Archive for the everyday life Category

To Talk of Many Things

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, out and about, science fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 29, 2018 by suetortoise

So what has happened since my last post in March.

I went to the annual Sewing for Pleasure event at the NEC in Birmingham in March was well worth visiting, and an excuse to meet up with Rachel of Virtuosew Adventures. We enjoyed looking at the trade stands and the exhibits. Perhaps nothing as impressive as last year’s court costumes, but there were some fine old kimonos on show, and a display of embroidered panels that were a collaboration between European textile artists and Afghani embroiderers. Both of these displays were worth seeing – as was Rachel’s crochet bag on its first outing.

I managed to restrain myself fairly well. Here is my loot from the day:
The strange brown plastic thing is a lucet – an impulse purchase thanks to a very persuasive ‘luceteer’, Ziggy. My own attempts at making cord have not been very successful yet, and I suspect that this gadget will end up in the back of a drawer. I don’t seem to have the knack.

Easter was spent at the British National Science Fiction Convention, Follycon, in Harrogate. Appalling weather, endless rain, cold winds and even some snow, but I had a fine time. Some good talks, including Kim Stanley Robinson on Galileo and Nick Jackson on some female mathematicians. And we had an Easter bonnet parade at a splendid Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. A fairly successful art show for me, and my stitching workshop on ‘Darned Planets’ went surprisingly well. A dozen people learnt how to do some simple pattern darning to create a textured area on a card (one of my samples is at the start of this post), and I learnt how few people know how to thread a needle easily. (I could do a post on that if anyone is interested.) Here’s the group busy making their planets, in an unsettlingly-mirrored room in the Majestic Hotel.

Another highlight of that weekend was a concert by Jon Boden and two of his Remnant Kings, just for us. About a month later, I saw him on stage at Theatre Severn with the whole group. A fine noise they make, too! At the end of May I saw the excellent Celtic band Breabach there. Last weekend it was Ralph McTell and Wiz Jones getting amazingly complex sounds out of a couple of guitars. (The usual album stall outside in the interval seemed to be selling as many guitar-tab books as CDs.)

Sometime last year, I was looking at some illuminated manuscript illustrations online, and found one that I very much want to do as a piece of embroidery. It’s from the Aberdeen Bestiary and is the illustration to The Wolf. The photo on Wikipedia is HERE. It’s going to be a long-term project, preceded by several practice pieces. The first one is just the small wolf standing on the sheepfold roof. I started it before Easter but struggled with it. I could not get the shading on the wolf to look right. In the end, after a lot of unpicking, I left it for a month and came back to it fresh. This time it went much better. I was happy.

Until I took it off the hoop, that is. I used lemon-cream coloured silk dupion for the base fabric, tacked over Egyptian-cotton sheeting – the double layer was very easy to stitch through. The thread is all silk – a mixture of Chinese silk and Devere Yarns 06 silk. Despite having a heavy build-up of silk thread in the shaded areas, it had stayed very flat in the hoop. No puckering. I was very pleased. But as soon as I got the damp cloth and warm iron on it, ready to mount it – disaster. Between the legs, under the tail and head and below the roof – horrible puckers in the unstitched silk fabric. Pinning it out damp did not solve the problem. I was nearly in tears by this time. The next day I very slowly and carefully cut away the cotton backing outside the stitching area. (Trying to separate the layers between the legs was fraught, but I did manage to get my scissor-points through the cotton without damaging the silk – eventually.) Then I blocked the silk and got rid of most of the puckers. A second firm pinning out, pulled tight over the foamcore mount board, and it looks okay. Well, okay-ish. (I resorted to gluing the fabric down on the back of the board before removing the pins, just to be extra sure it woud stay put.) I am very glad that this was only a sample, not the whole piece. I guess I’ve learnt a lot in the process!

Now I am looking forward to starting a new small project. I think it will be counted thread for a change, before I go back to another silk piece. I found some light grey 32 count Zweigart linen in a charity shop last month, and it keeps waving at me and asking to be used. I shall consult my books and resources and ponder….

One final thing: the WordPress stats tell me that I get a lot of visitors to this site, but very few visitors leave comments or ask questions. I do like to get some feedback on my blog posts. Otherwise it feels like I am just talking to myself and the one or two (very welcome) regular comment writers, and I get discouraged. And, as always, if there is something you would like me to write about – embroidery techniques in particular – let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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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

The Seasonal One

Posted in Christmas, everyday life with tags on December 23, 2016 by suetortoise

Yes, I think it’s time for my usual Christmastime post, wishing you all the compliments of the season and good wishes for the New Year. Last year, I was still grieving too much to want to decorate the Tortoise Loft, but this year the tree has been up for a few days, and here it is being suitably festive:

A Merry Christmas - or other winter festival of your choice - and a Very Happy New Year!

And for anyone who feels the need for a little more reading material, particularly a short piece for reading aloud, I offer The Antisanta which I wrote in 2010.

Thank you for your kind comments over the year. Blogs die too easily from lack of comments and feedback, so make sure you drop your favourite sites a line occasionally and keep them healthy.

Have fun, and I’ll see you all early in the New Year.

Eight-Point Woven Star

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework, out and about, science fiction, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by suetortoise

Here’s another interlaced stitch for you to try – you might find it handy for Christmas decorations and cards.

an-8-point-woven-star

The instructions look daunting, and the first few may seem very tricky to work. But once you’ve got the idea, you’ll find the stars quick to stitch. I suggest practising on Aida fabric with a fairly thin thread until you are confident, then you can try working on other evenweave fabric or just using a circle of 8 holes made in thin card. Continue reading

Things happening, slowly.

Posted in Australia, books, Embroidery, everyday life, out and about with tags , , , on September 5, 2016 by suetortoise

curfew open

Well the last few weeks have been busy. I’ve held off from updating the blog, hoping that I could tell you that my sister and I have finally sold my parents’ house. (It’s been on the market for a year now.) We have accepted an offer and we’ve spent hours form-filling and answering questions and so forth. However, we’ve not yet exchanged contracts with couple who want to buy it. It is almost certainly a done deal, but until the papers are signed, I don’t like to tempt fate and say it’s sold.

I am just hoping the contract is ready for signing before I go off to Australia – and it’s not very long now! The flight tickets arrived yesterday. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with KRin and Megan at Hopetoun Tea Rooms in Melbourne on the morning of the 21st. I’m sure we’ll find a lot to talk about. They are going to introduce me to a needlework shop called L’uccello, too. I should be just-about over the jet lag by then.

The next day, Kevon and I are off to Hobart for a week. One of the people we’ll be meeting there is his elderly cousin, and my friend, Diana. Kevon suggested that I could embroider something based on the poem “Curfew must not ring tonight” by Rosa Hartwick Thorpe as a gift for Diana. I didn’t know the poem and wasn’t sure what I could do with it, but a little searching on the web found it. Even better, Abe Books lead me to a bookseller with a copy of a tiny book containing just the one poem and illustrations. The book dates from about 1890. The cover is a little time-worn, so I made an embroidered jacket for it.

curfew and hand

The book is only 12cm high. I’ve stitched Bessie, the heroine of the verse, climbing up into the belfry to stop the curfew bell from ringing. The drawing is loosely based on one of the sepia illustrations in the book, and is stitched in stranded cotton on white Egyptian-cotton sheeting. Most of the stitching is irregular stem stitch and straight stitches. I was pretty-much making it up as I went along, working over an ink drawing. After I’d finished the stitching, I backed the piece with pelmet Vilene and a second layer of sheeting, to make a sturdy cover. Not my usual style of work, but an interesting challenge. I hope that Diana will be pleased.

curfew close-up

I was also hoping I’d have the Hardanger bookmark finished to show you – I’ve done all the stitching, there’s just the hemming to do. Mitred corners are things I never feel confident about doing, so I need to be cool and calm and have plenty of time available when I start that stage. Right now I am anything but calm and trying to do fifteen things at once, so the hem-laying must wait.

This will be the last blog post before my holiday. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

News and stuff

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, out and about, shrewsbury with tags , , , , on November 28, 2015 by suetortoise

A mixed bag of things to talk about, so I’ll start by catching up on more general topics, then those with no interest in embroidery can wander off without reading on.

Smolensk square completed

My father’s house is still up for sale in Bucknell – the property market there seems dead at the moment. Which is a shame, as it’s a good, practical house in a pleasant South Shropshire village, near Ludlow, and it wants to find someone who will love it. My sister and I are hoping that the spring brings some new viewings.

I had my annual trip to Novacon science fiction convention in Nottingham a couple of weekends ago – my only chance for a trip away this year. It was a pleasant weekend with a chance to meet up with old friends. The art show went well – plenty of variety from a fair few artists, and plenty of sales. Most of my work on show was previously unsold pictures, as I haven’t been in the mood for making much artwork this year. I did quite well in the art auction, considering, and now have a little more space in my portfolio for when I get going with new pictures.

The Christmas lights are up in Castle Street, where I live, and the shop windows below are trying to out-glitter each other. I’m not feeling sparkly yet. I think I’d rather just let this Christmas go by with the minimum of fuss and look forward to next year, when life is going to be a lot more interesting. I’ve got my plane ticket booked for a trip to Melbourne in the autumn, I’ve booked my hotel room for Mancunicon the Easter science fiction convention, which is in Manchester this year, and I’ll be back in Nottingham for another Novacon in November. Plus I’ll make sure I have plenty of days out, do things, go places, spend time with friends… Continue reading

It’s been quite a while!

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Family and Friends with tags , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2015 by suetortoise

30 sitches to the inchI didn’t mean to stay silent for so long, but life has had other plans. Let me start with a quick update on my father’s health. Dad came home from hospital in March. He’s not so mobile now – he can’t walk – but he’s recently got an oxygen machine, which helps with his breathing, and he’s started working on his computer programming again, and showing some interest in life. My sister has been staying with him to help him. I took over for ten days at Easter, to give her a brief break, and I am usually there on Saturdays, so she can go out, but Frances has done the lion’s share of the caring and I don’t know how I’d have coped without her.

Continue reading