Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Tambour Lace????

Today's handkerchiefs from my recent acquisition are the most beautiful lace of the lot - and I think it is Tambour lace - but I would love to hear if anyone has any better suggestions.



For the one above, I think it is Tambour Lace. The two below are similar, but seem to lack some of the characteristics - so would appreciate any suggestions as to its type.





Beaded Stars

Last year I was shown these stars by Rae, one of my students, so I rushed home and wrote down the directions. I made up a few small kits of instructions, a photo and beads, and passed them around. They have now been posted on another blog, so I thought I may as well put them up here as well.

Bead Snowflake1

They can then be sewn down to crazypatch - and look wonderful on Christmas pieces.


Beaded Snowflake (Gold and Light Blue)

Thread a fine needle #10 with both ends of a long (1.2m) thread of white machine cotton, so that there is a loop at the end.

Row 1

Pick up one gold bead, take it almost to the loop and then put the needle through the loop and tighten, so the bead is held securely (note: if the threads slip apart the bead will come straight off)

Pick up 11 more gold beads, then go back through the first bead and the next bead so that it forms a tiny ring.

After this your needle should always go the same direction – usually you will be working from right to left.

Row 2

Pick up three light blue beads, miss one gold bead and go through the next gold bead. This forms a loop, with one gold bead in the middle. Continue this way, picking up three and missing one gold bead to go through the next gold bead, until you have six loops of three light blue beads.

Finish this row by going through the gold bead where the first loop starts, and through the first two light blue beads of the first loop

Row 3

Pick up 1 light blue bead, 3 gold beads, 1 light blue bead and go through the middle bead of the next loop of light blue beads.

Continue with the 1 light blue, 3 gold, 1 light blue until you have six loops and are back to the start. Go through the first light blue and first gold of the first loop.

Row 4


Pick up 3 light blue beads and go through the third gold bead of the same loop in the previous row. Pick up 3 gold beads, 1 light blue bead and 3 gold beads. Go back through the light blue bead and the next gold bead (ie 3rd bead in the first lot of 3 gold beads).

Pick up 2 gold beads and go through the first gold bead of the next loop in the previous row. You have just formed a picot.

Continue from *** until you have formed 6 picots.

Go into the appropriate gold bead to finish (first one under the first light blue loop in this row). Blanket stitch your thread once between beads. Go through two more gold beads and repeat blanket stitch. Go through two more gold beads and repeat blanket stitch. Go through light blue bead and cut thread close to beads

The beads used were OLAF No.9 seed beads from my local craft shop at $6.95 for a 25 gm packet. It is very important to use good, even beads.

I haven't made any for a while - must go and make a few.

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Chicken Scratch Tablecloth

This is another of the pieces my Dear Friend dug out of her linen press for me the other day, so that I could photograph and write about it.


This friend married late in life, and went from the city to a farm. Her friend in South Australia, who made this when she was in her nineties, about ten years ago, made her a number of pieces on gingham, as she believed that was the sort of home she would have on a farm.


This piece interests me for a number of reasons. It has a heavy, encrusted look. It has those daisies that haven't been appearing in books, and I had so far only found on one apron (although Gina found a piece the other day with them). The daisies have been used in this case to form a lattice.

And the circles have been used to emphasis the dark blocks, not the light ones.

And I like the rick-rack edge - it has been handsewn using herringbone stitch.

Two New Flickr Groups

It is a cold, wintry day here, and I am typing fast on the computer. And have formed two new Flickr photo-sharing groups - one is Vintage Linen, for all the doilies and other embroideries (but definitely not aprons or hankies), and the other is for Chicken Scratch.

Hopefully those links will work.

I don't have a lot of Vintage Linen, but I do have a fair bit of Chicken Scratch - not sure when I am going to get a lot of time to add stuff - but we will see.

Do fee free to drop over and join! Although I have left them as totally public groups, so you can have a peep at anything without having to join.

Slowly posting Hankie pictures

The Hankie photos are all slowly going onto Flickr, so I won't put them all on here. And I have taken the plunge and upgraded to a Pro account at Flickr (ie paying for it), as I am really taken by the ability to do sets - and I want more than the three sets you get with a free account.

So, to see all the Hankies as they are added, go to my Flickr page and choose the Hankies set from the lefthand side. Or drop over to the Vintage Hankies group at Flickr.

And it was the set on Pam Kellogg's Kitty and Me Flickr page that got me - it is so wonderful to look at the progress of each block in her CQ set.

But, in the meantime, here is a closeup of another of the Hankies. Can someone remind me the name of this lace technique, where there is stitching on net???? Please???


It is a rather nice hankie, isn't it. I think I have accepted I won't be cutting any up.


A very special apron

This apron is one by the Dear Friend I have just spent a few days with.

Victory apron

It is now old, very tattered, and she is the first to say embroidery was never a passion of hers.

But about 1942, when she was 14, her father died suddenly - I think he was killed in a car accident, or something like that. As she said, it would not be the same today, but the decision was that she was too young to be there at home, and she was sent away to friends at the beach, and given this apron to embroider. I don't think she was even allowed to go to her father's funeral.

So she sat on the sea wall and embroidered an apron that was all about the war, and victory and patriotism, and grieved for her father.

She has worn the apron after that until it almost fell to pieces - the bias ties broke and she just knotted them up again.

It still has a special place in her linen cupboard.

Monday, 29 August 2005

Vintage Handkerchiefs at Flickr

Just found a group at Flickr called Vintage Hankies. Only just started, so I hope the link that I have put here works - if not go to Flickr and search groups for Hankies.

I am trying to get organised to post better pictures of my finds in an organised manner - so this will be the ideal place - especially as I see another Handkerchief fancier has come out of the woodwork (waving to another Linda).

In the meantime, here is just one:


This is just one corner of a drawn-threadwork handkerchief in the lot I recently acquired. It has tiny and complex crochet inserts. Although, when I look very carefully they may be needleweaving, not crochet.

There is a larger picture HERE.

Blue Apron

Regular readers will know I have just been away on a three-day trip elsewhere in the state where I took a very Dear Friend to visit a 96-years-young lady in hospital. And, as you drive you talk of many things. We started talking about aprons and Chicken Scratch.

So, when I dropped her home last night, she insisted on a frantic rummage in her linen cupboard, and loaned me a number of items to photograph and write about. I should also add that both this friend (in her late seventies) and I are involved in museums, so we often look on items that are less than perfect as being more important than ones that are pristine and as-new, because that is where we find the stories they tell.

So this is the first of a number of aprons she has allowed me to photograph:


The maker for this was a schoolfriend, whose estate my friend has recently finalised. It is the apron her friend made in secondary school, probably when she was 13 or 14, in the early 1940s.

In later life, she used this apron so much that the ties have shredded where she tied it around her waist. But it is still almost perfectly clean - I suspect in the 1940s and 1950s it would have been boiled in a copper.

My friend could not bear to throw it out, so keeps it with her own aprons - and I have one story to come from them, too, plus some other photographs.

Sunday, 28 August 2005

Jeans Bag Sunday III

Just home after a loooooooong three days away, and heaps to talk about - but not a lot of time at the minute to do so.

So here is a picture of my Jeans Bag for this Sunday:


It shows where the Chicken Scratch Heart fits in - I am slowly filling in the swallow. And there is also a little bit of work on the doiley on the left - hopefully blending it in a bit, but more still needed.

Back in a day or so with more about my amazing finds.

Saturday, 27 August 2005

Wonderful Handkerchiefs find

I am having the most wonderful weekend away in Mansfield, in North-East Victoria. Very busy as it is in the snow season (although the snow is much higher up), but I have had a wonderful time checking out the shops in between dropping off and picking up the friend I have driven over here, who is visiting her friend for her 96th birthday!

I have met this lady before, but I hadn’t realized she was an early needlework teacher in the State Secondary school system.

So she really appreciated my find. If you are in Mansfield, there is a nice patchwork shop, Main Street Inspirations at 112 High St, and two op shops (I am told three, buut I couldn’t find the St Vinnies). But the real find was a “Funky Junk” shop at the back to the Cinema. And she is only open 10am to 2pm on Saturdays, so was I lucky.

There, in a clothes basket, was a collection of vintage Irish Linen (although one is Swiss cotton) handkerchiefs of a quality I have never seen before. Most still had their tags on them, so had never even been washed. Many have rust marks, but I can cope with that. On one, I even found a number where a previous owner has been cataloguing them.

They really are unbelieveable – and the wonderful woman in the shop started by saying two dollars each – but when we got to a total of 27, she gave them to me for $20 for the lot!

Here is just some of them:


And I am in a real bind – most of them are far too good to cut up. I think Gina was execute me on the spot (wait until you see them). One is the finest drawn-thread work I have ever seen. The one almost in the centre of this picture,

Just wait until I get home, and get to the scanner! I am hoping this post works - this is the first time the laptop has been away, and the HTML is behaving strangely on the motel switchboard!

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Vintage Machine Postcards

Meggiecat has posted a series of vintage postcards of women at sewing machines on her blog.

They are just beautiful - be sure to click on them to see the enlarged size. The detail in the machines is excellent - some of the best stuff I have seen in a long time.

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Queens of Hearts blogging

I have just found that Tracey and Sandie have their own blogs. They make some of the beautiful Hearts on Chains of Hearts.

But I didn't know they were blogging.

Well, there ya go! And they are beautiful blogs, too.


Success - I think I have finally got Chicken Scratch onto Denim:


This has been something that has been exercising my mind for a while, as I played around the edges. This piece is on my Jeans Bag, and I think I will ultimately fill in the bird.

But firstly, a word of caution. If you have not used waste canvas before, and done a little bit of Chicken Scratch, this is not the ideal way to learn. This challenged me quite bit.

The process was:


Firstly, I actually drafted the red stitches/outline onto the waste canvas, using a felt-tipped pen. It is 10-count waste canvas, but using double-sized stitches on it - which is what I found most difficult at first.

Then I moved the design around until I found where I wanted it to fit (ie there was no room for it without overlapping, and I wanted to overlap anyway).


Then (above) I did all the straight stitches.


After I removed the waste canvas, this is how it looked.

Finally, I did the weaving, and it finished up like the first photograph in this post.

And no, you don't get to see the bag at this stage - I only ever post the whole bag on a Sunday. :)
But I will be away this weekend - so that may well be late Monday.

That gives me heaps of time to get more done.

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

New Crazy-patcher at Flickr

There is a new crazy-patcher over on Flickr, whose work I have always enjoyed - Laurie aka Dark Phoenix. I do like Flickr, where I can now just list her as a favourite, then I am told each time she loads pictures, and I can enjoy them.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

August Aprons

These are my August Aprons for the Challenge on Tie One On - we were asked to make a "normal" adult apron, and a "mini".


I used this as an excuse to practice Chicken Scratch, with varying degrees of success. Some details of the pieces on the aprons are HERE, HERE and HERE.

That does not include the first mistake with a Heart, which is still due to be a pot holder.

There is a particular small girl who the smaller apron is heading for - the larger one is heading for the kitchen.

Jeans Bag Sunday II

Here is my Bag of Fun for this Sunday morning.


I am still having trouble with colours - Sharon has suggested apricot, but I don't like apricot. It has never been one of "my" colours. Although I can appreciate that is why her bag looks so good.

But I have to remember there is a long way to go yet, and I only add beads and buttons at the end, as they get in the way when I am sewing.

At this point I have decided I needed to firstly fill it with fairly large elements, and then work the fine details around them. And I am experimenting with overlapping things to bring them together.

Still - the 8th November is a long way off. Threads...beads....buttons ..... charms...broken "jools" ..... keys ......

Saturday, 20 August 2005

Chicken Scratch and Waste Canvas

This is the current Chicken Scratch pattern, worked on the denim of my Jeans Bag. It is in two strands of DMC and the crosses are worked on 10 count waste canvas. The waste canvas was then removed and the triangles woven.


It is a bit lost on the bag (and a bit geometric), but would work well on a smaller, more delicate block.

More Freeform Chicken Scratch

This is my first attempt to get the "normal" Chicken Scratch, which is circles and snowflakes, onto denim (or any other fabric, for that matter).


Firstly - it is possible to do - I just put tracing paper over gingham and traced the crosses and straight stitches between them. I then transferred them to the denim by stitching through and removed the tracing paper.

I then put the second cross on the snowflakes and wove the circles.

That is where I came unstuck. I am finding that the more subtle colours in threads are blending into the denim (this is not the only spot where it has happened). It is almost like the blue/whiteish of the denims sucks colours out!

This piece looks absolutely terrible at night (which is why I tried the lighter thread in there as well), but looks quite good during the day, when the different light shows up the texture. I cannot pick the same texture at night.

So the bottom lines are - I need stronger colours, but this form of chicken scratch is possible. And it does add nice texture. One of my students has now added small ribbon roses in the centre of circles, with a few leaves, and it looks stunning.

And I am trying to remember that this is a working bag - I do not want to put light colours towards the base, where they will pick up grime easier whenever the bag is put down. Otherwise I could use the stronger whites there.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Chicken Scratch moves to Jeans

Having worked out the latest Chicken Scratch pattern, I decided it was time for it to move to my jeans bag:


I drew the three lines of crosses by tracing a cross from the dark checks on the gingham. Exact size and spacing is important.

I then removed the tissue paper, and added the second layer of stitching:


I probably could have used a brighter/lighter/more contrasty thread - I wanted the crosses to blend into the blue, and the daisies to stand out. I am finding some colours blend into the blue of the denim just a little bit too well.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

More Chicken Scratch

Here is another variation of the Chicken Scratch pattern


This one is also based on three lines of crosses, unlike the more common pattern - so this one would easily transfer to freestyle.

The name for this pattern is "Daisies", and if the small woven section in the centre moves on place, they become butterflies.

Adapted from a picture seen on smockery.

In that example it appears they actually do the crosses differently, going through the fabric in the centre of each cross. I didn't go that way.

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Another Crazy-patcher blogging

Garnet Sunshine is blogging crazyptach over at 1 stitch out.

Says she, resisting any urge to go and play on the computer. This is a work tool for the next few days.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Life is Busy

Hi Everyone,

At the minute I have two major non-stitching deadlines monstering me, as well as preparing to go away for a few days.

So this blog is going to be a little sparser for next week or two. Unless a student comes in with something brilliant ..... or I find a stunning site ...... or I can't stop myself embellishing my bag ....

You know the story. :)

Monday, 15 August 2005

Another Bead and Button Shop inMelbourne

I've just had a nice note from the people at Beads and Buttons Galore, in Prahran in Melbourne, telling me all about themselves. I haven't actually been there yet, so must pop in one day. They are at 187 High Street in Prahran (quite a few getting to be around there), and their hours (open weekends) are on the webpage.

They offer mail order as well.

Sunday, 14 August 2005

Jeans Bag Sunday

Just a quickie to show off my Jeans Bag from BagsofFun, for this Sunday. I have decided I need a personal challenge to keep me honest - so I am going to post a photograph each Sunday, and need to be able to show what I have done each week. Bit like a Weight Watchers weigh-in.


Since last posting I have embellished the Heart, that is now tacked on, and tacked on some doilies.

Now I need to go and take the scarf and cord off again and get stitching

Looking for Locals

Hi Everyone - looking for some locals.

I am in the process of planning a trip away which will take me through Yarra Junction, Healesville, Alexandra (or Yea if it is snowing) to Mansfield. It may include a little diversion to Benalla. Anyone know any nice needlework shops out there??? Especially if there are any in Benalla to make it worth a trip across there??? I look like having a free day in Mansfield (I am transporting someone) so not only am I looking for shops on the way, but also trying to work out if it is worth a run to Benalla on a Saturday morning.

Any suggestions welcome.

Shops in Melbourne

One of the webpages I have been running for a long time is one for Shops in Melbourne and Country Victoria. Just to keep track of shops so I know where to go and to make suggestions for others. I've been reminded of this recently as Rathdown Fabric and Remnants had slipped under my guard. I know I went there years ago and had a ball, and they tell me they are still there (being a family business about fifty years old, I would hope they are).

They are at 60 Brunswick Rd, Brunswick (near the corner of Lygon St), and open 8am to 4.30pm Mon to Fri, and 8am to 3.30pm Sat (I like that one).

Anyone been there recently and able to give a report as to its desirability as a destination for a Crazy-Patcher????

Wonder if I should rank them from one to ten???? Given my recent experience. I am also e-mailing back and forth with a crazy-patcher from the USA spending a few days in Melbourne, who obviously cannot visit everything. How do you decide what are the best destinations within limited time.

How would I do it??? Ten out of ten for threads may be five out of ten for beads and zero out of ten for fabrics. Maybe I would need to rank them over a whole series of things. Gosh. Gina@Patra and Sharlee and I could drink a few cups of coffee, come up with a ranking system and then wreak havoc in Melbourne.

Whaddya think, G&S????

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Freeform Chicken Scratch

My next excursion in the Rediscovery of Chicken Scratch has been to try and work out ways of adding freeform Chicken Scratch to crazypatch.

So far I have only tried one pattern. My first step was to trace the underlying crosses that form the basis of this pattern onto tracing paper, and embroider them on a Heart, thus:


I then removed the tissue paper and wove the second parts of the Chicken Scratch, and made snowflakes of a few of the crosses. It then looked like this:


After that I added a solitary rosebud over the top using waste canvas, and this is how it now looks:


There is a special place waiting for this piece. Some time very soon. I wonder does it just need a few beads in those circles first though - and bugle beads in the oval sections???? Part of me wants to, and the other part of me loves the simplicity.

Craig's Needlework Book

Just a reminder that I have uploaded a few more pages from the old 1920s(?) Australian needlework book.

There is an "ongoing uploads" link now on my side-bar that will easily take you there at any time.

It is starting to get into the examples of stitches. It hasn't got to this page yet, but this is the sort of stuff that is in it:


I will probably be loading it at a rate of about four pages a week, so with 104 pages, it will take a while. Thank you, Flickr!

CS Bag - bottom section

This is the bottom section of my bag. At top right is a wheel I talked about and linked back to the original in my last post. I will talk more in a future post about exactly how I made this and the cross (see below)


At bottom left is an almost exact copy from the apron I found in an Op Shop. (Actually, as I was looking for that link I got diverted to Kay-Susan's Smockery post with some different patterns. Knew they were somewhere - need to work another sampler!). I have turned the unused crosses in the centre row into snowflakes.

The piece on the bottom right is Dawn's cross, with some traditional CS each side. This illustrates how important it is, even for something like this, to start on the correct square, as the contrast between the cross and gingham is not as good as in the original.

Okay - so that was it as worked on the gingham. Then I jumped off it, and went for freeform, which is where I was wanting to experiment.

The section on gingham on bottom left is worked on a line of five crosses, so I drew those five crosses on tissue paper, and worked them on the deep pink and then pulled the tissue paper out (I only had it pinned, not tacked down, which is why I think they are a bit wonky). After the tissue paper came out I did the weaving and turned some crosses into snowflakes.

So far, I have been working all in white, but I have replicated this in black on another piece I will show off soon. Again, I tried to "fragment" the edges, so as to not make them look too geometric.

Finally, I had a play with that piece to the left of the Fairy. I worked that on 14 count waste canvas, making stitches twice the size I would usually using waste canvas. First I worked the white lattice (DMC perle #8 crochet cotton, as is all the white on this work), then the mauve DMC Flower Thread. Then I removed the waste canvas.

This was a bit of a challenge for me, and I think there is potential there to use this method (crosses twice the size), but with much lower count waste canvas, like ten. I can see trellises for roses to ramble over, etc.

(In passing, I can see beads or roses or buttons inside the woven circles at some point. Oooooh - little mother-of-pearl buttons. *getting excited again*)

The large view of this section is HERE.

CS Bag - top section

This is the top section of my bag. On the top right I have worked a variation from an apron I found in an Op Shop. That is the only time I have sighted that pattern.


Then, in the bottom left of this picture is some traditional Chicken Scratch. In a lot of cases on this bag I have sort of "blended" the edges, to try and make it look like a fragment, rather than putting very straight borders.

At bottom right of this picture is a spider-web wheel copied from a picture that Dawn posted on her blog. I will be doing a closeup of it later, but you can see it better on Dawn's blog HERE. The part surrounding the wheel is the same as the surround in Dawn's example.

There is a large view is HERE of this section of my block.

Chicken Scratch Sampler Bag II

The Chicken Scratch on this bag is almost finished, and I have had a fascinating time using this to work samples. It is still going to be a bag I cart everywhere, but a bit more "attitudinous" than I would normally make.

Chicken Scratch Sampler Bag

Be back soon with better shots (read scanned in two parts), with more detailed notes on each part.

Friday, 12 August 2005

Leeanne's Needlebook

The second stage of my Chicken Scratch Sampler Bag is coming along nicely, but not ready for a post yet. In the meantime, I thought you might like a peep at Leeanne's Needle Book.

Leeanne is one of my students, and chose and pieced the fabrics in this piece, and it then went around the class as a Round Robin, where each person embroidered something. The colours were really stunning, and I wondered if they would work. It came back reminding me of a mediaeval manuscript, and is stunning.

This is how the front looks when it is closed:

Leeanne's Needlebook2

And this is how the whole block looks:

Leeanne's Needlebook

This was on my scanner, and the book is too thick to properly close the lid, so the colours are way out.

So this is a better indication of the colours, although the detail (being my mid-range camera) is not there. And it does not really show how this book just glitters and glows.

Leeanne's Needlebook3

This really is a most excellent piece.

Thursday, 11 August 2005



I have found these necklaces (plus this version) in the Reject Shops (a chain in at least Victoria). Same price ($3, but the other version has smaller pieces, but 29 of them instead of 20, plus five silver beads!).


So I just had to get few more. They had purple ones.

Chicken Scratch Sampler Bag

Sometimes I scare myself. It goes something like this - I was making a quick jeans bags, but it has been waylaid by a whole lot of other bags it wants to play with.

So, I thought I would just grab a bag of scraps, left over from making my apron, maybe add a bit of the purple gingham I had been Chicken Scratching (well, purple and pink, why not?). Because I wanted to play with seeing if I could put CS on CQ. And yes - this is all cottons - I don't have any hangups about using cottons for CQ.

And, I had made those stampings - may as well use them.

And, if I looked at all the pictures around of Chicken Scratch, I might just try and put a sample of this one here, and that one there ........


So far I have worked the conventional CS on the left of the blue sweet peas, and a piece from Dawn's vintage one to the right. Interesting pattern that one - more later. Now I am off working on the bottom lefthand side.

I have moved on to Anchor perle #8 crochet cotton, and it is a dream to work with.

I usually wouldn't touch gingham in a CQ, as it is so strong. But in this case I wanted a sampler. And I wanted to see if the Chicken Scratch toned down the gingham enough to make it usable.

And there is always my old approach of - if you have a fault, make it a feature - and see what happens.

Oh, yes, and I still need a shopping bag. This is it.

Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Bags of Fun

I've been over looking at Annie's Bag, that she has made previously. Whenever you look at something Annie has done, you get inspiration, and this is no exception. I have been collecting interesting old keys (not that I have a lot) - and this is going to be ideal to display a bunch of them. Just a little bit too big to sew on, but ideal to hang a bunch off a bag.

Thanks Annie!

Sharon has done a wonderful job of organising us - check out her blog (I am not linking to a specific post, as there are already so many about the challenge - but all are welcome - just leave a note on Sharon's blog and you are in).

And the wonderfullest thing (bet the spell checker doesn't like that word), is that Sharon has started a Flickr group for the Bags of Fun - you can browse all pictures at once.

Thanks heaps and heaps, Sharon. I'm off to check out some of the other Bag Ladies via the links you have so kindly given.

Chicken Scratch progress

The next chapter in my Chicken Scratch explorations has been to try and duplicate the pattern on one of my apron finds from an op shop. This is a stunning apron, and the stitching on it is quite different:


My first step was to try and work out how to transfer this pattern to paper - so the quickest and easiest way was to photocopy the gingham in black and white, and draw on that:


I then had a play, and think I have been able to duplicate the pattern (with a couple of slight changes) fairly well. So I know how to do it - just the Chain Mercer #20 cotton is much thinner than the original - so I think I need to experiment with a few different weights of cotton.


But all in all - I am happy with my Chicken Scratch - it really is quite easy to do. I've got the stitches right - now I just need to put them in the right combinations - and go and have a look at a few others for some more patterns, and heavier thread.

I can see myself lurking near some Candlewicking aisles.

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Look What I Found!!!!

I reckon this was a good find:


These were at my local Amcal Chemist (not sure if that is Australia-wide, or just Victoria). They are on a stand with $1, $2, $3 in big letters at the top (or was it $2, $3, $4???). Anyways - there are four necklaces with matching ear-rings in this picture - a dusky pink, a bronze, a green and a blue.

For $3 you get twenty pieces of dyed shell - which is pretty good value. Maybe even better than the bracelet I got the other day - except that was in more intense colour, and had a number of different shapes and sizes.

But I reckon these were a pretty good find - these are the only four colours that were there, but you never know what might be around. I can see a lot of green and blue going onto my Dragonfly wall hanging.

Monday, 8 August 2005

Mrs Macdonald's Little Book

Yesterday I was looking for something totally different, and found this old needlework book in some of my Mother's old papers:


The full-sized version of this page is HERE.

There is no date on the book, but I think it is from the 1920s. It is chock full of embroidery stitches and techniques. I asked my mother where it came from (it has the name Ada Macdonald on it), and she said Mrs Macdonald gave it to her, as she knew Mum was interested in sewing, and she didn't know who else to give it to.

I only vaguely remember Mrs Macdonald, but I do know her garden, as I have modeled mine on hers - she loved autumn leaves. She was 83 when she died in 1977 - I wish I had known if she was interested in embroidery.

I have decided I will slowly work through scanning each page, but I won't be announcing each - they will be in a separate Flickr account. There are a couple more pages up there now, including the Contents Page. You can drop by and check it every now and then if you wish or, if you have a Flicker account of your own (they are free), you can add it as a favourite and each time you log into your own Flickr account you will be advised when there are new pages.

This format suits me best, so you can view them as a slide show (although you are then reading the book backwards!), but there is a way to read them page by page, and you do not have to sort through my other pictures to find them.

But I did put one example of a stitch up HERE.

Chicken Scratch

Well, I have taken the plunge and, after talking about it for so long, have tried my first piece of Chicken Scratch.

This is what I produced:

CS Heart1

The pattern and instructions are HERE. So you would think that, instead of like another blogger I could name, I would have got it right. But no - I did exactly what she did and started on the wrong square!!!!

And I added a little extra stitch around the side, just to play, since this is not going to be the best piece I ever do.

Starting on the right square is really important. So I started again, and this is what it should look like:


I am also putting a smaller one on, so you can see the overall effect without concentrating on the stitches:


And that was when I noticed I had one snowflake too many at upper left. Never mind - I can take it out.

I really enjoyed this, and once I got into the rhythm, it was really easy.

This one is worked in DMC perle #8 crochet thread (the dark purple), and some Coates white chain mercerised #20 - which twists like heck, but was all I had on hand. It gave a lovely lacey effect for this piece, but is far too thin for the one I am working on now - more about it tomorrow. I think I need to go and look at candlewicking thread. Or maybe even follow instructions and use stranded floss.

And yes, it is purple.

I didn't mean to do it ....

I really didn't mean to do it ......

But jeans bag brought out all sorts of yearnings for our youth in the Seventies (and maybe some envy from those not around in the seventies), and Sharon has started a Jeans Bag Challenge (more a sew-along) over on her blog.

So I have to join in.

I couldn't not, could I??????

So the bag is having a little rest while the others catch up and Sharon gets organised. Besides, I have just thought of something I have to do. No wonder I have so many UFaux. (the plural of UFO).

Ooops, I have just been over to her blog, and Sharon is organised..

Check it out!

Sunday, 7 August 2005


There are a couple of threads around, on a mailing list and sort of here, about whether to make things to look at, or use. Which is the dilemma I have with the Jeans Bag at the minute. So I have put is aside for today.

A while ago we were talking about the term "Plain and Fancy Work", in terms of women's work - plain being utilitarian household stuff, fancy being the "pretty" stuff. This reminds me in passing (since we are talking a bit about the seventies), of when I was at college in Melbourne. I was at a small, out-of-the-mainstream college, and just across the river, in a more affluent suburb, was another small college we had heard about, but couldn't really understand. It seemed to be some sort of private domestic arts college - and we finally realised is was a sort of practical "finishing school" for young women from good families. Where they were sent to learn how to be good house managers and take an "appropriate" place in society. So, when we heard they were having an open day, one of the other girls at my college went to have a look. And she came back and said it was an exhibition of gentility and manners, and nice, basic sewing (ie plain work), but she couldn't understand why, in one section, there were piles and piles of quite used plain linen on display. Until she was asked - and she was told this was a display about how the students were taught to properly look after laundry!!!!!

Yikes - she came back and was very happy to be one of a small number of women at a Horticultural College. And, I wonder if that other college lasted beyond the seventies.

Which is all part of what I am wondering about at the minute, with the rediscovery of bags and even aprons. In the fifties (which I can just remember), women seemed to have one handbag and matching shoes for winter (black or brown) and one for summer (white or fawn). There didn't seem to be room for self-expression there. But aprons??? Yes! And you only have to look at all the vintage apron patterns coming out on blogs (see sidebar for links) - but do we see patterns for bags of the fifties? So it was still a time of making a virtue of a necessity. Women had to have aprons, but they were encouraged to show their individuality there.

I'm not really sure where the sixties were - I think they were transitional - but by the feminist seventies aprons were a symbol of servitude, and were gone, and we were into jeans and all versions thereof (ie bags), almost as part of the great rebellion.

Now bags seem to be the go - as a way of having usable, practical but individual art.

Just I need to decide what version I have to just be thrown in the back seat, and what I have for more formal occasions.

So here is a small clue as to what I am working on instead of the Jeans Bag:


Saturday, 6 August 2005

Chasing Denim

I have had a look at Australian Museums and Galleries Online, and there is almost nothing under "denim". So no-one seems to be collecting much from the 1970s and Sharon, your bag may be very important. The site is not working perfectly for me at the minute - I am trying to remember which Museum in recent years acquired a Kombi van painted in hippy colours ......

In the meantime, my bag progresses:


And I don't know which of the three Maureens it was that left the comment that I should frame it. Aaaaagh!!!! I have no room left on my walls for frames, and no bags!!!!! I needs a bag.

I have embroidered a bluebird (which shows up better in real life, and been auditioning scarves to go through the tabs. I have some nice ones from my corporate life, but have to keep reminding myself that this is a knockabout bag, so my good silk scarves deserve better treatment.

And, although it is reasonable to embroider, denim does not easily take fine crazypatch work. So I have grabbed one of my pieced Hearts - I think I will do some finer work on that, and then applique it down. Maybe even open at the top as another pocket?????

And, speaking of Hearts - Joan from my Thursday class is looking for a six inch Heart to swap for this one:


Joan does beautiful embroidery - the tiger lily at the base is her work, and is just beautiful. First swap preferences are for people on the Chains of Hearts list - and Joan is making more - just I have to play matchmaker, as she is not on the internet.

Late Note: it is gone - but Joan will be making more.