Thursday, 18 August 2016

Beaded and Embroidered quilt - Sumptuous Zebra

My latest little beaded quilt (about 6" square) is more embroidery than beading. Here it is.

This was inspired by a course which Sharon Boggon used to run called Sumptuous Surfaces. Sharon writes the website Pintangle which features the TAST challenge (Take a stitch Tuesday). I started to follow TAST but didn't keep up with it. However, I did keep coming across examples of Sharon's beautiful work and found that she used to run a brilliant on line course which taught this very highly embellished embroidery with beads. If you search for sumptuous surfaces on Flickr you can see lots of examples from her former students.

Since I couldn't do the course I used the pictures and other people's blogs to get the general idea. Sharon uses a contrast of high relief, low relief and plain areas. Students are encouraged to produce a piece in natural colours first before experimenting with more bold colours. They use ideas from nature and simplify them to come up with a design.

I've called this piece Sumptuous Zebra as a tribute to Sharon's technique and because the design started out as a tracing of a small portion of zebra stripes though I altered it as I went.

The first stage was the low relief in satin stitch.

You can see from this close up how practise makes perfect; the section on the left is my first attempt at satin stitch and the one on the right is how I was doing towards the end.

Next I added all the larger elements. These included the large beads, some covered washers, buttons and a number of embroided elements. At this stage the embroidery included whipped wheels, buttonhole wheels, bullion stitches, cast- on stitch and open based needle woven picot. Instructions for all these stitches can be found on Sharon's brilliant stitch dictionary pages.

After that I filled in all the gaps with french knots in various shades and thicknesses of thread, and finally added some smaller beads to the surface. Here are a few close ups.

I'm fairly pleased with the outcome, though as always there are things I'd like to change. My low relief and high relief stripes are roughly the same width and I think the piece would look better if the high relief parts were thicker than the low relief. I'm also not sure about the plain parts. Still, I'm very pleased with the actual texture of the surface, even though it does take a very long time to produce, and I'm sure I'll use this technique again.

Thanks Sharon, for sharing so much of your knowledge and artistry!

Out of character knitting

I don't knit; I leave that to my eldest sister. But recently I bought a kit to knit some wrist warmers. It was really for my daughter to have a go at but when we opened it it clearly wasn't a beginners' kit. In fact, I wasn't at all sure I could manage it. I threw it in my bag at the last minute before going on holiday to Derbyshire this month and they turned out to be just the thing to be getting on with in the evenings whilst watching the Olympics. Here they are.

Ok, so there's a funny line across the left hand one but given that this is my first attempt at knitting for many years I was quite pleased. 

They were knitted in the round on four needles and included lots of complicated (for me) things like bobbles and picking up stitches. I also don't think the instructions were quite right in one or two places but perhaps that was just me.

Anyway, I was so pleased that I bought some blue wool and knitted another pair for myself. I have promised my daughter that I won't wear them when I'm out with her.