The Queensland Embroiderers'Guild rooms sit on one of they busiest roads in Brisbane. It is noisy, dusty and close to public transport. It doesn't have any dedicated parking areas so one has to walk around the block or even to further fields to find a parking spot. During the week you have to feed the meters as well, but on the weekend this doesn't apply
In this street there is a little coffee lounge in an old Nissan hut. There were a number of these erected during WW2 but this was was put up in the 1950's. Maybe it was moved from somewhere else.It has had a number of reincarnations before being made into it's present use. As the Fifth Artilery Battery was a division formed in WW1 in New South Wales I think the name is just an advertising ploy, but a good one. All that aside this is my little oasis of calm on the weekend. During the week it is usually very busy but at the weekend I often have the garden area to myself.
The coffee is good, the service terrific and the food isn't bad either.
I often come in here to calm myself before I have to face the world.
Working on the hemp fabric is wonderful but for some items it doesn't give the right effect. So I have been doing a bit of experimenting. I found some furnishing fabric at Spotlight that had an open weave and looked as though it might be even, it wasn't.
These care labels leave a lot to be desired. I washed the fabric on a normal cycle with warm water. It shrank about 1% and of course, all the sizing was removed. I then spray starched it to get the hand back. I Ironed it with a steam iron on cotton with no ill effects. Nothing like the label. Also the label said linen natural but actually it only has 30% linen. It cost $22.99 per metre. I want to embroider some tote bags so I should get 4 out of the metre of fabric.
The thread count was 22 threads per inch in both the warp and weft directions. However the warp threads were quite a bit thinner than the weft. This meant the the size of the diamond was different when stitched either way. A difference of 1/4 of an inch over the whole design.
I also experimented with the thread. The first stitched across the weft thread in 3 strands of Kogin cotton and the 3 strands of DMC stranded cotton. I quite like the contrast between the mat colour of the Kogin thread and the shine of the DMC. The tension on the DMC thread had to be very slack to get the coverage. Both threads could be worked in the traditional manner meaning that the work is revesable.
I then tried stitching some perle threads across the warp. Amazing the difference 1/4 of an inch can make in the appearance of the design. The DMC Perle No 3 gave a good coverage but the No 5 was terrible. It would have been worse if stitched across the weft. Also, the perle thread could not be woven in the same way so the piece wasn't revesable. Still, it would be alright if you lined your work. Another thing with the Perle thread is the way the light is reflected. Because the stitching is across and then back the light can give it a lumpy appearance.
As a result of these experiments I think the bags will need to be stitched across the warp, there will be too much movement the other way. Also I will keep to the stranded cottons. I didn't try the Sashiko thread because it was thinner than the perle so I eliminated that from the beginning.
This isn't a hard stitch, in fact it is an easy stitch to pick up. I have never used it before so I had no preconceptions about it. But, the moment I saw it I knew it was something I had been looking for.
Why? Well I bought a set of woodcut cards in London back in the 1970's. They were of people who plyed their trades on the streets of London back in the early 1800's. They are the size of playing cards but printed on the back it says that they were originally published in a series of chapbooks, "Pictures of Real Life For Children."
I have always liked them but just didn't know how to use them. Then I saw this stitch and it is perfect for stitching over the woodcut print. It isn't regular the way I stitch it but that first stitch makes a great edge and the following line is so broken it is just like a woodcut print.
The caption on this print reads;
Man with his Dancing Bear. This curious sight is frequently seen about the streets of this great city, and is far from being the most contemptible.
This is my first audition of the stitch in the coat and hat of the bear handler.
The V & A has a big collection of chapbooks and just as an aside there is a wonderful Facebook page of "Shakespeare and Company Bookshop" it is just like one of those great old bookshops I bought these cards from.