Friday, 12 July 2019

Over The Rainbow Hills Stitchscape

You know that mad feeling you get sometimes, when you are rummaging through your fabric stash, where you just need to throw hundreds of colours into a hoop and make a really wacky, fantastical stitchscape purely for fun? I got that feeling the other day. Why be sensible and make realistic landscapes or woodland scenes when there are fabrics just screaming out to be made into huge spotted, multi-coloured mountains! You can almost hear them shouting it; 'I am destined to be a bright red with purple and turquoise spots mountain.....'

..... Perhaps not. But I still love this fun, mischievous piece for its lack of consideration for natural colours. It was a great chance to just really go where the fabric wanted me to go and not try to make anything else of it. The batik spotted mountains were already perfect shapes as they are both from a batik set charm pack (fabrics already pre-cut into a certain size square for quilting) so they had the pointed quality which I just wiggle-cut into a softer hillside shape.

It's a pretty bold statement with the red background and purple/turquoise satin stitch splodges edged with back stitch quite literally hopping off the calico towards you. I still wonder whether I should have edged the bottom of the mountain with bullion knots as well, it probably didn't need it, but I like the way it then makes the metallic bullion knot flowers move around and the straight stitch stems lift off of the fabric below.

The flowers have been created with two strand straight stitch stems, topped with two strand metallic DMC embroidery thread (always a bit of a nightmare to knot with) and grounded with two strand long fly stitches in two different coloured sections. I really like what the fly stitches do to these flowers, they look much more organic on the 'ground' than just with the stems and knots.

I went with metallic bullion knots because with so much colour going on around them, choosing one colour to go with it all seemed impossible, and I didn't want to mix up the flower colours either as that would then be total colour overload! The metallic is a good compromise because it's not just a grey colour but picks up flashes of light and reflects the colours around it - plus it adds to the fantastical vibe in this piece, why shouldn't the landscape have sparkly flowers?

The back of this is just as lovely as the front in my opinion. Can you tell that there are actually three slightly different shades of turquoise in this piece?

Now for the facts; embroidered in a 15cm (6") hoop, the stitch list for this extravaganza is: satin stitch, back stitch, straight stitch, running stitch, bullion knots, french knots, fly stitch, seed stitch, whip stitch (vertical and horizontal), stem stitch and cross stitch.
Nice and easy and fun!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Striped Beach Huts

My little beach huts are finished! They were such a fun, colourful little project to do and I love how they've turned out. I must admit I was a little worried about this one earlier on today as the huts looked so flat in their environment and the sea wasn't sitting was all going wrong. But previously, I've managed to make buildings stand out slightly more by stitching a single strand of a dark colour along the edges of the buildings (Lionel's Lighthouse is an example) so I gave it a go here with some dark navy and the huts immediately popped out! Such a relief! I think it's because it adds an element of shadow to the edges, especially in this case where the huts are lined up so closely together as it gives the effect of tiny narrow passages between them.

I decided not to use any kind of stabiliser like bondaweb for the hut shapes so it is all cut and stitched free hand. The huts were done first to minimise fraying and I think they've turned out really well! I mentioned in my last post that the fabric used for the huts is from the same piece and I knew the second I saw it that it was pretty much destined to become a beach hut stitchscape of some sort! I love the three toned stripes per hut, it gives them so much character.

The layers in this are super simple. The shell pattern is part of the fabric print so I've just enhanced it by working a single strand of back stitch around each shell shape, and then adding in smaller stab stitches where the colours hint at a curve or shadow, with straight stitches following along the grooves of the outside of the shell.
The seed stitch around the outside has two different colours in it to mirror the slight spotting in the fabric print. The majority is a single strand seed stitch in the light brown colour, and then just around the shells is a two strand ecru colour which picks out the colours of the shells and adds little glints of light to the 'sand'. The bullion knots edging this layer are made up of a single strand of both of these colours and they appear in a lovely, marbled stripe effect which is rather cool - what do you think?

The beach huts themselves have quite a few stitches worked in them. The roof tiles are back stitch following the scallop of the print, then couched embroidery threads around the roof edges and a darker back stitch behind that to add shade. The stripes have whip stitch on the edges and around the hut itself, with running stitch to support the fabric, and the doors are a single strand of blanket stitch with french knot door handles!

The sea, which was annoying me earlier, has been improved immensely by the addition of a single strand of metallic blue DMC thread. I love adding metallic threads to water scenes as it really helps to bring the whole piece alive when it's glinting and moving in the sunshine. The stripes within the print have been stitched and edged with stem stitch, then really rough french knots added to the edge of the layer to try and make them look more bubbly and spontaneous, madly crashing against the shoreline in a desperate attempt to reach the beach huts!

I haven't tidied up the back yet I'm afraid, please excuse the random navy threads floating on the back. I enjoy that the general scene can still be viewed on the back of the piece!

So, the stitch roll call for this piece is as follows: straight stitch, running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, whip stitch, seed stitch, stab stitch, blanket stitch, french knots, bullion knots, satin stitch (sort of), fly stitch, couching and cross stitch.
Now I just have to stretch this over mountboard and it can be stored away! Sadly there is no more room in my studio for framed pieces so I have an entire stash of them waiting patiently for their time to be properly framed.

Summer Colours

This week I have been inspired by the colours of summer and sunshine!! I am meant to be finishing off my poor Bluebell Woods Stitchscape which has been patiently waiting for a couple of months now but for some reason I can't bring myself to finish it off. All it needs is a few hundred bullion knots at the bottom so I can't think why....
Anyway, these smaller, 15cm pieces really spoke to me as I caught a glimpse of the fabulous brightly coloured batik fabrics on one of my shelves of doom, so I spent a happy few hours at the weekend cutting and stitching the landscapes that came to mind.

I started the beach huts first as I didn't use any kind of bondaweb or stabiliser for the huts themselves and I was slightly concerned that if I left them they would fray beyond all hope due to the small specific shapes. I needn't have worried as the fabric has been very well behaved on the whole and has barely frayed at all! Would you believe that all four huts came from the same striped fabric piece? I knew the second I saw it that it could only be used for this type of scene - it's perfect!

 The 15cm (6") hoop is the perfect size to pop into a sandwich bag (other reusable bags are available) and stick into your bag for the day, or pick up and put down at your leisure. I've been taking this little slice of summer with me everywhere I go so it's pretty well travelled!

The shell print fabric is another gem of a find from the Ardingly Quilt Show in Jan/Feb time. The Mother and I have decided that we don't need to go to the even bigger and better Alexandra Palace Knitting & Stitching Show because we are still working our way through the piles and piles of fabrics that we both bought at Ardingly this year. But you can never have too much, right?

The cat has also been enjoying the summer sunshine, although it inspires him to sleep in bizarre poses rather than do anything creative. He stayed in this upside down, splayed position for about half an hour until the sun fell off him! Worshipping the sun gods with all his might.

Gravetye Manor

I recently visited Gravetye Manor which is a fabulous hotel and country manor house in the middle of nowhere! Well, in the middle of nowhere in East Grinstead, Sussex.
I was there for a birthday afternoon tea for my Aunt (all dressed up in my glad rags), and we arrived early so that we would have a chance to go around the gardens and the amazing walled kitchen garden!

We got chatting to one of the gardeners and they have seven full time gardeners and several part time volunteers. You can volunteer to work there as well! It really is such a lovely place to wander round, each little pathway has a new planting scheme and several of the plants are reaching head height so you feel like it is your own private little space.

The vegetable garden is mahoosive and has rows of cutting flowers as well as herbs, fruits and vegetables. You can walk all of the way around it, or cut straight through the middle and it's an oasis of calm!

(You know me, can't resist a bit of peeling paint!)

Our tea was really lovely- posh little sandwiches with a slice of sausage roll, the best scones ever, battenburg, macaroons, chocolate and coffee mousse things, tartlets, panna cotta.... the only problem we had is that it was so hot we were almost having to race up to the top level before the chocolate things melted!

The inside is just as grand and glorious, and although I didn't photograph it, definitely take a trip to the bathrooms if you go!!