Friday, March 27, 2020

Long overdue

I think, no, I know, I dropped the ball.
I have not stitched anything for weeks, nor have I visited the blogs I usually enjoy or engaged in any other social media stuff... I just dropped the ball and have not even tried to pick it up.
The things I have been doing, that are ever so slightly embroidery related, have not been things that offered anything remotely interesting to share.

Like the rest of you, we are adjusting to the same crazy and unnerving times, with plans now all 'unplanned' (is there even such a word?) and the simple way we do, or did, everything rapidly changing day by day. All my immediate workshops and trips have of course been cancelled or rather postponed for the time being. The new patterns are coming along and hopefully I will have them in the shop soon.
When I don't work on my embroidery, I work part-time in the call center of our emergency services. I had scaled that job right back, and was lucky to be able to do so, but with the current situation, I will be back on 'my perch' more regularly.

But some things don't, or can't, change (much) and we have been going through this years grape harvest for the past few weeks. Because we have several varieties of grapes, harvest is spread out of a several weeks, depending on the season. We finished this morning with the last little lot, leaving for the winery. Ideally the winemaker would have liked to leave them on the vines for another week but the winery where she presses closes its doors to external users this afternoon, so she had no choice. I don't mind - it always a welcoming feeling of relief when it is all done and we can relax on that front of a little bit.

So after what feels like weeks and weeks on no stitching, or to be honest, not really even feeling very inspired, I have picked up the needle again.
A friend of mine, Ansie ( alerted me to a call-out by textile artist, Ellis Schoonhoven named LOST CONNECTIONS. Ellis had started working on the project back in November, long before most of us even knew that Social Distancing was even a thing. She wants to create awareness to our lost connection with each other and the world around us while also connecting people. So she set out to find 50 stitchers from all over the world to stitch the words LOST CONNECTIONS in their own language in gold thread. The pieces will then be made into pillows what will surround a large veil she is creating from antique pieces of lace.
At first, I clicked past it. You can only get involved in so much, right? But this one wouldn't go away, so I went back for a closer look and decided it was something I would really like to be part of.
Although I have called Australia home for more that half of my life, I am still Danish, so I will be stitching the words MISTEDE FORBINDELSER.

The brief is pretty open, with just the size and the words stitched in gold threads. Ellis also suggested that the words be accompanied by something that signifies the country, something that is iconic either to the people as a whole or has an iconic meaning to the person stitching...????
I knew from the start,  I wanted to include water. Denmark is tiny and there is water everywhere. Historically it is a nation of seafarers and farmers (well roughly spoken). More importantly, I wanted water because water both separates and connects.
But water alone is not iconic to anywhere in particular, so I had to put my thinking cap on before settling on...

... The Little Mermaid.

1) I think, she is iconic to Copenhagen in particular. (And yes, she is really is very, very tiny)
2) She sits in the water, staring out to sea.
3) I grew up with Hans Christian Anderson stories and still love them.

After having the drawing pinned to my wall for a few day, I got it all ready last night. The pattern is traced onto a light sea-green/blue linen. I bought this piece in Thailand some years ago and the colour is just perfect. The weave however is a little too open to hold the embroidery, so I have had to back it with a calico.

It is now all framed up on my favorite rosewood slateframe and is ready to go. It feels really good to be doing something creative and positive again.

Stay well,
Anna X

Friday, February 28, 2020

Mother Hen & Periwinkel

It is finished...

I finished the larger, original version of Mother Hen some time last week. I did flick a quick photo onto other social media, but I figured it would be nice the share a bit more detail with you here.

This is where it was at: I had embroidered all the detached pieces; The flowers, the leaves and the hen's head and wing.

The head is embroidered mostly in chain stitch. For this piece I have worked all the rows in the same direction - first in a spiral kind of motion around the head and then in rows down the neck. The pattern on neck formed by filling the spaces left between the cream rows, with a slightly darker colour.

The wing is embroidered using just two stitches: Blanket stitch (buttonhole stitch)for the larger feathers, blanket stitch wheels for the scalloped feathers and detached chains (lazy daisy) placed in a brick-like pattern to fill the upper part.
No matter how long I have been embroidering for, it never stops to amaze me just how much the appearance of a stitch can be altered by the size and placement.

Before I could attach the head and wing, I needed to complete the embroidery for Mother Hen's tail and body.
I had been in such a rush to get the smaller needlebook version finished that I had taken very few (if any) notes. At the time I was sure I would just remember how I did everything since non of it is really complicated but it turned out that that was not the case.
At least I had taken quite a few - if not beautiful then at least helpful - photos which came in really handy second time around.

The tail feathers are embroidered mostly in fly stitch, just as you would a leaf. To get the grading of colour when changing from one shade to the next, I skip stitches and then bring in the next shade into those gaps to avoid it becoming stripy.

Although the body is mostly covered by the wing, it still needed to be 'coloured in'. I wanted to do something that represented feathers but without actually stitching individual feathers or repeating the detached chain feathers of the wing. I ended up first covering the shape with a mixture of satin stitch and sort of long and short stitch - stitching midway onto the shape and then filling the opposite side afterwards. Originally I was only going to cover the lower edge, since the upper part of the body is covered by the wing, but it didn't work for the needlebook, where the wing can be lifted up and the felt would show underneath.
To conserve thread, all of this stitching was done in a back and forth motion so there is really very little silk wasted on the back.

To get a 'feather-like pattern, I then placed a couched lattice over the top and then couched it down carefully, so I didn't flatten the body. So far so good.

The week chickens are stitched entirely in detached chains - tiny for the body and quite long for the head, so the chain forms a 'satin stitch' like face and the anchoring stitches the fluffy feathers on top of the head.

After the hens head and wing was stitched on, I could finally complete her face with black bead for the eye... this is when I realised I had missed tracing the beak! No other way than to just 'wing it'.

You may remember, I mentioned here that I had embroidered a spare flower because I anticipated having to attach them differently to what I have done in the past. The flowers are not wired, so I had thought I perhaps would need to catch the edges of the petals together near the centre to gently cup the flower. As it turned out, I had not need to worry. The petals were rigid enough without wire, to raise neatly from the fabric when I pulled the stitches tight in the centre.

I still need to frame this Mother Hen & Periwinkle. I had toyed with the idea of inserting it into a boxlid but I haven't decided yet. For now I am working on the pattern and I am really, really, really going to try and have the kit for both versions in my SHOP before Easter.

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Very, Very Berry pouch

It has been a Very, Very Berry week in more ways than one.

I finally made the little Very, Very Berry crewel embroidery panel into a small pouch. It had been the intention all along, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

The little pouch is perfect for carrying my embroidery bits and pieces when I go away. It has three pockets inside so that scissors, needles and other little bits don't just 'rattle around'.

I have long been using the Tulipa pouch when I go away, so I got it out and made this one the same way, using the cherry print cotton that gave me the idea for the design in the first place for the back.
I have not had my sewing machine out in ages and for the first time ever, managed to sew into my finger! No blood stains on the linen which is the most important thing.

It is really a few days since I finished the actual pouch, but I wanted to write up the pattern so that you can download it and make a pouch of your own if you want to.
You can download the FREE PATTERN HERE

Between stitching, writing and drawing to get pouch pattern ready, I did pick this beautiful bowl of wild blackberries. I always keep an eye out for them on my works and was not really expecting any this year because of the hot weather we have had. But mother nature can be so resilient.

Have a lovely weekend everyone,

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Back to the original Mother Hen

With the Mother Hen Needle Book finished, I have started back on the original, larger version of the design. You can just see it in the top right corner of the picture.

You will notice the larger design is mirrored to the needle book- or rather, I had to mirror the needle book otherwise you would be opening it at the tail of hen and that somehow felt and looked really wrong :-).

The larger version needs detached pieces for leaves and flowers, as well as the wing and head for the hen and I managed to finish all those elements this week.

I only need four of the periwinkle flowers, but I am going to try an attach them in a way, I have not done before, so I have embroidered four, just in case it doesn't work.
They are stitched in just two shades of silk (Au ver a Soie, Soir d'Alger 4912 and 4913). In the photo, the flower on the left still needs the blanket stitch around the edges.

The six leaves were a bit tedious. They have wired edges, so I can shape them later and are all stitched exactly the same way with the same colour combination.

I usually use a variety of greens for leaves, but for this design, I feel they all need to be the same. I am glad they are done now. At least they are quite small (as the pin for comparison shows).

I still need to embroidery the four little chickens, the raised petals for the two buds above the hen and the hen's tail and body. It is my goal to get it finished in the coming week... we'll see how I go.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Anna X

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Finishing Little Mother Hen

I finished making the smaller version of MOTHER HEN into a needlebook this week. It was really nice to make a piece of raised embroidery into something useful for a change and I was so excited to show you a few days ago.. but 'sigh' I have just spent the past two days getting my computer upgraded and running properly again (big sigh).

It is a quite simple little needle book. A little press stud to hold it closed and just a single felt page to keep needles and pins at hand.

The edges are decorated and neatened with seed beads, stitched in place with Palestrina stitch.


Palestrina Stitch

The stitch is worked along a line or, as for Mother Hen, over a seam. 

1. 2.

1. Secure the thread and take a small stitch a little further along.
2. Holding the thread to the left, slide the needle from top to bottom under the short stitch without picking up any fabric.

3.  4.

3. Pull the thread to so it sits snug around the stitch.
Slide the needle under the short stitch one more time, this time making sure the thread is looped under the needle tip.
When the thread is pulled to it will form a small knot. 4. Continue to work the stitches like that close together to form a knotted line or edge.


I was, at first going to just use the Palestrina stitch on its own. It forms sort of a knotted but neat edging, but looking at it, I felt like Mother Hen deserved something a little more elegant, so I decided to add beads.

The Palestrina knots help keep the beads evenly spaced. All I needed to do was to make sure the beads were snug between the knots. For that, I simply used the needle to push it into place against the previous knot as you can see above.

I used three strands of cotton matching the darker shade in the fabric pattern and it now looks like a string of little pearls framing the edges.

The next step is to get the instructions on how to make the needlebook written and with my computer back up an running there is no reason not just to get on with it.
Between writing, I am planning to now get back to work in the large, original version of MOTHER HEN.

If you remember, this is where I got to before realizing it was going to be too involved for the two day class I have coming up.

Have a lovely week everyone.
Anna X

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A New Year

I didn't write a 'Christmas' post, or a 'New Years' post..  but I do hope you all had a lovely festive season and have entered 2020 safely.

It has been very busy in our house during the last few weeks. Not with anything remotely embroidery related. My brother and his family, and my dad arrived a few days before Christmas and are staying with us, for the best part of three weeks. This is the first time my dad has ever been with all of his four grand children at the same time. Ranging in age from 13 to nearly 30, it is needless to say it is a very special time for him especially.
My brother and his family have taken off on a road trip on their own for a few days, and our two boys have taken their granddad out for the day - so the house feels very quiet today after so much activity.

You may recall, I had a deadline before Christmas. 
I made it!! 

This is the smaller, class version of a new stumpwork kit. I have named it MOTHER HEN. I will be making it into a needlebook, so I have deliberately not included any wired shapes or elements which the larger version will have.
I did take photos as I went and will share more about the various elements in this project in a later post. It is designed as a reasonably easy project - an Introduction to Raised Embroidery (or Stumpwork). For that reason, I have embroidered it using mostly common embroidery stitches, like chain, satin and stem stitch. One of the things I do love about embroidery, is that you really don't need to be accomplished in an endless amount of different stitches. Once you get to know a few, there are so many ways to use them.

As I write (and stitch, and go about my everyday 'doings') my thoughts are with everyone who are affected by the terrible bushfires burning out of control in New South Wales and Victoria. We are safe where we are, but are acutely aware of what is happening and that it could easily happen here also.

Stay safe
Anna X