Sunday 19 July 2009

Stitches and Things

I finally managed to finish off my Bargello piece to make a wall hanging. I simply glued the top and bottom to pieces of driftwood I had collected from the beach at Broughty Ferry. The bits of rope came from cast-offs I found on the pier at Pittenweem. At the moment it just hangs from a bookshelf in the spare room. Will need to find a more permanent place for it.

My next project was to make inserts for coasters. You can get a packet of ten plastic coasters online and all you have to do is stitch the insert. I did a series of six to begin with. Two were based on ideas from Oriental Collection, a wonderful book of original needlepoint designs by Shelley Faye Lazar. One is called the Sights and Sounds of India and the other is based on Bagh Chal, which is a Nepalese board game.The other four designs are my own. One is a thistle, which I based on a stained glass window hanging which we have in our front room. The other three are all based loosely on designs by Charles Renee Mackintosh.

The coasters are spread around the living room and while visiting Liam and Jamie asked if they could have their own ones. Jamie wanted his own version of the Sights and Sounds of India, while Liam wanted a maze. I found an interesting little site on the internet on Roman mazes and used this to make up a pattern suitable for stitching.

When planning a piece I nearly always make a copy of the design on squared paper using coloured pencils to get ideas for a suitable colour scheme. As the fabric is completely blank I need to have a pattern all worked out in advance. Once a design is completed on paper I can then work out the size of the fabric I need to cut. The transfer to the fabric is all done by counting the number of stitches needed for each section or colour. Most of my work is based on regular repeating patterns which makes it easier to count. Occasionally I stretch out and do a piece with no fixed pattern – the Sights and Sounds of India for example. Even here though I need to think about the overall design while working.

My interest in Palestine led me to searching the internet for Palestinian designs that I could perhaps adapt for stitching and lo and behold I came across a lovely site dedicated to traditional Palestinian embroidery. You can access the site here. Palestinian needlework is all done using cross stitches, so I had to make slight alterations as I prefer flatter stitches. For my first Palestinian design I combined two patterns. Here is the design developing.

The one in green is known as Flower Pot, while the other one does not seem to have a name, although the outer sections are called Feathers. As the designs on the web site are all in shades of black and white I had to make up my own colour scheme which is almost certainly not Palestinian in any way. I have also added my own little border. Now that the piece is completed I am as usual not sure what to do with it. Ideas please!

At present I am working on name plates for the grandsons. My original idea was to stick each one on to a piece of driftwood, but not sure if I can get pieces flat and large enough. May end up just hanging them as with the Bargello piece. So far I have complete one – Liam's. They all need to be done by the end of August as Liam's birthday is on the 29th and Alessio's is on the 3rd of September.

Once they have been completed I intend to do more work using Palestinian and Bargello patterns. I rrecently bought two books on Bargello so I now have plenty of ideas for designs. I will probably to more coasters and bookmarks with the odd larger piece thrown in for good measure. Happy stitching!

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