Saturday, 27 June 2009

Mulberry silks arrived and more investment!

Well, my Mulberry Silks arrived yesterday, beautifully packed and wound and displayed in a lovely palette! And they are indeed yummy. Also, at 30/3 rather thicker than the 60/2 silks I am used to using.

The colours, oh, the colours! And the sheen. It's so easy and lovely to work.

Having said that I have been spoilt by my Handweavers Studio silks, which come in "cheeses" and are sold by weight, at around £80 a kilo. There is a hell of a lot of silk in a kilo! Here is approx £1 worth of Mulberry Silk next to £2 worth of my usual silk.

I'm happy with my Mulberry Silks, and will buy more, because they are not the same thing as my usual silks. They come in every colour imaginable, and are handwound on the spools, they are obviously quality, and they are arranged in palettes and topics, etc by someone who really understands colour. I suspect that that expertise, as much as anything is what you pay for, and rightly so. And these I bought for a special present, because I can't be at my brother's wedding.

But I am also happy to have boxes and boxes of beautiful shiny silk from my local silk shop in quantities that will last me a lifetime, so I can embroider lots of beatiful things for pressies and just for fun, and share them. Not as wonderful as the mulberry silks, but perfectly servicable.

They are moving soon, so today's mission was to pop down to complete my stash, and make sure I wasn't missing any colours. I spent as much as I did on the Mulberry silks and came away with a carrier bag full of silks (approx 20 different colours) two books and a magazine. I now own every colour they do in 60/2 silk, some they no longer do, and a few in other weights. And two of some colours, which I am thinking of sending to Mary Corbet of Needle and Thread, because she likes silks, and she has inspired me lots!

This is my wholestash!

I suspect that when they move they may well become more commercial, with a proper website and sample packs etc. I also suspect the prices may rise, hence my desire to stock up.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mulberry Silks, and preparing the design

Monday night I transferred my new embroidery pattern for my brother's wedding pressie using the light box.

Such a difference, from my normal method of transferring frim the computer screen. The transferred design has clean crisp lines because I could press as hard as I liked and tape the fabric firmly to the light box to ensure no distortion. I'm going to love working on it.

Tuesday night I weakened and ordered the Antique Palette from Mulberry Silks for the project. Aren't the colours pretty?

Pat was very helpful, offered to do the Palette I wanted in the thickness I wanted although it is not listed on the website, and explained that if I needed more of any of the colours (the greens spring to mind as there is a LOT of foliage on my design) I can order them individually in any size I like up to 100 metres.

They are based in the Cotswolds, and though they mostly do mail order they may be able to see customers by appointment if the date is convenient. Which is a Good Thing as Esther and I are planning to be in the Cotswolds in October!

There was a choice between Fine and Medium. Medium is about twice the thickness I'm used to working with and Fine about two thirds as fine. I chose Medium, as it takes for ever to embroider a large design in very fine thread, and hopefully it will embroider up quicker. I hope I made the right decision. It is for a piece to go on the wall, and my brother's house is huge, so it will mostly be seen at a distance.

Perhaps I should do a small test piece to see if they suit the technique? I'm reluctant to waste any more time, as it'a a big project, and I need to get cracking, but I would also like to see how they work up. There's some lovely small Dillmont patterns in Broderie en Passe over at the Antique Pattern Library, and the more I think about it the more I think it's probably a good idea.

So last night I framed up the new embroidery piece ready to work on, so hopefully my silks will arrive today. I put it in a slate frame, which is time consuming, but I think is worth it, as it allows you to adjust the tension of the design. I backed the silk with white linen, and sewed the silk to the linen with Herringbone stitch, then sewed and laced the linen to the frame. This stops any pulls in the top layer from the lacing holes. The Herringbone has a little bit of "give" which is why I use it.

So here is the piece, framed and ready to go. If I'm being pernickitty I should probably adjust the lacing a little so it is more even top and bottom, but it's a bit of a pain, as the string was a bit short, and I'm reluctant to re do it entirely with longer length of string. Do you think it will make any difference having that slight "bow" at the top?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Scrubs up well, doesn't it.

Here is my cleaned up design for the wedding present with grid lines and smudgy bits removed. You don't have to remove the smudgy bits, but I think it makes for an easier image to trace.

FYI, these designs are produced under a creatve commons licence, and came originally from Dillmont, Th. de. Bibliothèque DMC: La Broderie au passé published in 1900. This means you can dowload them and use them and any derivative works, (such as my cleaned up version) but cannot sell them.

I cannot reccommend The Antique Pattern Library where these books are stored highly enough. It is a treasure trove of lost arts, with enough ispiration to inspire a lifetime of crafting!

If I did it again I would probably load the foreground brush with a charcoal grey, the bits where I went over the lines in black stand out more than I would like, but it will do to trace.

Next step printing it out and transferring it to the antique gold silk.

Then framing it up, which I always find a bit boring, though it makes a huge difference to the end result, and I'll be ready to start selecting colours and stitching.

I'm feeling quite a naturalistic colour scheme here, soft pinks, blues and greens.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Wedding Present Decision made

I have decided what to do for my brothers wedding present, and it's the second asymetric image with the large flower and the spray of smaller ones. It doesn't really lend itself to goldwork, so I shall do it in silk shading, which I enjoy more, although it takes longer. Maybe a light dusting of gold in the centres, a pailette or two? What do you think?

I aim to clean the design up for tracing by using Gimp Shop (Gimp is an open source picture editor, and Gimp shop is an add on to make it behave more like Photoshop, which I am used to but can't afford. Anyone imagining rows of middle aged blokes in rubber suits and masks, shame on you!). Basically I use the brushes, loaded with white to rub out most of the grid lines, (keeping a few to line up with the grain) and then I go over any faint or uneven bits with a pencil brush loaded with black.

Some people use Inkscape, I don't like the look turning images into vectors gives them. I prefer the cleaned up lines of the Victorian original.

I hope to post it today or Sunday.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Wedding present design, which to choose?

Now that my shiny new lightbox has arrived, I have NO EXCUSE not to start on my brother's wedding pressie.

It needs to be doable by October, and I've chosen silk shading, though I'm tempted to add a bit of Goldwork.

I've found these three books in Terese Dillmont's Broderie en Passe (which is in the public domain and can be found along with many other stitchin related treasures in the Antique Pattern Library and downloaded for free!

Here are the options

I rather like the symmetry of this one

But I think my brother and his new wife might prefer this one.

This one is currently my third preference, though it started as my first.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Pictures of previous projects.

Here are a sample of things I have done over the past couple of years. I usually make things as presents, and draw much of my inspiration for the design from the person it is for.

For example this purse with a tribal raven design in satin stitch on red Dupion was for a friend whose LJ name is Ivymoon Corvus.

While this 18th Century pocket in chain stitch, inspired by an original in the Costume museum in Bath was made for a friend who makes the most wonderful 18th Century inspired frocks, and wears them for Roleplaying in. I used some scrap linen, and my wonderful silks from The Handweaver's Studio in Walthamstow.

When I traced the design, I discovered it was too small for the pocket I wanted to make, so I added various elements to make it bigger. I love the colours, and the slightly wonky feel of the design.

My first attempt at silk ribbon embroidery on a cotton moleskin tea cosy, which was part of a circular swap of tea and teamaking accessories.

Finally, a glimpse of my most ambition project so far, a stomacher from a modified Therese Dillmont design originally intended to be worn with an 18th Century dress for a ball. I didn't complete it in time, and I still need to make it up. This is it partially done, I can't seem to find the photos of it all complete on my new computer.

Anyway, that is a quick cooks tour of my adventures in stitching so far, tomorrow I hope to take and post pics of my current projects.

My silks and shinies

I've been embroidering on and off since I was about 13, (I'm 50 this year) but more fanatically in the last two or three years! I blame Mary Corbett of Needle and thread, who never fails to inspire me. I used to post pics of my creations on my LJ, but all the stitchers seem to have blogs over here, so I thought I'd join you all.

This is just a place holder, (I'm posting from work, my bad) but later in the week there will be pics of some of my past and present projects.

My current projects are;

A first attempt at Jacobean, in Cotton on cream linen twill from a design from a Victorian book on Jacobean work that I found on Project Gutenberg,

A colourful belt in silk shading on black velveteen for a friend,

and, on the to do list, a wall hanging in silk shading (probably from another Dillmont design) as a wedding present for my brother.

Mary talks about how blogging motivates her, I'm hoping it does so for me too, as I really need to get cracking on the last one, the wedding is in October, and they are in New Zealand so I need to allow a couple of weeks for postage.