Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Satin stitch leaves

I have been stitching leaf, after leaf, after leaf, after daisy, after leaf today and yesterday.  

I love satin stitch leaves and find them quite relaxing to do, once I get in a bit of a groove.
In essence satin stitch is really, really simple... just parallel straight stitches. But I think perhaps because it so so simple it has to be quite accurate to look really beautiful, any irregularities stand out like a sore toe.
Satin stitch can be a little bit tricky to get really smooth and beautiful but this is how I do them.  

Most importantly: I take the time it takes. Satin stitch leaves, or any satin stitch for that matter cannot be rushed. The satin stitches should be placed closely side by side, not crowded and not 'gappy' - it takes practise. 

1. I start with a split stitch along the outline. This helps to slightly raise the edges and give the shape definition, but it is also a great help in getting the edges nice and smooth.
It is best to keep the stitches quite small event along straight lines. If they are too long, they become 'sloppy' and you don't get the same support for the satin stitch over the top.
Split stitch, as in splitting the stitches from below, can take a little practise. If you find it really tricky, split back stitch (splitting the previous stitch from the top down) works just as well, it just uses a little more thread.

2 & 3. POINTS. To get really nice sharp points, I take the last stitch just past the marked line. This way, when I split the stitch to come back down the other side, I am level with the adjacent line.

4. I then fill the shape with some kind of padding stitch, mostly just straight stitches. These should be placed at a different angle to the top layer of stitches.
If I want really raised or embossed satin stitch, I will place several layers of padding and each layer at a different angle to the one below it.
These long straight stitches can be worked back and forth so you just have tiny little stitches along the edges on the wrong side.

(Apology for the fuzzy pictures!)

5. I always, always, always start my satin stitch across the widest point of a shape. It is so much easier to get the angle or direction of the stitches correct across a wide area than trying to guess at a tapered point. 
When stitching leaves, I will usually place each stitch from the outer edge into the centre line. I bring the needle out at a slight angle from under the split stitch outline (slide the tip of your needle across the fabric on the wrong side to feel the correct spot)

6. Once I get to one end, I return to the starting point and stitch to the other end. 

7. I then stitch the opposite side in the same way, again from the outside into the centre. That way I am certain not to accidentally split and distort the stitches along middle. 

8. When stitching leaves, I will often use a different shade of green for each side, but this time I am using the same thread. You could easily leave it like this, but I will be giving these little leaves a fine stem stitch vein down the centre.

The daisy chain on one side is finished and the other one is well under way... which is just as well, since I will be teaching this piece in just two weeks...
Nothing like cutting it fine, is there??

Best stitches,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Shades of green...

... there are millions!!!

I have before talked about how much the slightest change in a shade can can change the look of an entire design. It is incredible the difference it can make - but it can also be ever so frustrating to get that perfect colour combination right...!

Last I shared my progress on this piece, I told you the long slender leaves were coming out... the shades of green were just not right (I wish colours were better on screen, but you just have to trust me on that one.) There wasn't much in it really - it just didn't quite gel and feel right. 
I liked the blueish green at the base, but the tip was too bright and the shades didn't blend as smooth as I would like.
The question was whether to go more blue or more yellow.....??

Laying the skeins side by side will give an indication if you are on the right track, but there is only really one way to test how shades will blend and that is to stitch them. The thing with this project is also that because I am stitching on a coloured ground, that too will alter how the thread colours look.

I don't spend any length of time on these little samples - just enough to get an idea how the shades will look against the remainder of the embroidery. Again, the photograph + the screen colour is not perfect, but it gives you an idea of the difference I hope.

Although I must admit, I am not looking forward to pulling out the two original leaves, the new, blue-green leaves look so much better! The one below it the original colour scheme. The new ones use the same shade at the base, but the two lighter colours are changed.
I got all the long leaves stitches last night, so once those two are pulled out and re-stitched all there is left to do is the heart-shaped wreath of little daisies.....

...just as well it is almost finished - I am using this piece for a class in only 3 weeks, so I better get on with it...

Have a wonderful weekend.
Anna X

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The week that flew by

What a week it has been!
Today feels like the first day have in ages I have been able to kind of just catch my breath, regroup, get my mind in order, and get ready to get busy again tomorrow. I am not an overly tidy person by any stretch of the imagination, but when things have been 'a little crazy', I do like to get everything sorted and tidy, ready for a fresh start. So by 'catch my breath' - I mean the house and workroom are nice, clean and tidy and I feel ready to get busy again!

There has been a lot of packing going on around here. First we packed a whole stack of kits for The Crewel Gobelin in Sydney, New South Wales. They have had my kits in the past but not for some time and so it is exciting to have this NEW lot available at their Christmas market on 26 November.

It is always exciting when my things to into shops... It all seems a little more serious then and I like the thought of my kits sitting amongst other kits on a shelf somewhere, looking pretty. It's a nice thought.

Then we packed some more kits and other bits and pieces for the Etsy Adelaide Market yesterday. It was good fun - 110 stalls of Adelaide makers all in one spot. When you work at home, by yourself most of the time, it is always great to get out and talk to people. I am starting new classes up at Gallery One in Mitcham Village in February and the market was the perfect opportunity to show what I do, encourage people to come along and spread the word.

I am so glad I have found this new teaching space. It has wonderful large rooms, good lighting and a generous supply of power cords for when we need extra light for the finer work. I can't wait to get started. I will let you know more about it as we get a little bit closer, but for now, I have put an overview of the classes and a downloadable the programme HERE.

After all that packing, we packed some more... CARDS.

I have had cards made before, but I was not all that happy with them and quickly took them out off the shop.
This time I am so happy - they are amazing! I had my friend, Lynton prepare the images. I used to work with him, and he does all the graphic artwork for Inspirations magazine, so my pictures could not be in better hands!
It was a bit tricky to decide which designs to have printed. With Christmas coming up, I ended up choosing 'Partridge in a Peartree' because it is kind of 'Christmassy' but no more so, than you can look at it all year round..., a detail shot of 'Nautilus' because it sparkles and does look rather festive (by the way, the sparkle of the gold has printed really beautifully, which is always a tricky thing to get right), and then - of course - 'Over the Hills' because it makes me happy.

Any stitching...?  Yes, in between all that packing May's tulip is taking shape.
The base is finished...
 The main tulip is finished...
 The tulip leaves.....
... are about to be pulled out for the third time! The shades of green, just doesn't 'gel'. I have ordered more silk, so they are on my 'to do' list for this week.

What a weekly 'wrap up' that was! As for the week ahead...
I will fill you in later.

Best stitches,
Anna x

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shades of pink

There are pink threads all over my table today.

I am not really a pink girl, so my stash of pink threads is not a large as some of my more favourite colours. Still, I think I have enough to choose from for this next project. I have bright pinks, mauve pinks, salmon pinks, magenta pinks, dusky pinks......
It always surprises me just how big a difference the slightest change to a shade makes to an overall piece of embroidery.
I am getting ready to stitch a piece for a coming class on needlepainting. The motif is build up around a silk shaded tulip - one of my favourite flowers. I guess, I could just pick a run of colours, that way I would be certain that the shades blend nicely, but I think that by bringing shades together that are from different groups or families can help give the shading a bit of a lift and sparkle.

The only way to see if these threads work properly together is stitching little trail pieces. I am leaning towards shades of pink that has the slightest bit of yellow in them, without being salmon with a tiny bit of watermelon pink thrown into the mix. It is still not quite right but I think it is getting there...

Enjoy your Wednesday
Best stitches Anna

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Drifting in the Breeze - WIP

How do you stitch a cloud?

I have been pondering that ever since I began this project. But first...

...I have finished the jacket and (apart from still not having a face) this chap is starting to take shape. 
It was a bit tricky to get the two pieces to fit nicely - they were a bit 'snug' across his belly - so I will need to remember to allow more room for the body next time. 

I had thought, I would leave the clouds to the very end but I couldn't bear looking at that stump of a foot any longer. Now that it is resting in the cloud, it looks a lot better.
I don't know if you remember the drawing - the clouds are kind of interlocking spirals (there is a drawing here). The question was how to get them looking fluffy, light and airy without at the same time looking heavy and overpower the figure.  

The choice to use Ghiordes knots (or Turkey knots) was what came to mind first. Usually when I have used this stitch, I use it in close rows to then cut open and brush up to form a pile - but for the clouds I wanted to keep little loops in rows along the spirals to keep the shapes. 
He seems to be resting pretty cosily in his cloud, don't you think?

I have stitched the cloud spirals with a mix of mohair and silk. It wasn't as difficult to keep the loops even as I thought it might be but I was not sure if the yarn would be too bulky and I would lose the shapes of the spirals. To counter act it, I have deliberately not stitched the loops as tight as I would if was going to cut them. 
The turkey knots would be much too heavy for the two smaller clouds so I am testing a different method.

I use the same blend of mohair and silk and couch it down with silk. Instead of keeping the laid threads flat, I leave a little loop between each couching stitch (I hold a yarn darner under the laid threads). It looks interesting, I guess, but I am not sure yet because the shapes of the spirals seem to get a little lost...

I am glad this guy is now looking more comfy because I think he might have to be set aside (again!) because...

... The yarns for SCARLET GLORY has just arrived, so there are KITS to be packed.. AT LAST!!!

There has been so much going on here in the Studio lately and so much more in the pipeline.... It is all super exciting, but I really want to keep the blog space for things I am working on or ideas and how to's - that kind of thing.
So I have decided to start a NEW MONTHLY NEWSLETTER so that if you like, you can keep up to date with what is new in the Studio, in the Shop and in the way of Classes here, there & everywhere. 
The first BRAND NEW NEWSLETTER is ready to go out tomorrow, Friday - so if you want to subscribe all you need to do is click HERE

For now I better put my 'floating man' away and get kit packing...
Best stitches,
Anna X

Monday, October 24, 2016

Blog Hop - Modern Folk Embroidery

I have never done a Blog hop before, there is a first time for everything, right? 
In fact when I was asked to be part of this hop to celebrate the release of the super talented Nancy Nicholson's first book MODERN FOLK EMBROIDERY I did not hesitate to say yes for even one minute.

First of all - I have been a big fan of Nancy's work since I first came across one of her pieces on pinterest. The colours, the shapes, the simplicity - that is somehow not simple at all, the clever and sometimes surprising use of stitches. Looking at her pieces always makes me feel happy!

Nancy has been making Embroidery Kits for some time now. Gorgeous, colourful kits which include pre-printed fabric of her lovely designs, ready to be embellished with stitches. The projects in MODERN FOLK EMBROIDERY are different in that many of them use felt for the block colour before being embellished with her signature stitchery. 
So, just what will you find in the pages of the gloriously pretty and gorgeously photographed book??

One of my favourite things about the book is the way it encourages you to explore variations of basic stitches and develop different patterns using simple stitch combinations. 

In her Interview with Sew & SoNancy explains how the designs are all " on simple stitches to make it look complicated". You can watch the interview HERE.
She has done this by grouping the stitches into families in the STITCH LIBRARY, making it super quick and easy to refer to and get an overview of just some of the many options there are to play with. To build on this, she has dotted beautiful pages of simple pattern suggestions to help you get on your way with your own design ideas throughout the book.

"The projects should prove satisfying in themselves but I hope they'll also give you the confidence to use these ideas and skills in other directions, following your own tastes and sources of inspiration..."

The book offers loads of pretty and quick little projects to choose and draw inspiration from - gorgeous little pincushions, a super simple thread catcher or lidded box, fun brooches and the most fabulous ornaments and garlands - perfect for the Festive Season that is fast approaching. 

Among the bigger projects are cushions of various shapes and sizes, a couple of super practical bags, the cutest pinafore dress (with the prettiest butterflies that can easily be used on any item or clothing) and a glorious table runner. I particularly like those golden 'wheaty' looking flowers.

Another real 'beauty' about MODERN FOLK EMBROIDERY is that the instructions are kept just as simple and clear as the projects. The embroidery is presented simply as 'suggestions' (did I mention I love the 'please feel free to do as you please' approach?) with super clear, close-up photographs and diagrams to follow. The same is the case for the MAKING UP  instructions. 

"My mother believed that embroidery could be enjoyed by all and was determined to spread the word."  - Nancy

If you have been following along here for a bit, you will know I often talk about 'playing with stitches'. Some may refer to it as 'stitch samplers' That sounds terribly serious and makes me think of of super tidy, strict band samplers of the past. Well not anymore! The two little samplers in MODERN FOLK EMBROIDERY are anything but... They are sweet and playful. I love the tree house. As it turns out it was inspired by a project Nancy's mum Joan Nicholson designed in the early 50s - making it even more special, don't you think?

I must confess I had one big problem when writing this... choosing pictures to share with you. They are all so beautiful! If you would like to see more, have a look at the little youtube teaser above of flick through more pages HERE
And if you haven't already done so, I encourage you to have a look at the the previous blog hops... It seems the books notion of 'adapt to your taste' has already been taken up by some...

Monday 17th October - SewandSo
Wednesday 19th October  – Wild Olive
Thursday 20th October Kate & Rose
Friday 21st October - Lilipopo 
TODAY here at Anna Scott Embroidery
Wednesday 26th – Carina Crafts

The book is officially released on 16th November, but both Amazon and Sew & So take pre-orders.

Best stitches,

Friday, October 21, 2016

Jewels of Summer

If you have been following the snippets of 'stuff' I post on facebook, you would have seen a little teasers of a new project I have been working on...

I love stitching these patterns of non-specific flowers. Because they are not real flowers, just flower forms, I can just play with what-ever colours and stitches that takes me fancy. It is nice and relaxing and fun not to have to worry about it looking 'right'.

This embroidery has been around the world with me. Much of the stitching was done on planes between Europe and Australia, and a lovely morning sitting in the shade on a vineyard in Penedes, Spain. It will soon travel again, because it is designed for my next Introduction to hand embroidery class in Bangkok in December and then back as a 5 week in Adelaide early in the new year. Who would have thought embroidery could take you around the world like that?

One of the things I find so fascinating about embroidery, is that you can create intricate and detailed patterns even with the most easily accessible materials and a limited palette of stitches. This new project was designed with beginners in mind and is worked in stranded cotton, using just 9 basic stitches.

It is not deliberate that I haven't shown the full design yet. I get so caught up in the part I am working on that I kind of forget the overall picture for a while. So here it is...

(As you may know, this naming of designs 'thing' is the hardest thing for me ever - I would be lost without my fabulous name-brain-storming-sessions with my dear friend and word smith, Heidi - Thank you!)

I realise that at first glance this may not look particularly beginner-rish, but trust me - one stitch at a time and you can do anything. I am certain it will be a great project to teach and for stitchers to learn, practise and become confident while creating something beautiful in the process.

There is still a bit to do - instructions to write, diagrams to draw, kits to pack, not to mention; what to make it into???. But I am excited and happy with how it has turned out.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Anna X

Saturday, October 15, 2016

WIP - Drifting on the Breeze

What a week it has been! Beating Around was (as always) amazing and so much fun. I mean, with 250+ stitchers gathered in one spot, catching up with old friends and make new ones, how can it not be?
After weeks of preparation and teaching, I am trying to clean up today. My workroom/studio looks like a bomb has hit it to put it mildly. It is impossibly for me to stitch in such a mess, but I am taking a break from sorting, unpacking and re-arranging 'stuff' for an update on 'the floating man' as he was quickly dubbed by those who came to see him in the class room last week.

My sister thinks thinks he looks like 'the Blue Violinist' by Marc Chagall which I bought poster off with my hard-earned pocket money at an age where my friends had pop stars on their walls. I do love that painting, but no, my floating man is not a violinist, though I can see the resemblance.

Last you saw him HERE, he was headless the poor chap and wearing just a single trouser leg....

He has a head now... The details of the face is still to come, but it is so much nicer to work with person who has a head LOL.
I am still contemplating his hair and most likely a hat of some kind.
I have managed a bit of time here and there, and have got the jacket sleeves made and stitched in place.

I would normally leave 'loose' bits of clothing, like a floating scarf, until last but decided it would be impossible to get it to sit nicely after the sleeves. Besides, I was itching to use this brightly coloured silk somewhere. Aren't the variegated colours in this silk just fabulous!

So there he is - just lazing about and taking it easy waiting for me to finish his clothes. And no, the poor chap has not lost a foot, it is simply resting in a cloud still to come (how to stitch a cloud???).

The last jacket pieces are finished and ready to be stitches on... but first, back to tidying up. As much as I don't like cleaning up, I dislike working in mess even more.

Have a lovely weekend,
Anna X

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I am back...

... and feel as if I have hit the ground running. I cannot believe it has already been two whole weeks since I got back.

I had a fabulous time away, making new friends and catching up with family and friends in both England and Denmark, before enjoying the life of a tourist in and around Barcelona. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make it such an amazing trip.

I knew, I would be busy when I got back.... Beating Around the Bush kicks off on the 5th of October and I still have so much to do. I know I have talked about it before, but it is such a buzz, with enthusiastic stitchers from all over Australia and indeed the world coming together and I really love teaching and being part of it.

DAWN CHORUS - 2 day workshop

PURPLE GRACE - 1 day workshop
BROTHER RABBIT  - 3 day workshop

This year I will be teaching 6 days of classes: The NEW 'Dawn Chorus' crewel embroidery pattern. This was such a lovely pattern to stitch and I am really looking forward to sharing it with others. There is still places available in that group, so if you are in Adelaide on 6th and 7th of October and want to join us, I am sure the good people at INSPIRATIONS will be able to help you join the class.
The 'Purple Grace' is always fun and a good practise in crewel shading and perfect, plump padded satin stitch.
I am particularly excited about the luxury of the 3 day workshop that has been introduced this year. It is just perfect for 'Brother Rabbit' and will give the everyone time to properly explore and practise all elements of this project during class time - such luxury!
As well as all the classes I will have a stand at the most amazing MARKET DAY on Saturday 8, October at Immanual College, Novar Gardens. As you can probably imagine, my 'kit packing department' (that's when I wear the 'kit-packer-hat and my one and only best kit packer helper, Heidi joins me for some kit-packing fun) is kept fairly busy these days.

On the topic of MARKET DAYS....

19 November
for ETSY made local

... just imagine a whole street full of handmade and vintage goodies! 

Next post: Stitching updates... pinky-promise

Anna x

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dressing - Drifting on the Breeze WIP

More progress on my floating man....
Last you saw this fellow he looked more like some crazy stick-insect gone terribly wrong.

The first pieces of 'clothing', the lower sleeves have been added so that I could finish the padding of torso and he is slowly bulking up and looking more like a person. Of course he does still need a head!

It was a similar thing at the other end. I had to complete the lower legs before the padding for the pants could be added. I didn't want to use satin stitch for the socks so instead opted for stripy socks in raised stem stitch. This is such a awesome stitch for raised smooth shapes and great if you want the colouring along the length instead of across. It is a bit tedious, but so worth the effort. 
With the socks done, I could complete the padding and now the fun part of dressing the figure can really begin. 

Pants first. I didn't set out to make stripy pants, but was more thinking of using a different shade for each leg. I have no real plan for colours and patterns (as usual) only a vague 'feeling' of how it will look. Working that way can be a recipe for a lot 'reverse stitching' but so far so good - the stripes seem to work.

Each trouser leg is stitched individually. You can see where the small one was before it was taken off the card. To make a needle lace piece, you first place a cordonnet around the shape.. This is a doubled length of thread that is couched onto a firm surface (I use card covered with plastic film) to form the shape. It is kind of a support frame for the needle lace.

The the needle lace fabric can be stitched onto the cordonnet, usually some kind of blanket stitch. I primarily use a corded blanket stitch for clothing because I like the dense look and firm finish.
Each little stitch is worked into a stitch in the previous row, trapping the laid thread.

It is quite a therapeutic little stitch once you get going - a little like knitting or crochet, just back and forth in even rows...
I did not think things through when I stitched the first leg from the top down. If I had started from the bottom, I would have been certain that the stripes would match.....

Although these pieces are small, filling them rows and rows of little stitches does take a bit of time and I have to set this one aside for today.. perhaps tomorrow???
It would be nice if this little person had his pants on before I leave on Friday.

Best stitches,
Anna X