easily – along with a slight slowing down, his recent stroke has left little evidence. He’s still not able to write very legibly yet, but he was working on his computer program within three hours of being home. Not bad for nearly 94!

Getting his house ready for his return was a chore as the central heating boiler needed repair, but that was fixed just in time to warm things up before he arrived. And his friends and neighbours and carers have been brilliant. A huge thank-you to Hereford hospital for their marvellous work in getting him through this. He is truly grateful to them, and they looked after him well, but oh, he is so very pleased to be out of there and back in his own home!
Continue reading

Continuing the Primrose in Silk

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , on February 12, 2014 by suetortoise

It’s a little hard to concentrate on writing a post for Tortoise Loft when the roof sounds as though it is about to blow away at any moment, but here goes. (I doubt the roof will actually blow away – it’s been here a long time. But I am up under the eaves and there’s a howling gale outside.) Before I get onto the silk work, I am happy to report that my father is continuing to make a steady recovery from his stroke. He had a medical problem last week and had to return to the acute ward for treatment, but he has got over that now and is back at the rehabilitation unit for physio and occupational therapy, one step nearer to going home.

Primrose in Silk 3 - first stems

Where were we? The primrose flowers were still in progress last time I wrote about this piece. As you can see, I have now worked all the calyxes and flower stalks. I wanted a little more texture than on the petals, so I thought hard about stitches, made some sketches and did some try-outs and finally decided on working the stalks in two layers. The under layer is simply diagonal satin stitch filling, between the drawn lines. Over that is a very skinny feather stitch, to give an idea of the slight hairiness of the stalks, with a row of stem stitch down each side to add definition to the edge. I worked each of the calyxes with three columns of close-packed fly stitch, in a vertical direction, with stem stitch as an edging and also added on top of the fly stitch where I wanted more shading. The colours are all blends of various greens and greys and olive colours. Continue reading

Bad news, good news

Posted in everyday life, Family and Friends on February 1, 2014 by suetortoise

My father was rushed to hospital a few days ago, having had a stroke. Fortunately he was found by friends who called soon after he collapsed, and although the Air Ambulance couldn’t land in the village because of the weather, he was rushed by ground ambulance to Hereford Hospital who did marvels.

The last few days have been total chaos, but he is doing very well so far. His mind and memory are fine, he’s already got his speech back to near normal, and just starting to get some movement on his right side. The hospital are very pleased with his progress. I’m hopeful that he’ll continue to make a good recovery, so that he can go back to his own home. But at 93, it may take him a while. Meanwhile, please don’t be surprised if you get a slow response to comments, emails or your own blog posts – I’ll be rather distracted by hospital visiting and all the other things I’ll have to fit into my life.

UPDATE 12/02/14: Further good news. Dad is now out of the acute ward and has gone to a specialist stroke rehabilitation unit to get his skills and confidence back. He’s very nearly back to normal already – talking and walking well, but he needs to get his right hand and arm working a little better before he can go back home.

The Itch to Stitch

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by suetortoise

Carnaby Pigeon head miniMy stitching project over Christmas was a bit of a novelty for me. My friend Serena designed a kit to make felt pigeons as decorations for the World Science Fiction Convention in London this coming August. I have trouble working with wool and most of the felt had wool content. While I was working with Serena on the art show at Novacon in November, she got me to help her make a Robin Hood hat for one of her felt pigeons. I found I could stitch the felt for a little while before I had to stop with itching fingers, so I took a pigeon pack away with me and kept it to do over Christmas. (The pack makes a basic felt pigeon, leaving it up to the maker to add decoration to taste. I cut my own tail shape as I wanted it spread. I added embroidery in simple stitches using some of the multi-coloured spun rayon pearl thread that I bought from eBay last year.) Continue reading

It’s that time of year again!

Posted in Christmas, everyday life with tags on December 21, 2013 by suetortoise

snowytoptree mini

Yes, it is time to wish all the readers of Tortoise Loft – The Blog the compliments of the season. Thank you for your comments and your interest throughout the year. You makes this blog worthwhile.

Please do let me know if there are any particular topics you would like me to write about in the New Year. I enjoy getting suggestions for subjects and questions to answer.

Meanwhile, may you have a delightful Christmastime and may all sorts of unexpected good things happen for you in 2014.



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