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

A URL and more Guildhouse stitching

One of the online shops I get supplies from is the Hardanger Atelier in the Netherlands. Their web address is, which is pretty neat, and I remarked to my husband that they must have been quick to get such a good address. At which point he said “what about” I had to admit I’d never even looked, because surely that one must have been snapped up years ago by any of the big Hardanger designers or suppliers. “Go on,” he said. “Have a look.”

I did. And it was available! So now, if you type into your browser’s address bar, you see Mabel’s Fancies – are you impressed smiley?

Apart from playing with URLs I’ve also been stitching for the next course I hope to teach at the Percival Guildhouse – or rather a pair of courses, each five weeks, one starting in April and one in September. These will be Hardanger only rather than mixed techniques, and the idea is to start with a Beginners / Refresher course, followed by an Improvers course if there is enough interest. Precise dates and times will be on the Workshops page as soon as I know them.

For the first course I wanted to start with a non-cut piece, much like the Stitch-Along, to get people used to Kloster blocks and satin stitch and so on before having to worry about cutting bits out of their stitching, which can seem a bit daunting when you’ve never done it before. Some of the projects I intend to use will be based on existing designs, but this one was designed especially for the course.

Non-cut Hardanger for the 2013 Guildhouse course

The other model I’ve been working on comes right at the other end – the last project of the second course. One of the things I want to explore in the Improvers course is working on hand-dyed fabric in various counts, ending with a 28ct Lugana. Hand-dyeds usually shrink a bit, so that in effect we’ll be working on 29/30ct. The Mini Kit bookmark was a perfect ready-made design to try out different combinations of perle, so that the students end up with a sampler they can keep for future reference, but also use. I worked the model on one of my Sparklies samples, stretched onto a little bar frame. As you can see it was a bit of a tight fit …

Using a Sparklies sample It's a bit of a squeeze!

The top motif is worked in perle #5 and #12, the middle one in #8 and #12, and the bottom one in #5 and #8. Every stitcher has a different tension, and different preferences, so this will help them decide which combination works for them on 28ct and finer.

Bookmark for the 2013 Guildhouse course Felt backing attached to the four-sided edging

Over the weekend I’ll be stitching some more for the SAL (with my husband standing by to take pictures of tricky stitches for the SAL blog) and hopefully a bit more for the Guildhouse as well. It’s the European Speed Skating Championships, so I’ll be cheering on the Dutch skaters, consuming vast quantities of tea and Dutch biscuits, stitching away all the while. Bliss!