Monday, 14 May 2018

Mini Swan 'Scape

More swans! I really loved the little greyscale swan piece I stitched as part of my #inthehoop series, so thought I would revisit it again, although I swapped around a few fabrics and techniques as I don't like to completely repeat a stitchscape design. The focus is again on the swans, and I have worked these in rough satin stitch once more as it was a technique that really brought the swans to life- each feather is almost individually represented in the stitches and adds movement as you can see the wind rushing past. I have worked single strand back stitch lines around the edges of the swans, tracing their outline until the lines bump into each other.

The cross hatch fabric print has again very simply been cross hatched with straight stitches, and the needles and pins print fabric has had the black lines of the print covered with straight stitch, with the white surrounding fabric completed with seed stitches.

The top layer has a single strand of straight stitch following a texture line within the weave, up until the pattern starts with some greyscale flowers that I have followed with detached chain stitch daisy flowers.
Some of these have unfortunately been lost slightly in the framing, as have the bullion knot borders, as I went a little too close to the edge of the marked square, but I don't think that this matters too much- these little frames make the embroidery look like Polaroid pictures, small snapshots of daily life captured and printed.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunday Standen

This time last weekend we had a family outing to Standen House & Garden, a National Trust property in West Sussex. We were here at a similar time last year, although a couple of weeks earlier for the tulip festival, this time around we were just slightly too late for the full impact of the 10,000 odd tulips that get planted here every year. It didn't matter as the grounds are just so lovely anyway, with rose gardens, vegetable gardens, fully flowering Rhododendron trees, apple blossom filled orchards, the quarry garden, woodland walks, and fabulous views out over the surrounding countryside.

There were still enough flowering tulips around the main house to photograph and admire- so many different shapes and colours! Some frothy, others pointed, some rounded, six petaled, multiple petaled....

I don't remember the quarry garden from last year as I think it was closed off so it was lovely to explore the uncharted territory, climbing up stone steps to a bridge that looks down over the pond at the centre.

Wouldn't it be lovely to live here and be able to have breakfast on the terrace everyday? Especially on days like it was last weekend with the weather so beautifully warm and sunny. You can almost see people playing croquet on the lawn with the ladies wearing fabulous hats and carrying lace parasols, perhaps wandering off into the pathways around to have secret conversations and assignations.

We are very lucky to have places like this to visit practically on the doorstep!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Gentle Giants Stitchscape

It's finally finished! This poor stitchscape, neglected for so long, has now transcended the hoop and, once framed, will join the rest of my growing collection of embroidery pieces. I started this one in October last year and stitched all of the background blue layers before setting it aside and frantically working on some Christmas pieces. When I tried to go back to it, the inspiration that had started this piece (which I remember as a midnight scribble on a sheet of paper in my bedside drawer because it was keeping me awake) was hiding from me and I had what can only be described as 'embroiderer's block'. A horrible thing! I fully understand frustrated writers who cannot see where their story line or their characters are headed.

After several months of guiltily avoiding looking in the direction of the discarded hoop, I forced myself to go back to it and re-examined all of the layers I had completed, the rough satin stitch splodges, the cross stitched polka dots, the french knot polka dots, running stitches, back stitches, seed stitches and bullion knots. Several of the trees had also been completed with diagonal back stitches lines, whip stitch and pekinese stitch outlines, french knot textures and single strand wavering back stitch lines, all following the direction of the patterns and the imagined textures of the bark.

There really wasn't that much for me to do but for some reason I was quite nervous about it. The initial spark of inspiration that had been so vivid had faded slightly and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to capture the scene I wanted to create. However, I eventually manned up and picked up the needle where I had left off, continuing with my fly stitch hexagons (which take forever!) and cross hatched straight stitches, bullion knot edges and whip stitch over running stitch.

The trees looked a bit strange before the branches were added, like great long white fingers stretching up to the sky trying to capture the moon. The  branches themselves are very rough satin stitches randomly worked along the tree trunks, and with smaller two strand straight stitches angling off as twigs. At the base of each branch are a cluster of white french knots to help bed in the ends of the straight stitches, and I have worked a few lines of straight stitches in DMC Mouline Silky white thread, which almost glows in the dark, to help give the effect of moon-kissed branches. More of this thread has been worked as twigs directly off the trunks themselves and I am very pleased with the overall effect  as it really highlights the silvery light the moon casts over everything down below.

I think that even with my several month long blip, I have managed to do this piece justice and it matches the image that was initially sparked in my mad creative brain. The idea of standing in a woodland surrounded by giant trees stretching upwards, and gazing at the moon and the stars. It is quite an excitingly textured piece too with fourteen different types of stitch!! I am looking forwards to seeing this one framed.