Saturday, 31 March 2018


The quest for new techniques has taken me along an unexpected path.  This week I have tried my hand at blackwork.  This form of embroidery dates back to Tudor times but was popularised by Catherine of Aragon hence its name, Spanish blackwork.  I can admire it's pared-down elegance, but I've concluded that counted thread work is not my forte!

The reason for this challenge is that Skipton Embroiderers' Guild are making a 36 square sampler showing different black work patterns ranging from traditional to contemporary.  I've chosen to start with a traditional back stitch rose pattern for the centre of my dandelion clock and then use a more free-form fly stitch to make the seed heads.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Signs of spring

The first proper signs of spring are here: some green shoots, daffodils in sheltered spots and the first lambs appearing in the fields.  It's also time for Easter Crafts at Christ Church so I had to get thinking of some new ideas. 

I was inspired by an old latch-hook tool that I found in my Grandma's sewing box and I remember making rugs with her when I was a child, surrounded by bundles of brightly coloured Readicut wool that were so inviting!  I'm sure she had to re-work most of my efforts but it's a fond memory.  So here, in homage to Grandma Davies, is a very small latch-hook rug sheep made using chunky hand-knitting yarn and hessian. 

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.