Saturday, 27 September 2014

Holbein stitch (double running stitch)

A Holbein stitch ( Double running stitch) is a reversible stitch. This stitch is made in two stages. First, going onward with a line of running stitches and then going backward to fill the spaces between the running stitches. It can be used for straight lines ,curved lines and outlines,  it is also used in blackwork embroidery.

A lot of embroiderers like to work the Holbein stitch on Aida fabric or even-weave linen. Since the Holbein stitch is a form of counted thread stitch, it will works out a very well result on Aida fabric or even-weave linen. Anyway it doesn't mean we cannot make it on other kinds of fabrics. If you are choosing another kind of fabric, you should transfer/draw grid marks on the fabric for an easy stitching especially for the complex patterns. Here show you the steps how I make the Holbein stitch on a piece of clothing fabric.

  1. Work a line of running stitches, the stitches should be equal in length to the spaces between them.
  2. Turn the work and start a return journey with the same working thread (or use a contrast coloured thread) stitch through exactly the same holes to fill the spaces between the running stitches.
  3. The third photo shown is two lines of Holbein stitches with one color and two colors respectively. Usually, I will use a contrast colored thread on the return journey for creative effects.

Apart from creating straight lines by Holbein stitch, I have tried to create a simple Vs pattern with Holbein stitch. The photo below shows how I create the Vs pattern. I don't draw grid marks for this pattern because this is only a short and simple pattern, I only draw three lines on my clothing fabric. Anyway, you can draw a complete grid marks to get a good result.

  1. Insert the needle at point A from the back and pull the thread through the fabric completely, then insert the needle into point B and come out at point C, pull the thread out to create the first stitch.
  2. Now, create the second stitch by inserting the needle into point D and come out at point E. Pull the thread through completely.
  3. Insert your needle into point F and come out at point G. Pull the thread through and now the third stitch is formed.
  4. Follow the steps like what you have done just now to create the other horizontal running stitches. Finally, you can get a pattern as shown in the photo no.4.
  5. Do a return journey by filling up all the spaces between the stitches with other contrast coloured thread. This time all the stitches should be vertical. The last photo shown is a finished Vs pattern.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Batu Cave, Selangor

Last Sunday, we took a half-day tour to Batu Caves, one of the top attractions in Malaysia. It is also the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples.  It located in the Gombak district of Selangor, about 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur.

The main attraction of Batu Caves is the impressive golden statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan. It stands 140 feet high at the front entrance. The next attraction will hold you in awe is a flight of 272 steps that leads you up to the sacred Hindu temple cave where houses the shrine of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan. This is  the main cave of Batu Caves called Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave. The stairs seem a bit daunting and challenging to me but my kids had never said they were scared to climb up, conversely, they took it as an amazing experience. This is a great attraction and the admission is free.

The golden statue of Lord Murugan.

On the way up until you enter the inside of the Temple Cave, you would encounter a lot of monkeys. Some of them perching on and scampering along the steps, some of  them frolic around the caves and some of them harass people for food. You have to watch out for the monkeys, they will try to snatch your hat, camera or anything else that they think that is food.

The monkeys here would make your day. They are naughty and lovely.

The view from the top is quite fascinating and I like the panoramic view of the city skyline. The Temple cave itself is so spectacular, here you can see many Indian sculptures and two little ornate Indian temples. In a flash, I felt that the scene was full of Hindu mythology. Within the cave is another two flight of steps which lead to the end of the cave. At the end of the cave you can see the bright sky when you look above you. The high limestone walls are covered with wild plants and the sunlight coming from the opening creates a beautiful mystical nature.

 Entrance of the Temple Cave at the top.

I succeeded in conquering the 272 steps!!

View from the top of the Temple Cave.

Interiors of Temple Cave

At the foot of the caves there is an open square in front of the statue of Lord Murugan where you can have fun in feeding pigeons, there are hundreds of pigeons here!!  I bought my kids a packet of grains from the nearby vendor to feed the pigeons. They enjoyed feeding the pigeons that came around them. The pigeons are tame and not really scared of people, they will even perching on your arm to get the grains that you hold in hand.

Many visitors enjoyed feeding pigeons at the open square.

Cave Villa is another attraction at foot hill. It is a museum and also an art gallery. The entrance fee is RM7 per person for locals.

Entrance of Cave Villa

Fish pond at Cave Villa

Thursday, 18 September 2014

French knot

French knot is a lovely knot. Sometimes, I use it for eyes, noses and flowers. I found that some of the embroiderers like to mass the knots together to form the flowers themselves. The photos below will show you how to make a French knot with a single thread.

1. Knot the end of your thread. Insert your needle up from the back of your fabric. 

2. Wrap the thread around your needle once or twice.

3. Still holding the thread, insert the needle back down into the fabric close to the original starting point. Keeping your thumb and forefinger over the thread as the thread is pulled through the fabric.

4. Slowly pull the thread through completely, so the twist lie neatly on the fabric surface.

5. A French not is formed.

There are several ways to create French knots in different appearances. Apart from the method above, I had tried the other methods to create a French knot with two different colored threads threaded together. Let me show you the results at the photos below.

  • The first photo shown is the smallest French knot among the three. I made it by means of a single thread with two of different colored threads threaded together and wrapping the threads once around the needle. 
  • The French knot shown in the second photo looks neater and tighter than the first one. I made it by means of a single thread with two of different colored threads threaded together and wrapping the threads twice around the needle. 
  • The French knot shown in the third photo looks extraordinary compare to the other two. I made it by means of double threads with two of different colored threads threaded together and wrapping the threads twice around the needle.  

Each French knot shown above owns its uses and advantages to create crafts in different appearances. For a larger knot, I use a thicker thread. On the contrary, I use a thinner thread for a smaller knot.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Stem Stitch

Stem stitch also known as crewel stitch. The stem stitch is one of the most common embroidery stitches. I like stem stitch because it would create a smooth line on tighter curves. It often used to embroider the leaves and stems. For me, I always use it for outlines.

How I make a stem stitch

1. Make the first stitch by sending the needle up from the back and then sending it down one stitch length to the back.

2. Send the needle up again beside the middle of the previous stitch and close to the design line.

3. Again, send the needle down one stitch length to the back to form another stitch. Repeat step 2 and 3 until the end.

4. A row of stem stitches is completed.

There is another way to make a stem stitch. It can be done by inserting the needle up, then down and up again above the end of the previous stitch. This method is not only good for a broader line but it is also worked excellently for stuffed projects. I like to embroider the mouths or eyes of my sock dolls/animals by this way. Usually, I will use a thin thread to get it done. By referring to the photo below, I will show you the way I make a stem stitch for a design line with this alternative method.

Bring the needle up from the back, insert the needle down one stitch length to the back at point A and come out at point B. Pull the thread through and repeat to the end.

1. You can angle the needle slightly so that it is inserted below the design line (point A) and come out above the end of the previous stitch (point B).

2. To create a smooth line on a tighter curve, take small stitches.

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