Sunday, 30 June 2013

Messages from afar

Last February one of my stitching friends left to start a new life with her family in Canada.  We have shared a love of gardens and stitching and walking.  We have traded wisdom and advice on all manner of subjects.  And we have laughed - a lot!

A group of us decided to make some bunting to decorate her new home and so we each made a flag in zingy lime green and pretty patterned fabrics.  They are rectangular in shape and more like a Tibetan prayer flag than your usual bunting.

Here is my flag with appliqued dogs depicting our furry companions and some stitches representing our walks.  On the reverse side is not only some lovely fabric but a little message to wish her well.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Creature Comforts

I belong to the Embroiderer's Guild and my local branch is going to exhibit work at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton at their flower festival which takes place over the August Bank holiday.  The theme is Noah's Ark and members have been asked to make a cushion with this in mind.  Work will be sold for the benefit of Martin House Hospice, a special place in Boston Spa which cares for children with life limiting diseases.

With all these thoughts in my head, I chose a koala.  These lovable (but somewhat grumpy) animals have a special place in my heart because it was a small purple toy koala that was my youngest daughter's favourite comforter.   Known in our house as Gaga, the purple one has traveled all over with us and has been the object of many a midnight search!  I drew my design on tracing paper and then, working on the reverse side, I machine embroidered a grey printed fabric, gradually building up the outline of the animal.  I added a dark purple nose as a nod to our beloved Gaga.

I like the way that the fabric frays slightly, softening the edge and giving a kind of furry appearance.  The leafy-green background fabric is not quite a eucalyptus tree but it is nicely verdant.

I hope that my cushion will be treasured by someone and that between us, the Embroiderer's Guild will raise money for a very worthwhile cause.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Just One Stitch

Just one stitch is a favourite challenge for the Embroiderer's Guild and it's a great way to explore the versatility and experiment with different yarns.  My sewing friends found that we had an unexpected change of plan for our group last Friday and at short notice, this was what we decided to do.

The stitch in question is Sorbello and it can be made to look fantastically different.  In it's tightest form you get a lovely square knot, but extend the stitch and you get large crosses.

I wanted to base mine on my cherry blossom study from last week.  I started by laying down a branch in thick tweedy wool using a very tight stitch.  Then I chose some thick pink knitting yarn that was originally bought to make felted slippers.  I made the legs of the stitch extra long to produce really big stars.  I overlayed these stitches with ones made using pink variegated sari ribbon purchased from a recent trip to Texere Yarns.  Finally I added some much smaller stitches using lime green chenille knitting yarn to accent the flowers.

The most interesting thing about our day was just how varied everyone's work turned out to be when we were all using just one stitch.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Turning Japanese

I'm celebrating the arrival of the cherry blossom!  It's over two weeks late and probably the last to flower in the country because I live high up on the Pennine hills.

Cherry blossom is central to Japanese culture and it's arrival is eagerly awaited as a herald of warmer weather. It is the custom to picnic underneath the billowing clouds of blossom.

My tree is only a small one but it's flowers are just as welcome. I've created my own homage to the lovely confetti-like petals using magazine pictures to give tonal variations.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Supersize me!

I went out with some creative friends on Saturday, and over lunch we were talking about how difficult it was to loosen up from detailed stitching or drawing.  "Go large" was the advice from my friend Claire!  Now she knows a thing or two about getting out of your comfort zone and trying to do things differently.  She leads classes and workshops for community groups and she likes to set a challenge.

So I set about with an A2 sheet of paper and a very large lump of charcoal and started drawing my gnarly old tree root.  I tried again with a large nib graphic felt tip pen.

I used a continuous line method where I tried not to take the mark-making tool off the paper.  The results have a more fluid feel about them but are best viewed from a distance :)

I think I might isolate some elements of the drawing and use these as the basis for some pattern design.

As for Claire, I'm going to invite her to give a workshop for the Embroiderer's Guild so that she can pass on some more wise words.