My Embroidery Feed

Ecco Dying Experiments

So the experiments have begun.  Monique and I collected a range of leaves from the garden and the bush close to home.  I had problems finding the wool and silk fabrics recommended but finally found the 10cm X 160cm strip of wool.  No silk unfortunately.  I had prepared the cotton shirt I had bought and decided to add this as an afterthought, knowing that I might not get any results from it.


As I was working with a child I had to be very careful about safety, so we put on gloves and masks when working with the iron mordent.  I also set up the cooking station on the back verandah.  I had bought a Chinese steamer at the Op shop and found an old saucepan and bowl that I will only use for this purpose.  Working on the verandah keeps those smells and anything else nasty out of the kitchen.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 12.23.36 pm

I also bought an old T shirt at the Op shop and cut this up to make wrapping for the bundles along with the string.  We were both surprised by the  iron mordent results.  We got some really clean prints along with some not so clear ones.  The highly coloured leaves were not a success and the best results were from the Geranium and Rose leaves.  I am going to make this piece into a book cover.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 12.24.06 pm

I haven't decided how I will embroider it just yet.

What was surprising was the cotton fabric.  We got some really good results.  These are now going to be added to all the experiments.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 12.24.34 pm

The native plants also gave good results.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 1.30.56 pm

We left the fabric overnight and then wrapped and steamed again.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 1.30.37 pm

This time the prints were less distinct but still useable.

I did an embroidery experiment with a small piece and made it into a card.  This was using the cotton shirt material.  Lots of potential here.

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 12.23.52 pm

 I have a very keen assistant.

The next day we did both the copper and allum and now I see why people are not happy with the cotton.  Very poor results here but I'm sure I can find a way to use some of these.

Screen Shot 2021-02-18 at 9.22.53 am


There was one piece of fabric that had been put into an iron wash and then allum.  This gave an interesting result.

Screen Shot 2021-02-18 at 9.23.08 am

So overall iron seems to work best if you want a dark colour .  Now it is time to go back to the chemistry books and do some proper research, in amongst everything else.


Last couple of weeks

The last couple of weeks have been a challenge.  Health issues myself and my husband along with the start of full on home schooling has rattled me.  My routines are all out of wack and I find myself having to change how I do things all the time.  The bag challenge I stitched was done as I supervised lessons.  I just can't sit and do nothing and this allowed me to stitch.  I do have other stitching but it can't be done at this time.  But I did finish this piece.

Screen Shot 2021-02-14 at 10.27.59 am

The fabric was really difficult to work with and sewing the bag together and getting the fabric straight was not easy.  The good thing was stitching those Sydd Toff balls.  I do like that stitch.  I have always known it as "Turkey Stitch" but I like the Swedish name better.  Mary Corbet has a great video tutorial.




Life has hit a road block at the moment and there is little progress on anything.

I bought all the equipment for the dyeing BUT sourcing fabric is a BIG problem.  As I live in the sub-tropics, where it is hot and humid, the kinds of fabric needed are not readily available.  There are plenty of cottons and cotton mixtures.  Some linens, at $40 + per metre.  No silks and wool is almost unheard of.  I have looked in the fabric and Op shops, no luck.  I have found 10cm of wool fabric, that cost $5,( that seems expensive to me), but it is now in the wash and I will try that.


Keeping my eye on Monique for home schooling seems to take most of my time and she hasn't been well so I have had to nurse her most of the time as we do our lessons.  Despite this she is wanting me to get on with the dyeing and can't understand the hold up.  She also has a technology assignment she wants me to help with, designing something to help the wildlife in our backyard.  She thought she might like to work with the seagulls but there are not a lot on the island.  The reason, all the big eagles.  I don't think she has looked up before but as luck would have it they made an appearance.  We are now thinking maybe something for the little birds.

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.16.13 am

Those hexigons, go on and on.

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.17.49 am

As does the knitting.

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.16.36 am

And when I was at the Embroiderers' Guild the other day I took home a stitching challenge, on impulse.  This is actually an interesting piece.  The fabric made me think of needle weaving but that isn't what I ended up working on. 

At the same time I was at the Guild I bought a selection of the tapestry wools that was on the sale table. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.17.12 am

This was sitting on my desk as I was teaching so I have used this.  I also had the "Simply Stitched " by Yumiko Higuchi book there so I have adapted one of her designs and I think it is coming together.

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.17.33 am

I had to look up how to do the knot stitch.

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.16.58 am


Lockdown again.

We are all in a 3 day lock down to counter the virus, shame the teenagers and those in their 20's seem to think they are exempt here on the island.  I hate having to wear a mask but I know there is a good reason for it.  I feel like a bit of a dork walking alone with the dog down the bush tracks wearing a mask.  Then when I get back on the road there are all these young ones with no masks.  I feel like dobbing them into the police.  There is a $200 fine for non mask wearing.

I am spending my time doing some more work on my Sue Stone class.  This first class in this module asked for us to use just 3 shades of the one colour, and fill 3 areas after we stitched our outline.  This is my finished piece and I have to say I learnt a lot from the class.  (I have it soaking at the moment to remove the pen marks.)

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.42.29 pm

I used three shades of green, this lady's surname is Green so that had to be the colour I used.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.45.33 pm

The mid green was just a normal dress making thread, I needed this to do the details and then it came in handy for lots of other stitching.

My embroidery threads have been on these cards for some time and although they store well those krinkles are annoying.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.45.47 pm

Solution, a piece of damp kitchen sponge.  Run the thread over it and it is straight.  It dries in no time so you don't have to stop stitching.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.46.08 pm

The outline and features offered no problems but when it came to filling the three areas I had to put my thinking cap on.  I started with the hair and used the reflection of the light to inform my stitching, using couching to put a little kink in the hair and the light colour for the high-lights.  When is came to the other two areas I had to be a bit more inventive.  Normally open filling stitches are worked on an even weave fabric and you count the threads to achieve that even look.  I was not using an even weave fabric.  For the scarf I wanted to use  Star Filling stitch for the filling.  This is normally stitched in three colours so it suited my brief.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.47.29 pm

To overcome the fact that the fabric wasn't an even weave I charted the first stitch on some graph paper and then traced it onto tissue paper and mounted it over the area I wanted to stitch then stitched through the paper.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.45.21 pm

The only problem with using tissue paper is getting it out from under the stitches.  I use a very sharp needle and score the paper in both direction, then remove the paper with tweasers.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.46.38 pm

It can be messy and you have to have patience but it works.  If you do a big area the mess afterwards is the problem.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.46.50 pm

I then came back and finished the other two layers of stitching.  This achieves that regular look I was wanting.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.47.14 pm

For the other area the figure is in front of a chain wire fence.  The light had distorted the chain pattern so I used a water soluble pen to chart my grid and then stitched.  I think I got that distortion just right.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 3.42.29 pm

Now I think I will return to my knitting for a rest.


I have managed to get back to my 'Stitch you Story' class and have finally finished Module 2.  The last exercise was hair.  I hated it.  It drove me mad, I just couldn't stitch how I wanted.  A little sprite in my mind seemed to take over and said "do it this way".  This way wasn't what I wanted at all!!

Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 11.04.50 am

The other things I have been working on are my Bunny, who I showed you yesterday.  I am working on her dress.

Screen Shot 2021-01-05 at 3.07.35 pm

And experimenting with a new design for an "Exploring More Stitches" class I will teach this year.  Only rough sketches to date but I think this one will work. 

Screen Shot 2021-01-03 at 4.59.30 pm

I am making a proto-type of the project bag that I want to use the embroidery on the front of.  With the price of good embroidery linen being over $100 per metre ( excuse me, I just checked and they want $204.00 per metre now,)I want to minimize the amount of linen that students would have to purchase to just the front panel.  They could use all linen if they wanted to but classes are expensive so keeping the materials at a reasonable cost is important.  The remainder could be made from recycled materials  or other fabrics from their stash.

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.

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 1.11.12 pm

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

Screen Shot 2021-01-03 at 7.55.25 am

and the deaths of my beloved dogs Charlie and Chester,

Screen Shot 2020-11-18 at 8.43.26 am

then the arrival of Bear.

Screen Shot 2020-11-29 at 2.26.09 pm

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.

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 4.36.58 pm

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!!!


I have finally got back to my stitching faces course and have started module 2 which looks at facial features.  The first thing we are looking at is eyes.  I'm not quite sure where my mind was when I started this.  Home schooling has had a rather detrimental effect on how I am thinking.  In fact that is the problem I'm thinking to much, if that is possible.

I started with pencil sketches of 4 different eyes.

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.48.40 am

My first reaction was " there must be 15 shades of grey in there.  I don't have enough cottons to stitch this.  So I tried again with coloured pencils.

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.48.58 am

All I could think of was all the colours I had used to get each eye to look like this.  I would have to stitch this with silk shading.  I don't have nearly enough threads to attempt this.  So I gave myself a talking to.  I remember my dance teacher saying to me, (rather screaming at me), stop thinking just dance.

So, I selected three weights of black and grey thread and just stitched.  With each attempt I tried to be more minimal and just catch the essence of the photo.

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.49.25 am

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.49.40 am

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.49.59 am

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 10.50.14 am

By the end I felt I was stitching expressions not shapes. 

That was an interesting exercise.  The next one is mouths.

An oldie resurfaces

It turned quite cold here, well cold enough to put on a T shirt with sleeves in it.  It hit in the middle of the night and, half asleep, I headed to the linen cupboard to get a quilt.  I pulled, what I thought was a quilt out and went back to bed.  Next morning I found I hadn't got a quilt but an embroidered woollen blanket!  I have never used this, it is too pretty and besides the dogs have a habit of jumping on the bed.  It is a bit creased because it has been in the cupboard for about, I don't know, 20 years.  (It is the blanket I found a note pinned on saying "this is mine when Mum dies" Laura.)

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 6.47.05 am

I must say the embroidery is rather good.  Those cast-on roses are perfect, well I did a number of them,

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 6.46.29 am

and I nailed those cherries.

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 6.44.05 am

I remember thinking, " I can make the bow stand proud if I stretch the fabric in a hoop".  I used a shadow stitch  and it worked.

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 6.44.40 am

This was about the time that Carolyn Pearce first had her wool embroidery featured in Inspiration Magazine.  I was so taken by it I had to try wool embroidery.

I added a few extras stitches to what she used (like those roses instead of silk ribbon work).

Carolyn's work from Inspiration Magazine

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 7.35.20 am

As I was working at the time all the stitching was done here on the island when we came over for out July school holidays.  It was cold and I remember sitting out in the sun in a sheltered position and stitching.  It was too cold for the beach and I had my little radio and discovered some classical composers I hadn't heard before.  What lovely memories.

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.

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 1.13.32 pm

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.

Xmas Break

I have now finished my first three embroidered portraits.

Screen Shot 2020-12-08 at 1.36.10 pm

They are pinned up on my workboard on the wall.  I must say that I am pleased with my progress so far but it is time to take a break and get back to the class exercises. PLUS I have put my base fabric somewhere SAFE.  I hope I find it again!!

I have to prepare samples for my classes for next year.  I have decided to not teach the Children's Classes at the Guild again.  I have done this for the last 10 years and it time to develop some other things.  A new opportunity awaits.