Embroidery Feed


I have been following Rachel's progress on her foot stool done in canvas work on her blog.  I used to do a lot of canvas work but got bored with it.  Now I think I would like to stitch a piece.  At the Embroiderers' Guild they have a huge selection of threads for this kind of work on the sale table, so I can get the thread cheap and I'm sure I must have some canvas in my stash.  Next step was what would I stitch?

I found a colouring book on-line from 1615.  It was originally written for glaziers and plasterers but I'm sure some of these patterns would work.  (These are the kind of things one finds on in the Internet Archive.)

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There is a design index at the beginning setting out all the designs as thumbnails.

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Then these are expanded to full page prints later and there are some interesting designs that could work.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 2.05.47 pmIt also has some recipes for mixing colours that come with the warning that these might be dangerous, still, it is interesting to read how it was done back then.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 1.52.14 pmI intend to have a play around with these designs and see what I can come up with.

Making Pom Poms

Because I am now an old woman, I had over looked pom pom makers and always cut my two rounds of cardboard to make my pom poms.  But whilst in Lincraft the other day I found a pile of pom pom makers for sale.  Very cheap and I thought "these look flimsey" but I bought a packet anyway.  There were 4 different sizes in the box.  I also took a photo copy of the instructions which were on the back because I knew they would all be ripped up when I got the packaging off.

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I wanted the smallest size and found them easy to make, with a few reservation.

The wool had to be put on tightly.  Having a good tension on the thread was essential.  I also made 70 twists on each side with the maker open.

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The little clip on the side is the week point in the construction, it took no time at all for it to break but I could still secure both sides together.  I will just have to be careful that I don't loose the clip.

The next step is to close both sides together, you need the clip for this.

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You can hold it closed with your fingers but it isn't as good.

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I then prepared my thread with a slip knot for putting around the pieces after I had cut the wool.

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It was from this point that things were different.  The wool is twisted around one mold not two like the cardboard and when you come to cut the thread it becomes uneven.  I found that small very sharp scissors were needed at this point and I had to keep a firm hold on piece.  One time I was so focused on keeping it together I cut my finger as well.  (I won't do that again!)

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You have to trim up the finished piece because of the uneven nature of this type of construction.  This is best done over the bin.

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On balance though after it is trimmed this is a far better way of making pom poms. So a thumbs up.

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It is a great way to use up the ends of those tapestry wool threads.

The end of the month

Well that is January gone!  It didn't stick around too long.  School returned this week but my student goes back on Monday next week.  My husband bought a new screen so that she can see better.  Problem is he bought one without a camera built in or a mic!!   We won't know until next week if this arrangement will work or if we will have to go back to the lap top only.

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I got a nice little stand at IKEA to put that screen on and the lap top slips away nicely.  My husband built a box to put it on.  I'm not using that!

Reviewing my 'To Do' list for this year I have only made progress in 3 areas.  The knitted animals has seen progress with 4 nearly finished.  As I only plan on making 12 I think I can slow down on this one. The class sample will be finished this week and although I am only up to Module 3 of stitching faces I have made progress. The charity quilt is a year long progress so that is on track. That leaves the rest.  My Easter gifts have moved to the top of the list, Easter is just around the corner and I want to get one or two portraits finished in February.

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As I can't see to stitch at night I will have to look at some knitting.  There is so much to choose from.  What I will need for winter is a new hat.  I have knitted this one before as a gift for a friend.  I think I should do one for me.


The list for 2021

So, the list of "To Do's" is ready for the coming year.  Last year saw me take the opportunity to finish many outstanding projects.  This year, although that list has been reduced, I haven't added all the things I could have.  I know that with Home Schooling my time is going to be limited so no use setting goals that will be impossible.  I might find time to do some of them but then again I may not.  No need to set impossible expectations.  I have left lots of spaces to add extras.

(Oh dear, I forgot the charity quilt! I will have to add that.)

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The "Stitching Faces" class with Sue Stone and the book "Faces of Friendship" are linked.  Those are the faces of my quilting friends and the friendship blocks they gave me all those years ago.  It just so happens that the classes facilitate my portraits of friends.  The first section was of those friends who have died.

Screen Shot 2021-01-03 at 8.25.09 amIn the next section the portraits will be more detailed.  These will be of members of the group who have moved away but whom I still count as friends.

That Graffitti Quilt requires just one more applique to the main section.  I was going to add a border but now I'm not so sure.


I am way behind on the 'Stitch Club' classes.  I'm not sure that I want to stitch all of them so I will 'cherry pick' the ones I find interesting.  I will keep my subscription for the year to these classes and then review where I am going.  Those quilting gifts for Easter are well on the way to being finished so I will keep these for my weekends when I visit Toowoomba, then again it might be better to just 'get in' and get then done.

I did decide to make my Charity donation knitted animals this year.  I have nearly finished the first one.  Just her dress to go.  These are really relaxing to work on at night listening to music or a podcast.  (I have to re-do the mouth.  I didn't have any tapestry wool.)

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But high on the list is my teaching sample for "Exploring More Stitches".  That is now drawn up and needs to be finished by the end of the month.

The Kogin stitched bags will be for Xmas gifts at the end of the year and they are my indulgence.

Now I just need fate to step in and blow it all out of the water!!!

A look back before heading forward

Well that was different, the year past that is. 

Personally there were a lot of positives, some downs, but that is life.   People keep saying "when life returns to normal", meaning the way it was.  I don't think we will return to that 'normal' we will have to negotiate a new form of normal just to go forward.

I pulled out my "To Do" list for 2020 to see just how I went.

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 1.11.03 pmNot too bad considering.  I had to adjust to the new conditions of COVID and when I listed the things I had done, extra to this list, I wonder where I found the time.

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There were some major life events this year past.   The marriage of my daughter,

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and the deaths of my beloved dogs Charlie and Chester,

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then the arrival of Bear.

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Also, in the last part of the year, taking on the home schooling of my grand daughter.  This is going to be my biggest challenge for the next two years until she gets to high school.

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So overall there were more positives than negatives.  No-one I know died from the virus, which is a wonderful blessing.  My Quilting friendships  have just became deeper and more meaningful.  I will still be able to attend the Embroiderers' Guild on the occasional Saturday.  I got a new car and although there were a few 'wobbles' I managed my PTSD remarkably well.  Physically things took a step backwards, but I can still function and I now have a permanent disability parking sticker for the car,  so that is a plus.  (This could have happened when I was knocked down by that car when I was 16, but it has held off until I was old.)   The only big minus' is the inability to travel, outside our state or overseas and not being able to go to concerts or plays and really that is just an inconvenience. 

Now to make some plans for this coming year!!!

Starting on teaching samples

I have opened up my teaching folders to make sure everything is in order for 2021.  I have a few classes booked but I don't expect to be back in full swing until 2022.

One of the classes I enjoy teaching the most is my "introduction to embroidery" class.  I always believe that if you can get people started with enjoying stitching they will keep returning.  Those first classes are so important.  The class looks at fibre, fabric, needles, threads all the basics and I introduce students to the basic stitches.  When you think about it, all those other stitches are variations on the basic ones.  If you do the basics well it isn't nearly as hard to branch out and explore.

The other thing I believe is the more that you practice stitching the better you become.  Some people have a natural talent, but for the rest of us, it is practice, practice, practice.  In the class I have a small stitching exercise where we do a line of each of the most common stitches that finishes up as an elephant.  But, I also give the students little patterns so they can go away and practice each particular stitch.  On reviewing these I see that I have samples stitched out for all of these bar these,  back stitch, straight stitch, satin stitch and French knot. 

This makes it seem like a huge work but it is actually only 3.5" x 4" and is a free pattern by Bronwyn Hayes of Red Brolly.  So, I stitched it out and made it up.  There was 1.5 hours of stitching and another 1 hour making it into a pin cushion.

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Bronwyn no longer maintains her web page, blog or facebook page but you can still buy some of her patterns and there are lots of the free designs on Pinterest.

I am a long time fan of Bronwyn's cat Brutus.  He is such a character.  The last time I spoke to Bronwyn was when I made her Mermaid Quilt, that was 2015.   I know that she then became Ill and disappeared from the scene.  But her patterns live on.  I think I have a complete collection of her books as well.  Thank you Bronwyn for all the pleasure your designs have given me over the years.  I can close that folder and move onto another.

What people did in lock down

I managed to catch up with my quilting buddies the other day.  We are no longer able to have our meetings at the school, so now that the numbers have been increased for people to visit your home, we have been having some morning teas together.  Quite a number of the ladies have been doing the same 'Hugs and Kisses' embroidery blocks that I have done but Chris managed to find a free class with Sue Spargo.  I missed that one.

I think that the projects came from her book Creative Stitching but the free link has now been removed.

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She only selected the circles that she wanted to stitch but even so came away with an impressive collection.  These she mounted into a fabric book.  She dyed some of her fabrics for the pages and I was impressed with her use of dyed curtain tape for the ties on the book.

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There were too many pages to include them all here but here is a selection.

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I'm kind of glad I didn't find this offering on the net.  I probably wouldn't have been able to resist it.

First attempt

This is actually my second attempt at a stitched portrait, (but as I used that for the title of the last post I couldn't use it.).  The first was in Stitch Club and I was pleased with what I did there. (It was a lot smaller than the one I have just finished.)

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This is the first in a series of seventeen that I intend to stitch.  Twenty plus years ago I asked the members of my patchwork group for a portrait of how they saw themselves for my friendship block. (We took it in turns to do a block for each other so we could make a friendship quilt each.)   I had thought that this would make a good wall hanging and I expected blocks that looked a bit like this.

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What I got was some like the one above but many were so different.  Judy, who's portrait I have just stitched gave me this!

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There were some blocks that didn't match the size I asked for as well.  I still thought I would do a wall hanging, so, I took photos of each of the ladies.  I imagined I would have this printed onto fabric in a random design and mount the blocks that way.  Problem was that the technology to do that wasn't available back then, it is now, but not then.  Then, 20 years later it was my turn for another block and I hadn't made any firm decisions about the first lot, so I declined and decided I wouldn't ask for another block until I had finish that first lot.

Over the years I have tired various ways to stitch portraits of my friends, both embroidered and quilted, but, non of them sat right with me.  That is until Sue Stone's Class.  I'm glad I kept all those photos I took of the ladies, they are perfect for this project.  I am very comfortable working with Sue's method of stitching.  

Of course over the twenty years we have lost members.  Some have moved away and some have died.  The first three portraits will be of the members who have moved on to become angels.  I think these ladies will fit in well with the 'heavenly hosts'.  They did a pretty good job of being angels here on earth.  The first of the three is Judy.

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I intend to make all this into a fabric book and also write a book about the stitching of this and focus on how important friendships are in our lives, with an emphasis on what this has meant to me.  I won't have it finished anytime soon but I like long term projects.

(Some notes about the stitching.  I used a dressmaking linen and backed it with a cotton voile before stitching.  I used only two different threads.  The black is Cotona Madera, 30 weight machine embroidery cotton from Germany.  The grey is a Rasant machine poly/cotton  machine thread.)



Time Difference

I have signed up for yet another on line class, this time with Sue Stone.  The disruption caused by the virus does have some positives, one being some of these "on line classes."  I have wanted to do a class with Sue for some time but It would have meant a trip to the other side of the world, plus all the added expense of accommodation etc.  This way I can do it in my own home.  (This is the first time she has offered this course on-line)

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(image from Google)
I thought about the cost, for about 2 minutes, and then clicked that button.  What I didn't think about was the international time difference!  What I thought would arrive today will not arrive till tomorrow.

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I normally travel around this time of year but that is no longer possible. It kind of hit me when I realised that I wouldn't be up in the air, or fighting my way onto planes and through customs when the Halloween decorations started appearing.  So I put some decorations out myself and joined the list of residents for trick or treating by the kids, my grand daughters included.  Then we had this monster storm hit just when the kids were about to set out.   My son sent me a photo of the hail they were getting and I was a bit worried.

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But it wasn't nearly as severe here.  We had lots of rain, smaller hail and thunder and lightening.  Still all the kids enjoyed it, even though they all looked like drowned rats.


Returning from sick leave

I have had another week where I was out of action.  Well mostly out of action.  I still had to supervise home schooling 3 days each week.  I have to say it is a bit of a struggle when you are not feeling well but all that has to be put aside and you just have to 'do it.'   But doing it means that I have done no housework and time for sewing is non existent.  So, next week I will only have to be on duty 1 day, but, I have to drive to pick her up the day before and then drive her back the next day.  I wish my husband was still working, he is a challenge putting in his 20c worth all the time.  (I will have to find something to keep him out of the way.)   I must say I am learning a lot with the home schooling.  The classes I like the best are Art, Reading and Library.  The one I am finding most challenging is Technology.  The rest are good but I just do them.  (Ha, ha, I am a kid again.)

I had morning tea with a friend at the end of the week and dropped into my Patchwork shop on the way home.  I didn't make a special trip.  I was just driving past.  And guess what?  They had a sale on.  I got some good linen/cotton embroidery fabric and buttons at half price.  Well worth stopping for.

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I also found some cotton tape for binding my hoops,  no more ripping up calico to do this.

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And I found an embroidery kit marked down from $22 to $2.

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When I opened it I could see that someone had started stitching and then stopped and returned it.

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But, it had a good quality hoop in the kit and $2 was such a good price.  Even if I don't stitch out the embroidery it was worth buying for the hoop.  I think I will stitch it up.  It is a good project for stitching at the Guild.  Gives me the opportunity to stitch and talk.  That sounds just lovely.