The w/e of 11-12 May I joined other members of my local textile group to attend a 2-day felting workshop by Hellen Edwards. Her work is interesting, vibrant, and involves machine stitching on felt.
The thought of machine embroidery filled me with dread. In the past I have done free motion embroidery quite successfully but I’m not a regular practitioner so to speak, and last year attended two workshops involving FME, the results of which were constantly mangled threads that neither tutor could resolve, total frustration and (I’m ashamed to admit) me leaving early in tears! I reported my troubles to my machine service guy, he investigated and found no obvious problem. What!!!! So, it is me!!!
However, on collecting my machine he wasn’t there, explaining my woes to the lady serving I gained some new knowledge….not all machines like doing free motion embroidery (she had such experience over several years and several machines)….so, machines have their likes and dislikes too! Then came my AH HA moment – those two particular workshops I had been using my new machine. Note to self – Use old machine for future FME.
Hellen chose a photo from her floristry arrangement collection (flowers in vases) then gave instructions for the laying out of the wool, showing various tips and finally let us loose on our own work.
This is what Hellen produced during our workshop.
Most of us hadn’t known what we would be doing but I had researched Hellen’s work and then in passing found various images of gumnuts (eucalyptus) in flower. Although not the flowers in a vase scenario, Hellen was content for me to use my images….I know I’ve said it before, but….I’m not really a rebel!
Those of you who have read my previous posts will know I draught very thinly so I paid particular attention to that this time. Corriedale was a requirement on our supply list but as I have plenty of washed and carded white Shetland I planned to use that rather than buy in more wool. Onto three ‘good’ layers of the Shetland (realising that laying the ‘picture’ would be mostly vertical I actually planned the layers of the Shetland backwards, if that makes sense!) I added the merino, blending several colours together to create the leaves etc. Nepps were added for detail and some synthetic fibres for a bit of lustre.
Once our pictures were complete it was onto felting and fulling. From the photos you may just glimpse that I use a thin plastic below and (once wetted down) above my wool. I continue as if I’m working with netting. I find this method means the water doesn’t disappear between the bubbles so I use less and enables me to flip the whole package over very easily to work from both sides.
At the end of the first day we were given instructions to ensure that our works were finished and completely dry ready for machine embroidering the next day.
Having read the above you will understand that I really had to steel myself for the FME. But having dusted off my old sewing machine and having put the bad memories in a box, I set to. Ha! Although I’d dusted off my machine I had not checked the drawer where the embroidery foot was located….it was full of machine oil from a leaked little bottle, everything was soaking in it! This can’t be happening! OK, be positive, the upside – nothing will rust!
Finally everything cleaned, fingers included, machine threaded, needle threaded and….off….woohoo….success! All I could think of was ‘I love you, I love you’ as I patted my old trusty workhorse, my friend then started laughing….although I had thought it, she pointed out I had actually voiced it.
There was a contended buzz in the room with only some chatter as we were all concentrating on our work and the end of the two days came all too quickly.
Since the workshop I have continued with the FME, using my darling trusty machine for straight and zigzag stitch and applied the detail with hand stitching. I was lucky to have just the right colour variegated yarn which split and sub-split into fine matt and lustrous threads.
And on the way I purchased a great travel steam iron to use on my felt – it is really dinky (almost cute) and fits perfectly into the little crevices.
My Gumnuts piece is complete after only 2 weeks….an absolute first for me. It is not in the PINS (project in need of something) box and I am sufficiently pleased with it that it is awaiting a frame.