Tag Archives | canvaswork

Bead Embroidery by Shelley Cox – Beautiful Stitches Book Shelf

Do you love embroidery books? I am afraid that I have a complete weakness for them and thus I have an overflowing bookshelf. And of course it is not just embroidery books but anything that might help me be a better craftswoman. So books on creativity, architecture, fashion, scrapbooking, patchwork, design theory, art and world textiles all jostle for space on my shelves.

You can't have too many books can you?

You can’t have too many books can you?

I love reading books for ideas, inspiration, colour, technique, and design. And I love the insight it gives you into the author’s passion for his or her craft. Inevitably, some of the author’s personality shines through the lens of the projects they share. So I often find myself wishing I could meet a particular author and spend an hour or two stitching with them.

The funny thing is that I rarely work any of the actual projects out of these books – rather they help build my well of knowledge and inspiration out of which new projects grow. So this week I am starting a new weekly page on my blog. Every week I will choose a book from my overflowing bookshelf and share with you why it is an important part of my collection. And believe me, every book is important – even just for one idea or pretty colour combination.

I am starting with Bead Embroidery by Shelley Cox, published in 2013 as one of a series of Essential Stitch Guides from the Royal School of Needlework. Why this book first I hear you say? It is not a weighty, spectacular tome; it is not specifically about my number one passion – canvaswork; and yet it is a perfect example of the kind of book I love because as I read it I find my fingers itching to stitch.

Bead Embroidery - Shelley Cox

Shelley is a graduate of the RSN Apprenticeship scheme and now works as a freelance teacher and embroiderer. In this book she shows you how to use beads in a wide variety of embroidery styles from enhancing counted work and surface stitchery to working whole designs in beads, as well as finishing projects with beaded edging and fringing. Interspersed through the book are photos of beautiful projects, just like the one on the front cover.

The very first time I read this book I knew that my next canvaswork design was going to need some beads added. As Shelley puts it “beads are an embroiderer’s way of laughing” – they add fun to both the stitching process and to the finished piece. So, here is a little taste of a piece I have been working on with beaded reverse cushion stitch inspired by Shelley Cox.

Reverse cushion stitch worked on 18-count canvas and embellished with Toho Japanese Seed Beads 11/0.

Reverse cushion stitch worked on 18-count canvas and embellished with Toho Japanese Seed Beads 11/0.

Do you have a favourite book? I would love to hear about it and why it inspires you…


Fabric Covered Boxes

I have a bit of a thing for boxes. I love sorting stuff into them and stacking them up on shelves. I love the way they make a room seem tidier somehow (no matter the multitude of sins that may hide inside them). I keep all sorts of boxes because they “may come in handy one day”, so there are piles of clean, empty boxes stashed all over the house.

You can never have too many useful boxes!

You can never have too many useful boxes!

If you are a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne then you will remember the story of Eeyore’s birthday. Piglet was going to give Eeyore a beautiful balloon, but it burst and so Eeyore was left with just a sad bit of colourful rubber. Pooh was going to give Eeyore a jar of honey, but he ate all the honey and was left with only the empty pot. Oh but how well this turned out…

“It’s a Useful Pot,” said Pooh. “Here it is. And it’s got ‘A Very Happy Birthday with love from Pooh’ written on it. That’s what all that writing is. And it’s for putting things in. There!”
When Eeyore saw the pot, he became quite excited.
“Why!” he said. “I believe my Balloon will just go into that Pot!”
“Oh, no, Eeyore,” said Pooh. “Balloons are much too big to go into Pots. What you do with a balloon is, you hold the balloon”.
“Not mine,” said Eeyore proudly. “Look, Piglet!” And as Piglet looked sorrowfully round, Eeyore picked the balloon up with his teeth, and placed it carefully in the pot; picked it out and put it on the ground; and then picked it up again and put it carefully back.
“So it does!” said Pooh. “It goes in!”
“So it does!” said Piglet. “And it comes out!”
“Doesn’t it?” said Eeyore. “It goes in and out like anything.”

I’m a bit like Eeyore – I love putting things in and out of boxes. So it is not surprising really that I love making boxes. Next week I am teaching a class on making fabric covered boxes at the Embroiderer’s Guild of Western Australia. For many years, this class has been taught by a wonderful lady, Rene Sinclair. Rene recently moved to Hawaii. I was very honoured when she asked me to take over running the class.

I haven’t made any boxes since before Christmas, so I wanted to refresh my memory before next week. Do you remember the small pieces of canvaswork I was playing with a few weeks ago? Oh happy serendipity – a small piece of canvaswork is perfect for mounting on a box lid.

Fabric covered box topped with geometric canvaswork design. Completed size - 14cm x 14cm.

Fabric covered box topped with geometric canvaswork design. Completed size – 14cm x 14cm.

Just to make sure that the techniques are completely refreshed and clear in my mind, I also made this slightly larger box.

Fabric covered box. Completed size - 19cm x 16.5cm.

Fabric covered box. Completed size – 19cm x 16.5cm.

And you can never have too many boxes – especially beautiful ones 🙂

Two useful (and beautiful) boxes.

Two useful (and beautiful) boxes.


Playing with stitches

Don’t you love the fun of playing with stitches? I think my favourite thing about canvaswork embroidery is that it is so easy to play – a piece of canvas, some colourful threads, a handful of stitches and some simple geometry. Numerous designs just unfold beneath your fingers!

For the last week I have been working on a new design to teach at the Embroiderer’s Guild of WA later this year. I wanted a small, colourful piece of embroidery that could easily be made up when completed. I came up with this simple wallet to hold my business cards.

My new business card wallet

My new business card wallet.

The design is based on one of my favourite Threadworx colours – Hawaiian Flowers (No. 01068). I often work this way – choose a variegated thread and match it with a few solid colours for a perfect colour scheme. Here I have simply added the darker purple for contrast and cream for a background note.

The wallet laid flat to show the fully stitched design.

The wallet laid flat to show the fully stitched design.

Making up couldn’t be easier. A piece of cream pure wool felt lines the embroidery and creates a pocket all in one step. And then I simply added a snap fastener.

Inside the wallet.

Inside the wallet.

The really fun part of playing is all the spin-offs that come from developing one design. Here I have started work on a variation in a different colourway and size.

A variation in progress.

A variation in progress.

I will use a similar range of stitches and still maintain the braided heart as the focus, but this piece will be slightly different. And that is the beauty of playing with canvaswork – endless variation with such simple building blocks – I love it 🙂