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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Catch up on my work

I hadn't realised that it had been quite so long since I was last here before my post last week! There is a lot to catch up on I guess, so I'm almost bound to miss something. I've been on a few workshops and there's a little progress on some of the big projects I'm working on. A great deal of time was spent getting pieces ready for the exhibition which I told you about last week, but as that is now out of the way (or at least out of my hands) it's time to take stock and look forward to the future.

Back in May I went to Stitching in the Dales - this is a stitching weekend run by a branch of the Embroiderers Guild and set in the beautiful village of Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. The class I did (there were two alternatives) was entitled Textile Jewels and the tutor was Chris Gray. Chris had brought along lots of her Indian textiles and we were invited to choose one on which to base our own piece of work.Having chosen a wall hanging embroidered with images of stylised birds, elephants and flowers, I decided to make a book.

 Chris said that each of the images was intended to ward off evil spirits so I put this beach-found piece of metal on the front cover as I thought it looked and felt a little like something one would rub for good luck.

Inside there are lots of peacock images, stamped onto both paper and fabric and then embroidered and embellished.

Wrapped coffee stirrers and washers together with jewel coloured silk fabric make up this page.

And on the back cover I stitched a little pocket which contains an explanation of the book's inspiration written on watercolour paper dyed with walnut ink.

I'm doing a class on making sketchbook journals with Anne Brook and decided that I needed a new, larger pencil case so made this piece of random bargello canvas work in lots of lovely zingy peacock and lime green colours.

 At our May meeting of the Embroiderers Guild we were taught how to make miniature hats. They're embroidered with silk ribbon and perle thread - lots and lots of colonial knots.

 Then we added ribbon, roses and feathers. Made me want to make lots more and a hat shop to display them in.
A small group of us are working on travelling books, which I think I've mentioned in an earlier post. Each of us has an A5 book and each month we make a piece of embroidery, fix it into the book and then pass that book onto the next person in the group. A bit like a round robin with stitches. When the books are full we'll each get our own book back which will then be filled with lots of beautiful embroidery stitched by all the members of the group. This is the piece I've been working on this month - entitled Windmills of Your Mind.

The final class I've done recently was to make book covers from sari ribbons. Most people used a sewing machine to embroider theirs but my machine is way too heavy to transport to class so mine was hand stitched (the one on the left in the photo). I made one later at home using machine embroidery. 

Apart from my marathon Mother of God cross stitch piece I'm currently working on this small piece of needlelace entitled Stormy Weather as the doodle reminded me of a storm cloud.

I'm also working on a fabric book about the Lewis Chessmen. The first piece I've stitched (not quite finished) is this knight, quilted onto walnut ink dyed calico. I've been reading the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May and became fascinated by these 78 chess pieces carved from walrus ivory which were found on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831. My husband and I once had a wonderfully idyllic holiday travelling the 130 miles up the islands from Barra to Lewis in our motorhome so I have no doubt that some of those memories will find themselves woven into this new venture in some way.

 These are just a few of the chess pieces - the majority of which are now held in the British Museum in London while a few are in Edinburgh. Their faces are so expressive - especially this little rook ...

 And finally ... inspired by my recent holiday in Norfolk and destined for the holiday journal I'm making as a result, is my response to the many gardens we walked around whilst we were there. Painted onto a scrap of the calico left over from the knight this is now in the process of being stitched. Watch this space for the completed piece.

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