Preparing for the second of Alice Hume’s weaving club nights, I threaded the loom and, this time, made a confident attempt at the soumak and began to work with some gorgeous wools from Weavers Bazaar. “Oh,” said Alice, “I see you are experimenting with a single thread in the loom.”
“So what you mean is, I’ve done it wrong,” I sighed.
“Its quite interesting, it gives a much smoother effect” replied Alice, kindly.
So I carried on with my experimentation, weaving in some fleece, adding some flecks, putting in some knots – rya knots, as well as using the same method as for fringing. I also tried out the Hardangar technique of woven bars. I think this is something worth experimenting with a bit more; incorporating some embroidery techniques which I’m beginning to forget.
And what about my mistake? It seemed to work out okay until the end when I tried to match up pairs of the warp thread to tie off. After experimenting with bead tops, I decided, proportionally, it looked best folded over this time. The cord is made using the same colours as the weaving and wound with a cordwinder.
How this skirt came to be made and worn is a Christmas miracle. Tired of shopping for a Christmas outfit that wasn’t too Christmassy resulted in the purchase of a blue tinsel jumper and nothing to wear with it. A remnant of printed and flocked denim came to the rescue – it would just about make a skirt. I like to keep my dressmaking simple – as you know, I’m a beginner. I discovered this great online tool – the Circle Skirt App, from By Hand London. I chose to make a midi length, quarter circle skirt. There then followed a ‘Greta’ moment. “Would you like to work in centimetres or inches?” asked the app.
“Centimetres, please,” I confirmed and then promptly entered my waist measurement, 29, got back the calculations and off I went into the spare room to draw out my pattern. Pinning the pattern to the fabric I worked with speed to cut the fabric. Only then did I hold the material up to my waist and ponder how it was ever going to work. Then, the penny dropped! My waist isn’t 29 centimetres – its 29 inches, you stupid woman!
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. I managed to make a mini quarter circle skirt by recalculating and recutting the fabric – it just about worked out. Not wanting my skirt to be too short, I decided to hem it with bias-binding rather than take up a hem. I rather like the effect. I almost ommitted the waist band to try out a bias-bound top too, but I wasn’t sure what would happen. I think it would have worked because the fabric is sturdy. However, one near miss was enough!
Guess what I else I didn’t do in my haste? I didn’t wash the fabric first! I managed to get through the Christmas wearings without needing to wash it. Now its the New Year, I might put it in the wash and see what happens!
A belated Happy New Year to you all! I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up – its a good for the soul, apparently. Inspired by a trip to the American Museum in Bath in 2017 to see the fabulous exhibition Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern, I set about making these two Bargello book covers. Something I could do whilst watching the Christmas TV. That was Christmas 2017. Just before Christmas 2018, I stitched them to their notebooks. Why did it take me so long to get around to it? I enjoyed the process of stitching something so repetitive. Maybe I will set about learning how to stitch a cushion pad for my sewing room chair? If you want to learn a bit more about the process, you could have a look at this book: Beautiful Bargello by Joyce Petschek.
You know that feeling when you’ve learnt something new but you go back to it a month or two later and it feels like you’ve forgotten everything? Well, Alice Hume had the wonderful idea of a establishing a weaving club to keep her students coming back for more. I thought I had better start something before turning up, so I muddled through the sumac, not quite the way Alice had taught me, but it sufficed. The first club night reminded me about joining two colours together and I ambitiously embarked on a curved shape. Carrying on at home, I attempted to mirror that curve and Alice told me I had invented a new weave. Isn’t she kind?! Then she told me that curves were perhaps one of the most tricky things to accomplish. Nothing like getting in at the deep end!
The second club night, I saved for re-learning the sumac to end the piece and then tying on the tassles. I was pleased with the result, which incorporated a few copper-thread highlights. I stitched a few other lines of copper through the white bits of the weave too. They are quite subtle, but glint nicely in the sun.
I added some beads to the top for decoration. A handmade cord, made with a small cordwinder (a very useful gadget) incorporates white and copper thread. A piece of dowl, painted with antique white finishes it off nicely.
Its that time of the year, when you starting to think about what to buy your sewing friends for Christmas. Here is a suggestion. This beautiful book, accompanied the exhibition, Keep Your Eye on the Planet, at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork im Elsass, France in September. It explains the work of Guldusi as you may have read in my previous blog entries, as well as showcasing the work of the exhibitors, including mine! Its so exciting to be in print.
If you would like to buy a copy for yourself or for your friends, it costs just £12, from the Guldusi website. Postage is free and its written in English, German and French, so no excuses. Buy it here: https://www.guldusi.com/en/to-order-embroidery/books.html
More is definitely more with this piece. It could have had several endings but, to me, this is the best one possible. Made on single weave canvas painted with water-soluable oil pastels and coloured in with threads. Organzas and silks appliqued to the canvas for the”fireworks”, accentuated with handmade cords. The washed crow feathers were more fragile than I expected but, with care, they made it in to the final piece. Stitches in a variety of threads included chain, herringbone, zigzag, buttonhole, running stitch & straight stitch. Metal “spinning flames” were made out of an old tomato puree tube – just the right colour.
The wire wrapped cords edging the piece were machined using organza and a mixture of threads. The felt leaves and berries, are commercial felts joined together using the embellisher – I have to make use of it! The little bells were the only things I had to purchase. A nice find from Oliver Twists at the recent Knitting and Stitching Show.
Too fat for a box frame, I decided to leave the piece unframed – afterall you won’t hear the bells behind the glass. I had to think hard about attaching it to the velvet. I fixed the velvet to a stretcher frame and stitched the piece on to it. The velvet was laced in the traditional way and then I stitched a felt backing on to it to cover up the strings.
To me, it captures the spirit of Montol: the excitement, other worldliness, musicality; the death of the Winter sun, its rebirth and renewal. I’m there already!
Montol, mixed media embroidery, 25cm x 25cm
I’ve been wanting to make this piece for a couple of years now, but once the event happens, I procrastinate and then it doesn’t feel right to make it out of season. It is based on the Montol Festival which happens at the Winter Solstice in Penzance, Cornwall. A once low-key beacon lighting event has now turned in to a much bigger event with parades, dressing up and the soulful music of Raffidy Dumitz. As a Cornish girl, I always try to be at home for this celebration. I want this work to be about the feeling I get at marching with the parade. But there might be another piece to follow of Old Ned…
Collage is a good technique to help me work in a more abstract way. Sometimes I just don’t know where to start. As you can see, I’ve just begun to move it along on to my canvas. I’ve used water-soluable oil pastels to get some colour down and have just begun to tear up and fix on strips of sheers. I’ve also added some crow feathers – I’m going to see how these go as I start to stitch.