Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Closs & Hamblin Feature

Things have been really interesting and exciting this week so far (and it's only Tuesday!) with developing and promoting my stitchscapes. Yesterday I raced down to the printers in my lunch break and picked up nine of the most fabulous prints! I'm so chuffed with how they've turned out, the detail is brilliant and the colours superbly vibrant. There are still lots of my embroideries to photograph and edit, and I have a stack of stitchscapes to mount properly before I can even get around to the photography stage- I really must get cracking!

The second enormously exciting piece of news is that the interview I was asked to do for the Closs & Hamblin blog has been published!! You can find it by clicking here. I was quite nervous for it to be released but I think it's come out rather well, do let me know what you think. If anyone has been directed to here from there then welcome! I know I rabbit on about lots of different things; places I visit, crochet projects, flowers, cats, but if you ever want to narrow down on the posts that you see, you can whittle down to posts with specific labels, for example 'stitchscapes', by clicking on the label in the topics cloud on the right hand side.

As you can see I have started a new piece and this one is completely different from the moorland theme. For this one I wanted to revisit the sunset theme and also try something a little bit new with a winding river. I've used lots of my new fabrics that I bought with the credit from crocheting up the Cabaret shawl and I'm rather chuffed with them- especially the strange plain/not-plain fabrics. They have just slight gradients of texture which are almost like a metallic under layer, but it's so subtle you can hardly tell it's there. I shall have to go back and buy a rainbow of colours with the remaining vouchers! I haven't come up with a name for it yet either, any suggestions?

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Heather Stitchscape

It's finally finished!! Hurrah! I guess I say that about all of my stitchscapes, they seem to take ages whilst putting them together but in the grand scheme of things they don't take that long really. I love the process of them from the initial hazy mental image to the setting down of the fabric layers and the arrival of the stitches.

I should apologise for the haziness of the photographs- I finished the stitchscape just as it was turning dark outside but was too impatient to wait for good lighting to share it with you. I love the bottom of the 'scape, it is exactly how I had pictured it with the rich colours and thick texture. It's quite a heavy bottom and I decided against beads in the end, instead adding just a few spots of zesty green which appears further up in the stitchscape. It helped to tie the two layers together as well as adding pops of brighter colour to enhance the deep fruitiness of the purple.

I did ponder over the line of french and bullion knots that have been worked along the centre of the piece, and asked for feedback for it on the Dotty Textiles facebook page. I was concerned that it was too bright, and was either going to rip the whole row out or add an intermediate green to help blend it in with the fabric it was stitched on. I decided to leave it as it was though after a really great comment from someone on the facebook page saying that it reminded them of 'the sun catching the top of the hills'. It was such a lovely thing to say that it made me think again about pulling the colour out and I think the piece needs something really bright and zingy to lift the darker purples and greens so I'm pleased I left it in.

I've mentioned before about turning the piece over and seeing what the back looked like and I think this one is really lovely- a rough and rugged interpretation of the moorland.

I also thought it would be interesting to compare the two moorland inspired pieces, and to me I see slightly different times of year on the moors, I wonder if you see it too? The Moorland Stitchscape (left) is slightly later on in the year when the heather is fading away and there is less of it, but still blue skies and greenery in abundance. The Heather Stitchscape is earlier when the moorland is bright purple and in all it's summertime glory. It would be interesting to stitch a series of seasonal stitchscape maybe with the same basic layers but with different detailing adding the seasonal changes. I can't wait to mount these up and get prints made of them!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Signs Of Spring

This glorious weather was an absolute treat this morning! It was mild and sunny until about early lunchtime when it clouded over and the wind chill got up, but before then.... beautiful! I actually managed to spend about an hour in the garden with some crochet, just listening to the seagulls and soaking up some much needed Vitamin D.

We have a fantastic Hazel tree at the bottom of the garden, which at this time of year absolutely drips golden catkins. It looks like a frozen shimmering waterfall, especially in the sunshine which highlights the yellow of the buds and contrasts beautifully with the blue of the sky.

It was whilst sitting out in the garden that I noticed lots of our Spring flowers have burst through and turned their smiling faces upwards. We have crocuses and snowdrops and primroses all adding their delicate colour to the garden and making the warmer months seem just that little bit closer.

We popped round to my Grandmother's house this afternoon and I had a quick wander around the garden to see what's happening. This house is still quite new to us as she only moved in in November 2015, and things are still springing up in the garden that we had no idea were there. She has a species of giant snowdrop flowering happily alongside a normal sized snowdrop. The buds are enormous and the stems twice as high!

She's also got this fantastic tree growing in the very corner of the garden. I have absolutely no idea what it is other than an incredible curly-wurly branched explosion tree! Look at the wiggles it's got going on there! It reminded me a little of the crochet shawl I have been asked to make for a display at work. After settling down with it yesterday in complete silence and fuelled with coffee and scrambled eggs, I finally cracked it!!

I don't like to be beaten by a pattern so was quite relieved to suddenly have that sunburst of realisation when you figure out the rhythm. Once you have the feeling for a pattern it becomes almost automatic...almost (there was still quite a lot of undoing when the fingers got too confident in themselves and made a wrong move).

These images were taken halfway through with six more panels to go. I have now finished the complete shawl but the light is not good enough for me to photograph it and I shall have to leave you with some suspense! Currently I am trying to figure out the pattern for a flower fastener that goes with this to help secure the shawl in a pretty way. I think it's the pattern wording that's stumping me- I'm more of a visual learner than a reader and some diagrams would have been helpful!!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Weekend Report

Happy Weekend Folks! Lots to update you on this week- it all kind of got saved up into one big blog post. I'm thrilled to be able to show you the completed Cabaret shawl on display at work! I was allowed an extra ball of wool to be able to finish the bottom and I'm rather chuffed with how well it turned out- following a pattern isn't always easy but this one settled into an easy rhythm. I quite like how they end it on one of the 10 chain loop rounds to create a fringing for the end, very clever!
For every item of display I make, I get paid in vouchers to spend in store on whatever I like, so naturally....

.... the fat quarter section beckons!! I didn't spend all of my vouchers so I can go back again for some more of the best kind of retail therapy. I feel that this is a well rounded collection of prints and textures; large spots, leafy prints, tonal florals, lines, sparkles, bird prints, chevrons.... so pretty!

Of course they will have to wait for the next stitchscape to be started before I can cut into them, but for now I am playing with stacking them into pretty rainbows along with the rest of my vast collection of fabrics. (I really don't need any more, it's such an addiction.)

Just in case I run out of vouchers, I have agreed to attempt another display project- attempt being the operative word in that sentence because this pattern is hard! The yarn is lovely- Wendy Fleur DK- and has a beautifully soft texture with an aura of fuzz around the body of the yarn. This has proved to be a bit of a pain when you want to undo a section as it almost locks and felts itself where you join and you have to spend ages snipping the yarn out of itself, but the overall feel is light, soft and wispy. It has an interesting composition, 44% Cotton, 28% Tencel and 28% Acrylic, and recommends a 4mm hook for crochet, however this pattern calls for a 6mm hook to help create the open lacey appearance.

The pattern (Wendy 5994) is for a lightweight, lacy shawl and has a join-as-you-go method that I am really struggling to figure out as one minute I appear to have too many stitches and the next not enough! I keep having to put it down to do something else whilst my subconscious figures out what my hands are meant to do and then going back to it for a second or third attempt-- there is a long way to go on this one!

This weekend I thought would be a great time to really crack on with the complicated shawl pattern, so I've had a good breakfast of ham and cheese scrambled eggs with brown toast (totally delicious) and intend to sit down after finishing this post and have another go at translating the pattern. Wish me luck!

For the times where I am totally frustrated with crochet, I have my ever-joyful stitchscape to come back to. I am loving this one! The texture with the tapestry yarn french knots is fantastic and I often find myself just bouncing my fingers off it. I didn't want to completely cover the bottom with the knots so have worked little tiny seed stitches in the gaps, along with some french knots in DMC embroidery thread to add a bit of gloss to the otherwise matt yarn. If I can find the right colour and size I might put some really tiny purple beads in there as well.

There are four different colours of tapestry yarn which has given a beautiful gradient and mix of colour, as well as three different colours of DMC thread. I did get a blister on my thumb whilst pushing the larger needle through the fabric layers but I think it was totally worth it!

This morning I had a quick photography session with Ziggy. He is very good at posing (eventually) and doesn't mind being photographed, unlike my beloved Kit who hated it. He is also very photogenic, especially in black and white as he stands out from most backgrounds. We had good fun making him look majestic and thoughtful- he should model professionally!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Cabaret Shawl

This week I was asked to make a few items for display at work. I don't usually work from printed patterns so enjoy the chance to play with different types of yarn and different ways of interpreting printed patterns; it's funny how they all read slightly differently. The first item I decided to make is a crocheted shawl by Stylecraft in their Cabaret DK yarn. I really love Stylecraft yarns and have a constant supply of their Special DK acrylic yarn to hand but had never seen this particular one before. It is still an acrylic based yarn (98% acrylic and 2% polyester) but is super soft and with a strand of metallic running through it which gives a strange combination of soft and itchy when it runs through your fingers. This particular colour way is 3577 Autumn Dazzle and has a beautiful range of purple, pink, orange, red, green and cream alternating through it.

The pattern itself isn't very complicated (number 9187) but is quite involved as every fourth row is made up of loops of 10 chain stitches in every stitch of the previous round. It creates a nice texture with the flatter rows of treble stitches making up the rest of the stripes, and the chain stitches fan out at the point which is very pretty.

There are 47 rows in total, although I have come to a bit of a snag in the pattern in that I have run out of yarn. The pattern allows for 4 balls of the Cabaret with the correct tension, and I have measured and re-measured to check that my tension is as suggested and all seems fine, but I still have two and a bit rounds to go- one of them the wool eating 10 chain loop round which is designed to create a fringing around the edge. So this is as far as I am able to go until I can get my hands on another ball of yarn.

The booklet also includes another pattern for a scarf along similar design lines to the shawl but so far I haven't been asked to make it. The images on the cover show alternative colour ways of the Cabaret DK yarn though which look just as lovely as the Autumn Dazzle. The shawl in the image has been made up in 3570 Sunset, and the scarf in 3572 Rainbow. Could you imagine yourself wrapped up in one of these?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Moorland Stitchscape

Finished!!! My Moorland Stitchscape is finally completed. It feels like it has taken forever to finish this one but there have been many distractions of the crocheted variety and I did have to take a break to give my wrists a rest so in terms of actual hours to complete, it is probably the same as the others.

There has been quite a lot of love for this one over on Instagram and Facebook which was really lovely so thank you to everyone who commented or liked this little embroidery. It always means a lot to get positive feedback as it can be quite nerve wracking opening up your own personal work to the world and its judgements. The photos here don't quite do the piece justice as outside it is currently a gloomy grey with icing sugar snow bits falling from the sky making it hard to take sunny, bright photos.

One of the reasons I love stitching these little scenes is that you can really lose yourself in them; wander off past the purple hillock, skimming your hands over the tall grasses, keeping an eye out for peckish snakes lurking in the rocks. Perhaps you can hear a lark way up in the blue sky, or the buzz of busy little bees in the heather; smell the fresh air and cleanliness way up on those hill tops. Yup, I could definitely lose myself in this one!

I've tried to push my experimenting just a little further in this piece, which I have talked about in previous posts, using padded applique for the rocks, adding in more fancy yarns for texture and playing with tapestry yarns for bulkier knots. There are many textures to be found here, much like the real moorland; smooth long stitches, the rise and fall of bullion knots, clusters and speckles of french knots, seed stitches like freckles on the surface of the fabric. There are stripes, swirls, dots, squares, cross hatches, thin lines, thick lines and squiggles, and it all makes me very happy.

I have already started a new piece on a similar theme to try and push some of these techniques further. It is only a small hoop, 15cms, but I just want to play with tapestry and fancy yarns, and loved the combination of the green and purple. I've bought several new colours of deep purple Anchor tapestry yarns which I am thinking of clustering together in a riot of berry tones, layering on top of each other with flashes of green. It sounds good in my head, I've just got to get it out on the hoop!

It is quite hard work pulling and pushing the larger eyed needles needed for tapestry yarn through all of my fabric layers so this really will be a slow process as my hands aren't great at the moment. As always I will keep you updated with how it goes!