Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric

This was a learning process project. I hadn’t done most of the stitches before having really focused on cross-stitch work, so I wanted to teach myself more freestyle techniques – satin stitch, french knots, spider-web stitch, seed stitch. I intend it to be the first of a series of poisonous mushroom ‘samplers’.

I could accept the argument that the skull is unnecessary – but I can’t resist the nod to old Victorian poison bottle labels. I am me, after all.

You can read more about the process of this piece here and here.

Knitting and Stitching Exhibition, Harrogate

Knitting and Stitching Exhibition, Harrogate

So last Sunday I braved the frozen wastes of Leeds and Yorkshire, crawled from my bed and dragged my carcass to Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition. It was absolutely freezing. I genuinely don’t think I have ever been as cold. By the time I got to the train station I was physically shaking. Seriously considered turning round and going home. And I needed a wee.

But I’m very glad I didn’t turn back like the southern wimp I am. I had an absolutely wicked day. Totally nourishing for my soul. I completely overindulged myself so much I virtually had fluff coming out of my nose.

Definitely some highlights for me; I felt quite emotional at some of the work displayed predictably from the Royal School and the Embroiderers Guild, because it was just so amazing for me to see such incredible work so close up.

Also met and had a great little chat with artist Suzy Vickery. Her work was exquisite and we shared in the fandom of Mr X Stitch, the calling card of all the “most interesting people”!

And so to the shopping. Well, I spent double my absolute top budget. It wasn’t so much ‘kid in a sweetshop’ as ‘crack addicted junkie’. I actually had an adrenalin rush when I first got in and knew I was in a total mess when I’d spent my budget on the first 2 stalls. Every stall after that I was thinking “no, that’s definitely it now”, then another £7, £10, £16, £25 kept disappearing. I did have a plan to do a recce of all four halls to see what I wanted to go back to but then my competitive instinct hit and I was consumed by fear that if I didn’t get what looked like the last skein of this in this colour then one of these bespectacled cardigans would…total drama queen.

But, some of the lovely things are for my mum for xmas (can you hear the self justification?). Bought a lot more wool than I expected to. I realised I am totally drawn to vibrant colour and textures and mostly greens, corals, and Autumn tones.  Well it’s only once a year.

Now check out my haul!

The state of my living room floor when I tipped out my shopping bag. Thrilling!

Texture bag called ‘Autumn’ from 21st Century Yarns

Another one. This one’s called ‘marble’.

*Ahem* And another one.

Some fabulous silk and rayon hand and space-dyed threads from Oliver Twist.

More ‘one-offs’ from Oliver Twist.

Some very fine silk from 21st Century again.

Drool. Some japanese silk and silk-mohair from Habu Textiles.

Some undyed animal threads. I know EXACTLY what I’m gonna use them for :)

And now the wool

Hand dyed merino, alpaca and silk blend. 

Pure merino. Isn’t this just like Autumn leaves made wool?

My new fave Schoppelwolle. And my last and possibly most exciting buy of the day:

I mean look at it!!

It’s like the Hungry Caterpillar! Gorgeous Colinette yarn. Ooo I can see all the evenings of my life stretching out in front me. Many a nice cushion among them.

*sigh*

My Needlework Heritage

My Needlework Heritage

 

I really need to get better at taking photos, I know, I know.

These are all on one piece (top photo) of freestyle hand embroidered insects, by my Mum.

This is the piece my Mum is most proud of. It’s counted cross stitch from a pattern (I don’t know who by) on black Aida of a stone bust of the Virgin Mary.

Super kitsch classic counted cross stitch. This was in my bedroom when I was little and I still love it now. A doll’s house. My 9th birthday present.

This was one of those work-in-progress pieces that took my Mum years to complete basically because I think she found it so hard on her eyes with the size and all the different shades. It’s on evenweave with linen threads I think.

My Great Aunty Kora’s crewel work fire screen that she did when she was in her mid to late 30s, so about 1957ish? Apparently it was for a competition run by the Blackpool Evening Gazette and she came 2nd.

Mum has also given me a whole bag full of amazing 1930s-1950s white cotton tablecloths and doilies and things with hand embroidery and crocheted edging, and reams of hand lace and tatting too! Call me sacrilegious but these were rotting in a drawer anyway so I’ve dyed half of them to velvet black to go on my stall at the next Reetsweet event on 5th December (and you can read a sweet interview with me about my jewellery on their blog here). The rest were really too pretty or plain or too small but will all, I’m sure be upcycled and embroidered on soon.

She also finished my pillow for me. It looks so good!

In other news…I’ve been a bit lax lately posting, I’m sorry. Just. So. Busy!

But expect a flurry of posts coming this way over the next few days as I have a week of free evenings next week. A whole week! When I say ‘free’ obviously I mean I will still be working on various projects, but I am taking December off from doing my Aromatherapy case studies, so no after-work massages, and lots of sofa-craft time.

Plus I’m going to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching exhibition on Sunday so you know they’ll be loads of pics of my haul.

 

Toadstool Progress

Toadstool Progress


So more Satin stitch and Long and short stitch. The spots are what I’m most happy with. A very successful experiment with a stitch I found in my fave Anchor stitch book – Spider’s Web Filling. Basically I’ve made a 2-ply thread from 2 different shades of cotton for the ‘spokes’ of the web which make the base, and I tried to make the centre point match the original photo – so not all actually in the centre. Then using a lighter shade for the centre bit I wove in and out of the spokes, then switched to a slightly darker tone for the outside. I couched all the edges in with the dark mushroom colour in single strand back stitch, and where I felt like it was a bit ‘flat’ I’ve added a few more spokes on top in the same colour. Quite labour intensive, but I love how it’s turned out.

Autumn colours

Autumn colours


Just had a week off and took the opportunity of the lovely location to go all Jane Brocket and take some lovely inspiration photos for colour and texture source material.

Oh how I love Autumn, let me count the ways…

And then, like buried treasure, I found  one of my favourite things:

Now indulge me as I tell classic English botanist’s poetry:

Ivory Funnel.

Destroying Angel.

Fools/Deadly/Splendid Webcap.

Fly Agaric.

Devil’s Bolete.

Deathcap.

Deadly Dapperling.

Autumn Skullcap.

Jack-o-Lantern.

I get all excited just thinking about them. The toadstool has always held a place of special dark inspiration for me; their legendary status within my beloved fairy tales, always there in the background, part of the scenery, yet holding sentry, ready to ensnare any foolish traveller into psychedelic nightmares or even death. Lovely.

And all this is spurring me on with (finally) my latest work in progress. I make no secret that my embroidery up until now has been virtually exclusively cross stitch. I’m fine with that now, I need to teach myself freestyle stitches. So, the perfect muse:

The classic, perfect, magickal mushroom of myth and legend.

Here’s the pattern I made of it, basically just delineating the colours and shapes.

 

Then using my bag of floss, selected my cotton colours. I’d given up buying expensive fabrics and canvas specifically for embroidery when I found a huge offcut ream of lovely greeny flax coloured linen, perfect for my intentions, for £6! It will provide for tens of projects, and easily for my, now intended, Toadstool series of samplers.

Sorry for the blurry photo – taken myself with the sewing on my lap:

I drew/traced my pattern onto the linen, then began satin stitching the stem. Not really happy with this to begin with. I have this horrible compulsion to fling away in disgust anything I try in which I am not completely accomplished in about ten minutes. Dreadful.

But, stitch stitch stitch, learn learn learn. Having done the white bit and found it baggy and uneven, I realised my constant obsession with being economical with my thread was the culprit for this, and when I did it properly – looping the full length of the stitch around the back of the canvas – lo and behold, it all started to be a bit more like it should be.

When I’d finished that bit I did tiny back-stitch to mark out the underside of the mushroom, and its lovely frills, then, following my tutelage at the knee of my guru (Mum) a couple of weeks ago, I added texture with lots of french knots.

I did some seed stitch too which has ended up being slightly pointless as I’ve actually covered it all over with more french knots now.

More soon.