Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meadow Bloom

It is finished! 

I did (almost) manage to finish last weekend and only needed a few very last stitches before I could block it today. Considering how much I struggled with this design to begin with, I am rather pleased with the finished piece. Especially the last flower above... mind you, looking at it here on the screen, I can see it needs just one last finishing touch - a row of white knots to complete the edge of the of calyx and to give it a bit of a lift ... then it is done.

I find blocking my crewelwork gives the best finish. I admit that it was a little scary the first few times I did it, but I don't think twice about it any more. I have a cork pin-up board that I have ruled a grid of lines onto. I cover this with a sheet of clear plastic. Then I pin the finished embroidery onto it, making sure it is straight and very taut. When you do this, always pin opposite sides from the centre outwards. Once it is in place, it is just a matter of wetting it completely with a sponge. After that, I press a towel down onto the work to soak up as much moisture as possible before I leave it to dry. It comes up beautiful and crisp, much, much better than you will ever get it with an iron.
All I have left to do now is to lace the embroidery onto card and pop it in a frame and it is done, ready for class display - well the 'easy' part is done, there is of cause still the instructions to write...

I usually try to be organised and take good notes while I stitch. I make a thread card of all the colours I use as well as record how much yarn I use, so that I can kit the project later. However, it is fare too easy to become absorbed in the stitching and when I begin to write, I usually discover I have left bits and pieces out here and there. I have tried to be particularly organised with my notes for this project because, even though I know I should write the instructions right away, I am unlikely to get the them done this side of Christmas and possibly not for a month or so. Partly because I am itching to get back to, and finish the Or Nue Daisy, but most importantly because my sister is coming to stay with us. It is ten years since we have spent time together and even longer since we have had Christmas together. I am so excited.........

Anna x

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Crewel progress

I have been embroidering madly on the crewel piece for the SA guild class in June. As I mentioned to you the other day, I have been struggling a bit with this piece but with a bit of perseverance I am finally beginning to feel good about it and thought I would show you how it is coming along.

When I design a piece of crewelwork I try to consider texture and the density of stitching as much as I do the colours. I like to incorporate lots of open stitches so that the fabric background becomes part of the design instead of simply creating a canvas to hold it. For it to work well you almost need to keep the fabric in mind as part of your colour and stitch pallet. 

The open spaces here are created with ladder chain, butonhole stitch, seeding and wheatear stitch. 
Someone asked me once if I ever unpick. Do I unpick? Absolutely! Especially when I work on a new piece of crewel. It is a shame that piles of messy threads doesn't photograph very well otherwise I could show you just how much unpicking this piece has been subject too. The reason for all the unpicking is that I don't leave anything unless I am happy with it. 

Although I know which colours and effects I wish to achieve for an area, the overall look changes with the combinations of thread colour and stitch and often the only way to determine what works best is trail and error. It can be a slow process, but it is such a good feeling when it all comes together and works. So fare I am particularly pleased with the top flower - and I only unpicked most parts once...... 

I would really like to try and have the embroidery finished by Monday, so it is just as well we are having a hot weekend here in Adelaide - no chance of me getting tempted to spend time in the garden for other than a bit of watering.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.
Anna x

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas wreath

All my embroidery has been on hold for various reasons but I wanted to show you what a 'whipped' up last weekend.

I spent most the time in the vineyard summer pruning the Shiraz vines. They grow like mad this time of year and if we don't give them a 'hair cut', they get to big we can't get the nets on later - not to mention, that the poor grapes never would see the slightest bit of sunlight.

I was flicking through a magazine while had a bit of a break and saw this really nice Christmas wreath made from what looked like vine canes, still with the curly tendrils on them. I realised we haven't got a wreath and when I looked down the rows, all I could see was piles of grape vine canes. So I went and picked up a pile, ripped off the leaves and made this........

I just love those curled up tendrils that grab onto anything and everything it comes close to....

I know that in many parts of the world bright lime green may not be a colour your associate with Christmas - but we are surrounded by it, so I think it will look nice on our door. By next year it will be brown I am sure.

I left it to dry all week and hope to decorate it on Sunday ...... any ideas?


Friday, November 30, 2012

On the porch

It seems summer is finally here!
My favourite part of the day is early in the evening when, after a hot day, the gully winds roll in. Sitting outside, with a nice glass of wine, watching the sun set is the perfect way to wind down after a busy day.

After a few weeks of not getting an awful lot of 'serious' embroidery done, I suddenly realised I was running extremely behind in getting a class project ready. These things are always needed at least six months in advance (often longer) and as much as I love teaching, keeping on top of it so fare in advance proves a little tricky from time to time. It was a beautiful day today, so before my spot on the front porch became a 'winding down' spot it was a busy stitching spot for most of the day.

I love nothing more than sitting back and just stitching. It doesn't happen all that often, mainly because most of my embroidery is destined for either class projects, kits or publication. Trying to stay organised when I work is something I am trying hard to do, but I am really not very good at it. I often find myself diving head first into a project, without too much planning - only later to pull most of it out, then do the planning I should have done at the very beginning and then - then the piece comes together. I really must stop doing that!

For instance, I rarely work up detailed colour drawings. I usually have a pretty clear picture in my head of how I want the finished piece to look and often will gather fabrics and magazine or book tear-outs of colours and patterns. I guess you could call it a mood-board, but really it is just a pile of pictures and scraps.
When I began this piece, I kind of knew what I wanted to do, so getting the line work for the design drawn was quite easy. I also knew the colour scheme I wanted to use - or thought I did! As we were about to leave for a weekend at the beach, I quickly tossed in a quite a few hand fulls of yarn in the shades I had in mind. The weekend away was much needed and fabulous. Not so the embroidery - the colours just didn't work!

The other day I remembered I had this fabulous piece of fabric in the cupboard - not quite the shades I originally had imagined, but when I brought it out, they were perfect. Back went most of the original colours I had chosen and I slowly worked my way into a new colour scheme. Now it feels right and I better get back to it.......


Monday, November 12, 2012

Little time to stitch

The last few weeks have been rather hectic both at work and at home, so embroidery of any kind has had to take a back seat. The vines are going mad this time of year so the vineyard is busy and this weekend Adrian had a rather significant birthday to celebrate. When I am that busy, I find it hard sometimes to take a deep breath and just sit down and stitch even for a few minutes and I am looking forward to putting needle the fabric a bit again.

Apart from dusting off my sewing machine and getting a few little 'must-do'  jobs out of the way, I did manage to finish the small crewel design I was working on. Of course I couldn't help but changing a few colours and stitches here and there from the original instructions. Now all there is left for me to do is a revision of the instructions to match the changes and also to get them into the form and shape that I like them to be.

The weekend before last, I did find a few hours in the afternoon to sit on the front porch and finish a scissor keep I had been wanting to do for a while. It matches a pincushion I made a little while ago. Both are worked with Cascade House shaded crewel wool, which I love to work with. The colours are beautiful and the yarns are slightly finer than Appleton. I am hoping to have the instructions for all three designs in my Etsy shop in the next couple of weeks and the full kits soon after that.

I am debating how much to include in the the pincushion and scissor keep kits - just fabrics and yarns or everything you need to finish the project. I very rarely buy kits myself so I am not sure what stitcher's prefer. What do you think?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Growing spring daisies

It has been a beautiful spring weekend here and although it feels like I have been busy all weekend, I am not entirely sure what I have been busy doing. Do you ever feel like that on a Sunday evening?

I have been managing to squeeze in a little bit of stitching on the Or Nue Daisy during the week, but when I went to pick up the needle today, I was just too tired to see it properly. We had a great evening with friends last night and it would seem that I am starting to find it a challenge to get to bed at 2am and being able to focus on really fine work the next day.
On the bright side, I am discovering the real bonus in recording the progress of the daisy here. The circumference has grown to just over 10cm (4") and it is so, so slow. It takes well over half an hour to stitch one round now. Stitch after stitch, it feels like I am getting nowhere, so it is rather nice to be able to compare progress pictures and see that it IS growing!

You might notice that there are few new lines on the petals to shorten them! Well, I am starting to realise this piece, though only 6.5cm (2 1/2") in diameter, is kind of big for a 'I might just try this' kind of project, so making it slightly smaller seems like a good idea.
I also realised that the outline - which I am certain was a neat circle when I started, suddenly seemed slightly oblong and when retracing the circle, a few of the petals came very close to edge. I want to have a couple of rounds of gold around the flower, possibly couched down with a spring green silk, so rather than making the whole piece larger, I decided to shorten all the petals just a bit.

You might remember that I was in two minds about which gold thread to use; a 371 couching, which is what I chose, or a passing thread. The couching thread is proving to a bit of a challenge. It is very, very soft and even though I try to be really careful, I have still managed to damage it in a few places so that the thread-core shows through. Rather disappointing, really. It is not enough to give up on whole thing and I am not sure that anyone would really pick it - but I know it is there and it bugs me.
The silk on the other hand, is just great. It is so fine, almost like hair. I really don't know if I would have been able to get the rounds this close if I had been stitching with a heavier thread. The gaps you see between the rounds in the tight photograph are hardly visibly when you look at the piece as a over all; it is getting there. I just can't wait now to finish the rounds and get to the centre - I have some hopefully fun plans for that.

In the meantime, since my eyes refused to focus on this sort of thing today, I did manage to finish two small crewel projects. I will show them to you later in the week.

Until then - happy stitching,
Anna x

Friday, October 26, 2012

I am in love...

... with the art of Anna Pugh.

As many others, I have discovered and joined the craze of Pinterest. What usually starts with a 'oh, I'll just have a quick look......' more often than not ends up as wonderful trip, following a winding path of amazing and inspiring images. Today I fell completely in love when my meandering took me to the art of Anna Pugh.

Hup A 

With easy, bright hills and villages, filled with fabulous characters and animals full of personality, they are the kind of fabulous paintings, full of whimsy and hidden stories, where the more you look the more you see. I love that!  How can this kind of art possibly not make you smile?
"The best joy in my garden is when it buzzes with bees and flies and lacewings and beetles; when the marjoram is alive with things crawling and hopping and flying. I think insects are the stuff of life. I would love to know what invisible things the sparrows are picking up on the brick terrace in the sun." - Anna Pugh
Free For All
I have a soft spot for chickens at the best of times but this little family is just too gorgeous.The tiny chicks running around madly on their lanky legs and the two blackbirds, who appear to have studies William Morris' 'Strawberry Thief' quite closely makes me laugh.

From Me To You   
If you have time for a bit of virtual wandering and feel in the mood for more of these happy painting, take a quick trip to Lucy B Campbell Fine Art, Mulberry Tree Gallery or this page on Pinterest, you never know where it might take you......

This little trip makes me want to stitch funny little pieces of figurative stumpwork. Can you just imagine how cute some of these pictures would be in stitches?

Have a lovely colourful weekend.
x Anna

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yellow or pink?

I'm stuck!

The majority of the small crewelwork design is done and I only the little bits of accent colour to do. The revised version is a little bit brighter than the original, a direction most of my work seems to be taking at the moment - happy colours. The accent colour of the original was a shaded crewel wool in a burnt yellow, which is nice, but I have a real 'thing' for watermelon pink and coral..... teal and watermelon are just so beautiful together. I am really, really tempted to give that a go. I can always pull it out and revert to the burnt yellow I guess. What do you think?

Anna x

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday at the office

The past two weeks have been crazy busy, but today this was my office! The vines get so excited about spring, that they forget they only are meant to send shoots out along the top. Instead they shoot all along the trunks as well, so I spent a couple of hours this morning happily walking up and down a few rows, pulling them off. After a hectic week at work, it can be rather nice not to have to think too hard and just let the mind wander. Besides, who wouldn't rather be outside than behind a computer screen on a beautiful spring day?

I am trying really, really hard to get more designs stitched and ready for various workshops and classes and of course my sparsely stocked little shop. The designing and stitching are the easy bits. I am not sure if I can only blame the glorious weather, but the thought of spending the day in front of the computer, writing instructions and drawing diagrams simply felt fare too much like real work today. 

Instead I completely ignored my mile-long to-do list and spent the afternoon on the front porch, happily stitching away and simply taking in the view. This little crewel piece is one I am re-working from a class I did years ago. I really quite like the design and think it will be a nice addition to the new designs I am getting ready, what do you think?. I am hopeless at stitching the same thing twice and of course have not been able to help myself in changing a few colours and stitches here and there. It has been kind of fun to work from a set of my very early instructions! I am happy to say that the revised version will be much improved. 

From a most enjoyable day in the office, have a lovely weekend.
Anna x

Friday, October 12, 2012

Spring Daisies 2

The sun came back out today, so after a walk with the dog, I managed to steel a couple of hours on the Spring Daisy this afternoon. The trouble with this kind of fine goldwork is that it is just too hard on my eyes at night, so finding a bit of day time stitching is just fabulous.

So what is there to tell? Well, first of all; I need stronger glasses! Secondly the silk is really ridiculously  fine and I question myself why I do these things. It looks beautiful though, especially the white thread, which is so fine, the gold almost shines through it, which I love.

Thirdly, I probably should have chosen the gold passing thread instead of the couching thread. I do like the fine couching thread that I am using, but it is a rather soft thread (in metal thread terms) so I have to be careful not to squash it too tightly where the stitching is really dense. I am also finding that the metal wrapping on the thread is very, very easily damaged by the needles so I have to be rather careful.

Am I going to unpick it? No. As the work grows, the rounds will take longer and longer to complete, so it will be a slow project to finish but despite the trickiness of it I am rather pleased with how it is shaping up - who said it was going to be easy anyway? However, if I do stitch it again (I really don't like doing anything twice, so that is very unlikely) and if, IF I ever do something similar for a workshop or a kit, I will most certainly be trying a different combination of threads and quite possibly use a slightly darker beige or even a blue-beige for the shading, which on this piece is very, very subtle in this piece.

For now, I am off to the shops for new and stronger stitching glasses!
Have a fabulous weekend,
Anna x

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Needlelace and Rhubarb

I brought home a heap of work on Thursday and knew this weekend was shaping up to be one of those working weekends where I am non-stop busy and feel like I am getting nowhere. How are you supposed to work in front of the computer when the sun is shining outside?, I didn't get far with the patterns I was supposed to do - but I did write the last article for issue 77 of Inspirations.

...and I didn't get to work on my daisy - but I did spend some time working on some beaded needle lace, one I had not tried before. It was kind of fun to do and much more rewarding than I had thought it would be. I found the stitch in my copy of The Complete DMC Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese deDillmont (sadly the online version here, doesn't include needle-made lace which is a shame, but it is a great resource all the same). Actually Hazel Blomkamp brought my attention to this particular needlelace stitch, but I found the diagram in my copy of the book, only Hazel had the idea of adding the fun and fancy of tiny beads.

...and I didn't get around to go through the illustrations I was supposed to check - but I did get the veggie patch into a better shape, ready for spring. It is amazing how getting my hands in dirt can be so relaxing. The chickens were treated to a nice clean chicken coop and the rest of the family will enjoy the cake resulting from the freshly picked rhubarb.

Hope you got more stitching done this weekend than me.

Anna x

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stitch Business

An anniversary is always cause for celebration and last week Tracy A. Franklin celebrated eleven years of working as freelance embroidery artist and teacher.

Tracy trained at the Royal School of needlework (RSN) and has for the past eleven years worked out of her studio in Durham City. As well as working commissions, she runs the RSN Certificate and Diploma courses from her studio, leads the Durham Cathedral Broderers and runs Stitchbusiness an independent stitch school with fellow textile artist Julia Triston. And I thought I was busy!

As well as her many teaching commitments, Tracy's work has featured in several books and she has authored three books of her own; Contemporary Whitework, co-authored with Nicola Jarvis and one of my favourites; New Ideas in Goldwork. What I love about this particular goldwork book is the clear and very easy to follow introduction to all the basics as well as the simplicity in the way it presents goldwork techniques. The addition of the many examples of creative uses of metal threads are refreshing and always makes me smile when I look at them. Who says you can't have purls sticking up in the air like wild woolly hair or plate crackling across the surface? If you would like to have a go at creative goldwork, you can find a small sampler designed by Tracy for Stitch magazine here.

Crewelwork by Tracy A Franklin image from book review on The Unbroken Thread
Her latest book; Crewelwork by Tracy A Franklin has just been released. I have not had the opportunity to see it yet, but after reading the review on The Unbroken thread I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

One of the things I truly admire about Tracy's work is her amazing ability to seamlessly bridge embroidery techniques steeped in tradition with contemporary designs. You cannot help but be in awe of the quality of workman ship and ingenuity in her pieces. I, for one will certainly be keeping an eye on Tracy's blog and looking forward to see just what happens next...and who know, perhaps some day I can enjoy a workshop Stitchbusiness - that would be so much fun.

Anna x

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,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coloured Gold

Yesterday was a somewhat productive day - well as productive as it can get with something as beautifully slow as Or Nué fitted in between loads of washing and the other usual weekend stuff. Looking at the three little samples on my desk, it is doesn't really look like two solid days of stitching.

I am preparing for a workshop at the Embroiderers' Guild of South Australia at the end of the month which is part of their Certificate Course and I am really looking forward to it. I have decided not to prepare kits for the workshop but will instead encourage the participants to stitch their own designs. I have done some Or Nué in the past, but not for a little while, so it is a fantastic opportunity for me to brush up on a really beautiful technique. Though I am not preparing a set design, I will be giving out notes to help get everyone on the right track and hopefully inspire them to practise and experiment with this beautiful type of embroidery.

In essence Or Nué, or shaded gold, is a style of embroidery where the ground fabric is completely covered in metallic thread (traditionally gold). The design itself is picked out by using coloured silks to couch the metal threads in place. It sounds simple enough and in many ways it is, it just takes lots of practise to get a really good result.

Hood of cope worked in Or Nue. ca.1900, depicting Pentecost. Owned by St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Philidelpia. Image by Davis D'Ambly. (wikimedia)

When I started flicking through my books, it quickly struck me how little is written about Or Nué. The most comprehensive piece I found was two pages in Ecclesiastical Embroidery  by Beryl Dean, in which she writes: "It [Or Nué] is the quintessence of all that is lovely in gold work. Colour and gold merge into each other with a unique richness. Unfortunately this technique is seldom practised now, partly because it is not only one of the most difficult, but the slowest of all methods; also its uses are limited and it calls for an exceptional creative and artistic understanding in the execution".
Apart from the bit about it beauty, it is hardly the kind of introduction that makes you think "yes, I really want to try that".
Large lily worked on the back of a chasuble.
Design by HM Queen Magarethe II. Design by Lilian Christiansen. Danish 1992.

This stunning lily was the first piece of Or Nué I ever saw - talk about inspiring and contemporary. Isn't it just amazing? Lilian Christiansen was my boss when I worked at the Society for Ecclesiastical Arts and Craft in Copenhagen while I was studying and her skills as an embroiderer, as you can see, are amazing.

In traditional Or Nué the gold threads are laid down in pairs in straight lines, back and forth across the shape as you can see in the Mary's robes in the depiction of the Pentecost. The shading and movement is achieved by the use of the coloured threads. What I find really interesting is what happens when you change the direction of the laid threads, like the lily above. Suddenly there is the additional dimension created by the reflection of the coloured threads.

For the workshop I have prepared the same little motif - a small leaf, all stitched with a single colour in three different ways: One with the metal laid in straight lines, one worked in a circle and finally following the contours of the shape. All three are embroidered in a similar way, with densely coloured lines along design lines and spaced stitches within the shape for shading. Because the motif is so small (2.5cm or 1"), I chose to couch over one thread only instead of a pair of threads as is more common in larger pieces. Pairing the threads would have caused too much detail to get lost in such a small design.
As you can see, the contoured method does not work well at all on such a small shape - the one worked in rows certainly results in the clearest motif.

I like working in circles and it is by fare the quickest (nothing quick about Or Nué at all) so just for fun and because I was enjoying the calm of working with metal I stitched the little swirly pattern and made it into a small brooch. It is a little wonky around the edges, and would need more couching stitches on the final round if I was to do it again.

I hope that by the end of next Saturday I have managed to spark the Or Nué curiosity in a few more dedicated stitchers. If you would like to read more about this technique and have a look at a multi coloured piece in pregress, have a go, have a look at Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread.

I have to run, need to help with the sheep. After that - I just had an idea for a larger piece of, yes your guessed it.... Or Nué, something a little more demanding.

Until next time.. happy stitching,
Anna x

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good things take time

I do love Sundays, such a pity that there aren’t two of them in any given week! 

Wandering through the vineyard this morning, the vines are just starting to bud. Looking at them at this time of year it is hard to imagine that in a few months they will again be as lush as they were when they inspired me to draw this piece of crewelwork.

It is such a good feeling to finish a piece, especially one that has been in the making for a long time and this one is no exception. I don't dare say just how long these cheeky parrots have been in the frame for – let’s just say that along the way, they spent 3 ½ years packed up in a box while my ’workroom’ was set up in the old caravan.
When I at long last did get them unpacked, I started by unpicking most of the leaves. I guess my ideas of what works had changed and the original leaves, embroidered with trellis fillings, were just too busy once the parrots were added. I often do a lot of ’reverse stitching’, so despite the slight setback it usually is well worth the effort at the end.

The parrots were such fun to stitch. I am particularly pleased with the texture on their blue heads and green backs. The heads was an accidental discovery when I was trying to find a short-cut. I wanted to fill them with rows of chain stitch, all worked in the same direction. After the first row I was debating whether to finish off the thread or drag it across the back – it wasn't that long a distance, so if I anchored it part way it would be ok. Then I wondered what it would look like if I worked a row of stem stitch on the return…really, really happy with the result.
The backs are embroidered in burden stitch. Most people, myself included find this stitch a ’burden’ when they first try it. It is now one of my favourite stitches and it somehow manages to find its way into all of my latest crewelwork designs. I find that the trick is to begin the short overlaying stitches across the widest part of a shape and make sure there is a generous needle’s width between the overlaying stitches.

So now that the cheeky parrots are finished and blocked, I just need to tidy up the yarns and then what? ….Crewel? Stumpwork? Perhaps gold?
Happy stitching,
Anna x