Catherine's Stitching

Work done for City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Embroidery with Distant Stitch.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Certificate Module5 Chapter 4 continued: A Closer Look at Edges

It's been a busy time since I last posted.  My husband has at last had his hip replacement surgery and is gradually recovering.  Hospital visiting and then caring for him at home being nurse, housekeeper, physiotherapist, personal shopper, cook and laundry maid were pretty exhausting, although very worthwhile and it has been good to see him pain-free and increasingly mobile. 

Things are still rather difficult, since it is becoming increasingly apparent that his memory problems may mean that he also has the early stages of dementia.  A head CT scan in June will let us know one way or the other.  In the meantime, we are just trying to take one day at a time, encouraged by his growing physical strength and mobility and his laid-back relaxed and cheerful personality. 

If the news in June should be what we fear, then it is increasingly important that I take care of my own physical, mental and emotional health and so having some time for myself, so that I have a life outside of being only a carer, is vital.  To this end I am being firm that from 2 pm until 3.30pm every day I have some me-time in my studio and my Distant Stitch work has become something important to my well-being.  Some days, when I'm tired, all I want to do is something mindless - reading a magazine or binge-watching Netflix!  However, on good days, I am enjoying the challenge of my Distant Stitch work.

I have now had time to do the second part of Chapter 4, exploring edges.  I have enjoyed this and the small tasks of trying one more different edge is something that can be easily fitted into a small time slot.

5.4.3 Fringing

5.4.4 Cut edges, some more fringing and knotting

5.4.5 Melted edges and stitched edges

One thing I have never been very good at is organising my time.  Recent events have made it imperative that I manage to do this and I am getting better at it!  Hopefully this will enable me to post on a more regular basis.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Certificate Module 5 Chapter 4: Fabric Investigations

On looking back my records, I was shocked to discover that it is quite a few months since I last posted any Distant Stitch work on my blog.  My husband's increasing health problems have meant that more and more, my role has slipped into that of carer.  It has involved getting my head around a change of role for us both, with my husband in the past having been the strong one and me doing most of the leaning.  Forty years of loving affection and a shared sense of humour has helped us gradually negotiate this change and find ways of adapting to it.  In my case it has involved tackling more vigorously my weakness in how I plan my time.  Domestic chores expand to fill whatever time is available and day after day, I intended to have some studio time "..as soon as I have finished ..." only to find myself at midnight, exhausted and resentful.  A change of approach was needed.  Moray's memory problems actually presented the answer.  I started producing timetables for each day, so that he would know the day and date and what was happening.  It gave me the idea to use the timetables to help myself instead, so that instead of trying to do, say, all the ironing, I would decide to iron for an hour.  It was just one more step to timetable a precious hour and a half in my studio most days after lunch, when Moray was happily reading or watching sport on TV.  Some of these times are spent just reading a magazine or discovering the joys of Netflix on my laptop, but gradually, as I relaxed and the stress started to ease, I started thinking about Distant Stitch again, started collecting up some fabrics and I was off ...

I searched my fabric stash, my kitchen and the ironing basket to find a selection of different undyed fabrics.  I tried to get both natural and synthetic fabrics, lightweight to heavyweight and woven, non-woven and knit fabrics.  Below is a picture of my collection of fabrics.

5.4.1  Fabric collection

I chose a smaller collection of eight different fabrics to do some detailed studies.  They were (1) Pelmet Vilene, (2) a lightweight, non-woven synthetic fabric which had been used as packaging in a parcel I received, (3) polyester chiffon, (4) a synthetic knit from a mattress cover which I abandoned as being rather unpleasant to sleep on, (5) some alpaca quilt wadding left over from a quilt I had made for my great-nephew, (6) part of a new cotton dishcloth, (7) some cotton calico and (8) a piece of silk dupion.  Below is a table showing the various investigations and their results.


Pelmet Vilene
Lightweight non-woven synthetic packaging
Polyester chiffon
Synthetic knit mattress cover
Non-woven alpaca waddding
Cotton knit dishcloth
Cotton calico
Silk dupion
Crumple test
Hard to squeeze but creases easily
Appears to crease easily but creases fall out almost immediately
Does not crease
Does not crease
Creases easily but smooths out easily again
No creases
Creases  easily
Creases to some extent
Stretch on straight?
No
Stretches more easily in one direction than the other
No
Stretches in length but not in width
Stretches in every direction but it tends to damage the structure
Yes
No
No
Stretch on bias?
No
Yes, slightly
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fray on straight?

No -  hard to distress edges manually
No
Yes, very easily
No
Will not fray but edges easily distressed with just the fingers
Does not fray but will unravel completely if the right thread is pulled
Yes, easily
Yes, very easily
Fray on bias?
No – hard to distress edges manually
No – for all its apparent fragility it is hard to distress the edges
Yes, very easily
No
Hard to fray on bias
Hard to fray on bias
Melt edge
Caught fire easily.  Black/brown melted edge
Shrank away from flames, melted and curled up
Shrank from flame, melted and distorted with hard plastic edge
Melted and caught fire leaving black plastic edge
Caught fire easily and hard to extinguish! Had to hold it under the water.  Black edges with black powdery residue
Caught fire – brown edges with crumbly residue
Caught fire easily, black/brown edges with crumbly residue 
Hard to set alight but then suddenly flares.  Beautiful golden brown singed edges with black crumbly residue
Melt centre
Singed and eventually caught fire – no hole
Shrank away from heat, melted into a hole with plastic edges
Melted into a small lens shaped hole
Melted into a hole and shrank, distorting fabric
Singed and caught fire.
Singed, leaving a hole
Did not catch fire and no hole but resulting scorched fabric had much weaker structure
Singed leaving a hole – singed fabric weakened and tore along its length

There were some surprises, or more accurately, shocks when I discovered that both the mattress cover fabric and the quilt wadding caught fire very easily, the latter being very hard to extinguish!  It was reassuring, however, that the edge caught fire more easily than the centre, leaving me with the conclusion that plenty of oxygen is necessary for combustion.  The fact that my great-nephew has survived to be ten years of age without his quilt catching fire is a comfort - but I think I'll warn my niece to be careful!

Below is a picture of my eight samples, after the burning experiments.  I made sure that the burning was done with a very stable chunky candle which I stood in a sink with an inch of water in it.  I worked in the kitchen with the windows open and the extractor fan on.  I held the fabric pieces in tongs so I wouldn't burn my fingers.  I would like to try some more heat experiments, using both a heat gun and a soldering iron.  However, I would prefer to conduct these experiments outside for safety and with outside temperatures -6 degrees Celsius at noon the other day, a foot of snow on the ground and more falling, I think these will have to wait for more clement conditions!

5.4.1  Results of burning experiments

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Some personal stuff

Apologies to everyone expecting to see embroidery here.  My brother in Canada has digitised some family home movies taken by my late aunt ("Auntie Dodie") who died in 2014 aged 99 years.  Some of my many cousins have asked to see them and I have previously shared some of them on Facebook.  However, I'm no longer able to share them on Facebook but could share them on my blog, so I decided just this once I'll use my blog to be able to share these family home videos with my friends and relations.  Just skip this if you want to see the embroidery stuff and skip the embroidery stuff if you want to see the home videos.  I'll post them just after this message.

Smithyhaugh Road (1976)

Gliding Club & Linn o' Dee (1977)

Doing the Smithyhaugh Walk (1975)

Ernest Karaoke