Sunday, 1 January 2017

Honouring the Journey in 2017

I have decided that my mantra for 2017 will be "Honouring the Journey".  The idea for this mantra came from two sources. The most recent source was the film "Passengers", which we saw as a family on Christmas Eve. In the film Chris Pratt's character was given a piece of bartender wisdom that many people are so focused on their destination that they forget to enjoy getting there.

The other source was some management training I attended a couple of months ago, which covered the theory of growth mindsets developed by Carol Dweck of Stanford University. I won't try to explain it in detail because I'm in no way an expert. In principle, the theory says that intelligence can be developed and effort leads to success. One key aspect is that mistakes should celebrated and not feared because they are all part of the learning process. If you want to know more about growth mindsets there is a good video by Train Ugly here.

In the spirit of honouring the journey, here's a picture of the current progress on my latest piece of Japanese Embroidery. This is a JEC phase 4 design which focuses on goldwork.The red butterfly is the first of three. When it's finished the circle around the butterfly will be completely filled with gold circles and should look like hammered gold. It's very difficult to work on this under artificial light, so this piece is going to be a long journey.

Before I took the photo I turned the frame over so that I could tap the back to loosen any dust that had settled. We don't often look at the back of Japanese Embroidery, so it can be a complete surprise what the back looks like. It certainly was in this case. The path of the couching thread had created some interesting spiral patterns.

So in the year coming I will be doing my utmost to enjoy the journey and if not actually celebrating my mistakes, accepting them as part of the learning process. I would like to wish you all a creative 2017 and an enjoyable journey.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Red and Gold Christmas Tree

My wish to have a red and gold Christmas tree was granted this year by our resident elves, Jen and Christina. The ornaments they selected included named tree stockings made by my friend Steph. Each year Steph comes up with a new design, sending them to numerous friends and family. Each stocking is filled with chocolates and candy. It's great undertaking as the number of stockings has grown significantly over the years. This years delivery were a set of cute snowmen with a lopsided hat.  You can read about her stocking production line on her blog.

The next set of ornaments are the Spellbound bead designs I've made up. This one is the Art Deco bauble.

This is the Net and Tassle bauble.I have a bit of a love and hate relationship with this particular bauble. I struggled to get a good fit on the net. As a result this bauble has a definite front and back because a piece of the red coating came off in the process.

Finally there is this red blob of beads, which I think is called Sputnik.

The reason I wanted a red and gold tree this tear was for this small redwork felt star I made last Christmas from "Stitched With Love" by Mandy Shaw.

The small star was one of a trio and over the Christmas period I also completed the medium and large stars to go with it.

Graeme also came up with some decoration ideas to make using with his CNC router. These reindeer were very cute and went down a storm with the friends who received them.

We still have 2 from the herd and Graeme found a the perfect place to display them.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pont Neuf Scarf

I've finished off my latest TV project, the Pont Neuf scarf from issue 97 of the Knitter, designed by Katya Frankel. The yarn is a yummy alpaca and silk mix, Steph brought over from New Zealand earlier in the year. It's a mostly regular  yarn with just the odd slub to add interest, which worked well with the cable pattern.

The shape is an elongated asymmetric triangle with some clever but simple shaping. It's lovely and cozy and as the weather is starting to get colder now, it won't be long before I'm wearing it. Not quite yet though, because I have last dose of sunshine coming next week, when I head off the International Quilt Festival in Houston :-)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Gold Chrysanthemum Brooch

I made another chrysanthemum brooch for a friend's birthday. The pattern is from Bead Metamorphosis by Lisa Kan. I love the design  but the daggers and rizo beads still move a bit more than I would like. I'm planning to make another one soon so I'll have to see if I can find a way to firm them up.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Peacock Mat

Two years after I started it, the Peacock mat, my Phase 4 Japanese Embroidery piece, is finished. For a large portion of the time this has been a background work in progress project and a fair chunk has been done while demonstrating at craft fairs.

A wide range of beads were used in this design. Seeing it come to life as each different colour was added, was very rewarding. The kit came only with a design sheet and a picture of the finished mat, so some judgement was needed when deciding which beads to put where. This means that every version of the design will be slightly different and personal to the embroiderer who worked on it.

If I was making it up into a mat I would need to add tassels on the corner but I think I will probably get it framed.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Shibori Silk Style

When I go to the Houston Quilt Festival I meet up with my sewing friend, Steph, who now lives in New Zealand. We get to spend a whole week together doing the things we enjoy without dragging bored families behind us. Our last visit to Houston Quilt Festival was in 2014 and as usual the workshops played a big role. The first workshop of the week was a 2 day class called Shibori Silk Style. The first day was spent shibori dyeing with  Glennis Dolce, and the second day was spent sewing together a jacket using our dyed fabrics with Katrina Walker. When we arrived at the class we each had a package of beautiful kimonos all ready for us to dye. As soon as I saw this package, I knew it was going to be a fun day.

We used different techniques on each piece of silk. This piece of silk chiffon was wrapped around a pipe with string and gathered up. The result reminds me of a Doctor Who monster.

This silk damask was already interesting, so it was simply dyed, bringing out the detail of the embossed design.

I can't remember what this fabric was but I think I scrunched in a ball and let it float around in the dye bath.

This was my favourite piece. The long strips of silk were folded concertina style and clamped between 2 perspex circles. Of course there are names for the all the techniques. But I'm afraid I was too busy getting on and having a go to take notes.

The mandala on this piece of silk was created by circles of running stitch and tightening it up around a broom handle. This was to be the centerpiece on the back of the jacket.

The last piece of fabric was a simple piece of cotton. I think I just folded this and dipped the edges in the dye bath. I love the unexpected images that appear. I can see a dog's face on the right side of this fabric.

A washing line was setup in the corridor outside the classroom so we could peg out our strips to dry.  There were 2 large dye baths at the front of the class, one dark and one light. I chose to use the lighter bath for all my strips

 At the end of the first day, we found the indigo dye was coming off on our hands so we did a rinsing session in our hotel room. We made sure we cleaned up after ourselves. I won't say which hotel it was in because we'd quite like to stay there again some time.

Here's the full set of dyed fabric ready for the second day of the workshop, sewing up the jacket with Katrina. Dressmaking is something I'd like to do more of but I haven't really got to grips with it yet. Fortunately the design for the jacket was fairly simple. French seams were used to construct the back and front pieces. Katrina then helped us all fit the jackets at our shoulders. After that it was just a matter of sewing up the shoulder and side seams. The silk chiffon strip should have ended up as a scarf but I wasn't able to finish the edges without damaging the fabric. Perhaps I should have taken better notes.

Steph and I are heading back to Houston this year. The hotel, flights and workshops are all booked. All we need to do now is organise the workshop supplies.