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