Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Flora & Angus

Hello! I am just popping into the Dotty T world to wish you all the best for tomorrow. It's the start of Advent, daily chocolates, double bookings, pantos, school plays, decorations, family squabbles, last minute present buying and frantic Christmas card scribbling. We have already started by testing out the mince pies, something we take very seriously in this household. At least once box from various supermarkets has to be consumed and then we decide which one to buy our 'proper' Christmas mince pies from; such a task!

This year, a little known tradition seems to have exploded in all of the shops here in England. Do any of you know of Elf on the Shelf? The story is that Santa sends his Elves out to 'watch' the children to see who should be on his nice list and get presents under the tree on the big day. The Elves arrive on the first day of December and stay until Christmas Eve when they have to go back to the North Pole and present their report. They are given magic to enable them to move around the house when no one is looking and can get up to all sorts of mischief, but if a child touches the Elf then it loses its magic (and presumably doesn't give a favourable report to Santa)!
I have to admit I don't really like the look of the mass produced Elves for the shelves, but a lady at work makes the most amazingly beautiful fabric Elves, and I asked her if she would mind my adopting two.

Meet.... (pause for effect).... Flora & Angus!!! So cute! They are quite tall and beanpole like, about 40cm tall, and with bags of character. They were hiding in a white bag on the bus home, peeping cheekily at me through the gaps in the handles. The attention to detail is quite amazing, from the fur trims around their hats and boots, the carefully sewn hair and pert noses, the removable outfits, bells on their toes and the hand sewn bobble trim on Flora's skirt- they are quite the best Christmas Elves ever!

I am planning on doing my own Dotty T style Elf on the Shelf, and will keep you updated with the mischiefs this cheeky pair get up to. Let me know if you have your own little Elf visitors!!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Festive Penguin Plate

Last week we took the Guides to a new pottery painting studio that has opened up in my town, Kilnwood Studio. I often go to a similar place nearer to where I work, Glazy Daisy, so am familiar with the painting process and the girls absolutely loved it!! Never have they concentrated so hard on something and been so quiet in their concentration- it was brilliant!!
We decided before going that the girls were going to paint plates, rather than ask them to choose something on the day which would have taken absolutely ages(!), and they also brought in images of things to inspire, which had to have a festive theme. I was asked if I wanted to paint a plate of my own, and, never one to turn down a creative opportunity, I jumped at the chance!!
The background was a sponged, icy effect and I got my hands dirty making thumbprint penguins around the outside, adding little accessories to keep the penguins warm in their cold looking surroundings.

The girls did a brilliant job! Some of them look almost like a professional design that you would buy in the shops (others are slightly less polished I admit, but still full of enthusiasm and creativity). An interesting method that the slightly less creatively minded Guides used to was stick stickers onto the plates and paint over them, achieving a very neat polka dot, especially effective on the edges. The stickers get removed with a cocktail stick once the paint is dry. Any pen or pencil marks also disappear in the kiln which is handy.

How sweet is that little penguin above? And the robins!! Did you spot the Christmas pig?

This week we were able to collect our plates, and unwrapping the bubble wrap is very nerve wracking as it reveals how the colours changed after being glazed and fired. You have to remember when painting to add three layers of colour for the strongest tone, and any missed areas will be revealed in the finished piece. I am very pleased with how mine came out, especially with the little bobble hats! A plate to eat my mince pies off of!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Field Of Flowers Stitchscape

Here we are then, another weekend, another finished stitchscape! I think this one wins the competition for the highest amount of Bullion knots included in a single 'scape but it just had to be done!

As usual there are many layers to this piece which has made it look a little busy I think, but then there are many layers to floral fields so it's not a bad thing if it makes you look closer. Each stripe of a background fabric has its texture stitches with the Bullion knot flowers added over the top, and a lovely strip of lace peeking out through the stems.

I especially loved enhancing the flower print fabrics and trying out different types of stitches, lazy daisy (single chain stitches), tiny seed stitch petals, slightly longer stitched petals, satin stitch, French knots, fly stitch, Bullion roses (the things you can do with Bullion knots!!)....

The lovely spotty fabric has a kind of cross stitch thing going on,with some stitches worked almost in a chevron and others crossing over for a variation on cross stitch. Over the top of this we have long single stitch reeds with tiny fly stitch feather flowers. Nothing heavy, but adding amazing texture.

This little piece was mounted and framed this afternoon, although I ran out of white frames so it is currently residing in a natural light wooden one. Now it is framed, the perspective really comes into play which is brilliant! It still amazes me that such a finished image comes from a vague notion in my crazy brain. Standing back and looking at the piece brings out new ideas and things even I hadn't noticed whilst stitching it- like the cloud formations in the sky, and the way the lace strip now looks like a tiny picket fence.

I went slightly mad in Wilkos this week and bought quite a lot more frames for my pieces- it was so enjoyable seeing other stitchscapes come to life once in a frame, I had to see them ALL! So today I have been cutting mounts, positioning and re-positioning stitchscapes, doing some last minute ironing and polishing glass, until.....

.... they were all framed!
I've stuck with the box frames as some of the stitchscapes are starting to become more three dimensional with the sequins and beads being added and I didn't want to squash anything. Although I'm not wishing to boast, I think they look fab!

There's quite a collection building up now!! What 'scape should I do next?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Little Red Roof Stitchscape

I didn't show you my finished Little Red Roof Stitchscape before getting carried away and framing it, but here it is!! Such a cute and tiny little 'scape at only 10 centimetres square. I might try and do some more in this size as it is quite challenging getting the proportions right and putting enough texture in for it to be interesting without overwhelming the piece. I think I did OK for a first go. It's nice that this size can be started and completed in a weekend rather than the larger ones which take about two weeks.

Who do you think lives in this tiny little cottage? It doesn't appear to have any windows at the front but what a lovely front garden! Are those Hollyhocks or Roses standing proud against the stone walls there? Such a view they have from the little red door, over valleys and fields with mountains behind.

Actually, thinking about it, this piece incorporates a lot of techniques I have trialed in previous Stitchscapes. There are meadow fields there from the Wheatfields Stitchscape, and a crosshatched/spotted mountain from the Mountain Stitchscape as well as all the other techniques which appear in pretty much all the Stitchscapes, such as the seed stitching, and Bullion knot flowers in the foreground- golly I love making those flowers! Did you knot that you can single out all of my posts relating to the Stitchscapes by selecting the 'Stitchscapes' option in the Category section on the right hand side of the blog? All of the Stitchscapes, all at once!

Sunday ♥♥♥

Happy Sunday All! I forgot to ask, did any of you see the Supermoon last weekend? We couldn't see it on the Monday night when it was supposed to be the absolute biggest and brightest due to cloud cover, however we did catch it on the Sunday and it was pretty spectacular then!! Apparently it will do this again in December but then not until 2020- amazing how that happens. I've popped together a few of my Sunday  below, mostly fabric related and all very exciting!!

 I've framed some more of my stitchscapes (And just realised that I never showed you in detail the finished Little Red Roof Stitchscape- I'll pop that in another post this week) which are now taking up quite a bit of space in the sitting room! I've managed to find a lovely box frame from Wilkos for my White Cliffs Stitchscape as the shells meant it couldn't go under the usual layered glass. The mount I had to make myself as the frame didn't come with one, and it had to be quite narrow to fit the embroidery. I think I did quite well with the precision cutting and I might be heading back to Wilkos for some more of these frames to do the others!

 Yesterday I hopped on a train with The Mother and two very good friends of ours and headed off to the big city for some retail therapy. We'd been sent free entry tickets to the Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts at Christmas show at the ExCel in London, which I had gone to last year as well (see here). This time around there weren't so many exhibition and display things to look at but seemed to be more stalls and lots more items that were right up my street! (I may have spent slightly more than I had anticipated but it's all good and highly necessary things.) Several of the stalls were names The Mother and I recognised from our visits to other shows at Ardingly and Olympia- we are seasoned craft show goers now!!- such as Stitch Witch, Puddleducks and Fabrics Galore, and as you can see, my stash has grown somewhat....

Although I mostly bought fat quarters (those 6 for £10 offers are a real temptation!), there were also some really lovely fancy ribbons which I just had to have, some new DMC threads (because, really, can you have too many??), sequins from the bargain bin, a tube of really gorgeous tiny green beads and some beading needles to go with them, and finally some beautiful, watery, hand dyed silk squares which you can barely feel they are so fine.

Goodness, I feel a bit out of breath just listing all of this colourful wonderness!! The others had also made rather a lot of triumphant purchases, and The Mother is spending today playing with her new items- she went for the more papercraft related items for her fancy planner; washi tapes, gel stamps, pre-cut paper shapes, little storage boxes to keep tiny things in... We all sort of flopped onto the train home and immediately starting pulling our treasures out of their bags to compare and review, feeling very inspired to immediately start creating the instant we all got home!

 My Fields of Flowers Stitchscape is coming along relatively slowly with all of these distractions coming from all over the place. I'm not entirely sure if I like it yet. The idea was to break up the hoop into different directions, to have a very obvious horizon line with a sort of washy effect so that all of the focus was on the bottom of the piece with the abundance of colour and floral texture but I don't think it is quite there yet. Perhaps I will enjoy it more once I start on the lower half.

I love this little strip of lace across the centre, it adds so much more interest than just having the fabrics and stitches on their own. I have been toying with the idea of adding more texture through ribbon flowers which will go up into the horizon, crossing over the lace and connecting the two areas more fully, but I'm not sure whether they should be stitched flowers or if I should purchase those tiny little ribbon roses you can buy and couch those down, surrounded by little leaves. Something to ponder on whilst I finish the sky I think.

I do love the colours present in these fabrics, they are completely different to ones I have used in previous stitchscapes which are starting to use a lot of green and orange! The amount of green embroidery threads I have whizzed through is quite amazing. This piece is enabling me to be slightly out of my comfort zone in the peachy, pastel area of the colour spectrum so I shall persevere until I am happy with it.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Little Red Roof

How exciting is this? My loyal, ever pleasing Christmas Cactus is flowering again!! The shape of the blooms remind me of a dragon sticking its tongue out which always amuses, and these little dragons are very plentiful on this cactus- it just goes completely mad and turns from a relatively insignificant green succulent, into a hot pink explosion!!

Even more excitingly is that my other Christmas Cactus, which was rescued last year from a sale bin which could quite literally have had 'rescue these if you dare' written on it is also beginning to flower! It has always looked a sickly plant, even though I have spent a year encouraging it and feeding it special succulent food every now and then, and this is its first time of flowering. I don't even know what colour the flowers are going to be, the buds started out as a peach but seem to be darkening to a brighter pink as they get bigger. I'll keep you posted.

I have started working on a miniature stitchscape, only 10 centimetres (4 inches) square. It's so cute and diddy! I already have the frame for this one so am making it fit that rather than the other way around.

It's another piece inspired by my bus journey into work where we go over a high point and below us are rolling hills with a little house perched on one of them. It doesn't look like my little red roofed and painted front door exactly, but it's along the same lines. I especially love the little meadow of blue flowers at the front, I'm thinking of adding a few yellow dots to enhance the feeling of a summer meadow, what do you think?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sunburst Stitchscape

Hello!! Did you all enjoy the fireworks last weekend? Our next door neighbour had his own little private party in the back garden which meant I could wrap up warm, step out of the back doors and stand on the steps for a really close up firework experience! It's amazing how many bursts of colour can fit into one box! Our family don't really go to any large firework displays any more, although from our position on the top of a hill, we can fill the garden with candles and stand outside to watch the displays going off across the valley, which is just as nice.

I really love the fireworks setting on my camera, the photographs are absolutely astounding!! The one below looks like a Dandelion Clock, or exploding stars with the bright ball of light at the epicentre. My absolute, all time favourite firework is the one that looks like a chandelier. It works best on quite a still night as the sparks hold their shape for longer and after exploding outwards, drift down leaving blazing trails like an aeroplane would until it forms the shape of a really snazzy chandelier, do you know the one I mean?

All these exploding lights reminded me of my most recently finished stitchscape: Sunburst Stitchscape, which has a similar shape to the light trails stitched in, but is inspired by the sight of the suns rays filtering through a woodland, like in these photographs taken at Ashdown Forest on my birthday.


There are quite a few layers to this piece, some of which I probably didn't need to do but I like to be thorough, plus I might have changed my mind about how to do the sun rays anyway. The background orange and yellow fabrics are all stitched in my usual fashion, following the lines of the pattern or creating texture, then the next layer of trees are also stitched, with whip stitch following the outer lines of the trunks and different stitches on each tree. Finally we have the 'rays'!! These are just long stitches in two different colours of yellow, punctuated with glittery sequins for that extra sparkly effect.

The bottom of the piece is finished with some woodland bullion knot flowers which I hadn't intended on doing but the 'ground' seemed empty without them so in they jumped to finish everything off. I love the colours in this piece, it's so vibrant, warm and happy, offset with the lovely deep blues at the bottom. The central tree shines out of the piece like the chosen one as the others are much darker, although I should admit this wasn't an intentional look, it just seemed sensible to put it in the middle as it was the only trunk in that colour. I can't wait to see this little piece (a 20cm square) framed up.