Wednesday, 15 June 2022

A Tale of Two Meadows

Well, now I'm torn! I have made two different card designs for the July Stitchscape Swap because I wasn't keen on the first design I came up with and completed that I've cut them all out I like both of them!! What a dilemma. 
I've named them slightly differently as the ideas behind each design were different - this yellowy card is more of a further away view of a whole meadow whereas the one with close up flowers was more as if you are sitting in the meadow. A bug's eye view if you will. 

It's amazing how much the perspective of the pieces changes when you cut them out of the hoop. In the hoop they are mashed together and it's all rough edges and frayed threads but, when you separate them and tidy them up, they take on a more focused appearance. Like looking through a frame. 

It's also really pleasing to hold a handful of newly trimmed cards, fresh from the hoop and ready to go! They're just so stackable and you can play with photographing them in different ways or different lights. I was out in the golden evening sunshine for these photos which is great for handheld photos as you get the light on the cards, but not so great for lighting them when laid out on the floor. You do get gorgeous sun kissed photos like the one below though! 

So, which one would you prefer if you were in the swap? What says 'Summer Meadow' more to you?

Friday, 10 June 2022

Summer Meadow Take Two


I previously posted that I wasn't too keen on the first attempt for my Summer Meadow Stitchscape Swap ATCs. There isn't anything wrong with them as such, they just aren't quite right to me and I'm not really sure why. I wanted to have another go to see if I could make more of a Summer Meadow vibe and I'm really pleased with how these ones have turned out! Maybe it's because they have so much more yellow in? They kind of look more summery just with the choice of colours. 

I really like the fabrics in these actually. It didn't take me too long to put them together - green and yellow aren't a tricky combination, although the shade of green can be hard to match if you go down the more yellowy green line. Not all greens will sit comfortably with each other. 
But happily I had a couple of greens that are very comfortable in each other's presence, and that matched a green scrim piece I had that I wanted to use for additional texture. 

Funnily enough the landscape in this piece changed as I was stitching it. My original plan had been that these would all be different fields working their way back to the distant sky - the yellow striped fabric being almost a field of planted wheat or something which would have tiny french knot poppies or cornflowers in. 
Once I had stitched all of the layers though, the way I have stitched the circular yellow fabric has turned the big circles in the print almost into suns, which then automatically turned the two yellow pieces into part of the sky! Do you see what I mean? So when I added the fly stitch birds to the pale grey fabric that was originally the only intended sky piece, I popped them a bit lower over the edge of the stripey yellow. I guess in the height of summer sometimes in the evenings you get that 'golden glow' which gives a slightly yellowish appearance to the sky so that's what I've unwittingly done here!

My wheatfield/sky layer has been really simply treated with a single strand of stem stitch to give a slightly raised texture and a lovely two-tone yarn has been couched to the top which actually helps give a sort of fluffy cloud texture I suppose, although that's not what I had initially intended. 
The yellow spot layer was also not intended to be like a sun and I haven't deliberately positioned any of the circles in a particular location, they are just as cut out of the fat quarter, but they work really well! I've gone around the circles with two strand back stitch, and then worked rows of running stitches around those circles in a single strand, almost like ripples in a pond where the circles start to overlap each other. 
This fabric layer has been edged with a harder line of couched embroidery threads in two colours, slightly twisted so that you see both colours but not so that it is a bobbly texture on the edge there. 

In my previous Summer Meadow post I was talking about the clear/pink sequins I had used to provide some light and act like those sparkling flashes you get and I've sort of unintentionally re-created that here with this lovely green fabric and the golden print circles on the print itself! They also remind me of the dust particles reflecting the light in those golden evenings and so I haven't touched these at all just worked two strand seed stitch around them to leave them as they are. Lots of unintended things came together in harmony here!

The bottom fabric was mostly plain but with slightly mottled print over the top so it didn't really matter that I've mostly covered this with my cotton scrim which I picked up at a fair a few years ago. It has been hand dyed and has really lovely colours running through it so I use it in a lot of projects! I've added some additional texture with rows of running stitch using a single strand of a variegated thread that goes over any uncovered areas of the fabric and slightly up into the scrim to hold the edges. They aren't neat stitches by any means, just adding some extra areas of interest and light/shadow where the colour changes. 

The flowers are very simple too. As I was stitching the background I was envisaging a riot of colours with lots of different types of flowers and shapes but when it came down to it I felt that the brighter yellow wouldn't work all that well with a rainbow of colours and that, actually, an ecru would be the best to offset the darker green and help bring down some of the paler colours of the sky. 
I remembered that in my stash I had some slightly unusual sequins that I recently cut off a fabric sample I was given with machine embroidered flower sequins - the greyer tones match the sky and the darker blues contrast really nicely with the yellow so I'm chuffed I actually went to the effort of snipping these sequins off the swatch and keeping them - you never know when these things could come in handy!

The contrast between these two cards couldn't be greater! Both from the same initial theme too - which one says Summer Meadow to you more?

The stitch run down for these cards is; fly stitch, couching, stem stitch, back stitch, running stitch, french knots, seed stitch, straight stitch and beading. 

So now that the hoop is full and finished I am stitching the backs onto them using specific card pieces that I've bought in (so posh) and punched the holes in ready with a pin and ruler. It makes it much easier to have these holes ready to go rather than trying to make them whilst stitching. 
I just use ordinary white sewing cotton and go through the fabric with an over stitch to secure everything together then, when all of the cards are on, carefully cut them out leaving a couple of millimetres from the whip stitch and sign and date the cards! 
They often look quite different when tidied up and trimmed so I'll do another blog post when they're done. 

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Stitchscape Swap Bluebells ATCs

It took me a little while to get round to photographing and swapping these May cards out as I was waiting for the last one to arrive and it got held up in the post with the bank holiday/Jubilee celebrations. Did you do anything to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee? We went to our town's lighting of the beacon on Thursday which was a lovely affair with a bagpipe player, brass band, singing groups etc. The beacon was lit by the town Mayor and the High Sheriff of East Sussex (and then the town crier because he's about eight foot tall and could reach the log pile better)! We also went to a fete organised by a local team which involved stalls, performances and an opening flag parade with local school children and the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. Hilariously, the parade was delayed by 45 minutes as a swarm of bees decided to grace us with their presence and landed on a bin bag just outside the arena so we all had to wait for a local bee keeper to arrive and rescue the swarm - cue many hilarious puns about the 'Queen' bee coming to visit for the Jubilee!

But anyway, I have been really excited to see these cards together for a very blue affair! I love how there are many people who have gone with the traditional Bluebells and Silver Birch trees (including myself) but how they are all so different! Some trees are just embroidery, some cleverly made out of strands of yarn, some within a fabric print and some made from fabric. It will be interesting to see how the September theme of 'Woodland Walks' will be interpreted as a few of these Bluebell Woods  have the most darling little pathways going through them! Even the October theme, 'Autumn Blaze' could be  interpreted in a woodland path (my love of the woods may have overpowered the themes for these swaps!) with fiery colours above it. 

We have an American participant for the swap and I hadn't thought about the lack of Bluebells in other parts of the world - she had to look up inspirational images on Google! (Her piece is the single white tree with little flying birds and french knot flowers.) If you are reading this from outside of the UK, do you have Blubells where you live?

There are lots of knots in these cards actually; I went with the longer bullion knot but I love all of the ways french knots have been used by the others - it's all so neat too! It was a real struggle to choose my favourite from this bunch, although I was slightly helped by making sure not to pick a card by someone I already have a card from - it would mess up my chart as I'm keeping notes of who gets cards by whom so that it's a different person each time. 
Individual photos for each of these cards have been added to the photo album on my website if you wanted to have a look and I've got some close ups of my favourite bits below!

Thank you to everyone who has been joining in with this swap, I am still having so much fun! I can't believe we are nearly halfway through the themes already. Once we have the June cards in and swapped out I'll do a 6 month review of the cards I've made and also the ones I've kept to see what my collection looks like together. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Summer Meadow Take One

I took these photos on the 2nd April and never got around to writing anything about them on here, although I did share a few of my favourites on Instagram! These are the ATCs I initially made for the July, Summer Meadow theme, Stitchscape Swap cards (you can see my initial inspiration post about them here) although, at the time of finishing them, I decided that I wasn't really that keen on them. It just hadn't gone as I thought they might and I think it's the pink flowers that are throwing me off but I can't clearly say why. 

They have sat in plain sight for the past few months however and have been growing on me a little bit but I have also now made an alternative card design for the swap to choose from, which I'll write up about in another post. 

I loved the process of making these though and the colours are just lovely with that fresh white Daisy flower in the front to offset the richness of the colours behind. The fabric for the Daisies is a white batik with a little blue/grey pattern on it which, to me, looks like shadows on the petals where the flowers are standing in their field. I didn't want to cover these up as they are so delicate looking, and almost translucent in appearance with that dark moody blue behind, so they've just been edged with blanket stitch to keep the petals in place and the fabric from fraying. 

The pink flower isn't really based on a specific plant and I wanted to play with the idea of the colours fading or changing as the buds aged with an ombre of colour. We've currently got a Red Hot Poker plant in the garden and have been watching the colours change from yellow to orangey/red as the individual flower heads bloom and start to die away so that's kind of the vibe I wanted for these mysterious embroidered flowers. 
They have been free hand stitched using satin stitch and each flower cluster is made of three petals which I've tried to make bigger as they go down the stem. 
I think if I were to do these cards again I would allow for the scale of the petals to be much more obviously different as they go down the stem with much larger petals at the bottom. Perhaps even draw the flower on the back as a guide to follow, or not make this flower in stitching at all but use fabric petals like the Daisies - perhaps it's the contrast in techniques that's not sitting quite right? What do you think?

I love the fabric layers behind though. They've been kept fairly simple, just some texture stitches added on top and my usual bullion or french knot edgings, aside from one skinny couched cord on one edge. Working from the top down, the pale batik has a single strand straight stitch on either side of the line markings and rows of straight stitches in the blocks of colour. The dark layer beneath uses a single strand back stitch around the shapes through the fabric, which is totally random so some cards have more embroidery than others, then the leafy layer below has little stitches in clusters of three in each leaf (again with a single strand for delicacy). 
The bottom layer uses two strands of thread for the back stitch so that the lines are subtly thicker and appear closer. The stripes reminded me of the grasses so those lines help to give a linear grassy feel to the bottom of the scene which is very grounding. 

Before the arrival of my little one I had to tidy up my bedroom (and various other places around the house) to fit in all of the hundreds of things a tiny baby needs, and I came across my pot of clear sequins which were absolutely perfect as the finishing touch for these cards. I think I bought them during my university days and they are completely flat and smooth with an oily pink colouring to them. To me they are like those little sparkling flashes you get in photographs of objects in the sunshine where the light has reflected off a speck of floating dust or tiny seed head. I've used clear sewing thread to stitch these on to keep their ethereal bubble-like appearance and I love the way they pick up the light. 

I don't think I mentioned before but the french knots at the centre of the Daisy flowers have been done in two different colours to help increase the depth of colour. It's a subtle variation but it helps to make it look much more three-dimensional.
The total embroidery stitch run down is; straight stitch, bullion knots, couching, back stitch, blanket stitch, french knots and satin stitch. 

I actually really love the backs of these cards though. The reverse of the blanket stitch Daisies reminds me of Dandelion Clocks! Perhaps that would be another good theme to use for a future swap?