Sunday, October 27, 2013

Honeysuckle Finished

 Yeah - Miss Bee takes flight...

Thank you ever so much everyone for your kind thoughts and comments after last weeks wing disaster. The wings are now ready for flight and as any sensible bee would do, Miss Bee is of course heading straight for the nearest honeysuckle...

The wired leaves were a breeze to attach - and so, it is done....

Thank you for following along.

Happy Stitching,
Anna X

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I am inspired...

... by Frederique Morrel.

I have a million things to do this morning, but when I found these I just had to show you - oh how I love Pinterest!

The mission of this amazing French artist is to 'rescue the dying art of embroidery by giving it a contemporary twist'. Well it is fabulously twisted alright... She uses vintage tapestries (well they are needlepoint, but let's not get hung up on terminology here) to create these grand and exciting pieces. I have never been overly excited about 'tapestried' but this... this I find exciting.

I love this part of the philosophy behind Frederique's work - 
"We create artefacts to re-enchant our world. We knit links where generational transmission was lost. We occasionally speak to animals in their own language. We like materials that tell stories of simple, ideal happiness, and that have been caressed by many hands."

Do you get excited when you see embroidery used in new and inventive ways? As you can probably tell, I do most definitely. I get excited about it being removed from the 'retired spinster' category (we of course know better, I am referring the common public opinion) and put into exciting new context. As Frederique says; "I like the idea of giving the past a second look".

I won't be stitching an enchanted forest today - but it would be nice...

Hope you have a lovely weekend,
Anna x

Monday, October 21, 2013

Honeysuckle finished...

... or so I thought.

It was my intention to post on Saturday and show you the finished 'Sweet Honeysuckle' but things changed.
The vineyard called for spring attention, family visiting and a fabulous trip to the theatre to see this. It was my first ever opera and it was rather spectacular. So what made us go to the opera? Well, embroidery of course!
Last week when I was teaching, one of the girls in class was also the wardrobe mistress at the theatre. She brought in a sample of goldwork for one of the costumes - it was amazing!!!!!

La Forza del Destino, Adelaide Festival Theatre.
And this is it - 18kg of dress! Isn't it just spectacular? All those flowers... Those who have tried their hand at metal thread work and working with cut purls in particular, will possibly not be surprised when I tell you that according to Bronwyn it took a group of specialist embroiderers in India several months to complete - the workmanship is just exquisite! Did I get a look through the wardrobe? Sadly no.

Anyway, I am side tracking, but I simply had to show you. That was the highlight - the low-light (is there such a word?) and the main reason I didn't post was my rather 'bee-sastrous' Friday.

This is what my work table looked like on Saturday morning....

... doesn't look very much like delicate embroidery does it. It was time to finish the wired leaves and those tiny delicate wings for Miss-Bee.  

The leaves were a pleasure. At first glance they look similar, but look closely. Can you see the difference on the edge? The one to the left was done how I have always done it - outline with wire first and then fill in. The one on the right is done in the opposite order, something I picked up from Jenny Adin-Christie (one of the most talented embroiderers and the nicest person you could ever meet). The difference might be minimal, but it is there and I think it will be how I will be doing things in the future.

Next on to Miss-Bees' wings. 

Yes they are tiny, but really as long as you don't try and rush it they are ok (which is really hard when you are so, so close to finishing a project)... and yes, you have counted correctly, I did stitch six. It is so easy to accidentally cut a thread when you cut them out, so I will often stitch an extra fore- and hind wing, just in case... 
The middle picture also shows just one of the many reasons why magic tape is a permanent fixture on my work table. It is way too easy to get your thread snagged on all those wire tails and sticking them down like this fixes that little problem.

So, leaves done and cut out... lovely. Wings done and cut out (and I didn't mess any of them up)... fabulous. I attached everything, secured the wires (very thoroughly!) on the back and turned it over to admire the final project. - Ready to take photos and go - 'look it is done......'

- it looked odd...

- something wasn't right, but what...?

Oh noooooo... the wings....... 

In my eagerness to finish I had accidentally swapped the fore- and hind wings. Did I kick and scream and jump up and down? No, I very quietly and patiently unpicked the wires and as carefully as possible pulled the wings off without doing any damage to Miss-Bee. 

When I was certain she was ok, I got up, left the work table in a terrible mess (it hasn't changed since) and went to sow some veggies - then ending the day on a high note, taking in a spectacular sunset while enjoying a home-made drop of 'grape juice', just relieved that Miss-Bee and the Sweet Honeysuckle had survived the ordeal and confident that Miss-Bee will fly...

Have a fabulous week,
Anna X

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Soon to be bee

I am just about to embark on the final touches of large honeysuckle - just as well, I need it for a class in three week.

It is coming along nicely - I am so, so happy with the way the unopened flowers turned out. The padding is fat and round and you just have to stroke them. Not sure, but I might even like them better than the open ones.

Every single time I do one of these little bees it surprises me how this...

... after a more than a bit of trimming, and combing, and fluffing up, and more trimming, and more combing, and more fluffing up, and more trimming, and a bit more combing, fluffing and trimming - can possibly end up looking like this....

But it does. Now all she needs is a couple of eyes to find her way, some wings to take her there and some legs to stand on once she gets there.

Happy Wednesday,
Anna x

Friday, October 11, 2013

Colour play

I was surrounded by wool, packing crewel work kits last week.
Important note to self: Do not let all the kits in the shop run out at the same time ever, ever, ever again! Don't get me wrong - I am so grateful to all of you who have found my designs worth buying, Thank you!

Having said that, it is such a nice feeling to have them all packed and ready to go. I usually draw the designs onto the linen for all my crewel work kits and for most of them it is really quite easy but there is one that causes me a bit of grief each time. 'Jacobean Leaves' - the design is so intricate and it takes forever. Well, I decided to try and have had them printed this time and they look Amazing! Beautiful fine, light grey lines, I am so, so happy with the result.

(oops - looks like I should have pressed it! I was just too excited to show 
you and it didn't look that bad through the camera, sorry)

Talking of 'Jacobean Leaves', while I was packing it I kept looking at the colours. I don't often use a lot of yellow in my designs, but these particular shades of rich golden yellow are just so fabulous.

I couldn't help but wondering what would happen if I replaced the slightly soft greens with some brighter 'rain forest' shades and the denim blues with some happy turquoise...

... what do you think?

Anyway, I won't have time to test it this weekend - need to get on with the raised embroidery Sweet Honeysuckle and I am teaching Or Nue on Sunday, but I think it is worth giving it a go.

Have a fabulous weekend,
Anna X

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unexpected visit

Look who was 'hanging about' in a tree out the front when I got home this afternoon....

She looks rather grumpy. having mistaken a boring old pine for a gum tree. as she sits there scouting for a better tree to climb, don't you think?
She did let me get really close with the camera though - just look at that face...
... not to speak of those claws! Not sure I would want to become too familiar with those. 

How do I know it's a girl? I don't, just guessing, she wasn't very big.

What do you think of my new PIN IT buttons? As you know I just LOVE Pinterest and I have been pondering adding those funky hover buttons to my pictures so that they are really easy for you to grab if you like. Tonight I found this one very pretty heart one from Shari on Spearmint Baby. How could I possibly resist? It finally prompted me to work how to add them and luckily Shari also had a great tutorial on how to add them. Thanks Shari!

Koala hugs to everyone,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Honeysuckle progress

It's a public holiday today - nice!
The boys have all gone motorbike riding for the day, so I have spent the morning quietly padding petals...

The two large flower clusters are done - well the petals are anyway. I still have all the little details to do. This larger design has two smaller flower heads which the Small Honeysuckle doesn't.

I wanted all these unopened flowers to be really fat and plump and usually with small shaped like this, I would use padded satin stitch. The thread I am using does not have a lot of body so to get them nicely domed I have opted for felt padding. It is rather fiddly because the shapes are so small - just look at the pencil lead!

Anyway - I have found that with tiny shapes like this, the easiest way to get them cut to size is using my trusty magic tape. If you don't already have it - it is an absolute must in any embroidery tool kit (well I think so anyway). 

Applying Felt Padding
1. All you need to do, is trace the shape onto a bit of tracing paper (or baking paper - much cheaper and works just as well). 
2. Roughly cut out the shape and stick it onto your felt so that all the edges are covered. 
3. Cut the shape out along the marked line. This might sound pedantic but I try and cut just inside the line to make sure the overall design doesn't get larger than it is meant to be.

I have already outlined the petal shape with tiny split stitches (split back stitch will work just as well) and filled the lower section of the petal with chain stitch, so that it is slightly padded.

4. The felt piece fits into the upper section of the petal. Usually with felt padding you would secure it with little stab stitches around the edges, but I didn't want to 'flatten' the felt, so all I have done is held it in place with a few stitches across the width. These are placed inside the split stitch outline.
5. Next, the felt is covered with satin stitch. These stitches should be perpendicular to the final layer that will be going over the top and again are placed inside the outline.
6. The stitches covering the felt to not have to perfect, but should cover the shape neatly.
Once this is covered with satin stitch, it will be a beautifully rounded and plump flower, ready to burst open.

7. I have decided to pad the smaller unopened flowers with just a single layer of chain stitch. That should make the sit a lot flatter against the back ground and will give a bit of variation to the cluster of unopened flowers.

As much as I am eager to finish this piece, I can hear the garden calling - besides my neck and shoulders could do with a break...

Happy stitching,
Anna x

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In the post

Look what came in the post today....

Don't they look fabulously tempting! But no, as tempting as it might be these yarns are not for a new project. My little task this coming weekend is (sadly) not stitching a new crewel design. No, I know exactly what I will be doing this weekend - I will be packing crewel kits to restock my terribly, embarrassingly depleted shop

I have already prepared the fabric pieces. I know all too well how much you just want to get stuck into the 'serious' business of stitching when you get a new kit, so I make sure the designs are already marked on the fabric. On my bench is a neat stack of traced linen all ready to go and all they were waiting for was the yarn. It will be really nice to 'fill the shelves'.

Enjoy the rest of the week,