Friday 29 April 2016

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery

Way back in January when I wrote my quilting and embroidery lists for 2016, I said I wanted to do something in the way of traditional embroidery this year.

When the syllabus for Nancy's Stitch Studio came out in January, I spied this gorgeous little piece of Sardinian knotted embroidery.

class sample - stitched by Barbara Kerry

The pattern comes from a book by the very talented Yvette Stanton from Australia.  She has a website here where you can see more of her work and her books.  She also has a blog you can follow here.

Although I like traditional embroidery stitches, I also like varying my linen and threads.  My piece is stitched on 30 count linen with DMC Perle 12 number 316. The recommended linen is 28 count, but I loved this mauve piece and it was only available in 30 count.

I'm learning from Barbara Kerry and she makes it all seem so easy.  In the first lesson we made the lacy edging which is just beautiful.

In the second lesson we started the zig zag border.  Counting is very important with this type of work.  If you miss one thread the whole pattern is out and the zig zag won't meet up.  I've done my fair share of unpicking with this piece.

The knots all sit on the surface - you don't see anything on the back.

I couldn't resist trying a few knots once I got the zig zag correct. So over the two weeks since our last lesson my piece has grown.  It's really quite addictive. The top photos show the correct colour of my linen.  It appears different in photos taken in different lights.

We have one final lesson this Saturday and we're going to learn how to do the lacy edging.  There's more to do on this piece yet, but I might actually finish something within a month of the classes finishing.  Amazing. I've really enjoyed learning a new skill.

An update.
I did finish this piece, but I think I forgot to blog about it, so here's a photo of the finished piece. It was fun to learn something new, but this style of stitching is very unforgiving.  If you're design doesn't meet up when you complete the motif it's very noticeable and you have to unpick and correct your mistake.  But I'm happy to say I can now do Sardinian Knotted Embroidery.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

New Zealand Quilter magazine

Some of you will remember my scrappy bear's paw quilt that I made in 2015.  If you don't, you can read more about it here.  It's now featured in the latest issue of New Zealand Quilter (issue 95).

I was thrilled to be asked if they could include my quilt in the magazine. There's also an article about our guild, Capital Quilters, and photos of the scrappy bear's paw quilts all hanging around the hall at our Christmas meeting. 

Each issue they feature a New Zealand blogger in the magazine.  Look who it is this issue! 

Yes, it's me and my Home and Away quilt.  I might provide a close up photo of the text for overseas readers in a few months time.  Meanwhile NZ readers should rush out and buy a copy.  There's also a great article about Sophie Wood - a very talented New Zealand quilter. And photos from the Stonestead Outdoor quilt festival featuring quilts made by some of my friends at Capital Quilters.

It's going to take quite a few days to read all the articles and soak up all the lovely photos in this issue.

Friday 15 April 2016

An Easter table runner

About a week ago I stumbled across a cute pattern for an Easter table runner here on Sew Mama Sew's blog.  The pattern was written by Peta Peace of She Quilts a Lot and contained very detailed instructions and step by step photos.

Wikipedia tells me that Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.  In 2016 it was quite early on March 27, however in 2017 it will be on April 16.

So Easter has been and gone for 2016, but we still had a few eggs in the house. I knew if I didn't make the table runner there and then I would forget about it.  So I cleared a space on my table and cut up some pretty fabric scraps.

I used reversed applique, and then lightly machine quilted the mat, using one of the fancy stitches on my Bernina.

Now I have a lovely table runner ready for next Easter.

Those eggs on the left are marshmellow Easter Eggs - a New Zealand specialty.  And to make them even more Kiwi, these ones are Pineapple Lump flavour!

Some learnings from this table runner.

1.  If you're going to cheat and not turn your edges under, beware of using a plain light coloured fabric on top of heavily patterned darker fabrics.  They will show through!!

2.  If you're going to use iron on batting, iron from the top not the back.  That way you won't get wrinkles in the top of your quilt sandwich.

Yes, this table runner isn't perfect, but I really don't mind.  It will only come out for a couple of weeks each year, and unless you study it closely you won't see these imperfections.  It was a learning experience.

Finished size 12" x 24"

Friday 8 April 2016


Those of you who have been following my blog for more than a year might remember this project. It's my Citta stitch along.  Pattern from CasaErba here.

At the start of 2015 I stumbled across a Russian woman called Daria who intended to help people stitch this beautiful design.

I've done a bit of needlelace over the years, so I thought I would join in and learn all the tips and tricks the Russians use to create their beautiful pieces.

Daria's blog posts were in Russian, but she is fluent in English too, so if google translate didn't give me all I needed to know, I just asked questions in English.  I met another lovely lady Anna who was stitching along too, and she had perfect English as she had majored in English at university. Anna provided extra information where necessary.

I got to this stage and then Daria stopped providing instructions.

It turns out that she got busy doing other things (including designing and selling her own cross stitched Christmas decorations patterns).  Now Mila has kindly taken over the stitch along and she will continue from where we left off.  Fortunately Mila speaks good English too.

I've now been inspired to pick this up again and set up the frames for the upcoming needlelace instructions.

The Russian ladies make the padded roll in a different way to what I was originally taught, so I'm trying out their method and quite like it.

How I was taught:
1. do the satin stitch around the edge of the box
2. cut the threads in the centre
3. trim the threads very close to the padded roll
4. wrap the bars and bury ends in the padded roll.

How the Russians do it:
1. cut the threads in the centre - yes scary stuff.  Sometimes I mark out the zones with tacking threads.

2. pin the threads back and tack them down

3. wrap the bars

4. do the satin stitch around the edge of the box, covering all the tacking threads

5. trim the threads on the back of the padded roll.

Still lots to go yet if you compare it to the finished article.

It's meant to be a table runner, but no one will be putting coffee anywhere near mine if it ever gets finished.  Does that sound unreasonable?

Saturday 2 April 2016

My Small World - it's finished!

I'm thrilled to say that My Small World is finished and hanging on the wall.

I started this quilt back in May 2015, but I wasn't happy with my piecing, or some of the fabrics I was using.  Scrappy quilts are a lot harder than they look if you're a perfectionist!

I made a second attempt in January and was much happier second time round.  I finished the quilt top in February and you can read about the piecing process here.

Since then I've been hand quilting it.  I've been experimenting with Aurifil 28wt and 12wt in preparation for hand quilting my la passacaglia quilt later in the year.  The 12wt is lovely and silky, but the 28wt is skinnier and will allow me to take smaller stitches on the la passacaglia.

I quilted in straight lines on all the buildings and coloured parts of this quilt.  I tried to quilt a few clouds into the sky, but when I realised that they wouldn't show up, I just went free form and left the sky quite natural.  It has quilting and texture, but there's no defined pattern in the sky.

I have an ideal place to hang this quilt in our hall way.  Visitors will see it as soon as I open the front door.

I've decided to call it "Wellington 6037" because it does look a bit like where I live. We have tall office buildings in town, but I live on the edge of the city and can see sheep and cows from my house. The 6037 is my postcode and a bit of a throw back to the TV show Beverly Hills 90210, which we all thought was quite funny many years ago.

I didn't think I'd get any quilts finished in the first quarter of this year, so I didn't join any finish alongs.  But I will link up with Crazy Mom Quilts like usual.

Finished size 33" x 52"