Saturday, 12 October 2013

In which I stitch a foxy lady

I joined in the recent Phat Quarter swap to celebrate Mr X's 5th birthday of blogging, with the theme of FIVE. I was partnered with Jessica Kelly who is a innovative and wonderous stitcher, who does a lot of stitching on paper.  I'd received an amazing piece from her in a previous swap - no pressure!

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the idea of FIVE, but I'd had the idea to stitch a nude for a while, so I started with that.  I wanted to embroider a big fat nude - I'm a rounded sort of lady myself, and I think images of a large female body can be very powerful - like the Venus of Willendorf.

I primarily used stab stitch rather than long and short stitch, and went for blocks of shading that followed the contours of her body.  I started with no proper sketch, just putting my ideas on the cotton.  I began at her legs, and by the time I'd got up to her neck, I didn't want to make her entirely human.  I wanted her to be a bit wild.  So I gave her a fox's head, playing a flute.  She feels magical and wild and dreamlike.  It was then I saw how she could tie in with the theme, and I gave her five flowery beads as the musical notes.

Foxy lady playing five notes

I then looked to the background, and used watercolour to give a pale green background, and stitched some ground and tendrils, as though she's emerging from a dream-like forest....

Foxy lady playing five notes

Sunday, 28 July 2013

In which I embroider the Theotokos

This is a project I'd been wanting to work on for a while.  I love the icons of the Orthodox church, and I wanted to try embroidering one.  I was a bit unsure if that would be sacrilegious or disrespectful (I'm Church of England, not Orthodox), so I asked the opinions of the lovely Orthodox shippies on the Ship of Fools. 

I understood from them that it would be ok to embroider a sacred image in the style of an icon, that wouldn't be disrespectful, but it would not be an icon.  And icon has to be 'written' (painted) in a certain way by people trained to do so, with the permission and blessing of a priest.  For more on the theology of icons, Wiki seems decent to me.  So although the embroidery below is in the style of an icon, it it not an icon. 

Theotokos embroidery

My embroidery shows the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos - God-bearer - with the infant Christ.  The image of the Blessed Virgin is based on Greek and Byzantine icons, with the defined outline of the features, long nose and almond eyes.  She's wearing red as that's how she's portrayed in icons, which was a surprise to me - I'm used tot he western depiction of Mary in blue.  I based the infant Christ on a Chinese nativity picture of the early C20th I saw in the Church Times, where he almost looks like a little Buddha.  I like the way he looks like a baby, not like a mini-adult, which is how he seems to be shown in a lot of icons.  Here's my first sketch for the embroidery:

Theotokos sketch

The final embroidery measures 17cm by 13cm, and was done primarily in long and short stitch, with a bit of back stitch and satin stitch.  I used couched gold thread for the halos, with a sightly smaller gauge thread for the infant Christ's halo.

Theotokos embroidery detail

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

In which I crocheted some slippers

I crocheted some slippers for myself.  It might look like they are children's shoes, but that's just cos my feet are very little.  Took me about a week, I kept getting bits wrong!  The soles are made with garden twine to be extra hard-wearing.  This was from a pattern on Etsy, but I can't find it there now...

Monday, 3 June 2013

In which I mess with your mind...

I recently took part in the Phat Quarter swap on the theme "Blinded by science".  My swapee was Mr X Stitch  himself, so no pressure there!  I liked the idea of being blinded by science - your eyes seeing one thing but your brain receieving it another way. So I thought I'd have a bash at an optical illusion - I've not seen this done before.
Blinded by Science
The idea is that the lines of squares move or bulge diagonally. If you let your eyes unfocus slightly, or look slightly away from the piece it works best.  It works better in real life than as a photo of an embroidery on the net!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

In which I receive a wonderful piece

For the last Phat Quarter swap, I received a piece from the swap organiser, the fabulous Olisa, aka cocoaeyesthestitcher.  Check her out if you need some more Vitamin Fabulous in your life.

She sent me this wonderful colour wheel, based on one drawn by Isaac "The Silver Fox" Newton.
Chroma de Newton

I just love this piece - Olisa's work always pops with such amazing colour.  The paper pieced hexagons are a perfect background to the colour wheel and the Morse code on the side is great.  There's something about Morse code using French knots that really tickles me - it's such a simple idea and so effective!

You can read more about the piece in Olisa's blog here

In which I buy some random shit...

I went to the car boot sale yesterday and bought some stuff. 
  • A brochure describing needlework techniques you can do with "Peri-Lusta" thread
  • Lancashire's smallest loom - sadly missing a part but I couldn't resist it
  • A 1920s (?) broach containing a photo of a man with a moustache
  • Two ceramic doll legs
It's just how I roll.

Friday, 29 March 2013

In which my seahorse is famous!

Hi blog.  Sorry it's been over a month since I've posted anything.  Here's a thing - you can look over when I post here (and when I don't) and get a fair idea of my mental health.  The old black dog's been hanging around for a bit - British winters aren't conducive to the happy.

 Anyway!  The seahorse that I made for the last Phat Quarter is up on Mr X's site here.  Woo!  Also, how lovely is brodwaith's bumblebee?!

Here's a piccy of it as well. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

In which I conquer some socks

I taught myself to knit last year.  I've done baby blankies and cardies do far, but I really wanted to knit socks.  Hand knit socks look so cool, and socky friends tell me they are really warm and comfier than shop bought.

But all my attempts so far have been a disaster.  With one pair I got as far as the toe before realising I'd got my calculations wrong and knitted a sock for a clown.  Or Bigfoot.

BUT BUT BUT this time I got it right!  Followed a simple pattern from my big DK Knitting Book and got it all right!  They are lovely and comfy and I am so proud.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

In which I embroider a hand

My cousin moved into a new flat recently, so I embroidered her a little Hand of Fatima as a housewarming pressie.  It was also a chance to work a piece entirely in split stitch, which I've not done before.  It's a lovely effect! 

Monday, 18 February 2013

In which I write to my MP

I wrote to my MP today, and posted his #imapiece jigsaw piece.  Here's what I said to him:

I’m one of your constituents, and I’m contacting you in the hope you can help be a part of solving world hunger. 

Along with hundreds of craft-lovers across the UK, I’ve got involved with Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign. We want to use our hobbies to make the world a better place.

The world has enough food for everyone, yet every hour of every day 260 children die as a result of malnutrition.  Race Against Hunger is asking David Cameron to use the G8 hunger summit in June to invest in life-saving interventions to prevent malnutrition in children.

So, we’ve been making jigsaw pieces which will be added to form part of an art installation – ‘I’m a Piece’ - for Save the Children, and raise awareness about  Race Against Hunger.  The idea behind the jigsaw is that we are all part of each others’ lives, and actions that we take in the UK can change people’s lives across the world.  The ‘I’m A Piece’ installation will open at the People’s History Museum in Manchester on 1st March, and travel across the country in 2013.

We’re also writing to our MPs and sending them a fabric jigsaw piece (please find yours enclosed) to encourage them to become part of the solution to world hunger.

I’d like to encourage you to write to David Cameron and ask him to use the G8 Summit in Britain to push for ambitious plans to end the global hunger crisis.   You can read more about the campaign at, and see the jigsaw pieces that other crafters have made at

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

In which there is a pug

I've been keeping up with my New Year's resolution to draw something every day.  Yesterday I drew a pug.  Whil I was drawing it I thought it looked a bit cartoony, a bit like a paranoid gargoyle, and then I looked back at the pug and remembered that's just how they look.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

In which I petition my MP

As part of the #imapiece project, I've created a jigsaw piece for my MP.  I want to send this with a letter explaining what the project is, and how he can make a difference.

Thing is - should I send it now, or when the I'm a piece jigsaw artwork is complete?  I want this to have the biggest impact it can, and it would be cool to be able to show that this jigsaw piece is part of a much bigger project.  What do you think?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

In which there is knitting

My best friend from school has just had her first baby - yay!  I wanted to make her some goodies, and decided to test out my new-found knitting skillz.  I taught myself aboutt his time last year - so far I've made a baby cardi, lots of swatches, and I've started knitting lots of socks.  And screamed at the socks.  And then unravelled the socks.  I have problems with socks.  So for this bebe, I knitted a blanky in a forest green, easy care wool.  I think this is basket stich?  With a crochet trim.

I also sewed some baby booties, and painted a card showing the stork bringing a baby who's holding a Reading FC flag - mum and dad are big Reading fans!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

In which I receive a wonderful embroidery

Sorry blog, I should have posted this back in December.  But something called "Christmas" got in the way.  Huh.

For the Phat Quarter 'Tiny Thing' swap, I received this wonderful embroidery from jessicakelly.  As well as the lovely shell and seaweed, embroidered on paper, she'd made me some little buttons!  So sweet.

Thanks Jessica!  I love it, and it's really inspirational.  At the moment I'm working on my collagraph project for my printmaking course, and I'm getting interested in stitching on paper.  I'd love to make some prints and embroider details on to them - watch this space!

In which I finish the stole

I've finished Fiona's stole - the red one with the figures jumping and throwing their stoles in the air.

This pic isn't great, I'll try to get a shot of her in action in church!

Here's another stole I made for her previously, for her ordination.