A couple of finishes and an interesting day out

I have just finished the piece that I have been working on for our Embroiderers’ Guild exhibition at the end of Sept. It is the 30th anniversary of the group so we have created a special piece based on the colours of the rainbow – altogether there will be about 30 pieces of embroidery all 8 inch by 8 inch square which showcase different techniques and which are in different colours.

We were given free choice as to techniques and style so I have chosen to do something based on crewel work with a contemporary twist. My chosen colour was indigo and I used as my pattern a freebie motif from Pintangle which is based on a Paisley motif.

Unlike my normal work which tends to be very structured I wanted to be more relaxed and expressive with this piece so I just gathered together some appropriate coloured threads and beads and went with the flow – with the design emerging rather than being planned. I have deliberately not used traditional crewel work threads going instead for some nice shiny sparkly stash with the addition of some hand dyed silk.

The finished piece still in its hoop - two Paisley inspired motifs
The finished piece still in its hoop - two Paisley inspired motifs

It was also my chance to practise my chain stitch and I am very proud of how it turned out – there are some less than perfect bits but overall not bad! I love the way the beads look as well –  they really sparkle.

A close up of the sparkly bits!
A close up of the sparkly bits!
Stitches used - couching, running stitch, chain stitch and lattice
Stitches used - couching, running stitch, chain stitch and lattice

 I have really enjoyed the ‘not knowing where I was going aspects of this piece and want to develop more of this style of work. As a treat to myself I have signed up for a textile crafts evening class which starts in a couple of weeks (as a precursor to doing my City and Guilds certificate in embroidery next year) at a local adult education centre with a promise to move away from doing all counted and structured work to a pattern and more of my own designs.

We had a lovely couple of days in Notts – as well as going for the chinese to celebrate Ellen’s A level success we went to the Galleries of Justice which is the old court and prison in Notts town centre which has been very well interpreted to show what the prisons were like in the 18th and 19th century with a tour involving costumed interpreters playing the prison staff roles and some very good displays. The kids really enjoyed it – very creepy in parts as it should be but very good.

The kids outside the old Police box - make your own Tardis noises!
The kids outside the old Police box - make your own Tardis noises!
Jake being far too tall to really fit behind the convict mock up
Jake being far too tall to really fit behind the convict mock up

I am often sad when I come across embroidery that has no details of the maker but there was a piece in one of the exhibitions that was very sad because there were details.

There was an exhibition at the end of the tour of things that had been made by prisoners – either for sale or in their free time and there was the most amazing piece that had been embroidered onto an existing pice of lace edged linen. It is amazing as it was embroidered using the prisoner’s own hair as she did not have access to thread and since needles were limited had probably been stitched with a needle made from a mutton bone. This piece was made in 1880 by an inmate called Annie Parker.

Annie's sampler
Annie's sampler
Detail of the sampler
Detail of the sampler

The level of work is amazing – the stitches are so tiny and possibly most of this was done in poor light. A testament to this woman’s determination.

We have just done our last show for English Heritage at Bolsover Castle – a lovely weekend with a slightly wet end to both days! However we had a great campfire on Sat which helped us dry out the kit! And I bought a bottle of ginger wine from the castle shop which very much helped warm the cockles! Thank you very much to the 3000 people that came to see us – your support was much appreciated.

Think that summer might be over – has done nothing but rain torrentially for the last two days and today have had to put the heating on as it is so cold! We still have one more show in South Wales the weekend after next so am hoping for good weather for that!

Hope you are all having a less soggy time!

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2 thoughts on “A couple of finishes and an interesting day out

  1. The skill involved in these old samplers never cease to amaze me, especially when you think of the conditions they stitched in.
    Well done on your paisley interpretation, really shows up on the fabric you have chosen

  2. Thank you very much Jane – I really enjoyed it. I like beading although I do have a tendancy to throw them all over the sofa!

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