Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Stitches

Summer is here - well almost, I think. In any case, it is the most beautiful day today and the garden is looking rather pretty with lots of colour everywhere. 

The light in my study is so beautiful in the morning so with the house to myself today, I spent the morning quietly stitching away. The colours of this project seem to match the vibrancy in the garden this time of year just perfectly.

It is coming along nicely and I am really enjoying this one. I know, I say that about every piece I work on (just as well really, just imagine spending all those hours on something if you didn't like it. It would be rather horrible).

As with most of my crewel pieces I only ever have a rough idea about how I will work it before I start but these little Cretan stitch leaves seem to always find their way in somewhere. I love this stitch for filling small leaves because of the little pleat it forms down the centre and will usually choose this stitch over fly stitch which is more commonly used.

Cretan Stitch
If you look in stitch books, the Cretan stitch is often illustrated as an open stitch, but if you place the stitches close together, it is just perfect for filling leaf shapes.

                         1       2

1. I start with a straight stitch at the tip of my leaf, then place a stitch around it like the start of a detached chain (lazy daisy) but without anchoring it down.
It is important that the 'arms' of the stitch goes nearly to the top of the straight stitch and are very close to it, almost underneath it.
2. You then continue down the leaf shape in Cretan stitch. The needle goes to the back on the outer edge and comes to the front next to the centre vein - as close as possible to the previous stitch and inside the thread loop.

It is important also to keep stitches really close together at the outer edges. I push the needle tip up against the previous stitch almost at the op of it, otherwise the angle of the stitches will 'flatten' as you near the base.

...and there; a little sprig of Cretan stitch leaves. 
Notice the holes in the linen? Have you ever tried unpicking seed stitch? It is terrible, but it was worth the effort!

Hope you too are having a nice and relaxing weekend. It is time for me to head out and enjoy a sunshine. If you are in the cooler parts of the world, I will try and blow a bit your way.

Happy Stitching,
Anna X

Friday, October 17, 2014

I am inspired...

... by Amanda McCavour 
Hands from 'Cat's Cradle' (2007)

Well actually, I am completely blown away by this super amazing artist! 
I came across her work on Pinterest and it is simply mesmerising. 

'Floating Garden'

These stunning and clever pieces, lightweight, fragile and elegant are made from nothing but thread. Aren't they beautiful? 

I have mentioned water-soluble stabiliser before as a means of getting your embroidery designs onto woollen fabrics if you can't be bothered tacking it. I am personally not a fan of the stuff for various reasons, but I know many stitchers who love it for transferring designs.
However, this is how this 'magic' fabric really comes to its full potential. Amanda uses the material to sew her motifs onto with just a sewing machine in interlocking layers of stitching, kind of like drawing with stitches. Once the material is dissolved she is left with these lacy, dream-like motifs. 

Living Room (2010-2011)
So how big are they? Well, she certainly doesn't skimp on size, just look at her standing in her 'Living Room'. 

Amanda McCavour in her 'Living Room'
Finding amazing, jaw-dropping and beautiful works by creative artists like Amanda is one of the reasons I love, love, love Pinterest. I will most certainly be keeping an eye on what she gets up to.

If this is a sign of what my weekend is going to be like, I cannot wait to see what else is in store...
Have a great weekend,
Anna x

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Back in business...

I am slowly getting back to normal. Don't get me wrong, being away was FABULOUS but I left in a bit of a mess and it has taken longer than I expected to get back in order. I don't know about you, but I simply don't seem to be able to get anything productive done when there are piles of 'stuff' everywhere. Once they are sorted, if only into neat piles (I have a very effective 'piling' system) it all goes a lot easier.

I am there and it feels really, really good.

Step one was getting the SHOP is back in business. I closed it while I was away and as well as being up an running again it is now looking better than it has in a long time. I spent yesterday adding TWO NEW KITS - the ones I taught at Beating Around the Bush.
Crimson Clover is not that big 11cm x 21cm wide (just over 4" x 8") but it uses 24 different stitches and stitch combinations including 6 variations of chain stitch. It is not as overwhelming as it may sound and there is certainly no time to get bored doing the same old thing!

The other one that I loved to stitch myself is the Dainty Pink Or Nue Daisy. I snapped this photo of it today - it almost looks like some fancy flying saucer in outer space, don't you think? Really, it is only tiny; 5.5cm (2 1/16") in diameter.
Yes, Or Nue is terribly fine work and you need to patience, but once you get on a roll it is beautifully methodical and almost therapeutic. There is just something about placing each little stitch after each little stitch and watching the pattern emerge ever so slowly that is so very satisfying and fascinating. This one being worked in the round makes the whole process so much easier.

The other 'newish' kit is 'Summers Glow'. I have had it up before but it sold out a long time ago and I didn't do more kits right away. Mostly because I thought it looked so lonesome being the only goldwork kit in shop. Silly really.

This is a good little introduction to goldwork embroidery. I have taught it a couple of times and the various techniques used in it has got most students off to a really good start. This too is on the small side (6cm x 13.5cm or 5 1/4" x 2 3/8") so it is really quite manageable.

I know most of us stitchers have a rather remarkable stash of threads and fabrics and our own ideas about colour, so for those of you who are tempted to have a go at one of patterns using what you have already got they are all also available as pdf downloads.

It is such a nice feeling 'getting back in order', I think it must be time for me to do some stitching, don't you?

Happy Stitching,
Anna X

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Knots, knots, knots...

I need to get back into things but simply couldn't resist just a couple of hours stitching this morning just to ease myself into it.

Knots, knots, knots and more knots...

The 'knobbly' texture sits beautifully against the smooth petals. I am finding packing the sections with closely worked French knots rather therapeutic and it is a little hard to put it aside, only two more shapes to fill...

It is coming along just nicely.

Enjoy your week,
Anna X