Thursday, 27 October 2011

Embroidery of James Completed

Here is the embroidery of James completed this evening. I haven't really had much time over the last week or so to do much, but it has stitched up remarkably quickly and I have finished much more quickly than I thought I would.

I was originally going to do extra stitching in the hair area but I'm a little undecided about that now. John thinks it looks OK as it is. I don't want to do extra stitching and then find I don't like it as taking the stitches out will probably mark the silk material.

I think I will leave it be for a while and see if I still feel the same after a few days or so.

I'm going to mount it on a thick piece of block board or something like that to give it a modern feel, without using a frame. A friend is going to hunt out a sturdy piece of wood for me, so I have time for contemplation before doing that final step!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Spine Tingling Coincidence

No photo, unless I can find a suitable one later, but a moment occurred yesterday that just shows how strange life can be at times.

Back in July, on Tuesday 19th in actual fact, I was told in the afternoon that Dad wasn't going to pull through from pneumonia. What may have slipped through the net in my blogging was that in the morning of the same day, both John and I were made redundant! Truly this could have been described as a Black Tuesday! Being made redundant wasn't unexpected but, with everything that happened with Dad, it rather slipped into non-importance, if that makes any sense.

Our last day was due to be Friday 28th October. What will we be doing? Well .... I have seen a very part-time job that I would have been daft not to apply for (not heard anything yet!) but, basically, we're going to take some time out. With the redundancy pay-out (generous in John's case as he's been there 26 years!) and our savings, we are hoping to see how things go and spend some time doing the things that we like. You see, having seen my Dad fade away with Alzheimer's over the last few years and we had the same with John's Dad, who passed away in 2001 ....... let's just say it has changed our view on what is important.

Yesterday, we were then told unexpectedly, that we can leave tomorrow!! And then, I went to my PC and read this totally inspiring post from Flossie TeaCakes and thought ...... wow! It so strikes a chord and has several parallels to what has happened to us! We have been becoming increasingly daunted in the last couple of weeks about whether things will work out but reading that really made me think we need to go with our hearts!

John has talked before about starting a candle making business, a hobby he really loves, and I've tentatively said to him that candle making starter kits might be an avenue worth investigating. I love tinkering with website design, although whether I'm good enough to pursue this, I'm not sure!

Still, I'm beginning to think that a leap of faith might just be what is required :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

I Have A Cunning Plan ......

.... that involves this photo of our son, James ..... and will mean the Tiger will slip back into being a UFO for a while :)

I have seen on various blogs around the Internet where people have used photos and turned them into sketches that they have then embroidered. It will be James' 21st Birthday at the end of November and so I thought trying to do this would make an interesting surprise present for him. He doesn't do anything quite so boring as reading his Mum's blog, so I think I'll be safe by blogging about it!

So, since John is my expert as far as Photoshop is concerned, I asked him if he would convert this into a sketch.

I then asked John to print it in reverse so I could then trace the resulting image onto tracing paper using an iron-on transfer pencil. In this way, I would create my own iron-on embroidery transfer. I might add that I did test this out first to make sure it would work!

As for the materials to use, I initially thought I would use a piece of linen I already had and use black embroidery cotton thread. However, when Mum and I went to the Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of weeks ago, I found someone selling Silk Dupion fabric and Pearsall silk thread and just immediately knew I had to use these luxurious materials. I've never embroidered on silk or used silk thread ...... but I guess you have to start somewhere!

Here's my initial progress after mounting the silk onto a frame and a little bit of sewing last Thursday.

And here's my progress after a sewing session last Saturday evening.

What stitches am I using? Well, the name is whipped back stitch using two strands of silk. I think the lettering is just a little bit too small for this as the letters look a little cramped. I didn't want to un-pick it as I didn't want to damage the silk dupion but it is just about clear. For the rest of the letters, I think I will just use back stitch. For the hair done so far and the face outline, I have used stem stitch with two strands of thread. I've done the same for the eye brows. For the other facial features, I have used just one strand of silk and back stitch. The hand is also back stitch with two strands of silk.

The effect I am after is to produce a 'sketch' but done in silk. By the way, what the photograph doesn't show is the lovely sheen of the silk dupion fabric. I'm so glad I decided to try it. So far, I'm pleased with how it looks.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Eye Eye Mr Tiger!

When I introduced The Tiger the other day, the photo showed how far I'd got before putting it to one side as a UFO. The Tiger was resurrected to go on holiday with us back at the beginning of July ...... and this shows how far I've got to date.

The Tiger can now look at me :)

I can also give the details for the kit. It is called The Tiger and is a Ross Original design from 1998 so, at the very least, I bought it sometime between then and 2005. It is stitched on 14 count Aida and the finished design will measure 12 x 10 inches (30.5cm x 25.5cm).

Once again I seem to have bought a kit with a palette of similarly coloured cottons! When will I learn! However, I have a soft-spot for pictures of cats, both wild and domesticated, and it is fantastic seeing this picture gradually reveal itself as I work down the chart.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Rug Fringe Up Close

For all that the last post was to show the completed  fringe on The Rug, the photo just didn't really show it.

So, in what I can almost promise will be the last blog post about The Rug, here is the fringe up close and personal :)

It adds a rustic quality to the finished Rug that I really like

The Rug Really Is Finished!

In the last post I mentioned how I'd moved onto the Tiger cross stitch picture because The Rug was complete ..... and after a quick check, I realised I hadn't posted anything about completing the very final stage of The Rug, namely the knotted fringe. Well, here The Rug is in all its glory!

I wasn't entirely sure it needed the fringe but decided to do a little bit and see how it looked. I have to confess that it really finishes it off, so I set to and did the lot. It was surprisingly time consuming to do!

So now the finished Rug is on the floor in one of our bedrooms. This is the one where we listen to music, as John's extensive hi-fi equipment 'lives' in this room.

No one is allowed to walk on it wearing shoes by the way and the cats have been given very strict instructions to 'behave' if they come anywhere near it :P

Also, I must report that it is very soft under foot!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Meet The Tiger

Although I do have some catch up posts to do, I thought I'd introduce my current major project: a cross stitch picture of a tiger's head. Just as with the rug, this is a UFO that I'm not entirely sure when I started! I think it may have been around the time I finished my Open University degree in 2005? But as to when I bought it, that's anyone's guess!! Never mind!

After completely finishing the fringe on the rug (which in itself deserves a blog picture or two), this went with us to Norfolk when we were on holiday back at the beginning of July.

These pictures were taken on 3rd July, at the beginning of our holiday. You can see that I'd only got as far as the ears at whatever point I decided to stop, probably to do the rug! It is a mass of different shades of brown, cream and ginger so the daylight bulb is a must when working indoors. Also, starting it again definately required me to get my brain in gear to re-familiarise myself with the chart and all the different symbols.

How far have I got so far? I guess that will have to be my next post :)

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Pleasure of Making for Babies

I've belatedly realised that you may possibly mis-read the blog title ..... read it again ....... there is a little word for in there :P

My blogging Mojo has been sorely lacking just recently and I know people will understand why. However, the longer I've left it, the harder it's been to blog! There seems to be so many things I aught to write about that it's a bit over-whelming. For instance, I need to respond to Joy's blog award from ages ago and also report on how I've got on with Callie's give-away. I will!!  I promise!  Eventually :)

So, in an effort to get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd blog about two recent things I made during July and August for two new babies. The first baby is called Yeratel and was born when we were on holiday in July. But she was four weeks early and a tiny, tiny tot. Her Dad is the Curate at my Church and is one of the kindest people I know. I didn't find out about her birth until just after Dad died and I attended a week-day service, as much to mark Dad's passing in my own way as anything else. It was a surprise to hear that Yeratel had already been born but I was so delighted to find out that she was OK and doing well. The weekend after Dad passed away and I was down in the dumps, I couldn't help but think of this new little girl and suddenly wanted to make something to welcome her into the world.

In an edition of the Cross-Stitcher from last year, there had been a pattern for making some baby booties from felt and I decided to give it a go. I already had some pink felt, so that was easy. However, I really needed some waste canvas to be able to stitch cross stitches on the felt, but I didn't have any! I improvised by trying to stitch through a paper pattern ....... don't!!! ...... it doesn't work!! In the end, I did the stitching free-hand, so if you look closely, one little duck is slightly bigger than the other!!

I also happen to be someone who never throws anything away!! I had kept some lovely sturdy little boxes, so I covered one in pink wrapping paper and attached a little bit of pink ribbon ...... ribbon that I had saved from a card or something or other ....... remember, I never throw anything away!!

And voila! A special gift for a special little girl :)

Then, in August, a little boy called James Aidan was born to my Vicar and his wife. My vicar, Stuart, is also a lovely guy! Not at all like the description that Rowan Atkinson recently gave for Anglican Vicars :)

Even though he is not the Vicar for my Dad's parish, he very kindly took Dad's funeral service and that personal touch meant a great deal to me and to Mum and my brother.

So, with one pair of booties under my belt, I just had to make a blue pair for little James!

This time, I didn't have any blue felt, so ordered a whole load of colours from The Felt Fairy. This time, I also thought I'd buy some waste canvas and do things properly!!

Sewing on felt using waste canvas is really the only way to do it. The cross stitching took much less time to do and also ends up perfectly even. The only tricky bit is that, once the stitching is complete, you have to dampen the waste canvas so that the warp and weft threads separate and you can pull them out, leaving behind the nicely even cross stitches. Unfortunately, dampening the felt makes it shrink slightly. As a consequence, the top of these blue booties are a little flatter than with the pink booties.

Note to self ...... if I do anything like this again, pre-shrink the felt first!!

All the same, I still quite pleased with how they turned out.

I also forgot to mention that for both the pink and the blue booties, the buttons were from my button box ..... another thing I never throw away :)

Mind you, I'm not entirely sure the finished item is actually meant to be worn! I'm not sure they'd stay on a little one's feet!!

Once again, I covered a sturdy little box but obviously with blue paper this time ...... and I forgot to mention that I added a little gift label inside.

And, once again, a little bit of recycled ribbon to add a finishing touch to the box.

A long life and happiness to little Yeratel and James :)
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