Friday, May 24, 2013

Wool embroidery II

I (almost) finished the wool embroidery last night.

A few stamens on the tulip and a good press and it is as good as done. Well the embroidery part anyway. I am still undecided about what to do with it. I had thought a of a tea cosy but looking at it, I think the pattern is too large and would look rather silly. I have a bag pattern I have been wanting to test, so perhaps that is the way to go.

It has been great to take a bit of a break from fine silks and metal threads that must be painstakingly placed. There is something overly relaxing about wool embroidery; no hoops, no magnifier, no bright work lights – just one needle and one pair of scissors. Love it...

I find I go through stages of favourite stitches. Lately I have been rather fond of whipped spider's web. I find the texture of the ridges created by the whipping really attractive particularly well with wool. It is such a versatile stitch and just perfect when stitching flowers. 

Just imagine how pretty those little whipped spider's web blossoms would look worked in all different colours and scattered over the fabric.
They will work equally well if you stitch them using perlĂ© cotton or 3 – 6 strands of stranded cotton.
Whipped spider's web is so easy. If you want to give it a try and don't have a stitch directory to show you how, you can download the stitch instructions Here. Let me know if you think they are useful.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Best stitches,
Anna x

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Time for a break

We have been away for a few days…

Adrian and I spent an amazing extended weekend at Nonning Station in the Gawler ranges, north-west of Adelaide. It was one of the best trips away we have had in a very, very long time. Just the two of us. Lots of beautiful scenery, lots of people to meet, lots of talking and laughing.

I realise that the Australian outback is not every ones idea of 'beautiful', especially if you don't like dust and red dirt but I just love it. There is something about the vastness of the bush that I find truly mind-blowing and magnificent - it makes you put everything into perspective somehow. And this place was big, really big. Nonning Station alone covers over 20,000 square kilometres - you can't really afford to make a wrong turn.

Why Nonning? Each year the station hosts a large Gymkhana and it seemed as good a reason as any to head that way. None of us are horse people, but it was fabulous fun all the same and we met so many lovely and amazing people. Thank you so much to everyone for making us feel so welcome

 - I am quite convinced that this will not be the last time we visit….

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I have been working on the honeysuckle design...

... in fact it has turned into two projects. The smaller design will be perfect for my 2 day class later in the year and participants should be able to almost finish it in that time. I prefer that people leave my classes with so little left to do on their projects that they are able to finish it comfortably. If anyone prefer to do a larger project - well that option is there too.

 I love choosing colours, don't you? I might colour my drawings as a rough guide, the real colour choices comes when I get my hands on the threads. Usually I have a pretty clear idea in my head of the overall colour scheme I want to use but the subtle changes that happen when you put the various shades next to one another are always exciting and fun to play with.
Traditionally stumpwork was worked on ivory silk. I find that the ivory grounds can make the embroidery look rather stark and have embroidered on coloured silk a couple times and the results have been rather good, I thought. I have a piece of pale green silk, which could work well, perhaps. After all, flowers in nature are surrounded by green, aren't they? On the other hand, the project is small and the colour might be a bit overpowering, so perhaps the ivory silk broad cloth is the better choice...

While pondering over the fabric choice, I have been playing with how to get the flower petals to look and feel how I envisage them. I want to make the unopened flowers really plump and smooth, while the open flowers are partially 'floating' above the fabric. The unopened flowers were pretty straight forward - padded satin stitch is perfect and by adding several layers of padding at the rounded end I can get them quite fat and lovely.
The unopened flowers were a bit trickier to get get right. For an introduction class, needle-weaving will provide a semi detached petal that is not too difficult to stitch. A single strand of silk proved to be much too fine and didn't give the petals enough body and lift - they just sit flat and a bit limp looking against the fabric. I had a go with a perle silk (the purple one in the picture) - it looks great, but is not easy to handle.
Perhaps two strands of silk over spokes of perle 12 will do the trick? Any ideas anyone? I will let you know how it goes.

Hope you are enjoying a lovely Mother's day and getting spoiled as you deserve,

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tulipa Bird

I got the sewing machine out today and wanted to show you what I did with one of my crewel work pieces that has been sitting around for some time. I have named the panel Tulipa Bird. Tulips are among my favourite flowers and I seem to be going through a bit of 'bird' phase so it seemed like a fitting name.

I dug this perfectly colourful piece of cotton out of my stash and decided to make it into a small zipped pouch.

When I teach or have to take my sewing bits and pieces usually travel in a plastic container. It is practical but not very flattering really, so now I can bring them with me in style.

To make the instructions for the design nice and clear, they needed quite a few diagrams. I guess I could photograph steps as I stitch, but I tend to forget. Besides, as a stitcher, I prefer to follow diagrams. What about you - do you have a preference?

When I popped Tulipa Bird in my little Etsy shop today next to the matching pin cushion and scissor case , I couldn't help but think that it is beginning to look like a real shop. Mainly crewel work at this stage but there is other 'stuff' in the making...

The size of the panel makes it suitable for so many other things than pouches - it would look really sweet framed, make a fabulous centre piece on a cushion, work well as pocket on a tote bag and make a stunning cover for your i-pad or tablet so I decided to make the kits just for the embroidery, so you can make it into whatever you feel like. The kit includes everything you need for the embroidery; the linen is prepared, the shaded crewel yarns sorted and I have drawn the design on the fabric so that you can get started on the more pleasurable part - the stitching, right away. I have only packed a few kits to start with, but the beauty of Etsy is that I can easily and quickly top them up if need be.

I was excited to find a new function on Etsy which allows customers to download a pattern as soon as the payment is confirmed. Sounds really fabulous. No more waiting on emails. They didn't have that option last I uploaded patterns and I am not entirely sure how it works at the customer's end, so if anyone has used it, I would be grateful if you would let me know.

Have a lovely Sunday, I will be picking olives...
Anna x

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wool re-stitching

I have been enjoying working on the wool embroidered flowers. It is nice to stitch something that doesn't require a big set-up of frames, light, notes, and fancy tools not to mention not having to wear glasses to see what I am doing! Just a needle, bliss...

... only to discover that the centre of the 'sunflower' was completely off-centre. I figured that I could possibly disguise the lob-sidedness if I was a bit clever with the chain stitch and blended some partial rows in carefully...

It worked - well, only if you looked at it from the side. Actually it looked exactly as lob-sided as when I discovered it was off-centre.
I guess when motifs are as symmetrical and geometric as this, you really can't get away with much. There are not many stitches that I find more irritating and tedious than chain stitch to unpick. Anyway, out they came, bit by tedious bit.
 The flower centre is now at the centre of the flower... ahh, so much better. Now I can enjoy the rest of the stitching, while I ponder if it should end up as a bag or a tea cosy. Any suggestions???

Have a lovely weekend,
Anna x

PS Happy to report that my not-so-long-ago-sad-looking-veggie-garden has produced the first enormous and delicious broccoli and the bare dirt is now covered in tiny neat rows of green... happy!