Thursday, 8 March 2012


This week's technique is goldwork, something completely new for me and I'm really enjoying it.

We started with couching gilt thread (we aren't let loose on proper gold yet) which was fun and surprisingly easy (photo above of the front view).  Unfortunately, to finish off, the couched threads need to be sunk through to the back of the fabric (called plunging) and tied off (stitched), both of which are much less easy and also really tough on the fingers. 

The photo to the right shows the reverse of the fabric, part way through the tying off process. 

This is the same technique in a spiral which I much prefer (not least as there are hardly any ends of thread to be handled).

Tomorrow is chip work and pearl purl - even the names in goldwork are great.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Japanese embroidery

I went to a fascinating workshop in Japanese embroidery recently.  It was run by Midori Matsushima, a very experienced Japanese embroiderer. 

We used flat silk thread, both in it's pure flat state and also learnt how to twist it (so it looks similar to a superior perlé thread).  The shape on the left is done in satin stitch using twisted thread, and the flat silk on the right (the photo doesn't do justice to the amazing sheen).  The knots are Japanese knots - similar to French knots, but the technique is slightly different (and, given the state of some of my efforts, much more difficult). The final thing we tried was using fine gold thread.  Sewing with the gold was easier than I'd expected, and beautifully rewarding.

One of the lovely things about the workshop was using different tools: an awl, a minimalist pair of scissors and a small, slightly chunky needle with a round, rather than flat, eye (shown next to a size 10 embroidery needle).  Apparently the round eye puts less strain on the delicate silk than a flat eye, and the small needle was actually easy to use.

The whole experience was great, an intriguing insight into a different way of stitching led by a real expert.