Wednesday, 25 February 2015

WIPW - Making Cards

Work In Progress Wednesday, oh it comes along so quickly! What have I achieved during the week?

Pile 'em On
Layer upon layer of thread in the circle.
A new flame of Diagonal Drawn Filling Stitch. I found the instructions in A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2.

TASTy Beads Galore
Some kind of strange growth has emerged from the stem I stitched last week.
The stitch used was TAST #113 Beaded Feathered Chain with bugle beads.

New and Completed
Three cards were made.
1) Swiss machine lace that I cut apart and assembled into a 'propeller', topped with a machine stitched shisha and then fastened with some simple stitches.
2) Painted heart shaped wooden buttons on felt with stems of Twisted Chain, TAST #73 Portuguese Stem, Whipped Stem and the leaves are #1 Fly- and Back Stitch
3) Painted star shaped wooden buttons on felt with stems of TAST #55 Buttonholed Herringbone and #105 Alternating Buttonholed Cable Chain (or rather Alternating Buttonhole Chain - there is no cable link)

Conveyor Belt Wool Embroidery Needle Case
No progress what so ever!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Happy Village, or City rather, quilt

I have now presented my friend with the Happy Village quilt I made for her,  so I can show it here.

Now it is not a village, but a city. I made high rise buildings and billboards instead of quaint houses and cobbled lanes.

I cheated a bit and drew some windows and text with a pen.
The rest is done in the technique taught by Karen Eckmeier. Get her book and enjoy cutting up scraps, building a landscape, covering with tulle and then machine quilting.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

WIPW - A Short Report

A short report for this week's Work In Progress Wednesday.

Pile 'em On
A flame of Four Sided Stitch, and odd threads added to the circle.

 Swedish Wool Embroidery - Needle cases
 Two more parts completed on the needle case 'conveyor belt'.

TASTy Beads Galore
I made only the base stem of a new plant, using TAST # 137 Beaded Knotted Buttonhole Band.
Don't ask me, ask Blogger, why the photo is upside down!

New (but reported a couple of days ago) HINA ornaments
I made three new ornaments for the Doll Festival, 2015. Read more here.
I'm afraid, that's all for this week.

Monday, 16 February 2015

HINA - new ornaments for 2015

For a month leading up to March 3rd we celebrate Hina Festival. Japanese homes with daughters will display dolls. My ornaments are made from scraps of kimono or chirimen.

This year I made:
A plum blossom.
The bud symbolises faithfulness, and the flower innocence.

A Hime Daruma
Daruma is a kind of doll that when fallen down stands up again. These are often made from papier mache, have a weight inside, and are thought of as bringing luck.
As a Hina ornament is symbolises endurance and the 'never give up' spirit that is so important in Japan.

Chili pepper
In olden days the Hina dolls, when not used, were stored in boxes with dried chili peppers. It served as a insect repellent (mothball).
Made for the Hina display, it is a wish that the girls of the family should not fall victim to evil 'insects' (bad luck or bad men!).

You can read much more about Hina at my page HINA, at the top of my blog.
Added later 1:
If you want to see lots of other Hina dolls, head over to Tanya's excellent report from her friend's house. Lots of pictures, don't miss it!

Added later 2:
KippySoMature mentiones in the comments below about the Hinamatsuri song. Here is a videoclip.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

More ways to thread a needle

A couple of days ago I showed you the new embroidery threader by Clover (second left in the picture below).

Today I want to discuss some more ways to thread a needle, and the tools needed.

It was Julie of My Quilt Diary who reminded me that I have a 'steam engine' threader. A Japanese little device that works like this:
Insert the needle (eye down) into the chimney. Place the thread between the chimney and the engine.
Press the lever on the right and the thread is pushed though the eye to the outside.
Pull the needle out of the chimney and you've got your threaded needle.

Then there are self threading needles. These are made by Clover but there are other makes, too. For this type I'd recommend protecting your finger tip with a rubber thimble.
Mary Corbet writes about another kind of self threading needle here.

You can make a lasso of a thinner thread.
When the end of the thread is beginning to split, or the thread is fluffy, you can make a new sharp cut with a pair of scissors, of course

or use glue.
Place a tiny blob of glue/bond (or even nail varnish) on your fingertip.
roll the thread firmly between your fingers in the direction of the twist. Press hard and shape like a point.
The thread dries quickly and remains hard and sharp. This is a very useful method for TAST #35 Drizzle Stitch or when you want to add a bead to a thread and the eye of the needle is too small. The hard glue tip of the thread can usually get through the bead.

What about you, do you have any tips for threading the needle? Please share them with me, as I am always ready to learn new tricks.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

WIPW - Conveyor Belt for Wool Embroidery?

I have several things to show for my Work In Progress Wednesday report:

Pile 'em On
More orts have been added to the circular mess. I used my new toy, the Clover Embroidery Threader.

 Then I made another 'flame' of pulled work. The stitch is called Coil Filling Stitch.
(No counting mistakes this time!)

TASTy Beads Galore
TAST #100 Beaded Eastern Stitches were added inside the previously made Beaded Link Chain flower.

New Swedish Wool Embroidery
Last week I told you of the needle keeps I had made based on a pattern in a Swedish craft magazine, Hemslöjd.

It inspired me to make some with Swedish wool embroidery. In fact I am planning to make five of them and marked the outlines in orange thread on a piece of black cashmere. Before cutting up the fabric I will work the embroidery on each needle keep. Is this Conveyor Belt Embroidery?
Front and back of the first one.

New and almost completed Happy Village
I am working on a new Happy Village quilt. The work is fast and fun, and almost completed. As it is a gift I will reveal more once it is no longer in my hands. Anyway, here is a teaser:

The case is, that over a year ago, I was asked to make a quilt for some friends' house warming gift (after they had moved into their new home). What to make for them  has been brewing in my brain ever since, but the actual stitching wasn't started until this week.  I know it has taken a  l-o-n-g  time!
Is this considered a UFO, making a quilt in your head, but actually not starting on the stitching until much later? If yes, I have a lot of UFOs in every nook and cranny of my poor head!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Testing Clover's Embroidery Threader

Do you remember one of my purchases at Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival was an embroidery threader?

On the left is a traditional threader, easy to find anywhere (I would think), and on the right, with a green plastic handle, Clover's embroidery threader.

They are used in the same way; inserted into the eye of the needle, loaded with thread and pulled out. The difference is that Clover's version is suitable for long-eyed needles (crewel, chenille, tapestry, darners, larger beading).

Now a similar threader can of course be made with a piece of paper:
This method is often found in embroidery books (Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, The Essential Guide To Embroidery...)

★The advantage of the paper method is that the paper is thin and a single strand of thread does not create any bulk.
★The advantage of Clover's threader is that it is sturdy and long lasting. 

I have found my new threader very useful for threading those short strands of thread, orts, I am trying to use on my Pile 'em On project.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

WIPW - Back to work!

Work In Progress Wednesday. I enjoyed the quilt show, but it is nice to have time to work on projects myself again.

Pile 'em On
I began filling in a new 'flame' with Punch Stitch, but have not finished yet. The fabric is slightly uneven in the weave and I made a counting mistake. Just a thread too much here and there and the mistake is glaring you in the face. This has been a lesson in how important it is to have good light and count correctly. Never mind, Pile 'em On is for stress relief and should look 'messy' so it might just fit the bill!

TASTy Beads Galore
It was time for the TAST stitch #103 Beaded Butterfly Chain to be used for a plant.

New and Completed
This is a project I have not reported on before. The reason? It has been deep asleep on the UFO shelf for a long time.
It was started on a 45-minute workshop at Festival Of Quilts in Birmingham in 2013, but there was no time to complete it then, so it went into hibernation.  When I read my friend Tanya's report on how her protégé Yuma-kun had started on just such a quilt I decided it was time to finish mine.

This kind of quilt is called Happy Villages and is an original idea by Karen Eckmeier. It is so easy and great fun to make, I highly recommend getting her book.

This is my happy village:
 It has wetted my appetite for making other, more impressive villages and landscapes, but for now, this UFO is completed!

New and Completed
For my birthday I was given a subscription for this Swedish craft magazine.
It covers a lot of different crafts like woodwork and paper, as well as textile related craft. In this issue there was a pattern for stitched needle cases. I just had to try the pattern right away, and made these two, very simple ones:

I got the taste for making more, and make them more decorative with proper Swedish wool embroidery, maybe a bit of leather or fur, kavelfrans (napped edgings) and braided strings (kumihimo or lucet).

Have you had a good week?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival - 8 Things to take home

The quilts at Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival are of course not to take home (unless you happen to be the maker!); I showed you earlier that the quilted bags were fastened with wire.

However, there are plenty of traders who sell things, and you need not go home empty handed.

With a stash of fabric and thread fit to bursting, I had no intention of opening my purse to get any new stuff, until... Until I stumbled upon the Clover stand, that is. How it happened I don't know, but suddenly I was standing there with a little bag of

  • beading needles - yes I need them
  • a special embroidery threader, a new item - want to give it a try
  • a flexible bar with a clip for inserting strings or elastics in trousers or bags - rememberd my old one was broken 
  • 45˚ diamond templates - for a project in the near future
Please note this is not an advertisement for Clover, although I must say most of their goods are of high quality.

Then I walked out of the show, on the first day, with one more thing. This beautiful gift, a tatting lace necklace that my friend Tanya has made. Isn't it beautiful, and doesn't it look great with my sweater?

 When it is not around my neck, it has found a good place in my dictionary! Thank you, Tanya!
When I close my dictionary after having tried to decipher the quilters' names in kanji characters and write them in Roman letter, I also close this series of reports from Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2015, and hope to have some of my own work to show instead. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival - 7 More quilts?! And more things?!

By now you are probably fed up with Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival.

Yes? Stop reading now.

Don't know? Well, here is a summery for you; this post contains:

  • the winning quilts
  • other quilts
  • kogin
  • whitework
  • boutis
  • Japanese embroidery

No? Then read on.

The Grand Prix, Best in show, went to
a quilt in indigo blue
三坂悦子*Etsuko Misaka

Second prize went to this absolutely STUNNING quilt - a masterpiece if ever I saw one!
渡辺章子*Akiko Watanabe

The prize for handmade quilt

川上亜矢子*Ayako Kawakami

This quilt needed a lot of planning and fussy cutting
鬼塚美佐子*Misako Onitsuka

Here a sample of the clever use of kimono fabric, to dress the lady in - a kimono!
市村静子*Shizuko Ichimura

Every quilt show has some indigo quilts

古谷敦子*Atsuko Furuya

A charming village quilt

植松章子*Akiko Uematsu

Red and white is always striking
出家晴美*Harumi Shukke

Amish quilts are popular, even when they are machine quilted

小圷サト子*Satoko Koakutsu

Look how you can use the Buttonhole stitch on the machine for a nice accent.
池敬子*Keiko Ike

A Japanese quilt show is not a show without a taupe quilt. This one features Tokyo Station, in celebration of the station's 100th anniversary.

内藤千鶴子*Chizuko Naito

Handquilted Baltimore Album quilts are also popular
上坂和美*Kazumi Uesaka

A lot of perfection and work has gone into this quilt.

清田澄枝*Sumie Kiyota

Here is a quilt to inspire my friend of Hokkaido Kudasai
How many Mondays' worth of count would you need before you finished this quilt, Pamela?

田中福子*Fukuko Tanaka

This famous artist never fails to amaze the crowds with her charming, lively and witty quilts.

関田陽子*Yoko Sekita

NHK (the TV broadcaster) has recently shown a series of documentaries about Japanese fabric. In one of the programmes they focused on Kogin, the embroidery used to reinforce farmers' clothes in Aomori prefecture of northern Japan. At the show there was a display of such clothes and stitching. Some of my readers will recognise these items once on display at the Amuse museum in Tokyo.
If you want to try your hand at Kogin, Carolyn Foyley of caro-rose-creations has worked an impressive number of patterns and kindly made them accessible on her blog.

Famous embroidery artist Ayako Ohtsuka had some of her beautiful items on display

So did boutis expert Kumiko Nakayama Geraerts

Finally, a display of impeccable Japanese embroidery by

A word of warning, there will be one more post from Tokyo International Great Quilts Festival, but it's about things you take home, such as shopping!