Saturday, November 27, 2021

Tulips & Forget-me-nots

Tulips & Forget-me-nots
Tulips & Forget-me-nots

It is finished!

Tulips & Forget-me-nots, detail

When I embroidered the first tulip, I was briefly worried that I may have misjudged just how bright the coral reds for the flowers were... were they going to be too 'in your face'? 
The darker outline toned it down a little bit, so I decided to push on and stitched a couple more.

Tulips & Forget-me-nots, detail

I am glad I did. Cheerful red tulips.
They are embroidered in long & short stitch with four shades coral red, two of them being from the new colours released by Appltons yarn (681 and 982), rich watermelon red tones which I have been really looking forward to finding a use for. To define the petals, I outlined them in stem stitch with a slightly darker red.

I did learn the hard way that I should have left the bright red tulips to the very last. Although I was super careful, I got tiny red fibers stuck in other colours and because they are so bright, they stood out like a sore toe and I had to carefully pick them out with fine tweezers.

The forget-me-nots are stitched in a very pale lilac. They were lovely and quick to do which made a nice change after all the more time consuming flowers and leaves. 

With the flowers all completed the only thing left was the border below the flowers. I tried a couple of options for the line of dots and ended up with these. Blanket stitch around the edge and a circular Rhodes stitch in the center. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Rhodes Stitch

The Rhodes stitch is mostly (to my knowledge) used in counted work. When stitched in a circle, it is a fabulous stitch for small, raised dots, especially when using wool, and is much quicker to do than padded satin stitch. 

1) Place a straight stitch across the circle from A to B for the first stitch.
Bring the thread to the front to the left of A and take the needle to the back to the left of B.

2) Pull the thread through. The stitch will cross the first stitch at the center of the dot.
Bring the thread to the front to the left of the previous stitch and take the needle to the back on the other side of the dot, to the left of the previous stitch.

3) Continue to stitch around the circle in a counter clockwise direction so all the stitches cross in the center. Keep the stitches close together on the outline.

4) Continue until the circle is filled. The last stitch will fall next to the first stitch.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

From this...

Tulips & Forget-me-nots embroidery design this.

Tulips & Forget-me-nots
Tulips & Forget-me-nots

It is happy and cheerful, structured but slightly wild and I couldn't be happier with the result. 
It reminds me of my mum. She used to let her forget-me-nots self-seed everywhere and what I didn't realise before I started this embroidery was that this is exactly how my mum's tulip beds looked in spring. Isn't if funny how memories like that creep into the things we create?

I took the embroidery off the frame this morning. It was so tightly stretched but will still need to be blocked before I make it into something. I would like to make some kind of case to hold my (very messy) pile of knitting needles, but looking at it now, I think it might be too big for that so now I am not sure what to make of it. Any suggestions?

...and Yes, it will be a kit, but..

I need you to please be patient. It will be a little while. This design is going to be part of a bigger project I am working on - I will tell you more about that later. 

I hope you have a lovely weekend and perhaps even find time to pick up your needle or something else you enjoy.
Best Stitches,
Anna X

Friday, November 12, 2021

May's Tulips

Where do you get your inspiration? 

This is a question, I often get asked. There is no single or easy answer. I find inspiration in lots of places and I think that, more often than not, INSPIRATION is a combination of ideas and impressions.  Sometimes it is instant and sometimes I am not even aware the inspiration is there, it is just vague, intangible ideas that simmer, bubble and brew away in the back of my mind until one day...

Embroidery panel designed my May Morris, 1890s. 
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

I have had this picture of embroidered tulips in my stash of inspiration photos for ages. From the moment I first saw it I fell in love with the colours and the beautiful flow of the overall pattern; the way the tulips and other foliage intertwine. Tulips are so often depicted in a very orderly, upright way - almost like toy soldiers on parade, but here they meander gracefully and slightly wild to fill a surface. Looking at it, I knew it was 'Morris' but other than that, I had no details until only recently, I came across this little snippet: 

"Embroidery panel (probably intended to be a fire screen) designed by May Morris, 1890s. As head of the Embroidery section at Morris & Co, May worked with a team of embroiderers. One of its most skilled embroiderers, she designed pieces like this, and designed and embroidered large, elaborate special commissions | Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum"

A few weeks ago, when I was flicking through one of my favorite books: May Morris Arts & Crafts Designer I spotted a small(ish) picture of yet another tulip embroidery. 

This time it wasn't the colours that caught my eye, but the slightly unruly row of  tulips on a background of flowing acanthus leaves. 

TULIP – (also ‘Tulip and Acanthus) Embroidered sideboard Runner (166cm x 32cm wide). Design by May Morris (1890) V&A 

It remembered the more vibrant coral reds, greens and blues in my 'old favorite' and started sketching right away. Sometimes the drawing can take some time but this new design 'Tulips & Forget-me-nots' quickly fell into place. Now I just have to finish stitching it, to see if it works out how I imagine.

I was on such a 'roll' that after embroidering the tulip leaves, I started the forget-me-nots right away and completely forgot to take a photo of the tulip leaves on their own.
All the forget-me-not leaves are stitched in the same way - blanket stitch using 5 slightly different shades of misty blues. 

'Tulips & Forget-me-nots' work in progress

I do like blanket stitch leaves, but I do confess that I after finishing all 52 of them, I am looking forward to something else. The forget-me-nots should be pretty quick to do and then - pretty, coral red tulips. I am really looking forward to embroidering them next week.

This is not the first time I have been inspired by May's Tulips. 

Some years ago, I created this piece MAY for a silk shading class. Although the design is a lot more structured than the crewel embroidery piece I am working on now, I think you can still see the similarities. 

I only have One Kit left for MAY. The fabric this was stitched on (a mid-weight linen/cotton blend) is no longer available and I haven't found a good substitute. But I do have the pattern available as an instant download both via the STUDIO Shop and the ETSY Store. The original design was embroidered using Au ver Soie stranded silk but I have included a conversion to DMC stranded cotton in the pattern since stranded cotton is much easier (and cheaper) to come by. 

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I am working (not embroidery related) most of it, but fingers crossed, I will be back stitching my tulips early next week.

Best Stitches,
Anna X

MAY silk embroidery by Anna Scott
Silk shading pattern

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hello Again

How have you all been? It is such an unusual world we are all still navigating and I do hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well.

When I decided to take a break from the blog 6 months ago, I wasn’t sure if I would return to this little space. My thinking at the time was that I would probably just share quick little updates on other social media, but - it is not the same is it? And to be honest, I am no good at it and don’t really like it. It turns out I miss the somewhat slower pace of taking notes of what I am working on and ponder in writing what is happening in my stitching world.

Apart from not being able to travel anywhere, things in my little world are largely unchanged. I am well and have been keeping quietly somewhat busy. I am not going to bore you with a recount of what I have been doing but just dive in...

~ O ~ O ~ O ~ O ~

So what am I up to? I am stitching tulips. 

I love tulips. I think they are my favorite flowers -  my favorite spring flowers anyway. So although they have now finished their spring show in my garden, I am prolonging the season on my embroidery frame.

'Tulips & Forget-me-nots" 
Colour sketch for crewel embroidery

The actual embroidery design is larger than the coloured drawing in the picture. You can just see the the line drawing poking out behind colour drawing at the top. 

The colours for this piece are in three classic colour groups: (coral) Reds for the tulips, Green for the tulip leaves and Blues for the forget-me-nots and background foliage. 

I don't often make a colour drawing before I start stitching, but this time I felt like sketching up a rough indication of how the colours would be used to make sure it worked and it is so much quicker to colour in a small drawing than a big. 

In the past I have often used a lot of different stitches for my crewel embroidery but for this design the selection of stitches will be rather limited in comparison. All the tulip stems and leaves will be embroidered entirely in stem stitch. I started by outlining all the leaves in the same colour, then filling them in with slightly different shades of green. 

The plan was to complete all the tulip leaves before moving on, but as you can see, I couldn't quite wait to see how the blues would look behind the green.  

I love how closely worked rows of stem stitch end up looking almost woven on top of the fabric. Because the stitching is so dense and firm, it also makes it very durable for items that are destined to be used. You can see in the picture just how close the rows of stem stitch are.

I was a little uncertain when I started how many shades of green I would need to fill the tulip leaves. The movement and stitch direction in each leaf creates movement within the pattern and I was concerned that too many shades of green could possibly make the design look too 'busy'.

After a few more leaves using just two different greens, I decided it needed one more colour to add a bit more variation. I used one of my favorite yellow-greens; Appltons 251 - it almost looks a bit acidic when it is on the rack in the shop, but ones it is in amongst other greens, it is prefect for adding a little 'pop'.

Besides; the beauty of embroidery is that if it doesn't work, it is easy to unpick it and try something different. 

This green may not be a go-to colour for healthy looking leaves, but I am glad I decided to include it. I think it gives the grassy greens a nice little lift. 

As much as I enjoy stem stitch, I am happy the leaves are now almost all done. It will be nice to do something different LOL.  
Next up is the background foliage of forget-me-nots. I will show you the progress shortly. 

Best Stitches,
Anna X

PS - while I have been away, Blogger did make some changes that meant posts were no longer delivered to emails. I have found a different way to deliver your email using Follow-it. It shouldn't make any difference at your end but please Email Me if you have any trouble. 

'Flowers for Ellaine'
Crewel embroidery kit

'Meadow Bloom'
Crewel embroidery kit

Monday, May 10, 2021

Time for a Break

I am taking a little break from the blog. 

Hello Friends,

Today is just a quick little note to let you all know, I am taking a break from the blog. 

I have been sharing my embroidery and little bits of what I get up to when I don't stitch here for quite a while now - and it has been fabulous. I truly enjoy sharing my stitching journey and pass on things I have learned or discovered with you all and appreciate your support and friendship. 

So why am I taking a break? 

There are some technical stuff that I won't bore you with. 
More importantly, I am having less and less time to embroider, be creative and do other things. I have a list 'as long as my arm' in my head of designs bursting to be created, but my needles are for the most part sitting idle.  
Putting a blog post together takes time. I am hoping that I can free up a bit of precious time and get back to what it is really all about for me: Creating & Stitching. 

But this is not a goodbye 

The blog and all the posts will still be here and I will still be here - just more quietly. The links to all the How-To & Tutorials I have posted over the years will still be here. 
I am sure there will be more I want to share with you in the future and I will post them here as well - after all, they have a perfectly good home here, so I have set up a New Page with all the links so they are easier to find. 

So what happens now? 

I will still be sharing 'snippets' of what I doing on Instagram and Facebook and I hope to see you there. 
I will also be using the Newsletter more to keep in touch and let you know what I am up to in more detail. I know many of you already receive the Newsletters, but if you don't and you would like to stay in touch, you can Join Here and continue to receive regular-ish updates in your inbox.

I hope, you will continue to join me and my stitching meanderings (until I come back). 

Best Stitches Always,

Anna XXX

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Out & Back from the Outback

The studio has been quiet for the past two weeks while Adrian & I went on a driving trip to the bush, so there is nothing 'stitchy' in this post.

The original plan had been a trip to Perth but because the summer season has been mild, the grape harvest was late, so we didn't get away early enough. Just as well, since we would have got caught up in a snap lock-down. 
Instead we went to some truly remote places in South Australia. 

We travel 'lightly' with the work ute getting converted to a camper with a rooftop tent. It may not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but I like it (as long as it is not too cold). 
We started off in the Gawler Ranges, easing ourselves into camping mode by staying in a visitor cabin on a friends sheep station for a couple of nights. The distances and space out there will never stop to amaze me. Kolendo station where we stayed covers a little more than 870km/square (approx 540 miles/square) south east of Lake Gairdner - a large salt lake. 

We spent a good day, exploring the station, climbing Mount Kolendo before heading out to the lake. 
We were so lucky with the weather that day. It had been cool and overcast all morning and the moment we got to the lake the sun came out and the lake looked like a blanket of ice in the middle of the bush.

It is massive! The little person to the right is me. Walking on this stuff is an odd feeling. It crunches like when you walk on ice, but at the same time is a little spongy and of course not slippery at all. 

We then headed into the Gawler Ranges National Park for a couple of days. More beautiful vastness, more walking, more spectacular views and incredible rocks. 

We seem to always climb up on everything LOL. Even when we go for a walk along a gorge we somehow end up on the top of the mountain - but those views... It makes it so worth it. 

It was basic living out there. The weather was stunning but even though the days are warm(ish) as soon as the sun sets it gets chilly so it was a good excuse to get a fire going in the evenings.

The weather was still sunny and mild so after nearly a week in the bush we decided a few days on the coast might be nice. 

The Southern Ocean was on its best behavior - strange to think next stop south of here is Antarctica...

The wind off the water was pretty icy so we found a sheltered bay to camp, fish and relax for a bit. 

We really had not planned a great deal before leaving. The only thing that we (Adrian) really wanted to do was to drive Goog's Track. I didn't know anything about this track, other than it is a 4WD track through the desert. A somewhat challenging and bumpy ride, you might say. 

Now I know, Goog's Track is 154km (96 miles) of sand track, through an arid semi desert landscape, crossing 360 sand dunes on the way. It is a pretty special place, empty and full of life at the same time (if that makes sense). 

Along the way are some rather incredible landmarks. Goog's Lake, another salt lake, where we saw plenty of bird life but were surprised by the number of different animal prints in the sand and on the lake. And in one spot a large slab of flat granite rises out of the sand in the middle of nowhere and forms a watering hole for native wildlife. 

No, I did not do any of the driving - only posing for the photographer LOL.

We have seen some incredible places in the last few weeks and been to places not many people get to go. I am so grateful to have experienced it and spent time in this vast wilderness.

Now it is 'back to normal' (whatever that means).
I was meant to fly to Perth on Tuesday. I was so excited to be heading out to teach, but sadly we have had to cancel the trip due to lock-down. It will be rescheduled but right now, I am just really disappointed. 

So what's next? I have a few ideas floating around, so hopefully I will have some embroidery to share with you all shortly.
Until then, stay well, stay safe and look after yourselves and each other.

Best Stitches,
Anna X

Friday, April 9, 2021

Leaf Sampler - Part 3, Fishbone stitch

The third little leaf of my leaf sampler is ready and after having played with the 'How to', I stitched put them all together on a little tree, but more about that at the end of this post.

~ ~ ~ Basic Fishbone Stitch ~ ~ ~ 

This last leaf is stitched using Fishbone Stitch. Unlike the previous two, Fly Stitch and Cretan Stitch, Fishbone stitch doesn't make a strongly defined center vein. It looks more like satin stitch but slightly raised or embossed down the middle because the stitches overlap.

As with Cretan Stitch, Fishbone stitch is usually illustrated worked over four parallel lines and forms a decorative but not very leaf-looking filling.

1) Bring the thread to the front at A on one of the middle lines. 
Take the needle to the back at B, on the outline furthest away from A. (The thread should cross the        other middle line for the stitch to work).
Emerge at C on the opposite outline. A long stitch will from across the full width of the shape on the     wrong side.
2) Take the needle to the back at D on the middle line furthest away from C, crossing over the first stitch.
Emerge at E on the other middle line, directly below A.
3) The first stitch forms kind of an uneven cross.

Repeat step 1: Take the needle to the back at F, on the outline directly below B. Make sure the spacing is the same as A-E in step 2.
Emerge at G, on the opposite outline, directly below C and parallel with F.
5) Repeat step 2: Matching the spacing of the stitches, take the needle to the back at H, crossing to the middle line directly below D.
Emerge at I on the other middle line, directly below E. 
6) Continue to repeat these steps down the shape, keeping the stitches evenly spaced.

Closed fishbone stitch 
7) When you place the stitches close together, fishbone stitch will cover the shape. 

HINT Remember when you stitch in a hoop, the needle should be taken through the fabric in a stabbing motion, not in and out in one go as in the pictures - I only do that to make it more clear how the points relate to one another.

~ ~ ~ Fishbone Stitch Leaf ~ ~ ~

When using fishbone stitch to fill a leaf, I don't mark double lines for the center vein. Instead, I place the stitches down the center, crossing under the marked line. This also makes it easier to use the stitch if you are following a pattern as most designs only have the single center line marked.

1) Start with a straight stitch at the tip. I prefer to stitch from the tip (A) of the leaf to the top of the center vein (B).
Bring the thread to the front at C, on the outline and closely against the center stitch.
Crossing the center stitch, take the needle to the back at D and emerge at E. D and E are level with B.
2) Crossing the center stitch, take the needle to the back at F on the opposite outline closely against the middle stitch.
3) Continue down the leaf, taking the needle from outline to outline at the top and under the center line down the middle. 

4) Make sure you keep the stitches close together to cover the shape. I find that to maintain the stitch direction, I place the stitches closer together on the outline and ever so slightly spaced down the middle.
5) Depending on shape of your leaf and the angle of your stitches, you may need one or two straight stitches at the bottom to finish it nicely. 

I did try to fill my leaf with an open Fishbone stitch (right). I am not so sure about that version, but it would make a lovely pinecone if it was stitched in brown.

The difference between the three leaf stitches is subtle, but enough to add a bit of variation. What I like about all three is that they are so easily interchanged, so I drew up another little tree, one with more leaves than the previous.

It is only small and even though it is 'just a sampler' I thought I would put it to some use. 
I have a small magnifying lamp. I rarely use the magnifier but the led light is good especially when I take photos while I work.

I am always worried that I will leave it in a spot where the magnifier will get light through it and cause a fire (it happens - so be careful where you leave your lamps or make sure you cover them).

With that in mind, I decided the little tree would make a pretty magnifier cover so rummaged through my stash and found a nice cotton print to match for the back.
I made a (very quick and very rough) template for the shape by just drawing halfway around the magnifier and then cut both pieces to make a sleeve/pocket.
After sewing the pieces together, I folded the hem in to make a channel for elastic. Only to discover I am out of elastic..! For now it has a drawstring to stop the pocket sleeve from slipping off. 

I hope you are all keeping well, and if you are in the northern hemisphere that spring is starting to brighten your days. We are heading into autumn in Adelaide and the late summer weather has been spectacular. Even so, it doesn't matter how long I have lived in Australia, I will never get used to not having spring bulbs starting to flower in the garden over Easter. 

While I write this, Adrian has been getting the truck ready and we are heading off on another road trip for a break. We did have plans, then they changed and they may well change again. That is what I like about road trips - you never quite know where they lead you. One thing is sure; we will be heading bush so there will have no internet (distractions) for at least a few days. 

Take care of your selves and each other. 
Stay safe & Keep on stitching.
Anna X

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Pillow with Braided Cord Trim

It is done.

I have made the crewel embroidery into a pillow 

And now that it is done, I wonder just why it took me so long.

I knew, I wanted the pillow edges somehow and had thought about using my Simple Edge Pillow pattern

Simple Edge Pillow made with

This pattern forms a narrow, flanged edge that can then be decorated with stitching. I have used it for several of my crewel work pillows, like Scarlet Glorybut I felt the Reflections design needed something a little more substantial and decorative - some kind of decorative braid.

I had a (very half-hearted) look around for a suitable braid, but finding something the complimented the embroidery would not be easy, so I decided to make my own using the same yarns as I had used for the embroidery. 

I figured that making one long braid would be near impossible, so I started by cutting bundles of yarn to make four braids - one of each side of the pillow. I blended two tones of yarn for each bundle.

Even though I know, braids take up quite a bit of yarn, it still caught me by surprise just how much yarn I needed to make the braids long and thick enough. 

Making the four braids used up very close to 6 full skeins of yarn, one of each colour used. 

Here you can see the braids laid out around the embroidery. The colours work, and the thickness is ok, but what to do about those knotted corners?

After sewing the pillow, I hand stitched the braids to the pillow so they lay flat over the seams. I then untied the knots before securely winding and stitching the ends at the corners. Then I trimmed them and fluffed them up - a bit like a pompom. 

I have mentioned before, that I really don't like the 'making up' part of an embroidery project. Having said that, once it is done, it really is very satisfying.

In between grape harvest, work and pillow making, I have finally also managed to get the REFLECTIONS KIT for this design ready. 
To everyone who have been asking and waiting for it - I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your patience - Thank you!!  
Without you, I would not be doing what I do so I want to do something a little bit special for you in return. Please use the coupon code REFLECTIONS at the checkout to get  10% OFF your Reflections Crewel Work kit.

The kit is will also very soon be in the Etsy Shop for those of you you who prefer to shop there. The same coupon code works there also. 

For me. We harvested our last lot of grapes today, so I am going to just catch my breath for a day or two; catch up with our boys, and (because we are lucky to be able to) maybe relax for a day with extended family. Then, I am about to start something new....  

To those of you who celebrate: I wish you a lovely Easter.
To those who don't: I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Best Stitches,
Anna XX