Coral garden in bloom

Over the weeks, working on my Canvas Stitches piece has transformed from a love hate relationship to a real labour of love. It's not perfect, but all things considered I'm very proud of it.

Today I put the finishing touches to the tapestry, with a few beads and sequins (or, to use the RSN term, spangles) and a little weaving of sparkly thread to cover up tiny areas where a few threads of the canvas below the stitching peeked through (a not inconsiderable amount of embroidery is subterfuge...)


Perhaps it's all the sparkly thread and shiny beads that have made this piece so enjoyable to stitch; I've always been a magpie, and when I started to add the first sparkly thread in the classroom, I did a little dance in my seat.

I particularly enjoyed adding the little flower-shaped spangles to my pink sea anemones in a random pattern; perhaps they're open ready to catch passing fish? They add a nice bit of dimension and variety to this area.




I've spent many hours blending threads in the needle to create what is hopefully a subtle gradation throughout the piece.



Try as I might to stretch the canvas as taught as possible, when I added the underwater jewels-toned border it didn't turn out quite straight; I suppose I will see if my tutors have any suggestions on Monday... 


I'm going to spend tomorrow sampling a few different blackwork stitches ready for my next RSN project; I will share my design and beginnings of blackwork here soon. Now that I've had a good day's stitching, however, I'm going to try turning my hand to a different craft; lino printing on to denim. Wish me luck!

Merry Stitchmas

I do apologise, I couldn't resist such a gloriously dreadful pun. I hope you have all had the merriest of Christmases with your loved ones. I have spent mine sheltering from stormy weather in the Highlands, in a little house on the hill where the festive drinks flow readily.

Aside from eating and drinking far too much, I was determined this festive season to finish all the groundwork of my Canvas Stitches, ready for decorative beading and surface stitching when I get back to London.

Well, two days after Christmas I have finally done it. Here are the results:







It hasn't been easy, but, as the Tailor of Gloucester would say in my favourite of Christmas films, "I am worn to a ravelling, but 'tis done." Cashmere Stitch, Victorian Step, Byzantine, Jacquard, Tent Stitch, Button Hole Stitch, Satin Stitch, French Knots, Upright Cross, Romanian Couching, Hungarian Grounding, Parisian Stitch and Eyelets all feature. Phew!

I did find time to make merry, however, and dressed myself up more glitzy than a Christmas bauble on the 25th; my Grannie proclaimed "It's Christmas!" when she saw me. Here's a Christmas selfie to prove it:





Putting one stitch in front of another

Hello all. Where oh where have I been for the past month and a half? Well, I've been feeling under the weather, in many ways quite literally; the storm that huffed and puffed and blew our neighbour opposite's fence down didn't help. This time of year hits me hard, but at long last I seem to be emerging from the big black maelstrom that was gathering above my head.

In the winter months I find solace in posting loved ones little treats, in an effort to raise our collective spirits as the nights draw in and the days grow shorter.


I have also been spring cleaning (so appropriate for November, I know), and my bedroom is finally an approximation of what I've been wishing it to be for years (though there's still bunting to be put up; one can never have too much bunting...). More importantly, however, my room is clean and tidy, which I must say is something of a revelation to me. Who knew this would lead to me actually knowing where things are?! The plan now is to apply my (somewhat idiosyncratic) organisational methods (business cards go in a box with embroidered patches, obviously) to the makeshift "studio" in the loft, which is currently crammed to bursting with fabric, thread and other gubbins.

Noelle the narwhal "helping" me get organised
And yet more gubbins are pouring in; I seem to be becoming a receptacle for all the unloved fabric and needlecraft equipment that has been languishing in the attics of loved ones and acquaintances; not that I'm complaining in the slightest! I've had a surfeit of gorgeous '60s and '70s quilting cottons of late, and other bits and bobs which aren't quite to my taste are taking a little trip to Significant Seams to be turned into all manner of exciting textile-y goodness.

A little peg lady who sat atop a swag bag of fabrics donated to me; I think she looks like a little mini-me, don't you?

Besides gathering a snowball of beautiful fabrics, there is so much else to look forward to right now; mine and Pip's two year (really??) anniversary is coming up on December 1st; Christmas holed up in the Highlands with my family and an almost obscene amount of delicious food; returning to Hampton Court in January invigorated and ready to give my training in the ancient art of hand embroidery my all. Until then, I shall be taking time to look after myself and enjoy the season, and above all simply putting one stitch in front of another.

A rainbow on my window one recent morning reminded me to be grateful for the little things in life



"Working towards normality": the story of my life

Tea, comforting films, Pip, and the spirit of the Suffragettes are helping me power through


Colours of the deep blue (and green and purple and pink and orange and grey) sea

The beginnings of a coral garden


                                   
Tarnished jewel-toned seawater cottons and metallics



Jacquard Stitch (Please try to ignore the surrounding spaghetti junction; Canvas Work is like sausages; it's delicious, but you don't want to see how it was made)


Sketching For Stitching

Remember Nicola Jarvis's incredible exhibition at the William Morris Gallery? Well, last week, the other Future Tutors students at the RSN and myself were lucky enough to have her teach us the principles of embroidery design over two days.

Now, I haven't drawn in over three years, beyond very basic line sketches (mostly traced from photographs, I am ashamed to say!) for my embroideries. But two days of drawing with Nikki, and I was in love with the medium all over again!

I'm enjoying following my instincts about colour, and just choosing tones which seem to fit together. I'm really attracted to jewel-like tones of magenta, purple, lime, coral and sapphire at the moment, partially due to a 1920s flapper dress from the Royal School's collection which put me in mind of a coral reef; inspired by this, my design for Canvas Work (a technique I'll be embarking on learning in a month), is an underwater scene.



From looking at and handling the collection and listening to the experiences and advice of my peers and tutors, I'm beginning to learn more about which stitches and techniques are appropriate for different designs. I can't wait to try out Turkey rug, feather stitch, stumpwork and trellis stitch... so much texture!

My design for Jacobean Crewel Work is in rich purples and blues, chosen from three crewel wools I snatched almost as soon as they were put on the table; they're simply sumptuous! Jacobean Crewel Work traditionally depicts a tree of life laden with fantastical, oversized flora and fauna. I've chosen an oak leaf, acorn, thistle, a sprig of berries, and a snail crawling up the Tree of Life's trunk. To balance the right hand side of the Tree, I've drawn a spiralling branch on the left which echoes the snail's shell. The three hillocks are also a traditional feature of Jacobean Crewel Work.




 I've definitely caught the drawing bug, but I can't wait to get back to my real love; tomorrow is my first day of stitching! I'll share the results here very soon.