Saturday, 19 December 2009

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

Finally some pictures of the festival of trees! Firstly an example of the majority of trees, very tastefully done. This one is for the in independant shoe shop in town, and is decorated with little gold shoes.
Next is our handmade tree. I realised the day of decorating that I had nothing for the top of the tree so ferreted out a gorgeous mohair bear that Mum had made me a few years back. She was dressed in a pretty liberty print frock and bloomers but I hastily put together a fairy outfit for her and she looks so happy!
The pink tree was the winner in the adult category and was in tribute to a teenage girl who had been struck by cancer. I particularly like the way the ribbons have been run down from the top of the tree. It was very obvious how much thought, time and love had gone onto this tree.
There was a separate section for the children's trees, the brownies had festooned their tree in paper chains which was very effective.
The winner in the children's category was this hand print tree from Anna an Wills nursery. The hands had been printed in thick paint, sprinkled with glitter and laminated. These really do shine and I have Anna's on ourtree at home, it is a lovely keepsake of how little her paw is!

Looking at the photos I'm not sure I've done our handmade tree justice it was much fuller than it looks in this picture. It was the kind of tree where you have to stand and look and discover the little treasures.

I mentioned that our last Embroiderers Guild meeting had a speaker from the textiles department of a local school. Well it was a total inspiration, two students came along and bought their A level work with them. I realised how much I have missed not having some direction in my 'work' and came home determined to find some structured course which I could complete. I made a phone call and had a call back on Monday to tell me more about a distance learning City and Guilds Embroidery course. I am so excited because it looks perfect. There was the opportunity to start in January but I want to give this my all and produce work of which I can be really proud. I will be starting in September 2010 so have a few months to clear my 'stock' and finish off some projects. I feel like I have been searching for the right direction for my work since I began this blog and I have learned so much, had so many joys and a few disappointments but I am now sure that this course is my next step forward.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Book review- Embroidered Alphabets

Embroidered alphabets by Di Van Niekerk is a really pretty book. It containsdesigns and detailed instructions for embroidering monograms embellished with ribbon flowers. There are lots of suggestions for projects using the monograms and also guidance on how to make the monograms more or less complex, depending on time available.

There is a list of materials for each design, specifying threads which are not widely available in shops and ribbons which are the authors own. The technical instructions and stitch diagrams are exceptionally clear and concise and the book is very well laid out. The designs at the back of the book for other projects mean that there are a lot of ideas which would make the book more than a one project purchase.

It was my intention that when reviewing a title I would attempt to actually use each book, making some samples or a small project and this is where the book caused me some problems. The start of each project is to copy a coloured image of your chosen design and transfer it onto fabric. This obviously means that you can just a highlight a very pretty ready-coloured design with some stitch, but I am not confident with image transfer. Again the instructions are very clear and re-assuring and there is the option to buy a printed fabric panel direct from the author, but compared with the traditional method of tracing a design this all just seemed to much effort. I think the book would appeal to the more traditional embroiderer but because of the image transfer method and the fact that specific threads are required they would have to be a computer confident traditional embroiderer.

I think what this book attempts to do is to almost allow people to make up their own ribbon embroidery kits, printing a design, ordering their threads and then making a very beautiful heirloom project but perhaps not the book for someone who requires instant stitching gratification!

Again, I'm so sorry I haven't worked out how to move my pictures about! This review copy went into yesterdays Embroiderers Guild raffle and the lady who won it looked absolutely delighted, I'm sure she'll make some lovely things from it.

Friday, 11 December 2009


The tree is up and decorated! It was actually a really good thin having two poorly children helping me- no angst over the perfect balance and spread just a mad scramble to grab some decs for the upper half of the tree! I was really pleased to see lots of other trees with hand made decorations, and indeed some handmade trees! I almost didn't vote for my tree the others are so good! I will be visiting again at the weekend with Simon and will try again to get some pics- the light was just too bad at 3pm- meanwhile here are some more examples of what has gone on;

The yo-yo trees are super quick and very effective, there is also a bell at the base so they would be cute hung on a door etc.
The felt triangle trees are another very simple design and would be perfect for a children's craft activity.
Mum knitted the mice, which I think are probably from a Jean Greenhowe booklet, she has styled them as sugar mice with string tales and very cute star shaped eye and heart shaped noses.
But look at what Dad has been up to! When we were chatting at half term he got a sudden sparkle in his eye and flew off to the workshop to play on the lathe- watching inspiration strike is really magical isn't it? He came back a short time later with these sweet little bird houses all different shapes and sizes, and different woods. They are possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen- (except my own children obviously!!) I am very proud of my creative family, is it wrong to say that? I do hope I manage to pass the spark along., or at least the confidence to do what makes you happy whether it earns you money or not.

I am off now to have a look at Kitschy Coo's blog for a dress for Anna for Christmas day, and maybe a super cool T-shirt for the Will-ster. There is a sale going on the fabrics she uses are ace- Consider yourselves tipped off!!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Nice Mice

I have just realised how long it has been since I've blogged, the run up to the big C has peeked here, and now I feel like I'm on the home straight. The 'handmade' tree goes up in the church tomorrow. My lovely tree provider has also felt the time pressure and is providing a real tree rather than a fencing creation- maybe next year? Mum and Dad visited over the weekend and bought a Dorset contribution. How cute are these Angel mice, the mice are Uncle Ben's signature but the Angels are new and I am very impressed. Mum and Dad have also been making but I'll show those in the next post along with some pics of the tree if they come out O.K. Pomona has also been kind enough to share some of her stash in the form of three balls of ace wool which was a lovely surprise to open Leave a comment on his post if you would like to win a brown brooch made from the yarn in a kind of small scale P.I.F.

I was very relieved to finish my advent pockets before the 1st and am really happy with how they have come out. All 24 are different and are stuffed with little chocolate treats for the smalls. I kind of wish I had numbered them but.....frankly time was just too tight....maybe next year?
The Happy Zombie blog (link above) is well worth a visit with lots of cool free patterns for domestic use and they go together really well.
This is a bit of a bitty catch up post so I'm sorry for all the randomness, but there is a bit more. I always seem to tell you about the Embroiderers Guild meetings after I have been to them so here is advance warning that the East Kent guild has a meeting this Saturday at the John Baker White Memorial Hall, Lower Hardres. Doors open at 1.45pm. Our speaker for the Christmas meeting is the head of textiles for a local school and she is asking for textile stash rather than a speakers fee so that the girls at school have some new treasure. I love going to guild and it would be ace to see some fellow bloggers.