Friday 30 July 2021

World Embroidery Day

Today is World Embroidery Day.  Started in 2011 in Sweden. This link is unfortunately only in Swedish, but there are some pictures to look at.

I worked on my Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler.

I added a few circles of fabric, stitched Stem Stitch at the edges and Bayeaux (couching) Stitch on top.

The 'thread' in the picture is actually a strand of my hair. Human hair is often used in fine Chinese embroidery and in Sweden, in the past,  jewellery was made from hair. So why not use a strand of my own hair. Grotesque or unique?


Friday Homework for Lesson 179: Double Pekinese Stitch

I like the Double Pekinese Stitch better than the stitch it is based on, Pekinese Stitch. I think the loops are nicely spread out and sit more securely when there are two rows of Back Stitch to keep them in check. Also the thread used for the Back Stitch is more obvious.

Aida Sampler

Sunday Stitch School Reference Chart

Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth

Thursday 29 July 2021

What's In A Quilt - 11

I recently completed my crazy quilt project Crazy for Crazy, and now want to write its history.

Block number 11 took some time to make, I started early in April 2019 and completed it two months later, in June.

The block is in pink and white. Forget sweet baby pink, here is a collection of mature, grown-up pinks, some pieces are almost icy cold, as is some of the white details.
When I wrote about the previous block I mentioned that the first piece of fabric, placed in the middle, usually is thick, stiff or difficult to fold. In this block, however, there is another reason why I put the chirimen crêpe there, right in the centre - it stretches, and can easily be pulled out of shape.

Chirimen is a popular type of fabric in Japan. It can be silk, wool or polyester. The first two are sometimes used for kimono or furoshiki (wrapping cloth), whereas the synthetic lends itself to dollmaking and small crafted items. You can read more about chirimen, or Japanese crêpe, here.

So once that piece was firmly pinned down, I surrounded it with pieces of plain pink cotton, a William Morris monochrome piece and icy sari silk from the Oxfam shop. The sixth piece is a lovely floral, but I can not remember where it came from...

There is a wide piece of machine lace, fixed with long bugle beads and small white seed beads. 
Before I forget it,  I must write down a memory about bugle beads: Chitra of Jizee6687's Weblog told me that in Indian embroidery long pieces of bugle beads (nalki pipes) are used. To cut them to the length required she used nail clippers! I thought that was such a good idea, as the broken off piece would not go flying across the room, but be caught up inside the clipper (if you use a good pair, that is!). If you don't know about the remarkable work Chitra has done, there is an interesting interview at Sharon Boggon's Pintangle.

This pink block has another piece of lace, an Australian dragonfly.
The ric-rac has metallic threads in it, so it glitters.
A length of knitting ribbon, also with something shiny in it, was scrunched up, then flattened and couched down. Even the shortest bit of 'useless' yarn can be used. Recycle, recycle, recycle!

The dragonfly is following an undulating trail of Stem Stitch, which I marked with a plastic template from Pintangle. These are nifty and well worth having.

Shiny white silk thread was used to make the Dorset button, the pink part is perle cotton. 
The button has a tail of Satin Threaded Chain Stitch.

Seven sequins have trapped an Indian circle of Chermanthy Stitch (simple version).

This block could not have been made without the gifts, help, inspiration or support of: Jacquie, Sylvia, Elizabeth, Auntie, Maureen, Chitra, Sharon and readers of this blog. THANK YOU.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

WIPW - Circles

It has been a hot and humid week, not the best conditions to stitch in, but there is some progress to report for Work In Progress Wednesday.

Log Cabin Challenge

I quilted 22 blocks, marked in lilac on the graph.

Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler

STILL no good name has come to mind!

Some embroidered circles have come to stay though.

The four lower circles and the little one at the top are new. Bayeux Stitch and Rumanian Stitch in a variety of threads.

Monday 26 July 2021

May I Suggest ...Monday?

Every Monday I want to promote blog reading. The names of blogs I like have been written on pieces of paper, and today I picked two slips at random from my box.

I have enjoyed looking at Susan's creations for a long time, be they her beautiful greeting cards, Christmas wreaths and baubles or her tatting. It was actually after seeing her tatting that I decided to give that craft a try.
However, it is Susan's magic with the crochet hook that has impressed me most. Apart from garments, hats and gloves, baby clothes and blankets, it is her skill at 'cooking' yarn that has put a smile on my face. How about a full English breakfast of bacon and eggs, sausages, mushrooms, toast and a teapot full of tea? I am sure you would want a slice of that cake, too.
Susan has not been active on her blog for some time unfortunately, or she has moved to Instagram or some other platform. You can still enjoy past creations, though.

I have often written about Elizabeth Healey's two books, 'Stitch, Fabric & Thread', and LACE Reimagined'. The books have given me a lot of information, inspiration and instructions for making Dorset Buttons, Mola quilting, unusual embroidery stitches, stitches on paper, visible mending and lace of all sorts, as well as her charming peg dolls.
I would not have known about the books if it had not been for Elizabeth's blog, which I started following in 2013. There you can see this adventurous explorer-of-all-things-crafty's creations like book binding, indigo dyeing, boro quilting, felted pebbles, and whimsical stitches in felt. 
I like Elizabeth's attitude to experiments and 'Let's see what happens'.
Elizabeth has also held workshops at The Knitting & Stitching Show in the UK, and had numerous projects published in stitch magazines.

Sunday 25 July 2021

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 179: Double Pekinese Stitch

For anyone who has done the Pekinese Stitch, 

today's stitch will be easy. You can guess why, when you hear the name - Double Pekinese Stitch.

I picked up this stitch from Pintangle.

Begin with a row of Back Stitch.

Then make another row parallel  
to it.

Change to a contrasting thread.
Without biting any fabric
go under the second pair of
stitches, from top to bottom.

Then go under the first pair of
stitches, from bottom upward.

Third pair, downward, then 
second pair, upward, and 
so on.

Continue to the end of the line.

Depending on how much slack you give, the contrasting thread will be highly visible and stand out, or hardly be noticeable at all.

Here is also a good opportunity to play with unusual or 'difficult' thread.

Work the three samplers.

Saturday 24 July 2021

Friday Homework for Lesson 178: Floating Loop Stitch

 This is not the easiest of stitches, but once you have placed the pins and start looping the thread it is quite fast. Care most be taken afterwards, though, as it is easy to snag a loop and pull the floating petal out of shape.

Aida Sampler

Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth

Sunday Stitch School Reference Chart

Thursday 22 July 2021

What's In A Quilt - 10

 I recently completed my crazy quilt project Crazy for Crazy, and now want to write its history.

The tenth block is sitting to the immediate left of last week's block. Again I have been inspired by vanilla and lavender.
I don't know if you have noticed, but the middle of my blocks often holds a piece of upholstery plush. Have you wondered why? It is simply because that type of fabric is too stiff to fold. 

I always start the piecing with the centre and work my way outwards, rotating, a bit like making a Log Cabin block. The centre piece is just flat and the following pieces of fabric are the ones that have to be folded. So if there is a thick or stiff piece of fabric, it is always smart to place it in the middle. 

My mother's collection of plush swatches are all plain. That makes it suitable to add some sort of eye catching decoration or stitchery there. In this case I placed one single star shaped sequin there. If you look closely you can see I fastened it with a Whipped Wheel.

The piece next to it also has some velvet-y areas. It is a piece of chiffon actually and had the perfect colour, but the brown plush became an eye-sore. That was easy to fix - I placed a Lattice grid on top. Isn't it amazing how the purple thread fools the eye to see the velvet as a purple tone?

This chiffon piece was a remnant from a ball gown, as was the machine embroidered tulle with purple and yellow flowers. Together with the gold brocade they come from the same source - Mrs I's Dressmaking Studio.

An unusual piece is the scrap of linen. It was part of a pack I bought in Obuse, a small picturesque town in Nagano prefecture. 
Obuse is famous for its Ganshoin Temple (where Katsushika Hokusai painted a fantastic phoenix on the ceiling), chestnut delicacies, both sweet and savoury  (steamed mixed rice, ice cream, flan with bacon..), many museums (Hokusai, Nakajima Chinami, who is a famous painter of Japanese flowers, and a Japanese Lamp Museum...), rice wine. In a place like this, there are several shops selling high class souvenirs, and it was here that I got the linen.

On the largest piece of vanilla cotton, I placed a fantastic piece of tatting - a flower of many petals, made by a friend who 'took to tatting like fish to water'. She has given me a good many pieces and this is definitely the crème de la crème. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to use it for one of my crazy quilt blocks. I added a wooden bead covered in yellow silk thread in the centre.
To give the tatted flower even more flair I stitched petals around it in Methodist Knot and Chevron Stitch, as well as one sided Buttonholed Cable Chain.
There is also a curved line where I couched down a commercial upholstery braid.

Other embroidery stitches are: Chequered Chain Band, flowers made up of Knots, Bullions, Zig-zag Cable Chain. Finally I added a long lost friend, a stitch called Crested Chain Stitch. At the time of making this block I was reading VirtuoSew Adventures, and saw that Rachel was embellishing a Jacobean Coat with felt and embroidery stitches, one of which was Crested Chain Stitch. I realised I hadn't used it for about six years. Sometimes you really need to see someone else's work to get inspiration.

This block is not crowded with beads, but the yellow ones are the same expensive soroban beads I showed last week, here in a different colour though.

Sharon Boggons book about crazy quilting helped me a lot, and my friend Jacquie Harvey reminded me to add a spiders web for luck.

I worked this block between Feb 6th - April 3rd, 2019

Thank you to Mrs I, Mrs S, Rachel, Mum, Maureen, Sylvia, Jacquie, Sharon, Obuse Town and all my readers and friends who have left comments.

Wednesday 21 July 2021

WIPW - In Spite of the Heat

In spite of the oppressive heat in Tokyo today I have made some progress.

Log Cabin Challenge

Thirteen blocks were quilted with Feather Stitch. Progress marked in blue.

Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler

I have not come up with a better name yet. 

However, I have added a mirrored stem made up of #46 Corded Coral Stitch, and two circles, #50 Bayeux Stitch, and #36 Rumanian Stitch. Both are edged with Stem Stitch. The Stem Stitch is one of the stitches I will allow on this Sunday Stitch School Sampler in spite of it being a TAST stitch. Stem Stitch is such an important household stitch.

Sunday 18 July 2021

May I Suggest ...Monday?

Every Monday I want to promote blog reading. The names of blogs I like have been written on pieces of paper and today I picked two slips at random from my box.

Anyone who's into crazy quilting will probably have used buttons on their quilts. 
Crazy quilter Sharon Boggon has made a quilt called 'I Dropped the Button Box Quilt' where the buttons are almost rolling off the quilt, so rich in buttons is it. 
Renowned Japanese quilter Eiko Okano's quilts are often heavy with buttons. 
I have seen quilts that were 'quilted', or 'tied' rather, with buttons, a decorative way of keeping the three layers together. 
So if you are into buttons, or if you just want to see some beautiful or unusual ones, here is Button Floozies for you. You can see fantastic Button Bouquets, Christmas Cards and the finds from Estate sales. Enjoy!

Lins Arty Blobs
This is the place to go for a smile.
Linda is a professional artist and designer, skilful in so many ways. 
First, let's continue with the button theme - Linda has made fantastic buttons, and on her blog you will find a tutorial for Art Buttons. Also check out her Button Book.
The second thing that has impressed me is how good Linda is at using recycled items, e.g. she has used the lining of envelops for beautiful collages, she has made stamps of scraps of cardboard boxes, and don't miss her Rolling Stamp Tutorial.
A third skill is her watercolour sketches, sometimes just perfectly 'correct', at other times something quirky, like a dancing penguin in a pink skirt.
I also like her Quiet Book for Samuel, a fantastic fabric playbook. 
You notice we are moving into textile. Linda has designed many fantastic patterns for fabric, have a look at My Spoonflower Shop.
These designs are created on her tablet. It is fascinating to see how one design can look when it is duplicated and there are many repeats. There are such possibilities with digital art.
I first got to know Linda in 2013 through TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) where we worked the same stitches and it was fun to compare how she and the other participants had interpreted the stitches. Linda sometimes stitched on fabric, but also on paper, and made crazy quilt blocks. Great stuff!
I hope you will enjoy a visit to Lins Arty Blobs. For me a day without a shot of Vitamin L is a dull day.

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 178: Floating Loop Stitch

I got a request to make a tutorial for a 'Floating Buttonhole Stitch,' described as a three-dimensional embroidery stitch. Not having heard of such a stitch, I searched high and low, and found nothing that fitted that name or image.

I was then shown a picture (instagram?), that seems to have been taken from a book and by studying the photograph I think I know how to make this stitch.  

In my eyes it is made up of loops rather than Buttonhole so have taken it upon myself to call it Floating Loop Stitch. 

If anyone have heard of a Floating Buttonhole Stitch, or seen anything similar to what I will show below, please leave a comment.

Work Floating Loop Stitch like this:

Use a pin to work the loops over.

Take a small bite of the fabric at the base.

Make three loops in this way.

Then lead the needle from right
to left through the 'tunnel'.

Place a new pin for the second set of loops.

Go under the new pin to make a loop.

Instead of biting the fabric, go through 
the left loop in the first set.

Make three loops.

Lead the needle through the
'tunnel', from right to left.

Go through the 'tunnel' one more time 
and tighten.
Remove the pins.

Take one more stitch through the 'tunnel', 
tighten into a knot.
Help the stitch to stand up right from 
the foundation fabric.

Anchor the working thread with a long 
loose bit of thread.

There you have it.
Place five or more in a circle and you
have a beautiful ring of petals. Fill the
centre with French Knots or beads.

It is not the easiest of stitches, and needs to be handled with great care afterwards - it is easy to snag and pull it out of of shape. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

The three usual samplers.

Friday 16 July 2021

Friday Homework for Lesson 177: Double Seed Stitch

 So easy, so fun. With brown thread you can make coffee beans!

Aida Sampler

Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth

Sunday Stitch School Reference Chart

Thursday 15 July 2021

What's In A Quilt - 9

I recently completed my crazy quilt project Crazy for Crazy, and now want to write its history. 

Block number nine can be seen easily in the picture above, navy blue and shocking pink. I am sure you can spot it.

If you were expecting an exciting story about this block, I'm afraid you will be disappointed - there is none. 

Yet, I can tell you that it oozes love -it is mainly made up of gifts. 

The two pieces of kimono silk, the coarsely woven blue near the middle and the velveteen in the centre, as well as the plain navy blue pieces are from friends or relatives in Japan. 

The bright sari silk came in the same pack of scraps I used in block #8, and that I had picked up in an Oxfam shop in the UK. 

My memory fails me about the navy blue with silver print, frosty trees - it is obviously a Christmas print, but where did I get it? Was it at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham...?

The lace ornament, and the arched braid herald from Australia. Both are gifts and have been manipulated with bead and stitches, hopefully with the benefactress' blessings. I kept a ribbon wrapped around a Christmas present from my mother.

The beaded Feather Stitch on the left contains 'cheap' beads, but the Stem Stitched stems on the right sport very expensive 'soroban' beads. They have the shape of the beads used on a Japanese abacus, and the cut makes them sparkle.  I got them from a Japanese lady when she no longer was able to continue her  accessory making hobby... so sad, but I am happy to have put the beads to good use. The floras sequins are simple but add a lot of shine.

Some of my favourite stitches are here: Mountmellick, Ribbon Roses, Fly Stitch, Thorn and Herringbone Stitch...  I enjoyed the Puncetto Valsesiano, rich and thick and undulating, the best.

The two flowers in the middle have petals made with Granitos Stitch. The thread is a very nice slippery rayon thread from Art Fibre Endo (A.F.E.) in Kyoto. They regularly had a traders' booth in Tokyo Dome for the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival every January, and I bought quite a lot of their unique threads.

I worked this block between Dec 19th 2018 and 30th Jan 2019.

My gratitude goes to: Maureen, Auntie, Kaoru,  Mrs S, the person who donated to Oxfam, A.F.E. Jacquie, FOQ, my mother, and all my loyal readers for kind support and encouragement.