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May 2020

New Book (s)

The books I have been waiting so long for finally arrived in the mail.  I had thought they would have been hard bound but the 2 soft covered book came in a cardboard holder.

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The subject of these books reach right back to my childhood.  The Principal of my primary school, (that is kids 5 to 8 years old), was a Mrs Legard, heavens I still remember her name, and at the tender age of 5 or 6 all I wanted to be was a singer and actress.  My mother was horrified.  My father worked with actors and they were not suitable people according to her.  So, At 6 years of age I got a job at the radio station where my father worked reading the children's birthdays on the children's program on a Saturday.  After lots of arguments with my mother  about my aspriations, we had an interview with the principal, who I thought would take my mothers side but she said "I think she will make a great actress".

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This woman became someone important to me and over time I got to know her mother and father who were retired missionaries from China, Mr & Mrs Hutton.  Their mission was to the Miao, this must have been back before, or near to the turn of the 1900's.  I was fascinated by their stories of their lives in China but this took place in the 1950's and all things Chinese were taboo.  But I never lost my interest in these people and their life and customs.  Many came to the USA and Australia after the Vietnam war.  Since that time I have looked for  their works, when I went to Thailand and any exhibition that I could find.

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These books fill in all the gaps in my knowledge of their work as they look at the traditional work of artisans that is still carried on in China.  It also comes with a full set of patterns of some of the work and an explanation of what each one means.

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I don't think I would ever stitch any of this work but I can still look and appreciate it.  It also brings back memories of those two elderly people telling that little child stories of their colourful lives and the people they came to love in China.

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These books were expensive but I was lucky to get a copy as they sold out within days of being released.  They are sure worth the wait.

First Class

I was really excited to open up my first class with Debbie Lyddon in Stitch Club. 

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The support material is exceptional and I have rushed out and bought myself a box and folder etc to house my class materials.

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Then I read through the class materials and looked at Debbie's work and thought, " this isn't my kind of embroidery at all!"  It is nothing like I have ever stitched and doesn't really, at first glance appeal, to me.  I am more a counted thread type of person.

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But this is all about opening myself up to new experiences, so I read the class work again, visited her web page and blog and started again.  I found that I could relate to her artist statement.

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That I could relate to.

We are to make 3 containers for collected items. Debbie had collected a range of stones to put into her containers.  The name of my island, Coochiemudlo, means red rock in the sea.  I thought about collecting some red stones.  But that meant that I would have to walk on the beach and that means sand all through the house.  Forget that. 

But, I have a small table on my back verandah where I put found items that I find interesting to show to my grand daughters.  This includes stones but looking at the collection I could see that it is the seed pods that have really caught my attention.  So from these I selected three to make containers for.

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Next step was to prepare the fabric by painting it and this is where I really ran into trouble. 

Firstly, I am one of the most unco-ordinated people on the planet.

Secondly, I have never used acrylic paints before and know nothing about them.

Thirdly, I have never painted fabric before.

Now that is a recipe for trouble, only I didn't recognise the signs.

I started by organising a work area on my patio outside my sewing room which is on the first floor.  Protection for the work surface, kitchen paper for spills etc. and painted the first A4 piece of fabric.  (I have a horrible feeling that I used a good even weave piece of fabric not the cheap linen I planned to use.)

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I hung this on the portable cloths line and moved onto the next.  I used the first colours I had used just added more to the mix.  I knew this would give a slightly different colour but that was alright.

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Piece No 2 was just as good, onto the dryer.  Then I noticed what a great pattern the paint that had was left on the surface made, so made an impression of this with the remaining piece of fabric.

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But, it didn't really give enough coverage and didn't fulfill the brief so I painted the surface again with water from my pot and then added the paint.  This time when I went to hang the piece it dripped all over the place.

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It was sinking fast into the tiles and in my panic to get the drips up it got all over my sweater.  Panic!! I took the pieces off the hanger and threw them into the garden below.

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I couldn't decide what was more important to clean, my sweater or the tiles!  As I had to lower a rope and pull the hose up to the first floor to clean the tiles I decided to get what I could out of the sweater and get this into the washing machine and then address the tiles.  Speed was of the essence so here was I running around in my jeans and bra.  When I got the hose up to the first floor I had to use a pot scrubber to get the paint off the tiles.  I was so exhausted after all this I made myself a sandwich to calm my nerves and managed to drip honey everywhere.  More cleaning.

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So now those pieces of painted, expensive linen, are on the line downstairs.  I see that I will need to put down protection on the tiles as well as the work surface If I ever paint the surface of fabric again.  (I never get into this kind of mess with water-colours.)  I think I will return to my normal type of embroidery for a couple of days to reclaim my equalibrium .  But I am not giving up.  It may take a few days but I will get through the rest of the process to make the containers.

WIPW - Change of directiion

I quite put myself off my stride when I couldn't find the felt for the appliqued rabbit.  So I have put this one aside to rethink.  I know I could use another fabric for this I just have to convince myself that I will like the result.

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So I have moved onto the next panel whilst I think this through.  This one doesn't require as much thought as those that have gone before.  It looked very simple and in fact a bit ordinary but ordinary is sometime what we need to stitch.  I started with back stitching the outline of the flowers.  Then I realised that the green leaves were a bit different.  I decided to embroider them in outline stitch using a single thread and that seemed to work.  I have never used a lot of outline stitch in my work always defaulting to stem stitch for leaves but the more I stitched the more I came to appreciate what a nice stitch this is.  So I used it for the interior of the petals, again using one thread and a different shade of blue for the lines on the inside of the shape.  I am now working on the centre of the flower using a combination of bullion and french knots and enjoying every moment of it.

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I think what these simple embroideries are teaching me is that although the illustration is simple, as are some of the stitches, how I approach the use of that stitch is important.  Basic stitches can be just as beautiful as the most complicated and there is always another facit  to be explored in each one.

One Parcel Arrived

My parcel from Allthreads arrived yesterday and it was so exciting to see all the threads and fabric.

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Then the order had to be sorted and checked.  What a job!  The problem with this order was that I wanted to support my local embroidery shop but they didn't have the threads required so I opted for a substitution of threads from Fine d'Aubusson threads to Bella Lusso.  Just checking the threads against the receipt was a nightmare and there was a small difference.  So I got my husband to check as well and that small difference was still there but quickly fixed with a telephone call.

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Next I opted to arrange the threads as per band in the sampler.  Working with two sets of numbers just got me in such a muddle.  I ended up making a chart of each band with the original thread, the conversion and what was outstanding. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 4.43.10 pmThat took most of the afternoon because there are 22 bands in this sampler.  I think I also found a couple of errors in the instructions from the book.  Easy to do with so many different numbers.  I still can't believe the difference between the image in the book and the actual piece.

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Next job is to prepare the fabric, which has to be tea dyed and then start counting out the bands.  I have selected one of my favourite boxes to house everything.  I have photocopied the pages from the book and laminated these as an easy reference.  I will arrange the threads in packets for each band. 

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Then I can start stitching.  I might do a small sample book-mark to get the feel of the fabric and threads first.


Finished just in the knick of time

It has turned really cold here and there is a lazy wind blowing up the bay and it goes straight through you.  I got the mittens and beanie finished just in the nick of time for this cold weather.

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I was able to wear them and my new cardigan on my walk and stay reasonably warm.  This is my first ever pair of mittens that I have made and now I have the taste to start on some gloves, which I have never made before either.  I had used a different wool to the one recommended in the pattern and to get the guage  correct had to use larger needles.  Although it achieved the right size I'm not really pleased with the look of the knitting.  I think it would have looked better with a firmer stitch.

But, I need to get started on the jumper I promised my husband.  I bought a new pair of bamboo needles which started to split before I have got more than 2 rows into the knitting.  I will not be buying them again.  Then I made a mistake in the pattern and have had to go onto reverse.  I left the wool I pulled off the needles so that I would know when I had caught up to were I left off.  (That old Ikea plastic bag makes a great wool holder.  It feeds the wool evenly and keeps everything else neat, then I can stuff the knitting into it when I leave the piece.)

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Still, it is great weather to sit in a warm room and knit or sew.

Things need to be replaced

I have finally finished the last small embroidery I was working on.  These pieces may only be 6" square but there is a lot of stitching in each one.

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As I was tracing up the next design I took more notice of the amount of work involved and there is quite a bit in this next one as well.

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I also found that I had no felt for the applique and that I was running short on certain thread colours.   I can order these things on-line and wait for them to arrive, and wait, and wait.  I am still waiting on some books and fancy pins I ordered 3 months ago !!  Anything that I can source locally takes at least a month to come through the mail, although It doesn't take that long for the bills to get here and if it comes from overseas who knows when it will get here.

I have also run out of art paper and printing inks, I can't get that through the mail  I used my last scrap on a card I was making and have to urge to do more.  I am going to have to make a trip to the shops.

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A bit of forward planning

As we start to come out of lock down I have been thinking about how I will pick up my activities again and have come to the conclusion that I may not be able to.  That is until they come up with a immunisation jab against the virus.  Because of my ongoing health problems I am in that 'at risk' group and the risk of catching the virus means I may have to keep up the isolation thing for some time.

So, looking ahead for the next year, which is as long as anyone can look and probably is a bit longer than one should, I have decided that I should retire from teaching during this time, probably for ever.  The only ray of sunshine in this area is teaching on an on-line platform, but I'm not sure that I want to do this.  But I do want to keep stitching and learning new techniques.  Looking back, the 2 or 3 years during which I took part in the 'Take a Stitch Tuesday' group with Sharon Boggan  I really extended my skills and it was so enjoyable.

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I know there are other free on-line groups but I would like to develop the 'ART' part of my stitching.  I have always had an interest in this and was part of a group back in my 20's.  (I started my City and Guilds studies back then but dropped them when my musical career started to blossom.)  Now many years later, and a lot of water under the bridge, I have decided to venture down this path again.

This is a piece from way back when.

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To this end I have signed up for the Textile "Stitch Club".

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I only have to commit for one month (which costs $42 Australian) and I must say that I did enjoy their Community Stitch Challenge 2020.

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The support material was first class and their use of on-line talk back gives you that bit of extra support. I will post my progress or lack of it.  I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed by the level of expertise of some of the participants in the stitch challenge but it is for the challenge that I am joining.


Still working on that simple stitching, that seems to take forever!!..  You know I really hate isolated stitches?  That starting and stopping drives me mad.  Lots of them in this piece.  It is a sweet design but a bit boring to stitch.

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The other thing I'm working on is my knitting.  I have the second mitten to finish.

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I am also working on my next quilt but as the power keeps being turned off and on by the tradesmen working on the new bathroom I have put this aside until they leave.

Time for something new

I am getting rather bored with the simple stitching that I have been engaged in.  It is time to start something more substantial.  The big question has been just what will I  start?   Because I haven’t been able to make up my mind I have just sat and done nothing, except the simple stitching.   But yesterday I made a decision and decided that it is time to stitch some Smoyg and have pulled out my book by Yvette Stanton.

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I saw the band sampler stitched at a recent exhibition and was taken aback at how much more attractive the actual piece was over the photograph.   So, this is going to be my new project.  I rang Karen at Allthreads and said I want the supplies for the project on page 36, can you put it together for me?  So now it is in the mail.  I didn't ask the price, I think if I did I wouldn't have bought the supplies.

Looking at Vyettes' kits for sale on her page I know I wouldn't have bought it.  Too late now!!!

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