Monday, 25 June 2007

One Motif Finished


Well, I have one of the tatted motifs on the Dragon Vest finished.

The larger version is HERE.

Dragons often guard keys, don't they? And this one has been sitting on my table waiting for ever to be sewn on something else. But it never happened.

The other interesting thing with this exercise is to find how much variety I can get with the beading when there are three different ring sizes available. One, two or five beads. Just I really need the five to be six (if I am using this size bead), for them to be even. So I think I have worked out how to add a little more space to that ring.

Or maybe I just need to go and buy a few more beads, in a smaller size.

So much for my resolution about not buying more beads.

I'm gone again for a a while - not sure how long this time, but I will be back.

Sunday, 24 June 2007


A while ago I asked anyone interested to post photographs of their needlebooks.

Susan over at Susan in Stitches has posted a Needlebook - which is a wonderful example of something that looks quite unprepossessing (it's big word day), but only until you hear its story.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing.

Please Consider

Please read and consider this post from Pat Winter's blog Gatherings.

There is a little bit too much on my plate at the minute for me to become immediately involved, but I can say from many years, in a past life, working with women who are survivors of many forms of abuse, that taking a step such as this is something very warm and positive that anyone can do.

As well, as you make your contribution, and talk about it in your immediate circle and blog about it, you are helping break down the barriers that help allow abuse to continue.

In going out and saying that survivors of abuse deserve our love and support, you are also reinforcing to them that it is not their fault this happened to them, and that everyone has the right to feel safe, anywhere, any time.

Think I am going to have to find time to go and make one.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Tatting Moves to Vest

I've been spending a little bit of time attaching tatting to the Dragon Vest.

There are not a lot of seams left to take this, so I ended up curling the two main pieces around and making them into motifs to break up other areas. This one turned out to be oval, instead of round, and I am trying to think what to put in the middle. At the minute it is an empty frame. A charm wouldn't work, as this is low down on the vest, and that would always be catching on the sleeve.


The one below is a variation of the one above, where I was experimenting a bit. I like it, and think with one more point it would make a wonderful snowflake. I like the way the clover in between the points gives them a bit more space to show off.


Then, because I was filling in some time, and didn't need any more tatting in Dragon colours, I went back to white. There is nothing like the white. Really. Except I was on auto-pilot and went back to the version with only a single ring between the points. Drat!


But I really, really want to head off now and start stocking up on tatting for a Bear. Except I think it needs to be finer than this one, which is a bit coarse. Think this piece will head for a Mirror Block.

Must make some more blocks for that.

Bear Book

Oh Dear. I think I am in trouble.

I had seen this book was around, but hadn't had a look at it - it is from the Inspirations stable in South Australia.

Bear Book

This is one of those books that gives detail for every seam treatment, and I wouldn't follow that. I'm not into pretty gardens on bullions at the minute - so I can see some false seams across those feet. I wouldn't even follow the fabrics. But the pattern is good ......

And there are only a few problems ....

It says to make it in two colourways, and I cannot work out what to put with purple, and still make it look good. Maybe dark purple and light purple???? Or purple and mauve? Somehow I don't think that is what the designer means. So I need to work on that a little bit.

A purple, green and white Suffragette Bear doesn't seem to work. Pity.

And the other problem? I don't even like Bears! (Apart from one who lives in South Australia). But good patchwork dragon patterns are hard to find.

And just think how I could substitute tatting for the commercial lace on this one.

Maybe Mauve and Ivory????

What colours would people use, if one of them had to be Purple (or in that family)?

Monday, 18 June 2007

Lace on Doily


This is a doily that passed me the other day from the Stratford Historical Society - and I admit I cannot easily name the technique used for the lace edging.

A larger one is HERE, but unfortunately it is a photograph, not a scan, so the stitches are maybe not as clear as they could be.

If anyone can name the technique, I would love to know.

I'm off for a week or so - see everyone when I get back.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Cut-leather Doilies


I have been doing some dusting, and was reminded how beautiful these cutwork leather doilies are. They are the work, in the 1930s or 1940s, of my late mother-in-law. They seem to be a design traced onto thin suede leather, outlined with a dark pencil or similar and then painted with oil paints.


The set is made up from the one oval and two smaller round doilies.

Does anyone know if this technique has a particular name????

Monday, 11 June 2007

Date for Diaries

On the weekend of 11th and 12th August, there is due to be a Craft Expo at Old Gippstown. That is - at Moe in Victoria, Australia.

So this is just advance notice for anyone relatively local that I am hoping to be there with a CrazyPatch display and very cheap sales of a lot of my mother's sane patchwork stash. And we will be digging out a few of the hand-operated machines and using them in CQ demonstrations as well.

If you put it in your diary now - you just might feel like dropping along on one of the days.

Speaking of days - I am off now for a few of them. Back about Thursday/Friday.

Another Blogged Needlebook

Maragret over at East Lynn Cottage has blogged a needlebook - not one she uses, but one she has made for a swap.

Different again - it seems to have a little pocket in a wallet shape. Do pop over and have a look.

Tatting Along

Many of those who have known me for a while know that I also tatt - these days just little pieces custom-made for whatever I am embellishing. Tatting is something that is very portable - usually I am sitting around in waiting rooms, or passenger in the car on long journeys.

The bottom pattern in the picture below is one I have memorised, and I can produce it endlessly without reading a pattern.


Hint to other experienced tatters (ETs) - I always work, if at all possible, only in groups of five double-stitches. It makes them easier to remember. So there is a larger one HERE, if you want to try and work out the pattern.

So, after a while I get bored with it - so I try and work out variations, which the smaller piece, a WIP, represents. I rather like it. (ETs - yes, there is one group where it is not five stitches - there are two between that group of three picots on the major chain).

The colour of these two pieces is intended to blend in with the Dragon Vest.

Up until now I have always worked with my mother's shuttle, which was an early 1948 plastic one. It is beautiful to work with, but is splitting, so has to go somewhere safe, not be left in hot cars, have things dumped on it in a basket and the like.


So I am trialling my late mother-in-law's shuttle, which is a bone one, hand-made and irregular. She did not tatt, although she did try to learn, and late in life could not remember who it came to her from in the family.

It is almost spooky to use, as the finger holds are very clear to feel, although you cannot see them. It has had many, many years of use.

I did try and search Flickr for photos of tatting, but between sifting out all the tattoos, and dealing with people who use about fifty handcraft tags for every picture, whether it is related or not, it proved too frustrating. Drat!.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Antique Sewing Table

This antique sewing table at Old Gippstown has been begging me to take a look for a while - so I finally did.


The large picture is HERE. You just might be able to see the patterns on the top.

I knew it had the four drawers that pivot out - two of them are shown here open. When they are closed, it looks like a normal table. The drawers are lined in a quilted silk, which sadly is shredding.

However the most interesting thing was finding that the top of the table spins around - it is an early Lazy Susan. (I hope that term is international. And that any Susans reading this don't think I am having a go at them).

Imagine being able to sit in the parlour with your embroidery, and maybe a nice selection of beads. You want something at the other side of the table, you don't have to get up or reach - you just spin the table around.

So it makes me think I want a modern one - except I don't sew at the table. But it is an idea.

There is another photograph of the table HERE.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Antique Irons


Thought readers might like this little gem that passed by me the other day. It is an electric iron with a plate about three inches long. The other end of that cord is a bakelite bayonet switch that plugs in where you would normally put a light bulb.

And there is no temperature control. What do you do? Keep turning the light switch on and off?

A wild guess at a date of manufacture is 1940s or earlier (based on the cord, which is early, and the bakelite). There is no brand or anything on it.

I went looking to see if I made a Flickr set for antique irons, but I didn't. So they are all on a Flicker Group Antique Irons. More additions welcome.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Needlebooks and Sewing Boxes

The wonderful Kay Susan of Smockery has posted a picture of her Needlebook. Thank You! (I like the stiff covers too - I have just found a heap of bent pins in Flo's needlebook, from where it was stored under stress).

I'm away for a few busy days - lots of driving and a little bit of tatting as a passenger. Back soon.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Stitch Combinations 11

My starting point for this seam was this, worked earlier on my Mirror Quilt:


For the seam above I worked the Herringbone first. Then I went along one side int he same thread, working a Fly Stitch opposite the ends to make a small dianmond space, and worked Detached Chains in line with the arms every seconf stitch on the other side.

Then I went along again in a different thread (the lighter, thicker one), and worked French Knots in the diamonds on one side, and between the arms in every second stitch on the other side. As I went along I also worked a Fly Stitch with a Detached Chain in between the other two Detached Chains. Clear as mud????

This time I wanted to work something similar, but vary it somewhere. So here is what I worked on the Dragon Vest:

Stitch combination 10

The large version is HERE. The change is that the stitch in the diamonds is a Fly Stitch closed with a French Knot, not just a French Knot.

There is a nasty frost out there this morning - it is cold and chilly here, so I am getting moving.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Do I call it a Hoop?

The question is - should I call this a Hoop?.

It started like this, cut from a piece of craftwood. I have also heard of them made of cut-up tomato stakes. I reckon you could also cut them from foam, or even make a few the same size out of cardboard and tie them together. All you need to start is a frame, and this is mine.


(Ignore the holes, my Beloved got his measurements wrong)

The idea is that I cannot now put a hoop on my Dragon Vest, as there is too much beadwork on it, and other stuff I want to be really gentle with. And it should then have batting wound around it, but I was impatient, so I had a go at it. So I just pinned from the back, and that worked. But I decided I would go ahead and bind it, first with batting (a nice wool batting), and then with a strip of calico. This is it, part way through the binding.


Now, I know it looks like a poorly wrapped Mummy, done by someone who failed Mummy Bandaging Classes. But it works.

Then I just pin the work to it. And it is good!


Probably my only comment is that this one is a bit large. Outside measurements are 30cm x 33 cm. I needed it that large for some long seams, but I might make a smaller one too.

But what do I call it? Is it a hoop????

Needlebooks and Baskets

Yesterday I asked if anyone would like to join in with showing their Needlebook/s. Cameo Rose of Studio Window is the first one in (and very quickly) with her Needlebooks. Some to work and one for show. She sure is organised! Nice needlebooks, too.

And Maz at Crazy Haberdasher has posted some absolutely beautiful old Needlework Baskets.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Dragon being Born


All you Dragon Lovers out there - drop over and have a look at this!


I've been thinking a little about Needlebooks. I do this occasionally. In this case these two started me off:


They were in the old sewing basket my friend Wemyss has allowed me to look through. The one on the left is just folded upholstry braid.

Open, they look like this:


Needlebooks are something that someone who sews uses a lot, and in these days they are mostly handmade - and thus either a loved gift or something made by she who sews herself. So they often show individuality and ingenuity. I have to admit that if I am sewing with a group of people I often covertly check out their needlebooks!

So, here is mine:


It was made in a very early round robin, and is now a bit scuffed, and a few charms have fallen off. But it is well-loved and well-used.

Here is the inside. When I am working it sits beside me open, and gets used a bit as a pincushion. So most of my favourite needles are on the front page. I don't use a pincushion. I had a nice, flat little felt one once, but still couldn't work out where my needles were. Until I discovered it swallowed needles - I found 32 inside, completely within that small pincushion.


To make this one was actually a little complex, as it has batting and cardboard inside the covers, and you have to think hard to get the batting on the right side. That is, the inside, so as to use that as a sort of pincushion without the pins coming through to the front. The pages are just cut from commercial felt.

Aaaah, yes, pages. I have seen flannellette just edged with pinking shears, or Doctor Flannel (have been down that road before - think it is a peculiar Australianism). In one of those above, I was fascinated to see the pages edged in blanket stitch.

The closer on this one is from an old necklace, and is too fiddly. So it doesn't get used. Somewhere I have a magnetic closer for a bracelet that is due to go on there.

Some have little pockets inside the cover, front and/or back. There are instructions for making one up on Annie website.

Sometimes you actually find commercial ones in old needlebaskets, given out as advertising material, or maybe bought with needles in them.

And, finally, here is another that means a lot to me. This one belonged to my late mother-in-law, who was a wonderful needlewoman. Except no-one else in the family claimed it, so I was able to ask for it at the end. It was well-loved and well-used too - and I had to do a lot of cleaning on it. But I keep it and love it in her memory.


So, if you have read this far, you must love needlebooks too. Do you have one that you would like to share? If you have, please post it on your own blog and leave a comment here, with the URL, so we can all have a look. Then, when you are sewing somewhere with a group, and start looking covertly at what needlebooks others use, you will know that you have friends out there who have just the same fascination. I will consolidate any comments after a few days, so you can skip around them easily.

After I have had a look and enjoyed them too.

Late note: Ooooh, and if you are on Flickr, just search by a tag of "Needlebooks", there are some others on there. So if you are uploading there, and use that tag ........ Could be a fun way to lose an hour.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Deeper in Wemyss' Needlework Basket

Recently I had a chance to have a closer look inside the needlework basket owned by my friend Wemyss - she inherited if from a friend. You can see pictures of the basket and the original discussion HERE, and there is an almost identical one on Crazy Haberdasher.

One of my first surprises was to find that, unlike the one I remember from my childhood, it is lined with a second skin, made of flat woven cane, not the split cane of the exterior. The same design applies to the lid:


Next, I had a more careful look at what I thought was a pin cushion. It isn't.


Can anyone tell me the purpose of this little padded chamois, carefully kept in this little pouch that is fastened with a press stud? Is it for polishing something????

Then, there was this little flat basket with a lined silk top closed with a drawstring. Sadly the silk is shredding. It seems to have the fabric glued to the basket, but still makes an interesting starting point for a small gift - maybe in a size a tad larger. I could fill it up with a ready-to-go crazy patchwork kit - a pieced blocks, thread, needles and embellishments ...... Hmmm, lots of potential there.


There is a really big picture HERE if you want a closer look.

There are a few other interesting things in there - you can check them all out on my Flickr set for Needlework Baskets. You are also welcome to join a Flickr group for Needlework Baskets, and post pictures there of old baskets and their contents.

I've just come back from a day of training on storage and exhibition of old textiles - and was so busy I didn't even get to take any photographs. But I have come back with a few ideas and pratices. Like, I knew I should store large pieces rolled, but I didn't realise I should roll them with the front out, not in, so any creases are on the lining, not the front. I'm off to re-roll a heap of stuff.