A quiet week?

Despite a lack of blogging activity here which may suggest the contrary, I have been busy busy busy all week!  Well, I took a week’s holiday from ‘real’ work – caught up with a friend, saw my mum & dad (my dad has been in China for the last 6 months or so, so that was an especial treat), and went on a day trip with Corey – the highlight of which was probably when he left his umbrella behind on the train there, but found it again on the train back!  But around these brief outings I have been working non-stop.  There are some new things very nearly ready to tell you about, but the most immediate, are 2 new zines (& something else a bit different), now available in my Etsy stores:

Contours cover shotThe first is ‘Contours’, my first art zine, which is all about doodling.  This is where my brief encounter with Zentangling led me.  I suddenly realised how the majority of the patterns I have designed as an adult all stem from one basic doodle that I used to doodle all the time.  The zine looks at how that doodle has emerged in the various crafts I have worked in, considers the possible origins of the doodle, and leaves lots of spaces for you to doodle away to your own heart’s content.

tiffanyacorns1As you can see from the photo, there are some extras included – hand-doodled bookmark to stitch, and a hand-doodled ‘fingerprint’ of lino to carve & print.  Inside the zine you will also find a 4-way Acorns cross stitch chart, Bobbin Along freeform bargello pattern, plus 4 postcards (2 printed, and 2 blank for you to doodle yourself) printed on gummed paper, freeform-bobbin-alongso that you can turn any piece of scrap card into a postcard, (these come with 4 postcard reverse labels which could also be used as envelope re-use labels, if you prefer).  Check out the TangleCrafts Etsy Store for more details.

Papertrail #2 cover shot Hot on the heels of Papertrail #1, you can now also find Papertrail #2.  Papertrail #2 is a zine full of questions and books and reading habits, with answers/opinions from me, Corey, and spaces for your own responses, too.  It’s all about books, and how we live with them.  Alongside everything else is a Papertrails ‘map’ of routes you can take from novel to novel, spaces to design your own book jackets, plus copy-&-cut bookplates & bookmarks.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Papertrail #2 also includes a free membership pack for the Papertrail Reader’s Club!

The Papertrail Reader’s Club is there for everyone who loves to read.  The Basic Membership Pack includes:Club Package

  • 2 pre-gummed Ex Libris plates
  • 2 recommendation bookmarks left blank for you to personalise
  • and the Member Book:

The Papertrail Readers’ Club Book is a membership card and reader’s record book combined! It is a 20 page, staple-bound mini-booklet, printed on high quality recycled sugar papers. Each book will be personalised with your name and membership number, and date stamped with the start date of your membership. It includes spaces to list all the books you want to read alongside dates started & finished, and there are even pages to fill in with your own mini-reviews! Club Book

Each month, a different book is chosen as a feature title, with review printed inside the back cover.  Club members are eligible to submit their own reviews of the club titles which may earn them a free Papertrail zine!

If you buy any issue of Papertrail, you will receive free membership to the Reader’s Club, including the current month’s club review.  If you don’t want to buy the zine, you can still buy a one-off membership to the club with a Basic Membership Package.  And if you fill your record book quickly, or just want another, a Renewal Membership Package is available at a reduced price.

Told you I’d been busy ;-).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

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Freeform Bargello – the series so far!

Oak Leaf Panel (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £25
Oak Leaf Panel (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £25

The freeform bargello series is far from complete, but I have finally finished the borders for the second and third pieces, so thought it was time for an update.

Kits are now available, colourways and prices as shown (additional colourways will soon be available for ‘Marble Wave’ – watch this space!).  Each kit includes a comb-bound A4 chart book with full

Marble Wave (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £20
Marble Wave (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £20

instructions, full skeins of overdyed floss, and a free bonus chart to complement the design! Please visit the Stitchery Designs page for further information.

You can find details of how to place an order here, but please feel free to email me if you have any questions about either the kits or ordering.

You can get 10% off the prices shown if you are a member of the

Bobbin Along (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £22.50
Bobbin Along (c) TangleCrafts, 2008 - £22.50

TangleCrafts Yahoo Group and mention it when placing your order.

I’m working on more designs to add to this series, exploring bargello and freeform bargello from different directions, so watch this space for more new designs coming soon!

In the meantime, please let me know what you think of the freeform bargello series so far 🙂

Bobbin Along – another freeform bargello experiment

Bobbin Along Bargello (freeform) (c) TangleCrafts 2008
Bobbin Along Bargello (freeform) (c) TangleCrafts 2008

It’s another WIP, as (once more!) I have run out of the thread I need to complete the border…  I am also still at the mercy of a temperamental printer/scanner but I’m trying to work around it!

This design posed some interesting challenges for me, although I had learned from ‘Marble Waves’.  I was careful to stretch the bobbin ‘thread’ to fill the first triangular quadrant of the design, so that there would be fewer issues where the mitred corners of the 4-way design meet.  It is still by no means a smooth transition but I think the ‘swooping’ nature of the curves disguises the inconsistency reasonably well, and (by default) actually creates a nice, almost overlapping 4-way pattern when viewed from a slight distance.

Stitching this design prompted various ideas for variations, which I will hopefully have time to explore at a another time.  I like the way a ‘sheet’ of bargello appears to drop behind another bargello wave that crosses in front of it, a result of the ‘thread’ twisting over and around itself.   I think this effect would be emphasised if I worked it on a bigger cut of canvas, increasing the size of the ‘thread’ swirls.  I think it would also be interesting, if working the piece to a larger scale, to make the bargello following the contours of the ‘thread’ into a ribbon of bargello, rather than continuing downwards o fill the quadrant, as it currently does.  This would leave more of the plain, geometrically striped background visible, and add emphasis to the curves contrasting against it.

I also wondered about using a different colour scheme either for the bargello or the plain background.  Again, I think this would only really work if the piece were larger, and more of the background visible.  But the bargello could be in shades of pink-to-plum, to match the bobbin ‘thread’, against a background of contrasting moss-green shades.  I think this would work best combined with the bargello-as-ribbon idea.

Stitching this design has also kick-started the idea for my next design project.  I added the whipped backstitch ‘thread’ in pink as the last step of the central panels, so before it was added, I could just see the green curves against green curves.  Perhaps largely because they were in green (!) this made me think of rolling hills, which prompted me in the direction of a bargello landscape.  This is not exactly a new idea – one of my very first bargello projects was ‘High Desert Stars’ by Iona Dettelbach (shown right), a chart distributed by Rainbow Gallery (click here for my review of Iona Dettelbach’s latest bargello book) – but it set me to thinking about it, and I have something semi-visualised in my head that I am looking forward to realising in stitch.  I’m not sure yet if it will be a 4-way design, like the others (so far) in this series of freeform bargello experimentation.  I’m considering a panelled piece.  But we’ll see how it develops…  Watch this space!

Freeform bargello – Marble Wave update

Marble Wave (c) TangleCrafts, 2008
Marble Wave (c) TangleCrafts, 2008

A friend has very kindly scanned this new version of Marble Wave for me – the main differences being a softer colourway (with greater differentiation between the lightest 2 colours) and a tiered border.  As you can see, this is still WIP, as I have run out of the purple thread, and must wait for a new delivery.  Kits will also be available from that point!

I am much happier with the appearance of this revised version. The colours are from the same family as the original (see right), but much subtler.  I like the fact that the lightest yellow-sea green shade gives the impression of a kind of ‘aura’ around the wave motif.

Janet Perry has recently blogged about this piece, and I hope she won’t mind if I paste what she has written here, as she explains in design terms why it works:

“The design has a central medallion, which is not symmetrical. This makes it lovely, but also makes it difficult to design the Bargello around it so that, while not symmetrical per se, it looks balanced. She achieved this in several ways, which we can apply to our own projects.

1. The space is divided through the two diagonals. The strong line not only highlight the center, but they also divide the space clearly into equal areas.

2. The swirls just outside the central medallion take up much of the space, and turn, so they fill up enough of the quadrants, so symmetry is less important.

3. The overdye comes next and its changing colors make the color change more important to the eye than symmetrical patterns.

4. She uses the different threads in the same sequence, which creates balance. She also uses similar Bargello lines, curves are always on one side of the swirl, spires on the other, which also creates balance.

This is an absolutely wonderful piece.”

Thank you, Janet!

Another freeform bargello experiment

Despite continued printer trouble, I have been able to add a picture of this piece, as it was stitched by one of my model stitchers (Judith Ann Pounder, Derbyshire).

Marble Waves (c) TangleCrafts, 2008
Marble Waves (c) TangleCrafts, 2008

The principle is the same as the Oak Leaf Panel (see earlier entry), with the central motif in basic needlepoint (in this case long stitch/satin stitch), with a freeform bargello background.

However because the central motif is not symmetrical, as was the case wth Oak Leaf Panel, I had to adapt the freeform bargello at the mitred corners, otherwise the patterns would not have met up at all.  They still don’t slot together perfectly, but I’m happy with the modifications, which just emphasise the swirly nature of the pattern.

What I don’t think works quite so well is my choice of colours, which included one multi-coloured shade (yellow, sea green, sea blue) and 3 shades of aqua blue.  Unfortunately, the sea blue within the multi-shade is almost exactly the same as the lightest of the other three blues, which has the result of lessening the definition of the central wave motif, in the places where the 2 blues sit next to each other.  Still, this realisation is one of the reasons why models need to be stitched, and all it means is that I need to reconfigure the colourway.

I will probably also modify the border slightly, to echo the 3 shade border of different thicknesses used in the Oak Leaf Panel.

Oak Leaf Panel – finally completed!

It hasn’t taken me quite as long as it might seem to complete stitching this piece – lack of time aside, I have also been battling with an ailing scanner/printer.  Bless it’s little cotton socks, I managed to sweet-talk it into working for long enough to scan in my updated Oak Leaf Panel (but it is still being temperamental).  Anyway…:

Oak Leaf Panel (c) TangleCrafts, 2008
Oak Leaf Panel (c) TangleCrafts, 2008

My original plan was to stitch a decorative border around the outer edge.  However, I decided that as there was already quite a lot of movement in both the motif and the background that might make it all look a little too busy.  So I opted for simplicity, instead, and I think this plain border provides a good contrast to the myriad curves contained within it.

(I do like the oak leaf border (not shown), though, and may include the chart within the kit as an optional extra, to be added or not at the discretion of the stitcher.  It could also be stitched as a bookmark, which I may do myself at some point.)

The sense of undulation in the freeform bargello background reminds me of fabrics from the 60 and 70s; but I think the heightened sense of movement is also a result of using overdyed threads with tonal changes along their length, but without dramatic tonal difference between the three different threads used.  I normally make my bargello choices in a more pronounced light-to-dark colour scheme, but I like the slightly different effect my alternative choice has created.

The intention is that this will be the first of a series, exploring the different patterns created by different shaped leaves (etc).

Freeform Bargello – ideas & inspiration

Thanks to Janet Perry & her blog for alerting me to this very cool concept in freeform bargello, designed and stitched by Terry Dryden: Pear design.

Lots of bargello patterns create a 3D optical illusion, but it had never occurred to me until seeing this WIP to use freeform bargello in terms of shading for a pictorial design.  It would work for 3 dimensions in less fluid, geometric patterns, too, if you wanted to stick with a more formal bargello filling.

I really love this idea.  I feel some experimentation coming on…!