Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A bit of a washout ...

... is how I'd describe the results of my snow dyeing efforts once I'd rinsed, dried and ironed them. The watercolour effect is very pretty in some areas if you can ignore the big dark blotches where I guess there wasn't enough snow on the fabric.

I wasn't expecting the colours to be so faint but with all that icy water to dilute the dyes, then perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised. Think I need to reflect on where to take these next.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Blowing away the cobwebs

On Monday, as it was such a lovely bright, sunny (but cold!) day, we decided to take a trip to Great Yarmouth and have a walk along the beach to blow the Christmas cobwebs away.

We took the camera and took photos of a concrete sofa sculpture,

lichen at the harbour,

and rust on the remains of Wellington Pier.

The old stanchions made some interesting shapes,

as did the offshore windfarm,

the patterns in the sand left by the receding tide

and the benches along the seafront.

It was good to get out in the fresh air, but even nicer to get back home in the warm again!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow Dyeing

Sitting in my dressing gown this morning enjoying my first coffee of the day, I was catching up on all the blogs that I follow when I came across a mention of "snow dyeing'. I'd never heard of this before but a quick Google search came up with lots of references and, in particular, a link to Michele's blog where she describes exactly how it's done.

Seeing as we had another 4-5 inches of snow last night, I thought I'd give it a go - once suitably dressed of course!

Here are the pictures so far:-

As I have nowhere indoors to keep piles of brightly coloured snow covered fabric, I'm just going to have to leave it all outside in the garden until the snow melts. I'm intrigued to see the results but I guess I'll just have to be patient and hope the thaw sets in soon!

P.S. If you missed the Twitter update, I didn't win the Chairman's Challenge.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Chairman's challenge

Last month, I joined the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. Our next meeting is on Saturday and we have a 'Chairman's Challenge' - design and make a Christmas card - any size, any technique. I'd had an idea kicking around in my head for a while so after a couple of false starts, here is the result.

To make the snowball, I bonded two layers of shiny, sparkly, white polyester sheer fabric together with bondaweb, cut out lots of circles with a soldering iron and then stitched them together, adding a bead at each joining point. The card base is two layers of thick craft vilene with the same sheer attached with the embellisher machine. I cut a circle out of the card front and inserted my snowball.

And a close up

I'd also watched the Talking Threads episode on recently that featured Fay Maxwell and her slashing technique and had been intrigued to try it out. Using lots of different shades of green fabric, I constructed this Christmas tree to which I added beads and mounted it on shiny card.

And a close up

This will be the very first time I'll have entered my work in any sort of competition but, to coin a phrase, 'you can't win it if you ain't in it!' Wish me luck.......

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Christmas is coming

I've been busy making Christmas presents for the females in the family for the past three weeks - seven done, three more to go - hence it's been a bit quiet on the blogging front. Can't post any pics yet in case one of the recipients spots them.

I can, however, show you a photo of the gift I've made for Secret Santa at work. In the past, I've always picked one of the girls' names out of the hat but this year got one of the men so his iPhone will be sporting a smart new case very soon. I know he doesn't read my blog so I think I'm fairly safe giving you a sneak peek!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Hubble bubble, Double Trouble

The week in Puglia with Jan and Jean was simply amazing. And we were quite an international crowd - 3 from Israel, one from the USA and one from Switzerland as well as 6 Brits (and two non participating husbands).

For me, the most memorable thing was simply (!) learning how to truly "look" at something. From looking, we progressed to sketching, painting, printing and collaging and then to developing these into stitch using hand and machine embroidery and the embellisher.

Now I usually do little hand embroidery having endured a particularly finicky needlework teacher at school who used to measure our stitches with a ruler - any deviation from her required stitch length meant unpicking it all and starting again - enough to put anyone off for life! Jan and Jean have an entirely different philosophy about hand stitching and I found myself really enjoying it; so much so that I hardly touched a sewing machine all week.

The villa itself is lovely; light, airy and spacious, simply but beautifully decorated and furnished. The swimming pool looked very inviting but it was too cold for me to take a dip although two of the hardier souls in our party did venture in a couple of times.

So, here are some photos:-

Stone wall - hand embroidered on solusheet and lightly embellished.

Lichen 1 - hand stitched

Grasses - printed then hand stitched

Lichen 2 - fibres applied with bondaweb, covered with chiffon, hand stitched

Lichen 3 - foil and fibres applied with bondaweb, covered with chiffon and embellished front and back

Olive grove sketch

Olive grove - embellished sheers, hand stitched then further embellishing

And in case you were wondering about the title of this post, the last night we were all together was Halloween.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

More Markal and some stitching

The other Markal paintstiks I ordered arrived so I did some more playing.

I taped some textured wallpaper to the worktable with a piece of black cotton on top and made some rubbings with various colours. Somehow it reminds me of the maps you used to see where the countries were in different colours.

This was another rubbing with different wallpaper and some Cosmic Shimmer sprays misted on top.

And this is an abstraction taken from a photograph of an old rowing boat on the river.

I bought Maggie Grey's newest book, 'Stitches, Straps and Layers' a while ago and made a strap by embellishing some wool roving and fancy yarn onto acrylic felt with added built in stitching patterns from the sewing machine. I may make this into a belt, or maybe cut it up; haven't decided yet.

And a close up.

The thread was from the Pommie Bag won from Dale at the Knitting and Stitching Show.

The online classes to accompany Maggie's book and the Lynda Monk/Carol McFee book 'Stitching the Textured Surface' started on Monday and I've already been having a go at the extra techniques. Sorry I can't show you what I've been doing - you have to buy the books to find out for yourself but lots of messy fun!

Off to Italy on Monday. I'm excited but also more than a little nervous at studying with these two behemoths of the textile world. We shall see........

Friday, 16 October 2009

Playing with Paintstiks (and no, that's not a typo!)

One of the books I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show was Ruth Issett's new offering, "Paintstiks". (Amazon are currently out of stock but you should be able to get it from

I'd had a couple of these in my stash for a while and had never got round to doing anything with them. So, after watching Ruth demonstrate and reading the book, here's my first attempts at using them on fabric.

It's quite amazing what you can produce with a few bits of calico, masking tape, a torn piece of paper and an old toothbrush. I'm well and truly hooked on these versatile rods of colour - more colours should be winging their way to me - postal strikes permitting - so I'm looking forward to some more experimenting when they arrive.

Click on the pictures to get a better view of the subtle tonal qualities you can achieve.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

More painting

Here are some more of the acrylic paintings I've been working on in the past week.

Misty morning

The pier


The Storm

Enclosed spaces