Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Starting something new...

It is always exciting to start a new project, don't you think?
The little piece I am about to start is one I have been wanting to embroider for a very, very long time. It is a newpiece of Or Nue.
A poppy this time...

I find wild poppies so immensely beautiful with their delicate, papery petals and strong, vibrant colour. I am not entirely sure how I will go about creating it in metal thread, which is so very fare from 'delicate and papery'. It will be a bit of a challenge, one I am looking forward to....

I don't always prepare a colour sketch for new designs - often just making it up as I go. Or Nue is close to impossible to unpick and it would be a shame to get halfway through it and realise the placement of colour is not right. The tricky part with this design is that the individual shapes (petals) overlap and I will need to find a way to define them or it will end up just looking like a red blob...

So I decided I needed to think it through.. just a bit, to a bit more of a clear idea how to distribute the colours - even if I will only be working with three colours over the gold. It is only a very rough sketch, but I think it enough as a reference for when the 'real' work begins.

I use a light box to get the line drawing onto the silk. It is marked with a 0.1 acid free permanent pen. It is rare I use anything else than these fabulous pens. You can get the most delicate lines it doesn't bleed and unlike pencil, it will not rub off or fade. The only thing to keep in mind, is to only mark lines that are certain to get covered with stitches.

If you want to try them, just look for Sakura Micron, they are available from most good art suppliers. I find black a little too harsh, so use brown / sepia for most things. The colour works well on most fabrics, even darker colours such as the deep sea green I am using for this project.

I always use a backing fabric when working with metal threads. The backing serves to stabilise and support the upper layer. Metal threads are heavy and in the case of Or Nue there are so many tiny and dense stitches, that stitching without backing is impossible. I don't use a heavy backing for small projects like this one, just calico. I wash it in really hot water is to remove any chemicals. To further stabilise it and make sure it doesn't stretch at all while I stitch, I fuse a woven interfacing onto it. I find that by doing that I get a perfectly stable backing, that will not stretch without it being too heavy. When I layer the fabrics, I place them so the interfacing is trapped between the layers. It seems to work.

Ready to pop into the hoop. I use one with both rings bound when I use backed silk. The silk is so slippery that no matter how careful you are and how tight the hoop is, it slowly slides out if the top ring is not bound.
I am ready...

I hope you too is having a lovely Tuesday
Anna x

Friday, May 6, 2016


I am not sure where the last couple of weeks have gone, but I feel I can finally catch my breath.

It always seems as if no matter how organised I think I am, I end up in a bit of a mad panic but I have finished turning piles and baskets of what seemed like mountains of kits supplies three neat piles of kits for the classes in Bangkok next week.

Unlike previous trips, I am teaching three different techniques this time, two of which are new designs.

We will be starting with a two day crewel embroidery workshop using the new Snow Berries design. It may look detailed but I designed it especially as an introduction to crewel embroidery so it is not as tricky as it may look. I have as usual made up a couple of extra kits for the Shop (just a couple for now, but I will make more when I get back) and uploaded the PDF pattern. The fabric in these kits are large enough to make up a decent size pillow without having to add extra fabric for borders. You can find the FREE Simple Edge Pillow pattern here.

I guess we all get a little caught up in using the same techniques over and over. As much as I love my crewel and raised embroidery, I was really happy to be asked if I would teach my Thai students hem stitch. I don't think the fascination with neat rows of patterns created by 'holes' will ever fade. There really is a timeless beauty to this kind of work. I have put this PDF pattern in Shop if anyone would like to make the Pincushion.

Toadstools & Brambles raised embroidery panel is the third project I will be teaching on this trip. One of tricks with creating designs for workshops is to offer something that is both achievable and appealing. This project is not small, but it works really well as an introduction to some of the techniques used to create 3D embroidery. There are really no tricky stitches in this piece - a few needle-woven picots would have to be the only stitch that is not used in general surface embroidery.

With all the kits ready to go, all there is left for me to do is to pack my suitcase and sort out my own stitching paraphernalia - who knows, I might even get a bit of embroidery done myself while I am away. I have not stitched for weeks and my fingers are itching...

Have a fabulous weekend,
Anna X

Monday, April 18, 2016

Back home...

We were away for a break last week, Farmer John and I. I know going bush is not everybody's idea of an ideal holiday, but I love it and was looking forward to the trip like an excited child.... looking forward to spending time out in the middle of nowhere, recharging the batteries surrounded by nothing but quiet. We never usually drag pets along on holidays, but since we were going bush, we decided to take our Nala dog with us after checking with the property owners that if it was ok. A few days roaming around in the bush would be fun for her as much as for us.

It is a good days drive from here to the Flinders Ranges. I love road trims and all went to plan.. Farmer John did the driving, while I had the luxury of just keeping us fed and hydrated (very important job) while watching the landscape slide by. From the station (Aussie term for very, very large farms) we bumped along a rather rough 4WD track for another 40min and arrived just as the sun was beginning to set. It was just as I had hoped for - perfect. A small (replica) shepherds hut, basic but beautiful, set in a creek bed and surrounded by large gum trees. The scene was set for a well deserved break.

Sadly it did not go like that at all and we are back home without our sweet Nala dog. She found and ate a dingo bait. It was horrible and so sad to watch our sweet girl die. She was only a year old and so full of life, everything was one big adventure for this puppy. She was so much fun and so clever, always active and kept us on our toes. But she is gone now. Needless to say we packed up and went home after having buried her in bush. It was awfully sad, but there was just no way we could even think about bringing her home.

I have picked up the flat balls, old knotted socks (her very favourite toy), sticks and at least a dozen pine cones that were scattered around the house. Everywhere feels so very quiet. I have lost pets before, but they have been old or sick and I knew it was time and the right thing to happen. It was sad but it didn't feel wrong. This is different. It feels so wrong. It did not need to happen. She may not have been with us for long, but she has left an awfully big hole in our hearts.

Rest in Peace Sweet Girl