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