Tag Archive | freemotion

Thinking Ahead

There was a frost, I made a penguin pillow and Christmas bunting for work a while ago – this means Christmas and the New Year aren’t too far away.  I am still finishing the Summer work, not yet on the Autumn stuff !p1050987

This is the complete piece first shown in the blog “Yellow”.  It is so heavily stitched in places that it is unrepentantly wobbly and will not remain flat. Rather than argue  I have just sealed the edges so of course it is now wildly of true. Win some, lose them later.

The other  strand of activity has been planning and developing some Christmas ideas using  some freehand work. These are for a couple of  second level afternoons (not total beginners or at least survivors of an introductory afternoon) run at the Viking Loom and I may well offer more intricate and intensive  afternoons at home. Some I intend to make up for the Artisan and Craft events I booked up for ( sad I know, but I enjoy eating).

If anyone is interested in joining me for any of these, the Thursday morning  sew ins, or in the new programme of workshops for the new  year please make contact.



far enough, or too far?


My camping stool has lost one of the structural screws and kept sinking at funny angles as I tried to sketch.P1050786 The result is a vagueness due to the multiple view points as I sank slowly ever lower and the desperate need for speed.  I was trying to keep that notion of  suggestion rather than fact in the textiles but it has ended up with greater clarity and detail!

The photo sequence shows the emergence of the silver birch tree- from crude blocks of fabric ( these were a real primrose yellow!), the breaking down of the blocks, adding more brighter green fabric, gold organza and of course layers of stitching, mostly in variegated green rayon but also in thicker acid green cotton.


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final piece, of course I want to moan. It’s bigger than intended. need to buyer a bigger stretcher.

The question I have is how to control the finish quality. I get to the composition and colour that I want before I get to the level of stitching. I feel the results are often left cruder than I would like but I don’t want the slickness that more layers would give. This section  conveys all that I want, the directional stitching tell the tale of the pathway, the flat grass either side and then the verticals under the trees,


the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, they seek him here, they seek him there…….. It goes up and down, it goes side to side, it goes into the distance….. one of those has to be right!

but does it go far enough, or too far?  I like structure but I want surfaces and colour. Being ‘like a photograph’ rates very low. This is too photographic or am I just too familiar with it? More or less stitching?, more or less fabric peices? more or less picture?

Probably time for answers on a postcard please.

Stitching the Woods.

Bit of guess what happened next!  The initial stages of this were tentative and not really that convincing, but…….it was worth it. This is closer to what I am about.  Just why is it such a fight to get it out there!

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The pics are a bit skimpy – got too involved in the making. This one really did push back, ended up varying techniques to create depth and definition rather than relying in tone. This  is a painting, not a drawing any more. Okay, there are areas I would set light too out of sheer frustration, but  it does give much more back than the last piece. Sad but true- explicit control bores me, dancing on the edge with Mr  Arrgh! is much more fun.


Done! The left is still asking questions Staring to feel like dribbling blue pigment through the yellow. Please stop me.

Or bleach? No, Down, Leave.

Do like the shadow frame though. Took this to an art event on Sunday, did get interest but folk preferred the drab and sombre Big Beastie colour palette!  Get told I work too cold, now too hot…….

Went back to the woods yesterday. Got a head full of sunlight and shade, of heat and sound and touch –  fabric is being abused in rust and dye at present. Wonder how it will happen this time.




Experiments Completed

Summer is here! It is official – I have the mosquito bites to prove it. And having big dose of bright sunlight has made such a difference.

The initial 4 ‘experiments’ are complete, even framed so I have to stop adding to them.

The start of the first was shown last week and has ended up very me apart from the yellowness, which I am starting to like (typical). The shift is in the focus, it isn’t about the trees so much as about the light/shade contrasts. As for the colour – not a single grey or black has been used. The density and richness of colour was as important as tone so the dark was created out of several nearly dark colours and left mostly as purple/ navy.

No. 2 is similar in subject matter with less fabric and lighter in feel. The stitching is fairly tight in places but there still quite a lot of space left in the composition so hopefully it doesn’t look crowded. Even with the initial wool and fabric sketch I find it quite flat, quite controlled. The mixing of colour is less bold, I tremble at the thought but ….perhaps it needed more violent pink?

Number 3 is from a garden sketch, much busier, more complicated layering with lots of fabric included. This is the least successful for me. It is lumpy in so many ways, some of the stitch is crude and awkward. This was done on my Memorycraft machine – before you say posh, it is old enough to have kids leaving school and is probably panicking about a pension plan. It is a sound machine, willing to try any type or thickness of thread, but runs quite slowly, hence the angular chances of direction. I tried to leave more of the wool and fabric from the ‘sketch’ showing but don’t think the balance is right even though the idea of sunlight seems to come across. I think it is caught trying to be too many things at once – detailed yet bold, simply complex, and spontaneously precise. It was never going to work out. Too yellow?

And the forth. This may be the bravest, certainly the hardest to get my head around. The underpinnings were blocks of fabric, browny pink, sparkly blue, patterned dull jade. Not the most promising selection but something to argue with. The dull jade now looks very blue – putting purple accents and then randomly stitching all over it with sky blue did wonders. Leaving it that bright was a struggle especially when putting in the flat acid yellow and lime for the field in front. The banks of vegetation making the fence line were not meant to be that colour at all. I do see blues by mid afternoon on a bright day but these are violet over pink! Umm, not really sure what was happening overall but it felt right so it stays, the vibrancy of the colour takes you to the fringe of the wood land and then out to the open field beyond. The direction of the stitching became more important – varying this created distinct areas without the need for heavy tone – something to explore next. The only green is in the foreground and a strip in the tree canopy – not bad for a landscape – might be why I like it!.

Current approval ratings – No. 1 = 60% No. 2 = 75% No.3 = 50% No. 4 = 85% ( this will probably change as I live with them)  Is this right?

As for the Memorycraft, back in its corner relaxing – Colin the Frister R came out to play to finish No.4. The silly whirring noise it makes still makes me smile, and the speed! The stitches went from long and rambling to tiny and dense in an instant.


Happy chaos  & nearly emptied all my prewound bobbins.


Apologies to Jenny’s cat and Lynn’s family, but this is definitely my favourite Colin!

Open Studios Taster Exhibition excitement



You can probably get a cure for this but I hope it takes me a long time to find it!  I like the tension of a deadline, the delivering and then knowing next time I see the piece it will be up there in public!banner rectangle

Of course I had it all under control until I realised at 12.00 on delivery day that I had diligently and carefully finished and presented the wrong piece.  Only a spot of gibbering panic later and the right piece was mounted and in a frame, and then delivered in plenty of time…..  The Blossom Street Gallery is hosting this again, opening next week!

This is the making of the wrong piece – didn’t even remember to photograph the right one! Scroll over the photos for very brief making notes.


Liked the colour on the tree but added some into the hedge. Also added some hand stitching to the trunk after this to break up the slick, smooth surface a bit.

To balance the image more colour and texture went into the field margin and the ink was allowed to blur and soften some of the stitching.

And how did this turn out – just what is the exhibition missing?

field edges CopmanthorpeField edges, Copmanthorpe, York.

The Big Beastie.

This piece has a definite character and personality of its own. For one thing it is bigger than I am. And being a heavy cotton canvas it has been a very physical wrestling match to get it through the machine. I should try feeding it cat biscuits.


This has been quite a struggle – moving furniture to accommodate=  nailing to the garage to dye= but the scale has been fun. It has  meant a lot of stitching to fill the spaces – over   500m of  on the trees at present, and they will get more once it is dry. I have been using a vintage Singer darning foot,   it seems more sympathetic  than the generic freehand 31lfYaNQzIL__AC_UL320_SR282,320_ones, the lever engages on the needle screw in the same way but with out the thump as it is raised.  Both  of the extreme enthusiasts,  Colin the Frister-R 500 and the New Home XL-II, seem happy to work with it,  with a minor modification, even  at full speed.



The beastie is now hanging in the shower cubicle, I have been washing the excess dye off, and this seemed like the best place. I only hope it dries during the day – I have guests arriving tomorrow!  This is the back –



next week should be the grand reveal.

With any luck this could be the centre piece of my York Open Studios show – only if I find somewhere big enough to hang it!

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Winter Series 2, a tale of woe.

This should be Winter Series 1 but it was overtaken by other Winter piece so has to settle for 2nd place!

I started a post about this in January……. winter 2a1

It began as a sketch across the Wharfe valley  by Collingwood. It made it through the initial paint stage and was level pegging past the first stitch and into the dye and stain phase.


winter 1a  winter 2b

Here there was a distinct lack of love, so it stayed out on the washing line through several storms, violent attacks with more stain and scrubbing brushes until…….winter 2

The problem has been spaces, letting them be, using them to balance the intense areas, and on the whole failing. There is no resting place in this one. The first error was to do the woodland across the valley. This is so strong (fun to do) that it dominated the whole piece.

The foreground should be a nonentity, an annoying fringe to look through, obscuring the view and the understanding of the landscape beyond. It began much darker,  but the brushwood  tried to be the centre of attention so got itself unpicked. Perhaps the amount of stitching on the distant hills was the domino mistake,  it has meant that everything to the front of them also had to be stitched heavily. Even though the thread was a polyester ecru colour and so resisted the dyes, the effect lacks contrast. Perhaps  embrace the gloom and work more blue/black ink into the brushwood. That is a mix of  variegated cotton and  grey polyester thread …….lose the subtle colour shifts or gain contrast?

The dark fabric along the valley was once a solid piece,  ripping into it helped  a lot – there are glimmers of light now. Bleach and detergent helped to pick out some more but I’m getting worried by the level of abuse this fabric has taken. Maybe a final splash with paint? Lighten the storm clouds, add some acidy yellow/green (Dulux ‘Expectation’)  into the foreground?

It is on a stretcher at present, being tortured back into shape, there may be some more done to it to alleviate the gloom, but it will be done kindly,  probably while thinking happy thoughts and involve biscuit/cake/crumpet eating.

Well I can hope…..