Apology number 2!!

All I seem to do at the moment is apologise, but I must do it again!

Due to a very slow recovery after a recent procedure on my back I am unable to attend  the Lacemakers and Needlecraft Fair at the Havant Leisure Centre on Saturday 21st November. I am sorry that I will not be here to meet up with all of you who have become “stitching friends” over the years, but I am doing my best to be back to normal as soon as possible.

I am finding that doing any one thing, whether sitting or standing, for any length of time causes me problems, so at the moment I am flitting between different things and basically getting nowhere fast!! I do think things are getting better slowly. My husband is proving to be a very good taxi service as I am still unable to drive.

In the meantime I have been able to do a little bit of sewing. I have completed some of the background music on my Goldwork Saxophone.

saxophone oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you who can read music should now be able to work out the etching on the bell of the Saxophone.

I have also completed another colourway of Southwark – this time it is in Peach and Cream threads on cream Mono canvas. Hopefully an alternative for those of you that do not like stitching on black canvas.

Peaches and cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This now means that Southwark is available in four colourways – two stitched on black canvas and two on a light canvas.

For my next project I have gone completely mad!! I have wanted to stitch Nova, a design by Genny Morrow, for several years, but have always taken it out of the “to do” pile, had a look at the thread list and size and then put it back in the pile for another day. The design uses nearly 120 colours of stranded floss and is made up of 396 different squares – a big project. I recently had the oportunity to do some minature stitching with my Goldwork tutor Shelley and thought – Why don’t I stitch Nova in minature?

So —— Nova is being stitched on 40 count silk gauze instead of the 18 count listed in the design, with one strand of floss instead of four, and using a ball-point beading needle (the only one that will go through the gauze). It is fun and, surprisingly, I am not finding it too difficult to work on such a small scale. Sometimes you have to complete the stitches in an unusual order, especially when couching threads – the holes in the canvas are difficult to find when the thread to be couched has been put in place, but on the other hand I do not have to lay multiple strands in place. I also have to think again when the instruction ask for two different colours of floss to be blended in the needle – not exactly possible if you are only using one strand to start with! To get some idea of the size, each square in the photo below is about 0.25 inches wide!! I find that on a good night I can complete between 3 and 4 squares.

Nova 1

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies

Hi Everyone

For those of you hoping to see me at the Tonbridge Lace Fair on Sunday 19th October – I must offer my apologies. Unforunately have had to inform the organisers of this lace fair that I will not be able to attend this year. I know this is short notice but some of you will be aware that I have been having problems with my back throught the year, which has now meant I need an operation on it. I have just been informed that this operation should take place this next week and will mean that I am unable to drive or stand for any length of time for at least a couple of weeks afterwards. Hopefully sitting and stitching will be allowed!!

I hope to back to my usual self soon.

Nikki

 

New Years resolutions

Why the title of New Years Resolutions in July? Well I decided several years ago that instead of having a New Years resolution to stop doing something, that instead I would try to be positive and try something new every year. I do not have to decide on New Years Day what that something will be, but by the end of the year I have to learn a new technique and have a completed piece to show for it by the end of the year. Since I have started on this I must admit that all my new techniques have involved a needle in some way and I can see this continuing for a few more years. They  have ranged from box making – I made the box to show off one of my designs – Astral Minor, through beadweaving (a bracelet was completed) to quilting. The latter was supposed to be a simple Jelly Roll design, but ended up being double-bed sized! I did get a new sewing machine out of that project as my old one which was over 25 years old could not cope!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of my favorite projects have involved learning a traditional embroidery techniques – over the last few years I have had a go a ribbon embroidery, Mountmellick work and last year was Goldwork – the Art Nouveau Lily being my introduction to that technique. I can’t think of one of my new techniques that I have not enjoyed learning and most I can see myself revisiting once I have more time – my things to do in the future pile is getting larger!!  Some techniques I have enjoyed so much that I have started another piece virtually straight away as in the case of the Goldwork Saxophone.

However I don’t think I have finished a new project quite as quickly as this years technique. I had the opportunity to attend a one-day workshop that Shelley (my Saxophone tutor) was running on a Sunday back in June. We were given the choice of two designs to work on as well as two different colourways. I decided to be different and came up with my own colours!

Shelleys designs

Shelleys designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the day I had learnt some new stitches but still had a lot of work to do.

End of workshop

End of workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I had enjoyed the day so much I decided to buy the instructions and fabric to complete the second design as well.  Both designs were completed within 4 weeks!! This is definitely a technique that will be repeated again soon. I am already thinking about a large design that I can work on once the Saxophone is finished.

Canterbury BelleSherwood Rose

Pente

Hi again – this should be the last time today!! I am now going to do some stitching.

There is a new design to be added to the Little Ones series. This is in response to a request by a lady called Barbara at the Havant show last November. She asked if I could work out the threads to do one of the Little Ones but in peach. Hopefully I have gone one better and come up with a new design as well – this one is called Pente. The instructions are not quite ready yet but if any one wants the thread list to use for one of the other Little One designs they have already bought then get in touch with me via the contact button on my website. There are now seven different colourways for this series.

Pente

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The goldwork Saxophone is progressing very slowly, mainly due to a problem I have developed with my back for which I am having treatment. I does mean I have had difficulty working on the large slate frame that it is being stitched on. I should be getting my new trestles to support the frame properly for stitching sometime in the next couple of weeks – a birthday present from Paul my husband.

Southwark – new colour

Hi again – twice in one day!

Here is a new colour variation of one of my older designs – Southwark. Many of you have mentioned at the shows that you love the design but are put off by stitching on black canvas. This option is stitched on Sandstone coloured canvas. If any of you have previously bought the instructions of Southwark and would like the list for the threads for this colourway then get in touch with me via the contact button on my website and I will email the list to you. There is another version on its way soon – this time on cream canvas.

Southwork - Sea Blue and Sand option

Southwork – Sea Blue and Sand option

Orange Balls

A mentioned in my last entry I had been doing some stitching for my branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild which I was not able to show yet. This is was because it was to be a part of our branch entry to the Regional day competition. The idea was for each branch to choose a colour from the colour wheel and to produce a display based on that colour. Our branch chose orange – which was initially met with groans from the members but proved to be a wonderful colour to stitch with during  the dark, dreary, wet winter we had and to make an orange tree.

Due to lack of time I chose to adapt some designs I already had into oranges. The first piece is a cross stitch pattern called The Quaker Ball published by Amaryllis Artworks. I stitched it on 32ct Belfast Linen in a colour known as Vintage Peach – it is not obvious from the photo but the fabric has a light orange variable shading to it. I also decided to use whatever orange threads I had – considering I can’t remember having stitched with orange before it was surprising how many I had – maybe the Husband is correct and I have got a lot of threads!! The ball is made up of 26 different pieces which all had to be joined together once they had been stitched – that took some concentration to make sure they were joined together in the correct order.

cross stitch ball 2cross stitch ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next two pieces were back to my favorite medium of canvas. I adapted  a key fob designed by Shelley Cox – by turning two squares into circles and again using all that orange thread I did not know I had. It is not easy to make even circles on canvas, but I think I managed – these are just backed with orange felt, with either beads or braid to neaten the edges.

canvaswork oranges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final piece was my holiday stitching. Paul and I took a weeks break upto Ripon in May – just as Tour de France fever was starting to hit the area. We were very lucky with our weather with only one slightly wet morning. I chose to do some beading on felt. On this occasion I did have to buy the felt (but it was also needed for the canvaswork) but again the beads were from stash!! I knew there was a reason I always want to add to my stash when I see stitching things reduced in sales. Basically I just added beads in different patterns to the felt that I had pre-drawn the  pentagons on before travelling. I must apologise to the owners of the cottage if they found any beads lying around after we left – I did my best to find those that “escaped” whilst stitching!!

beaded felt ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a photo of the final effort by the branch – we ended up with over 70 oranges made by our members.

orange tree

 

Time – where does it go?

I have come to realise that there really are not enough hours in the day at the moment!! As a result of this some things have to wait – one of these is to not worry about frequent blog entries – the less time I spend on the computer the more time I have to stitch.

So what have I been up to for the last few months? Well when I looked back at my stitching pile the answer is quite a bit.

First of all – a big thank you for all the wonderful comments I received at the Weald Lace show back in March. It really gives me a big boost getting so much positive feedback. As a designer I tend to stitch what I like especially when choosing colours and it is nice to know that others like my designs too. It was also nice to see those pieces of work that some of you had finished.

For those that commented that trying to stitch with black threads on a black canvas at a show was hard work – you were right. Once I got home I realised the days’ stitching was all wrong by one canvas thread – so out it all had to come. “Unstitching” black was almost as hard as stitching black – however it only took me an hour to correctly stitch it that evening. The piece is now finished and I am working on its instructions. It is a companion piece to Storm at Sea – slightly smaller and uses less threads so will be slightly cheaper to stitch. I have stitched it in two colourways – Peaches and Cream and Black and White, but it can also be stitched in the two colours of Storm at Sea. I have also worked the thread list so that Storm at Sea can be stitched in these two new colours. If you have bought the instructions for Storm at Sea and would like the threadlist for these new colours then send me a message via the contact button on my website and I will email them to you.

Peaches and Cream

Peaches and Cream

Black and White

Black and White

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the moment I am stitching an older design in two new colours. Many people love the design, but hate the idea of stitching on black canvas. This can be tough on the eyes if you don’t have good light to stitch in as I have recently rediscovered with the black on black I was stitching. The new versions will be stitched on Sandstone and Ecru canvas – more details to follow.

The Saxophone I am stitching in my Goldwork workshop is progressing – slowly!! The laid work is now finished – but oh boy! This was very tough on the fingers!! In the end I had to frequently resort to using a pair of pliers to pull the needle though the several layers of felt padding at the bell – my fingers would be too tired to grip the needle. I was given a choice at the design stage of having padding to make it more 3D or to stitch it flat. Having finished this section although it was hard work I think I made the right choice. It is not obvious from the photos but there were 6 layers of carpet felt used in the padding.

Saxophone - April

Saxophone – April

Saxophone - May

Saxophone – May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next stage is to work out the music which will “flow” behind the Saxophone – the etching on the bell should give some idea of the music I have chosen. I also have all the buttons to stitch. These are all going to be completed separately and added later.

I have also completed several pieces of stitching for my branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild for our entry to the Regional Day in July, but I will not be able to show photos of that until after the event.

I am still here!

As the title says I am still here – although I have not been making entries onto the blog. Unfortunately the work (pharmacy) – stitch balance has been tipped a long way towards the pharmacy side over the last several months. Due to changes at the shop at which I am a pharmacist, it means that I have had to give a lot more effort to that side of my life. It has all been very good for the pharmacy business, but has left me very tired each evening and as a result the stitching has slowed down slightly.  The good news is – I am still stitching.

I have to thank all of those people who visited my stand at both the Tonbridge and Havant lace fairs last year. The wonderful comments from you all certainly makes my day. This was my first time at Havant, and I was amazed at how busy I was. It was nice to meet a lot of new stitchers. I have updated my Diary page to show the Fairs I will be attending this year.

So what has been happening on the stitching front?

Storm at Sea is finished and now available for sale from my website. This is not a small design – it is over 15 inches square and stitched on 18 count mono canvas.

green bronzejade grey

The design is at present available in the two colourways shown above. The green/bronze option is stitched on Victorian Green canvas and the jade/grey colourway is stitched on Light Blue canvas. This design uses 26 different threads as well as beads. Among the threads used are Caron Watercolors and Impressions, Rainbow Gallery Splendor, Neon Rays, Petite Treasure Braid, Flair and Neon Rays Plus, Kreinik Silk Serica and metallic threads, ThreadworX floss as well as other silk flosses and cotton perle threads. I know this will not make it a cheap design to stitch, but I hope that those of you who do chose to stitch it have fun with the various threads and stitches I have chosen.

I am at present working on another two colourways for this design Peaches and Cream and Black and White. The threads for Peaches and Cream are shown below although since taking this photo I have substituted the Gloriana Silk floss for an alternative silk floss. This colourway is proving to be very pretty and very different to the previous two. It is being stitched on the cream canvas shown.

Peaches and cream threads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black and White colourway is a request by one of my customers  at the shows. It has not been the easiest to work out the threads, but I am nearly there! This will be stitched on black canvas.

I have also been working on a slightly smaller variation of this design, of which I should soon have a finished version. It uses many, but not all, of the threads from Storm at Sea (so it should be cheaper to stitch) and will be able to be stitched in the same four colourways. I will also be using for the first time Vineyard Classic Silk thread in this design. This is a thread I was introduced to by Yvonne of West End Embroidery in September of last year. I have really enjoyed stitching with it and expect it will make more appearances in my designs.

Away from the canvaswork – my first love – I am also going once a month to a class run by Shelley Cox at her workshop in Hawkhurst. I have been to a few one day workshops that Shelley has run on Ribbon embroidery, Mountmellick work as well as the Goldwork workshop mentioned in an earlier blog entry. This time I seemed to have jumped in the deep end!!

I am stitching a Goldwork Saxophone. After four classes I am now able to start stitching with the gold threads!! So far I have learnt how to fasten the fabric to the frame – I am using a proper slate frame for the first time, and how to develop and apply the design to the fabric. The next two lessons were spent applying the several layers of padding that will give shape to the Saxophone body. This is definitely a long term project, I will try to take photos when I have made more progress. I am hoping to get some proper trestles to rest the stand on for working in a few months – at the moment I have to balance the frame on a table with the help of my Lowry stand.

sazophone 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy stitching to all those following this blog, hopefully it will not be such a long wait before my next entry!!

Goldwork 2 – I’m getting there!!

Just a quick update on the Goldwork. There was much more of what I like about Goldwork this last Sunday – ie only two more ends to plunge through the silk and finish off. There should now be no more plunging before the design is finished. Hurray!!

We were shown how to do soft string padding (I’m sure mine looks like two thin yellow slugs!), cutting and chipping. With plenty of the last to finish off on our piece at home. We were also shown how to use broad plate. A nurse also on the course and myself (a pharmacist) soon got the hang of this once we realised it was like applying a crepe bandage. The others on the course must have wondered what we were on about!! Anyway here is a photo of the work so  far. I will next post when it is finished.

Goldwork after day 2

Goldwork after day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS  I am finding I get a sore finger if I do much Goldwork each evening. Obviously my finger is only used to the blunter tapestry needles used for canvaswork. I know the answer to this is a thimble, but I gave up on that idea many years ago.