Thursday, May 16, 2019

Still here, working on new projects

Gosh, where did the last few weeks go???

I am still here and other than a short week away for our 'end of harvest and summer' R& R, I have been beavering away at new projects for upcoming classes and of course extra kits for the shop. Lots of stitching, writing, drawing, ordering and putting instructions together... and nothing to show - Yet.

I should know better than having four UFO's on the go! What happened to finish one thing at a time???

Still lots to do, but getting there, so please, please, please bear with me...

Thanks you XX

Friday, April 19, 2019

Slowly, slowly.....

... and then all of a sudden.

There was a snail, eyeing off the fat, juicy strawberries. He will get there, slowly, slowly.

Above, drawn in by the sweet scent of strawberry flowers, is a busy bee. She is the same I have done before (HERE) except I made stitch the wings much simpler - just two little silk ribbon loops.

The, before hard to see, flowers have been cut out and stitched in place with fluffy, tufted Ghiordes knot (Turkey knot) centers.

Last, but not least, the four wired leaves. Also cut carefully cut out and stitched in place.

And so, slowly, slowly, I got there. My 'Strawberry Feast' is finished.

Thank you so much for all lovely comments. I wish you all a Happy Easter and a lovely, relaxing, peaceful long weekend.
Best Stitches,
Anna x

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Strawberry Feast - Raised Embroidery WIP

Autumn is slowly creeping in, and even though we had a few tiny drops of some 'wet stuff' from above it is only just enough to settle the dust. It is so dry still, that even the deciduous trees that normally put on a beautiful autumn display are struggling to put colour into their leaves.

I have not quite finished my strawberry plant as I had hoped, but I am getting very, very close.
The strawberries are finished though, so all I have left to do is two little 'critters' and I am ready to attach the leaves and flowers.
I had not quite planned how I was going to stitch them before I started (as usual). I knew, I wanted them really nice and plump and was toying with the idea of embroidering them separately and stitching them onto the main embroidery later. After a bit more thought I decided to pad them well with felt directly onto the main piece instead.

Felt Padding
All the strawberries are padded with one or more layers of felt to get them nice and plump. 

It is near impossible to trace a shape onto felt. In the past, so what I do, is trace the pieces onto baking paper. I then cut the tracing out, leaving just a narrow margin around each shape and sticky-tape it to my felt. 
I can then cut the shape out on the marked line and get a the exact shape and size I need.
In the past I used applique paper for this task, but this method saves me dragging out the iron which I really like.

Once the pieces are cut out, the they can be stitched to the shape. If there is more than one, the smallest padding pieces (almost) always goes on first. This is to create a nicely domed shape. 
The piece is just held in place with a few stab stitches. By bringing the needle up though the fabric at the edge of the felt and down through the felt shape, I avoid accidentally shifting its position. 
The larger shape then is held in place in the same way over the top.

To get a smooth edge on the felt it then needs to be stitched down all the way around. It can be done with small stab stitches close together, but for these berries I used blanket stitch. I find blanket stitch gives me a smoother edge, which is particularly useful when I will be covering it with satin stitch.

The strawberries are all covered with satin stitch - a little tricky because they are so domed and the stitches were sliding off on the edges. Over that, I added a trellis that is couched down with tiny golden coloured stitches to represent the seeds.
I used the same three tones of red for all the berries, but changed the colour combination on each berry, to get subtle variations.
To finish the large berries off, I added picots at the tops - the middle berry needs one more on the left hand side, I think.

So this is how it looks by now.
The spiral / circle on the lower stem will be turned into a hungry little snail and the strange shape at the top; a busy buzzing bee. That should be fun!

If you are in Adelaide, and would like to have a go at raised embroidery, there is still a few places left in my short course starting 8th of May. Just email me for more information.

I hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend, finding or making time to do what you love most.
Happy Stitching,
Anna x

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Leaves, leaves & more leaves - Strawberry bush, WIP

I have been stitching leaves, leaves and more leaves and almost called this post '50 shades of green'.

The leaves I showed you in My Last Post are now finished, with fine wire and blanket stitch edges, ready to be cut out and attached to the main embroidery, once that is done.

Three little (tiny) white flower shapes are also ready. Each flower is only about 15mm (5/8") across, so they really are quite small. Photographing white on white is near impossible, but I hope you get the idea. I will talk more about these later, when you can better see what is going on.

I am still pondering whether to embroider a couple of my strawberries as 'slips' to get them really raised. Rather than spend time stitching samples, I decided to embroider the strawberries that I know will be on the main embroidery first. That way I will be able to gauge if I need to do a couple separately or if I can achieve enough raised effect simply by adding multiple layers of padding. But I can't embroider the strawberries until the stems and leaves are done.

I used my trusty old stitch combination of whipped stem stitch for the stems (the top one in the photo). I like this combination because it gives me slender stems that are still quite raised off the fabric.

I start by working two (or more) close, parallel rows of stem stitch and then whip them closely together. Usually when you whip stem stitch, you will go under each stitch only once. To get these stems, I whip them as closely as I can. The effect is almost like trailing, but I find this method much easier to control. (Sarah Homfray has a great vidio tutorial for trailing here)

The plant's roots are worked in blanket stitch and added the two new shoots, before moving on to...

... you guessed it: Leaves, leaves and more leaves.

The large leaves are all embroidered in much the same way as the detached leaves in the Previous Post. Since they won't be cut out, they don't need the blanket stitch outline, so I neatened the edges with stem stitch instead.
I have a rather substantial stash of green silks: yellow greens, olive greens, khaki greens, blue-greens, grey-greens... the list goes on - yet, getting the greens just right was not completely straight forward. I had to stitch one of the leaves twice, because I just didn't like the combination / distribution of the green shades... Sigh - I wish I wasn't so picky with these things!

This is where it is at. So far, so good, and I must confess I am looking forward to using a few other colours than green next.

Toadstools & Brambles
I usually stitch my raised embroidery on silk, but for my Strawberry Bush , I have chosen to use this natural coloured Linen/cotton blend. The style, shape, size and colours of the Strawberry Bush are very similar to my Toadstools & Brambles and I am hoping the two pieces well make a nice little pair, so it made sense to use the same fabric.

Now that our grape harvest is over (yeah!!!), I hope to be able to finish this project in the next week or so. As you know, I have a terrible habit of setting myself crazy deadlines so time will tell how I go. Either way, I hope to have more to show you next week.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and find time to stitch or do something else you really enjoy.

Best Stitches,

Friday, March 15, 2019

In my hoop...

... is a small batch of Ribbed Fly Stitch leaves.

That doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary, but I am little bit excited about how this lot has turned out, so I thought I would share how they are embroidered.

I am working on a new Raised Embroidery project for a class later in the year and was trying to work out a way to embroider leaves with a bit more texture than what I have done in the past. 
The illustration is a hint to what I am working on and I wanted to create these leaves with strong veins or ridges across each side, so satin stitch or long & short stitch was not really an option.  

Aerd Bessen (Erdbeeren)
First stop was a 'trip' to Pinterest - I like to look at antique botanical prints when I am looking for inspiration for plant forms. For some reason, I find it much easier to translate illustrations into stitch than I do photos. I printed off a couple of pictures and started to 'scribble' stitch, trying out a few different stitch combinations and this is what I ended up with.

I am calling it my 'Ribbed Fly Stitch Leaf'. Mine are tiny, embroidered with one strand of silk, but I can already see these appearing on much larger scale in a future crewel project...

HOW TO a Ribbed Fly Stitch Leaf

1. Start at the base of the leaf and work small, round chain stitches along the centre vein and finish with a long anchoring stitch at the top. 
2. Bring the needle to the front just above and close to the last chain at the top.
3. Whip into each chain stitch. This will make the centre vein thicker, rounder and slightly raised. (HINT: I use the eye-end of my needle when I do this, but it looked too messy for the photo.)

4. Embroider the veins on each side in small stem stitches. At the top, the centre vein has to stick up a bit into the top of the leaf.                                                                            I would normally stitch all this after the filling, but in this case, I needed the veins to form a kind of framework for the filling stitches.                                                           The tip of the leaf and most of the segments along each side are filled with fly stitch to add texture within each shape.
5. Start at the tip of the leaf and place a fly stitch closely around the bit of the centre vein sticking up at the top. 
6. Continue to work fly stitches very close together until you reach the tip of the leaf. The anchoring down stitches, should form a line to the tip.
HINT: If you have a bit of fabric still showing at the sides when you reach the top (as on the right hand side in the picture), just fill the space with a couple of satin stitches.

7. The segments along each side are also filled with fly stitch, but rather than stitching straight along the shape, I worked diagonally across as indicated by the dashed line. You can easily draw the line if you find it easier.
First place a straight stitch from the sharp point between the stem stitch and centre vein along the diagonal.
8. Work a fly stitch around the straight stitch, then fill the segment with fly stitch placed very close together as you did for the tip.
HINT - it is really important that you push the stitches very close together along the outer edges to fill the shape properly.

9. Fill the rest of the larger leaf segments along each side in the same way. I have used a few different shades of green for each leaf.
10. The two smaller leaf segments at the base of the leaf are filled with satin stitch. Place the first stitch parallel to the side vein and maintain the same stitch direction to the base.

I stitched my four leaves using the same colour for the veins on all of them and four different shades of green for the filling stitches to keep them similar, but changed the placement of the colours in each leaf to they are all varied at the same time. I am hoping it won't look too busy when I put it all together.

These are going to be used as raised leaves, so they still need a wire outline, but my back is telling me that is tomorrow's job.... 

I hope you have a lovely weekend, 
Anna X

Monday, March 4, 2019

Simple surface stitches - Stars of Winter

It is that time of year again... harvest time. The summer has been so hot and dry that it is all happening a bit earlier than normal. Our white grapes were picked this morning and if all goes to plan the Shiraz will be going late this week (if they can fit it into winery) or early next week. That only leaves our tiny plot of Grenache, which is always much later and we can look forward to a bit of a break.

I didn't do a great deal of stitching stuff last week. A few weeks ago (Here), I showed you a new little (side) project, I had been playing around with and I did finish that.

I clearly didn't get it ready for the workshop that started a few weeks ago, but have been tinkering away on this little piece. Other than the basic idea of using a limited palette of simple stitches, I didn't really plan a lot for this one (as usual) and some of the flowers finished up in ways that really surprised me. That might sound strange, since I am the one designing it, but this was really a matter of 'I wonder what it will look like if I try this....???


I love how the little red flowers above worked out. I think they are my favourite part of the whole design. There is just something about the colour and stitch combination I really, really like. Better still, they are super simple and quick to stitch, so I am pretty sure these will turn up again in future pieces.

The cream daisy above, took a bit of 'playing around' and reverse stitching before I was happy with it. It was drawn up with a large centre circle and I kind of did want a big centre stitched with rounds of chain stitch. I tried a few different colour combinations but none of it looked quite right. It wasn't until 'I wonder what happens if I divide the circle..???' that it all fell into place. The segments are done really simple, by putting straight stitches all the way across the white band. Once that was done the rest fell into place.

I had started stitching the berries at the top in the dark blue/grey.
Amongst the pictures on my mood board was a very Scandinavian looking design with a similar colour scheme. The pattern had dark berries dotted throughout. It looked really nice and I liked the idea of not making the berries the move obvious red or pink, so away I want... The blanket stitch wheels with off-set, French knot centres, worked ok but having done the little lot above, I started to think the colour combination would make the overall design too top heavy, so they went on the back-burner, while I stitched something else, hoping it would work itself out...

 ... how about white? I am much happier with this option. There is still enough contrast between the crisp white berries and the cream back ground and the little bright yellow centres add just enough 'ping' of colour.

That left just the wee red robin? and I was finished... 

Stars of Winter

I think it will make a really nice little kit and, although it may look intricate, there is no difficult stitches, so I will be able to use it as a beginner project. I just did a quick stitch count and all I have used to create this is 8 relatively simply stitches: Blanket stitch, Chain stitch, Detached chain (lazy daisy), Fly stitch, French knots, Satin stitch, Stem stitch, Straight stitch.

All I need to do now is work out what to do with it. Any suggestions? Right now hoop art, seems a really good option LOL.

I wish you all a fabulous week where you find, make or take time to work on whatever project you have on the go.

Best Stitches,
Anna X

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sweet Repose...

... was the kits I was putting together.


Thank you so much to everyone who emailed their guesses and lovely messages to me. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your interest and support in my work!!
Without all of you, I would not be doing what I do and for that I am truly Thankful
💖 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖

* * * And the winner is * * *

To draw a winner, I counted out all the emails and Random Result to pick email no. 8 a winner.
A kit with border fabric is now winding its way across the seas to Ruth in New Zealand.

Last week was so busy, but having spend yesterday just quietly milling about at home and going for a quick dip in our friends pool, 
I am ready for the next project which is just as well as I have quite a few on my list to be done. First up will be 3 new projects to be ready for classes in Thailand early July and, blow me... I need to have submissions in for Beating Around the Bush 2020 by early May!!!! Gosh, I feel I have not even caught my breath since the 2018 convention.

But today, I am just going to tidy up my work space. I find that is the best way for me to 'reset my head' before starting something new.

I hope you have a wonderful week.
Best Stitches,

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pillow making & GIVE AWAY

Ever since I started working on the new crewel piece, I knew I wanted to make it into a rectangular pillow using the same pattern I did for Meadow Bloom.

Meadow Bloom 

The difference was that, I embroidered Meadow Bloom using the colours in the border fabric as a guide, but for Sweet Repose, I needed to find just that perfect fabric to complement the embroidery.

After hunting around I finally found it...

The pink and green are an exact match to the colours of the yarn and I quite like the geometric, repeat pattern. It is pretty, without being too busy so I thought it would make a nice backdrop for the embroidery.
I found a bit of left-over green linen in my stash - enough to make piping and was ready to go... if only I didn't need piping cord and a zip...

Do you ever go to the shops, leaving your brain at home? I do. So I managed to buy a length of piping cord, 50cm too short...!!  So irritating...!

A second trip to the shops and I finally got there. Sewing is by no means my favourite part of the process but I must confess I am rather pleased with how it turned out  

Sweet Repose Embroidery Kit  |  Rectangular Pillow link to FREE pillow pattern.

I have plenty of other projects lined up, but there is no prizes for guessing what I will be doing next...
Or perhaps ... 
Yes, there is - I think it is time for a 

My basket of yarns waiting to be kitted up


To WIN a Sweet Repose Kit & Border Fabric pack 
All you need to do is guess what kits am are working on tomorrow.

1) Send me an EMAIL 
2) Write the name of the kit in the subject line.
3) Put your Name and Mailing address in the body of the message
4) Get the email to me by midnight of Saturday 23rd February, ACDT to be considered.

Good Luck

Not only have I finished the pillow, but  the kits are all but ready and are now available in the SHOP.
I don't normally get spare fabric, but this time I did make sure I got enough Border Fabric so that I can included in the kits, for those who would like it. You have the option of ordering Kit Only (AU$69 + P&H) of Kit & Border Fabric (AU$74 + P&H
The kits do not include any other supplied for the pillow, so you will need to get a zip (42cm / 16") , piping (2.5m / 2yd 26.5") and backing fabric. I used my Ecru cotton/linen blend, which has a nice weight to it without being too bulky.

If you have pre-orderd the kit, I will be in touch shortly with a link to your reserved kit, but for now, I'd better get kitting....

Best stitches & good luck,
Anna xx

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Getting the pants on... It's a Juggle WIP

After all the excitement around home lately we took off during the week and spent a couple of days at the beach. Sleeping, walking along along the beach, riding the bikes down for coffee, reading and simply catching our breath. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Although it was busy before we left, I did work a tiny bit on 'It's a Juggle'.
I have started working on the pieces for my jester’s costume. For the most part, I will probably be making little needlelace slips, but apart from that, I haven’t made any plans for how to stitch all the various pieces yet. I am really quite happy for it to simply take shape as I go. 
I am making the pants first and will need two needle lace slips, one for each leg. I draw the shape onto baking paper and then stick it onto very firm vilene with clear contact (plastic film). That gives me a firm ground to work on, and unlike card the vilene doesn't tear.

The thread I am using for these is Colour Streams, Silken Strands (42 Raspberry). I normally don’t use variegated threads much (I like to be charge of which colour goes where), but I love working needle lace with this particular thread. It is sold as a stranded silk but the individual strands are very firmly twisted, almost like a very fine Perle making it perfect for detached stitches. While working  my way, row by row down the leg I was trying to work out how to finish the edge around the calf.  It would be nice with some kind of decorative?, frilly? trim that will hang over the  top of his stripy socks.
I ended up trying to make overlapping rows of little triangles. They were fiddly and the first attempt looked terrible. I realised it was probably partly because the detached blanket stitch wasn't stable enough to hold the shape, so I pulled them out and started again. 
Second attempt is stitched using proper button hole stitch instead. This forms an extra little twist at the top of each stitch giving it more stability. I don’t have much experience with this kind of work, and had to reach for my trusty old stitch directory. 

The term buttonhole stitch is often used for blanket stitches placed really close together, but really they are two quite different stitches. There is a very good article on Nordic Needle that explains the difference between the two.

Getting the tension on these little 'suckers' even and consistent, takes practise and my effort is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I think they will pass. I was too keen to see how the piece looked on the Jester, so I forgot to take a photo before I put it on, sorry.
One leg down, one to go...

And that is as far as I got before we jumped in the car and headed down the coast.
I am not sure I will get much further this week. I really, really, really want to get the new crewel embroidery kit finished, packed and in the shop, but I do hope to get at least the other trouser leg done while I remember how how did it LOL.

I hope you all have a nice relaxing weekend.
Best Stitches,
Anna xx