Saturday, 6 August 2016

Thread sale!

Hi everyone!  Just a very quick post to let you know that I've picked out 115 or so threads (and some beads etc) that I'm either not likely to ever use or have finished with for the foreseeable future and listed them on eBay.  I've only put UK postage/shipping so far but, if anyone outside of the UK sees anything they would like to bid on, please message me through the eBay system and let me know so that, as long as there are no bids on the item as yet, I can add international postage.

I'm not in the Global Shipping Programme anymore as that is a real pain for sending more than one thing - you can't merge them, they have to be done individually, which is profoundly wasteful. =(

Even more amazing than me clearing out 7% of my threads for sale (with another 200 or so under threat.....), is that I've halved my fabric stash.  I haven't listed that yet, but it will be coming very soon.  Keep an eye on the above link if you're interested in evenweave fabrics including linens, orientals and others.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 15 July 2016

Where Bloggers Create Party 2016 - Welcome!


Welcome both to the Where Bloggers Create Party 2016 (the annual link party where numerous creative bloggers give you a virtual tour of their workspaces and stash stores), and also to my 'compact and bijoux' (anyone else remember that ad??) little home and workspace!

I don't have a studio to work in.  Since we moved back to Leeds in February of this year, I don't even have my own room anymore.  Thankfully, I decluttered an enormous amount of surplus belongings, especially books, so we were able to fit into this new home.  (If anyone's interested in my on-going downscaling of stuff, see my lifestyle blog Fluffy Little Idiot.)

The room I work in is a 3-in-1 of lounge, dining room and my study.  Here you can see my desk area.  Let's zoom in for a close up or two....

At the back of the desk I have this little, untreated wooden drawer set from Ikea.  One of those things that I always meant to 'pretty up' and never got around to doing.  On top is a reading lamp, a pot of Derwent Pastel Pencils, my computer glasses, lens cleaner, needlecase and snips, and a cute cupcake pincushion a new friend made for me.  There's a six section pencil holder next to it with a variety of art pencils and Cotman watercolours (which I wish I could say I used regularly) and other assorted bumf.  Then comes a Chinese dictionary I need whilst studying, a couple of diaries and my coaster.

Want to see inside the drawer set?  Of course you do!  Well, I would if I were in your room.... :)

The top left two drawers are just gadgets, cables and admin things, then we have pencils, highlighters, pens, tape, staplers, fixative and paper stationery as well as a quantity of language learning flashcards.  I have a load more elsewhere.  Too darned many!  Another thing I need to reduce...

On the right hand side of the desk is this Really Useful Box organiser shelf doo-dah, with an extra nine RUBs on top.  Here I store spools of metallic thread (mostly Kreinik), packs of needlework beads (mostly Mill Hill), sewing threads and notions, ribbons, buttons and some spools of rayon machine embroidery thread.

Next to that is my writing pen pot.  As you can see, I like to use lots of different colours when studying, working, planning....

Under my desk I keep various bags and an old thread storage container thingy (not shown), and this bag of hoops and frames.  Next to it is my folder of art papers and card, there's a roll of silk fabrics (protected with brown paper) behind it and another roll of completed needlework that needs mounting or otherwise housing.

Why am I showing you the dining table?  Well, this foreground chair is where I sit, not only to eat, but also to use the sewing machine, which you may be able to see on the floor against the far wall, bottom right.

I love miniatures, but haven't room for a dollshouse, so I have some displays that I alternate every so often.  This one is my favourite and I plan to make a little scatter cushion for this lovely chaise longue at some point and perhaps a hardanger runner for the sideboard.

I keep meaning to start making and selling miniature embroideries and textiles.  One day.  Maybe?  Who knows? No-one seems to do miniature hardanger, so I could try that.

I don't really want a whole house actually.  If I had one it would mean more stuff, more collecting, more this, more that.  I'm a minimalist at heart, but it's hard to be one full on when you're into textiles!

Let's move on to the arts and crafts storage around the room and first up are my thread and fabric drawers, with another thread box (holding all my regular Anchor and DMC stranded cottons, plus all my Anchor #8 and #12 pearl cottons) on the left and the shelves on the right holding four files of magazines and other patterns (down from eight, yay!) and, below the crockery shelf, my needlework books, also reduced in number.

Here are all the treasures in the wooden effect threadbox:

Seriously, they are my treasures!  I could part with pretty much everything else I own without much sorrow, but I would be really quite grieved to lose my needlework and art stash!

Along the shelves is some space for my box of Pipers Silks, some more art stuff and one of the boxes holds greetings card blanks.  The brown box has other card making supplies in.

Downstairs in our entrance storage area I keep my main box of paints and regular pastels (i.e. not in pencil form) and a box of fabric and silk paints.  They're kept here for three reasons: 1) They're away from the heating radiators and less likely to dry up; 2) There really isn't room for them upstairs, unless I start loading up the top of the bookshelves (too cluttered - stressful working environment!); and 3) I rarely use them and don't need them close to hand.  It's not far to go if I need them any time.

Back upstairs in the main room again and it's time for a tour of the fabric and thread drawers:

The top of the bottom section holds all my counted thread work fabrics, all in bags according to type and with a label on showing how much I have of each colour and count etc.

There are also plain weave white, cream and black fabrics in this drawer.

Drawer two holds all the pretty coloured fabrics, most of which are fat quarters (silks towards the front of the row), and patchwork rolls.  I don't do a lot of patchwork, but am getting a bit into using them for other things.  To be honest, I'm really trying to run the contents of this series of drawers down as I've accumulated a lot of fabric and need no more for a l-o-n-g time!

Drawer number three doesn't have much in the way of regular fabric in, although it does have 'helper' fabrics like interfacing, Bondaweb, Romeo soluble fabric etc.

There are also back ups of oft used threads (some of which are not so oft used and need to be e-bayed...), some dress patterns, cotton molds and about half a dozen embroidery kits, which I also want to use up and sell on as far as I can.

Drawer four, below, contains mostly fabric offcuts bought during my time in Taiwan a few years ago, including the plain, shiny fabrics you see here.  (I also got all the patchwork rolls out there.)  The other piece are fancy fabrics made in Yorkshire in one of the last remaining mills (at the time).  My father used to have a 2nd/3rd floor (depending on how you count floors) workshop above the mill and sometimes got hold of offcuts for me to play with when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  I still have some of them and keep trying to think of a use for them.  Any ideas??  The mill has now been converted into homes, as have many in the area.

Onto more of my favourite art and crafts supplies - embroidery thread!  This smaller four drawer set contains:

Drawer one:  DMC Coton à Broder in 4 weights, DMC Light Effects, some skeins of Anchor metallics, organza ribbons, Superstitch 'invisible' thread (mostly used by my hubby to cut cake layers when he makes a Black Forest Gateau!!) and some oddments of Kreinik metallics from a couple of their 'Scrap Bags'.

Drawer two is mostly overdyed cotton threads - Gentle Arts Sampler Threads (GAST), Weeks Dye Works (WDW) and a few Six Strand Sweets (SSS - RIP!!) at the front, Anchor multi-colours and variegateds, some DMC Colour Variations, some Caron Collection threads and the entire 24 skein set of DMC linens, which I collected, but haven't used yet (and have since been pulled from their range) at the back of the drawer.

Drawer three is Anchor Coton à Broder # 25 at the front, #16 in the middle and #5 pearl cotton at the back.

Finally, drawer number four holds the whole set of Madeira stranded silks on the left and the whole range of Anchor Marlitt rayons on the right.

Sometimes I work sitting on the sofa behind my desk and other times I work at my desk with my fancy, professional set up - balancing my common or garden embroidery hoop between the desk edge and my belly!!! There are advantages to being out of shape, I tell you! Saves me a packet in specialist equipment, especially as I like to rotate my work regularly (haven't mastered the trick of stitching in any direction) which would be a nuisance in a fixed work frame.

So that's it - tour complete!  As you can see, my workspace is very functional and simple.  I'm not into a lot of display items as I like to keep things as clear as I can under the circumstances and I find extra items cluttering and stressful.  I prefer to work in a 'sense of creative calm', as Canadian minimalism YouTuber, Lia, so beautifully put it.  I'm hoping to clear it up yet more in time, especially by completing some of the half worked projects and other tasks that show in some of the photos above. :)

I hope you've enjoyed your visit.  Please leave a comment and say, "Hi", especially if this is your first visit here.  I've been blogging for just over eleven years now, so there's plenty to see in the archives and pages (tabs below the header photos above).  There a number of ways to follow including using the e-mail subscription widget in the sidebar or one of the reader 'add to' buttons.

Thanks for calling in and hope you'll visit again soon.

Where Bloggers Create is being hosted by Karen of My Desert Cottage.  If you haven't come from my link on her blog, please click over to visit some of the other studios and workspaces hosting an open house this weekend.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Monday, 11 July 2016

Moving on with the peach hardanger scatter cushion

Back again for the next segment of the work on my most recent hardanger scatter cushion cover.

I've loved working on this one.  It's been really quick to do and the colours - the mixed peach shaded threads - have been delightful.

The angled shot below shows the lovely texture of the pearl cotton threads beautifully, don't you think?

All the threads removed that needed to come out and ready for the next stage - the filling stitches.   Tune in for that part in my next post on this piece.

I've also been working on the patchwork effect baby knit and taking some photos for Friday's 'Where Bloggers Create' post.  Now to edit them....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Welsh Poppy revisited

As it's Sew in Love's eleventh blog-o-versary tomorrow, I thought I must mark occasion with a post!  What better thing to talk about than revisiting and improving a project from a couple of years ago that I wasn't very pleased with.

The problem with this one was the leaves, especially the darker one.  I just couldn't seem to get the shading right and it only looked decent upside down!!!  Also, it's a teeny bit puckered (a problem I constantly have with heavy embroideries, despite backing my fabric and making sure it's all held very taut in a hoop) I was wondering what to do with it as I didn't want to display it and it didn't seem to fit anything else.

Recently I needed a small piece to put into a baptism card and this one, turned on it's side so as to both fit better and to lead the eye more to the flower than it otherwise might have, met my needs about as perfectly as it could as long as you ignore the fact that the main stem shading is clearly upside down!!  The good thing is, by far the majority of people wouldn't notice that at all. =)

I'm almost out of white card blanks and I can't get any more as the company who made these seem to have long since disappeared from the marketplace, so I had to paint around the rim with white acrylic (not terribly well, I'm sorry to say....), in order to have a white 'mount' effect.  I liked it, just need to make sure and get it without any spills next time.

So, happy eleventh blog anniversary to Sew in Love and here's hoping that the next eleven go ever better!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

New hardanger scatter cushion well in progress

Exciting!  I'd been admiring some other embroiderers' hardanger work on Instagram and wanting to be able to do another piece myself for a few weeks and now it's in progress! =)

Here's the floss toss, including a plain peach fabric which will back the actual stitching and peep through the cutwork areas and a patterned piece that will be the cushion backing.

You might remember that I showed this scatter cushion cover last week and said I intended to cut the design down as I found it too busy for my simpler tastes.  Well, here is the section I'm working:

And now photos of my progress so far taken one day apart - and showing how much time I've had for stitchery from Sunday to Tuesday of this week!!!  I was quite amused to see how much positive attention a photo of the tiny central diamond attracted on my Instagram stream, ending up as my most 'liked' photo.  It seemed strange when there was so little to see. =)

I'm now working on the final stages of the surface work - the cable stitch outlining and then some eyelets in the four 'outlying' squares.

What do you think?  Like it?  I'm loving the colours.  I don't think I've ever really done a peach coloured piece before and it makes a lovely change.  Peach was my high school best friend, Wendy's favourite colour.  Coincidentally enough, whilst waiting for my doc's appointment (nothing serious, just a persistent sinus infection), I met up with another old schoolmate who I hadn't seen for 25 years.  An 'old flame' in fact as we were an item for about a week!!!  Fun that we still recognised each other. I've been 18 again in my mind and listening to tapes I made back in sixth form ever since.  Need to wake up now, get on with the housework and be back to the present day...

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Anniversary things finished

I had a feeling of déjà vu this anniversary.  Last year I didn't feel very satisfied with the things I'd made for Sir, and this year was pretty much the same.  He liked them well enough, so that's what really mattered, but I wish I'd done things just a little differently....

The Bible cover project was a bit of a bodged up job as, sadly, the textile I'd created here was too the tiniest bit too short and one of the four inner flap edges (two on each of the two flaps, of course), didn't catch in the main seam.  I had to sew it up by hand.  Also, some of the decorative seams are straining a bit and won't last well Having said that, he's pleased with it and he likes the fabrics and the gold zig-zagging.  I do too, I just wish the whole piece had been just half a centimetre or so 'taller' so that the seams wouldn't have failed and there would be just the tiniest bit of give in the length, thus avoiding some of the stretch.  Still, it was a first attempt at several things - creating this sort of fabric weaving effect, using metallics in the machine, making the cover at all and doing the fastening stuff.

For any future projects of this type, I'll be making the whole thing at least 1cm bigger than needed and I'll make a press-stud flap, or something similar, instead of trying to do Chinese knotwork with the most horribly springy elasticated cord.  Totally unsuitable for the job!  I need to look into some good alternatives.

The card wasn't too bad, but I wish I'd thought on to put a fancy paper shape under the stitching as I did the first time I did this kind of crafted XS card.  Need to remember that for next time too.  Lots of learning curves!!!  Not a bad thing on the whole, but I often wish I could learn in a 'safer' environment than to be always experimenting with new techniques on someone's gift.  So, I'm looking into courses again....

Again, I only used things that I had in stash for these projects with the exception of the elasticated cord, which I had to spend an extravagant 35p (US 50c) on!!!  I've recently used up quite a few things and run others down quite low.  I'm going to need some more Bondaweb soon, esp. if there are to be any more of this sort of project in the offing.

Coming up soon:  A new hardanger scatter cushion cover project and a small thread painting that I thought I'd never use mounted in a nice card.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Projects in progress and on standby

'Project on Standby'.  Isn't that so much nicer and more positive a term than 'Unfinished Object', or 'UFO'?? =)  Sometimes I call them 'stalled projects' too.

Of course, long-time readers (you kind souls!) will know that I don't 'do' UFOs.  I always try my hardest to finish my projects as I dislike wasting work done in the past and the time spent on it.  Wasting time is soooo much worse than wasting money, and that's bad enough!  OK, so I'll admit that I have pulled out the work on a couple of small pieces and dumped the idea, but it gets thoroughly dumped, not just dropped in a drawer or box waiting for the elusive 'someday' as when we say, "Someday I'll finish that".  I do have a few 'Someday I'll start on that's though....  But that's another story.  After Janet Granger's post this morning on projects she wants to give attention to after a major finish, I felt a similar stock-take coming on, so let's talk about things that need finishing off and other things that I'm planning to get done soon for this summer's shows.

I really need to get back to and complete the little hardanger samples you can see here and that I plan to mount in small, coordinating cards.  Thankfully, one of the shows I hope to be entering (Heckington in Lincolnshire - where we'll be on holiday/vacation the same week), has a 'Handmade Greetings Card' class, so that will give me some impetus to get them completed so as to be able to exhibit at least one, especially as there are free exhibitor entry passes for anyone entering 15 or more items.

I also want to get that needle-painted violet finished off and, as my confidence in my needle-painting skills has been boosted by the success of the white roses, I feel more ready to get back to that one.

And, of course, there's still the old Paradise Island cross stitch, which I've worked a few hours on since we moved here 4 months ago and currently looks like this:

You might be able to see a tiny white dot on the very top edge of the photo, just left of the centre.  That's where, alarmingly enough, a hole has appeared in the fabric!  It's outside the design area and should be taken in under the finishing fabric when the time comes, but I'm keeping an eye on it in the meantime.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Perhaps I need to invest in some Fray Check.

However, before any of that comes back into commission, there are anniversary things to finish as it's our 17th on Sunday and, as usual, I'm making a couple of things for Sir.  This year, (after having bought him something he wanted earlier in the year), there's a card, for which this is the cross stitched piece.  Just needs pressing and mounting.  I'm going to have another go at surface mounting, I think, but I haven't fully decided yet.  Need to get my card blanks out and experiment a bit.

In addition to that, I'm in the middle of making him a new Bible cover, because his old one, as you can very clearly see in the first photo here, was incredibly worn and absolutely unfit to be seen.  I've 'lent' him mine, which is in much better condition, for the interim period as he's very much a cover fan and rarely goes without one.

Yup, you've guessed it - using up some scraps from the oriental baby quilt. =)  I just need to strengthen the machine zig-zag stitching on the outer edges where it could easily fray, organise some kind of fastening and then finally seam across the top and bottom including a lining.  These covers look so clever, but once you turn them fully inside-out, they're amazingly simple.  More on this one when it's done.

I'll also have some mounting of older pieces that I can enter in the shows to do (including a slight repair/improvement to the goldwork viola) and this hardanger cushion cover to start.  I'm not going to work the whole thing as, I don't know what you think, but I find it too 'busy' a design to be really attractive as it is.  I plan to do the central diamond and some of the squares abutting it, but probably nothing more.  Maybe one or two small surface motifs in the corners, but not cutwork.  What do you say?

A productive summer coming up!  What about you?  What are your creative plans for the next few months?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Monday, 6 June 2016

Wedding pillow - lettering and finishing up

The final stages of the project coming up today! I managed to transfer some of my mobile phone photos over to the laptop too, so have included one of those shots here as well - one of me working on the lettering!! =)  As you can see, I have an incredibly high-tech, fancy, professional set-up - balancing my plain old embroidery hoop on the edge of my desk!!!

I was working on a lilac and light cappuccino shot silk fabric and so I chose a light gold thread to stand out well against the mid-toned background.  I tried a few metallic shades against it, but this was the one that really stood out - Kreinik Very Fine Braid in 102C couched down with coordinating Kreinik Cord in 102.

This third photo really shows the sheen on the flowers and also the good contrast of the pale gold.

I had originally planned to work the letters and numbers in a sort of solid method, probably by couching in rows, but owing to time limitations and, if I'm totally honest, complete lack of confidence in being able to pull off my first idea (and no time to trial it), made me think that outlining would be best.  I owe that idea to Amber of Ambrosia Stitches who, when I asked for ideas on Instagram, asked me if I was going to outline or fill the shapes, thus planting the idea of simplifying in my mind.

Here's the completed embroidery in the hoop before I removed and trimmed it for finishing.  As you can see, there were two lots of different light when I took these photos as they were done at different times of day and also in two opposite windows.  I've yet to work out the best lighting in our new home!!

Below you can see the completed pillow.  Sadly, I didn't get a very good full frontal shot of it as there was too much light bleaching out one side (as you can see a little here too), and I couldn't wait for a better time as I was about to hand it over!!

The finishing process was fairly simple.  After pressing the backing fabric and as much of the piece as I could (I was most disappointed to see I'd failed to avoid puckering....), I trimmed the surplus fabric away from the work and placed a line of tacking style stitches along the line I'd marked on the front when first transferring the design.  Then I placed the right sides together with a small piece of cotton based fabric (a reject square from one of the baby quilts!!) in between and tacked to the backing to protect both the stitching and the cream backing silk from getting scuffed on the metal work stitches.  They were tacked just next to the marking stitches, leaving the bottom open except for a centimetre or so each side of the corners.  I machine stitched just inside the marking stitches, trimmed off the corner excess and pressed back the edges of the open side.  After removing the tacking and marking stitches and putting some toy stuffing in to make a proper little cushion shape, I slip stitched the bottom edge closed.  Done!

I was delighted to hear that the bridal pair were thrilled with it and this photo was kindly sent by the groom's mum the day before the wedding.

You can also get some idea of the size from this shot too.  It's only a 7"/18cm sided square, so only a souvenir size.

Glad to have a big project done and so it's on to anniversary things for Sir and also making things for the two or three shows I hope to enter this summer.  More on all of those soon.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016