Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello! A very Happy New Year's Eve to you! It is ridiculously foggy again here this morning. These photos were taken yesterday because I was so enchanted by the ice crystals covering everything, and although it hasn't been particularly icy this morning, the freezing blanket of fog remains. I am a little bit jealous of some of my fellow bloggers who were able, during this last week, to take the most beautiful photos of icy things in the morning sunshine. I thought that with my extra day off this weekend I could do the same thing, but here are my frosty, tinged with grey mist, photos for you instead!

The weather actually got worse after this photo of our back garden was taken and those houses in the distance disappeared too! The Parent's and I went for a drive to Hobbycraft (to spend our Christmas vouchers- I bought so much new gorgeousness!!) and the visibility was terrible everywhere. It was like being in an alien world.

Some of my Hobbycraft purchases included a selection of tiny little beads, some of which I have added into the sea at the bottom of my current stitchscape. They are very shiny and help to balance out the shininess at the top of the 'scape with all of the metallic threads and matching beads in the dark sky. I also bought some more DMC threads (not because I need any mind you), including some special metallic and variegated colour ones. A light blue metallic thread has also been used in the sea at the bottom but you can really only see the shine in certain lights. I am loving this piece and have just got the cliffs to add some texture to and it will be done!

All that's left for me to say is thank you for all of your support, comments, kind words, likes and shares on my Instagram and Facebook pages in 2016. It really means a lot to me to see what kind of reactions my work gets, especially these stitchscapes which are new to me this year and, I hope, will be even more successful next year. I wish each and every one of you a very prosperous and...


Friday, 30 December 2016

Beach Huts Stitchscape

Before Christmas I was contacted by an old university friend who has been following my explorations into the land of stitchscapes on my social media pages. She had apparently been showing my work to her family and her Mum had expressed an interest in my work, so a special Christmas present plan was drawn up and I was asked to do a commission especially for her. The brief was a little bit different from my usual themes and contained four words; seaside, beach huts (counts as one word), poppies and lavender. It posed an interesting challenge but I love being given briefs- especially when they work out well!

Originally there was no blue at the bottom, the sand just faded into the crashing sea horses, but I like to send those who have commissioned me progress photos to make sure I'm on the right track and the sea was added in later as a further request.

It's quite a simple stitchscape but I don't think it would have worked if I had made it any busier. There aren't very many hills in the distance but that brings focus to the little beach huts which were stitched in first with blanket stitch to keep the edges neat. The roofs are simple lines of straight stitch worked closely together and embellished with a french knot at the top, and the doors are a two-colour whip stitch combining the roof and side stitch colours. I think my personal favourite part of this 'scape are the little tiny lines of french knots leading from the doors to the sea.

The lavender and poppies were worked into a mildly un-beach-like flower bed on the sand, but it helps to balance out the colour of the beach huts and adds a really lovely texture as I have also sneaked in some tiny green beads. These pieces are all about texture really with the knots and raised stitches. I am starting to add in more beading and strips of ribbons, or in this case, lace. just to see where I can take it further.

Once full approval was granted, I framed the little seaside scene in a lovely box frame and posted it off, fingers crossed that the new owners would love it when it was opened on Christmas Day. Apparently it went down well and I have received good reports back  so I am very happy. I might have to play with beach huts some more!!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Supermoon Stitchscape

I am loving the time that the extended Christmas weekend is giving me to work on my stitchscapes. I missed the several hours of concentrated stitching in the evenings which had been put aside for wrapping presents, visiting friends and family, and making little handmade gifts. Yesterday afternoon, once the enormous (and thoroughly delicious) Christmas lunch had been finished and cleared away, the evening stretched out ahead whilst I was snuggled on the sofa at my Grandmother's house, next to a warm wood burner. With a few flourishing bullion knot flowers, I finally finished my Supermoon Stitchscape!

I have experimented with a couple of different types of thread in this piece, which the photo doesn't show up that well I have to admit. My usual embroidery floss is the DMC stranded, but I came across the DMC Silky stranded in the shop the other day and it is beautiful!! It's 100% rayon and has such a lovely sheen to it. I've used it for the feather fabric at the bottom of the stitchscape and it looks like a reflection of the moon as it sort of glows against the matt white fabric. The centre back stitch of the feather is stitched in another new thread, the DMC Mouline, which is a glittery metallic thread to match my glittery crochet yarn used further up in the stitchscape layers. They really set the whole piece up rather nicely.

I adore this little town that's been created. It's nothing complicated, I've just followed the pattern of the fabric, outlining the houses in a single strand of white thread, and highlighting some of the windows in yellow with a satin stitch to make it look cosy and welcoming. The splash of yellow helps to bring the whole stitchscape alive a bit more as the colours are quite dark and inky elsewhere.

The moon is another of my favourite parts of this piece. I hadn't intended on adding anything other than the blanket stitch around the edge, but it looked sort of empty so I was left with a bit of a dilemma. I didn't want to just put in french knots in the way I always do but it really did need something, so I experimented a little with french knots stitched in a doubled strand of Coats Duet sewing cotton thread. This is usually what I use just to tack the fabrics down at the beginning and it is a lot smoother and thinner than the embroidery thread. For some reason the two strands didn't play all that well at being a french knot and didn't tighten down, creating these lovely little circles which look remarkably like moon craters!

Of course, a stitchscape wouldn't be complete without some bullion knot flowers at the forefront, and these ones have been enhanced with the DMC Mouline thread to add an extra sparkle!! Using new types of thread has encouraged me to keep testing new threads and ways of creating light and texture, who know where that idea could go!

Boxing Day has dawned bright and beautiful, clear and crisp. A rather pleasant change from the recent days of Storm Barbara and any other named strong winds which have buffeted us recently. The rain has stopped and the sun has arrived, much to the cat's delight (he does suffer so in Winter).

Our neighbour has cut some trees down at the end of his garden which gives us a rather clear view down over the valley, looking over the streets below and the starting of the hill opposite. It creates a very open space which looks so lovely when the sun shines on it.

I so enjoyed my Supermoon Stitchscape that I immediately started a new one. I have images of darkened, moon studded waves, frolicking sea horses and looming cliffs rolling around in my head. It's a sort of combination of my White Cliffs Stitchscape and the Supermoon one, and I intend to play further with sparkly threads with maybe some beads added....anything goes!

My rising moon has already been enhanced with the DMC Silky thread to help give it that moon-like glow.

I am really enjoying these moon inspired stitchscapes!!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Elfs On The Shelf: Week Four

It's the final week of Flora & Angus's trip to make sure that we are prepared for Christmas and deserving of a present from Santa. I shall be sad to see them go, although they do get up to a lot of mischief!

Day Nineteen: Angus and Flora seem to have misunderstood the term 'watching the box', but they seem happy with their version so I'll leave them to it.

Day Twenty: Uh oh! The Elves have been snared by the vicious tarantinselar!! It has windy tentacles that wrap themselves around you and sing endless, out of tune Christmas carols!! How will they escape?!

Day Twenty One: Happily Angus and Flora managed to escape relatively unscathed from the overly festive tarantinselar, but have decided to take it easy and recover their good spirits whilst cuddling presents under the Christmas tree.

Day Twenty Two: Angus and Flora are mountaineering...up the Christmas tree to reach the star!

Day Twenty Three: It's a gingerbread house making sort of day! You need to take the cap off that icing though Angus.

Day Twenty Four: Uh oh, report writing time! I hope the elves are saying we've been good this year in their report to Santa!

I think the Elves have done a brilliant job of making sure everything is prepared for this weekend, and I hope that you are all enjoying your big day! We shall see these cheeky monkeys return next year!! Until then!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas ❤

Christmas baking!! Deep filled mince pies (pre-made pastry I'm afraid- pastry is not a baking forté) and nutmeg biscuits. They tasted delicious and only one of the mince pies exploded in the oven! Result!

❤❤ Making homemade pressies for the girls at work. It wasn't what I had planned to do initially as I wanted to use my soldering iron and try my hand at some pyrography style work but would you believe I couldn't find the darn thing?! It will turn up eventually I'm sure. On the spur of the moment I came up with an idea to use some leftover scrabble piece letters which I had bought to be part of another handmade present. I added a few other embellishments to the letters; card holly leaf cut outs and some red beads. Once they were all dry, I used bakers twine to make loops so they could be hung from the Christmas tree.

I have lots of the wood slices left over and it's given me an idea for next year! A wood slice wreath!!

❤❤❤ Last Friday we went to see the panto (as is our tradition). This year it was Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. We sat right in the very front row, a first for me, and I had a terrible fright during a scene where the Evil Queen was summoning her demons to cast the spell on the poison apple, when I turned slightly to discover an evil wolf stood right next to me waiting to pounce onto the stage!! The whole performance was brilliantly funny and full of enthusiasm.

❤❤❤❤ Last weekend we finally put up the big tree as The Brother graced us with his presence in coming back from university (we had to wait for him to come back) and it's feeling really festive at home now. There are presents all around waiting to be given out and we had good fun rediscovering decorations from last year, like the machine embroidered felt decorations gifted to me by a friend last year.

❤❤❤❤❤ I helped decorate a gingerbread house yesterday with The Mother. It was a pre-made kit of gingerbread shapes so we just put it together and iced it! Such simple and tasty fun!

❤ We are starting to set out festive tables (well, I am) and I am pleased to see the return of my Christmas table runner! I originally made it in November 2014 (see post here) so this is its third Christmas! I love creating a seasonal tableau on the end of the table- it has a bit of a Scandi feel this year, especially with the addition of my grey ceramic Santa gnomes.

❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ We have had a couple of the most beautiful, glittery flower bouquets gifted to us. One bouquet is so enormous it has three cabbages in it!! I really love cut flowers and the arranging of them, trying to create different heights and complimentary arrangements.

❤ The Brother has bought home with him a new found obsession with baking foccacia (a herby bread designed for tearing and sharing). It's delicious and he adds sun dried tomatoes, olives and Rosemary- the photo is pre-Rosemary- which makes it look very festive even if it isn't a traditionally festive food.

So, all that's left to say is a very merry, Happy Christmas to you all!! ❤❤❤❤