Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Flutterbys Released

I paid the ransom. I had to, I wanted these butterflies too much to see them fly back to America.

© Jennifer Ashley Taylor/Carol-Anne Conway

Jennifer of Needle Artworks suggested a couple of changes to my colour scheme. She suggested a slightly less intense dark blue to the one I had selected and a different shade of green. I am really happy with the changes. I think the colours go together very well. I especially like the purple, that colour is so me. I suppose they are safe choices but this is one design I really want to get right.

I have mounted my silk on the frame. I now have to transfer the design to the silk by stitching through the tissue paper and silk along all the lines. I may be here some time!

Happy Stitching

Butterfly Challenge, Close up

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Butterfly Challenge

The hand embroidery group that I’ve joined began a design challenge in April. The idea was that we all embroider the same design but interpret it in our own way. We could use any technique, style, materials and colour scheme; the only rule was that it should be predominantly hand embroidered. The design chosen by the group was a butterfly with flowers.

The body is satin stitched silk over two layers of cotton padding. For the antennae I made a Karayori twist from the very dark blue silk used for the body, together with a black metallic thread. I couched them in place with a single strand of the metallic thread.

The wings are embroidered with a Japanese stitch called Lattice Holding. First a foundation is worked in flat silk. The lattice is formed with a fine twist in the same shade and couched where the threads cross with a pale pink metallic thread. I made a Katayori twisted thread with the same silk and pale pink metallic to couch along the edge of the lattice area. I then outlined the whole of the wing with twisted silver using stem stitch and outline stitch.

The flowers are stitched in a selection of Mulberry silks and a little Thread Gatherers silk ribbon. I’ve used stem stitch and double detached chain stitch for the sprigs of leaves. Some of the flowers are chain stitch with colonial knots for the center. The silk ribbon flowers have a glass bead center. The remaining flowers were a personal challenge. I have never had much success with bullion knots but I wanted to work the remaining flowers in this stitch. I took a look at SharonB’s Stitch Dictionary before I attempted them to get a clear impression of how they should be worked. I am very pleased with my effort. I couple are a little loose but the others are perfectly respectable bullions. These little flowers have French knot centers.

Finally, I added a few gold seed beads.

I have really enjoyed this challenge. It has been great fun to see how others have decided to work the design.

All the designs completed so far can be seen here.

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Hopping Mad

Ooooohhhhhh! I am fit to burst. Two weeks ago I put in an order for my Flutterbys project that I want to make for my parents. It was dispatched the day I ordered it and I have been waiting impatiently for it to arrive. Today I received a letter informing me that my parcel is being held subject to payment of charges raised by HM Revenue & Customs. These charges amount to 40 per cent of what I paid for the materials. I've never had this before with goods I've bought abroad, has anyone else?

And the biggest INSULT of all is that 8 UKP of the charge is Parcelforce Clearance Fee. I've already paid them 25.90 USD to deliver the parcel and now they have kidnapped my parcel and are demanding a ransom for it's release. Insert a rude word of your choosing here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


I think I’ve been tagged. I say ‘think’ because, although I have heard of tagging, I don’t truly know how it works. Anyway, while I was in India, Hideko was tagged and had to list 5 blogs that make her think. I am very honoured that Hideko, whose work I very much admire, included my blog in her list. It has taken me some time to come up with my list, partly because I have been very busy with other things since I returned from India but mainly because I could not decide whom to include. I now have a long list of blogs that I visit regularly because I admire their work but the brief is to list blogs that make me think. Those that spring immediately to mind have been tagged many times so I hesitated to tag them again but I have now decided I will list them so that if by remote chance someone who lands here does not already know of them, they can follow the link to their site. I won’t require them to come up with another list (unless, of course, they chose to).

  1. Hideko’s blog Wind from the East was the first textile art blog that I found and from that seed grow my ever expanding bloglines and my own blog. Hideko’s sensitive use of colour is an inspiration to me, who has little idea when it comes to colour co-ordination.
  2. SharonB’s blog In a Minute Ago, for many reasons but mostly because TAST has got me exploring familiar stitches in new ways and introduced me to stitches I have never heard of. A hope in the future to take part in some of her on-line classes, but right now I have too many things going on.
  3. Pamela Kellogg’s Kitty and Me. Pam’s creativity has given me lots of inspiration (although I haven’t used much of it yet). Pam recently presented a design challenge that I hope to take us soon.
  4. Quieter Moments. I don’t know who this stitcher is but I really admire how creative she is with the TAST stitch each week.
  5. Pat of Altering Thoughts. Again for her imaginative use of stitches for TAST but also for her inclusion of her sketches that show the development of her ideas.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Bridesmaid's Dresses - Finished

Whew, the dresses are finished (all except pressing and delivery). Last week my overlocker (serger) broke down. I have to say a big thank you to Witney Sewing Machines who gave me priority on the repairs and didn't charge an arm and a leg for the privilege. On Saturday evening I ran out of thread. I know that overlockers use a lot of thread but the length of these hems just ate it up. There are not too many places that sell thread around here and none of them open on Sunday or a Bank Holiday Monday. I rushed out in my lunch hour today to get more and as soon as dinner was done, I set to work.

I am relieved that they are finished and ten days from now, I look forward to watching the dresses follow the bride up the aisle.

Happy Stitching.

Gold Leaf Superimsosed

I said before that I really like this foundation with its flecks of gold twisted into the green silk but this cloud will have even more gold work. The next step is to superimpose the squares of gold leaf and pine needles onto the foundation. I thought this would be simple enough but, in fact, it is proved to be the most difficult technique I have encountered so far. Previous experiences should have warned me of the difficulties. I always find short satin stitches more difficult to control than long ones and when I used the gold thread to on the tip of the chrysanthemum, I found it difficult to obtain a smooth satin stitch. Added to that, this time I would be stitched through silk twisted with gold thread; the twisted silk is quite dense but you can’t stitch through the gold thread so the superimposed stitches have to go around them.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The little squares of foil should have nice straight edges and glint like real gold or silver. I could not get my edges as neat as I would have liked but I did manage to lay the stitches fairly well in most case so that the squares are nice and flat.

Although I am not overly happy with this work, I don’t think I will redo it as I don’t think that I would make a better job of it than I have. Nor do I think that it spoils the element, if it did I would definitely have to try to improve on it. I need to practice this technique before I use it again.

Happy Stitching

Rod End - 2

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The side of the rod is worked in a pair of gold threads couched round and round the same as the end.

The end of the scroll will have gold couching but first I have stitched a weft foundation in flat silk.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

TAST Running Stitch

Without Internet access, I knew that I would miss a couple of weeks TAST while away. I usually take some stitching on holiday with me, even though experience tells me that I rarely find time to sit still and stitch. I thought I would pick my own TAST and choose Running Stitch, partly because I thought it would be easy to pick up and put down when ever I had a few minutes, and also because I had read an article some time ago about Kantha embroidery.

Kantha, traditionally, are created by quilting together several layers of fabric taken from old worn out clothes or other textiles. Folk motifs are stitched into the designs using running stitch.

I used 3 layers of muslin and drew on my paisley design before I left. Traditionally, treads pulled from the fabric were used for stitching, I took half a dozen reels of DMC perle cotton.

True to form, I did very little stitching while away. I only completed the outline of the paisley in three rows of staggered running stitch. I can't say I was disappointed, I was having an action packed holiday, after all, but what a delight on the very day that I return home to find that the TAST of the week is Running Stitch.

As I said, I had stitched the outline whilst away, next I added the flower motif in the paisley but stacking the running stitches and altering the width to represent the petals. I filled in the background with rows of running stitched arranged to create a version of a motif I saw again and again in India. It is simply four shapes arranged at the corners of a diamond shape, often the shapes were small diamonds or dots but other shapes where used including tiny flowers.

In the circle, I first outlined the petals in running stitch and then filled the space between the petals with randomly placed running stitch. I don't like this element very much; I think it is too indistinct.

Finally I created the border by lacing two staggered rows of three stacked stitches. I really like this effect. I had to work out how to turn the corners, and am pleased with the solution I came up with.

Happy Stitching

Traveller's Tummy

I’ve been feeling unwell since Friday evening. The doctor says that I have Traveller’s Tummy and that is the price you have to pay for such a fantastic experience. He also says that I will forget the diahorrea (btw, do you know how hard it is to find out how to spell a word if you have know idea how to spell it!) long before I forget the trip to India. I am sure that he is right on both counts, but right now I resent the lost weekend and not having enough energy to even blog or stitch for more than a short while.

Anyway, I am getting better and feeling stronger today, so hopefully I will get some stitching done before returning to work tomorrow.