Sunday, 15 March 2020

Sake Boxes - Gold Leaves

There is not nearly as much goldwork on the upper part of Sake Boxes as there is on the bottom portion but there was on challenge remaining – a few goldwork leaves.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Like the gold centres of the round petal chrysanthemum’s they are stitched round and round but, unlike most of the gold centres, They are highly irregular in shape!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I began by following the outline of the leaf. In some cases, the leaf is partly obscured by something else, as is with this one. For the first few rows I stopped where the two met and restarted a fresh row.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I continued in this way until section of the leaf becomes closed and then proceed to couch round and round until that area is completely filled.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The remain areas where then completed in the same way.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Sake Boxes - Buds

Sometimes, reaching a certain point in a design is so monumental that can feel like you have completed the entire piece. Sometimes that feeling of having finished can rob you of all enthusiasm for going on with the design. When I completed the gold work on the section of Sake Boxes where I had already completed the silk work, I certainly felt that I had reached a milestone. Fortunately, I felt energized and more than ready to push on with the rest.

What remained was a few pointed petal chrysanthemums (some in full bloom, like those I had already stitched, and some partially opened or in bud) and a scattering of leaves. I was particularly looking forward to stitching the buds and partially opened flowers.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I always enjoy stitching padded elements. It literally adds another dimension to the embroidery. The unopened buds are highly padded and look deliciously plump! You can see from the shadow on how rounded this one is.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I did not add as many layers of padding to these buds as I did not want them to be more prominent than the partially opened flower on the same stem.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

As with the fully opened blossoms, some of the petals on the partially opened blooms are padded.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I enjoyed stitching these and think that they really add to the overall appeal of the design.

Happy Stitching.

Monday, 3 February 2020

I Have no Words


There are no words to express how much I love this lady!

There are no words to describe how wonderful she was!


Margaret Elizabeth Conway, née Oakley.
28 April 1937 - 3 February 2020.
Mum and Dad - together forever!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Sake Boxes - More Goldwork

My plan was to complete the goldwork on the ladle and then to do stitch some, or all, of the flowers and leaves in flat silk leaving the remaining goldwork to the end. I imagined that I would have had my fill of goldwork and would need a break from it.

In fact, the discipline of daily stitching rekindled my enthusiasm for goldwork and, rather than champing at the bit to do any but goldwork, I was moved straight on to complete some of the other goldwork on the lower part of the design.

I started with the ends of the noshi papers which were stitched in exactly the same way as the rest of the papers but using two strands of #1 gold, half hitched in the needle. The greatest challenge here is to keep the threads parallel and the tension even.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The handle of the ladle was done in a technique that I have done several times now, couching round and round. On the left, were the handle attaches to the ladle, I used black couching thread.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

On the right-hand side, I used the traditional red/orange couching thread. Both sections of the handle are worked from the outside and the challenge is to have everything meet up precisely in the centre.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The section on the right-hand side is particularly challenging because the handle extends to the very edge of the design. I needed to fashion a ‘shelf’ to support the koma beyond the edge of the frame.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Sake Boxes - Wisteria, Crossing the Line

When removing the stitch transfer after completing the gold work on the sake box, I realised that I would have difficulty do this on the ladle because I was using the same gold thread for the couching that I had used for the stitch transfer. I decided to remove the stitch transfer just prior to stitching each leaf or vine.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Because I had done the stitch transfer more than two years previous, when I removed the stitches, they left a very slight indentation on the foundation. Enough of an impression for me to make out the outline.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

While this slowed down the process, it was a much cleaner and easier way to remove the stitch transfer.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I think one of the reasons I could not find any motivation to stitch the wisteria vine is that it is very fiddly – each leaf is tiny – and I found it difficult to find any rhythm or flow.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I am really happy that I persisted – the gold on that blue does look rather splendid!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy stitching

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Sake Boxes - Wisteria, Overcoming Obsticles

One of the things that first attracted me to Sake Boxes was the goldwork. I enjoy doing goldwork. I never anticipated that the goldwork on Sake Boxes would be an issue for me. It was. Specifically, the wisteria vine on the ladle brought me to a complete halt.

I made a very small start on it in March 2015 but that was just to learn the technique while in class. Two years elapsed before I returned to the ladle with the intention of stitching the wisteria vine.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

For some reason I could not get motivated to work on the wisteria vine. I stitched the outline and added the studs hoping this would get me moving and in a way it did, I made a start on the trailing vine. A small start, and then stopped.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I stitched the spout and made a fresh start on the trailing vine. Another small start, and then stopped.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

And Sake Boxes languished.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I am a little irrational when it comes to stitching (well, most things, actually) I create an order in which things should be done and I find it very difficult to transgress from that order. The rational thing would have been to carry on with other areas of Sake Boxes until I found the motivation to more on with the wisteria vine, but I could not bring myself to do that.

After a long and agonising hiatus, I again found the urge to stitch. I consulted the Japanese embroidery community and they overwhelmingly urged that I put my efforts into completing Sake Boxes. So, I returned to the SMART approach. At the beginning of each week, I posted my objective, an achievable amount of stitching, and throughout the week, I posted my progress. With the support and encouragement of my friends, I soon found myself not just pushing through a barrier but energised and looking forward to stitching each morning. Over the course of several weeks, not only did I complete the wisteria vine, I rekindled my passion for Sake Boxes and for gold work. With this phase complete, I knew that I was on the home straight to finally completing Sake Boxes.

Happy Stitching

Friday, 27 September 2019

Sayōnara Warrior


My Shibori Samurai has lain down to rest. He battled long and hard, maybe all of his life; his battle is over.

He was many things; he was my father.

He caused me many conflicting feelings; I loved him.

He is gone; I am empty.

He will never be gone; I am him and he is me!


Brian Roland Conway.
18 August 1934 – 27 September 2019.
Sleep well – you earned it!