Friday, 27 April 2012

In which I reveal the silliest embroidery ever

I embroidered Twilight Sparkle, the main character of the animated tv series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I've never watched this - I don't know if it's even on air in the UK.  But I was taking part in a swap on the Ship of Fools and my swap partner had said in a thread long ago that he loved My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  I grew up in the 1980s and loved My Little Ponies, so I thought I'd embroider Twilight Sparkle for him!

My swap partner has now posted to say he's received it (and loved it I think!) so I can post the picture now.  The hoop is probably 4 inches in diameter, I used long and short stitch for the body, stem stitch for the mane and tail and satin stitch for the eyes and horn. 

For the record, Applejack is the best My Little Pony ever.  Fact!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

In which I am excited about tiny leaveses

I went to the allotment yesterday to check up on the flax and do some weeding.  There were a few horses' tails/ mares' tails/ bastards (whatever you call them) but the main weed culprit was grass.

My flax is starting to peep through the earth!  There were patches of little green leaves, little pairs of leaves, all over the place!  They didn't seem to have been munched on, so fingers crossed the Fort Knox arrangements around the bed are helping.  Here are my babies!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

In which I reiterate a point made better by a better blogger

I was recently rootling through Penny Nickels’ blog, Donkeywolf.  If you’re not aware of the work of Penny Nickels, you really should be.  She’s a kick-ass embroiderer, lace maker, printmaker and all-round creative bomb. 

Back in 2010 (I’m really on the ball here) she posted an article on “The Pattern is Dead, Long Live the Pattern”,  in which she said,

“At the risk of pissing off a large portion of the needlework community, I'm going to go ahead and speak my mind.  Commercial patterns = Paint by Numbers.”

“I guess my point is, needlework takes a tremendous amount of time. Do we want to spend that kind of effort on a pattern that everyone else is doing? And if we're not going to do our own work, why don't we pick something unusual?”

Big fat YES.  Sorry if you love your commercial patterns, but I just can’t be doing with them.  I used them when I was learning to cross stitch as a teenager – I’d buy those little packs with the embroidery floss colours already chosen for you to sew your country cottage or hedgerow flowers or whatever.  But I got bored of those pretty quickly, and started to make my own patterns from illustrations.  There’s some pics of these teenage cross-stitches here – I was an odd teenager.

In her post, Penny asks why we don’t use brilliant illustrations and art to create patterns – I love her embroideries of Haeckel drawings.  They’re not cute, conventional or dull.  They’re extraordinary, and the fact they’re rendered into stitch gives an extra dimension to the design. 

Making your own patterns – whether it’s from your own art or someone else’s - is more creatively fulfilling than following a commercial pattern!  At the end of her post, Penny challenges us not to embroider cute kitties, but to take on Louis Wain’s cats.  I did this a couple of years ago, for Mr P.  He loves Louis Wain, and introduced me to his art.  I couldn’t afford to buy him an original painting so I decided to embroider a couple of cats.  Here’s my cat with a violin and cat with a banjo (both done chiefly in satin stitch).  They were great fun to embroider, and I love the finished pieces.  

Friday, 20 April 2012

In which I draw pastoral scenes

Sort of.  I did a drawing of a tree and a wall, with watercolours and pen, and a pen sketch of a tree.  And a goat.  Here they are!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

In which there is a hypoglycaemic seizure

Pet update – Tess cat had a really frightening hypoglycaemic seizure on Sunday night! 

It started about 5pm when we noticed she was mazing her head from left to right, right to left continually, as if she couldn't see what was in front of her. Within half and hour she started to wobble on her feet and eventually collapsed and started to breathe very badly - I thought she was a goner.

The out of hours vet was operating on a dog and couldn't see us for a couple of hours, so Mr P looked up hypo attacks on the internet and we gave her lots of honey and food, which seemed to help.

When we got to the vet she still had very low blood sugar and funny eye and head movements - he injected loads of glucose and looked in her eyes - he thought she had a detached retina.

So I slept in the lounge with her on Sunday night, and kept waking up to check on her.  In the morning she as right as rain! I took her to the vet on Monday morning and her blood sugar was normal and her eyes were fine, no wobbling or funny head movements.  We don't know if it was a seizure caused by low blood sugar, or low blood sugar bought on by a seizure - her food and meds were normal so heavens know why this happened.

Anyway - she's a bit quiet but fine.  She’s been shaved for injections and catheters in so many places that she looks very sorry for herself! 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

In which I update you on my weaving

I have been a bit busier with the ol' crafting lark, but cannot update you on much.  This is because two of the four projects I've been working on are SECRET! For the time being, at least.

But I can update you on my warp/weft tapestry - here's how it's looking at the moment. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

In which I design a piece of tapestry weaving

I've been a bit quiet on the old crafting/ arting front recently.  Work's been busy and I've been shattered - any free time and I just crash out in bed.  But I've designed a tapestry piece that I want to weave, and I've started working on it this weekend.  I originally took ages warping my little lap loom with loads of warps - about 8 to one cm.  Then I started to weave, and realised this was far too many warps.  So then I looked up what Kirsten Glasbrook says in her fab book Tapestry Weaving.  She works at 2 or 3 warps per cm - which is a lot saner.  I like to learn from my mistakes!

Anyway, this is the design I want to do!  I orginally designed it by hand, and then drew it on the computer (using GIMP) to create the cartoon for the weaving. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

In which I go to a car boot sale

Mr P and I love a good car boot sale.  Last year, I got my spinning wheel and a flatbed press at car boot sales, for bargainous prices.  It seems I've inherited my grandmothers ability to haggle - legend has it she once tried to haggle her electricity bill down.

So at the weekend I went to my first car boot sale of the year, at Pickering.  Mr P was a happy bunny cos there were lots of good CDs, and I found this embroidered picture.  I guess the lady selling it was getting rid of things she no longer wanted - perhaps this was done by a relative of hers.  I should have asked really.  She was asking £2 for it.  It's got some lovely stitching - silk shading, cute French knots - and I bet it took hours of work to complete.  The fabric is about 50cm by 30cm.

I've bought a couple of other embroidery pieces from car boot sales - partly cos I want to build up a little collection, and partly because someone has put so much love, skill and time into these pieces, and they end up at car boot sales.  I want to recognise the talents of the people who embroidered these pieces - they are works of art.  For just £2.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

In which I visit many local artists

Mr P and I visited the York Open Studios again this year.  It’s two weekends in the Spring where local artists open up their studios to the public, to show off and sell their work.

I love it.  Partly, it’s a chance to nosey around some beautiful houses, and also gaze enviously at other people’s studios and work spaces. 

This year, I was especially blown away by three printmakers.  We’ve been to see Emily Harvey’s work before, but she’s well worth visiting again and again.  Last time we went, she’d been making collagraphs with cobwebs.  Srsly.  I love her use of colour and texture – her work has so much depth to it, and has a really ethereal quality.  In some of her latest work, she was using letters she’d found in her aunt’s house after her aunt died.  They weren’t deep or important letters, but Emily didn’t want to throw them away, so she’s printed on them. 

New this year to the Open Studios were Michael Kirkman and Karen Mabon who are fantastically and annoyingly talented.  You know, the sort of people you’d dislike if they weren’t so nice.  Karen even went to the shops for milk so she could make us tea.  I loved their lino prints – they were so dynamic and punchy.  My guess is that both of these two will go very far. 

Other York printmakers we did not see this time, but whom I love, are Milena Dragic, Mark Hearld, and Catherine Sutciffe-Fuller.  Yum!