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