Foraging – Beasties and Treasure

I have not posted for a while but I have been extremely busy, well that should really say I have been extremely dizzy ūüôĀ Unfortunately over the last few months I have struggled with my balance and this has been awfully debilitating however I am trying hard to push myself forward.

One thing I love to do is walk in the woods and look at the flowers so I decided to do a bit of foraging and have a go at natural dyeing Рa bit of a change for me; but as they say a change is as good as a rest.  So off I set for my foraging walk, pockets bulging with poo bags and a rucksack to collect my findings.  Here is what I found.

Once I got back I unpacked my collections and added beasties. I have experimented with different mordants and different natural products.  The whole process is messy, smelly and unpredictable.

My thoughts about natural dyeing:

I had a lovely walk ūüôā

I took some beautiful inspirational photographs for my embroidery.

I love nature but¬†I love my procion dyes ūüôā I like to have control of the colours and blends that I am creating.

SO…… on reflection I decided that all was not lost. I went for another walk and contemplated what i was going to do next. I am currently working on a collection¬†of work that is sepia in colour so I decided that I would try my hand at rust dyeing.

I was a bit blown away with what happened next. ¬†I was standing by the edge of the lake throwing a stick for the dog when I looked down and saw this ……

Treasure – Rusty Key by the Lake

What!!!??? A piece of treasure. Well this definitely means I have to have a go at this.

My good old dad has been into his garage and found me a collection of rusty items and I have selected¬†some of the paler natural dyed fabrics and some undyed fabrics. ¬†Rusty parcels have been made and all I ¬†have to do now is wait ….

Watch this space.  I will show you the results soon.



Love is in the Air continued….

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As promised in my last blog here is the update …… ¬†After working with the tweed and silk velvet earlier this week I am now well and truly addicted to these.

I have continued with the heart theme to produce a trio of completed pictures that I would like to share with you.  (please excuse my shadow in the photographs- if anyone can advise me on how to photograph framed work behind glass I would appreciate the advice)

Here are some close ups

Double heart


Heart in Heart


Of course I am always drawn back to flowers – so here are my flower interpretations of this technique. ¬†Again I have used a combination of tweed/wool and silk velvet fabrics with free machine embroidery and hand embroidery. ¬†Both have been embellished with buttons and I have added an eyelet charm on ‘Double Bloom’

In the Breeze

Double Bloom


















I hope you like these – I am off to find some more tweed and silk velvet ūüôā


Love is in the Air

Walking through the shopping centre today I found that love was definitely in the air Рthere were Valentine gifts and cards in every shop window.

This has been my inspiration for today.

Love is in the Air

Close up of loose French knots and vermicelli free machine embroidery on the tweed.

I have loved working with the rugged woollen textures and contrasting them with the luxurious silk velvet so I decided to work with larger ‘scraps’ today.

Three contrasting wool and tweed fabrics were layered onto a fine wool. ¬†These have been attached with free machine vermicelli stitch. ¬†I have added silk velvet hearts using free machine embroidery. ¬†The piece has been further embellished with hand embroidery using hand dyed threads, a glitter thread is used for running stitch down the right and loose french knots are added to the tweed using a fine cotton perle. ¬†A ‘love’ charm is added for accent. ¬†The final piece is framed in a box frame.

Close up of large silk velvet heart and running stitch with glitter thread



I will keep you all updated on my next projects with these fabulous textures…….

Close up of small silk velvet hearts and heart embellishment.










Love is in the Air

Stash or Trash?

Have you ever looked through your stash and wondered ¬†‘Why did I buy this?’

I have been trying to incorporate bits and pieces into my work as you can see in my Bits and Bobs posts.  So last week whilst visiting my Mam she decided to have a look through her stash and produced a bag of felted blanket pieces, well when I say pieces I really mean a bag of tiny scraps that resembled floor sweepings:


Tiny scraps of felted wool blanket and tweed


The question was asked – ‘why did you buy that?’ ¬†Truthfully my mother¬†did not have a clue.

We are frequently drawn towards fabrics through their colours and textures and this little bag of scraps obviously appealed so much to my mother that she was compelled to make a purchase. They have been in her stash cupboard for a few years.  We emptied the content of the bag and I laughed at the tiny pieces of scrap fabric that had tempted her to hand over her cash.  At this point she challenged me to take them away and do something with them.

Challenge accepted.

Within my current workI have been using small pieces of neutral fabric to produce background fabrics for my embroideries therefore I decided to try to use these in a similar way.  The fabrics were varying thicknesses but most were dense as some had been felted.  The fabric pieces were closely placed together on a backing fabric, I used free machine embroidery to secure these in place.

Creating a background by piecing together fabric scraps.

I was pleasantly surprised with the end result and I now had a textured and rugged surface to work on.

This background screamed out for a  sumptuous addition, amongst my stash I found a piece of my hand dyed silk velvet Рperfect

Kates Kloths Hand Dyed Silk Velvet

I applied silk velvet flowers onto the rugged background with free machine embroidery and these are completed using hand embroidered french knots. Foliage is added with silk fabric, heavy hand dyed yarn and hand painted silks that are machine  embroidered in place.


Close up detail of french knots and silk velvet flower.

Completed textile piece is presented on a piece of natural coloured heavy woven wool fabric.

Completed work presented in a box frame.

Stash or Trash Trio



I was so pleased with he end result I have created another two to make a trio statement.

So we ash the question again Stash or Trash? You decide.

I am off to see what other treasures I can find lurking in the corners of cupboards and drawers……..




Here are a few close up photographs – I hope you enjoy them ūüôā¬†




Canvas work Embroidery

At work this week there were a couple of colleagues leaving who had helped out over my sick leave. I really wanted to give them a small gift as a way of saying Thank you.  I would like to share with you the gift cards I made for these colleagues.

Embroidery on CanvasCanvas can be a brilliant background fabric for small projects as it is stiff and easy to handle however the stark whiteness can often put people off using this fabric.  By colouring the canvas it can be used for free embroidery as you do not have to cover all of the background.  I colour the canvas using silk paints as these are colourfast once pressed with a hot iron.  When canvas is wet the stiffener used in the fabric sizing softens and the canvas will quickly lose its shape therefore the canvas must be pinned out into position onto a board to prevent any distortion.  Once prepared the canvas may be painted with the silk paint, this must be then left to dry thoroughly then it can be unpinned and pressed.

Small flowers embroidered onto painted canvas

Small flowers embroidered onto painted canvas




This gift card was embroidered onto hand painted canvas using rayon and cotton embroidery threads.  The stems are embroidered using straight stitches, the flower petals are bullion knots and the flower centres are french knots.






Daisy embroidered onto hand paintd canvas

Daisy embroidered onto hand painted canvas




The daisy in this gift card was embroidered using cotton embroidery thread.  The petals are embroidered with pistil stitch and the flower centre is  embroidered with french knots.














CrochetCrochet –¬†A new way¬†for me to¬†lose hours and days…… I would like to share with you my new waste of time that has me totally hooked……

In April I taught myself how to crochet.  This is something I have wanted to learn for many years however never managed to get around to it.  Whilst recuperating from a period of ill health I sat down with a book, You Tube, some yarn and a hook, a few months later I am hooked!  I began this process by practicing stitches and trying to keep the same number of stitches on each row, I met a lady in a wool shop who kindly showed me how to start a chain and how to stitch a treble Рshe told me that this was the one and only stitch I would need to learn to move forward and after leaving the shop I have practiced and practiced. Crochet Hat

The most confusing thing about crochet is the name of the stitches – trebles, as I learned IPad coverthem, are actually doubles in American patterns and doubles are singles – talk about making things complicated however this is where You Tube has helped me because I have been able to watch stitched being worked and then decide what they are called.

My first project was a hat and then I decided to have a go at amigurumi and I also made an iPad cover.¬† The hat was a success – the rabbit was …¬†well all I can say about the rabbit is that I have tried and the lady in the wool shop was right – trebles are the best.



After trying a couple of small projects I then began a blanket – I have called this my recovery blanket and I have then moved onto a couple of shrugs (I don’t have photos of these yet but they were mainly using treble stitches and I even tied new patterns and V stitches)

Recovery blanketrecovery blanket 2


With this new hobby I was quickly collecting a variety of new bits and bobs including hooks and stitch markers РI have managed to pull myself away from my crochet for a while to make a storage roll.  Now sewing is my first love and always will be so it only seems fitting that I have used my sewing skills to make something to keep my hooks safe.  I have made this out of a selection of remnant fabrics I had in my sewing box.  I began by making the inner of the roll by stitching down narrow pockets for the hooked and using ribbon for the needles, scissors and pins.  The outer cover is decorated using crazy patchwork with free machine embroidery over the joins.

Crochet storage roll

The opened roll with storage for hooks, needles, scissors and stitch markers

The opened roll with storage for hooks, needles, scissors and stitch markers

Crazy patchwork with free machine embroidery on crochet storage roll/

Crazy patchwork with free machine embroidery on crochet storage roll








So last week I began my next crochet challenge and this one might take a while.  At the Woolfest last month I bought a beautiful hand dyed indigo extra fine merino and silk yarn.  This was in a hank so last week I sat myself down and wound it into a ball Рthis took a lot longer that I had imagined, I have 100g of this yarn which is lace weight and approx 800m long Рthankfully I have a twirly gig that helped..

Starting to wind the extra fine merino and silk yarn into a ball

Starting to wind the extra fine merino and silk yarn into a ball


The ball of fine yarn is nearly complete

The ball of fine yarn is nearly complete









I have made a start at a fine shawl – it is worked on a size 2 hook.¬† I have taken the pattern from a You Tube demonstration from which I have made notes and written up the pattern in a format that I can understand.¬† This project may take some time…. I will keep you all updated on my progress

The first motif

The first motif


A couple of more motifs later....

A couple of more motifs later….

Crochet is starting to take shape - It s going to take some time....

Crochet is starting to take shape – It s going to take some time….

I am pleased to say that after¬†showing my friend Cath how to crochet a granny square she too is also hooked and¬†is now¬†having a go at a shawl¬† ūüôā





Last weekend I visited the Woolfest at Cockermouth in Cumbria.  Woolfest leaflet

This is an annual festival of wool with craftspeople and artists celebrating the best of British wool.  The Woolfest is now in its tenth year and attracts many visitors and a wide range of exhibitors from sheep breeders to spinners and weavers.  The festival is held in one of the local livestock centres and the stalls are erected in the cattle mart area there are many demonstrations and sheep parades along with many exhibitors including yarn producers, knitters, hand dyed yarn and textile artists. This is a brilliant exhibition that really inspires me and also costs me a small fortune stocking up on my stash.

I visited this exhibition with my mother, mother-in-law and aunt.  We arrived early and made our way around the first small hall.  There are so many beautiful hand dyed yarns it is difficult to decide which are the nicest.


Hand Dyed Yarn and Fibres Woolfest 3Hand Dyed Yarn and Fibres Woolfest 2Hand Dyed Yarn and Fibres Woolfest 1

This year I have had a period of ill heath and I have been suffering with a balance disorder. ¬†This has prevented me from working on my sewing machine for periods of time and therefore as part of my recovery I have taught myself to crochet. ¬†I am really enjoying it. ¬†As a child if I was ill my mother would wrap me in her ‘poorly blanket’, during this illness I have crocheted myself a blanket however I am calling this my ‘recovery blanket’ as it has helped me recover and enabled me to fill my days. ¬†Indigo Dyed yarn

So back to the Woolfest – with a new string to my bow I was even more delighted with the choice of yarns on offer and could not quite decide what to crochet next or with which fibre or colour……
I eventually succumb to the most delectable extra fine merino and silk yarn hand dyed with indigo and an added sparkle yarn РI have decided to crochet myself a fine shawl Рthe next bid decision is to choose a pattern so this could take a while.

Creative textiles is ,my first love and always will be and therefore I was drawn towards the fabulous textures and colours that were on display.

weavingPatchwork Sheepyarn sheepHand dyed feltShoppingFelt hand Weavingyarns


There were also the nicest breeds of sheep that were so well behaved – nothing compares to a natural fibre.

As I walked around this exhibition I realised how much I missed dyeing my yarns and fabrics and I was inspired to start and dye some more – this time just for fun ūüôā ¬†I found myself being pulled towards the undyed yarns and dyes and then I took the plunge! ¬†I bought myself a small stash of undyed yarns and some new dyes. ¬†Watch this space as I might be messing up my kitchen pretty soon.

Not sure when I should tell my family – I might just surprise them.


Undyed yarn stash



Miniature Flower Bunting

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The other day I found this tiny fabric bunting kit that was so adorable I could not resist.

The jute bunting triangles ¬†are only 2 x 1¬Ĺ inches with tiny eyelets in the corners.

I love wild flowers, they are the inspiration for most of my textile work and therefore when my mam found these tiny flower buttons in a small needlework shop  I immediately knew that they would be perfect for my miniature bunting project.  I do most of my textile work in the conservatory and there is a small window from my sewing table into my kitchen Рthis bunting is to go across this window and therefore must be pretty from both sides as I will be able to see it from my sewing table and when I am making coffee in the kitchen.

In my pack there were 11 bunting triangles.  I began this project using 6 triangles, I  firstly sewed on the small flower buttons and then added green foliage using a fine cotton thread.

Once these were completed I decorated the other 5 triangles with pink ric rac and more buttons

As I needed these to be pretty on the back I found a piece of hand dyed silk dupion which was a perfect blend of pinks.  I attached some bondaweb onto the back of this silk, I peeled back the backing paper and then carefully arranged the decorated triangles onto the exposed bondaweb.  I then covered this with baking paper and pressed with a hot iron.  The baking paper is essential to prevent the exposed bondaweb from sticking to your iron. Bondaweb caked onto the bottom of your iron may cause you several problems including the inability to press mens shirts and therefore I do recommend a slight mishap to prevent you from having to do such menial tasks.

Once the triangles were attached onto the silk they were finished with a small running stitch around the edges before cutting out and leaving a small pink border of fabric.  The bunting was strung together with a length of hand dyed viscose ribbon.

I finished this bunting this morning and this afternoon I went for a walk to my favourite secret place.  This is a wood that is filled with wild flowers that I love to photograph, these photographs are often the inspiration for my textile work and therefore this afternoon Mini and I thought we would introduce you to our special walk by taking the bunting along to photograph with some flowers.







Bunting on the wall

Bunting on the wall


Bunting in the forget-me-nots

Bunting in the forget-me-nots


Close up of bunting by the river.

Close up of bunting by the river.


Bunting in clover

Bunting in clover




My Creative Journey

IMG_4762Hello ūüôā ¬†My name is Kate Slaughter, I have decided to create this webpage to share my knowledge and love of creative textiles with you. ¬†Over the last few years I have moved in many different directions however textiles has always been my foundation. ¬†I would like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about how I have got here ¬†and why I am now writing a blog.

Kates Kloths was established many years ago in my kitchen, here is a little insight how this journey in the life of creative textiles began.

My love for textiles began at a very early age when I could occupy myself for hours with some scrap fabrics creating outfits and accessories for my dolls.   I developed my skills as a teenager and made the majority of my clothes through a process of trial and error.  I can specifically remember one of my favourite outfits was a bright pink jumpsuit, I would like to point out that this was the height of fashion in the eighties. I knew exactly what I wanted this jumpsuit to look like however I was unable to find the colour I wanted however I was determined not to give up. I found one of my mams white cotton sheets in the airing cupboard, this was the perfect fabric, I used this to make the jumpsuit.  The only dilemma I had then was the colour so I dyed the finished garment; dyeing was to become another one of my passions later in life.


I went on to study a degree with Textiles and whilst I was at polytechnic my now mother in law bought me a Kate Greenaway cross stitch book – everyone in my family received gifts embroidered with old fashioned girls and boys. After graduating I became a dressmaker for a few years – this has only intensified my hatred for altering garments, I would rather start from scratch. ¬†After my children were born I went to a ‘sewing’ night class and this rekindled my enthusiasm so much so that I began teaching my own night class. ¬†I loved teaching these adult recreational classes and I began experimenting with many different textiles. ¬†Whilst at a craft fair I purchased a dye kit as I wanted to use a wide range of different yarns and fabrics within my work and I could not find the colours I¬†had in mind therefore, as I had when I was a teenager. I decided that I was going to dye my own.

The Kates Kloths journey began one afternoon in my kitchen.  I have always loved wild flowers and therefore this was the starting point for my colours.


I am not the tidiest person in the world but creative minds are rarely tidy and therefore that afternoon I had dye and yarn everywhere as I played and experimented.  I wanted to create fabrics and threads that were shaded, I also wanted to work with a range of textures that would make my embroidery more interesting.  The results were fabulous and I used these in my classes and my students loved them.  With their enthusiasm over the product and my supportive family I began dyeing yarns and fabrics to sell.

In autumn 1999 I worked my first exhibition. I had a stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate.  This was terrifying as it was a costly way to determine if people liked my products enough to buy them.

My philosophy when I started this business was to enable people to use beautiful products at an affordable price – why do people feel that you have to spend a lot of money for something to be good? ¬†That is just a question that I have asked myself over and over again – If I have over priced my products would people have thought they were better? ¬† I did not want people to buy my threads and fabrics and to feel that they were too expensive to use and then they end up in the bottom of a sewing basket for many many years as they are too precious to use. ¬†I wanted people to buy my threads and use them and enjoy them. ¬†Sorry I went off on a tangent a little bit there, as Alison Moyet once said ‘when you have a creative mind it doesn’t stop going’.

Anyway back to Harrogate РIt was fantastic, my products were successful and all of this from a kitchen sink! My family were getting a bit fed up though Рapparently having to wait for your dinner because the sink is being used for rinsing thread or the benches are piled high with dye baths is not acceptable by most families.  I was starting to get fed up of having to disinfect every surface and clean up after each dyeing session and there were some dye products that I wanted to experiment with but these were not really suitable for the kitchen.  In the beginning of 2000 my family and I were visiting a childrens farm which had a number of craft units, one workshop unit was available for lease.  It was perfect, a small shop area and workshop facilities that would enable me to dye my threads and fabrics and also teach workshops.

Kates Kloths flourished from the farm and I attended exhibitions in England, Scotland and Ireland (here is a photograph of me and my mother taken at one of my first exhibitions). scan0001

My husbands aunt had taken early retirement and she happily accompanied me on these trips.  I delivered many talks and workshops from the farm unit and at different Embroiderers Guilds and Womens Institute meetings.

In 2002 I moved Kates Kloths to a shop unit in a town centre, this made my business more accessible by bus route
and the premises enabled me to expand the retail side of my business into other crafts and it had a room for classes scan0002and plenty of space for the dyeing. The creative element of Kates Kloths continued to flourish in new premises and I
wrote a couple of ¬†projects for magazines, continued to attend exhibitions around the country and workshops were extremely popular. ¬†The bigger the business became the more I realised that my passion lay with the creative embroidery and teaching, ¬†I made the decision to change my direction in life and in 2006 I returned to university to complete my teacher training for secondary schools – in my madness I continued to run my business just in case things didn’t work out! I must take this opportunity to thank three women in my life who have supported me throughout this journey, my mam Dorothy, Aunty Jean and my mother in law Sandra – they are all creative women and will continue to inspire and support me. ¬†Within my blog I would love to continue my creative textiles teaching and share with you ideas, projects and, with a bit of luck, some inspiration.

Encrusted Surface

In September 2007 I made a career change, I became a Textiles Technology teacher working in the largest secondary school in my area.  Eight years later I am now Head of Technology department and teach children aged 11-18. My favourite part of this job is when you teach a child a new technique or concept, they may take time to learn and fully understand the process however the second they achieve an end result they realise that they are capable of designing and creating new artefacts and are keen to learn more.  This feeling of pride is irreplaceable.  If children are not taught the creative process then they will never experience the ability to imagine, explore, experiment, reflect and create.  Within my blog I would like to share with you some of my pupils creative moments like this one here.


Well thank you if you are still reading.  I have played with textiles all of my life and I am still playing, experimenting and learning from my mistakes.  I would love you to join me on this exciting new journey I am about to take in the world of blogging.