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 ;-)

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Samples 2016: Week 49, Jagged/Citrus

An easy tick, but this sample will be a useful reminder that stitches piled up in layers can be effective.

I used a built-in pattern, a sort of zigzag that varies "randomly", and stitched it in overlapping rows using zingy orange, lemon and lime threads on black fabric.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Samples 2016: Week 48, Chaos/Heather

A chance to go wild! I had a good rummage and gathered all sorts of purpley bits and pieces. Using the embellisher I covered a piece of wool fabric with scraps of scrim, sari silk and lace. Textured yarns went on too.

No machine stitch on this one - just random hand embroidery including detached chain, fly, cross, French knot and running stitches, in purple, green and white.

Not my usual kind of thing but I do quite like it... might work cut up for brooches?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Samples 2016: Week 47, Illumination/Earth

Had a bright (literally!) idea here to avoid using dull earthy colours again... the colours of planet Earth from space! So I got away with bright blue and green.
And then for the design theme, I used Blackpool Illuminations. So I was free to use my favourite FME on dissolvable fabric to make this lacy little sample. Freely stitched on hooped Solufleece, dissolved and pinned out to dry. Finally photographed raised on pins for yet more shadow play!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Samples 2016: Week 46, Holey/Bark

A vague brief... how to make it fun? I used the Flower Stitcher attachment to machine lots of satin stitch circles on Lutradur. A brown/rust/silvery grey "bark" palette of rayon threads.

Then I zapped it with a heat gun until there was hardly a trace of the Lutradur left, just enough under the stitching to hold it together.

Finally, if it's holey it makes shadows - so I had to photograph it raised on pins! 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Samples 2016: Week 45, Frosty/Berries

Don't you love those ferny, feathery patterns that frost makes on glass? As long as they're outside...

That was my inspiration for this little sample, although it's not obvious now it's made in warm berry colours. I used a built-in embroidery pattern on my Bernina, but stitched single "ferns" in different directions and overlapping. These auto stitches don't appeal at all when they're stitched out in a line as intended, but massed and messed about they're transformed.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Samples 2016: Week 44, Decay/Chocolate

With signs of autumn all around, a leaf skeleton made the idea of a "decay" design more enticing.

I free machined it on brown SpunBond (fine, ready-coloured Lutradur - not sure it's available any more?), stretched in a hoop of course. Not trusting myself  to get a recognisable shape freehand, I stitched round a paper template to start with. Finally I zapped it with a heat gun to get that authentic decayed effect! That bit's always fun.

My "milk chocolate" leaf skeleton is mounted on "white chocolate" calico with its edge distressed (decayed again, I suppose) by the embellisher.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Samples 2016: Week 43, Shiny/Spring

Shiny, hmm... first thought for something completely different was shisha. I dug out some very authentic (rough!) old shisha mirrors and thought about stitching them in spring colours.

Just in time I remembered - I did this for C&G and once is MORE than enough.

But sticking with the mirror idea I found some very shiny silver card and quickly zigzagged it in crocus-inspired colours. OK it's not one of my most memorable efforts, but I did save myself many hours of torture by swerving the shisha stitch :-)

The only pain then was trying to get a photo without reflections!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Samples 2016: Week 42, ZigZag/Lichen

Just fancied a bit of crochet this week, but I did make it difficult for myself by using the finest possible wool (mostly a DMC one meant for embroidery). Still enjoyed working a simple chevron pattern in lichen-y colours though.
I jazzed it up a little at the end with hand embroidery - orange French knots inspired by the bright (but tiny) fruiting bodies seen on some lichen, and some textured thread woven through for a bit more crunch. 

The sample is about 8cm x 6.5cm; I should give the sizes more often, sorry I forget, but they do all fit on A6/postcard. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Samples 2016: Week 41, Geometric/Lollipop

Geometric design? A good excuse to play with dissolvable fabric, as if I needed one! Free machining it is then, on Solufleece. I made a simple network of triangles, with three different straight stitch fillings, then zigzagged over the outlines to make sure it held together nicely.

I guess lollipops could be any colour these days, but blue wouldn't seem right to me so I stuck with classic fruity colours.

An openwork sample like this just has to be pinned up for its photograph, I can't resist seeing its shadow pattern. Oooh...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Samples 2016: Week 40, Radiating/Aurora

Relaxing hand embroidery - through graph paper glued on the back of felt! As you do. I wanted the main aurora colour, green, to dominate but that didn't work as I imagined - should've put it in the middle and shaded it out in the opposite direction. This is what happens when I try to be more spontaneous, I should know better ;-)   

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Samples 2016: Week 39, Curvy/Rust

Simple flowing curves, in rusty orange/brown shades on iron grey satin fabric. Quite pleased with the machine stitched bands - wide satin stitch in burnt orange, overstitched in a scribbly way with brown cotton (straight stitch). Hmm, might revisit that effect.

Fancy yarns and chenille were then chain stitched or couched down.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Samples 2016: Week 38, Spiky/Steel

My Flower Stitcher attachment seemed ideal for this, a quick way to machine stitch spiky balls like rolled up hedgehogs. I used a simple utility stitch, working two or three rounds at different diameters.

The thread was a nice shaded grey rayon, very steely, but too subtle for the camera to pick up apparently.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Samples 2016: Week 37, Bling/Mint

Well, this is horrible isn't it?! But I was never going to like "bling" as a theme, and I didn't have blingy materials in a subtle minty green, so here it is.

A sparkly pound sign seemed to fit the design theme. And "mint" is quite apt to go with it... groan.
I applied green (it is though you can't tell) metallic mesh by machine, then couched a thick thread round the edge by hand. Then I tried to sparkle it up with green star sequins and tiny metallic beads. My stash of shiny stuff is meagre, and I'm fine with that.

So, a tacky tick, but it's done and I'm moving on!   

Friday, 16 September 2016

Samples 2016: Week 36, Mesh/Ice

Mesh? A great excuse to dig out the dissolvable fabric! I laid down a grid of white pearl cotton and silver metallic thread first, with big hand stitches. Then I machine stitched some of the diagonals with shiny white rayon 40 on top and blue metallic on the bobbin.

After dissolving I pinned it out to dry - tedious but always well worth it.

Then as usual I couldn't resist photographing the finished sample raised on pins to get the shadows!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Samples 2016: Week 35, Cobbles/True Blue

All the toys are out again! Great fun to play with the embellisher and the Bernina - it's been too long.

So I flung everything on this - starting with blue commercial felt I added dyed nepps, assorted yarns and merino tops. Those were all attached by whizzing the embellisher all over. Then I meandered around with free zigzag and straight stitch.
I really liked the fabric I ended up with, so I took its picture to remind me to come back to this for jewellery or art. But then I cut it up into "cobbles" and embellished them onto navy felt.  

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Welcome to my new studio!

After a relocation of nearly 400 miles from Ilkley (Yorkshire) to the Isle of Skye, I'm now all set up in my new studio - fancy a peek? 
Sorry the photos are a bit dark - there's too much light streaming in the window, reflected off the sea! Because this is the best bit, the view from my desk:
I look out on Broadford Bay, to the islands of Scalpay, Longay and Pabay and the Applecross peninsula of mainland Scotland. The constantly changing light and sea are mesmerising, the shore teems with birds, and there's always the chance of an otter passing by. Inspiring, or distracting? We'll see...
John has done sooo much work on this room for me, I'm really grateful and delighted with how it's turned out. It was quite dingy when we arrived, but he's painted it all white, including the dark wood around the windows, and installed extra lights over both tables. Then three sets of shelves have been installed, and all my cupboards have been reassembled.
Now my machines are set up and most of my boxes are unpacked. I'm itching to stitch! What shall I tackle first? Um... curtains. The rest of the house isn't quite as complete. 
Feeling very lucky... I'll leave you with a closer view from the window:

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Samples 2016: Week 34, Happy/Traffic Lights

Happy? How about hearts and flowers, and celebratory stars? Ah what a coincidence, my Bernina happens to do those all by itself ;-)
On a background of black cotton drill over pelmet Vilene, I machined a tangle of overlapping motifs. In red, amber and green of course.
I don't use the built-in embroidery patterns much, but I quite like the effect when they're massed together, a bit distorted, worked in all directions and interacting with each other.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Samples 2016: Week 33, Slashed/Toy box

Toy box just has to be bright primary colours, right? Maybe not the obvious partner for "slashed" though... so I took the toy box theme into the design too, thinking about those shape sorting toys.    
I started with red, yellow and blue fabrics over green felt. Then I filled the simple shapes with patterns of parallel lines in green thread (machine stitched, of course!). Finally the slashing - cutting the top fabric between the lines gives a slightly 3D effect as the felt tries to peep through. 
I do like the light and shade effect of this technique; no surprise there, I can never resist introducing shadows into my work.   

Friday, 19 August 2016

Samples 2016: Week 32, Coalescence/Amethyst

I confess, I hadn't really thought what coalescence" meant when I put it into my sample generator. So I was stumped for a while when it popped up. Hmm... drops bumping into others to make bigger drops? 
A bit tricky to realise in embroidery, so for a quick but different sample I used my Japanese screw punch on coloured paper.  I went crazy punching different sized holes in purple origami paper, then mounted it on contrasting purple paper.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Samples 2016: Week 31, Mosaic/Sweets

I suppose I could've used humbugs or toffees, but come on... "sweets" is a chance to get colourful!
So I chose Smarties. Not the ones of my long ago childhood, but new ones so I could have some zingy blue in there. 
Scraps of bright fabrics were Bondawebbed onto pelmet Vilene and then covered with white cotton. To get a mosaic effect, I machine stitched a diagonal grid all over, and then snipped away the white layer to reveal the colours below.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Samples 2016: Week 30, Layered/Opal

White cotton with pale sheer fabrics overlapped on top, then irisee film. Randomly free machined in variegated pastel thread. Zapped with heat gun. I've had this film for years but never used it - its response to zapping is disappointing compared to others I've tried, just a few big holes instead of a lots of pretty little ones.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Samples 2016: Week 29, Spotty/Biscuits

Sometimes my random sample suggester makes life easy! Spotty design, biscuit colours - Jammy Dodger anyone? 
I dug out felt in biscuit, jam, cream and pink icing colours, and cut circles. These were embellished onto a creamy felt base, then freely hand embroidered with stranded cottons. Layered felt like this makes a lovely base for embroidery, a real treat to stitch into and thick enough to hide the thread ends easily.  

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Samples 2016: Week 28, Twirl/Forest

Bit homespun? For this week's random combo, I crocheted twirly shapes in foresty colours of fine wool. Then used the embellisher to needle them onto a felt background.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Samples 2016: Week 27, Distortion/Tropical

Hand dyed scrims, stretched in a hoop then free machine stitched with a wide zigzag to distort the weave.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Samples 2016: Week 26, Flow/Ocean

Decided to interpret this one as water flow around obstacles. So I started by embellishing hand-dyed (by me! once upon a time) felt "stones" onto Kunin felt. Then I found a lovely hand dyed (by Oliver Twists) fine cotton for the running stitch. It might've worked better with more planning, but... tick.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Samples 2016: Week 25, Calm/Ochres

Ooh I'm slipping behind... these simple samples are the only stitch I'm managing at the moment and even those are a struggle. Moving house is a full time job!

So for "calm" I settled on soothing rhythmic darning, with stranded cottons on hessian. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Samples 2016: Week 24, Sunburst/Spices

Spicy? More than it looks in the photo! It's really yellow, rust and deep red.

I machine stitched 3 layers of fabric then cut back sections to reveal the different colours. Then more stitch, some worked from the back with thicker thread on the bobbin and some allowing a contrasting bobbin thread to peep through on top.

A teasel brush roughed up the fabric edges nicely, then I finished it with a teeny bronze sequin over the mess of stitch in the centre.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Samples 2016: Week 23, Disintegration/Clouds

Rather dark "cloud" colours, but I couldn't find much that I could "disintegrate" with heat!

It's black Lutradur over charcoal Kunin felt, machine embroidered with automatic patterns using a shaded grey thread.

Zapped with a heat gun to get the disintegrated effect, then backed with a silver metallic fabric.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Samples 2016: Week 22, Explosion/Fire

Um...on second thoughts, perhaps I should have done this on a background fabric?! It would've been just as effective. But my stitch brain isn't wired that way - I went with my first thought, doing without the fabric and using soluble films to stitch the wool fibres, FME of course.

I didn't cheat with the theme/colour combo, honest - just sheer chance that "explosion" was paired with "fire"!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Samples 2016: Week 21, Tufted/Peacock

Very slow hand stitching, but worth it yes? I love the effect!

It's velvet stitch, worked on single canvas. Mostly stranded wool except the purple band which is pearl cotton so a bit shiny - I wanted to try the contrast.

I didn't try very hard to make the loops the same length, as I planned to cut them. But I liked the loopy surface too much to cut it all, so I left the bottom section alone. Now I'm not sure which I prefer but I'm glad to have a sample to remind me of both - I must be able to use these one day?

Monday, 23 May 2016

Samples 2016: Week 20, Stripy/Malachite

Too much green for me here, but hey, the random sample generator said malachite, I must obey.

As you can see, I machine stitched strips of fabric onto felt and then added a few stripes of ribbon yarn and hand stitching. 

It is nice to have a little hand embroidery to pick up in the evening, but oh, I do prefer machining!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Samples 2016: Week 19, Topography/Indigo

I love indigo - the magical transformation of the dyeing process as well as the colour itself. So I've got plenty of threads and fabric that I've indigo-dyed myself in the back garden.

Used together, the effect is too subtle really - there are several different threads here but you can hardly tell. On old wool blanket that I felted in the washing machine before dyeing.

"Topography" suggested contours to me, so I just doodled in running stitch along those lines (!).

Samples 2016: Week 18, Streaky/Jewels

A very quick response to this week's random theme and colours. "Streaks" of bright sari silk scraps embellished onto gold metallic fabric.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Samples 2016: Week 17, Swirl/Neon

Free machine embroidery on black felt, using four shades of Madeira Polyneon thread.

Nice to have a chance to use these threads - I bought them for a piece about Chernobyl but they're not generally a good fit with my work!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Samples 2016: Week 16, Dotty/Kingfisher

Bright turquoise and orange for "kingfisher" colours, naturally.

And for "dotty"? Back to my favourite free machine embroidery on dissolvable fabric - tiny turquoise dots, linked to each other and a few big dots of orange felt.

I've photographed this one raised on pins for the shadow effect. 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Samples 2016: Week 15, Gritty/Antique

Sorry to be so obvious again, but "gritty" just has to be another excuse for French knots!

In subtle faded shades of pearl and stranded cottons, on tea-dyed calico. That's the antiquey colour scheme. Plus a few tiny bronze beads.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Inspired by Nature

I'm thrilled to be included in this gorgeous new e-book from!

Textile Art Inspired by Nature

I was happy to contribute because it combines my two passions. It's also nice to have the chance to support Sam and Joe who've created such a wonderful resource for all textile artists - almost all of it available totally free at

But now they tell me I might even earn a few pennies if anyone buys it through this link!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Samples 2016: Week 14, Angry/Fuchsia

Is it too corny to use cross stitch for "Angry"? How could I not.

So it's big, bold, free cross stitch in thick threads and ribbon yarns. In "Fuchsia" shades of purple, pink and magenta.


Saturday, 2 April 2016

Samples 2016: Week 13, Playful/Autumn

For "playful", I thought fun, simple shapes, childrens' building blocks. Then autumn colours, so that's red/orange/yellow/brown.

I cut shapes from felt odds and ends and embellished them onto a red felt base. Then had great fun hand embroidering randomly all over and around them!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Samples 2016: Week 12, Peeling/Night

My own handmade black and grey paper, machine stitched onto hand dyed cotton fabric. Then I soaked it and rubbed the paper to get a peeling effect. The low wet-strength of the handmade paper made this really easy. After drying I highlighted some of the edges with silver paint.
Not really my kind of thing, especially in the monochrome "night" colours, but I can see this would be effective for bark or peeling paint.     

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Samples 2016: Week 11, Lacy/Orchard

Pleased with my little light bulb moment here. The randomly allocated design and colour themes aren't supposed to be linked, but it dawned on me that plant cells would be perfect for a lacy sample in orchard colours.

So I based this on a copyright-free drawing of a grass stem by R. Annheiser, in " Microscopic Art Forms from the Plant World".

It's free machine embroidery on Aquasol.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Samples 2016: Week 10, Crunchy/Multicolour

"Crunchy"? Not sure what I had in mind when I added that to my list of themes! But I decided to interpret it as highly textural.

I started by knitting a fancy multi-coloured yarn, with lots of dangles, in garter stitch. Then I used to the embellisher to attach it to a felt backing.

No French knots this time - I chose Sorbello stitch for my chunky texture, in thick yarns and cords.