Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Embellished Flower Fragments/Blumenfragmente

In the beginning of last summer, I tried some natural dyeing with raspberries and blackberries, freshly picked in my garden - I filled a glass with two handful of berries, put some wool roving, handspun threads and thin cloth in, added some water and let it rest in the sun for almost a week before rinsing.

Here I've used the dyed roving for the flower heads - the background is a piece of white industrial felt, which I've embellished with some extra wool roving to get a softer and more 'natural' feeling. The threads used here are self-dyed too, but not with the berries.

Next time I will try boiling the berries (or other plants) for a stronger colour - if you visit Carolyn Saxby's blog, you'll find her wonderful easy 'recipe' for natural dyeing here.

(German summary: Diese mal gibt's zwei Fragmente mit gepunchten Blumenmotiven aus Wollvlies, das ich mit Himbeeren und Brombeeren gefärbt habe: Zwei handvoll Beeren, Wolle, feinen BW-Stoff, Fäden und Wasser in ein Glas gegeben, eine knappe Woche in die Sonne gestellt, ausgespült, fertig.

Nächstes mal werde ich aber erst einen Sud aus den Beeren kochen, wie im
Rezept von Carolyn Saxby beschrieben, um eine intensivere Tönung zu erhalten.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fragments of two creatures/Zwei Tierfragmente

The fragments of today picture two rather important creatures in the Celtic world: the first one is a dragon - this specific one adapted from the 'Book of Kells' -

and the second is the fish, which was of course of high a value for the daily nutrition in the Wiking era. (The outlines for this very fish are taken from a rock carving.)

I've used a simple, rather heavy couching stitch for outlining the fish, and a combination of stem-stitch and couching for the dragon; the thread I've used for the dragon is a hand-dyed variegated one - I'm quite pleased with the bi-coloured effect it makes.

(German summary: Diesmal sind zwei Tiere bei meinen Fragmenten dabei: der Fisch und der Drache - einmal inspiriert von einer Felsmalerei, einmal vom "Buch der Kelten".)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Viking metal fragment/Wikingerfragment

I'm so excited about the fragment I did today, that I have to show it to you right away:

As so often, my inspiration was boosted when I read my friend Elizabeth's posting, where she had put a very interesting link to a historical documentation on Vikings.

What catched my eye first when watching the film were the metal helmets, and so I began stitching the outlines on a fabric fragment, using a couched split stitch. While working on it, I pondered which filling stitch to use - until I remembered having some beer can metal hidden in my stash - Irish beer, mmm ...

Then I added a couple of antique sequins and beads - and there it was, the Viking metal fragment!

Even if I'm aware of that I'm spoiling you rotten by adding yet another fragment - I think this one is so closely connected to the first, that I don't have much of a choice:

If you want to see the original rock carving - the picture is published on the homepage of Bornholm's Museum in Denmark and first linked to by Elizabeth/Landanna again - here is where you'll find it.

For this 'rock carving', I've used the antique sequins again, and the stitches are - well, a bit of free style.

If you have followed the link to the historical documentation on Vikings (which I can really recommend!) and maybe had a look at the rock carvings, too (interesting!) - I think you are now prepared to lend your ear to some Viking music as well ;-) ...

and I'm pretty certain, that if you don't happen to have a son that particular age, you've never heard this sound before - click to hear here (Swedish "Amon Amarth") and here (Icelandic "Tyr"). Give it a chance - it's not that bad when you get used to it :-)!

(German summary: Ein neues Fragment, für mich aufregend, weil ich es hier mit einer Art Metallapplikation kombiniere - Bierdosenmetall, recycled ... Es geht viel um das Wikinger-Thema, als historische Dokumentation, Runensteine, Metal-Musik ... bitte folgt einfach den Links!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moons and stars fragments/Monde und Sterne - Fragmente

I always found it difficult to appliqué a piece of round fabric to a background - until I suddenly realized I could draw a circle with a 'Magic pen' (you know, the one that disappears by itself or when sprayed upon with water) on the background, and then follow these outlines when sewing the fabric down ...

To me, these are moons and stars - but of course you could see them as dots as well - and if they are to be dots, I guess I should link you to Jude, who's done a lot of investigation about dots!

And then I started pondering (oh, I love that word - it has been used in several blogs lately :-)) - if the Magic pen-method would work out with a more complicated form - let's say a star - too ...

Well, yes, it does!

I must admit that the fabric chosen is extremely light and soft , but a person more accurate than I am could surely do this with a normal cotton fabric as well.

I worked grain stitches through all layers to fix the yellow gauze better to the background. Filling stitches, like the grain ones, turn out very nice with a variegated thread - and here you can use up a lot of short ends, too!

In this case, both the gauze and the threads are self-dyed - products of Sara's and my dyeing last summer - and as you may recall it was very hard work - so therefore I really honour every scrap of it!

(German summary: Für die heutigen Fragmente habe ich den 'Magischen Stift' - der, der von selber verschwindet - zur Hilfe genommen, um einen Kreis vorzuzeichnen und dann entlang den Konturen die runde Applikation festzunähen. Es funktioniert auch sogar recht gut mit einer komplizierteren Form, mit dem Stern.

Die kleinen Körndl- oder Füllstiche sehen besonders gut aus, wenn man ein Stickgarn mit Farbverlauf wählt - auch Reste sind da gut aufzubrauchen!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another fragment - and a gadget

This is another leaf fragment - this time I've chosen a more closed form for the embellished wool and I've also pointed out the outlines with a stem stitch.

The fine nerves of the leaves were done with a normal sewing thread, in order to get them real fine.

For the background I've used the coffee-tea-walnut dye once more - I find it's being very useful for 'oldening' the fabrics a bit.

Did you know that you can re-use your teabags and coffee filters for dyeing by just drying them after drinking and then using them for dyeing later on? And that all parts of the walnut tree - hulls, nuts, nutshells, leaves, bark, root - contain 'juglon' - the dyeing content of the tree. (I've learned all this in 'Färben mit Pflanzen' by Dorit Berger - and here is another link, where you can read about the herb walnut and its medical use.)

As I'm getting back a bit more into sewing and embroidering again - and finding my eyes are growing older (unfortunately not only the eyes ;-)) - I'm happy to have found a little helper for threading the fine needles.

Even if I'm not so fond of owning a lot of gadgets for every single purpose, this is one that I've really come to cherish - it's a Japanese made (Clover) half-automatic needle threader.

You just insert your needle in the needle slot, lay your thread into another slot, press the lever, pull the needle out again - and voilà! - by magic, your needle is threaded!

It's a mechanical little thing (no batteries!) and I cannot figure out how it functions - but it works! You can however only use quite fine needles for it - on the other hand, those with a big eye I can still manage without the gadget! In Europe, the price seems to be around €15.

(German summary: Noch ein Blatt-Fragment, diesmal eine geschlossene Form mit Stielstich in den Konturen und normales Nähgarn für die feinen Blattnerven. Ich habe auch ein kleines Gerät entdeckt, daß mir das lästige Einfädeln bei sehr feinen Nähnadeln erleichtert. Und dann hab' ich noch gelernt, daß man gebrauchte Tee- und Kaffeefilter für's Färben wiederverwenden kann und daß alle Teile des Walnußbaumes braun färben!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bayeux stitch fragment

In ancient times, when thread and yarn were rare and precious and you were eager to have as much as possible of it shown on the front side (and not to waste it on the back side), the Bayeux stitch was often used for covering the surface of a fabric in a decorative way.

This stitch is actually an old Anglo-Saxon variation of laidwork: on the front side, it ressembles satin stitch, but instead of letting the yarn pass across the reverse side, the thread is brought back up to front again very close to where it went down. A second layer is then sewn in intervals at a right angle to the first layer and held down with a short stab stitch.

All these three elements can be done with the same or with different yarns.

It's really quite simple to learn and gives a variety of possibilities in shading colours and effects through the different layers. (A useful link for working out the bayeux stitch is this pdf-tutorial by Jan Messent herself, presented by The Embroiderers' Guild.)

Here I've tried a fragment of it, using self-dyed mouliné for the bottom layer, a thin cotton thread (hand-dyed too) for the vertical layer and for the outline stitch, and finally a metal thread for the couching stitches.

My inspiration for this fragment had its origin in this posting of my friend Elizabeth/Landanna in Denmark, where she presents a wonderful book of Jan Messent, "Celtic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon Embroidery".

(Here you have another link for having a further look into the book.)

(German summary: Dieses Fragment zeigt den Bayeux-Stich, ein sehr alter angelsächsischer

Stich, der eine Art Kombination und Variante des Plattstiches mit dem Überfang- oder Bucharastich ausmacht - damals eine wirtschaftliche Notwendigkeit, heute auch eine vielseitige Gestaltungsmöglichkeit.

Bitte folge auch den links oben zu dem Buch von Jan Messent und zu meiner Freundin Elizabeth, die mich erst darauf aufmerksam gemacht hat!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


What is our life if not a bundle of fragments - material ones, like our scraps and collections of things; non-material, like our memories, visions and longings ...

Still, fragments do not only give testimony of earlier greatness - they can also indicate the idea of what could become splendid and meaningful if pursued and attented to.

After my divorce about six weeks ago I haven't had much power to do other creative work than a bit of knitting - but now I feel it's time to get back to 'textile investigations', as I think Sara would put it.

Do you remember the 'whatiffing-project' quite some time ago?

I enjoyed that sort of experimenting with fibers and techniques a lot and would like to continue it, just changing the size and not necessarily connecting it with the embellisher, but to keep it open for all sorts of - mostly textile, of course - try-outs that strike me: fragments.

If you'd like to join in, please feel free to do so - in a similar or in a different way, whatever suits you best - it would be just marvellous to have a bit of exchange of ideas and mutual inspiration!

My concept would be to keep the material involved quite simple: using scraps and stash material, recycling paper and cardboard for the mounting, experimenting freely with whatever comes my way - and to present it at least once a week.

I chose the format of approximately 9x13 cm (3,5x5") for the fabric, or background, as I thought it to be neither too big nor too small for a sample and allowing you to mount it on a plain A6 standard card if you like (or later on even using it as an AMC or greeting card).

I found some linen and canvas scraps, and as they were far too white, I dyed them with some teabags, a used coffee filter and a couple of walnut hulls from the garden. After rinsing and drying the fabrics, I was most satisfied with their worn and 'ancient' look :-).

This first card is a leaf, not printed, but lightly embellished (dry felted) with wool roving onto the linen scrap, then finished-up with a couple of small stitches with a thin metal thread. The backing is made out of recycled cardboard (cereal boxes have the right paper weight!).

(German summary: Nach längerer Pause habe ich mich entschlossen, ein etwas abgeändertes 'Whatiffing-Projekt' zu beginnen - Fragmente, eben - kleine textile Experimente aus einfachen und schon vorhandenen Materialien, Stoffgröße ca 9x13, mit Motiven und Techniken, die mich gerade interessieren - vielleicht möchte jemand mitmachen?)