More Traditional Palestinian Embroidery

For my latest project I returned to traditional Palestinian embroidery.  The design or motif as they are normally called is Disc and comes from Gaza. Here it is.IMG_4740

This motif is one of the many in Margarita Skinner’s book, Palestinian Embroidery Motifs: A treasury of stitches 1850-1950. The Disc is clearly made up of various motifs. Unfortunately the book does not identify them. The centre square seems to be a variation of one of the star motifs, though I am not certain. The vertical and horizontal sections are  examples of the Kohl Holder motif. I cannot make out what the other sections are meant to be.

The piece is almost certainly not in the traditional Palestinian style! The fabric is an 18ct Aida in pale yellow. Not normally a colour for fabric. The motifs themselves would I suspect, have been stitched in a number of bright, vivid colours. Instead I went for another of my colour experiments. To contrast the yellow of the fabric I chose just two colours – dark delft blue and dark blue violet. Both from the DMC cotton range and I used two strands for the cross stitches. With luck this piece should fit into one of IKEA’s neat little square frames. Crossing my fingers!  Happy stitching.

Bargello à Six (No 3)

Another Bargello project completed. This is now the third piece I have stitched with six different bargello patterns. The previous two were stitched in greens and pinks. You can see them here. For this latest version I chose a colour scheme based on lavender and violet. Here it is.IMG_4733

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in green. For this piece I used three strands of cotton, mostly Anchor. Each square is approximately 10cmx10cm.  Some of the patterns are repeats from the previous compositions, while some are new.  As usual with almost all of my work, the finished piece is not quite squared off. Still, adds to the charm, at least that is my story, and I am sticking to it!

The dimensions of the piece were chosen to fit into an IKEA frame. The photo above shows the embroidery in the mount. Now that I have complete three versions of this composition I may try a slight variation. Instead of six different patterns all stitched in the same colour scheme, I will go for the same pattern, but stitched in different colours. Happy stitching!

Why we need another independence referendum in Scotland.

Yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made her much anticipated announcement that she intends to hold another referendum on independence in either autumn 2018 or early spring 2019. I don’t normally write about politics on this blog, but I thought some readers from outwith Scotland may like to hear my views on why this referendum is necessary.

I am in favour of independence for Scotland, but this post is not about that. If you are interested in my views on independence here are a couple of posts, here and here, which sum up my position.

This post is rather an attempt to explain why another referendum is so necessary. The one word answer is Brexit. It may be hard for people not living in Scotland to realise just how much of a divide there is between Scottish opinion and English and Welsh opinion on the EU. In last year’s EU referendum 62% of voters in Scotland voted to remain in the EU. This figure is almost certainly lower than the actual numbers who support membership of the EU. In Scotland 16-17 year olds can vote as can EU nationals. But they could not vote in the EU referendum, as Westminster set the terms for eligibility to vote.

All the evidence from polling is that these two groups are very strongly in favour of remaining in the EU. Both groups will of course be able to vote in the next Scottish independence referendum. So it is most likely that it is not 62% of Scottish voters who want to remain in the EU, but closer to 70%. Yet this very large majority is to be completely ignored by the UK government. A government which has made it crystal clear that there will no exceptions to a clean, hard UK Brexit.

Of course in 2014 a majority of voters in Scotland voted, 55% – 445% to stay in the UK. However at that time the UK was in the EU and a major plank of the NO campaign was that only by voting to stay in the UK could Scotland remain in the EU.

So we have in effect two mutually exclusive majorities in Scotland. In 2014 a majority for staying in the UK and in 2016 a majority for remaining in the EU. But Scotland can no longer have both. If we want to stay in the UK we have to leave the EU along with the rest of the UK. On the other hand if we want to remain in the EU, we will have to leave the UK.

For many people in Scotland this will be a difficult choice. A choice not of their own making. A choice that has been imposed on them by a UK government that has only one MP elected in Scotland and a government that has shown zero interest in reaching a compromise with the Scottish government.

The only democratic way out of this impasse is another referendum. There is a majority in the Scottish parliament in favour of another referendum, made up of the Greens and the SNP. Both parties made it clear in their manifestoes in 2016 that a Brexit imposed on Scotland against the wishes of voters in Scotland would be justification for another independence referendum.

For this referendum to have any sense it needs to take place before the UK has formally left the EU.This would ensure a smooth transition for Scotland to full EU membership. Which points to autumn 2018 or spring 2019 at the latest. By then we will all know the broad outline of whatever Brexit deal the UK government has managed to reach with the EU. All the Ts may not be crossed but enough will be known by then to enable voters in Scotland to make an informed choice.

The ball is now firmly in hands of Theresa May. To reject the referendum would be an affront to democracy. To try and postpone the referendum until after the UK has exited the EU would be nothing more than an attempt to punish Scotland. The only reason there will be another referendum is to avoid Scotland leaving the EU. So the referendum has to take place before Brexit has been consumated.

This is a referendum that has been made in Westminster and specifically by the Tory party in England. Without Brexit there would be no second referendum, certainly not in the near future. It is not only people in Scotland who now have to seriously rethink our position regards the UK, but people in Northern Ireland now face a similar choice. There of course the alternative to Brexit is unification with the Republic of Ireland.

Remember all this is the result of the Tory party putting their own party interests above everything else. What an irony it would be if it turns out that it is the Conservative and Unionist party which presides over the demise of the UK.

Tulips in Iznik style

While on holiday in Lisbon last year I visited the Calouste Gulbenkian museum. It is a wonderful museum and houses an outstanding collection of carpets, hangings and ceramics from the Ottoman Empire. In particular some beautiful ceramic tiles from Iznik. I loved them all, but especially the elongated tulips which seemed to be a feature of tiles from Iznik.

Anyway I decided that I just had to try and emulate this work in embroidery. The resulting piece is now finished and in a frame. Here it is.IMG_4684The fabric is a very fine linen, which I worked on without a backing, probably a mistake, but there you go. The tulip flowers are all stitched with Glissen Gloss Colorwash silk threads. These are very fine variegated threads which come in 12 strands. I used four for the embroidery. Three of the tulips are stitched in Strawberry Sherbet and three in Coral Blush. Long and short stitch was used throughout. The stems consist of rows of heavy chain stitch. The calyx is made up of padded closed leaf stitch. All stitched with two strands of cotton.

I included the flowers in the centre to add a bit of variety to the composition. The outer layer of the larger flowers are also stitched with Glissen Gloss Colorwash silk. This time in Blueberry, again using four strands. The other layers and the smaller flower are all stitched with two strands of au ver à soie threads in dark blue, light blue and red. The outer layers use satin stitch, while the centres are filled with padded satin stitch.

The composition was designed to fit into an old frame that I bought second hand. It had a brownish oval shaped paper mount. Unfortunately I made a mess of this mount while applying some glue. So I quickly tried to remedy this by cutting out another oval mount in purple. It fits the frame all right, but not sure of the colour.

I enjoyed working on this piece and really like the Colorwash silk threads. Now have a mini collection of these threads. All awaiting a bit of inspiration.

Scottish Crossbill

My latest Blackwork project is now finished. Or at least the stitching part is! Not altogether surprisingly, for me, it is not in black. Here it is.img_4636

The body of the crossbill is stitched with hand made Japanese silk threads from the Colourwash series from GlissenGloss. This a variegated range with 12 very fine strands. This particular colour is cherry. Quite suitable for a Scottish Crossbill I think.  For variety of texture I used two, four and six strands of the thread. The fabric is a 28 count Britney, a mix of cotton and rayon, in pine green.

While the body of the crossbill is composed of Blackwork patterns I went for something different for the bill itself and the eye. The upper part of the bill was stitched with the redder parts of the range while most of the bottom bill was stitched with the browner parts of the range. A small section of the lower bill was stitched in a mix of yellow and cream threads to make the crossing over of the bill more apparent. The cream thread is a DMC cotton, while the golden yellow is a silk/rayon mix from Rajmahal threads. Both the upper and lower bill are padded for extra texture. The upper bill was stitched with long and short stitch, while the lower part was a simple sating stitch. The eye is also padded satin stitch, this time in a black brown cotton from DMC.

For the branch and cone I used mainly Appleton wool as a contrast to the smooth texture of the crossbill. Two shades of brown in long and short stitch for the branch. The cone started with padded satin stitch in a beige brown, overstitched with a trellis like stitch in brown cotton. Finally the feet, or to be precise, a bit of one foot can just about be made out on the left hand side of the crossbill. This was stitched with a dark pewter grey cotton thread.

I will probably get this framed eventually to go with the Merlin I did last year. Getting to be quite fond of birds as a subject for embroidery. However I think my next project will be back to flowers, tulips to be precise.  Happy stitching!

 

Flower Pots and Rosebuds

My first project for 2017 is now complete. At least the stitching part is. It is another composition using traditional Palestinian embroidery motifs. I am calling it Flower Pots and Rosebuds as these two motifs feature in the piece.img_4596

There are two other motifs as well. The central section in gold and yellow is the Olive Branch. The Flower Pots are in greens with a bright red for the flower itself. On either side of the Flower Pots are Rosebuds in pink and purple. To complete the composition I used the Crowns motif in two shades of blue.

All the threads are Anchor pearl cotton No 5. The fabric is a 14ct Aida in grey. The composition is my own design and while the motifs are traditional Palestinian, the colours used are not traditional at all. A Scottish-Palestinian original!

I will iron on a backing and then propose to turn the piece into a simple wall hanging. I am going to try this approach to finishing my work off with some other pieces.

My next project will be another foray into Blackwork. Though not in black! The subject is the Scottish crossbill. I already have the outline shape on the fabric and stitching will commence soon.

Happy stitching everyone!

Another Bargello medley

I have just finished the bargello medley project. I thought it might take me to Christmas to finish, but it has taken a few days longer. The stitching is finished but the whole thing has been, as often with me, pulled out of shape.  A bit of stretching coming up!img_4557

The fabric is 18ct aida in pale green and three strands of DMC cotton was used throughout. The central section is partly outlined with a whipped stem stich in cream. This part is stitched in copper colours with blue and green for the inserts. Florentine Signets is the name that Pauline Fischer and Anabel Lasker give to this pattern in their book Bargello Magic. The version here is a slight adaptation. I originally wanted to just use blues and greens for the rest of the piece, but added a bit of grey to avoid too much blue and green together. Other than the Florentine Signets, the other patterns are all used twice. The finished piece is 290mmx205mm.

I have now acquired my own personal stamp and you can just about make out my name on the lower part of the right hand side. The stamp works quite well on embroidery work where there is some unstitched fabric, as in crewel work or most blackwork. Not so good for bargello though, where all of the fabric is covered in stitches.  Here I had to try and stitch around the name, which is a bit awkward. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained!

A few days off stitching then back to work in the New Year. Happy New Year and happy stitching to one and all!