Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Why take level 1 in City and Guilds Textiles

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 19 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

February 14th 2018

Catching up week

We are just over half way through year 1 and the ladies have made remarkable progress in the past few months. The energy in the group is very encouraging and it shows in the work they have produced so far.

I had an enquiry today about participating in City and Guilds and she asked me what was involved and how long was the course. Well the second part was easy, Level 1 is spread over 1 year, following the scholastic school year there are 36 weekly sessions, each session being 3 hours. Level 2 is the same and level 3 is spread over 2 years.
Each level is divided into units which can be passed separately. The first part of her question wasn't so easy to answer, as the course involves a great deal.

I thought about this a great deal when she left and while sat in a traffic jam trying to get onto junction 28 of the M4 where the road works are causing absolute mayhem, it occurred to me that level 1, not only teaches you textile techniques and finishes, hand embroidery stitches, machine embroidery techniques, the basics of design, mark making,
using different mediums, cutting, shaping, collaging, layering. Learning the basics of fabric identification, fabric choices, thread choices, tools and equipment and so much more. It teaches you most importantly time management, how to think about your work as an artist. I try to encourage the students to think of themselves as a designer, to encourage their confidence and bring worth to the items they are making.

Unfortunately the art world still finds it difficult to accept art made with textiles is an actual piece of art, I don't know how they can make this assumption when embroidery on garments, furnishings and tapestries in history were so expensive that one garment could cost an embroiderers whole years wages. May be it is simply because these wonderful items have not survived as paintings and sculptures have, but to say the skills involved in embellishing fabrics with intricate stitching is less skillful than painting or sculpting to me is absolute nonsense! To be very sexist, if the task of embroidery was solely a man's labour as it was in Opus Anglicanum times and kept as a man's craft such as painting or sculpting then may be the story would be different. There is a very enlightening documentary "The Story of Women and Art" by Professor Amanda Vickery on how women have been shunned from the art  world in the very early years and how some women fought to be recognised as artists equal to their male counterparts, of course these days there is less of that but it still goes on and some day hopefully textile art will be revered as much as paint upon a canvas.

In essence then, Level 1 gives you a great grounding for level 2 and 3, it's where you begin to learn the basic skills and the confidence to bring value to your talents. It encourages growth of ideas to design in culmination to a finished product that encapsulates your interpretation of a given subject, be that an abstraction, an impression or a realistic view.

This week we were catching up, I think since Christmas we have learned quite a lot of techniques, so as not to be labelled a slave driver I am giving them a rest from anything new until after half term.


Although Ann, I have to say you are a Wiz, I am not entirely sure how you manage it but time management is not something you need any help with it seems. I wish I had your sense of work ethic. Below is a wonderful machine embroidered panel that Ann has adapted from another pattern and put her own spin on it. Beautifully sewn and executed with lots of techniques in one piece. Applique, shadow applique, decorative machine stitches, lace application to name a few. This will form 1 of the 6 finished machine pieces required for level 1.  Ann has produced a sample that is over and above the size that is required, but shows her enthusiasm for the work she produces.  





Ann has also made this lovely cover for ipad

Ann has a computerised embroidery machine where by she can take a drawn pattern and digitize into an embroidery. Many people feel that using these machines is cheating but there is another level of skill involved when making your own digitised patterns. Computer skills and knowledge of stitch infills, and line design is not something that is easily achieved with the wave of a magic wand. 
Well done Ann I love your little froggy I think he's gorgeous and well done for bringing computer embroidery into your ipad cover.


Below we have one of Kay's finished machine stitched pieces. She has used the weaving strip method as her background and highlighted some of the areas with satin stitch, printed on quavers and semi quavers and then overlaid on the top appliqued notes from a piece of music that reminds Kay of her father. The stave is satin stitched and then outlined with a row of silver straight stitch and unfortunately the picture doesn't show this off nearly as well as it looks in real life. 
A wonderfully simple but evocative piece of work Kay stunning !!!


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Way back we did a workshop on couching and printing. Kay has made this most wonderful tote for her hairdryer. The fish have been printed from an indian wood block and embellished with beautiful hand embroidered satin stitch in a chevron pattern and the cords around the tote that help the give it structure have been hand couched. This piece will be one of  three of Kay's finished hand embroidered samples required for level 1.
Super work !



A work in progress now from Celia who used  last weeks stenciling session to embellish her woven background. Celia has named this piece "Early Marine Life"  the amoebic like patterns have been taken from the pattern on one of the fabrics used in the woven piece. Celia is now going to use her machine to embellish the piece further. Celia will admit that machining is not her favourite method of stitching but I am hoping to change her mind in the coming weeks as she has already nearly completed all three of her hand embroidered samples required to complete level 1.
Can't wait to see the completed work.

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This is Linda's work in progress, she has woven these lovely lavender grey and damson colours together  and now embellishing with a super variety of hand stitching in tonal threads, She has printed flowers onto the background and used her machine to satin stitch some of the fabrics to highlight certain areas. Well done Linda keep adding the stitching and make it even more scrummy!

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No blog next week, we're having a break for half term! If you want to know more about the course please pop into Busy Bees Patchwork and I will be happy to explain the contents of the course. Better still keep Saturday 21st July 2018 free and come and see our exhibition at Duffryn Community Centre and be inspired by all the wonderful work the ladies have crafted over the year.
Back on the 28th February!
Best stitches
Beccy




Friday, 9 February 2018

Designing with Stencils Week 18 City and Guilds Level 1

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 18 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

February 7th 2018

Designing with Stencils


Golly February already and we're still feeling that wintry cold weather. Still nothing like being cwtched up at home with a piece of embroidery in your hand watching Dancing on Ice.  

The Girls have been very busy this week obviously doing just that!!!

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Ann's lovely woven piece has taken on a new lease of life, she has added shells, pebbles, applique fish and a gorgeous little seagull flying above the sea. Ann always surprises me at how much work she can produce in a week, here is another piece of work she has been beavering away on.

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There is so much hand embroidery on this piece, she has covered every inch in sumptuous stitching. Lazy Daisy, pistol stitch, french knots, finger rings, Brazillian embroidery and beading to mention a few. Superb !!!



If you remember from last week Ann was dedicating this piece to her Grandma who taught her how to sew, I think she will have made her Grandma very proud indeed with this wonderful picture machine stitched with a little bit of computer embroidery too with the Singer brand name, something that I'm sure Ann's Grandma would have loved. 



Celia's piece has advanced from last week with lots of hand embroidery, embellishing these gorgeous fabrics which she has rust dyed herself.

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I love to see the progression every week of each piece of work, everyone encourages each other, take ideas from each other, offers of advice and sharing of skills. I love the colours in Celia'a work, the orangey, yellow with the black seems to go so well. 


Sonia has taken her woven piece and take inspiration from the fabric to complete her embroidery which she is going to make into a book cover.
If you remember from last week she had printed on some clouds and over last week she has hand stitched them to highlight the clouds and has made a castle from felt embellished with hand stitches which will be a focal point for the front of her book cover.



Sonia has also completed a piece on needle weaving, she started this a couple of weeks ago if you remember, and she has added more pebbles in graduating size and has coloured the background so that the pebbles feel like they are under water. The needle weaving is beautifully stitched and the colour combination is wonderful.




This week we studied the options of stenciling a design rather than printing, it caused a little confusion because designing a stencil is much more difficult than it looks. In printing a design any design that protrudes from the holding block will print but with a stencil what is cut away forms the design.
This has to be thought out quite carefully when you want a more intricate pattern. 
The whole design cannot be cut away other wise you are left with a solid outline of a design, so the design has to be drawn as separate shapes that still connect to reveal the desired pattern as in the samples below.

So we had a go and this is what we came up with .............

Who's a pretty boy then ?



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You can use many things to make a stencil, Mylar is a plastic sheet that most stencils are made of, it is very durable, water resistant and will last many years if you look after it. But to buy it is very expensive. We can substitute Mylar with card board or strong paper covered in PVA glue, Manilla card which is coated with a waxey substance, laminate sheets, clear plastic from gift boxes or in our case we used Freezer paper it's not very strong but you can iron it onto fabric and therefore it doesn't move around and helps to stop the paint from seeping under the stencil giving smudged edges. With care you can reuse the stencil several times.
We also use acrylic paint for our trial pieces but fabric paint can also be used if the piece you are working on needs to washed.

Why don't you have a play and see what you can come up with, it's not that difficult and who knows we may start another stenciling revolution like the early 90's when every wall and piece of furniture was stenciled within an inch of it's life. I like it, it's great fun and you can achieve some great designs for stitch!

Don't forget make some time to create! and speak to you again next week.
Best stitches
Beccy




Thursday, 1 February 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 17 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

January 31st 2018


It has been a hectic week at the shop, we had a flash sale when we realised we have so much fabric that has been around a while and quite a lot of new lines coming in we needed to make some room for the new. When the fabric reps come around it so easy to get carried away with all the gorgeous new lines for the following year. That's right, we order 6 months, sometimes 12 months in advance when it comes to Christmas fabrics.
Making choices from hundreds of designers is not an easy thing to do, luckily Ann and I are very similar in taste so we tend to choose the same things.  Sometimes we wonder how some designs even make it on to the fabric, but most of the time saying no! is just the hardest thing to do. A shop full of batiks would be my absolute heaven, I don't know what it is but the designs and colours are just moorish, if you have a chance to see batik fabric being made it's well worth a look, the stages and processes that the skilled men and women put into these glorious materials it's no wonder they can be so expensive, they truly are works of art in their own right. 


here is a link to a you tube video showing the processes of making batik fabric. Just copy and paste the link into your search bar.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nsMFIZfBiE

Any way back to our seventeenth week and our progression with woven backgrounds.
My piece has moved on slightly, having decided to finish it with hand stitching highlighting the boxes and rectangles stitched in with satin stitch on the machine.
As I was stitching the running stitch in a perle 5 variegated thread from Stef Francis threads I was reminded how sometimes when life has thrown some of it's down times at me I tend to put those thoughts and feelings into an imaginary box and store them away in the back of mind, I find this helps my coping mechanism when life gets me down and I want to move on from those experiences and forget about them for a while. Of course they are always with you and part of your life and part of what shapes you as a person, but to dwell on those times is not a good thing so packing them up and posting them away to the back of your mind helps me to move on and look forward. 
I found as I was stitching this piece how calm I felt, only thinking of the needle and thread passing through the  layers in an orderly way making sure the length was the same and the distance from guiding edge were parallel, all this kept my mind focused on the job in hand far from other worries of home and work just happily sewing for the shear enjoyment of making those stitches as perfect as I could.
The boxes seem to be connecting together, some small, some bigger, some joined together and all the while the lovely bright colours help to put a smile on my face, because not only bad thoughts can be kept, but good ones too lovely memories of holidays and Christmas' of family and my children and now grandchildren. My daughter is 21 on Friday, she was the prettiest baby (well she would be) and from the day she was born she has been such a loving child, generous and kind hearted, a real joy! on this piece of work the memories of her growing up will occupy a very big box indeed.

There are sections where I have stitched bands of needle weaving, below you can see where I have bordered a set of boxes with lazy daisy stitch and then an overall view below of the running stitches. I am enjoying this piece and hope to cover it in a mass of stitches, I will post more pictures as I go along.


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Below Rosie has woven lots of sari waste ribbons, sumptuous hues in all colours of the rainbow. In this weeks class we were supposed to be printing on top of the woven fabrics but in this case there wasn't a colour that would have shown up enough to make an impression, Rosie decided she would print her indian wood block print onto another fabric, embellish and stitch it and then applique onto the background. I am looking forward to seeing this finished. The block is amazing!


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Kay is not in love with this piece at the moment, but that happens and often can end up as the best thing you have ever done, we'll see next week when we try some stenciling on it. Trying new things can take us out of our comfort zones, Kay admits these are not her colours but she wanted to push the boundries a bit, good for you I say being brave can be very rewarding!


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These are Kay's colours, and this piece she is hoping to dedicate
to her father. Music and Choir played a large part of his life and
she is going to add a design that is symbolic of his passion for
music.
Giving an embroidery a story gives it a sense of place and worth,
although abstracted we engage more with the work and look further
into the reasons for its being. From a jumble of harmonious non
related fabrics, to the interweaving of random weaving, speaks
volumes of our connections with family and life. Dipping in and
out, playing a large part or small part all seams represented by
the shapes made crossing over and under and being reconnected
with thread and design.
I think this will be a wonderful tribute when it's completed.



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To the left Linda has used lovely warm colours, the oranges, deep
reds against the blue have a Mediterranean feel about them.
Linda also had some gorgeous indian block prints and if you
look closely you will see a beautiful leaf shape.
It looks quite shadowy in the background!

A work in progress Linda has made a start and used her
sewing machine to stitch into some of the boxes, highlighting
areas with the same colour blue onto the deep red fabric.
I can see this embellished with sequins and scrummy colourful
stitches.







In complete contrast, Linda has used 3 fabrics from the Makower range called Into the Woods
and cut them up and reformed them into a collage, next week we are going to make a stencil to
compliment the back ground, maybe taking an element of design from the fabric itself to make
a stencil. She hasn't quite decided what to do but sometimes work grows as we try different
approaches. Artists work in different ways, some have to plan, some can see in their minds
straight away what they want to achieve and others let the piece grow. Linda I think your a
gardener letting it speak to you as it grows. Me too !!!!

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Ann's piece of woven fabric is dedicated to her Grandma. The reason that Ann loves sewing
so much is her memories of her Grandma teaching her to sew. I think this is wonderful because boy! did those ladies know how to sew.
They were taught from a young age,through necessity none of your throw away society in that era!
Ann's grandma would have been amazed at what the new machine's are capable of these days and Ann has shown this by the stitching of the cotton reels and scissors which she has chosen from her sewing machines bank of decorative stitches, a real juxtaposition of the old in her recycled vintage fabrics and the new in the use of her Janome computerised sewing machine.
Kinda blows your mind in a way!


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Mel too, has gone down the vintage route, with the use of these vintage fabrics and beautiful vintage lace. She finds them in charity shops and boot sales. Mel had a clear thought as to what she wanted to print onto the woven  layers and we were all on tender hooks preprint but it turned out better than we could all imagine. Poor Mel we were all watching as she printed her beautiful home made stamp.

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And then the second, Fabulous !!!
Can't wait to see what else comes.



Sonia's first piece is all about the fabric, there are tiny little castles on one of the woven strips, she has drawn out a picture of the castle which she intends to applique onto the background. She has also made her own cloud stamp and printed onto the piece.
I am in awe of everyone's abilities and energy, every week I give them something new and they surprise me every time with what they have achieved in just a couple of weeks.
Again I am so looking forward to the finished articles.


Another piece from Sonia bet you can't guess what this is going to be?


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Last but not least Celia has worked this very striking colour palette, using her own rust dyed fabrics mixed with purchased printed black fabrics. Each piece of fabric has a meaning. I must apologise that I can't quite remember them all so I will tell you more about it when it's completed rather than get it wrong. She has used indian block prints to print on the background and also tree onto the black fabric as a focal point, again this is growing allowing the work to guide the next process.

Seeing everyone's work each week is so exciting it's like having a birthday every week, I'm in awe well done everyone you have certainly stepped up to the challenge.

Well it's nearly 11.30 pm and I am just about pooped, but I can go off to bed with a smile on my face, my daughter will be 21 tomorrow and I just can't believe where the time has gone. My big boy will soon be leaving the nest too and my little lad, is off on his first adventure away from home with a school trip to Talybont on Usk. Our lives I feel are just like the weaving in and out of the fabrics above and as we experience more we add more to that fabric another mark, another stitch, making us who we are. 

Make some time to sew, have a go at weaving and make your memory in print and stitch, use things that have significance a button from a favourite shirt, a photo, piece of jewellery and if you do let me know I would love to see it. You can contact me through face book at busybeespatchwork or email me beccy@busybeespatchwork.com.

Best stitches
Beccy xxx




Thursday, 25 January 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 16 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

January 24th 2018


Our endeavours this week have take us to another form of weaving, creating an interesting surface on which to apply stitch either by hand by machine or both!
I had a really great time at home in my sewing room creating some backgrounds in first a complementary colour scheme, a triad colour scheme and a harmonious colour scheme using fabrics from my stash.

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The strips of fabric were cut using a rotary cutter in different widths and then woven in a random fashion eg. over two, under one, over one, under three and the next row again in a different layout.
This gave me a completely random pattern of blocks and rectangles. This is a work in progress and I have begun to outline some of the blocks in a close satin stitch on the machine, then outlined the blocks in a straight stitch which I wasn't entirely thrilled with I have to say. I have started to stitch some rows of Kantha work which I much happier with and I think that's where I am going go with this piece, it may be my project to take to Paris to while a way the long train Journey when I go in March for my big 5 0 birthday arghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

This next one is my complimentary colour scheme Red and Green again I have no real idea where these pieces are going at the moment I'm just having fun with the colours and the process, experimenting to see what happens and how the layers build.




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After the initial weaving I fired up the machine, threw on the
free motion foot and spent a happy hour stitching listening to Rod Stewart in concert on youtube.  I can't really say he influenced my
work in any way except I think my bubbles look quite sexy!

In this piece I wanted to try and obliterate the lines formed by the
weaving and make the edges more blurred. I applied some organza
with free motion bubbles in long strips to break up the edges a bit.
To further knock back the clarity of the edges I got out some stamps
I had made from another project and printed randomly across the
fabric in different tones of green. Then another layer with the end
of toilet roll tube making the leaf shape and then with some round
sponge in red and a bit of white pearl, which has a lovely
shimmer to it.

Although you can still see the weaving it is now very much
pushed to the background and no longer the first thing you see.
This piece is going to have a large appliqued flower on it at some
point in the future, so I wanted the background to be defused as though it were out of focus, well
that's the plan we'll have to see if it works when I get round to finishing it.


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Every week in class I do a demonstration on the process we are about to embark on and this week I was inspired about the story of the Foundling Children, a fascinating story of Thomas Corum who was the first person to open a children's home for mothers who could not look after their babies because of poverty or social exclusion. The mothers would bring with their babies a token of identification with which they could identify their child if they were able to come back in better circumstances and be reunited with their baby. This token could be part of a blanket, a babies cap, a scrap of fabric from their dress, an embroidery and so on, and these tokens were kept in ledgers which still survive today in the Foundling Museum. So this little piece will be my tribute to those mums who had to give up their children, another work in progress but I think this is one I will definitely finish and may be as I read more about it, it may inspire other pieces of work too.

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Vintage fabric scraps from serviettes and dress fabrics. A start towards some pieces on the foundling children and the Hospital of Thomas Corum.


Here are some pictures now of the ladies work in progress, next week we are going to some printing on the weaving and the following week we are going try some stenciling.

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Looking forward to seeing how these develop over the next few weeks !


Stop Press !!!! Kay has turned her weaving into a bag and it's Gorgeous!!!

Well done I tell you it's like Christmas every week when the girls bring in their work,
Two weeks ago this was on a cake rack being sworn at and now a very classy adornment to a
lovely shoulder bag.

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I spy a bit of cake rack there! Look at this one, Sonia has done so well considering how poorly she's been but still putting her time to good use with this wonderful piece of weaving, I think she said it was going to live on the window sill and has inspired her to do second one for another project GO GIRL !!!

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Another work in progress for Sonia, who is a
real dab hand at needle weaving, Sonia has done
some really beautiful work in this method and
I am sure when this is finished will be just
amazing. These pebbles look so real you could
just pick them off the fabric.





Well another week over, don't forget to make time to sew and see what you can come up with.
If you are inspired and would like to know more about the course which will be starting again in September this year email me at beccy@busybeespatchwork.com, call me at Busy Bees Patchwork 01633 810801 or pop in and see us at the studio Duffryn shopping centre NP10 8TE on a Wednesday morning. Leave us a comment below if your enjoying the work we would love to hear your feedback.

Best stithces
Beccy x

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 15 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

January 17th 2018


The second week of weaving is going pretty well, not everyone's cup of tea but you can't please all the people all of the time. There are so many disciplines to learn on the City and Guilds course, so many methods and techniques to challenge your artistic minds so don't give up on the first attempt. When you try something new for the first time and it doesn't quite give you that buzz or every thing you do seems to go wrong, the colours aren't right, the things you have chosen don't seem to match. In fact it all looks like one big mess, well, then you have learned the most valuable lesson of all, how to evaluate your work.
It wasn't that you didn't like it, it's just because the choices you made weren't well planned. Planning your work through sketching, collaging, painting and drawing can help you make good decisions and choices instead of uncalculated ones which leaves you with disappointment and a dislike for that particular method. 
Allow your mind to evaluate, always in the back of your mind say to yourself what if ? what would happen if I did this, how can I make this work for me. Jot down ideas, colours and sketches, it doesn't have to be a masterpiece just something to jog your imagination.
There are obviously techniques that will really inspire you and those that you will excel at and those that don't hit the spot and that's okay! to me that's what City and Guilds teaches the best, finding the methods and techniques that suit you and the way you want to interpret the things that inspire you most through fabric and stitch.

Below is a picture of my piece of weaving, we all agreed that using a proper frame would be far more suitable than using a cake rack but hey! when needs must why not use items you can find around the house instead of purchasing something you may never use again. It was a little awkward to remove from the cake rack but with a little gentle pursuasion it served it's purpose quite well I thought. In the abscence of very strong card or a proper frame I was very pleased with the result.
I am now in the process of turning it into a baskety type receptacle thingy! to hold my embroidery in. Picture to follow when I get around to finishing it along with all the other projects You know what I'm talking about.........

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I took my weaving to another level then by using a method called needle weaving, quite the other end of the scale where size is concerned. Below my lines or rows of straight stitches will be interwoven with different embroidery and knitting yarns to create wave shapes on this sea scape. I first printed the background with a home made stamp in different colours overlapping the layers onto a background that was painted with Kohinoor dye based paint. I have outlined some of the waves with  a half feather stitch and then used the needle weaving to highlight some of the waves, another work in progress towards some pieces I am stitching towards this years Swansea Festival of stitch.


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A close up of the needle weaving
The colours in this did't transfer too well from camera for some unknown annoying reason they are much more blue, but I haven't had time to mess around with them.
I have really enjoyed this piece and the needle weaving, I will experiment more with this particular method of stitching, there seems to be great potential for other projects
and manipulating the basic technique.

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This weaving belongs to Ann, my camera behaved this time Gorgeous colours, Ann's is going to live with this for a while, which means she hasn't quite decided how to resolve this piece whether it looks good enough in it's own right or to add something to it.
She thought may be a sea gull or two?

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Our new student Mel wasn't sure about this method at all, but I think this is a very strong piece with that amazing splash of vivid pink amongst the darker browns and blues. It has an African feel to it and could easily be a beautiful hanging.

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Below Kay has chosen Blues and slate greys to wondrous effect, the strong turquoise of the warp thread really plays it's part in the weaving and is no shrinking violet. Kay is yet to complete her weaving and I hope she doesn't have too much trouble removing it from the confines of the cake rack.

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Celia's weaving is going to make a real statement! We decided that the gorgeous piece of wood Celia aquirred from a nice wood man, looks like part of shipwreck and that the piece when finished should hang horizontally rather than vertically as below. She has a bit of a way to go to finish but Wowee it's going to be amazing!


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Some samples of today's needle weaving workshop

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And last but certainly not least Sonia has finished over Christmas and New Year her embroidery on a a 1930's holiday poster for Kent. A remarkable piece of work which has been carefully thought about and planned to maximum effect. You really get the sense of holiday with the gorgeous strong colours and the simplicity of the original poster's painting lends itself very well to applique.
Sonia has further embellished with hand and machine stitching.
Just wonderful.

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Fab week all in all.
If your following us don't forget to leave us a comment we would really appreciate your feedback!
See you next week with some more inspirational work!
Best stitches
Beccy

And don't forget make some time to be creative!!!