Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Crimson Jumper

My new jumper is finished, it's actually been finished for a few weeks now. Made from a Crimson 'Savanah" yarn, which is a 70% wool, 30% alpaca yarn from Bendigo Wollen Mills.

It's way to hot to wear it now, summer is here, so it is packed away until next winter.

The pattern is one received free with my yarn order from Bendigo Woolen Mills. I loved the cable pattern, and found it really interesting to do. I have done cables before of course, but not interesting and multiple ones like this.

I changed the pattern slightly too, just making the sleeves a bit longer. In the pattern they were 3/4 length, which personally I find a silly length to be made in wool. It took a little juggling with numbers and multiple tries to get them right, but I am vary happy with the result.

I also have lots of yarn left over too, which will be enough to make a matching scarf or hat. So watch this space to see which design wins.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Art Journal Pg 4


My art journal continues, if somewhat slowly. I have been a bit slack with the ten minutes a day thing, but I do try when ever I have time, or manage to think about it.

This is page four, which lives opposite page three. It is coloured with the same tea/coffee wash that I used on page three. I actually colour washed the pages at the same time so they would be ready when I was.

This page continued on with the drawing of some seed heads, as well as some words and some patterning. I find that  I like making patterns the best, and as yet am still using just a ball point pen.

Now I have started with the number thing, I think I will continue with it. It gives me a starting point each time.

The other thing I have found is  the ten minutes a day thing can very easily stretch out into 30 minutes as I get lost in this mark making world. Just as I get lost in my stitching world, I end up in some other place for a short time, escaping reality, and creating inspiration for my future stitching.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Art Journal Pg 3

I have been continuing to use pen work in my journal every day, only a few minutes mind you, but still every day.This is my page three.

This page started with a wash of tea and coffee dregs. Somewhere I had read about using coffee washes on paper, why not? I had tea washed fabric before, why not paper? So when making my first cuppa for the day, I placed the sodden tea bag in a bowl. My plan was to drag it over the page, but them I spied the coffee pot from the previous night which still had to be emptied. I emptied it in with the tea bag. This gave me a dirty coloured cold liquid with which I could paint.

When the page was dry, I did notice that the page had gone crinkly (as paper does when it's been wet), but also some of the colour had seeped through to the other side of the page. This is the colour that showed on my page two. Note to self, read how to avoid this.

As I had started with putting numbers on my pages, I thought that the best idea was to continue, so number three became a reality, just a single line at first. Then came the parsley seed head. It had been calling out to me to draw it for some time, so I did. Then I added the word 'Parsley' following the curve of the number three. Form there the page took on a life of it's own.

I am finding it interesting that a page of doodling can have a life of it's own, and that 'things' cry out to be drawn. Just like my stitching really. My stitching talks to me quite often and tells me what it needs, these pages are doing the same. Must be just part of the same creative process.

My page four has been started, I wonder where that will lead.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Knitting

I have been knitting a lot lately. This one is a new jumper for me. It's not finished yet, but it is well into the process.

The pattern is one I chose for free with an order of yarn from Bendigo Woolen Mills. It says in the pattern to make the front and back the same. Mmmmm........ if I did that, I would have pattern up the left side of my front, and on the opposite side on the back when it was complete. I chose to play with the stitch numbers and make the patterns sit on opposite sides as it was being knitted, this way the patterns will meet together at the shoulder on the left side when completed.

It is being knitted in crimson "Savannah" yarn, an 8ply 70% wool, 30% alpaca yarn from Bendigo Woolen Mills. The cable is a different one too. I have done cables before, but not quite as interesting as this one.

So far I have completed the back and the front, and two thirds of one sleeve. The sleeve in the pattern in 3/4 length, which to me is useless in an 8ply wool jumper. If I am going to wear wool, I want all of my arms to be warm too. So I played with the pattern numbers again to make the sleeve longer. My first attempt was not successful, it was too tight, so I un-pulled it all (the sleeve) and did it again. My second attempt is much better in fit, and I am nearly finished sleeve number one. Then I just have to make sleeve number two, sew it together, make the neckband and I will be done. A new jumper for me ready for next winter.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Art Journal Page 2



My journey into this art journaling world is continuing. Most mornings I am putting aside a minimum of ten minutes, while I savour my first morning cuppa and listen to the news of the day. I find though that the ten minutes goes really fast and  I want to continue, which of course I do. It is easy to get lost in this world for twenty minutes at a time, and like my stitching, it takes me to another place.

I have found once a page is started,  I can usually add something to it. In this case, the journal has been started, so it is easy to make that next page.

I did start this journal with page one, drawing a number one on the page and leaving it blank. At the time I marked a number two on the next page, and that has been my starting point for my second page. For the most part, I have left it blank also, except for one tiny part where I stuffed up. Well, not stuffed up really, I just made a mark where I wasn't planning to. This is where I learned that there are no mistakes, I just had to work around it.

I had divided this page off into sections too, the same as I did for page one. Though this time the sections were more curved, where on page one they were more square.

In some of the reading I have been doing, it says to 'follow your heart', and to a certain extent this is happening. My stitching talks to me and tells me what it needs, and now these pages are doing the same. There are also 'things' that I spot that just call me and ask me to draw them. This is what I am finding really interesting.

On this page the leaves called to me, especially the flat leaf parsley that grows in the garden under the clothes line. It's hard to spot now because the page is so filled in, but it is there. Then came the other leaves, the ivy geranium, the gum, the begonia,and the thistle.

The other thing that calls to me is lace, and wanting to design my own, so there are scalloped edges and curved lines and picot edges in this page as well.

There is also a slight hint of colour. This has actually come from the next page which is painted. The 'paint' has actually seeped through the page, not that I mind of course, it adds to the feel of the page. I have bought a product which I plan to use on all future painted pages, to maybe stop this from happening and maybe help strengthen the pages. But more on that next time.

So far I am enjoying this journey. It is my new journey, and I am learning to follow my heart just like I do with my stitching.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Another Baby Shawl

Way back earlier this year I was surprised with a comment that I was going to be Great Auntie again. What great news! I did ask what the Mum-to-be would like for this new baby and was told that everything was needed, everything had been given away.

That was when I decided to make her a baby banklet. So I dug through and found my shawl book. Would I do another circular one? Nah..... I would do something a little easier..... or so I thought.  A square one with a pretty lace edge.

This time I ordered through Bendigo Woollen Mills. Everyone always raved over their yarn, and I was informed it was much cheaper. In the end it was about half the price and only a few days to arrive.

The center of the shawl was an easy pattern, and finished in only a few weeks. It was the lace edge that got me. I very rarely give up on anything, but I gave up on this edge. After unpicking numerous times, and making mistakes in different places each time, I decided I was running out of time and needed to do something else. The hunt for another edge pattern was on.

I hunted both on-line, and in my local library. Surprising enough, the library had nothing, and I ended up using an edge pattern that I found for free on-line that dated back to the 1800's.

This edge pattern was patterned on every row, not just the knit rows like I am used to. The previous lace pattern that I gave up on was also patterned on each row, and I thought this was the reason I kept making mistakes. The second pattern though had a more distinct pattern through it than the first, so this made it easier to do.

Like anything found for free on-line, there is always a problem. The problem with this pattern was there were no corners , so I had to make one up. I would have liked to have continued the pattern, but to do that I would have had to miter it, and this would take some thinking, and time to experiment which I was running out of fast. So I experimented with short rows and keeping the outer edge going. It was simple, but worked.

I loved the final effect, and I believe the new owner does too. It is a one of a kind baby blanket that hopefully will be loved for many years to come.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Art Journal Page One

About a month ago, I was inspired to enter the art journaling world, the beginnings of which can be read here. Since then, I have completed a whole page, a first for me with just my own 'drawings'.

I had read about being intimidated by that first blank page, and that was so true. All the articles I read said to prepare and paint a page. Mmmmmmm............. that would mean getting out paints, brushes, water jars, table protectors etc etc. Did I want to do that? Nah............ So I didn't.

I had also been reading about materials to use, which gave great long lists of things, some of which I had, some of which I didn't. Then I read about the fact that art journaling could be done with just a few simple things such as one piece of paper and a pen. Well, I certainly had that, my little spiral backed sketch book, and a black ball point pen. Yep, that's all I used.

So where did I start? Staring at that very first blank white page sure was intimidating! What to do? So I began thinking about my day and what I had done that I had enjoyed. My phone call to my friend came to mind, which then led me to numbers, after all I needed numbers to call her. So I began at number one, this was after all my first page.

I drew a number one on the page, quite large to hopefully fill the space. What now? I just kept continuing some of the lines from the corners out to the edge of the page, still keeping that number one intact. This then gave me other areas to do things with, some got sectioned off further, some got left as they were. They were little individual spaces that I could fill with what I wanted.

It's taken me over a week to fill this page. Each time I have taken something that has happened in my day and put it into lines to fill a small space. I could be anything from pruning roses, hanging out washing, attending a wedding, or cutting bad spots out of potatoes. Who says our days can't be inspiring?

So I feel the page is now complete, and I have moved onto page two. Would I use this page for anything other than to look at? Absolutely! I have already had view finders out on it and imagined slices cut from it. They would have to be enlarged of course, but they are definitely usable for an original piece of textile creativity. Watch this space!



Friday, September 30, 2016

Art Journals



Some weeks ago, one of my stitching friends led me to a blog called Balzer Designs. After browsing around for a while,  I came across a page about art journaling. What was art journaling ? So I started reading and researching and got inspired.

From what I understand , an art journal can be anything you want it to be. A place to sketch, paint, paste, colour, draw, write, in fact anything creative on paper.

I have been working on visual diaries now for some years, and have quite a few. So how is an art journal different from a visual diary? In fact, I think my pile of visual diaries meet the description of an art journal. I have drawn, pasted, written, and in a few cases coloured. These diaries are my inspiration now for all my stitching.

Possibly the difference between an art journal and my visual diaries might be the 'artistic view'. My visual diaries are quick sketches of things that inspire me, with simple notes written with arrows to help explain what I mean. Sometimes there may be pages from magazines stuck in, which could be anything that may inspire me. It could be a photograph from a travel magazine, a cut section from an advertising leaflet, a cut section from a textile magazine. I even have visual diaries now for specific things. I have one especially for lace, one for drawn thread work, and one especially for any kind of machine sewing, like possible applique or garment construction. My visual diaries may not be pretty to look at, and my not have pages that could be hung on a wall, but they are full of inspiration.

In my reading over the last few days, one of the things I found was that starting was the biggest issue, and staring at that blank white page becomes intimidating. It sure does, but looking around at our surroundings or thinking about our day and what we have done gives us plenty of inspiration. We just have to make a mark on paper. How many times have I been told that over the years?

So why start an art journal rather than a visual diary? In my case I want to explore my creative talent in a different form. I am so comfortable with playing with fabric, needles and thread, now I am going to see how far I can go into the paper/ art world, and yes it is uncomfortable. Sure, I have played with paper and paint before, but I always come back to textiles. It is after all in my blood.

I invite you all to follow me in this journey to see how far I go. At the moment I am just playing with a black ball point pen and white paper. Hopefully I may get the courage to delve deeper with paint, other papers and colour in it's many forms. The above pic is page one of my new art journal. let's see how many more I can create and how I grow.










Friday, September 02, 2016

A Fill In Bookmark

I have been working on another major project lately which requires twelve  little finished pieces, so I have been using up my linen scraps. Sorry, you will all have to wait a while to see that project. One of the scraps was big enough to get two of my finished pieces, but not four. I could have got three, but that would have left me with one tiny scrap of linen left which would not have been much good for anything. So I decided to work  two, and use the bigger scrap left to make a bookmark.

A book mark , well then I had to make some decisions as to how to work the book mark, what colour, etc etc. What better way than to Google some bookmarks to get some inspiration. I did think of some blackwork patterns, but worked in colour of course, but decided on a Hardanger one instead. Then it was a look in my stash of threads to see what colours I had that I could use.

The dark green was my first pick, a Perle 8, then I found the variegated one , also a Perle 8, but I needed a Perle 12 to do the eyelets and needle weaving. I found some leftover in a smokey blue that I had hand dyed, and previously used with this same variegated one. All set, I was ready to stitch.

All was going well, but as the base fabric linen was white, it needed to be toned down. so I decided to fill in the background. I tried a four sided stitch over four threads, but quickly pulled that out. Then I tried a four sided stitch over two threads. Still not real happy, but I left it there. Possibly would have been better with something diagonal. It certainly toned down the white. I worked this background in a pale green stranded thread. I used the same green to work the eyelets.

Then we came to the needle weaving. I worked two bars in that smokey blue before I quickly pulled it out. It was way to dark and heavy, and looked all wrong. I thought a yellow would be nice, but me have yellow in the house? A yellow Perle 12 thread as well? Not likely! I didn't even have much in the way of yellow stranded thread, nothing suitable any way.

In the end I just used the same pale green stranded thread I used in the background to work the needle weaving and Dove's Eyes filling. Stranded thread is a **** to use for needle weaving, but I did manage it and it looks OK. A tassel in the same dark green that I used for the hem, just finished it.

It may not win any prizes, but I have used up some scraps, entertained my self for a while, and now have something that I can use.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Two Inch Squares

Hello there! Yes I am back. It may have been a while since I have been here, but there has certainly been some creating going on the background. I just couldn't show some of it until today.


These are my version of a two inch square. Nine of them in all. Two inch squares was the theme this year of one of my stitching groups. We could stitch what and how we liked, the only stipulation was the finished size had to be two inches square.

At first I took a while to think what I would do, then it dawned on me that I always wanted to try square Teneriffe Lace, so I did.

It was easy to make up my little square pad, then I collected together some scraps of Perle 8 thread from my stash and started to play. The first attempts are the pink, blue and cream squares. The last of these was the square on the top left, and I just loved the pattern that it created. So all my squares after that were in the same pattern, just different colour combinations.

I want to make a few more of these squares using the same pattern, and mixing the colours up. I have a project in mind that I want to use them on and I will need fifteen of them in all, so I have a few more to do still.

For the moment, these little squares, along with others that my stitching friends have done, are all on exhibition until this Sunday. The exhibition is being held at The Masonic Hall, 315 Concord Rd, Concord West, here in Sydney. It is open from 10am - 3pm today, tomorrow ( Saturday) and Sunday. So be quick if you want to see them.

I have other things to show you all too, but not just yet. I am waiting for a few things to happen first.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Digitized Machine Embroidered Multihooped Scallops

Behold! My first project that involved multi hooping!

I have wanted to know about multi hooping for a while. What is multi hooping you ask? It is where a whole machine embroidery design has to be hooped more than once to achieve the final result. The trick is getting it to join smoothly and without the join being noticed.

Then one day I discovered a new canvas in my upgraded digitizing program. It was a hooping canvas. Previously, I had only had an artwork canvas and an embroidery canvas, now I had a hooping canvas as well. I decided to play, and the only thing to play with was a big design that needed multiple hoopings.

I had asked a lady I know who is very good at digitizing. All I knew was that there were registration points for matching purposes, but I didn't know how or where to put them.  The only clue that A---- had given me was to start small, and had suggested to start with a flower that need a long stem. Mmmmm.......... what would I put a flower on? So I go thinking, what else could I do that would need a long line, take little matching, and that  could be used if it worked? So my scallops were born.

I started looking through my files to see what scallops I had. I did have one, but it was too small for what I wanted, so I set about digitizing a bigger one. I was going to stitch them out onto white fabric, cut the excess fabric away then use them as a trim of a bag. Sort of like a lace trim inserted between two pieces of fabric. They didn't need to be too strong just for a trim, but I still wanted them strong. So there are two different underlays under the scallop, as well as interfacing ironed onto the fabric. Hopefully this will be strong enough so the scallops wont stretch, or tear at the points.

The program automatically made them with the stitch angle at 45 deg. This was not good so it needed to be changed. I put it at 90 deg,  It was fine at tip of the scallop, but  did not look good at the points. I had discovered an 'add stitch angles' button which I decided to play with. I am sure I had it before the upgrade, but had never used it. It came in good use now. I inserted multiple stitch angles into my scallops to be at 0 deg at the points, and 90 deg at the tip of the curve. This made the stitches curve beautifully around the scallop.

OK, so scallop done, it now needed to repeated so it stitched out in a smooth stitching sequence. Time to adjust start and end points before repeating. In all, I repeated the scallop so I had a line about 19 inches, that's nearly 50 cm in length. A length  that I could use, and definitely had to be multi hooped.

In the hooping canvas, I learnt how to position hoops, add hoops, add splitting guides and a lot more that in reality I didn't need. It certainly was a learning curve. According to the program, I had one splitting guide, and two hoopings, but when I came to stitch it out, the machine told me that the design was too big for the hoop. Mmmmm........ not according to the program. This is where I found out that I could change the hoop size, and when I put in the hoop size that I had on the machine, I now had three hoopings!

OK, so now I was about to start stitching out this design. I had searched on line for resources on multi hooping, and read tutorials and watched You-tube videos. One of the tutorials said to use sticky backed stabilizer. I had seen it, but never used it. Could I buy it? Yes I could, but I chose not to. Instead I used my trusty tear-away. Lesson leaned, not a good choice.

The program had split the file into three different parts. I had to stitch part 1, re-hoop, match up registration points, then stitch part 2. Part 1 had registration points in the stitch out, and I was supposed to match the registration points in Part 2 to those in Part 1. The problem was that because I had used a tear-away stabilizer, it tore at the registration points! I tried to match them up when stitching out Part 2, but of course I was out and things didn't match. Mmm....... lesson learnt. I was out by about 2 mm, not a huge amount, and my scallops overlapped so at least it was still usable.

When I came to stitch out Part 3, I didn't even use the registration points, I just moved the design on-screen and matched the start point of part 3 with the end point of Part 2. Perfection!

That's when I decided to stitch another line of scallops, the could be used on the other side of the bag. I have trimmed them now, and they are ready to trim my new bag.

OK, so my first try at multi-hooping was a huge lesson. I have learned heaps. Would I do it again? Absolutely! So watch this space for more multi hooping adventures and of course my finished bag trimmed with my own stitched out scallops.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Grace's Garden


"Grace's Garden" is the name I have given to my latest finished creation. It is a quilt that I made for a family member for her birthday. The quilt was born of scraps, with just one added fabric of flowers that blended in with the scraps.

The tiny coloured squares were produced by cutting strips,  sewing the strips together in an order, then cross cutting. This produced a strip of coloured squares separated by white ones.

Overall, the quilt was planned in my quilting program, which is attached to my digitizing program. I could insert fabrics, work out the size of the strips to cut, and have a virtual vision of what the finished quilt would look like.

As I worked on it, the quilt started to talk to me as to how I would quilt it. The flowers won out. Stitched in pink, they were stitched through paper on which I had drawn the design. The paper was then easy to tear away. The sashings were ditch stitched.


The label took nearly as much time to do as the quilt itself. It has been digitized, and I wanted to continue the flower theme into the label. It was these flowers that took the time. I wanted them to 'radiate', and this meant learning about the 'star fill' feature in my digitizing program. In the meantime, my PC crashed and I had to sit patiently and wait for it to be fixed.

The PC is all fixed now, the quilt is finished, and has been gifted. Hopefully the new owner will get plenty of warm cuddles from it over many years to come.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Mother of the Bride Dress

After some discussions recently on an on-line sewing group I am in, I realized I hadn't shown you all the Mother of the Bride dress that I made towards the end of the last year.

This lady was supposed to make it herself, but she was running out of time and asked me to do it. She had already bought the pattern and the fabric, so what could be so hard?

Mmmmmm............. The fabric was sequinned, something I hadn't really sewn with before, and the pattern, well don't get me started on that! It had seven, yes seven, horizontal seams in the skirt alone, then more in the bodice! The idea was that parts of the dress were left sheer, and the way this was achieved was to cut the fabric, and back only parts with lining. Mmmmmm.......... this might work on some fabrics, and be very pretty too, but not on this lovely sequinned fabric.

My first thought was to reverse engineer the pattern back to a basic shape to reduce the number of seams. This proved to be a nightmare, and I thought it would be easier to pattern make it from scratch, so I did. After many discussions with the client, we took out all the horizontal seams, and put in panel lines. The original shape was kept and the panel lines let me control the fitting, as well as give her the flare on the skirt that she wanted.

OK, so pattern done, toile fitting well, the lining was made and fitted well. I proceeded to lay the patterns out  carefully on the lace, only to find it was a one way design and needed to be cut singly. I had made 1/2 patterns that are used when we cut things on a fold or mirror, so now I needed to make double patterns to make sure there was enough fabric.

I had assumed there was enough fabric, and when I placed all the patterns out, I was missing one panel!  I tried placing them down the length of the fabric as well as across the fabric, and still there was not enough fabric!This was not possible! The mother of the bride could not go to her daughters wedding with one panel missing from her dress! OK, so I needed to find a solution.

Solution 1 - buy more fabric. Fabric stores that sell this type of fabric will not sell  just 30 cms more. Besides, the client had bought all the shop had.

Solution 2 - reduce the flare. This helped a little, but not enough.

Solution 3 - make it shorter. At the clients request, I had made the length 15 cm longer than the original pattern, so I started folding up all the hems by 10 cms, and yes, it made a difference! I could cut all the pieces!

Remind me not to sew with sequins again. Once I cut into the fabric, I had sequins everywhere!

I had been told to cut all the sequins from the seam allowances before sewing, so I tested a sample with my nail scissors and started snipping. What a tedious job! The sequins were so small! So I tested a sample just sewing a seam without removing the sequins. It worked without an issue.

The dress only had two layers, the lace and the lining. That was all the client wanted. That only left me with binding the armholes and the neckline as a finish.   I had planned to bind the seams of the lace with organza as well, but this actually looked awful so they just got over locked, it looked so much better. I had been panicking about the hem, and in the end I faced it with the organza.

Overall I was happy with the final effect, but not as happy as the client. She was over the moon. Would I make another sequinned dress again? Probably, especially if the client would pay me more. My thanks must go out to Christine M for all the help and advice she gave me over the phone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A New Work Bag

Behold, my new work bag!

This bag was born out of my local sewing group. One of the ladies had so much fabric she decided to cut up a huge pile into squares, and the members of the group could piece together colours of their choice into a bag. At group day, I chose my pieces, and got them all sewn together but one seam. It them came home and sat on my sewing table. I had one brainwave that my bobbin lace fish could adorn this bag, so set out stitching him onto one blank square, then promptly left the bag rolled up, unfinished, in another bag, on my sewing table. I found it again in my clean up last week, so decided to finish it.

It only needed one seam to sew, lining, quilting, a bind and some handles. The lining was scraps, donated by the lady who cut the squares. There was enough of it, it just needed to be be joined to make a piece large enough. The batting was scraps left over from other quilts that I had made. Once again joined to make a piece big enough for what I wanted.

So I made my quilt sandwich -  backing, batting and bag outer, and pinned it all together. I even checked that my fish was in the best place for viewing. Then I decided to have a play with the quilting and do something I had not done before. Because I had added my bobbin lace fish, I thought it might be fun to quilt fish shapes and waves on the bag. I had quilted  plenty of straight lines, shadow quilting, and stitching in the ditch, but stitching shapes and other lines like this was something new. I had tried once before and outlined the marks on a quilt in pencil.  As a dressmaker I should have known better because the pencil has never washed out, and as a result I have stayed away from free form quilting. This time I traced the fish shapes and waves into a tear-a-way, and quilted  through that. Wallah! Fish shapes and waves and no pencil markings! Why didn't I think of this before?

I was on a roll, and my bag was looking good, until I started to join it together into the bag shape. My bobbin lace fish that had taken sooooooooo long to do, was sitting at the bottom! I nearly cried! He couldn't stay there, he would wear, so he had to be moved. But how? All his working ends had been taken back through the green fabric and finished off. There were dozens of them, so he was not moving from that piece of fabric. The only choice was to move the square, but that meant unpicking quilting! So that's what I did, unpicked the quilting, swapped two squares around, then re-did the quilting. Sounds easy right? Took me a while, but I got there and my fish can now be viewed well and is safe from wear.

The bag was formed, seams on the inside bound, once again out of scraps. Then I made my handles, once again out of scraps. They contain slotted waist banding for strength and ease of making, and a layer of batting for some padding.

All in all I am happy with my new work bag, and will use it with pride. Amazing what can be made from other peoples unwanted fabric and one's own stash of scraps.