Books on Hand Embroidery Part Two: Stitch Dictionaries and Specialised Guides

Every  embroiderer needs one or two books, specifically on embroidery stitches, though most of them also discuss materials and other techniques. Here are some suggestions:

Stitches For Embroidery by Heather Joynes 1991

Stitch samplers are a great way to practice technique and the colourful sampler at the beginning of this book showcases the twenty embroidery stitches taught. Here is a photo of one of my children’s beginner samplers.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1897 The use of these stitches and their differing visual effects, according to application and the use of different threads, is then illustrated in portraying lines; different textures (including the depiction of feathers and  resin); the filling of shapes and a variety of subject matter from leaves and foliage; stems, trunks and branches; flowers, trees, sky and clouds, water and architecture. The photo below shows a variety of effects using the same stitch (seed or running stitch), but with different thread combinations and colours.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1883 Stitch combinations and patterns are also discussed in detail, along with hints about getting it all together in a finished design. The photo below also shows the variations in the same pattern, which can be produced with the application of different combinations of thread colour. BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1887 An excellent book for beginner embroiderers.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-12

A-Z of Embroidery Stitches Country Bumpkin Publications 1997

A comprehensive guide to over 66 stitches and their variations, as well as a number of different embroidery techniques including wool and ribbon embroidery, cutwork, shadow work, Bokhara and Roumanian couching , making eyelets, faggotting, laidwork, and needle weaving. There are lots of hints throughout the book on transferring designs; materials and needles; threading needles; threads and hoops; finishing and framing; thread painting and even, left-handed stitching. I liked this book for its presentation, each stitch with its own page of photographed step-by-step diagrams, variations and suggestions for use.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-16Readers’ Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams and Instructions For Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell and Ann-Marie Bakewell 2006

An even more comprehensive coverage in a neat simple compact format. The book is divided into five sections:

Starting To Embroider: the Basics:  Fabrics, threads, needles and hoops and frames; Blocking; Using designs and charts; and basic stitching techniques (fabric preparation, threading a needle, beginning and ending a thread and working comfortably);

Embroidery on Fabric: Surface embroidery (crewel work, cutwork, shadow work, candlewick, metallic threads, quilting and appliqué; raised work and creating a design);  Counted thread work (cross stitch, Assisi work, Blackwork,  drawn thread work, pulled fabric work, and Hardanger embroidery); Beadwork and all the basic embroidery stitches, divided into line, chain, crossed, blanket, feather, isolated, couching, satin, woven, woven filling, insertion, drawn-thread and pulled stitches;

Smocking: Techniques and stitches;

Embroidery on Canvas: Materials, techniques (Florentine work or Bargello, Berlin woolwork,  and Long stitch); and all the basic canvas stitches, again divided into categories: Diagonal stitches, Cross stitches, Star stitches, Straight stitches, Fan stitches, Square stitches, Braid and Knot stitches and Loop stitches; and

Finished Embroidery: Caring (Cleaning, ironing and storing) and display (mounting, framing, lining and hanging).BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1898All stitches are well explained with annotated diagrams and coloured photographs. An excellent dictionary of embroidery stitches for both the beginner and more advanced embroiderer. It is so much fun playing with all the different stitches and colours!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-14

And for the more serious embroidery student:

Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches Including Crewel by Marion Nichols 1974

There are ten basic families of stitches in this book: Straight, Back, Chain, Buttonhole or Blanket, Fly or Feather, Cross, Knots, Composite, Couched or Laid, and Woven. The stitches in each family are further divided into six categories of progressive difficulty, starting with the basic stitch and developing increasingly sophisticated variations. These stages are as follows: Isolated (Basic stitch), Line, Angled, Stacked, Grouped and Combined.

A sampler chart and a summary of the progression of stitches is included at the beginning of each family chapter, followed by individual pages for each stitch and its variations, with  illustrations and step-by-step instructions and notes on rhythm, uses and helpful remarks. A very logical and comprehensive guide!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-18

The Stitches of Creative Embroidery by Jacqueline Enthoven 1987 Revised and Enlarged Edition 1996

A mix between an embroidery guide and a dictionary of stitches, I quite liked the more personal chatty style of this book with its all lovely stitch samplers, historical photographs and gallery of applications. Jacqueline divides her stitches into five groupings: Flat, Looped, Chained, Knotted and Couching and Laid Work. She also has notes on finishing and using embroidery samplers; creating borders; working with geometric designs; working on plain and printed fabrics; embroidering flower shapes; joining and edgings; and suggestions for the use of embroidery on clothes, wall hangings and space dividers, and table cloths and runners and cushions.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-17

More Specialised Embroidery Guides

Mark Making in Textile Art by Helen Parrott

The basic premise behind this book is that embroidery is basically mark making or drawing with a needle and thread instead of a pencil. It covers the journey from inspiration and ideas to marks on paper and in stitch and finally, the completed artwork.

The first few chapters focus on marks- their characteristics (shape and direction, scale,  location and placement, colour, texture and form, origin and purpose, relationship to time, number and variability, and repetition and density); and observation, recording (sketching and photography), collection and storage.

Next, mark making on a range of different papers with pens, pencils and crayons; using resists; monoprinting with finger patterns, textured surfaces and blocks; and framing and presenting works. Below is a photo of my unconventional stitch sampler portraying Blanket and Chain stitches, including Detached Chain and Lazy Daisy stitches.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1889Stitch marks follow with notes on needle and thread selection, hand-stitched marks (running stitch, including radiant and spiral stitch patterns; loop stitch; knots and ties including reef knots and French knots); machine-stitched marks (free-machined marks,single marks, massed stitch marks, all-over stitch marks, continuous lines, dots webs and tufts, layered stitch marks, and working with single or mixed and contrasting colours). My creativity really went wild with my next piece of experimentation!BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1893The final chapters cover sources of inspiration, using a sketchbook, choosing a focus, materials and equipment, threads and fabrics, sampling, building a reference collection,  and finishing work; strategies for living a creative life, including  time and work spaces, health and safety, motivation and breaks, membership of groups and resolving creator’s block; and lists of resources ( materials and equipment), suppliers, organisations and inspiring places to visit in the United Kingdom. BlogFeltBooks2515-06-16 14.41.37

With lots of practical exercises, this book is all about experimentation and exploration and developing your own creative voice and potential. The cushion above is another form of stitch sampler in both the vase and the different flowers!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-19Embroidered Purses: Design and Techniques by Linda Tudor 2004

Embroidery has been a perfect medium to decorate bags and purses for millennia. In fact, as far back as 2400 BC, Assyrians carried medicine in special bags called ‘naruqqu’, one of the facts I learned from reading this interesting book. It starts with an examination of the history of purses, as well as different purses from around the world. Did you know that 17th century sweet purses contained perfumed powders to counteract bad odours and were hung from the belt and secreted in the folds of the skirt, while Chinese men and women also wore incense purses around the neck or waist, no doubt for a similar reason.

The next chapter discusses the role of the purse as a container and the process of purse design- its shape, sources of inspiration, equipment, material, pattern making, colour, decoration and finishing. I loved Emily Jo Gibb’s horse-chestnut purse, Conker, found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (https://www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk/archive/ and https://www.textileartist.org/emily-jo-gibbs-interview-immediacy-of-textiles/). She too is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and teaches regularly at West Dean College, United Kingdom.  Quite inspiring, as I have always wanted to design a purse based on the seedpods of Native Frangipani!

The book goes on to examine different types of purses: simple two-sided purses, folded purses, reverse-appliqued silk clutch purses, gusseted purses, drawstring purses and box purses, including patterns and variations and a gallery of photographs.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-20

Finishing techniques, including making bias strips, rouleaux and borders; bound edges; using bondaweb and cutting bonded fabrics; English and Seminole patchwork; lace making; canvaswork; cords, handles and tassels; embellishments with embroidery stitches and beads; and fastenings are all discussed. Finally, there is a list of purse collections around the world, including The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK  (www.vam.ac.uk) and the Museum of Bags and Purses, Tassen, The Netherlands: https://tassenmuseum.nl/en/collection-exhibitions/collection/.

The Art of the Handbag: Crazy Beautiful Bags by Clare Anthony 2013 is a similar book, which I would love to read one day!

Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991 and Embroidery From the Garden 1997 by Diana Lampe

Perfect for craftspeople with a shared love of the garden AND embroidery! Diana Lampe has written six books, however I only own the first and the third. See: http://dianalampe.com.au/ for a list of her embroidery books. She is one of Australia’s most successful non-fiction writers having sold more than 120, 000 copies of her books worldwide. She is also a passionate food writer with some delicious recipes on her website as well! But back to my two books!

Both books follow a similar format and can stand alone on their own merit and be used separately. After initial chapters on materials and equipment, design and proportion, finishing and framing and sewing notes, Diana describes various designs and projects, accompanied by colour photographs and keyed diagrams.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-21Her first book Embroidered Garden Flowers 1991  contains designs for a Traditional Cottage Garden, a Spring Garden, a Spring Garland, embroidered initials, flower samplers and some gift suggestions (lavender sachets, towels, coat hangers, Spring baskets, pin cushions,brooches, jumpers, cushions and handkerchiefs), while Embroidery From the Garden 1997 focuses on South African flowers with designs for a Strelitzia Garden, a Protea Garden, a Garland of South African Flowers, another flower sampler and more projects (table linen, brooch, coat hanger, spectacle case, cushion, pincushion, needle case and mirror).BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-22A large section of her books is devoted to a Flower Glossary, detailing threads, number of strands and stitches and method, with explanatory diagrams on each page. Not only plants are featured. There are also embroidery instructions for gardener’s friends (pussy cat, butterfly, spider and web) and pests (snail), as well as built features in the garden like flagstones, pergolas and terracotta pots.

The flower glossary is followed by a Stitch Glossary, with instructions and diagrams for each type of embroidery stitch. The appendix includes a list of flowers in each garden design, as well as the DMC threads used; and detailed notes on framing.

Finally, three books on 3-D embroidery!

Stumpwork Embroidery: A Collection of Fruits, Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery by Jane Nicholas 1995

Stumpwork is a style of heavily padded and raised embroidery, practiced from 1650 to 1700 in England, where it was called known raised or embossed work, but now given new life and exposure by Jane Nicholas. She certainly does beautiful work and has made an extensive study of the subject in response to the dearth of comprehensive instruction at the time .

In this definitive guide, she discusses:

Materials and Equipment: Fabric, threads (cotton, silk, synthetic and metallic), needles, hoops and frames, beads and sequins, wire and miscellaneous treasures;

General Instructions: Raised applied fabric or needlepoint shapes; padded needle lace or embroidered shapes; raised detached fabric, needle lace or wire shapes; methods for working leaves and stems; attaching wire to the main background; padding with felt; using paper-backed fusible web; transferring designs to fabric (tracing paper and pencil, carbon paper, basting); and finishing techniques (framing and mounting inside a box lid, in a paperweight, or on a brooch); and

Individual Elements: Making acorns;different types of flowers, leaves, vegetables and fruit/berries; insects: bees, butterflies, crickets, dragonflies, ladybirds, hoverflies and spiders; hedgehogs, owls and snails;

With ideas and detailed instructions for embroidering different designs for a variety of projects from brooches to pictures and mirror frames, as well as a Stitch Glossary of all the embroidery stitches used in the back of the book.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-23

Embroidered Flora and Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textural Embroidery by Lesley Turpin-Dleport and Nikki Delport-Wepener 2008

This lovely book develops 3-D embroidery even further with the depiction of flora and fauna. I really like their style, which I feel is more informal than the previous book. It’s a wonderful book for texture, using lots of different types of threads (stranded cotton, perle cotton, soft or tapestry cotton, flower thread, tapestry wool, crewel wool, crazy wools, yarn, chenille, boucle, round rayon cord, flat knitted rayon ribbon, space-dyed and variegated threads, quilting threads, silk, viscose, linen and metallic) and ribbons (silk, organza, rayon and satin) and techniques (Trapunto, Casal Guidi and corded quilting from the Italian Renaissance; goldwork and stumpwork from the Elizabethan Era; Jacobean crewel work; Victorian ribbon work and tucks and pleats; tassels, fringing and ribbon roses from the 1920s and contemporary hand and machine embroidery, ribbon work and smocking).

Tools and materials are listed in The Sewing Basket, followed by a large section on basic techniques, including photo transfers, fabric preparation, scale and shading, working with textured threads, appliqué, wire work, stumpwork, trapunto quilting, ribbon work, beading, machine stitching and working with felt, net and metallic threads.

There are also some beautiful embroidery designs for application to:

Kitchen and Dining Room: Tablecloths and tray cloths, serviettes and place mats, tea towels and aprons, oven mitts and pot holders, tea cosy and mesh food cover;

Bedroom: Sheet sets and pillow cases, quilts and duvet covers, hangers and tissue box covers;

Bathroom: Bath sheets and towels, laundry and cosmetic bags;

Living Areas: Lampshades and curtains, cushions and throws, pictures and picture frames, and embroidered boxes,book covers,  flower arrangements and fire screens; and

Clothing: Pyjamas, beach gear, jeans and children’s clothes.

They are divided into 12 colour groupings: Oyster, yellow, salmon, pink, red, burgundy, brown, lilac and lavender, blue, indigo, and grey, black and white. Materials, instructions and colour photographs are provided for each embroidery design, with a stitch glossary and design patterns in the back of the book. I particularly loved the Gerberas, the Light Sussex Rooster and the Barred Owlets! It is a really beautiful book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-24

Three-Dimensional Embroidery: Methods of Construction For the Third Dimension by Janet Edmonds 2005

In this original and specialised book, Janet explores a wide range of construction methods, including coiling with wrapped cords, building with flat pieces, fabric manipulation with tucks and gathers and using heat-reactive or dissolvable fabric to create 3-D forms, including boxes, bags and advanced geometric shapes and freeform embroidery pieces.

After initial chapters on the design brief, research, mulling time, the design process and a wide variety of materials, tools and equipment, different construction methods are discussed, including practice exercises and projects:

Constructing with Flat Pieces: Geometrics; squares and rectangles; gift boxes; triangles; cylinders; and strips and slices and freeform.

Continuous Lengths: Coiling with wrapped cores; and freeform building;

Manipulated Methods:

Fabrics: Gathering, tucks and pleats, darts, stuffed shapes; heated acrylic felt or Tyvek; and knitting and weaving;

Paper and Wire techniques;

Beads;

Soft: Stuffed fabric tubes; and wrapped or rolled fabric;

Hard: Tyvek; clay; plastics; wood; wire; and commercial beads;

Finishing Techniques: Edges and rims; wire armature; wood or card base; wire support; feet; and lids.

Like the first book in this post, it has an experimental bias and is all about exploring new boundaries!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-25

Next week, I will be featuring books about some wonderfully creative and talented contemporary embroiderers, as well as informative books about ethnic embroidery around the world.

Books on Embroidery Part One: General Guides

After years of experimenting with different arts and crafts, I have settled on embroidery as my favoured form of artistic expression, specifically hand embroidery. It is basically a form of drawing with thread and allows for much creative freedom in interpretation of subject matter, as well as a degree of three-dimensionality if desired.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1878 As can be expected, I own many wonderful books on the subject, which I have divided into four groups (and hence posts) from basic embroidery (this post) to more specialised how-to guides and stitch dictionaries (next week); beautiful volumes showcasing the work of other talented embroiderers, as well as those from the past and different cultures (third post on embroidery books); and a plethora of pattern books and designs (last post). Here is another simple example of drawing with thread:BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.26.20 Please note that while some of these books may briefly mention machine embroidery, it is not really my thing, so there are very few books on this subject in this post.

How-To Guides For Hand Embroidery

The Essential Guide To Embroidery Murdoch Books 2002

Written by a number of contributors, this is a good basic introductory guide to the wide range of embroidery techniques and styles from counted techniques (cross stitch, blackwork and canvas work) and openwork (pulled and drawn work, Hardanger and cutwork) to surface stitchery (whitework, shadow work, silk shading, crewel work, free embroidery and machine embroidery) and embellishing the surface (stumpwork, ribbon embroidery, goldwork and beadwork). Here is a photo of my cool colour palette threads.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1868There is also a good introduction with information on needles; sewing machines; embroidery frames; tools; fabrics; threads; embellishments; basic techniques; working from charts and diagrams; making up; sources of inspiration; developing design ideas; exploring colour palettes; and painting fabrics. Below is a photo of more tools of the trade: Pins and needles, scissors, ruler and embroidery hoops of varying sizes.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1872 Each section on the different techniques includes its history, characteristics and different forms; stitches and techniques, including sources of inspiration and helpful hints; and projects based on the specific technique. This is an excellent book for beginners, as well as showing the wide diversity of embroidery styles and applications.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-3Anchor Complete Embroidery Course by Christine Marsh 1998

A very useful practical guide for beginners, starting with a discussion of materials and equipment (needles, fabrics, threads, frames and other equipment); preparing and transferring designs (soluble pen, transfer pencil, dressmaker’s carbon or tacking); working with patterns, charts, and embroidery hoops and frames; starting and finishing; and mounting work, before providing a teaching course of increasing complexity.BlogEmbBooks20%DSCN1874 Beginning with Just Five Stitches (backstitch, French knot, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch and blanket stitch), it progresses from chapters on stems and outlines, knots and dots, and chains and loops through to solid and open fillings, borders and bands; and mix and match (combining techniques, adapting designs and changing materials and colour schemes). This sampler shows the use of chain and running stitch.BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 13.25.18

Each stitch is well-described with three clear and easy-to-understand  step-by-step diagrams and explanatory text and is complemented by attractive practice projects with creative options. This is an excellent book for the beginner embroiderer!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-4

While there are a huge number of embroidery books written by some very talented artists, these are a few that I have found particularly useful.

Winsome Douglass (1919-2016)

Winsome was a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher, who wrote three books on embroidery and toymaking in the late 1950s, which have all since been reprinted.

Discovering Embroidery  1956/ 2010

This is my embroidery bible ! Not only does she describe and teach all the stitches (basic, more complicated and filling stitches) well, but she has delightful designs and patterns for projects from pincushions, tea cosies, wall pockets, cushions, boxes and cloth trays to bags, belts, caps, and toys like my felt embroidered balls, shown in the photo below.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112 She has notes on colour schemes and design, designing with cut paper, appliqué and shadow work, needle weaving, quilting and smocking, and finishing (hems, edges, cords, tassels, fringes, handles, fastenings).

BlogEmbBooks2518-07-12 12.08.52

This book is so inspiring, as is her other book in my craft library: Toys for Your Delight 1957/ 1973. I would also love to buy her book: Decorative Stuffed Toys for the Needleworker 1984.

Barbara Snook (1913-1976)

Another favourite embroidery teacher, who wrote a large number of books on embroidery; soft toys and puppets; fancy dress costumes and masks; and children’s clothes and stitching in the 1960s and 1970s through to the 1980s. I own two of her books:

The Creative Art of Embroidery 1972

After an excellent introduction to the history; the different national styles of embroidery (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Roumania and Yugoslavia); tools and equipment, especially threads and fabrics; and a library of basic free embroidery stitches, Barbara discusses lettering, alphabets and monograms; beads and sequins; and designs and finishing touches, as well as other techniques like cutwork, counted thread work, drawn thread work and machine embroidery. Throughout the book are designs and patterns for projects including Christmas decorations , tablecloths and mats, sheet and towel sets, aprons, pictures, bags, spectacle cases and children’s clothing.

BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-5

Learning to Sew 1962, 1985

Aimed at 9 to 12 year-olds, this is a terrific book for teaching children to sew. Part One covers the basic equipment, material and stitches, as well as making seams, hems and bias binding, while Part Two examines pattern and colour, sources of inspiration, and  the development of basic designs. The majority of the book is devoted to Part Three and the provision of working diagrams for a number of projects from aprons and bibs, table cloths and tray mats, tea cosies and oven cloths, towels and cushion covers to cases, pin cushions, bags, toys and children’s clothes. Text is minimal with the tuition provided by wonderful simple sketches and fun designs, which make it a very attractive book for the beginner embroiderer as well!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-6

Like Winsome, she also wrote books on soft toy making, which I would dearly love to own one day:  Bird Beasts and Insects 1974  and  Creative Soft Toys 1985.

Another excellent book for teaching children to embroider is :

Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green 2003

This spiral-bound book, complete with threads, needles and an embroidery hoop, teaches 11 basic embroidery stitches: Straight stitch; couching stitch; whip stitch; cross stitch; satin stitch; stem stitch; back stitch; split stitch; chain stitch; lazy daisy stitch; and French knots. It provides instructions on materials and tools; getting started; and transferring designs, as well as including iron-on transfers and lots of inspiring ideas and examples of work using these stitches. It is colourful and fun and very child-centred!BlogEmbBooks25%DSCN1851Jan Messent (1936-)

Jan is a very talented embroidery artist and textile teacher and also writes historical romances under the pseudonym, Juliet Landon. I love her style and own three of her books, the others being listed on her website: https://www.janmessent.co.uk/janmessent.

The Embroiderer’s Workshop 1988

When this book was first published, it was not always possible to attend embroidery courses due to distance or time constraints, though today’s internet has come a long way in rectifying this problem. This useful book acts as an embroidery primer, as well as encouraging lots of experimentation through a series of practical exercises. It examines pattern, colour, drawing,  the development of design and themes in great detail, as well as discussing fabrics, stitches, and display and presentation.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-8

Embroidery and Animals 1982

This book features one of my favourite subject matters: animals and nature. Chapters look at the historical depiction of animals in embroidery; sources of design (nature, books, museums and natural history museums) and collecting materials; types of design (realistic or naturalistic, stylised or decorative, symbolic, abstract); pattern and colour; and ways of presenting a design, before focusing in on the animals (and their associations) themselves:

Fantastic beasts, heraldry and Christian symbolism;

Tiny creatures (butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, beetles, worms and snails);

Underwater life (microscopic organisms, sea anemones and sea urchins, jellyfish, starfish, shells and fish );

Amphibians and reptiles (frogs and toads; lizards, geckos and chameleons, snakes, crocodiles and turtles, tortoises and terrapins);

Birds (waterbirds, tall birds, domestic fowl, owls and parrots); and

Mammals (wild animals, domestic animals, ceremonial animals, African animals, circus animals).

Each chapter includes wonderful illustrations for design, cross stitch interpretations and examples of other artists’ work, as well as suggestions for  the development of themes and the use of the design in projects. A very inspiring book!BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-9

I would also love to own her books titled: Design Sources For Symbolism; Design Sources for Pattern; and finally, Jan Messent’s World of Embroidery 1996.

Thanks to all the previous artists, embroidery is now considered to be a very valid contemporary art form. The next two books are written by contemporary embroidery artists and teachers to help embroidery students achieve their creative potential.

The Art of Embroidery by Julia Barton 1990

After a brief introduction to the history of embroidery, materials and equipment are examined in great detail: papers, pencils, conté and pastels, paints and brushes, fabric paints and dyes, fabrics, threads, needles, fabric markers and frames. Design sources (nature and museum studies) and approaches are examined next with discussions on landscapes, enlarging designs, textures and colour, followed by chapters on drawing and painting and transferring the design to fabric (fabric paints and markers; transfer paints and crayons; and design transfer methods (prick and pounce; and tacking through tissue).BlogEmbBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-67

Stitchery forms a major part of the book with exercises and projects based on linear, textural, and pattern stitches. Other techniques are also examined: Cut paper designs, quilting, appliqué, machine embroidery and the use of embroidery for jewellery and ornamentation. In the back is practical information on using a embroidery frame or hoop; damp-stretching; mounting and framing; and making a cushion cover.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-10

Jan Beaney (1938-) and Jean Littlejohn

A very creative, productive and influential partnership, known as Double Trouble (formed 1997)  (http://doubletrouble-ent.com/), both women are highly respected and internationally known textile artists and teachers, who have been members of the 62 Group of Textile Artists for many years (Jean since 1963).

See: http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jan-beaney/  and http://www.62group.org.uk/artist/jean-littlejohn/.

Between them, they have produced  over 27 books and 7 DVDs. See a taster at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGY_FjMoQEM  (In Action) and https://vimeo.com/49293912 ( In Stitches).

It is also worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdfqRXBkZY and visiting https://www.textileartist.org/jan-beaney-and-jean-littlejohn-interview/.

The Art of the Needle: Designing in Fabric and Thread by Jan Beaney 1988

A very comprehensive guide to developing a design from its initial inception (observation, drawing, repeat patterns and border designs, circular patterns, scale and proportion, designing within shapes or out of context, themes, texture and colour) through to its completion with chapters on fabric paints (silk paints and gutta, permanent fabric paints, masking techniques and  transfer fabric paints) and embroidery techniques (transferring design to fabric, applique, darning, machine embroidery, openwork on water-soluble fabrics, patchwork, quilting and making an embroidered panel) and stitches. It again is a very inspiring book with beautiful colourful photographs showing the huge potential of the medium.BlogEmbBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-11

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have also written a book on Constance Howard, an embroiderer born in 1910, whose work I also love and who also taught and who wrote a number of books on embroidery (Conversations with Constance Howard 2000).

Another old book I would love to read is: Contemporary Embroidery Design by Joan Nicholson 1954/ 2011.  Joan was a leading figure in the revival of stitch crafts from the 1950s to the 1970s, inspiring many future embroiderers, including her daughter Nancy, a contemporary embroidery artist  and teacher with a strong online presence (https://nancynicholson.co.uk/), who has written her own book Modern Folk Embroidery 2016. I recently bought a tin decorated in Nancy’s distinctive style!BlogEmbBooks3018-07-12 12.08.59For more about the book, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEuMKlK1fXc   and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZxsJcvJOuQ.

And to see more of Nancy’s work, it is also well worth visiting: https://fishinkblog.com/2014/04/18/nancy-nicholson-embroidering-nature/.

The internet is a great source for embroidery tutorials and inspiration, including Pinterest, the websites of embroidery guilds, courses and other embroidery artists, as well as being able to access very old needlework books on sites like:  https://archive.org ;  http://openlibrary.org ; https://library.si.edu/ and http://www.gutenberg.org.

Some old books worth chasing up are:

Album de Broderies au Point de Croix by Therese de Dillmont 1890 (https://archive.org/details/albumdebroderies01dill or https://library.si.edu/digital-library/book/albumdebroderies02dill

An Embroidery Pattern Book by Mary E Waring 1917 (https://archive.org/details/embroiderypatter00wari or https://openlibrary.org/books/OL25215987M/An_embroidery_pattern_book) and

Art in Needlework: A Book about Embroidery by Lewis F. Day and

Mary Buckle 1900. Reprinted 2018 (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/28269)

Next week, I will be discussing a selection of stitch dictionaries, as well as some more specialised embroidery guides.

 

Feature Plant For August: South African Bulbs in My Garden

Last week, I discussed some well-known garden plants from South Africa, but because the post was fairly lengthy, I reserved the South African bulbs for their own separate post and designated them to be my feature plant for August! Even though, I know officially that it is the 31 July today, given that tomorrow is the first day of August and gladioli are known as the Flower of August in the Northern Hemisphere, I wanted to start the month with my feature plant post and specifically, gladioli!!!

Gladioli

Our Glads‘ were made famous in Australia, as well as the rest of the world by Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries), See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqGeQXCmRJI; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2117434/Dame-Edna-Everage-creator-Barry-Humphries-reinvented-comedy-TV-chat-shows.html; and http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-18973102, though in reality, these particular showy large-flowered varieties hail from the Cape region in South Africa!!!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_9184The genus belongs to the Iris family Iridaceae and contains 260 species endemic to South Africa; 76 species endemic to Tropical Africa and 10 species native to Europe.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_9188Also known as Sword Lilies, the Latin diminutive for ‘gladius’ meaning ‘sword’ and referring to their sword-like leaves, they also bear tall flower spikes, over 1 metre tall, in Summer, though here in Australia, successive planting can ensure a continuous display from early Summer to early Autumn. In Europe, they are known as the Flower of August.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are very popular in the cut flower trade and have a long vase life, their flowers opening from the base up. They should be bought when the two lowest flowers are showing strong colour, with at least 5 buds up the spike showing clear colour. Avoid spikes with most of the flowers open, as they will not last long.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-01-01 00.00.00-19Gladioli were introduced to Europe between 1739 and 1745, the first hybrid produced by William Herbert in 1806, with hundreds of varieities bred by the 1850s. Today, there are over 10 000 registered cultivars of a variety of solids and bicolours, brights and pastels,  and colours ranging from pink, red, purple, white, yellow orange and even green. Tesselaars has a good range of cultivars, including Dame Edna’s Delights: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/gladioli.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2517-12-21 11.41.27The corms should be planted in late Autumn and Spring in a warm, well-drained sunny position, protected from the wind. They don’t like damp feet and may need staking once their stalks reach a certain height. Plant 10 to 15 cm deep and 8 to 15 cm apart, with the point of the corm facing upward, in soil, which has been pre-prepared with a little blood and bone, aged cow manure or complete fertiliser. Often planted at the back of borders, they also look good in clumps.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2518-05-22 10.28.57While we inherited two of the large hybrids, a mauve one and a soft yellow, I think I prefer the slightly daintier varieties. I have just planted some G. nanus ‘Blushing Bride’ beside the house. Each corm produces strong compact stems, 45 cm tall, which do not need staking, and two or three flower spikes, each with up to 7 white flowers with pink markings.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs4016-11-18 23.45.10-2

They multiply rapidly and are tolerant of heat and frost, so should do well in my white bed at the feet of my Tea rose, Mrs Herbert Stevens, along with another South African bulb, also in the Iridaceae family: Freesias.

Freesias

Named after German botanist and physician, Dr Friedrich Freese, freesias are native to Southern Africa from Kenya to South Africa, with the most species found in the Cape Provinces.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-13 17.33.44Most of the freesias sold today are hybrids of crosses made in the 19th century between F. refracta and F. leichtlinii, as well as with the pink and yellow forms of F. corymbosa. They have fragrant funnel-shaped flowers in a range of colours from whites and yellows to pinks, reds and mauves, over a long period from the end of Winter through Spring.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-23 18.31.41 The most fragrant of all are Grandma’s freesias, R. refracta alba, but some of the Bergunden and semidouble forms have good fragrance as well.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-23 18.31.25The flowers are zygomorphic, all growing on the one side of the stem in a single plane. However, because the stems turn at right angles just below the bottom flower, the upper part of the stem grows almost parallel to the ground and the flowers bloom along the top side of the stem, pointing upwards. They are popular in wedding bouquets and have a long vase life.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-11 11.37.14They can be grown from corm and seed, the plants naturalising well in lawns, beneath trees and along roadsides and embankments. Corms should be planted from late Summer to early Winter in well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. They look wonderful in massed plantings and really brighten up the Spring garden.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-25 12.50.47I originally planted Grandma’s freesias in my cutting garden and despite the subsequent move of their corms to the embankment above the tea garden, they are still popping up in amongst their old neighbours, the Dutch Iris. They compete with the couch grass and are naturalising well and their white flowers with splashes of gold complement the white and gold colour scheme of the Tea Garden.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-25 12.51.08This year, I decided to splash out with the brighter colours with some mixed massing Freesias and have planted these with my Blushing Brides in the bed on the front wall of the  house.

Nerines

Growing on the back wall of the house along the entrance path at the opposite time of the year, these wonderful Autumn bulbs provide welcome colour, when everything else is winding down for the year!

Also called Guernsey Lily, after naturalising on the island’s shores, they are not true lilies and are members of the Amaryllidaceae family and are more related to Lycoris and Amaryllis. Native to South Africa with 20 to 30 evergreen and deciduous species, they were named after Nereis, the sea nymph in Greek mythology, who protects sailors and their ships.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2017-05-18 14.31.13They bear clusters of up to 15 flowers with narrow reflexed petals in a range of colours from white to gold, orange, red and pink. In many species, the flowers appear before the leaves and require full sun to flower well, however, my nerines bear flowers and foliage at the same time and flower quite happily in the shade, so I suspect they are N. flexuosa alba.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-04-29 18.44.38Nerines are the ultimate low maintenance flower. Very tough and frost hardy, their only stipulations are to be left to dry out during their dormant period (Summer) and to be left to their own devices and not disturbed! Only lift and divide if overcrowded, as the plant will not bloom for two years after lifting.BlogSouthAfrBulbs3018-05-01 15.02.28-2Arum or Calla Lilies Zantedeschia aethiopica

Named for the Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschia (1773-1846) and hailing from South Africa north to Malawi, these so-called lilies are also not true lilies, belonging instead to the family Araceae. Classified rather as herbaceous tuberous perennials, they grow from fleshy rhizomes and form 1 m high, large dense clumps, wherever there is good water.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-06-26 17.43.24There are eight species in the Zantedeschia genus, as well as many hybrids with a colour range from white and pink to yellow, orange, purple and black. See: http://www.gardeninginsouthafrica.co.za/index.php/1243-november/zantedeschia-hybrids-are-easy-to-grow-and-offer-gardeners-a-vast-array-of-rainbow-colours-to-enjoy.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-18 16.50.08BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1320Popular with florists, especially in bridal and funeral arrangements, these elegant plants have attractive, lush, glossy green, upward facing, arrow-shaped foliage and a rigid vertical flower stalk, ending in a spathe flared funnel with a yellow spadix, followed by yellow oval berries. The variety I inherited in my hydrangea bed is called Green Goddess and has a creamy white spathe, splashed with green on the outer edge.

However, while I love their elegant blooms, I have also am a bit wary of them! These vigorous plants love moist sunny areas like creek banks and swamp edges and spread easily by seed and rhizome offsets, so have naturalised easily throughout the world and in some areas are so invasive that they are declared pests and banned from sale.BlogSouthAfrPlants25%IMG_3644 They can also tolerate full shade (like my hydrangea bed!), invade pasture in moist sites and have caused stock deaths, being highly toxic on ingestion. Their irritating sap can also cause eczema. Below are photos of the elegant black form.BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 007BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 008BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 014Another hardy invasive South African bulb, with invasive tendencies is:

Monbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora

Belonging to the Iridaceae family with 8 species and many hybrids, Crocosmia hails from tropical and eastern South Africa, its name coming from the Greek words: ‘krokos’ meaning ‘saffron’ and ‘osme‘ meaning ‘odour’, referring to the saffron-like odour produced when water was spilt on a dried specimen.BlogSouthAfrBulbs3018-01-05 16.59.59Monbretia is a hybrid bred in France from a cross of C. aurea and C. pottsi, then introduced as a garden plant in the United Kingdom in 1880. By 1911, it had escaped the garden, then spread rapidly throughout the UK and Europe (as well as all states of Australia except for the Northern Territory) both naturally (by rhizomes) and the disposal of garden waste in the late 20th century. It is now considered an invasive weed and is banned for sale in the UK, as well as in New South Wales! It thrives in moist well-drained soils sun or part shade and is frost- and heat- tolerant.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1083Its strappy, upright, spear-shaped, bright green leaves emerge from underground corms in early Spring and are followed by long, arching, zigzag spikes, bearing bright orange to red tubular flowers with long stamens in late Summer and Autumn.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2015-12-19 10.03.40BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0967 Despite its bad reputation, I am still happy to have it in my old garden, as it is very much a plant of my childhood and I still love its nodding stems and its pretty bright orange dainty bells, which complement the neighbouring agapanthus so well, both in the garden and in floral arrangements!BlogSouthAfrBulbs2015-01-20 16.04.30BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_5179BlogSouthAfrBulbs4018-01-02 10.01.58 For more information on other species and hybrids, most of which are not invasive at all, see: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocosmia and https://www.gardenia.net/plant-variety/crocosmia-montbretia.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0380BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0379Far more politically correct in growth habits, though perhaps not its alternative name, Kaffir Lily, is another bright orange South African bulb, the Clivia, a member of the Amaryllidaceae like the nerines.

Clivias : Clivia miniata

Indigenous to woodlands in South Africa (Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and eastern Mpumalanga) and Swaziland, Clivias were named after Lady Charlotte Florentina Clive, the grand-daughter of Robert Clive (Clive of India), the species name ‘miniata’ meaning ‘cinnabar red’.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-20 16.01.08 There are only six species of clivia, all of them having pendulous heads except for Clivia miniata, whose flowers point upwards. The other species can be seen at: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Cliviahttp://www.australiaclivia.com.au/clivia.aspx   and http://www.melbournecliviagroup.org.au/articles/clivia-species/.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-29 11.25.20Clivia miniata is the most common form in Australia, their low water requirements and preference for shade making them popular under-plantings for trees here for more than 150 years!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0172 They are often found in old gardens like ours, where they are growing under the big old pepperina tree. We divided the old clumps last year and replanted them, in a bid to increase their mass, as a sea of bright orange clivias in full bloom is a marvellous sight!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_7206Forming large clumps, they have evergreen strappy leaves and clusters of bright orange flowers  on 40 to 60 cm long stems from August to October, followed by fruiting heads, which turn from green to a luminous red.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1262 They have been hybridized extensively in Belgium, China and Japan to now include pale yellow, lemon, apricot, pink, deep orange and red and bicolour, single and double blooms, and even variegated leaf forms.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_7273BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0285Rhodohypoxis baurii

A small genus of tuberous flowering plants in the family Hypoxidaceae and native to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, where it forms carpets in grasslands and rocky places. Tufts of grassy leaves appear from rhizomes in early Summer, followed by clusters of pink, red or white star-shaped flowers in Summer, then the plant dies back in Winter.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1683The genus name derives from the Greek: ‘Rhodon’ meaning ‘rose’ or ‘red’; ‘Hypo’: ‘Below’; and ‘Oxy’: ‘Pointed’, while the species was named after Rev Leopold Baur, a pharmacist, missionary and plant collector, who first collected this plant in the Cape in the 1800s.

While R. baurii is the most common species, there are a number of other species and cultivars.See: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Rhodohypoxis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey like well-drained acidic soil  with a high organic content,  full sun, adequate water in Summer and dry Winters. Often planted in alpine rockeries, I grew mine in my treasure garden, but suspect I have lost it to the frost, despite the claims of frost tolerance on the tag,  and I understand other nurseries have experienced the same. See: https://www.ballyrobertgardens.com/products/rhodohypoxis-baurii!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief taster to some of the more common South African flora, which we grow here in Australia.  I would love to visit South Africa one day during its peak flowering season. It sounds amazing!

South Africa is home to more than 22,000 indigenous seed plants from almost 230 different families and representing 10 per cent of the world’s flowering species. Their enormous diversity and abundance, coupled with the varied climates and topography, supports 9 distinct biomes: Fynbos; Succulent Karoo; Desert; Nama-Karoo; Grassland; Savanna; Albany Thicket; Forests; and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt. The Cape Floristic Region alone contains 6210 species of endemic plants. For those readers, who would like to know more about South African flora, I found these sites very informative: https://www.sa-venues.com/plant-life/ and https://www.thesabulbcompany.co.za/.

And for those of us, who may never make it to the actual source, a good place in Australia to see South African plants is the Wittunga Botanic Garden: https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/visit/wittunga-botanic-garden/gardens-collections.

For the next four weeks, I am describing some of my favourite embroidery books, before featuring the Viburnum family for September’s post.

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plant For July: South African Plants in Our Garden

Last month, I described some of the wonderful Australian native plants in our garden, and since like ours, many Australian gardens often grow proteas and diosma as well, I thought I might write a post about some of the South African native plants in our garden. Hailing from a similar latitude in the Southern Hemisphere and with a common Gondwanan ancestry (South Africa and Australia were joined 150 to 80 Million years ago), many South African plants share similar growing requirements to our native plants and have adapted easily to our climate.

Many were introduced from the 1830s on during the Australian Gardenesque period of garden design, as they were hardy and sufficiently different and colourful to lend an exotic air to the garden. The Strelitzia or Bird-of-Paradise plant is a superb example and looks like a brilliant blue crane with a golden orange crown. Unfortunately, it hates the cold and I suspect would not survive our heavy frosts here in Candelo, though they grow well on the coast!

BlogSouthAfrPlants3018-05-19 14.42.38-1However,  Leucospermums, Leucadendrons and Proteas are far tougher! They are the South African cousins of our Waratahs, Banksias and Grevilleas, all belonging to that ancient family Proteaceae, and the similarities in their flowers and leaves is very obvious.

I was surprised by the large number of common garden plants that originated in South Africa like pelargoniums, red hot pokers, plumbago, aloes (top 2 photos below), pigface (bottom photo below), felicia, diascia, agapanthus and gladioli.

Bulb lovers also owe an enormous debt to South Africa with the export of freesias, clivias, dietes iris, nerines, babianas, crinum lilies, amaryllis, ixias (below), watsonia and eucomis (pineapple lily), BlogSouthAfrPlants25%grampians 1 304BlogSouthAfrPlants25%grampians 1 301though perhaps we should have let them keep their Arum lilies, which have become a major weed problem in Western Australian national parks (first photo); oxalis, the bane of every gardener’s life, especially in old gardens; and even that roadside escapee Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga) in the second photo below!

Because this post was quite long and there are quite a few South African bulbs in our garden, I will be discussing them in their own separate post next week.BlogSouthAfrPlants25%IMG_3644BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0579Please note that I am restricting my post solely to those plants which I am growing in my garden. I will also be avoiding agapanthus, which I have already discussed in some detail in its own feature post at the beginning of 2016 at: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/01/12/one-year-on-and-januarys-feature-plant-agapanthus/.

BlogSouthAfrPlants4017-12-27 18.06.33 - CopyBlogSouthAfrPlants2015-12-24 12.37.58I am beginning with Proteas and Leucadendrons, the quintessential South African plants, as they share a common ancestry with Australian natives, so are a good link to the previous post, followed by some old-fashioned and very familiar favourites!!!BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 727

Proteas (Sugarbushes)

A member of the Proteaceae family like waratahs, it has conical flowers composed of  large leathery outer bracts (modified leaves), which look like petals and surround the central banksia-like cluster of styles. BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-10 09.25.13There are 194 species, as listed on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Protea_species, but common ones here include the Oleander Leaf Protea, P.nerifolia; the Common Sugarbush P.repens; the Queen Protea P. magnifica and the most famous of them all, the King Protea, P.cynaroides, which is the National Flower of South Africa.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-06-09 10.09.53BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 720BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 734BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-58A friend gave us a protea called Special Pink Ice, P. nerifolia x susannae, for a garden warming present.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-22 18.20.30 It is supposed to be one of the hardiest proteas, which is just as well as we have just transplanted it to its third position and the root ball was very poorly-developed, so we have given it a good prune and hopefully, it will like its new home in the native garden area next to the waratah. We have seen 2.5 metre tall trees locally, so the climate obviously suits them.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-02-18 15.49.54 They also like well-drained slightly acidic soils, so it should like growing in front of the cypress. I think the problem has been that both previous positions were in slightly shady situations, whereas they really need full sun. It has flowered for us with beautiful long-lasting pink blooms in the Autumn and Winter.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-04-08 14.48.04To see these amazing plants in full bloom, it is well worth visiting the National Rhododendron Garden in Olinda, Victoria (http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/national-rhododendron-garden) or the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt. Tomah, NSW (https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/). For more on their growing conditions, see: http://www.protea.com.au.

Leucadendrons (Conebushes)

Another South African plant genus, which flowers in Autumn and Winter and which I will definitely be growing, is the Leucadendron, also a member of the Protaeaceae family. A medium to large evergreen shrub, 1 to 3 metres high, it has large showy colourful bracts, which conceal the flower at the tip.BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 716 There are many different species and hybrids and I find it hard to choose between the colours- green, red, yellow and orange.

They all look so fantastic in floral arrangements.BlogOzNatives50%OC 015  Some of the hybrids, which I would like to grow include:

Safari Sunset  L. laureolum hybrid     https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Leucadendron-Safari-Sunset-Conebush;

Winter Gold L. laureolum https://www.flowerpower.com.au/gardening/pick-of-the-proteas/;

Amy L. laureolum x salignum https://www.kings.co.nz/leucadendron-amy;

Burgundy Sunset L. aureolum hybrid http://www.protea.com.au/our-plants/burgundy-sunset; and

Inca Gold L. aureolum x salignum  https://proteaworld.com.au/product/uncategorized/75mm-inca-gold/.

They like similar requirements to proteas- full sun and slightly acidic, well drained soil. Because they have shallow roots, they dislike soil disturbance, so mulching is important to prevent weeds.BlogSouthAfrPlants5013-06-16 15.48.11 Again, they are tough and hardy, low maintenance and drought tolerant.BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 711BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-39BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-54Diosma (Confetti Bush/ Breath of Heaven) Coleonema pulchellum

Native to the Cape Province in South Africa, this is a pretty little shrub with a rounded growth habit, fine fragrant evergreen  leaves and masses of scentless tiny pink flowers from late Spring to Spring (July to October). I love using them in floral arrangements as their dainty blooms and foliage are a great filler. Very hardy and frost tolerant, they like full sun and good drainage.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-22 15.02.13Euryops

A member of the daisy family Asteraceae, the Euryops genus includes 100 species, the majority originating in South Africa, with only a few species from further north in Arabia.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-20 09.56.28 The genus name is derived from the Greek words ‘eurys’ meaning ‘large’ and ‘ops’ meaning ‘eyes’, referring to the large bright yellow flowers, which are borne on long erect stalks throughout the year.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-20 09.56.34 They are useful in small bouquets, as their flowers don’t close at night like other daisies. They love sunny warm positions and well-drained soils, so thrive in the centre of my Moon Bed.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-11 16.36.38I transplanted my plants from an old neglected garden, where they were growing wild, and I believe they are the African Bush Daisy or Paris Daisy, E. chrysanthemoides (‘chrys’ meaning ‘gold’ and ‘anthemoides’ meaning ‘flowers’ in Greek).  An upright half-hardy fast-growing evergreen, 1.5 metres high and 1.2 metres wide, with mid-green glabrous leaves and masses of yellow glowers from Spring to Autumn, with the odd flower throughout the year. Bees and butterflies love them! It dies back with the frosts, but fortunately self-seeds prolifically, so I am never without a plant!BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-11 16.36.58Perhaps, I should have the frost-hardy Golden Daisy Bush  (or Yellow Marguerite), E. pectinatus instead! It has deeply lobed ‘pectinate’ (meaning ‘narrow divisions like a comb’) downy grey leaves; and golden flowers from Summer to Winter. See: http://pza.sanbi.org/euryops-pectinatus. However, all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested, so given that I sometimes use the odd flower to decorate cakes, it is just as well that I grow the other species!!!

Osteospermum (African Daisies)

Another very familiar sight, Osteospermum (‘osteo’ meaning ‘bone’ and ‘spermum’ meaning ‘seed’) has 50 species from South Africa and 15 species from the Arabian peninsula. They used to be classified in the genus Dimorphotheca, but now the latter only contains annual forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0224They are half-hardy perennials and subshrubs, which do not handle frost well, so I am growing my specimens in terracotta pots up by the house, where it is warmer.BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-09 14.37.37Osteospermums have alternate lanceolate leaves and daisylike composite flowers, which bloom from late Winter to Spring and which close at night. They are composed of a central blue, yellow or purple disc, surrounded by white, cream, pink, mauve, purple or yellow petals in the shape of ray florets.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-12 14.58.53 There are so many different types. The common old-fashioned tough and hardy trailing varieties are mainly pink, purple and white,BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-20BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-21 but hybridization has added more compact yellows and oranges to the mix like Sideshow Copper Apricot.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-22 15.02.42 There are even double varieties or spooned varieties like Whirlygig.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0170 (2) Some of the varieties can be seen at: https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/osteospermum/.

Osteospermums love rich soil and warm sunny positions, but will tolerate dry soils and drought. They make an excellent ground cover on roadside banks.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0087 For more information, see:  http://www.osteospermum.com/.

Other African Daisies: Gazanias and Gerberas

Gazanias are also known as African Daisies or Treasure Flowers; belong to the Asteraceae family; have 16  annual and perennial species, all hailing from South Africa except for one species in the tropics; have composite flowers with ray florets and a central disc of a contrasting colour, which do not close at night; and do not like frosts either, which is a great shame as I love their large bright sunny faces!BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 354 Traditionally yellow or orange, colours now include: white, pink and red, with two toned, multicoloured and double forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 356 They have narrow, silvery-green lance-shaped leaves with lighter undersides and bloom from late Spring to early Autumn.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 358A fast-growing ornamental ground cover, they used to cover roadside banks at Castlemaine, Victoria.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 364 They are easy to grow, low maintenance, love sun and tolerate drought, dry poor sandy soils with low fertility and coastal conditions.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 360 Gerberas (Transvaal Daisies, also called African Daisies) are another love and another genus in the Asteraceae family, hailing from tropical regions in South Africa, as well as Asia and South America.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-103 There are 40 different species, of which G. jamesonii is the most popular and was first described by Robert Jameson in 1889. Most domestic cultivars are the result of a cross between two South African species, G. jamesonii and G. viridiflora.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-115BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-111Classifed as a tender perennial plant, these long-lasting flowers have a large capitulum, composed of hundreds of individual flowers and surrounded by striking two-lipped ray florets in yellow, orange, white, pink and red. There are single, double, crested double and full crested double forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-105BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-108 Tesselaars have an excellent range at: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/gerberas.

Gerberas are very popular with florists, who wire their stems to stop the head from drooping, as well as with researchers studying flower formation.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 093Happiest in warm climates, they love sun and well-drained soil. Unfortunately, like osteospermums, they are frost tender, so it is just as well that they make excellent pot specimens! Another plant for the side path by the house!!!BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 084BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 085 For more on growing gerberas, see: https://www.gerbera.org/ and https://www.gerberaresearch.com.au/Growing.html.

Pelargoniums

Commonly known erroneously as Geraniums,  who in turn are also known as Cranesbills and are their cousins in the family Geraniaceae, the genus Pelargonium (‘pelargos’ is Greek for ‘stork’, referring to the beak-like shape of the seedpods), contains 250 species, 200 of which originated in South Africa, with a further 18 species from the East Africa Rift Valley and 8 species from Australia. The first species to be cultivated was P. triste, which was introduced to England in 1631.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 234

They have alternate and palmately lobed or pinnate leaves and bear five-petalled flowers in umbel-like clusters and have been classified into 8 different groupings:

Zonal: P. x hortorum: Derived from P. zonale and P. inquinans, these bushes have succulent stems; leaves with zones and patterned centres and single or double flowers of red, pink, salmon, violet or white;BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 021Ivyleaved: P. peltatum: Trailing lax growth with thin long stems; thick waxy stiff ivy-shaped fleshy evergreen leaves, giving them excellent drought tolerance; and single, double or rosette blooms;blogsummer-gardenreszd202017-02-04-13-18-42Regal: P. x domesticum: Derived from P. culcullatum, these large, evergreen, floriferous bushes have compact short-jointed stems; no zoning of the leaves; and single flowers in mauve, purple, pink or white.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_9383 Angel: Derived from P. crispum, they look like small Regals, with compact and bushy growth; small serrated leaves; and much smaller flowers;

Unique: Derived from P. fulgidum, but uncertain parentage and do not fit into any of the above categories. Shrubby and woody evergreens, they look like upright Scentedleaved Pelargoniums; have fragrant and often bicoloured leaves; and flowers with blotched or feathered petals;

Scentedleaved: One of my favourites, these shrubby evergreen perennials are grown for their leaf fragrance, which is used in cooking, perfumery, pot pourri and essential oils.BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-10 08.05.42 I grow Rose-scented; Lemon-scented; and Peppermint-scented varieties. I was also aware of apple, nutmeg, cinammon and coconut varieties, but other fragrances include:

Raspberry; Strawberry; Peach; Apricot/Lemon;

Grapefruit; Lime; Orange ; and Pineapple;

Lemon Balm; Apple Mint and Lavender;

Almond and Hazelnut; Celery and Ginger;

Old Spice and Spicy; and the stronger more pungent scents of

Balsam; Camphor; Pine; Eucalypt; Eau-de-Cologne; and Myrrh;

Species: The forefathers of all the other groupings; and

Primary Hybrids: the first-time crosses between two different known species and usually sterile.

Pelargoniums are evergreen perennial and are heat and drought tolerant, but can only tolerate minor frosts, so I grow my pelargoniums in pots by the house. These include: Zonal, Regal, Ivyleaved and Scentedleaved Geraniums.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-22 10.27.17 The Geelong Botanic Gardens has an excellent Pelargonium collection, housed in the Florence E Clarke Conservatory, built in 1972 and housing over 200 cultivars. See: https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/gbg/plants/pelargonium/article/item/8cbf43e7c1d1574.aspx.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sep 2011 051For more on Pelargoniums, see: http://www.geraniumsonline.com.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 241Nemesia caerula (Perennial Nemesia)

Delicate perennial, up to 50 cm high, with linear to lance-shaped leaves and dainty two-lipped slightly fragrant flowers of white and pink (though other varieties may be blue, purple or cerise) in Winter and Summer. BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-23 15.25.47Hailing from South Africa, where they are found in sandy soil near the coast and scrubby soil inland, Nemesias like well-drained moisture-retentive slightly acidic soil with organic matter. They thrive in full sun or part shade and prefer protection from the hot afternoon sun in Summer.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-23 15.26.13Perfect for cottage gardens, hanging baskets and borders, I am growing my Nemesia on the edge of the Soho Bed.

Plumbago auriculata blue (Leadwort)

A tough old-fashioned plant, which has crept through the fence from my neighbour’s garden.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-22 16.00.13 It is a sprawling shrub, which spreads by suckers, with pale baby blue flowers in Summer and while it is not my favourite plant, it really is very tough and manages to survive in the dry soil  and shade under the Pepperina tree.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-02-07 14.31.24 For more about its care, see: https://www.dayliliesinaustralia.com.au/plumbago-plant-hedge-plants/.

Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers/ Torch Lilies)

Also surviving under the Pepperina Tree is a large clump of the original Red Hot Pokers, K. praecox. These hardy perennials have grassy to sword-shaped  strappy leaves, which are popular with basketeers and which emerge from vigorous rhizomes, and eye-catching bottlebrush-shaped blooms at the top of long stems from Autumn to Spring.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%DSCN0527 Popular with nectar-loving birds like rosellas, honeyeaters and wattlebirds, the original flame-coloured blooms have been superseded by breeding programs to include a wide colour range from lemon and golden yellow, scarlet, apricot and salmon, and bicolour mixes, as well as a range of sizes and flowering times.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-12-16 17.54.40 Some of these hybrids can be seen at: http://www.drought-tolerant-plants.com.au/a/Perennial_collection/Kniphofia and https://www.gardenia.net/plant-variety/kniphofia-red-hot-poker.

They love full sun, moist humus-rich, well-drained soil and regular watering in Summer, but having said that, they really are as tough as old boots and can survive drought, neglect and light to moderate frosts.BlogSouthAfrPlants3017-12-30 07.19.27And finally, there are a host of very well-known and loved bulbs hailing from South Africa: the gladioli; freesias; nerines; clivias; arum lilies; clivias and rhodohypoxis, which I didn’t even realize was a bulb until this post!!! Stay tuned for their own special post next week!

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Fabulous Felting Books

I adore felt, not just for its tactile and visual appeal, but also its versatility, its organic nature and its history and romance. In fact, when I was studying a Diploma of Textile Art at Box Hill TAFE, I based my main exhibition piece (postcard format) on the reverse appliqué technique of the Kyrgyz shyrdaks of Central Asia, learning so much about felt and its history in the process!  Here are two photos of my work from that exhibition: BlogFeltBooks50%nov 2010 295BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.41.25I first saw these beautiful appliquéd felt rugs, which are traditionally used to furnish nomadic yurts, at Ada’s Place in Millthorpe, New South Wales, and fell in love with their bright bold colours and symbolism. Here is a photo of Ada (taller) and her sister Kathleen in front of one of their shyrdaks.BlogFeltBooks50%midmay 299Unfortunately, the gallery closed in 2013: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1804338/ada-closes-iconic-millthorpe-gallery/.

You can see more examples of this beautiful craft at:

http://www.feltrugs.co.uk/

and   http://kyrgyzfelt.blogspot.com.au/.

Felt can also be used to make clothing, hats, bags, cushions, flowers and toys and you will see some of my felt creations throughout this post. I have also attended a number of workshops, which I will also describe along the way, but first the books!

 

History

Nomadic Felts by Stephanie Bunn 2010

https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/dept-seminar-power-felted-cloth-through-time-and-space

I came across anthropologist Stephanie Bunn’s name a number of times during my internet research for my exhibition piece, so this book was a must! In it, she describes the ancient history of felt, its traditional production and use throughout the world and the cultural beliefs and symbolism behind the patterns.

Felt has existed for thousands of years and felt fragments have been found in grave chambers in Çatal Höyük, dated 6500 BC; felted hoods and socks on the Urumchi mummies of the Tarim Basin, China, dated 2000 BC; and appliquéd felt wall hangings, coffin linings, clothing, saddle cloths, blankets and bridles and swan pillows stuffed with deer hair, found in the grave chambers of the Pazyryk Kurgans of the Altai Highlands, Siberia, and dated from 600 to 200 BC.

It has played a central role in the lives of nomads from Central Asia, Mongolia and parts of the Middle East, the lightweight, portable and highly insulating wool being used for tent walls (yurts), floor coverings, decorations, bags and clothing.

After the Medieval period, felt became a well-established tradition in Europe with felt boat caulking and other felt objects from the 9th to 13th Century found at Haithabu on the German-Danish border; British felt hats from the 15th Century; and Scandinavian gloves and socks and Russian valenki (felt boots) from the early 20th Century.

Traditional feltmaking is still practiced by Central Asian and Mongolian nomads, as well as practitioners in Turkey and Iran, while experimentation by contemporary artists is producing some wonderful garments and toys.

This fascinating book looks at its extensive history, the science behind felt and the wide variety of feltmaking techniques and traditions. She particularly focuses on the Turkic and Mongolian feltmakers of Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekitan, Turkmenistan and Xinjiang, as well as Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and South-East Asia, and the closely related styles from Afghanistan and the Caucasus: their influences and their belief systems and symbolism. With fabulous photos and illustrations supporting the text, it is such an interesting book, not only for feltmakers and textile enthusiasts, but anyone interested in archaeology and history, anthropology, different cultures and the Silk Road!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-57

Production

If you only have room for one felting book in your library, the following book is an excellent reference guide.

Uniquely Felt: Dozens of Techniques From Fulling and Shaping to Nuno and Cobweb. Includes 46 Creative Projects by Christine White 2007

This highly comprehensive book covers all aspects of felt making.

The introduction defines the different kinds of felt (fulled knitting, wet felting, needle felting, nuno felting, cobweb felting, carved felt and yarn felt); history; suitable fibres; the chemistry behind felting; and the whole process from fleece to felt. It also includes instructions for a simple needle felted ball and a Featured Artist page, an inspiring inclusion, which is found at the end of successive chapters.

The next chapter covers tools: wool; soap; screens; rolling mats; plastic resists; scales; water; templates; and felting machines, as well as notes on designing a studio and  working posture.

Chapter Three introduces beginner projects like making cords (photo below) and spikes; loops and beads; jellyroll trivets; buttons and balls.

Chapter Four: Learning the Basics covers working with roving; making prefelts; wet felting; calculating shrinkage and a Frequently Asked Questions page, as well as projects like place mats and table runners, blankets and cushions.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-92Chapter Five really examines the raw material, wool: where to find it, how to test its feasibility and materiality; making felting samples and the types of fibres and sheep wool, including a swatch gallery. Projects include math mats, place mats, carved coasters, upholstery yardage and a boot tray.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-85After mastering simple 2-D items, developing felters will be keen to try out making 3-D seamless felt, which is the main topic of Chapter Six. Two flat halves are separated by a resist, the fibres at the side being joined in a seam during the felting process. The different types of resists (open/closed) and materials used, seam considerations and shrinkage rate and template size are discussed in detail.

Pillow covers, book covers, slippers and boots, vessels, sculptural objects (like the photo above and below made using an old butter cooler as a resist) and a myriad of creative bags can be produced in this way, not to mention hats, the subject of Chapter Seven, from berets and head-hugging cloches to hoods, wide-brimmed hats, fedoras and some very artistic and creative examples. Hat sizes; making hat templates; using hat blocks, and stiffeners and embellishments are all discussed. Anita Larkin is a sculptor, who uses felt to create some amazing 3-D vessels and objects. https://timelesstextiles.com.au/artist/anita-larkin-2/.

late sept 047Felt can also be very light and airy with the inclusion of silk (Chapter Eight: Nuno Felting) and holes (Chapter Nine: Cobweb Felting). Both chapters include definitions and detailed notes on techniques, as well as projects like scarves and shawls, vests, hats, cushions  and curtains.

My first experience with felting was helping a friend make a raw sheep wool floor rug, using an old bamboo blind as a roller and Chapter Ten on larger projects would have been very useful, though the emphasis of this chapter is really more on making felt garments: tops and vests, tunics and dresses, and skirts, as well as including  notes on garment patterns and templates. Jorie Johnson (http://www.joirae.com/)  makes some beautiful contemporary clothing and is the featured artist in this chapter. Another wonderful felt garment designer is Norwegian artist, May Jacobsen Hvistendahl, whose work can be seen at:  http://www.filtmaker.no/eng/index.html.

It is really fun making felt with others, as it can be a time-consuming process and it’s a great way to bond not only the fibres, but also community and friendship ties, as discussed in the final Chapter Eleven, along with teaching feltmaking, community projects like rugs, felting weird and wonderful creations for theatre, and framing and finishing felt. There is an extensive glossary and list of artists, resources and relevant websites in the back. An excellent book!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-60

It is also well worth joining a felting group like Victorian Feltmakers http://www.vicfelt.org/ or the Feltmakers of WA: http://www.feltwest.org.au and attending a few workshops to master the practical aspects. I belonged to the Victorian Feltmakers and some of the memorable workshops I attended were:

Phyllis Hoffman: Felting a Scarf July 2010 / Felting a Hat August 2010.

BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 051Great fun, as I did these workshops with some of my fellow students from my textile course at Box Hill TAFE. BlogFeltBooks50%late july 2010 029 I was so impressed with my friend Heather’s hat!BlogFeltBooks50%july also 002 Phyllis is a great teacher too! You can find out more about her at: https://www.stonehousegallery.com/phyllis-hoffman.html.

Elizabeth Armstrong: Felt Art Dolls August 2010

Like me, Elizabeth LOVES colour (see her fabrics below) and I absolutely adored this inspirational workshop!BlogFeltBooks50lt 014BlogFeltBooks50lt 017She is so enthusiastic and fun! Here she is behind our workshop dolls. The grey bird dolls are samples of her work.

 

On the first day, we made our material using prefelts, roving, yarn and even chiffon ribbon, then the next day, we had to take a deep breath and cut into our beautiful precious homemade fabric, then assemble and embellish the dolls with embroidery, appliquéd felt pieces and hand-painted faces. Below are photos of my fabric pre- and post-felting.BlogFeltBooks50lt 015BlogFeltBooks50lt 016 I loved my earth goddess Gaia, even though I forgot to sew in a base!BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.40.37BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-98 Elizabeth’s website is: http://elizabeth-armstrong.blogspot.com.au/.

Sue Pearl: Crazy Felt Critters  February 2012

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Sue Pearl gave a workshop at the Victorian Felters and  we were very lucky to be able to attend. My strange alien creature left a bit to be desired, but gave me a feel for creating 3-D toys.BlogFeltBooks50%IMG_9937

Sue’s website is at: http://www.feltbetter.com/. But now,  back to the books…!!!

Felt To Stitch: Creative Felting for Textile Artists by Sheila Smith 2006

Another excellent guide covering similar topics to the previous book: Hand-rolled felting; making prefelts; nuno felting, 3-D hollow forms; cobweb felting and needle-punched felting, but also has a big section on design with detailed discussions on colour, texture, line, shape and pattern.

There are instructions on colour mixing; using acid dyes; rainbow dyeing; making fibre paper; shibori; low-relief designs; using Markal Paintstiks; stencilling and printing. Projects include book covers; bags; cords, toggles and balls.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-58

Felted Bags, Boots and Other Things by Cendrine Armani 2007

Making bags and boots are so well explained in this book with step-by-step notes, supported by excellent colour photographs of all the tools and each stage of each process: Flat felting; felting with a template; mixing colours; cutout motifs and insets; lining bags; inserting magnetised clasps and eyelets, embroidery; and making balls and pendants, and that’s just the first section!

The rest of the book is devoted to 56 bright and colourful projects from pencil cases, pouches and purses to jewellery, felt flowers, slippers and bags. It is certainly a very inspiring and practical book and makes you want to leap out there and start felting!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-69

Felted objects can also be needlefelted using a dry felting process or stitched from flat felt pieces and/ or embroidered, as showcased in the next four books. The first book describes dry felting, which uses felting needles to work wool roving into shapes, while the other three books create flowers and toys from patterns cut out of sheets of wool felt, stitched together and embroidered.BlogFeltBooks2017-08-28 18.04.28Sweet Needle Felts: 25 Projects to Wear, Give and Hug by Jenn Docherty 2008

While I haven’t done much needle felting (it’s a bit too time consuming for me!), it is good to have a book, which describes all the tools and techniques, as well as a number of small projects from flower pins and gumdrop rings to belts, coasters, book covers, purses and toys like the cute ones on the cover. A good book for crafters, who love felt, but don’t want to work with water!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-64

Felt Fresh Flowers: 17 Stunning Flowers to Sew and Display by Lynne Farris 2007

A very useful book for the middle of severe Winter, when the garden is fast asleep and nothing much is happening in the way of blooms! We are very lucky here in Australia in that many of our native plants flower in the Winter and our milder warmer climate still allows for the blooming of camellias, violets and Winter honeysuckle. We still get heavy frosts in our garden though, so I am still attracted to the bright colours of the felted flowers in this book, though I am more likely to use them to embellish bags and hats!

Basic tools, materials and techniques are covered before detailed instructions for a range of blooms from African violets, gerberas, geraniums and daffodils to lilies, roses, iris and sunflowers. I particularly liked the tulips, nasturtiums, magnolias and tropical anthuriums!

BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-62

Felties: How To Make 18 Cute and Fuzzy Friends by Nelly Pailloux 2009

A sweet little book on making felt toys. Starting with brief notes on tools, templates, stuffing, sewing and embroidery, it contains patterns for some very cute and obscure creations from the sweet little Babushka Doll, the Mushroom Girl, Sleepy Fox and Pensive Rabbit to the Pirate Mouse, Hoodie Wolf, Retro Alien and Sun-Loving Rat!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-63

Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects by Salley Mavor 2003

Salley Mavor (https://weefolkstudio.com/) is well-known for her imaginative fairy worlds and creative appliquéd and embroidered felt purses, bags and brooches.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-61

I made my daughter a felt bird purse using one of her patterns.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-04 09.49.18 I also love the appliquéd felt work of artist Renee Harris. See:   http://www.reneeharris.net/Pages/GalleriesMenu.html.

Here are some photos of my felt appliqué work, which you will no doubt recognise from previous posts: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFeltBooks2517-12-06 08.18.25Steiner education is big on felt for all the same reasons that I love it. It’s a natural organic material, has wonderful colours and texture, is easily worked by children and makes imaginative and creative toys! I recently visited their shop, Winterwood Toys, in Warranwood, Victoria, to check out their beautiful felts.BlogFeltBooks2518-03-19 11.39.05

It is always a wonderful and inspiring experience, as is a digital visit to their website: https://www.winterwoodtoys.com.au/!

BlogFeltBooks2518-03-23 17.16.40They stock wet felting supplies and a huge colour range of hand-dyed and commercially dyed 100 percent pure wool felts (photo above), as well as toys, patterns and kits and books, many of which hail from Germany, the birthplace of Steiner education, as well as the origin of some wonderful felt designers and creations like the toys and Christmas decorations sent to us by our daughter Jen, who has been teaching in Germany for two years.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.41.16Here are three felt books, which I have bought from Steiner shops over the years.

Creative Felt: Felting and Making More Toys and Gifts by Angelika Wolk-Gerche 2007/2009

Another good basic guide to felting, but with an emphasis on felting with children and imaginative play, a key tent of Steiner education.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-59 The history of felting, different fibre types, setting up the workplace, preparing the wool, natural dyeing, the basic felting process, creative possibilities (mixing colour, collages and felt pictures, modelling and embroidery) and felting with children are all topics covered in the first section of the book, followed by lots of suggestions for felt projects: Hats and jewellery; slippers and hot water bottle covers; felt envelopes and gift wrap; book covers and treasure pouches; juggling balls; dolls and accessories; toy animals and puppets; and Easter rabbits, seasonal toys and dioramas and Christmas decorations.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994/2001  

More Steiner toys and child-oriented projects are included in this book.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-67 They include wooden and felt gnomes, angels, flower children, fairies and dolls, jesters, finger puppets, ducks, butterfly mobiles, snails, dogs and cats, horses, mice and balls, as well as felt pictures and books, jewellery, bookmarks, boxes, egg cosies, purses and cases. Here are some egg cosies and felt toys, made by my children when they were young, as well as some finger puppets.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.35.35BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.34.43BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-79I love making felt toys and would not be without the next book, which I have used to make camels and pigs for my daughters!

Sew Soft Toys : Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 1996/2007

After a brief discussion of sewing with natural fibres, stuffing materials, and tips for sewing and stuffing toys, it gets straight into instructions for the toys themselves: Dogs and cats; mice and rabbits, farmyard animals, marine animals, African animals, and bears, foxes and weasels.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-65 They are lovely patterns with excellent clear instructions and illustrations and the toy animals are just so cute! Below are photos of Jen’s camel and Caro’s piglet, which I embroidered as well!:

BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 012 BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 014I could easily make every animal in this book! And perhaps over the years I will, gradually recreating my husband’s old family Christmases!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Over the years, I have also made embroidered birds and fruit, Christmas angels and dear little felt mice, as seen in the photos below.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-22 08.55.47BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.31.53BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 046BlogFeltBooks3015-04-22 08.56.18 - CopyAK Traditions (https://aktraditions.com/pages/about-us) in Prahan, Melbourne, Victoria, is another source of wonderful Central Asian felt toys, some of them featured in the photos below:BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.41BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.19And finally, some of my favourite books for felting inspiration! These books are wonderful and showcase the imaginative work of two contemporary European feltmakers, as well as showing the enormous creative possibilities afforded by felt!

Filz Spiel: The Felted Play by Annette Quentin-Stoll 2010

Annette is a German artist (born 1978), who was introduced to felt in Finland, and she produces the most amazing sculptured hats, bags, costumes, vessels, games, toys and puppets, based on cones and spheres, concertina folds and pleats, elastic structures and even the incorporation of marbles.BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-70 I just loved her Rainbow Worm, her Dragon and Elephants, her mouse finger puppets, snail and star rings, animal bags and spiky swim hats and seed pod vessels. She has also written three other felt books: Filz Ornament (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzornament/); Filz Experiment (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzexperiment/) and Filz Geschichten (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzgeschichten/).

Gentle Threads: Felts of Judit Pócs

Judit Pócs (born 1976) is a Hungarian artist, whose work I simply adore!  She dyes the raw wool before felting and like the previous artist has a fabulous sense of colour and fun!BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-73 She too makes weird and wonderful sculptured hats, exotic colourful bags and fabulous toys, all featured in this book, as well as in the gallery on her website: http://pocsjuditstudio.hu/gallery2/.

I also own her inspiring video:

Video: On Gentle Threads About Feltmaking by Judit Pócs and István Rittgasser 2007.

It is a wonderful accompaniment to the book and is spoken in Hungarian and English.BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-72 In it, Judit generously demonstrates the making of a rug, based on the felt origin myth of Noah’s Ark, as well as a scarf, a bag, two of her amazing sculptural hats and a wonderful stylised crested lizard. She makes the magical process of felting all look so easy, even though her work is incredible skilful! There are also delightfully quirky animations and the catchy music of Krulik Zoltán, the founder and leader of Hungarian ethnomusic band Makám (www.makam.hu).

To view stills from  the film, see: http://www.filmkultura.hu/regi/2008/articles/films/szelidszalakon.en.html.

I  will finish with a gallery of my felt cushions, which you will recognise from previous posts.BlogFeltBooks2016-08-22 14.53.46BlogFeltBooks2017-03-28 14.02.24BlogFeltBooks2518-04-25 12.07.18BlogFeltBooks2016-11-15 12.55.50BlogFeltBooks2016-02-23 13.13.36

 

Green Cape: Whales, Wombats, Wildflowers and Wild Woolly Winter Weather!

The period between Late Winter and Early Spring (August/ September) is one of the best times to visit Green Cape.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.28.23 While the weather is certainly cold, wild and windy, as seen in the photo above, the wildflowers are starting to come into full bloom and the whales are just starting to return south from their tropical Winter breeding grounds, with babies in tow.BlogGree Cape4017-08-29 15.56.38I have touched on Green Cape in previous posts (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/16/ben-boyd-national-park-part-1/

and  https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/23/ben-boyd-national-park-part-2-photo-essay/).

It is the southernmost point of the Light to Light Walk, as can be seen in these maps from the NPWS interpretive boards.BlogGree Cape2515-06-28 13.01.23BlogGree Cape4015-03-31 14.57.57Green Cape lies at a latitude of 37 degrees South and longitude of 150 degrees East and because it juts so far out into the Tasman Sea, it is a wonderful spot to see humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) closeup, as they hug the coastline on their journey back home to their southern Summer Antarctic feeding grounds.BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 14.43.04BlogGree Cape3016-09-07 14.42.58BlogGree Cape2517-08-29 16.02.24The Yellow-Nosed Albatross (Diomedea chlororhynchus) can also be seen in Late Winter/ early Spring off Green Cape, though I have yet to see one, while the Short-Tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) head south in long black clouds from late September to early November on their annual migration from the North Pacific to their breeding burrows on the islands in southern waters.BlogGree Cape3017-09-07 19.07.42BlogGree Cape5015-06-28 15.03.29BlogGree Cape5015-03-31 14.46.39We have however seen plenty of other birds: Australasian Gannets (first photo above), Ospreys and White-Bellied Sea Eagles (2nd photo above), Nankeen Kestrels (3rd photo above), Cormorants and Pacific Gulls (first photo below), Crested Terns (2nd photo below), and Sooty Oyster Catchers (3rd photo below).BlogGree Cape3015-03-31 14.49.17BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 16.08.28BlogGree Cape2016-09-07 14.10.17Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) are also often seen, the latter forming bachelor rafts just off the point and lolling about in the surf with the odd Queen’s Wave!BlogGree Cape3015-06-28 13.24.02BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 14.49.59BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 15.45.13And on land, there are wombats, usually fast asleep in their burrows during the day, but sometimes surprised grazing on the tough wiry grasses, especially in more remote areas.BlogGree Cape2015-06-28 13.52.05BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.14.07 More commonly seen are the quiet Eastern Grey Kangaroos (first photo) and Swamp Wallabies (2nd photo), which graze near the lighthouse.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.33.39OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the coastal heath, there are Southern Emu Wrens (Stipiturus malachurus) and Grass Parrots. I would love to see the latter, which are best observed on first light.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love all the wildflowers of the rugged coastal heath, which is adapted to cope with the salt-laden winds and sandy soils of Green Cape.BlogGree Cape2016-09-07 13.53.02BlogGree Cape2015-06-28 14.25.41 I have organised them into colour ranges and identified them by their genus only:

White: Clockwise from Top Left: Westringia; Hakea; Leucopogon; and Leptospermum;

Yellow: Clockwise from Top Left: Hibbertia; Banksia; Senecio; and Pomaderris;

Reds: Clockwise from Top Left: Kennedia; Correa; Epacris; and Grevillea;

and Pinks: A beautiful Epacris impressa;BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 15.15.11Blues: Clockwise from Top Left: Patersonia; Comesperma; Dampiera; Hovea; Glossodia; and Hybanthus;

and Purples: Tetratheca and Comesperma;

with special sections for wattles (Acacia):

and peas (numerous genera).

Green Cape is a stunningly beautiful area, as the following photos attest.BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.54.35BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.50.22BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.27.32 It looks south across Disaster Bay to Baycliff and the mouth of the Wonboyn River, to the tall sand dunes of Cape Howe, the Nadgee Wilderness area and the Victorian border.BlogGree Cape2516-09-09 11.03.45BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.07.52OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then, there is the lighthouse itself- such beautiful architecture with a fascinating history!

BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.27.08 The East Australian Current flows south at 2 knots off Green Cape, which was great for ships sailing south, but difficult for northward-bound vessels, which would hug the coast to avoid the current, exposing them to the risk of being wrecked on reefs and promontories.BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 15.20.54 It is a very rugged section of the coast, which has claimed over 10 shipwrecks, including the Ly-Ee-Moon 1886, in which 71 people died, 24 of their bodies being buried in the cemetery nearby.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 16.23.15The decision was made in 1873 to build a lighthouse at Green Cape, the buildings to be designed by the then-colonial architect James Barnett.BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 18.58.19BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 16.27.33BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.51.39 Building supplies, as well as food and later supplies until 1927, were shipped from Eden to the storehouse at Bittangabee Bay, 7 km to the north, then were transported by horse-drawn tramway through the dense coastal heath and across creeks to the headland.BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.51.07BlogGree Cape5017-09-07 17.51.12 The lighthouse complex included the 29 m tall octagonal lighthouse and residences for the Head and Assistant Lightkeepers;BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.18.56 a Flag Locker (for marine and semaphore flags) and Signalling Mast and a Telegraph Station (Morse code from 1892 on); BlogGree Cape4015-03-31 14.57.30

and workshops, stables and garages; a tennis court; wells; a helipad and a garden.BlogGree Cape2515-06-28 14.11.26BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.01.49The light was first lit in 1883 and was originally powered, along with the resident quarters, by kerosene and coke coal and from 1962 on, diesel oil generators.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.57.50BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.31.12BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.34.01BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.31.14 It operated all night every night with 4 hour shifts for over 100 years till 1992, when the lighthouse and weather station were automated, the power now supplied by solar panels.

BlogGree Cape5015-03-31 14.44.46BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.57.56BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.20.19We were lucky enough to do a tour of the lighthouse last year. I loved the spiral staircase and colours, as well as the curved verandah railings and the spectacular views from the top! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.54.25OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.18.32BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.19.18  It is also possible to stay in the lightkeepers’ cottages. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/green-cape-lightstation-keepers-cottage.

BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.50.35BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.43.13It really is a magical spot, which is the reason that we make our annual pilgrimage every Winter. Next week, I am featuring some of my favourite felting books!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Books For Winter: Crochet Books

A short post this time as I am not really a crocheter, though I still do own a few reference guides for those odd times I feel inclined! The basic technique is so simple really and requires so few tools and yet stunning effects can be achieved, like the beautiful super-fine scarves designed by Sophie Digard. See: https://www.dncinternational.com.au/sophie-digard and https://www.lilypond.net.au/collections/frontpage.

I have bought a tiny crochet hook and crochet cotton to try and make something like her amazing creations, but have yet to master the basics, so this first book is very useful for a beginner like me!BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-19 09.20.45Crochet: 20 Simple and Stylish Designs To Wear by Jane Davis 2001

As with all good craft books, it starts with the basics:

Tools and Supplies: From the simple hook in a variety of sizes, stitch markers and tapestry needles to an enormous variety of wonderful yarns of different types, sizes and textures;BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 08.04.14Crochet Terminology and Abbreviations; Gauge; Crochet Hook Size; and US and European equivalents. It can all be a bit confusing to the beginner, as terminology varies between the US and Europe. This is an American book, the basic stitches listed below being the American forms, so I have put their European equivalents in brackets.

Basic Stitches: Holding the yarn and hook; Making a slip knot and chain; Slip stitch (Single Crochet); Single Crochet (Double Crochet); Half Double Crochet (Half Treble Crochet); Double Crochet (Treble Crochet); Half Triple Crochet; and Triple Crochet (Double Treble);

Basic Techniques:  Crocheting in rows of stitches; Chain space; Joining into a ring or at the end of a round; Changing colours; and Variations and Advanced Stitches. I made a knitting/ crochet roll for all her hooks and needles for my daughter, who is a crocheter!BlogCrochetBooks2017-09-07 13.26.49The remainder of the book is devoted to projects, so the techniques can be learnt and mastered, from evening bags, granny squares and edgings to scarves, mittens and hats and larger vests and tank tops.BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 08.03.01In the back is a Stitch and Pattern Symbol Library, showing the picture symbols, which often accompany written instructions. While I am sure they are probably very straight-forward and easy, I have yet to master these!BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 11.03.30

The Harmony Guides:

Volume Six: 300 Crochet Stitches 1986/ 1998

Volume Seven:  220 More Crochet Stitches 1992/ 1998

While I do not own any of their knitting guides (Volumes One to Five), I do possess the last two volumes, which are both devoted to crochet. Published by Collins & Brown in London, they use the European terminology and abbreviations: Chain stitch (ch); Slip stitch (sl st); Double Crochet (dc); Half Treble (htr); Treble (tr); and Double Treble (dtr).

Volume Six covers all the basic stitches, as well as lace patterns; motifs; filet; clusters; shells; textured stitches; spikes, stars and relief stitches; puff stitches; knobbles and bobbles; loops; openwork and lace patterns; filet crochet; motifs, edgings and trimmings and an introduction to Tunisian crochet, while Volume Seven includes all-over patterns; more edgings and trimmings and motifs; and Irish style and Tunisian crochet.

BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 11.03.54

In both books, the Introduction covers:

Basic Stitches;

Making Crochet Fabric: Working in rows; Joining in new yarns; Fastening off; Changing colour; Working in rounds; and Joining motifs;

Stitch variations: Groups or shells; Clusters; Spikes and stars; Raised (Relief) stitches; Bobbles; Popcorns; Puff stitches; Picots; Lace loops; Corded crochet; and Crossed stitches and Linked stitches;

Techniques: Placement of stitches; Working into chain spaces; Working around the stem of a stitch; Working between stitches; ; Right side and wrong side rows; Starting chains and pattern repeats; Working in colour; Tension/ Gauge; Shaping; Joining seams;  and Pressing and Finishing;

Following Crochet Patterns: Terminology and abbreviations; Working from a diagram; Filet crochet from charts; and Colour work with charts.

All the stitches are well described and supported by stitch diagrams and colour photographs.BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 11.03.49

99 Granny Squares To Crochet Published by Leisure Arts 1998

Granny squares are fun and a great way to practice your crochet skills, as well as having a wide application from vests to bay rugs and throws.BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 08.03.30 While published by an American company, the stitch guide refers to treble rather than triple crochet, further confusing the beginner. My best advice is to use the terminology specified by the particular crochet book! But fortunately for me, all instructions are written with no fancy stitch diagrams! There are colour photos of all the motifs on the middle pages and the front and  back covers.BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 11.03.37

200 Crochet Flowers, Embellishments and Trims: Fresh Looks For Roses, Daisies, Sunflowers and More by Claire Crompton 2011

Being a keen gardener and floral arranger, it was inevitable that I should be attracted to this book!! And it is certainly a lovely addition to the crochet library!

It starts by describing the wonderful variety of natural, blended and synthetic fibres available these days, as well as examining colour palettes and different yarn textures and weights, before discussing tools and equipment, including a crochet hook conversion chart; and gauge and swatches for fabrics, trims and motifs.

Basic stitches are illustrated and described, using US terminology, though again here, they use the term treble rather than triple, followed by more complex stitches including shells and fans; clusters; puff stitches; popcorns; and picots.BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 08.03.41There are sections on:

Following written crochet patterns (including abbreviations and US/UK equivalents) and crochet charts with symbols for fabrics, trims, and motifs and flowers;

Being creative with colour : Inspirations; Changing colours; and Working in stripes;

Making Crochet Fabrics: Foundation chain; Working into loops or chain stitches; and Working in rows;

Making Crochet Motifs: Inspirations; Motif centres; Shapes of motifs and flowers; Joining motifs; and Sewing or crocheting seams.BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 08.03.50

The book is then divided into four major parts: Flowers, Trims, Fabrics and Motifs, each introduced  with inspirational ideas for their use and containing a large variety of patterns, each accompanied by colour photographs, keys and stitch diagrams. For example, flowers can be made into bunting like in the photo below, which is based on the pattern for Six-Petalled Flowers, as well as necklaces, corsages and decorative pieces to embellish bags or hats, while trims can be used to edge scarves, blouses and skirt hems.BlogCrochetBooks2017-07-16 12.24.22 Crochet fabrics can be assembled into cushion panels, scarves and lavender sachets and motifs can be used for Christmas decorations; jewellery, decorative collars and embellishments for clothes and bags. In the back is a list of contemporary suppliers, complete with websites.BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 11.03.42

My final book completes both my knitting and crochet book posts, as it addresses both art forms.

Freeform: Serendipitous Design Techniques for Knitting and Crochet by Prudence Mapstone 2002/ 2004

Once all the basic techniques and principles are mastered and understood, experimentation is possible and the rules can be broken in the interests of promoting creativity! Any stitch or technique from either art form can be incorporated in the one work and the work grows organically, governed only by the moment or the availability of materials in your yarn stash, resulting in a truly unique and creative piece.BlogCrochetBooks3018-04-17 12.25.20

It is such a great way of using up all those odd balls of wool or spur-of-the-moment single purchases, because you were seduced by the colours or texture and couldn’t resist! Ply, gauge and dye lots are totally irrelevant with freeform artwork and fine lightweight yarns can be doubled, tripled or combined with another thread.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 09.19.25

It is also a lovely way to explore colour combinations. Prudence provides detailed notes on colour and yarn choice and fabrication, as well as helpful hints for success,  instructions for aftercare and an appendix of abbreviations, yarn equivalents (for Australia, UK and USA), knitting needle and crochet hook size conversions (Imperial or Old UK/ Metric and USA).BlogCrochetBooks2518-04-18 13.47.23She includes some patterns for elements that can be joined together, as well as lots of inspirational colour photographs of garments and goods made with her freeform techniques from hair bands, hats and bikinis to vests and jackets and  footstools, cushions and bags. While you wouldn’t necessarily wear all of her garments, there are some colour combinations that are quite lovely and it certainly does show you the vast potential of the medium! Be adventurous and take risks and above all, have fun!!!!

Next week, we are off to Green Cape on the Far South Coast of New South Wales for our annual Winter pilgrimage for the Four Ws: Whales, Wombats, Wildflowers and Wild Woolly Weather!!!