Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Holidays...

I finished the pinks.

I was determined to finish the stitching before Christmas and the last few stitches went in only a few minutes ago... about the time it takes to snap a few pictures.
There was a bit of 'reverse stitching' involved towards the end but I am really, really happy with how this turned out.

The left hand flower spray is stitched to mirror the one on the lower left, only the choice of stitches vary. 

The pair of leaves in the middle were next. It took a little bit of experimentation, but the end result was worth a bit of restitching. 

I was happy with the way the double blanket stitch worked for one half of the leaf, but had at first stitched the other side with blanket stitch veins and knots (French or colonial, I can't remember).

Looking at it, I felt it had ended up looking too busy, so I ripped that out and filled it with satin stitch instead. I like these and I am pretty sure I will be using this stitch combination for future projects

The last thing to finish was the right hand flower - the one that is paisley shaped.
I had a pretty good idea of what to do about the flower itself. Satin stitch for the 'seedpods', grading from light to dark pink. I wanted a really smooth look for the band along the left hand side and ended up with close rows of stem stitch. I worked a small trellis for the curled under tip and added seed stitch around the seed pods. I now have seed stitch in all three flowers, which makes a nice visual similarity between the three. 
Then came the leaves... ???

... I really wasn't sure how to go about them. I had drawn them up as more 'solid' shapes, with no detail other than the wide centre vein. At first I started filling them in with long and short stitch, thinking it might be nice to grade the shades but it just didn't look right. 
The I remembered that the leaves on my Purple Grace were similar, lobed shapes to I embroidered these ones in a similar way. It works. Dainty and pretty. 
I guess there is no need to reinvent the wheel if something works, LOL.

So, really it was finished, except...

... the keen observer would have noticed a change since I last showed you the project. The blue is gone.
With everything else complete, the teeny, weeny bit of turquoise suddenly looked out of place. I have restitched that in other colour; dark pink for the three little leaves and a soft green along the stem. 

I really didn't expect to finish this piece before Christmas, and it is really nice to have it done. The notes are well under way, so I am planning to have it available as a kit early in the new year. I will be calling it SWEET REPOSE.. What do you think? 

For now, I am going to have a little break. I have decided to take a bit of time out, between Christmas and New Year (shock, horror) - I might stitch if I feel like it, and I may not.. 

Thank you so much for your support and interest in what I stitch, and for your comments and encouragement along the way. It really means a lot!!!

For now, I wish you all a happy and hopefully relaxed Holiday Season, in company of family and friends. If you travel - stay safe.

Best Stitches 
Anna XX

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Crewel & Colour, Pinks - Work in Progress

I feel as it has been a week of 4 stitches ahead, 2 stitches back....

After happily doodling way making Christmas trees last week I got back to my current crewel project. In some ways, I think the Christmas trees was a little escape, or a way of procrastinating because I still felt so undecided on the colour scheme for this piece.
Colour is such a personal thing and I think we all find some colours come more natural and are easier to work with than others.

I was torn between a palette of teal, burnt orange/coral and green - My Colours.. a colour scheme I am really comfortable with.
But having originally photographed the line drawing with a 'colour wheel' of bright colours around it, I was toying with the idea of embroidering it in more 'summery', cheerful colours and I do think the flowery design lends itself to something a bit more pretty and 'girly'.

Now I said in my last post about this project that I wouldn't be showing colours because of an upcoming class.. well that looks unlikely to go ahead so I will show you what I am up to.

Hint - How I Choose my colours
I usually start out by trying to decide on a main colour scheme consisting of Three colour families: two complimentary families (close together on your colour wheel) and one contrasting (opposite side of the colour wheel).
For example: Teal and green are the complementary shades with orange/coral the contrast. The beauty of Appleton's crewel wool is that each colour family comes in up to seven shades, so once you have your main colours, it is fairly straight forward to pick the shades on either side.
As well has that, I think of Tonal Value - how bright or muted they are and keep them relatively similar.
3) To that mix I will often throw in a 'Ping' colour, which I use very, very sparingly (the turquoise in the picture below)
4) In most cases, especially if I have a palette of quite strong shades (which I tend to do) I will also add a 'Nothing' colour, such a beige, dull brown or green. This helps to stop all the strong colours competing and tie the design together.

After 'playing around' with yellows, oranges, reds and pinks, I ended with this:

Green and Yellow as my complimentary colours and Pink as the contrast, a wee bit of turquoise as the 'ping' colour (not sure I will need it, there is enough 'ping' in those yellows and pinks to start a fireworks) and a beige/yellow to possible tone it all down just a notch.

HELP!! - how did that even happen?? - This is so NOT colours I usually work with and I am so NOT a pink girl. The thought of embroidering a pink piece of crewel work is rather daunting.. and challenging. At the same time, the colours feel right for this piece and I must confess I like a challenge. Besides, what is the worst thing that can happen? If I don't like it, I can rip it out and start again. So - pink here we go.

I started with some of the main stems, since that was relatively straight forward colour wise. The first flower started to emerge, and I am really not sure about those colours... Especially the real candy pink.

While pondering that I stitched some smaller details that I felt a wee bit more confident about.

 Back to the first flower, adding in a bit of yellow. It is cheerful, bright, too bright?

Persevering with my pink yarns, I moved on to another flower. The outer petals came naturally but those near the base caused me a wee bit of grief. Again the candy pink, is just too pink???

I thought that if perhaps I stitched the middle petal in a slightly different colour combo, omitting the candy pink, it would tone it down a bit and make it gel better...

No, it looked awful! I didn't quite know right away what to do to fix it so I left it there for the time being. It wasn't until more of the flower centre came together that I ripped the yellow out and used the same lightest pink as on the side petals - only the centre varies slightly now.

So after a week of 4 stitches forward and 2 stitches back, it is looking ok... I think. The top flower has come together nicely at the end but I am still not happy withe first flower and I am still not comfortable with the colours, or rather, I really have to think about it.

I hope the progress in the coming week will feel a little more smooth.

Have a lovely, stitchy weekend,
Anan XX

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas trees - FREE Pattern

Happy start of December to everyone!
I don't know about you, but to me this last month of the year has a nasty habit of sneaking up on me and I find myself completely surprised it is 'that time of year' again already. But last week I found myself stitching Christmas decorations.

I suddenly had the idea for a couple of new Christmas ornaments and I figure you have to do these things when inspiration hits you, Right?. Besides, I haven't made any since I did Starry Night (and that was much longer than I thought) so it was about time.

I drew up a simple Christmas tree shape, scattered some dots over it, grabbed some of my favourite coloured threads (yes, blues) and started stitching Starbursts

Each starburst is a group of pistil stitches, worked from the centre out. First 6 longish (10-12mm) then shorter ones between.
To brighten it up a bit, I added crisp white straight stitches between the pistil stitches - for more bling, you could use silver or gold, but I kind of like the more subtle highlight of white against the linen.
I bead in the middle and BINGO you have a starburst...

Of course, as always, my mind makes up new ideas while I stitch...
        ... how about a bauble??

So same tree, same dots, only for the baubles, I drew a small circle around each dot (about 8mm in diameter. Then set to work make whipped back stitch spots.

For this size spot, I used two strands of cotton and eight spokes for the whipping. They still ended up not quite covering the marked lines, so I added a fine white outline and used the same thread to stitch a 'hanging loop' and bow at the top.
A sparkly bead in the middle, and there's a bauble.

I just love the texture of whipped back stitch (or whipped spider's web).
So my trees were ready to be put together, only it would be nice to have something on the back...

... I used the wording from the Starry Night ornaments. I really don't like doing the same thing twice, so while embroidering this one, I wondered if the second would look pretty just with scattered beads.
I used the same clear beads but stitched them on with bright blue thread for a bit of colour. They still looked a bit sparse... so I decided to add some French knots around each and so ended up with pretty snowflakes...

... Snowflakes way too pretty to go on the back!
I now had three pretty fronts so found some fabric in my stash to go on the back of two of them.

The original plan had been to make another set of Christmas tree ornaments to go on my big tree but instead I decided to make them into 'real' trees. After sewing them up, and partially filling them, I added sticks from the garden for trunks before finishing each with beads around the edges...

I was going to go to the craft store and get some tiny terracotta pots and air-drying clay to sit them in, but I think I rather like them growing amongst my succulents...

I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, but I have added the pattern HERE if anyone would like to make one or two... and they really don't take long.

Happy December, Happy Sunday
Anna XX