Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Ceramic bird feeder

A few weeks ago, wonderful mum and I went to a ceramic workshop at Katherine Fortnum Ceramics in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.  Her workspace was lovely, the other 3 participants were lovely, Katherine is lovely and a very good teacher, but I was ill.  I was having a really bad time of it and perhaps I shouldn't have gone, but I thought it might cheer me up.  Hmm.  When will I ever learn than depression can't be cheered up.

We were making a ceramic bird feeder in the shape of a bird.  Now, I only get pigeons in my garden and I don't want to feed them, so I thought I'd just use it as somewhere to put pretty things on display.  We were using earthenwear clay and started with a big ball, flattened on the bottom.  We added a tail.

And a head.  At this point, things started to go wrong as my tail kept sinking, I held it up with a plastic bag, but I should have made it smaller and thinner.

Next we started to carve out the wing shape using the tool you see in the photo above.  We had to go in from both sides and carve very carefully.

After this I have no more photos as at this point both my head and tail started to fall off and I got frustrated and upset with it.  I went outside to have a ciggie and Katherine fixed it the best she could.  When they were finished, we glazed them, but again, I have no photos.  

I think we collect them in a week or two so I'll show you the results then - I'm expecting my head and tail to have fallen off and possibly for the body to have collapsed...

Saturday, 25 June 2016

more bobbin lace

Earlier this month I told you about a bobbin lace class I'd taken.  It inspired me to get my kit out again and have another go.  This is a House of Crafts kit and I tried it before (see here) back in January 2015 with little success.  

This time it was easier.

The kit only came with one skein of the green thread, it certainly wasn't enough especially as I'd wasted loads so I bought some stranded cotton to replace it - not realising that it wasn't stranded cotton in the original kit!  Because of this, this sepal I'm making in the photo above came out far too chunky.

The actual flower parts use a very fine thread, it says DMC 80 on the ball, but I'm not sure what it actually is.  A crochet cotton?  It really is extremely fine.

I soon got the hang of it and was throwing those bobbins around!

I'm not sure it's the neatest piece of lace ever made, but I was pretty pleased with my attempt.

Here it is in all its finished glory.  A very simple pattern but I think it does look like lace, which was the aim!

I've made two so far - the one on the left is gathered into a flower as per the instructions, the one on the right is sewn up into a loop, ready to be gathered.

Here are the two sepals I made.  The one on the left is with all 6 strands of embroidery floss, you can see how chunky it is!  The one on the right uses just two strands, I think that's the way to go!

The instructions say to make 3 flowers in total, each slightly different.  However, and this is a big minus point, there is NO photo of the finished piece so I have no idea what it's supposed to be!!  A bookmark maybe?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

beadwoven flower

Since I've been off sick, I haven't done much crafting, so a class at The Bead Shop Nottingham was good for me, it meant I actually made something.

It was a beadweaving class using a crystal rivoli (the sparkly bit in the centre), number 11/0 seed beads and mini duos.  I used two colours of the duos.

As ever, it's hard to get a good photo of sparkly jewellery, but this will have to do!  Instead of showing you one good photo, I'll show you several mediocre ones.

It was a fun pattern and quick and easy to do.  The bezel is in right-angle-weave rather than the usual peyote so it was nice to learn a new bezelling stitch.

This is a photo of the back so you can see what the back of the rivoli looks like.  As you can see, it's pointed, I'm not sure why, perhaps that makes it easier to capture in a bezel than if it were flat backed?  I now need to decide what to string this on, I think I perhaps need to make a bead-woven necklace.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


Back last month, or the month before maybe, wonderful mum and I went to another embroidery workshop at The Living Threads group.  This was a Casalguidi class.  This article for Mary Corbet at Needle 'n Thread explains a bit about it and has a tutorial for the raised bands.

We started with a piece of white linen and some white Perle cotton in sizes 8 and 5.  It was to be a needle case or a small bag which is why I've only stitched on half of it.  We started with four-sided stitch to make a border.

Then added in a grid of four-sided stitch in the centre.  No Blogger, I have not spelled centre wrong, when will you learn that I am English!

Then we started the raised band.  We used some random threads that the wonderful teacher (alas, I don't remember her name) gave us and couched them down in a rough circle on top of the grid.

Then we did a close satin stitch in the perle 8 all the way round.

This was overlaid with supposedly-evenly-spaced stitches which we would use to form the stem-stitch on top.

Below I have done 2 rows of stem stitch, I will keep going until the circle is full up.

Honestly, I will.  I just need to get some other bits and pieces started finished first...  There is more to this in the form of bullion knots (my firsts ever!) and needlewoven picots, but I do need a bit more practice before I add any of those to this piece.

We also made a button using just thread and bullion knots.... no idea where the photos went though I gave the finished button to mum as she declared she wasn't making one!

Keep your eyes peeled for this finished piece in, oh, say 2 or 3 years?

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Silent Scream #1 and #2

It has been a long time since I've posted about quilting.  I'm still in the throws of this terrible episode of depression, waiting for the anti-depressants that I don't want to be taking to kick in, and my sewing room doesn't hold any fascination for me at the moment, I don't know why.

I did take some time to do some quilting on Silent Scream #1 though, and got quite a way through.

I'm FMQing swirls and little pointy bits (that's my very catchy title for the stitch pattern) using my lovely Janome Atelier 5 with the darning foot and feed dogs down.  I'm using a Guttermann's variegated thread in different shades of blue and quilting around the letters, not over them.

Here you can see some of the pointy bits I'm talking about!  I'd been quilting for a couple of hours, on and off as I have to take frequent coffee-and-pointless-flick-through-social-media breaks.  Then this happened.

I cleaned out the bobbin case, the Janome demands this a lot more frequently than my Husqvarna ever did, I changed the needle, rethreaded the machine and used a new bobbin.  Nope, not happening.  So I gave up.  

I must be more than three-quarters of the way through here!  Since taking these photos, I went back to the quilting and... it was fine.  So Janome was just having a temper tantrum then.

I've also started free-piecing Silent Scream #2 (oh yes, I'm going for a series here).  Can you name this tune?

A bit unfair really as only the Brits (and maybe Irish?) would know this band and their songs.

In the midst of all the crap going off with my mental health, I received a lovely parcel from the lovely Kerry.  She left me (me personally, she didn't emigrate, she left ME) back in January for a new life in Canada and I miss her so this really brought a smile to my face.

There were also chocolate coins (Canadian dollars of course), a Canadian quilting magazine and some Peeps.  I've always wondered what Peeps are and now I know.  Really f*****g scary is what they are!

Thanks Kerry, I will reciprocate, I'm just being particularly crap at the minute and we all know I'm crap at the best of times.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hardanger #3

I only woke up at 9am this morning and had a panic that I didn't have my SAL post up, so here I am, writing a post in my pjs, first coffee of the day beside me... it will be short and sweet!

I'm stitching on an old WIP from 2013 -  Mabel Figworthy's Fancies Song of the Weather SAL

Here is where I was last week - the photo below is sideways, I was working on the fourth block of six.

And here is where I am today:

You'd think, that as I haven't been to work in the last couple of weeks, I might have finished this, but unfortunately, though creativity is good for depression, depression is not good for motivation.

I almost finished block four - I've done the rest of the needle weaving in the cut areas and added the spider's webs.  I just have to do the ribbon rose, but I STILL haven't got round to looking to see if I have a suitable colour of ribbon in my stash! 

In the meantime, I started on block five - November.  I've done quite a lot, all things considered.  I've done all the kloster blocks and started cutting the threads, I just have to do the horizontal ones.  The pointy bits are woven picots which I learnt to do on the Casalguidi workshop, so that was fun.  The small squares are double cross stitch.  

Next I'll finish cutting the threads and start on the needleweaving, there's a lot of it to do!

I'm sewing along as part of a SAL, you can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

AvisClaireGunCarole, LucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieRose

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

bobbin lace

At the start of last year I cracked open a House of Crafts Bobbin Lace kit and had a go - you can see the results in this post.  For some reason, me being me probably, I didn't pick it up again.  When a bobbin lace class appeared on the 2016 class schedule at The Bead Shop Nottingham, mum fancied a go so I thought I'd give it another try, maybe some tuition would help.

The equipment required is a hay pillow (a large, flat cushion stuffed with hay that means the pins go in and don't wiggle around), sets of bobbins (the beaded spangles on the bottom are to distinguish them), a pricking pattern, pins and some kind of thread.  As we were making jewellery we used S-lon cord which is a thinnish cord.  It is not stranded which helps immensely!  The first stage was to wind the cord onto the bobbins in pairs.  It took bloody ages!  The damn stuff kept slipping off.

Here is the start of my bracelet.  I have to say, I have absolutely no idea what happened here or how this was made.  The teacher opted for the don't-bother-showing-or-telling-them-what-to-do-just-do-it-for-them method of teaching.  I'd like to point out she's not a member of the Bead Shop staff.  I was, to put it mildly, a bit frustrated by this.

Anyway, we soon figured out the actual body of the bracelet and I got the pattern.  It was pretty easy once I got going.  There was supposed to be a row of beads down the sides, but I kept forgetting to push them up so my beads are random.  On purpose, of course.

Twisty!  Here's what the finished article looks like.

I added the buttons for the closure at home.  I just kind of wung it and tied and glued and cut and hoped for the best.

Not the neatest closure.  I had to go for two buttons as in the initial teacher-doing-it-for-me bit, she made the closure loop and I didn't have any buttons big enough to fit it!

It was interesting, and after the initial disappointment, I rather enjoyed it.  AND, I can say I'll be doing this again as I already have!  I've picked up that kit again and I'm a couple of flowers in... that reminds me, I haven't taken any photos...