Monday, 31 December 2012

Hogarth Crystal Curve

I made this neclace as a present for my friend Hazel's birthday. The design is from Bead and Button April 2012. I used 8mm Swarovski cystal bronze pearls and 4mm Swarovski bicones in Topaz, Light Colorado Topaz and Smoked Topaz. Apparently it's a flattened Russian Spiral - I've never worked a Russian spiral rope, so that's another one to add to the to-do list. A Hogarth Curve is an 'S' shaped curved line also referred to as a "Line of Beauty". Each spiral is worked as an individual component, producing a very satisfying pile of beaded discs. I can see lots of possibilities with this design, particularly in the use of colour and it can be worked without the pearls in the centre of the spiral.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

... and A Happy New Year

And now for this year's Christmas cake or more accurately cupcakes. The design is by Jan Clement-May and is in the latest magazine from Squires Kitchen. I have to confess my only contribution to this group was Santa. The rest was all done by Jen and what an amazing job she did!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Towards the end of last year I discovered Squires Kitchen in Farnham. Squires not only sells just about anything you could ever want for cake decorating, it also publishes its' own magazine "Cakes and Sugarcraft" including incredible designs. This family of polar bears sitting on their very own iceberg was our Christmas cake last year and was a joint effort by myself and Jen. It is a design by Carlos Lichetti, who manages to inject so much character into his sugarcraft creations. Jen and I are complete amateurs at sugarcraft, but we love the excuse to play and be able to eat the fruits of our labour later. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Here is Hanazume, my Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 piece. I have been thinking about trying Japanese Embroidery for the last 18 years, since my frient Steph headed off to Bournemouth to do her phase 1 piece. Intially I was put off by the cost and  I had just started bobbin lacemaking, so I concentrated on that for the next couple of years. With the arrival of my daughters, cost became less of an issue and time became more scarce. So over those 18 years, whenever I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show, I would linger by the JE stand and think "maybe one day". A job change in 2005, resulted in a house move to Fleet 18 months later and the end of a commute round the M25, which often took an hour and a half on a Friday night. So now I had more time and even better, a sewing room or as the girls called it, Mummy's play room! Around this time I discovered Japanese Bead Embroidery, which I thought I would find easier to get to grips with and it was. After completing Calm Flow earlier this year, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge. I was worried that after thinking about it all this time, it would all go wrong but I have really enjoyed doing this piece. It was a challenge. I would guess that I could have done 2 or 3 pieces, with the number of times stitches were undone and redone. Now it's finished and off at the framers, I am ready to start my next piece -"Flowers from the Heart of Japan". As well as being relatively local, my teacher, Jean, is generous with her time and her knowledge. What more can you ask for?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Gnome Needlebook

At the end of April I was able to go to a workshop with Lynette Anderson and started this needle book. It turned out to be a very relaxing workshop. I chose to buy the kit for the workshop so I only needed to turn up with the most basic sewing equipment. This kind of stitchery is typically done without a hoop. I found that a bit strange to start with but it made it easy project to travel with. It was perfect for the trip to Center Parcs the following weekend. Especially when we had to hang around the villa for the best part of a day because the main water supply to the entire site had gone off!

I was a bit of a rebel. Rather than stitching french knots in the sky, I added aquamarine hot fix crystals. Can't resist a bit of bling! I had a few problems making the ties. Turning the fabric ties with the end sewn up defeated me. So I left the tubes open and added fabric beads on the end. The instructions for the fabric beads came from Kumiko's Sudo's beautiful Omiyage book.

Friday, 20 July 2012

When it reigns...

I made this necklace as a present for a friend's birthday. Steph moved out to New Zealand in the mid 90's, so we don't get to see other all that often. While Steph and I enjoy a lot of hobbies in common, our styles in clothing are quite different. Steph tends to wear dark colour blocks with bright or dramatic accents, while I'm drawn more to patterns and lighter neutral colours. So when I make something for Steph I have to think outside my own colour choices. This necklace was a pattern in the February 2012 issue of Bead and Button magazine. The colour combination is pretty much the same as the design in the magazine but I had to have faith. With all that gold and silver, it looked so bright to me while I was making it. But I think it turned out OK.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Beaded Poppy

I picked up the kit for this beaded poppy brooch from  The Bead Merchant at the Knitting and Stitching Show in October last year, thinking I would be able to finish it before Remembrance Day. I started the first petal a couple of days later and pretty soon realised it would more likely be ready for Remembrance Day this year. This one has gone to my Mum. I have enough beads left  to make another one but I suspect I won't ever get round to it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Heartsease and Eglantine Pinwheel

I started this pinwheel at a workshop with Susan O'Connor in London in February 2011. The design is from Susan's book, Flowers for Elizabeth, which is primarily a pattern for a wool embroidered blanket. Included are scaled down designs, which can be stitched with 1 strand of Au Ver a Soie, which is how this design is done. It was a sweet design to stitch and I am tempted to try some of the other designs in the book. The book is published by Country Bumpkin, so naturally it is beautiful to look at with very clear instructions.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Calm Flow - finished

And now a picture of Calm Flow, which I made up in Februrary. It needed to come off the frame because I was starting Hanazume, my Phase 1 Japanese Embroidery piece at the beginning of March. The fabric it was stitched on had a distinct tendency to fray so I was glad I had experience from making up the Eyeglass Case. It was a nice feeling to get it out of the way - I'm a Completer/Finisher when time permits!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Eyeglass case - finished

The eyeglass case was actually made up at the end of last year. In the end, I found some burgundy cotton velvet which was a reasonable colour match.  I was keen to get it done because I was close to finishing Calm Flow and I didn't want to have a queue of pieces waiting to be made up - I have enough UFOs/WIPs. To persuade myself to get on with it, I decided to do just one construction step each evening and after a week it was done. I was dreading cutting around the beadwork, especially the notches around the corners but by thinking "Tonight I'm just going to do xxx and no more", I got over the fear.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Calm Flow

One year after starting, I finished my Japanese Bead Embroidery Phase 2 piece, Calm Flow. The majority of this piece is black or silver tri-cut beads strung on black thread, couched down with black thread. I found this a very calming technique - forgive the pun. The weekend after I finished Calm Flow, while shoe shopping for my daughter, Jen, I spotted a beaded bag with the same flowing design for £50. On the shop bag, the silver beads were bugles and and the black beads were regular seed beads rather than the tricuts but the it had the same flowing lines. Initially I was mortified and it made me think about the time I had spent doing it. But that is the point. While I was embroidering Calm Flow, I was in my quiet space, doing what I wanted to do. Working full-time with 2 school age daughters, there are a lot of things that lay claim on my time and energy. The time I get to spend on my hobbies is my treat to myself.