Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 2
Yesterday I headed up to Rugby again for Day 2 of the certificate.  I was looking forward to transferring my design on to the linen and starting to stitch it out.  I started by pinning my pricked out design onto the linen and then used a soft roll of wadding to gently push the powder through the holes.  Once the design sheet was removed I then carefully painted over all the lines with a very fine brush and watercolour paints.  I was now ready to start stitching!
As I needed to start by stitching items that are at the back of the design, I began with one of the leaves near the bottom of the design using 3 different shades of green and a mixture of outline stitch and chain stitch.  I will continue with the other similar leaves at home using different combinations of the greens to add variety to the finished design.  

During the last 2 weeks I had done a bit of practising of some of the stitches which enabled me to get a feel for the wool and some of the different stitches I might use.  Then I moved onto the trellis work on the flower - here I found it quite tricky to lay the threads down evenly in the grid and ended up using a separate piece of wool to work out the position of the next line.  The threads are tacked down with a tiny diagonal stitch, then the squares are filled in alternately with satin stitch and french knots using pink and blue threads.

The next section I started work on is the flower petals - outlining them using back stitch.  This will then be whipped with a lighter shade of pink.  Along with some decisions made about which areas to complete for homework over the next 2 weeks until I go again, that was my days work.

I have now come home to work out the best way I can set up a work area to support the frame without a large outlay of money and it taking up half of the living room. I am going to try using 2 TV tables with a small pad on each to raise the front end up - it may not work which will mean I have to get my thinking cap on again for a different solution. This final photo give some idea of the size of the slate frame I am working on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Day 1

Early thing this morning I headed up to Rugby by car, I was originally thinking of getting the train but changed my mind at the last minute, as I had never been to Rugby before and didn't know how far it would be to walk from the station to the Library, where the course is being held.  All of the main locations in Rugby appear to be well sign-posted and ignoring the sat-nav I ended up in the right place first time!  The Library and Museum are in a new building right in the centre of town, opposite Asda with a large carpark in front of them.  There were the 2 tutors, Nikki and Sarah,and 4 students today. Two of the ladies had already been on some day courses with the RSN and had made a start on their designs and stitching so that  left 2 of us to think about a design for the crewelwork module.  After we had coffee and an introductory chat we looked through books and other source material before Nikki use her fantastic artistic skills to draw the elements we wanted to include ready for tracing and photocopying.  The designs traditionally have hillocks, a tree, leaves, flowers and a bird or animal - so my design will have hillocks, a tree shape, a large leaf, a carnation and a robin. Once the design had been drawn, traced and photocopied to the right size it was time to colour it in, deciding which colours should go where and then which stitches to be used in the various areas.  I will be using shades of terracotta and green with accents of blue and gold.

After lunch we started to prepare the material to work on by framing it up on new 'slate frames' - the carefully ironed linen twill was centred and sewn to the webbing on the top and bottom slats, then webbing was stitched to the 2 sides before it was bound with string to the 2 sides of the frame.  The string was tightened so that the fabric was drum tight in the frame.  Now it is ready for the pattern to be transferred onto it next time I go up to Rugby.  I really enjoyed my first day on the certificate, learnt lots and am looking forward to my next visit in a couple of weeks time.  In the meantime I can practice the various stitches that I will be using in my design using the wools on calico.  I can also try the different colour combinations although I don't have all of the shades of the two main colours yet.

Later whenI left the Library I drove around the centre of Rugby and discovered how far it is away from the railway station - I think I will be driving up there in future especially when I have to carry the heavy frame and other materials as it is about a 20 minute walk into town.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Nearly there 
Only 3 days to go until I head up to Rugby to start the course.  I have the course information, some of the books on the recommended list and the basic equipment that I need to take with me.  I haven't done any hand embroidery lately as I want to be fresh when I start the course, but I am working on a super kingsized machine embroidered quilt.  Each block is made from a plain piece of fabric and is heavily stitched to create the design on it - so far I have completed 9 blocks and need 16 for the full quilt.  During the last 2 weeks I have been putting together the blocks that are completed with the sashing and backing and quilting them ready to be assembled together into a larger piece.  Here is one of the blocks created using the patterns from the book 'Aquamarine Ambience' by Simon J Haskins. 

I need to keep working on the quilt as it needs to be finished in the next 2 months ready for an exhibition at the beginning of December.

Friday, September 02, 2011

New Beginnings
I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year - I hate the fact that summer is coming to an end and cooler weather and then winter is approaching, but I love the fact that this time of year is when new things often start and we have exciting things to look forward to.  I have always loved using something new for the first time, a new outfit, a fresh loaf of bread to cut into, a new exercise book at school.  This year I am excited as this week I start a new course with the Royal School of Needlework and I will be realising a dream to train to produce beautiful, high quality (I hope) embroidery.  I start on Wednesday in Rugby on the certificate course and will begin by learning how to produce Jacobean crewel work which uses a variety of embroidery stitches.  I have done a wide variety of embroidery over the years including cross stitch, needlepoint, canvas work, contemporary work but never crewel work, so I shall be very interested to see how working with wool on a firm twill background differs from the other forms of embroidery.  The RSN are very flexible in how you attend and I plan to go to Rugby about once every 3 weeks for tuition, this will give me time in between the sessions to enjoy the work I am doing and not feel as if I am rushing through the modules.  Once I have finished the crewel work module I shall then move onto canvaswork, goldwork then finish with long and short silk shading.  More details about the certificate can be found on the RSN website here