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..

 THANK YOU! 

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



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Back from the outback

 oh what a great break!

We saw some incredible places and had an amazing time - I don't think I realized just how much I needed to get away until now that I am back. We have stacks and stacks of photos, and before getting back down to embroidery business, I really want to share just a few snapshots of what we got up while on the road for the past 3 weeks.

We drove... A LOT. Well, I didn't drive.. Adrian likes driving, while I am more than content to just sit back and enjoy the ride 😀


The 'main drag' up the centre is long (very long), flat and very straight. We joked that we could probably just tie the steering wheel in place and both take nap. The aim was to just 'leg it' the 2700km (1678 miles) from Adelaide to Katherine in just a couple of days, which we almost managed. 
As soon as we reached the 'Top End' we slowed down...


I have lost count of how many waterfalls we visited (not all flowing this time of year) and how many rockpools we swam in. LOTS - for well more than a week we went on a rockpool crawl, moving from one amazing spot to the next every day. 


The water in the rockpools was a clear as can be, with fish swimming around you and nibbling at your toes. In one pool, we had company of a small water monitor. She? looks massive in the photo, but really was only about 50cm (20") long.


It was too hot for long hikes, but between swimming in those incredible natural pools, we did quite a few really beautiful walks.
The landscape is vast (enormously vast). I know that for some people the vastness makes them uncomfortable. I LOVE it. There is something so special about being out in the middle our 'nowhere' feeling very, very small and insignificant that for me, puts everything into perspective.



Apart from Jim Jim Falls, which was the most spectacular rockpool of them all, there was less swimming once we got to Kakadu National Park. Partly because there is less rockpools but mostly because where there is water there is crocodiles. Big ones!
The landscape, with majestic rock formations and ancient rock art was breathtaking.


Nothing here is subtle. Everything is big. The land is vast. The heat is hot. The sun is fierce (and so are the mosquitos). The water is murky and full of crocodiles. The rock is as old and solid, as old and solid can be, and makes you feel like a little insignificant ant (well, ants are important but you get the picture).


I have seen plenty of pictures of Aboriginal Rock Art, but standing in front of a rockface filled with paintings, some of which are dating back more than 20,000 years, is truly humbling. 


I never stops to amaze me, just how much wildlife there is in these arid areas. In Kakadu, the birdlife is abundant especially along the rivers. We were lucky to see dancing brolga, kites, sea eagles, numerous types of ducks and geese, king fishers and kookaburras, Jaribu storks and egrets.. the list goes on.


A family of blue-winged kookaburra hung around our camp one day. They can't 'laugh' like their southern cousins here, but they are ever so colorful. This guy was so tame, just short of eating from our hands. 


We had more close encounters a the Territory Wildlife Park just south of Darwin. I never knew there was such a thing as freshwater sting rays and hand feeding these creatures was fabulous. The highlight though was to meet Quirky the Northern Quoll (sorry about the fuzzy photo, but these guys are NEVER still). 

So many adventures in such a short time... Did I stitch?


...not much. I had roughed up a piece of 'doodle stitching' as I often do when I am away but I didn't get far. Never mind.. I guess, we will just have to go on another trip so I can work on it...

I hope you have all been keeping well and safe, despite crazy weather around the place and the never ending turmoil of the pandemic.

Stay safe & keep stitching,
Anna xx
 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Time Out...

... just a little, quick note to let you know that I am having a wee break to recharge the batteries.


I know many think of Australia as hot and full of red dust.. well, there is some of that around, but where we live the winter is cold. I don't like cold, so we are heading north for some warmer weather and a different view for a bit. 

  THE SHOP 
will be closed from Wednesday, 26 August. 
Please make sure you get your order in before that if you need anything to keep your hands busy. 

I don't think, I will be posting while I am away, but I will be in touch as soon as I am back on deck. 

Take care every one. 
Stay Safe & Keep Stitching
Anna XOX 






Monday, August 17, 2020

Changing projects

Not as much stitching has been happening around here as I would like but I managed to sneak in a couple of hours yesterday and picked up the crewel piece I am also working on.

I always prefer to work on colour selections during the day and with this grey scale it is even more important as the tones of the grey yarns change completely at night.

The sprig of small daisies was relatively straight forward (and very relaxing). The little leaves are fishbone stitch, satin stitch petals and colonial knot centers. It surprised me how 'pink' the palest grey tone looked when used for the center in the lighter daisies.

Then I moved on to the group of heart-shaped flowers/fruit inside the main scroll. I knew, I wanted closely packed knots for the fruit and Cretan stitch for the sepals, but this time the colour combinations were a little more challenging to get right. At first, when holding the grey yarns against the design - they looked way too.. well, grey. So I first stitched the sepals in the same light green as the daisy leaves. It looked completely wrong. Then I tried a grey-green, which looked fine - until I had finished the knots and then that too looked out of place. I 'reverse stitched' it again and went back to the original greys. Goodness, colours and tones can be fickle but I think it works. 

The fruit are all embroidered in the same way, but I used two colour variations to add a bit of interested. 

I find when working with repeated elements, such as groups of flowers or leaves, that if you change both colour and stitch combinations, the design can easily end up looking too busy. Where as if you vary just one or the other it adds interest while the overall design remain balanced. 

The fruit is filled with closely packed French knots. These have 2-wraps, which I don't do often but one wrap was too little, Colonial knots too big and stitching with 2 strands of yarn, too bulky. The sepals are Cretan stitch. This is quite possibly one of my favorite stitches for small - medium size leaves. Mostly because, I just love the little plait it creates along the centre. Considering it is one of my favorite stitches, I was surprised to discover, I haven't yet shared a little step-by-step... I will need to do that, I think. 

This is how it looks now and I can work on the mirror set of daises and fruit (perhaps they are apples?) during the evening if I manage to steal a few minutes. There is one 'mistake' here.... can you spot it?

... I have stitched the elements on the right hand side first - really silly when I am right handed! I am pretty good at not resting my hands on the work while I embroiderer but I will need to cover it while I stitch the others so I don't rub my hand and arm over it all the time. 


You may remember, I had said, I really needed the Jester done by the end of the month, but I had to put him aside this week.

I am wanting to create a hat that looks a little like a cross between a crown and a jester's hat. The couple of attempts I have made were so bad, I didn't even bother with a photo. What I have learned (about myself) is that if it doesn't work after a couple of tries, put it aside for a bit and give it another go later. More often than not, a solution to whatever the problem may be (and I think it partly was the thread I was using) will turn up. At least he is looking pretty happy - hat or not hat.

The new website is taking up more time than I thought it would (no, not really, I knew it would be a bit of a headache) but I am getting there. I promise we will have a big party of sorts when it all done. 

Have a lovely and safe week everyone,

Anna