Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring Daisies

I took the morning off - I know, shock - horror!!!!
Al-Ru Farm where we regularly go to do photography for Inspirations magazine had their beautiful garden open to the public today. I always come home full of gardening enthusiasm after a photo-shoot at Al-Ru and have long wanted to show Adrian this stunning garden. So off we went, picking his parents up on the way. The gardens were just amazing - as always. I simply love that place.....

As always when I teach, my fingers were itching to pick up a needle myself when I got home after the Or Nué workshop yesterday. Before I could, there was no way out of taking Tess for a walk. I am convinced our darling dog knows when it is the weekend and she simply won't leave me alone until we have been out - so sadly I went to bed with itching fingers and pile of sketches. Looking at them today I was glad I didn't start stitching anything - they are all a bit too intricate for Or Nué - well at least I think I need more practise before attempting any of them.  

While out yesterday, I picked a beautifully, simple white daisy. This perfect model is now sitting next to me while I get my new piece under way - completely and happily ignoring the mile long 'to-do' list on my desk. Sometimes designing takes a long time and lots of 'tweeking', but this one kind of just fell into place. It is going to be clean and fresh, just like spring.

I padded the flower centre with a single layer of wool felt which I have cut a little bit smaller than the marked centre because I want to create a bit of a void between the flower centre and the start of the laid gold. For what I am planning to do, it just needs a little bit. The felt is held in place with just a few stitches around the edge and then I edged it with blanket stitch. These stitches are worked along the marked centre line and onto the felt, giving me a little ridge to lay the gold up against as well as pulling the edge of the felt down smoothly.
 Before I start the gold, I decided to cover the felt with a soft green. The centre will later be filled with metal, but I am planning to let the underlying stitches show through just a little bit. Normally I would work the satin stitch over the edge of the blanket stitch, but today I chose not to. I want to retain the purl edge of the blanket stitch to support some stitching I have planned for later. For this kind of underlying satin stitch, I will usually choose surface satin stitch - where the needle goes to the back and emerge on the same side of the area so that only a tiny stitch is formed on the back. Why? Firstly this method uses half the amount of thread, and secondly; these stitches will be largely covered with stitching later so it doesn't matter if the felt is not perfectly covered and the twist of the silk is going back and forth so the sheen not a crisp as it would otherwise be.

I was really in two minds about the metal thread to use. The lighter colour of my #6 passing thread is the light and bright colour I am after, but I really don't like this particular thread as it is rather stiff and rigid.  I much prefer to work with 371 couching thread, which I only have in extra dark gold at the moment.....choices, choices.
Being totally impatient today, I have decided to compromise on colour and use the the 371 - if I don't like it I can always unpick and start again, can't I?
I am using some silks I have had since college years for the couching. I have no idea what they are but wish I can find something similar one day.  They are really fine, four strands and the closest I have found since are Pearsalls fine silk. It is very fine and doesn't catch and fray as easily as filament silk. I am using a crisp white and and a pale putty colour. Traditionally pastels were not used in Or Nué but I think if the colouring if fairly dense it could work really well to achieve a more delicate effect. Time will tell if I am right.

If you would like to join me on this little experiment, let me know and I can send you the design - or you can just draw you own. It could be fun having someone else stitching along. 

I usually don't attempt metal thread work at night - the glare on the metal from the light is too hard on the eyes and I often end up unpicking in the morning..... might just make an exception tonight though since my fingers are still itching.

Have a lovely week,


  1. I find mornng light the best for metal work, and a bright, but overcast day best of all.

  2. You could also fill the center with french knots if (like me) goldwork is not your thing.

  3. Lovely Post Anna with nice clear pics and instructions. Am enjoying following your work process and seeing what inspires it, am sure we can all learn something from your expertise. Thanks for taking the time to share. Trish.

  4. Hi Anna, I love your daisies! What will you do with these when you are finished? Frame them? It seems funny to hear you mention fresh like spring when it's fall here in the States :). I had the opportunity to visit Adelaide in the spring a few years ago, it was amazing. What a beautiful place. I especially liked The Lofty House where we stayed one night and we also visited a beautiful vineyard/winery in the country. And the trees there! They are so gigantic and cool looking! Getting carried away here lol, it was such a lovely experience though, good memories :) Have a fabulous weekend, happy stitching :) Shelly Jack

  5. Nature provides us with the most beautiful designs :)