Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Beaded bead necklace

I heard about The Oxford Bead Shop a while ago but did not get around to looking them up until a couple of weekends ago. I went in search of them because I wanted to make a necklace to go with a new little black dress that I had brought. I had an idea of what I wanted to make and the shop happened to have a kit that closely matched my idea. The beads in the kit leant a little more towards silver than black but with Any's help I selected some substitute beads that were more in line with the look I wanted to achieve.

The instructions in the kit were easy to follow but the method was a little fiddly. Three hands would have been useful. Even so, I was able to make the beaded bead in one longish evening.

Turning it into a beaded necklace was a piece of cake, or it would have been had I not dropped one end of the necklace while trying it for size and scattering beads all over the bedroom floor!

Now, Jon would never forgive me if I didn't tell you that he helped me gather up all of the scattered beads and then rethreaded them for me :-)

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas Ornament/Card Swap

I thought that I blogged pretty much every thing that I stitch. Sometimes when I look back as a reference, I am surprised by the gaps in my recording.

For the past three years I have taken part in a Christmas card/ornament swap on the Embroiderer's Guild forum. I stitched and sent my offering to my swap partner a couple of weeks ago but waited until I was certain that it had arrived before blogging about it.

When I looked back to see what I had written about the previous swaps, I was amazed to learn that I had not even mentioned them! The first swap I took part in was in 2008. The swap that year was for a Christmas card and ornament but that year, and everyone since, my time was limited so I decided to make an ornament/card. I wanted to practice a technique that I had learnt that year, Flax leaf, and try a technique that I had not done before, 3d effect.

On the back, I simply stitched the date.

In 2009 I changed the shape of the ornament and stitched a variations of Flax leaf that produces hexagons. I don't have a picture of the finished ornament.

We also stitched small gifts in that year and I made a tiny beaded pin cushion for my swap partner.

This year I changed that shape again and practiced an other technique that I learnt this year. After stitching a foundation in flat silk, I over stitched the bottom of the ornament with short stitch holding done with #1 silver thread. I hope that this will give a little sparkle to the ornament. At the top of the ornament I attached sequins with the same silver thread. The shape of this ornament was more difficult to finish than previous ones. I always like to finish the edges with a cord. On this ornament I used a twisted cord made from several strands of silver metallic thread.

Happy Stitching. Happy Swapping.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Two weeks ago the Oxford branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild held their December meeting. It was one of two social evenings we hold each year. We usually have a members’ competition and this year the category was Inchies. We had been given a packet of scraps that we could use if we wanted, but it was not compulsory and there were no restrictions on what you could do.

I chose to use most of the things in the bag; a piece of red satin (approx 7 x 5 inches), a piece of red organza (roughly the same size) and a slightly smaller piece of gold lace. It also contained a length of cotton lace and a piece of stripy ribbon that I did not use but I added another piece of white organza from my stash and some coloured foil sweet wrappers.

I have not had much time for stitching lately so I was determined to do something that was not labour intensive. I allowed myself just one evening to complete the project. I tore the coloured foil into small pieces and trapped them between the red satin and red organza using FuseFX. I then trapped some more pieces between this layer and the white organza. I placed the gold lace on top and used free machine embroidery to attach it. I used a multicoloured G├╝termann metallic thread and stitched mainly on the solid parts of the lace. I’m not very good at FME, probably because I haven’t practiced it enough, but also because it involves random movement. On this occasion though I wasn’t trying to be too precise, I just roughly followed the pattern of the lace. Nor was I too concerned about the look of the stitches, I was trying to blend the lace into the background rather than create ornate stitching. As a result, I was more relaxed, the stitching went more smoothly, and I found it more enjoyable.

When I had stitched all over, I thought that foil showing through the lace stood out too much so I did more FME, this time in the voided areas using a gold thread. Actually, I used two Madeira metallic threads in one needle. I thought the one that I wanted to use might snap too easily so I combined it with another for strength. I fact it was the other one that kept snapping and I had to rethread several times.

The dense stitching meant that I was able to simply cut the fabric into one inch squares without finishing the edges in any way. I would have liked to embellish them a little, perhaps with beads but I’d run out of time.

The competition is judged by the members by placing a coin beside the entry (or entries) that we want to vote for. The one with the most coins is the winner. My Inchies attracted only one or two votes and I was not surprised by that. I had some fun making them and was pleased that I had tried to do something unusual for me but compared to the other entries they were a bit lame. That’s not just me being modest; take a look at the wonderful entries on our Branch Blog.

From the chatter, I could tell how much everyone had enjoyed this competition, both making their own Inchies and seeing what others had done.

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Happy Blogiversary to me

I’m not very good at marking my Blogiversary. I did the first year but more by accident than design. The second year I posted on the day but on a completely unrelated topic and the third year I posted the day before and the day following but not on my actual Blogiversary. I believe it is customary to reflect on your previous Blogiversary posts but that seems a little pointless as I’ve done such a poor job in the past. Instead, I’m going to look forward, in an oblique kind of way.

On Stitchin Fingers, SharonB has started a topic "Who is setting goals for the New Year". I haven’t contributed to the discussion but I have been following it and inevitably it set me thinking about goal setting.

My initial thought was that I don’t set myself goals but of course this is not true, I guess we all do to some extent. I just don’t do it in a structured way.

Sharon asked "How do you set [goals] just list them?" On one forum I have joined we declare our goals for the coming month. Many of my projects take several months to complete, so I tend to simply list my current projects and their deadline if it is imminent. "Do you consider how you are going to achieve them - or just overload and hope for the best?" I think that I definitely fit into the overload and hope for the best category. I find it difficult to say no – to myself, let alone anyone else. If I see a project that interests me, I add it to my 'to do' list and hope that I will find time to fit it in. So many of these projects never get off the ground, some get started but fall by the wayside and far too many get squeezed in at the last minute and become stressful rather than a pleasure. Sharon said "This list and overload is one way of not meeting goals." Hmmm, ain't that the truth!

Looking back at the last 4 years, 2007 was probably my most productive. It was also my most goal orientated year. That was the year that I took part in TAST. My plan was to work a small sampler for each stitch within a week starting from the day it was announced. Even though my samplers were small, they were still a lot of work to complete within a week and I soon started to miss my self-imposed deadline, non-the-less the goal remained and I pushed on throughout the year.

Compare that to 2010. This year has been the least productive of the 4 years. I 'planned' to do more than I could possibly achieve. There were at least two time consuming projects that I should have said no to but could not resist taking part. During the summer my mojo went missing for weeks and I think that can be attributed to overload. I have met the some of my goals, those I had committed to doing. Some of the projects that I might have preferred to be working on are yet to be started, and I might have enjoyed the projects I have completed more if I had not felt obliged to do them.

So how do I avoid falling into the same pit falls again? Sharon said, "A dream is a dream; a goal is a dream with a plan". It would seem that before I can set goals I have to consider my dreams. That’s scary. Why am I afraid to name my dreams? Well, it’s that old chestnut of being afraid of failure. Maybe it it time to start facing up to my dreams. Maybe it is time to stop thinking about all the reasons they may not be fulfilled. Maybe it is time to start making some plans and setting some goals.

Or maybe I'll wrap them back up in obstacles and prevarication and keep on overloading and hoping for the best!

Happy Stitching

Monday, 6 December 2010

Loving Couple, finished

I love The Ducks!

I didn’t know it then but I think I fell in love first moment I laid eyes on them and every time I’ve seen them, probably at every class and every show or exhibition I have ever attended, I’ve fallen deeper in love. More than I realised, I have longed to stitch them.

When, after a five year wait, my time to stitch them came, I savoured every moment, every stitch. I relished my time at the frame and was totally seduced by the sheer beauty of the design as it developed before me.

I found some of the techniques on Mr Duck extremely challenging but I was elated when I finally got the hang of something I’d struggled with.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

What a proud and handsome fellow he is.

I love Mrs Duck’s simple beauty; her elegant curves, the glint of gold in her feathers and the wonderful expression on her face.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Loving Couple has become a very special piece for me. I always try to stitch to the best of my ability but I have really strived to do my absolute best on this piece and now that they are finished, I love My Ducks.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching