Stitches with meaning

A few years ago at Harrogate I saw some really stunning, original embroidery in the graduate showcase and was really pleased to see the work of Caren Garfen back again, this time with her own exhibition.

Caren’s work is called ‘She was cooking something up’ and is based around a kitchen installation. It takes the theme of women’s lives and their relationship with food, dieting and body image. Not only is it technically amazing, all of this is hand stitching on screen printed backgrounds, but so creative and powerful.

Apologies as my images are all a bit yellow due to the show lighting.

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 2

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 3

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 4

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 5

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 6

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 7

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 8

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Caren and tell her how much I loved her work.

There are some more detailed pictures (in better light) at this show link.

Her website  also gives more details of her work and there is a really interesting interview with Caren at this link on the Textile Artist web site. I particularly like the way her work links modern stitching with the history of women’s work and needlework.

As someone who is really interested in the history of needlework it is fascinating the way that women’s lives were often influenced heavily by their skills with a needle in terms of employment, readiness for marriage, social activities etc and this work makes us think through stitching about our lives and current pressures on them.

No longer do we have to be proficient needlewomen to clothe our families, or ‘make do and mend’ to help the war effort, or have 12 quilt tops ready before we get married but for many of us needlecrafts and knitting are still very central to our lives.

It always fascinates me as someone who has crafted all her life that knitting, quilting, embroidery and sewing are now popular like never before (and often on prime time TV), not because we have to do it but because we want to do it and the ‘handmade home’ is now once again valued over mass production.

The fact that the internet (the original idea of linking computers was to protect data in the event of war) is such as resource for us all (not just women but mainly women) to share ideas, encourage each other and to often enable us to sell our work is fantastic.

My life would definitely by so much poorer without my bloggy  ‘imaginary friends’ as my kids call them. So on that note thanks for visiting and have a nice week ahead!

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Fab, fab, fab…ric!!

How I love Saturdays 🙂 back to back cups of tea and a bit of blogging to share with you the joy that was Harrogate Knitting and Stitching, followed by more actual stitching.

And tomorrow will be more of the same! Ellie and Kerry have gone to Harrogate today and I am sure they will have a fab time as well.

I have not visited for a few years, partly due to not actually needing any more fabric (probably ever) but definitely being good in the run up to moving house and trying to use up what I have got in the last two years.

However this year Sharon and Helen from knitting group also wanted to go.We had a lovely day and also helped with restraining each other’s spending which was soooo hard.

It was fun to shop with people who have very different tastes.I am so drawn to anything medieval whereas Helen loves flowery prints and Sharon bought bright solids for her latest art gallery bunting.

The exhibition halls were full and there was much more gorgeous fabric than in previous years, as well as the lovely wool and stitching stalls and the exhibitions itself.

Our first purchases were actually from Simply Solids (got to support our local business) where I bought some mini charm packs similar to those I got from them on their opening day.

Then I found some fat quarters of the Moda Printemps that I had used from one of those mini charms packs for the hexagons so bought a couple of these to use as backing.

They are going to become toilet bags this afternoon for Christmas presents and will look lovely with some co-ordinating solids – such pretty designs!

Harrogate 2014 hexis backing fabric

As always Sue from Springwood House Designs had some beautiful Robert Kaufman Christmas fabrics so I bought these to add to the stash plus the sliver one for flower brooch making.

Harrogate 2014 Xmas fabric

Harrogate 2014 Xmas fabric 2

I was also very tempted by a wonderful Robert Kaufman tree panel and after seeing it on a few stalls finally gave in and bought one.

Apologies for the creases but you can see from the detail photos what a wonderful piece it is – more like a work of art than just fabric.

Harrogate 2014 tree panel

Harrogate 2014 tree panel

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 2

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 3

Harrogate 2014 tree panel detail 4

This will not be finished for this year, it needs lots of time lavished on it – hand quilting and maybe some seed beads as well.

I also picked up some bargain back issues of a few magazines, I do love reading craft mags even if I will never have time to make any of the things in them!

Harrogate 2014 magazines

Also came across a bargain bin for fabric on one of the stalls – most of these were £1 each 🙂 I am trying to break away from just medieval and could not resist the bright elephant print second from right.

Harrogate 2014 bargain bin fabric

The exhibitions are always a delight – these pictures were from the graduate showcases – the first knitter is a Huddersfield student which is very nice to see.

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 1

I loved this Hobbit themed set – look at Smaug the dragon!

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 2

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 3

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 5 dragon

And these would make amazing gifts for dog owners.

Harrogate 2014 Knitting exhibit 4 dogs

I have some more work to show you but will do that in another post as this one is getting a bit long!

Hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour and thanks for visiting. Now off to use up some of this stuff lol!

We’re getting there!

Hello again

We (as in Ellie, Kerry, Sadie and I) promised ourselves at the end of last season in September that we would not spend the winter as we usually do talking about all of the things we were going to make but meet up more regularly to make things.

So we met again this weekend at my house for a second sewing weekend. This also included a little evening out to introduce Sadie to the delights of Marsden.

I am exempt from having to make any large things as I am hostess so I feed and provide equipment and guidance if needed while the others get on with their stuff.

It was a very successful weekend with Kerry finishing two linings to go under her corset , working on a pair of cuffs for her gloves for next season and revising a dress.

Ellie and Sadie both made shifts which were nearly finished by yesterday evening apart from the hand finishing of the seams. Here Ellie is hard at work and later modelling her creation (excuse the lack of light – winter in Yorkshire!)

Sewing day Nov -Ellie

Sewing day Nov -Ellie 2

She has had her hair cut short which looks very lovely and donated the hair to a children’s cancer charity for making wigs for kids undergoing chemotherapy.

Sadie was using her machine for the first time and it all went very well!

Sewing day Nov -Sadie

Since we do so much work for English Heritage ( who have very strict guidelines on costume) we machine sew main seams then fold the seam allowance over and ‘stab stitch’ through to neaten the seams.

This also hides the overlocking on the edge of the material. I usually then oversew the seams, both to cover up the machining and to provide extra strength.

Some of the garments like shifts and hose and brais (the men’s undergarments) get a lot of wear and tear, particularly when worn under armour and this helps strengthen the seams. All hems are handstitched.

I did manage to finish a couple of things – hexis of course! Here are two of my latest Christmas ornaments using a slightly bigger hexi and making two hexi flowers which are sewn together.

Sewing day Nov - hexi ornie

 

Sewing day Nov -ornie 2

The flower for the backing is plain fabric with a patterned centre square.

This is a great way of using up little scraps from my Christmas fabric stash. Some of the fabric that I am using now I have had for years and am getting to the end of it so this is a very economical method as well as being very enjoyable 🙂

I am also making good progress with all of my hand-made gifts (though there will no doubt be a mad dash as usual at the end – luckily some don’t have to be finished until the 29th when I go to Spain!).

Below are the finished pincushion and needlebook. The scissor keep to finish the set is almost done, just needs the buttons and cord added.

Sewing day Nov -needlebook

Sewing day Nov -needlebook 2

Of course the great excitement later this week is the visit to Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show! I have set myself quite a strict budget which I intend to spend on charm packs and buttons.

There may just be some pictures of fabric in my next post 🙂

Meanwhile stay happy and thanks for visiting.

A lovely bit of sunshine!

Sorry for the lack of posts, I returned from lovely sunny Spain to lots of work and late nights so have not had time to post any pictures of the sun.

It was very warm, 30 degrees which is hot even for Spain so I had a fantastic week. I went to the beach three times and swam in the sea twice and had a couple of trips to the spa where the jacuzzi did my aching bones a world of good.

We had a lovely last day out and went back to the cave houses at Rojales which have been turned into artist’s studios.

Rojales - caves

There was a little craft fair on and some very cute animals enjoying the sunshine, I managed to get this cat to stay still for a picture.

Rojales - caves 3

I particularly liked this piece of art outside one of the caves.

Rojales - caves 2

I also managed to take some pictures inside the cave bar that we visited last time, some brilliant carvings in the rock walls in the style of Picasso.

Rojales - caves 4

Rojales - caves 5

Rojales - caves 6

Last time we were there we could see this amazing house just down the hill covered in shells and this time it was open so we got to have a look round. I don’t know who owns it or did all this work as the couple who were there didn’t speak English but it was a masterpiece.

Rojales - shell house

Rojales - shell house 4

Rojales - shell house 5

Rojales - shell house 6

Even one of the rooms had been decorated, not sure if all were like this inside but this one was open for us to look round.

Rojales - shell house 2

Rojales - shell house 3

This is why I love Spain, always the unexpected with a touch of slightly bizarre! Oh and the marvellous weather and cheap wine 😉

Have not done a lot of crafting since returning but have been working on a couple of Christmas gifts and ornaments this weekend (hexi inspired of course) which I will share with you when they are finished.

Until next time take care and thanks for visiting.