Moonbeams…

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Inspiration comes from many places and sometimes we don’t really know exactly why a piece evolves the way that it does. But that wasn’t the case with the latest piece of stitched tapestry, because from the moment I saw the fabulous silk Moonbeams on a Mystic Sea from Eleanor Lee at Solstice Yarns, I had a good idea in my mind of how I wanted to use it.

And so here it is. I’m calling this one Moonbeams because that’s where it all came from.

In addition to the greeny silk in there, much of the purply background and big purple patches also came from Eleanor’s wickedly enticing store. There are also a couple of blatantly sparkly gold and silver metallics and a rather subtler, almost silver silk in there, to add a twinkle or two as you walk past.

Working with Eleanor’s threads has been pure bliss. They stitch into the cotton crash so happily, you’d think they’d been designed with that in mind.

Thank you Eleanor.

Moonbeams.

Approximately 38cm x 38cm

Silk, wool and metallic threads on cotton crash.

May & June 2014

 

 

False starts and moonbeams…

What do you do when something just won’t come together the way you think it should?

I’ve just had a stitching false start. The piece I thought I knew what I was doing with, didn’t agree. We couldn’t come to terms, it was deeply frustrating.

And although I like the old Robert the Bruce adage of ‘if at first you don’t succeed…’, I do not have the same mettle as fugitive medieval kings or patient cave dwelling spiders.

No, I failed, and so I did what was the most satisfying thing I could think of at the time – I ripped it out of the frame.

Instead, I am now working on a new piece inspired by a gorgeous silk yarn from Eleanor at Solstice Yarns – Moonbeams on a Mystic Sea.

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I am in love with this silk and I’m back in the flow – phew!

Ta Dah…

Well thanks to a productive weekend, it’s done! Thank you so much to everyone who commented with ideas on a name for the latest piece. Something nearly always suggests itself to me while I’m working on a canvas, but this time although I’ve really enjoyed stitching it, there was a deafening radio silence as far as names were concerned, so it was really helpful to hear your thoughts.

There was considerable consensus on a title that spoke about flow, movement and nature. Something about it evidently evokes a Jacobean feeling, and the colours are distinctly autumnal.

As I’ve been stitching during the last week or so, I’ve been mulling over all your comments, playing around with word associations and combinations, waiting for the name that felt right to emerge.

Now when I tell you what happened, you’ll have to remember I am a true child of the ’60s, certain experiences molded me at an early age. So when Alister at The Bargellist mentioned in his comment being able to see snails, it triggered a chain reaction in my head. First I had a little giggle, because although not designed as snails, I could see precisely what he meant, I’m forever drawing spirals, they crop up in lots of things I make, and yes, there is a distinct snailiness about this piece.

The obvious thing was to call it snails, but…

…the trouble is, I am of the The Magic Roundabout generation, for me all snails have but one name, and so, although I tried hard to think of it as something a trifle more elegant, in the end I give you…

IMAG4881… Brian

You might be interested to know that in Christian art, snails symbolise laziness or the deadly sin of sloth…

Thank you to Catherine at Knotted Cotton for introducing me to A Scientific Romance – I’ve just bought a copy and will add it to the reading for the  ‘A Year in Books’ project.

If you want to indulge in a little Magic Roundabout nostalgia, click here.

Time for bed

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This, that and the other…

Well, THIS is where I am with the current piece…

IMAG4548Would anyone care to suggest a title? Usually something pops up in my mind, but I think my creative impulse is taking a spring break…

Here it is a bit closer up…

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)O(

While THAT – below– is what happens when you finally get your old easel out and play with paint all afternoon.

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Although I always felt most at home with oil paint,  the practical difficulties of using it in a house where there’s no space to leave your kit set up and where you have to snatch opportunities ‘as and when’, has prevented me from painting for years. But lately Number One Daughter and I have been dabbling in gouache and acrylics, which although not the same as oil, do give you the chance to use similar techniques, and can be tidied up fairly painlessly – (the kitchen gallantly doubles as a studio, but sooner or later it has to revert to primary function).

So as it was SO MUCH FUN, I shall probably do it again…

)O(

And THE OTHER news…

I’ve been going all soft and gooey over the delicious yarns from Eleanor at Solstice Yarns (be warned, a visit to her Etsy shop will have you dribbling and/or grasping for your credit card)

IMAG4556This little bundle of silky joy is my latest acquisition.

And on a more mundane front, I have just bought these little chaps…

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I’ve had so much trouble with very sore fingers over the last year or so, sometimes I wondered if I was allergic to the yarn or scrim, but then I read something recently about nickel allergy and a penny dropped. Of course it might not be anything to do with it, but I’m going gold-plated for now to see if things improve.

Happy stitching!

)O(

Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Sending a huge thank you to Tanya and Elizabeth for giving me the confidence to go all the way – and wet the tree.

I’ve pussy-footed about steaming odd bits before, but never had the guts to get everything really wet, now, thanks to the encouragement from you all, I’ve done it.

treeAnd it worked! 

I am absolutely delighted and will now be giving the same treatment to the rest of the pile of wonky pieces sitting on the self – I just need to invest in another couple of packets of drawing pins.

Now that it’s square, the finishing options are much more straightforward – so I’ll start nagging the Other Half for the promised frame (who knows, at this rate I’ll probably end up making it myself).

)O(

And in other news…

Anyone who’s been having the occasional peep at the snaps in the sidebar, might have seen the new piece I’ve started. Here it is…

IMAG4260Take no notice of the colours I’ve drawn in, I’m working in a more red/green palette – err, well it looks like this…

IMAG4257I needed to go couching again after months of tent stitch, – it’s a weird kind of release, and I like to watch and see where the yarns decide to go.

IMAG4264So that’s me on the stitching front. Hope your projects are all coming along the way you want them.

Happy stitching!

 

)O(

Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter. 

 

 

 

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Tree updates…

IMAG4197Well there’s good news and there’s bad news…

On the positive side, I have finished stitching the tree.

Sadly however, like everything else stitched on this scrim, it has succeeded in doing a very good impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa…

IMAG4198I’ve cropped the picture above so you can see the scale of the problem – to be square, the stitched area should reach all four corners – oh dear.

I’d been discussing ways to stretch it over a frame with the Other Half, but I’m afraid the angle is going to be too extreme. So now I’m wondering about stitching a complementary colour into the missing corners.

So perhaps not quite so finished as I hoped.

)O(

In other news, I have started a new piece. After all the tent stitching in tree, I’ve decided to go for texture in the new work, so lots of different stitching this time. I’ll post about it another day, but if you want a preview, take a look at the little widget I’ve added on the bottom right hand column – it’s my latest Instagram snaps.

I have to thank Elizabeth at Bottle Branch for alerting this techno-laggard to Instagram (huge thanks Elizabeth!) – she mentioned in a recent comment, that the Daily Tree Project would be ideal for Instagram, and I wanted to know more about it. I wasn’t sure at first – I’m not the biggest social media type you’ll find, but when I saw that I could incorporate it into this blog, it seemed to be the perfect way to give snapshots without doing a full post. (I think if you follow me on Twitter, you should also get a link to new snaps).

So if you scroll down there, you’ll find snaps from the new embroidery and today’s tree photo. I really like the idea of putting snaps up more often, although I’ll still do a proper monthly Daily Tree Project update post. So if anyone is interested in a more up-to-date glimpse into the current WIP or the latest tree pics, feel free to scroll down and have a look. (If you click on the snaps, you’ll see a bigger version).

 

Happy stitching.

 

)O(

 

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Mid-month update…

Plodding on, and on…

The end isn’t in sight – yet – but I think I must be over half way by now….IMAG3856I ripped it out of the frame this morning to take a quick picture while the sun made a rare appearance. 

The giant clips I bought a few weeks ago are a tremendous hit. If you are working to a pattern, or have worked out in detail exactly which colour you want where, then it might be possible to roll up the canvas on a traditional frame and just work the parts that are visible as you get to them, but that’s not the way I like to do it. I’ve realised that I stitch in much the same way that I paint – so I need to be able to see the whole design all the time (or near as damn it).  This is much easier to do with the new clips, because they’re so easy to put on and off – they also cope well with the extra thickness of the stitched areas – my old clips (the ones that came with the frame), simply ping off as soon as the canvas gets too thick.

Working with a lot of 4ply knitting wools in this piece has made me start to plot what I’m going to do next. I’ve completely fallen in love with the texture and the stitch definition of these wools, they are a dream to sew with and ideal for the tiny hole size in the linen scrim that I’m using. So I’ll be on the look-out over the coming weeks for the colours I’ll be using on the next piece. I haven’t quite got as far as a proper plan, but the little grey cells are certainly having fun.

Happy stitching!

-)O(-

Waiting…

IMAG3286The word of the week here is WAITING….

Perhaps that should be anticipating.

I’m waiting for some new crewel threads to arrive for the current project – I’d sorted out the yarns I was going to use for the rest of it, but the tapestry wools were just proving too thick for the scrim – not fun to deal with, so I’ve ordered a selection of solid colours to complement the delicious 4-plys I’m already using.

My excitement at embroidery actually making it to the TV last week, has set me off feeling experimental – so I’m also waiting for a delivery of different canvas materials – I want to see what I can do with some alternative base fabrics – well it’s good to flex those creative muscles from time to time. I know I’m never going to be a proper embroiderer, but give me a piece of loose-weave canvas and well – who knows…

I’m also waiting for some extra long and strong bulldog clips to arrive – these will – I hope – make it easier to clip the thicker parts of the worked canvas to the frame (this is what passes as technical stuff around here) – suffice to say, the air can get quite blue around me when the plastic clips ping off the frame, leaving the canvas floppy and recalcitrant – I’m pinning great hopes on these new clips.

And a BTW – I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new field guide to mushrooms (readers at Mostly Motley will remember) – found the recommended title online second-hand and a bargain to boot – thank you Catherine.

In the meantime, happy stitching.

 

 

-)O(-

 

 

 

The story so far…

It’s very nearly the end of the month, so I thought I’d show you a quick update on the current piece I’m stitching. I haven’t given it a proper name yet, although the astute amongst you might be able to see a tree hidden in the pattern, and I suppose tree might feature in the name eventually, but I’ll wait to see if it shows itself more clearly as I stitch, or whether it decides to remain obscure.

So don’t get too excited, this is slow art remember…

IMAG3165Nearly two months in and perhaps a quarter done.

I know you’ll be questioning the sanity of anyone who opts to use tent stitch only on a piece that’s the best part of 2′ square, but what can I say – it feels right to me, or should I say it makes me feel right, because there is undoubtedly a soothing sensation that comes with the act of stitching something relatively fine. And after the textures of the last piece, the urge to create something smooth was undeniable.

Many of us find a peace from the process of stitch – in its many forms – and this is especially true for me in this piece. There is nothing extraordinary about filling little areas of scrim with yarn, and yet, inch by inch, as I sew, the focus of my mind changes and I know I’m calming down, feeling tranquil. It’s that transformation that I love – the fact that at the end I can see a little more filled in canvas, is just an added bonus.

I continue to be delighted with the way both Natalie and Victoria’s knitting wools are performing, they stitch brilliantly, but best of all, as the tiny sections of colour grow and you stroke your finger over it, it feels soft and warm – it’s sensual.

I’ve started to incorporate a few sections in silk. It’s much more of the prima donna to work with – there are creative tantrums, but I want the occasional shininess to slip into the piece and silk does it like nothing else, so in it goes – in moderation.

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So there you are – at this rate probably not going to be ready by Christmas, but that’s ok.

Happy stitching!

 

-)O(-

 

 

Back in the frame…

Oh what a summer! I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have weeks and weeks of warmth and sunshine. As expected, with the girls at home there was no blogging – I tried to keep up with blog reading, but even that eventually ran away from me, but things will return to normal – I hope!

Although there were no updates, there has been some stitching on the new piece – albeit mostly snatched half hours, between taxiing the girls and cooking endless cheese toasties. This is where I am today…

stained glass 2013

 

This is the new piece painted up - in alcohol inks.
This is the new piece painted up – in alcohol inks.

I’m sticking to the plan of using only tent stitch or derivatives for this piece (which also has no name as yet). There was so much texture in Splodge that I feel the need to go flat again for a while. But I am having a wonderful time trying out new yarns. In addition to the lovely yarns from Natalie Fergie, I’m also incorporating a couple from Victoria at Eden Cottage Yarns. They are perfect for working in this linen scrim and give me the tonal variations I was looking for. It seems to me that this is the route I’m going for the future – needlepoint yarns are fine, but there is so much variety and texture available from knitting yarn dyers – it’s a wonderful resource for people like me – and using so much, it makes far better sense to buy larger quantities.

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During the summer, I realised that I have hundreds (well in fact that’s probably thousands) of photographs, sitting on my computer, taken because there’s something I like about a scene, a colour or a texture – but they just stay there, rarely revisited. So I thought I might try an experiment and put up the occasional photograph here – a kind of ‘something about this appealed to me but I’m not entirely sure what’ approach. So if you start to see random photos, you’ll know what it’s about…

Perhaps something like this…

The roof of the Chapter House - Elgin Cathedral.
The roof of the Chapter House – Elgin Cathedral.

It’s good to be back. Happy stitching.

Splodge and overlapping…

And breathe…

splodge needlepoint

 

It’s finished. Five months of stitching, but to be fair I wasn’t really giving it as much attention as some pieces I’ve made – we’ve been having a lot of mundane ‘life’ for the last few months and somehow although the stitching is always relaxing when I actually get to sit and do it, sometimes I don’t get beyond the ‘thinking about doing it’ stage.

This is one of the first pieces I’ve worked with large sections of like-coloured wools. I’m not sure I really enjoyed that, perhaps the on-going decisions about which shades to use is part of the fun for me.

Now that it’s stitched, I think it has more Moorcroft than oil-spill about it, but Splodge has stuck, so that’s what it will remain.

As I was getting closer to the middle of Splodge (I worked from the outside to the middle), the usual thing happened – I started thinking about the next project I want to make. This has become the norm for me now, I think it’s my brain’s way of preparing for the loss of a project – a bit like buying a new puppy when your faithful old dog is starting to ail.

There is one particular piece I’m trying to work out based on the stone and glass textures in a section of a church wall, but so far I can’t seem to get it down in a way that works – yet.

But perhaps as a reaction to the palette I used in Splodge, I’ve found myself going back to the stained-glass approach for a bit of relief. So the project that has overlapped with the end of Splodge is going to look something like this…

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I intend to keep this all in simple tent stitch. The first few stitches went in at the weekend, including some of the sock wool I bought from Natalie Fergie, which I have to say stitched like a dream. I’m seriously thinking about adding more shades from her collection, it has a fabulous texture as well as working easily.

So there you are, on to the next one.

Happy stitching.

 

 

P.S. The girls are on holiday, so I probably won’t be here much until September. We’re not planning any major expeditions, but I have to fight them off to get near my computer. I’ll try to keep up with all your blogs, but please forgive lack of attentive comments for a while.

 

Extended interlude…

Ok, I admit there has been a longer interlude than even I had expected, but that’s what happens when the weather finally decides to behave nicely and we have eight family/friend birthdays in four weeks – with parties, and we have ringing competitions, school-leaving events, school awards evenings (times two), orthodontists to visit, sports days, and island hopping trips to Scotland (oh yes, but that’s a story for another day)

So, not a lot of stitchiness happening here at the moment.

On the other hand, we are loving the warmth, seeing a lot of friends we don’t see for most of the rest of the year, and generally having a good, if rather chaotic time.

I have however, been keeping my eyes open for new threads, and succumbed to a little bunch from Natalie Fergie thanks to Annie at Knitsofacto for pointing me in her direction.

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I’ve also stocked up on some new watercolours and a selection of alcohol pens – do tell me I’m not the only person who despite having enough art materials to sink the proverbial battleship, sometimes feels bored and wants to try out something new or different.

And I’ve started reading Cat Bennet’s new book, Making Art A Practice. (For those of you following me over at Mostly Motley, I admit to having a lapse in the ‘not buying any new books’ challenge to buy this book – so far my only hiccup, but I hope if you read Cat’s books you’ll understand why I wanted it). 

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Cat has a gentle way of helping you see art practice as a form of meditation, taking many concepts from the practice of yoga. This idea of art as meditation resonates completely with me, it is exactly how I feel about the stitching I do – it’s all about the process and the way our minds change while we’re in the flow of creativity.

I’ve still got a few days of chasing about to do before we can officially talk about being on holiday, and then, with both daughters at home, I’ll no doubt need to resort to all kinds of subterfuge to get near my own computer – so you’ll know not to hold your breath in this little piece of Blogland. I will do my best!

Happy stitching…