Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The day gets better!

After a rubbish morning at work, I came home to stitch. Finally the embroidery on my kingfisher piece is finished! No more fiddly beads - hurrah!
It needs to be backed, so for now here is a peak of the messy back.
My jam jars are all cleaned, so my buttons can all go to their new homes. Looking very pretty indeed.
The postman brought me a CD-Rom of the 2008 editions of FiberArts. I shall enjoy looking at this later, whilst supping some hot chocolate. As it is definitely hot chocolate weather here!
Finally, there is a wonderful winter raffle in aid of Rabbit and Guinea Pig Welfare, with some fantastic crafty prizes. See here for more details. Meanwhile, I am prototyping a guinea pig scarf. It is very warm & cosy, the downsides are that it does squeak a bit, is a bit musky and occasionally poops!

Saturday, 25 September 2010


My favourite season is upon us. Yesterday was a sunny day, but it marked the start of scarf wearing weather. We took a trip to the very pretty Lake of Menteith. Beautiful colours & scenery.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Buttons, Beads & Birds

I have been bringing some order to my button collection.
My favourite jar is the assortment of novelty buttons. I love rummaging through this, rediscovering old finds. It reminds me of when I was little, my nan always had a tin or two, filled with buttons and old spools. And remember my kingfisher project, sidelined for a little while, well I'm on the home straight!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Doors open!

Today was Doors Open Day, we checked out the marvel that is the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall. Opening in the late 1850's, this was the place to go for entertainment. Comedy, theatre, cinema, carnival, wax works and at one point it even housed a zoo! It also holds the rather impressive claim that Stan Laurel made his stage debut here. The music hall closed in 1938, and a charitable trust are currently trying to restore and reopen this amazing venue. Today Victorian and Edwardian outfits were on display, including some very fetching swimming gear, and a flapper inspired wedding dress.
Old films were shown and there were some very interesting posters on display.
Tickets for the bearded lady anyone? A walk along to St Andrews in the Square led us to some interesting street decoration. We finished off the day out with food and a couple of music purchases. The perfect accompaniment to fuzzy felt folk is casting on herringbone rib socks in bargain grey sock wool.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Tapestry Bedlam...

There is currently a tapestry exhibition at Bethlam Royal Hospital (the very place we get the term 'bedlam' from). A 10 metre long woven tapestry coordinated by artist Mark McGowan depicting mental health experiences and thoughts of patients, carers, staff and volunteers.
One participant, Fiona Guy describes tapestry as "illusion of image telling a story about what might be". This notion resonates, art encourages us to look and think about our lives, whether you have been affected by mental health issues or not. All the more reason for this. It's a shame I can't make it down to the exhibition.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Elephants & Spiders

Ages ago I attended a Kantha class, my samples of printed fabric lay untouched in a box. Until I realised that the elephant would be a great thank you card for my friends. So I started stitching.
I had a great idea to outline the elephant in a golden thread. This thread split, hurt my fingers and generally was a pain in the arse! Remind me to never sew anything in gold again!
Still feeling in a creative mood (but with sore fingers!) I decided to attempt free motion embroidery. Inspired by my current reading The encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery by Val Holmes. I had been putting this off, as I knew if meant getting out my sewing machine manual! Surprisingly it was super easy to switch my machine to free motion embroidery, all I had to do was take off the foot & put a cover plate on the feed dog. I used felt, so that I didn't have to use an embroidery hoop to stretch the fabric. Firstly an ode to this blog...
The blue at the start of 'gets' is the bobbin thread coming through - shhhh! Then getting excited by learning to write with the sewing machine, I decided to write the title of this song by Billie Jo Spears.

I like the spidery stitching!
Great fun to do, just mind your fingers on the exposed needle!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Save the Arts

Go here to sign the petition...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Perusing & Ligging...

Flicking through shiny glossy pages is fun. The new Cath Kidston pocket guide came in the post. Who wouldn't want a big pile of fabrics like this to admire?
Or cake tins? Preferably full of cakes!
I couldn't resist the 21st anniversary issue of Elle Decoration.
Some beautiful bird patterns, to adorn your house.
And Simply Knitting, what about this jumper? Gorgeous! Who wouldn't want to wear a reindeer on your chest!
When not collecting magazines to file on the living room floor, last night was the first birthday of Trongate 103. I love the Eduardo Paolozzi work inspired by Alan Turing.
Turing is of course, the mathematical genius who was part of the Enigma code breaking team at Bletchley Park. And Bletchley just happens to be my home town. My favourite gallery at Trongate 103 is Project Ability, maybe that is my day job coming through! The current exhibition is from Robert Reddick, with the walls of the gallery were covered with his many sketches. The drawings depicted Glasgow life, books, animals & memories.
Oh, and as a special treat, Sons and Daughters played live!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

You have got to have a system...

Yesterday EG sessions started again, the morning consisted of catching up, show & tell, eating cake, oh, there was a little bit of sewing too! The afternoon talk was from David Rosier, he has been collecting Chinese Imperial textiles for a number of years. He had some amazing samples on show, including some beautifully embroidered lotus shoes for bound feet. His talk however focused on the collection of rank badges (or Mandarin squares).
Imperial China had very defined clothing regulations, these became all the more rigid during the Qing dynasty. You would have been able to identify someones rank from a distance, by their badge on their chest, and also their hat. Often the badge would have also been on their back and sleeves of their robe. Round rank badges (dragon roundels) could only be worn by the immediate imperial family. If you were very important your dragon faced forwards, lesser members of the family had their dragon side-facing looking at the sun (the sun symbolised the emperor himself). And members of middle importance may have had a combination of 2 forward facing dragons and 2 side facing dragons! It didn't just end there, the background colour showed how important you were, with yellow (the colour of the emperor) being the highest, with apricot and brown closely following (as they were seen to be derivatives of yellow). Even the number of claws your dragon had was prescriptive, with 5 clawed dragons were the most superior, down to 2 clawed dragons being left for consorts or low ranking princesses!
This system of attire was spread throughout the civil service and the military, though these groups had square badges (hence, the name a Mandarin square). In both systems there were 9 ranks, with the civil badges represented by birds, and the military by animals. Again these would face the sun, to show their allegiance to the emperor. It was possible to move up (and down) these ranks, so some people had background squares made, and would applique the bird or animal on. On closer inspection the embroidery stitches were perfect, it was hard to believe that these were done by hand.
Couching of gold threads were frequently used with brightly coloured silk threads. The badges could be embroidered, brocaded or tapestry woven. Weavers could also incorporate peacock feather filaments into the weave, to add extra value and sheen.
The talk was fascinating and the collection stunning. To imagine what experiences these textiles have seen, it is amazing that they still survive so it is a pleasure to see them close up. Note the pictures here come from Millers Collecting Textiles.