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.