Teaching Feed


I had a beginners class on Saturday.  It was full of students who were quite accomplished embroiderers.  They though that because they were 'self taught' they were beginners. 

I often wonder why I put so much work into preparation of my lessons.  I revisited the small booklet that I give to students in this class, along with some of the samples I include.  Part of the revisiting included updating the web links that I include.  I check that the web addresses are active and in doing this I realised that there has been a shift,  from 'printed resources' to 'video resources'. ( I only give 4 links,  you could give a whole list but if you keep it simple I find people will visit the sites.)  It is interesting how we are slowly moving away from the printed word. 

The four sites I use are;

needlenthread.com  this has lots to look at in the Tips & Techniques section including some good 'how to' videos' at the bottom of the page.

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Pintangle's Stitch Dictionary. It you ever want to look up a stitch this is the place to go.  There are 100's of stitches and images of different variations.

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The Embroiderers' Guild of the U.K.  There are some nice videos with Nicola Jarvis demonstrating different techniques.  This site also has lots of interesting links.  One could waste a lot of time just exploring here.

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And finally, DMC U.K.  or DMC USA

Both sites are similar with the USA site having more video tutorials.

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With the samples I include in my kit I usually put a free pattern from Bronwyn Hayes of Red Brolly but her webpage and Facebook pages have been removed.  Bronwyn is fighting caner at the moment and her family want her to concentrate on that.  I really miss her breezy blog and all the lovely patterns she includes.

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So why do I put so much effort into preparing a class that is free for new members?  Well I love embroidery and I like to share that love with others.


At the show

I spent a session at the Stitches and Craft  Show helping man the Embroiderers' Guilds stall.  I always like doing this because I get to catch up with friends from town and country.  It isn't a large space but the convenor always puts up a nice display of work from current members and from the Guild Collection.

One of the pieces was a cutwork version of a cat by Mabel Mc Alister, who was one of the founders of our guild.  She did different versions of this cat in a variety of stitching techniques.  This is the first time I had got a good look at the cutwork cat up close.  (Mabel got her inspiration for her cats from an image on some Spanish chocolate wrappers.)

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He is just delicious.  When you look into the piece there are a  number of clever design features, like the use of different tones of beige threads that give depth and texture.

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And the eveness of the button hole stitch leaves me green with envy.  Just look at those thin connecting bars.

But it is his face that holds so much expression and that little extra colour on the bow tie draws your eye to the face as well.

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The use of eyelets in the nose is inspired.

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Cut work does not rank high on the list of embroidery techniques that I like to stitch but this cat is so adorable that I would consider trying the stitch again.  What am I saying?  No I wouldn't!!!

A little catching up

Well, I thought the Children's Class was going to be a flop.  We only had a few kids enrolled and then on the day a full class turned up on the doorstep.  Today is our second day and we are expecting a few more.  I am interested to see just how they decorate their monogram.  I put out a few kits for the helpers and they came up with different takes on the design as well.

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One other thing is the learning Italian.  As I said before, I am not good with languages but learning with Duolingo is effective, if slow.  (The slow part is my brain.)  I have just about got to the end of level 1.  Being a perfectionist, I do not want to move on until I can do each lesson and get 100%.  I'm still getting mixed up with the "they eat, we eat, I eat etc.  It's not the they, we, I, it's the eat, a different word for each subject.  Just like Latin back at school.  And I find my spelling is as bad in Italian as it is in English.  I had hoped it would improve!  But having said that, I keep having 'brain flashes' with the lyrics of Italian songs I memorised so long ago.  The meaning will suddenly flash into my mind of some obscure phrase from long ago.  I went back to some of those pieces and checked the translation on the music and although their meaning was right my translation was better.  Amazing.  I have a long way to go, but, Rome wasn't built in a day.

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The other thing that is good about this course is the flash cards (tiny cards).  We, use these when teaching little children to read and write but I have found them just as effective with adults, or me anyway.  Now after all these years I actually think that I will be able to learn other languages.  I actually feel I am going to achieve this.  It was one of those things I wanted to do and never thought I would, but kept hoping.

 The next thing is Christmas, it's coming and I need to get ready!!!





A bit of a find

I picked up a book called "Embroidery for Schools" from a charity shop and I think it is a bit of a find.

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It is by Joan Nicholson and that name seemed a bit familiar so I went to Mr Google to see what I could find.  Turns out she is the mother of Nancy Nicholson who's embroidery is bit like that of her mothers.  (There are some great images on her blog ,  plus lots of references and articles about work done by both of her parents. )

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The book is dated and is printed in black and white but the ideas presented are wonderful.  I have been making lots of stitching cards for my grand daughters.  There is a whole chapter devoted to these in this small book and I found some colour images on Nancy's blog of the originals.   But I really love the little stitched dolls that she makes. 

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These are first printed, using lino prints onto fabric and then stitched.  All the patterns for making the lino blocks are in the book.

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This has started me thinking about things I might be able to do for my children's classes not using these patterns but using the same process.  I need to start experimenting.


A new on line course.

I have started a new course, how to speak Italian.  Now I really want to know how to speak Japanese, so I started with Italian.  That sounds really logical doesn't it?  I 'm a bit scared about learning Japanese so thought I would start with a language written in a familiar script.  Also, I am a little familiar with the language from all those years of training as a musician.  I have memorised whole opera roles in Italian without really know the language. But my accent is impeccable.  Native speakers think I must come from Italy, even though once they start talking I get lost.  

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This course is presented in short modules and goes on for months.  I think I should get my son Guy's partner to learn as well.  Roseanna came to Australia as a child and can understand but not speak the language.  I have another reason for getting her to learn with me, I might get to see my son a bit more often.  He is a shocker that one.

Samples completed

I have finished my trials of the monograms for the next children's class and learnt quite a few things whilst stitching them.  Over at Mary Corbett's blog she has trialed the same kind of designs but on totally different fabrics and for a different audience.  My samples were stitched with children and their abilities in mind.  Firstly, I couldn't afford good quality linen so had to use a cheap alternative. I choose a patchwork linen which was $20 p.m. the weave was good but the finished fabric was weak and rather thin.  It does come in white, beige and natural, which gives the stitcher a variety of background.

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Mary used a good quality homespun on the back of hers but I found this a bit difficult for kids to stitch through.  I settled on Amour Weft dress making interfacing which is iron on and gives the fabric more weight and doesn't allow shadowing of the stitching. 

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I did have to add another layer of white homespun under the white linen so have reserved this fabric for the volunteers who will be able to handle it.

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The A5 book cover is for the beginners.  I tried stitching a close confetti of seed stitch but found that it looked better spread out and the stitches a bit bigger.  (I have tried to match my stitching to that of the proposed students.) The momogram can be stitched in a range of line stitches that therefore will accommodate the skills of a beginner.  For the A6 book cover I used 2 strands of DMC for the monogram but only one for the embroidery.  I choose simple stitches, lazy daisy, french knots and fly stitch but I am sure that the kids with more experience will come up with a design to suit themselves. 

This project has to be able to be finished at the end of the 2 day class so I have simplified the making up.  I have overlocked all the edges of the linen.  This then only requires the end to be folded over to size, a piece of lining fabric place over this and then the top and bottom seams have to be machined, a 5 minute job.  If they want to they can top stitch around the edge, as I did in the A5 version, to give a neater finish. 

Big sigh of relief that I have finished that job.





More Kogin

At my last advanced class I added a small project as an after thought.  The after thought was that the ladies who stitched the 'Hishi (beautiful) Sashi (stitch) patterns did so on other fabrics once the railway arrived.  They would buy bundles of old cloth as a group and then clean them, sometimes with fish scales, and then stitch with wools, that had by this stage become available.  This was the beginning of coloured thread stitching.  Looking at some of the examples in the Amuse Museum the mind just boggles at the skill of these stitchers.

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So with this in mind I included some curtain fabric which isn't completely even weave and has a good percentage of synthetic content.  I also included some of the beautiful hand dyed Shashiko thread to stitch with.  No one liked it and all quickly returned to the traditional hemp fabric.  So, I have stitched out the sample .

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A full run on one side and a diamond on the other.

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I used a light interfacing on the back of the curtain fabric, but I'm not sure it needed this.  I then made tabs to hold the cord and sewed this in with the lining.  It makes a very roomy bag that opens wide to see what you have inside.

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 And I am quite pleased with the finished bag.

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Perhaps this might inspire these ladies to have another try?


Advanced Kogin Class

I had a most enjoyable day on Saturday past, teaching an Advanced Kogin class at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild.

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I took my stock of threads with me so that the ladies could select their own colours to do their stitching.  I think only one person stayed with the original colours and everyone else had something different.  Some people found not stitching in a frame different and all preferred the hemp fabric to the linen I had included for a small project.

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Having a class of students who already understood the basics of Kogin Embroidery and a love of counted thread work sure made the teaching easy and enjoyable.

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Thank you ladies for a great day.



The Children's Class

Well we have another successful class finished.  You never know the range of ages that will turn up and this time we didn't have any little ones.  Or rather we had one and his grandmother sat with him downstairs so that he wouldn't distract his siblings.

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  As usual they were lovely children and some of them have been coming to my classes for the last 6 years.  These girls are now very proficient embroiderers and some are better than a lot of adults I have taught.  I haven't taught the previous 3 classes and I was shocked to see how much they had grown.  I don't know why, that is what kids do.

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One brother and sister sang a song in parts as they stitched.  They enjoyed what they were doing and we all loved listening to their singing.  I noticed that the other students stopped talking to listen.  This is such innocent fun that I remember doing as a child, singing in parts with others.  I am so glad to see children still enjoy it.

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I always encourage the students to put their own 'stamp' on what they are doing and this time some added tassels to the star which I thought was a great improvement.  I will have to remember that one.

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Even if they didn't finish their stitching we constructed all the cushion covers and the opening at the back is big enough for them to keep stitching the designs until they do finished.  We sent these kids home with enough thread to do the job.  There are still a couple of days of the holidays to go so I think they will get the job done.

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Now I had to think of something for the next class.

Collecting myself

I have had a testing week.  My grand daughters came to stay and it wasn't all plain sailing.  I didn't get a lot of sleep and my husband and I were at odds which is a sign that he isn't well.  Sure enough there was a rush to the hospital on Sunday night and then he had to be moved to where his surgeon operates, which is in the city.   At the same time the Children's Embroidery Classes started and I went in to get that off the ground and managed to fall heavily on my knees.  Nothing broken, just my pride but it did shake me up.  Then back to the hospital. He has now had 9 operations over the last 18 months.  This one has been a success and he will be home today, another trip up to town and back.  Then tomorrow the final day of Children's Classes. Up to town and back again.  (This sounds like a song.)

So, for the uninterrupted part of the day I am going to finish some Kogin purses I am putting together as kits.  I often get asked for kits at my classes so I intend to put a small range together.  That doesn't sound very relaxing but it will be for me.  The first one needs to be bigger, I don't like  it being so small.  The thick fabric is even thicker with interfacing and lining.

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The next one is just right.  The trick to getting that zipper sitting nicely is to withdraw a thread and sew along the line where you sew when putting the zipper in.  It sits just right.  I think perhaps they might look better with tassels as keepers on the zippers.

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I used Kogin thread on the small bag and Sashiko thread on the other.  Both work well on this fabric. But not every one is good at putting in zippers so next will be some small pinch purses.  Watch this space.