Thursday, 25 October 2018


Remember the Danes? Back in the Dark Ages the Danes invaded England and the Anglo-Saxons gave them gold to go away. Not being stupid, the Danes concluded that if the Anglo-Saxons were able to pay them not to raid England one year then they would ask for more next year.
My mother liked her Dolls House Carpet so much that, like the Danes, she asked for more. "I need one for the drawing room, one for the dining room, and one for the master bedroom. And one for the nursery."
Did I say it was a large house?

She chose these from the pattern book. The first is based on a Kazak rug. The coin to the side is a twenty pence piece and the carpet measures about 6 inches by 4 inches. 

The second carpet is based on a traditional Megedia Geordez (Rumanian) prayer rug. With the tassels it measures about seven inches by 4 inches.

The third carpet, measuring 6 inches x 4 inches is a Heriz design.

Like the Holbein carpet, theses are all Susan McBaine designs, and all stitched in DMC Medici. It was a long time ago and I'm not sure what I learned from these except:
1. I still had problems counting;
2. If you do a project, the prayer rug in this case, with a lot of background and you stitch part of it in tent stitch and the rest in basketweave your backside looks ugly and;
3. I was NOT going to stitch stair carpets!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Passionate Pineapple

Well the pineapple's complete! What I have not said about it so far is that it is stitched on 28 count Antique White linen using Ecru DMC perle 8 and 12. The finished pineapple is 5½ inches high, 3 inches wide.
Having got this far, I'm going to put on a Nun's Stitch (Or is it Nuns' Stitch) edging.

And another lesson!
When I took it off the hoop there was a double crease in the linen that took an age of careful pressing on both sides to remove. Next time I'm working on a ring I'll loosen it off when I'm finished stitching for the day.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Fur Fabric and Fibre Fill

This fine upstanding fellow (when upstanding) is about 14" tall.

I was in a fabric shop and there was a poster challenging people to make a bear for their 1987 "Teddies for Charity" appeal.
"You could do that," suggested my wife.
"Naw," I replied.
"Of course you could," she challenged. "I have just the pattern."
Well sometimes a boy just had to accept the inevitable. What was not already in our stash was purchased. (I'm not sure there was that much 'purchasing'!) As the bears would be going to a children's hospital I decided it was reasonable to take the coward's way out and make him 'unjointed'.

I am NEVER going to make another stuffed toy. It is, to use a good Scots phrase, 'jist a fittir', but in a short(ish) time fur fabric and fibre fill became:

"What are you going to call him?" asked she.
"That's up to the child who he goes to live with," so he went off with a label that said;
CLINT - The Bear With No Name.

Where he is now I don't know, but he did teach me how important it was to a bear that he or she have all their pile running in the same direction and all their seams secure enough that they can eat copious amounts of hunny.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

164 and 3/2 Eyelets

The latest on the Whitework project:

Ten hours in and I have completed all one hundred and sixty four eyelets and three half eyelets.

Lessons learned?

First, watch your tension. I wasn't used to working on a ring and there are times I forgot to check the tension on the linen. Result, squint eyelet!

Second, work in the same direction. When I started, I worked the first row from top to bottom and the second from bottom up. I decided it didn't look right so I ripped it out and worked all the rows from top to bottom. Maybe just me, but it felt better.

Third, avoid eyelets in large numbers.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Achieving Harmony

It's like this. There was this old tatty chair I had inherited from somewhere. It could only be described as having reached a state of "well loved". The cover was more fray than fabric, the stuffing was coming out and at least one of the springs had sprung. Then there was the loose arm and the shoogly leg.

But it was my favourite chair!
What should I do?
Well there was this design of a duck in Gay Ann Rogers book!
What is it they say about fools and brave men treading?
Yes, I decided that if I could embroider a cushion I could just as easily embroider a chair back, and if you're going to do the back, you might as we'll do the seat too.
Well you do, don't you?

It took me two years, from January 1985 to January 1987, but I did it. I don't know how many hours I spent on this, back then I didn't keep a note of time. When the back and seat were ready I stripped off the old cover, sorted the springs, reset the leg and secured the loose arm, then I sanded it all down, varnished and re-stuffed it, and attached the embroidery.

I call this piece "Harmony". 

The Mandarin duck on the back is taken from Gay Ann Rogers "Needlepoint Designs From Asia" and is based on a detail from a painting by Ito Jakuchu (1716 - 1800). In Japanese art the Mandarin duck is a symbol of married happiness. The seat is my design and is based on the kanji for household harmony.
(If it's not, please don't tell me, it would break my heart.)
Both roundels are worked in tent stitch, the outer background is a woven stitch and the rest of the chair is covered with gold velvet (left over from a pair of curtains). I used Appleton's crewel wool and 14 count canvas for both parts.

I should have taken a picture of it at the time! This one was not taken until a few years later when the chair had seen daily use. You live and learn.

What did I learn?
That anyone who embroiders a whole chair is either highly dedicated or slightly nuts, possibly both. If you have embroidered a whole chair I take my hat off to you!
That Libraries are great! I found books on furniture restoration and upholstery and Japanese and between them I felt I had the confidence, if not the skill, to design the seat and complete the project.
That steady application of patience gets the job done;
AND that miles of background might be boring, but it's necessary to do it with the same attention to detail as the design.

Thirty years later it looks a little more aged and there are a few catches on the stitching, but it's still a darn comfortable chair.

And before you ask, yes, I made the curtains too, but they only lasted thirty years and two apartments.