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July 2020

A small but special gift

We have all scurried back into lock down here.  Two young women returned to Queensland from Melbourne and lied on their entry forms and then tested positive for the virus.   From the list of places they had been since their return it seemed everyone knows some one who had been at the locations listed.  The lines at the testing clinics are long, with most people having to wait hours to be tested, but better safe than sorry.

So looking at this small gift made by a friend it has added a ray of sunshine to my life.  Some times it is that special small gift that touches you.

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Janie only started knitting a few years ago when her first grandchild was due.  Since then she has made some lovely things and come to appreciate the value of good quality yarns opposed to the cheap one.  So, the washer she has knitted me is of a linen/cotton mixture, soft on the skin, and the soap is destined to go into my underwear draw.  Such a lovely smell.

When I visited we had to make a stop at the yarn store that is near my city townhouse.  I have avoided this place for a few years knowing that the yarns would be too beautiful.  Plus, it is owned by a friend and I wouldn't be able not to buy some thing.   Yarn Glorious Yarn is all the things I thought it would be.  I was very good and only bought a couple of balls of the Linen/Cotton mix yarn but I saw all these beauties.  I will have to return.

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Fine Embroidery

All this work on creative embroidery has reminded me just how much I love fine embroidery.  I am quite uncoordinated, as you have probably gathered.  I can trip over my own feet, have a long list of broken bones and the mess I have made stretches for miles!  I have spent a lifetime refining my embroidery skills, even though I am not a 'natural' embroiderer.  Now in my old age I feel that I have reached a skill level better than my grandmother, who was my model.  Having to stitch 'untidily' for the last challenge was mental torture and I just couldn't do it.

But, I  can still  improve my skills, which I keep trying to do.  When I look at the work of Elizabetta Sforza I see the next level I would like to attain.  I have often thought about putting some embroidery on my clothing, and never done anything about it.  But in her last post she had this simple embroidery on a linen dress. 

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I could do that. 

What I would like to do is this.

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The stitching is beautiful and the finish perfection.  This is the next mountain I want to climb.

Next Class

I no sooner finished the last piece and the next class arrived.  I haven't had time to draw breath.  This weeks class is with Haf Weighton and a lot of her work centres around architecture.  ( There are lots of great images to look at on her webpage.)

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I have to say that I find this work very appealing, although it is not what this weeks lesson is about.  We are to create a stitched medal (or series of ) bearing messages to document this corona virus time, or, as a gift to tell someone you are thinking of them. 

After a lifetime of perfecting my embroidery techniques the big challenge for me is going to be working in such a unstructured manner.  Watching the video I wanted to tell her how she could improve her stitching, I found I was almost squirming in my seat.  I think that I will have to do this my way and that includes careful stitching and a good finish.

G.T. Wilkins class

I can't remember what I originally wrote about this class.  But I know that it challenged me.  It was the unknown I suppose that got me rattled.

I decided to put my mark making on paper aside to work on another day.  I will embellish this using my sewing machine, but I need to develop my ideas first. That left me with the fabric piece.

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I had painted  this with bright colours, because that was all I had to hand.  It isn't what I would have chosen, but that is how it goes.  Because I so like the gum blossom as a design I decided to stitch this.  I also decided to work on just one half of the fabric, so that I could finish the exercise.  I enjoyed Sue Stone's method of transferring a design, so drew my motive, free-hand, on five pieces of tissue.  Doing it freehand meant that each one was slightly different, I then pinned them to the fabric and hooped up my work.

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I do like this tissue method of transfer for simple designs.  It can be a bit messy because there is always a residue of tissue to remove,

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But I find the sharp end of a pin can ease the tissue away.

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I choose to use a machine sewing thread to stitch with.  It is a 12wt Egyptian Cotton by WonderFil and is lovely to hand stitch with.  I also choose the WonderFil gold and steel grey lurex thread.  Just to see what would happen.

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The cotton thread was a breeze to stitch with, the lurex it's usual difficult self.  So the result of a full days stitching was this small piece.

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Reviewing this technique I think that I could use it to make cards or even small framed embroideries for sale in our local gallery.

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So after all the angst this class caused it has given me a new technique that I wouldn't has used of my own choice.  I will explore this one in the future.

I lost a post #*@

That is the first time that has happened in writting over 4000 posts.  And I spent so much time on it and I don't know just what I did with all the images.  Hell!!!

I thought writting it in bold might help, but it didn't I am still mad at myself.  But I have to admit I was surprised to see I had written so many posts.  The years just fly by.  Looking back at my first couple of posts, I found a spelling mistake,( which I have corrected ) and I also found a photo of dear friends who are still dear friends, Pam Holland and Di Murphy (who was Di Mill back then).  Since that time my hair has turned white and we are all thinner, who would have thought that would happen?

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 9.41.39 amIt was these ladies who introduced me to blogging and cared for me and gave me such great friendship, fun times together and love over the years.

Recognising that makes that lost post seem insignificant.

I think I know now

I think I know now why my father discouraged any of my attempts at painting.  I am a walking disaster.  Me and paint result in mess, mess and more mess.  This time I am working on my next class for Stitch Class.  The class is with  Greg T Wilson and the first part requires you to paint up a random design.  After my last attempt at painting fabric I should have known what would happen but once again I thought I was prepared.  I have taken a big piece of wood and covered it with plastic to fit over the small table.  I set out all the things I needed, Including some water to wash my brushes and put on a plastic apron.  I taped all the pieces I was working with to the surface, 2 pieces of heavy paper and some fabric.  I even washed to fabric first to remove the starch.

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I had no idea how to start so I took my acrylic paints, the ones I use with the grandchildren and selected 3 different colour pallets from what was available and put these onto plastic plates.  Then, as instructed  I made random marks.  ( I also got my Ipad out and put on country and western music, loud.)

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At this point I think I see what my problem was.  I stopped thinking.  I wet one piece of paper, very wet, and the fabric, a bit wet, with a wet brush and then just slapped the paint around.

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The next step was to cover parts of the painting with masking tape and apply more paint then keep doing this till you had finished, layer on layer.

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All OK.  I left this to dry, went and washed my hands, turned on the oven for dinner and prepared an oven bag for the roast.  The light had gone out on the oven so in it went.   I then went upstairs to take the masking tape off the painted pieces.  It kind of stuck to the plastic covering on the table top but that was OK but when I got to the last piece I knocked the water container over.  By this stage the water was very dirty and full of paint.  Then I smelt burning.  The oven was turned onto grill not oven and the plastic bag was burning.  What to do first?  I choose the dinner, fixed this disaster and then pulled the hose up to the top floor (again) and cleaned up the mess and rescued the prepared pieces. What a mess.

Next I have to embellish each piece with stitches but first I have to wait for them to dry.

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I have to dry out as well, so does my work area and I have to cover that board again.  I am glad I am working outside.

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I thought that my father was being horrible stopping me painting.  Now I know it was just self preservation.



I have the next simple stitching piece all framed up ready to go.

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But I am behind on my 'Stitch Club' lessons.  The death of my dog and my problem tooth has upset my whole world.  So, I decided that I wouldn't follow all the instructions that Mandy Puttello gave.  I decided that I would make this concentina book my way.  There are all these wonderful arty pieces up in the facebook page, mine isn't arty at all. 

I started with the idea that I would fill the book with images of my favourite things.  Number one being old embroidery.  I then cut a strip from one of the tablecloths that I want to use for recycling. 

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Guess what, it wasn't the size given, but I used it any way.  It just meant that I had to re-invent how the book folded.

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Then I found some old fabric that I had used in some class or other I was teaching that had prints of lots of things I like.  I cut these out and put them next to the embroidery slip stitching them into place.

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The material in the table cloth was some kind of rayon mix, a bit slippery so I decided to line it with a cotton fabric.  Now, I could have used a more arty fabric but as this little book is about some of my favourite things I choose pink fabric, my favourite colour.  Not trendy or arty at all but I like it, so in it went.

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I cut the fabric with my wavy roller cutter and machined it in place.  On the top edge I wrote " some of my favourite thing" over and over and on the bottom edge I listed all the things I had included in the little book.  Emotionally that  gave me a good feeling, just writting them down made me feel good.

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Then I had to work out how to tie the ends off as it didn't fold the way it should.  I decided to put a button and loop on one side and tie it off on the other.  I got my bag of threads that I had bought in Guatemala,  I bought them for embroidery but they are really meant for weaving.

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I selected all the pink threads and decided on the shiney one.  This was sold as silk but I'm sure it is rayon and it is untwisted.  Twisted thread is something we take for granted, winding it onto a holder was a challenge.  It acted just like flat silk, catching on my fingers and nails.  What a trial.  Crocheting the cord was also interesting.  (There has to be some kind of tool that helps you twist thread.) 

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The embroidery on the front cover is a copy of a design that I saw on a tablecloth from Sri Lanka. ( The math used for dividing up the edge is actually very complicated .)  Then I got out my button box and the butterfly yelled 'use me'.    I didn't want to add anything to the back cover, so I didn't.

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This book thing isn't really me but the exercise made me think and I did like writing down the things I like and maybe in the future some family member might look at it and say "Gee she liked some weird things!!"

Progress on the simple stitching

I have now finished block No 10 (I think that is the number.)  Simple but very sweet.  This is the link to all the original free patterns.

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I am getting to the point where I have to think about the design for this quilt, only 6 more blocks to go.  I found some fabric I think will suit from the current Tilda range.  Now I have to get down to designing the quilt.  Why buy the fabric now?  Well one of the upcoming blocks has hexigons in the design and I needed to tie this in.

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On another note, a new gallery opened on our little island on Friday night where all the artists from our Artisans Collective can display their work for sale.  Not a very momentous or world shattering occassion but I was able to dress up and socalise.  Now that is rare in these times and there was delicious food, wine and live music.  I put on my glad rags and then looked at my shoes, what a mis-match.  Since I broke my foot badly back in 2011 I have had to wear sensible, flat shoes.  I used to love all my glamorous Italian shoes but they had to go.  All except one pair, that were quite sensible being lace up and with a solid heel but I couldn't walk in them.  I held onto them for sentimental reasons.  But on Friday night I pulled them out of the cupboard, cleaned them, and put them on.  They fitted and I could walk in them.  Off I went like Cinderella to the ball.

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Now, maybe this is a sign that I can start collecting beautiful Italian shoes again?

Another Reference Book

Why would I possibly need another reference book?  I have quite a library already.  Well, I read Mary Corbet's review of this book and decided that on the basis of that review I really needed this book.

Willing hands really does have a great section on finishing, but there is a lot more to this book.  ( You can get a good idea of what is in the book from the gallery on Inspirations web page.)

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What hasn't been said is how many great small projects there are.  Now is the time to start stitching for Xmas and this book has some small but do-able projects.

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The problem is going to be how to STOP yourself starting some of the bigger projects.

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Living in a digital world

I had made the move to digital books some time ago but the lock down has moved me even further into this world.  Don't get me wrong, I still love my hard copy of a book and there are some that I don't like to read digitally.  But novels read better on my Ipad and I am now finding that I like some of my magazines delivered that way, but not my reference books for embroidery.  I like those as a hard copy.

I have just taken a subscription for Selvedge magazine as a digital copy.  I used to subscribe for a hard copy but they became so expensive that I cancelled my subscription and kept a look out for a copy at the Embroiderers' Guild Library.  There has been no access to the library for the past few months and who knows when it will open again, hence the digital subscription.

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This will not come till next month but I am already looking forward to it's arrival.  The other thing that being a subscriber gives me access to is the virtual world fair.

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It is so easy to press that button 'Buy'.   I am going to have to be careful and keep an eye on just what I do buy.  At the moment I have subscribed for three classes.  The Textile Artist Stitch Club for embroidery, Quilters Question time for patchwork and Art Prompts from Carla Sonheim.  This has me stretched.  Finding time to fit in other projects is almost impossible, or I should say, is impossible.  I will have to set aside three days for the Virtual World Fair and I haven't clicked that button yet, but I want to.