Wednesday, 25 December 2013

WIPW - Flower and Herringbone

Work In Progress Wednesday, a way to show what progress you have made on the needlework front during a week, is led by Sharon over at Pintangle. Go to the latest post to read more.

I have worked on the flower block and added quilting in Herringbone stitch, TAST #5.

Swedish Cushion
I've put in six circular stitches.
On the left, from the left:
#62 Raised Cross Stitch Flower, #40 Buttonhole Wheel Cup, #94 Reversed Buttonhole Bar (worked in a circle with spikes)

On the right, from the left:
This is also the #94 Reversed Buttonhole Bar, (worked in a circle, but with the spikes meeting in the centre), #11 Whipped Wheel and #85 Raised Cup

Monday, 23 December 2013

TAST #94 Reversed Buttonhole Bar

The TAST stitch for the week is #94 Reversed Buttonhole Bar. You might already know how to do the Buttonhole Stitch. Then you have the foundation stitch. Do you want to know what to do after that? Well, go to Pintangle and Sharon will show you all about it!

Sharon suggested making not only a straight bar but also circles. I had great fun doing my sampler:
At the top are two rows of straight lines.
Below are three versions of circles, and you will see another one tomorrow on the WIPW!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas 'quilts' from my stash - 5

This is not a quilt, but a piece of embroidery:
It was made by a much loved great uncle of mine when he was about 95.
When he became a widower and had to move to an old people's home, he was bored and lonely. The staff suggested that he should take up needlework. Although he had seen his wife and daughter fill their home with cross stitch craft, he at first thought it was an unmanly past time for himself. However, once he had started he was 'bitten by the cross stitch bug', and produced lots of wall hangings that were sold at the OPH's charity events.
He said that keeping busy with the embroidery was the best way to stop brooding or feeling lonely. I feel as if he is in the room when I display one of his embroideries (I have several) and this one is a must to have on show at Christmas.
It is so charming with its large stitches and simple colours.

I wrote about the hanging Christmas mobile before. You might also remember a bridal crown I bought last summer. More recently I blogged about an angel and some other felt dolls. These ornaments are now hanging from 'washing lines' stretched across the room, as I do not have a decorated tree in the house.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas quilts from my stash - 4

The fourth quilt I have on display at this time of the year is called Tudor Echoes, and is related to my Sub Rosa (shown yesterday).
It is made by my good friend and award winning hand quilter Jacquie Harvey in the UK.
The two of us worked the Kaleidoscope Hoffman challenge side by side, but on either side of the Globe. We checked our progress weekly, a kind of private WIPW report, and fondly refer to our quilts as Lizzy. I am sure you can recognise some of the prints from my Sub Rosa in this quilt.

Jacquie is not only a talented quilter but has great skills as a dressmaker, too. She often combines quilting and dressmaking and makes 'wearable quilts', or rather quilted garments. Well, I am sure her wonderful creations are not to be worn, they kind of belong in a museum. Head over to her website and check the Gallery.

In this close up you can see her skill in Elizabeth I's costume. By embroidering the beige Hoffman fabric with black she created a bit of 'Blackwork' and the flute ruff collar is cleverly made. There might be more beads on my quilt, but the ones on Jacquie's are bigger!!!
The two quilts we made for the Kaleidoscope Hoffman challenge are a challenge to store, and that is one of the reasons why Jacquie gave me the quilt! As if I would have more space in Tokyo!! It travelled to Japan inside a suit cover bag and was lucky to be hung in the business class wardrobe. Like true royalty Lizzy sailed through Customs in spite of all her jewellery, well it is paste, after all!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas quilts from my stash - 3

The third quilt I usually display in December is called Sub Rosa.

In 2003 I made it for the Kaleidoscope Hoffman Challenge. The theme was Elizabethan Splendour.
One stipulation was that it should measure 1 m square and contain at least 50% of one or more of the seven challenge prints. At that time I had been given lots of fancy remnants from a seamstress who makes evening frocks and wedding gowns. Here was a good opportunity to use some of that red silk with the Hoffman prints.

This is an extract from my entry:
'The theme is ELIZABETHAN SPLENDOUR...' so I decided to make something that reflects Queen Elizabeth I. A traditional quilt, with an organized pattern but many new ideas, rich and overly decorated but tasteful. To bring out the beautiful patterns in the Hoffman prints I used a heavy red silk as the main contrast and added as much gold, pearls and jewels as I found suitable.
The centre of 'Japanese patchwork' blocks, filled with wadding and decorated with metallic embroidery and pearls, is framed with eight borders. The main of these borders consists of a winding Hoffman bias tape where various flowers have sprouted; they are appliqued, folded, ruched and embroidered. There are several flowers in handmade velvet; I even turned one Hoffman print into a velvet flower! This border is then quilted with tiny pearls on the front and gold beads on the back. There are well over 3000 pearls and beads on the entire quilt and it is edged with a frilled gold lace.

As you can see I was into quilting in unusual ways already ten years ago.
Sub Rosa didn't pick up a prize, but it was featured in 'Fabrications' Oct/Nov 2003.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

WIPW - Pleated Paper

Did you know that  WIPW means Work In Progress Wednesday? No? Well, go to Pintangle to learn all about it and see lots of great progress on various needlework projects. You won't be sorry!

Here are my efforts:

I quilted the cup cake block. As these cakes are in pleated paper cups I wanted an embroidery stitch for the quilting that reflected the shape. The best answer was Buttonhole stitch, the second TAST stitch we learned a long time ago.

  I used a brown-beige variegated thread from Oliver Twist.

Swedish Cushion
Here I worked the two hearts and some circles.
The heart on the left is #43 Magic Chain
The one on the right is #58 Woven Detached Chain (in two colours)
The circle on the left is #22 Buttonhole Wheel (well, one is more of a ring,  I guess)
The circle on the right is #46  Buttonhole Eyelet Flower

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas quilts from my stash - 2

The second in my series of Christmas quilts is the painted stained glass quilt.
I made this quilt based on a piece of real stained glass
As you can see it is a very small piece. It was once attached to a holder (the reason there is a round hole at the bottom) for a tea light.

The quilt is larger and measures 29 x 40 cm. I painted the off white cotton with acrylic fabric paint and then set the paint with a warm iron. The outlines were quilted in black. The front was folded to the back and a backing was stitched on. There is no border, nor a binding.

Monday, 16 December 2013

TAST #93 Plaited Feather Stitch

TAST stitch #93 is called Plaited Feather Stitch, and is a relative of the Straight Sided Feather stitch (#91) and an even closer relative of the Crossed Feather stitch (#92).

If you look closely you can see that the two threads go over and under each other.

It can make a beautiful, thick braid or a band of airy, open lace.

To learn more about TAST, get inspiration from Sharon's creations and see others' work, go to Pintangle.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A change of decorations - Christmas quilts from my stash - 1

There are four seasons in Japan and each is full of its own character.
Winters are cold, and in many parts snowy,
you eat hot pot dishes and keep warm with hot water bottles or kotatsu (table with heater underneath and a thick floor length cover to keep your legs warm).

Spring is famous for its cherry blossoms,
flower viewing picnics, the end and beginning of the academic year, and hay fever.
In summer, the humidity is over powering, first with the rainy season, then with the heat. Hydrangeas,
fans, water melon, ice tea, fire works, mosquito coils belong to this time of the year.
Autumn harvests fill the tables with fruit, vegetables and delicious oily fish. The changing of the leaves can be spectacular...

There are other things that mark the seasons and time of year. There are about 16 public holidays. The Japanese love to celebrate, they have festivals at local shrines, note the dates in the Japanese and Chinese calendar, or take up foreign traditions like St Valentine and Halloween.

Everywhere you go you will see signs of what time of year it is - there are decorations in shop displays, in schools and workplaces, on posters and advertisements, and of course in homes.

After arriving in Japan I soon took up this tradition and change the decorations at home for the various events.

Now it was time to put up the Christmas decorations. In the coming weeks I will blog about them, and first out is this wall quilt.

The mother of a student made this for me many years ago. I feel so humble and grateful that she would spend so much time and effort on this. It is mostly made of 1 cm squares, and she must have had a fantastic collection of Christmas prints to make the tree. There are lots of tiny bells embellishing the quilt.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

An angel and her cousins

In my last WIPW post I showed this little Christmas ornament I made recently.
 Annet asked if it was my own design, and I have to admit that it is not.
I found the pattern in a Swedish craft magazine, Handarbete, in the 90s, and have made several versions. Also here are some of the cousins:
To celebrate Lucia, a Swedish tradition held on 13th December,  I once made this doll from the same basic pattern.
St Lucia comes in the dark winter night carrying light, and hope.
Children traditionally wake their parents early in the morning with songs,  and carrying coffee, saffron buns and ginger snaps. One of the girls would be St Lucia, the other children her attendants. The girls would have tinsel in their hair and the boys a cone shaped white hat and all would hold candles in their hands.
Lucia is also celebrated in schools, companies, church and shown on national TV, this year from Olaus Petri Church of Örebro.
 My little Lucia is blurry eyed - is it too early in the morning or have the eyes simply got fuzzy with felt? Either she needs to wash her face or I need to redo her eyes!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

WIPW - Spoons

Work In Progress Wednesday - WIPW - helps you get a step further on your needlework projects. Read more at Pintangle.

I quilted a grid of TAST #23 Cable Chain stitches for the spoon block,
using one strand of this Japanese floss; very unconventional for quilting, and
which made the links in the chain look very long and narrow. Nevertheless, I am happy.

Swedish Cushion
Here I added a swirl of TAST #48 Knotted Cable Chain

Oh, I love this stitch! It is fun to work and it looks great, too, I think.

Apart from the WIPW projects, I have been working a few Christmas ornaments. One of them was this angel.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Kogin 2 - The Pride of Hirosaki

Kogin embroidery is something that the city of Hirosaki and Aomori prefecture is very proud of.

Near Hirosaki station the tiles of the pedestrian area and bus terminal have been laid out in Kogin patterns. See the view from this hotel.
There is a bridge in another area of the city decorated with Kogin pattern.

However, the first view of 'real' Kogin embroidery I got on my visit was at the 'onsen' inn I stayed at. 'Onsen' is the Japanese name for a mineral hot spring. As there are so many volcanos in Japan the number of 'onsens' is great. Almost everywhere you go there will be a hot spa in the neighbourhood. Aomori has its fair share.

Around a spring there usually are a number of public bath houses, inns and hotels. Unlike Western 'spas' these are not usually health farms with fitness plans, thermal treatments or doctors. Instead you go there to relax, be spoiled with service and enjoy eating local delicacies.
I stayed at Fujiya Hotel.

Like all other hotels and inns Fujiya had a hotel shop. They sold souvenirs, locally produced sweets and pickles, and handicraft.
Here was my first glimpse of Kogin embellished items, made in Aomori:
I wanted to see more and older things so the next day I went 'Kogin hunting'.

Friday, 6 December 2013

TAST #92 - Crossed Feather Stitch

For this week's TAST stitch, we have a version of the Straight Sided Feather stitch we learned last week.

Here is #92 Crossed Feather Stitch. To learn it and see other's efforts go to Pintangle.

I made a narrow and a wide version. The former makes a nice braid and the latter has a lacy look.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

WIPW - TAST joins the Coffee Party

Work In Progress Wednesday, WIPW, encourages you to report on your needlework progress of the week. Read more at Pintangle.


 It all started with this book.

As I love embroidery I wanted to add more embroidery to my quilts. When I found this book I was thrilled. After studying it and trying out some stitches, in #8 Perle like in the book, I was a bit deterred; the stitches looked so heavy and some of them left 'toe-catchingly' long stitches on the back. I shelved the book and the idea.

Then I started work on Bellaflora
with lots of embroidery on the bias tapes
This was a great way to use embroidery for decoration on a quilt, but I still wanted to quilt with embroidery stitches.

My friend Lis Harwood told me she would be taking part in the TAST challenge in 2012 and I thought this would be a great way to learn a lot of new stitches, which hopefully would be useful for quilting.

If you have followed the work on my quilt Kafferepet, you know that I have used a lot of TAST stitches for embellishing the border.

Now came the chance to use them for quilting.
The first blocks I quilted were the cake and the cake server.

For the cake I used one of the most recent TAST stitches, #91 Straight Sided Feather Stitch in Japanese silk thread.

On the cake server block I used three different stitches:

A cross hatch of #10 Running stitches, #7 Detached Chain stitches, both in metallic thread and Colonial Knots in #12 Perle.

As you can see the threads are all thin and that is why I think they worked well. It means that any stitch in 'The Quilter's and Patchworker's Stitch Bible' can be used successfully - if I use a fine thread. The book is no longer on the shelf but out and being thumbed through for other stitch ideas.

Swedish Cushion
On the Swedish cushion I worked a swirl of TAST #23 Cable Chain stitch

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Kogin 1 - Kogin Country

Do you remember this photo I posted some weeks ago?
I took it during a trip to Hirosaki, which is in Aomori prefecture in the northern part of Japan's main island, Honshu.

Hirosaki castle park is famous for its many cherry trees, and autumn foliage, but I was lucky to see it in the first snow of the season.
The city of Hirosaki is well known for other things, too, like its summer festival 'Neputa', French food, apple pie, coffee, cocktails, three stringed shamisen...

Now this is a blog about needlework so I will leave the topic of tourist attractions, and talk instead of embroidery, because Hirosaki and the surrounding region, Tsugaru, is famous for Kogin embroidery.
This is a form of needle darning of fantastic geometric patterns. The stitch is simple, but the patterns complex.

Whenever I have seen Kogin embroidery, e.g. at the Amuse museum in Tokyo, or on handicraft projects I have been charmed by the designs. Whenever I have read about Kogin in books at the library or online, and there are a number of exceptional blogs (see below), I have been wanting to see and learn more.
So I went in search of Kogin on my trip to Hirosaki. I returned with reading matters, pattern, a ready stitched purse and sampler, and material to try it out for myself.

I will be blogging about my adventures with Kogin, but without any time plan or time pressure. The posts will be listed under 'Kogin' at the top of the blog.

The interest overseas for this kind of Japanese embroidery is growing and I have found several great blogs, written in English, if you would like to read more.
The Embroiderer's Guild W.A.
Japanese Textiles from a Westerner's Perspective
Emma Creations
Nuts About Needlepoint
A blogger many of my readers are already familiar with is Carolyn Foley of caro-rose-creations. Carolyn has made a fantastic job documenting hundreds of Hishizashi patterns and created several stunning projects. Read this and look at the first pattern here.

Red and white are the official colours of Japan, Hirosaki maple leaves in the snow were very red and white. Another colour combination commonly seen in Japan is, of course, blue and white. Kogin is mostly found to be white thread on dark blue fabric. The reason I selected the lighter blue fabric and white thread for sampler and the project
was this scene of Aomori's first snow
I will always see the resemblance between the snow covered rice fields and the structured stitches.

Until next Kogin post...