Monday, 21 March 2016

Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch Show 2016

So there was lots to see at the Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch Show this year at the NEC.  My first visit to a show this year. I always go looking for inspiration and of course to add to my stash. Here are some of the best bits:

This quilt was part of an exhibition of 6 artists working to a chosen theme of  '6 Shades of Grey.' Artist Susan Chapman's piece is part of a series of works called Not Invisible  and asks the question do grey haired over 60s become invisible? The work celebrates women of a certain age who are certainly not invisible.

This stand caught my eye as it really has a message behind the work.  The village congregation of Laghmani lies about 60km north of Kabul within the Shomali-Plain of Afghanistan. The inhabitants of this region are peasants and many of the women living here are highly skilled embroiderers. There are around 200 embroiderers between 12 and 50 years old living in the village. Although embroidery has a long tradition in this area, the cultivation decreased after the 30-year war.  Now the women have picked up the tradition again and the younger generation are also learning the technique of hand embroidery.  To complete an 8cm square, between 4 and 8 hours are necessary depending on the quality and detail of the work. 

The Guldusi Project (gul means flower and dusi means embroidery) ensures that the women are paid for their work by collecting the completed embroideries which are then purchased by artists in Europe who then proceed to turn them into a patchwork, a piece of larger embroidery, clothing or ornament. The money generated ensures the women a wage to aid the upkeep of their families.  These are two beautifully stitched squares I bought which I will turn into a larger embroidery project of my own.

For this project the women were asked to embroider leaves which were then purchased by artists to make into their own artworks.

This piece called Springtime by Claire Louise Mather was part of the Embroiderers' Guild exhibition celebrating 300 years of the landscape gardener Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.

With Scandi so popular at the moment it made an appearance at the show in the shape of Linladan which means The Flax Barn in Swedish.  All the threads here are made of flax and were discovered hidden away in a factory which had closed down in the 1960s when it was at the heart of Sweden's textile industrial area. 

Also on display were the original costumes from the 2015 film Far from the Madding Crowd. The above costumes here were worn by Carey Mulligan as 'Bathsheba Everdene' and Michael Sheen as 'Mr Boldwood'. 

My favourite children's book of all time was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and as I love knitting too I was delighted to come across Yarnia, a knitted Narnia.

It took a team of five Canadian designers, thirty knitters and several months to create Yarnia, the land where it is always Winter but never Christmas. Here are Lucy and Mr Tumnus with the wicked Snow Queen.  Even the lamp-post was knitted.  

So finally the Snow Queen has been vanquished by Aslan the Lion (see his tail poking out of the  tent), the snow has all melted and it is summer once again. Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are crowned Kings and Queens of Yarnia.  

So after a long weary day I was just on my way out when I was side tracked by a stand where you could fill a plastic bag with as much fabric as you could possibly stuff into it for £10. It reminded me of the old salad bar technique where you cram as much salad into the pot as you can, finding nooks and crannies for the odd olive or cherry tomato then try and get the lid on somewhow.  The proviso here was the bag had to close at the top. I just about did it.  Now that's what I call a stash!  Another project waiting to happen but more about that later.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Travelling Sketchbooks - Splendiferous Blousy Hydrangeas

I love hydrangeas so thought I would include them in my Travelling Sketchbook.   I got this effect by using Markel Sticks through a stencil of hydrangea petals combined with free-machine embroidery  and the line from a poem.

Watercolour and sequins.

This page was a combination of strips of my own hand-printed fabric stitched together with ziz-zag and running stitch. 

And finally a page so called because whenever I attend a workshop I always come home so fired up with enthusiasm to try out the techniques I have just learnt, that I just have to get right on and make something there and then and this I like to call my 'Consolidate my Learning' phase. This was a piece I made immediately after a dry needle felting workshop with the very talented Michala Gyetvai and it's rather higgledy piggledy in design but consolidating your learning is more about practicing your new technique rather than making a considered piece of work. Time enough for that later on when the inspiration starts to flow.  

Michala 'paints with fibres' on hand-dyed old Witney blankets, like the off white to cream scratchy blankets I used to have on my bed when I was little and which my mum chucked out to be replaced by the new continental quilts.  No more hospital corners and tucking in of sheets and blankets for her. Now I spend my time searching for those old blankets in charity shops and on Ebay so I can hand-dye them, cut them up then needle felt designs and pictures on them.  Now that is what I call consolidating my learning!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

An Old Jumper Won't Ever Let You Down

In the words of the great Rod Stewart (well almost), as is my wont I have transformed a favourite jumper of mine into a cushion. Now as many of you know, I love my jumpers and cardies - they somehow make winter that little bit more bearable and worthwhile but I decided to call time on this one because although I am extremely careful when washing my knitwear it had somehow over the years become a little bit tired and past its best (like many of us I suppose).

After giving it a good flogging in the washing machine to get it to a felted stage I then cut it down to size. 

And here it is in-situ on my favourite chair.