Thursday, December 24, 2020

Good health & happiness

I wish you all a 

Safe and Happy Christmas!

Tonight our little family will be enjoying Christmas Ever together. Just Adrian & I, our boys and partners. It is small. It is (relatively) quiet. It is special and I am grateful. 
~ ~ ~ 
I wish you all a Happy & Joyful Festive Season in whichever shape and form it may be. Look after yourselves and your loved ones, even if that means being apart for a bit. 

I have lived a long, long way away from my maternal family for more than half of my life. I still miss being with them this time of year - it doesn't get any easier. 
To everyone who are unable to spend the festive season with their loved ones, perhaps for the first time, I know how tricky it can be and I hope you can find alternative ways to stay connected and together. 

Warm Wishes,
Anna XX


Monday, December 14, 2020

Now where was I...????

I never intended to have a break from this project, but it has been a couple of months or more since I last worked on it.

I do remember, I had a very clear idea how I was going to stitch the remaining elements in this design - trouble is, I don't remember what those great plans were.... ups!

I rarely tend to make notes or stitch plans in advance, but this time I really wish I had!  Luckily, I had at least marked out some little details on the next elements, before the project was suddenly side-lined.

After scratching my head for a little while, I remembered...

The plan was to fill the group of leaves with fly stitch, shading from the blue-grey at the lowest points through the three shades of green. 
It feels really good to be back working on this project. With this section finished, the lower half of the design is complete.

Now I will turn it 'on it's head' and start working on the elements at the top (easier than reaching all the way across). Now I just need to remember what the plan for those were....?

Have a lovely week everyone. 
Anna X

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

It's a Juggle

 He is finished.

It has taken me ages, with so many other projects in between, but he is finally done.

The bead buttons and belt. Then the hair and the jester's crown. For the crown, I had to turn him on his head and stitched the longest needlewoven picots and added bells (gold beads) at the tips.

He wears shiny golden slippers on his feet - Perfect for skipping along the path.

He looks pretty pleased with his final outfit, don't you think?

So now, he is ready to head to framer so I can have him ready for where he is going next. I think, I can safely tell you. I decided a little while back that wanted to give him to my eldest son and my very soon to be daughter-in-law when they tie the knot. (as so many other weddings it was postponed, so my other finishing job was to change the date on it. - They better not change it again). 

I hope they will like it.

I have called this piece 'It's a Juggle' - that is life, isn't it? 

The trick is to remember to pick up the balls when we drop them.  

Have a great week everyone, and thank you for stopping by.

Best Stitches,

Anna X

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Change of plans

Things this week didn't quite go to plan. I kept meaning to get back to the juggler, but there were always other little (and bigger) jobs that I just had to deal with first - before I knew it, another week had passed by.

I did finish something else though. Remember the Little Mermaid? 

The Little Mermaid, Goldwork embroidery

She has been pinned to pin board for months. I enjoyed looking at it there, but it did need to finished off properly. 

So during the week, I dusted off my sewing machine and finally got around to turning her into a little pillow. 

I deliberately kept it pretty simple using a natural coloured linen for the back and piping. 

It looks rather nice on our sofa.

But it is not staying there. I can't tell you where it is going.. you know - just in case.

~ ~ ~ 

I have had another 'little' side project on the go for some time now and it is almost finished.

Another thing on my pinboard above my desk is this quote:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old;
We grow old because we stop playing" 
- George Bernard Shaw

You see, when I don't stitch, or am at work, or tinker in my garden, or tend my veggie patch or help with what needs to be done in the vineyard... I play. 

It all started a few years ago, when I needed a serious distraction. So I built myself a dolls house. It is just a small house. It has a toyshop on the bottom floor, a living room above and a student lodger living in the attic room. You can see my Toy House  here.

The picture of is of a little rug I have been stitching for the apartment above the shop. And yes, it is cross stitch - Tiny cross stitch. There is no exact thread count because I am stitching onto calico! I had a piece in my stash with a weave that resembles Aida cloth. 

I had found this picture of an antique rug online. I really liked it and used that as the basic idea. It is not an exact match, but close. 

I don't do any cross stitch in 'real life' (full size), but I have been having fun tinkering with this on-and-off. Mind you, I must admit that with just one last border to finish, I am looking forward to having it finished. 

Next week is definitely back to the Juggler - He too needs to be finished!

If you are starting something, finished something or steadily beavering away in the middle of something - I hope you have an enjoyable week doing what you enjoy.

Stay Safe & Keep Stitching,

Anna X

Friday, November 20, 2020

It's a Wrap

Ever since wrapping all the wee Happy Holly and Merry Mistletoe berries for the New Christmas Ornaments, I have been looking forward to wrapping more beads for something entirely different. Guess what these are for?

As I mentioned in the last post, wrapping beads it slightly fiddly but oh, so satisfying and fun. So with all my silk threads happily spread all over my desk, I had a lovely time playing with bright, cheerful colours and making striped beads. I used variegated silk for some, plain for others and carefully made the red and pink ball by wrapping the bead in alternating bands of colour.  

This time, I wrapped over wooden beads in two different sizes, 6mm (1/4") and 8mm (5/16"). The photo with the beads next to my embroidery scissors give a bit on an idea of the size. 
And this is where they are going...

As much, as I am itching to get back to my crewel embroidery, I do need to finish this project first. I don't have much to do: 
1. The juggler needs a hat. My initial idea didn't work out and I haven't attempted anything since. 
2. His coat needs a belt of some sort and depending on how the hat, hair and ears work out, I think his coat might need some kind of collar - oh, and of course 
3. Buttons. 
Then the balls can be attached and he is finished. So, really - there is not much left for me to do. 

We have been having the most gorgeous spring weather the last few days, so my mornings have been spent in the garden. Tomorrow will be hot and windy though, so I will be putting all the little bits and pieces for the New Kits into bags. It is always a nice feeling when they are all packaged up and looking lovely.

Stay Safe & Keep Stitching,
Anna X


Monday, November 16, 2020

Wearing many hats

It has been (much) longer than intended and I think I have worn every single one of my many hats since I last showed you what I was up to.

Now where was I? ... oh, Yes

I stitched the second decoration with a sprig of Holly in addition to the Mistletoe, I showed you last.


... and now have: 

Happy Holly & Merry Mistletoe

After finishing my little Christmas decorations. I was so busy to start work on the kits, I completely forgot to show you the finished decorations. Sorry.

It is hard from the pictures to tell, but these ornaments are only small, just under 7cm (2 3/4") - the size of a medium size bauble, I guess. The pair of embroidery scissors might give you a bit of an idea.

As you may know, I usually like to 'play' with lots of different stitches. This time though, I wanted to keep it a bit more simple, so I have embroidered each using mostly very basic embroidery stitches and only simple raised embroidery techniques. 

Both decorations are embroidered very similarly with Wired Leaves added for dimension. I have also used the same colour scheme, only of course the Holly has cheery red berries and the Mistletoe glistening white berries. 

The berries are made by wrapping beads with silk thread - they are fun but a tad fiddely to make. You can find a picture step-by-step of how to make Wrapped Bead Berries HERE

As soon as I had put down my needle after finishing the decorations, I took off my 'Embroidery hat' and started working on all the other little bits and pieces that needs to be done to make the projects available as kits for you to make your own. Although I have now done this many times, I am always taken by surprise just how many 'loose ends' needs to be tied before it all comes together. This is a time when I wear my 'Writers-hat', my 'Graphics-hat' and my (not-so-well-fitting) 'Photography-hat'. I am always relieved when I can put those hats back on their hooks LOL.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Midway though that part of 'the production', I dusted of my 'teaching-hat' (YEAH!) and headed to Canberra for quick weekend workshop. It was wonderful!  

Over the Pond,
Silk embroidery,  19cm (7 1/2”) in diameter.

The group at the Embroiderers' Guild of the ACT had invited me to guide them through OVER THE POND. I designed this project particularly to practice long & short stitch (soft shading) and satin stitch. For that I have put together a step-by-step explanation on Long & Short Stitch. You can Download it Here if you like. 

It was a lovely couple of days and at the end we had room full of happily hovering dragonflies. Still more to come, but everyone is well underway. 

I cannot tell you how nice it was to 'get back out there'. - Thank you so much Ladies for the invitation and for making me feel so welcome and at home !

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Back home & Back to the kits.

Most of the silks arrived from France in just under 3 weeks, which is amazing considering post is still unpredictable and often taking longer than usual. SO I have put on my 'Packing hat' and we are starting to put the kits together - yeah. 

It now feels like it is Christmas 'in a minute' and Oh, how I wish it has struck earlier and I had made these kit 2 months ago! It frustrates me to no end that the likelihood of getting kits shipped overseas and stitched in time for (this) Christmas, is not very, very poor  - I guess the only good thing is - it will be Christmas again next year. 

I hope you are all keeping safe and well in this strange and somewhat unpredictable time we live in. 

Look after your selves and each other.

Best Stitches,

Anna X 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Mistletoe & Holly

I wish, I had thought of this earlier...

A few weeks ago I saw this beautiful Liberty Christmas print. The pattern of Mistletoe & Holly is just so pretty and the colours are so 'my favorite' - I couldn't help but buy a piece. 

It was not part of my plan to stitch any Christmas projects this year, and I really, really want to finish my Crewel embroidery, but Christmas is 'in a minute, so here I go...

I am going to make a pair of ornaments in raised embroidery. One will have a Mistletoe and the other a sprig of Holly. They are only small so (in theory) they shouldn't take too long to stitch and make. 
Above are the detached leaves for the Mistletoe. For these wee leaves, I have wired the edges because I didn't want a defined centre vein.
I am using shades of soft blue-grey Au ver a Soie stranded silk and a tiny touches of fine silver metallic. 

The Holly leaves are slightly larger. For these, I have wired the center vein - it would be way too difficult (read: near impossible) to get points on the edges of the leaves if I had to shape a wire along it. 
I had taken step-by-step photos on my phone (the camera died and I haven't bought a new one yet) with the plan of showing you how I did them. Sadly the photos are not all that good so I don't want to use them here. I did put them on Facebook and Instagram with a brief description, so you can see them there. 

I finished the main embroidery for the mistletoe today. As I said, it is only small - 6.5cm (2 1/2") in diameter. 

It is stitched on a very pale blue-grey silk, but for a bit of extra sparkle I have sprinkled tiny silver cross stitches over the back ground.

Here are the detached leaves next to the main piece. Now I need to decide how to make the berries.. pearl or silk-wrapped beads....?

On our morning walks, Tilly and I often meet a little koala - I have named him Karl. Most days, he will be sleeping in a tree but today we met him 'between trees'. They really are funny things, koalas. He wasn't too fussed at all by Tilly, as long as she wasn't too bouncy (which is really, really, really hard for a Kelpie). She even sat still for along enough for me to snap a quick pic. He even let her come close enough for a little sniff. She would never hurt him, but she did want to play and if you have ever seen the claws on a  koala, you will know that they can be an almighty weapon if they need to be. In the end, Karl was not one bit interested in playing chase and went up his tree. 

I hope you are all keeping safe and well wherever you are. 
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Sometimes things happens in Threes

 I left you last time with a promise of some exciting news - There are three bits of news really.

First bit of News

(exciting for me) is that I have a sparkly NEW WEBSITE

It wasn't my intention to re-do the website. It was kind of like when you decide to paint the bedrooms and end up renovating the entire house! My new home doesn't look so very different, more like a 'tidy-up', except one thing: I now have a my own STUDIO SHOP

I have been wanting to add my shop to my website for some time, but I kept putting it in the 'too hard basket'. When I finally made the decision to 'bite the bullet', my idea was just to open a shop on my exciting site. After chatting to my WebNerd - it made sense to start again (something I really, really, really didn't want to do because I knew it would be a big job) and I found myself redoing the whole kit and caboodle. Boy, am I glad to now hang my 'webmaster' hat on the hook for awhile.

I have had plenty of moments over the past few month, asking myself, WHY? Why did I embark on this massive task?

  1. I have always wanted my shop to be on my website. When I started making my embroidery kits available, it all seemed a little scary, so I opened my shop on Etsy where all the tech stuff is taken care off. It worked and I didn't have to worry about it, but...
  2. My little shop on Etsy is great BUT (sadly) since I first opened my 'doors' Etsy has made changes and bit by bit increased what they charge for their services (services shop owners have no control over). Don't get me wrong, I do like Etsy and I do browse and shop there, but it has become a very expensive way to run a shop. 

So, here I am, at the other side of a big 'make over' - I know full well, I could not have done any of it without all of you! Without the amazing support from all of you, I would not be doing what I do! I feel so privileged and grateful, so..


Since I can't Thank You with a grand opening serving champagne and canapes, I want to WELCOME you to my new space with a special Thank You of 10% off when you order from the New Studio Shop. All you need to do, is use the Coupon Code: WELCOME at the check out (it doesn't expire).

Second (and third) bit of News

You may have wondered what Mother Hen at the start of the post has got to do with the Studio Shop! 

The kits are (finally) available - Hurray!!!

Both the kit for Mother Hen & Periwinkle and the smaller Mother Hen Needle Book have been SO long in the making and I appreciate the patience of those of you who have been asking for them.

Today is the first day (apart from my break) in a very long time, where I have the satisfying feeling of having finished something. It's a nice feeling. The nice feeling of having finished and the even nicer feeling to knowing I can now get on with some of the embroidery projects that have been on the 'back burner'. 

For know, I am going to enjoy the weekend. I hope you do too. 

Best Stitches,

Anna X


Monday, October 5, 2020

Some Crewel progress

 I have made a bit of progress on my (still to be names...) Morris inspired crewel piece. 

In fact looking back at the last post I shared with you, I have made more progress than I thought. First I stitched the mirrored set of daisies and those 'knotty' fruit (I think, I will decide they are persimmons) to complete all the elements across the middle of the design.

I am itching the embroidery the large artichoke shape at the top, but decided to finish the lower half of the design first. Next up was the lower leaves and flower buds.

I stitched the leaves in chain stitch, grading the rows through the grey shades. I am still surprised how 'colour full' grey can be. I wanted these leaves not to be too heavy looking, so rather than filling them with solid stitching, I added some simple veins and little detached chain leaves. 
I was being good this time, stitching both leaves before moving on to the next.

I find that when embroidering mirror image designs, I always get a better result when I stitch both sides roughly at the same time... if I (as I would like) move on to something else and then come back to it days or weeks later - I am less likely to get the pair looking the same. 
Even so, the veins on my two leaves are slightly denser on one leaf than the other.. I will wait and see if I re-stitch it or not.
I haven't yet finished the lower pair of flower buds. I has hoped to finish them over the weekend, but you know what it is like... 
The centre stamen is satin stitch and I will be putting more stitching over the top. The petals are embroidered in burden stitch. I know many stitchers don't like this stitch much and, I guess, it does take a little bit of practice. I rather like the texture and shading you can create with this stitch.

The stitch starts with straight foundation stitch across the shape you want to cover..

Then you place straight stitches across one foundation stitch, keeping them closely against the foundation stitches on either side and spacing them slightly apart. 

When you do the next and following rows, the stitches slot into the gaps of the previous. 
Burden stitch forms a brick-like texture that I rather like. You can vary the look and texture of the stitch, depending on the spacing of the foundation stitches and how closely you pack the stitches over the top. 
I like leaving it a little bit open so that the foundation stitches underneath shows through...

To finish off the petals, I have neatened the edges with stem stitch. Next up is finishing the centre stamen... hopefully tomorrow.

I really, really hope to have more show next week along with some exciting news - something that has been taking up a lot of my (stitching) time the past few months.

Until then, take care of your self and your loved ones.
Stay safe & Keep stitching,

Anna X