Sunday, 22 December 2013

Starry Night Bauble

This Starry Night Bauble has been making my sewing room  look festive for the last couple of weeks. After seeing the Spellbound Bead stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show, I decided to finish off the kit I started a couple years ago. I treated myself to the Swarovski ornament stand in November and it came in quite handy as a third hand while I was finishing off the stars around the bottom of the bauble.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Granada Pendant

One of the Christmas presents I received last year was Beaded Fantasies by Sabine Lippert. The first design that caught my eye in Beaded Fantasies was the Granada Brooch but I wanted to make it up as a pendant. So I had to work out how to add a bail to the design. For my first version, I improvised a right angle weave band. Here's how I attached it to the back.


For the colour scheme for this piece, I started with hand-dyed satin cord (colour #55) from Accent Bead, which I used for the Kumihimo braid and went from there. The components are a crystal gold shadow 14mm rivoli, copper 4mm bicones and bronze 6mm pearls.

I wanted my second version of the design to co-ordinate with the kumihimo braid I made for  Crystal Burst Pendant last year. I started with the green sphinx 14mm rivoli, which I already had in my stash then added topaz 4mm bicones and dark green 6mm pearls.

There are loads of examples of the Granada design on the web and I found this version which gave me the idea for the triangular bail. This was an interesting design to do and the back is almost as pretty as the front.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Another Beaded Poppy Brooch

Earlier this year I heard Pam Kirk,  the designer of the Beaded Poppy Brooch I made last year, was asking for beaders to make a poppy for a memorial wreath project to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the 1st World War, so I thought I would join in . The wreath will consist of approximately 441 poppies, which will be one poppy made for every member of the British Military personnel lost in the current Afghanistan conflict since 2001.  You can read more about the project here.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bouquet from the Heart of Japan

My second Japanese Embroidery piece, Bouquet from the Heart of Japan is finished. It wasn't a design I would have chosen to do but I have grown quite fond of it over the 9 months I have spent stitching it.

As it is a phase 1 design there were quite a few techniques I had already learned on Hanazume. and there were plenty of new techniques as well.

My next piece is Sensu and I'm looking forward to getting started on it.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Midnight Necklace

I made this necklace for my friend Steph's birthday. The design is Midnight from Japanese Beadwork with  Sonoko Nozue and it's understated elegance appealed to me. Also it was an opportunity to use chevron stitch. It uses 2mm Swarovski crystal rounds in jet and size 15 beads in gold and silver. The finished rope was very thin and it was a challenge to source small scale findings. It was a nice pattern to work and is one I might try again.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Two Bracelets

I bought 2 kits from Riverside Beads at the Farnborough Make-It Show earlier this year. The first  was a macramé bracelet using shamballa style beads. I have been curious about these bracelets for a while and wanted to try making one myself. It was very quick to make and my curiosity is now satisfied.

The second kit was beaded kumihimo bracelet. I had a failed attempt at beaded kumihimo last year. The problem was that the beads and cord I'd used were not a good size match and the result was very loose. The kit from Riverside Beads used size 8 beads and fine macramé cord and I was pleased with the result this time. The bracelet is actually a bit long and I doubt I'll ever wear it but it has got me started. Since finishing the bracelet I have made a necklace also using size 8 beads and for the next project I'm planning to try size 11 beads for a finer rope.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Majesty Necklace

This necklace was Mum's birthday pressie this year. The design is Majesty from Crystal Brilliance by Anna Elizabeth Draeger.  I used 4mm capri blue AB bicones and 3mm aquamarine AB bicones. This is the third time I have worked this design. The previous colour combinations were jet/crystal satin and amethyst AB/light amethyst.
Sometimes it can be challenging to get a well focused photo of a crystal beaded piece and this was one of those occasions. There is just too much reflection for the auto focus to work. I am not a skilled photographer so I rely on the auto focus on my point and shoot camera. Fortunately I was able to get some clearer shots when I zoomed in. Although I suspect the camera was zooming in on the background rather than on the necklace.

 I think my tension must be on the slack side because I find I need to run the thread through the beads twice and even then the beaded beads turn out a little squishy. The challenge with this is there are a couple of key size 11 beads where the thread can become a bit congested. It's important to have a strategy when working in a new thread so that these key beads are avoided, to keep the threads running through them to a minimum. I also found my links between the beaded beads don't have the round loop shape that the example in the book has. I'm not sure this is a bad thing because with the slacker tension there is more give in the links and I think this makes it a more comfortable necklace to wear.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Flowers of the Night

Our final workshop in Houston was "Flowers of the Night" - a thread painting workshop with Nancy Prince. This was another great class. Firstly because Nancy is an excellent teacher and secondly because the class room assistant went out of her way to be helpful. All classes at Houston have a representative from the sponsoring sewing machine manufacturer, Elna in this case,  to help out with setup of the machines. The lady from Elna was like a ninja - as soon as you reached a point in the class where the foot on your machine needed changing, she magically appeared and sorted you out. 

The class project was  the  the central panel  on my finished piece. It used a variety of threads -  #30 silk for the stems and leaves, #40 rayon for the details on the flower and #100 silk for the central shading on the flower. There is a variation of this class on the The Quilt Show website, which covers the single flower design.  I had enjoyed the class so much, that I carried on to do the 2 side panels to get more practise at the technique.


I stipple quilted the panels using #100 black silk because I wanted the quilting to blend into the background. This proved to quite a challenge but I came to conclusion that if I couldn't see the stitches while I was quilting it, then anyone looking at the quilt was unlikely to spot any mistakes I made!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Painting with Needles

Our third workshop at Houston was Painting with Needles - Possibilities of Free Motion Quilting with Noriko Endo. The workshop was not quite what I expecting. I didn't think the painting was actually painting on the quilt. Don't get me wrong -  this is something I had been thinking of trying. I did have a go at painting but the classroom environment was a little cramped and I wasn't altogether satisified with the results.

Also the class was more of a design class than I expected. Design is not my strength so this was a little outside my comfort zone. We were asked to pick a motif and scale it up and down. I chose a cherry blossom, mainly because my mind went blank and Steph had a template we could use. I decided to take the opoprtunity to practise different stipple designs in as many colours as I could think of. When I finished the piece off at home, I again used the satin cord binding technique we had learned in the Stupendous Stitching class.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Feathered Dreams


 For our second workshop at Houston we decided to do something completely different. Neither of us had done longarm quilting before but fancied having a go. We booked ourselves onto the Feathered Dreams half day workshop with Linda Taylor. One of the things I enjoy about the workshops at Houston is getting a chance to work on different sewing machines - using a longarm quilting machine took that to another level. The class was really well organised. A template for the design was already done for each student - this was the bright green stitching. The longarms had stitch regulators so we didn't need to worry about getting the speed right - we just needed to steer. We had spent the first hour of the class practising drawing feathers of different types. It was up to us which feathers we did. I finished the background quilting on my domestic machine at  home and bound it with an orange satin cord. It's not square and the the feathers are not as smooth as I'd like but it was a great way to start. In fact I would be quite happy to repeat the workshop in the future.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Stupendous Stitching



Since the New Year, I have been finishing off workshop projects from my trip to Houston. On our first day Steph and I had booked ourselves onto Carol Ann Waugh's Stupendous Stitching class. We were wary of doing a class the day after a long haul flight but knew this class would be experimental and fun. The class followed a process of combining machine embroidery with hand embroidery. I find myself torn between the fun of machine embroidery and the meditative nature of hand embroidery, so this was something that satisfied both sides. The piece is finished by stitching rattail cord round the outside. It's a quick way to finish a piece and has a more contemporary effect than a standard binding. There is a video shoing how to do a Rattail Binding here. This class is available is available on Craftsy and I can recommend it to anyone who is interested


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day


I've been following the "Modern Piping" course on Craftsy and wanted an opportunity to practice piping royal icing. I needed an intricate line design, so a quilting pattern seemed a good idea and with Valentine's day just around the corner, it had to be a feathered heart. I found the design on the Quilt Rat blog.  The icing mix was  a little thick and like free motion quilting, it's going to take some pratice to improve. The family didn't complain though - I finished icing the cake on Sunday amd the last piece disappeared yesterday!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Harikuyo Festival

Today is Harikuyo - the Festival of Broken Needles. You can find the story of Harikuyo at PlaysWithNeedles.

The needles I treasure most are the hand made  needles I use for Japanese embroidery. Like all the other Japanese Embroiderers I know, I keep my needles in a piece of wool felt. I have spent a lot of time with these needles over the last year but nowhere near long enough to break any.

I thought about what I should post today because I don't normally blog about work in progress. I prefer to show completed items. But I thought I'd break my rules for once. So here is my second JE piece - Bouquet from the Heart of Japan.

I have been working on this since September. Life has been pretty busy over that time. With a business trip to India, a week at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and the mad preparations for Christmas, time has been freuently in short supply. The cold weather we had in January played havoc with skin and for a while I had to put my JE to one side because I could not keep my hands smooth enough. But I'm back on the path again.

As I'm showing my work in progress, I thought I would show another of my WIPs. This free-motion machine embroidery is put of a slightly larger piece which I am hoping to finish in a week or so.

The relationship I have with my sewing machine needles is a much more functional arrangement. I use good quality needles and replace them often. To store my broken needles safely, I use a plastic pot which originally held mini chocolate eggs.

When Graeme saw this picture, he asked my why I had taken a picture of a small dustbin!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Rivoli Medallion

This was the beaded birthday present I made just before Christmas for my friend Jo. Again I used  hand dyed satin cord and a magnetic clasp from Accent Bead. The pendant design is by Ann-marie Williams of The Bead Barn. I used a 14mm light turquoise rivoli, 3mm amethyst bicones and 3mm tahitian crystal pearls.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Hari-kuyo Needlebook

Over Christmas week I managed to find 30 minutes to finish off the Hari-kuyo Needlebook from Susan Elliott's online course. I almost had the needlebook finished at the end of November. It got put on hold because I had one more beaded birthday present to make and then the pre-Christmas rush hit.

Hari-kuyo is the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles where needleworkers lay their broken needles and pins to rest in gratitude for good service. To honour this tradition, the needlebook has a piece of felt inside the back cover especially for broken needles.

In Susan's design the ties are wrapped with thread and then with ribbon. I had used green and pink thread to finish the flowers at the end of the ties, so I used both thread colours to wrap and rather liked the effect. For now I I haven't added the ribbon wrapping but I may do it later. I made the labels by printing cotton lawn fabric, which I sewed into a tube.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Crystal Burst Pendant

This necklace was an early Christmas present for my friend Steph. In late October we were able to spend a week together at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and I had this ready to give to her. It was very difficult to photograph and this photo was the best I could manage. The large stone is Crystal Vitrail Medium and changes colour significantly in different lighting conditions. The pendant is based on the Crystal Burst design in "Creating Crystal Jewelry with Swarovski" by Laura McCabe. I used Swarovski bicones in Topaz (3mm) and Montana (4mm). The idea for this colour combination came from the Maple leaves in Hanazume. I was reluctant to embroider a blue Maple leaf but I did as I was told. When Hanazume was finished, I could see the balance created by the contrasting colours and even the framer commented on the colour combination. The necklace is an 8 strand Kumihimo braid using hand dyed satin cord  and a 6mm magnetic clasp, both from Accent Bead. I discovered Accent Bead on our previous trip to Houston and I stocked up on satin cords and clasps again on this visit.