Going for Gold

Posted in Embroidery, museum, Needlework, out and about, Stitches, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2018 by suetortoise

Hanny Newton (standing on left) and about two thirds of our workshop group busy with their stitching.

I have just spent the day at an excellent goldwork workshop, here in Shrewsbury.

Hanny Newton is RSN trained. She produces beautiful work: combining technical excellence with fascinating simple design. Have a look on her website – although photography never does goldwork full justice. She’s a very good tutor: inspiring learning by experiment, rather than pedantic coursework, but able to give lots of tips and pointers.

I have never had a great urge to get into goldwork as such – although it is hard not to be a little tempted after today’s workshop. However, this day was focussed on couching, and knew I did need help with that! I’ve let myself down with bad couching when I have wanted to edge silkwork with metal thread (an effect I really love), so I went hoping for help and tips. I wasn’t disappointed. I have come home with lots of good advice about the thread to use (fine passing) and how to get it to sit neatly in place – and to stay there.

We were in a beautifully light room, in the barrel-vaulted attic of a medieval mansion house, part of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. We were one storey above the Corbett Bed, and I think that some benign influence from that feast of stitching percolated up to inspire us.

It was a relaxed and friendly day, everyone enjoyed it and learnt from it. My humble efforts are hardly worth showing here, but I was there to learn, and I hope that I can practice and do better. You can see rather wobbly lines of couching, some playing about with buttonhole stitch as a couching technique (one of the triangles is detached buttonhole stitch) and an attempt to couch down a big twisted cord, going from very visible stitches to hidden stitches. That one was not much of a success (I was getting tired by then), but all the experimenting was valuable.

Thanks to Hanny for an excellent day’s stitching, and to Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery for setting it up for us and providing refreshments. More please!

On Friday I am off to Sewing For Pleasure at the NEC in Birmingham. I will be touring the embroidery supplies stands looking for fine passing thread!

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Just a quick one!

Posted in Christmas with tags , , on December 24, 2017 by suetortoise

Happy Christmas from The Tortoise Loft

Normal service will be resumed soon, I promise. Meanwhile, here is the tree on my windowsill. Thank you for your comments and emails during the year – they make the blog worth doing.

Silk from China

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , on June 20, 2017 by suetortoise

As regular readers will know… (Hello, Regular Readers of Tortoise Loft – The Blog. Thanks for sticking around!) My usual go-to silk thread is DeVere Yarns lovely 06 silk. Fine, smooth, filament silk with a very slight single twist to make it manageable. It comes on neat cardboard bobbins and in a good (and slowly increasing) range of colours. I can highly recommend it.

I’ve recently got hold of some Chinese filament silk through eBay. I thought you might like to have a look at it.  Thread purchases from eBay can be somewhat of a lucky dip – I’ve bought ‘pearl cotton’ that was actually spun rayon (very nice rayon – I use the thread a lot) and ‘real silk’ that was just filament rayon. I didn’t want to pay a high price for the Chinese ‘silk’ without knowing what it would be like. I’ve been hankering after some for a year or more. Fortunately I got a pack for the minimum bid price recently. (This was on my third attempt – previously I’d been thoroughly outbid.) Continue reading

The Stash

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by suetortoise

I’ve been wanting to write about “stash” for a while: those boxes, drawers, cupboards and bags full of fabrics and threads, half-finished projects, purchasing failures, patterns, kits, books and equipment that accumulate around embroidery and craft people. Stock that we so often find ourselves embarrassed by and apologising for. Creative textile people generate stash. Most of us end up with far more than we can use in lifetime (and still don’t have quite the colour or type of thing we want for the next project).

“I’ve got far too much stuff, I’m sorry!”

Stop apologising for stash. It’s a resource. It’s stock. It’s the educational toy you can play with to learn new things, try out new stitches and techniques. It’s the bits and bobs you can spare to get a child or a friend started on the hobby, or provide just the right thing for someone else’s project. It’s an emergency supply for when you can’t afford or can’t find materials to use. It’s sheer inspiration: textures, colours, weights, combinations: options that you can get to know and that will suggest uses and ideas and become part of your mental toolbox when you design. Riches to be quietly proud of, not some sort of waste that needs using up like kitchen left-overs. With a few exceptions, fabric and threads will stay good and stay usable for a long, long time. Enjoy it, look at it, play with it, learn it.

Continue reading

Exquisite Silk Embroidery

Posted in books, Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2017 by suetortoise

While I was at Sewing For Pleasure, I spotted some copies of this book on a bookstall and had a quick browse. But by the time I went back to the stall to buy a copy, they had all been sold. Eventually I tracked down a copy on Book Depository.

Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide is by Shao Xiaocheng and published by Better Life Press (ISBN 978-1-60220-015-9). It’s a good-sized hardback with over 160 pages and colour illustrations on virtually every page. I certainly don’t regret buying it. I have found it useful, interesting and inspiring, but I do have some serious reservations about recommending it. So this will be a mixed review.

Continue reading

Meetings

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework, out and about with tags , , , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by suetortoise

Several pleasant, embroidery-related things to talk about this month, including a trip to the NEC in Birmingham: blogger meets blogger.

I haven’t yet mentioned the Saturday-morning stitching group that is run by Shrewsbury Textiles and Creative Stitch (STACS) – the group that formed from the local EG group, when we voted to go independent last September. I joined the Saturday stitching group in January. It’s a friendly and welcoming bunch. There are usually about half a dozen or so adult stitchers, as well as a small but thriving junior group (who make interesting things on the other table). We meet at Bayston Hill Methodist Centre on the first Saturday of the month, where we have a well-lit room to work in. I am enjoying the chance to stitch in company again. Continue reading

Spring, Inktense pencils and Silk

Posted in Drawing and Painting, Embroidery with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by suetortoise

Almost March already. Sorry, folks! I kept holding off writing a new post, waiting for the sale of my Father’s house to happen – or fail to happen (which was seeming increasingly likely as the sales-chain continued to have endless hold-ups). Well, the week before last the sale did finally happen as planned, after we exchanged contracts in January. The new owners (who have been waiting surprisingly patiently since September) have moved in, and my sister and I can take a deep breath and move on.

daffodil-bud-mini

I have been playing with silk again. (It doesn’t take very much to tempt me to play with silk.) This half-open daffodil was really just done for practice, but it seems appropriate to put at the top of the post as it will be St David’s Day on Wednesday. The thread is mostly Devere Yarns 06 filament silk, although there’s a tiny bit of Stef Francis Superfine Silk in the papery spathe at the base of the flower along with a little pale greenish-brown rope silk that is at least 40 years old. The background fabric is Egyptian cotton sheeting. Continue reading