It’s amazing how my slow stitch project is moving along and almost complete. Twenty to thirty minutes of stitching per day definitely works for me and even though I have been working on this project for a long time, it has been a fulfilling project. I have enjoyed seeing the piece slowly fill in with thousands of stitches.
Here’s where I was the last time I showed you the piece in mid June.
I added a lot of foreground stitching. The bit on the top left shown here is still a little pale for me. It jumps forward in front of the foreground bush in my eye. So there will be a little more stitching there.
I added some running stitch in the distant trees with a “grey” thread. It leans very heavily to purple but really works well to give these tree trunks a bit more definition and to move them further into the distance.
Here is where I am now. It’s getting very close to finished. A few more areas of darkness perhaps. Lindsay asked me a while ago how I decide when it’s finished. What I do with a piece like this is to get to the point where I think it might be finished and then I hang it up on the wall in my studio so I can study it. I look at the piece from different distances and different angles. I give it some time to “rest” and then I add what I think is still needed based on the assessment I have done. Or I pronounce that it’s finished. What do you think?
It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.
I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.
Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.
The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.
After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!
With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.
I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!
What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!
I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.
The last time I showed you my Autumn Nuno slow stitch piece was back in April and it looked like this:
I have been continuing to stitch on this piece for 15-20 minutes per day. I have been concentrating on the bottom left corner and bottom foreground to fill in the vegetation/foliage in those areas.
Here’s a close up of that area which has the first pass of seed stitch and just needs some of the lighter areas filled in a bit more. I also think I need to evaluate the values once I’m happier with the foreground.
And here’s what the full piece currently looks like. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them. So progress is being made, albeit slowly. I’m still enjoying the daily practice of hand stitching, adds a little zen to my day.
One year ago today, we adopted this little guy from Mission Valley Animal Shelter. His name is Edgar and he was a stray so we don’t know his breed or his age, but he has added so much joy to our lives. I thought you might want to help Edgar celebrate his adoption day and see how he is living his best life.
The winner of the 100 grams of premium washed Teeswater locks is Sttamburo
The winner of the 150 grams of Swiss mountain batt in your choice of colour(s) is Darrel
Congratulations! Monica will contact you via the email you provided.
Now my stuff
My heat erasable pens arrived. They come as a pack of refills and some empty pens. I got one that came with 4 colours, white, red, blue and black. That should cover all possibilities.
I picked the white. I think red would have worked too.
Onto the last part of the design. Diamonds were a popular repeating pattern. I better check to see if this will work the way I think it will. I did not do my usual quick sketch but using a ruler. Are you amazed?
Yes, that should work fine, real diamonds and not just squares on point. Now let’s see if those pens work. A straight line to work form. I may stitch that in too. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, even smooth felt is very textured. The tendency when a pen doesn’t write is to press harder. That didn’t work. A light touch was much better.
A couple of weeks has passed since I did the lines. I decided to use yellow for the lines.
I really like how the yellow looks against the green but it didn’t look complete so I added some red and black french knots in the middle
Next was finishing the sides. I decided to use double-fold bias tape. I like double fold because it’s easy to sew on invisibly. the bias I like to use with felt is a fleece bias. It blends with felt so nicely but isn’t as bulky as using felt. I had black and green that would work. I chose the green as it was such a good match.
If I had easy access to my machine I would have stitched the first side with it. You can stitch in the ditch of the fold and it’s invisible. That is the way I do it when I put a bias tape on the brim of a hat. As it was, I just stitched both sides by hand.
I think it looks good.
Next is sewing the pockets and filling them up. I should have that done by next time. I have almost a whole month to get it done and still be on time.
I recently sold several pieces of work at Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center in Bigfork, Montana and I took a new set of framed pieces down. But summer, the tourist season is upon us and I needed to stay ahead and create some new work. I found some pieces of hand dyed silk that I had in my stash and put a stack of prefelt and the silk together so they are ready to felt.
I started with this piece of silk which has been nunofelted to white prefelt. I fold over the edges and what doesn’t stick to the back with felting, I hand stitch in place so I have a nice edge. This piece is approximately 7″ x 11″. Once felted, I look at the piece from different angles and “find” my landscape.
Next up, I free motion machine stitched the background picking out the mountains in the background and some rocks in the foreground.
Next, I decided to add a foreground tree, my go to foreground. I used a variety of hand dyed cheesecloth layers for the main branches and trunk of the tree. But the result wasn’t what I wanted. The background didn’t have enough depth, I needed more change in value and contrast. So I peeled off the tree which luckily came up in one piece.
Then I used a thickened acrylic ink to add darker values and contrast to the landscape. That definitely adds more depth.
Now to look at the tree in place on the background. Much better! Now to stitch the tree. I tacked it down with hand stitching to keep the cheesecloth in place. You can skip that step but it is harder to keep the foot of the machine from moving the cheesecloth out of place. Once it was hand stitched and holding in place, I went back to the machine.
And here’s the finished piece. I am calling it Twilight as it reminds me of a sunset in the mountains. I’m happy with it and I’m glad that I took the time to add some depth to the background before I stitched the tree.
I’ve been working on the stitching for my basket organizer. The first part I did was the waves. I liked them but I didn’t like how the edges were fuzzy.
I went looking in my stash for the right size yarn to edge it. I found my stash of Briggs and Little Sport singles. I picked up several colours cheap from a weaver who had finished a project. I picked black to outline the waves.
You can see how the wool yarn is raised adding texture as well as definition. I enjoyed following the curves with my stitching. more fun than straight lines. I only
And finished. I like it much better the black outline really makes the waves pop.
Next was the rectangles on the flap at the front bottom. I used some red this time.
At first, I thought I would do a Fly stitch up the middle of each one. My stitching was really uneven. I didn’t like it, so out it came.
I decided to put two lines up the rectangle. the stitching isn’t fabulous because I had no line to follow. the only thing I had to mark it was chalk. I did try it to see how it would brush out and it was really hard to get off the felt it wanted to move further into the felt rather than come off.
And after I cut off all the tails.
So far so good. I have a plan for the last part of the decorating. It will need lines for me to follow so I will have to wait for the heat erase marking pens I ordered. After that is the really hard part……….. the finishing.
I haven’t updated you recently on my slow stitching project. I hate to admit it but after my last post in January, I got out of the habit of daily stitching. It’s amazing how easy it is to stop doing something and then find it hard to get back into the habit again. But I did start stitching again towards the end of March and I have made a little progress.
Here’s the entire piece now. I have added some darker values in the foreground trees, added a few leaves down in the trunk areas and stitched some of the “shrubbery” to the left of the trees. I also added some darker values in the middle ground area to give it more depth.
Here’s a closer look at the area to the left of the trees. I am planning on continuing the stitching in the foreground areas to give the look of bushes and undergrowth. So the slow stitching will continue. I could probably forgo the stitching in the foreground but I like the look of the dense stitching and want to cover the entire surface. It’s not about the time spent on this one but the journey.
I thought it would be interesting to compare a very early photo on the left to the way it looks now on the right. A bit different?
I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.
I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt. I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it. If you know let me know.
I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.
Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.
Added the lighthouse and the path
Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.
And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide. you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise. I stretched it out.
Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.
I added some small blue dots for flowers.
Then the foreground grass
Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.
This is a close up of the stitching.
That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression. Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL
So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it, I decided to fiddle with it more. First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small. And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.
The last time I updated you back in early November about my slow stitching project, this is what it looked like. I had started adding some leaves to the foreground trees.
I have been continuing my slow stitching over the holidays and it has been nice to sit down for 15-20 minutes a day and just do detached chain stitch in different shades of yellow, yellow-orange and orange. Ignoring any drama of the holidays or other issues that arose for a few minutes, calmed my mind.
Here’s how the trees are looking. I think that I will be adding a bit more orange but than I’m going to go back to the yellow shades.
Here’s what the full piece looks like now. It is definitely taking shape as a landscape. As I look at it in a thumbnail format, I can see that it still needs more dark values for shadowed areas but I like the progression. It’s interesting to me how the slow progression makes me look at it more closely and how the different colors affect each other. It’s been an interesting project and I imagine it will continue through most of this year.
What are your thoughts on a slow moving project? Do you get a Zen feeling or perhaps you are impatient and want to move on to a different project?
For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make! I ended up making:
a stars themed table mat
a Christmas pudding decoration
some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots
and a wreath of holly & stars
I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched. I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂
When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea. I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil. A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there. Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂
Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …
… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath. After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…
…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves! The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.
To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white. I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.
To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.
I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.
I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project. Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.
I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above. However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it. For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential. For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”. Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!
Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts. Here are some in progress photos:
After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point. What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer. I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did. I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:
I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!) The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen. My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time! But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!
Here is everything together on the table in the hallway: