Thursday, December 10, 2015

Drawing threads

It has been a long time since I have done any embroidery that involved drawn threads.

During the past few days, I have been playing around with a small sampler and thoroughly enjoyed it. As much I appreciate the beauty and diversity of drawn, pulled and cut whitework techniques, it just seems to be something I don't tend to do a lot of. 

Not because I don't enjoy doing it... There is something really relaxing and satisfying by placing regular stitches in a particular rhythm and completely change the texture and appearance of a piece of cloth... 

...purposely creating holes to form a pattern without the fabric falling to pieces is rather fascinating really.

So while I have been stitching away quite contently, I have been wondering why I don't do it more often... and more importantly conjuring up ideas of what I could, would and possibly might do to incorporate drawn threads into future projects.

It as been such a joy - all there is left to do is a very, very good press and a few little finishing touches... and then.... well time will tell. As usual it is not the ideas that are lacking just the sad fact that each day only contains 24 hours....

Happy stitching,
Anna X

Monday, November 30, 2015

What a week...

... not only was I teaching the Partridge in a Pear ornament on the weekend, but I was determined to have the KIT in the SHOP by December 1.

... I just made it! 
Boy that was busy, but the booklets are getting printed and everything else is ready to be popped into bags. 

While I work on the notes, which I am sure takes me longer than the actual embroidery LOL, I always get to that certain point where I ask myself if perhaps, I go to too much trouble...

... but as soon as I see it all come together on the pages, I remember why I like to put effort into that part of it too. I am so pleased with this little booklet and kit - It is a good feeling.

The workshop was great - so, so nice to be teaching. I sometimes wonder who gets the most out of it, the students or I? 
We spent most of the time getting the little needle lace wings ready. Everyone did a fabulous job - it is not as hard as it may seem. A bit fiddly perhaps, but if you take your time, not that difficult. 

PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR may not be a big project but I had such fun converting the the 'bigger sister', the original project from issue 67 of Inspirations magazine to something of a more manageable size. 
I will be adding the larger project to the collection of kits, but it may have to wait a bit for now - next one to get finished and ready to kit for all those waiting is..


...and perhaps, just perhaps... a wee bit of stitching in between.........?

Have a wonderful first week of December.
Anna X

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I am inspired...

by Ann Dunbar.

Eden of Light - Ann Dunbar
This incredible artist creates the most mesmerising images by applying embroidery over the top of her watercolour paintings...

Early Morning Mist - Ann Dunbar

... at times spilling onto the surrounding frame.

Waterlilly dream haven - Ann Dunbar
I simply love the delicate contrast between the 'airy' and light watercolour and the textures created by the stitches. 

Soft fragrance of Provence - Ann Dunbar
I have often seen a watercolour wash painted on to fabric for back ground colour, but these are beautiful little paintings on paper enhanced by stitches. Can you even begin to imagine the skill it would take to machine stitch so densely onto paper without damaging it? 
Ann has a wonderful little 'how it happens' book on her website. To have a look just clik HERE and turn the pages.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Anna x

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lone tree, WIP

I haven't been spending as much time as I normally do outside lately - there has just been too much else to do but yesterday was absolutely stunning...

...I mean, how can you possibly stay indoors when the skies are like this....? There is so much to do in the vineyard at the moment. Each year I am equally surprised how quickly the vines turn from bare and dead looking trunks to vibrantly green and lush. If we don't stay on top of it, it quickly becomes a completely unmanageable jungle. 

Despite being busy with too many iron's in the fire, I have managed to sneak a teeny-weeny bit of stitching time here and there. 

A few more sand hills are filling the ground around Lone Tree. It is nice watching the bland ivory ground turning into rich shades of ochre and burnt orange...

I am loving creating the various textures with the stitches. Most are really simple, basic stitches: stem, chain, couching and running stitches - with one or two hills in burden stitch thrown in because I love the brick like bumpy texture is creates. A super fine gold thread added to the laid thread gives it just that tiny bit of sparkle, like sun rays reflecting on shiny pebbles.

The hill I am working on at the moments is close rows of twisted chain stitch. I am using a firmly twisted variegated silk from Colour Streams called 'Nasturtium'  - it is the same thread as the middle hill in the picture above. Isn't it just a glorious colour? It makes happy every time I use it. 
So it is getting there...

...slowly but surely. 

I have packed it away again, though. The next few days are earmarked for packing kits and preparing for the Partridge workshop at the end of the Month.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Partridge in a Pear...

It is finished. The little Partridge is sitting happily in his pear tree.

Of course I couldn't resist popping him onto the massive cedar in the front yard. I have always wanted to cover it in Christmas lights, but for each year it is getting less and less likely to ever happen - we would need to get a crane in to get to the top.

With the stitching complete and only a few weeks to the workshop it is head down and onto getting the instructions written and completed. Despite it's humble size this one is going to need quite a bit of work.

... and while I was hard at work inside, someone else was hard at work outside...

Happy Wednesday everyone. 
Anna X

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Back on the tools

After weeks of daily challenges, learning mountains of new 'stuff' and being slightly overwhelmed by a constant flow of completely new experiences, it is so, so nice to finally spend a day doing what I love most.

Since I haven't touched my embroidery or anything that relates to it for weeks, I thought I would do the sensible thing and start the day by writing out a to-do list. Lucky for me, task no. 1 included actual stitching - The Partridge in a Pear ornament needs to be finished. Yeah.

Last time I shared anything about the Partridge in a Pear project the detached pieces were finished but the main embroidery looked like this...

The pear is embroidered in a slight variation of raised stem stitch - instead of picking up every foundation thread, I only pick up every second and then off-set the pattern in each row. The difference is only subtle, but I kind of like it. 

Getting the slip (the body piece that was stitched separately) in place over the bird is a little fiddly. For one thing it is rather small, but also because the shape is highly padded. When attaching these, I often end up holding my hoop sideways so that I can get the needle right in close. The aim is not to have any fabric showing along the edges.

The last thing to do was the wing which I embroidered as a piece of needle lace. I like making these pieces - it fascinates me that you can create a piece of embroidery without stitching onto fabric.


First step is to create a cordonnet. This is basically an edge or outline of the shape formed by thread stitched onto a temporary foundation. I use card, covered with plastic film which doubles up as is also holds the tracing of the shape in place. 

Next the shape is filled with stitches that are anchored around the edge at both sides. For this I used a corded detached blanket stitch (buttonhole stitch) because it creates such a lovely firm and even filling - it kind of ends up looking like a piece of crochet.

Changing the colours to create the pattern and stripes on the wing is a little fiddly but well worth the effort I think. These shapes always look so messy while you stitch them with loose thread tails sticking out everywhere...

...but once it is taken off the card, and all the tails are tidied up, and it has had a little bit of press it looks half decent and is ready to be stitched in place. 

And so, one little fat partridge is done, ready to made up into a little pear-shaped ornament. Is it too early to say it may just end up on a certain kind of tree...?

As you know, I will be teaching this one at Create in Stitch over two Saturdays (28th Nov. and 5th Dec) There are still free spots if anyone would like to join in. Just call the shop to book a place.

Best stitches,
Anna X

Monday, October 5, 2015

Itching fingers

If you have been wondering why I haven't posted for ages it is simply because I have not touched a needle in weeks!
I cannot remember the last time I didn't put in a single stitch for more than two weeks. Looking at my program for what lies ahead, it will be a little bit yet before I can get back to the many projects and ideas that are floating around in my studio. Never mind, I will get there.

I have started a new job, you see. Well, a rather intense induction course for a new job. It is very, very different to anything I have ever done and I am completely out of my comfort zone. Although it is demanding and tiring, it is super interesting and I am loving it. Don't get me wrong, my embroidery and teaching is my first love and I would not give that up for anything, but since finishing on Inspirations magazine almost two years ago, I have been missing working with other people. Once the induction for my new venture is complete, the plan is to be able to combine the two and find some sort of balance. I hope.

I really don't like doing it but I have had to postpone the 'Partridge in a Pear' stumpwork workshop at Create in Stitch. I had to realise that I simply was not able to have the kits and notes ready the way I like them. I am waiting to hear back, but I expect the new dates will be 28 November and 5 December.

Next weekend is 'kit-packing weekend' for the 'Stitching in Spring' weekend (17-18 Oct) at the Adelaide Botanical garden. It will be fabulous I am sure, and I am really looking forward to a couple of days surrounded by fabric, threads, needles, stitches.

I hope you are enjoying more time with needle and thread than me!
Best stitches,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lone Tree - WIP

It seems spring is here - finally! The weather this weekend has been absolutely amazing, simply too beautiful to be inside.

Now, after what feels like 1000 wheelbarrow loads of weeds - the garden is looking fresh and tidy.

I haven't done an awful lot of stitching lately - just a bit here and there, but last night I (almost) finished the tree.
I started covering the trunk and branches a while ago but then thought that perhaps it would be better to finish the sand dunes first. I usually stitch most things from the background up and was thinking it would be easier to get the edges of the dunes right in under the trunk if they were finished first.

As it turned out that was not a very bright idea. Because the trunk and branches are so raised, it is almost impossible not to brush my hands over the completed parts of the embroidery when covering them.

To get right in under the edge, I am having to hold the frame side ways. Thankfully that is easily done with the stand I use.

There is now just one little branch at the top and this little bit on one side of the main trunk to do and then the tree will be finished. The branch on the ground will be quick and easy in comparison. 

Best stitches,
Anna X

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heaps of Hoops

I seem to have hoops on the go all over the place at the moment and I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing...
Two of them are taken up by the Partridge in a Pear project.

I did a bit more work on the partridge last week. It may not quite look like a bird yet, but the piece for the body is ready now.

It is sitting, patiently waiting, in one hoop together with a wired leaf. 

In another hoop is the main embroidery - almost done. All that is left to do on that piece is to complete the pear. This one is done in raised stem stitch over a very padded felt shape. There is so little left to be done that I am now quite puzzled as to why I didn't finish it while I was at it?

Perhaps I will get to it tomorrow?

Best Stitches,
Anna X

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In print

Remember this one...??

It is quite some time since I worked on this design 
(longer than I thought when looking back!). 

Issue 87 of Inspirations is out now - glorious as always. If you love your embroidery and are not familiar with this magazine, I can strongly recommend it. 
And if you flick through the pages you will come to this... Meadow Bloom. I made it into a cushion and sent if off for publication almost 6 months ago. 
In the past, I worked on the magazine and was part of the whole publishing process, but this time it seeing the finished article for the first time came a lovely surprise. The project is so abeautifully presented - as everything always is with Inspirations. 

The article, as with all Inspirations articles, come with full and detailed instructions for the embroidery as well as how to make it up. 
I will have kits in the Shop in a couple of months, but for now you can get the full kit Here. Be mindful that Inspirations kits do not include instructions, so you don't already have one you will need a copy of this beautiful issue as well. Selected news agents do stock it or you can get a printed or digital subscription from Inspirations magazine.

Happy Stitching, 
Anna x

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Raised Embroidery - Partridge

I am really not good at stitching anything more than once, so the little partridge project is coming along much more slowly than I would like. Then again I have managed to make some progress.

The Stem is finished. To get it nicely round and raised, I chose to cover close rows of stem stitch with very close whipping. Satin stitch can work too, but it is more difficult to get the edges super neat and I find this method raises narrow shapes higher off the background - like a real twig.

The Leaf on the main embroidery is also finished. The shape is first outlined with tiny split stitches. Then each half is padded - for this one I have simply worked two layers of straight stitches. Instead of covering it with satin stitch, I have used blanket stitch (or buttonhole stitch). This is fast becoming one of my favourite stitches because it is so versatile and I love the neat, little raised edge that naturally forms along the outline.
A line of small, round chain stitches are used to finish the centre vein.

The Partridge is padded and ready to be covered. To get this one nice a plump, I start with two small bits of felt - one for the head and one for the shoulder. Then two more pieces go over the shoulder piece, each slightly bigger than the previous.

All of these are held in place with just enough little stitches to keep them from moving about.
The top layer of padding is the same shape as the marked shape. This one is first held in place in the same way as the previous pieces and then the edge is stitched down all the way around with tiny stitches placed closer together. It may sound tedious but this part is actually quite quick.

Now I probably should spend a bit of time on the the poor partridge this afternoon, so that the unattractive felt can be covered with a coat of embroidered plumes, but...

...the sun is shining and Nala has convinced me I need to go a toss a ball. (Talk about procrastinating!) 

Hope you are having a great Thursday,
Anna x