Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Briefly back ....

Just a quick post to show you the main reason why I've been so quiet here lately. You may remember this previous post about Mum's hexagon quilt. Well, three kilometres (!) of thread and much swearing later I finally finished it on Christmas Eve. She was so pleased, it immediately went on the bed.

Off to Northumberland again for New Year - hope the weather isn't as bad as last year and we have another awful journey like this one. As soon as we get back, I have a crafting session to run for about 17 'hens' at my niece's hen weekend. Hopefully, I can then get back to some stitching for myself.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

So little time ...

I'm afraid there won't be much blogging this side of Christmas - lots of sewing projects that are gifts to finish and already I feel like I'm running out of time! Normal service will be resumed in 2011.....

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Alchemy indeed ....

I bought this book earlier in the year, fully intending to experiment in the summer when nature is at its most abundant, but, as always, life got in the way. I was talking about the book to my friend Helen last week ,who just happened (as you do!) to have a container of frozen elderberries in her freezer that she kindly donated to me. So today, rather than get on with the household chores, and having been reading India and Arlee's blogs, I decided to play.

The elderberries, contained in the foot of a popsock and still frozen, were immersed in water in my copper dyeing pot and, very slowly, heated on the stove until barely simmering. While this was going on, I pre-mordanted various different types of cotton fabric in diluted soy milk. In an ideal world, the fabric should have been pre-mordanted, drip dried and left to 'cure' before being dyed but the berries were already on the go before I read that page!

When the dye bath had a good bit of colour to it, I decanted some into an empty coffee jar, scrunched in a bit of the soy mordanted cotton and that is destined to sit on the kitchen windowsill to see what will happen to it in the next few weeks. (all the colours in the photos on this post are much brighter in real life - had to use the flash as it's so grey and gloomy today)

The rest of the cotton (bar one piece that wouldn't fit in but more of than later) was immersed in the dye pot:-

then heated back to almost simmering and left for an hour.

This is what I ended up with:-

The pieces seem to have taken the dye differently - the muslin is much darker than the recycled cotton sheet - and I think a bit of polycotton has inadvertently slipped in as one piece of fabric is very pale. Anyway, I'll leave it all in the dye pot for as long as possible to steep. It'll then be drip dried and left for a few days before rinsing and we'll see what I end up with.

So, that last bit of mordanted cotton - what to do with it? Common sense said to let it dry and cure so I'd have something all ready for dyeing in the future but I was on a roll and wanted colour on that cloth today! Outside I went and gathered some of the fallen leaves from the garden, spread them on the cloth and then rolled it up tightly and secured it with elastic bands. A bit of unmordanted, dampened cotton got the same treatment, as did a piece of habotai silk (but with more carefully placed leaves from the Acer palmatum atropurpureum in the garden). Break out the so-far-unused-but-now-dedicated-to-dyeing electric steamer!

After an hour's steaming, this is what I had:-

Just look at the colour and patterns from the Acer leaves on that silk!

Now I have to be patient and leave the bundles alone, still tightly wrapped, until I can't stand the suspense any longer!

Alchemy indeed......

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Inspirational 'fodder'

Another thing Mum gave me was this - the book of the BBC TV series and it’s full of great photos. Visitors to this blog may have noticed my attraction to this type of photography (see links at the bottom of the page). I’ve used aerial pictures before to inspire a textile piece and this book has lots more ‘fodder’ for me to use at some point.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Another discovery amongst Mum’s ‘stash’ was this box of Appliglue. I remember Mum and I went to a Hobbycrafts exhibition at the NEC at least 20 years ago where she bought it so it’s really old but, having opened several of the bottles, it still seems quite usuable. No doubt I'll find an opportunity for testing it out at some point.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Make do and mend

In today's 'disposable' world, the idea of mending has long since disappeared from most people's minds but it's not so long ago that worn clothes would be patched, darned or otherwise mended rather than be thrown away. Unpacking the many boxes and bags that came home with me from Mum's, I found these cards of thread which were used for "reinforcing and mending".

And these which would have been used for mending stockings - can you imagine mending your tights today?

And this unopened pack of needles

Flora MacDonald was a trademark of Abel Morall Ltd (later to become Aero Needles) first registered in 1905. The picture is based on on portrait painted by Allan Ramsay.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Do you know what this is?

Do you know what this is?

It's a peg loom - one of the five that Mum found in my stepdad's workshop (which he made) that she's passed on to me. I already have a very large one (a metre wide) that he made for me a few years ago upon which I made an incredibly soft hearth rug. The one in the photo is about 12 inches wide - there's two this size, plus three more that are about 3 inches longer. If you know of anyone who'd like one and who could collect from me in Norwich, leave a comment on this post.

Monday, 1 November 2010

More books

As you may have seen in my last post I've been making covers for some sketchbooks that had been donated to our Embroiderers' Guild branch.

I've done quite a few more since but, stupidly, forgot to take photos of some before delivering them to the Guild. Here are three that I did remember to photograph.

This is the front of one:-

And the back:-

And two more:-

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Stitching for the Guild

Another four sketch/note books done for the Embroiderers' Guild stall at the Textile and Bead Fair tomorrow. Held twice a year at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, there's lots to see (and buy!) so why not come along? Doors open at 10am.


Mum decided to apply for a place in a sheltered housing complex now she's on her own. Places don't come up very often and are allocated on a 'points' system so we weren't expecting her to be offered anything anytime soon. How wrong can you be! After only a couple of weeks on the waiting list, she was offered, and accepted, a lovely little flat in a complex right in the centre of town.

Next step was to put her bungalow up for sale. Lo and behold, it was snapped up by a cash buyer before the ink was dry on the sale particulars! So, it was then all systems go on sorting out what she wanted to keep and what had to go. I spent a few days helping her to sort out the contents of her loft and came home with a car full of her craft supplies and it's taken me about three weeks to marry her stash with mine.

One of the things she's passed on to me is this (sorry about the poor photo):-

Together with all these:-

And this book:-

With the passing comment, "It would be nice if you could finish this in my lifetime". She's 75 (bless her) so no pressure there then!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Ally Pally Day 2

The second day at the Knitting & Stitching show was spent doing workshops with Jan Beaney in the morning, when we made a small handstitched sample based on a photograph of a garden. Here’s mine:-

In the afternoon, Jean Littlejohn ran a workshop with a difference. We each had to pick a number from 1 to 6, then, based on the number we chose, we were allocated a stitch (mine was Roumanian Couching). Using different types and weights of thread/wool etc, we made a grid using our allocated stitch and then filled in the spaces of the grid, again ONLY using our allocated stitch. It really made us stretch our skills, take a closer look at how stitches can be used and we ended up with a useful stitch sample to refer to in future - at least, that was the idea but I’ve turned my workroom upside down and I can’t find my sample!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Stunning views

Rather than travel home and back again between the two days I spent at the Knitting and Stitching Show, I begged a bed for the night from my niece and her fiance. I’d never visited their lovely little flat in London’s Docklands and was completely unprepared for the stunning views. The photos were taken at night (obviously!) and the balcony at the front looks out over St Katherine’s Dock towards Tower Bridge:-

While the view from the kitchen window is of the tall buildings at Canary Wharf.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Better late than never

My first day at the Knitting & Stitching Show was spent in admiring the exhibits, chatting to friends and, of course, shopping.

I didn't have enough hands to take photos but I particularly enjoyed the Julia Caprara retrospective amongst the wealth of stunning work on display. Ally Pally is definitely the best show of the whole year for me.

So, what did I buy? Mainly books this year - the new one from Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn called 'Stitchscapes' (and the accompanying CD too), 'Drawn to Stitch' by Gwen Hedley and 'Art Cloth' by Jane Dunnewold. Some lovely wool from the Colinette stand came home with me too, along with numerous threads and other bits and pieces that I just couldn't resist. And I finally bought a screen from Thermofax:-

I intend putting this to good use as I continue with the Waterscapes themed work started in Jean's workshop that I took earlier this year at Broadland Arts Centre.

Monday, 20 September 2010

September catch up

Last time I posted, I was getting ready for my holiday in St Cirq Lapopie, which is a beautiful village in the Lot Valley in France. I did manage to make myself a new bag before we went and it came in very useful.

It already seems ages ago that we were soaking up the sun and relaxing in the lovely garden of our rented house. While we were there, I had intended to work on Gina's Sketchbook Project but I got a bit sidetracked into doing some close examination of the leaves in the garden - drawing, painting, printing and stencilling:-

I got a bit obsessed with the fern image and it may well form the basis of a stitched piece in future.

The day after we returned from holiday, we attended some friends' wedding and I made a pair of cushions as a wedding gift. (mental note to self - avoid velvet and taffetta when possible in future!)

Here's one side:-

and here's the other:-

And lastly, our EG branch had half a dozen sketchbooks donated to be used as raffle prizes and I've volunteered to make removable covers for them. Here's the first one finished:-