Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Stump up for a golden treasure!

Stumpwork and Goldwork Embroidery by Jane Nicholson is a beautiful book. This hardback is rich and opulent. The layout somehow manages to be spacious whilst still packed with sketches and references to the artist’s source material. Jane Nicholson has studied Turkish, Syrian and Persian tiles as her design source for the book. The book breaks down into four sections with groups of designs. I love that there are suggestions for making the designs up into various items such as mounting work into a box or sewing it into a needle case. The designs also vary in size so you can build confidence and practice techniques before tackling one of the really stunning larger pieces.

Instructions are given and are very clear and well illustrated the author does refer readers to other embroidery books for the basics so I would say this book is definitely aimed at the more experienced embroiderer. The work is very precise and meticulous so would suit the stitcher who enjoys following a pattern to the last detail- but boy would the results be worth it! I have often been tempted to buy goldwork threads to feed my inner magpie but don’t often use them. Here the work is framed by elaborate combinations of these threads, beads and the couching over with coloured silks, to great effect. I also love how little blossoms are formed with beads and did have a little play with this myself. This is certainly a technique I will use again.

At £29.99 this book is not a ‘buy on a whim’ sort of title, but I think if you want to further your skills in stumpwork and goldwork it will certainly be a ‘bought and never regretted’.

I'm sorry to give you two reviews in a row. I think the fact I'm apologising for this probably gives an insight into my current state of mind. Like so many it seems, I am finding the winter blues a particularly deep hue this year. Lets keep our fingers crossed for an early spring and some sunnier more vacuous posts!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I wanna be your dowg

Fashion Dog is a book with 30 designs of outfits and accessories for the most pampered pooch. Designs are made with a range of knitting, sewing and crochet. They are sized for smaller dogs but there is a section suggesting how to scale up the patterns, though of course collar dangles are suitable for any sized pet. I usually try to make something from each book I review but this book had me stumped- draw a deep breath- I’m not really an animal lover- (I’m not keen on babies either)- there I’ve said- bye bye readership. I’m not totally hard hearted or anything, I’m just not great with things that are dependant on me for care. I am entirely comfortable with wild animals, but I couldn’t really knit leg warmers for a wolf! When I took a closer look at the patterns I realised one thing; this is not a book for people who love there dogs and want to have a go at making something for them…..rather this is a book for someone who LOVES there dog, adores fashion and is an experienced stitcher/knitter/crocheter. This is not to say that the instructions aren’t clear- they seem full enough- though I haven’t tried them, it is just that they are expressed in a way that might be foreign to a new crafter. In the accessories section the crochet is given as a written instruction, not as a diagram. Knitting is shown as a chart rather than in long hand. As I say if you are fabulously stylish, in love with your canine and adept with the needles you’ll really like this well presented book, it is a pooch Marie Claire.

I am offering this book up for any such dog lover- who's still talking to me!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Run run as fast as you can!

It may seem that this blog has become all about biscuits- that would be no bad thing huh?- but it's just coincidence! This little chap was made at school by Anna. The idea is that he can travel off, run away, to explore and send a postcard back to the school. This term the children are looking at fairy tales- and this way they can use the Gingerbread man to bring in a little geography. So if you have small children, or not, and live somewhere other than Kent in the U.K I wonder if you'd be willing to receive this little guy in the post and in return send a postcard to my daughters school? Please leave a comment if you think you can help.
I also wanted to share my latest sample for City and Guilds. I did a sketch of a shell and have part worked it as a black work design. I transferred the image using tissue paper which was a new technique for me. I wasn't expecting to enjoy black work particularly, but Loved it! I do like the back of the work, less neat! I needed to leave this part worked for assessment but look forward to coming back to it at a later date. I am now working on fabric manipulation which I am enjoying slightly less, I think this is because I needed to work in neutrals and you know what I'm like- I need a little colour in my life!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Hob nob-ing

And the Hob Nob has it! Well done Wipso. Thank you all so much for entering. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about you all and your biscuit tendencies.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Fabric flowers

Colliery Days is a Canny Keepsakes production containing stitched projects inspired by the history of the North of England. There are more than twenty of these projects, split into chapters depending on where they would be used in the home; they range from tea cosies to bedspreads so there’s plenty for everyone. The projects in the book have been made up in traditional fabric which gives them a really vintage country feel. The page layouts have a similar feel; the instructions are interspersed with snippets and historical anecdotes and recipes. The book has a whole lot of character which is very charming, browsing through i

t is a pleasure. Anna and I had a go at making the flower corsages. These were good fun and are very straightforward. We chose different colour scheme which gave different looks to the finished items. When it came to followin

g the instructions I found the page layouts a little distracting, the photographs of the finished items are very large which is helpful, but I can’t help wondering if this is at the cost of larger print in the instructions. All in all the book has a nice feel, very homely. I would say it would be most suitable for a traditional stitcher, there’s nothing very cutting edge here but lots to build skills and confidence, whilst also being nice to mooch over with a cup of coffee.

Can you guess who's flower is who's? I practically begged Anna to leave out that navy petal but she stood firm and damn her her flower is so much more interesting than mine! We decided we would make one in the wedding colours (whatever the hell they might be!) for her to have on a band around her head. Don't forget the give away I won't draw until Sunday so still plenty of time!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Family assortment

Thanks so much you mad bunch of biscuits- I am having a ball reading all your comments. I haven't had a ginger nut, or a malted milk or a custard cream enter- and if you think that could be you please leave a comment on the post below saying why and you'll be in with a chance of winning the give away- prize to be tailored to the winner. I am prepared to send to cookie munchers in any part of the world!
So further again to yesterdays post here are the fabrics which Tom selected for his quillow. I need a bit more though. My stash is full of pretty prints so if you have some fat quarters in your stash which you think would go in with this and you'd be prepared to swap please leave a comment. If you could tell me how many fat quarters you'd like to swap and what sort of colours or themes you are yearning for I'll mail you a picture of what I have for your approval. I'd like just 100% cotton fabrics- if that doesn't sound too fussy- and of course would supply the same! Thanks in advance. xxx

Saturday, 8 January 2011

300th post giveaway

Yep 300 posts- 300! That's quite a lot isn't it? About one hundred posts a year- around two a week- that's like a proper bloggy habit! Anyway it must be time for a giveaway! I won't say what the prize will be- because I want to make it special for the winner- who ever they may be. To enter please leave a comment, tell me something, tell me if you were a biscuit what sort of biscuit you would be and why. I am, for example, quite clearly a Bourbon. I'm a bit traditional, a bit common, I am possibly a little more than a boring rich tea but have no delusions that I am some fancy chocolate coated beauty from a Fox's selection tin. I am also quite especially nice when dipped in hot chocolate (get the picture?). I will randomly pick a winner next Sunday the 16th, please make sure I can contact you through your comment, or I will have to pick someone else- and that kind of hard-ball policy really doesn't come easy to a 'Bourbon'.So, as you may have gathered with my deep knowledge of biscuits there is only one sort of diet going on around here! I have seen lots of bloggers talking about the need for economy in these hard times and that has hit the stash... Cut to Pieces is offering an incentive for two months with no fabric purchases, I won't make any promises- because the minute I do I will want to do the opposite. I had been thinking though that if I am to make a quilt for my dear brother, which I very much want to do I will need to buy some fabric...but no wait perhaps there's another way? How would any of you feel about a fat quarter for fat quarter swap- I have lots of pretty florals and some novelty fabrics and Tom wants blues, green and brown geometrics. I will post a picture of the fabrics which Tom picked from my stash and perhaps you guys could tell me if you have anything which might fit which you'd be prepared to swap. There's no hurry so it could be all 2nd class post, but I think U.K only- otherwise it might defeat the object of the exercise! Cool- so come on biscuits- dunk yourselves in the giveaway-and help me celebrate 300 posts of waffle!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

simply re(a)d

I have added four new books to my library this festive season. Two were gifts from friends and two were gifts from me, a trip to Waterstones cafe before Christmas was indeed expensive! I treated myself to this amazing art book 'Radical lace and subversive knitting'. I think you could probably put 'subversive' on most things and increase their appeal to me! It is a really inspirational book- lots of amazing, rather than practical uses of 'knitted' textile.
I was also tempted beyond resistance by this amigurumi book 'Super Cute'. I have never played with cute crochet so it remains to be seen how successful this will be. I think this will be one to take on holiday with a few balls of wool and plenty of time.
My best friend from back home treated me to 'Stitched Toys'. Naturally Jen will need to be the first recipient of a little felt mouse! I think there are lots of basic patterns in here which can be embroidered and embellished to make them little works of textile art more than just toys for little on
es. The same goes for 'Wee Wonderfuls', this was from my Sister-in-law-to-be who I now would appreciate this book herself. All in all a strong feeling of cute, I always find it fascinating how gifts given reflect how people see you, and how some gifts are really given for the giver- (e.g underwear from partners!) So what did your Christmas gifts tell you about how people see you? Were your gifts frivolous, practical, saucy? Do tell!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

For Auld Lang Syne

Happy new year one and all! What a gorgeously hectic festive season it has been. We have had family staying and spent time with great friends. We have eaten, drunk, watched a tiny bit of telly and played masses of board games. The house got to a level of tidiness which I had previously thought impossible- and is fast returning to it's 'natural state'. I have made soup, disastrous Brandy butter and thanked the great god Waitrose for providing a stress free cooking experience of Christmas Eve and day.
I had hoped to show you pictures of Dad's finished Quillow, and the Baktus and necklace I made for Mum- but I was a dumb ass and didn't photograph them before wrapping them. Both my folks seemed really chuffed with their gifts and my big brother even said he'd like a quillow too, so he has chosen some fabric from my stash to give me a clue as to colour direction. I was lucky to have some lovely gifts which will fuel the crafting fires into 2011; some books, wool and threads etc. I know with the City and Guilds rolling on I shall never be short of inspiration. The course has definitely affected my blogging habits- I just seem to be pouring all my energies into it, which I hope you don't mind- I shall endeavour to keep things ticking along here.
I have not failed to notice that I now have only 24 hours until my 3rd blog anniversary and three posts until my 300th post. I will be having a giveaway- naturally. More thoughts on that to follow.
For now I shall leave you to contemplate the gentle river flowing off into the future, who knows where we shall be carried- (should be a laugh though!)