Sunday, 30 December 2007

Still Behind

Oh yes, still trying to catch up with everything. Just about managed to finish everything required for Christmas in time. I finished my Mum's scrapbook on Christmas morning as predicted but then I did add in one final pic of my daughter for a Xmas 2007 page so that had to wait till the last minute.

Still trying to catch up with TAST, but here's my Berry stitch sample. The top row used the stitch to couch down some fluffy knitting wool so that's why there are stray threads sticking out. The stitch makes lovely flowers with more texture to them than just plain detached chain. And it was nice and simple so I could cope with it in between everything else going on.

2 more stitches still to go - it's extremely unlikely I will get them done before Sharon's new Take it Further challenge starts on the 1st Jan. Never mind, by now I'm used to being behind.

A couple of weeks ago Sharon posted about slow cloth and slow craft - she was talking about the advantages of stitching and making by hand rather than using the machine all the time or products where much of the work is done for you. I identified with what she was saying for slightly different reasons in that I am just slow! I am constantly amazed at the rate of output of many of my fellow bloggers and wonder where on earth they find the time. Some of them may have more time available than I do, but many don't so my only conclusion is that they get on with it much faster! Faffing about describes me in so many ways! So I've been telling myself that it is not a competition, that it doesn't matter how much or how little I produce, it's the pleasure of the process that counts and not to get despondent. Mmm, still a way to go on that.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Behind, behind

Yes, I'm behind with everything - TAST, Christmas, shopping, cleaning - you name it, I'm behind with it. It wasn't helped by having to lie down with a migraine most of last weekend whilst my to do list got longer and longer. However, I do have 2 more TAST stitches done, only 3 more to go and then it's the end!

So, here's my Knotted Cable chain sample:

Nothing very exciting - although I liked the stitch I am definitely running out of steam now, so just did the bare minimum.

I managed a bit more with Pistil stitch, in spite of its including the dreaded French knot.

So, on to the last 3 stitches, which Sharon has already posted and then TAST will be over - I can't believe it's been a year. In the meantime I also have to complete a Christmas scrapbook which is to be my mother's main Christmas present and which isn't even half done at the moment! I won't be seeing her till Boxing Day so I might have to spend Christmas Day finishing it off. There's nothing like a bit of pressure!

I hope everyone else is more organised than I am!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Christmas .....

I've just finished making my Christmas cards - in the nick of time! Now I've just got to get them all written this weekend - no wonder I'm getting behind again with my TAST samples.

Friday, 30 November 2007

TAST - Thorn stitch

Here's my TAST sample for Thorn stitch. The year and the challenge are nearly over but Sharon has proposed a new challenge for next year called Take it Further - click on the link to read all the details.

I'd like to give it a go but not sure I'll manage to meet the deadlines. Although TAST was weekly and therefore sounds like more work, the samples could be done very quickly if so minded and didn't need any pre-planning. Developing a design is very slow work for me so I'll just have to see how far I get.

Lisa Vollrath's Christmas Countdown

Lisa Vollrath, collage artist, has a Christmas countdown starting tomorrow 1st December, where she'll be posting a free image every day till Christmas for download. All she asks in return is that we spread the word on our own blogs so here's the link and I'll be downloading! While you are on her site have a look round as she has some really amazing projects including a Christmas tree made from tuna tins and featuring mermaids!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

TAST - Chain Braid stitch

I've never been able to follow instructions for origami like folds or for knots so it's hardly surprising that I had to rip out my first line of stitching for chain braid stitch (TAST challenge). I'd managed to get the thread underneath the needle instead of on top of it and so it was hardly surprising the stitches wouldn't hold together. However eventually I did get the hang of it and I'm glad I persevered as the stitch has a lovely texture and gives good coverage. At least the next stitch looks a bit easier!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Silk Bowl

A few weeks ago I went to a Silk bowl making class with Tanya at Rumpelstiltskin at Broadwindsor Craft Centre. I made 2 bowls like this and they are just gorgeous and I was surprised at how quick and easy they are to make once you've got the ingredients. They had been waiting for me to trim the rim and this I've now done and added gold thread and gold seed beads. I'd like to get one of those artificial tea lights to put inside to really show it off.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Tim Holtz

I've just noticed that Tim Holtz has revamped his website and started a blog. I am a big fan of Tim and love all his products and his style of stamping. Men crafters are rare and it's nice to have a masculine take on things and see how the same products can be used in a non-pretty way to suit all tastes. I was lucky enough to take a class with him back in February and he is a great teacher and we made a gorgeous pendant. He also has some tutorials now on his website including one with the new grungeboard - its amazing to watch him ball it up and then flatten it out and it's still uncreased! I hope it won't be too long before we can buy it here in the UK.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

TAST - Pekinese stitch

I loved this stitch! This is Pekinese stitch for TAST and I had good fun doing this and love the possibilities. I also liked finding a use for the lovely fancy knitting wools I buy but don't especially want to knit with.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Words & Big List

Anne of quilt007 left a comment on the previous post saying that the drizzle stitch sample reminded her of a word and now that I look at it again it does, and she's right, it would be interesting to try to write with such a stitch.
Suzi of Suzical has started a list of sewing and craft blogs and has included mine which is very gratifying. Follow the link on the left and if your blog isn't included drop Suzi a line.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

TAST - catch up

I've managed 3 stitches for the TAST challenge this week and for a short while I'm again up to date. The first is twisted satin stitch. I didn't really try it as a conventional closely stitched satin stitch but instead as a single stitch in patterns and I like the results.

The second sample is drizzle stitch. It's hard to scan a stitch that stands up proud of the fabric so this sample doesn't really look anything much. Although I've only done a very small sample I really liked this one and loved the dimension of it. I also borrowed Elizabeth of Quieter Moments' idea of catching down the end of the stitch and the stitches in the middle are done like that. It seems to me that would make a very effective (and easier) substitute for bullion stitch which I found a lot harder to push down the needle than this one.

The final sample is Spanish knotted stitch. I liked it but was a bit stuck for ideas so haven't done a great deal with it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

TAST - Lace Border Stitch

Here's my TAST sample for Lace Border stitch. I started on the left hand side and managed to work a variation before I mastered the actual stitch! I'd noticed some others had had a few problems with the stitch but they all seemed to have managed it so I put my sample aside for a couple of days then went back to it and finally worked out how it was meant to be done. But I like my variation as well so left it there. The middle section on the right was also very attractive, so another useful stitch.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


My second class with Tania (see previous post) was feltmaking. I'd always wanted to have a go at this but thought it was something it's easier to be shown rather than try to learn from a book. I also thought it would be a lot messier than it actually was - though it was lovely putting my fingers in the gloopy soap and working it all in. Tania learnt her feltmaking in Turkey and does it the way she was shown there using olive oil soap which smelt and felt lovely. I don't particularly like my finished piece, it's a bit garish for my taste but I was pleased at how successfully it felted and I think it will look good if I cut it up and use small pieces at a time.
My third class was silk bowl making but the bowls are still upside down and drying so I'll try to take a photo in a few days.

Peg Loom Weaving

I'm very fortunate in having a new shop open at Broadwindsor Craft Centre not too far away from me, called Rumpelstiltskin. It's run by Tania, a textile artist and tutor and sells mainly wools but she has started a series of workshops and I've been able to go to 3 so far. The first was on peg loom weaving and here's the hanging I made in an afternoon.
It was so easy and grew so quickly but was a very soothing thing to do once you got in the rhythm. It's a lovely way of using all those fancy yarns that I can't resist buying but don't really want to knit with. It's got a few beads and buttons and wool curls stitched to it. And of course I had to buy a peg loom so I will have to make something else (though how many wall hangings do I need?!)
Tania also stocks sticks for stick weaving, something I'd never come across before either. And that is amazing! I've made several strips so far on 3 sticks and will stitch them all together perhaps in a bag.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

TAST - Linked Double Chain

Here's my sample for Linked Double Chain for the TAST challenge. This wasn't a favourite with me and I wasn't very inspired to come up with variations. But never mind, I'm not going to like them all. The results still look quite interesting.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

TAST - Reversed Buttonhole Bar

A couple of weeks ago I caught up with the TAST challenge for the first time this year, but then I got sidetracked by knitting a scarf and I'm behind again. However, here is my Reversed Buttonhold bar. When I read through Sharon's instructions I thought, yes, so, but when I started stitching I really liked it and loved the different effects I got with it.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


I decided to have a go at making some fabric charms after seeing lots of other people's examples on their blogs. However, they all seemed to be one inch square and I didn't feel ready to go quite that small so these are 2" square. They are done on painted vilene to which I've added bondaweb and scraps of fabric and threads. The turquoise one has little bits of lime and blue plastic bags ironed on and is covered by some blue chiffon. The orange one includes some gold sequin waste and is covered with orange net. The image of the lady is stamped on to gold foil (Magnum ice cream wrapper again) with a Stazon ink pad. Both are backed onto felt. Because of the small scale a small piece of fabric makes quite a lot of charms so I gave quite a few of the turquoise ones away at work and still have a basketful left!

Old pattern books

During the summer I visited the Antiques Arcade in Hungerford, Berkshire and I found some old knitting and stitching pattern books and these old photos. My Mum used to have a big pile of knitting patterns like these and I used to love looking through them even though 50's patterns looked hopelessly old fashioned to me. Unfortunately they all got thrown out when my parents moved to Dorset, so many things just get ditched without us thinking twice about it. I look forward to using these old pictures in something or other when I get round to it (as always).

Creative Sketchbook

Well, I've been busy but somehow I feel behind in everything again. But I can now upload pictures from my camera again so rather belatedly here are a few pictures of my final sketchbook for my Creative Sketchbooks City & Guilds class. I posted the front and back covers here so here are the inside pages on the theme of Windows.

Monday, 24 September 2007

TAST - Knotted Buttonhole Band

I think this is a first for me - I have uploaded my TAST sample just in time before Sharon posts the next stitch. It's only taken me 9 months! I haven't done much with this stitch but I did enjoy it and like the crunchy texture. In the second column I didn't do wide enough bars to fit in two ladders but I like the look with one. On the third column I did the first ladder from top to bottom then turned the fabric round and did the second ladder from the bottom up which gave a nice diagonal to the stitch.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

TAST - Rice Stitch

I have a new computer with a very flash, very big monitor and a very big hard disc so I shouldn't have to worry about lack of space for some time. The changeover went pretty smoothly though we had to rely on a lady in India to get the broadband connection working, and I don't think I've lost anything crucial in the process. Nevertheless there's still some stuff to sort out and it's taken me a few days to get even partly back on track.

Here's my TAST sample for Rice Stitch and thanks in particular to Elizabeth from Quieter Moments for inspiration when I was running out of ideas of what to do with this stitch. She always pushes a stitch much further than I do and I appreciate the ideas she gives me.
When I logged into Blogger just now to write this post I discovered BloggerPlay which is a slideshow of images being uploaded to Blogger in real time all round the world. I've got it as a minimised window in the corner of my screen and it's quite intriguing seeing the remarkable range of images that people are posting (I haven't seen mine come up but someone is blogging about knitting!). I can see this could become yet another time waster - check it out here

Saturday, 15 September 2007

TAST - Cable Chain Stitch

Here's my sample for Cable chain stitch for TAST.
I liked the safety pins!

This morning my brother is coming to bring me my new computer and set it all up for me and also hopefully my wireless connection so my daughter can access broadband on her new laptop. The whole process has been fraught with problems so far so when I asked my brother if I needed to do anything in advance he said 'cross your fingers and pray'. So he's no more confident than I am! I'm quickly blogging this in case it's the last one I can do for some time. Even if it works I will be trying to get to grips with Vista, wireless and trying to find files, favourites and e-mails ( or will they have been lost forever.....)
So, I have my fingers crossed!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Fabric Postcards

I'm still using up the vilene and aida that I painted red and the gold foil from the Magnum ice cream wrapper, so I've made a fabric postcard. I also sprayed some ricrac red to match (I've still got pink fingers). When I started out I had thought to do more stitching on it but when it comes down to it I'm never very comfortable with the heavily embellished look (though I love it in other people's work), so I've left it with just a bit of arrowhead, sheaf and French knots. I've still got some vilene left so I will make a few charms next to use it up.

This is a postcard I made a while ago, heavily influenced by Beryl Taylor's marvellous book 'Mixed Media Explorations'. The diamond patterned piece in the top right is actually a very pretty decorated paper to which I added some stitching and beading and the tags are also paper. The streaky background is silver foil.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

TAST - Shisha

Here are my shisha mirrors for the TAST challenge. The blue one was my first attempt and is a bit raggedy. Both the orange and green ones I had to do twice as the first time the mirror was in danger of falling out. I realised that for me I had to do the foundation stitches close to the centre of the mirror to make the stitches deep enough to anchor the mirror. I love the look of shisha on embroideries so am pleased to be able to do this.

Sunday, 2 September 2007


I painted some vilene the other day so I made some of it into an ATC. I also sprayed some aida fabric to match and the gold foil comes from a Magnum ice cream wrapper (the capuccino variety, some of the others only have boring white on the inside!). I added a few fly and chevron stitches and some adhesive gems to add to the sparkle.

TAST - Scroll stitch and Portuguese Stem stitch

Here are two samples for Sharon's TAST challenge. The first is Scroll stitch and I'm a bit disappointed with this because whereas Sharon's stitches looked nice and big and juicy mine seemed rather pinched and meagre. I'm not sure why as I was using perle thread rather than stranded cotton.

I was similarly not too keen on the results I got with Portuguese stem stitch so I didn't do very much with this one either. Never mind, on to the next stitch!

Monday, 27 August 2007

TAST - Crested Chain Stitch

Here's my TAST sample for Crested Chain stitch. This was another stitch that was new to me and once again I enjoyed building up the patterns.

Sharon, who has put together the challenge, has moved her blog to wordpress - I have updated the link here and in my blogroll but have not yet had a chance to change the link in earlier posts.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

TAST - Cast on stitch

Here's a very small sample for the TAST challenge of Cast on stitch. This stitch was new to me and I enjoyed doing it but found it difficult to vary the size (though admittedly I only used one type of thread). However once I'd mastered looping the thread over my finger (I can never work out instructions for knots or paper folds), I found it easier than bullion stitch. I love the texture and the way it sits proud of the surface and know I will come back to it again.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

TAST - Buttonhole Wheel

Here's my rather cursory sample for TAST's Buttonhole Wheel. I wasn't very inspired and haven't pushed it very far.

I'm having a minor crisis with my computer at the moment. Over the last few months my daughter has been happily downloading from I-Tunes and suddenly my hard disc is full and groaning under what's expected of it. In addition the slot in my printer for the camera's memory card has got damaged so I can't upload pictures that way. To do it direct to the computer involves installing more software on the computer and I fear that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. So until I can sort out getting a new computer I will be using this one very gingerly! I've already spent the morning backing up files to CD just in case!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

TAST - Arrowhead stitch

Here's my TAST sample for Arrowhead stitch. As well as arrows I seem to have ended up with tulips, more snowflakes, inadvertent cross stitches and noughts and crosses!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Chocolat Fabric

I went to a quilt shop last week and although I don't do either patchwork or quilting I couldn't resist buying this small tin full of 5 inch square pieces of fabric in these lovely muted colours in a range called Chocolat by Moda. I like to think I will use the fabric one day but the tin also contained a CD-Rom which had several pages of swatches showing the whole range of fabric. Of course I ended up printing off a few and using them to cover a matchbox, make a couple of ATCs and cover a card holder. And the fabric remains untouched!

This is the matchbox (it contained candle matches so is bigger than average), the picture is of my father as a baby with my grandmother and uncle, taken in 1922 I'd guess. Here's the card holder (originally packaging for sealing wax):

And the ATCs:

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

TAST - Long & Short stitch

Well, finally long and short stitch for Sharon's TAST - only a few weeks late! I've always been frightened of what I think of as real embroidery. I started out with needlepoint and cross stitch kits and they're easy because you have a hole for the needle and a pattern to follow whereas real embroidery involves deciding where to place your stitches, making them neat and even and is all together much trickier. This isn't the style of embroidery I want to achieve long term but I knew that being frightened of doing it was preventing me having a range of stitches at my disposal to get the look I do want. So when faced with long and short I realised that doing a small sample on aida fabric wasn't going to be enough so I pushed myself to complete a whole motif. I used a clip art image from Dover publications. The main sections are done in long and short and the ribs in the terracotta colour are stem stitch as is the border around the motif. So now I can get on with catching up on the other stitches!
Whilst mentioning Dover publications I don't know if people realise you can sign up for a Dover sampler - a weekly newsletter which provides links to copyright free clip art images which you can download for free. You get a few each week but over the couple of years that I have been collecting them I have built up a sizeable collection of images. They range from this shell to oriental images, art deco patterns, cute Victorian children, travel posters and even photos of film stars such as Cary Grant. I have used the images often in many different projects and find them invaluable.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Catching Up

Not much to show at the moment. I'm getting very behind again with TAST but believe it or not I am actually doing my long and short stitch. It's going very well but very slowly as I have a bad arm at the moment and can only do short stints at a time. I would get on quicker if I jumped ahead and had a go at the arrow stitch etc. but knowing me I'd never go back and finish off the long and short so I think I'd better stick with it for now.
The good news is that I have finished (and passed!) the City and Guilds Creative Sketchbooks course. I'm pleased it's done and that I've achieved it but also sad because it was very enjoyable and gave me something definite to focus on and aim for. Now I need to consider what next. My long term ambition is a C&G embroidery course but I think I would have to do it by distance learning and am not sure I could keep up such a committment. It's expensive for a whole course and I found it difficult to find the time and fit in the work for the sketchbook course so not sure I'm ready for the amount necessary for a much longer course. But if I don't have something definite to work at I think I will just go back to dabbling and not really completing anything or pushing myself to new things. A lot to consider.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

TAST - Sheaf stitch

This one was fun! This is my sheaf stitch sample for TAST and I really enjoyed it. I like the thorny bit down the right hand side and who'd have guessed I could stitch snowflakes with it - I'm really chuffed with those!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

TAST - Bullion Stitch

This is a pretty pathetic attempt at Bullion Stitch for TAST but at least I have had a go which is more than can be said for long and short stitch so far. I don't like the stitch and haven't pushed myself enough to remotely feel comfortable doing it and I know I will avoid it in the future but never mind. I have this little sample to prove I can do it if I try.

One of the blogs I've been reading lately is Helen Cowans' Textile Goddess. She has sorted out a use it or lose it pile and challenged herself to either use the stuff by a given date or get rid of it. I have been attempting to sort through all my craft stuff lately in a bid to find somewhere to keep it all and I have a shoe box full of bits of paper, card, stamped images etc. left over from different projects. I've kept them because I know I can use them on cards, ATCs and postcards but I've decided I need to do like Helen and make a concerted effort to actually use them up (though I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to throw them away if I don't). So this afternoon I have made a bookmark using an offcut from a monoprint and flowers punched from a piece of acetate coloured with green alcohol inks. One offcut gone, still some acetate left!

Friday, 13 July 2007

Coptic Stitched Notebook

Last night was the penultimate class of my City & Guilds Creative Sketchbook class and we completed the stitching on a small notebook we'd made. The cover is a piece of paper washed with ink and then brushed over with bleach and the picture shows the stitching in of the signatures which was a bit tricky at first but ok once we got the hang of it and once you could see the pattern emerging. Today I added a little felted piece to the cover with a few beads stitched in. I love the colours.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

TAST - Half chevron stitch

Ok, ok, so I've cheated and skipped long and short stitch! I did have a go at it but had to rip it out it was so awful. I will go back to it and try again but in the meantime I was getting backlogged with the subsequent weeks' stitches whilst I prevaricated about long and short. So here is my half chevron which I really enjoyed.

On the third row I decided to whip the straight stitches with blue and I really like the effect that gave.

The next week for TAST is bullion stitch which I know I'm going to be as bad at as long and short but I feel I must tackle that before getting to sheaf stitch which I already know I like and can do! Still it's good to be pushed into something I'd rather not do otherwise I wouldn't have learnt nearly as much as I have done through this year long challenge.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Stamp Show

Went to the Newbury Stamp Show on Saturday, a yearly event for my sister-in-law, daughter and I. Not as big as previous years perhaps but still managed to find quite a lot to buy, particularly stamps. So I've been playing around a bit with the things I bought there and stuff I've bought over the past few months but have hardly touched because of the sketchbook commitment. So here are a couple of ATCs and a page in a sketchbook. The first one has the earring stencil as a background.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

A new use for earrings

Oh dear, you can tell I'm at a bit of a loose end since finishing my sketchbook! I went shopping with my daughter and it seems that these sorts of earrings are very trendy at the moment as we saw several similar pairs. However, my daughter was mortified that I bought these specially to craft with - but don't they make wonderful stencils?

Even my daughter's had to admit the result is pretty good, they make great backgrounds.