Friday, September 27, 2019

Two stitches forward...

... ten stitches back.

I sat down yesterday afternoon, thinking that with a solid few hours of stitching, I might finish my Very, Very Berry bird. I had finished the bird, stitched all the berries and started work on the branch and leaves - it was coming along nicely.
But then, I sat back and looked at it...

... it was turning green!
It was starting to look too much like my Dawn Chorus which I love, but I don't feel the need to repeat.

In my mind, I want this little panel to be more blue than green I have a beautiful piece of fabric in my stash which is part of my inspiration.

I had started stitching the leaves blanket stitch in shades of blue-grey and then added fly stitch veins over the top using the same yellow-green that I had used for the bird's body. I then continued the yellow-green in stem stitch along each side of the stem to outline it.
I like the way the stitches work, but...
.. the piece was definitely turning green.

I was quite sure the only way around it was to rip out all the yellow green. Which of course would mean I had to pull the legs out also because the toes are stitched over the top of the branch... SIGH.
... I promptly put it away to sleep on it.

So this afternoon, before 'attacking' the whole piece, I added a different colour, a pale green-blue for the veins and along the branch and that was much more like the look I was after.
Another bigger SIGH and out came the rest of the leaf veins + the stalk for the berries in the birds beak and the three below - they were too green also.

If you scroll up and down and compare the picture above with the one a little further up, you can see just how big a difference a single makes. Isn't it crazy.

I am now pretty much back to where I started but I feel much, much better about it now. I think, the rest of the leaves and berry stalks are done, the overall feel and colour will be just as I was hoping for. Fingers crossed, there won't be too much more 'reverse stitching' on this Very, Very Berry bird.

Next big decision is what to do with it? Any suggestions?
I had thought of a project pouch, but then again, I do need a wallet for my 'stuff' and passport when I travel. Hmm...

We are heading off to the beach for a couple of nights, just to catch our breath. It will be really nice to get away for a few days of R&R. I am not sure yet what I will take to keep my hands busy (if I feel the need). There are plenty of lovely walks and the weather is looking promising, so I may not do any stitching at all. We'll see.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Colour & Kits

It has been a quiet week for me stitching wise, with my needles sitting idle for the most part, with time taken up by all sorts of other 'stuff'.

Firsty, I had the most fabulous weekend with a regional embroidery group in Pt Pirie, 3 hours north of Adelaide. I was teaching crewel embroidery which I always love, but with the added twist playing with colours. Mostly I will teach from one of my kits - well most kits start life as a class project - but this time, I didn't include yarns and everyone had to choose their own colour scheme. I have learnt that for many stitchers, choosing colours can be really daunting, so it is nice to be able to help and encourage people to be have a go.

Autumn Gold embroidery design
We were using the design for Autumn Gold, notes were printed off in black/white and the group didn't get to see my version until after they had all chosen their colours. Oh and what colours..!!! It so exciting and so much fun to see the many different variations (sorry - forgot photos) from delicate & pretty,  daring, dynamic, vibrant, muted.... reds, pinks, greys, golden yellows, blues, greys and black....
Everyone made great progress over the weekend and seeing the designs taking shape in so many beautiful shades was just delightful for me.
The group has promised to send me pictures of the pieces as they finish. I really, really hope they do. I get so excited when stitchers add their own personal twist to my designs.

Back home, we have been busy making kits, both for coming workshops in Canberra and Tasmania but also for the SHOP.
I suddenly realized I had completely forgotten to put the latest Goldwork kit, Tulip Moon on the shelf - That is now done.
There is only 4 kit sets to start with. I do have another 4 very close to ready, but I am waiting on one of the needles to arrive so I can finish them.

This project is only little (7.5cm / 3" in diameter) so it is very manageable. I designed it as an introduction to the technique, so it is stitched with some of the easier goldwork techniques.

I had a little, turned wooden pot in my stash and popped my piece on the lid. I do think this is my favorite goldwork piece to date... I always feel like that when I finish, but this one I am particularly happy with.

On another shop note: Sadly postage is getting more and more expensive and there is nothing we can do about it except: I am offering FREE SHIPPING for orders over AU$100 until the end of September.
Why? No reason - just because I can!

Happy Stitching,
Anna X

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wheat-Ear Stitch Chat

I love it when I discover a favorite new stitch combination by chance.
This is what I suddenly found emerging in my hoop yesterday.


Isn't it pretty?
It is wheat-ear stitch with a French knot placed inside each chain part.
I have used Wheat-ear stitch many times before as a filling stitch for feathers, leaves and flower petals. I like it, because it is a little fuller and more decorative than fly and feather stitches.

Samples of Wheat-Ear stitch

It is also relatively quick to stitch. If you are not familiar with Wheat-ear stitch, this is how you do it:

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Wheat-ear stitch 
is made up from a line of reverse chain stitches with little ‘ears’ added to each side of each stitch as you go.

1. Start with a stitch at the top of your line. You can vary the length of this stitch, depending on how you wish the top of your line to look - or place two stitches in a V shape.
Next, bring the thread to the front a little further along the line - this will determine the length of the chain part of the stitch.
Slide the eye-end of the needle under the stitch at the top without piercing the fabric.
NOTE: I always use the eye-end of the needle to slide under previous stitches to avoid splitting the existing stitches.

2. Take the needle to the back through the same hole as the emerging thread.

3. Bring the thread to the front a short distance from the chain stitch, near the top and take it to the back through the same hole at the base - this is the first 'ear'.
Repeat to the opposite side.

4. Emerge below the first chain and 'ears'. Slide the eye-end of the needle under the first chain and 'ears'.

5. Take the needle to the back through the same hole at the base and stitch the next set of ‘ears’ as before.

6. Continue down then line in this way, keeping the size of the chains as even as possible.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

I was about the outline the shapes, when I suddenly wondered what it would look like if I somehow added a different colour inside the chains and that is how the pink French knots happened.

I just love these, and wanted to show you before I added more stitches.

So what exactly is it, you may wonder...

It is the beginning of a new little crewel piece. Very, Very Berry. 
I have had it stashed away, only just begun for longer than I like to admit. I am really happy with the design, but I had started the wing and could not stand looking at it...

... it looked ugly and lumpy. So before I could start, I had to do some serious 'reverse stitching' and get rid of all the knots.


So much better. Now I actually feel like stitching it. You can see all the little holes left in the linen by the knots. I am not too concerned about those, they will disappear once the piece is blocked.

After working with fine threads for the past many weeks, it is lovely to be back to some crewelwork, with woolen yarns that fill the work quickly.

I am not sure I will get much more done on this for next few days. I am heading off for a weekend workshop in Pt Pirie, north of Adelaide on the weekend and am looking forward to getting Out & About to meet up with new and old stitching friends. Besides, today feels like spring has finally sprung in Adelaide, so I might just need to get out and get my hands dirty in the garden... bliss.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week and have a fabulous weekend.
Best Stitches,
Anna X 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

I finished Before Dawn

... well, I wasn't up stitching before dawn, I am not an early starter by any stretch of the imagination, but I finished the little piece of doodle stitching I have been working on.
When I showed you the piece a bit more than a week ago, it looked like this...

BEFORE DAWN - Work in progress
You may remember I was filling the last background area with close rows of stem stitch... it is oh, so very slow, but I really do like the look of the smooth almost woven look when it is finished.

BEFORE DAWN - detail
I was using the pink and adding lines of the same straw colour that I used for some of the dots for this section and I was not completely sure about these colours. Looking at it finished, I think it works - pink, but not too pink. What do you think?
Next was the last sparkly dot filled with chipping...

Chipping is a goldwork technique where a fine wire coil called a purl, is chopped into tiny pieces (sorry about the blurry photo). Each piece is about as long as it is wide, and yes - tiny.

They are then stitched down, the same way you would a bead. Each little chip in a different direction. When you use a check purl, you get this lovely sparkly finish.
With the last dot done, the only thing left was the French knots..

 A river of French knots...

... and, Ta-daaaa

BEFORE DAWN by Anna Scott
I have had it sitting on a table for a few days now, trying to decide which way it up and I think this is it.
This has been such a pleasure to stitch and as much as I wanted to finish, I (like always) feel a little bit sad and at a loss now that it is finished. Lucky I know just the cure for that...

... start something new!

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful weekend.
Best Stitches
Anna X

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Doodle Stitching - WIP Before Dawn

It has been a great week, for many reasons, but partly because I have spent more time stitching than I have in a long time and have made great progress on my little doodle piece since I showed you the piece last week. This is where it was at:

BEFORE DAWN - work in progress
Since then I have stitched hundreds of tiny French knots (no I am not counting, just guessing) and filled in two of the three remaining dots...
I used chipping to fill these last few, adding some lovely sparkle. A bit of bling never goes astray, does it?

BEFORE DAWN, chipping detail
I then repeated the purple burden stitch in the area at the top, adding satin stitch along one side and, again, defining the area with gold threads.


I changed the line along the left-hand side of the next shape slightly and added more gold. I would normally always add the metal threads last, but since this is not planned at all, I have not allowed the width for the metal along the marked lines and since I want the metal to 'sit down into' the embroidery, I need to have them in place before filling in.

The area on the other side of the purple burden stitch is filled with satin stitch using the darker shade of green. It doesn't show all that well when photographed, but it sits like a smooth pane of coloured glass in a lead light window.

When I am not sure about a stitch or colour, I will work just a bit of each to test it out so that there is less 'reverse' stitching if it is not right. Making things up as you go, results in a rather messy looking work surface at times as you can see above.

BEFORE DAWN - running stitch filling top left.
The second to last section of the background is filled in the same way as the pink area on the other side. I use very long running stitches, only picking up a single fabric thread between each stitch. By off-setting the points where I pick up fabric, I achieve a relatively smooth and solid ground, that - and this is a big plus - if pretty quick to stitch.

The plan is to fill the remaining area with close rows of stem stitch, in the same way at the large green wavy shape. I am thinking of using the pink but shading it off into tan and off-white, but seeing the narrow strip below, I am not so sure...

BEFORE DAWN - Work in progress

By the way, someone asked how big this is. It is just under 10cm (4") square, so not big at all.

I had hoped to have Before Dawn finished by the end of the week, but despite good progress that is not likely to happen. Never the less, I am really happy with how much I got done in the last few days.
I hope you too have had a good week and can look forward to a relaxing weekend ahead.

Best Stitches,

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Doodle Stitching - Padded Satin Stitch dots

I have finally finished the satin stitch dots on my little square piece doodle stitching. You might notice there is still a dot to be stitched here and there among the finished ones, but I have plans for those… any guesses?

BEFORE DAWN - work in progress
I am filling the spaces between the dots with French knots - close together around each dot and  spilling over the background stitching. It is my hope that the texture of the knots will make the smooth dots look like colourful bubbles floating across the background. Time will tell if it works, but so far I am happy with how it is looking.

I have tried to make my dots as raised as I could, firstly because I just love the smooth domed shape of satin stitch dots but also so that the dome of the dots is higher than the the French knots.

I very, very rarely use multiple strands for satin stitch but instead stitch layer upon layer with a single strand so it is not a quick job, but I find it results in a more smooth and firm domed shape than if I stitched just a single layer of padding with a much thicker thread.
If you are not familiar with padded satin stitch dots, this is how I do it:

Outline the circle with split stitch (or split back stitch). This will help you get a nice, firm and smooth outline on your shape.
Straight stitch padding
1. Start the padding with a few straight stitch in the middle of the circle. You can work these back and forth instead of having long stitches on the back.
2. Place the next layer of straight stitches in the opposite direction to the first. These stitches are only slightly bigger than before.

3. Continue to add layers, each at a right angle and slightly bigger than the previous.
It is not super important that these stitches are perfect since they will be covered.
4. The final layer of padding is placed just inside the split stitch outline. The needle should skim the outline as it passes through the fabric - this will help stabilize the edges of the shape.
TIP: The final layer of padding should always be at a right angle to finishing layer of satin stitch. If you know what direction your satin stitch should be, you will need to keep that in mind when placing your padding.

Satin stitch
To get a nice shine on your final layer, always start a new thread for your satin stitch. You would normally use the same thread for the padding and top layer, I just changed colour so it is easier to see what is going on.
5. Place the first stitch across the middle (or widest point) of your shape. It is so much easier to get the right stitch direction across a wide section than it is at the very end of a shape.
6. Stitching to one side, cover one half of the circle with satin stitch. It is important to work systematically across the shape - if you try and go back to fill tiny gaps, you are likely to get a lumpy and uneven looking result.
TIP: I use the tip of my needle to feel for where it needs to go - it should touch both the outline and previous stitch.

7. Return to the middle and cover the second half of the dot the same way.
TIP: You kind of need to be 'a stitch short' at the end to avoid your circle turning into an egg.
If you look closely at the last picture, you can just see the outline stitches underneath. If I went to cover it up with one more stitch - it would turn oval.

As much as enjoy doing dots, I am pleased they are done. I am almost halfway through the background stitching now and just want to finish that, so I can finish the French knots, so I can finish the piece and move on to something else. I really do get rather impatient once I am well into a project - patience may be a virtue, but it is not really one of mine LOL.
I am hoping to get a bit more work done on the doodle stitching background over the next few days and hope to show you a bit of progress next week.

Talking about being patient - do you remember this one??

STRAWBERRY FEAST, Raised embroidery kit
I cannot believe it is months since I finished it and I have only now managed to get the kits for my Strawberry Feast in the SHOP this week. A few of you had contacted me for the kit, and I truly appreciate your patience.

Best Stitches,
Anna x

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Out & About

I had another little trip away last week - this time to Queensland.

SONNET Goldwork Embroidery Kit
 I started with two days teaching Goldwork in Rockhampton. I was welcomed by the most spectacular sunset and a group of utterly enthusiast stitchers. For many, SONNET was their first go at goldwork and (I think) a few people were a wee bit aprehansive. This is a super difficult project, but there is A Lot going on. You can see a bit more detail from back when I stitched it HERE. Everyone got really stuck into it and after the two days everyone were doing a great job and were well underway.

From Rockhampton, I made my way back to Brisbane to teach a two day crewelwork class at All Threads Embroidery
SCARLET GLORY Crewel Embroidery Kit

We were stitching SCARLET GLORY which is quite a substantial project to get through in just two days – but WOW, everybody worked so hard and got so much done! 
One of the participants had asked if she could change the colour scheme. How exciting!! I love it when stitchers make my designs their own and it is brilliant to see how different a design looks, simply by changing a colour palette.
I prepare all my patterns and kits in a way so that colours are very, very easy to change or substitute so away we went and changed all the burned reds and oranges to a brilliant scale of peacock blue and purple.  I can’t wait to see how this beautiful combination takes shape.

I had not been to either of these places before and had a fabulous time. Thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome and at home.  

I didn’t take any stitching with me on that trip because I knew I would have very little stitching time, so I have only done a little bit more on my doodle stitch piece.

I have almost finished the satin stitch dots and have done a bit more work on the background areas: Happy with the shaded pink on the edge – not sure yet if this will be the upper, lower, left or right… the green is coming along very, very, very slowly. Row after row of stem stitch. I want the finish to be really, really flat and love the finished look of this, but boy oh boy is it slow going.

The area between is also now on track now, after a bit of reverse stitching. I am using burden stitch and in the first go (above), I had placed the foundation stitches vertically and used stranded cotton. It just didn’t look quite right, so out it came...

...Second go (above), I placed the foundation stitches horizontally using a metallic gold. I am much, much happier with this. Still not sure I will use the dark mauve/purple for the whole area or grade it. Time will tell….

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend,