Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mitch O'Connell Lil'Death

It's been a while, I know. I have lots of things on the go and not much getting finished right now, plus I am moving house so some half finished things have been packed away. Despite this... drumroll.... I have finally managed to finish something.
This little guy was started over a year ago but I hadn't done much other than the outline- I am really glad I decided to finish him- and in time for Halloween! The pattern was a freebie from here . I originally had the idea of stitching all 4 and making them into a quilt but to be honest this has taken me so long to finish I'm not sure it will ever happen. This one was very fun to stitch though- I am still working on my boxing hares on and off as well as a handstitched quilt so it is nice to have a break from them to do something cute and silly! 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

&Stitches in the park

On the 5th of July I got to meet up with the rest of the &Stitches gang for a stitchy picnic. It was the first time I had met any of them in person so I was a bit nervous but I'm pleased to report they are all lovely.

We met in Kensington Gardens- I was ridiculously late due to getting lost (which was quite an achievement because once I found the right entrance to the park I spotted a glamourous group of stitching girls straight away- if only I hadn't gone in the wrong entrance and spent an hour wandering round completely the wrong part of the park!!)

We were joined by teasemade and Mrs Lacer and a pigeon called Steve! It felt great to be sitting and stitching with people who are interested in embroidery- we chatted about different techniques and styles. I loved the range of projects people were working on including ribbon embroidery, paper piecing and blackwork. It was fun having a nosy at what other people were working on.

I was too busy stitching to take photos but you can see us all here on &Stitches.

If you think this sounds like fun then the gang are meeting again very soon on August 2nd details here. Don't be shy -everyone is really nice and I promise they will make you feel welcome. Unfortunately I can't be there next time as I'm on holiday but I hope you can make it for a fun afternoon of sun and stitching!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blog hop

 There is a blog hop that is doing the rounds of creative blogs right now. the idea is that you answer the questions and then tag up to 3 blogs you follow and admire. They then do the same -ta dah!- and it goes on and on. I was tagged by Keeley of Stitch & Color who blogs about a range of creative topics including her cool embroideries.

 crewel skull

1. What am I working on?
I like to chop and change so tend to keep a few projects on the go; I am still working on my boxing hares piece, it's giving me problems- I forsee a lot of unpicking in my future as the legs have gone all wonky. I had a mammoth stitching session and forgot to 'stand back' from it, it wasn't until I saw it from a distance that I realised it has gone a bit weird.
 I also have a crewelwork day of the dead skull which I turn to when I want something easy to work on and I also have just sketched up a little anthropomorphic tap dancing mouse that I plan to stitch up for a friend. The crewel work is an iron on from this book. I don't often stitch from patterns but find it very therapeutic when I do. It is so relaxing to focus on each stitch rather than having to make all those decisions about shading, weight of line etc.
boxing hares WIP- the legs have gone all wrong and need some unpicking

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I stitch for me so don't need to worry about uniqueness - as long as I like what I do it doesn't matter if it is derivative or predictable. Having said that i am fairly resistant to 'trends' i am only now coming round to the geometric and pastel trends that have been all over craft blogs forever!
Embroidery is still a pretty niche craft so I think that just by working in stitch I am making something different from the norm and I love to see all the innovative ways the online stitchy community use their embroidery to create art. I like to use techniques like goldwork and stumpwork which are less 'common' forms of embroidery. This isn't me trying to stand out, I am just a total embroidery geek. Having said that my stumpwork pieces tend to be the ones that get the most attention - I think people see stumpwork as being a bit 'magical'. Let me share a secret about stumpwork with you... yes it is fiddly... yes it might take a bit longer... but difficult?...nah, not so much. It is so much easier than it looks- I would love to see more people using stumpwork.

detail of crewel skull
3. Why do I create what I do?
I trained in Fine Art so making stuff is important to me, I then went on to do a second degree in Occupational Therapy which is what I now do for a living. As an OT I believe that the things we do are what give our lives meaning. Engaging in embroidery fulfills so many purposes for me: through embroidery I connect with others, feel achievement as I learn new things and master skills, it relaxes me and I can be totally absorbed in what I am doing. I can focus on the moment and forget everything else- so important in my busy life. Having some form of creative outlet makes me happy and being an introvert I need to express my personality somehow- stitching fits the bill for me. So I really do see my embroidery as a meaningful occupation, I have had a few breaks from stitching over the years where I have lost my stitchy mojo (it happens to us all I think)  but I always miss it eventually and come back to it. Recently I have recognised how much I value it and if I lose that urge to create embroidery I join a swap/ stitchalong and that always gets me inspired to stitch again. Embroidery is good for you- In fact I could write a whole post just about this!

How does your creating process work?
Sometimes I just have a random idea that develops into a piece. I like to sketch stuff out first. I will use photos for source material- often I use google image searches to find photos to use.
Then I will often transfer a basic outline to fabric and get stuck in, I sort out the details as I go along. I rarely pick out a colour palette before I start or plan what stitches to use. Making it up as I go along feels natural to me and encourages me to try new things which is good for creativity.
The little beetle embroidery above is something I made last week- it is called 'pudding' because my son had a 'pet' beetle he found and christened Pudding. So we could distinguish Pudding from other beetles we marked him with gold glittery nail polish- he looked FABULOUS. Sadly the nail polish might have been what led to poor Pudding's demise- we found him dead that night and had to get rid of the ex-Pudding whilst my son was asleep and make up a story about him going to live in the garden. I wanted to remember Pudding in all his glittery glory, so have added some goldwork bright check purl to my stitching to make him sparkle.

Ok... after the fabulousness that is Pudding are you ready for some ultra-fab blogs?

First up is Lisa of A Cuppa Tea with Me she is a kindred spirit, a tea-fuelled stitcher so we were destined to find each other over the internet! Lisa is a really talented embroiderer and is doing some gorgeous things with felt.

Next we have Crystal whose blog is Fiberartsy, I can't quite remember how I found Crystal- maybe through blogging or maybe via Craftster but I have been following her blog for years. Her stitching is immaculate and I love the conversational way she writes about her embroidery.

Finally can I introduce you to Flaming Nora (which should win some sort of best name for a blog award). She makes beautiful arty embroidery and has a job making costumes which she shares titbits about and which I am incredibly jealous of.

Please give them all a visit (and don't forget Keeley up there at the top of the post) they were all kind enough to be tagged in this chain letter style game and I am looking forward to hearing their answers to the questions above. You can also trace the 'chain' back through peoples posts to hear different peoples thoughts about their creative process (I did this for ages last week- it was a good read!!)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Toms Diner

My last post featured the piece I made for the &Stitches swap and this is the piece I received in return. It was made by the fabulously talented Broidrage who in her own words is a New York pop culture junkie so it was fitting that she stitched me a NY icon; Toms Diner- y'know the one from the Suzanne Vega song and from Seinfeld.

It was a perfect choice for the 'Places' theme and I love it!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Battersea Power Station

Over at &Stitches there has been a swap going on. The theme was places and I was assigned a lovely partner who makes the most awesome things. After much ummming and ahhhhing I decided to make an embroidery of a British landmark- Battersea Power Station but given a bit of a twist. I have stitched it as a silhouette filled in with fossils for no other reason than 'fossil fuels'. Now I know that these fossils probably aren't the type commonly found in coal (a quick google suggests coal has mainly fossilized ferns) but I chose ones I liked and thought would look good. The main part is using silks but I switched to white embroidery floss for the famous white chimneys. When I first finished it I wasn't all that sure whether I liked it but looking at it now I think it was quite successful. 
I had to send it a bit crumpled because the purple fabric pen was taking a long time to fade out - you can see it round the chimneys above, and I didn't want to risk 'setting' it with a hot iron (I have know idea whether it would does anyone know?). Hopefully my partner won't mind a few wrinkles

I'll be back soon to share what I received from my partner.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Work in Progress


This is what's in my hoop at the moment, a few years ago I made something similar for a swap and I really liked it. My style of stitching is more intricate these days and I have altered the face to give better detail. I might have to unpick some of his skinny leg later if it looks too odd and give him more muscle!
It is also a lot bigger than the original, when finished it will fill an A4 frame.
I am using a dark grey floss, I am tending to use dark greys, browns or blues for this style of single colour embroidery. I just prefer it to black right now, but I may well go back to black at some point in the future.
The lines I'm following are drawn on faintly in pencil- I just draw on the outline and freestyle the rest - I'm using a print out of my original for my pattern and tweaking it as I go along (the original was drawn from a vintage photo of boxers and a photos of hares)
the original

Monday, 14 April 2014


A while ago I signed up for a Phat Quarter swap... erm quite a while ago actually, I had to contact my partner (the very cool Mr X himself) and ask for extra time because I was making something odd that I had no idea how to make.
Behold the 'sort of' stumpwork stiletto wasp:

The main part of the body is embroidered in floss, the face is fake leather appliqued onto kid leather, the legs are wire and the wings are tracing paper stitched on gauze with paper covered wire stitched on for the veins. It is huge because stiletto wasps are a mythical beast from the Scott Lynch book Red Seas Under Red Skies - it's a great book, the second in a series (the first The Lies of Locke Lamora is even better)- I used a description of the wasp in the book to design my version.
 I was pretty pleased how it turned out - not bad for a first attempt at something like this. It was very challenging, as I was making it up as I went along. I had to make the wings twice as my first set didn't have the tracing paper and were awful- they needed something to give shape to the gauze.
Next on my embroidered object list is either a fish or something like an urchin or starfish (think french knots and plenty of em) whaddya think?

Monday, 17 March 2014

my stitchy watch

Surely every discerning stitcher needs a timepiece featuring cross stitched flowers. I've had this baby for a while- isn't she a beaut?

but if that doesn't meet your stitchy watch needs how about this little number?

Speaking of time- I know a lot of time is passing between posts right now- there is real life stuff eating away at my time that I won't bore you with but there are also lovely soon-to-finished objects I can share with you very soon.
 I will be back in a tick ...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Johnny 5 is alive!!

Do you remember this film? Short circuit!! Me and my brother watched it all the time as kids.
I watched it again recently with my oldest, Jake, who is a fan of robots- he was very taken with Johnny 5.

So I made this- it's on a pillowcase. I simplified him down quite a bit but think he is still fairly recognisable. I wanted it to look like a tattoo design but could have spent more time planning out the arrangement of the leaves underneath- my original sketch had a better layout but I didn't trace it well and just freehanded it in the end, oh well.
The stitching isn't a smooth as I would usually make it because it is a cheap pillowcase and fairly thin so I didn't want the stitching too heavy- you can see at the bottom of the  leaves it is puckering a bit. Now the best thing to do would have been to unpick and back the area that was going to be stitched with stabiliser to make it stronger but I wasn't too bothered about a little  bit of puckering on this piece so I just tried to keep my stitch length long and not make my stitches too tight to keep the fabric as flat as possible.
Now it is in use the pillow smooths the puckers out mostly. It fits in well in his robot themed room.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Finish-Along with &Stitches!

Over at &Stitches there is a different kind of stitch-along taking place- the Finish-along. The idea is simple- lets use all those good intentions we have at the start of the new year to tackle some of the neglected UFOs (un-finished-objects) lurking in the bottom of your craft bag/pile/pit.

So this is my project for the Finish-along. This is my hardanger sampler- started January 2013.  The patterns are by Mabel Figworthy from a stitch-along she did last year, there was a pattern every month and unfortunately I fell behind in February and never really got back into it. I would like to get it finished and although I don't intend to stitch all 12 patterns I would like to do four or maybe even six. So I've printed some of the stitch-along patterns out and I will try and make a bit of progress on this one over the next few weeks.

I find this style of stitching quite difficult- the stitches need to be very even to look nice and there are some bits that I will probably unpick and re-do. There is a lot of bare fabric between the counted stitches- so lots of counting holes to get the stitches in the right place- this sends me a bit cross-eyed and makes me a cross when I keep losing count. Some of the patterns also involve cutting the fabric which is a bit scary- I am worried I might snip through my stitching. I will probably finish it as a sort of mat/runner type thing to go on top of my sideboard which means that although some of the patterns include beads I will probably improvise with french knots or something.
The patterns  all look quite traditional- I think if I stick to this grey, cream and mustard yellow palette it will look rather lovely. It is perle cotton if you are wondering and the fabric is hardanger cloth which seems very like Aida but I think it perhaps has a different weave.

What's your oldest UFO? I have one that I started in 2008- maybe once my sampler is done I will try and get that finished!
 If you are trying to get some of your old projects completed come join in!