The medieval historian and I are just back from our annual trip to Pembrokeshire. The family joke is that we go for the dogs, but actually, we go because it is so beautiful and we never tire of the beaches and the walks and the small towns. A very regular place of pilgrimage is Melin Tregwynt (pictured above) which is a Welsh woollen mill in the absolute middle of nowhere, but a bit near Fishguard. It makes traditional Welsh wool fabric, not sure you can call it tweed if it isn’t Scottish, but the designs are modern, the palettes contemporary and the whole thing very high end. You have almost certainly seen some of it on television shows on fancy sofas, or in hotels you might have stayed at – the Mercure chain has it for example. It is pretty expensive but fabulous. I bought a throw in the half price sale last year for our 30th wedding anniversary and it is the best thing possible for an afternoon nap. So, count me as a fan.
I have been going and collecting offcuts which they sell by weight or in prepacked bags for years and I have quite a collection. I have been steadily adding them to make blankets for some time.
I have also made embroidered bags with them:
I love doing wool embroidery as the needle slides through so much more easily and the wool feels lovely in the hand.
All this leads on to a group of embroidered egg panels which I did while in Pembrokeshire. I took threads and some beads from home, but I also came across a bead shop in Narberth, Begelly Beads. It’s a tiny bit out of the town so you have to look for it, but it is worth a visit. Some really nice £1 selection bags to be had in various colours, as well as bargains. I often find that the beads that no-one wants for jewellery are perfect for embroidery. Take these unlovely brown rose beads:
I can quite see why you wouldn’t want brown plastic roses round your neck, but they really do look like piped chocolate flowers and they worked very well on this egg. I sewed them onto the edge with blanket stitch and then dotted some on the tweed, following the pattern. I am pretty sure that Fabergé would have loved the skill and delicate palette of the weaving. I am not sure what he would have made of the beads.
I also experimented with different sizes of egg using the same fairly bold pattern:
I reversed the fabric so that the top one has the darker background. Then I used the spot design as a basis for embellishment.
The top, smaller egg gave me a few problems:
The metallic silver glass beads refused to stay put in a graceful sweeping curve. Incidentally, the beads around the edge are glass cubes with orange pigment of some description around the threading hole. They are lovely to work with: chunky and well-finished so they don’t fray the thread. I was introduced to these cube beads by Linda Kemshall who sometimes finishes off her magnificent art pieces with them. That was roughly twenty years ago, and at that time the beads were ruinously expensive. They were imported from Japan and hard to get hold of. Now you can get them widely and they have really come down in price. They are a brilliant way to get a really neat edge and they give weight to a wall piece. Again, you put them on with a blanket stitch the width of the bead.
The final egg for this post is this one where I decided to concentrate on the background rather than decorating the egg. It’s a ‘What if?’ technique for those of you interested in creativity:
I used a variegated thread for the stitching. I was going to put beads on as well, but the simplicity of the design, and the seeding which is a very basic stitch, seemed to make sparkly bits rather too much for once. These are all very small pieces, roughly A5 and so useful for using up scraps.
Just to finish, here is Affie, the colour reference pom: