Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

The final piece of Christmas stitching is complete. I already have lots of napkins but I just couldn't resist doing these. A simple design but quite effective I think.

And here are the other seven robins all lined up, ready for folding.

So before I go and install myself in the kitchen for the day, I would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and creative new year.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Deer Head

I'm really not sure how this came up in conversation but a couple of months ago Gill told me about this deer head pattern and from then on I wanted one on my wall this Christmas. I duly bought the pattern, bought some brown Christmasy fabric for the head and then afterwards I read the pattern. I should have read the pattern first! The pattern suggests using woollen or felt fabric and I had bought cotton fabric. 

The head is constructed by hand stitching on the outside of the head but I didn't think my cotton was well suited to this method, so I stitched right sides together and then turned it out. Another change I made was to move the ears in front of the antlers, not where they should be but I liked the ears being more prominent. I also decided to knit him a red scarf to give him some additional Christmas cheer, so to speed things up I got out my old knitting machine which probably hasn't seen the light of day for 20 years and at one point I wondered whether it would be quicker to knit it by hand but it did all eventually come flooding back to me.

I had grand plans of making another deer head with a cardigan I felted a while ago but this one took a bit longer to make than I expected and I ran out of time. Something else to add to next year's Christmas 'to-do' list. Perhaps next year I will follow the pattern?

I've got one more 'make' planned before Christmas....then I need to put my machine away, hoover up the threads and create some things in the kitchen.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Stitching with Sprouts

I couldn't resist making this Christmas wreath after seeing the instructions in the Waitrose Weekend paper. I made a hole in the sprouts with a screwdriver, threaded a needle with string and then strung the sprouts onto the string and wrapped them around a ring of willow.  I added a ribbon and it was ready to hang.

I was planning to hang the wreath on the front door but as now seems really obvious, it was just too heavy, so it's hanging on a large nail next to the front door. The first person who came to our house after the wreath was hung, declared it the 'weirdest thing she'd ever seen'....I was strangely pleased with that comment.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Felt Christmas Cards and Brooches

In September, I posted here about the Christmas trees I had printed ready for stitching and making into Christmas cards. Unfortunately they are still in the same state they were then but thinking positively I could say that I've already made a start on next year's cards!

I did manage to make a few cards this year though, using some leftover handmade felt.

I couched some gold thread to add some Christmas sparkle....not that it looks very gold or sparkly in the photograph.

I added some extra stitching onto a couple of the pieces but I'm not sure it enhanced them very much, if at all.

The felt for the cards was leftover from these brooches that I made on a Clare Bullock workshop that was run by my branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. 

I think this one would benefit from some stitching on the petals to add some interest, particularly on the green petal.

I could easily get into felt making and felt is so nice to stitch into but I do try to focus on my fabric dyeing and stitching and not get distracted by all the other interesting media and techniques that tempt me. The nice thing about this workshop was that the brooches were all made in the workshop and only needed beads adding at home....and of course there was the added bonus of having leftover felt to use on Christmas cards.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Looking at Old Work with New Ideas

I'm looking forward to having some time over the Christmas break to develop some of my ideas into designs that I can take into fabric in the new year. I have now gone back to a piece that I started some time ago but can't quite remember when. I painted gesso onto paper to create some texture and then painted on my simple design, which was based on a local landscape. 

I'm a big fan of the effect you get by layering dye onto a fabric and this design seemed to suggest lots of layering and texturing with dyes but I started with dyes that were far too strong, leaving me very few places to go with the green especially. 

In fact the back of the cloth looked a lot more promising and more like the effect I should have been going for. As the fabric is linen and therefore a thicker fabric, it's harder for the dye to penetrate fully to the back of the cloth.

I did consider turning it over and working from the back but I think I would find it too confusing looking at the design one way whilst the cloth was the other way, especially as the pieces are uneven shapes. So I discharged the piece to remove some of the colour.  It does seem to have created a surprising amount of yellow but I'm hoping that the randomness of the fabric will make interesting textures as I over print.

Where to go next with this piece?  Maybe I could merge my 'old' design with some of my more recent ideas and use text to create textures within the piece?. Now that would be an interesting challenge. Lots more thought required but before I knuckle down to that challenge I want to make some cards and some Christmasy bits first.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reeds in the Mist

Recently, I've had my head down finishing my Geo landscape pieces and any thoughts of progressing new work had to be put aside. I've got a number of ideas 'brewing' but they all need developing before I can put dye to cloth and so I have gone back to some work that I had to put on hold. 

This piece was inspired by a photograph I saw in an exhibition. When I created the reeds they were too dark and too samey, so I decided to discharge them to add variety to the colours and add some texture.

I obviously wasn't expecting the discharging to give me the results that I wanted because I started another piece in parallel but I did like the effect of the discharging and so repeated the process on the second piece. Once I was happy with the reeds I used soy wax to protect/mask the reeds whilst I developed the backgrounds.

Strangely, I've only just realised the number of similiarities of these pieces to my Barge in the Mist piece. Similiar in that it's a view of mist over water and with the focal point on the horizon but there is one key important difference; the 'Barge in the Mist' was inspired by my own photograph and the 'Reeds in the Mist' was not. I have become increasingly aware that I enjoy making work which is inspired by own experiences. I think I will be using my own photographs from now on. 

This week the Knitting and Stitch Show opens in Harrogate and I will there to Steward in the Hue gallery on Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday. I'm hoping to get a little bit of free time to buy some threads to start stitching. Now which one will I choose to stitch? I know I won't be doing both.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Back to Texting

I'm back! I've been doing little bits and pieces of textiling but nothing too precious and certainly nothing needed to be finished by a specific date, which has made a nice change after recent deadlines. 

This weekend was the first weekend of  'Taking Textiles Further' course with Janet Edmonds and as luck would have it, this year's theme is 'text'. This should give me the opportunity to develop the ideas I came away with from the Denise Lach course I enjoyed in the summer.

Firstly we made our tools, well not the handles but all the brushes and nibs and strangely my favourite was the cola pen on right, the very tool I didn't take to on Denise's course.

I tried them out and quickly put most of them aside but it was good to think about different ways of making marks and to consider which type of mark was most suited to my current work.

Things started to look a little more interesting when I wrote on previously printed pages.

I had also painted pages of an old book with gesso, leaving some colours showing through and then added to text.

I used a photograph of reeds to inspire this piece and it was going OK until I added a wash of was a quick way of finding which inks were permanent and which ones were not.

For this piece, I wrote text on a previously printed paper, cut it in half of it and covered it with muslin.  The other half I machined stitched over, wet it and rubbed it to distress it. For some reason the camera has made the muslin more dominant than it really is.

Although, I like the texture created by stitching and wetting the paper I think that this is the technique that is more likely to persue. I have cut out shapes that have been suggested by the letters themselves. 

No great works of art yet but I've got the momentum and inspiration to develop the ideas and to incorporate them into my landscape theme.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Knitting Stitch Show - Alexandra Palace

We went from this..... this and..... 
...and this....

...and this.

I was keen to gain experience by being part of the hanging team and it was interesting to get a glimpse behind the scenes of a major show... I'm so pleased that I did it.

But it wasn't all work and stewarding, I also had chance to look round the galleries and the stalls. These days the latest gizmos and books don't have the appeal that they once did and now if I have a supply of white fabric, dyes and some threads then I'm happy. (So what am I doing with all the other things I have? Mmm....)  

But I did spend some money...I really liked the different expressions Gina created on these faces and I couldn't resist the grumpy looking one, 2nd from the left. The expression on the face reminds me of someone I know....someone I'm very fond of as it happens. 

At one time, it seemed there weren't many galleries that you could take photographs in but fortunately that seems to have changed recently and here are a few of the photographs I took. 

i loved this piece by Cindy Kearney, which was exhibited in the zero 3 gallery.

This beautifully delicate bowl was made by Gladys Paulus.

This dog by Nicky Barfoot certainly had attitude!

In the past I have tried doing needle lace and as a result I have a much admiration for Robina Melville who created this needle lace cat mask.

I found the work by Jo Beattie very inspiring, how nice it would be if these were based on photographs of your loved ones? I don't think I was alone either, I over heard a number of people talking to Jo about commissions.

So all after all that preparation and build up, it's all over....until Harrogate that is. See you there?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hue at the Knitting & Stitch Show

My work has been delivered. What a relief! There's nothing else I can do now. The plan is that my three pieces will all hang together on the same wall and so I wanted them to be presented in a similar way and with two of them having 3D elements on the front they needed to be supported. I've had all three pieces stretched by Val of Kendals framing and I'm very pleased with the result. Val comes to Art Van Go every Saturday, which is handy for me as I live nearby. Val has given very useful advice and has been very patient with me as I have explored different options and made some changes.

This is 'Geo Landscape II'. Each of the blocks is based on the shapes in the landscape and the background cloth has been printed using some of the shapes. The colour gets lighter as it moves up the piece and the shapes have been outlined with hand stitching.

70 X 60cm
Believe it or not this is a picture of the same piece! I think the real colour is somewhere in between the two photographs and I've had the image below printed onto some postcards, which I will have for sale during the exhibition.

This is Geo landscape III. In a similar manner to the Geo Landscape II, I created a strip of fabric, using shapes from the landscape as my source but this time I pleated the strip. The background fabric was printed with triangles, to echo the more angular forms in the pleating. Again, I outlined the shapes with hand stitching and the depth of the colour fades as it goes up the piece.

90 X 58 cm
I have also had postcards printed with this detail from the piece and I was really pleased to see the stitching visible on the postcard. All the faffing composing and playing with the light reflector paid off.

Initially I wasn't sure whether to use an image of the whole piece or just a detail on the postcards but I've almost got the best of both worlds by including all 3 finished pieces on the back of the card and the detail on the front. It took some work in Photoshop to get what I wanted but I think it was worth it.

And last but not least, Geo Landscape I...the piece it all started with. I have posted images of this before but this is the first time I have shown it stretched....and anyway you would want to see the set wouldn't you?

The packaging of the 3D pieces has been a concern for me but after much thought I hatched a plan for using cardboard boxes and polystyrene. However, hubby thought they needed something better and stronger and he has made me wooden boxes for the 3D pieces. How lucky am I? They will be secure and I'll certainly have less cause for concern about them being transported in a crate to Harrogate now.

So here's one of the boxes with space for the 3D bits to fit into the gap.

And here's the piece in the's a good fit isn't it?

and here's the three of them ready to get transported....

There's more to this exhibiting that meets the eye, isn't there? I wonder how much time I have spent on these pieces, the packaging, the photography etc. Lots! I'm sure it's all going to be worth it though. Perhaps I'll have the discipline to keep a tally for my next piece?

I'll be stewarding on the stand on Saturday, so if you're visiting then come and say hello. I'll be visiting with my Mum and friends on Sunday, I get the feeling that there won't be much time to see anything on Saturday!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Printing Christmas Trees

The Hue group are exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitch Show this year and I have been working on three pieces for the exhibition. Finally, finally, I have finished all the stitching! One piece has been stretched and I hope to collect the other two pieces after stretching this week. 

So having finished the stitching, it was nice to have a relaxing day block printing with Jamie Maldon from Coloricious at the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. I have done a fair bit of printing but I haven't really used block printing in my work and to be honest, I haven't had much success when I have tried it previously.

Jamie's Christmas blocks had just arrived and so we learnt the printing techniques by printing on an apron. I look quite proud of mine don't I? Jamie's simple instructions and tips were very useful and I'm definitely more likely to include block printing in my work now. 

I'm rather fond of Christmas Trees but as there were so many blocks to choose from and as I'm a little indecisive, I printed a number of them side by side to make choosing easier.

Printing Christmas trees on fabric gives lots of opportunities to embellish with stitching and beading (think tinsel and baubles) and I took a shine to this tree - lots of room for things to dangle from these branches. This one was printed on upholstery fabric but I should have used more ink.

This one was printed on some green fabric and looks a little...well green...but I think that the addition of beading could bring it to life.

But this was my favourite one and most closely resembles my usual work. I used the tree block to print a background pattern in light blue and silver paint and then overprinted the tree. This was the block I wanted to come home with.

But whilst I was waiting to pay, I noticed another tree block that I had completely missed and I couldn't resist this one either.

So now I'm the proud owner of two Christmas Tree blocks but I haven't used the block on the right yet and I am looking forward to printing with it. Before I do use it though, I need to work out how I'm going to package my work for the Knitting and Stitch show. When I decided to include 3D elements on my work, I didn't think about how difficult it would be to ensure that it travelled between venues unscathed. I'll think about it next time!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Denise Lach - Designing with Letters - Part 2

I'm just back from a lovely week spent in the south of France and I had every intention of post the 2nd set of pictures from Denise's course before I set off but by the time I had got one piece finished and ready for the framer and another ready for stitching on holiday, I just didn't have the time. 

So here they is some of the work from the 2nd half of the Denise's course and you will see that I started to work in a less controlled way.

This basic design was built up using a few selected words, with the letters elongated and stretched to make a pattern. I then took photocopies of the design and started to work into and over it by blocking areas out using pens and using ink and tools that were less controllable and dripped ink down the page. 

When I was on holiday these buildings reminded me of these designs, minus the dribbles, obviously. This idea/link might be something worth following up when time permits.  

So going back to the course... I also started exploring how I could use lettering to represent a landscape and started by creating tree trunks and under growth with letters.

I then tried using some coloured ink and a slightly different approach to creating the landscape but still using letters..

...and then a slightly looser style...

You can see from my design board below, that the work I was producing in the 2nd half of the course was much looser and that I have only shown you a fraction of it. My aim was to explore as many ideas and avenues and possible, rather than creating a finished piece of work and I think I did that, I came away with lots of ideas to develop. 

You may know that last year's holiday inspired my Barge in the Mist piece piece and so I was hoping that I would come back with inspiration for my next 'must-make' piece but unfortunately I didn't. I saw some lovely landscapes, architecture and wildlife but when I look back at my photos, it's this one that's giving me food for thought:

This was taken from the train in France and I wanted to see how much blurring I would get when I took the photo from a moving train and whether it would create any interesting images. I didn't get any blurring at all and I guess that's down to the wonders of technology but I did like the way my red top and yellow fabric reflected in the window and created a colourful and interesting landscape.  Something else to think about because a lot of landscapes can be very green, certainly in this country and this could be one way adding some additional colour interest.

And when I returned home this is what I found on my doorstep....

...what a lovely surprise! I had won Gina's giveaway and as ever, Gina had presented the buttons beautifully. I'm not sure how I'm going to use them yet but in the meantime, I'll just enjoy looking at them as they are.