Monday, 31 December 2018

December samples

It's December! The last four weeks of this year's project. So I decided to make them all a bit... seasonal. A bit of a challenge for  me, as I'm not mad about Christmas; I'm not about to do Santas and snowmen etc. For a bit of extra "spice", or incentive, each one had to use dissolvable fabric.
Each sample is free of background fabric, but shown against plain fabric or card for the photos.
2018/Week 49, Snowflake
This is a good start, everyone likes a snowflake and they're wintry, not Christmassy, right?!
I drew a design onto Solufleece with a vanishing marker and free machine embroidered it in mostly straight stitch plus a little narrow zigzag. I dissolved and pinned it out very carefully, and it seemed good... until I realised the pure white was marred by turquoise "vanishing" ink! So disappointing. I had to wet and rub it thoroughly, then pin it out all over again. Worth persisting though.
I can never resist the temptation to play with shadows...
It measures about 12cm point to point.

2018/50, Poinsettia
It's hard to remember that these spectacular (garish?!) plants are showing off brightly coloured leaves, not flowers. I wanted to create a simple, stylised version and stick to my rule of using soluble fabric. I didn't fancy just plain red, solid stitching... the solution was to use a sandwich of assorted thread scraps on AquaBond (sticky soluble) as the base.

I free machined the leaf outlines and veins, then cut them out before dissolving. They were assembled on a small disc of felt with hand stitch and finished off with a few chunky French knots in the centre.

Quite pleased, but it's a bit flat - perhaps I should've wired the edges. It measures 10cm across.     

2018/51,  Christmas Tree
OK, there's no avoiding Christmas this week! A decorated tree on soluble fabric seemed an interesting exercise.

I thought I'd try two or three layers of branches - wired this time!

A few fancy little Indian sequins were stitched in as I went along. And in the free space I had a few goes at little red buckets and stars for the top.

After dissolving I decide two layers worked best, and hand stitched them together. My favourite bucket and star were added too.
This is about 10cm tall. And looks a lot nicer in real life than my murky day photo!

2018/52, Christmas Detritus
The main event's over, all that's left is the mess! All that pretty wrapping paper, ribbons, cracker hats etc, crumpled up and forgotten... what can I do with it? 

I arranged satsuma netting, scraps of gift wrap, foil from chocolate coins, cracker hats and snaps, ribbon etc. on AquaBond and covered with thin clear dissolvable film. NO glitter mind, even my put-upon Bernina might object to that! Wide zigzag freely worked all over in red and green held it together.
From this I cut out rounded shapes, and stuck them onto more soluble film. I free machined spirals to fill the shapes, and linked them all.
There we are. About 10-11cm across. I could perhaps say it's all about waste spiralling out of control? But really it's just an abstract doodle.       

Monday, 3 December 2018

November samples

2018/Week 44, Hairy Loch
The reeds in this loch above Leverburgh on Harris have always appealed to me. Out of context they look like fine scratch marks on metal.
Thinking machine stitch would be too clumsy, I hand stitched a little section on silvery satin fabric. Not quite the effect I'd have liked but as much as I had patience for!

18/45 White Line
Once you start looking, there's inspiration everywhere... this was a badly eroded white line at the side of the road.
I free machined a section on Lutradur 70 over black cotton fabric, using a fine white cotton thread (Madeira Tanne 50). Then I zapped it with a heat gun. The unstitched areas vanish altogether.
18/46 Map Lichen
The last of my Harris inspirations, though this lichen grows locally on Skye too. Rhizocarpon geographicum is called map lichen because it looks like a map in an atlas, or an aerial view of a patchwork of fields.
I free machined my piece on Solufleece, filling the areas with different colours and patterns without worrying about realism. Some are dense and solid, others open and lacy. The challenge as always is linking everything together so it remains whole when the Solufleece is dissolved away! Only stitched thread is left, no fabric at all in this piece.
18/47 Full Moon
Binoculars gave a wonderful view of the scars and craters on a spectacular full moon this week.
I embroidered a circle completely filled with little star patterns to resemble craters.
The thread was shaded pale grey, though that doesn't really show up in the photo. I was disappointed that the white guideline made with a fine SewLine pencil wouldn't quite go away... lesson learned.  

18/48 Crocheted Blanket
Just had to commemorate this... I finally finished the blanket I've been crocheting on and off for 18 months or so! I never meant to make a blanket, didn't need one, I just started playing with yarn left over from a couple of cushion covers. Then I liked the hexagons so much I just kept going, and, well, we haven't got a single bed in the house so it had to fit a double to be any use at all...

So here it is - 425 hexagons, each in six colours so that was 5100 yarn ends to darn in, groan. Pretty, though.

And here's my stitched sample based on the hexagonal motif.
Free machine embroidery on Solufleece, of course. I domed the "popcorn" stitches by stitching round and round. 

Look, no fabric!
Now, what to do with all those yarn ends? Of course I saved them, wouldn't you?!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

October Samples

2018/Week 40, Hedgerow Berries

Another bit created on my Harris holiday. With no sewing machine, I challenged myself to try hedgerow berries again but this time in knitting! I'm not the greatest knitter, but I like to experiment now and then.

I thought felted knitting would suit this, so I searched for pure wool to felt in the washer. I found two shades of green Shetland 4ply for the base, and knitted these together on 4mm needles. In a background of stocking stitch I randomly placed bobbles using a red/pink/orange Twilleys Freedom. (Bobble = k in front, back and front again of 1 st, turn, p3, turn, k3, turn, p3, turn, sl 1 k2tog, psso.)

Once home again I washed it at 60C and it felted pretty well! 

18/41 Car park
My Harris/Lewis holiday photos are full of inspiration for textiles. One of my favourites was this car park, with that metal mesh that's supposed to reinforce and protect the grass. There wasn't much grass left, but the plants looked wonderful in their hexagonal cells.
Back home I hand stitched the wire, used the embellisher to create a mossy effect, and free-machined stylised plants.
18/42 Lewisian gneiss
The ancient bedrock of Lewis is gneiss, banded with pink feldspar. The standing stones of Callanish include some beautiful examples. 
Monochrome shows the drama of the stones... but getting in close shows the subtle patterns and colours of the rocks.
This inspired a delicate lacy sample, free-machined on Solufleece. There's no fabric in this, just stitched thread - mostly Rayon 40 with just a little pinky metallic (which hardly shows in the photo).

18/43 Carloway broch 
I've seen a few of these Iron Age towers around the highlands and islands, some in better repair than others. The stonework always seems to follow the same pattern: the gaps between large blocks are filled with stacks and bands of small ones. Now I think about it, our garden wall is just the same!  
I used this as an excuse for a bit of wet felting. I'm trying to cure myself of the idea that felting is a messy, time-consuming business that needs a whole day set aside and plastic sheets everywhere. My felt jewellery course in August showed me I can dabble quite spontaneously at my desk. So I made a light grey merino base and decorated the top with bits of darker grey, recycled pink Cheviot, and white bamboo fibres.
I backed it with thin wadding, and my design on Solufleece, then free machined the block outlines with charcoal thread.   
That's it for October, but I haven't finished with my holiday snaps yet!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

September samples

18/36 Purple flowers
Three purple-shaded flowers together caught my eye recently – devil’s bit scabious with knapweed and ling heather. Shying away from precision and detail (for once!) I got out the Embellisher and needled hand dyed green and lilac scrims through green felt.  Tiny clumps and tufts of wool fibres were added with a hand held felting needle. Without even injuring myself!

18/37 Seaweed
Have you ever really looked at seaweeds? They're fascinating, the range of shapes and colours! So I did a few little seaweed experiments using free machine stitching on Solufleece. 
The feathery ones are easy enough... bladder wrack, not so much. For the air sacs I stitched round and round (and round), distorting the fabric to make little raised bubbles. These aren’t solid, they’re hollow. You can get more height working without a hoop, but I only wanted tiny ones. The end results are a little messy, but they look alright as a group; I might take these further.

18/38 Hedgerow berries
This little piece started with a mix of yarns arranged on sticky soluble film (AquaBond). I free machined all over this base with green to link everything and fill it in a bit, and added a few blocks of satin stitch in shaded green for a leafy effect.

For the berries, I had in mind rowan, rose hips and blackberries. I machined clusters and individual dots using straight stitch in those colours. Then to make the berries stand out more I added a little hand stitching, mostly French knots (there always has to be French knots!).

I was quite pleased with this one after dissolving, maybe I’ll do more!

18/39 Seed heads
On holiday (Harris, since you ask - very nice thank you!) without my trusty Bernina, I had to resort to hand stitching. But nothing as normal as fabric – I used Somerset paper.

For each seed head I embroidered “long tailed detached chain stitch” (phew!) into and around a small punched hole. The thread was a lovely space dyed fine cotton from Oliver Twists. And yes, I did take my Japanese screw punch and a cutting mat on holiday… wouldn't you?! Well, you have to have some rainy day entertainments in the Outer Hebrides!
I love the crisp effect of stitch on paper, the embroidery really stands out.