Thursday, June 2, 2016

Around and around...Or Nue W.I.P.

It is the second time I stitch the centre of the poppy. The first attempt turned out nothing like what I had hoped, but this time I am happy.
First a tiny circle of kid leather raised over two layers of felt padding. To tone the very shiny gold down a bit (I find kid can be a bit 'in-your-face' shiny if you are not careful) and to imitate the seed pod centre of a poppy, I placed detached chains over the top before neatening the edge with a single round of stem stitch. 
Another two rounds of stem stitch with brown silk and it is ready for the gold threads. A single gold thread at first, couched in place with the finest of brown silk. 

Tiny stitches closely side by side with only the tiniest of gaps here and there to allow the gold to shine through just a little bit.
Halfway around and the second gold thread is joined in - always along the inside of the first. By joining it this way, you get a much smoother start to a circle than if you simply started the two threads together.

First round complete and a few red stitches are sneaking in amongst the brown...
The beauty of using silk threads as fine as these (Pipers Floss Silk) is that I can get the stitches super dense in places without them distorting the smooth curve of the metal threads.

More red and less brown. The dark stitches are placed over the marked lines and red is filling in the gaps.

I add the second shade of red as the brown thread is finished. From now on I will be using just these two colours to fill the petals. At first, I place two or three dark red stitches placed closely side by side at the marked lines along a short section at a time before the lighter shade is used between.

I will need to pay really close attention to the shading in this project - I am still worried it might end up being just a red blob.
As with thread painting, I can create shading by the use of colour, but one of the challenges I love about Or Nue is to also use the density of stitches to create shading. If I stitched all the lines in dark dark and used the lighter shade to fill the shapes, I would still get a poppy, but I think it would look flat and stiff. I want to try and achieve the light movement of  a real flower - the look of the light shining through the the papery petals.

Stitch by stitch, around and around... each time taking a little longer but (thankfully) the red blob is slowly taking shape and the shapes of petals are starting to appear.
My goal is to stitch a round a day (at least those days I am not working) but as the rounds grow in size, I may well have to rethink that goal...

Enjoy the rest of your week.
Anna X

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