Travelling Sketchbooks on the Move

The latest Travelling Sketchbook project at my Embroiderers Guild starts tomorrow. We were given an A5 sketchbook last month and it has to be ready to swop tomorrow. It seemed ages off but all of a sudden I had two days!

Travelling sketchbooks are a great way of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, the idea is that each person chooses a theme for their book, decorates it and writes an introduction. It is then passed around the group each month and everyone does a little piece of embroidery on the theme to go in the book. At the end of the travels each person has a lovely book full of handwork by their friends. I find it pushes me embroidery-wise as I have to do something on a given theme, you can look for ideas but it does make me think outside the square and design something myself. Over the last couple of years I’ve had to do embroideries on subjects as divers as ‘down the microscope’, mythical beasts, astronomy, walls, chickens…

My theme this time is Christmas. I love Christmas and I thought it would be rather nice to have a sketchbook I can get out each year. I covered the book first, I used a fat quarter I’ve had for years, I love it, it’s a gorgeous rich blue covered with a delicate pattern of silver holly leaves. I lined it with another blue and silver fabric, this time it has stars on it. As a pretty but practical finishing touch I’ve tied it with a silver ribbon, which makes it look like a gift, but also holds it closed. I had just enough fabric left to make a bag to keep it clean.

Travelling Sketchbook

On the opening pages I just stuck some Christmas card designs, I used to make all my Christmas cards using all sorts of techniques and ideas, here’s just three of them.

Handmade Christmas cards

I wrote a little introduction to the book, mainly about what I love about Christmas, trying to keep the idea as open as possible so people can stitch anything seasonally appropriate. On the page opposite I include a red-work card my mum stitched for me around 2004. Homemade cards should always be treasured, this one is particularly poignant now as mum is rapidly losing her ability as a needlewoman.

Handmade Christmas cards

Many years ago I went to a WI workshop on painting snowflakes. This card was the result, I loved it so much I could quite bring myself to give it to anyone! I decided my travelling sketchbook was the perfect home for it.

Snowflake design

Finally, my official piece! I was tempted to do another snowflake, but I didn’t think I had quite enough time, I rummaged through my stash and found a Christmas quilting panel (originally from my mums stash!) which included several pictures of chickadees. I decided to cut one out and embellish it with embroidery. This is how it started.


I started off with some straight stitches on the pine-needles, it doesn’t show up that much but I know it’s there and I think it’s just enough.

When I first started the little bird I was matching the thread to the painting, I very quickly realised that this was going to make a very boring embroidery, as the stitches really didn’t stand out enough. I changed over to variegated threads which just added an extra colour or two. I used one of my favourite threads on his head and tail, it’s overall impression is quite dark but includes olive green and violet, it reminds me of the plumage of a mallard duck.

Chickadee embroidery

I used several different stitches, fly, feather, lazy-daisy, herringbone, chain, straight stitch and french knots. I think the floss on his chest possibly has a touch too much salmon pink in it, but I just went over with some ecru frech knots to tone it down a bit.

I decided it looked good as a circle, so I used some iron on interfacing on the back to give a bit of stability, cut round the circle and used buttonhole stitch to finish it.

I’m pretty pleased with my embroidery and having the image behind made it pretty quick to sew. I think the theme of the book I’ll have next month is the letter S, so quite a lot of scope, just got to think of an idea!

Chickadee embroidery

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link and see what everyone else has been stitching.

About craftycreeky

I live in a busy market town in Yorkshire with my husband, kids, dogs and chickens. I love trying new crafts, rediscovering old ones, gardening, walking...anything creative really I started this blog after my New Year resolution worked so well. My resolution (the first one I've ever kept!) was to post a photograph of my garden on Facebook every day. My hope was that I would then see what was good in the garden and not just weeds and work, which was my tendency. The unexpected side-effect was that I have enjoyed many more hours in the garden. I am hoping that 'The Crafty Creek' will have the same effect. Happy creating!
This entry was posted in embroidery, Serendipity, The Travelling Sketchbook. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Travelling Sketchbooks on the Move

  1. CathieJ says:

    I love what you included in your sketchbook and I hope you share the finished book when you get it back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. katechiconi says:

    I’ve never considered embroidering over a printed motif, but I’ll look at fabrics more speculatively now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the idea of the sketch book and look forward to seeing a finished project.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura says:

    I’m with Kate…never considered stitching over a fabric motif…great idea! Love your new sketchbook…you have made it so personal and beautiful! It is going to be fun to see the finished project!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A very good idea to have a Christmas book. I like to have things I can use and I know it will be full of beautiful work such as yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wybrow1966 says:

    A fabulous idea and how lovely to have a Christmas theme.


  7. nanacathy2 says:

    Really pretty blue fabric and how nice to include your Mum’s card. I love how you did the bird. How are you attaching the pieces to the pages?


  8. kathyreeves says:

    That is such a great idea, to stitch over something already drawn! I love your new book, it will be a treasure trove of memories when you get it back!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mandycurrie says:

    Hello Margaret, I too love the idea of the sketchbook, I can’t get to Guild meetings yet. I look forward to the day. In the meantime I thought I might copy your idea of having a Stitch book and maybe I’ll just buy an A5 book and make my own themed travelling sketchbook. I have loads of bits and pieces I could add and it would be a fun project. My own embroidery project was unpicked yesterday, I’m feeling a bit down about it. Perhaps I need something a little lighter to start with. I do tend to be over ambitious in my projects lol. I love your little bird, I too will look at patterned fabric differently. Thank you for a great post. Kind regards Mandy xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • craftycreeky says:

      Hello Mandy, it’s hard when things need unpicking, especially as it seems to take twice as long, I try and have both hard and simple projects on the go, so if I’m feeling a bit negative about one I can swop over to another. It’s also worth remembering that we are our worst critics, I don’t often unpick, I hate unpicking, I make lots of mistakes but I try and adapt things so it will work. Sometimes with embroidery I just stitch over the top, usually the eye will see the right line! Start with something within your comfort zone and gradually build up, Best wishes, Margaret


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.