Design for Embroidery

Thursday found me sitting in my embroidery class with a piece of felt, some felt ropes, threads, lots of photos of lichen, moss and fungus in front of me and no idea where to start turning it all into an embroidery.  Luckily that is what teachers are for!  Isobel got me to identify the bits of the photos I liked (with a bit of input from her) and then draw something out.  She said ‘Once you’ve drawn it it will be a lot easier to see the stitches….’

Luckily drawing is something I don’t have a major problem with so I took the various bits and drew sections from different photos into a long design, and as I had brought my portable watercolour box with me I coloured in and then used a black felt pen to add details.  Below are details of the photos I used and the finished design…

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Sure enough Isobel was then able to make suggestions about potential use of stitches – and started by showing me how to stuff / raise some of the areas by backstitching a piece of additional material to the back, making a slit and filling with wadding….

Only trouble is that I realised that the piece of felt I had made wasn’t right.  It needs to be plainer and also a different shape – rectangular rather than square.  So off to make more felt now….

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A Cup of Tea

I am of the belief that one of life’s greatest small pleasures is a cup of tea.  Whether that be everyday Yorkshire Teabags, Earl Grey Blueflower, Darjeeling or Jasmine it does make the world a better place! 

Whenever the Scotsman and I visit Keswick in the Lake District we always hope that our favourite teashop has not lived up to its name and become a Temporary Measure.  Thankfully it was still there in October. We managed to restrain ourselves and only visit it four times during the week….the lure not only being tea but also very good homemade cake.  And, like the Japanese tourists we saw in Paris taking pictures of everything they ate, we photographed the delicious cake and pretty china….(the scone was particularly good – just out of the oven.)

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The shop also sells quirky artwork and books by its owner, Emma Smalley  and lots of knitting based items – I’ve bought cards in the past, but this time indulged in some of the beautiful alpaca and silk yarn.  I couldn’t resist the colours and will be using it to embroider on felt….watch this space.

The Scotsman and I have an idea that one day we may run a lovely little teashop and felting emporium inspired by Emma’s shop….well a girl has to have a dream….!

And finally some feltmaking…..

I have committed to a Christmas Fair with ‘London Loves Felt’ in few weeks’ time and so last weekend I took a deep breath and opened my boxes already completed felt items.  As I feared the moths had been banqueting despite the closed plastic boxes and the anti-moth sachets….

At least they don’t seem to have got into my boxes of wool tops – I have to be grateful for that!  So time to start on some new work, although with such limited time (and energy) not sure what I can achieve.  The events of the last year have robbed me of a lot of my ‘oomph’ and it’s going to take more than a week and a half of holiday to put it back….

I haven’t made any felt since April so to break myself in gently I made a piece of felt for my next embroidery project.  It is made in natural wool colours of Shetland with Masham, and a little coloured Merino for highlight…I am looking at doing an embroidery inspired by moss and lichen so the natural colours seemed appropriate …. I’ve also made some thin felt ‘ropes’ as Isobel showed us newbies how to do couching (ie anchoring thread/string/rope etc on the surface with small stiches) before half term, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Now I just need to get going on some berets or hoods – or at least a Christmas card or two!!

Strawberries and Raspberries

I have been embroidering strawberries and raspberries over the past few weeks, sketched in a hurry in my embroidery class in order to learn stitches (as a substitute for a more formal sampler).  The small embroidery is almost finished and via it I have learnt three types of chain stitch (straight, twisted and detached), blanket stitch and a stitch related to blanket stitch where the looped together line goes down the centre (possibly Cretan stich?), running stitch –  straight and whipped, backstitch, bullion knots and french knots. 

I think my favourite is the raspberry edged with bullion knots and filled in with French knots – suggested by my teacher Isobel – I will certainly be using that idea again! (Its the raspberry near the centre)  The bullion knots may sometimes be a bit too spikey rather than rounded, but it’s a lovely effect. 

I also had fun trying to work out how to make my baby strawberries look as if they were still green at the tip…my first attempt was in blocks of colour and it was only when I overstitched so that some of the red showed through the green that it really worked.

For my next project I am going to embroider on felt.  I bought some silk and alpaca yarn in beautiful colours from our favourite little teashop in Keswick, Temporary Measure.  It is soft as soft and really meant for knitting, but I am hoping that it will work well on the felt…I thought a thicker thread might look better.  However, having seen some amazing embroidery by Jane and May Morris in the Pre Raphaelites Exhibition at the Tate recently, which uses both wool and silk threads, I am reserving judgement until I’ve tried….