Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Catching up on City & Guilds

Now I have finished my RSN Diploma I am catching up on some of the City & Guilds work I have to do. I will still be going to Tracy's and working 'on my own things' but here are some of the samplers I have done so far for smocking. Buttons and braids to come. My house is being taken over by samples!

Smocking-Lozenge Pattern worked from the back

Smocking -Lozenge worked from the front

Traditional English Smocking

Honeycomb Smocking

Thursday, 28 November 2013

End of an Era?

It nearly always happens this way with me when I embroider. Excitement at a new design and stitching those first stitches in virgin fabric.Intense concentration to do your best, extreme frustration when it doesn't go right. And then.................all of a sudden it's finished!

Welsh daffodil, pulled threads, satin stitch, long and short, stem and seeding.

Crown - pulled threads, stem, satin, french knots and round eyelets

Scottish thistle - stem, eyelets, mountmellick and shadow stitch

The completed sampler

Do you have the same roller coaster as you embroider?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Whitework symbols

At last you can see where this piece of whitework is going.

The Tudor rose is finished with a type of basket weave stitch in the centre

Tudor rose

The shamrock has trailing round the outside and a stem stitch round the pulled thread work. Now there is just the stem to complete it.

Irish shamrock

The thistle has eyelets for the cup that holds the flower and stem stitch outline.

Scottish thistle

Eyelet detail

The Welsh daffodil I hope to finish tomorrow and the crown in the centre has been started.

Hope I've not spoken too soon!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Night knight!

Here is is the medieval knight appliqué finished and ready to go. Quite pleased as he has a bit of movement in him. The picture was based around a medieval seal of William de Forz whose family owned Skipton Castle prior to the Cliffords and were founders of Bolton Priory. Background is cotton velvet, chain mail made with DMC Diamanté, sur coat calico and the rest cut from silk dupion and leather for the helmet. The sword is balsa wood covered with aluminium foil. 

Now, back to whitework......

Friday, 25 October 2013

Seeing shapes at last.

Tudor rose nearly finished.
At long last with this wretched piece of work I can see actual progress. Here is the rose design with single padded satin stitch outer petals and triple padded inner petals. All it needs is the definition between the petals and a woven centre - I hope. England's nearly done!

Drawn threads held with a twisted stitch
Here you can see where I have drawn bundle of threads together and twisted them one over another. I used a single strand of DMC thread held very taut - and yes it did snap once or twice!

Friday, 18 October 2013


Thought I had better post some update on my progress with my work!

As you can see the picture below does not look a lot like whitework. This is the knight I'm doing and at least he moves on visibly. Just the final bits to add on and the writing to embroider around the figure and he's ready for the village hall.

Knight coming on

No, the ? relates to these two photos. I padded out the outer petals with split stitch ready to satin stitch over them and do long and short for the leaves. I cannot tell you how long the satin stitch took me in single strand DMC trying to keep a neat edge...........

Satin stitch over split stitch padding

.........and then making sure those angles were OK.

Satin Stitch and long and short stitch

So now onto the inner petals - double padding and more satin stitch. Then just some knotted stitches for the border drawn threads. Methinks this could be a marathon!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Using metal threads


Another way of using metal threads. This is DMC Diamante which makes bullion knots quite nicely. You can also do them with passing threads. The letter is stem stitch. This thread is lovely to embroider with and doesn't fray quite as much as the stranded metallics. 

Nice way to play-and your fingers don't go blue!

Monday, 7 October 2013


You will remember that I said last post that I am doing City & Guilds mainly for the design elements. Well this weekend I was doing a spot of mark making. Only problem was, like a toddler, I ended up covered in paint - and blue is a strong pigment! Wouldn't come off my hands. so no more whitework for a day or two! But at least I have a nice leaf print.

Fig Leaf print

Today, I did 'other things'. I've been asked to exhibit at a small village art show but I have to produce a piece based around Skipton Castle and Bolton Abbey. So here it is or part of it. This is taken from a medieval seal of one of the owners of the castle, and there will be the castle and the Priory church on it as well. Only thing is it is another knight on horseback (at least I know what I'm doing there).

Seal of William de Fortibus

I've also got to finish my creative metal thread sampler from Tracy Franklin's workshop.

Metal Thread Sampler

In the meantime I thought one or two of the samples would make some nice accessories for the Christmas fair at church.

Burden stitch in DMC Diamante

Plenty to work the blue paint off anyway-ha!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Slow progress.

It is ages since I posted a blog but I have been doing things honest!

I began the last of my RSN modules for the Diploma up in Durham. At the same time, as that finishes, I decided to start the City and Guilds Level 3 certificate with Stitchbusiness. Glutton for punishment!

Having trawled the internet and all my books for inspiration, I decided I'd do my own design. So, belatedly, I will celebrate the Jubilee and my completing the Diploma (hopefully) with a sampler of flowers of the UK countries-rose, thistle, shamrock and daffodil, with a crown in the middle for good measure. Turning those into stylised drawings was trauma enough sizing etc, then I had to lay it all out on the linen, 36 count by the way.

The first thing was to set the position of the drawn border. Again lots more counting. The design is stitched onto the linen in a coloured thread similar to the way I did with the blackwork.

Design tacked on

Once everything was laid out I could start thinking about stitching -phew.

Pulling threads for drawn thread work

Drawn thread work means just that, removing thread from the fabric. Thankfully, I'd counted it alright, so when it came to the corners, it met correctly. The cut threads are woven in and the border hemmed. It was amazing how delicate and fluffy the individual threads are when you think of how fine and strong linen fabric is.

Thank goodness they match!

Then, at long last I started making the design 'appear' on the fabric.

Diagonal cross filling 

The brief specifies a number of pulled thread stitches, on top of these I will work some surface embroidery.

Single faggot stitch

At least I am underway!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Clearing up and moving on

As usual, over the summer I try to clear up those half finished things that have been put to one side. Very often, a period away from a piece gives you a new perspective. Remember the blue leaves that I began at the beginning of the year? I had come to a grinding halt on the stem. I originally wanted to work it in block shading up the stem but it had a curl there. Now I know why most pieces have straight stems! It went in and out three times! I couldn't get the right angle at all. Away it went. One more defeat and I submitted to stem stitch shading.

Blue Leaves Crewel

Once over the hurdle I cracked on and it is now waiting to be mounted. Same with the little Jacobean bird. His head was just WRONG. I posted a picture on Facebook and here is where the global community of stitchers came to my aid. Jessica Grimm suggested a small alteration to the line of his head and whoopee he looks so much better.

Jacobean Bird

Now I'm ready to start my new term with Tracy A Franklin. It is the last module for my  RSN Diploma (I passed the stumpwork module by the way :)
I'll be doing whitework, another new subject for me so no doubt a few traumas await!

In the meantime, I need a new needlecase, so with a nod to my Durham school and the ongoing Lindisfarne Gospel exhibition I thought I would translate one of the carpet pages into canvas work.

New needlcase

Can you guess which one it is?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Twists and turns of crewel embroidery!

Back to crewel - stem stitch shading completed. Satin ribbon and shaded bullion knots for hillock.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Picking up where I left off

I've gone back and had another look at my Blue Leaves (need a name for my designs?) done the bottom two leaves and started on the stem. Keeps me out of mischief!
Mmm.. not too bad?

Just stem to do now!

Might even finish it before I'm back at Tracy's!

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Finished piece.
Well here we are, the finished piece. Lots of hard work and not a few tantrums (my husband calls me Violet Elizabeth!). Now I have to leave it alone until next Wednesday when I see Tracy Franklin.

My little snail
I chose to do a little canvas work snail rather than trailing for the shell. Somehow, going round and round just didn't look right for this piece.

Full head of hair now!
You'll see the butterfly is also a bit unreal, but that is the spirit of 17th century stumpwork I say!....and she finally got to the hairdressers for her extensions.

and we have fruit in our hand.
The picture if you remember was part of five unworked panels in the Met from their embroidery collection. All drawn out for making into a box, it was based around allegories of the five senses. There is Hearing with her guitar and Smell with a flower. I would assume this is Taste about to bite into a nice juicy cherry or apple.Any other ideas?  She still looks very Moll Flanders to me.

Now I'm off to do my mock up for some work I've got and draw up my white work ideas.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Slugs and snails everywhere!

We live in a fairly damp part of the UK on the western side of the country. The garden is surrounded by dry stone walls which are paradise for snails, and slugs and all other manner of things that eat my plants. I am in. Instant battle to keep a hosta that lasts past June.

But now, they've even invaded my stitching! In fact, this snail looks as though he's on a mission to demolish a particularly tasty specimen.

Snail in raised stem band.

He hasn't got his shell on yet but I padded the shape and worked raised stem band for his body. Here is the tasty specimen he fancies....

Silk and organza flower

It completes the bling corner of the piece. The petals were made in silk organza that I painted with water colour paints and one is done in single Brussels in silk thread. I've also coloured the lady's features. But repadded her 'hair' piece with some carpet felt under the felt. I then started to stitch her hair with straight stitches first and I will then add the curls later.

Working hair in straight stitches first

I just thought I would recommend the RSN Stumpwork book by Kate Sinton for anybody who is interested in developing this area of embroidery themselves. I have followed her instructions for making a face step by step. The book is really clear and there are plenty of step by step photographs to help you along. Definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Great book

So, butterfly, snail shell and some titivation and all done. Ready for mounting next week at Tracy's in Durham and assessment. Phew...!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Heads not tails

I've got a head on my lady today. It took a bit of doing but got there in the end!

The problem is the size of the piece...

Size of head

As you can see, when you get down to facial features tiny isn't in it. That little nose took 4 hours tp produce believe it or not. So tiny the wood kept splitting. I told the joiner you just can't get good wood these days!

Head attached

But in the end she doesn't look too bad. Ready for the hairdresser now.

I decided to leave the hair until tomorrow and I slipped in a flower...

Canvas slips

Flower head detached slips

Amazing how you can get on when you're not frying!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Fully dressed........

Here's my lady completely dressed, including her pearl necklace. Shame her head is missing!

Today I've sealed her face with PVA glue diluted, it just needs a nose carving from balsa, so nearly ready to complete.

The flower slips are all ready to fix in place as soon as she is completed and her curls are drying as I write!

So very nearly there......

Dress complete

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cracking on

Just to keep you up to date, I've stitched and applied the bodice to my figure and padded the sleeve/arms with carpet felt and then ordinary felt

Carpet padding on arms

I attached the wired hands under the felt. 

Sleeve added, ready for cuffs next

I made up a sleeve and stab stitched that in place. One more sleeve and a nice cavalier's lacy collar and cuffs will complete her ensemble!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Overcoming the heat

 I have had my two weeks with Tracy Franklin in Durham, two of the hottest this year. Progress has not been good but at least I have come home with a clear direction of what to do and in what order.

The only thing about doing stumpwork is that nothing seems to happen to your work for ages but you have loads of bits all worked up waiting for the right moment to attach them. So there are petals and leaves all wired up and faces and hands just waiting to be stitched in.

As usual, I have a marathon to run. The needlelace for the skirt alone took 2 days to stitch and this last weekend I finished the clouds below in shaded chain stitch.

Tent stitch sun and chain stitch clouds

There is also quite a bit of long and short stitch for the hillocks that my lady stands on and I've just about completed that, just a bit under her feet to 'ground' her.

Skirt in corded buttonhole detached needlelce
So today I attached the over skirt which was long enough, thank the lord!

Super pearl purl edged flower

and just to finish the day off I've edged two of the little flowers in pearl purl

and there's two!

So now I'm ready to do the bodice and sleeves and attach her face and hair. Any tips folks?