Sunday, 18 March 2018


I love printing and, because I don't get too hung up on the precise accuracy of it (shock horror!), the best bit is not quite knowing what will happen.

Last week, Annie Smith from Textilia 3 showed me how to print with nothing more sophisticated that a handful of bramble leaves and a solution of rust and vinegar.  A little concertina book of paper was first soaked in the rust and vinegar solution, then leaves were placed in the folds of the pages.  It was firmly clamped together and placed in a steamer for 15 minutes.  The result is a fantastic tracery of veins and outlines, some like delicate butterfly wings, others were ghostly shadows.

True alchemy and a little bit of serendipity!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Coptic Binding

In my quest to try new techniques, I was lucky to find that a 'skills sharing day' had been programmed into Textilia 3's season of meetings.  Jo Valentine showed us how to make little fabric books using the coptic binding method.  It's a bit fiddly to start with but once you get the idea it's very satisfying and an interesting variation on chain stitch.

This simple book has just five signatures with single pages.  I've finished it off by joining the pages together to strengthen them and I've made it into a needle case with all my needles carefully arranged and labelled.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Cabin Fever

My house has been snow-bound for 3 days this week and so with no classes to teach, I have had plenty of time to learn some new skills.  I've been working my way through my latest purchase, Raised Embroidery by RSN tutor, Kelley Aldridge.  It's full of fabulous inspirational contemporary pieces, with clear photos illustrating all the key techniques and three projects with step-by-step instructions.

Interspersed with historical and technical information are top tips and advice but my favourite one is found on page 87 entitled 'More haste, less speed' which cautions against rushing to get going on a project before fully committing to a design.  Her final word is '.. don't be tempted by that awful phrase that will do!'

I am always ambitious and perhaps that last piece of advice should apply to learning the basics before you tackle a project.  This example, designed by Jacqui McDonald, appears in the book as an example, but you have to work out how to do it yourself.  It was a steep learning curve, tackling woven picots, cast-on stitch and covered beads, but I think my favourite element is the little needle lace cauliflower.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Loose ends

Aside from primary school crafts, I don't think I've really tried weaving before, so in the interests of completing my textile education, I have tried my hand at tapestry weaving.  Thankfully I was taught by the very talented Gail Marsh, who is not only a skilled embroiderer, but just to keep herself busy, is now undertaking a diploma in weaving.

We started in a simple, low-tech way, with warps wrapped around an old picture frame and a heap of assorted threads.  I soon learned that some threads work better than others:  my lovely linen thread had just too much texture for the scale of work and a knobbly, white knitting yarn that had much promise proved to be a devil to weave.

My first attempt comprised a series of rather static horizontal lines but here is my second attempt.  I chose a more balanced selection of yarns: neutral cotton with a mercerised twist, soft angora, lustrous silk and wispy mohair.  My inspiration was the ripples left in the sand when the tide went out.  For good measure I included a small piece of sea glass found by my friend Marjorie, an avid beach-comber and collector of all things shiny.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sum of the parts

When it come to applique, I usually reach for a roll of Bondaweb, but in my quest to learn new techniques, I have been trying the traditional stitched form of the art.  It was a bit of a fiddle to create a cuddly koala using a bold grey and purple Liberty print but I think the gently-turned edges give a softer, slightly padded look that I couldn't have achieved with glued fabrics.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Alpine Inspiration

An unexpected ski trip to the lovely resort of Madonna di Campiglio in Italy has provided the inspiration for this week's stitch story.  Our favourite apres ski venue was Bar Suisse in the centre of the town.  A cool glass of Trentino wine and some excellent nibbles was just the thing after a day on the slopes.

The motif on the coasters used in the bar caught my eye and with a bit of manipulation I have transferred it to some beautiful purple boiled-wool cloth.  Stitched in cream cotton perle it gives a rich, shiny contrast to the matt fabric. 

Thursday, 25 January 2018


This little study in pearl has been made for Grassington Embroiderers' Guild pearl anniversary exhibition. which takes place later this year.  The idea is to make a pearl necklace from embroidery hoops.  Mine has been a bit of a doodle with no fixed plan or design.  I've used some of the stash supplied by Grassington branch but have added bits of lace, buttons, beads and part of an old pearl necklace that I found in Grandma's button tin (where else?).

I have to confess that it looked a bit of a mash-up but what saved the day was some ivory-coloured cotton perle thread which I back-stitched in cornelli pattern to fill-in all the gaps.  Perfect!