Stitch-a-Garden SAL

I’ve finally made a bit more progress on my garden stitching, not a huge amount as I’m still a bit hesitant on how I’m going to get the effect I want. Three weeks ago on my last SAL post I’d started embroidering the applique bushes…

The perspective of the piece was still making me procrastinate even more, having designed the piece as if above the arch, if I stuck true to the view then things like the bird bath would be just circles, which way do I embroider plants such as irises…

There has to be an element of artistic license in projects such as this, so I’ve decided to portray the borders as if you’re standing on the patio. I’m working my way through a set of on-line lessons from Nicki of The Stitchery, the course is called Stitch-a-Garden, it’s been a lovely course as she’s sort of felt her way along the lesson format as she has been stitching her piece based on Beatrix Potter’s garden. I was very encouraged when I saw how she had stitched a flower border as a profusion of plants is what I’m aiming for here.

Last week I tried a bit of water colour painting on fabric to colour the background a bit, this was the embroidery representing a huge pink geranium which up until this spring was next to the arch and behind the gate…

Encouraged by the effect I decided to paint the border areas of the patio garden. I used several shades of green and allowed them to mix and merge together. They bled a little beyond the outer row of stitching but I was fine with that as the borders of my garden do overflow somewhat! I’m really pleased with how the painting came out, it just softens it nicely.

As you can see I have finally started stitching the plants. The blue irises round the birdbath are just straight stitch leaves and then a loose fly stitch for the flower. The obelisk of canes is just four long straight stitches which I then couched down as I was stitching the twining stems. The little blue clematis flowers are tiny straight stitches, like a little star, although I have realised since that although I have several blue clematis like that, the actual clematis here is more pink!!

I’ve added a trunk and branches to the magnolia stellata and a few flowers. This is another bit of artistic license as magnolias flower before the leaves appear, but at least it identifies it as the magnolia! I have stitched a magnolia with the bare branches earlier in the year for the garden textile book…

I think I need to look back at Nicki’s flower border again for more ideas (and confidence!) but I’m pleased with it so far. Hopefully by the time I’ve finished this one I’ll have got the knack of stitching all the flowers and the other two areas of the garden won’t take as long!

This stitch-a-long is organised by Avis from Stitching by the Sea, please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretHeidiJackieSunny

MeganDeborahSharonDaisyAJCathieLindaHelenConnieCindy

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitch-a-long, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books, Workshops | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Stitching Maps

I started an on line embroidery course with Zara Day a few weeks ago on cartography, I love looking at maps and I’ve a couple of ideas rumbling round my head of embroidered maps, so hopefully this will give me a kick start.

I’m a little behind at the moment as the lessons are weekly and I’ve a lot going on at the moment at home but this week I’ve managed to do a bit of catching up. Each week we try a different way of embroidering maps, from stitching on the actual paper to hand-stitching contour lines. These are the ‘maps’ I’ve stitched in the first couple of weeks…

The third lesson was ideas for stitching contour lines, making more of a geological map than the road maps of the previous pieces. Most of us seem to be finding the most difficult bit of this course is finding a suitable map to the scale or detail we require, together with finding an area personal to us but with enough variety on it to be interesting to stitch.

Of course my first thought was Catbells, I’ve stitch this fell many times but always as an outline shape, rather than the contours of a map. I found an OS map on line which I could adjust to the size I wanted, rather than tracing the ones I have at home. I made my map slightly smaller, just so I could get the areas of interest on whilst not being too big and taking forever to stitch.

The four squares I chose included Catbells and Derwentwater. I decided to paint the background with silk paints. I added aloe vera gel as an experiment to see if it stopped the silk paint from spreading. It did, though it didn’t go on quite as smoothly as I would have liked.

I embroidered the main contour lines, on the map there’s another four fine ones in between each of these which would clearly have been too much on this scale. I used a single thread of DMC and back-stitch. I tried to keep as much as possible to the colours on an OS map, so the footpaths are in green running stitch, different stitch lengths denoting the size of the path. The road is in yellow and the route of the Derwentwater launches is in dark grey. I included the blue grid markings too which help to frame it whilst allowing the map to extend a bit further. To give you an idea of scale, the four boxes measure just under three inches.

I’m pretty pleased with this one as a practise piece.

The next lesson was about using quilting to stitch a map. One idea I’ve had mulling about for a couple of years is to embroider a map of the Yorkshire Dales, with not just the main valleys such as Wharfedale, Wensleydale and Swaledale, but all the little side valleys such as Langstrothdale or Bishopdale. Whist my idea is for quite a big embroidery, I decided to do a mini version.

I found a map which showed the rivers and dales, I traced the rivers and then used a light box to transfer the tracing onto some calico. I didn’t want a plain calico background so I had a rummage in one of my stash boxes and found some lovely organza in shades of green and purple, perfect!

I sandwiched the fabrics together with some batting and a calico back and used free motion quilting to outline the rivers in a variegated blue thread. I went over the lines a second time to make them a bit heavier.

My original thought was that the quilting of the river courses would provide me with the valley and fell in relief, a sort of 3D map, however there just wasn’t enough stitching so I decided to do some ‘contour’ lines in green. Here artistic license took over, as I didn’t want to start trying to trace and transfer lots of contours…so I made them up! I like the effect of the organza and the quilting on this piece, it’s certainly given me food for thought when I finally get round to stitching the dales…

I learnt a little interesting fact a couple of weeks ago about the river Wharfe which runs through Otley. On my map it’s the one which goes from the middle to about 4 o’clock. It’s the fastest rising and fastest falling river in Europe apparently.

I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do with these maps yet, maybe I’ll put them all together in a fabric atlas of my favourite places!

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Garden Stitching

I’ve been busy stitching over the last week, just haven’t quite got round to writing about it. I’ve stitched another couple of little embroideries for my garden book. These are both from the mystery bundle I bought from Soukie Soo, she draws pretty little designs onto vintage linen with a heat erasable pen which is perfect for me as if I want to change something or a design is not to my liking, I can just iron it!

Here’s three I stitched earlier…

My plan is to use these in crazy quilting pages or simple textile pages so I’m trying to link them to my garden. Last week I stitched a garden gate. We have a gate in between the patio and the rest of the garden, mainly to keep the dogs off the main garden. It opened against a billowing large geranium with deep magenta flowers…

I painted the gate after I had stitched the outline and the sides, probably not the best order but I used aloe vera gel to stop the paint from bleeding and I seem to have got away with it. I painted the background with some green watercolour which was useful practise for my main garden embroidery – more of that on Sunday.

In the front garden we have an abies Korean, a tall rather spindly fir tree which has the most amazing purple fir ones, so this is what the fir tree design has become with a few (rather too many maybe!) purple French knots. I’ve just realised when photographing it that I still need to stitch a bit of earth and grass for it to stand on.

I also received in the post a lovely bundle of linens from Sookie Soo, it’s a mystery bundle of vintage linens of varying weights and sizes, the smallest is A5 size, up to A4, fifteen different pieces. They’ll be great for little embroideries as they have a lovely texture to them. They’re all white but they will take dye or paint. I think they will be perfect for my garden book.

I’ve still a long way to go with my garden book but I think I might start putting some of these little embroideries onto a page, otherwise it could be quite daunting at the end!

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Butterfly Book

We had a fabulous workshop last month at Skipton Stitchers, one of our members ran it, it was called a Garden Book workshop and I really didn’t know what to expect. The equipment list was things like papers, fabric, paper napkins quotes, glue, blade…luckily she was bringing lots of stuff as I really haven’t got much in the way of decorative papers.

I took some pretty butterfly fabric with me and this provided me with the inspiration to make a butterfly book.

Well I had a wonderful time, sticking, playing with papers, learning all sorts of new tricks…

We made ‘stickers’ by putting sellotape over a magasine image then soaking it in hot water, the paper comes away leaving the image on the tacky sellotape! The ones I did at the workshop didn’t come out as well as I wasn’t careful enough to keep the sellotape smooth, but I did one at home and it came out beautifully.

We stuck a single ply of a pretty napkin onto vintage book pages using clingfilm! We just put the clingfilm in between and covered it with brown paper and then pressed it with a hot dry iron and it melted enough to stick the napkin.

We had to make a total of twelve double pages, each set was A5 size. Apparently these pages are called signatures. Sally showed us how to layer the papers, add bits on to make them big enough, add simple flowers or buttons. She had a huge stash of what she called rejects from eco printing, they certainly wouldn’t be in my reject pile!! Clearly in a day we weren’t going to make all twelve but she was happy for us to take bits home so we could finish our book. Luckily I found several sheets which fitted in with my theme of butterflies and colours of teal and purple…even if it did wander to pink too.

Once home I set about making the dozen signatures. I found some quotes about butterflies and printed them off, I made a lace butterfly from an old doilly, I tried tea dying for the first time when I realised I had some very white broderie anglais with butterflies on. It took quite a while as I really overthought the first few, over stitched some, eventually I realised I was going to have to do a few cut and stick ones otherwise it would take too long. My cutting table looked like a bomb had hit it!

Next came the clever part, how to put it together. Each double page had a slit cut down the centre leaving a good inch top and bottom. Next I needed an A4 piece of card cut full length but the width just a tad narrower than the slits. The piece of card was then folded in half and then again and again till it looked like this…

The signatures were put into pairs to go back to back with each other and an order sorted, then each pair of pages was ‘threaded’ onto a fold of paper (there’s six ‘mountains’ in the photo above for the six pairs of pages. A long narrow piece of card was then threaded up the middle of the ‘mountain’ so it stuck out a bit each end. This holds the pages in place but also means they can be changed or moved around if necessary. I was amazed how sturdy it all was. The double pages could now be stuck or stitched together to hide the backs, I remembered I had lots of double-sided sticky tape which I found when clearing my mums house, it worked fine and probably less messy than me with glue!

Having made the book I then had to make a cover. I felt it needed to be firm so I cut some daler board to size and made a fabric cover with the original fabric which inspired the whole book on the outside, I managed to position it so the little blue butterfly was centred on the spine. I added the button and ribbon to keep it closed. As an afterthought I pinned on a butterfly which I made at a workshop a few years ago, it’s been hanging round my sewing room ever since. It’s only pinned at the moment whilst I decide if it works but I thought by putting it on the spine I could stand the book up in a row and it wouldn’t get damaged.

I’m now trying to work out if I could use this system of construction with fabric books!

We have an exhibition in October called ‘There is no planet B’ so I’m thinking it could go in there, it used lots of recycled bits and it’s all about nature. One of my favourite quotes in the book is very apt…

If nothing changed there would be no butterflies.

Posted in Skipton Stitchers, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Staying Home Quilt HQAL

Having to write this post today for the Hand Quilt-a-long gave me the impetus I needed yesterday to start it. I found the fabrics I had ear-marked for the back which were three remnants of varying sizes left over from the front. The whole quilt is made with leftovers as I had a fair amount left when I finished the Coming Home quilt in the beginning of 2020. I pieced it during the lockdowns of 2020 and the embroideries came from a free stitch-a-long from Natalie of the Birdhouse. All the details about the embroideries and houses are in this earlier post.

Having finished my Seaside quilt, I decided to hand quilt this one too. I do like the feel of the hand-quilted quilts, they are soft and more cuddly than a machine pieced one. I just have to watch that I don’t try to quilt one that’s too big and put myself off hand-quilting again. This one is about 64″ square, a nice, manageable size.

I had three different fabrics for the back, a muted green, one with trees on and a spotty one that glows in the dark like little stars. I worked out a piecing plan so I had three strips, a narrower one of trees for the middle and I originally planned the plain one at the bottom and the spotty one at the top. Unfortunately I sewed the plain one to the top and really couldn’t be bothered to unpick the whole seam. so it’s now a big green hill with trees in the middle and a field of cotton grass below!!!

The spots hardly show in the photo but they are there!

I sandwiched it yesterday evening with my usual 505 spray and organised everything for quilting it in front of the TV, a large lap hoop, two muted quilting cotton threads by Gutermann, a sharp needle and a thimble.

I’ve started with the cat square, I’ve just quilted just inside the seam line and also ‘echo’ quilted round the cat. it’s not much but at least I’ve started!

Hand Quilt Along Links

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrin, Daisy and Tracy

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. Please follow the links to see what everyone else has been stitching

Posted in Quilt-a-long, Quilting | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Stitching a Treasure Bundle

I seem to be doing a lot of embroidery at the moment, lots of little ones which don’t take long but are lovely to stitch…and they’ll go in my garden textile book. These ones are from a ‘Treasure Bundle’ I bought from Soukie Soo, it was a mystery bundle and there’s lots of sweet little designs to stitch on lovely vintage linen or cotton.

I’m trying to adapt the designs a little so that they show flowers which I have in my garden. This little wreath had a circle of leaves and some simple flowers om stems. I decided to turn it into a wreath of lilac. We had several lilac trees when we first moved in but they’re actually quite short lived trees and one day one fell over across the drive, luckily there was nothing underneath it. I tested the other three lilacs down the drive by giving them a little push and they all fell over! We’ve still got an old one behind the summerhouse which I keep testing every few months as I don’t particularly want it to end up on the summerhouse and also one near the big fence which sprouted up after the main trunk fell down!

I stitched the leaves with fish bone stitch and then used lots of French knots for the lilac flowers. I added some single French knots where there was a bit of a gap.

The next piece was a long garland sort of design. I decided to do this one as Teasing Georgia, which was the rose I had climbing up the arch over the patio until last year. It had lovely yellowy-orange blooms. I used a variegated DMC thread and bullion knots. Again I added a few French knots to fill in the spaces.

Another one from the bundle which I’ve embroidered today is just the word Butterfly, it was printed rather than written with disappearing ink but the stitches have pretty much covered the print. This one is going in a butterfly book, more of that another day! I’ve photographed it with another one which is waiting to be stitched.

It’s nice to do these little ones when I’m in the middle of some long term projects. If this style appeals to you, do have a look at Sookie Soos website, she does full kits as well as just the design on fabric.

Posted in embroidery, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Stitching Maps

I’ve enrolled on a Zara Day Cartography Embroidery course, I’m way behind as usual but as Zara sends links for all the recordings which I can then save, it doesn’t matter how long I take! I’m just enjoying the journey!

In the first workshop we were stitching directly onto a map, I used a map of the Yorkshire Dales where I could plot my walks…

We had a second method to try from the first week too. This involved choosing an area and stitching areas so the map could be cut a way in places. Half the conundrums on doing this course is choosing a map…and I’m clearly not alone from the comments on Whatsapp! In the end I decided to do a map of West Witton.

West Witton is a village in Wensleydale where my mum had a cottage for many years, she was up there every weekend and school holidays too, she made lots of friends in the village and joined in village activities as much as she could. We had many holidays up there too especially when the children were small.

I found a map and laid it over some soft green fabric, not sure if it’s cotton or linen but it feel lovely. I tacked round the map to hold it securely. I started off using stem stitch for the main road through the middle and a slightly thinner stem stitch for the side roads and back lanes.

I liked the patterns of the fields on the map with the remnants of the old strip fields which go back centuries. Each cottage would have a strip of land behind it to grow vegetables or raise animals or chickens. I used back-stitch in grey thread for the walls. I then used a scalpel to very carefully cut away the paper so the fields were shown as green fabric.

The blue chain stitch is used for the streams around the village. We used to often walk over the fields so the children could paddle in their wellies, the intermittent one shown at the bottom of the map is not much more than a rill in places but they would spend hours toddling up and down. I’ve found a photo, well it’s a photo of a photo of a photo, so excuse the quality!

I’ve stitched the footpaths in red and the heart shaped button is where my mums cottage was. The buildings weren’t very clear on the copy I made so I went over them with a sepia fine point pen.

The bunch of French knots by the lower footpath marks the spot where I rolled a rigged sheep, as a townie by birth I was pretty proud of myself! For those of you who are wondering what on earth a rigged sheep is…

In the spring when the fleeces are pretty thick the sheep can get top heavy especially after rain. If they overbalance they can’t get back up again and just lie stranded on their backs. Now sheep are a bit like chickens, one day you have a live healthy chicken, the next day it’s dead, or as a friend who’s a farmer once said to me, any excuse and a sheep will die! If they are left upside-down for any length of time they won’t survive, all you have to do is give them a push to roll them back over onto their feet. In Yorkshire this is known as riggwelter or a rigged sheep. Those of you in the UK will probably have heard of Black Sheep beer, it’s brewed in Masham, just down the road from the cottage. They have a beer called Riggwelter, it’s 5.9% so pretty strong for a beer (so I’m told!) and if you drink too much you’ll end up riggweltered!

Anyway, I gave the sheep a push and over it went and trotted off down the field.

So there’s lots of happy memories in this stitched map. I put it in a ring frame partly to reduce the amount of stitching and I think it looks pretty good.

Posted in embroidery, Walking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Stitch a garden SAL

I have finally made some progress with my garden SAL. This is a course by Nicki from the Stitchery, she’s been giving lots of ideas on how to represent trees, flowers and structures etc. I’m making mine into a book about our garden, we have put our house on the market so it’s going to have lots of memories stitched into it.

It’s taken me a while to get going with this piece, I think it’s one of those where you have to just jump in and start, three weeks ago I’d just made the patio on some painted calico…

With hindsight (always useful!) I would have been better to cut it out and iron it on to the final piece first, or at least once the main outline was done as although it’s bondawebbed on fine at the moment, I think it would have been better to secure it with some embroidery through all thicknesses.

This first page is a map of our patio just in front of the conservatory. I did find it very hard to start, however once I’d used running stitch round the border of the design and also used three rows of running stitch to mark the stone wall of the raised bed I did get a bit more confident. This is my page so far…

I’ve used a quilting cotton to stitch on and that is how it came, a sort of splodgy muted green and brown! I’ve no idea what idea I was thinking of when I bought it but I think it works pretty well for garden background. The applique trees and shrubs are all from the calico I painted earlier, I painted a new area for the purple acer and sambuscus.

The hardest thing so far which I’m still struggling with a bit is perspective. If I did it like a proper map then the arbour would have been just a flat rectangle, the bird bath would have been a circle…I’ve had to use a bit of artistic license! Here’s a close up…

The large purple shrub is the sambuscus, or elder, it has quite feathery leaves so I’ve just used a sort of planned seed stitch, the other purple one is the acer which also has feathery leaves so I haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to differentiate between the two. Maybe just using a redder shade will do the trick.

Initially with the roses (caller Generous Gardener) which grow over the arbour I was just planning to do the French knots, but it was too spotty, so I added some branches and I think it looks a lot better.

My pots are many shades of dark blue, green or terracotta. As I’ve just done circles so far I’m just stitching the rim in blue and I’ll then put some plant stitching in the pots. The blue circle edged in blanket stitch is the water feature. There’s a couple more pots to add to fill the right area, though in reality I have LOTS!

Either side of the patio are irises, I’m still trying to work out how to stitch them though I think I’ll just do straight stitch leaves pointing to the side like the bird bath with little blue flowers.

The other area I’m still trying to work out are the areas of the beds where it’s general planting all mingling together, rather than specimen plants. I’m thinking of painting the background green and then stitch a general melee of leaves and flowers. I’ve also an obelisk to include with clematis growing up it which should be reasonably simple to do.

Hopefully now I’ve started I should make reasonable progress, though I’ve another two maps to do! I’m really enjoying the process though.

This bloggers SAL is organised by Avis, we post our progress on our chosen project every three weeks, just enough to keep us motivated! Please follow the link to see what everyone else has been stitching.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahSharonDaisyAJCathieLindaHelenConnie

Posted in embroidery, Garden, Stitching my Garden, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

A Flower Wreath

A few weeks ago I bought a surprise bundle of linen and designs from SoukieSoo, I follow her on instagram and I like her style. Quite a few were immediately earmarked for my garden book. Once I’d finished my ladybugs and bumblebees I stocked my little project bag with a few DMC threads and a couple of designs. I even added a tiny 3″ hoop which came with the bundle which I must admit when I saw it I thought it would be too small to use, but actually on little pieces of embroidery it’s perfect.

The designs are all on vintage or antique linens and they’re lovely to sew on, I’ve just ordered a bundle of linens from her website for £20 as I think they’ll be great for fabric books.

Anyway, I started with a little wreath pattern, the basic design just had the wreath with little buds or berries on short stems, it’s drawn I think with a Frixion pen as it disappears on ironing. I stitched the main wreath with stem stitch and then added the stems with a little fly stitch on the end. I could then use French knots in a softly variegated blue thread for little flowers.

I felt it needed a little more so I added leaves in fishbone stitch and then added lots more blue French knots.

Isn’t it pretty, it’s only about 1.5″ across so it was stitched in an evening. I’ve just started a long thin one this evening which will be in coppery tones. I’m thinking they’ll be lovely with some crazy patchwork or as part of a ‘slow stitching’ page with maybe a garden quote.

Posted in embroidery, Serendipity, Textile Books | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Lady Bugs and Bumblebees

It’s been a little busy and stressful at home recently, our house is one the market so we need to keep it as clean and tidy as possible (not easy for someone like me!) we do have someone interested so fingers crossed! Baby Hugo, my grandson is still on the neonatal unit, feeding better but is going to need three or four operations before he’s 6 months old, so as well as giving emotional support I’m trying to help them practically too, yesterday I made shepherds pies, cheesy bacon pasta and pasta bolagnaise, all frozen into tubs for 1 or 2 that they can reheat in the hospital microwave. I also made apple crumble (my son’s favourite!) and a chocolate cake for a bit of a treat. Add to that a new job and hospital visiting and there hasn’t been much time for stitching, never mind writing or reading blog posts!

As always I have a little stitching in my handbag, something easy for opportune moments. I recently shared with you a cross-stitch by Country Cottage Needleworks called Ladybugs and Bumblebees. I fell for the pattern on a facebook destash site but it is still available to buy.

I was over half way when I last showed it to you…

My original plan was to stitch it in two halves so it could go on opposite pages of the bee book I’m planning to make. I changed the pattern slightly in the middle before deciding that wasn’t going to work. I mulled over a few ideas such as a concertina book whilst I was working on it.

I have finally decided it’s too pretty to potentially ruin by folding it in a book, yesterday I took it to the framers in Otley, Art Works, they always do a lovely job and I’ll just have to find some wall space to hang it when we move house! I think maybe I also need to be a little ruthless on pictures I did many years ago, I’ve got quite a few from when I was a child or in my teens. I’ve just had a quick wander round the house and I have 44 pieces of work framed and hung!!

Anyway, here is the finished piece just before I handed it over for framing…

I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see what everyone else has been stitching.

Posted in cross-stitch, embroidery | Tagged , | 4 Comments