Saturday, 25 February 2017

The light of your life?

Have you seen how much lampshades cost these days? Ever wondered if you could make one yourself? Hazel has, and now all the lamps in her house have been upgraded ! Each one bespoke, each one unique, each one beautiful ( even if I say so myself 😉)

And so that everyone can have beautiful lights we've come up with a fantastic workshop, which we took to Hexagon Quilters last week.

With everything provided, Hexagon Quilters were soon busy printing  fabric using a variety of found printing blocks, stencils and brush and roller techniques. Using an evenweave 100% cotton fabric we used textile screen inks which give great coverage, are fully mixable and leaving the fabric with  soft handle, perfect for some hand stitching once dry.

The textile screen inks are designed for use with thermofax screens, which some students brought along. But it's also fantastic for use with print blocks,

Including those made from string wrapped around a piece of downpipe or offcut of wood!

Colours were bright or subtle.

And there was time to add a few hand stitched embellishments before the cutting and making up the final shade.

So if you feel inspired to create your own bespoke lampshade why not join us for our next workshop in the studio? All the details can be found on our website:

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Creative stitch with paint, thread and wax

It may be cold at this time of the year, but there's lots to inspire the creative mind, 

especially when Debbie Lyddon comes to teach in the studio, as she did last week!  Following on from her very successful exhibition at The Knit & Stitch show we asked Debbie to come and explore paint, thread and waxed collages with us for a couple of days.

She brought lots of her own work to inspire us

and some objects to give us focus.

 We were encouraged to paint on paper and fabric,

we didn't need much encouragement it has to be said.  We all were in our element very quickly!

Debbie was always on hand to offer advice as well as provide a challenge or two.  It's often good to be made to think the unexpected, don't you agree?

Cutting, auditioning, folding and pulling threads until we were satisfied with our compositions before

moving on to sew, by machine or by hand.  Both were encouraged, as was liberal use of the wax pot.  Now that's something to try!

And here are the (nearly) finished results, pretty amazing don't you agree?:

Apparently Joan's inspiration was trifle...

and Gill likes seed heads.

Sarah's was full of colour

whilst Valerie's was blue.

Birds feature again

and again, here on Terry's sea themed piece.

But Japan was Teresa's inspiration perhaps

whilst Nina chose a winter landscape.

Goodness only knows what inspired Hazel, but the loops look effective.

Joan tried the loops too, and

Jane produced a peaceful summer's day.  Now, isn't that something to look forward too?

Debbie is a fantastic and inspirational teacher and we all thoroughly enjoyed our two days with her.  She'll be back in the autumn to teach this workshop again however it is already fully booked .  BUT we have asked her to come and explore 'Sculptural forms' with us in the summer - all the details and booking details can be found here:

Inspired by Debbie's work and want to see more?  Visit her web site here:

Friday, 2 December 2016

and there was cake...

Finnish Karelian piirakkaa are a favourite with Hazel's family at any time of the year.

  • Filling

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt
  •  2 tbsp. butter
  • Rye Crust

  • 12 cup water 
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 14 cup plain flour
  •  1 tbsp. vegetable oil

  • Glaze
    • 12 cup of warm milk
    • 2 tbsp. butte
  • Egg Butter

    • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
    • seasoning
    • 3 tbsp. soft butter

    1. For the Filling:
    2. In a saucepan combine the water and rice. Bring to a boil.
    3. Stir, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add the milk, cover, and continue cooking until the milk is completely absorbed and the rice is soft and creamy.
    5. Preheat oven to 220C
    6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    7. For the Pastry:
    8. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the water, salt, oil and rye and white flours to make a stiff dough.
    9. Shape the dough into a log and cut into 16 portions and shape each into a round.
    10. On a lightly floured board, roll out each round into a 6-inch circle.
    11. Spread about 3 tablespoons of filling evenly on each round.
    12. Fold two opposite edges of the pastry over the filling and crimp the edges of the dough toward the centre to make an oval-shaped pastry, allowing about 1/2-inch of the crust to overlay the filling and leaving the centre of the filling exposed.
    13. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
    14. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and hot milk and brush on the pastries.
    15. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, brushing once during baking, until the pastries are golden on the edges.
    16. Remove from the oven and brush again. Cover with a clean tea towel.
    17. For the Egg Butter:.
    18. In a small bowl, cream the butter. Stir in the eggs.
    19. Season with the white pepper and salt.
    20. Cool the pastries and serve with the egg butter at room temperature.

    Stitching some hygge in time for Christmas

    Now that the darker evenings are here we are really getting into our stitching for the festive season. We love the idea of hygge, the Danish concept that seems to be becoming increasingly popular in the UK at the moment. A word without any real translation (pronounced 'hoo-gah') it describes that cosy, comfy feeling of being indoors with a roaring fire, candles, hot chocolate and family and good friends on a winter's day.
    Students visiting the studio today were treated to a Danish inspired workshop.  The day was spent designing and stitching a small cushion using colourful boiled wool felt.

    We've been saving old woollen blankets for years which we then dyed and felted in the washing machine (note to self: remember to clean out the trap after every wash...)

    InStitches friend, Anne Gallagher, was on hand to guide the students through the designing and stitching.  We'd first seen Anne's delightful woollen cushions when she was demonstrating at Farnham Maltings in January and knew instantly that they would be a great Textile Adventure!

    Anne brought lots of samples and ideas for us to try and before long everyone was rummaging through the piles of coloured blankets, cutting, snipping and stitching!

    Pippa added snow flakes to her holly and berries

    whilst Liz chose a variegated thread to add detail to her giant snowflake!

    Elizabeth enjoyed adding decorative stitching to each layer of her star,

    Ann started to stitch a Christmas woodland
    and the other Anne chose to decorate another snowflake

    But there's always one who decides to do it differently - Mavis chose a more summery colour scheme:  Warmer days to look forward too!

    Keeping with the Scandia feel we had 'pepper cookies' with our morning coffee, Karelian pirakka and egg butter with soup for lunch and finished off with a slice of warm Danish apple cake with a pot of tea;  recipes coming soon!

    Tuesday, 4 October 2016

    And there was cake...

    By popular demand the 'and there was cake...' feature returns to the InStitches blog!

    Chocolate fudge cake

    A real 'can't go wrong' cake - very moist, and rises well.  For workshops I double the recipe and split it between 3 loaf tins and spread the fudge icing over the top.

    For the cake:
    6 ½ oz {165 g) plain flour
    2 level tablespoons (30 ml) cocoa
    1 level teaspoon (5 ml) bicarbonate of soda
    1 level teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
    5 oz (125g) caster sugar                  
    2 level tablespoons (30 ml) golden syrup
    2 large eggs       
    ¼ pt (150ml) salad or corn oil
    ¼ pt (150ml) milk

    For the fudge icing:
    2 oz (50 g) butter
    4 level tablespoons (60 ml) cocoa
    3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
    5 oz (125 g) icing sugar, sieved

    You will need a food processor and either 2 8 inch (20 cm) sandwich tins or one 8 inch (20cm) deep cake tin, lined with baking parchment.

    1.       Heat the oven to 170 deg. C. Gas No. 3. Grease and line the bottom of two 8 inch" (20 cm) straight-sided, sandwich tins with silicone paper.

    2.       Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder into the food processor bowl.

    3.       Add the sugar and syrup, and the eggs, lightly beaten.

    4.       Put on the cover and remove the white plastic pusher: Switch on, and pour in the oil and milk, mixed, down the funnel into the bowl. Mix for about 5 seconds (count 5 slowly) after all the liquid is in.

    5.       Remove the bowl and knife from the machine, lift out the knife, and scrape clean. Turn the mixture into the prepared tins, and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with the fingertips. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

    6.       To make the icing: Melt the butter in a pan, add the cocoa, stir to blend, and cook for 1minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar, and mix to smooth consistency. Leave to cool and thicken, Spread half the mixture between the two cakes, and the remainder on top. Decorate with broken chocolate flake, or grated chocolate.

    Words are not just for reading

    We were really excited to be able to offer an Exploring abstract letterforms workshop with Simon Sonsino last week and not only because we want to do it too! The textural qualities and sense of freedom from the conventions of calligraphy in his work speak to us and relate to our own textile work, where words and text are there for texture and interest but not necessarily meant to be read.

    It wasn't long before everyone was busily working away - Simon took us through a series of short exercises creating marks with different writing tools and objects.

    Who knew half a balsa stick could produce such exciting marks?

    Fortunately this was a calligraphy workshop was for the non-calligrapher, and didn't rely on straight lines, neat handwriting or legibility,

    It wasn't long before every available flat surface and notice board was covered with paper.

    It wasn't just sticks, we did get to try out a variety of different nibs

     and tried out many different alphabet styles

    and in different colours of ink.

     Even the dip water became an inspiration!

    The two days were fun and inspirational, here are a few of the resolved pieces.  I am sure that over the next week s and months several of us will be using the techniques on fabric too.

    To see some of Simon's work you can visit his web site by clicking here