Back when Paul was doing his Batchelor of Photography he needed old wooden frames, so he bought some through eBay. One had an embroidery from 1992 in it. He was going to throw it away, but I figured I could probably make something with it one day.
Recently (but probably not so recently that I’m being all that trendy) I noticed there was a fashion for denim jackets with embellishments on the back. I thought about putting that embroidery on the back of mine as a kind of fast, cheats way to get the look. In the meantime, a corduroy jacket I’d bought second hand lost a button. I went on a long and fruitless hunt for a replacement that would match the rest, but it being your typical metal shank button I couldn’t find anything even similar.
Eventually I settled on a plastic shank button in my stash that has a pearlescent effect that looks remarkably like the metal buttons from a distance. I sewed it on when tackling the mending pile after my big craft room cull. The embroidery was in my ‘not sure if I should toss or keep’ pile and I decided it was time to decide whether to sew it on my jacket or toss it out. I took out my denim jacket and laid the embroidery out on the back. Since it was there I also tried it on the corduroy jacket – and it matched that one better. So I decided to go ahead and sew it on.
I’m so glad I did! When I removed the backing board from the embroidery I had quite a surprise.
Whoever had framed the embroidery had used the photo that was originally in the frame – from the late 1800s we think. On the back was a rather amusing note from the photo studio:
As for the embroidery… I used iron-on fusing to attach interfacing to the back then sewed that onto the jacket. I’m rather chuffed with the result:
I worked on this piece for a couple of years. It was the project I’d take on trips or work on while listening to a speaker and an event. It was also the test piece I worked on after my eye op.
I have to confess, I didn’t enjoy it much. It may be that I didn’t because it hung around so long and I got bored with it. Struggling to work on it post-surgery turned that lack of inspiration to discomfort. There’s some irony in that my last fine embroidery project is an eye, when my eyes are the reason I stopped.
To get the eye finished quicker, I decided not to do the eyebrow and an area of shadow under the eye. The lines were done with the orange-based cleaner on a printout method. I’ve washed these sorts of lines out before, but this time it was hard work scrubbing it off, and I wasn’t entirely successful. Maybe because they’d been there for a few years. To hide them, I painted the piece with Procion dye while at the weaving retreat.
I do like how it turned out.
I just need the perfect frame for it.
Not long after I dyed it I got a fortune cookie at a friend’s birthday party:
I laughed and laughed.
I started making this brooch a while back, but stopped because I wanted to use it as an example in a talk about weaving while travelling. That talk got cancelled, then rescheduled, and I wound up finishing it and starting another to be the in-progress example.
After I had my eyes done and discovered embroidery was no longer comfortable, I figured I wouldn’t be making any more of these and wondered what I’d do with the settings. But weaving on cloth like this is easier on they eye than the fine embroidery I was doing before, so having finished one I know I can take another with me as a project to do while travelling. Here’s the in-progress example:
I’ve finished sewing in the ends of the Green Stripes Jacket and sewn up the seams. Now I’m pacing myself as I knit the ribbed bits. Which means I’ve machine knit the pieces of another entire garment, but I’ll talk about that in a new post.
Lots going on here craft-wise, but not much weaving right now. I’m still waiting for the circular knitting machines to arrive. I can see on the courier site that they’ve arrived in Australia, but they’ve not budged since. Stuck in customs maybe?
I finished these months ago, but I didn’t want to post about them until they were framed. Today I finally had all the elements to do that.
I still haven’t had the courage to try embroidery since my eye operation. There’s a fairly complicated WIP waiting beside my tv watching armchair for that moment.
I’ve had a mild case of finishitis lately. The part of me that wants to get current projects done is winning the battle against the one that wants to start something new. So what do I have in progress?
The Handwoven Skirt
Currently stalled because my back has been cranky, and sewing is worse for it than weaving.
The Krokbragd Rug
Stalled because I’m waiting to see if I can buy some more carpet yarn from a weaver.
Clasped Weft Fringe Scarves
What I’ve been spending most of my craft time on. It’s been… interesting. Is there such thing as ‘anaesthetic brain’? Because my short term memory was atrocious after the second eye operation. I was incapable of following the draft, and after a number of sessions in which I unwove almost as much as I wove, I gave up and just started making it up as I went. Thankfully, the result is good. Kinda groovy.
Mainly weaving this one in the evenings, while watching tv. I’m warping up the Knitters Loom with a natural wool and for weft I’m using stripes of natural through to brown coloured yarns. I’m intending it to become a jacket. We’ll see.
It’s been the project I grab when I need something portable. However, I may regret not finishing it before now, if my eyesight remains bad for close work.
I need to get back to this. It wasn’t warm enough to work out in the garage, and now it’s too warm.
Weaving Bits and Pieces
I’m making a weaving sword, or wavy beater, inspired by a recent demonstration by Mr Tanji at the Guild. Which I didn’t get to, but the Weavers Matters gals showed me the ropes at the next meeting and it was a lot of fun. Also, working on the idea for the Vari Dent Reed.
As I mentioned earlier, at the FibreArts schools they have two charity auctions for which you can donate artworks of 15 x 15 cm and 10 x 10 cm. I was stitching figures from an old book on line drawing for architectural elevations. This is the piece I did for the 10 x 10 ironed and mounted on card:
I finished the first of the two rows of men and women in bathing suits (or underwear), but by then I badly wanted to keep them both. So I went looking for something else to do for the 15 x 15 in the time left. I looked through finished piece of embroidery and among them was the rather boring grey bargello sampler.
It just happened to be very close to 15 x 15. I got thinking on how could I make this something that someone might want to buy. The design looked like mountains. Perhaps I could stitch on some mountain climbers. Or skiers. Or both…
I almost decided to keep it, too, but I made myself let it go. And I’m glad I did as the friend who told me about FibreArts, Jane, was delighted when she managed to buy it. The architectural figures went to Jillian in my class, who almost lost out but for the generosity of another FibreArts attendee who heard her lamenting that she’d missed out and let her buy it instead.
Selling both was a nice surprise. I really had no idea if the school attendees would like this sort of thing, but it turned out they did very much – especially the four figures. I know what to make next time!
Back in April a friend told me about FibreArts workshops. They’re like a school camp for fibre artists, held at a couple of locations in country Victoria and NSW throughout the year. She said there would be one at Easter, so when I looked it up and saw there was a basketry workshop, I got too excited and signed up.
I say too excited, because I realised too late that it wasn’t on at Easter, but the weekend before, and I had a dinner party on that weekend. So it was with great disappointment that I cancelled. However, I would lose the deposit if I didn’t book into another workshop, so I looked at what other workshops were coming up later in the year and found a weaving one that would suit me very well.
Several workshops happen at the same time, and there are general events for all participants including a couple of charity raising art shows which everyone is encouraged to donate a piece to. So I got thinking about what I could make that would suit, and my mind turned to an embroidery design I’ve been wanting to do.
I have an instruction book on architectural drawing from the 1960s, and it contains examples of figures of different sizes. They’re very kitsch. I particularly wanted to do the strips of men and women in underwear/bathing suits. I’d already photographed them and some other examples, so all I had to do was print and transfer them to some calico with orange based cleaner. Then I got stitching.
I’m really liking those strips of men and women. So much that I want to keep them. They’re slow work though – I get one figure done in half an hour, and can’t work on them every night or my back objects. I’ll wait until they’re done, then see if I have the time and inspiration to do a fourth.
An idea for a Bargello project has been floating around in my head for a while, but to do it I’ll need lots of colours of tapestry thread. A while back I jumped onto eBay and bought two large batches of leftover thread. And when I say large, I’m not kidding. This is what the two looked like spread over my eight-seater dining table, after I’d untangled the bigger of the two batches.
In fact, the largest batch arrived on a day when I hadn’t slept well, felt very crappy and sorting out the contents was just the sort of meditative task I needed. It was a huge tangled bag of mostly tapestry thread but also crewel yarn, perle cotton and stranded cotton. Some was precut into lengths, some precut and clearly from kits, some still in skeins with labels and some not, and lots of lengths from several meters to a cm long. There was even a few scraps of knitting yarn in there. It was like somebody had thrown someone’s entire collection of embroidery yarn into a bag, including the contents of a bin.
The stranded cottons were all precut lengths with no labels so I added them to my collection. The perle cotton and crewel thread was too, so I tied the cotton together and the thread was knotted onto a metal ring.
Of the tapestry thread, there were several brands including some very old skeins, of which most had felted. I packed most of the tapestry thread into a basket with the ends showing so I can see all the colours.
I left out the oldest stuff and a group of unlabelled yarn that appeared to be thinner than the rest. The old, felted yarns I started to weave on my Knitters Loom (more on that soon).
The thinner I started nalbinding (another post will cover this).
Last year Paul needed round frames for his Batchelor of Photography project. The only ones he could find were frames for clocks or old embroideries. I put the de-framed embroideries aside, thinking that I’d repurpose them.
Recently I took them out and considered what I could make out of them. We already have more than enough art, prints, clocks and whacky stuff on our walls. Pillows seemed the obvious answer for the four matching outback Australia scenes.
If I simply added a back to them to make circular pillows, they’d be a bit small, so I decided to insert them into squares. Rather than try to sew a seam around the ‘hole’ they’d go into, I bought felt, which wouldn’t fray therefore wouldn’t need a seam.
That leaves me with one last round tapestry, this time with a more ‘English’ colour scheme. I’m thinking of trimming top and bottom and making a clutch.
What would you do with old circular tapestries?
A friend gave me some canvas for stitching tapestry last year, and then a book on Bargello embroidery. (Thanks again, Elaine!) I bought some tapestry thread to try on it, in a gradient of greys and another of blues.
I had this beside my tv watching armchair for a month or so, and finished it a few weeks ago.
The canvas and yarn work well for Bargello. The vertical lines on the canvas show through lighter colours, which isn’t a huge problem because now I know they do, I can paint over them before beginning.
The pattern was fun to stitch but the result is rather uninspiring. I have no idea why I decided to buy a gradient of grey. How boring! But it’s just a test piece. Next I want to buy a whole lot of different colours and do something much brighter. And curvier rather than zig-zag.
I have heaps of this canvas, and the finer stuff I used for my earlier samplers is very expensive, so I’m thinking I’ll stick to using it and start hunting through op shops and ebay for people’s leftover tapestry yarn. It’ll be cheaper and I like the idea of letting what colours I find influence the design.