Sunday, 30 October 2016

Misty Mountains Stitchscape

Hooray! A Ta-Daahhhh moment! My Misty Mountains Stitchscape is finiiishhheddd!! I'm so chuffed because this looks almost exactly like my bus view over fog wrapped hills and dales in the mornings (although now the clocks have changed I won't be seeing anything on my journey into work as the sun won't have risen yet).

There's quite a lot going on this piece, despite the muted colours and quiet stillness. I've used lots of patterned fabrics with the threads following aspects of the print which makes it appear very busy. The bottom of the stitchscape is an absolute tangle of knot flowers made with French knots and Pistil stitches, as well as the addition of some beads to give a slight shimmer and twinkle as if Jack Frost or the Dew Fairy has been visiting and left a couple of gifts caught in the rambling weeds.

I am enjoying adding materials other than fabric and thread to my pieces. So far I haven't been that outrageous, only adding beads, shells and thicker yarns, but I am considering adding paper, string, synthetic flowers and leaves, or sea glass maybe. The problem is size really, these embroideries are quite little, still only 20cm square at their largest, so everything in them needs to be scaled down to fit but I would like to see how far I can push this stitchscape idea. Sounds exciting doesn't it?!

Unsurprisingly I have yet more ideas for further stitchscapes floating around in that little inspiration jar in my head. There needs to be more time in the day for me to get these ideas out and into the hoop! For now though, I hope you will enjoy the serenity of my Misty Mountains, perhaps go for a wander to see what lies behind each mysterious ridge; don't get lost now.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Halloween Weekend

Happy Nearly Halloween!!! It feels a bit strange that actual Halloween isn't until Monday, it feels like it should be tomorrow (Sunday) so that people can really party I have spent most of the day getting spooky in the kitchen, setting up a scary tableau on the table, carving pumpkins and making pumpkin muffins!

It is suitably Autumnal outside which is good as British summertime officially ends tomorrow. Kids are rustling around in the leaves and it is getting chilly my friends!! These Crocuses are a little confused though (above), and are flowering already. Hopefully they won't all flower otherwise we won't know when Spring has arrived.

This morning I popped to the shops for some provisions. A Halloween themed bunch of beautiful flowers, and some treats to fill our cauldron. It is becoming something of a tradition to decorate the end of the dining table. We don't get many trick or treaters our way and The Parents tend to turn the lights off and hide under the table in fear of being called upon anyway, but we decorate the kitchen just for ourselves.

These flowers are absolutely beautiful!! Such gorgeous orange and purple flowers. I added a few bits of my own from the garden; some extra purple leafy foliage, Fennel flower heads and the dried seed heads, I think these perfectly compliment the boldness of the cabbage and Dahlia.

We bought our pumpkins last weekend in case they ran out by the time we wanted them (although we needn't have feared, there were enormous cases of them in our local supermarket when we popped in earlier) and I heaved them out of the bag to begin the squelchy, smelly and slimy job of scooping out the insides and scraping away some of the flesh.

Meet Bertie and Theopopolis Jr.!!! I really like traditional pumpkins (although some of the scenes people carve out can be quite astounding can't they?!) so mine are usually quite simple scary faces. I'm looking forwards to seeing them staring in from outside in the dark later on.

Every year there is the debate on what to do with those scraped out pumpkin inners? Should it be soup, pie, cake, bread, cookies, chutney.... I decided to have a go at Pumpkin muffins and trawled the internet for a simple recipe (which I have now written down and can't find the original website it came from!).

The ingredients include fresh and ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and of course, pumpkin, so the scent when these are cooking is divine!! Although they are moist and tasty, I think when I make them again (which is highly likely looking at the amount of flesh left in the bowl), I wouldn't use the cloves, or at least not nearly as much as the recipe calls for, they leave a funny aftertaste. Dad is also very keen to try making some of it into a chutney so I will probably have a go at that as well.

So as the evening draws in, it's time to light the candles and watch the Pumpkins glow!!! One of the best bits about Halloween.



Saturday, 22 October 2016

Beautiful Saturday

This is what I miss. Sunshine in the early morning. There is something about the light of a fresh sun that is different- the same way the evening sun has that special golden glow- and at this time of year, I can only experience it at weekends. I really wish that I had a job that meant I could stay in bed until the sun came up, rather than waking and dressing in the dark (usually putting clothing on inside out), and then returning home and going to bed in the dark.

At weekends I can pootle about the garden in my crocs, clutching a mug of steaming coffee in my hand, inspecting the changes the seasons are bringing to the garden. Although the leaves are starting to turn, it is considerably mild and I've noticed Crocuses flowering already, and our lovely Pink Rose is having another go too.

Looking out of the French doors at the back of our house, directly in front of the patio, is a Staghorn Sumac (Rhus Typhina), and yes I did just Google that. It is one of the first trees to turn a brilliant red colour although the leaves all eventually drop off and the tree looks very forlorn. It is a definite sign that Autumn has arrived though.

Crisp, cool, mornings are the best way to start a day, and The Cat loves it. He gets distinctly grumpy during the latter part of the year and spends a lot of time moaning and moping around the house before settling somewhere and refusing to come out. Food is rejected as boring and uninteresting and he spends more and more time indoors. During the summer he's a totally different cat, you only see him at mealtimes when food is  wolfed down so he can get back outside in the sunshine to melt completely into the patio or collapse, exhausted, in the shade of a flowerbed. So far, on these in-between days where it is still sunny but not hot, his moods swing wildly but this morning he is quite content which is lovely to see.

At lunchtimes this week I have been working on a new Stitchscape, which is inspired by a view I get every morning coming over a high hill and looking over rolling hills and fields below. The sun is just about starting to come up then and the valley is shrouded in wisps of mist, the colours bleeched out of the landscape and looking soft and shadowy. So here is me, trying to recreate that in stitch! It is such a challenge to get the mental image in my head out into the hoop but I'm game to give it a go.

I like how, when you hold the hoop up to the sun, it reveals all of the layers of fabric, the bits you can't see. It does actually look more like my imagination this way than flat where the layers are hidden. The prints on these fabrics are just beautiful don't you think?

So here we are then. I am working downwards, row by row, adding stitches as I go depending on what I feel like or how the print inspires my needle. It's all still quite an organic process, I never know what the finished piece will look like- there isn't a scrapbook of designs and options and thought processes, it's just throwing some fabric on the calico and seeing where it takes me. The best way to work!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Silver Birch Stitchscape

It's finished!! My Silver Birch inspired Stitchscape. I have absolutely loved watching this piece come to life- especially with the little birds in the background. They somehow developed characters as the trees grew themselves in, peeking out from behind the trunks and perching inquisitively on the branches whilst the last few orange leaves fluttered on the twigs.

There are lots of very tiny stitches layered on top of each other. Each leaf was already part of the bird print pattern, covered in a satin stitch in white and then overlaid with a single chain stitch to add autumnal colour. The mini spot fabric has had tiny seed stitches put in the occasional spot to give a touch of lustre and texture should you run your fingers over the fabric. Even the stitches up the side of the tree trunks are multilayered whip stitches.

I think this stitchscape uses the most variety of stitches of all of my scapes so far, it has; backstitch, whip stitch, seed stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, pekinese stitch, bullion knots, french knots, straight stitch (long stitch), and running stitch (also known as kantha stitch when in rows).

I've already tried it out in one of my test frames, the mount of which is just slightly smaller than 20 centimetres, which is the size of the hoop I used. It does mean that some stitches get lost in the framing as the position and composition- where the centre of the piece is positioned and how much of an edge is created- is quite crucial. In this case the top of the piece needed to be lighter so more was lost off the bottom. I think this must be one of my favourite stitchscapes so far!!

You've Been Framed

I bought a couple of test frames for my stitchscapes which arrived this week. They were both meant to be white as I really love white frames that make the piece inside pop, but for some reason I got sent a black one instead and, actually, I quite like the option.

I absolutely love how 'finished' these pieces look inside the mount. It might sound strange but there are rough and unfinished fabric edges in the stitchscapes, stray threads and loose stitches which all have a really soft appearance, nicely contrasted by the clear cut edge of the mountboard.

A conscious effort has been made not to over-finish these little pieces and to keep the rough edges. I'm usually a lot neater and at one time would have gone back to finish adding white French knots to the white 'cloud' in this embroidery, or would have added more fabric to fill in the corner, but I am really enjoying this more primitive look.

Now I just need more space to keep all of my frames !