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Welcome to my blog. You can read about my adventures in different types of needlework, and I also offer some free
cross stitch patterns. Please, come back often. :)

PLEASE NOTE:


PLEASE, NOTE: The designs on this site are copyrighted to Agnes Palko. They are for your personal use only. They may not be distributed or reproduced without permission.
If you wish to use my patterns to stitch for charity, please, let me know.

15/07/2016

Spirit cloth - Serendipity I is done

I have finished it. I have to admit that I love it.



I have started the next one, haven't taken any pictures yet, but will be back soon with some. I am also experimenting with natural dyes. I have read Eco Colour by India Flint, and there is also a bit about plant dyes in my newest favourite book, Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesly Smith.


These jars contain some alum and spices, like turmeric and paprika, in different combinations. I have also picked some flowers, both wild and garden flowers (asked my landlady for the withered petals from her rose and peonybushes). Put them in the freezer for a few days, then did a few variations, e.g. used some as "tea" (poured hot water over the petals), some I simmered for about an hour before putting in the fabric, some I just put in some warm water and will let them sit for a long time, some I rolled up in a piece of fabric and put them in a ziplock bag... They are outside, theoretically the sun should warm them and help with the process but this is Sweden, we don't see much of the sun. :(

I started a book with records of all the experiments, otherwise it is difficult to remember. I will report here those methods that work. Really curious but have to wait for a while to have some results.

I have also been sewing a lot lately but my sewing machine has been acting up, and this morning it gave up totally. I need to take it to the service. :( Annoying: not only do I have a huge pile of clothes to mend, I wanted to make new curtains, and I am also planning to do some more patchwork. Not to mention the cost of the repair... let's hope it won't be too bad.


09/07/2016

Spirit cloth - or where does it become art?

I consider myself very lucky that I could go and do a two-year textile teacher course at Umeå University. I needed the qualification, but I learnt more than what I am using in my job. I feel I managed to unleash some creativity, some freedom, som kind of courage in myself. Not fully, not yet, but I am on my way. :D

Since May, when the course was over, I have been planning to finally have lots of me-time in my crafts. Don't have to do any more homework. I have lots of sewing projects planned, clothes, bags and patchwork, but I was mostly looking forward to get into my most favourite of all crafts: embroidery. Even though I was working with it all this last term.

I have been looking at works, blogs, books by many textile artists and I have been accumulating inspiration. Then quite recently I found the concept of Spirit Cloth and a video course by Jude Hill, and I could wait no longer. I had to try my hand at it. Love the way Jude explains her work process, how she does not stress over things, how she builds up her pieces organically, almost randomly, with lots of improvisation. I thought this might be the right way for me.
I was also looking a lot at Karen Ruane, and Amy Meissner's Inheritance project ( I am even sending her some of my old fabric pieces for the project). I, too, love old fabrics and want to incorporate them in my work, want to give them new life.

So a few days ago I started, as if it was a lesson plan, by sewing three pieces of fabric together, like Jude says, in a landscape format. Then I sewed them on a very thin fabric. And old bit of linen, with the badly frayed edges became the bottom, a colour catcher that came out of the washing machine with this pretty peachy colour, forms the middle. The top part, the greenish-blue piece was originally my ironing cloth, which obtained the colour when I was trying to iron a pile of tie-dyed pieces. (They were done in my school in a science experiment and obviously the colour was not fixed because it all ended up on my iron and on my ironing cloth.)
I was really lucky with these colourful accidents, wasn't I?



After this, I added one element after the other. Old embroidery, doily, selvage from a nice fabric, a machine embroidered gauze fabric, leftover tulle pieces... a bunch of linen (or perhaps hemp) thread... lots of fraying edges... I was improvising. I added some figurative elements, like the birds and the flowers, but other parts are totally abstract. I used couching and applique.


I also added some embroidery stitches to enhance the shapes, but then I stopped myself thinking that I can continue with this when doing the "quilting". This is not going to be a real quilt, but it is three (or more) layers, and the backing fabric needs to be sewn together with the top layers. For backing I chose and old kitchen towel, looks like it might be hand woven. A bit thick, and a bit battered up, but it works well in giving the whole piece some stability.

I started the quilting, but not finished yet. I also started sewing down the "binding" - that is I just folded over the edge of the backing fabric. I left one side unsewn for the time being, in case the layers shift a bit in the quilting process.


You can see the quilting in the back, so far I was echoing the shapes on the front with matching thread - so the back will have different colours. But it's all right because most of them are muted and close to each other. Have I mentioned that I am also using some vintage thread? Bought them in a second-hand shop years ago. They are lovely to sew with, roughly the same thickness as 6-stranded floss, but 4 strands, and each ball is 40 meters. And I had an exact match for the linen and the peach fabric. I wish I had more colours.



I am enjoying the process. This took me about 4 days (not doing this all day, of course) so it is not so slow as one might think, considering it is all done by hand. But I am a bit unsure. My long term dream is to create textile art of my own. But I was reasoning like this: if I am waiting to become an artist before I start making things, it will never happen. It is better to get started, even if I am using methods learnt from others, even if I am not all that very original in my theme (like birds flying in the blue sky :P ) and just keep going. Sooner or later perhaps I will develop my own style, my own technique, my own little textile world.

This is the question that perplexes me. When does a piece of work become art? When does it become all mine - even if I am using motifs, like birds and flowers, that others also do? Will I know? Or is the doubt always part of it?

Anyway, I am going to be bold and name the piece. A piece of art (original or not, good or not) should have a title. So this is going to be Serendipity I. (The number indicates that there are more coming.)

If anyone has the answer to my questions, please don't hesitate to share :D

Happy stitching, everyone.











03/07/2016

Fox cross stitch pattern - and summer holiday



As you know, I am a teacher. That means that for more than a week I have been enjoying my summer holidays now. After a few days not doing basically anything, ans celebrating midsummer, I started cleaning my little flat. I have lots of pain in my back that means that I can only do any physical activity for 30-40 minutes maximum, then I have to sit down and relax. So while the cleaning goes on very slowly, I also sew and read a lot. I have also set myself some goals for this summer, like drawing and trying to live a healthier life. Not much success yet on these fronts, but going slowly.

Cleaning the flat mostly means organising. During the spring I spent lots of time stitching for university, but I was quite stressed with time. I was also working full time, I was not feeling well, had lots of pain, had an operation, didn't sleep much - the result is a horrible messy place. And since my flat is really small, it became kind of impossible by the end of the term.

So far I managed to sort out most of my fabrics and yarn, clean the bedroom, most of the hall and most of the living room. (The kitchen and the bathroom I had managed to keep more or less OK, thank God. I should go through drawers and cupboards there, too, but that is not so urgent.) The main problem is, of course, finding place for all my craft supplies. I still have lots to do, but mostly small things.

Yesterday, while trying to fit all my yarn in containers and vacuum bags, I sorted out my old and broken knitting basket. I bought it a few years ago in a loppis, that is a typical Swedish second-hand shop. You can find them all over the place, often in the countryside, in small sheds or in barns. I love hunting for treasures in them. I should stop, because I have no place for any more stuff, but I just love it. :) And it is enviromnment-friendly to recycle old things, right?

This basket was full of wool yarn that I wanted to buy, and got the basket itself in the bargain. Unfortunately it had lots of broken parts and my yarn got always caught on them. I found a piece of thick canvas fabric in my stash (also from a loppis), and made a lining for the basket. I am very happy with it. The leftover small pieces were just enough for another smaller basket.








Now both of them are full with yarn and UFOs, and these are just the ones I am planning to work on soon. I will write a post about my knitting soon. Watch this place.


Another thing I do when I get tired is sit down with my computer and draw in my cross stitch program. The felt fox pattern I shared the other day was so popular, had lots of views in just a few days, so I thought I could draw the same little fox in cross stitch. Even though there are lots of fox patterns on the net, there might be some who like this one.

Here it is, click on the picture to get the pdf.




Happy stitching.


Fox cross stitch pattern - and summer holiday



As you know, I am a teacher. That means that for more than a week I have been enjoying my summer holidays now. After a few days not doing basically anything - apart from celebrating midsummer - I started cleaning my little flat. I have lots of pain in my back that means that I can only do any physical activity for 30-40 minutes maximum, then I have to sit down and relax. So while the cleaning goes on very slowly, I also sew and read a lot. I have also set myself some goals for this summer, like drawing and trying to live a healthier life. Not much success yet on these fronts, but going slowly.

Cleaning the flat mostly means organising. During the spring I spent lots of time stitching for university, but I was quite stressed with time. I was also working full time, I was not feeling well, had lots of pain, had an operation, didn't sleep much - the result is a horrible messy place. And since my flat is really small, it became kind of impossible by the end of the term.

So far I managed to sort out most of my fabrics and yarn, clean the bedroom, most of the hall and most of the living room. (The kitchen and the bathroom I had managed to keep more or less OK, thank God. I should go through drawers and cupboards there, too, but that is not so urgent.) The main problem is, of course, finding place for all my craft supplies. I still have lots to do, but mostly small things.

Yesterday, while trying to fit all my yarn in containers and vacuum bags, I sorted out my old and broken knitting basket. I bought it a few years ago in a loppis, that is a typical Swedish second-hand shop. You can find them all over the place, often in the countryside, in small sheds or in barns. I love hunting for treasures in them. I should stop, because I have no place for any more stuff, but I just love it. :) And it is enviromnment-friendly to recycle old things, right?

This basket was full of wool yarn that I wanted to buy, and got the basket itself in the bargain. Unfortunately it had lots of broken parts and my yarn got always caught on them. I found a piece of thick canvas fabric in my stash (also from a loppis), and made a lining for the basket. I am very happy with it. The leftover small pieces were just enough for another smaller basket.








Now both of them are full with yarn and UFOs, and these are just the ones I am planning to work on soon. I will write a post about my knitting soon. Watch this place.


Another thing I do when I get tired is sit down with my computer and draw in my cross stitch program. The felt fox pattern I shared the other day was so popular, had lots of views in just a few days, so I thought I could draw the same little fox in cross stitch. Even though there are lots of fox patterns on the net, there might be some who like this one.

Here it is, click on the picture to get the pdf.




Happy stitching.


29/06/2016

Felt fox softie - a tutorial

I posted some pictures of my foxes on Facebook, and a friend asked where I got the pattern. I made it myself, so I promised her to share it. Then I thought I might just as well share it here on the blog with everyone.



Here is the pattern. This is half an A4 page (A5, I think). As you can see on the measuring tape that I put next to it, the fox is about 9 cm (3,5") big. I am sorry I cannot help with how you should print it out to have the right size, I don't have a printer at home so I cannot try it. But if someone can figure it out, please let me - and the other readers - know. On the other hand, it does not matter too much if the final size is a bit bigger or smaller.




If you are planning to make more than one, it is better to copy the pattern on a piece of cardboard, otherwise just normal printing paper works. I usually pin the pattern to the felt, and cut next to it, to avoid having to draw on the felt itself.

Cut the fox shape out of orange felt, you will need 2 pieces. Then cut the small details from white felt: two pieces for the face, one for the tummy and two for the tail.


I usually sew the face and the tail on with white thread, and very small running stitch. The tummy I often decorate with a tiny embroidery, then sew on with blanket stitch. On these examples I used orange thread, but sometimes I just use all kinds of colours. I often use small left-over thread pieces for these projects.

You don't need to sew the details all around, only those sides that will not be sewn with the final blanket stitch. Like this:



Finish the face: use black thread to embroider the eyes and the nose.

The back side of the fox only gets one detail: the tail.

Then sew the front and back together with small blanket stitch. It is good to start in the curve between the tail and the body, and sew the tail first, and stuff it as you go. It will be difficult to stuff it later. I usually stuff the tail really hard, otherwise it does not look very nice. I also add a cord on the top of the head, but that is optional.

Here is a picture of how I make them in an assembly-line.


I hope you like this tutorial. Let me know if something is not clear.

Happy stitching.
















24/06/2016

Glad midsommar - free summer wreath pattern

Today in Sweden we celebrate midsommar, that is Midsummer. It is common that girls wear a wreath made of wild flowers.

To honour this tradition, I created a summer wreath pattern. Enjoy, and happy Midsummer to all.

06/06/2016

Hang a bird in the window


It happened twice in the past 5 years - since I have been living here - that a bird flew into the window and died. In my apartment there are windows on both sides. Apparently, the birds see the light from the other side, they don't see the window, and they think they can fly through. After the first case I wanted to hang a dark bird shape - but I did not like the idea of watching a black shape all the time. So instead I made a patchwork bird for one of my windows. But then it happened again, so now I have a patchwork bird in each window. See the tutorial here .

In case you are not into patchwork but love cross stitch, I created a pattern that I am sharing with you all here. One is colourful, kind of summery, the other is almost just one colour - you can choose which colour you want in case you wish to match the bird to your curtains or the rest of the decorations.

Click on the picture to get the pdf pattern.


After stitching, this needs to be sewn onto a dark background - it is important that from the outside the birds see a dark shape. I read somewhere that they think it is the shadow of a predator bird and avoid it. I will write a tutorial how to do that in a few days. Until then, get stitching your bird. :D

Edit on 9th June: I have finished the stitching.


(I noticed some mistakes, or I should say I made a mistake while stitching: I tried to do the upper and the bottom halves symmetrical but I didn't draw it that way, so I had to wiggle it here and there. Just in case you notice that it is not exactly following the pattern ;) )