Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Four Musketeers

Sheep! I am enjoying the sheep fabrics at the moment, and have several other animal print fabrics to try out (moving on to chickens!). This material was seen at the Ardingly Quilt Fair in a mixed pack of prints and was one of those 'my goodness I absolutely HAVE TO HAVE THIS FABRIC!!!' moments. It is a Moda print from the 'Darling Little Dickens' collection, isn't it gorgeous?

Everything about this stitchscape is c.u.t.e, from the sheep to the stars to the daisies. The daisies I have treated very simply and worked straight stitches in every petal with a french knot in the centre. Pretty, don't you think?

The coat of the sheep is printed as tiny little dots so I have gone over every dot with a one strand, one twist french knot- the smallest I can get. It makes the most amazing texture and keeps the integrity of the sheep print without losing their personalities. The four musketeers!

Other stitches used in this little 'scape are bullion knots, whip stitch, running stitch, straight stitch, back stitch, french knots, cross stitch... the usual suspects. I hope that you aren't getting bored with my little 'scape run downs, I know some of these stitches can be a bit repetitive.

If you would like to have a practise or a chat about some stitches in person, I will be doing a demonstration afternoon at the Tunbridge Wells branch of Closs & Hamblin on Mother's Day (14th March) so bring your Mother along! Closs & Hamblin (C&H Fabrics) are doing a whole series of events in all of their major branches throughout March to celebrate 85 years of the business so my little afternoon is just one of many things. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Sunshine On A Dreary Day

I'm starting to sense a pattern in the weather. Beautiful sunshine during the week and dismal, dreary drizzle at the weekends! I think this is probably just to make us aware that we are definitely still in Winter if we hadn't noticed the snow that fell at the beginning of this week.
Having recently arrived back from Iceland, which is under pretty deep snow, where life carries on as normal with the buses and cars ploughing gamely through the white encrusted roads, the chaos that was caused on Monday with the dusting of 'snow' on our own roads was almost laughable! My bus to work was cancelled one minute and then happening the next, with dire warnings of not being able to travel the lesser roads which hadn't been gritted. Wednesday was slightly heavier snow (although there wasn't a murmur from the bus company about cancelling) and it was very exciting to wake up to find the world so beautifully iced! I do like walking through snow and hearing the crunch, and had a very entertaining walk to the bus stop matching my footsteps to those already on the pathways so that it looked like a very strange person wearing odd shoes had jumped all the way. It's the little things.

I've been keeping rather sunny in my stitchscapes and this week's completed #inthehoop 'scape is very bright and happy with an abundance of joyful flowers at the bottom. I bought a rather fabulous fabric at the Ardingly Quilt Show which was covered in Chrysanthemums or Dahlias- I'm not enough of an expert to tell which is which. I have gone a little to town with this and absolutely covered each flower in detached chain stitches, bringing each little tiny petal to life. I've also played with colour and thickness, using a different weight of thread, from Styleline Special DK acrylic yarn (splitting the strands and using either one or two together), to the customary stranded embroidery threads in various colours, again using either two or three strands together. It's been such fun!

The different colours kind of match those underneath but the placement of them is quite random and I think they have worked really well to give a three-dimensional appearance. These flowers quite literally POP out of the hoop!

Further up we have seed stitch lemons, and fly stitch/back stitch leaves, bullion knots, satin stitch buds and back stitch leaves, french knots, running (kantha) stitch, more bullions and more satin and back stitches. The top is a lot simpler compared to the bottom which is fine for me. I love how the colours work so well together with the different shades of green mirroring the different shades of yellow repeated throughout the layers.

I am up to thirteen completed #inthehoop stitchscapes! These photos I really love as they almost reflect the seasons going across with Spring on the left hand side, moving through warm Summer days and the turn of the seasons when the autumnal shades appear, and finally into the frosty blues of Winter. That season could probably do with a few more 'scapes actually, I shall work on that next. I still need to do one with the Northern Lights in it! A frosted Winter wood would be nice as well.

I really love working in this size and haven't yet grown tired of it, or feel the need to try something else at the moment. I am going with the flow and these little 5" (12cm) hoops feel right. So, do you have a favourite? Or any other scenes you would like to see?

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Pink Roses

I have twelve completed #inthehoop stitchscapes now, and I can't wait to photograph them all together this weekend and play around with organising them into seasons. It is hard for me to keep blogging regularly at this time of year because I pretty much live in darkness, emerging in the morning and coming home at night, all in the dark. This doesn't make for good photo opportunities so I have to make use of my weekends which are always fully booked with one activity or another.
This weekend just gone I was winter camping with the Guides. Actually outside. In tents. In the sub-zero temperatures! It's safe to say that I think I have finally gone loopy, but the girls enjoyed themselves and that's all that matters (even if the tips of my fingers went a weird colour).

I did manage to photograph this little lovely for you though and it is now all tidied up with the felt backing stitched on too. The best part about these little #inthehoop 'scapes is that it gives me free reign to experiment with fabrics and fabric combinations. I am rummaging through the back of my fabric collection and pulling out any fabrics that haven't been used before, laying them out with plains and patterns and regular favourites. It's a real joy!

This hoop has a kind of vintage prettiness to it with the muted colours. It is pink enough to be girly and frilly but has the more subdued tones of chocolate and evergreen bringing in the more sensible side of the conversation. I also love the fact that I don't have to over think what I am going to do, and as I progress through these, even creating an obvious image has kind of faded into the distance. At this point it's just about complimenting colours and patterns, never mind rolling hills and blue skies.

So in this piece we have the regular favourites; satin stitch, detached chain stitch, back stitch, bullion knots, french knots, seed stitch, running stitch (kantha), cross stitch, straight stitch. Simple, easy, effective.

I thought the back of this piece was also very pretty. It blends the colours in such an abstract way and I love turning the hoop over to see what's being created on the other side.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Lots of #inthehoop's

I took four #inthehoop projects on holiday with me, and managed to finish two, nearly three of them. Another hoop I started before I went away and left at home, completing it the weekend I arrived back again- which means I have four to show you today! Such a lot of catching up to do.

I love the bottom layer of this hoop, it feels really nice under your fingertips as I have filled all of the petals with satin stitch in a thread that closely matches the colour underneath. As the print had patches of light and dark within the petals I have tried to copy this too which has worked really nicely. Rather than fill in the areas of gold ink (this is one of my lovely, gold tipped Japanese print fabrics) I have left them be which creates a really interesting raised appearance- had to be careful not to go over the lines!

The other colours of the chosen fabrics have also worked really well with my main print. I love the blues and zesty greens with the purple and yellow which show up so well on the back of the piece.

This has a kind of watery sunset thing going on. I wanted to hint at an ocean sunset where the orange of the sky was reflected in the water, done through mixing my layers of orange and blue together. There are a lot of spotted fabrics going on here so I think if I were going to try the same thing again I'd get more linear prints to help with the idea of waves.

It's quite a simple piece, no special stitches or special layouts, and didn't take me that long to do but the colours really make it work. I have used satin stitch, running stitch, french knots, bullion knots, seed stitch, whip stitch and cross stitch, and that's it apart from the little beads. The fabric I started with for this piece is the sunset coloured fabric at the top, and I've highlighted areas where the wash changes colour using a multicolour single strand of DMC embroidery thread which matched perfectly! I will definitely use this combination again.

This little one took longer to finish because of the tiny little details within it. I've got whip stitch, detached chain stitch, french knots, running stitch, bullion knots, back stitch, vertical whip stitch, seed stitch, straight stitch, couching, cross stitch and a kind of rough satin stitch. The trees are outlined with my own braid made from several lengths of the DMC embroidery thread used to stitch the texture onto the bark (following the pattern of a bark print fabric). I have tried to bring in a little bit of perspective by making the central tree with wider braid and the tree 'behind it' with a thinner braid.

There is a lot of whip stitch in this piece. The little leafy print at the bottom has whip stitch stems and a double whip stitch top, the top grey layer also has a whip stitch top; some of the lines in the bark are whipped and the knot in the tree has whip stitch to help create the circle. My dark green layer has the whip stitch going vertically across my running stitch which is a technique I love to use as it reminds me of furrows in fields.

The bottom layer has two different multicoloured green threads which brings unexpected changes in colour throughout. The stems are one selection of colour and the detached chain stitch leaves are another. Aren't they sweet?

Now this little stitchscape has been done for a kit design and I have counted each strand of thread used, made notes about the stitches and drawn templates of the fabric strips. Interestingly, there is a real mix of threads in this piece as I got muddled up with a thread order and ended up with boxes of DMC Cotón Pearl threads rather than DMC Cotton Mouline Stranded threads. The challenge has been to combine this with my existing collection of DMC Mouline and Anchor stranded threads but I think it has worked really well.

I have also used a rather interesting jute ribbon which arrives all tightly woven but can be stretched and teased out to create different widths, it really adds a bit of unexpected interest here and provides a barrier for my meadow field. The fabric used at the bottom is the blue version of the yellow print I've used in my Summer Sweet kit, but I loved it so much I decided it was OK to use the same print again. I deliberately didn't look at my Summer Sweet kit to see how I had approached this design before so I may have done a few things differently, or some things in the same way.

So in this piece we have whip stitch, running stitch, cross stitch, french knots, bullion knots, straight stitch, couching, detached chain stitch and satin stitch. Varied but still nice and easy. I don't currently have a deadline for getting these kits out as I still have to write up the instructions and put it all together, but I am hoping it will be over the next few weeks and of course you shall be the first to know!