Crawling Back to Creativity

Though I haven’t posted for a while, I’m pleased to report that I have recently managed to get back into stitching.  Last week I gave a talk to Huddersfield Embroiderer’s Guild.  I was asked to talk about computers and embroidery.  I agreed to do it not only because it was a great opportunity, but also because I knew it meant I would have to finish some pieces, create a few new ones, and make them presentable i.e. I would have to frame them too.

Firstly, I finally finished the poppies.  Originally the stems were too thin.  I added thicker stems (by stitching down thicker yarns) and they just looked false.  I removed them and added more stitching, particularly pink down the side of the stems.  Here’s the finished picture:

poppies blogThe following piece was inspired by Warm Tides by Sharon Cummings.  I loved the colours and the apparent movement in the original.  As part of my distance learning machine embroidery course I was required to use bonding techniques.  I used dyed and painted strips as the basis of the work, then attempted to use the machine stitching to give the impression of movement:

warm tides stitchedI also stitched a few more leaves (one of my favourite subjects).  The first one was inspired by a leaf I dried long ago.  I drew the outline, then a border, and added the word leaf.  The stitching was freemotion ‘go with the flow’:

Leaf 1 blogThe second leaf was based on a photograph I took some time ago:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I used photoshop to find the oultines and made a print.  The print was painted with transfer dyes, and the image transferred onto polyester fabric.  Lots of machine embroidery followed:

leaf 2 blogFor the next piece, Michaelmas Daisies, I used lutradur and a die cutter.  The lutradur was coloured with Lyra Aquarelle, then stitched:

Lutradur and die cut michaelmas daisies blogI liked the translucent nature of the lutradur when it was held up to the light. I’ve already bought a small, second hand  lampshade so that I can take it to pieces and then hopefully create something special.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take quite so long.

Art in Nature Collage and Doodles

Following on from my last post, Art in Nature with Air Dry Clay, here is another idea to get the kids thinking about shape, colour and pattern.  Feeling inspired still by Anne Brooke, I wondered if I could simplify and adapt her ideas so that children of different ages could create something simiar after a walk around Rabbit Ings.

I collected together some wallpaper samples (you can use any paper that you have available) from local shops, especially brighter colours that children would find attractive.  I then set about producing what started as a poppy picture.  The background was cut first, then red circles for poppies – edges cut in slightly for the petals, and stalks cut out too.  Then I decided I needed something larger in the background, so half circles were cut for cow parsley.  I felt the need to add daisies at the front, more circles, edges cut with pinking shears. The shapes were stuck down with a glue stick (working from the larger, higher ones at the back to the smaller, lower ones at the front), and then I used a fine sharpie to doodle on top of the stems and circles:

Simple!  On the nature walk you get the kids to look out for colour,shapes and patterns, that gives them ideas for their own pictures.

Here is a second picture completed in the same way:

The worksheet can be seen by clicking the link:

Art in Nature Paper Collage

Although I did have everything ready for this project at Rabbit Ings, we were up to our necks in air dry clay and never got around to it.  The parents went away with the worksheet, and we have the project ready for the next session.

I think you will see a follow up of this very soon, a stitched version of something similar, maybe more detail.  Watch this space!

Poppies on Stitched Fabric Scraps Background

Today I finally found time to stitch the poppies, seed heads and buds onto the blue stitched scraps background.  I spent around 4 hours cutting and stitching I first cut out circles and ovals (from dyed muslin) for the seed heads, rough circles for the poppies and small shapes for the buds.  Previously I’ve used bondaweb to attach shapes first, but I wanted to retain the ‘raggy edges’ feel, so I just used pins.  Green threads were couched (with cerise and then green for the stems, cerise for the seed heads and and poppies, then purple and black were added to finish the poppies.   Here are the stitched poppies, buds and seed heads on the stitched scraps background:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInitially I planned on adding leaves too, but I’m going to live with the piece as it is for a few days – I love the background and I’m not sure if the leaves would add to the piece.  I’m also a bit unsure about the stems, they don’t stand out as much as i thought they would.  Maybe they will look different again when I return to the project in a few days.

I’d like to suggest that you check out Irene Donovans’ Poppies on Sew Stitch Knit. I’m beginning to think that Irene and me are stitching soulmates!

Poppy Seed Heads

I’ve had a brilliant day today.  I was out with the Ramblers this morning, and what a lovely group of people they are.  We had a wonderful walk to Stony Cliffe and Coxley Woods. This afternoon I took Mags to the Yummy Yorkshire ice cream parlour for the ice cream that we both missed out on days ago when my car broke down.  Mags had the double chocolate in a chocolate dipped cone.  I went for a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of cream tea (ice cream with pieces of scone and raspberry jam) in a chocolate dipped cone.  It was a beautiful day so we sat outside.  Mags had a good laugh at me when my metting icecream dripped all down my chin and my front.  Immediately afterwards I had a good laugh when her chocolate ice cream dripped all down her front.  You just can’t take us anywhere.  That’s why we have to take each other!

When I returned home full of the calories I’d walked off this morning I was thinking about the poppy seed heads that I have collected.  I wanted to make a picture for an A5 card, so I started by cutting a piece of scrap card to a few cm smaller than the A5 card.  This was going to be the stabiliser for behind the stitching.

Yesterday I was thinking about using some of the small scraps of paper to make a collage as a background.  I can’t bear to throw the beautiful coloured scraps away.  I started by looking through the greens:

I selected some of the papers for the background, tore strips and used a little bit of Pritt to hold them in situ on the stabiliser card:

Next I searched for variegated threads to add stitching to secure the papers and to give the impression of vegetation in some sections:

The next step was to cut out the poppy seed heads.  I wanted to use a bluish green colour and selected this paper:

The colour neurones in my brain had started screaming ‘red, red, red!”  Well, this is the poppy theme.  I cut out circles and stems from the bluish green areas, and for the top of the seed head I tried to get a little red too, but not too much.  The shapes were held in place with Pritt, and then stitched with blue/green variegated thread:

I really liked this so far, but I wanted to take a gamble to see if I could really make it sing.  I couldn’t stop myself from adding scarlet stitching:

Now it’s singing to me! In fact, it has a little bit of a backing band too!  I’m feeling pleased about this one.  I’m not sure if it will ever become a card, I might keep this for myself.

Field Poppies Card

OK, today I need to shout out loud that the chaotic nature and the apparent lack of organization in my life is not my fault, and I have proof!  This was my rough plan for today:

6.30 am. Drag myself out of bed (if I can be bothered – or do a bigger walk later in the day and move later stuff forewards).  Make coffee.  Drink coffee.  Wash, get dressed.

7.00 am Walk

9.30 – 10 am Arrive home.  Suffer indicisive meltdown – coffee or loo first?  Cross legs, jump up and down, put kettle on and run upstairs.

9.45 am Drink coffee.  Continue with a previous project (aah secrets for tomorrow). Add insert to card for Kathy.  Decorate it?  Start decorating envelope.

10.30 Take Chris (my son) a coffee, make breakfast for Chris.  Try to wake Chris… Repeat at least 10 times.  Wind myself up into a dealing with teenager frenzy.

10.40 Make lunch box for Chris and early lunch for myself.  Put tv on, catch up with news and switch channels at least 50 times while eating early lunch.

11.30 Start shouting ‘Christianos (Sunday name) you need to get up.’

12.00 Take card to post office.

12.30 Pick up Mags (who I usually see on Saturday but can’t this week ‘cos I’m going to Lotherton Hall with the Ramblers.  Take Mags to Royd Moor viewing point (though I didn’t know it was called that and had only a rough idea as to how to get there – all part of the fun!)

2pm ish – take Mags to the Yummy Yorkshire Ice Cream Farm/Factory.  Oooh an aah and ponder over choices and select something that sounds exciting/should not exist – previously I tried elderflower and gooseberry – which was absolutely delicious, then there was jaffa cake, and I seem to remember something with ginger (check out the flavoursYummy Yorkshire Ice Cream flavours and dare to dream).

4pm Home and work on poppy crafts for blog – already started earlier.

5.30pm Walk with Sandra.

6.30 Finish crafts.

7pm Tv for an hour or so while I cook tea for Chris.  Eat etc.

9pm Bath.

9.30 pm blog.

OK, so it’s 11.30 pm.  This is how it went:

6.30 I was wide awake, pondered whether I could be bothered with a walk, decided to go to Rabbit Ings and maybe over to Shafton and Cudwoth and fields between.  Drank half a cup of coffee, washed, dressed, and ready (but not enthusiastically) to go.

7.00 pm Set off to Rabbit Ings.  Bumped into Mandy and chatted for at least 30 mins and found out wonderful things about her that I didnt previously know ( et mandy about 20 years ago at antenatal clinic when we were both mega massive and mega scared).  Started to really enjoy the walk, went over to Shafton, set off to Cudworth, side tracked onto a country path.  Took photos on the way.  Spotted a beautiful red poppy field, climbed up to it and felt glad to be alive.  Random evidence:

Walked home with a smile on my face and started working through to 11.30 ish.  As usual took longer than I thought to finish the card and decorate the envelope (the Christianos scenario ran as expected, he is still a teenager).  More evidence of craft work completed:

12.30 – rang Mags to say I was running 10 mins late.  Picked up Mags.  Called at post office to post card.  Drove to Royd Moor viewing point and had a great time talking to Mags, sheep, taking photos and dancing around circle like a loony to make Mags laugh.  Proof of visit:

That’s my darling Mags making me laugh after I’d danced and skipped around the circle  She will have a hissy fit when I tell her she is on the tinternet!

Ok, so next we had a leisurely drive down some lovely country lanes in the general direction of the Ice Cream Factory.  We managed to pootle onto the correct main road and then …….

Da daah!  Henry (my car, named by Mags) huffed and puffed and spluttered an said “Forget it!”  A  local resident gave us the postcard and I rang International Rescue and Thunderbird 1 arrived after 2 games of I Spy, and a game of ‘For my breakfast I had – an apple,  bacon, cornflakes, damsons, eggs, fruit and fibre, gruel, halibut, icecream (we wish big time) jam, kippers…. and some wonderful woman restored our faith in humanity by stopping her car and handing over a large bottle of water with ice still floating in it – how wonderful.  We had quite a nice time really for two people stranded at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

So Virgil or Brains or whoever (I’d lost the plot by this time) took us all the way home because he lives in the village where we live – how cool is that!  He was luvverly.  Had I been a one or two years younger (cringe) and he had been single it would have been a match made in Heaven!  We laughed all the way to the local garage.

When I finally arrived home I had to go onto plan B.  I had started plan A but it wasn’t cooked (finished).  Here is a clue of what may appear tomorrow/today – fate allowing for this of course:

So, on my arrival home I went into panic mode, had to do something, had to do it quick, so this is what I made:

I used the fabrics dyed previously, based it on the pictures taken earlier today and generally went with the flow.

It’s now 12.35 pm.  Despite the fact that my day was not as planned, and the fact that my car is in the garage, I had quite a good day.  Decent weather, lovely countryside, beautiful poppies, a great friendship, brilliant customer service and I managed to make a card at the end of the day.  It was a day to remember.  Sometimes we need a little excitement in life!

My plans for tomorrow…

Well…. Your guess is as good as mine, but I will blog!

Welcome to my world!

Leaves Spiral Book Cover

A couple of days ago I decided to make another spiral bound book cover.  I had some lovely beige fabric with rectangles on it and wanted to find something colourful to make leaves to bond and stitch inside the rectangles.  I found a strip of waste fabric I’d cut off this poppy fabric that I’d painted last week:

At the time I cut the fabric I almost threw the thin strip in the bin.  There wasn’t really enough fabric to make anything (or so I thought) but I loved the colours, so I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.  I am such a squirrel!

I drew different leaves on bondaweb, then ironed it onto the back of the poppy fabric.  I then cut out the leaves and bonded them inside the rectangles.   They were then stitched using a bright pink thread (chosen because it looked great on the turquoise and red of the leaves).  I used the same method to cover the book as described in my previous post.  Here are the photos of the front and back of the book:

And here are a few photos of the leaves close up:

I love the colours of the leaves.  I’m not too happy with the fabric covering the spine (fabric painted in the same red).  I’m thinking about changing it for a stiffer fabric, maybe in blue and red with leaves stitched onto it, or maybe stripes?  What do you think?

30 Day Doodle Challenge 21 Circles

For the past few days I’ve struggled to find time to spend on sketching, stitching and blogging.  I really feel as though I’ve neglected this blog, but today I was up at 5am and I’ve had more time to myself, so I’m taking the opportunity to try to make amends.

The 30 day doodle challenge for day 21 states ‘let the circle be the inspiration for this page’.  My first thought was ‘this is easy’.  My second thought was ‘this could be a little boring if I’m not careful.  At 7am in the morning it didn’t really matter.  With a cup of coffee beside me I was perfectly happy to ‘go with the flow’.

For the first page of circles I didn’t even draw.  I used a lid and masking fluid to make circles on the page.  I wanted paint using a complimentary colour scheme (Turquoise and Vermillion Brusho), just to see if it worked, if it was attractive, if the brighter colours grab attention, if the warmer colours appear to be at the front while the colder colours appear to be further back.  This is the page:


I quite liked the colour scheme, but this could be because turquoise and red are some of my favourite colours.  The pure turquoise and the vermillion do stand out, and I think that the red does appear to be further forward than the turquoise.

Next the pens came out.  I had a circles template so I used it to draw lots of circles on a page.  I had the idea that I could use them to create something similar to seed heads, so I added some lines, then splashed on some colour (very quickly, not caring too much about runny paint and enjoying the splashes), and this is the finished product:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was great fun, I really enjoyed the drawing and painting.  I think I would like to follow up with an attempt to draw seed heads from a photo, but add less seed heads and more background features.  I’m sure I will come back to this shortly.

Keeping with the circles idea I went in search of my stash of recycled dyed papers.  I wanted to cut out a circle, then cut into it to form a poppy shape.  I had some very small cards and just wanted to add something attractive to the front of one of them.  I cut out the first shape (the pink one), stitched it onto black card, added a green centre and some black stamens, then glued the whole thing onto the small white card.  I liked the result so much I made 3 more in different colours:


I think that the blue poppy is my favourite one.

So, I’m at the end of what feels like a satisfying day.   I can recommend the circle theme for an inspiring and enjoyable crafting session.  I’m really looking forward to returning to the circles theme some time soon.

Art Chain 3

This is another quick and easy project:


My apologise that this looks a little bit squiffy, its my poor photography again! This poppy postcard was made by painting fabric with watered down acrylics and then adding organza and stitching.  Simple, anyone can do it!

I’m not going to nominate anyone for the art challenge today.  I would like to be a rebel and invite anyone who would like to take part to join in.  Five pieces of work shown over 5 days.  Each day you can nominate someone else to take part.  Many people are posting on facebook.  It’s all good fun!