Saturday, 31 December 2016

Red and Gold Christmas Tree

My wish to have a red and gold Christmas tree was granted this year by our resident elves, Jen and Christina. The ornaments they selected included named tree stockings made by my friend Steph. Each year Steph comes up with a new design, sending them to numerous friends and family. Each stocking is filled with chocolates and candy. It's great undertaking as the number of stockings has grown significantly over the years. This years delivery were a set of cute snowmen with a lopsided hat.  You can read about her stocking production line on her blog.

The next set of ornaments are the Spellbound bead designs I've made up. This one is the Art Deco bauble.

This is the Net and Tassle bauble.I have a bit of a love and hate relationship with this particular bauble. I struggled to get a good fit on the net. As a result this bauble has a definite front and back because a piece of the red coating came off in the process.

Finally there is this red blob of beads, which I think is called Sputnik.

The reason I wanted a red and gold tree this tear was for this small redwork felt star I made last Christmas from "Stitched With Love" by Mandy Shaw.

The small star was one of a trio and over the Christmas period I also completed the medium and large stars to go with it.

Graeme also came up with some decoration ideas to make using with his CNC router. These reindeer were very cute and went down a storm with the friends who received them.

We still have 2 from the herd and Graeme found a the perfect place to display them.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pont Neuf Scarf

I've finished off my latest TV project, the Pont Neuf scarf from issue 97 of the Knitter, designed by Katya Frankel. The yarn is a yummy alpaca and silk mix, Steph brought over from New Zealand earlier in the year. It's a mostly regular  yarn with just the odd slub to add interest, which worked well with the cable pattern.

The shape is an elongated asymmetric triangle with some clever but simple shaping. It's lovely and cozy and as the weather is starting to get colder now, it won't be long before I'm wearing it. Not quite yet though, because I have last dose of sunshine coming next week, when I head off the International Quilt Festival in Houston :-)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Gold Chrysanthemum Brooch

I made another chrysanthemum brooch for a friend's birthday. The pattern is from Bead Metamorphosis by Lisa Kan. I love the design  but the daggers and rizo beads still move a bit more than I would like. I'm planning to make another one soon so I'll have to see if I can find a way to firm them up.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Peacock Mat

Two years after I started it, the Peacock mat, my Phase 4 Japanese Embroidery piece, is finished. For a large portion of the time this has been a background work in progress project and a fair chunk has been done while demonstrating at craft fairs.

A wide range of beads were used in this design. Seeing it come to life as each different colour was added, was very rewarding. The kit came only with a design sheet and a picture of the finished mat, so some judgement was needed when deciding which beads to put where. This means that every version of the design will be slightly different and personal to the embroiderer who worked on it.

If I was making it up into a mat I would need to add tassels on the corner but I think I will probably get it framed.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Shibori Silk Style

When I go to the Houston Quilt Festival I meet up with my sewing friend, Steph, who now lives in New Zealand. We get to spend a whole week together doing the things we enjoy without dragging bored families behind us. Our last visit to Houston Quilt Festival was in 2014 and as usual the workshops played a big role. The first workshop of the week was a 2 day class called Shibori Silk Style. The first day was spent shibori dyeing with  Glennis Dolce, and the second day was spent sewing together a jacket using our dyed fabrics with Katrina Walker. When we arrived at the class we each had a package of beautiful kimonos all ready for us to dye. As soon as I saw this package, I knew it was going to be a fun day.

We used different techniques on each piece of silk. This piece of silk chiffon was wrapped around a pipe with string and gathered up. The result reminds me of a Doctor Who monster.

This silk damask was already interesting, so it was simply dyed, bringing out the detail of the embossed design.

I can't remember what this fabric was but I think I scrunched in a ball and let it float around in the dye bath.

This was my favourite piece. The long strips of silk were folded concertina style and clamped between 2 perspex circles. Of course there are names for the all the techniques. But I'm afraid I was too busy getting on and having a go to take notes.

The mandala on this piece of silk was created by circles of running stitch and tightening it up around a broom handle. This was to be the centerpiece on the back of the jacket.

The last piece of fabric was a simple piece of cotton. I think I just folded this and dipped the edges in the dye bath. I love the unexpected images that appear. I can see a dog's face on the right side of this fabric.

A washing line was setup in the corridor outside the classroom so we could peg out our strips to dry.  There were 2 large dye baths at the front of the class, one dark and one light. I chose to use the lighter bath for all my strips

 At the end of the first day, we found the indigo dye was coming off on our hands so we did a rinsing session in our hotel room. We made sure we cleaned up after ourselves. I won't say which hotel it was in because we'd quite like to stay there again some time.

Here's the full set of dyed fabric ready for the second day of the workshop, sewing up the jacket with Katrina. Dressmaking is something I'd like to do more of but I haven't really got to grips with it yet. Fortunately the design for the jacket was fairly simple. French seams were used to construct the back and front pieces. Katrina then helped us all fit the jackets at our shoulders. After that it was just a matter of sewing up the shoulder and side seams. The silk chiffon strip should have ended up as a scarf but I wasn't able to finish the edges without damaging the fabric. Perhaps I should have taken better notes.

Steph and I are heading back to Houston this year. The hotel, flights and workshops are all booked. All we need to do now is organise the workshop supplies.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Cake

Jen had a fair amount of time on her hands while she waiting for her A level results, so she went all out on Christina's birthday cake. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is another popular TV show in our house, so Jen chose this as a theme. The front of the cake shows the S.H.I.E.L.D logo mounted on a brick wall. Jen achieved the brick effect using an embossing tool and then painstakingly brushed black colour dust in the cracks. The back of the cake shows the Hydra logo which has infiltrated  the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation. I thought the reveal effect worked very well. An added bonus was the shadow created by the torn edges of the icing - to me it looks like limbs of the Hydra logo reaching out of the cake.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Feeling proud .....

I'm a very proud mother, so you'll have to excuse this rather self-indulgent post. Last Thursday the months of anxious waiting were finally over and Jen received her A-level results. It was a fantastic set of results and included a well deserved A* in Graphics. Final exams in arts A-level subjects compose of a project which will run over a couple of months. So we had seen Jen's exam project as it developed and knew that she had done a pretty special piece of work. But as we're her parents, we may be a little bit biased. 

Jen's exam project was to develop the brand for Kiln Inn, a fictional chain of hotels, designing posters and other branded items. In Jen interpretation of the brief, Kiln Inn included stylish hotels in secluded locations. The logo was a stylised mountain range, with echoes of a facets on a gem stone.

At point I should say that I'm not only a proud mother but also a proud wife. Over the last 18 months Graeme has designed and built a CNC router from scratch in our garage. He managed to get his machine to a working state just in time to produce some of the branded ideas Jen had come up with. These items were a tray showing the logo, door numbers and key rings. Jen produced the design files and Graeme's machine carved the design into the wood. Considering Graeme had only cut a couple of items on his machine before this, the results were stunning.

I was able to help out in a  small way as well. Jen designed a image that could be engraved on a tall glass. I used the image file to cut a vinyl stencil using my Silhouette Cameo.

Then Jen stuck the stencils on a pair of glasses and applied Amor Etch. The Amor Etch has to be rinsed carefully after ten minutes, giving a subtle but effective result.

The best way to photograph etched items is to fill the glass with black tissue paper. Unfortunately we didn't know that when these phots were taken.

To produce branded toiletries bottles, Jen repurposed bottles we had previously collected from Center Parcs.

Bringing it altogether, it certainly looked like a hotel I would like to stay at. With A levels out of the way, Jen will head off to Nottingham at the end of next month to study Architecture. It will be strange not to have her around but I am excited that she is able to take this fantastic opportunity.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Sewing Machine Cake

I challenged my daughter, Jen, to make a sewing machine cake for my friend, Steph's birthday. Steph is my sewing partner in crime. A couple of years ago Steph bought a Singer featherweight, so this was the obvious choice. Jen has never seen a Singer Featherweight so she had to look up some images on the internet to use as a guide. It's interesting to see what details she picked out.

When she made this cake, Jen was in a lull between finishing her graphics A level exam at the end of April and start of her remaining exams in June. So she had some time but not too much. I suspect given the opportunity she would have added a foot but the cocktail stick needle did add some structural support.

I was pleased that used this cake as an opportunity to try out some new techniques, such as the quilting round the side of the base cake. The roses were made a special rose cutter which she had been keen to try. The sewing machine itself was made using rice krispie and marshmallow technique she used the camera cake and the "Owl I want for Christmas" cake. It was so pretty to look at, it was 3 days before we could bring ourselves to start eating it.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Chrysanthemum Brooch

I made this brooch as a present for my friend, Steph's birthday. The design is from "Bead Metamorphosis" by Lisa Kan. The rivoli is Crystal Volcano. I also used bronze daggers beads  and purple iris gold rizo beads. The design of the back of this brooch cleverly incorporates the brooch pin. It took me a while to find the round brooch back the design required, but it was worth the effort. I found the daggers in the completed brooch were a bit too loose, which may have been my tension. To get around this I built up an extra couple of peyote rings behind the daggers to stop them getting pushed back.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

TV Projects

I almost called this post "So That's Where I Put It!". Earlier this year a couple of blogs I read have shown Anne's Orchard bead embroidery kits. I knew I had done one but I couldn't remember where it was. Then last month my friend Steph visited and brought 2 yummy balls of alpaca and silk yarn from NZ. When I put the yarn in my TV project bag, I found where my beaded fox had been lurking. Like most crafters I don't like watching TV without keeping my hands busy. My TV projects are usually knitting or cross-stitch but can be anything that doesn't require too much concentration.


This wasn't technically a TV project because I sat at a table to do the fox and only finished the background in front of the of the telly. But like many of my TV projects, unless it's done for a specific purpose, when it's finished it just gets left in the bag. It was a really fun project to do and I would recommend the kits.

This cross-stitch design is the Orangery at Dunham Massey Hall, a National Trust property near my parents. I bought the kit 10 years ago and it was on the go a fair amount of that time. I'm dreading taking those drawing pins out because I know they've rusted.

This bookmark is in better condition. It's the Sulu Islands Sash Panel from Travellers Tales. I remember starting this on holiday 2 years ago, but I bought the kit quite a while before that. 

 Finally here's the TV project bag itself. The pattern is Gracie from Lazy Girl Designs. Considering it's 10 years old I think's lasting quite well.