Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fine raised stems

There was no sun yesterday, so it was too cold to work on my crewel piece set up in the sun room, so I suck in a bit of fine silk embroidery instead. I guess like most of you, I have a multitude of projects at various stages on the go most of the time and it is kind of nice to be able to go from one to other.

Sweet Honeysuckle by Anna Scott

One of other things I am working on is a new raised embroidery piece for a class later in the year. This one is kind of a 'sister' piece for the Sweet Honeysuckle I did a little while ago. I don't want to copy everything from the first piece, but at the same if something works well, I can see no reason to change it and I really like these slightly raised stems with a bit of fine gold sparkle.

They are not as tricky as them may look so I thought I would show you how to do them.

I use two strands of stranded silk for these stems, but cotton will work exactly the same. Use three strands if you want thicker stems.

1. Start with a row of stem stitch along the marked line.                                                         It is important you keep the stitches relatively short.                                                               When using 2 strands, my stitches are approx 3mm (1/8") and a little shorter around tight curves. 
2. Stitch a second row right in close to the first.
I use my needle to push in against the existing row to make sure I get them really close.

It doesn't matter if the stitches don't sit side by side, in fact it is better if they are slightly off-set.
3. Next, thread up 2 strands into a fine tapestry needle (no. 26). I like to use two different shades for this bit - it gives the stem a slightly mottled or variegated look.
Whip the two rows of stem stitch together. The needle does not go through the fabric, just skims under the stitches.
Place the whipping stitches really close together and make sure the two strands in the needle are not twisted - they should fall neatly side by side.
The whipping pulls the two rows of stem stitch together and raises the line off the fabric.
4. To add the sparkle I use a very fine metallic gold. This one is a Madeira no. 40, but any fine metal will work the same.
This time use a pointed needle (10 sharp or 9 crewel).
Whip over the top of the previous stitches and space the whipping out, so you get a candy stripe effect.

... and viola... a fine raised stem with a bit of sparkle.
Of course, fine metallics are always a bit of a challenge because the metal, or foil breaks so easily.
I thought I got it right....

... but a closer look show it has broken in a spot where I will not be able to hide it with other embroidery.
Looks like I will need to do a wee bit of 'reverse stitching' before I move on.

Best stitches,
Anna X

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ready set stitch...

With my linen twill finally arriving, I am ready to begin my next crewel embroidery project. I spent yesterday preparing it and getting it on my frame.

I had thought the design was going to be too big to transfer using my lightbox and that I would have to prick out the pattern. Not that I mind that method, but it is so time consuming. Luckily it just fitted - well, not quite, it was a wee bit too large, but I was able to pin it firmly in place and slide it across to get the full pattern drawn on.

I never draw my crewel work with solid lines, but mark them with rows of tiny dots with a permanent pen. Why? I find the lines much easier to cover that way and it imitates the way I was taught to do pricking.. Unlike the method commonly taught and used, I don't use pounce, but a permanent ink which means there is no need for painting over after - it just leaves permanent rows of teeny, tiny dots.
And then I moved....

... well not as in moved house or anything, just stitching spot.
We have an amazing rumpus room, rarely used. It overlooks the vineyard and since we had a large tree taken out, is filled with sunlight.
I couldn't think of a better spot to sit and stitch.
It turned out my biggest slate frame wasn't big enough. So I have set the piece up on a roller frame and will see how it goes. If I am unable to maintain the tension on the linen, I will have to get hold of a larger slate frame.
As you can see, I have not laced this one. It is strung up with cotton tape and pins at the sides. I prefer this method for larger pieces. It is easy and quick to adjust... mind you, it is no good for finer fabrics, but for medium weight linen and twill I find it works really well.

 With my little colour sketch stuck to the wall and a pile of wool next to me I am ready to go. This is going to be so much fun..

Wishing everyone a happy, stitchy weekend,
Anna X

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Perfect timing

Last week I stitched a sampler of the white goat for the next crewel embroidery panel I will be working on.
Of course, I couldn't just have a lonely goat in the middle of a piece of fabric, so while I was waiting on my linen twill to arrive...

... I gave her a hill to stand on....

... an apple just out of reach...

and a tree for the apple to grow from.

.. and before I knew it, it turned into 'Apple Theif', a little quick version of what is yet to come.

The very day I finished playing with this, the linen twill arrived... Perfect timing.

Taupe or natural coloured twill is relatively easy to find, but I prefer to work my crewel designs on an ivory ground instead. I like the ivory - it works better with the colour palettes I tend to use, but finding ivory twill proved to be more difficult. I did find it retail, but that is no good since I intend to kit this project... so the hunt was on.
I want to stitch the the panel on linen twill instead of the firm even weave I normally use - and adore to work on! The reason being, that the new panel is a decent size, my largest to date, and I think the weight of the twill will support the embroidery better.

Now that it is here, I can finally get on with the 'real' project.
Have a lovely weekend,
Anna X

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

White Goat

It is another magical autumn day today and the vineyard is clad in a glow of brilliant green, yellow and red.

I spent the morning stitching, before the sunshine lured me outside to take Tilly for a nice long walk before she went to check on her chickens and her sheep.

She is trying to work out what to do with those sheep... She and Spud (the lamb we reared in spring) are so funny to watch.. I am not quite sure who is rounding up who.

I could have stitched a sheep today instead I stitched a goat.
I am still waiting for the fabric to arrive for my next large crewel embroidery project but I just couldn't wait any longer to try my ideas of how to stitch the silly billy goat. I want a white or cream long haired mountain goat, but is suddenly occurred to me the other day, that since I will be stitching on ivory linen, a white goat might get lost!
Oh dear, that can't happen, he is after all the star of the show. What to do? What to do? The only way to find out is to stitch a sampler, trying a few colours, which is what I spent the morning doing...

The idea was to use shades of  'not quite' cream, with a white or ecru. I might tweak the colours a little for the large piece but I am really happy with the choice of stitches I picked, especially the coat on his back.

I have done it with rows of parallel detached chains (lazy daisy). The rather large stitches are off-set in each row and long anchoring stitches fit between the stitches in the row before.

'Memory of my Youth', Marc Chagall 1924

I am not sure what made me stitch the eye like this... I have always loved the art of Marc Chagall, a poster of his 'Blue Violinist' was the piece of 'art' I ever bought - at a time when my girlfriends were covering their bedroom walls with pop stars.
Anyway, a simple knot for the eye just didn't look right but it wasn't until after I had stitched my goat, I realised it looks a wee bit like it was inspired by the goats I have seen in Chagall's paintings... funny how impressions subconsciously creep into the things we do.

I was so keen to show you this, I still haven't tied off all the ends on the back of the goat! Once that is done, I think I'd better tidy up my desk - it looks like a tornado went through by room.. Now that is an image I won't be sharing LOL.

Enjoy the rest of your week.
Best stitches,
Anna X