Friday, 7 November 2014

Wet and Squishy felt making

Octobers weekend of Experimental Textiles saw us weaving, knitting and felt making.
This was a piece of loose knitting using a very knobbly wool threaded through with white merino wool tops and hand felted with soap and hot water. The result was not very good as the knitting wool and the wool tops did not combine totally so I ended up with a very floppy result.

I placed three layers of black wool tops over the top of the piece and stitched it between two pieces of fine net. Then I put in into the washing machine with an old towel on a hot wash.
After unpicking the net parcel the end result was interesting! A very stiff lump was the result. I now have to decide what to do with it. At least it proves you can felt in the machine giving a much thicker, stiffer felt than by hand.
I also found a bag of small bouncy balls and wrapped them with wool tops using hot soapy water to help the layers stick.
The wrapped balls ready to be wrapped in some old tights to hold everything in.

My stitched paper piece was a disaster so I decided to make a piece of felt in the same colours and maybe combine the two somehow!

I also decided to make a bowl. I layered up some wool tops and placed some small circles of Teflon as resists before the final layer. I then wet felted it until it started to come together and removed the Teflon exposing circles of a lighter colour underneath. I then used an old bowl and squished and squashed the felt onto it. I alternated working the felt either placed inside the bowl or outside the bowl.
This is the point at which I stopped as I like the shape and the edges of the bowl. It is now sitting in the airing cupboard to dry out. All I need now is time to progress these projects to an end result.
I have also started Maddie's quilt - more information to follow.
I think I will have to give up sleep in order to fit everything in.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Still life painting

The fourth weekend of Experimental Textiles in Redditch was painting and drawing a still life arrangement. This was made up of a very random selection of things including a recycled aluminium hubcap fish, stuffed hares. a lobster pot, a bead curtain, cushions and a plastic tortoise!

This is my painting. The blurry photo makes it look a little better. The whole thing was colour washed with Procion dye as the white background didn't go with the colours. I chose a pale blue as the colours reminded me of a tropical forest and I wanted bits of sky to show through.

The beauty of this is I tore my painting into rough strips and tried out arrangements which I could stitch into.

This is the final design. I have begun stitching using perle threads and wool in colours which match the colours in the piece. Stitching paper is hard because it tears easily and if you make a hole by mistake it shows.

I went with a simple running stitch to start then added a running stitch in and out of the first line of stitches which I then threaded wool in and out of. There are still a lot of stitches to do. I can't decide whether to add other types of stitch or to keep it simple.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Boston Holiday

My daughter treated me to a ten day holiday to Boston, Massachusetts. I had never been to the USA before so it was quite an adventure. I was worried about the flights as I am not very good at sitting still but we each packed a sewing project of cathedral window squares to be hand stitched together which kept us occupied in between watching the children's movie Rio and sleeping. We had a wonderful time visiting Salem..........
We spent an enjoyable day in Lowell visiting the Textile museum and the Quilt museum which had wonderful quilts on display. How on earth those pioneer women managed to stitch quilts with such  tiny stitches without electric light let alone find the time is beyond my imagination. I have electricity,  a washing machine, a  tumble dryer, a microwave,  a cooker, central heating and a sewing machine and still struggle to find enough time to sew!!!
This quilt was started in 1775 and hexagons were still being added by family members up to 1940. The papers on the back helped date it. It has never been finished. This means my descendants may still be finishing my quilts off in 2179!
This quilt has 6764 three quarter inch squares in it. All pieced and quilted by hand. Amazing work. It was made in 1880.
Here we are in the sand dunes of Cape Cod enjoying the sunshine. We had a fantastic time.


Colourful weekend

The end of August was another weekend of Experimental Textiles. This was the weekend of the colour wheel which I do not enjoy painting at all!
Here is my attempt albeit upside down! This will be my third colour wheel of my adult life and I hope it will be the last.
This is the tints (add white), shades (add black) and tones (opposite colours from the colour wheel mixed together). I do not like the tones column at all it is very depressing.

After this I tore up one of my printed and colour washed pieces from a previous weekend and pinned it all in a long strip which was quite a surprise to me as I usually end up with square or rectangular shapes. After pinning it all together I backed it with Bondaweb for stability so I could stitch into it.
This is it curled up as it is too long to photograph well. After the stitching is finished I may attach it to wire and make it into a spiral hanging. It will need to be backed with something first.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A wedding

Just what have I been doing since my last post in August!

I went to Wortley Hall in Sheffield for the wedding of the daughter of  some friends. We had a lovely day. The ceremony was lovely with some of Jenny's music students singing along and the ladies of the church had baked scones and made homemade jam with jugs of Pimms to wash them down for afterwards. The reception was held at the hall with a ceilidh in the evening which was great fun.
My wedding gift was a quilt made in bright pinks and blues. I used a selection of batiks and a simple design.

Friday, 22 August 2014


I cannot believe it is almost the end of August. I have been working into my tissue and map piece with many many stitches. All fairly simple ones but they still take ages to do.

I backed the piece with Bondaweb to give it strength and to stop the stitches tearing the paper. It does feel more like fabric now. I have pulled some of it together so it now won't lie flat. I have been imagining the stitches are like tracks of animals or people who have travelled across my landscape. The tracks criss cross each other in a meandering way.

When viewed from the side it does look more like a landscape. There are still more stitches to be added.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Stitched paper piece the first

I began stitching my chosen papers last night and am not happy with it at all but I am going to persevere for a couple of days and then if I still hate it I will put it in my sketchbook and ignore it.
These are the thread colours I have chosen. I like to use the six strand threads as you can vary the thickness easily and can blend the colours together to get more subtle tones.
I am tearing sections and putting pieces of paper and tissue with stitching on underneath to get depth. I struggle with paper as it is stiff, crunchy and flat.


Monday, 28 July 2014

The decision is made

I have chosen which printed papers I am going to stitch first. Although I may just have to stamp my feet in protest if I can't find the right colour threads to match or convince Kim I didn't hear her say they should!
When I was putting my papers together to bring home this combination just happened. I am finally learning to go with the flow and not to overthink things.

Happy Days

Well the last few weeks have  been interesting. Whilst clearing out my son's room of my craft clutter I have discovered all sorts of bits and pieces. I have been good and cleared a quantity of stuff and donated it to new homes. The room is now ready for my son's return at the end of August and I have concentrated my crafting area into textile stuff only.
I have just spent another weekend with Kim and my ExTex 3 buddies in Redditch. Two intense days making printing blocks and then printing papers and fabrics.
These are a few of my printed and overdyed designs.
I just need to make a decision which one to sew into for my homework!
These pieces below are last months homework

These are make from felt which has been cut out and the black swopped with the white and vice versa. I then stitched both pieces so they are the same as each other and on the reverse. It was very fiddly but was a useful exercise to complete.

One of my designs appliqued onto white cotton using bits of fabric, braid, ric rac, cord and lace.
This piece was made by ironing Bondaweb onto a piece of white cotton fabric then tracing my design onto the paper side of the Bondaweb and cutting out the pieces and ironing them on to the black cotton. I found by using the peeled off paper as a template I could accurately place the smaller pieces.
I stitched this design sitting in various hospital waiting rooms with my parents over the last month. It is quite surprising what can be achieved instead of just sitting about waiting.

I absolutely love being tutored by Kim because she inspires me to try out my ideas instead of going round in circles, gives good advice and makes me laugh!


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Chaos and Happiness

Well in the space between blogs a lot has been happening! My youngest son has lived away from home for five years since he went to uni at 18 and is now coming back for a while to save money to visit his girlfriend in Beijing next year. This is lovely as he is good fun but..................where on earth do I put all the stuff I have accumulated in his room! I have negotiated the bottom of the wardrobe for my overlocker and half the top for two large boxes of fabric but the rest has to go somewhere.
My daughter has decided we are going on a 10 day trip to Boston, Massachusetts in September which is going to be a great challenge as the longest flight I have been on was for three hours and apparently when we go to Cape Cod for three days we are hiring a car and I am driving! I have stocked up on Rescue Remedy and am practising relaxation exercises to stay calm.
My eldest son, also still at home, brought his new girlfriend to lunch last Sunday and then took me to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 so that was a perfect day.
I am also ploughing through my Extex 3 homework but as usual I have more ideas than time so I shall persevere.

Monday, 30 June 2014

I'm Off Again!

I have had a marvellous weekend in Redditch on an Experimental Textiles course run by Kim Thittichai. Even though his is my second journey along this route there are many more side alleys to explore, dead ends to get stuck in, mountains to climb, rivers to cross and fellow travellers to get to know, fantastic discoveries to make and maybe cake too!!!
After painting an imaginary journey with black paint on a long strip of paper, sections were traced off and transferred to my sketchbook to be painted. One of the tracings was copied onto a large sheet of paper and flipped and mirrored to create a large very interesting design. I have outlined the pencil lines in black to see the effect and then I will be painting it to create a black and white design. I can already see some other designs appearing so will make smaller tracings and repeat this exercise
after dealing with my mother's latest crisis - bees in the chimney!!! Of course these will not be normal bees but a new killer variety from foreign climes and she won't get a wink of sleep until they have been evicted. How she knows they are there is a mystery......... maybe she does have a witches broom after all!
A section of my journey
Outlined flipped design
The original traced design when painted

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Silk Paper Making

I recently had the chance to do a local workshop on silk paper making. It was easier than I expected it to be and used up all sorts of bits and pieces I have been squirrelling away for years. I now have loads of sample pieces which I can practice stitching into. This piece is simply gummy silk wetted with water between pieces of net and squished then left to dry. I went for an airy piece but haven't decided how to stitch into it yet.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Grace's Quilt

I saw the DC Originals Comics range of fabrics on the Frumble website and new it would be perfect to make a quilt for Grace. I cut up the faces panel and bordered them with black fabric set at angles to hide the names. This made me think of film strips so I carried on with plainer red and blue fabric from the same range and edged the strips with black. I foundation pieced a large red pointy star shape with a blue background for the centre block and used large pieces of other fabrics in the range for the other blocks. It went together quickly was quilted in no time. Grace loved it!