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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hearts for Manchester and London


I grew up in Manchester and my parents still live there. I also have 2 teenage girls so the situation is waiting in a theatre foyer to collect the girls after an event is a very familiar situation.  So it was with disbelief and great sadness that I read the news about the terror attack in my hometown. When I heard about the #AHeart4MCR project I was inspired to create this bead embroidered heart. The deadline for the Manchester heart drop was a bit sooner than I expected and I knew I wouldn't get it finished in time.


A new call for hearts was raised by #AHeart4LDN after the London terror attack, so I decided to change tack and make machine embroidered free standing lace hearts for the London drop. I used designs from Kinship Kreations, which stitched out beautifully on Brother machine. As recommended  I hooped 2 layers of water soluble stabiliser which made the result quite stiff. I thought this would make the hearts more robust so it was probably a good thing, as the hearts would be hung out on the street. I embellished them with hot fix crystals for a little bit of sparkle and posted them off.




The heart drop in London was yesterday and I was delighted to see a twitter post with a picture of one of my hearts. I have no idea who the recipient was but the fact that she was happy to receive it made my day. This success spurred me onto finish the bead embroidery on my own heart this weekend. Now I just need to work out how to mount it. My original intention was a simple stuffed heart but I think it would look better as a flat heart with a covered cardboard backing to give it a bit more support.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Red Butterfly



It's been a bit of a marathon of going around in circles but the first butterfly for my Phase 4 Japanese Embroidery piece is finished. It's taken well over a year to get this far. I stalled a bit last year but a new year's resolution to get it going again has paid off. This is the first of 3 butterflies - the marathon will continue for some time to come.  I have a trip away coming up at the end of the week so I am very deliberately stepping away from this piece from a couple of weeks. Hopefully I won't have too much trouble getting going again when I get back.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Making Waves



My current Japanese bead embroidery project is the JEC Wave Handbag.  The design comes in 2 parts. A larger piece which forms the bag back and flap, and a smaller piece which forms the bag front. Even though I am treating this as a background project, I've made reasonable progress over the last couple of months, finishing the outlines on the back and flap. The entire design will be blue iris triangle and seed beads. The original JEC bag had hex beads instead of the triangle beads, so I know my bag will look slightly different when it's finished. The triangle beads form a new clean line when they are couched down but I'm not sure how they will look when 2 lines are side by side. I am imagining choppy seas!

I've come to conclusion this is not going to be a very photogenic project. The blue iris beads look lovely close up but they come out very dark in a photograph. My camera phone automatically brightens the shot if I don't take the picture quick enough. If I take the picture too quickly the auto focus doesn't have time to work. I will probably need to ask Jen to take some pictures with her proper camera when she's home for Easter.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Springtime Garden Necklace



I like the way beaded kumihimo ropes can be used as base for embellment. One way to achieve this is to use 2 hole beads, superduos  amd lentils in this case,. leaving 1 hole clear to add further beads once the rope is finished. The pattern for this necklace is Springtime Garden Necklace by Julia Hecht from the April '16 issue of Bead and Button magazine. I mostly kept to the same colour scheme but ended up changing the leaves to turquoise because I couldn't get hold of bronze leaves. The leaves are shiny on one side and matt on the other, so I was careful to keep them facing the same direction.

Recently I have been finishing my kumihimo necklaces with acrylic magnetic clasps. They have strong magnets and come in a variety of colours and sizes. Originally I found them in the US and then last year I discovered Robin's Beads in the UK was carrying a reasonable selection, so I made sure to stock up.

I ended up making this necklace twice. My first attempt was very twisted and wouldn't sit straight. It took me 6 months to persuade myself to undo it and have another go. On the second attempt I stopped the cords walking around the kumihimo disk by returning them to the start position after every move. There was still a slight twist but it was much better. When I wear it, the leaves lift up a little on my collar bones but I think that would always be the case and I'm probably the only one that notices it. I guess I must prominent collarboes




Saturday, 25 March 2017

Pipalicious Necklace



Last year Prumihimo launched the innovative Prumihimo braiding disk. It got some very good reviews, so I thought I'd give it a go. For my first trial project using the disk I followed the Pipalicious tutorial, which came free with the disk. I used knotting cord instead of the satin cord the tutorial recommended, which was probably a bit on thin side. I was pleased with the result though and it was good enough to give to Mum as a birthday pressie.

The Prumihimo disk produces a braid that doesn't twist as it's made, so accent beads sit nice and flat at the side of the braid. There are loads of options for beads to use instead of the Pip beads, so I don't think this will be the last necklace I make using the disk.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Clank Cake


While Jen was at home over Christmas. she made a late birthday cake for Graeme. The cake was 2 months late, so it seems a appropriate that I am 2 months late posting a picture of it on my blog. The theme of the cake was Clank, the robot character from the Ratchet and Clank PlayStation game. As well as a very cute Clank figure included a couple of crates and bolts which are a key feature of game.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sashiko Needlework Cases

At the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago, I picked up a Lynette Anderson pattern for a set of covers for a needlework case. The back cover was pieced hexagons and it gave me the idea to do a sashiko design. It took me a year to decide exactly what I wanted to do, which was a diagonal line of flowers on the front and hexagons on the back. I wanted to do two cases, one as a present and one for myself. To make them different, I decided to have cherry blossom on one case and plum blossom on the other.

I wanted to experiment with transferring designs using my Silhouette Cameo, so I put created the front design using the Silhouette Studio software. The blossom designs came from Susan Briscoe's Ultimate Sashiko Source book. I used a Frixion pen in the Cameo pen holder and it worked very well.

The hexagon design for the back was created using a graphics package, which I imported in Silhouette Studio. That didn't work so well, because the Silhouette Studio software added some extra lines when it did the import. However, it was good enough and because I had used a Frixion pen, I knew I would be able to iron off the extra lines later.



I managed to transfer the design the weekend before we flew off to Tenerife on holiday, so it spent  some very enjoyable hours stitching on our hotel balcony listening to the soundtrack to Hamilton. This is one of those projects that will have strong memories of where it was stitched.


For the sashiko stitching I used some silk thread I had bought from Kimonomomo at the Houston Quilt Festival. It was beautiful thread to use but I used up most of a spool on each case.



I used a circular need to attach the covers to the cases. The black cases I had bought at the Festival of Quilts worked well for the plum design but didn't work at all for the cherry design. Fortunately I managed to find a cream case which suited the blue thread much better. That means I now have a spare case. I just need to decide what I want to do with it - maybe bead embroidery.