I added free motion machine stitching to the distant shore. Whenever I start FME on a landscape, I always think that the first few areas where I have stitched look like it’s too much. But I keep going and usually, once more stitching is added, the initial lines don’t feel excessive.
The next step was to stitch the rocks across from the tree. I considered adding some stitching into the foliage above the rocks but decided to leave it as is.
Then on to stitching the tree. I added the dark bits to the trunk and stitching through the felted paper was a breeze, no problems at all either by machine or by hand. The dark branches were added next and then decision time on how to add a few more leaves. I considered needle felting some smaller leaves on the dark branches but then decided I would hand stitch the leaves.
I then hand stitched leaves on to the dark branches using hand dyed lace weight wool thread and detached chain stitch. I added a few bits of grass at the bottom of the trunk as well.
The miracle is that I found a backing fabric, stitched the felt to that and then wrapped/laced the piece around matte board so it’s ready to frame. Since the piece is small (matte size 8″ x 10″), it went quickly and now I have two pieces ready to take to the framers. This piece counts for the year long tree challenge for spring. I have to think about the summer one as it wouldn’t really look different than spring, a few more leaves perhaps?
The winter birch piece is also ready for framing. I used a darker gray hand dyed fabric for the winter birch as it felt “colder” that way. Now on to the next landscape as the gallery wants me to replace the one that sold last month. (Doing a little happy dance!)
This is the piece that sold called Remembrance. Yay!
I have finally finished my stitching. I think it is definitely slow stitching. last time I had done a practice branch to see how it would go. /2023/01/13/stitching-some-trees/
I wanted to add some snow but felting onto the cotton wasn’t good. and yarn didn’t look right. So I thought, why not make it on some felt and then you can needle on some snow. The branch worked out really well. I do love stitching on felt.
Then I tried to add snow. Nope, it looked terrible. Sorry, no picture and no snow. I was a bit discouraged and was going to give it up as a bad job and then I thought I’d come this far, I should finish the piece.
And here is the finished piece. I used an app that takes out the real background and then you can add a nicer background.
All in all not a bad project with no real purpose other than to slow stitch. I had thought I was doing part of the first quarter challenge but on re-reading it I see I should do the same tree in each season and using an evergreen seems a bit like cheating. I have another idea. I saw a picture of making a tree that looked like it would work well so I am planning to give it a try. so hopefully soon I can show you.
And one last thing as it is valentines day in a couple of days I made a heart.
I am continuing with my slow(very slow) stitching. I have accidentally done part of the first-quarter challenge. Last time I showed you my tree trunk. Next, I got some of my handspun to make the evergreen part.
I pulled a lighter green first. it was much too light. I switched to t a much darker green that works much better. it is a thicker yarn too, which I think works better.
The practice one worked out well so onto the good ones.
The trunk on this one ended up a bit fat but I don’t mind
And the third one
And this is how it looks now
I like it so far but I am not sure what to put in the blank corner. I thought maybe a branch so I did a test one. I may try to add some cones or snow. I am not sure what kind of tree it looks like. What do you think? what would you put there?
My next step in finishing the driftwood piece was to create lichen. I had made lichen before from Tyvek but alas, I had none in my stash. So I looked for other materials that could be shaped with a wood burning tool and that would shrink and make interesting shapes with a heat gun.
What I found was a fusible lightweight Pellon interfacing and nylon organza. The interfacing does not need to be fusible to work, it’s just what I had on hand. I can’t remember why I bought it but hopefully, it would work so I wouldn’t have to buy anything else.
I painted the small pieces of interfacing and organza with a light layer of acrylic paint. As you can see here, the paint was not heavy and the shade of blue green was very light in value.
Next, I got out my wood burning tool and a piece of glass to burn on. I made random lichen shapes in the interfacing. I also did the same with the nylon organza. Once they were cut out, I held the small pieces with a pair of tweezers and used the heat gun to make them shrink up and get curly. I also added a bit of brown marker to the edges of the lichen as there are definitely brown bits on the real stuff.
Here’s the result. Yay, it looks like I wanted it to. Success. Now to add it and the dead teabag leaves to the mossy driftwood. I glued the lichen in place as it was mainly on the wood itself. I stitched the leaves down to the felt in a couple of places.
Here’s the result. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.
And the close up views. I’m happy with how it turned out and it was a really fun project.
I like slow stitching. Just stitching for fun and to relax. No big purpose or major projects. Just do it as you feel like it. This suits me as I am not a great stitcher and I can pick it up and put it down without any guilt. I belong to a group on Facebook and some people are amazing artists and some just do random stitching on a piece of cloth and everything in between.
I decided I wanted t make some snowflakes and at least one tree. I had seen an interesting one in my Pinterest suggestions. To this end, I took the ripped-up sheet out of the donations box. You know what they say if you want to know what you intended for something just give it away and next week you will know what you needed it for. I was lucky that we are very slow with these things and they hadn’t made it to their destination. I am still not sure what the original idea was for these wide strips of sheet.
One piece was a little grubby looking so I chose it for the proof of concept (practice) piece. I have a nice small free-standing embroidery hoop I got at a garage sale (I think). It means it’s hands-free and can sit beside my chair and the hoop doesn’t go missing.
Snowflakes. I drew 3 stars onto the cloth to use as patterns. I used some thick gold polyester thread from Gutermann.
That was easy enough so I moved on to some clean fabric
I drew the stars a little bigger and I did gold again
Then I moved on to what would be the problem thread. It is something I picked up because it was shiny but it has no markings it is just on a plane cardboard tube. It’s a copper/bronze kind of colour and it is terrible to work with. it seems to be a wrapped thread and it kept breaking. There are a lot more knots in the back of this one. and there was a lot more cursing with the rethreading of the needle. I would have liked to add more to this but I was done with the thread.
Next was some nice silvery embroidery thread. DMC rayon S712. I used 3 strands. It was very nice to use.
And here they are together
I switched back to the practice cloth to work on the tree. this is the trunk( obviously) I tried to do varying lengths of stitches to help it look more like bark. It is very hard to deliberately make random stitch lengths.
This is what the back looks like where the backstitching is. I think I like it better for bark. The problem is I am having a hard time wrapping my head around doing backstitch upside down. It probably has another name with you do it that way.
Next is the evergreen bows. I will see how that goes. As I said it’s slow stitching.
Last time I posted, I showed you a piece of driftwood that I had covered in green felt to represent moss. It definitely needed more work to achieve the natural look that I desired.
I took a small pair of sharp scissors and cut out some holes as well as making the ends not so uniform and straight. I then decided to use the left over cut out pieces as padding for stitching. I added the left over pieces in a couple of places and hand stitched them down.
I then decided to try adding more texture with needle felting. I had a pile of little wet felted scraps which you can see on the left and I needle felted those down. Then I added some wool from my carded batts that I had left over after wet felting. I needled those down but not too firmly. I still wanted the texture of moss, which you can see in the right photo.
Here’s what it looked like after I finished the lower layered bits. I left hanging threads as this will be the “grassy” looking bits sticking up between the moss.
Next was looking for different green threads. Here’s what I came up with. You can also just see on the left side that I found some of my photos of moss and printed those out for reference.
I then started adding some hand stitching. These are “wonky” French knots with hand dyed lace weight wool thread. This is going to take a while. I have another “slow” stitch project on my hands.
Next up was to try some machine stitching. I made a sandwich of the threads on the left between two layers of water soluble fabric. I then machine stitched a random branching pattern. The photo on the right shows the result after washing out the soluble fabric.
Here’s a small piece of the machine stitched moss by the French knot section. I haven’t stitched it in place as I think I will do more of the hand stitching first. I’m loving all the different greens as that is definitely what you find in nature. I will keep you updated on my progress.
The Other Ann had posted about a challenge in a magazine she gets. Inspiration Magazine. https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/inspirations-issue-116/ it’s a needlework magazine. It looks really cool. So, I thought it might be an idea to ask people what magazines they read for knowledge and inspiration. Everyone seems to really love the Christmas beetle brooch. So I thought I would edit in the price for the kit, $129.00. I am assuming that is Australian dollars.
I would love to see Felt Matters but can’t bring myself to pay $65 for a digital and $81 for a printed ( 4 per year) magazine.
I like to leaf through unrelated magazines too when I see them. art quilt magazines are inspiring. They are good at showing you how to break down and simplify a picture. Nature magazines of course are great for inspiration. I have an old National Geographic magazine that talks about wool. It’s packed away but I found a picture
So tell us which magazines do you read to learn, and/or get inspired.
We had a busy few days setting up the exhibition and I thought you might like to see a few set up photos.
And then it was the day of the exhibition. We had around 80 people attend over the two days in early July. It was wonderful to be able to see all the hard work accomplished by my fellow students and to share our work with other interested people.
I asked my fellow students if I could share their work and I’m happy that everyone agreed so that you can see some amazing fiber art. These are just a very few examples of their work produced in class.
Maureen Goldsmith wasn’t able to come to the in-person exhibition but was able to send her wonderful work.
Covid Birds by Maureen is a framed wall hanging, you can see it in the first photo behind the group photo on the wall, to understand the size of the piece.
Here’s a detail view so you can see the stitching more closely.
Val has an interest in historical embroidery and needlework.
Her piece “Pleasurable Pursuits” is based on historical needlework studies that she pursued during the class.
Here’s a detail shot so that you can see the amount of hand stitching in this piece.
Sheila Asdal created a machine and hand stitched book about the Big Leaf Maple and the creatures that find shelter and sustenance in the tree.
Here’s a side view and front cover of the book.
And a detail view of the stumpwork moth she created.
Catherine’s interests are from nature, including rocks, plants, seed heads and the winter garden.
She used her original photos of her winter garden to create this handstitched series.
Each of the individual pieces are about 6″ x 6″.
Bobbie Herrick is also inspired by her garden. She took on a tremendous project in creating The Hanging Garden light.
Bobbie’s lamp was created with machine and hand stitching and cut back applique. She found it interesting to work with light during this process as it changed the colors immensely when the light was turned on behind the fabric.
Alana Koehler was inspired by a row of bottles on her windowsill. As she worked through the process, she became intrigued with the difference between the hardness of glass and the translucent fabric that she ended up using in Ethereal Bottles.
The sheer fabric in Ethereal Bottles float away from the wall and the bottles are created with machine stitching. It is definitely ethereal in person.
And lastly, there is me. The Language of Trees is based on the concept that trees and other forest plants, have a vast communication network underground.
This wall hanging is mostly machine stitched on a dyed and painted background. The little bits of orange are words that I selected from tree poems to express the trees communicating with each other.
And because I have had a few people asking, I have also included my book about my dog Edgar. Here is “The Book of Edgar”.
Thanks to all my classmates for their camaraderie and support. Thanks to Gail and Penny for all your expert guidance and perseverance through a challenging three years of class.
This is the nuno background I showed a while back. Surprise, surprise, I created another landscape!
I started by adding some yellow orange sheer fabric to indicate the sky and then started auditioning trees cut from dyed silk organza. The trees went through many forms as I went along auditioning colors, sizes and placement.
I began making the foreground trees darker and the background trees lighter. It felt like the sun was coming from behind the hill. So I continued to emphasize that light perspective as I went along.
I was getting closer, adding more shadows and light.
Then I decided that the ground felt too light in the foreground. So I auditioned some sheer scarves in this area. These are light nylon scarves, you can see the edge hasn’t been removed here. Once the edge is cut off, the scarf can be easily frayed to blend into the background. Then on to stitching everything down.
Here’s the piece after I finished hand stitching the applique pieces in place for the trees. I also use a very small seed stitch to stitch down the sheer scarf pieces.
I decided I need something more in the foreground. The darker marks in the middle foreground reminded me of these plants. I think these are a type of wild orchid. This is a photo I took on one of my morning walks in the woods.
Here are the foreground plants. They are a combination of torn black tulle, couched yarns and pistol stitch in perle cottons.
I felt that the bottom of the orchids was a missing something so I added in some grasses which were couched down.
Here is the final piece on it’s fabric background. I have decided to call it First Light. The coloring in this last photo is the closest to the original. Now all it needs is framing.
As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”. I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work. I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”). This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.
I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.
In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed. Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!
The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”. The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.
“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.
“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”
Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet. The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.
The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns! I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)
The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me. Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.
She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.
One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images. This did produce some interesting results.
We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.
Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).
As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.
Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.
Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.
which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design
This is the design I finally ended up with.
There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour. And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.
The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine
And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work. Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.
The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”.
We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world. (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.) A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.
I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.
I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.