Saturday, August 27, 2011


I have often quoted.......My day is not complete till needle and fabric meet.

Having not stitched for nearly two weeks, can you imagine the withdrawal symptoms I have been having. I am please  to report health is nearly restored and yesterday I was sitting happily stitching once more and although I am not stitching black work at the moment I wanted to share some more about it with you.

Another group I work with, are also enjoying stitching blackwork at present. A small group of ladies come through from New Plymouth once a month and study count thread embroidery with me, some of the group are stitching a Blackwork Mystery Sampler Bellpull I designed some time ago and at the time was stitched by several Guild groups When designing it, I stitched a small portion to see if the design would work and my good friend Ann finished the piece and the sampler is hers, she lent it to me recently and I took some photos of the different sections its quite long, so difficult to fit it all in and get a good photo.

It is designed so that the embroiderer can make her own choice of which designs to stitch and if she prefers to just stitch one or all of them.

 I have decided I would like to share this sampler with anyone interested in blackwork embroidery. The notes are about 18 pages, with instructions, drawings and patterns.  I will include copies of some of  the photos. I am not selling this but would like to make it an exchange  If anyone interested would like to exchange a cross stitch pattern they have finished with for the notes, then contact me with your postal address  and I will have a set of notes on the way to you.

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Monday, August 15, 2011


The weather forcast predicted wide spread snow again and that included Stratford again! two snow falls in town in one winter almost unheard of, so yesterday Caitlin between stitching made me a heading photo using one of the photos taken a couple of weeks back.  here is what greeted us when we got up this morning ........

                         truly winter wonderland right at the front door.
and looking out the backdoor.


Little hedgehog is burried deep in snow I cant see him this morning.

A very big thank you to all who posted comments when Caitlin put the first photo of her blackwork bird on my blog. stitching the tail feathers were a real struggle and there was a bit of reverse stitching  (unpicking) too. After reading all the comments yesterday morning she was determine to finish so she could blog the results before she had to go home.. Thank you all for the encouragement.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Here is the end of the weekends work. The feet were easy to stich and they came out nicely. The tail of my bird was a competely different story. I found the tail a hard thing to do. I kept on forgetting to go on a angle and so it took a bit longer than I thought it would. The out come of it I think looks lovely. All thats left is to put lichen on his branch and a leaf or two droping down from it. Grandma will post the finshed bird at the end of the month.


Friday, August 12, 2011


A lot happening with Blackwork here at present although this time I have not done one stitch! The group of Junior stitchers at our guild ages ranging from 8-13 years have now all finished their blackwork owl.  Our main project for the year is a bag with four pockets on the outside we have taken the theme of Owls and each pocket will show the owl using different stitches. Some will finish all four pocket however I can see the slower stitchers will have 2 embroidered pockets and 2 plain. This term  everyone is working on their piece for the coming Regional Embroiderers Exhibition. Four of the children have elected to stitch blackwork for their piece, we had a very busy afternoon with them this week and have till the end of the month for the pieces to be completed.
Grand-daughter Caitlin is spending the weekend with us, so as to have some catch up time with her piece, she is doing one of our native small birds, a South Island Tomtit. It is progressing well, but now up to the tricky part of stitching the tail feathers. I have found it works well  to make a copy of different stages using a photocopier, then let them draw on the picture so they have an idea what they want to stitch.

Comment from Caitlin who has been playing with different settings on the computer and the photo shw took of her of her work.
I have enjoyed stiching this bird. I love the way he is turning out so far. In junors I have two friends who are also working on Blackwork as well . My friend Paige is doing a blackwork Rooster. He is looking lovely. My other friend Nikita is working on a Black work cow. It's little but I think it will turn out looking out lovely in the end. We also have anther little girl in the class called Sarah-Lee, who has only been stching for a couple of years and is at the moment tackling a big blackwork puppy. He is coming along nicely but I don't think it will be made in time to go to the regional exhibition but luckly she made a back up pup done in cross stitch and her big piece will go to next years national exhibition. It is a border collie  called Jackson. It came out amzing and I love it.

Caitlin started  stitching at the age of 5 years and continues to enjoy her embroidery. other piece have been shown on past postings.  Here is a close up of the stitching on her bird.

Till next time when I have more to share on blackwork.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


My new window allows me to watch the small wax-eyes birds. feeding on the calicarpa berries. Delightful to watch but most difficult to photograph as they move so quickly about the bush and any shadow of a movement will send them flying off.
Do you know the calicarpa berries ? ( think they are called Beauty Berries in America)  they are tiny and a rich purple shade, each year I allow myself to pick some branches to have in the house and also include some it the flower arrangement in the foyer at church so others might enjoy them too, however the rest are left for the enjoyment of the wax-eyes, and as the weather gets colder they strip the bush of the berries.

One year, the guild Challenge was "From my Window".  For my piece I chose to stitch the wax eye birds in the silver birch tree that  I use to watch from the window seat at our Coromandel home.

I stitched each piece separately on calico, it was the first time I had used this method, rather like the slips stitched in Elizabethan times, where pieces were stitched then cut out and added to the main piece, this also meant if one bird did not come up just right I had not ruined the whole piece of my work. These were more needlepainting pieces than stumpwork  I had several reference books showing the birds beside me as I stitched, It is not a good idea to rely on only one source as  colour can vary with different printing methods.For this piece I also had a dead bird to look at, it is amazing the different shading that makes up the feathers, I did not have enough different shades in my embroidery threads.
 Stitched with one thread of stranded thread many different shades and lots of tiny straight stitches. The branch is from the silver birch tree with a coat of varnish to help preserve it  and the tiny leaves once stitched were stiffened before being cut out. I did not buttonhole  the edge as I wanted to give it a natural look and the stiffener, I used  a liquid product "Stiffy"to make them very firm.  

As you can see I have been testing what I can do with the camera and then on the computor.

 Here is a close up shot to show the detail of the stitching on one bird. he is 7cm just under 3 inches 
I have taught this method and those doing the project- a bird of their choice found it was not as hard to do as they imagined. There are more of my birds in  the album on the right, as you can see I really do enjoy stitching them.

               Have a happy dayand hope you can find a quiet time to stitch..