Double standards

Or rather, double stands. For what is this in the picture? That’s right, a Lowery clamp without felt in the jaws. And that can mean only one thing – I have succumbed to the temptation of a second Lowery stand… (Well, I suppose it could also mean that the felt had come off the jaws of my first Lowery stand, but you’re not going to buy that for a second, are you smiley?)

Getting ready to felt the jaws of the second Lowery

For some time now I’ve been considering getting another Lowery; for one thing it would be convenient to have one in both my stitching spots. Convenient, but not essential, as the one that is usually wedged under my comfy arm chair can be moved if necessary to be used at my stitching-spot-by-the-dining-room-window. So that in itself was not sufficient reason to succumb. However, if I go on to do the RSN Diploma after finishing the Certificate I will have to use the large slate frame for some of the modules, and two Lowerys could take the place of the Ikea trestles and make it easier for me to sit near my stitching (demonstrated here with the Millennium frame).

The two-Lowery set-up The two Lowerys in action

But before using this new Lowery for anything, it needed its jaws softening. I went into the craft room to get the same bits and pieces I used last time, but if you compare that occasion with the bits in the picture above, you will notice that the felt is a different colour. Originally I picked an off-white felt, thinking it was probably best to use a neutral colour as it would be clamped against my embroidery fabric. But besides the colour, I picked it because it was rather stiffer and thicker than my other felt. Well, I must have been using it for other things since then, because there was only a small scrap left, and the only other stiff felt I had was that lilac one.

I felt fairly sure it would be colourfast, and that it wouldn’t leave lilac smears on my fabric, but even so I’d be happier with something white or beige. Unfortunately the only white felt I have is relatively thin; fine for the pages in a needle book, but not what I wanted here, and trying to stick on two layers would be awkward. But then, as I rummaged through my “sticky stuff” drawer (double-sided tape, glue dots etc.) I came across a pack of adhesive felt in various sizes – mostly the sort of circles you stick to the underside of chair legs or coasters, but there was also a sheet of nice thick, stiff, off-white felt!

Serendipitous sticky felt

Some of the cutting guidelines on the back of the peel-off paper even happened to be just right for my purpose. So a few minutes later, the clamp was ready to use.

Felted jaws ready to be used

And a little after that, the whole thing was set up, with Hengest the Medieval Unicorn ready to be finished off (finally).

The second Lowery set up for non-Diploma stitching

Not quite yet, though – before Hengest can be finished, there are a few decisions to be made. But that’s a story for another FoF…

Experimenting on robins and ladybirds

No no, there’s no need to call the RSPB and the RSPCA – only fabric was hurt in these experiments, by being repeatedly stabbed with a needle. In the case of the robin, I was trying out a herringbone variation which I found when researching stitches for the Canvaswork module. I put in a few rather faint guidelines and worked the first row; as the rows intertwine, my idea was to change the colour gradually from 2 strands of dark through one dark with one medium to two medium and so on. But just as had been the case when sampling this on canvas, it was terribly awkward trying to get the needle up underneath the previous row of stitches as per the instructions in my Anchor Book of Canvaswork Stitches.

Pencil lines as a guide The first line of herringbone stitch

Could you perhaps do it differently by going down underneath the previous stitches, which would be easier as you could push those stitches out of the way with the needle when taking it down through the fabric? I tried it on my canvas doodle cloth and yes, it works! The front looks pretty much identical (the blue line shows the stitch done according to the book, the pink line with the alternative way of working it) – any difference in the picture is, I think, the result of having done only two lines the alternative way, which makes it look less dense. It does use more thread on the back (the blue arrow in the second picture points to the tiny stitches on the back when doing it “properly”, the pink arrow to the longer stitches of the not-so-awkward variation) but on the whole I’d say it’s worth it for being much less frustrating and a lot quicker.

Herringbone done in two different ways look the same on the front But on the back they look different

So I gave that a try, and got to the first change in shading (dark/medium blend); then realised that I need to do the tail before continuing with the wing/body as it is further back in the design. I wanted to do it in satin stitch over a split stitch edge, so I have to come up at the body end, which would mess up the body stitching if I left it till later. In order to get the impression of texture in there in spite of the flat stitches, I chose to blend my dark and light brown, skipping the medium.

Blended herringbone A tail needs seeing to first, with a split stitch outline Blended satin stitch to make a perky tail

As for the ladybird, that comes from the needlepainting book I recently got. I’ve been wanting to try needlepainting, if only as a preparation for my Silk Shading module, and I also had some new (and older but not much used) fabrics and some new (and older but not much used) silks to experiment with. Fortunately the book comes with some beginner’s exercises and as there are three I’m going to try them with different combinations of fabric and thread. First up: a ladybird shell in Pipers floss silk on Empress Mills’ 440ct Egyptian cotton.

The first experiment set up

By the way, as I refused to believe that any cotton could have 440 threads to the inch (which is what the count would mean for a counted embroidery fabric like Lugana or Edinburgh linen), I did a bit of digging and found that in cotton for sheets etc. the count includes both the warp and the weft, so 440ct cotton will have 220 threads per inch horizontally and vertically. Still very fine, but not as eye-watering as it sounds at first!

The first, darkest silk for this is appropriately red, but the shading is not going to be subtle – I only have the Pipers silk in about seven jewel-like rainbow colours, so the shell will be worked in red, bright orange and bright yellow. The white will have to be borrowed from another brand of silk. Pipers floss silk is very fine, and being a filament silk it snags easily, which is why you can see the individual filaments in a few bits of the thread. Splitting the stitches took a lot of concentration, and very good lighting! The second picture shows the project with a standard match for scale (and in more accurate colours, having been photographed in daylight). It also shows that my initial row of long and short stitch does not have a very neat bottom edge, so I may unpick that part and start again.

Starting the split stitch outline The project in its 3-inch hoop

And that’s where I am with these two experiments! I hope to be able to finish them over the Christmas period, while also getting some Canvaswork homework in. But for that, I’m waiting for a Christmas present…

Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep

…have you any rainbow wool? Well, Catkin Crown Textile Studio do, and until Christmas Eve they offer 15% off their beautiful Heathway Milano crewel wools (25% if you’re a subscriber to their newsletter). I have pretty much all the shades I want plus spares of many of them, but fortunately I found a good excuse to make use of their generous sale even so: a sheep, and a sheep-mad friend.

You may remember Trina, who was the inspiration for both Whoo Me (by means of her painted pebble owls) and Trina’s Sheep (by means of being sheep-mad smiley).

An owl inspired by Trina A sheep inspired by Trina

Well, recently I came across another embroidered sheep, or rather a pair of sheep (well, rams) – Tanya Bentham’s Bayeux-stitched Bertie & Bartram. They are both fun but I just fell for Bartram (or should that be Baa-rt-ram?) with his rainbow fleece. And what better to stitch him with (in the absence of the more correct-for-the-period naturally dyed wools Tanya uses) than my very favourite Heathway Milano wools? And what better belated birthday present for above-mentioned friend than a companion sheep?

Tanya Bentham's two Bayeux sheep

So I had the fun of making up two project packs – one in more muted shades on Tanya’s invitingly soft wool fabric for me, one in brighter shades on vintage Irish linen (inherited from my mother-in-law) for her. By the way, the reason why her hoop/fabric combo is smaller than mine is that for some reason best known to herself my mother-in-law cut up the linen into very long narrow strips, and this is the biggest hoop I could fit it into; fortunately there’s just about enough room to manoeuvre. As for the threads, as you can see I haven’t got entire skeins of some of the shades, but, erm, did I mention something about a sale?

Threads for two rainbow sheep Two fabrics, with transferred designs

Oh, and I got a few more spares at the same time…

When you shop in a sale, you have to take advantage of it...

Can we canvas? Yes we can!

Until recently I didn’t really “feel” Canvaswork, so I approached my first proper class (which initially had been planned for last July, but got postponed several times for various reasons) with some trepidation. I came armed with two outlines which I knew to be far too detailed, a framed-up canvas which I knew wasn’t tight enough (but which by this time did at least have the required rectangular running stitch outline in sewing thread), a few samplings in the wrong sort of thread, and about one idea. I did not feel confident.

Two detailed tracings Framed up, but not quite tightly enough (and as yet minus outline) Possible stitches Some sampling

The tutor assigned to this class was Angela, and I’d been looking forward to seeing her and perhaps having a little Bruce chat with her, but unfortunately she had gone down with Covid (apparently feeling rather rough with it, poor her) and so the class was taken by Helen Jones. With only four students we each had plenty of time to discuss things with her, and for me the first thing was indeed to get that canvas tightened. I unlaced part of it, turned the bottom roller once and re-laced. It is now most definitely taut as a drum, but as that is difficult to photograph you’ll have to take my word for it!

The next thing was to simplify the outline. I was surprised at how far you take this process in canvaswork, and I fear mine probably still has too much detail (especially in the windmill) but this was as simple as I felt comfortable with, and Helen OK-ed it. To make it easier to transfer she suggested tracing the pencil lines in marker pen; this was also a good opportunity to get the horizon level. In the photograph the furthest edge of the paved area which forms the strongest horizontal line in the piece is actually slightly curved, but making it perfectly level would help to “anchor” the design when transferring it – if the horizon didn’t follow a straight line of holes on the canvas, I’d know I had to reposition it.

Simplifying the outline Tracing the outline and levelling the horizon

Having got used to prick & pounce and paint for transferring the design at RSN classes, canvaswork is a bit of a wayward module. There is no way the canvas would take the pounce in any meaningful way, and as you have to transfer the design when the canvas is on the frame you can’t just bung it onto a light box either. Instead, you build a squat tower of books with the design on top of it, place the frame over it so that the canvas rests on the design, and then trace what you can see of it through the holes with a permanent marker. It then becomes abundantly clear why the outline has to be simplified so much: the canvas simply will not take any great level of detail. It is also surprisingly difficult to manipulate the traced design if its position is slightly off, sandwiched as it is between the books and the frame. But eventually I got that nice straight horizon to line up with a row of holes, and drew it on.

Propping up the frame The horizon is in!

I can’t guarantee that what eventually ended up on the canvas is exactly like the design outline – some of the squigglier lines were difficult to trace precisely – but again it got the OK so perhaps I was being a bit too fussy. What definitely did need addressing was the fact that I managed to leave off an entire hedge, which I didn’t notice until I got home and showed the canvas to Mr Figworthy! It has since been added in.

Outline minus hedge Outline with hedge

Because it felt silly to do absolutely no stitching at all in class, I did do a tiny bit of sampling: it’s a herringbone variation which takes shading rather well, and which I hope to use to bring texture to the green bits that aren’t worked individually. It is rather fiddly, as you have to bring the needle up underneath previous stitches half the time, but I think it will be worth the effort.

Herringbone variations sampled

My next class is in January; until then I’ll be colouring in a print of the outline (officially “making a colour and shading plan”), choosing stitches and doing a lot of sampling. I’ve got some ideas for the two large tulips in the foreground and various other bits and have sketched and scribbled a few ideas (yes, my handwriting is atrocious) to be translated into sampling at some point.

A few sketches

Due to canvaswork being the Mary Mary Quite Contrary of embroidery, those two big tulips will be worked first. In all other techniques you work the background first, and then the things that are a bit nearer to the viewer, and so on, until you reach the things in the foreground. If parts of the design overlap you stitch the overlapping bit last, which looks more natural and convincing. But in canvaswork you stitch the foreground first, and end with what is furthest away in the picture. As far as I understand, this is because the further back in the design you go, the smaller the stitches get – and it is much easier to work small stitches around large ones than fit large ones into a background made up of small stitches!

Having to end with lots of green and a big expanse of sky after doing all the interesting foreground bits may sound like starting with the fireworks and going downhill from there, but I rather like it – I think those tulips will entice me into a technique which is entirely new to me and feels unfamiliar and challenging. Let’s hear it for the Tempting Tulips!

More stash, more students, a cross and a petal

As I was putting kits together for the course at Rugby’s Percival Guildhouse, I noticed I was getting a little low on some of the shades of Madeira Lana needed for the No Place Like Home project. There was plenty left for the class kits, but I have plans for this little house (watch this space…) so off I went to my two suppliers, only to find that one of them, from whom I got the larger reels of variegated Lana, no longer carries this thread! Fortunately most of the shades required were solids, and I didn’t need that much of them, so Sarah Homfray and her 25m skeins came to the rescue!

Madeira Lana for kits

One of the things I try to do in the course is to introduce different types of thread, and this wool/acrylic blend is one of them. It made its appearance in week 2. Which brings me to the students using the thread (who, in spite of the title of this FoF, are in fact the same students as the ones I mentioned last time, but “more students’ work” was a bit cumbersome). Here is how they got on with No Place Like Home (class plus some homework) and Butterfly Wreath (in-class progress). I’m really proud of how well they are doing!

Students' versions of No Place Like Home Students' versions of the Butterfly Wreath

When I manage to do some “free stitching” (that is to say not for future publication, or at least with no deadline for publication) I grab one of the many projects lying around that are awaiting completion. Some are fairly recent, like the hourglass stitched with Paintbox Threads materials (update soon), others were started as far back as early 2019, like Hengest and Llandrindod. Hengest is still languishing, but I’m getting on with the pretty jewelled cross. At the moment I’m working on the dark gold that surrounds the gems, and when that is done there is just the subtle bling to be added to the stones, plus possibly some decoration along the light gold circle. But for now I have to decide what to do when the split stitch of the gold frame doesn’t quite match up with the split stitch of the gems. Sometimes it’s a matter of simply filling in the gaps with more gold (orange arrow) – but should I perhaps make the gem corners a bit sharper by adding a few stitches in red (blue arrows)?

Gaps in Llandrindod

Perhaps I’ll work on something else while mulling that over… One thing which I hope to get to grips with in the not too distant future is silk shading or needle painting. You may remember that lovely book I got a while ago which has some exercises in it to try before starting on the full-blown projects – more about that in a future FoF, but another inspiration presented itself from quite a different corner recently. While we were having some pruning done in the garden a late rose got cut, and we put it in the kitchen in one of those tall narrow vases. It’s a lovely dark orange when in bud, but it goes progressively paler when it opens, and when it started to drop its petals I had a close look at one. Not only would the colours make for a lovely silk shading project, it looks like the stitch direction lines have already been pencilled in by the Creator smiley.

Our orange rose A petal with ready-painted lines for silk shading

Spangles, stash and students

It’s been a while since I last Foffed, but now I can burst in with a Hurray! Finally, the second of the two secret stitched models is finished (sneak peek of a tiny bit of it below) – but is it finished? Well, everything that is on my design plan is now on the fabric, but I keep thinking it may need a few more spangles before mounting…

A cutwork sneak peek

Which brings us nicely to the second part of this FoF. It’s always pleasant to get new stash, and although this doesn’t look particularly interesting it feels very nice: fluffy cotton wadding for mounting the models mentioned above (and probably the metalwork racehorse). It’s very much like the stuff the RSN gave me for mounting Bruce and is meant to compensate for all those lumps and bumps on the back of goldwork caused by the plunged and oversewn ends. By the way, having used lightweight, open-textured polyester wadding for years in cards and to put behind embroidery when mounting, and having seen pictures online of “batting” which looked more like this soft but more solid cotton (or wool), I thought they were two different things. Turns out they are all wadding if you’re in the UK, and all batting if you’re in the US. Ah, language, I love you smiley.

Cotton wadding for mounting the stitched models

As for students, I’ve been seeing nine of them for a few weeks now at the Percival Guildhouse in Rugby, and so far they seem to be enjoying themselves which is a good sign! They came to the course with varying levels of previous experience, from a lady who wants to brush up her embroidery skills after a lull of some years to one who has done mostly cross stitch until now and wants to “have a go” to some who have never done any stitching whatsoever. I was impressed with how dedicated they all are, working hard on the new stitches in class and then showing me what they’ve finished at home the next week. Here are some of the Little Wildflower Gardens (the Week 1 project) which they brought to class the week after, several of them complete with bullion knot bee – Well Done Students, is what I say!

Three students' Wildflower Gardens

…and more silk.

Did you know that so far none of Mabel’s kits use silk? I know, it’s shocking! Time to do something about it, using that pretty little flower, the Quatrefoil. Putting together a new kit means sourcing supplies, which in this case means more silk. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my customers…

To begin with the fabric, I decided on a dark red silk dupion. The obvious place to go for that was The Silk Route, who were so helpful in finding just the right silk for Bruce. Unfortunately (it is a recurring theme, I know) it is very difficult to accurately judge colours on screen, so I rang them and they very kindly sent me two dark red samples to choose from. I then wondered whether dark blue wouldn’t work as well, rang again, and even though they had already sent off the first two samples, they popped another one in the post to me!

Silk Route samples

The blue turned out to be rather too dark, and of the two reds the lighter one was definitely the one to go for. They agreed to cut my half metre lengthwise, which means less waste and a few more kit-sized squares than if it was cut widthwise. It’s a power-woven silk dupion, which is smoother and more even in texture than the hand-woven type (this difference will come up in my Goldwork assessment FoF too). I like my kits to be accessible for stitchers who have no experience with a particular technique, so not putting too many slubs in their way seemed like a good plan.

Silk Route burgundy dupion

To do the silk fabric justice, the design is stitched using silk threads. I chose Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk because, well, really just because it is one of my favourite silks smiley with its subtle sheen and lovely soft feel, but also because it is, in my experience, one of the easier silks to work with. To complement the silk, and because a bit of bling always adds a certain je ne sais quoi (not to mention joie de vivre), the petals are outlined in gold Jap with a choice of couching thread: easier but more visible sewing thread, or bouncier and more slippery but practically invisible translucent couching thread. Add needles, an aperture card and some wadding and you’ve got the components of a new kit.

Making up the Quatrefoil kits

And after a fair bit of measuring, cutting, tying, winding, folding and packaging… *fanfare and drumroll* you’ve got our new Silk & Gold Quatrefoil kit!

One of the kits ready to be sent out

PS – Just to reassure anyone interested in the Quatrefoil kit in the light of my previous PS about filament silks, Splendor is a spun silk so hopefully no moths were harmed in the making of it.

Silk, silk…

I have got a new embroidery book. Yes, another one. Shush. Anyway, it is all Mary Corbet’s fault for writing yet another irresistible review. It will no doubt be very useful for the Silk Shading module of the RSN Certificate, but really that’s just an excuse. In fact it seemed to be the sort of informative and beautifully illustrated book that would be worth having and reading even if you never stitched anything from it – and so it turned out to be. Background information about pollinators, instructions for needlepainting, and lots and lots of lovely photographs of the exquisitely stitched projects. I love it.

Victoria Matthewson's needlepainting book Information about the plants and pollinators stitched in the book Very detailed photographs illustrate the needlepainting process

It joins Tanya Bentham’ Opus Anglicanum book on my current browsing pile, and they make a dangerous pair – because they mention various silks and materials that I now want to try out!

Do you remember Ethelnute the Opus Anglicanum king? He was stitched using Silk Mill silk, which like the ones mentioned in Tanya Bentham’s book is a filament silks, made from unbroken silk reeled off the cocoon of the silk worm (which is why some suppliers call it “reeled silk”). It is beautifully shiny, but not as flat as the ones Tanya uses, so the sheen on those should be even more spectacular.

Ethelnute mounted on his satin box

I’d never heard of tram silk, but it sounded rather interesting, so I ordered a taster pack through Tanya’s site. You can get full reels from the suppliers she mentions in her book, the Handweavers Studio, but getting a reasonable range of colours plus postage would be quite expensive, which led me to go for Tanya’s mixed pack of smaller cops. Exasperatingly, I received the book with its link to Handweavers the Monday after returning from London, where on one of my walks I passed through the street where their shop is without knowing it! Oh well, I will now have a few more shades to play with plus two fabrics I hadn’t used before which I popped into my shopping basket to make the most of the postage: ramie, a fine linen-like fabric, and a lovely soft wool fabric used for Bayeux-style embroidery.

A lovely range of tram silk colours and two fabrics Ramie fabric Wool fabric

Talking of fabrics, the Pollinator book mentions a fabric that I looked at on one of the stands at the Knitting & Stitching Show, a silk/cotton blend. I nearly bought a fat quarter and then decided against it because I didn’t know what I’d use it for. Sigh.

Back to silk. The other one that caught my attention was the silk produced in various weights by DeVere Yarns, especially when I found that it was mentioned in both my recently acquired books – quite a recommendation!

DeVere silks mentioned in the Pollinators book

I’d heard of DeVere Yarns before, and I’m fairly certain I’ve seen them at previous Knitting & Stitching Shows, but somehow I hadn’t tried their threads before. They are a family business and extremely helpful: when I decided to buy one of their Colour Packs but felt that it needed an extra shade between the dark and the medium blue they had a look at the colours while we were on the phone, then called me back later after they’d had a look in better light and found the right shade to go with the pack. Not only that, when I ordered that extra silk in a different weight from the pack they emailed me to ask whether that order was correct, and when the parcel arrived it included a sample card of their various silks and other threads as a bonus – very good service indeed.

The Pastel Palette with the extra shade How the extra shade fits in A sample card

You may think that all this is quite enough silk for anyone, but there has been more silken activity in the Figworthy household. No, I’ve not been growing my own silkworms – we haven’t got a mulberry tree. All will be revealed in the next FoF…

PS – I will admit to feeling slightly uncomfortable about filament silk because the moth is not allowed to hatch; at some point I will have to decide where I stand on that. Spun silk (which is not quite so strong and has a less exuberant sheen but looks beautiful in its own way and is very nice to work with) is made from the shorter remnants of the cocoon that are left after the moth has chewed its way out, and is therefore blissfully unproblematic; it’s not even taking something from the moth that it could conceivably still want (like honey from bees). Definitely the more worry-free silk.

Quick ways to store your needles

Once or twice I have mentioned a quick-to-make needle matchbook; it’s the finishing method used in the Hardanger mini kits, I made a set of ten recently for my course students and I have them dotted around the house for my own use. I’m fairly certain I also wrote about an easy felt needle roll at least once. However, when I looked for my FoFs about these needle storage solutions to send to a student, I found that I never actually wrote them!

A narrow needle matchbook for my own use An easy felt needle roll

The reason I haven’t written about the matchbook needle books became clear when I sought out the original site from which I got the idea: that had such a good description of the process that it would be silly to reinvent the wheel! You can find the post on the Make It Do blog. The only change I made to it for the Hardanger kits was to have the patterned side of the card on the inside, so that the Hardanger patch could be stuck to the plain coloured outside. I cut the card to 6cm x 17cm, and pre-score it 2cm from the bottom and 8cm from the top; for my little project books like the one shown above, which usually hold only a few needles and aren’t decorated with needlework, I use narrower strips of card and I don’t bother scoring them, but fold them by eye.

Hardanger kits finished as needle books

Much the same goes for the needle roll – that idea came from a Mary Corbet blog post which (of course) contains excellent instructions. I did happen to take several pictures when I put mine together, so I’ll post those here as additional illustrations to her description. First cut the parts that make up the roll: a larger rectangle of felt with two slits and a cord or ribbon fed through them, plus a smaller rectangle to hold the needles; I embroidered mine with a B (for “beading”) and numbers (for the various sizes) in backstitch. Place the needle felt on top of the larger felt and roll the layers up together, towards the cord or ribbon. The top layer will probably shift a bit while you roll them, so don’t start with it right up against the edge. Use the cord to tie up the roll. Done!

The two parts of the needle roll Place the needle felt on top of the larger felt Roll up the two layers together Use the cord to tie up the roll

So here we are, two very clever ideas, neither of them mine unfortunately, but brought together here for any stitchers looking for quick ways to store their needles. Both methods take only scraps of felt and card, so why not rummage through your stash and have a go?

Ally Pally, Bruce, cards and a new book

Well, I’m back after four days away, and more or less organised again after four days back home. London was lovely, especially as I tend to wander from park to river to green space to cemetery and avoid the busy shopping streets as much as possible, and I was lucky with the weather. It was wonderful to be back at the Knitting & Stitching Show again, too, even though it was very much a scaled-down affair. In fact I was having such a good time that I didn’t think to take very many pictures! Here are two things I did remember to photograph, the big Stitch A Tree project and one of the winning quilts which depicts a “missing” panel of the Bayeux Tapestry: the one with the people who actually produced it (that sewing machine in the border is just hilarious smiley!)

Stitch A Tree Project The Bayeux quilt

Shopping-wise I’ve been remarkably abstemious, helped (or hindered) by the fact that two of the shops I really wanted to see, Barnyarns and West End Embroidery, weren’t there. But I got this lovely hand-dyed fabric from Paint-Box Threads, and some green-and-red beetle wings from Golden Hinde.

Paint-Box fabric and beetle wings

One highlight of the Show was meeting up with fellow Dutch C&D student Marlous (of the Stitching Sheep fame) at the RSN stand and then sitting down to have a good chat.

Meeting Marlous, the Stitching Sheep

Marlous was also kind enough to take a few pictures of me with Bruce on the RSN display wall (well, I wasn’t on the wall – you know what I mean); the second one shows a bit more of the rest of the display. I was rather chuffed to hear from the lady on the stand that Bruce had garnered quite a bit of interest! Later that day when I returned for a last peek I was asked to talk to a couple of ladies thinking of starting the Certificate, to give them the student’s point of view. I also asked about adopting a stitch (you can see the Stitch Bank poster behind Marlous and me), and I’ll let you know how I get on with that.

Bruce and Mabel The RSN display

The workshops went well, but teaching with a visor did present some challenges, especially as I tend to look at any problems the students have by taking off my glasses and bringing the work practically up to my nose – you can imagine how that went! Below is the only picture I thought to take of one of the works in progress, a great effort by a lady who had done no embroidery before.

A Butterfly Wreath in progress

I always take three stitched models to any class or workshop I teach so that students can see several versions of the project in real life, instead of just the one picture on the kit cover, and it was a bit annoying to find after the second workshop that one of them had gone missing. Fortunately I had an unmounted Butterfly Wreath in a folder at home, so I could make a new one. At the same time I made up a stitched model for one of the classes in the Freestyle Embroidery course I’ll be teaching next month, the little silk and gold Quatrefoil.

Stitched models for workshops and classes

Craft Creations having been taken over by a new management who even after several years haven’t got back the same range of aperture cards, the Quatrefoil card comes from a new supplier, PDA Card & Craft. My first order from them arrived while I was away, so I had the pleasure of having an interesting parcel waiting for me when I came back. Well, the cardstock is of good quality but I wasn’t happy to notice that on the blue cards the aperture was clearly off-centre. However, an email I sent on Monday explaining the situation brought an almost instant reply with an apology and a promise to send out a new set with the correct aperture – very good customer service.

New aperture cards from PDA An off-centre aperture

Another interesting parcel arrived earlier this week: Tanya Bentham’s Opus Anglicanum, which is both an in-depth look at this style of embroidery and a project book. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but it looks very interesting, and I am reassured by Mary Corbet’s detailed review that it’s bound to have been a good buy! Some of the Opus Anglicanum-inspired kits and projects on Tanya’s site are not my cup of tea but the ones in the book seem to be mostly traditional in style with the occasional funny twist (Medieval Selfie Girl, for example).

Tanya Bentham's Opus Anglicanum

Unfortunately I won’t be stitching designs from this book any time soon, but I have been getting quite a lot of split stitch practice, having picked up Llandrindod as my Embroidery Group project. I’m looking forward to adding the little touches of sparkle soon!

Steady progress on Llandrindod