Thursday, 7 January 2021

Mini Blue Green Hoop

I couldn't come up with a fun name for this little Stitchscape (any ideas?), it was just a fun little piece I started at some point last year intended to be a lunch break filler at work. The work pattern has been all over the place in the last few months/year with so much catching up to do from the first lockdown that I didn't get much of a lunch break as I mostly worked through them and then we had lockdown 2.0, at which point I started working from home, where lunch breaks also don't really happen as much, and then it was Christmas... routines are all out of the window at this point and we take each day as it comes. The only full and proper plans we make are on Zoom (online) as now we are in lockdown 3.0 any outdoor plans are all cancelled anyway!

But, I am still feeling very inspired following on from my Candy Mountain Stitchscape and this poor unfinished hoop (one of many started last year and still waiting to be finished off!) caught my eye. I had only stitched a couple of leaf shapes and nothing else so it was essentially a new hoop. The fabrics are all scraps leftover from putting together my Bluebell Garden Stitchscape kits so they aren't new and, to be honest, I haven't changed the treatment of them much either but it's amazing how they all still look so different. 

Because it had been so long I'd put away the thread colour I was using for the blue leaf batik but I think this actually worked in my favour. I used up the thread on the needle, leaving some gaps to stitch in more colours so it kind of washes light around the hill shape, with the dark concentrated on one side. It's not a fancy satin stitch and each leaf shape was started with a centre line then more stitches worked either side (a great way to keep your stitches in an even direction - it works on circles too). 

The top two layers were also treated very simply (you don't want to go too mad in a tiny hoop) with the top piece using a matching single strand of thread to work straight stitches across each block shape (they aren't close enough for satin stitch) and one long stitch over each line. The same thread was used for two strand, three twist french knots covering that top edge, and some little kisses into the calico above. 
The layer underneath has had the block shapes edged with a whipped back stitch (working a row of back stitch first then going over with whip stitch) and then a single strand running stitch just along the top of the fabric to help pin that down ready for bullion knots on the edge. I could have added additional textures to this piece; continued the running stitch down to cover all of the green sections or seed stitch...but I think the simple treatment has worked well here as it contrasts with the mass of pattern going on below. 

The zesty green layer also initially just had back stitch in a single strand around the block shapes and I was going to leave it there but then I found a tiny bit of trimming in my drawer which I wanted to use. Once it was stitched on though it stood out like a sore thumb and I toyed with the idea of taking it off again but decided to try blending it in, adding zesty green french knots along the length of the trimming and down into the fabric layer getting smaller as it went down - to look like rows of hedges or trodden pathways. It still stood out a bit so I then added in some more french knots in the same colour I'd worked the back stitches in to bleed that colour up into the trimming and I actually really like how it's turned out!

The bottom batik layer which, when originally used, was inspiring thoughts of Bluebells now reminded me of water where the lines of the pattern had chanced to be. The big blue circles I worked a rough satin stitch, alternating the direction of the stitches in each circle (something you may not have considered - they look different if you do them all the same direction or switch them up as the light bounces off the thread differently), and then a stem stitch along the visible straight lines of the 'wave'.

I was still thinking about those sequins The Mother bought me for Christmas that I used on the Candy Mountain Stitchscape and the different colours it had. As well as the blue undertone one I used before, there was a green/gold undertone one which would be absolutely perfect!! So both of them were scattered around the edge of my main river section and stitched down using different tinted clear beads at the centre. 

The sequins didn't quite gel in their surroundings on their own but I didn't want anything big and flashy, or very tall, so ended up adding little straight stitch stems around them to try and blend them into their surrounds (oily iridescent sequins don't necessarily fit into a typical landscape!). 
It worked but it was still missing something so I started adding little two strand, one twist french knots around them and the knots started creeping up some of the stems like bindweed which looked really lovely! The thread itself is one of the variegated DMC threads I used in the last Stitchscape so where I have worked along the two rows of sequin flowers, the colours also gradient across which is really pretty. 
The knots have helped to make a distinction of almost two banks along the water's edge, with blue bubbles of the rushing stream flowing between the two. There is quite a lot of knotwork between the blending of the little flowers and the green hill knots but that's the thing about not planning before you start. If I'd planned it this would have turned out completely differently!

I love that these two Stitchscapes clash and meld so well together. They are completely different but look almost part of the same collection thanks to the sequins. The colours are the perfect compliment (quite literally) to each other! 

So, my little 10cm blue hoop stitch run down is; french knots, straight stitch, bullion knots, running stitch, whip stitch, satin stitch, back stitch, couching, stem stitch. Really simple but so effective!
Do you prefer one hoop over the other?

Candy Mountain Stitchscape


Happy New Year!! I hope you were all able to have a lovely festive period over Christmas and New Year? Ours was much quieter than usual due to the semi lockdown restrictions but it was happy and food/gift filled nonetheless. Next year we'll have to have huge celebrations with all of the family and friends we weren't able to see this time around and perhaps a Christmas in July to receive the presents we couldn't be given!

I was very lucky as I was given some truly wonderful presents and feel very spoilt. My gorgeous other half bought me a big pack of mixed Kaffe Fassett cotton squares! The colours and range of prints is astounding and it was all crying out to be turned into a Stitchscape. 
A few of them had this kind of candy colour theme so whilst I was feeling inspired I chose three of the prints and combined them with the green leaf fabric I already had in my stash and a lovely yellow/orange batik which was part of a fat quarter pack I also received from a certain someone. (He really outdid himself this year!! Thank you honey <3)

There's a lot going on in this piece and so many colours! I've tried to keep it all combined by re-using the same colours throughout the layers to tie it all together. It's not a colour palette I would normally go for in a Stitchscape but I love the freedom of this slightly more abstract landscape - sometimes you can't get bogged down in realistic looking scenes and need to just cast all of those hang ups aside and have fun! 
I haven't really done anything too dramatic with the fabric prints themselves as if you are going to splash out on Kaffe Fassett fabrics you should honour and respect it I think, his work doesn't need much improvement. 

Where I can I've also kept other layers quite simple so the batik at the top just has single strand back stitch following the lines (using a variegated thread for a bit of interest and to match the colour wash in the fabric) and the leaf fabric has big fly stitches following the leaf veins in the print, with whip stitch outlining the edges. I have mixed up the colours a bit on this and changed the line thickness (a great trick for making things seem bigger or smaller) to match the thickness of the lines underneath. 
Looking at this layer close up you can see the white lines that I was going over where they are slightly more curved than my thread line, but weirdly you can't see these from afar and I'm not too worried about being able to see them, they are a part of the fabric after all. 

For the Fassett fabrics themselves, this fabulous big floral number didn't need much at all, and some areas or lines I haven't stitched on, just picked out certain colours and sections. The big pink flower became more and more sun-like as I stitched it and does now look like a rather stylised sun peeping out from behind the hill ridge line. It wasn't consciously intentional but I wonder now whether my sub-conscious just does these things for me? 
I have roughly satin stitched (wouldn't win any awards at a needle-painting ceremony) the pink petals, following the lines and colours of the pink print underneath. Where the yellow french knots are there are areas of yellow print underneath so I have just filled those and made it look slightly more like pollen. 
The yellow/orange flower on the left has a similar satin stitch treatment just to make that layer the same depth and I added some stem stitch to the green highlights, along with some off-white stem stitch later on as I had some leftover on my needle from the bullion flowers (waste not want not!).

I left the striped layer almost until last as I really wasn't sure what to do with it. It's beautiful but so many options! I could have filled in each of the spiky layers, or gone around the spiky layers, or made a fly stitch from the point of the spikes downwards.... In the end I plumped for a much simpler whip stitch along some of the straight and obvious print lines, with a few of the lines left as back stitch for a contrast in texture. As I was planning knot flowers over the top there wasn't a lot of point going wild because whatever I did would be covered up and I think I hit the right note with this layer. I made the edge of it slightly more fun and exciting with a different variegated DMC thread for french knots - the colours matched the general theme of pinks and yellows really well which I was rather chuffed about.

And the final Fassett layer, how gorgeous is that?! It was a similar flower type as the pink one above but I didn't want to repeat what I had done. I did fill the centre of the flower with more french knots, again following the line of the pattern and, now I look at it, it could maybe represent fiery water with the pink flower sun centre reflected? With a bit of artist's prerogative and an imaginative eye maybe?
The petals I just worked straight stitches into so it's a bit choppier than the satin stitch which has given a different texture (and maybe implies watery ripples? I'm going to go for this water idea now I've thought about it!) and on top of that I've stitched these truly beautiful oily iridescent flower sequins that The Mother gave me for Christmas. The pack of sequins itself has lots of different coloured undertones, three of which I've used here. There's one that gleams a sort of light blue/pink/purple, one that has a red/orange/deep pink mixture and one that's more of a yellow/gold depending on the light. They are really lovely and I just can't stop looking at them. 

Because of the blue sequins I've added tiny little specks of a blue thread, just one strand, one twist french knots scattered here and there to help tie those in. The sequins looked a little bit lonely among the straight stitches so I've added more french knots in another variegated thread which goes from dark orange to pale yellow and fits in so well, providing light and dark across the layer. 
The top of this layer has been edged with several strands of the two orange threads used for the straight stitches. I think it was three strands of the darker orange and two of the lighter orange, completely stripped apart and then put back together so they were blended, then folded in half for thickness and couched down. 

The bullion flowers were all started with just the dark green stem stitches providing a base, then an off-white used for the flowers themselves. This was quite an important colour I think as there are just so many colours and patterns going on in this hoop, a break from it all is needed for the eyes and was possibly the only colour that would stand out whilst fitting in (ie; a black would stand out, but not fit in if you see what I mean?). They didn't look quite right on their own though so I have used the slightly more zesty green from the leaf layer and worked little pistil stitches among the bullions to help colour balance the greens. 

I'm rather chuffed with how this has turned out and hope I have done Kaffe's designs justice! There are always so many options for stitches and textures with this type of fabric print, would you have done anything differently?

So the stitch run down for this piece! I have used; back stitch, whip stitch, satin stitch, french knots, bullion knots, stem stitch, fly stitch, pistil stitch, straight stitch, couching and beading (if you can count using beads to hold the centre of the sequins in place).