Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Egg Mobiles

Happy Easter everyone.

In the garden 
I thought I would share these Easer Egg Mobiles that I made a few years ago. They make lovely mobiles any time of the year but especially at Easter.

Photo tutorial coming soon.


 Happy Stitching


And here are two more landscapes ready for stitching

Saturday, 30 March 2013

African Textiles at the British Museum

On Thursday I had a lovely time at the British Museum. I had gone to visit the Pompeii exhibition but took the opportunity to see the Modern African Textiles too.  Social Fabric - African Textiles Today

You are greeted with the words 'Karibu mgeni" which translates as 'Welcome stranger' A lovely way to begin exploring this gallery.

Welcoming Kana
War on HIV

The Kangas in the exhibition show the political affiliations, the health concerns, religious and social feelings of the wearer. A Kanga is a rectangle of cloth with an inscription. They are worn in matching pairs principally be women in Eastern Africa.
They are a remarkable method of communicating many issues.

This has the inscription  "We young people declare war against HIV and AIDS because we have the capacity and the will to do it"

Guinea Fowl Kanga

The Kiswahili word for the guinea fowl is kanga. The spotted plumage may have been similar to patterns on early cloths.

Three Cats Trademark

And there was the Three Cats trademark which I have become familiar with whilst working on my Manchester Blue Throw

 This is just a taster of the exhibition. It is on until the 21st April

Happy Stitching


Friday, 29 March 2013

Flow Wall hanging

Original picture which inspired the wall hanging
The inspiration for this wall hanging was a photo I took in the local country park. It was such a bright day and the river was like a mill pond giving crystal clear reflections in the water.

This is the photo but can you see that I have flipped it so the reflection is at the top and the actual trees are at the bottom. It is amazing how the reflection looks more real than the riverbank itself. 

Using a stitch and flip method of patchwork I created a flowing river running down the wallhanging. It has been quilted using large lazy S's . The edging is a double piped  binding attached in an upholstery way. One piping added to each of the front and the back and then pulled together using ladder stitch.

Flow Front

Remnants of the fabric were pieced again using stitch and flip to create the back art. The hanging has been finished with tab tops and a lovely wooden hanging I purchased at the Knitting and Stitching Show. 
I love that this is a reversible wallhanging and that it is my memory of all the walks taken with my friends.

Happy stitching


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Jewellery Roll

Jewellery Roll

Jewellery with large hole beads which can be moved and swapped in or out to match your outfit has become very popular over recent years.
How to store extra beads and the chains on which they go was a problem for me, so I designed a handy jewellery roll.

Quilting and Beading
The roll was made from hand dyed silk - I chose a turquoise as it is my birthstone.

To represent the beads inside there are additional areas of wadding which have been stitched around using straight  and zig-zag stitching
Detail showing beading 

 Lengths of seed beads have been added for more texture.

Interior arrangement

The interior is black cotton. I have added flaps at the sides to keep the jewellery from escaping at the sides when it is rolled.

Happy Stitching


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Manchester Blue

The right side of the fabric

At Textiles in Focus at Cottenham a few weeks ago I spotted a little sample pack of indigo dyed fabrics at the African Fabric Stand

When getting home and opening the pack, I was delighted to find lots of small samples of fabric and a little note about them.

"Manchester Blue Pack
These Manchester Blue prints come from vintage sample pieces printed in Manchester before production moved to South Africa. Most pieces are around 15-20 years old. "

The reverse of some of the fabrics

The reverse side of some of the pieces were even more exciting, with original production stamps such as "Three Fishes" and " Three Cats"  So I decided to show the reverse of  some of the fabrics in my quilt. I'm not sure that it can really be called a quilt as it will only have two layers of fabrics, more of a embroidered throw then.

Starting to lay out the patchwork of piece

I have also added some Kola Nut and Indigo
fabric in an ammonite design. I liked the contrast of colour and will add stitch in the golden brown colour to the piece.

I hand-dyed the thread to give a spaced dyed effect and I am stitching in spirals using running stitch.

I have also left the edges of the pieces raw as I want this to have a pieced and patched feel. My version of a Boro Quilt

Stitching detail

It is a lovely piece to work, I am working it in the hand without hoop or frame. It may take some time to finish but there's no rush,  I'm just going to enjoy the journey.

Happy stitching


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

3 Pin Method of Casting On

Are you fed up with cuffs being too tight?

This method of casting on was taught to me by my mother. It is for Knit 1 Purl 1 rib casting on and gives a more elastic edge.

You need a pair of needles a size larger than those you will be using for your rib knitting, and a pair of needles in the size you need for the rib. You also need some wool in an alternative colour. 

one row alternative yarn 

1. In the alternative colour and using the larger needles, cast on half the number of stitches plus one.  

For odd number of stitches  round down e.g.  for 101 stitches you need to cast on 51 stitches
For an even number of stitches e.g.  for 100 stitches you would also cast on  51 stitches  

2.  Knit 1 row.   Cut the alternative colour leaving a good length of thread and loosely knot on the colour you will be using for your garment.

3. Still using the larger needles work 3 more rows as follows, ( Purl 1 row, Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row)

4. On the wrong side there are loops where the yarn has been changed.

Pick up loops from the top to the bottom

work along the row

Picked up loops

Using a smaller needle pick up loops of the main yarn from top to bottom, ( in the direction from the top of the work to the cast on edge.)

Continue along the row picking up the loops. There is one less stitch on the smaller needle than on the larger one in the 100 stitch example there would be 51 stitches on the larger needle and 50 on the smaller one. This gives a total of 101 stitches. If 100 stitches are required the last 2 stitches would  need to be worked together when making the rib.

5. Make the rib by knitting a stitch from the larger front needle, then purling the stitch on the smaller back needle.  (Knitting the front stitch through the back of the stitch will give a twisted rib)

Knit from the front 
Purl from the back

If you need an even number of stitches you will have to work the last two stitches together on this row.

Finished cast on edge with alternate yarn still attached

6.  Undo the knot  and cut the alternate yarn at the other end of the row.  Gently pull the alternate yarn out of the row.

Cut the alternate yarn

Undo the knot and pull the alternate yarn out

Finished Cast On Edge

The finished cast on edge is more elastic than traditional methods of casting on,

Happy knitting


Monday, 25 March 2013

Exploring Printing

We had a great afternoon exploring printing lead by Pam at the Peterborough branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. At times it was so quiet you could hear the preverbial pin drop,  as everyone was busy printing and stamping away. 

print on sheer fabric
print using a homemade printing block
print on net

details showing layering of the prints

I chose to keep to a simple colour scheme, burnt umber, brick and ivory highlights ( I must still be in an Autumnal mode) 

We worked from the darkest colour to the lightest, offsetting the prints each time to give a layered effect. Using sheer fabrics and nets gave us even more effects.
In the past I have always been frustrated by printing as I sought the perfect print and was often thwarted by smudges, too little or too much paint. This method freed me from these frustrations.  I can certainly see more printing in the future.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cherry Blossom Platter

Here it may be winter, again, but in Japan the cherry blossom is in full bloom.

Cherry Blossom platter
A few years ago I was researching Japanese art and culture which inspired me to make this Cherry Blossom Platter.

It was hand stitched using thick wools in the blossom design and then I blended it altogether using free motion machine embroidery.

When finished it was stiffened and moulded into shape.

Hopefully this will give you a touch of Spring on this cold day.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Workshop with Dionne Swift

A few of my sketchbook pages 
What a lovely day at the NEC visiting the Fashion Embroidery & Stitch show at the NEC, Birmingham.
Three shows in one with Hobbycrafts and Sewing for Pleasure and Fashion, embroidery & Stitch there was certainly much to see and lots to tempt us into buying.

I was lucky enough  to get a space on Dionne Swift's Silk Screen printing  on-stand workshop.

Having recently done Dionne's

online sketchbook workshop
I was keen to meet her and thank her for all the useful information she provided us with on the course. Many new ideas have come from the course and I will be developing them over the next few months.

Screen printing With Dionne Swift

It was wonderful to see her devore and screen printing work, and the lovely machine embroidered Coastal Stitches. Embroideries which are full of movement and very atmospheric.

I have not done much Silk screen printing before and was excited to give it a try under Dionne's expert guidance.

We cut our own stencils and used procion dyes thickened with manutex.

My first effort was not very good as I hadn't blended the colours sufficiently. (I have cut the offending part out of the photo but it is the one  on the left minus the leaves).

Learning the basics has given me an appetite for more.
Dionne is also running an Accessible Screen Printing online workshop where she will be going into more detail about the process.


Thursday, 21 March 2013


An obsession with French knots led to this triptych of obsessive love.

Narcissus and Echo

Narcissus is so obsessed with his reflection in the water that he fails to hear Echo, who is only able to repeat the last thing someone says. She can't warn him and so she fades away leaving the ghost of her voice behind.

Midas and his daughter
Midas has an unhealthy obsession with wealth and the pursuit of riches and believes the gift of a golden touch will bring him happiness. He finds out too late that the true wealth he had, was his daughter, who he turned to a golden statue with one touch.


Oedipus, a dark tale of obsessive love for another (his mother) Oedipus' father was warned by a soothsayer that he would be killed by his son. So he banished him to another land. Many years later they meet and in an argument over who will give way on a narrow road the prophecy comes true. Oedipus solves the riddle of the Sphinx and unknowingly marries his mother. When his mother realises what she has done she hangs herself and Oedipus blinds himself.

Some obsessions are certainly not a good thing but I still love the French Knot.


Isolated Stitch Sampler

I have been sampling isolated stitches using stranded cotton and perle threads on a cotton background. I chose a warm colour scheme with red orange and violet threads on a yellow ground. 

It was interesting to work the stitches on this closely woven cotton fabric as there were no holes to guide the stitching, leading to the stitches varying in size and overall shape.  A more even look would have been achieved by using an evenweave fabric.

Stitches used

Straight Stitch
Spaced Cross Stitch
Fly Stitch
Reversed Fly Stitch

Double Fly Stitch                
Detached Wheatear Stitch
Detached Chain Stitch
( Daisy Stitch)
Sheaf Stitch
Happy stitching