Tuesday, 26 October 2010

More blooming flowers

More keep appearing, day after day. I am getting quite a flower bed together although I now need to buy more compost/navy wool to develop the floral display. It's such fun, playing with the colour combinations.
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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Band-wagon Jumping

So, I was wondering how to use the leftover yarn from my Gourment Crochet Variations on a Theme Mystery Afghan Crochet-A-Long, when I saw this and this and this and this, and decided it would be good to work in rounds for a change. So, I've jumped on the African Flowers band-wagon, and I'm enjoying the results. It's a very pretty pattern - but I'm going to need to buy some more wool! Now - what will I do with the left-overs?!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Christmas Present

I started crocheting this blanket back in January. It was offered as a Mystery Crochet-Along by Carolyn Christmas on her blog, Gourmet Crochet, and was an adventure in different fan and shell patterns. I decided to work mine in sock-weight yarn to utilise my leftovers, but of course ended buying a fair amount of additional wools, mainly Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, to supplement them. I also wanted to make my blanket large enough to snuggle under on the sofa. When the weather warmed, I lost interest in the project and put it aside, but with the advent of autumn, my crochet blanket mojo returned, and I finished the blanket this week.

I really like the shell edging on the border, which I worked a little wider than the original.

It is very cosy, and was lovely to work on during the chillier evenings, stretched over my lap to keep me warm as I hooked and stitched in ends. It is very colourful, too, as you can see! It will get plenty of use and I learned a lot while making it - different ways of joining motifs and different stitch combinations.

Of course, I now have a fair amount of 4-ply wool left over from this project. What can I do with it?!
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

On Art

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."

A. Einstein,

Monday, 19 July 2010

Plant Magic

Natural dyeing is enjoying a resurgeance of interest, and this was an occasion when I followed the fashion.
Inspired by others I decided to have a go with materials I had to hand.

The colours here seem very "of the moment" and you might think that these pieces of cloth are steeping in strawberry juice (it not being the time of year for pomegranates).

But no, you  would be wrong.

I have coloured these various lengths of habotai silk, turban cotton, cotton gauze, fine linen and other lovely cloths using something I would normally consign to the compost bin without a second thought.

This fabric has all been coloured by the peel of two avocados, simmered in water for an hour. The strongest colour has been gained on the pieces of material added to the pot after half an hour, the rest has been steeped only in the liquid or simmered in the "exhaust". Pretty nifty.

I have two avocado stones plus two more avocados in the fridge (to eat) and so more opportunities to play with this techniques are open to me.

Whoever heard of avocado pink before?!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Stitching Blues - Again


I am currently taking an on-line course with Jude Hill. It is called Spirit Cloth, and I'm enjoying it. I took her earlier "Quilt Weaving" class as well, and I decided to put some of my learning to use for another purpose, the Virtual Connections project by J Penney Burton.

Penney says, "I came up with the Virtual Connections idea as a way that we can manifest in physical form a fabulous quilt that will represent these support networks that we are a part of through Facebook.....and it is an idea that can bring together fibre/fiber artists from all over the world! It really can't help but end up being an amazing quilt!

Here is how to take part in this project. You are invited to submit a quilt square, made of cotton or cotton blended fabric (it may be new or found material), which is decorated or embellished by the medium of your choice. (you can draw, paint, attach clay, beads, mixed media, etc....to the cloth)....

Although this square will be four inches by four inches in size, you will only use the center, a three inch square, to create your work in, which will be surrounded at the top, sides and bottom by a half an inch fabric margin. This is so I may eventually sew the quilt together.

Your quilt square is to be inspired by your own experiences with facebook, the artistic and personal support you have received from others, and your relationship with the virtual world."

Well, my virtual world is immensely important to me as I am virtually housebound by health problems, and I am lucky that it is exceedingly rich. This blue world of ours becomes much smaller and I belong to a community of textile and art lovers independent of geographical constraints.


My square is a woven base, made of parts of a soft, extremely worn overdyed linen tea towel and pieces of a thrifted, embroidered linen table runner. My virtual world is a circle of many links all around the world, which take me and show me short cuts to new and interesting viewpoints and experiences. There is homage to Jude, to Sara Lechner and to Karen Ruane therein - artists who have virtually influenced me recently in my artistic endeavours and struggles. Internet links help us to bookmark and catalogue links, so there are the forget-me-nots, and the woven frayed edges echo the blurred boundaries of this wonderful virtual world.

It is also an assemblage of materials which came readily to hand yesterday when I began to make it, and developed as it grew, but I think the meanings described are valid.

So, off it will go today to America and to Penney, for inclusion in her quilt.


This is how it should look in the quilt itself, with only the centre 3 x 3" revealed.
I really enjoyed working this piece. It can be good to work small.

And I am so grateful for this virtual world and opportunities to share and grow with people I cannot meet easily in person.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Jewellery Making Class


What do you get when you run a jewellery making activity with 15 children aged 4 - 7 during a special off-curriculum learning college experience? This week's results included many furry monster brooches and some funky beaded bracelets and rings, a lot of fun and rather a lot of mess! Nothing that couldn't be cleared up quite quickly, though. I am impressed by the strong ideas and opinions of these lovely children. Some of them are remarkably adept at grasping the techniques involved while others need more support, but what a lovely, lively and enthusiastic bunch they are!
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Friday, 11 June 2010

Pin Stand

I have Helen Deighan's book about coiled pots and dyeing, and actually bought the wherewithal to make one (or more) from her at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year, but the energy hasn't been there since to get around to making one.

Blogland showed me a variant, and I was really lucky to win this delightful textile bowl in Shelley's blog giveaway earlier this year, and it has been in constant use since it arrived as a to-hand con tainer for my sewing equipment. One of its strengths is that it can double as a sort of pin cushion or pin keeper, as I discovered yesterday evening. Thanks so much, Shelley, for your creative kindness x

I had a lucky spell around then, because I won another giveaway - a lovely multimedia piece by Helen Suzanne Alexander who also has a website here. She made it up into a lovely sketchbook , which is going to be a pleasure to use -

at the moment it is waiting for either a special project, or else for me to finish my present book. Thanks so much, Helen, - I so appreciate your work.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Eucalyptus-dyed Silk

I promised the results today, and here they are. Above, the fabric on the far left is the plain white habutai as I bought it. The middle piece is that which I enfolded with eucalyptus leaves before steaming for 45 minutes, then steeping overnight in the water I had boiled more leaves in. The piece on the right is that which just had the overnight steeping. The colour overall is a charming peachy-gold cream, a little like caramel or coffee. It has been hot here today and I could not face ironing the silk, but it dried on the line incredibly quickly.

Above is the darker cloth which has come out paler in this shot, but you can see the patches of deeper colour where the leaves lay against the silk. They are not clear images but darker patches. I think I must repeat this experiment without the overnight soaking in the dye water.
Here, the fabrics are reorganised with the undyed again to the left, then the overnight-soaked cloth and last on the right, the silk which was pleated with the leaves and then steamed before steaming.

The effects are subtle (though less so than the photos suggest) but lovely and would probably sit well with indigo-dyed material as well as rust-dyed - I must dig out my samples to confirm this. I have another length of habutai steeping in a glass jar on the windowsill, with the remaining leaves and their coloured water, to see what the sun will do to them. It was a great experiment to have done with some lovely results, and I am looking forward to playing some more. It's like magic to pick leaves off the ground and colour fabrics with them.
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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Armchair Travelling and Dyeing

This morning I was looking at Facebook, and my cyberpal Jude mentioned some lovely cloth available in a BigCartel shop, like this, which I absolutely love but can't afford to treat myself to at the moment. One thought followed another and one click followed another, too. Our next door neighbours have a pretty tree in their front garden

which is currently strewing leaves across our lawn and drive.

I thought about using them to dye some silk of my own, and went to gather some up. I have habutai silk which has been washed ready for dyeing, thinking of an attack of the blues - or indigo dyeing. So I hunted and Googled for information, and decided to more or less follow India Flint's recipe and jumped right in. I took the silk to the garden and spread it out on the grass, then folded it in concertina pleats, layering in the leaves. I added it to a bowl of water and vinegar, and proceeded to cook it in the microwave. Unfortunately the microwave was feeling it's age and conked out after a while, so I had to think again. This time I put my precious bundle on a colander to steam it over a saucepan to steam it, which made me think I could kill two birds with one stone and so I gathered another couple of handfuls of eucalyptus leaves off the lawn and put them in the water to separate out the pigment.

The boiling and steaming is done, so my original piece of cloth is now soaking, together with another piece, in the coloured water, leaves still in place. I'll leave them there until tomorrow and then we'll see what effect this treatment has had. As you can see, the leaves have coloured the water, and the silk had also taken pigment from the leaves in situ. I risk losing the transferred colour, I suppose, in the steeping, but it's all an experiment anyway.

The good news at present that the microwave was just having a hissy-fit and is now working again - it must be 34+ years old and mechanical, and they just don't make them like that any more!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Postcard size

A mini-quilt sized and sent as a postcard: silk dupion stitched with metallic machine embroidery threads; a development from the Bolingbroke Casket design.
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Thursday, 22 April 2010



Thia is what you might see when you try to play a badly scratched copy of G-Force (rented from Love Film, who promptly sent another copy).

I thought it might prove quite inspirational, but maybe it's pattern recognition instead:

Slow progress, but progress all the same!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Colourful Crochet

My Gourmet Crochet CAL blanket is growing well. However, I now need to work at a lot more building blocks before I can enjoy growing it more. I'm really pleased with the colourfulness and random elements of the design, and it is very snuggly at four big squares square, which is where I've reached now. Lots more big squares, little squares and rectangles required. Warm, woolly wonderfulness¬
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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Window Treated

My living room boasts an enormous picture window which overlooks the living room. The recess is 3.12m by 1.65m. Such a large window is best covered by full length curtains, but a radiator placed under the windowsill made this inadvisable. I have been fretting for years about what to do with it, but now it is a well-dressed window and another job can be ticked off my list.

The window is covered by a single roman blind. It was a horrible sewing job and one which I would tackle differently with hindsight. Imagine wrestling all that fabric through the sewing machine throat - it was a struggle! We used a very nifty piece of blind engineering by Super Gliss which raises and lowers the blind via a chain attached to a special track. The blind tapes are fed through a tape which also houses fine fibreglass rods, which make the pleats a little crisper. I made full-length dress curtains on either side of the window, hung from a handsome steel curtain rod and curtain rings from John Lewis, and finally completed the "outfit" with a simple pelmet hung from the same pole by the same rings, which gives the illusion that the blind is also hanging from the pole. I used a textured navy cotton velvet chenille which is lined and interlined with a bonded purpose-made fabric, also from John Lewis. Now we can keep cosy and I can move on to the next projects - the living room leather sofas could do with some new cushions so cover-making will be fun to plan.
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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Actual Stitching Content

I have not been well enough to get to meetings of the Great Western Embroiderers for some time, but keep in touch with their activities. I knew an exhibition of work inspired by Swindon's Borough Council's Lydiard House and was thrilled to visit there in the company of my friend, Maggie Harris. It is an unexpected treasure of a house and park. Photography is not normally permitted but, for the purposes of exhibition preparation, on this occasion it was allowed.

So much inspiration, but little time and a ginormous roman blind to be made meant I had little time to work on an exhibit. I thought long and hard, however, and revisited through my photographs a number of times. I had noticed a barrel-topped stationery chest on Lord Bolingbroke's desk in the library, which appealed to me for some reason. I wondered about trying to make one in textiles and then decorating it with a design from somewhere else in the house or in the estate church, St Mary's.

Eventually I homed in on the carved oak box pew, which is tucked away within the highly decorated and lovely church, and decided that this could be effectively adapted to adorn my Bolingbroke Casket (readers across the pond: this is not a container for mortal remains! We use the word for a small, ornate container over here).

The Casket is fashioned from a sandwich of dupion silk, pelmet vilene and black felt, and stitched in a combination of metallic and polyester threads.

I traced the design outlines onto greaseproof paper (in lieu of the tracing variety)and then traced the outlines with machine stitching before tearing the paper away. It was then a matter of free-embroidering to colour in the appropriate spaces and emphasizing some of the outlines, before meander quiliting the rest of the surface and satin-stitching around the edges. It was then stitched together to form the shape and a magnetic class was mounted to keep the lid in place

It looked very much at home in the display case at yesterday's exhibition opening by the Mayor of Swindon.

It is a very wonderful exhibition and I was so impressed to see the diverse methods employed to interpret and respond to the house and church, gardens and artefacts to be seen at Lydiard. It is scheduled to last until the end of April, but I understand that there is a possibility the exhibition period may be extended beyond that. It's such an inspiring place - a number of other items and views caught my eye yesterday! It was also wonderful to catch up with old GWE friends.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Year, New Project

Happy New Year! I'm having a slow start to 2010, but have been making the most of sofa time in the warm cosiness of home while enjoying the snow through the windows. I have some knitting projects outstanding from before the festive season, but I decided to join in with something new, as well. Gourmet Crochet is running a CAL which suits my needs as I have cut my thumb and it's easier to crochet than knit (or do housework)! I've just realised I crochet right-handed even though I'm left-handed - weird. Anyway, it's called the Variations on a Theme Mystery Afghan CAL, and another snuggly blanket is very appealing just now. Also, I can use all sorts of odds and ends of yarn left over from other projects. I decided to work it in four ply sock yarn, and my first squares are in an opal sock yarn I dyed a few years book before knitting Broad Street Mittens and a pair of Jaywalker Socks for myself.
This is square no: 1, made yesterday evening along with square no:2, below. It would be interesting to make no:1 in two colours to emphasize the look of rows of flowers, so I might do this in the future.

No: 2 is a simpler two-row pattern which was easily memorised and made good evening-in-front-of-the-tv work. I'm torn between making multiples of these two patterns and patiently waiting for pattern no:3 to appear on Cathryn's blog.
Other projects in mind are Dijanne Cevaal's KISS quilt project, a Slow Cloth and something for the Festival of Quilts, not to mention the roman blind for my living room and other curtains long overdue to be completed. However, this weather plus low energy levels make me reluctant to get off the sofa and so something more strenuous. And then there's the knitting. No excuse for boredom, is there?!