This little piece is the result of one of my chopped up inspiration drawings. Back in the summer I had a beautiful walk along the lanes and fields of Adgestone on the Isle of Wight. I came home and recalled the walk and my feelings and drew an A3 colour work in water soluble oil pastels. Cutting up the picture into 12 small squares, I have plenty of sources of inspiration when I need them. Worked during webinars whilst working from home, it was ready in time to post to my parents as a small Christmas gift, in lieu of things we were supposed to be taking home to them. As working from home and webinars continue, Adgestone 2 is on the way.
The centre is worked on single thread needlepoint canvas using 6 strands of embroidery thread – just bits from my thread bag. I love how the canvas moves in the direction you work. However, it does make it tricky to frame. Cotton fabric scraps make up the border which is handstitched to ensure there are no canvas gaps. It’s backed in felt, to cover up the workings, and finished with a little hanging thread – 3 short rows covered in blanket stitch. So much easier than trying to afix a ribbon.
Before anyone had heard of Covid this year, I was about to sign up to a Creative Industries MRes at the University of Portsmouth where I was planning on exploring something along the lines of information seeking behaviours articulated through stitch. I’d spoken to course leaders, started reading books on material research methods and then the pandemic hit. Everything turned on its head and worst of all, my sewing room turned into my office. I knew I had a lot of work to do this year and so the MRes was cast aside. My sewing mojo dwindled drastically, although I kept on with a bit of knitting – something to do in front of the TV and a bit of sneaky webinar sewing to help keep me calm. By the end of the year, I was doing kits! I hate following rules, but anyway. My dad sent me a seagull kit for Easter and I felt obliged to do it. The scary thing is I enjoyed it!
Then there were all of those online craft shows… I attended a Punch Needle Workshop for Beginners by Lucy Rowan. I had all of the kit, just hadn’t ever really got around to doing it properly. A simple task where this time, I actually made the wool stay in the fabric! I also learnt how to bind a hoop and made this piece of wall art.
I can see that this will be useful for incorporating into sewing projects and maybe some weavings too, so I must remember to try it out in the new year.
Much as I like working from home, it has really interrupted my creative flow. My sewing room is now my office. I’m so lucky to have all of this space at home, but I don’t want to spend all day and all evening sat at the same desk. And I’d have to clear away the debris of work. So knitting has been the answer.
I love wool; yes it makes me sneeze, but its nourishing, if you know what I mean. Back in March I went to Unravel: A festival of yarns at Farnham Maltings and had to find an excuse to buy some wool. I was very disciplined and circled the whole show before making purchasing decisions. “Wool of the show” for me was a beautiful 2 ply woollen yarn from Ullcentrum, Sweden, called Rock Lichen. It reminded me very much of the colours of Cornwall. Rather than just buy a skein, I decided to buy an easy project – Linus on the Line – a triangular shawl featuring stripes in alternating gradient colours.
I learnt some new skills including rotating the work 90 degrees to get it started off. I’d need to look at the instructions again, it has to be said. I learnt how to use a circular needle – once mastered, much enjoyed – make stitches, use stitch markers, as well as how to cast off neatly. I also followed instructions to wash and block the piece. Undecided on what colour tassels to include, I did one of each!
The temperature dropped at the beginning of the week and so its already been used. For an easy to follow pattern and lovely wool visit Midwinter Yarns.
The other thing I got involved in this summer was an initiative led by Alice Kettle at Farnham Maltings called Stitching Together.
Children had drawn some pictures based on given themes relating to Farnham. Incidentally, its the UK’s first World Craft City! Surely that wouldn’t be too difficult would it? My “drawing” couldn’t have been more complicated. Well, it wasn’t actually a drawing, more a series of icons taken from the Internet and put together. Agh! Thankfully, or not, the pack came with a sheet of carbon paper to trace down the design. I carefully watched the video and followed the instructions, using the carbon paper to outline the design on the back of the fabric. Oh no! It was all back to front. It just didn’t work. Have you ever worked with carbon paper? DON’T – its nasty stuff that won’t come off and is smudgy and horrid. There was nothing else for it – I shoved the instructions aside and traced the design on to the front of the fabric, regardless of the fact that I could see the design on the back coming through – what a mess!
Anyway, I couldn’t let this poor child down I had to keep going. I used water soluble oil pastels to fill the spaces and give a watercolour effect, leaving me to stitch only some of the design. It was way out of my comfort zone and I don’t want to see a Bart Simpson or Kermit the Frog ever again. I’m still not sure what they have to do with Farnham – maybe a TV studio connection? So here it is. Maybe when its added to its background and hung high up on a wall, no one will notice the carbon paper outlines coming through from the back? I hope not, its embarrassing sending it to them in this state, but I didn’t want to let anyone down by not submitting it. Note to self: be careful what you commit to!
The year I got slightly interested in gardening… so here’s a summary of my craft things. Things I could do in front of the TV, post-gardening. My Guldusi project is coming along quite nicely. Its ready to come off the frame to back and finish it with bias binding – all 120cm x 50cm of it. I can’t show you a picture as it’s against the terms of entry. So I’ll share this little piece with you instead.
Inspired by Sue Dove, a textile artist based in St Just, Cornwall, it was completed whilst joining in with the endless team webinars during this crazy period requiring me to work from home. I don’t think anyone noticed! It kept me calm, anyway! I love the way the fabric moved as I worked around the design. Edging it was a little unconventional as a result but it gives it a nice folk art feel.
Its been a long time since I’ve worked in this style and I loved doing it – you don’t need to think too much, just stitch. The colours aren’t my usual either. I decided to just take my mixed thread bag and work with what I had been given. I used Aida fabric (I think) I always get my holey fabrics mixed up! It’s the softer cotton-type rather than the canvas that Sue recommends. It seemed to work just as well.
I was drawn to the green and pink section of my Nansen Hill image, maybe because I’m spending a lot of time staring out of my window looking over the garden and the pink roses at the moment. Curves always present a challenge to me, so I thought I’d try something I’d done previously that worked pretty well. I used my Hume Loom and created a woven border and left space in the centre to work my piece. Experimenting a little, I decided to take the image right up to the edge of the border. Midway up I started to get anxious about the gap that was beginning to form so I wove some threads into the border. At the end I decided to stitch up the gap using a kind of ladder stitch worked on the back. This worked really well and so next time, I don’t think I’ll worry about the gap.
The border: last time I used the variegated green acrylic but interspersed it with real wool. This gave a better texture and less garish finish. I think the side tassels looked better as well so will revert to this next time. I love making them and there’s 7 more options to go so keep watching!
Our first trip out was on my birthday – just after lockdown was eased a little. We took a flask of coffee and some lemon cake and drove to this lovely spot just outside of Ventnor.
Sometimes, I just get the urge to get my oil pastels out and that day was one of them. I chose water-soluble oil pastels to record my visit from memory, adding the route, I felt we had taken – the black lines.
There were some elements that stuck in my head that day, can you spot them in the pictures below? I didn’t take a photo of my lemon cake – but its in there!
The thing is, I don’t mind if you can’t spot them, I enjoyed the process. The pastels have a child-like quality and remove my fear of drawing. I chopped the piece into 8 for some little projects to weave or stitch. There’s already a weaving underway.
I’ve been working hard on a piece of work to submit to an exhibition call out; Guldusi’s Hand in Hand. I can’t show you any pictures because under the terms of submission, you can’t show the work online prior to the opening of the first exhibition (if the work is selected). Originally, I’d decided not to submit anything. Hands, they’re difficult aren’t they? I didn’t think I was up to it! Then lockdown came and, despite having to work through it, it felt right to have something else on the go, so I purchased my “hand” made by an Afghan lady, and made a start. This is her hand:
I had to make quick decisions and couldn’t really attempt my usual “more is more” style. The piece is huge 0.6 metres squared. The maths was hurdle number 1 – but I worked out that I can make a piece 120cm x 50cm. The thing is, I thought I had until the end of May to complete it, but no, sharing my anxiety with a friend, I discovered that the deadline is May 2021! Doh! So if you want to have a go, there’s loads of time.
This small weaving was inspired by a photograph taken at Rew Down. I think the rusted structure is detritus left over from the war. Somehow it just fits into the natural environment. It was woven on my homemade pin loom using all sorts of wool, choosing colour above anything else. There’s even a bit of silver thread mixed in with the blue/grey. Attempting to add a bit of stitch to my weaving, I machined into some areas, as well as adding a few woolly French knots. I’m not sure that the machining added anything to the piece, but the knots did. It was just something I had to try!