Sunday, 8 April 2018

March samples part 3

18/12 Tête-à-tête
Flower of the month - a real favourite, the miniature daffodils that make a wonderful splash before much else is out.
Trying not to be too precise for a change, I used the embellisher to needle felt bits of green tapestry wools onto a Harris tweed scrap. Then I used thin strips of a very fray-ey (that's what I wanted!) yellow satin fabric to work free cross stitches for the flowers.
18/13 Orts
Have you heard of orts? They're leftovers. For textile people, the short lengths of yarn or thread leftover from any needlecraft or fibre art. I can't throw them out... but what to do with them?

Last year I bought yarn for two cushion covers for the sofa in our window, and crocheted them in a wavy pattern to reflect the sea view.
There was lots of spare yarn, so I started crocheting hexagons. Still ongoing, but I like them so much I've now bought more yarn and am heading for a double bed throw! So much for using it up, ha.
Each motif has six colours, so that's 12 ends to darn in and snip off...
And so, at last, we get to this week's textile play time. Using the embellisher again, I covered wool-viscose felt with a layer of yarn snippets. From that I made myself a book cover, a pin cushion and a mini travel needle book.

Friday, 23 March 2018

March samples part 2: Yorkshire buttons

Bit of a departure here, but no apologies – my only brief for this year’s samples is to respond to anything that interests me. Preferably different to my other, “work” stitching.

I firs came across Yorkshire buttons just the other week on Gina Ferrari’s blog Fan my Flame, where she’d finished a beautiful handmade coat with some. Being a Yorkshire lass though and through, I was ashamed I’d never heard of them. And obviously had to try making my own!
Pretty, aren’t they? But more decorative than practical, I think. Little seems to be known about the origin of these buttons but I can’t believe they ever made a worthwhile industry.

They’re basically ribbed spider’s web stitch, freed from any fabric. A stitch I love anyway – see my Limpets post for example. There are several articles online with instructions, but I found Mary Hickmott's was the best.

You create the spokes on a notched circle of card, then sort of back stitch round and round them, going under two spokes forwards and over one back. You need an even number of spokes, say 12 to 18. This was my first attempt - I ran out of thread! The loops shouldn't be so big.
It's tricky to estimate the right length of thread to complete without a join. It depends on the diameter of the template, the number of notches, and the thickness of the thread. A nightmare for me, with my waste phobia.  And I didn't enjoy pulling vast lengths of thread through for every stitch - perhaps not something to do sitting round a table with other people either, you could take an eye out! 😉

This is how they look when you pop them off their cards:
I love these! The free-standing spider’s webs might be good for cards or hanging decorations, even jewellery? Slightly gathered into little domes or dishes, you could possibly use them in an art composition. 
But for buttons you thread the remaining yarn through the loops and gather up over a disc of card (or maybe recycled plastic) for a flattish finish, or a bit of toy stuffing or wadding for a domed shape. Unfortunately a lot of the pretty stitching is wasted on the back with a flat button; maybe that’s a reason to make them spherical.  

Thicker threads are quicker to stitch and variegated ones look fantastic, But the centres can be a bit ugly and bulky:
So using a thinner thread for the spokes is sometimes a good idea:
And if you have 14 or 18 spokes you can do a bit of weaving for variety - just weave under and over two spokes at a time.       
Each button I made suggested other variations to try… but I’ll stop now before I get addicted!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

March samples, part 1: ICE!

Here on Skye we escaped the snow that other parts of the UK suffered, but it was bitterly cold and windy. And, there was a fantastic bonus - natural ice sculptures!

Waterfalls froze solid. This is Eas a Bhadrain, just beside the main road between Broadford and Portree:
But best of all was Mealt Falls, up on the Trotternish peninsula. The water that normally drops straight off a steep cliff was blown back by the freezing wind, and coated the plants and fences with ice. A magical sight!

Not an easy subject to tackle in machine embroidery, but I did do a couple of little samples.

First grasses coated in ice, I loved how you could see the stem through the ice. I machine embroidered the stems on Lutradur 70 then cut round them by hand. Overlaying two layers gave depth.
I also had a go at a fence with ice covering every wire and dripping with icicles: FME on Aquasol with silver on the bobbin and shaded turquoise on top. I'm not trying to be realistic, I wanted a colour to contrast with a white background so I could also get shadows. Plus a bit of twinkle!  
I'm still wondering how to interpret some of the other phenomena... but I can't improve on nature, so maybe I'll just be happy with memories of a rare and beautiful sight.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

February samples

My latest weekly whatnots: stitching just for fun.

18/05 Hand embroidery on soluble fabric
Experimenting with some bright, lustrous (but also very slippery and springy) threads I was given. On a network of green FME and felt dots I hand stitched simple flowers using straight stitch, French knots and buttonhole. It was hard work! No hiding places for all the ends, and tough getting the thick thread through the centre repeatedly. Shows potential though?   

18/06 Heart
Well it was mid February... what else could I do? Bright yarns, trapped in a sandwich of soluble fabrics, machine embroidered freely and with some built-in patterns. Finished with a few French knots in shaded pearl cotton thread before dissolving.

18/07 Log pile
A pile of logs sits drying in our garden, and I love the pattern they make. But I didn't fancy stitching in woody colours. So, I created spirals of space dyed wool yarn (Colinette, I think) embellished onto a base of indigo dyed wool.  The wool was actually an old blanket - I hot-washed it to shrink/felt it then dyed in an indigo vat (not specially for this sample, I hasten to add). Then free machined lines in indigo rayon 30 Alcazar thread.

18/08 Snowdrops
Flower of the month. I've embroidered snowdrops before, and wanted to do something a bit different. So I focused on a close up view of open flowers, so you can see the beautiful centres. I made a lacy design of linked motifs, ending up with no visible fabric.
The flowers were free machined on Lutradur 30 then burned out with a soldering iron. Finally I hand stitched bullion knot stamens with a single strand of yellow cotton.