Friday, 2 June 2017


I live on the sea shore now! After 10 months that's still so novel and exciting.

One of the marine themes I've been exploring, on and off, is starfish. Such a variety of shapes, colours and patterns, who could resist? 

I started with a favourite technique - FME on soluble to make lacy shapes. These cast pretty shadows if they're mounted on pins and lit at an angle.

I was a bit disappointed with these tbh. Not sure why... too far from the original inspiration, and not interesting enough in ordinary daylight? And, I remembered I meant to give up creating fragile wall pieces that need box frames and are impossible to photograph! So I didn't take them any further. They're just pinned randomly on polystyrene here.

So, going off at a tangent, I tried felted crochet next. A nice loosely spun pure wool, in pink-orange-red. I tried raised, textural crochet stitches, and plain crochet with chunky French knots. After felting in the washer they looked like this:

The really knobbly one, using popcorn stitch, is fun - it's very 3D. And the French knots worked well too. Now what? These are quite big (9-12cm), but perhaps smaller ones, made with finer wool, would make brooches?

Back to the Bernina, and soluble fabric (I never stay away long!). But not lacy embroidery this time - the soluble fabric allowed me to decorate a cut out felt sunstar. Embroidering felt this way means you can go over the edges, and end up with a slightly stiffened shape without the usual fluffy edges. It's only about 6cm, so don't zoom in. More brooch potential, I thought...

A wildlife trust walk at an exceptionally low tide provided my first glimpse of living maerl beds. Maerl is coralline red algae, a sort of seaweed with a hard chalky skeleton that grows unattached on the sea bed. It provides shelter for a wide range of marine creatures, including brittle stars.

I used the embellisher to create my maerl bed, needle felting lengths of pink-purple textural yarns to white felt.

Then I machine embroidered brittle stars on soluble fabric.

 The brittle stars were fun, so I made a whole tangle of them for another little framed piece:

That led to the idea of a lacy structure of finer brittle stars held together by crossed legs!

Instead of mounting in a frame, maybe something like this could hang in a window?

Aargh, there I go again, creating things that are impossible to photograph nicely! (for me, anyway)

And finally (for now), I tried a brittle star bowl. Just a little one, 7cm diameter. The most open bowl I've ever made, and a very different technique to my Botanic, Ice and Metamorphic designs. Amazingly, it worked!

The idea needs some refining, and I didn't like the brittle star centres, but it's opened up a world of new possibilities... watch this space! 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Samples 2016: 52, Grid/Sunset

Last sample of the year – I just have to play with soluble fabric again! I machined a grid of shaded orange on Solufleece. Then I filled it with raised chain band and running stitch/weaving using stranded cottons in shades of orange, yellow, pink and mauve.
I love how the raised chain band looks like little hearts when the fabric’s disappeared.
So that’s it – TEN YEARS of weekly samples completed, with a different theme each year.  I think it’s time I gave it a rest. I’ve tried before, but soon missed the project too much. I’m going to try harder this time, but who knows... Just as everyone else seems to be getting involved in weekly exercises, I'm stopping - ahead of my time, or just plain awkward?!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Samples 2016: 51, Concentric/Sorbet

Soft pastel shades of raspberry, lemon and lime - my least favourite colours, but the random sample generator demands sorbet shades.
Starting with a base of white cotton bonded to pelmet Vilene, I machine stitched yellow silk paper in a large ring then tore away the excess along the stitch perforations. Pink silk paper and green handmade paper went the same way.   
Then it was time to have fun with hand stitching for more concentric circles. I couched green chenille and yellow boucle yarns, and stitched a pink sequin in the centre. Chain stitch rings took longer but I think they were worth it. Plus a few tiny French knots and a little running stitch.
Only one more to go...

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Samples 2016: Week 50, Angular/Wine

Burgundy organza, free machined in a pattern of overlapping triangles. I stitched the outer edges of the triangles in Burgundy thread and the inner ones in more of a Sauvignon!

Then I burned out the design close to the stitching using a fine soldering iron. Another lacy piece, so it's compulsory to take its photo with shadows ;-)