Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Hooked!!

There seems to be a renewed interest in crochet at the moment.  I had drifted away from it over the years, as it went into serious decline for various reasons.  I suppose there is a whole new generation of 'hookers' now, all striving to perfect their stitches.  The one technique I had not tried in depth is Irish crochet.  The little motif above was taken from an ANNA magazine, August 1990.  This is supposed to be used as a brooch, but I can see it's potential as a dimensional addition to a tablemat.

The little grapes are fiddly to do, and are supposed to be 'filled' with wooden beads, but I've just pushed some fibrefill into them, as having used white thread, most wooden beads would be a little unsightly in my opinion.  All of the work has been done using #20 cotton.

Another motif I wanted to try entailed making mountains of loops which formed a frilly effect.  The instructions for this flower are in a Dover publication I bought years ago.  I didn't follow the instructions completely because they leave a lot to be desired.  After a general perusal of them, I went off and did a Frank Sinatra!!

I hope this photograph gives you an idea of the thickness of the work.  I'd like to try this 'flower' in a much finer thread, and perhaps use it with picot joining meshwork.  I think it reminds me of an aster.

Another type of lacework which I've become interested in uses a form of crochet tape.  The lengths of tape are made and fashioned into designs for leaves, flowers etc.  It is commonly known as Romanian Point Lace, or as ANNA calls it Macramé crochet lace.  It took me quite a while to work out exactly how to do the tape, ie where to put the hook through the correct two loops.  I can now say I'm totally hooked on making this tape, and can see it's use in other forms of textile work.  One really has no need to buy braid, just find an appropriate thread/yarn in your stash, and away you go.  It curves beautifully, and after forming petals and leaves, you fill the voided areas with lacework stitching.  I've again used #20 crochet thread, and apologize if it's a little small to see well.   I will play a little more with this and post some work in due course, but I now have to get myself back into my hardanger.  It won't get done doing this!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Penny has dropped!

Last year I worked on an online computer program, but unfortunately, didn't spend enough time with it, and declared myself a failure.  With the help and encouragement of a fellow blogger and friend, Shirley I managed to find my feet a little with the GIMP program, as well as a more in depth look at my ADOBE PSE program.  I was reasonably happy with actual photo alteration, but just didn't seem to grasp brushes, tools, gradients, etc.  The first image above was some mishmash I 'created' in GIMP, saved and then reworked using a trial download from this site:  I did purchase the kaleidoscope program, but this one is slightly different, ie it 'melts' sections of your image.  It's great fun, not everything it does is to my liking, but I think it's worth the small charge to 'own' it.  The second image is as it came from GIMP, and I'm sorry but I didn't catalogue my choices.

Continuing on the purple theme, I'll share this image, which is one of the first I did after the penny had dropped!!   I have used only very basic gradients, brushes and filters with this.

I then moved it to another program and added some depth to it, which I think improves it a tad.

And for those who like kaleidoscopes, I thought this one worthy of inclusion - quite dramatic when looked at in a different way!!

I suppose I'd better include something that isn't purple.  After all, I can't say it's my favourite colour, but sometimes I seem to go it more often than others!!  This one is a little more sedate, and still uses just basic brushes, etc.

I took the image to the liquidizing program, where you have the option to use a little 'comb'.  It made a lovely piece of marbling, another technique I've tried, albeit in a small way.

Thank you for looking. I hope these computer generated images stir creative juices in some.  I am still learning, and indeed feel I have a long way to go, but this is really interesting, so I wanted to share a few of my efforts.  I am fascinated by technology, and feel excited at the prospect of what more is in store for us, be it good, bad or otherwise......... 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beauty or Beast????

It has been quite a while now since the January floods, and I don't mean to open old wounds.  I've had this photograph for quite a while and really wanted to share it with everyone.  It was taken by a friend of mine, as she was flown around the district by helicopter.  Even though it reminds me of so much destruction, I can't help but see the beauty in it.  This is a bird's eye view of the river country on the property where we live [and neighbouring properties as well].  You cannot see the property houses, they are hidden by a dark tree line just in from the left side of the frame [the photograph was taken in fading light].  The building you can see is one of the neighbouring property sheds.  The house is also there, hidden by trees.  They are approximately six kilometres from us as the crow flies.  I hope you can see how the river meanders sharply on it's journey - the 'river proper' is rather insignificant when compared to 'the overflow'!!  We are going to have this made up into a larger photograph and framed to remind us that when it rains, well, it pours.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

I'm a little behind with blogging this week.  I am not sure where the week has gone actually.  I have nothing in the stitching line to share with readers, but wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Easter.  It is always a quiet time for us, as we very rarely go anywhere - the roads are just too busy and too dangerous.  We had planned to do a little fishing in the lagoons, but after last weekend's rain, everything is so sticky and messy.  Buying fish seemed to be the more sensible option.

Thank you again to all who find my ramblings of interest, and care to share some of my comings and goings.  

HAPPY EASTER one and all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Déjà vu

Well, everyone, I don't like to revisit projects if at all possible, and you have all seen the giant quilt before, so why again you ask.  It has been professionally quilted, and is now bound, ready for it's ultimate purpose.   I will only show you small snippets of the quilt this time so you can see the beautiful all-over quilting pattern.  Actually, the back of the quilt isn't half bad - I'm thrilled with it actually.

Thankfully, I had just enough of the beige toned star fabric for a nice width binding.  This quilt is now going to be a gift to one of our members whose home was inundated by flood water during the January floods.  

My main purpose for posting this is to publicly thank the lady who did the quilting.  She was most generous with her time, and did this for our group free of charge, which I might add was a considerable saving to us.  Thank you so much Kathy!!

You can see her website here:

We are hoping to present this quilt tomorrow at our monthly get together.  I cannot thank Kathy Adams enough for turning this hatched and patched quilt top into something so nice.  The straight line design she used is just beautiful. I feel it will be a tangible reminder of the friendship that endures between the ladies in our group. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Magazine Projects

I have been clearing out some photographs, and found these pulled thread projects I did a few years ago, which were published in our Australian magazine, Embroidery & Cross Stitch.  I made a large table centre and two small side table mats using the same design.  These were done for my daughter in law.  Most of you will recognize the technique as pulled thread, as opposed to 'drawn' thread. 

Pulled thread work requires the stitches to be worked firmly in order to pull together the threads in the fabric.  It's an extremely sturdy form of counted work I feel, despite it's open appearance.

The large mat design was based on the favourite nine patch setting used by patchwork enthusiasts, as you can see in this shot.  This mat was approximately 35cm square, with just about all of it stitched, ie very little background fabric is evident.  

The fabric I used was Permin 'Cherub' 28ct linen, with the stitching done using two strands of my favourite DMC pink #225.  Unfortunately, I don't have a computer graphing program, and my hand drawn graphs weren't quite as nice 'in print' as I'd hoped.  I feel they are quite clear, but one does need very high resolution images to submit to magazines.  It's a long time from sending in your work, to having it appear in print, to finally having your work returned.  I don't think I'd bother with it again, I'm rather possessive of my projects and don't like them being away with 'strangers' for so long..........


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Country Drive

I had another day show judging this week.  It was a long drive for me, almost a 300km trip!!  I had a delightful time and saw some very nice stitching.  The day started off really well for me, as I saw this Bustard as I was driving out of the property.  They are curious creatures, wandering around the paddocks.  Sometimes they are in larger flocks, other times, just the pair.  The quality of this photo is awful, as I had to zoom in really well, even using the digital zoom, which makes it a little on the 'grainy' side.  

The town I travelled to is called Wandoan.  It really isn't a thriving town at the moment, but I believe in time that will change, as the coal seam gas companies move in and take what they want.  I also understand that in the future it will be home to one of the largest open cut mines in Australia.  One thing that is mined between the town of Miles and Wandoan is Bentonite - a white pastey clay, used in all sorts of things from agricultural applications to cosmetic formulations.  Another feature that is common to most towns in our area are these large concrete grain silos.  They are the first hint that you have almost reached your destination, and a symbol that this is also grain cropping country.

To travel from here to Wandoan is to drive in a northerly direction, and believe it or not, one crosses the Great Dividing Range, albeit a rather insignificant 'range'.  But, it does mean a total switcheroo on where the rainfall run-off ends up.  On this side, it eventually flows into the Murray/Darling system, but on the 'other side' it goes to the Burnett system, and out to sea at Bundaberg.  A little further north is another small range, and that water flows to the Fitzroy system [a catchment second in area only to the great Murray/Darling system].

All of this land was discovered by the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, and one can only wonder at his amazement when he happened across such wonderful grazing country.  I have heard it said that rugby is the game played in heaven.  Well, I believe it's possibly played somewhere in these fields.  To me, this is God's own country - beautiful rolling hills with excellent natural pastures.  I sincerely hope that when the mining/energy companies are finished with the land, they restore it to it's natural state!!  Perhaps I'd better hop off my soapbox now.

I often have the opportunity to check out some of the exhibitors at these shows, and this year was happy to find a lady with lovely handmade soaps.  She lives further to the west, and all of her wares were so beautifully presented.  I couldn't resist buying just a couple things.  You can see her products here: 

I hope some readers find this post interesting.  It was a difficult day for taking photographs, with intermittent showers, not to mention the feeling of being 'rushed'.  I didn't want to dally too long, as I hate arriving home in heavy rain.   

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pay it forward [at last!]

I've finally organized myself to continue with this little bit of blogging fun.  The above photograph will show the three gifts I have to share.  There will be the multi-coloured hardanger bookmark, the cream/maroon pincushion, and a little scissors with beaded tassel, plus some hand-dyed perlé thread.

If you would like to receive one of these gifts from me, and are prepared to continue the pay-it-forward fun, then by all means, leave a comment.  

This is NOT a random draw, the first three people to comment will show their willingness to participate.  

I am sorry to those who have organized this, as I've been a while with my offer, but I did want to have something 'special' before I continued with it.

I am still stitching away on my blue hardanger.  I think I've finally found a source for wide navy linen, which I want to make into a tablecloth and napkins for my DIL.  This, and the long hardanger table runner will hopefully be her most prized napery in time to come.........LOL..........

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Question of Vintage

Okay, I am the first to admit I know very little about 'vintage textiles', so I am sharing a small sample of fabrics I have in my stash.  These pieces came into my possession after my MIL passed away.   I have more, lots of plain fabrics, stripes, etc, but I thought I'd ask about these few.  The piece[s] above is a fine cotton, what I'd call blouse weight.  One length is 2.6m the other 1.7m approx.  All fabrics have been washed and ironed prior to storage here.  

I'm quite at a loss about this one.  It feels 'polished' and is quite fine, similar to Liberty.  The colour on my monitor seems a little darker than it actually is.  There is approx. 4m in this piece.

Then I found a plain cotton that matches perfectly with the blue/orange, and again there is almost 4m in it.  Actually, I have quite a number of plain pieces with a similar weave to this plain.

I put this one in too because it's so 'fresh' looking.  There isn't much of it, not quite one metre.  Again, it's a firmly woven cotton.  In case you can't see it, the white spots are outlined with navy blue.  I often think this would look cute made into a child's romper.

This one is very busy, but again I thought it interesting, as it has the green/navy combination.  It measures almost 2 metres, with one small stain not far from one end and close to the selvedge.  All fabrics are around 89-90cm in width.

I have no idea when these pieces would have been purchased, as my MIL didn't have an inventory as such.  I do remember being told that she had pieces she purchased with coupons during WWII.  Perhaps some who are experienced in these matters might care to give an opinion.  

I am not averse to sharing these fabrics, so if anyone is interested, please email me and we may be able to come to some arrangement.

I hope readers enjoy seeing a little of my stash.  I dare not share everything, I have been a fabricaholic for many years, and keep accumulating more somehow!!

Thanks for the birthday wishes.  I too, am looking forward to another year.

Friday, April 8, 2011

One Year Already!!

I realized late yesterday that my blog is now one year old.  Goodness, where did those 365 days go??  I won't make a big deal out of it, but will say a quick thank you to all those who have helped and supported me during this time, it's been fun.  I've learnt so much about my computer and camera, not to mention stitching, but most importantly, the friendships I've made because of my involvement in the blogging community are by far the most important aspect of this pastime.  I will share something with readers just for a laugh.  I have been a stitch addict for all of my adult life, and have never missed the opportunity to buy books on the subject, so the following photographs will show my collection of Stitch Dictionaries [some have a more varied content].  These are by no means the end to my obsession, I have many more 'stitch specific' publications, but I doubt Blogger, or you would want to see them all..............

These two were the earliest in my collection.  The smaller one is by Barbara Snook, the larger the Golden Hands Encyclopaedia of Embroidery, opened at the page which shows one of my favourite stitches, Sorbello Stitch.

I think these were the next addition to the bookshelf, both purchased from various 'sale tables' in the early days.  Both have been well used.

Some time later came this collection of Anchor books.  They are small and easy to take with to stitching days, and are all well written and illustrated.  The Judith Baker-Montano 'Elegant Stitches' is a great source of reference for stitch combinations used in crazy patchwork.

Somewhere in between I managed to source these Mary Thomas books, the older one scooped up for me by a very kind friend [an eBay purchase].  Again, these books are two of my favourites, and a go-to when in doubt.

I hope you enjoy seeing some of the books that have made my stitching journey so enjoyable.  Books are a part of my needlework life, and I have special memories associated with many of them. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Small Project

I'm still trying to get my three small projects ready, and have just finished #2.  I've been wanting to try a stitch I'd seen online [last year!!], so thought this might be something small I could work on.  This little pincushion will be one of my little gifts very soon.  The centre area is the stitch I'd been wanting to try, and is called Chiaramonte Stitch.  I first saw it here:-

For those of you who like counted work, and like this stitch, please  make time to try it, you won't be disappointed.   The instructions are very clear, and it works up really quickly.  I applaud these people for the wealth of information on their site, free for all to share.  I hope I am not breaking any rules by copying the pattern, as I'm only making this little trial for gift giving.

I hope this photograph shows just how pretty the stitch looks.  It's simply a matter of making a cut/woven grid from the background linen, and then weaving the little ovals to form flowers.  I have used #8 perlé thread for the woven work.  The sample on the website seems to be a little finer than mine, but I quite like the 'chunky' look. 

I needed a little something to increase the size of the project, so worked out this little woven 'flower' for myself.  Perhaps it's been done before, I just don't have the time to go searching for it.  I have included my crude drawing if anyone is interested in making it.  If I am not the first to fashion this woven/counted flower, then I most sincerely apologize to the person who has also done this. 

The piping, lining and backing have been made from a maroon woven silk.  The maroon seemed to look quite nice under the woven square.

I am still doing my hardanger, but I want to get these little things done, and actually, finishing a small project here and there helps keep me motivated on the big project.