Sewing bags and knights

While sewing the handles for the goody bags the other day, I realised that sewing all 40-odd bags was going to take more cotton than the one roll I’d bought. So, as MrPloppy had to go into town yesterday anyway, I asked him to pop into Ballantynes’ craft department and pick me up some more. Forgetting that he isn’t that familiar with sewing and stuff, I didn’t bother to explain to him precisely what I wanted – I just said “can you buy me some cotton to match this material” and gave him a swatch of the unbleached calico we’re making the bags with. He came home with some cotton that matched the swatch perfectly… only problem was, it was embroidery cotton – not a lot of use in a sewing machine! Oh well, serves me right for not running my own errands – and he did try!

Anyway, I decided to keep the embroidery thread – it’ll come in handy one day, I’m sure – and used the excuse of having to get some sewing cotton to go into Hands (well, it’s closer than going all the way into town… and the fact that it’s a seriously wonderful craft shop with loads of exciting things I want to buy has nothing to do with it!). Of course, once I was there, I couldn’t just buy a couple of reels of cotton… I really was quite restrained, though – I didn’t buy the $50 kit for a cat cushion in the end (it was a struggle, though!), and only bought one tiny little $15 kit for a christmas tree ornament (yes, I know it’s January!), and some fabric and floss for the sampler I’m doing for MrPloppy’s brother’s wedding.

The sampler is going to be quite different than the usual style of wedding sampler (but then, so far all the wedding samplers I’ve done have been quite different: for Mum I did an assisi-style design of two intertwined doves against a background of leaves; for my brother I did a fairy-tale prince and princess; and for Dad I did illuminated letters of his and his wife’s initials). I went through my various cross-stitch books and magazines with MrPloppy, showing him all sorts of wedding samplers (and designs that I could conceivably convert into a wedding sampler) trying to find one that he thought his brother would like. As MrPloppy doesn’t like anything cutesy or flowery (and hence refused to give his brother a wedding present that was either), that limited our choices a lot, but eventually we found a blackwork design of a knight and his lady (I think taken from a brass plate on a tomb somewhere!). I’m going to adjust the decorative border a bit to make room to add their names and the date, and do it in dark brown on a cream background (rather than the traditional black on white of proper blackwork) to make it a bit softer and more antique looking.

When I got home from Hands, I really should have done useful things like try oiling the sewing machine (thanks for the tip, Kimi!), or even finish ironing the rest of the handles I trimmed and turned the other night, but the lure of a new embroidery project was too much, so I put a DVD in the player (The commentary on The Empire Strikes Back – I find commentaries ideal for listening to while I’m sewing, because I don’t have to actually look at the screen the whole time, so I won’t miss anything if I’ve got my head down counting stitches. Audiobooks are good, too.), and got to work on it.

I haven’t done blackwork before, so it was a bit odd at first, doing the backstitch outlines before the filling in bit (which is the opposite to cross-stitch, where you normally do the blocks of colour first, and then outline them in backstitch afterwards), but I got the hang of it in the end, and by the end of The Empire Strikes Back I’d got this far:
[album 128913 knight1.JPG]
(The colour is a bit odd, because my flash washed it out, and I couldn’t get the colour balance right when I tried to fix it in an editing programme – you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it’s dark brown on pale cream)

By that time I was getting the hang of the new technique, so I carried on, and by the end of Return of the Jedi it was here:
[album 128913 knight2.JPG]

I’ve decided I quite like blackwork – it starts looking like a picture a lot sooner than cross-stitch does! Of course, there’s a very long way to go yet – the full picture will be about 4 times the height it is now, and then there’s all the filling in of the outlines to do (with geometric patterns), but it’s still nice to see it taking shape so quickly. Hopefully I’ll actually manage to get it done in time for MrPloppy to take it over to the UK with him in May.

Hey, a whole diary entry with almost no mention of Bookcrossing! See, I do have some other interests in my life! (And just because this is a themed diary doesn’t mean I have to *always* stick to the theme…)

Currently reading: The Biggest Modern Woman of the World by Susan Swan

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