I was rummaging through one of my shop drawers the other week and came across some Christmas mini magnets which I made last year for sale at my winter shows. (Remember those days? Where you could have bustling craft fairs full of unique vendors and happy punters?) I only had three left and when I popped them up on my web shop and Instagram, they sold out instantly! So I've been making more as luckily I still have a load of the cute mini embroidery frames in various sizes and shapes. They're all between 3cm and 5cm in diameter so cute doesn't begin to cover it.
Sunday, 13 December 2020
Friday, 20 November 2020
What an exciting week!!! On Monday the Mini Woollydale Stitchscape kit was launched and literally five minutes ago (Friday) the Woollydale II Stitchscape kit has been released!!! There are sheep coming out of my ears!!
I am so grateful though as since Monday's kit launch, I have sold nearly 10 Mini Woollydale kits which is amazing for the first five days. The rush to get both of them out now is because Woollydale (the original) was my most popular kit ever and as it's coming up to Christmas and I have a couple of virtual shop things going on, I wanted my shop to have in it the best products it could!
I really love these little sheep pieces. To me, the thinking is that you are looking out of the same window but on different days so in one hoop it may be slightly over cast and dull, still pretty but with more muted colours, and in another hoop it's sunny and summery, with zingy greens and colourful flowing water. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from purchasing both and having them as a pair of Dales.....
The beauty of the batik fabric in the Woollydale II kit became even more apparent when I was cutting up the strips to prepare for kit compiling. Not one strip is the same, some of them are mostly purple whilst others are more green with blue, there are pops of yellowy/orange in some, but muted yellows in others. I've tried to show this as best as I can in the listing but your kit is not going to be identical to my version - something which is very ingrained in all of my kit designs. It's the excitement of finding out which one you are going to get!!
So, you can get yours either in my Etsy shop, here, or in my Web shop, here. It's completely up to you where you go and where you feel most comfortable purchasing from. Don't forget though, the Mini Woollydale is a limited edition so it may not be around for long!!
Thursday, 12 November 2020
I imagine you'll have heard this over and over again but as it's something so close to my heart I thought I'd mention it one more time (and it probably won't be the last). The lockdowns we have had this year, and are currently in, whilst helping to keep us safe and reduce the number of those affected by the COVID virus, are doing nothing for our little independent shops and businesses!
I have been hugely supported by these little quirky shops or handmade, homegrown businesses that find those extra special products or bolster creative skills that big corporations can't and don't supply. We little people have to stick together and I'm always keen to give back to those who have helped me on my journey to being able to do what I love with hand embroidery and teaching Stitchscaping.
Monday, 9 November 2020
I am on a Woollydale kit roll! Two new Woollydale kits made and written up in the last two weeks with possibly the release of at least one of them by the end of next week at the latest. How good is that?
This one is the like-for-like replacement of the original Woollydale which I'm not able to run any more because half of the fabrics are now unavailable. It's a 15cm hoop and has the exact same sheep fabric layer with the exact same techniques on it. But it also has three new fabrics, new stitch techniques and a little bit of sunshine in the two-tone yellow flowers as well as some other differences.
The batik fabric used at the bottom is an absolute joy, it has so many different colours splashed into it - you can just see here the purple and the oranges, which were the inspiration for the yellow bullion flowers as I wanted the yellow in the batik to look like a watery reflection. By complete fluke, there's also a lightening of the background blue just at the point where the reeds part and it looks to me like a shaft of sunshine sneaking through the plants. But of course, as every kit is designed to be an original each time it's stitched up, this may not happen again - or could be even better! This is a 'proper' batik, as in it isn't a batik design that's been printed to look random but is properly made with wax layers that are then melted off. It's a bit more expensive but I think you'll agree that it's totally worth it?
I haven't changed the sheep because they were the main, much loved, feature of the original kit and I daren't touch it! There is a difference in the Mini Woollydale but why change something that works so well already? If you were making this kit for yourself of course, there's nothing stopping you from sneakily looking at the other kit and changing things around. You could keep the running stitches as shown here but add little tiny french knot daisies among the sheep like in the Mini version.
I've brought in one of my favourite techniques for hillsides (and cliffs and trees) which is the vertical whip stitch over seed stitch. I have used this combination in my Bluebell Garden Stitchscape kit (which also contains lots of 'proper' batiks now I think about it) for the trees and have diagrams explaining how to do it within each kit. It's just great for invoking bunny runs, trodden paths in grass or the feeling of movement and is designed to be random and spontaneous. As it's worked off random seed stitches then you can't be regimented with it (unless you have a regimented seed stitch - eek the horror!) so everyone's will look different.
I just keep returning to this glorious batik water over and over again! Does the slight green bit and the stitched shapes remind you of lily pads?
The jute trimming for these kits has actually been hand dyed by yours truly! I ordered it in bulk ready for using in this kit but when it arrived the green was completely wrong (almost luminous) so, rather than waste it, I popped it in our sink and poured over the olive Dylon dye and dyed it into a much nicer colour for you. There's a photo on my Instagram somewhere of it all hung up on the washing line, drying.
There are a few different techniques used in this top hill. The lighter green has stems made from whipped back stitch in two strands of thread so they are slightly thicker than the darker stems which are just a single strand of stem stitch. At the end of each stem spray are little two twist french knot clusters in ones or threes depending on how much of the printed flower underneath needs to be covered.
At the top of this layer I have used DMC coton perle thread (one strand) and a single strand of the darker green (used for the stem stitch), folded in half and couched to the edge of the fabric. I've made mine fairly bouncy and twisted it a bit as I went along so that you get hits of the darker green and it has more of a bouclé yarn appearance.
At the bottom, among the bullion reeds, are pistil stitches which I haven't used in a kit for a while. These are really lovely little stitches, understated but adding enough to blend the greens together. There are still a lot of greens and I was a little concerned that they wouldn't all go together but I think generally it has balanced out into a green blend with a pop of yellow and, of course, the fabulous white sheep.
I've ordered booklets from a new supplier for the Mini Woollydale kit so I'm going to wait and see what the quality of those is like before ordering the books for Woollydale II. It shouldn't add too much of a delay though as the books are due to arrive tomorrow and if they're any good, I'm set up to order more in the evening. It's all go, go, GO!
Saturday, 17 October 2020
It's finished!! This feels like completing a marathon because, even though it's only 12cm, this piece has taken me ages!! There's just been so much going on with additions to my routine, changes to my (almost) normal routine, a head cold (not the C-virus), darkening evenings, stress at work....its all been a bit much really and by the time I get home again I just want to veg out and forget about everything that's on my various to do lists. Sewing took a back burner these last two weeks and so the re-designing of my Woollydale kits took a back burner along with it.
But I've persevered and this is the first of TWO new Woollydale kit designs! I don't think I've written about it on here but sadly I can no longer source three of the original Woollydale fabrics and I've completely run out of one of them. I tried to substitute it with fabric of the same design but in a different colour (the top one used here) but it just wasn't working and in the end I decided to make two new kits; this little one which uses up the rest of the fabrics that I have left, so will be a limited edition, and another 15cm one using all mostly new fabrics or ones I can get hold of easily.
I love this little one, it has the same sheep pattern as the original Woollydale (see here) but with an olive green background rather than the bright green so it's like a slightly washed out version of before. The clouds have passed over the sun and perhaps a little mist has wound it's way into the Dales. The sheep don't seem to mind however and are still merrily rolling around in the grass.
Where the fabrics have been recycled I have tried to keep the same threads and stitches to reduce the work for myself in re-writing the booklet as I really want to get this one out as fast as possible. Woollydale was my all time top best seller and my online shops are suffering somewhat without it being in there. Ideally I'd like to have released both of these kits by mid-November at the latest but we'll see how it goes.
Regardless of my recycling, this one uses some new colours as well as slightly new ideas. There's a few DMC stranded threads that have crept in so it will be a mixture of Anchor and DMC and I think I will include the hoop in this kit as it will fit nicely within my cellophane packaging.
There are a LOT of french knots in this one! There are knots in the sheep, knots in the daisies, knots on the border, knots in the top hill...I considered adding knots underneath the reeds as well but restrained myself at the last minute. With all of these knots I think I'm going to have to write a french knot troubleshooter like I have for the bullion knots, in case anyone gets stuck.
The backs of the hoops designed as kits are always a little messy as I change my mind when going along and rush around, carrying threads across the back with gay abandon. If you follow me on Instagram (and frankly, why wouldn't you? It's @power.beth if you don't!) you'll have seen my bullion knot reed colour dilemma. I'd initially started making the bullion knots at the bottom of the piece in yellow DMC thread but as I was going along it was making me feel more and more uncomfortable. The yellow didn't add to the piece, didn't stand out as being at the front and was just getting lost among the sheep. I reverted back to the green Anchor thread that these reeds had been in the original Woollydale, which I hadn't initially thought would work because the whole hoop is a much darker green, and made a little test patch at the other end which just looked so much better! It goes with the slight zesty green splashes in the blue batik fabric as well so the yellow reed knots were all cut off to make way for a bank of bright green.
I did end up using the yellow though, to just fill in some of the gaps between the sheep and add a little bit of prettiness with some yellow daisies, or maybe buttercups? It's not wild, just a gentle sprinkling for the sheep to frolic in.
The Woollydale kit family really focuses on the greens and it is still inspired by my holidays to Yorkshire where your breath can literally be taken away by the range of greens that confront you around every corner. Each roll of the hill has a slightly different shade and texture and it's a constantly changing palette as the sun rolls around and clouds cast their shadows and play with making funny shapes in the fields. I love the way it changes through the seasons as well, so bright and fresh and new in the Spring, literally glowing neon when the sun hits it in the early mornings, to a deep, happy and contented green in the Summer, fading to a slightly crispy, mature and diminished green in the Autumn where it is overtaken by the flaming oranges. In winter its deep and velvety, shiny and lustrous with the holly and ivy. At this point green doesn't have to work hard to make us happy and distract us from the grey gloom outside so a dark green will do. It's a fascinating, multifaceted colour and I love working with it.
This will still be a kit that 'scapers can make their own, and I think it will work well alongside the previous Woollydale if you wanted to have another round of sheep stitching. As before, the placement of the reed stems is completely up to you and dictated a little bit by the positioning of the batik fabric, which will be a different cut for everyone. The sheep, although templates will be provided, may need to be reworked and cut slightly differently to avoid giving one of them too close of a shave and there are loads of ways you can really make this kit your own. I'm always excited by the possibilities and look forwards to getting photos through of what people have made and how they've changed it to suit their preferences.
Just need to write it all up in the book, sort out the templates, redraw my diagrams, check it all, get it printed, cut the fabrics, make the thread cards and compile it all together, then photograph the kit and start advertising it on Etsy and my new website shop. Did I mention my new website shop? Why not pop over to my website and have a look?!