Archive for Embroidery

Wheels, Workshops and Water

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, out and about with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2020 by suetortoise

My National Bus Pass became valid in January, and I have been making use of it for shopping and other sensible things, and for a bit of out-and-abouting. Plans to do more of this have been somewhat messed up by weather and flooding, but I hope to do more once we’ve dried out a bit. There are even several local bus routes that I have never taken. Admittedly, most of them end up going around housing estates, but you never know until you take them. The longer routes do usually go somewhere more interesting or useful, and also places good for a walk or a meal.

There was a small advert for workshops in the window of Ewe and Ply in Shrewsbury Market just after New Year. I only glanced at it, as their workshops are usually knitting or other woolly things, and I don’t get on with wool. But the name “Tanya Bentham” caught my eye and ensured a second look. I enjoy Tanya’s excellent blog, Opus Anglicanum, and I am in awe of her talent for, and knowledge about, medieval embroidery. I have already done a couple of her stitchalong projects from the blog, so I know she is a good ‘explainer’. Tanya was coming to run a day workshop on laid and couched work at Ewe and Ply’s woolshop (and teashop) in Oswestry, north Shropshire. It was only a couple of weeks away, but there were still places left, so I booked up. I even used my buss pass on a “dry run” trip to Oswestry to check I could arrive in good time and to find where to go. I was so much looking forward to meeting Tanya.

Just before the big day, a phonecall. They had not got enough people signed up. It wasn’t happening. But would I like to transfer to the one on the 22nd of February instead, which already had enough people? Oh yes.

And then the weather turned very, very wet and the waters rose, and there were floods in Shrewsbury. Not that I am in danger of flooding up here, on the top of a hill in the middle of town, but the bus station was underwater and I wasn’t sure whether the Oswestry bus would be able to run, even if I walked out to the temporary terminus. But yes, the water levels began to fall and by the time Saturday 22nd arrived all was well with the buses.

Tanya is great fun, her work is wonderful: she brought so many hangings and panels I never did get to see them all. Seven of us were somewhat jammed into Ewe and Ply’s workroom, with a choice of design and colours and all the help we needed.  Much chatter and laughter, and a lot of useful advice and hard work. Here are some of the group showing their progress.

Teri of Ewe and Ply provided refreshments and most of us had the Pot Luck lunch from the teashop. If you are looking for tea or coffee and home made cakes in Oswestry, I can heartily recommend The Eclectic Tearoom.  Pot Luck that day was a spicy bean stew: tasty and good.

I chose a design of a cat with a bow and arrow, from an old manuscript. I got a fair bit done, but there is a long way to go yet. Here it is so far, although I think I will re-stitch some of it. I have several other things to get done for an Easter deadline, so it may be a while before I get much further with “Tom of Oswestry”. Tanya’s partner Gareth made the frame. It’s sturdy and strong. Most of us paid to keep them. (The pens and things around the edge are compensating for my too-slack lacing-up. Easier than re-doing all the lacing – and very effective, if you ever need some extra tension.) I am not using Tanya’s beautifully dyed wools for Tom, just boring fine acrylics, because of my silly skin. This workshop was my Christmas present to myself. A bit later than intended, but well worth waiting for.


I was very glad that the workshop was on the Saturday – by Sunday the rivers were coming back up and the floods were coming back. Here is the bus station on Tuesday morning:

Tanya’s isn’t the only workshop I have been to. The local library had a session on Colour in English and Persian Calligraphy, run by Sohrab Samari. He gave us all a word to play with, along with pens and inks and colours and examples. We learned a bit about the history of Persian, he showed us how to write our names, he even sang us a song! It was only an hour long, so we didn’t have time to do much, but it was great fun. Here’s my effort: the word means ‘happy’ – I don’t know how legible it is to anyone who reads Persian, but I am happy!

 

Meet the Empress

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, out and about with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2019 by suetortoise

I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve got several finished pieces to show you, but I shall talk about just two for now, and my trip to Stitching for Pleasure.

This is the stitched box I started a while back (here’s the first post I made on its progress). It took almost forever – all that metallic thread, very hard on the fingers! The last stitch went in just at the end of February. I call this one “Empress of Mars”.

Here’s a close up of the lid, to show off the texture and the central decoration. The pink cut-glass beads came from an old necklace. I attached them with strong thread, before hiding that with metallic thread on top.

On Friday, I went to Stitching For Pleasure at the NEC, once again meeting up with Rachel from Virtuosew Adventures, for a natter and a look around the stalls and the exhibitions. Rachel’s superb piece “Leaving the Tyne” was on show in the Embroiderers’ Guild display of their “100 Hearts”. I was pleased to see it was one of three given pride of place right at the front entrance.

On my wants list this year were some more colours of Gütermann Sulky Cotton 12 – which I found on the Barnyarns stand, Some Stef Francis Superfine silk thread from the Silk Mill stand, a couple of fat quarters from Bombay Stores, and some offcuts of evenweave from Fabric Flair which I think was on the Yorkshire Book Company stand. I was remarkably restrained and didn’t buy anything not on my list, this year, despite temptation. Although I did come home with a portable, rechargeable LED lamp. I was only intending to look at the different models this visit, but i made my mind up quite easily. I’ll talk about that on another post, as I haven’t yet tried it out properly. All in all, a very successful and enjoyable day out, but very tiring.

There’s nothing like a day spent looking at supplies and lovely finished pieces to get the old fingers itching to try things out. Needless to say, I ended up spending much of this weekend making yet another bookmark. This one is on a piece of 28 count cotton evenweave from my Fabric Flair purchases at the NEC. It’s printed with pale blue random ‘clouds’ and is stitched with one strand of a slightly darker blue stranded cotton (two strands for the buttonhole stitch edging). Stitches used include double cross, tiny eyelets, a big spider eyelet and something like a double leviathan stitch. I’m quite pleased with this one. I think it’s made something quite delicate out of a somewhat unprepossessing piece of fabric.

A Bookmark Evolves

Posted in Darwin, Embroidery, Needlework, shrewsbury, Stitches with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2019 by suetortoise

Another bookmark? Well, you know how I like making bookmarks! There was this little counted-thread pattern that I was playing around with on Monday night. It’s a close relative of some of the other woven stitches I have been playing with over the last few years. I woke up on Tuesday morning, looked at my doodle cloth and thought: what can I do with that stitch? I definitely wanted to play with the variegated colours of Gütermann Sulky Cotton 12 that I have collected over he years. That pattern worked in blocks of four, and these gorgeous colours… There was a strip of 32 count linen on the table and it was my day off…. Continue reading

The Dragon is Stitched

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 3, 2019 by suetortoise

 

Okay, so I do still take have to it out of the hoop, add my signature (the one you can see is just pasted onto the photo) and get it ready for putting into a mount. But the stitching is done, and I must say I am rather pleased with how it came out. I put the last stitches in on the first of February, so it doesn’t quite count as a January finish, but it’s still the first finished piece of the year. The background fabric looks too blue in this photo. It’s white Egyptian cotton from Empress Millls. The rest of the colours are about right in the photo – perhaps a little dark, but not far off. Continue reading

A Box Panel

Posted in Embroidery, Stitches with tags , , on January 8, 2019 by suetortoise

The silk picture was going along nicely until the weekend, when the light was too bad for choosing the colours of silk. So, to keep up my not-really-a-new-year-resolution of doing some stitching every day, I started working on a new stitched box on plastic canvas. As usual, I am making this one up as I go along.

Having completed one of the short sides of the rectangular box. I thought I would copy the top pattern band to my ‘sampler’ – a piece of canvas where I save designs for future reference, and try things out. (The lower part of the box side is basically rice stitch.) As I was going to copy the design anyway, I thought I would take some progress photos so you could see the process – and I could continue with my other not-really-a-resolution of updating Tortoise Loft the Blog more frequently than of late! Continue reading

Year’s Turning 2018

Posted in Christmas, everyday life, out and about with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2018 by suetortoise

embroidered tree designAnd another year has got away from me, with far too few blog posts. As usual. It’s been a bitty sort of year. My health hasn’t been all it should be, recent changes at work have put me under more stress than I really like to cope with, and I haven’t been as creative as I would like to be, either.

Still, there have been Good Bits. Since my last post, my friend KRin from Australia arrived for a short visit, giving me a chance to be a local tourist guide for a day and also an excuse for a train trip with her as far as Machynlleth the next day, where she headed north along the coast to her next destination, and I went on to Aberystwyth in lovely weather. Here’s Aber looking almost exotic in the autumn sunshine. 

At the end of that week, I had a couple of days in Manchester, doing the Museum of Science and Industry and the Whitworth Art Gallery, among other places. (I must also give a mention to Wasabi Dessert Room in Falkner Street, where I had an amazing thing called Green Tea Snow Ice, hand crafted for me while I was being serenaded by strange Japanese pop videos. It was delicious.)

At the end of the month, I met up with Rachel of VirtuoSew Adventures, to see her work on show in an exhibition at the Anglican Cathedral – and to talk rather a lot, of course.

In November I went to MathsJam The Gathering at Yarnfield Park near Stoke. This is run by Colin Wright, Rachel’s husband, and she talked me into coming along. I had little idea what to expect, and I have never been a whizz at maths. I didn’t really know what to expect….

It was a lot of fun! The conference centre is a training centre for telephone workers in the week, and the first thing I saw on entering the car park was a forest of telephone poles in an enclosure. Fortunately we were not expected to climb them ourselves. The accommodation and food were excellent, and the conference areas were good, with plenty of space to sit and talk or chill out, away from the main room, tea and coffee on tap and friendly staff. The event itself turned out to be lots of very short talks about a huge range of subjects – mostly recreational-mathematical, but ranging from the topology of canal bridges to card tricks to recreating old photographs to double-sided blackwork embroidery patterns – and much else in between. I think I made good sense of about a third of the talks, was totally bemused by a further third, and got the main gist of the rest. There were puzzles to play with, a baking contest, competitions and maths tricks to look at. I think the people with the tricks were very happy to have a non-mathematician to baffle. And there was conversation, lots of it. I came home hoarse but happy. I might well go again next year.

While I was at MathsJam, I got quite a bit of stitching done: the card design that is at the top of this page. It’s on 32 count linen, worked with Gütermann Sulky Cotton 12, mostly in straight stitches over 4 threads. The star at the top of the tree is 8-point woven star stitch over an eyelet of straight stitches. It comes with my very good wishes to all my readers (who have been very patient between blog posts!) for the festive season, and for 2019.

Doodlestitching

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2018 by suetortoise

I do like making bookmarks. They are small enough not to take too long, big enough to be satisfying, and very suitable as carry-around projects.

They are also great for just doodling with stitches. This one is on 14 count Aida fabric in cross stitch and slanting Slav, with a buttonhole stitch edging. I made it up entirely as I went along, starting with the edging, then positioning my main shapes and finally filling in the smaller shapes and the background grid of cross stitches. That’s a very relaxing way to stitch – no pattern to follow, no pressure. Just do it!

This bookmark was worked with two strands of a fine spun-rayon thread, in white, deep pink and a variegated pink/grey. But it could just as easily have used stranded cotton, silk, or anything that would make a plump cross stitch on this fabric.

Aida is a very ugly fabric, so I made sure I didn’t leave any holes completely unstitched, even though there is quite a lot of ground showing between the spaced crosses. That allowed me to take advantage of Aida’s sturdiness and ease of use, while avoiding its harsh, mechanical look. I used cotton thread for the cord that holds the tassel, for strength. The back was not perfectly neat, as I wasn’t planning ahead, so I backed it with some lightweight iron-on interfacing. I stitched it down around the inside of the buttonhole edging so it won’t pull away if the glue loses its grip over time. 

Another good thing about bookmarks is that they only take a little fabric, thread and time. If they go completely wrong you haven’t lost much and you may well have learnt something useful. You can afford to experiment and try out ideas. I wasn’t expecting this one to ‘work’ – but I’m very pleased with it.

So if you want a little challenge, take a strip of fabric, pick a few colours, decide on few stitches and just design as you go. See what happens when you just relax and doodlestitch. (Warning; this can be addictive!)