Thursday, February 22, 2018

I really should know better....

... than to put my work aside before finishing the metal thread tails on the back!!!

I know nothing worse than having to start a 'stitching session' by finishing yesterdays tails, and if it wasn't because I had a looming deadline for this project it would most likely be sidelined for quite some time before I would make myself tidy it up so that I can move on.

But as I said... I have a deadline. So, after deep breath (and a bit of silent swearing at myself) I started today by finishing what I should have done yesterday.


Although this is a rather fine Imitation Jap (T70), I use a lasso to sink the tails. You can do threads this fine just by threading the tip of the tail into a very large (no.18) chenille needle, but I find it causes less damage to the metal using the lasso.
Slowly, slowly, one tail at a time.

Then on to the back. I am convinced this type of work is more time consuming on the back than on the front. The tails are stitched down securely - again: slowly, slowly, one at a time...

Then the excess can be trimmed away... and then onto the next.
As you can see on the finished tails in the background there is a lot of cotton thread core showing. That is because, in very tight spots or when I have a lot of tails, I will often strip the metal from the thread core to reduce bulk. It is a little trick I learned when I worked at The Society of Church Art (Selskabet for Kirkelig Kunst) in Copenhagen years ago.
Of course you need to be very, very careful when doing this. If you strip the metal too hard, will unravel onto the front and the cotton core will show at the edges.

To avoid this, I start by working three, tight overcast stitches to hold the tail securely at the base...

.. then I trim the tail and gently unravel the metal back to the point where it is stitched down. I then trim that tiny bit of metal and stitch the rest of the tail securely down.

And so (hours later) a neat and tidy little pomegranate is getting closer to being finished.

I looked over at my work tray.. a jumbled mess of threads, tools and notes...

Inspired by my now neat and tidy tails,

Oh and what am I working on?
I have not entirely been sworn to secrecy but I can't show you the whole piece (yet). It is intended for something quite special later in the year...

... but here is a teeny-weeny sneak peak of the plan before I started.

I am now going to enjoy finishing my little pomegranates before moving onto the many stems.
Happy Stitching,
Anna x

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Mountain Oak - The last leaf

It has been another very hot week here, so I have spend endless hours armed with a hose to keep the garden alive. 

Although I didn't have much left to do on the last leaf, I have only just got around to it today. Compared to the others, the stitching on this one is simple but I am happy with the way it turned out.

                 The other elements on the same branch are more delicate - a nice contrast the solid stitching of the leaf. 

The Mountain Oak is now finished. 
Considering how limited the colour palette for this piece is, it is turning out to be rather colourful
Although I have been looking at for so long, it always surprises me how it looks when I get the pictures up on the screen, which is a really odd feeling. .
Now for those hillocks (or mountains)... 

As you may remember, I started this project as a class piece for the Alpine Experience (14th - 21st August). It is so rare and amazing to have opportunity to teach for whole week, making it ideal for a slightly large and more complex project. 
I knew the workshop was filling but it turns out there is now only ONE space left which is amazing!! If you were thinking of joining us you may have To Book pretty soon if you don't want to miss out.

Have a lovely weekend,
Anna X

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mountain Oak progress

I have made a bit of progress on the Mountain Oak...
I stitched the last two boughs, each of them different to the others so there is now lots of textures and stitch patterns within the tree.

My plan was to stitch the large leaf on the right next but I had not quite worked out the stitches and colours I wanted to use. While pondering how to stitch it, I embroidered the berries / acorns / persimmons in the same way and colours as the ones on the lower bough.
I still wasn't sure about the large leaf, so instead moved on to smaller leaf pair instead.

The two leaves are stitched with the same combination of stitches (fly, blanket, stem and French knots) but with a slight variation of shades. Then I added a tendril of chain stitch with back stitch worked into each chain over the top.
I had hoped to have worked out that leaf by now, but no - I was still not sure about the large leaf! On the up side, while I was stitching the smaller leaves I had an idea for the scalloped edge of the top leaf...

So, while still pondering, I moved on to the leaf at the top of the tree instead. I stitched the edge with close rows of stem stitch in four shades of green and then filled in the scallops with blanket stitch. I haven't used this combination of stitches for a scalloped edge before, but I a like the lacy effect.What do you think?
The middle has a sprig of blue and green - Not so sure about the blue! The more I looked at it the less I liked it...

... so I ripped it out and changed the colour. I think this is much better.

While all of this stitching was happening, I finally worked out what to do with that leaf that I had been pondering for so long...

The inner sections are a soft grey/yellow/green with a trellis of grass green and yellow couching over the top and the outer sections in long and short stitch in shades of soft blues similar to those used in the leaf on the opposite side of the tree.
All I need to do now if finish it.

Happy Stitching,
Anna X