Monday, 16 October 2017

Knitting & Stitching Show

On Sunday The Mother and I had a fantastic day out in London at The Knitting & Stitching Show held at Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally to its friends). There are many coaches who run day trips there which is handy because the train is not direct and there aren't many places to park. Ally Pally is a popular place to go without the fantastic shows there as it has panoramic views over the city, an ice rink and is also a historical site in itself.

We haven't been to the show in a while as October is a busy birthday month for our family and usually there is a birthday weekend at the same time as the show which means we are unable to go. I didn't take too many photos as it was too exciting to keep stopping and snapping, but there were a few images I did snap, like of this amazing display of Indian ribbons. Sadly I didn't feel I could justify buying them as I wouldn't be able to cut into them (it would be sacrilegious) and they were a little large to put on a stitchscape. Aren't they beautiful?

There are three halls (and a corridor) of beautiful deliciousness. The largest hall also has a beautiful stained glass window at one end, and a giant pipe organ at the other. I admit that the excitment of the day caused me to go a little mad with the money card, but I feel it was totally justified as I am now the proud owner of many new and beautiful things. Plus I can sort of put it under business expenses....can't I?

Please feel free to drool over this gorgeous wonderousness! So many textured and beautifully patterned fabrics that my head is spinning with new ideas! There are small print Christmas themed fabrics with sparkly gold bits which might help me create more Christmassy themed 'scapes, there are little texture prints like sand and beach rocks, skies with clouds, autumn leaves and autumnal trees, and there are geometric shape prints which give me opportunities to add my embroidery stitches too.
I also have added to my collection of Japanese print fabrics which glitter with the gold lines around the flowers (they are seriously pretty). Plus(!) I have a new stash of Kaffe Fassett fabrics! Whoopee! I love the variety of colours and patterns and shapes in his designs. I have kept with an autumnal theme with one pack, and went for a lovely greeney fat quarter selection because it included....

This gorgeous fruit basket (with lettuce) print! I don't know that I would be able to cut into it really but it embodies Fassett in my opinion- has anyone else seen photos of the fireplace in his house full of ceramic lettuces?

I have also been thinking about adding different textures to my 'scapes so have invested in some beautiful hand dyed cotton scrims, and hand dyed jute. I'm especially thinking of stormy seascapes? What do you think?

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Stop. Sit. Breathe.

Well! It has been a hectic weekend and I feel like I could use a holiday. It's been a good couple of days though, full of fun and stitchscapes! On Saturday The Mother and I had a small stall at Bridge Cottage in Uckfield which was well attended but a little gloomy! The downside of exhibiting in a restored Medieval Weald hall I guess- beautiful and scenic but not many large windows for natural light.

It was the debut outing for my Summer Sweet embroidery kits, wahoooh! That also involved lots of late nights and early mornings putting the kit together. It's amazing how long it takes to cut and string together twenty thread cards with ten colours on each. I really need to find a way of speeding that process up for the future.  I hope that everyone who buys a kit enjoys putting it together and the stitches that are involved. The Mother tells me that she wasn't really enjoying the bullion knots (which I love doing!).

Today has been another hectic day as The Mother and I went to Alexandra Palace for The Knitting & Stitching Show, but I'll tell you more about that in a separate post. We had to get up early to meet our coach and it was rather pretty in the garden with the dew drops sparkling on the spider webs in the early dawn light.

This evening is a time to stop, sit and breathe after all of the excitement of the past days. I thought you might also like a quick update on my current commission and my Gentle Giants stitchscape. I can only show you the back of the commission for obvious reasons but hopefully I'm taking it down the right path.

Gentle Giants is going well I think. The background is now completely finished and I am working on the trees in the foreground. The moon and stars are stitched in DMC silky thread so they have a beautiful lustre that hints at a gentle glow. The moon isn't as showy as the sun so it won't have long rays exploding from it to enhance the impression of light, especially as I'm hoping to put in some thin spidery tree branches around there which might look a bit confusing if the threads are going in all directions.

There is much of the same colours here, but you can see where I have worked more clearly on the back. It's like a colouring book where I have coloured in the sky but have yet to colour in the trees!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Gentle Giants

It's coming along, this night sky stitchscape of mine. Progress is a little slow at the moment as I am double timing with a commission needed for early November that I really need to concentrate on, but in my spare moments, the texture is creeping in here, layer by layer.

The idea behind this one came from a bus ride home in the dark where the moon was shining full and bright (we've had some beautiful moons sightings this week- especially Thursday, it was huge! Did you see it?) Now that the trees are losing their leaves, there are patches where the moon can be seen through the trees, with the stars twinkling around it like an excitable fan club. I really love the idea of standing at the base of a cluster of trees (Silver Birches that glow in the dim lighting), gazing up at the night sky, so that is what I am trying to represent here.

I'm still not entirely sure on how best to work the trees, as they will need extra branches added to them. I'm thinking of stitching thicker branches towards the bottom of the 'scape, narrowing to thin, spindly branches at the top to help with the perspective of the piece. This can be done using less strands of floss at the top and more at the bottom but I will have to see what it looks like. I'm also going to try using my DMC silky threads as they have such a lovely lustre and will add to the general 'glow'.

For now though, I'm still on the blues, and I love how the trees are represented on the back of the embroidery, with an opposite relief. It looks really snazzy!

You can see where I'm halfway through a line of French knots at the top of this satin stitch splodge layer. Trying to find lots of different dark blue threads is quite interesting, luckily I have a *ahem* stash that I can rummage in...

The lower layers have my usual textures applied, although in this stitchscape I have repeated a few of the fabrics as (unbelievably) I didn't have enough variety in my fabric stash to be able to have a different fabric on each layer in the right tone of blue. This, of course, will have to be rectified, and happily I am off with The Mother to Ally Pally next weekend so will have plenty of opportunity to go completely crazy and buy thousands of fabrics in dark blue! Or maybe a restrained variety of colours so that I don't go completely bankrupt- these things can get out of hand.
To disguise the fact I have repeated the background fabrics, I will try to treat them slightly differently. For example, I have used my dark blue and white polka dot fabric at the top and the bottom. At the bottom I have turned the dots into cross hatched lines, so perhaps at the top I will keep it a polka dot, but enhanced with knots of some description, or maybe use the dots and make a brickwork back stitch (horizontal lines) instead.

I have used quite a lot of polka dot, or spotty fabrics here as I really wanted the idea of stars to come out, but it doesn't mean that all of the dots have to be white, and I have two layers with different types of spots that have been covered in blue satin stitches.

The bottom fabric hasn't had a lot of treatment, which is slightly unusual for me, but I'm thinking ahead to these thick branches that will have to be put in. Plus, I discovered that whilst putting in the colonial knots with a single strand of embroidery thread, you can't really see them! You can feel them, so if you were to run your fingers over the piece you would know there is something there (this doesn't help when the embroidery is framed behind glass) but really I have continued putting the knots in to help attach the fabric to the backing.
So, just a few more background layers to go and then my gentle giants of trees can be stitched in and hopefully it will look as lovely and serene as in my minds eye!

As I have mentioned my commissioned piece, I thought I would show you a sneak preview of the completely bottom half. Can you hazard a guess as to the theme? I am debating whether or not to add some tiny beads for a dash of sparkle, but I might double check with the client first to see what they think. Fingers crossed that I am moving in the right direction here!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Studio Sunday

Phew! What a busy weekend! I couldn't get to the studio on Saturday as I was investigating a potential future enterprise which is all very exciting. I'll let you know more about that if it all goes to plan.
I did manage to get into my little haven on Sunday though, put on some groovy tunes and got down to some serious framing! Seventeen stitchscapes, both mini and middle sized, were framed in total. Considering that each mount is hand cut, and the mini stitchscapes have to have a float mount made, that is a lot of scalpel wielding! I'm so chuffed with how they look though, and am now totally up to date with all of my mounting (a great achievement).

The newest addition to the 'scape family is Frost Fields, which was stretched, mounted and framed all in one go! I really love this piece, it is very sparkly, although the sparkles were dampened slightly as it rained pretty much all day on Sunday and the photos I took were a little dull.

There are three stitchscape mini 'stories', or sets of nine little cards, available. I have the Winter Sunset story, the Summer Fields story and the Sunset/Sunrise story. I love how each one is different; the background fabrics are laid down in different orders, and the flowers are different colours and in different placements. Some have worked better than others I think, but it all adds to the experience.

And, nearly all of the remaining stitchscape minis are available over in my Etsy shop (a couple need the photos editing before I can add them). They are all house trained, come complete with their vaccinations, and promise to look beautiful on your wall or bookcase! Which one would you chose?

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Frost Fields Stitchscape

These first few photos are a bit dark, but they get lighter so never fear. This stitchscape actually sparkles! It is full of little reflective parts, tiny beads in the snow on top of the walls, reflective silky DMC thread in the long stitch feather layer, pearl beads lining the top of the bottom layer, and a metallic DMC thread making the bullion knot flowers sing out from their chilly bed of snow. It is one of the reasons I have called it Frost Fields, as it really reminds me of those frozen mornings where the pale sun makes the landscape sparkle.

I have discovered that one of the hardest things to do with these stitchscapes is to name them. There is a constant worry that the name you have come up with is too twee or too corny, is too much of a mouthful or doesn't fit the theme. Some 'scapes get a name halfway through stitching it as there is one so perfect it cannot be named anything but that; this little one wasn't like that and I'm still not entirely sure on the name, but it has a pleasing alliteration.

The inspiration came about during a regular flick through Pinterest (a fabulous site, if you haven't got a Pinterest account, you should definitely get one- you will not regret it!). An image of some snowy walls popped up and brought immediately to mind my wall pattern fabric, which I have used before in the Dry Stone Meadow stitchscape, covered in little french knots and encrusted with beads.
As before, I have outlined each individual brick with rows of back stitch. To get a variation in the thread colour for this, I have twisted together two strands of embroidery thread, one in a dark navy (yes navy!) colour, and one in a more wall-like brown. The top of the wall has then been covered in large french knots and off-white beads, with smaller french knots building up snow drifts down the wall where you can imagine the stones sticking out and catching little flakes.

One of my favourite parts of this stitchscape is the lighter shading in the green flower pattern fabric. It was looking a little too dark for such a bright, wintry piece, but adding such a pale green really brightens it up and I think looks lovely.  I also love the feather fabric with the shiny white thread creating feathers that subtly glisten. There is a very chunky whip stitch hiding the top of this fabric layer, which used all six strands of the embroidery floss, whipped in both directions on a line of back stitch.

I have also used a very thin whip stitch in one of the sky layers, behind the birds, which has used a single strand of embroidery thread for both the back stitch and the whip stitch. It's amazing how different stitches can look when you use different weights of thread.

I don't know if you can tell, but the little tiny dots on the bottom layer are colonial knots. These are made differently to french knots which are wrapped around the needle as many times as you need. Colonial knots are made with almost a figure of eight movement around the needle, winding underneath from left to right and then a sort of right to left- it's a bit difficult to explain but if you click HERE I've linked it to a 46 second silent video on Youtube, put up by UniqueHomemadeGifts (who wears super snazzy nail polish!) which shows you how the knot is made. It's a nice little alternative to french knots if you are struggling to get the hang of them.

I really enjoy running my fingers over this piece as there are so many different textures! The snow on the tops of the walls is actually really built up and prominent from the base cloth, which gives a nice depth to the piece.
So, my stitch rundown for this piece includes: cross stitch, bullion knots, french knots, back stitch, whip stitch, pistil stitch, running stitch, seed stitch, beading, straight stitch, long stitch, fly stitch and colonial knots. Lots going on in there!
I'm looking forwards to seeing this one framed in time for Crimbo.