Saturday, 17 July 2010

Work in Progress - Embroidered Cuff

This will be an on-going post for as long as it takes - probably at least two days. Extracts are being posted on the Folksy Forum.

The back ground for the cuff will be hand made felt - produced by the wet felting method. This was the subject of an earlier blog post so please forgive the repetition.

-  On draining board lay out: rafia mat, bubble wrap, layer of net, then first layer of wool fibres (horizontally), next layer of fibres ( mainly wool - introducing colours) vertically, next layer (some silk and mohair 'spot' colours) horizontally, final layer of fibre (wool - random dyed in this case, also, in this case, with no 'skyline' same colour throughout), top layer of net.

-  Gently soak with cold water - keeping layers in place.

-  Pour on boiling water, sprinkle dilute washing up liquid over, rub gently with fingers (careful of heat - rubber gloves help).

-  Turn over 'net sandwich' so that first layers of fibre are uppermost. Repeat previous stage.

-  Turn sandwich back over. Pour on cold water, then more very hot.

-  Roll rafia mat - swiss roll effect with bubble wrap and net sandwich as filling.

- Roll mat back and two over textured surface of draining board.

- Un-roll. Gently ease off top layer of net to release fibres. Replace. Turn sandwich. Gently remove other layer of net.

- I tend to produce thin layers of felt which I 'bond' to a backing fabric with stitching. At this stage my fibres may be adequately felted. If not repeat soaking, soaping, rolling. Gently rinse by pouring cool water over net sandwich.

- When felted pat net sandwich dry between layers of towel. Gently release felt from net and dry flat out of direct light and heat.


( A few hours later)

The felt has now dried and I've trimmed it to what I hope will be the right size.  I've decided that this first cuff will feature the daisy design which has been quite popular and which I am now comfortable with stitching. 

When making my brooches, and pendants, I stitch the felt to a backing fabric - first catching it in place round the edge and then continuing to stitch rows of 'stabilising' stitches over the surface. Threads are chosen, either to blend with the felt, or to provide an element of the embroidered design (waves on the sea, stems of plants etc). The backing fabric I use is stretchy, loosely knitted (allows for the passage of a crewel needle with ribbon or thick threads), and can be easily gathered round the 'former' (bottle top etc) once the embroidery is complete. I back the design with felt and frame the design (and neaten the edge) with complimentary yarn couched in place.

The structure of a cuff needs to be slightly different. I have assembled the following and the first one will be trial and error  (please be sympathetic if it ends in failure).

In the foreground the piece of felt. Then :

-  I have often used fleece fabric for backing. The surface holds the felt in place easily. Will it be too thick for a cuff?

-  The mohair yarn (centre) is a brilliant match for the felt. Might frame the design - shouldn't protrude over the edge - might 'tickle'. The other yarn might be better against finished design. I'll decide after embroidery.

- Cuff could be backed in felt - would then be fully hand stitched, or in a cotton print (perhaps not the one shown) in which case I might machine it round the inside of the interfacing and then apply the embroidery on top.  I think I shall try this - it might make the design more durable and comfortable. 

- I could couch the yarn in place I like the appearance this gives - but would it be durable for a cuff - don't want it to pluck. Could place couching stitches closer together than usual. Could crochet an edging in the yarn and then stitch in place - I'll decide later.

- Need to choose best weight of interfacing, or perhaps a felt which I sometimes use as batting (not shown). I don't want it too thick, nor too stiff but I think the  cuff should have some shape independantly of the wearer.

Quite enough musing for now. I shall complete the embroidery, back the interfacing and then get back to you (if you can cope with any more).


I have now stitched the felt to the backing fabric. Yes, I know the purple backing looks odd - it won't be visible in the finished item. Green mad the green in the felt too intense and cream 'shone' conspicuously through any small gaps. Purple seems a strange choice and yet it produced the effect I wanted on the felted part. ( Sorry about poor quality photo. I missed the end of the decent daylight whilst driving 8 miles to school to collect daughter only to find she is stationary on the M6. I could have left it until tomorrow but I wanted to carry on stitching).

Sunday (7pm)

13 Year old only returned to school, from France, at 11.15pm yesterday (problems with the M6). We're all tired today. Cherries need picking and stoning (done about half), and red and black currants need picking and freezing, also had to do a mega shop. Have yet to see daughter's photos! 

Anyway - enough excuses. I have embroidered the daisies on about half of the cuff. French knots, to suggest buds and distant flowers have been embroidered down the entire length. I have been pleased to discover that the embroidery and 'background stitching' have made the work much firmer. I no longer think that interfacing will be necessary and now think that I will choose to back the cuff with felt.

Monday (3.40pm)

I have now finished the embroidery, trimmed the backing fabric slightly and blanket stitched a felt lining to the backing fabric.

The remaining tasks are the fixing of a button, construction of closure loop and couching yarn round the embroidery to frame the design -Nearly there!

Tuesday (11 am)

Its finished!


Friday, 16 July 2010

Bluebells - Folksy Friday No. 19

My latest pendant features bluebells, embroidered in silk ribbon. I don't include images of my own work in Folksy Friday (you'll see it in my shop if you're interested). Just look at the other lovely bluebells which I found in Folksy. Just click on any image to view the item in its Folksy shop.


An Eye for Nature

Passionate About Photography

Sew Lovely


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Have we any more biscuits?

...... enquired a peeved voice out of my mobile.

We spent last week  end at Delamere Forest. My 16 year old, and, on Saturday, two of his mates, were cycling on the four cross track (large dirt jumps off the top of which they launch themselves and bikes into the air). I, usually, can't bear to watch, and our son was nursing an injury from the previous week. Fortunately, we returned both the others to their parents unscathed (apart from one slightly damaged bike), but it is always a worry. I worry if I don't hear from him and quake with nerves when the mobile does ring.

I didn't know whether to get cross that he was wasting a call, asking about biscuits, or be relieved that he was fit and well and able to do so.  'What have you done with the others?' I asked. Now this was a daft question since our son is perfectly capable of eating a packet on his own and he was being 'supervised' (I use the term very loosely) by his father. Once before when Dad supervised, I had stayed at home and the dreaded phone call was a plea to help rescue Dad, who had a broken nose and other facial injuries, sustained whilst 'supervising'.

I was assured that they had only eaten a couple. And the rest? Apparently scoffed by a large crow who, having watched them intently, waited 'til son was on his way down the track again, and Dad was poised with camera, and had then worked his way into abandoned rucksack and flown off with entire packet. (or so I'm told!). Why is it always my son who is picked on by local wildlife (see squirrel story of post 'Duck, duck....' 17th June ).

And my part in this week-end? Provider of meals, snacks, tent and bedding, dry clothes and the unwelcome (but absolutely insisted upon) towel and shower gel. I did get chance to sew a little and took some pics. Dad got some good ones of son. He can't be recognised through full helmet and I would like to show you both thistle studies and son. Unfortunately, husband is going through an inconvenient phase of requiring HIS camera during working hours. Hopefully I might be able to retrieve files from his laptop later.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Alluring Amethyst!

My final gemstone feature blog of this series, is a stone more people will be familiar with and love for its vibrant and sumptuous colour of purple! Wonderful, Amazing Amethyst!

Amethyst has been a favourite of the rich, royalty, the clergy and those who believe in mystical and healing properties of stones.

It is one of the most beautiful forms of quartz and can range from pale mauve and lilac through to deep and vibrant purple. It has a moh hardness of 7, so quite a durable stone and can happily be facetted or smoothly polished and in cabochon form, all equally beautiful.

Amethyst can be found throughout the world, a lot of the amethyst we find in our jewellery today will usually come from the western hemisphere such as Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Ontario, Vera Cruz, Mexico, Guerrero, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

It is traditionally the birthstone for February and the Zodiac stone for Pisces.

Ancient Egyptians used the amethyst guard against guilty and fearful feelings. It has been worn as protection from self-deception, as well as a protection against witchcraft, which may be one of the reasons why amethyst was adopted by the Christian clergy. It is known as the Bishop's Stone and is still worn by Catholic Bishops. The amethyst symbolizes piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom.

Amethyst was also believed to encourage celibacy, which is another reason why it was used by the Catholic clergy in particular, which for some may seem at odds to it passionate purple colour, and for that reason it is often given as a gift of love!

Ancient Greeks loved Amethyst too, the word ‘amethyst’ comes from the Greek meaning "without drunkenness" and there is a story that the goddess Diana turned a nymph lady into an amethyst out of jealousy because she was loved by  Bacchus, the god of wine.  Bacchus, in despair, then poured wine over the statue, and the stone turned a purple colour!

Therefore, this story of Bacchus and amethyst may have got intertwined, and amethyst was believed to guard against drunkenness and instil a sober mind! Having worn amethyst myself, when I have been indulging, I can’t honestly say it worked for me! LOL!

For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones, Amethyst is believed to be a cleansing stone, particularly effective for problems in the blood and breathing problems, alleviating bone issues. It is believed to strengthen both the endocrine and immune systems and to aid the pituitary gland and to be a powerful blood cleaner and energiser.

It is also said to be a calming stone, relieving stress and creating a calmer atmosphere, some people will have amethyst cluster geodes as ornamental decoration, not just for the beauty of the items, but also to keep a happy and calm atmosphere in the home!

I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of amethyst, I just adore this gemstone for its lovely purple tones and I am not the only one, I found so many amethyst items to choose from to feature in this blog.

If you would like a closer look at the wonderful items featured, please click on the pictures to be transported to their locations in their particular Folksy shops. Thank you for indulging my love of gemstones.


Very many thanks to Natalie of NOfkants Curios for her final blog in the series on gemstones. I have found all of them fascinating and have very much enjoyed seeing Natalie's Folksy finds.

Friday, 9 July 2010

DIY - Folksy Friday No.18

So many clever people sell patterns which enable us to re-create their designs. I hope you like my selection. Click on any item to view it in its Folksy shop.


periwinkle park

Oliver Boliver


fluff and fuzz

Bags of Inspiration

Lynne's Pattern Parlour


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fused fabric backgrounds......

..... for my floral embroideries.

My brooches are embroidered on appliqueed or hand-felted backgrounds.

Either is suitable for a brooch but  I wanted something more durable for other items. I have been knitting, and sometimes felting, background panels for knitted items. These are great for knitted purses, gadget cosies etc , but are too thick and 'clumsy' for the embroidered panels which I wanted to produce for some fabric items. I had not thought of a solution - until I was looking for some lace pieces. They were stored in a box decorated with a laminated design, made some years ago, produced from layered tissue paper. Eureka!

I had been collecting some sheer fabrics with the intention of experimenting with some fusing techniques. Now was my chance. I assembled everything and tried laying out the 'sandwich' which I hoped would give the effect that I wanted. Not bad - but the effect was 'dulled' by the top layer of protective organza. It also lacked any sense of texture. The answer - to reach for the box of fibres which I have been enjoying the effects of in my felt making. Sandwich a scattering of these between the layers of the fabric and I am coming close to what I want. The first attempt looked pleasing, but a few too many layers of the bonding 'film' made it a little stiff and difficult to stitch through. Particularly a problem for the passage of the ribbons which I love to use. Some further trials may be necessary!

The following sequence of photos records my efforts:

I quite liked the result and I shall probably use it as a background for a wild flower meadow. Boosted by this success. I tried again. This time aiming for a background suitable for a 'poppies in cornfield' design. This notepad cover was the result:

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Labradorite Lightning!

Labradorite is one of my favourite gemstones, for its inner fire and light, a stone that fairly dances with life. It has some wonderful folklore stories associated with it, and it has also even been found in some meteorites!
According to an Eskimo legend, the Northern Lights were once imprisoned in the rocks along the coast of Labrador.  It is told that a wandering Eskimo warrior found them and was able to free most of the lights with a mighty blow of his spear. Some of the lights were still trapped within the stone, and this is why we have today the beautiful mineral known as labradorite.
Labradorite is feldspar and gem quality Labradorite is known as known as spectrolite and is dark and opalescent blue with a shimmer when the light hits it. A colourless variety, darkened with needle like inclusions, it is often called black moonstone. And is a sister stone to Moonstone another favourite of mine.
With a Mohs Hardness of 6 and with a triclinic crystal structure, it is one of the softer gemstones, and is often found as cabochons and highly polished, although facetted Labradorite is also used and gives a differing dimension to the stone.
Labradorite was originally discovered in on St. Paul Island, Labrador, Canada in 1770. Pieces of the stone were found amongst the artifacts of the Red Painted People of Maine. Spectrolite was discovered in Finland during World War II. It is considered to be the gem quality of Labradorite.
The name labradorite comes from the province of Labrador in Canada, which is a famous locality for labradorite with an iridescent play of colours. Feldspar is derived from the German word feld which means field. Labradorite is also found in India, Madagascar, Newfoundland, and Russia

For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones, Labradorite is believed to be particularly effective in alleviating bone issues, disorders of the spinal column and the wear and tear of the joints. Rheumatism and arthritis may also benefit from this stone's healing powers.   Labradorite is said to be helpful in treating eye and brain disorders, and to help regulate metabolism and the digestive process. So an all over balancing stone I think!
Labradorite is believed to have a calming and harmonizing effect, so it is a wonderful stone for people who have a lot of stress in their lives.  It improves intuition and clarifies views and objectives.
Because of this calming effect Labradorite is said to provide quick relief from anxiety, hopelessness and depression, replacing them with enthusiasm, self-confidence and inspiration. It is said to dispel negativity and to bring clear understanding by enhancing clarity of thought helping people to cooperate with others in harmony. 

I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of Labradorite, I just adore this gemstone for its deep inner life and light and I am not the only one, I found 9 pages of Labradorite items in folksy, so many to choose from to feature in this blog.

If you would like a closer look at the wonderful items featured, please click on the pictures to be transported to their locations in their particular Folksy shops. Thank you.


A big thank you to Natalie of NOfkants Curios for another interesting post. I love the shimmering effect of this stone!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Llangollen -

... horse-drawn canal boats, steam trains, white-water canoeing, climbing, walking and an active craft cooperative! What more could anyone want for a camping week-end of activities. (I hasten to add that the canoeing is the province of a nephew and my daughter is the climber in our family).

We camped a stroll-along-the-canal away from the town centre. Our two children were at a Scout camp for the week-end. Llangollen is close to home, and I grew up viewing it as an afternoon's somewhat boring outing. As a child, even the spectacular scenery of Llangollen did not interest me and my parents were not at all interested in outdoor pursuits, which we were in no way encouraged to sample. The town has now totally changed in my esteem. Although only a short drive from where we now live, life is so busy that we seldom get the chance to visit, and a leisurely week-end was just the thing. The weather was beautiful, there were ducklings a-plenty, the steam trains and canal boats were very busy and the atmosphere was great. The town is always busy and this week-end people were beginning to arrive for the International Eisteddfod which starts today.

Unfortunately OH hogged 'the' camera. OK strictly speaking the SLR is 'his' camera - which I borrow. I should have grabbed my compact - but, although good, I have got used to his better one now! Consequently, I can't show you the horse-drawn canal boats, or a direct view of the steam trains ( although you might catch a glimpse of the corner of the station). OH doesn't like the idea of 'tourist snaps' and wasn't persuaded by my mutterings of blog pics. Anyway - here are some general views of the town:

The Llangollen Canal is drawn from the River Dee, just above Llangollen. The Horseshoe Falls - a weir created to build a head of water for the purpose -

There were many families of ducks on the canal and on the river. Many of them were very small. Their mothers, accustomed to tourists, were surprisingly trusting of people with bird seed. I was pecked by one, another repeatedly tugged at my trousers when I wasn't renewing the scattering quickly enough. This small family, with half-grown ducklings, were by the falls. Nervous of OH ( no bird seed) they were very settled around my feet.

Having given them 'enough' seed we walked a little further upstream. As we returned, they were still there, and I couldn't resist having another chat with them - hence the second, darker, photo. The mother was wary of OH, a passing child, dog etc, but fine with me - until she shot out onto the water in panic. The ducklings followed her, then stopped a little way behind, huddled together on a stone. She was staring intently, quacking loudly, and obviously concerned. It was then that we, out-of-tune-with-the-environment humans, saw something quite large and black swimming across the weir and into some reeds. I'm not certain whether it was a mink or an otter - I'm off to Google some pics and try to identify it from my hazy recollection - now where was OH with camera?