Wednesday, May 18, 2011

By Royal Mail

Royal Wedding memento cushion and lavender bag.
I received this lovely gift by Royal Mail yesterday. It is a Royal Wedding memento cushion as well as  the most fragrant lavender bag I have ever smelled. Glorious. They are gifts from Gill after her dog had selected my name for her Royal giveaway! Thank you Gill!

I am off to the land downunder to spend time with my family as my Dad recovers from a medical emergency.

One good thing at a difficult time - I will be able to hand deliver the Bird House to my grandsons.

Happy stitching, and I'll be back here soon, Gilly

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cloth Coil Bird House and Thankyou

Bird House with doors closed
This has been a while in the making. It is a Bird House for my two grandsons. It is a Bird House of particular ilk! It is the home of a special type of bird - one that sits on little baby teeth, relinquishing them to the tooth fairy in exchange for a gold coin when he or she visits during the night. She hopes that the tooth fairy will find her nest without unnecessary delay and to this end has placed some clear signage inside the doors. When the boys lose a tooth it must be placed very carefully in the nest under the bird and the doors left wide open for the tooth fairy's visit. In the morning the boys will know whether the tooth fairy has been if the doors are securely closed. The tooth fairy always shuts the door behind him/her to make sure the gold coin is kept safe from predators!

Bird House with doors open for the tooth fairy.
Overall I enjoyed constructing this. It was a bit fussy and took way longer than anticipated. However it is made out of fine linen  and soft cotton and so feels lovely to the touch. I find it very hard to think in terms of making things for little boys. I have two grandsons and a third one on the way. No grand daughters on the horizon! Well, I hope the boys are okay with having a tooth fairy visiting house that is not an alligator, or train, or cricket bat. They have one that is a Bird House.

Closer view.
 I have a thank you to make to Nat for a lovely gift for me when I became her 200th follower. It is all the way from my home country, Australia and I am very thrilled. The pin cushion goes so well with my large coiled work basket. The blue moons are extremely timely as I am taking jude's SunMoonStars course.  (I have made a small start attuning my mind to this course by placing a star on the Bird House above)

Beautiful gift from Nat. Thanks Nat!
At close of weekend needle I had sewn more coils on the still-in-progress basket. However I am thinking about what to begin making for SunMoonStars. A break from coils will be quite okay for awhile.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cloth Coil Basket Completed

Close-up of felt base and side of basket
Well, I have finally completed the large cloth coil basket. This ended up much larger than I planned. I decided I might as well finish the roll of cord that I had bought at a thrift store. This is how far it went, including the handles. I decided I had better reinforce the base for strength. I did this by stitching in place a piece of felt I had with colours that toned in quite well. Now I have a lovely capacious work basket.

The whole basket - 18" wide by 9" high
 I learnt a lot through making this. For example, how to angle the needle and the coils, how tightly to pull the coils together, the effects of highly textured coils on the building process. This basket is nice to the touch - soft but pretty firm as well. I feel that I really improved my technique towards the end of the basket.

At close of needle I had begun a new coiled basket but this one has a much different feel to it. I'll post it soon.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Friday, April 8, 2011

Embroidered Garden

Embroidered Garden - (trying to capture some light)
Embroidered Garden - from the side.

Embroidered Garden - from above.

Emroidered Garden is six and a half inches square with heavy textured, and three dimensional, embroidery. This was designed as a sampler in which I tried many stitches. Apart for the excitement and reward of learning new stitching methods I absolutely loved the process of planning the garden. My main resource for the stitches was Three Dimensional Emroidery by Patt Trott. This is a wonderful book with good illustrations, clear instructions and a simple layout.

My desire to plan gardens came originally from one of my favourite books. It is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett in which some 'lost souls' find healing by the regeneration of an old walled garden which was shut down because of tragedy. It is a wonderful story of hope. I have fantasised about enclosed gardens ever since first reading this book when I was eleven years old. Now I have found an outlet for all my imaginary secret gardens.

At close of needle I was still coiling the large basket and I am nearly there!

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twined Nest with little Bird

Twined nest and little bird left hand view.
Twined nest and little bird right hand view.
I have been practising kaite's twining, with some help from Deanna. I made this nest out of twined scraps of thread and torn black linen. Very enjoyable way to use bits of thread that I have always hated throwing out.

I also made a little bird out of fabric and felt scraps. I did this partly because the nest seemed to request a little bird but also because I went for a walk on the weekend through a beautiful orchard and watched a lot of busy, very busy, robins going about their Spring business. I also saw little quail strutting around with gusto. So, really, this little bird combines the two birds from the orchard and serves as a sweet memento of a peaceful afternoon with my husband.

At close of needle I had only a few more rounds of my large coil basket to complete.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Friday, April 1, 2011

Large Cloth Coil Basket

Closeup of where I am working right now.
And another, from the inside.
A different perspective.
Upon finishing the basket in my last post I had a lot of cord left on the reel that I had purchased from an op-shop. I decided to begin another basket. I enjoyed the process so much that I became addicted for few days!

I really liked a large shallow 'baby basket' that I had seen in Susan Breier's book, It's A Wrap. Susan's  work is inspiring and the book has good instructions. However it is all done by machine. I am pretty much committed to exclusive manual handling of cloth and thread and don't think I would give up the sensuous, tactile nature of hand work for anything - except  (haha) sewing curtains maybe.

The base of this basket is 14 inches, which doesn't sound much but it is really pretty large when you consider the diameter. I wasn't sure how I would go building up the sides and thought for awhile that my basket was going to be a failure. But I persevered and tried a few things and finally worked  out how to go upright. Susan's book helped here with her description of different angling. I used soft cording but as I am not machine sewing I think next time I might try something a bit firmer for such a large basket.

My aim in making this basket was to experiment as much as possible with building techniques and materials. I did. I have included many different textures and combinations wanting to see how they impacted the construction process. I explored what I like the feel of, what I could work with again, and what might be best for specific purposes. I haven't finished but I wanted to post it for you to see.

At close of needle I still had not fully completed my embroidered garden, but will post it next ...I HOPE!!!

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cloth Coil Basket

Cloth coil basket - eight inches diameter.
I have spent all my spare time over the last couple of days making this cloth coil basket. I have always loved these baskets and have not tried making one until now. It was very enjoyable. Quite addictive. So therapeutic! I learnt a lot from trying different techniques throughout the construction. It is basically covered cord that is bound and then built using a figure of eight woven stitch. I used tightly woven fabric that I found at an Op-shop. It has lovely clear colours which are refreshing after a grey and white, but mainly grey, Winter.

I want to start another one immediately to practise what I have learnt. I want to improve the beginnings and endings of construction. I think I will make a cloth flower and bead configuration to cover the too abrupt ending on the right hand side of the bottom picture.

At close of needle I had almost finished the embroidered garden that I spoke of last post. Very nearly finished!

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly.
Postscript: The modifed basket looks better - not too fussy?

Closeup - not great lighting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bright Flowers

Bright Flowers
I tried some different techniques with fabric in Bright Flowers (9" by 6"). I like the contrasting textures; and the overall feel of flowers nearly at their peak before dropping. These cheer me up in the midst of our World's Japanese horror. I hope it cheers you up a bit too.

At close of needle I was working on a formal garden worked mainly in textured embroidery. Again I am trying new stitches. It is looking a bit wonky so far. I need an embroidery hoop I think. I am treating it as sampler for new stitch work and so give myself permission to have it a bit wonky! If it is not too bad I will post it soon.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Water Garden

The Water Garden
The Water Garden: detail imitation tablet weaving (blue and brown stitching)

The Water Garden: detail Bayeux Stitch top right.
The Water Garden (9 x 9 inches) is a symmetrical design made on a backing of woven linen/silk fabric.  I am fascinated by pattern and symmetry; and the idea of a water garden is a very satisfying outlet for this passion. I had not done bead work, or most of these stitches before so it has been a wonderful time of exploration for me. Different levels of fabric or felt (central fountain) create some interest. I have incorporated into my overall design stitch work from Jan Masset's book Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery. This book was a surprise gift for me and, as is often the way with such gifts, is rich and inspiring.

My mind is full of ideas that have sprung from making this storycloth. I can imagine myself there sitting by the central fountain and being aware of the sight and sounds of the four smaller surrounding water features (Bayeux Stitch). The glimmer of the beads and gold thread, in a regular pattern yet of random shape and colour, gives me a sense of balance between nature and imposed design. A harmony that often does not work, but in the case of small organised 'knot' type gardens does, I think, work beautifully.

At close of needle I had prepared the final backing cloth for The Water Garden ready for stitching and then hanging.  My next project will be another 'garden' and more exploration of stitches and textures.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trapunto and Cording

Blue Linen Flowers - flower closeup.
Blue Linen Flowers - heart and flower closeup.
Blue Linen Flowers
I have wanted to try both cording and trapunto for some time now. I remember, as a child, my mother making a trapunto rabbit, encircled in an Art Nouveau style quilted circle, on a cushion. It appealed to me so much that the memory remains very strong, and I have retained a desire to work with trapunto. However the first thing is to try it. So I embarked on Blue Linen Flowers (six inches by six inches).

The flowers and hearts are have both been filled with a little filling via incisions from behind. I found it difficult to evenly distribute the filling and they are still quite lumpy. I think one needs patience to insert only very small amounts of filling. I am not sure the best filling to use either - I used white polyester soft toy stuffing, I thought it would be alright but it is very springy. Maybe something a bit denser would be better, perhaps pieces of soft cotton fill. That may be even more lumpy though.

I really enjoyed the cording. I stitched one line of stitching first, then lay the cord alongside and stitched it in place. That way I didn't have to thread it through and worry about getting around corners.  It looks great encased in the linen, with the stitches on either side, and forms a good border around the trapunto flowers and hearts.

At close of weekend needle I was about halfway through some more exploratory stitch and fabric work that I can't wait to post.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cloth of Hearts

Cloth of Hearts
I thought I would make a Cloth of Hearts for my husband for Valentine's Day. I felt I needed to because, on Robbie Burns Day a couple of weeks ago, after bringing me a morning cup of tea, he stood stationary at the end of the bed for a few moments then launched into a recital of 'My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose... which he had learned by heart for just this occasion! Of course I was teary and laughing all at once; and so happy all day. So you perhaps can see why I felt I needed to make a Cloth of Hearts! This cloth has a bit of a heraldic feel, which is what I may work further on before Valentine's Day arrives. I wanted this feel, maybe a portion of a knights banner... well my husband truly is my shining knight! This theme fits well with the poem I have for him - I know a few lines by heart - The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson. A sad tale but such a wonderful love story with weaving included!

I made my first attempt here at Prairie Points which I first saw on Deanna's site and thought they were just lovely with her rolled edges and she kindly sent me the instructions. Thanks Deanna!

At close of needle I had attached the tassels to Cloth of Hearts to have a look at it overall and see what needs doing to complete it.

Happy stitching everyone, Gilly

Monday, January 31, 2011

From Patches into Needlebook

Open Needlebook
Welcome to today fellow storycloth makers.

 I have moved to Stage Two for Doors and Windows, morphing it into a Needlebook. Hopefully it will be a doorway into the many windows of stitching joy for its new owner. The Exercise in Patches from last post felt so good in my hands - sturdy, textured and substantial - definitely a tactile piece - that I wanted to do something with it that would maximise the 'feel-good' aspect which is perhaps the best part of creating storycloth. Afterall it is in the mutliple feelings that story becomes story. So, considering its dimensions and feel, I decided that a Needlebook would be best. I am no expert on making tassels and if anyone has any hints I would be MOST grateful.

At close of weekend needle I was holding this in my hand, opening it, closing it, turning the 'pages', passing it to my husband to open it and feel it. Looking at it open, looking at it closed... gently squeezing it - well you get the picture. It was just great!

Happy Stitching everyone, Gilly

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Doors and Windows: An Exercise in Patches

Doors and Windows
Doors and Windows is an exercise in combining stitches and patches of linen. I have always loved the notion of mending and patches, the feel of old, soft fabric with rows and rows of stitches running through it, keeping an item whole. I love the thought of such care for an object, the simplicity and frugality that leads people to mend items - either out of necessity or love, or both. I have good memories in this regard - of my Nana darning socks and teaching me the rhythm of  backwards, forwards and cross ways stitches. I also remember as a young girl mending a little brown velvet dog called 'Brownie' that belonged to my younger brother. It was bought for him at a local fete in someone's backyard, if I remember correctly. I often think about 'Brownie', the feel of the soft brown velvet, the couple of black thread stitches that formed his pointy nose, and my little brother watching, saying thank you. Sewing and stitching life. One day I will try to replicate 'Brownie' - just a lovely little pocket size dog. Soft.

Referencing Nana again, (how important are Nanas in our lives!!) - Nana liked the saying ''if something is worth doing it is worth doing well'. I think my process of making Doors and Windows was done 'well'. I made notes and sketches, took time and care with the stitching. I thought about textures and colours, experimented. I re-stitched where necessary. Overall I am happy with the result. I wonder what might lie behind the doors and windows if I could just open them and peek. But, I think most importantly, I am very happy with my process. I loved every thorough second of it.

At close of needle last night I put final stitches in Doors and Windows and dreamily planned my next storycloth while watching the Australian Open Tennis on TV. It occurs to me that the wonderful 'put'....'put'... rhythm of tennis balls being hit is akin to the deep, comforting rhythm of stitches in process.

Happy stitching, Gilly

Friday, January 21, 2011

Linen Flowers

Linen Flowers
It has taken awhile to get this to this point. I have had one of those 'freezing' experiences where I was too scared (to be blunt) to take a risk with background stitches. I 'ummed and arred' about adding a butterfly, and whether to have coloured circles in the four bottom squares. In short I was not making progress. Except, hahaha, if you count getting to this point, of admitting my fear of risk taking, as making progress of sorts. Well I think it probably is progress of sorts because finally yesterday I thought to myself:  'Hey Gilly this was supposed to be only an exercise right from the beginning - just a design exercise and experiment using only linens'. This freed me up to do the background stitching. Afterall it is the only way to really experiment with different effects.

I have not planned to forever leave a cross-stitch off the bottom left hand square - I am just experimenting. (Ha!) I wonder if the omission balances the overall design somewhat. Also I am not sure whether to make the nine sideways stitches on top right into full cross stitches.

Anyway overall I have achieved my goal of working just with really lovely fabric - these beautiful washed out linen colors are from old table napkins. It is also backed in the same soft linen which makes the whole cloth a very pleasing weight. I am not sure what a book mat is, but it occurred to me that this a good size to lay my reading glasses on when I don't need them for a moment. close of needle last night I had put the three bottom cross stitches in and decided to post as is, looking forward, as always, to any observations and ideas from my online friends!

Happy Stitching , Gilly

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year Bookmark

Sunny Flowers
Welcome to this New Year of 2011. I am back now in normal mode having recovered from the worst jet lag I have experienced to date! Our holiday period was fantastic with some great family get-togethers and lots of games with my grandsons. I think all the little storycloth presents were well received. It certainly gave me satisfaction to give them. It was not a warm few weeks in Australia but we did get to the beach once and have returned to Winter here with a slight tan.

I made this bookmark around New Years Eve in the midst of post travel dizziness. I am using it myself and derive pleasure everytime I take it out of the book I am reading, put it back in, or just notice the flowers poking out of the book as I walk past. The black fabric is some sort of grosgrain tape that I had lying around - it feels a little synthetic and I won't use it again. But the overall effect is very cheery and striking.

I made a minor New Year's resolve pertaining to clothwork. After I had finished the Sunny Flower's bookmark and realised that the feel of the tape was not that pleasing I decided that this year I will not use any fabric that I know will detrimentally effect the completed article. As a consequence I began work on a small linen storycloth, the first piece for 2011, using a similar flower theme as the bookmark but in different colours. I will post this as soon as it is completed.

I have also been thinking about another perspective on creating storycloths. This time inspired by my four year old grandson. He constructs very complex lego designs using book length instruction guides. He will not budge on replacing the exact required piece with another, rather he will search for the 'right' piece. He knows every piece of lego in his enormous collection. He describes his process like this: "I always follow instructions". As he grows older he may become more flexible, which I am sure he would be even now in an emergency! But his approach, and his dedication to his approach, gives me cause for contemplation as I have always been the opposite. I have historically felt constrained by instructions, thinking that I am not being creative if I follow them. But I have realised that there is a place for deriving satisfaction from following instructions well. Doing something 'right'. Firmly establishing a base of knowledge and experience from which I can later experiment. I mean, in the case of recipes for example, there is something to be said for following an expert's recipe closely, being able to repeat a wonderful culinary experience time and time again. Likewise, perhaps, following cloth making instructions from an expert, from someone who knows how to make certain effects with cloth, is manifestly satisfying. For me, maybe creativity can be found in the dedication to learning an art well, humbling myself enough to learn deeply, exactly, thoroughly from another.

At close of needle yesterday I had outlined the vase on my first storycloth for 2011.

Happy stitching everyone. I will be getting around to blogs in the next few days. Thankyou for the comments on my last post for 2010. It is really great  to read over them.