Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lakeside landscape - Inspired by Teabreaks

Not an exact copy - but my interpretation. It is possible to blend colours when felting, and the hand-dyed fibres which I use, have an inherent gradation of colour. Even so, it is a little hard to duplicate exact colours. Mine has come out a little more 'yellowish' than the original. Having decided to stitch entirely in wools, and having only a limited palette of fine crewel wools, much of the embroidery has been in tapestry wools and this has resulted in a 'chunkier' effect than I intended. I hope Brenda won't mind the liberties which I have taken with her lovely design!

Stage 2 was this:

and my finished version (now listed at Esty):

and to remind you of Teabreaks lovely original (available at Etsy) :

Friday, 22 June 2012

'Stage 2' - Inspired by Teabreaks

I reached this stage yesterday, and hope to get some of the yarn snippets felted to the background later today. At present this looks a little like the first washes applied to a water colour work ( not that I know much about painting!) . The colours will intensify as the detail builds. I'm looking forward to the embroidery stage!


This is the latest hanging to be listed at Folksy - I hope you like it!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

An interpretation .....

..... of this beautiful little painting ( from Etsy Shop Teabreaks) will be the subject of a number of 'Work in Progress' blog posts. It was very difficult to choose one piece of work from a shop in which I find I like so many. I chose this one, because of the pretty colours and beautiful detail. I love walking beside water and the feeling of tranquility really emerges from this painting. Like many of the others from Gweddus Art, I can imagine myself within the fairytale landscape it portrays.

I have, of course, obtained the artist's permission, to produce a piece of embroidery based on this design and to feature the process on this blog.

I initially thought I would stitch a brooch, however, some of the pretty detail would have been lost in the 'miniaturisation' so, instead, I have decided upon a small wall hanging. The intention is to combine felting and embroidery. Here are the assembled materials - more will be added if necessary (this selection looks a little lacking in 'greens'):


In complete contrast:

This embroidered hanging (now listed at Folksy) has been adapted from a design in my daughter's sketchbook (again - I do have her permission!!!)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Heralding Fathers' Day

We have had rather a strange, and somewhat difficult week. My 18 year old son should have been taking 'A' level exams but has managed to catch chicken pox, and, since he has been pronounced to be infectious throughout his period of exams, is not able to sit his papers. His sister is working through her first year of GCSE's, has had chicken pox, as had her brother, and is hoping not to catch it again!

Having first seen the tell-tale rash beginning last Saturday, visited the doctor, and then trying to return to some sort of normality - whilst feeling a little disoriented, my daughter and I went shopping. Seeing all the Fathers' Day displays - but not observing the associated date, we panicked at the thought we were unprepared, bought a card ( and one on behalf of her quarantined brother), and some nice items for a special tea and felt pleased with ourselves that we had not overlooked the occasion. Not having time to listen to the radio, or TV, on Sunday, we went ahead and celebrated Fathers' Day. On Monday, I was a little surprised to see TV adverts for '' cards still being televised. Realising our mistake, I phoned my husband and just managed to get in, before he asked, with "no - you-re not having another one next week'. I thought I had shared the joke with both kids, but it seems my daughter only found out yesterday, when listening to local radio, on her way to help at cub camp. How she can blame me entirely, when she had remained unaware I'm not sure!

At the beginning of half term, my husband and I had decided to have a stroll along the canal at Llangollen. Only about 25 minutes away, it's a favourite destination for a gentle walk - more strenuous options are also definitely available! The purpose this time was to get my annual 'duckling fix'. I am a lover of most wildlife (including wildflowers!) and I'm not sure why ducklings (and goslings) hold such a complete fascination for me. They are just such little characters, and I love the way they communicate with mum and she with them. We saw three families. One with ten tiny babies, nervous and unwilling to leave the far bank of the canal. Another with eight small babies - a little more confident but there were too many dogs about, and they were too small to bob under confidently for the corn which I offered them ( which always sinks swiftly!). The third family was on the River Dee near the center of town, at a popular family spot, where the river flows quickly on the far side, and easily morphs into a torrent - which provides the white water sought by kayakers. Two of the ducklings were mottled brown - typical of malards. The other two were a lovely fluffy yellow, Jemima Puddleduck style, more like Aylesburys. They were about twice the size of the others we had seen but still small for such fierce water. Chased by two unsympathetic children, I hardly dared watch as they set off for the peace and quiet on the opposite bank. They did drift downstream quite a way but all made it safely!

At his time of year, 'Daddy' ducks tend to group with their male friends and often have nothing to do with their offspring. Fathers' Day isn't much fun for them I fear. I found this little group on the banks of the Dee at the Horseshoe Falls. Starting to moult but still very beautiful - I hadn't really looked at what I thought were the matt grey feathers on their backs before. They are no more a single drab gray colour, than the back of a barn owl is a boring beige (if you've seen the beauty of a barn owl close to you'll know what I mean). They also appreciated my corn. For some reason I am always nervous of being 'bitten' by ducks - daft since all they can to is pinch fairly firmly with blunt beaks!

I have shown you their beautiful home at the Horseshoe Falls before, but, just in case you missed it:


Two of my latest meadow embroideries to be listed at Folksy. The first, featuring cornflowers, is now sold!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Foxglove Hanging - Finished!!

This has taken a little longer than anticipated - I hope you like the result!

The daisies have been stitched, in a cotton yarn, their petals being formed from woven bars. The daisy centers are bullion knots in yellow crochet cotton, their leaves are crocheted in a fine 2-ply yarn. Details have been added to the foxglove flowers and leaves. Blue chicory flowers have been stitched in a mixture of blue cottons and embroidery threads. The chicory leaves have been cut from a hand dyed felt and held, slightly twisted into relief, by stitching in lime green crochet cotton.

Tiny blue speedwell flowers were added at the base of the hanging.

The finished piece will shortly be listed for sale at Folksy.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Foxglove Work in Progress - 'Stage 2'

Looking a little tidier now. The sky has been finished and some of the ends from the lower weaving have been threaded in and trimmed ( all trimmings saved for the embellisher machine - of course!). I have blanket stitched around three sides, onto a backing fabric, tidying the weaving ends from the 'sky' in the process. The lower edge  has been left open for the present in case I need to access the back of the weaving. The backing fabric will be folded out of sight when the piece is finished, but the weaving, particularly the sky portion, needed some stability before I could do any further stitching.

Two foxglove spikes are now taking shape, the buds, flower trumpets and leaves all being handknitted. They are pinned in place for the moment. I am finding it difficult to photograph this piece in my light tent - I will have to give some thought to the photography of the finished hanging. The apparent 'wavyness' of the lower part of the vertical edges is due to this part of the work being draped along the floor of the tent!

I intend to work on the area to the right of the foxgloves now. More texture into the 'hedgerow' first I think, and then decide which other wildflowers to include - I am tending towards some daisies and maybe some blue speedwell, which would just repeat the sky blue only in a darker shade, so as not to introduce too many colours.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Early Stages - a Work in Progress

Actually the very early stages, of my next piece of textile art. I took this photo this morning and have made a lot of progress since then. I almost hesitate to show you this in case you should think that there is little hope of it turning out 'OK'. I have had the benefit of seeing the next few stages though!

A larger scale hanging (a little bigger than 'A4'). I wanted to move away from felting the background since I wanted to try something with a 'chunkier' scale. I decided to weave the vegetation/hedge/lower portion of the hanging using a mixture of yarns and some fabric strips. This piece was then turned through  90 degrees, and a crocheted 'net' was added in a yarn shading through grays and sky blues - the crochet being worked into the edge of the weaving. At this point I had not attempted to neaten the weaving at all - having decided to use the ends as leaves. Trying to work out how to put some more solid colour into the sky, and wanting to do more than place a sky-coloured fabric behind it, I realised that the crocheted net would lend itself to more weaving. The photo shows a partially finished 'sky' with fabric strips being threaded through the crochet:

More tomorrow - it will look better - really!!!!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Badgers, Bats and Toads.

At exam time I tend to find myself having late evening walks with my son. It helps him (or so I think) to keep a balance with some fresh air and exercise in his life and helps us both ( well I know it helps me) to sleep. Our nearest point of entry to our local National Trust estate is only about half a mile away.

Closed to vehicles after a certain time in the evening, the estate is readily accessible to walkers and cyclists. Over the last week we had grown a little tired of our usual routes, even though on one occasion we had undertaken a prickly detour in order to collect dry holly leaves as tinder for my son's Scout Group who were due to have a backwoods cooking session ( this was last night and our entire house smells of wood smoke - even though his uniform is in the wash. Even the porch smells of smoke - purely attributable to the presence of his boots!).

I suggested that, for variety, we should visit a small wood on the far side of the estate. My son decided to cycle down, I drove to a car park nearer to the wood. Many years ago, before our now 18 year old son was born, my husband and I were members of the local National Trust volunteers group, working to help maintain the estate, with occasional tasks in the garden. We did not get involved with the somewhat tidier and less muddy folks in the house itself. One of our tasks had been to install and maintain a network of board-walks in a wooded wetland which had an SSSI designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest). A small wooded area with steep banks, planted as is much of the estate, with now mature beech trees. It was to this wood that we were headed and I was disappointed to find that although access to the main drive is now improved, and accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, the boardwalks have fallen into disrepair and the wetland is largely inaccessible. A common problem across the estate is the maturity of the beech trees. Having very dense timber, and being very shallow-rooted, they become a problem after 100 years or so and tend to cause much devastation to other nearby trees as they come crashing down. There were some examples of this in the wood and access was even more difficult as a result. Pathways, which, when maintained were covered in bark chippings, on which one could walk silently, are now buried under very crackly beech leaves and old beach nut cases. Coupled with the fact that we were pushing my son's bike and chatting quite loudly we were far from quiet.

Before my son was born we had spent a few evenings watching badgers in this woodland. The sets being sited on the steeply sloping banks above the wetland and beneath pasture land. The badgers usual route was out of their sets and up the bank - sitting quietly opposite to the sets we had been delighted on one occasion to have cubs within a couple of metres of our feet! We would arrive early enough to be installed before they came out - hoping to be down-wind - since there was only one position available to us and having taken care not to use perfumed toiletries of any sort. We always felt these preparations to be necessary.

There are many badger sets on the estate and my son was not too impressed at having to be shown yet another. Having clanked and crunched our way to the bottom of the bank I was just indicating the very large set, a little indistinct in the twilight, when a rustling and sliding took us by surprise and a small badger cub skidded down the bank and into the set. Probably about five or six metres from us! I was just bemoaning the fact that we had been making so much noise and explaining that we were unlikely to see anything more that evening, when a larger commotion ensued and a further flurry of black, white and grey descended in the same undignified way to the set. I was taken by surprise and the light was fading. There were certainly a further few cubs ( my son thought three) and one adult. They really are large animals close to! We were thrilled! We also found a bank populated by holes which we suspect belong to water voles and watched numerous bats (I wished I could identify them - there were at least three species) hunting above the water.

Worried that we were irresponsibly late during a prime study week - we made our way back to the car (the bike to hitch a lift home). Our progress was further delayed as my son rescued three toads and helped them across the lane. Concerned that we may have misunderstood their intentions and forced them to cross against their wishes, my son insisted on watching for a few moments to make sure they didn't reappear from the verge, traveling in the opposite direction.

It was not an early night for us - but a lovely shared experience. It seems likely that the set has been occupied for the entire intervening 19 or so years. I'm not sure how long an individual badger lives. I was wondering how many badger generations had passed in between and what the relationship of our family was to the cubs I had seen 19 years ago. It seemed a strange connection that I had brought my 'cub' back to see their descendants!


Recently listed examples of textile art ( the meadow hanging is now sold):