Category : Projects
Or Nué Portrait Project
8 years, 6 months ago 0

It’s done! This work-in-progress has been preying on me for months and months and months, but last night I sat down and finished off the final couching and framed it. Just to remind you: this is what it looked like back in February, when I’d finally solved the problem of running out of string. Admittedly, it probably wasn’t that many hours of stitching that still needed to be done (I’m going to guess I put another 20 hours or so into it to finish it), but it was a just for fun project and not running on any deadlines.


The finished piece has a fantastic texture to it, that you can’t fully see from the frontal photo. The two types of strings I used are dramatically different in texture and size, with the lighter, yellower one being significantly thicker and higher.


The greyish string was much softer and more thread-like, which meant it acted quite differently when I couched it down. It was easier to squeeze into the sharp corners than the other string, but also was harder to keep in smooth lines when couching it down, and had a tendency to get squashed or come a little unravelled. As you can see below, some corners were a little tricky and it was difficult to get perfect coverage. From a distance you can’t see these imperfections, but it still annoys me a little that they’re there. I used two different coloured threads to couch down the respective string, and a dark brown to create the portrait. I only used stranded cotton on this project, figuring silk was far to fine and shiny for the effect I was after.


Now for the final conclusion: did I achieve the effect I was after? This whole project began as a vague idea in the back of my mind as to whether I could use the inherent characteristics of Or Nué (the flowing couched lines) to become an integral part of the design itself. The idea formed further when I saw a beautiful photo in a book several years ago of an elderly woman with a face full of laugh lines and wrinkles. The two ideas merged at some point and coalesced into a serious project when I took a photo of my husband’s eighty year old uncle at a family wedding last year.

In the end, I didn’t find a way to fully create what I had in mind: because you need to couch over the string at mostly right angles and I didn’t want to create monstrously thick lines by fully covering the string, I couldn’t quite get the string to create the flow of wrinkles I was after, and still allow me to couch the outline of his face. However, I’m still really happy with how it worked out, slightly different though it is from my original plan, and think it became quite a unique portrait.

8 years, 6 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Projects

Check it out!

I’m so excited to finally announce that seekrit project codenamed Velvet Mocassins (okay, that’s a bit of an in-joke – you really should join the Stitchalicious facebook page ;) ) is out…

(drumroll, please)

A brand new Stitchalicious grafitti design featured on Urban Threads!

urban threads stitched atrocity grafitti

It’s my latest greatest tagging work. Atrocity – something I always wanted to be as a teenager, but I was waaay too much of a book geek at the time. I’m doing my best to catch up now.

Get the design as a machine embroidery pattern and stitch it on, well, anything.

Ahh, embroidered grafitti, I love you just so much.

8 years, 9 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects

Am I alone in disliking samplers? I don’t dislike the idea of a sampler – in the end a lot of what I stitch is just because I’d like to try some new techniques out. But most of the samplers out there… well historical stitching has never been my thing. I’m really glad there are people who love examining, preserving and recreating historical embroideries, but it’s not what flips my switch.

And just doing the alphabet again? I can already count to nine thanks.

But the concept of a sampler – using it as a way of gathering and practising techniques – is a great one. So to give myself other sampler-type options, I’ve spent a bit of time recently trying to work on my graffiti tagging technique. Mainly because I adore typography and find a lot of the good graffiti out there simply amazing, not because I’ve got the sudden urge to start sneaking into train yards in the wee hours of the morn, hoodie up and scarf wound tight. But considering that my draftmanship skills are almost nonexistent (you should try and decipher my handwriting sometime) this has been somewhat of a challenge.

First of all: what on earth makes a cool tag? I’ve already used “stitch”, and although I’m happy to try and perfect my style with that, I’d like to mix it up a little at least.

So when a friend suggested a few slightly more wanton, albeit literary, words, well I went with it. Now I know I’m a long, long way from any tagging talent, but I liked my initial bubble styled sketch enough to use that without trying to really work it I up into something a real graffiti artist would be happy with. But it’s a start, right?

So here’s an early sketch of it. I cheated a bit with using tracing paper (because I’m lazy like that) to plan a few different colourways and stitch techniques before I settled on giving crewel a shot in wool. You’ve seen a couple of letters already, and I’ll get more up as I get closer to finishing it.

Anyone else feeling lascivious?


8 years, 10 months ago 0

How’s that for alliteration?

This spider was a fun little thing I did while playing around with knots. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been on a big knot thing recently – so large that I’m wondering if macrame is going to be appearing in my near future.

a stumpwork spider of poisonous green

In this case I mainly wanted another excuse to do some Ghiordes Knots (because god knows it’s not like I haven’t already been putting them in everything I’ve stitched for the last year or so) and I had a vague curiousity about what would happen if I used two differently coloured threads in a Bullion Knot. And what happens? STRIPEY SPIDER LEGS HAPPEN. That rocks. A couple of french knots in red and some friends with a button machine and lo-and-behold a spider button was born.

This was seriously simple stitching stuff (again with alliteration!): Ghiordes knots (also  called Turkey knots) with one green and one black strand of floss in the needle stitched in a small oval, two bullion knots per leg also with one strand each of green and black and some bright red french knots for the eyes. That’s it. Now it graces my knife holder in the kitchen along with some other badges I picked up a few years ago – how can you not love the claim that “super-ness is no coincidence”?

8 years, 10 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects


So who’s had experience with wool before? I must admit I’ve avoided it for years, I think mainly because it reminded me of those orange and brown 1970s tapestries which were somewhat dominant in my childhood.

Sure they’re retro cool now, but that didn’t stop my aversion. I’ve never been known as a trend-setter after all.

So the last time I made it to a well-stocked embroidery shop (xxx in sydney – and why I have to travel halfway around the world to find decent supplies is a topic for another time) I grabbed a few dozen wools, including the Appletons I’m using in this piece. Judging by the dust on the wool stand, most other embroiderers are also bypassing wool at the moment.

Wool is proving slightly more tricky than floss. You need to use much shorter pieces to start with as it really suffers with every pull through the fabric. It wears and thins and so I’m currently only using 20 cm lengths.

It’s also varying dramatically in thickness along the length. I’m not sure if that’s to be expected with all wool, or is a just a “feature” of the Appleton, but it makes a real difference to the look of the stitches when some are with thick and fluffy thread and some with thin and tight. I’m staggering stitches a lot more, so that when it thins a bit I can come back later with a fresher, fluffier strand and full out in between and that way keep the look consistent.

But even with having to start and finish more often, wool works up faster because it covers so much better. And because it isn’t smooth and shiny, it’s far more forgiving of the smaller mistakes that can destroy a piece of satin stitch.

So I’d really recommend giving it a shot. I’ve got a few other kind of wools, and wool/silk blends, that I’ll try out sometime soon and let you know how they go. But seriously, be braver than me and don’t wait decades to try it!

8 years, 10 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects



Have you ever tried crewel? I’ve done little bits and pieces over the years, worked some crewel stitches into other pieces – mainly just in normal stranded floss. In fact, those Pekin knots I complained about previously was me dabbling a little.

However it just wasn’t working in floss and so that particular WIP went back into the drawer. Now, though, I’ve finally dared to broach the whole wool theme and I’ve grabbed that design again and restarted.

So this is where it was: I was working on floss on a thick red fabric and those knots, not to put too fine a point on it,  sucked big hairy donkeys balls.

Now I’ve taken a finer cream linen and I’m giving Appleton wool a shot. So far I really like how the wool is working out, and those Pekin knots were a little easier to do.

So what do you think? Is the wool working for you too?

9 years, 4 months ago 0

I’ve been hammering away slowly at the string Or Nué project I started last year. I’d run into a bit of a problem in that I started the whole thing with a ball of string we happened to have in our kitchen drawer… and after about ten hours of stitching was done it seemed pretty clear that thi s wasn’t going to last for the full portrait. So then I spent months hunting around Berlin for string that wasn’t horrible, plastic-coated stuff so that I could continue.

I found a few likely candidates a few weeks ago and started of again. At that time I posted an update to Flickr but it was already pretty clear when I took the photo that one of the string substitutes wasn’t going to cut the mustard. It was too stiff and thick, didn’t like to bend into tight corners and was about twice the height of the other strings. So I unpicked those bits again.

Then I started off, with a few more circles and swirls and realised that I’d given him matching round cheeks… hmm, didn’t look good at all so out it came. A few more hours and I realised I’d put a bullseye in the middle of his forehead -arrggghhhh- out that came too. So with probably another fifteenhours of stitching on it I have about four hours to show for it.

But I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying out new stuff, hey?

So here is the current status. What do you think?

stringornueor nue detail

9 years, 7 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Featured, Projects

A while back I tweeted that I was accepted into the City of Craft festival in Toronto in December, so I figured I’d give you a quick shot of the work-in-progress. I had a very definate idea in mind for this, wanting to emulate stencil graffiti in stitch and so I figured I could probably use blackwork for that. What do you think, has it worked out? There’s still a few more pieces to stitch to complete it, but they’re simpler than this so – come hell or high water – I will get this finished this weekend!

Overall pic. Because this piece is so large  (stitched are is ~60cm high) it doesnt fit on any of my frames and I have to stitch in hand. The creases WILL be removed from the finished piece!

Overall pic. Because this piece is so large (stitched are is ~60cm high) it doesn't fit on any of my frames and I have to stitch in hand. The creases WILL be removed from the finished piece!

Close up of the face so you can see how the density of the diaper pattern changes to give the shading effect

Close up of the face so you can see how the density of the diaper pattern changes to give the shading effect

9 years, 9 months ago 0

Ahh goldwork. So pretty, so shiny. I mentioned Tracy Franklin’s book yesterday, or just go and check out her website. Tanja Berlin does more flower-type designs and has a lot of kits which are definately pretty, shiny and a great way to get into the technique without having to try and source all the specialty threads (and instructions!) yourself.

I’ve been collecting goldwork threads and books in a very magpie-like fashion for a couple of years and have been slowly incorporating them into my pieces (the threads and techniques I mean, not the books). But there’s one technique I hadn’t yet tried and really, really wanted to – Or Nué. In this, thick gold-covered thread such as Jap gold is couched down in tight rows, and coloured silk is stitched over row by row to create the image. The gold shimmers through, the silks are colourful and lustrous… it’s an all-over rich affair. It was used a lot in ecclesiastical stuff – well, goldwork in general was mainly done for the church or royalty anyway because it uses, y’know, actual gold. Not something for the plebs.

But I’d always wanted to give it a shot, and also had a very general idea of what the subject matter should be, so now I’ve finally started. Only I’m leaving the gold out.

I’d fully planned to use Jap gold, but when I started pulling everything out and looking at my plans, I decided that I wanted something a bit rougher, a little less pretty. So I grabbed a ball of string from the kitchen drawer and started.


This is how it stands at the moment. Excuse my slightly secretive corner view, but with the design transferred onto the backing fabric, it’d give too much away if I showed the whole piece. I want to see if I can faithfully reproduce the design in this method and I’d like your unbiased-by-the-original-picture opinion of the finished piece.. I’m pretty much freehanding the flow of the string around the piece –Or Nué generally uses straight lines but I saw this done somewhere else and found it beautiful (can’t find the link at the moment, will update when I do)- and I guess we’ll see how it turns out.


9 years, 11 months ago 0

Y’know sometimes, when you just get so damn excited about something working out, that you go ahead and try and expand on it and totally screw it up?

Yep, well that happened to me with temari.

I tried my first temari and it worked out better than I expected (after the first few failed attempts). So then I decided to branch out a little. To get a bit experimental. To just wing it.

my first temari - from detailed instructions

my first temari - from detailed instructions

That, I ‘ve discovered, is not a good idea. Especially not with three-dimensional geometries which make even me pause to think about it- and I’m a trained crystallographer. Added in was that I hadn’t quite worked out the way the stitches work with and around each other, and that I thought “hey, wouldn’t it be cool to try and make it just a little asymmetrical?” . So I wound up with this. Ahhh, expert instructions – they never go astray. At least I made the thread-wrapped core myself – out of old socks.