Saturday, July 25, 2020

It's a Juggle...

As expected I have not done much embroidery in the past week, and that's ok.

But, yesterday, my fingers were itching for needle and thread. You may remember the stumpwork figure, 'It's a Juggle', I was working on a while back. I suddenly knew exactly what to do with this piece, which prompted me to dig it out from where it has been patiently waiting for inspiration to set back in. 

I haven't done much more yet.. only added a few details along the horizon....

... and yes, there is a date. I think, I am safe posting it here. I would be very surprised if those involved in that date visit the blog LOL.

So, while I plot along with getting the new shop ready, this will give me something to tinker with when I need a little break from the screen and my poor brain needs a break from thinking too hard. 

The week before, I had had a lovely chat with Gary Parr on Fibre Talk. To be honest, I had been a little nervous about it - after all, what was I going to talk about for a whole hour???. I needn't have worried. I should have remembered that it is easy to talk with anyone who shares your interest and Gary made it so much. We talked about how I got here - doing what I do, about stitches, techniques, designing.. and then we ran out of time. The podcast went up last Sunday and can listen to the chat HERE if you like. Thank you Gary for giving me the opportunity to spend the morning chatting embroidery.

Have a wonderful week everyone.
Stay Safe & Keep Stitching,
Anna X

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Crewel & Colour

I have made a good bit of progress on this (still to be named ?) piece of crewel work.
After finishing the main stem, I moved on to the two large leaves on either side. For these, I wanted the the primary colour to be the run of grays. 

The lobes on the lower half are stitched in blanket stitch, with a fine line of a darker shade along the inside to define the edge. I had slightly changed the inner edge of the lobes and in the picture above, you can see a few little dots where the original design lines were. It didn't really matter though, since I wanted to fill the shapes with seed stitch, which neatly cover any dots. 
The grays I am using are Appletons from the run of 961 - They are a warm grey and I had originally thought, I would let the grays run into a very pale grey-blue at the tip. I think I tried every single super light blue-grey in Appletons run of colours - Nothing looked right. At this stage I also felt the colours for the seed stitch was looking too cool...

Before 'reverse stitching' anything, I jumped across to the second leaf to try an alternative. I started with the grays that I knew were working and, while still pondering the colour for the remaining section at the top, filled the lobes with seed stitch using a slightly warmer palette of yellow than before. This is much better. 
While working on the yellows, I had found yet another pale shade of warm grey - well more putty-grey in my stash and thought it was worth a try...

... it worked a treat. The colour is so close the one before it and when the yarns are laying on my table it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Once stitched, the grading is just fell into place. With that finally sorted, I could finish the leaf. 

As you can see, I have quite a few shades in this piece. The light blue is most certainly going and of the other colours, the stronger shades will only be used very, very sparingly to add definition and contrast.

I have unpicked and almost restitched what I needed to on the first leaf, so this is where I am at.  

I am thinking, I will redo the small daisy-type flowers in a different colour but other than that, I feel this is now on track to where I want it. I am not sure how much time I will have to stitch in the coming week. I am in the middle of reworking the website so that I can include the shop. The shop on Etsy has been great, but is becoming rather expensive for me to run as their fees have slowly been creeping up over the years and I think it is time...

Now I really do need to think of a name for it... you have all been really helpful before - any suggestions?

I hope you all have a lovely week, stay safe and keep stitching.
Anna X

Friday, July 10, 2020

Getting started

I have made a good start on my new crewel work design and just quickly wanted to share a snippet of it with you.

I started with the main 'trunk'. Partly because it was the one element that I knew exactly how I wanted to embroidery, but also because it is the most centered element and I like to try and stitch from the center outwards.

The trunk is stitched in very close rows of stem stitch. I know, I have said it before, but I just adore the way stem stitch almost looks woven when used as a filling stitch and you can achieve the most incredible shading.
Next was the large scrolling stems on each side. For those, I first stitched a line of ordinary chain stitch. It looked ok, but I felt it needed a little more texture, so I added back stitch over the top in a slightly lighter shade.

It gives the chain stitch a little more body. I still feel the scrolls need 'something', but I am not sure what, so am leaving them for now.

I then moved on to the sepals. As always when I work the colours and textures start very rough feeling  of what I am aiming for. These shapes are both pointy and some quite curved, I knew, I had to choose stitches and textured that would support and perhaps even accentuate these qualities. 
I wanted the outlines of the shapes to look 'firm' if that makes sense, so again opted for the trusty stem stitch. I have used two shades of grey and a pale blue-grey. As you can  see in the (slightly fuzzy, sorry) picture below, working out the order of colours and how many rows of each, happened progressively. 

I then stitched the center veins in coral stitch with the darkest of grey. Both the colour and texture of the stitches are a nice contrast to the outer edges and I think the knots are quite decorative in their own right.

So this is where I am at, and I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying stitching this piece.

The colour palette is a little different to what I have been working with lately; steel blue-grey is the primary colour (I think) with golden/brass yellow accents and grey-green used to tie it all together.
The inspiration for this colour scheme was borne some time ago during a workshop where I asked participants to stitch one of my designs but using their own colour sheme. A number of the ladies were using grey. It is not a colour I naturally gravitate to, but I loved the contemporary and classy twist it added to the project, so I am looking forward to giving it a go. 

Next up, I think, are the two large leaves...

Have a lovely weekend.
Stay safe and keep stitching,
Anna X

Friday, July 3, 2020

Peacock & Dragon

Peacock & Dragon is one of many exquisite textiles designs by William Morris & Co. 

William Morris, Peacock & Dragon, 1878 

Inspiration for design is a fickle thing. It is not always easy to point a finger at exactly where inspiration comes from. For me, ideas for designs can linger for a long time at the back of my mind. They can be sparked by an experience, something that happens, sometimes just a feeling and often nature and art. 

I have started work on a new piece of crewel work and in my mind, I am referring to it as 'Peacock & Dragon'. At first glance, there is probably no resemblance at all, but it very much inspired by Morris's glorious design. I have had an idea of a Arts & Craft inspired design brewing for a while and naturally flicked through some of my many Morris references. 

I don't know why, but I had an idea of the main design element being 'roundish' and my eye fell on the pomegranate shape between the peacocks. From that, my design began to take some kind of shape. 
One of the many beautiful things about Morris's textiles is the layers and layers of elements - once you start looking for individual details, there is just endlessly much to look at. 

The other thing that really caught my eye in 'Peacocks & Dragons' is the way the rather prickly looking dragons graciously curve out and then towards each other. 
I find the combination of the elegant curves and the spiky shapes that form the feathers and scales? really fabulous. The foliage below the pomegranate shape in my sketch are a very far cry from dragons, but the two flowers curving towards the center and the use of pointy tips for the leaves bear a strong nod to Morris's dragons. 

I did show you the design a few weeks ago and I confess my main motivation to finish The Little Mermaid was because I needed my frame for my 'Peacock & Dragon'. (I really must think of a new name for it....) 
No sooner was the Mermaid off the frame before I got my linen framed up, ready to go. 
I have not felt this excited about stitching for some time.. it is a good feeling.... and yes, I have started but I will have more to show next week. 

Until then,
Stay safe & keep stitching.
Have a lovely weekend,