Along with lovely fabrics and threads, my big weakness, in fact probably my biggest, is for books, especially books on .... lovely fabrics and threads. I was (dangerously) bumbling about Amazon - looking for something else entirely, when this appeared before me. How could I resist? Arts and Crafts has always been a favourite style of mine, having been in love with the Pre-Raphaelites in my teenage years and early twenties. William Morris is one of my all time heroes and of course, he was at the root of the Arts and Crafts movement, along with a number of other great craftsmen and artists. I haven't allowed myself to dip into this too much yet, there are too many other things that need my attention, and still too little time to give them.
I also picked up a reprint of May Morris's Decorative Needlework. She was one of William and Jane's two daughters and influential in both embroidery and design, as well as being a champion of practical education for women to enable them to earn a living. The V&A holds examples of her work, which you can see here, there is a delightfully colourful brief biography of her here and an article about her embroidery on the marvelous Textile Blog here.
But back to my own embroidery efforts for City and Guilds. Things are happening - albeit more slowly than I'd like. Here is one of my "holes" samplers - finished, though not properly pressed or anything, but I'm really happy with the way it's gone
and here is the next one, still in progress. The one above uses simple satin stitch and overcasting to finish the edges of the holes. The next piece has buttonhole stitch round the larger openings and woven bars - those are the bits that stretch across the rectangular holes - the one on the right far too wobbly; it may have to be redone! Also a technique called trailing - like couching, but with the stitches placed so close together that they cover the thread being stitched down. It makes a rather nice definite frame at the top and will be mirrored at the bottom
The scariest bit with this technique is cutting the fabric away to make the holes. You can see this most clearly on the back, where the central square has the four sections folded under. I'm tacking them down before running buttonhole stitch around the edge, and plan to divide the square into four with two more woven bars, hopefully not wobbly ones.
Once the stitching is finished I'll tidy up the back by very carefully snipping away the little points of fabric. City and Guilds insists on good quality finishing!