Thursday, 7 January 2021

Mini Blue Green Hoop


I couldn't come up with a fun name for this little Stitchscape (any ideas?), it was just a fun little piece I started at some point last year intended to be a lunch break filler at work. The work pattern has been all over the place in the last few months/year with so much catching up to do from the first lockdown that I didn't get much of a lunch break as I mostly worked through them and then we had lockdown 2.0, at which point I started working from home, where lunch breaks also don't really happen as much, and then it was Christmas... routines are all out of the window at this point and we take each day as it comes. The only full and proper plans we make are on Zoom (online) as now we are in lockdown 3.0 any outdoor plans are all cancelled anyway!


But, I am still feeling very inspired following on from my Candy Mountain Stitchscape and this poor unfinished hoop (one of many started last year and still waiting to be finished off!) caught my eye. I had only stitched a couple of leaf shapes and nothing else so it was essentially a new hoop. The fabrics are all scraps leftover from putting together my Bluebell Garden Stitchscape kits so they aren't new and, to be honest, I haven't changed the treatment of them much either but it's amazing how they all still look so different. 


Because it had been so long I'd put away the thread colour I was using for the blue leaf batik but I think this actually worked in my favour. I used up the thread on the needle, leaving some gaps to stitch in more colours so it kind of washes light around the hill shape, with the dark concentrated on one side. It's not a fancy satin stitch and each leaf shape was started with a centre line then more stitches worked either side (a great way to keep your stitches in an even direction - it works on circles too). 


The top two layers were also treated very simply (you don't want to go too mad in a tiny hoop) with the top piece using a matching single strand of thread to work straight stitches across each block shape (they aren't close enough for satin stitch) and one long stitch over each line. The same thread was used for two strand, three twist french knots covering that top edge, and some little kisses into the calico above. 
The layer underneath has had the block shapes edged with a whipped back stitch (working a row of back stitch first then going over with whip stitch) and then a single strand running stitch just along the top of the fabric to help pin that down ready for bullion knots on the edge. I could have added additional textures to this piece; continued the running stitch down to cover all of the green sections or seed stitch...but I think the simple treatment has worked well here as it contrasts with the mass of pattern going on below. 


The zesty green layer also initially just had back stitch in a single strand around the block shapes and I was going to leave it there but then I found a tiny bit of trimming in my drawer which I wanted to use. Once it was stitched on though it stood out like a sore thumb and I toyed with the idea of taking it off again but decided to try blending it in, adding zesty green french knots along the length of the trimming and down into the fabric layer getting smaller as it went down - to look like rows of hedges or trodden pathways. It still stood out a bit so I then added in some more french knots in the same colour I'd worked the back stitches in to bleed that colour up into the trimming and I actually really like how it's turned out!


The bottom batik layer which, when originally used, was inspiring thoughts of Bluebells now reminded me of water where the lines of the pattern had chanced to be. The big blue circles I worked a rough satin stitch, alternating the direction of the stitches in each circle (something you may not have considered - they look different if you do them all the same direction or switch them up as the light bounces off the thread differently), and then a stem stitch along the visible straight lines of the 'wave'.

I was still thinking about those sequins The Mother bought me for Christmas that I used on the Candy Mountain Stitchscape and the different colours it had. As well as the blue undertone one I used before, there was a green/gold undertone one which would be absolutely perfect!! So both of them were scattered around the edge of my main river section and stitched down using different tinted clear beads at the centre. 


The sequins didn't quite gel in their surroundings on their own but I didn't want anything big and flashy, or very tall, so ended up adding little straight stitch stems around them to try and blend them into their surrounds (oily iridescent sequins don't necessarily fit into a typical landscape!). 
It worked but it was still missing something so I started adding little two strand, one twist french knots around them and the knots started creeping up some of the stems like bindweed which looked really lovely! The thread itself is one of the variegated DMC threads I used in the last Stitchscape so where I have worked along the two rows of sequin flowers, the colours also gradient across which is really pretty. 
The knots have helped to make a distinction of almost two banks along the water's edge, with blue bubbles of the rushing stream flowing between the two. There is quite a lot of knotwork between the blending of the little flowers and the green hill knots but that's the thing about not planning before you start. If I'd planned it this would have turned out completely differently!




I love that these two Stitchscapes clash and meld so well together. They are completely different but look almost part of the same collection thanks to the sequins. The colours are the perfect compliment (quite literally) to each other! 



So, my little 10cm blue hoop stitch run down is; french knots, straight stitch, bullion knots, running stitch, whip stitch, satin stitch, back stitch, couching, stem stitch. Really simple but so effective!
Do you prefer one hoop over the other?


Candy Mountain Stitchscape

 

Happy New Year!! I hope you were all able to have a lovely festive period over Christmas and New Year? Ours was much quieter than usual due to the semi lockdown restrictions but it was happy and food/gift filled nonetheless. Next year we'll have to have huge celebrations with all of the family and friends we weren't able to see this time around and perhaps a Christmas in July to receive the presents we couldn't be given!


I was very lucky as I was given some truly wonderful presents and feel very spoilt. My gorgeous other half bought me a big pack of mixed Kaffe Fassett cotton squares! The colours and range of prints is astounding and it was all crying out to be turned into a Stitchscape. 
A few of them had this kind of candy colour theme so whilst I was feeling inspired I chose three of the prints and combined them with the green leaf fabric I already had in my stash and a lovely yellow/orange batik which was part of a fat quarter pack I also received from a certain someone. (He really outdid himself this year!! Thank you honey <3)


There's a lot going on in this piece and so many colours! I've tried to keep it all combined by re-using the same colours throughout the layers to tie it all together. It's not a colour palette I would normally go for in a Stitchscape but I love the freedom of this slightly more abstract landscape - sometimes you can't get bogged down in realistic looking scenes and need to just cast all of those hang ups aside and have fun! 
I haven't really done anything too dramatic with the fabric prints themselves as if you are going to splash out on Kaffe Fassett fabrics you should honour and respect it I think, his work doesn't need much improvement. 


Where I can I've also kept other layers quite simple so the batik at the top just has single strand back stitch following the lines (using a variegated thread for a bit of interest and to match the colour wash in the fabric) and the leaf fabric has big fly stitches following the leaf veins in the print, with whip stitch outlining the edges. I have mixed up the colours a bit on this and changed the line thickness (a great trick for making things seem bigger or smaller) to match the thickness of the lines underneath. 
Looking at this layer close up you can see the white lines that I was going over where they are slightly more curved than my thread line, but weirdly you can't see these from afar and I'm not too worried about being able to see them, they are a part of the fabric after all. 


For the Fassett fabrics themselves, this fabulous big floral number didn't need much at all, and some areas or lines I haven't stitched on, just picked out certain colours and sections. The big pink flower became more and more sun-like as I stitched it and does now look like a rather stylised sun peeping out from behind the hill ridge line. It wasn't consciously intentional but I wonder now whether my sub-conscious just does these things for me? 
I have roughly satin stitched (wouldn't win any awards at a needle-painting ceremony) the pink petals, following the lines and colours of the pink print underneath. Where the yellow french knots are there are areas of yellow print underneath so I have just filled those and made it look slightly more like pollen. 
The yellow/orange flower on the left has a similar satin stitch treatment just to make that layer the same depth and I added some stem stitch to the green highlights, along with some off-white stem stitch later on as I had some leftover on my needle from the bullion flowers (waste not want not!).



I left the striped layer almost until last as I really wasn't sure what to do with it. It's beautiful but so many options! I could have filled in each of the spiky layers, or gone around the spiky layers, or made a fly stitch from the point of the spikes downwards.... In the end I plumped for a much simpler whip stitch along some of the straight and obvious print lines, with a few of the lines left as back stitch for a contrast in texture. As I was planning knot flowers over the top there wasn't a lot of point going wild because whatever I did would be covered up and I think I hit the right note with this layer. I made the edge of it slightly more fun and exciting with a different variegated DMC thread for french knots - the colours matched the general theme of pinks and yellows really well which I was rather chuffed about.
 

And the final Fassett layer, how gorgeous is that?! It was a similar flower type as the pink one above but I didn't want to repeat what I had done. I did fill the centre of the flower with more french knots, again following the line of the pattern and, now I look at it, it could maybe represent fiery water with the pink flower sun centre reflected? With a bit of artist's prerogative and an imaginative eye maybe?
The petals I just worked straight stitches into so it's a bit choppier than the satin stitch which has given a different texture (and maybe implies watery ripples? I'm going to go for this water idea now I've thought about it!) and on top of that I've stitched these truly beautiful oily iridescent flower sequins that The Mother gave me for Christmas. The pack of sequins itself has lots of different coloured undertones, three of which I've used here. There's one that gleams a sort of light blue/pink/purple, one that has a red/orange/deep pink mixture and one that's more of a yellow/gold depending on the light. They are really lovely and I just can't stop looking at them. 


Because of the blue sequins I've added tiny little specks of a blue thread, just one strand, one twist french knots scattered here and there to help tie those in. The sequins looked a little bit lonely among the straight stitches so I've added more french knots in another variegated thread which goes from dark orange to pale yellow and fits in so well, providing light and dark across the layer. 
The top of this layer has been edged with several strands of the two orange threads used for the straight stitches. I think it was three strands of the darker orange and two of the lighter orange, completely stripped apart and then put back together so they were blended, then folded in half for thickness and couched down. 


The bullion flowers were all started with just the dark green stem stitches providing a base, then an off-white used for the flowers themselves. This was quite an important colour I think as there are just so many colours and patterns going on in this hoop, a break from it all is needed for the eyes and was possibly the only colour that would stand out whilst fitting in (ie; a black would stand out, but not fit in if you see what I mean?). They didn't look quite right on their own though so I have used the slightly more zesty green from the leaf layer and worked little pistil stitches among the bullions to help colour balance the greens. 




I'm rather chuffed with how this has turned out and hope I have done Kaffe's designs justice! There are always so many options for stitches and textures with this type of fabric print, would you have done anything differently?


So the stitch run down for this piece! I have used; back stitch, whip stitch, satin stitch, french knots, bullion knots, stem stitch, fly stitch, pistil stitch, straight stitch, couching and beading (if you can count using beads to hold the centre of the sequins in place). 



Sunday, 13 December 2020

Christmas Magnets

 

I was rummaging through one of my shop drawers the other week and came across some Christmas mini magnets which I made last year for sale at my winter shows. (Remember those days? Where you could have bustling craft fairs full of unique vendors and happy punters?) I only had three left and when I popped them up on my web shop and Instagram, they sold out instantly! So I've been making more as luckily I still have a load of the cute mini embroidery frames in various sizes and shapes. They're all between 3cm and 5cm in diameter so cute doesn't begin to cover it. 


I even had the same fabric that I used last year - which is absolutely perfect for these because of the scale of the holly leaves. I did test out some other fabric patterns but none worked as well as this one and it just has everything Christmassy in it, without being massively 'Christmas' if you see what I mean. 


I have been changing each batch (the third batch is currently drying from the backs being glued on) slightly, so using different green colours, slightly different metallic golds and in this case tiny red beads! These add a beautiful lustre and texture to the hoops I think. 
The holly leaves are stitched in the same way each time with one straight stitch up the middle of the leaf to the top then satin stitches worked from the edge of the pattern to underneath that straight stitch on either side,  keeping that original stitch on top as a central ridge. 




Each hoop is completely unique as I try to fit as many shapes into a fabric piece so the placement is always different. Some have holly leaves centred, but others have the leaves around the edges - it's just how it works out. 


The stitching isn't actually done in these tiny hoops (if you hadn't already guessed) as they are display hoops rather than working ones, so the fabric is stretched in a proper embroidery hoop and then the little shapes cut out ready for mounting on the inner wooden piece which fits into each mini embroidery hoop outer. This then screws and tightens into place and another piece is glued onto the back of the frame to tidy up those edges. 
I've stuck a little magnet onto the back of each hoop and signed it so y'all know it was made by me!


If you'd like your own little festive magnet, these are available in both my Etsy shop and my Website shop (different ones in each so have a look at both sites). There are also new ones which will be uploaded soon to both sites where I have experimented with padding underneath the stitching with a layer of felt to see if that helps the bumpiness of the fabric. 



Friday, 20 November 2020

Multi-Dales!! Shop Update

What an exciting week!!! On Monday the Mini Woollydale Stitchscape kit was launched and literally five minutes ago (Friday) the Woollydale II Stitchscape kit has been released!!! There are sheep coming out of my ears!! 

I am so grateful though as since Monday's kit launch, I have sold nearly 10 Mini Woollydale kits which is amazing for the first five days. The rush to get both of them out now is because Woollydale (the original) was my most popular kit ever and as it's coming up to Christmas and I have a couple of virtual shop things going on, I wanted my shop to have in it the best products it could!


I really love these little sheep pieces. To me, the thinking is that you are looking out of the same window but on different days so in one hoop it may be slightly over cast and dull, still pretty but with more muted colours, and in another hoop it's sunny and summery, with zingy greens and colourful flowing water. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from purchasing both and having them as a pair of Dales.....


The beauty of the batik fabric in the Woollydale II kit became even more apparent when I was cutting up the strips to prepare for kit compiling. Not one strip is the same, some of them are mostly purple whilst others are more green with blue, there are pops of yellowy/orange in some, but muted yellows in others. I've tried to show this as best as I can in the listing but your kit is not going to be identical to my version - something which is very ingrained in all of my kit designs. It's the excitement of finding out which one you are going to get!!

So, you can get yours either in my Etsy shop, here, or in my Web shop, here.  It's completely up to you where you go and where you feel most comfortable purchasing from. Don't forget though, the Mini Woollydale is a limited edition so it may not be around for long!!


 

Thursday, 12 November 2020

My Community! Shop Small & Local

I imagine you'll have heard this over and over again but as it's something so close to my heart I thought I'd mention it one more time (and it probably won't be the last). The lockdowns we have had this year, and are currently in, whilst helping to keep us safe and reduce the number of those affected by the COVID virus, are doing nothing for our little independent shops and businesses! 

I have been hugely supported by these little quirky shops or handmade, homegrown businesses that find those extra special products or bolster creative skills that big corporations can't and don't supply. We little people have to stick together and I'm always keen to give back to those who have helped me on my journey to being able to do what I love with hand embroidery and teaching Stitchscaping. 


This lockdown is different to the first one in that we are more prepared this time around. It isn't such a shock and care has been taken to ensure that, whilst physical premises can't stay open, their fabulous little corners of the world stay open around the clock online, potentially reaching even further than they usually would. It's especially important at this time of year, which is well known for its springboard in creativity and rise in sales, as people rush to have the most beautiful Christmas table and give the best presents (Kirstie Allsopp style). 

One of my biggest supporters has always been Saira at the-stitchery in Lewes, who I actually met whilst going for a job interview a few years ago. I didn't get the job but what I did get was huge backing and support, and a new friendship! She helped me springboard my kits by letting me help myself in the shop (see this blog post here) to whatever I wanted with a view to developing two, exclusive kits just for the-stitchery and, when they sold out, agreed to become my first stockist of any other kit that I produce. 
The-stitchery has done a fantastic job, and have worked really hard, getting as much on their web shop as possible (including my kits!) but there is so much more available and if you need anything at all creative wise it's a fantastic place to start. Just send them an email detailing what it is you need and they will get in touch as soon as they can. (Email: info@thestitchery.co.uk)


Somewhere else that has majorly boosted me is Closs & Hamblin (formerly known as C&H Fabrics Ltd). They are my biggest stockist by far with kits in several of their branches across the South East and, whilst they do have several locations they are still a family run business with a tight knit team. They were also the first company to offer me a job whilst I was wandering the streets in search of one after graduating from university. Currently all of their physical stores in Brighton, Guildford, Horsham, Chichester, Tunbridge Wells, Winchester, Eastbourne, Canterbury and Windsor are closed to the public but again they are working really hard to get as much of their produce on their website. They have quite a vast range of things from baby toys, craft kits, (Stitchscape kits), puzzles and games, soft furnishings, Christmas decorations, candles.....there's literally hundreds of things!

Below is a blurry photo of me from a couple of weeks ago in the Winchester store when we popped over to have a wander around the shops. Naturally a selfie was required with the Stitchscape kits!


Not all of my community members are shop owners though and I have a lot of thanks for Louise and Sarah of Made & Making in Hassocks. They run the most amazing workshop studio and I was following them on Facebook and lusting over how much space they had and the gorgeous creations around the walls when one day I got a message from them asking if I'd like to be a tutor!! Once I'd picked myself up off the floor it was an instant yes and I've been running a monthly Stitchscape workshop every month this year - when we weren't/aren't in a lockdown. 
After the first lockdown they worked really hard getting the studio space a safe place for crafters and tutors to go back to and I personally found it a fantastic experience to be the workshop that some of the ladies chose to go to as their first proper venture outside in months! During this second lockdown they have lots of online courses being held on Zoom you can sign up to, kits available for some of their most popular projects you can purchase, and gift vouchers available to buy to be redeemed on any course you fancy. 
They have a whole host of different classes, some run by themselves for quilting and sewing (even one just on getting used to your own sewing machine!) and others by tutors they've found and sourced for you to do things like sketch booking, quilling, calligraphy, paper craft, fabric flowers, sewing in pretty much any form, flower headbands, straw work and of course, Stitchscaping.  Even if you don't want to purchase a physical product, there's definitely someone you know who would appreciate a gift voucher for a class.


So, I'm not saying that you should only purchase from these lovely places (I mean, you definitely should take a look anyway - can't hurt can it?) but I am saying that maybe you could consider purchasing from somewhere smaller than Amazon or the big high street chains. Local businesses and small sellers can be found on Etsy, Ebay, Not on the high street, Folksy, Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook, NuMonday and their own individual sites. I guarantee that every purchase you make from these people (myself included) will do a little happy dance for every item and probably lovingly wrap it and package it for you with little details and sweet stickers - no slapped on black tape and squashed boxes with masses of unnecessary bits of paper and stuff floating around in there to burrow through. 

If you look around online at the moment there are lots of virtual fairs you can sign up to which will essentially be a collection of artists and makers in one place. I am mentioned on a fantastic site just put together called Stones Throw who have collected a Christmas community 'shop' of artists/makers/crafters in Sussex and have links to all of their pages to make them easy to find. 
I am also joining in with a virtual fair hosted on Instagram on the 21st November by the Tree of Hope Children's Charity based in Kent. (Click here to see more about that.)


So, if you are still with me then thank you for getting this far! It's a subject I'm hugely passionate about and I thought I would just leave you with some links to other lovely businesses and makers and artists who I also consider to be part of my community. All of them are definitely worth a visit (just click on their name to go to their sites)!! xx

 Snobb Ltd. (For handmade bags, accessories, purses, crocheted items, handmade jewellery and more...)

 Tilly Tea Dance (For gorgeous felted art pieces embellished with hand embroidered; frames, pendants, book marks, brooches...)

 Top Cat Bags (For handmade designer handbags and accessories, memory animals and more...)

 Aries Glass (For beautiful custom glass art and fused glass workshops)

 The Wendy House (For handmade bags, children's clothes, bunting, scrunchies, cushions....lots of pom poms!)

 Willow River Crafts (For macramé hangers, keyrings, pot holders, personalised wrapped letters and gifts....)

There are probably more that I have forgotten to mention so I will update this if I have!

If you are interested in supporting more of your local community, why not check out Just A Card? It's an organisation dedicated to getting the word of local, handmade, little, independent or kitchen table artists, makers, creators, designers and sellers out there. They are fantastic promoters and you can support them too by purchasing one of their fabulous pins.