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Category Archives: Embroidery

Embroidery bling

Brace yourself for a bit of bling! My latest project for Simply Crochet is a sparkly one and with Christmas round the corner, what could be better than a bit of metallic thread in the shape of stars:

Embroidered crochet coasters

Embroidered crochet coasters

I made these simple little crochet coasters to accompany my technical feature in issue 38 of the magazine, which is all about how to work embroidery stitches on crochet fabric.

The stars are so simple to create that I’m hoping to see these embroidered metallic stars on all sorts of other crochet projects, and even knitted and sewn projects – they’re not just for Christmas, you know, they’ll look great all winter. I’m secretly hoping to see one large embroidered star on the front of a sweater, Christmas jumper style – that would make my day!

If you like them and want the pattern, you’ll need Simply Crochet magazine issue 38, which is out now.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Crochet, Embroidery

 

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Crafty ideas on the bus

My journey to work is an hour on the bus each way, which can get a little dull. Usually, I take a crochet project or something to read with me, but the other day, I was caught out with nothing to do. Sometimes it’s nice just to look out the window and watch the world go by, but on this occasion, the bus was so busy that there were no window seats left.

So I resorted to looking through my handbag for interesting items to entertain me, and I came across a couple of crafty business cards that I’d picked up the last time I went to St Ives in Cornwall.

One was for Grace Face Boutique, www.gracefaceboutique.blogspot.co.uk:

Grace Face card

Grace Face card

They primarily make lovely vintage-style dresses using quirky printed fabrics, but there’s also adorable buttons, cute purses and inspirational notebooks – I love the one that says ‘Don’t quit your day dream’. Apparently, Emma has since closed her studio in St Ives and moved to Northampton, but it seems like she’s still brimming with creativity.

The second card was for Little Binks, www.littlebinks.co.uk:

Little Binks card

Little Binks card

They make unique handmade clothes for little ones, many of which have a seaside theme, which would just look adorable on my nieces during the summer. They use vintage and recycled fabrics for an eco-friendly edge, and there are a fair few dresses with a hint of 1970s floral bedspreads, which is oh-so cool right now. Prices are reasonable, too.

On the back of the Little Binks card, I’d written this:

Leila Shepherd

Leila Shepherd

I remember that she didn’t have a card, but I really liked her handmade lampshades, particularly one made with a map-style fabric. So I’d written down her details on the back of the other card. Her website is leilashepherd.com, although you can see many more of her creations on her Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/leilashepherd

Finally, I found a receipt with the cards from the Poppy Treffry shop, where I got this felt flower brooch:

Felt flower

Felt flower

If you’ve not discovered Poppy yet, she creates lovely freehand embroideries. Go to www.poppytreffry.co.uk and check out her gorgeous seaside-themed goodies – I love the purses and bags, the mugs, the kits and the embroidered pictures.

Anyway, I love seeing the creativity of other crafters, and I had a lovely bus journey in the end, remembering my time in St Ives and all the inspirational makes that I saw there. Makes me wish I was in St Ives now…

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Embroidery, Sewing

 

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Buttoned up

I’ve just come back from our annual week’s holiday to the beautiful seaside town of St Ives in Cornwall. If you’ve never been, you really are missing out. Here’s just one of the many lovely photos we took of the town, on one of our many walks:

St Ives © Becky Skuse

St Ives © Becky Skuse

As well as beautiful views, friendly people, delicious food and great galleries, there are also some lovely crafty shops and other tempting goodies, which I spent far too much money on!

Unfortunately, my two favourite shops have closed down or moved out of the town: the bead shop (G J Beads) and vintage store Beaten Green.

However, there’s still a knitting shop (House of Bartlett), two stained glass galleries (including Jo Downs and Desiree Hope), a vintage tea room, and Poppy Treffry now has her own shop.

One of my best buys was not in any of these places though, it was in one of the gift shops…

Button earrings

Button earrings

Yes, it’s a pair of button earrings! I grinned from ear to ear when I saw them, and happily handed over a mere £2 to have them. I’ve already had several compliments on them and am now bursting with ideas for making jewellery using buttons.

I think it must be fate though, because only a few weeks ago, I joked to the gorgeous Becca (at Knit Happens) that we should start a button club and meet to compare our button stashes and undertake creative button-related challenges. We both had a good giggle, but since then, EVERYTHING has been coming up buttons!

I think it’s the universe’s way of telling me to get buttoned up… and who am I to argue?

So, button club anyone? Who’s in?

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Beading, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Cutting edge of history

I’ve always been fascinated by history, particularly influential people and interesting genealogical stories. I think that’s why I like TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters.

I’ve been on my own history adventure recently, thanks to a rather plain-looking pair of scissors!

Vintage scissors

Vintage scissors

I noticed these little scissors recently at my parents’ house, next to my mum’s jewellery box. In an instant, I was totally captivated by their vintage charm – look how fine the metal is around finger holes, and how beautifully the metal curves from here to the pivot point.

I joked to my mum that they looked ancient and she said she’d had them for as long as she could remember. She knows that I have a soft spot for vintage knick-knacks, so she insisted that I have them. (I resisted a little, but gave in quickly with a possible too-loud yay!)

Anyway, when I got them home, I had a good look over them. The blades don’t feel very sharp any more, but the pivot is still very strong (unlike some of my more modern scissors). The metal has a beautiful dark, matt quality, with just a little rust under the pivot point. Then I turned them over…

Vintage scissors: other side

Vintage scissors: other side

On this side, I realised there was some writing under the pivot, so I looked a little closer…

Vintage scissors close-up

Vintage scissors close-up

In case you can’t see, it says ‘W.P All W Parkin & Sons Sheffield’. I felt a pang of excitement as a I realised this could be a craft artefact with its own history, so I set out to find out more about W Parkin & Sons. A quick internet search turned into a 2-hour investigation! I’ve not found out all that much, but here’s what I do know…

W Parkin & Sons, Sheffield, were just one of many steel companies in the area during the 19th century and right up until the 1970s. In case you’re unaware, Sheffield was a hub of steel production in the UK, from the industrial revolution until its decline in the 1970s and 1980s, due to more competitive prices abroad. Sheffield’s steelworks were huge and played a key role in producing essential items for the war effort.

I’m personally interested in the craft tools they produced, which seem to have included scissors, knives and saws. According to various sources, W Parkin & Sons occupied premises in many different parts of the city, including Sylvester Street, Granville Street, and land between Solly Street and White Croft. All of these addresses are now either office blocks, housing estates, or crumbling, boarded-up buildings with no hint of the important activity that once occurred there.

One of the internet results that came up was for the census records. There was a William Parkin in the 1911 Census, described as a ‘Steel Merchant’, aged 64. I found the same man in previous census records, described as ‘Steel Manufacturer’ in 1901, ‘Steel and File Manufacturer’ in 1891, ‘Cuttery Manufacturer Employing About 100 Hands’ in 1881, a Clerk Merchant in 1871, a Scholar in 1861, and no job in 1851 (but he was only 4 years old!). I’m not sure whether this is the founder or one of the forefathers of the company, but it’s still interesting to see one man’s career progression!

It’s sad that these once-thriving factories are now falling down, and that there doesn’t seem to be much record of a company that endured for so long, employing so many, and making charming historic items like my humble scissors. I’ll keep looking for more information…

 

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New Year’s resolutions

So the Christmas trimmings have been packed away for another year and as is the tradition at this time of year, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for 2013 – more specifically, crafty resolutions that I’d like to make…

1 I’d like to get my stash more organised. I always associate spring cleaning with the new year, and I dream of having a craft stash that’s perfectly tidy and ordered, so that everything is easy to find, uses space efficiently, keeps my tools well protected and my fabrics, yarns and threads safe from dirt, damage and dust. I’ve already got a few plastic boxes but I’m thinking of getting a few more – they don’t cost the earth, but aren’t very pretty. A nice workbox or workbasket would be lovely, but their shape is usually not a great use of space so it probably wouldn’t hold all that much. Perhaps an inventory would be helpful as well because I’m sure there are crafty goodies I’ve got that I’ve forgotten about.

2 I’d like to finish some of my unfinished projects. We’ve all got them – projects we’ve got planned to do or that are half-made, but we’ve never got round to finishing them. A couple of years ago, I put all mine together in one bag, in the hope that in between projects, I would delve into the bag and finish something. But it’s not happened yet…

3 I’d like to make some projects that use up all those little bits and bobs in my stash – odd balls of yarn and small amounts of fabric. So I’m thinking of making small accessories or little things for little ones, using striped or patchwork effects. Or something…

4 I’d like to try something different. The beauty of crafting is that there are always new designs, new techniques and new products to try! There are lots of things I’ve seen that I’ve thought “Oh, I’d love to try that some day”. Some of them are really basic, such as knitting or crocheting with beads and lacework – others will take more thought, such as making a quilt and using shrink-effect interfacing in a sewing project.

5 I’d like to teach someone to craft. There’s nothing more rewarding than sharing the craft you love with other people and watching their confidence, excitement and passion flourish – all because of you! So in 2013, I’d really like to spread the love of crafts a bit further by teaching other people how to knit or sew or crochet. I’ve also thought about joining a club, but struggled to find one close enough at the right time. Maybe I’ll start one at work… My nieces aren’t quite old enough to knit yet but they do like learning new things and there are plenty of other fun crafty things we could do.

6 I’d like to do some more designing. I think 2012 was a great year for my sewing designs and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for Sewing World. It seems like there are loads of independent craft designers out there creating great designs, and they both inspire me (if they can do it, it must be possible for me to do it too) and terrify me (there are so many designs out there now, what if my stuff isn’t good or original). I recently joined Craftsy and it seems quite straightforward to list patterns for sale, so I think this will be my next move.

7 I’d like to set up a craft project for charity. Crafters are some of the most generous people I’ve met and there are always charity fund-raising projects on the go to get involved in. I regularly give money to charity and take part in other people’s charity craft projects, because it’s a great feeling to do something practical to help others. I’d like to take it one step further and set up my own craft for charity project. I like the idea of setting myself some kind of crafting challenge and getting sponsors.

Do you think seven resolutions is too many?! I think if I can achieve three or four, that will be pretty good going. Right, I better start getting on with it…

 

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Loving Embroidery

I can’t believe that we’re near the end of November and I’ve not posted all month – it’s just been one of those months where I’ve been too busy crafting to be blogging!

I’ve been working on this bookazine, Love Embroidery, which is out on 29th November:

Love Embroidery cover

You can buy a copy for £9.99 in newsagents or buy a copy online here.

Working on this has given me a new love of embroidery, which is no longer old-fashioned or shameful to be seen with! If you’ve not embroidered before, we’ve included plenty of step-by-step guides inside – and we’ve even got some of those new-fangled videos to help you learn the techniques. Have a look here.

Helping to create this bookazine has also made me look at my sewing machine very differently, because as well as hand embroidery, we included some freehand machine embroidery projects. I’m so intrigued by trying this technique, I got out my machine’s manual and discovered that I can lower its feed dogs! The joy!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Embroidery

 

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Clear out bags

I know it’s not spring, but I’ve been doing a lot of clearing out recently.

Long story short, we need to have the house rewired so we had to clear a bit of space for the workmen to start in – it’s a bit like those puzzles where you have one square empty and have to move all the pieces around, into the right place.

Anyway, it’s been fun to revisit some of the forgotten items at the back of cupboards and in boxes in the attic. In particular, I hadn’t realised how many handbags I was hoarding! I love bags, so before getting rid of the old worn-out ones, I wanted to take some pictures of the best ones that I’d like to remake at some point.

This little bag with long strap was one of my favourites as a teen:

Patchwork bag © Becky Skuse

I like the patchwork style of the bag, with all the different shades of fabric and zig-zag stitching over the seam lines. At the time, it was the perfect size for the very few things I needed to carry around at the weekends, so I loved it.

When I was a bit older and at university, I bought this slightly larger bag:

Crochet bag © Becky Skuse

You can see in the top-right corner that it’s a little bit frayed, because I used it so much! This bag reminds me of lazy summers in between years at uni, when I had not a care in the world! I’d spend ages just sitting in the park, reading a uni book, with everything I needed in this bag.

Sometimes I’d just stop and think, watch other people having summer fun, or stare at the pretty crocheted pattern on this bag and wonder how it was made:

Crochet bag stitch pattern © Becky Skuse

These were in the days before I knew much about crochet! Although it was a bit easier to work out how the plaited strap was made:

Crochet bag strap © Becky Skuse

This brown crochet bag has such good memories, I think it’s another contender for a remake at some point.

There was one more gorgeous bag that I found in the back of the cupboard, which just had to be shared with the world:

Vintage bag © Becky Skuse

I bought this bag a few years ago at Beaten Green in St Ives and it was totally love at first sight. It’s such a delicate and pretty vintage bag (I think it’s from the 60s, but I’m not certain), made with luxurious fabric and featuring a delicate pattern of beads and sequins, a clasp opening and flexible gold strap.

A little label inside the bag says ‘Made in Hong Kong’ and I’m intrigued about the lives of the talented seamstresses who would have hand-stitched bags like this. I particularly like the pattern of beads and sequins, although it is a little bit battered:

Vintage bag detail © Becky Skuse

I bought the bag with a view to fixing the broken areas, although I’ve not gotten round to it, and now I’m thinking that actually the broken bits give it character – each stray thread and missing bead or sequin tells a story of glamorous nights out by previous owners. The bag is not just a bag, it’s a key prop in a story I’ve imagined for someone fabulous living during the cultural changes of the 60s. I like the idea that owning this bag is like owning a piece of history, so I need to looking after it and make sure it doesn’t end up at the back of a cupboard again.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Beading, Crochet, Embroidery, Sewing

 

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