Monday, December 16, 2019

50 shades of green leaves

...bright green, apple green, grass green, olive green, grey-green, blue-green, yellow-green, khaki green, hunter green, jacobean green.......??????

I have a reasonably size stash of green silks, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is easy to get the right shade of green for a project.

I have a few favourite greens that I tend to gravitate to, shades of green, I know usually work well together. Getting the balance of greens just right is so important but for this project is was not quite as straight forward as I had hoped.
The background fabric is a quite yellow-olive-green, cheerful but not bright. It made blue-greens look more blue and yellow greens look more yellow and when mixing the two, well... let's not go there.

You can usually get a fairly good idea if a selection of colours and shades work, simply by placing them together onto the fabric, but with this lot, what seemed to work, did not work well, once stitched. After a fair bit of trail and error (read 'unpicking') I think, I eventually found a combination that works.                                                                       I have used: Au Ver a Soie, stranded silks: 3362 and 3714 for the stems and the centre veins of the leaves; and Madeira stranded silk 1311 together with Au Ver a Soie 1844 and 1603 for the leaves.  
Once the coloures were finalised I could get down to business and just stitch for a bit... bliss. 
There will be more leaves coming later. I got to this point and then realised I had done it again... 

The design is going to be too big for a comfortable two-day workshop. It is doable, but I really wanted something a little bit more manageable. So it was back to the drawing board to create a smaller version of this design. I will still complete this bigger one as well, but for the class, I will have an option for a more suitable project, teaching (almost) all the same techniques.

The next few days are going to be stinking hot in Adelaide, perfect for sitting inside, working on this. I had promised it to be ready before Christmas... I better get back to it.

Have a fabulous week,
Anna X

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

New Project in my hoop - Stems

I know, I should try and finish one thing at a time and I would like to finish my Merry Jester - but as I mentioned last week, I have a new piece of raised embroidery in my hoop.

I had a request was for: A piece of stumpwork, not too difficult with a cute animal.
It has takena bit of thinking and doodling on my part, but it finally came together and I am really looking forward to seeing it take shape.

I played with the idea of trying something different for the stems, but in the end decided to embroider them in whipped stems stitch, as I often do. I like the look of these stems - I think they are one of my favorite stems.

They lay round and raised on top of the fabric, like trailing, but so much easier to do.
I start with two rows of stem stitch, worked closely side by side. I don't align the stitches in each row - in fact you get a better finish, if they are off-set.

Then I whip the two rows together, placing the whipping stitches, closely side-by-side so they completely cover the stem stitch. The whipping pulls the two rows together, making the stem skinnier, higher and rounder.
There are much more detailed pictures HERE if you want to have a go.

For this design the stem cross over and under one another, so I completed one stem at a time to make sure I got it right.

I usually work my raised embroidery pieces on silk, but for this one, I wanted a print cotton in a light-ish shade of green. I was looking for something fresh and clean, not too heavy and overpowering, with a small, delicate, tone-on-tone kind of print. That should be easy to find, right?
Well, I think I found what I was looking for and bought the whole bolt to make sure I have plenty for kits later.

This is as far as I got, before realizing it was going to be way too much work for a two say workshop... So, a new, smaller version for the class is now in another hoop LOL.

I hope everyone is enjoying a good week.
Best Stitches,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hands On - It's a Juggle, WIP

I have made just a little more progress on the juggling jester this week.

I had made his hands last week, but only just found time to put a bit more work into his arms yesterday so that I can begin stitching the sleeves.

Hands are SO fiddly. They are made by wrapping fine wire with silk threads. First five individual fingers, that are joined and wrapped together to make the hand. There are some more detailed pictures HERE. Laying next to a toothpick, can see how small the hand are.


Putting the hands on the piece is fairly straight forward - I place them with the excess wire and thread tails along the arm and secure them. The wire and threads, double up as 'padding' for the arms.  I then added a bit more string for the arms.

I quite want my jester to be a bit long and lanky, but these wee, skinny arms needed some 'serious' padding and besides, I am thinking of some kind of puffed upper sleeves.
So I decided to leave the lower arms skinny and added some felt for padding and shape to the still-to-come sleeves.

Despite his hands being so small, they look a little bit big and out of proportion - I am hoping once the coat, hair and hat goes on, they will be a better fit. Fingers crossed.

Sadly he will now have to go back on the shelf for a bit as I have another deadline looming before Christmas. The brief: stumpwork, a cute animal, not too much work and not too difficult...
That should be easy, right?... After pondering for months and starting to secretly pulling my hair out of lack of ideas and inspiration, I am finally on my way and will have something to show next week.

I hope you have a fabulous week everyone.
Best stitches,
Anna X

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Well Hello There - It's a Juggle, WIP

Long time, No see...

I am pleased to say the juggling jester has finally showed his face.

But before I get to that part, this is what went on before I got to that:
This project has been sitting on a shelf in the corner (like a naughty child who has been sent to the naughty corner to have a good long think about it) since.... checking back, February. This is the last photo I shared of him, headless and missing half his pants.

The whole thing had come to a grinding halt, when I discovered the second trouser leg did not fit at all. I had somehow managed to stitch it with a completely wrong curve...

First thing, I discovered when I pulled all the bits and pieces back out, was that my line drawing was no longer with the rest of the stuff. Goodness knows what I have done with those? I still have the initial sketch, but I had resized it so had to make a new 'pattern'. 

I had been a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to match the 'lacy' frill on the cuff of the pants. I don't do needlelace often enough to have tension and that kind of thing as 'down packed' as I would like but I think it turned out ok. 

The wee chap looks happy enough, skipping across the hills in his new pants, don't you think?

I have a 'million' thing I should be doing, but they are a lot less fun than this, so because his feet now looked so happy, I just had to make his head. A torso on legs skipping across hills, just looked too wrong!


That is so much better. A happy chap, he is going to be. 

Have a lovely week everyone.
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Step by step

Spring this year in Adelaide has been strange to say the least. Mostly cool for this time of year, with very short bursts of exceptionally hot days. 
We have been following the devastation of the fires on the East Coast and, as we are bracing ourselves for over 40C (104F) and very high winds in South Australia today with 'Catastrophic fire danger" declared for large parts of the state, today is one of those days, you just want to get over and done with - praying that we get through the day without any major incidents. 

I have been working the instructions for my new little crewel panel Very, Very Berry.
Although that kind of work does not leave much to show, it is coming along nicely. The text is done and I am almost finished drawing the diagrams to go with it.
Although it can be time consuming (and let's face it - I would much rather be sitting over an embroidery frame than over a keyboard) I do find it rather satisfying trying to replicate the steps and stitches in drawings.
It is not my favorite part of the process and I guess, I could try take more photographs while I stitch to try and skip the drawing stage after. It is just that I find that 1) I forget to take enough photos, 2) the photos are not a good enough quality and to improve that I would have to get up each time, and place everything into a good lightbox + invest in a much, much better camera, 3) At the end of day, I do find that I can show what I want much more clearly in diagram, which I hope make the instructions more user friendly at the end.

The weather might be awful today, but it is perfect for me to stay put and get the last diagrams drawn up. Then I will need to put it all together, and get the booklets and fabric pieces off to printers. I would like to think the kits are 'on the shelf' this side of Christmas.
My plan is, that while that is at the printers, I will make the panel into something. Most likely a small pouch, similar to the pouch I made ages ago for the Tulipa Bird. I use that one all the time and this panel is the same size. Should I make a matching pincushion or needle book to go with it, do you think.

But just quickly, before I get back to work: Look what just arrived in the post! Stunning floss silk from Pipers Silk. Aren't they just gorgeous? I have not yet decided what to do with them - I just thought they would make a nice addition to my stash, just in case I suddenly had a brilliant idea...

Best Stitches,

Monday, November 11, 2019

Break Away

The saying goes: '.. a change is as good as a holiday...'
Having just come home after a fabulous 2 week break away, I will have to confess, I don't think anything quite compares to a holiday - no matter how good the change is.

Before the real break, I stopped by Canberra then on to Launceston and Hobart in Tasmania for workshops. I know, I have said this before, but one of the top perks of doing what I do, would have to be getting out and about to meet and spend time with dedicated stitchers in so many different places. I feel incredibly honored and privileged to be offered these opportunities.

A big thank you to 
... the the lovely group who joined me for an Introduction to Crewel Work in Canberra, stitching Blue Elegance and Autumn Gold.
... the wonderful Launceston group, taking part in 2 or 3 days of Raised Embroidery and making great progress on their Toadstools & Brambles and Superb Lyrebirds.
... the fabulous stitchers in Hobart, both those who made an epic start on Scarlet Glory and those who braved the large Mountain Oak in just two days.
... and not least to My Wonderful Hosts!
I hope you all enjoyed the workshops as much as I did. I hope to see you again some time and please, don't forget - I love photos...

Adrian met me in Hobart after the classes and the plan was to hit the road right away, BUT - we were both pretty tired. He from driving from Adelaide and catching the fairy across, I from the fabulously hectic week just passed.
So we stayed put in Hobart for a day and took in the (freezing cold) views from the top of Mt Wellington and then lingered around MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in the afternoon. What a place that is! And surprisingly among all the very modern (and sometimes strange) art, we found two pieces of fabulously textured embroidery by Renate Rabus.

'Accouplement'  1989, Renate Rabus at MONA

Then we hit the road.
Tasmania is spectacular and we have photo after photo after photo.... 
We snaked our way from the South to the east coast

... across the midlands to Mt Fields and ..

... on to the temperate rain forests on the west coast.

We had planned to camp some of the time, but let's face it... it is still cold in Tasmania this time of year, so we chickened out and booked into B&B's along the way. The only exception was this fab, perhaps not to everybody's liking, little hut in the middle of Mt Field National park.

The weather was spectacular and we were joined by some unexpected dinner guests.


We walked... A lot.
Along beaches, and through forests.
Admiring all the green from the tiniest of mosses and ferns to the tallest of tall trees...


... through forests 
to the bottom of waterfalls and to the top of waterfalls. 

We got snowed on at Cradle Mountain...

... and made sure we stopped whenever we could to take in the views.

... and just as I was making note (complaining) that I had never seen a wombat in the wild, we spotted this guy and half a dozen of his friends.

It was the best break away we have had in a very long time. I don't think, I had realised just how much I needed it. 
Now I am ready to get back to work.
Step 1 - write a new To-Do-List... it is going to be a long one!

Have a lovely week everyone. 
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Monday, October 14, 2019

Just a quick note....

Gazing out through the kitchen window this morning, I was thinking about how little stitch work I have done these past few weeks...

Very, Very Berry Bird - Detail
I did finish the Very, Very Berry bird and I am really happy with how it turned out (the reverse stitching was worth the effort). Usually I get carried away with a 'million' different stitches for my crewel work, but this little piece is really quite simple with all the leaves stitched exactly the same way and only two variations for the berries. 
I blocked it over a week ago, so it is now ready to be made into something useful.

I have decided I want to make a smallish project bag. One that zips most of the way around, with compartments inside. I have been looking around online for patterns and found couple that I like, but they will need a bit of tweaking and testing before and I have now run out of time.

I am now busy getting ready to go away.. again.
I will be away for close to three weeks; one week and a bit of classes in Canberra, Launceston and Hobart, followed by 10 days to explore Tasmania. I haven't been to Tasmania before, so I am rather excited to take time out to have a bit of a look around.

Closed 18 Oct - 6 Nov

Because I am away longer than normal, I wanted to let you all know the SHOP will be closed while I am away. I know from past experience that orders from Australia to most other places can take longer than the usually 3 weeks the close we get to Christmas, so if any of you were thinking of ordering for your self or others, you might want to consider getting in before I leave, to make sure you don't miss out.

My 'Out & About' project bag is still empty.. I can't make up my mind what I feel like taking / stitching this time...

Until I get back..
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Friday, September 27, 2019

Two stitches forward...

... ten stitches back.

I sat down yesterday afternoon, thinking that with a solid few hours of stitching, I might finish my Very, Very Berry bird. I had finished the bird, stitched all the berries and started work on the branch and leaves - it was coming along nicely.
But then, I sat back and looked at it...

... it was turning green!
It was starting to look too much like my Dawn Chorus which I love, but I don't feel the need to repeat.

In my mind, I want this little panel to be more blue than green I have a beautiful piece of fabric in my stash which is part of my inspiration.

I had started stitching the leaves blanket stitch in shades of blue-grey and then added fly stitch veins over the top using the same yellow-green that I had used for the bird's body. I then continued the yellow-green in stem stitch along each side of the stem to outline it.
I like the way the stitches work, but...
.. the piece was definitely turning green.

I was quite sure the only way around it was to rip out all the yellow green. Which of course would mean I had to pull the legs out also because the toes are stitched over the top of the branch... SIGH.
... I promptly put it away to sleep on it.

So this afternoon, before 'attacking' the whole piece, I added a different colour, a pale green-blue for the veins and along the branch and that was much more like the look I was after.
Another bigger SIGH and out came the rest of the leaf veins + the stalk for the berries in the birds beak and the three below - they were too green also.

If you scroll up and down and compare the picture above with the one a little further up, you can see just how big a difference a single makes. Isn't it crazy.

I am now pretty much back to where I started but I feel much, much better about it now. I think, the rest of the leaves and berry stalks are done, the overall feel and colour will be just as I was hoping for. Fingers crossed, there won't be too much more 'reverse stitching' on this Very, Very Berry bird.

Next big decision is what to do with it? Any suggestions?
I had thought of a project pouch, but then again, I do need a wallet for my 'stuff' and passport when I travel. Hmm...

We are heading off to the beach for a couple of nights, just to catch our breath. It will be really nice to get away for a few days of R&R. I am not sure yet what I will take to keep my hands busy (if I feel the need). There are plenty of lovely walks and the weather is looking promising, so I may not do any stitching at all. We'll see.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Best Stitches,
Anna X