Grand Sampler Tour of Southern England

Hello Everybody,

It is the first day of 2016 – Happy New Year to you all.

I am sure that, like me, you already have many projects lined up to be completed in 2016. I have new ones coming along soon too, so keep watching. What you will need, come the autumn, is a trip away to look at wonderful stitching, much of which spends its time out of sight but is going to be revealed to us. I shall be your tour guide! Details are here. Do please join us.

The Grand Sampler Tour of Southern England

22 September – 5 October 2016

Come with us to explore some wonderful collections, many of which are not on general public display and will be brought out of storage especially for us. Our trip will take us across a swathe of southern England from the West Country to towns and cities around London and to the capital itself. Do not miss this exceptional opportunity to take in the visual variety and splendour of dozens of samplers and immerse yourself in the company of these wonderful, timeless pieces of needlework.

Samplers are a vital part of our stitching heritage. They represent the work of our ancestors in many forms. There are, of course, the schoolgirl samplers: worked by the rich in silks on fine linen, or, by those less fortunate, in poorer materials but with just as much love and care. Their variety and miscellany of motifs is a delight. Prior to these in time are the professional samplers, worked to show the possible bands and motifs that could be employed for decoration on household linens or clothing. The standard of these can be breathtaking and often include Reticella and other forms of whitework.

Spot samplers, a record of motifs or small designs that could be used for future reference, are easy to identify with, although often worked in a finer form than we might employ today. A way to record ideas when pencil and paper were not to hand but fabric and threads were, they are the equivalent of a notebook in which we might record things we want to do. Add to these the samplers of orphans, as seen in Bristol in particular, and those from Quaker schools, where teaching needlework was of major importance in the early years, and the sampler picture is almost complete. There are always surprises though, and maps, plain sewing samplers, family trees and those from foreign lands come to light in unexpected ways and places.

We shall start our tour from Heathrow – unless you wish and are able to join us at Hythe or Folkestone – and move directly west to Bristol where we shall first visit the Muller House Museum to hear about and see the work of the orphans of the 19th century in the Muller Homes at Ashley Down. From there we shall drive on to Tortworth, our home for the next few days. Out from here we shall visit Gloucester Folk Museum; Somerset County Museum in Taunton; Wells, a wonderful, peaceful city in the heart of Somerset with a museum housing a small but exquisite collection of samplers; the Fashion Museum in Bath; Montacute House, home to the Goodhart Collection of samplers, and the Georgian House in Bristol where, in the attic, are many hidden treasures.

We later move east to stay in St. Albans. On the way we shall call in at Witney Antiques, a specialist needlework antique shop where samplers are always to be found. The city of St. Albans has its own great history and a free day here will give you a chance to explore. Out from the city we shall visit the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and see not only samplers in their collection but also items from the Feller Collection. The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge will also feature on this stage of the tour and has some of the finest professional band samplers I have ever seen. We shall call in at smaller museums too, with hidden collections they are ready to show us.

Moving round London we shall stay in Guildford, from where we shall visit the Maidstone Museum; Guildford Museum; Hampton Court, home to the Royal School of Needlework, and the Victoria and Albert sampler collection, which is not housed in their main building but nearby. Here we shall be privileged to see some superb samplers from other parts of the world. At the time, the V and A will also have, in the main building, a special exhibition of Opus Anglicanum. Several pieces are already in their collection and I am well acquainted with them. It is my hope that there will be additional pieces on loan from other museums in Europe, as this work is considered by many to be embroidery at its very best. It dates from the 14th century and the incredible standard of embroidery and design has never been surpassed. A visit to this exhibition will be included.

Remember, many of the samplers we shall see are not on general display. They will be taken out of storage especially for us, something which, it seems, curators are delighted to do for those as enthusiastic as we are!

Our hotels are all four star and set either in the country or close to places we shall want to visit. The price for the tour includes hotels with breakfast and dinner every day, all travel and all entrance fees to museums and houses, as well as special talks given by experts in their field. On a daily basis, the only things you may need to purchase are a bit of lunch and wine with your evening meal – everything else is included. There may be other things you wish to purchase and there will be opportunities for this, of course. Not only will you see the best of samplers in the southern half of England but you will also visit some of our finest towns and cities, steeped in history throughout. We shall allow as much time as we can on this busy schedule for you to do some sightseeing too.

wells cathedral

Wells Cathedral, Somerset

Do join us. If you love needlework and samplers in particular, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Incidentally, if your partner would like to come along but is not a lover of stitches, there will be much for them to see and enjoy in the places we visit. Just opening your eyes in England displays a countryside and history that cannot be ignored. There is always something to excite!

We work with a holiday firm, Buzzlines, in order to ensure that we are covered by a travel bond. This insures the tour itself for many aspects that are not covered by your personal insurance, which is also needed. The bond is also a protection for the money you pay and is a requirement of British law.

Prices:

Prices start at £2290 per person. Single room supplement is £490. A deposit of just £50 secures your place.

BOOK NOW using this Booking Form download or Contact Buzzlines on 01303 261870.

STITCHES BOOKING FORM – GRAND SAMPLER TOUR

Places:

I hope you are now very excited and able to join us. To whet your appetite further do, please, take a look at these links:

Muller House Museum: Muller House Museum The history of the wonderful George Muller and the orphans he helped. Samplers are part of the display.

Gloucester Folk Museum: Gloucester Folk Museum Here they have 70 samplers they will get out especially for us!

Museum of Somerset: Museum of Somerset Samplers here are not on display but we will be able to see them!

Wells Museum: Wells Museum Here are just a few of the samplers to be seen in this little room. We shall go behind the scenes to see yet more.

Wells Cathedral: Wells Cathedral Wells has a cathedral. It is outstanding. Also, there is the Bishop’s Palace and the gardens, where the feeling of well-being is amazing. Do not miss the Vicars’ Close, which is very near the museum, or the town itself with its medieval market place.

Fashion Museum: Fashion Museum Here they have canvas work samplers and stitch samplers that they will show us. They are not normally on display. The museum is part of the Assembly Rooms and close to other places of interest in the city.

Montacute House: Montacute House The house itself is wonderful! That it happens to be the home of the Goodhart Collection of samplers is our good luck. Also on show, on the top floor, are portraits of the English kings, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, as well as some fine pictures featuring people wearing lace. It is a National Trust property.

Georgian House Museum: Georgian House This fine house is of considerable interest in its own right. That it is the storage place of samplers, not normally on display, is yet more good luck for us. We shall be taken, in small groups, to see these samplers at the top of the house, which is not usually open to visitors.

Ashmolean Museum: Ashmolean Museum In the heart of the city of Oxford, this wonderful museum is home to many pieces of interest. There may be time for a quick look around the city too. We shall take a special tour to see samplers and some items from the Feller Collection and will also take a full gallery tour.

Fitzwilliam Museum: Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge itself is very old indeed and, of course, houses our oldest university. The samplers are usually displayed under the stairs. This is nothing like as cramped as it might sound but is an excellent place to see them whilst they are kept away from natural light. The collections in the Fitzwilliam include many items other than embroidery. I especially love their china and porcelain rooms. There should be time to see the city too, I hope.

Guildford Museum: Guildford Museum Only six or so of the samplers are on display in the museum itself. We shall see more of them ‘behind the scenes’.

Maidstone Museum: Maidstone Museum Home to a beautiful and unusual beadwork tray and Elizabethan/Jacobean woman’s jacket featuring pea pods, this museum is full of surprises. Their search button on this site reveals very little!

Witney Antiques: Witney Antiques A place I have been in touch with for years but have not visited for some time. I cannot wait to get back there. You could buy a sampler while you are here perhaps. Click on the ‘samplers’ button on the menu to see ones currently in stock.

witney antiques

Witney Antiques

Royal School of Needlework: Royal School of Needlework The Royal School of Needlework is always up to something interesting. Their apprentices and graduates are, in my opinion, the most technically able embroiderers in the country if not the world. We shall be given a tour of their current exhibition, Applique and Raised Embroidery, and then a talk by Susan Kay-Williams on samplers in their collection. You will be able to walk around the gardens at will but entrance to Hampton Court itself is not included.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum The Victoria and Albert Museum, in order to preserve them, have moved many textile items to Blythe House, where we shall be able to see several samplers. Some of these are particularly of note. The Medieval Gallery, which is only a very few years old, displays Opus Anglicanum in the main building year round. When we are there exhibits may well have been moved to the special exhibition we shall visit.

And our hotels:

Tortworth Court Hotel, Tortworth

Tortworth Court Hotel

Clarion St Albans Hotel, St Albans

Clarion St Albans Hotel

Radisson Blu Hotel, Guildford

Radisson Blu Hotel, Guildford

See you in September…

Details here are correct at time of writing but we may have to make changes if circumstances beyond our control make it inevitable. Whilst every effort has and will be made to make this holiday fully accessible, we cannot guarantee that all the venues and hotels we visit will be so. This holiday is operated by, and your resulting contract is with BUZZLINES TRAVEL Ltd, Unit G1, Lympne Distribution Park, Lympne, Hythe, Kent. CT21 4LR. Tel 01303 261870. The company is wholly independent of Creative Crafts Publishing Ltd. Buzzlines Travel Ltd is a member of the BONDED COACH HOLIDAY GROUP (BCH).

 

Season’s Greetings

Dear Everybody,

 

I hope  you all have a wonderful Holiday season.

I shall be here at home in Kent for most of the holiday. Our son, Stefan, is coming back from Dubai, where he has lived for 12 years, for a brief visit and our daughter, Natasha, is cooking Christmas dinner for us all at her house, 30 miles away. Our grandchildren, Jasper (20) and Millie (12) will be a delight as always.

For the New Year I do have many things that will come your way. Currently they are being proof-read by JoAnne near Seattle, Gail in Nairobi and Anne here in England. Modern technology and the ease of correspondence over many miles is splendid!

So, have a very merry Christmas and be ready to stitch in the New Year.

Love to you all,

 

Mary

Movements are Afoot

Hello,

Sorry for the long wait but I have, as always, been busy on so many fronts that I seem to get nowhere fast!

I have been designing, stitching, and working on a new shop site. Some of you may have gone to our usual shop and found that your browser is not happy with it. Others will have no trouble. There are elves working on the problem but we intend to update completely, so watch this space.

Stitching

Following on from the last post about printing directly onto fabric, I designed a set of six circular items that are suitable for cards, trinket pots and similar. I printed the sheet – the download (FREE) will be further down the page – on red patchwork cotton fabric and stitched two of them using just white stranded cotton in two strands.

CHINTZ DESIGN 2 CHINTZ DESIGN 1

The stitches I used were Buttonhole, Satin, Stem, French Knots, Fly, Back, Chain, Seeding, Herringbone, Roumanian, Detached Chain and Pistil (long armed French Knots). The embroideries are mounted in cards with a 2.5 inch (10 cms) aperture. We have lots of these cards for you, so please take a look at them here —-    CARDS   — and buy some when you are ready.

If you have trouble accessing the site, work the embroidery and try again another day. The elves may have got there by then or we may be up and running elsewhere. Do not be frightened of the red page if you see it, all is not as dire as it looks!

Here are the download pages.

CHINTZ FLOWERS FOR CIRCLES BLACK

CHINTZ FLOWERS FOR CIRCLES CYAN

I used the black version for the red fabric but have included a blue (cyan) version for lighter fabric if that is what you prefer. Both should wash out completely or be covered by your stitches. Note: the black on the photos is shadow, not the markings.

You do not have to print the designs straight on to fabric, of course, you can trace them in any way that you like to use.

I only stitched two of the designs but you will have all six. Please stitch these and send me photos of your embroideries and use whatever colours you like – they do not have to be in white. I would love to see them and will feature them on this blog!!!!

Tripping

Amongst the many other things I have been doing, I have put together a trip for next autumn. This will be: ‘The Grand Sampler Tour of Southern England’. Details will be with you very soon.

Evening work

Also, to prove that things really are afoot, take a look at these. I have been knitting in the evenings when I am too tired to make sensible decisions about stitches. I like knitting socks and decided that if I did so, I would want the world to see them – at least a bit – so I bought some transparent wellies.  We often get snow down here in our corner of England, even when the rest of the country is clear, and so being prepared is a good idea. I shall wear them to Waitrose in Hythe.

SOCKS AND BOOTS WITH TOP TURNED OVER SOCKS ALONE

I used a normal sock pattern but extended it and widened it by a half (60 stitches instead of 40) for the calf. The extra stitches were gradually decreased over the calf so that they were normal (40) by about 4 inches above ankle level. The yarn is Lang Jawoll 6 ply, which is about DK weight, and the needles were 4mm. Our travellers will know Lang’s wonderful shop in Switzerland. We have been there twice and many of us would like to go again. This wool came from there, of course, but is available elsewhere too. I used just one ball.

You can send me pictures of socks you have made too – and don’t forget to take ones of the stitch designs above. Also, do please get in touch and tell me what you enjoy most in the way of stitching. You can do this using the form below.

Best wishes from your intermittent blogger.

Mary

 

Printing on Fabric

Hello Everyone,

First of all, I am so sorry to be so long between posts to you all. I am full of good intentions but somehow the days go by and I never catch up with myself. In some ways this is not a bad thing, as it means I am still bursting with ideas and designing and stitching as much as ever. What I then tend to forget, as I go from one idea to another, is that I have not let you people know what I am up to. So, here in this post, is a taster. I promise to try and do better.

I am getting ready for our trip to France, which leaves this coming week. All is planned ahead but, just at the minute, we cannot be sure that there will not be any problems with crossing the English Channel. We look out across this stretch of water and have locally had the problems of ‘Operation Stack’, which many of you will have heard about on the News. We are fairly used to this, I must say, but hope it will not hold us up on Friday when we take the Tunnel. Fingers are crossed.

Design and ideas

I have been busy and have somehow found myself printing on to fabric by way of my ordinary inkjet  printer. I am so excited with the results that I have to share them with you.

I had designed a Paisley pattern to be worked in applique and stitchery and hit the age-old problem of transferring the design to the fabric. I knew about prick and pounce, transfer pencils and water erasable pens, all of which I have used in the past and all of which have their purpose. This time though, I wanted to be able to print onto different coloured fabrics with fairly complex lines. I thought about lino-printing and sent for some equipment.

BASIC PAISLEY DESIGN AS CHOSEN 2A

The drawing of the Paisley design. The blue area and the terra cotta area are those to be appliqued onto the background.

Then I thought about stenciling and sent for some equipment. Finally I thought (not for the first time) about printing from my HP Envy printer but had no idea how to set about it. To my aid came a book; ‘Inkjet Printing on Fabric’ by Wendy Cotterill, published by Bloomsbury. The book is full of many ideas and I recommend it for them; however, it was the straight forward approach to printing on to fabric that grabbed me. I had to try it. This time I had to send for some A4 size sticky labels (I had no idea there were such things) and then I was away. One short trial run was enough to convince me that it was worth pursuing. Some instructions for you will follow further down this post.

I had my design drawn up on Corel Draw – a programme I have been using for very many years – and had the various stages for printing sorted out. I spent a little while thinking up what colours of ink would be best on each of the coloured fabrics. The inks are, on my printer and most others, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Please note that printing in white is NOT an option as to the printer this means no ink at all!

For the background fabric – a caramel shade of Annabelle cotton from Zweigart – I chose pure cyan at 100%. This would produce a fairly traditional form of transfer print colour and, as you can see below, worked very well.

GROUND COLOUR 1

This is how the design would look printed on to white paper.

paisley in frame stage 1 resized

This is how the cyan print came out on the fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, for the dark blue fabric I thought yellow might be good but tried magenta and black as well, all on one piece of trial fabric. It was the magenta that turned out to be really good. It gave enough definition without standing out so much that, had the stitching not covered some lines, they would be visible. Later, as I stitched, it remained totally clear on the areas still to be worked. As you can see here, I was able to print three-up on an A4 sheet as the pieces were intended to be cut out and applied. I used the left over yellow and black printed areas to experiment with washing. They washed out completely with ordinary soap!

LARGEST SHAPE LAYOUT 1

Shapes for printing shown in magenta as they would appear on white paper

PAISLEY SHAPE PRINTED 2

Magenta print on to the dark blue fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, I needed to print the upside-down heart shape that was to go on terra cotta coloured fabric. Here it seemed that the best idea would be to set the lines for stitching a shade darker than the fabric and the outer cutting line as black. Here too, the pieces could be printed several up at a time as they were to be cut out and applied on top of the blue fabric.

CENTRAL HEART ALONE FOR PRINTING 1HEART SHAPE PRINTED 1

This also worked really well as the colour showed clearly whilst not being too obtrusive. You, of course, are not going to need a whole set of the same shape but you could paste up several design shapes, if thinking in terms of applique, and print them together. For printing the design to actually stitch you need as good a margin around it as you can.

Now I had my pieces and so applied them as required. I find applique very fiddly but decided I did need to do turnings as the raw edges, even with interfacing behind them, had proved likely to fray given half a chance. I started stitching and this part of the process and the stitches used will be made clear another time.

WORKING PIC OF PAISLEY 2

Partly stitched paisley design.

Incidentally, you get a much better idea of the true colour of the blue fabric here than in the earlier photograph and can, if you look closely, see the printed shapes on it. Take my word for it that they are perfectly clear whilst working.

I was able to set the colours for printing that I wanted by way of Corel Draw. If you have a drawing programme on your computer, you are likely to be able to do the same. Look at your fabric colour and choose a shade that you think will show well enough. Heavy dark lines are hard to cover and may show on the finished piece, which is a shame. When I publish some designs for you to download I will make them as suitable a colour as I can in the first place so that, provided you use a colour of fabric similar to the one I use, your design should come out very clearly.

How to do the printing

Since reading Wendy’s book I have found all sorts of instructions and variations of the method on-line and several mention freezer paper instead of labels. I used the labels and they worked well so, although I certainly will be experimenting further, my instructions here will use them.

  1. Take an A4 size label and cut your fabric slightly larger than the A4 sheet.
  2. Stick the label carefully to the back of the fabric and make sure it is straight and smooth.
  3. Cut the fabric to the size of the label sheet.
  4. Make tiny clips across the leading corners – these are the corners that will go first through your printer. Doing this can help prevent jams.
  5. You will need to know just which way your printer takes paper through. I place mine fabric side down and push it into position in the paper tray so that it will be picked up. It then goes round the roller and comes out with the printed side facing upwards. If your printer works differently, adjust this feeding procedure accordingly.
  6. Print your design.
  7. Remove the label and keep it to use it again (up to three times – or more).

Sources of design

For your own use you can print any design that you find in a book or other printed reference or on-line. Preferably it will be in line form with a plain white background. That way your printer will ignore the background colour and print only the image itself. Be aware that the colours will come out looking very different on a coloured fabric from how they look on white. Fairly fine lines (1pt – 3pt) work well. Thicker ones might be too much. In this case, take a tracing of the design making the lines finer and use it to copy onto the fabric piece.

I intend to publish some downloadable designs for you to use in the near future so that you can choose your fabric and instantly have your design ready to stitch. Currently I am working small designs in white thread on red fabric. I printed in cyan on it – more to follow in due course.

Fabrics

Fabrics should not be very thick or they just will not go through. As mentioned, I used Zweigart’s Annabelle for the first fabric and this is not a very fine quality; it is cotton, has a slight slub to it and is 28 count for counting purposes. It gave no problems at all. The other fabrics I used were patchwork cottons and these went through without a hitch too.

If you are stitching directly on cottons as fine as patchwork ones you are likely to need a firmer fabric behind them and to stretch this in a hoop while you stitch. Lightweight calico or similar is good. The great danger when free stitching is puckering of the fabric and these two factors – backing and hoop – will prevent this to a great extent.

Give it a try

If you have a printer, find some oddments of fabric and procure some A4 labels then give the design printing a go. Following the instructions should not damage your printer at all and it is really exciting to see these designs coming out begging to be stitched.

Further reading

Do take a look at Wendy Cotterill’s book. There are many further ideas in it for all sorts of artistic treatments and effects.

book 1

Some other books

These books have come my way recently and are well worth looking at.

Splendid Apparel. Anna Zilboorg, published by XRX Books.

splendid apparel

If you like to knit and would then like to embellish it with stitches you must look at this book. I was very taken with the patterns for garments themselves and found myself wanting to knit them all, even without the added stitching! The instructions are exemplary for the projects and the stitches, also each section includes many other ideas for you to experiment with. The embroidery stitches follow the patterns made by the knitted stitches and change the look in the most innovative ways. You may even find yourself that you look at garments you have previously knitted and think in terms of adding to them. Many of the garments in the book are knitted in what seems to be double knitting equivalent or 4 ply yarn, which, for us in Britain, is very convenient. My personal stash includes many of these two weights. I think I might well get set up with a winter project (or more than one) to work in the evenings from one of Anna’s designs – they are so inviting.

Surface Design for Fabric. Kimberley A. Irwin, published by Bloomsbury.

surface design

When I first got this book I thought it might be for textiles students only and of little interest to those of us at home. I was wrong. Every aspect shown and discussed gives instructions for working the ideas in your own workroom, kitchen or studio. There is so much practical information that you could spend a great deal of time working your own experiments and learning a great deal. Aspects covered include Dyeing and Staining: Discharging colour and using resists: Printing and transfer: Fibre manipulation: Fabric manipulation: Embroidery and embellishment. There are so many ideas; I want to try them all!

I promise to try to get back to you all soon. Meanwhile, do look at our Facebook site, which Anne Mullender keeps up to date. She is far more efficient than I am. Go to Facebook and ask for New Stitches Magazine – it’s easy and there are offers there is more news for you. Also, do look at Stitchdirect.com . Anne sets up new offers from time to time.

Mary

High Summer

Hello Everyone,

What we have here in the way of weather is the English version of High Summer and I like it a lot. Seldom is it too hot – we had a day or so of this – but often pleasantly warm, with enough rain to keep the garden happy and the chore of watering at bay. For me it usually means visitors coming my way too, and that is wonderful. First came Rosemary Drysdale, an English woman from Newcastle who moved to the States long ago and now lives on Long Island, New York. She is a designer of knitwear and needlework and, these days, most of her work appears in Vogue Knitting. She also has two recent books on Entrelac – a form of knitting that, if you are an enthusiast, gives a most interesting take on knitting technique. Secondly came my great friends Larry and JoAnne from the west coast of America. These two are long-time travellers with our group and have helped me in many ways including proof-reading, photography and garage clearing. They were on their way to a trip in Italy and spent several days with us first. Lastly came Gail Langton and her family. They live in Nairobi and Gail runs the Kenya Embroiderers Guild. Hours of discussions took place on what techniques to feature when I visit Kenya in February next year. This is always inspiring for me and I have had much fun working with stitches and beads since. This is just one of the techniques we chose and it will, along with the others, come to you too by way of these pages in due course.

New Embroideries

I have found time to finish one or two of the embroideries I had on the go. They are now ready for you – at last! In fact the designing takes relatively little time, a few hours perhaps, then the stitching takes a few evenings of sitting under a good light with the television doing whatever it is doing. It is the photography, production and, in particular the diagrams, that take hours and hours! I am trying to find ways of reducing the time factor. Learning to use a camera well and getting my library of diagrams sorted will help quite  a bit.

Hardanger Sampler

 

HARDANGER PIC 313  ADJUSTED 1 C CROPPED - FINAL ONE

I used a gentle pink for the background card. It just might come out looking rather more shocking pink, depending on your computer’s colour card.

This has been such fun to stitch. It uses a handful of selected stitches with different combinations of these to produce fifteen different squares of design. Each square, worked on Hardanger 22 count fabric, gives a finished piece that fits perfectly in a 3 inch (7.6 cms) square aperture, so making each perfect for a card, pincushion, biscornu or many other items. I worked white on white as this is the way in which the stitches show best. I then backed the sampler with pink card so that it would show through the cut areas. It gives the whole a slightly pink effect. Any pastel shade would do a fine job but do be careful about using darker shades as these can kill the colour of the fabric and make it look quite grey. I stitched the sampler using Pearl Cotton No 5 as the thicker thread and Pearl Cotton No 8 for the finer thread on 22 count Hardanger fabric. Various other threads are ideal for Hardanger, in particular Caron Watercolors (for the thicker stitches) with Caron Wildflowers (for the finer ones). Pastel shades of these look splendid. For a finer piece of work, choose Pearl Cotton No 8 for the thicker stitches and Pearl Cotton No 12 for the finer stitches – Anchor and DMC both make these threads – on a 28 count fabric.

For the Hardanger Sampler follow this link to our Stitchdirect site.

Hardanger Sampler download or kit

Not worked Hardanger before?

If you like the look of this embroidery but have never tried your hand at it, do send for our book ‘Easing Into Hardanger’. In it you will learn all the principles of the work and gain sufficient confidence to tackle any new designs that come your way. It has set many a stitcher on the path to great works.

Have a look at the book here –

Easing Into Hardanger

 

Tiffany Iris Window

TIFFANY PHOTO FRAMED 1

Many of you will already know my love of variegated and mixed shade threads. The DMC range is my favourite for stranded cotton. Only one shade in this design is of solid colour cross stitch, the others are all mixtures of one sort or another. Most are mixtures in the needle itself, made up of one strand each of two shades. Identifying these once your work is underway can be really tricky. The answer is to get organised with a thread card and the download or kit comes with one for you to use. For the download, all you will need to do is print the thread card page onto card if you can, or print it on paper and paste it to some card. The card packaging of Lindt chocolate bars is perfect, but you might need more than one bar!

TIFFANY THREAD CARD finished

This thread card comes with the download or kit.

This design is also the sort where it would help to have the outlines worked first. This is a great No-No for cross stitch in general, as the back stitches get drowned out by the cross stitches. It occurred to me after stitching the design that if you worked the outlines first in just one strand of cotton, they would then serve to show you the way and could be covered by the later Back stitch, which would sit on top and alongside the cross stitch as needed. I have not tried this yet, but let me know if you do and if you find it helpful.

Find your download or kit here.

Tiffany Iris Window download or kit

Coming Soon

The canvaswork is nearly ready to publish. I forgot to count how much thread I used and so had to work a further piece to allow me to calculate. It is all part of being too enthusiastic and running away with myself. It will be with you soon. Also ready is the blackwork (white on blue) version of the Wedding Sampler. This needs framing and photography. I will try to get this done! Needless to say, there are many other ideas in the pipeline too. Life is so good. The weather does not need to get hot again though, as sitting under a lamp, which is needed to see the stitching, is just too much.

Normandy – we are coming

Preparations for our trip to Dover then Normandy are well in place. If you would like to come along (see my last post) there is still a little bit of room. Do contact Buzzlines on 01303 261870  as soon as possible and we will try to fit you in.

New Projects

As always my head is full of ideas but I am also very much interested in embroideries you would like to see. Do let me know what is in your head trying to get out.

World Embroidery Day

July 30th is World Embroidery Day. Do anything you can think of to celebrate it! You could spend the whole day stitching, talk continuously about embroidery to everyone, set up a new project to work on, look through all your past stitching and finish off any pieces that need attention or look at this site All One Thread . Happy Stitching to the World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Time

Hello Everyone,

May sees two Bank Holidays and, this year, has given us much of the sort of weather that makes you think of holidays too. It is my favourite month of the year, particularly for what happens in the garden. Some plants are doing better than ever, others do not seem to have liked the winter much and are struggling a bit. Our many birds here are all thriving well and raising families in our trees, hedges and bird-boxes. Standing in almost any spot of the garden gets a pair of birds in a frenzy as I am in the way of them reaching their chicks. I have to move on. I mumble something about ownership but it falls on ears that do not understand the concept and probably would not care. What I do do in May and all year round is stitch. I like gardening but there is only so much that I can do at a time and then I definitely deserve a rest. So it is that evenings are very much given over to embroidery. I hope you do the same.

Features

This post features some New Designs, details of our Holiday to Normandy in September and a FREE download for Yorkshire Button making.

New Designs

There are some new designs on our Stitchdirect.com site. There is the first wedding sampler with a lace look and it is the Cross Stitch version – Blackwork and Hardanger will follow soon. With no Back Stitch except for the lettering, the design is entirely made up of Cross Stitches in one or two strands. It may be worked blue on white or white on blue – or any colouring you choose. The sampler can be stitched on 14 count (28 evenweave) fabric or 18 count (36 evenweave) and for the first will measure 10 inches (25.4 cms) square and the second 8 inches (20 cms)  square. It is then easy to buy an off-the-shelf frame for your finished embroidery. The glass that comes with the frame can be re-cycled, as it is not recommended for embroidery unless you really need or choose to use it. Full instructions and charts are given for the alphabet and how to set your lettering. The sampler does not, of course, have to be for a wedding and you will find that Retirement, Christening and Birth samplers are also an option.

WEDDING SAMPLER CROSS STITCH LACE WHITE ON BLUEWEDDING SAMPLER LACE LOOK CROSS STITCH WHOLE STITCHED DESIGN BLUE ON WHITE revision of lettering 1

Here are the links

14 count Aida or 28 count evenweave materials pack

18 count Aida or 36 count evenweave materials pack

Cross Stitch Wedding Sampler download

Jacobean Inspiration

Next up is a Blackwork version of a design that appeared in issue 260 of New Stitches. In there was a Cross Stitch version and copies of the issue are still available from Stitchdirect.com . Based on a needlepoint panel found in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, this second interpretation uses Blackwork techniques and metallic thread to recreate the style of Elizabethan and Jacobean times – the 16th and 17th centuries in Britain. Like the Cross Stitch version, It may be completed with gold sequins (not present on the piece worked here) to add interest and luxury.

ashmolean pic in corel for editing1
Here are the links…

Cross stitch design in issue 260 of New Stitches

Jacobean Inspiration Blackwork Materials pack

Jacobean Inspiration Blackwork download charts

 Our Normandy Holiday

I know many of you have been long awaiting details of this. I am sorry they have taken such a time but here they are at last…

I have deliberately made our journey this year a fairly short distance into Europe and hope that the trip will be as restful as you need it to be. Often there will be the opportunity to take a day off and stay in or around the hotel if you wish. On the other hand, there is plenty to do and see and much stitching to be done – either your own that you bring with you or a project from Danielle Carl to get your needle into. The holiday will be a feast of whitework embroidery, needle made lace, cathedrals, charming towns and friendly company.

If you have not travelled with us before, you will see that we work with Buzzlines, a properly bonded travel company. This ensures the safety of your money and is a requirement of British law. The booking is made with them and this is shown clearly on the booking form. Roy is our long-time favourite driver and tour manager and will take good care of us once again.

If you are new to our travel escapades, do please come along. We have a lot of fun and our regular travellers are a great set of people. They will make you feel most welcome. Husbands/partners are also very welcome and seem to enjoy themselves too.

Gathering together

We have arranged for us to meet at the Best Western Plus Dover Marina and Spa Hotel in Dover on September 9th. Travel there at your leisure and join us for dinner in the evening. Our hotel looks out over the harbour so after your journey you can relax and watch the sea-going traffic.

On September 10th we shall go to Dover Castle in the morning, where the Royal School of Needlework were instrumental in refurbishing the interior to reflect medieval times. We shall see their cushions and hangings as well as the superb stonework of the castle. A minibus from Buzzlines will take us in two journeys right up into the castle area so walking will be as much or as little as you wish. There will be the chance to visit the World War II tunnels or to return to the hotel for the afternoon from where we shall take a walking trip into the town to the Roman Painted House.

These two days/nights are optional.

Embroideries at Dover Castle

Embroideries at Dover Castle

Off to France

You may prefer to join us on the morning of September 11th which will see us head for France by way of the Tunnel to stay at our first hotel, Mercure Le Mans. From here we shall investigate the local area, visiting Tours and the lovely chateau at Villandry, the Musee de la Coife at Fresnay sur Sarthe and Le Mans cathedral, famed for its medieval glass. Highlight of our stay here will be a day with Danielle Carl (September 15th), who will show us her collection of whitework in the morning, come with us to a local restaurant at midday and teach us some techniques of her craft in the afternoon. To see more visit her site here Danielle Carl’s website

Chateau Villandry

Chateau Villandry

The next day we shall move north to the Mercure in Cabourg. From here we shall, of course, go to Bayeux to see the ‘Tapestry’ but also enjoy ourselves in the town with its vibrant shopping street and numerous cafes. Visits to Alençon and Argentan for their needle-made laces will be included. We shall also take the chance of some relaxation in Cabourg.

Bayeux 'Tapestry'

Bayeux ‘Tapestry’

Alencon Lace

Alencon Lace

Argentan Lace

Argentan Lace

On Friday 22nd September we shall return to England, visiting Calais on the way back. We plan to take a crossing through the Tunnel around 5 o’clock.

A stay overnight can be arranged at the Burlington Hotel, Folkestone, for those of you who would like to proceed home the following day.

A more detailed itinerary will be sent to all those who book closer to the time of leaving. If you have any queries, do contact us on 01303 892341 or ring Buzzlines on the number given on the download booking forms.

Prices per person

Dover, 9th and 10th September 2015

Best Western Plus Dover Marina and Spa. Three course dinner followed by tea and coffee and a full breakfast (hot and cold) are included. Excursion to Dover Castle to include entrance fee to the castle itself and entrance to the Roman Painted House in the afternoon.

Twin/sharing      £175

Single    £225.

France, 11th – 22nd September

Mercure Le Mans Centre

September 11th – September 16th (11 nights). Three course set evening meals and a full hot and cold breakfast are included. There are lifts to all floors. All excursions and entry fees are included. Porterage is available if needed.

Mercure Cabourg Hippodrome

September 16th – 22nd. Three course set evening meals and a full hot and cold breakfast are included. Several ground floor rooms are available and we shall have use of hotel facilities. All excursions and entry fees are included. Porterage is available if needed.

Twin/sharing      £1849.

Single    £2289.

Folkestone, 22nd September

Night of September 22nd at the Burlington Hotel, Folkestone. Dinner, bed and breakfast.

Twin/sharing      £63.

Single    £78.

Please see the main booking form for this option.

Special dietary instructions.

I know that a number of you have particular needs with respect to foods. Please make these very clear on your booking form. On the trip, Roy and I will help in any way to ensure that you get the food you require.

Similarly, if you need any other particular help, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Please complete the Booking forms given here or telephone Buzzlines on 01303 261870 to be sure to book your place. I do apologise for the relatively short notice, but this should be a grand trip and we would love you to come along. Please join us if you can.

Here are the booking forms…

Dover 2 nights

Normandy 11 nights

And Now- as promised- a FREE download on how to make Yorkshire Buttons.

yrokshire buttons crop 2

Yorkshire Buttons – 6 pages

Coming soon…

As always there is much lined up for you here at Woodland Dane. All the things mentioned before – Canvaswork, Hardanger 15 square sampler, Tiffany Cross Stitch, Hardanger Wedding Sampler and many more will be with you soon. The first three are stitched and awaiting framing or finishing and photography. I shall try to get these up for you before popping over to France to finalise arrangements for the trip. Life is busy but lots of fun!

Mary

 

 

 

 

Yes, it is Spring

Hello to you all in this lovely weather – actually it is a bit chilly today.

It has been a wonderful Spring so far here in Britain. We are still surrounded by birds of all sizes busily nesting and asking us for food. There are flowers too, of course, and they are so very welcome after the winter. Do not, however, let the lure of the outdoors take you away from stitching for too long. I know you need to stitch and I need you to keep up with (and buy some of) the designs I have coming along! There are some Tea Cups and two Celtic cushion designs now up and available on our Stitch Direct site. Details and links are below.

Coloured fabrics …

You may wonder sometimes why I seem to use all sorts of coloured fabrics rather than white. The reason is that any design that includes white thread needs a shade of colour for its background unless it is going to have some hefty back stitching round it and this is seldom appropriate. The new designs this time are all cross stitch and, by chance, are for parchment coloured (tan) fabric shades. This, together with a light blue or a light grey is a favourite for showing up embroidery well. I love red, navy and black too and some of the medium shades are wonderful. Working on coloured fabrics is as easy as working on white with the possible exception of the dark shades.  For these you need a good light, which you need anyway, and an early determination to succeed. You will be surprised how much you use your sense of feeling when stitching, in addition to using your eyes. When you think about it, very few of us turn the fabric over every time to see where to come back up to the front when working a stitch! You use your sense of touch through the needle. With darker fabrics you use this to some extent on the right side too and get used to it very quickly. Holes in fabrics are so very useful…

Half metre lengths…

On the list of materials needed for our embroideries we have for a long time put the amount of thread as ‘half metre lengths’. You will find that, after a query about this, I am now putting in whole skeins where needed and then the additional half metre lengths that are required. I do this because I know many of you have a stash, of stranded cottons in particular, and to know that you are only going to need a small amount of a particular shade gives you the chance to check your stocks. Sometimes you will only need half a metre of a colour and to tell you to buy a whole skein would send the wrong message. There are, of course, 16 half metre lengths in a skein, which might be helpful to you if you are looking at older designs. For those of you who do not have a stash, do please go and buy the skeins. They will come in useful one day – believe me.

Coming soon…

I still have loads of new designs coming along and am gradually getting used to the different way in which I have to produce them now. One thing I have found is that I can put in additional charts to make things clear at any time it seems like a good idea. This came to mind particularly when I started stitching a Blackwork design for a new wedding sampler and, even though I have been doing this sort of embroidery for years, found that I got lost within minutes!

BLACKWORK STITCHING 22-4-15 SMALLER 1

The answer was to go back to the drawing board (on the computer) and divide the pattern into three stages. Not only am I no longer lost but I found I could race away with the stitching – and enjoy it. Putting lots of charts for a single design into New Stitches was out of the question when they would take up half the magazine. Now it only means a few extra sheets of paper for those of you who can download from Stitch Direct and print. Here is a small part of the design. Stages 1 and 2 are worked and I am just working stage 3 to complete the pattern.The wedding samplers that are coming along will be for Blackwork (dark on white or white on medium blue as shown), Cross stitch (Dark on light or light on dark) and for Hardanger too. They will all be for 8 inch or 10 inch square frames, which are easily found. They will be available in a week or two – it depends on my stitching rate.

Canvaswork Diamonds

Canvaswork Diamonds

Another item I thought I would give you a sneak preview of is some canvaswork using Pearl No 5 Cotton thread. I need to stitch a little more and it will fit a cushion 30 x 40 cms, or I might make a clutch bag from the part I have already stitched.  Shown here is just a part of the design, which is formed as a basic square that can then be repeated in any direction to make the size of finished item you want.

Hardanger enthusiasts, I have not forgotten you. A set of fifteen card designs each 3 inches square is designed and ready. I am so tempted to make them into a sort of sampler wall hanging but I am not sure that this is going to happen, although I shall try to make sure you can do this if you wish by adding a border design as needed. I am stitching these too – or at least some of them. You will have noticed that makes three lots of stitching on the go and that is enough for now I think. I am fast though and really enjoying it all.

Tea Cups from the Victorian era…

The fashion for new tea sets has rather gone out for now but I know there is a trend for collecting miscellaneous antique cups and saucers for use and display. I think this is a super idea as they are so pretty. For stitchers this is an alternative to traipsing round the antique shops – you can sit at home or in the garden instead.

TEA CUPS STITCHED FULL SIZE 2

As a set of nine these cups can be stitched as a picture but, perhaps best of all, as individual embroideries. Stitched on 14 or 16 count  they fit cards with a 3 inch circular aperture or 3 inch circular coasters. To make the stitching easy, the download gives a separate chart for each cup as well as the main chart with all nine. These are going to be so useful for birthdays, Mothering Sunday and get well cards and as gifts.

Here are the links…

Tea Cups kit and chart pack

Tea Cups download

Dog and Bird – Celtic fashion…
Celtic designs have always been very popular, so I hope you will like these new ones.
Celtic Bird Cushion

Celtic Bird Cushion

Celtic Dog Cushion

Celtic Dog Cushion

I am afraid the pictures may not entirely do the embroideries justice. The fabric is parchment coloured (as mentioned above) and both should appear warm but not quite as over-bright as they do on my screen. Of course, on your computer they may come out looking just right. The same shades are used on each cushion, so they form a pair that could be just right for your conservatory – an excellent place to stitch them in the first instance.

Here are the links…

Celtic Bird Cushion Kit and Chart pack

Celtic Bird Download

Celtic Dog Cushion Kit and Chart Pack

Celtic Dog Download

And finally…

So, I hope you enjoy these. Do leave your comments in the box below. I would love to hear from you. There will be lots more coming your way soon – including the Yorkshire buttons, which I lost for a while but have now found. In the meantime, please tell EVERYONE who might possibly be interested about this site. We have a long way to go yet.

Best wishes to you all,

Mary

P.S. I am stitching the Hardanger as a sampler as well as for cards and so on.