Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday pickings

I put down the needle and picked up a stick. Why?

After a week of cold and wet weather (yes, it does get cold here - cold being almost frost), yesterday shaped up to be dry, almost gorgeous and not wet, so...
... last chance to get the olives off. We did half of the trees a few weekends ago and almost decided not to bother with the rest - just leave them for the birds.

I to feed the wildlife, but
1) birds eating olives = bird droppings with seeds, resulting in olive trees in places where there should be no olive trees, and
2) when the darling birds have finally munched their way through our olives, the vines are setting fresh shoots so our feathered friends are usually tempted to feed on fresh greens for dessert. So - off with the rest of olives.
We don't have a lot of trees. Then again 40ish is probably a lot. But what we don't have is fancy shaking or raking equipment. For us there is only one way to get those little suckers off the trees and that is sticks. Really long sticks and lots of hitting, slashing and bashing. Ah yes, who needs a gym?

Thanks to our good friends Lyn and Nigel who came to give us a hand, and to Esben who (happily?) took a break from his studies to pick up a big stick and help his dad and I.

Over 300 kilos later and a job well done. Today these little babies were taken to the crusher and in a few weeks we can enjoy the most amazing fresh oil, as virgin as virgin olive oil can be. Absolutely worth the very sore arms today and the added bonus of super soft hands... oh, silk embroidery here I come.

Have a lovely week,
Anna x

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Honeysuckle stumpwork

It always surprises me how different my embroidery looks once I get a picture of it up on the computer screen. Seeing the various options for finishing the stumpwork honeysuckle, made it really quite easy to decide what to do. I also really appreciate all the feedback I got - seems you were all as divided on what to do next as I was.
There is something about a 'blank canvas' behind my designs that really doesn't sit well with me. I am not sure why. I do like that a design stands out, but at the same time the fabric it is stitched on is such an important part of the whole thing that I like it when I can merge them a bit. 
The spangles were just too big. Even though those in the picture are only 2mm (1/16") in diameter, I still felt they looked much too heavy and they drowned out the delicate stamens on the flower. The specs of gold were kind of getting there, but still were not quite right.

So what did I do...?

Well I did work tiny specs of gold, but I scattered the stitches a lot more (why is random scattering so difficult to get to look good?) and instead of simple tiny straight stitches I worked them as minute upright crosses which gives each little stitch a bit of dimension. 

I am really happy with the result. Sitting it onto my original mood-board, it blends in nicely I think. 

Now the only thing that didn't go quite to plan was that I had hoped to mount the little piece into a paperweight...
Well both the wired leaf and the bee will get completely squashed if I do that. I have still laced it over a round disc and it could go onto the lid of a small pot. The project is destined for a class later in the year, so for now I will be popping it onto a frame so it can go on display.

It is nice to have the small version finished. You may remember that on my sketch pad was a much larger version of a honeysuckle, so guess what I am doing next...

I hope you too had a lovely weekend.
Anna x

Friday, June 14, 2013

Finished or not?

I need your help, please...

I thought it was finished and was just about to take the honeysuckle out of the hoop, when I suddenly thought that perhaps it needed a bit of 'something' sprinkled over the background fabric...?


 A sprinkle of tiny gold...

                                                               A scattering of spangles...
What do you think?

Enjoy your Friday,
Anna x

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Show & Share

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember the Blue Birds and Berries that I stitched a little while ago. 

You may also remember that the piece was part of a larger project by UK based artist Nicola Jarvis. Several embroiderers around the world, were stitching pieces such as this from Nicola's designs to be part of a larger show "The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris" at the William Morris Gallery in London from 6 July to 22 September. 

One of the other embroiderers is my friend Kathy Andrews from The Unbroken Thread. Kathy stitched a fabulous piece of crewel work for the project and shared her stitching journey in her usual delightful style of storytelling and images  This journey has now been compiled into a fabulous e-book and was released on Friday.

One of the things I really, really love about any stitching community, whether it being a local group or here in cyber-world, is the constant showing and sharing of what we are all working on and learning, and the dialogues of help and advice. Kathy, among other blog hostesses, often takes this to a whole new level.
If you didn't follow Kathy's story of The Acorn on her blog - or even if you, like I, did - this is a really lovely read. In addition to the story of acorn, it has little anecdotes, snippets of correspondence between Kathy and Nicola, and comment from readers and friends.
Of course you can scroll though the blog, but this little book is so well presented and much more enjoyable. PLUS and of course there is a plus... it includes the patterns and instructions to that you can stitch your own acorn. Isn't that great?

The pattern is provided as the full size, so there is no need to resize anything. The way Kathy has presented the instructions is just fabulous too. Each step of the stitching has been allocated its own page, which has a large detail image and a line drawing to support the written instructions as well as a reference back to Kathy's own story of stitching. You really can't ask for much more.

Enjoy your stitches,
Anna x

Friday, June 7, 2013

Just quickly...

I meant to quickly finish making my wool embroidery into bag this morning...

As with most things it took a little longer than expected, but I am really happy with how it turned out. 
I had  the idea for how to make it up in my head for some time - and it worked just as I had hoped. It has four internal pockets, a tall skinny one at each end and two smaller ones along the back - could work well as a knitting bag perhaps?
Of course I had to finish those stamens on the tulip first. Those who stitches with me, will know how I feel about bullion knots and might be surprised to see the four bullion loops! I really, really really don't like stitching bullion knots. Never have. Others do them so beautifully, but bullions and I simply don't get on very well. Anyway - they work so well for stamens like this.
Now all I need to do, is to work out what to do with it next...
Lots of stitching and stitching related bits to do this weekend, but if we get a bit of sunshine I might also try and get outside for a bit. 

Hope you have a lovely weekend,
Anna x

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Honeysuckle ~ finished on a rainy day

Yesterday was perfect stitching weather - it rained, no poured,all day.

The big lambs are happy that the grass has begun to grow again - I don't think they remember what 'green' looks like.
I was determined to finish the small stumpwork honeysuckle...

... and I did! Happy, happy, happy! I admit it was a bit of a mad stitching session towards the end - as we had to go out, but I finished...

What a mess! 
Are you good at staying tidy? I  try to be tidy when I work, especially when preparing a class project, but usually when I am near the end, it gets a little out of control. Especially with project such as this where I need to use so many bit and pieces. Various threads, several hoops, wires, beads, felt, tweezers, wire cutters and a multitude of needles...

The last hurdle was the little bee. It has been a little while since I have done a bee like this. It is not too bad, but not my best either. It is basically based on the method Jane Nicholas uses for her bees in all her books. These 'things' are a bit fiddly but enormously fun when they come together. After starting out with strange looking tufts of thread that looks like a birds nest gone horribly wrong, a few lengths of wire and threads that doesn't really seem to be meant for hand embroidery - you suddenly have this little 'critter' on your 'canvas' and it makes it all worth while. 
I find stumpwork is a little bit like that: fiddly and completely addictive. I had a student year ago (I know she won't mind me sharing this story), working on  her first piece of stumpwork. She was so excited. Well partway through most of the comments were along the lines of 'this is just too fiddly' and 'I will finish this, but I am NEVER doing stumpwork again'. Then she started putting all pieces together, like a puzzle, and she was hooked. I don't even know what number stumpwork project she is onto know, but I have seen her work on quite a few since. That is the thing with stumpwork (or raised embroidery), you stitch and stitch on all these little pieces and then at the very end - bingo it all comes together.

It has been a little while since I last did a piece stumpwork and though I don't know that I have a favourite embroidery technique, I certainly have enjoyed this project and do find creating work with a 3D effect very intriguing. 
Have you ever tried it? How did you find it? If you haven't tried, I do recommend you give it a go. In essence the stitches can be very simple - it is all in how you use them. 

Happy stitching,
Anna x