Monday, April 28, 2014

Wheat-ear stitch

It has been really interesting to read your feedback on the Wheat-ear stitch and I am sorry I haven't managed to get the how-to up for you on as quickly as I had promised.

When I looked back at the projects I have used this stitch in, I quickly realised two things; 1) I really haven't used wheat-ear stitch very much at all and 2) when I have, it seems I tend to always stitch neat even rows. Wheat-ear stitch is one of those curious stitches that can change dramatically in appearance depending on the stitch size and the thread you are using. My plan (A) was to 'whip up' just a few quick samples, trying a couple of variations with this stitch.

I haven't managed to do that, so I thought I would opt for plan B: find some great images of wheat-ear stitch online and link to other places where you can see it used...

'Wheatear Field of Wheat' by Thrifty Finn
This one from Thrifty Finn was one of the first I found - it is a fabulous example how the stitch got its name - sweet isn't it?
That is it, really. Other then pictures of wheat-ear stitch used to embellish crazy patchwork seams, I haven't managed to find any other examples. It is quite possible that there are plenty of designs where the stitch is used, and lets face it, when you upload an image most people probably don't tag it with the stitches used. The other possibility is that the stitch isn't used very often at all - because, as many of you noted in the comments, we don't really know when and where the stitch can be used. My suggestion is to try it whenever you would readily opt for an open row of fly stitch or feather stitch and see what happens...

There are plenty of stitch tutorials online but this is how you do it:

1. Start with a stitch at the top of your line. You can vary the length of this stitch, depending on how you wish the top of your line to look - or place two stitches in a V shape.
Next, bring the thread to the front a little further along the line - this will determine the length of the chain part of the stitch.
Slide your needle under the stitch without piercing the fabric.
2. Take the needle to the back through the same hole as the emerging thread.
3. Bring the thread to the front a short distance from the chain stitch, near the top and take it to the back through the same hole at the base - this is the first 'ear'.
Repeat to the opposite side.
Many books will show this part done from the base to the tip, but I find it neater to always take the needle to back through a shared hole rather than trying to bring it to the front without splitting existing stitches.

4. Emerge below the first chain and ears as before. Slide the needle under the first chain and ears. I use the eye-end of the needle for this part to avoid splitting the existing stitches.
5. Take the needle to the back through the same hole at the base.
6. Stitch the next set of 'ears' - For an even line, you need to try and keep this parallel to the first stitch.

7. Complete the second stitch as before.
That's it - pretty simple. To fill shapes you can simply vary the length and angle of the 'ears' to follow the outline.
I hope you find a good use for wheat-ear stitch some day - it really is rather decorative. I am quite sure I will use it more than I have been in the past.

If you don't have the stitch in any of your books and want at printed copy, I have put a downloadable PDF here, which you are welcome to print.

Happy Stitching.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Between Projects

I hope you had a lovely Easter break - I am not quite where the past week went?

We have had the most beautiful autumn and I have spent quite a bit of time scratching around in the garden. It is a funny time of year, it is cooling down but it is still ever so dry. I think I have lost more plants in autumn than in summer because I forget I still need to water.
I did quite a bit of writing and drawing for projects and patterns, and also managed to pick up my knitting needles. I haven't knitted much in years and it was really nice to get into the clickety-clack of the needles again. To me knitting is a little like starting a good book, once I pick it up I find it hard to put it down. I managed to finish a pair of socks (love knitted socks in winter) and have started a long jumper / vest kind of thing. It is based on this pattern but I am using wool and partially changing it as I go - time will tell...

I also picked up my long time 'in-between' project. This one has been on the go for years (literally) - picking it up every time I am 'in between' other projects. At one point is was halfway finished but in much darker and more muted tones. I didn't like it so I pulled it out and started again.
One thing I have become really, really good at over the years is 'reverse stitching'. I no longer hesitate in ripping stitches out and starting again. Embroidery simply takes too long and involves too much effort to end up with something you are not happy with.

I love my new colours and am really enjoying working on it again. Who knows, I might even finish it this time. It is funny when you don't work from an existing pattern - some times choosing stitches is easy and at other times it can take me forever to find just the right stitch for what I am working on.

I had no idea how to work the wing feathers. I didn't want to fill them all together, but the stitches that first came to mind - fly stitch and feather stitch, didn't quite seem right either. Somehow I decided to give wheat-ear stitch a try - not at all sure where the idea came from - but I am really, really glad I did. Do you like them?
It is one of those stitches you look at and wonder how and where you would ever use it but it
is such a great stitch. It is really quite easy and fun to work and the result is this amazing textured / patterned line of stitches. I haven't put a stitch how-to up for a while, so perhaps this is a good one for tomorrow...?

Happy Stitching,
Anna x

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's official

We went to an event last night. While waiting in the foyer, I was watching the people around me. They came from all over the world - the only place not obviously represented, was central and southern Africa. Isn't it amazing just how small the world has become? We travel and meet and connect with each other across borders like never before.

The other thing that caught my eye was how differently they all dressed. This was an official event, not necessarily super formal but rather important all the same. The attendees were dressed in anything from suits and evening dresses to neat casual. One or two people made me smile as they had truly adopted the Australian national dress code consisting of t-shirt, shorts and thongs (known also as 'flip-flops' in most other parts of the world - I fortunately have no idea of what anyone's underwear looked like!)
That last observation is important because the event was a citizenship ceremony. I was there to finalise my Australian citizenship - yep, I am finally an officially an Aussie.

Apart from a few years in Denmark in the later 90s, I have lived here for more than 20 years, so you could say it was about time. (I did meet a chap by the name of Clive last night who has been here since '76)
Other than the fact I really, really, really don't like filling out forms and paperwork, it wasn't because I didn't want to take up citizenship that it took me so long - I have been wanting to do so for quite a long time. What I was waiting and hoping for was for Denmark to allow dual citizenship - they still don't, but a girl can only wait for so long you know. It is not because I anticipate heading back there to live but it is after all where I was born and grew up. The idea of no longer being regarded as a citizen in your country of birth, takes a lot longer to get used to than it does adopting a new place to call home. It did for me anyway.

So, here I am - happy to be Aussie number 36 253 118ish (loosely based on a statistic quoting approximately 36,25 million Australians mid-March 2014 + a few thousand since + 119 of us last night and I was second to last)

Next step is to get a passport so that I can leave the country - rather ironic really. Not for good of course. I am heading to Bangkok to teach (very exciting) then Copenhagen in August-September and still working on a possible 'dash' to the UK while I am in the neighbourhood.

...but right this minute, I think I better get back to more urgent things, such as patterns and kit and stitching... I might have finished my Brother Rabbit before Easter but I did promise I would also try and get the kits ready. I am very close to finishing the instructions, but unfortunately it doesn't look as if I will get all the threads I ordered this side of the Easter break - most disappointing!
Never the less I shall keep at it and you will be the first to know when it is all ready.

Have a fabulous week,
Anna x

Monday, April 14, 2014

Not here today

There is no stitching or writing today because, today I'm have gone blog visiting over here

Thank you to Christine for inviting me to be part of their monthly 'In the Hoop' feature. It was great fun to write for another space and I am so excited to be part of it.

Tomorrow on the other hand - I will have a bit of news to share with you.

Until then,
Anna x

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy Easter Brother Rabbit

It is a few days since I finished Brother Rabbit...

...I think it has come pretty close to how I pictured it in my head. 
One of the best parts about this type of work is putting it all together at the end. After hours of fine stitching, attaching the various bits and pieces always seem rather quick and all of a sudden what didn't look like much is a finished piece. 
What I have enjoyed the most about this project was the many different raised embroidery techniques I ended up using. It wasn't on purpose, I simply chose what I felt would work best as I went along. 

There are picots and loops, wired shapes and needlelace shapes, padded shapes and beaded shapes. No risk of getting bored with repetition on this one!
If you have never made wrapped bead berries you should give it a go. It is super easy - you can see how to do it HERE.

The one thing I was most unsure about right to the very end was the colours I had used for the wired leaves. I was not sure that the golden coloured one would look right. Now that they are in place amongst everything else I think the colour works to soften contrast between the blues and the golden coloured flowers.

If you want have a second look at how this piece came together you check out the posts here:

1. More than a year ago...
2. Stitching one year later
3. Surface embroidery complete
4. Detached leaves
5. Embroidering the rabbit
6. Finishing the rabbit

With Easter only a week away I will be very busy preparing the instructions next week. The threads are all ordered, so I'd better get a wriggle on.

I hope you will enjoy your weekend,
Anna X

Wrapped bead berry

Berries like those in Happy Easter Brother Rabbit are super effective if you want to add a bit of dimension to your project. They are super easy to make - once the needle is threaded...
All you need is:

  • 1 large bead - I use 6mm (1/4") wooden beads, but you can also use pebble size glass beads. The important thing is that the hole is large.
  • Stranded silk or cotton 
  • no. 10 milliner's needle also sold as straw needles
Cut an 80cm (32") length of thread and ease out a single strand. Threading into the fine needle IS tricky and it is one of the only times I will moisten the end of my thread. If you find it way to tricky, try a no.10 crewel/embroidery needle however, if so you will need a thimble and possible pliers to complete the berry.

1. Take the thread through the bead leaving a tail about 8cm (3") long.
    Slide the needle through the bead again in the same direction.

2. Working systematically around the bead, continue to take wrap the thread around it. As the hole fills with      thread this will become a little more difficult.

 3. Keep wrapping until the bead is completely covered.

4. To finish, slide a tiny bead onto the thread, then take the needle back through the wrapped bead in the opposite direction.

One completed berry. I think you will agree that threading that needle was by far the hardest part. Have fun.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Frog in the fridge...

When you start your week by putting a frog in the fridge (accidentally of course!) you kind of know it is just going to one of those weeks...

Yes, you did read right - we were woken up one morning last week to Esben calling out from the kitchen "Why is there a frog in the fridge?"
A few evenings earlier I went to pick a beautiful big cauliflower in the garden, only to discover two little frogs living amongst the giant leaves. I didn't pick it that night of course - you can't just relocate little creatures just before nightfall, can you. The next day I did pick it, after first very carefully having checked that the little frogs had moved on. I brought it in along with the other veggies, cleaned it and packed it into the fridge
As it turned out I obviously didn't check as carefully as I thought, which is how the frog ended up in the fridge. Needles to say the poor little thing was so cold and very happy to get back into the garden where, I believe, it now living amongst the under the zucchinis.

That story pretty much sums up last week around there... not quite running to plan and full of little surprises  Needless to say I was really looking forward to getting back to normal and just have a quiet day today, perhaps finishing Brother Rabbit.

...when you have anything to do with growing stuff, the weather has a big say in what you do and when. With rain predicted for the rest of the week, the last lot of grapes had to be picked.
So I swapped dainty embroidery scissors for picking snips and rubber gloves (the last is not really necessary but I have a nasty habit of cutting my fingers). Grenache - it is the last ripening variety and we don't have much of it (thankfully) and the bunches are enormous, so it is quite an 'easy and quick pick' compared to the other red grape wine varieties.

It is such a great feeling when the season is finished. No more worries about what the weather is doing - at least for a little while. Nearly 2 tonne of grapes later and we can relax and think about other things - for me some embroidery perhaps?

Have a fabulous week,
Anna x

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brother Rabbit returns

Tail... check

Ears and face... check

Brother Rabbit is ready to bounce...

...or as I think he prefers, sit quietly under a shady leaf.
With only a couple of weeks until Easter, my self-set deadline is drawing ever so rapidly closer. Without stress or haste, I feel quietly confident that 'Happy Easter Brother Rabbit' will be complete - shady leaves and all - before the holiday weekend.

I have been really disciplined (for a change) and drafted instructions after every little stitching session (almost) so I am also pretty sure the kits will be ready in two weeks time as planned. I was lucky enough to find a perfect piece of silk fabric for the kits the other day and will be ordering the threads and other bits and pieces at the end of this week.

If you think, you might like the kit for this project it would be really helpful if you would let me know. Of course there is no obligation but I am always uncertain about how many kits to make and how much 'stuff' to order, Getting some feedback would be so helpful and give me a bit on an indication. After a quick calculation this kit, with everything you need to complete the embroidery and of course detailed instructions, is likely to be around $60-$65. If you don't like leaving a public comment you can email me here. I really appreciate your feedback.

Now back to those shady leaves....

Have a lovely week,
Anna x