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

The Blog has retired

Yes,  it's official I have retired this blog. It has been fun  and   I will miss this space but I need to make it simple, so From now on...