Funky Chunky Cross Stitch

For such a long time I have wanted to make some cross stitch kits that would appeal to children. Having started sewing at a very young age I was keen to encourage a new generation to fall in love with needles and thread.

Much of what I have seen for children has been disappointing, cutesy designs in bubblegum pink shades of acrylic yarn that is impossible to work with and never gives a quality finish….. It always worries me that an early disappointment puts children off sewing for life.

I came across the plastic canvas, quite by chance, in my local craft shop and it immediately fired my imagination. It is really firm so no need for a frame and the holes are well spaced giving a really easy surface for stitching. All the designs are stitched in just four or five colours of beautiful wool tapestry thread from Anchor and to give these critters some extra cheekiness I have added wooden beady eyes.

I hope you like these fellows and remember they don’t need to be just for the children!

funky-chunky-critters

A Little Valentine Bear

My husband is the sort of person who, if he needs something, will just pop out and get it, making buying a gift almost impossible. Added to that I haven’t managed to find a Valentines card that I liked this year, so he is getting an embroidered bear. This little fellow will not be a surprise from a mystery admirer as he saw me stitching!

I just sketched the outline using a Frixion pen onto some natural Essex linen and then raided my stash of embroidery thread and beads to stitch this little fellow in a 5″ hoop.

He really didn’t take long at all and once finished I just held him carefully against a hot iron to remove any remaining pen marks left on the linen.

valentine-bear

Remembering Mary Wondrausch

When my husband and I married my parents commissioned a celebratory slipware plate from a local artist and potter, Mary Wondrausch OBE. At the time I had not realised quite how special this present was. For a start, it had to be collected in person, by appointment only, from her home and studio, Brickfields, in the village of Compton.

My goodness, what a treat, Mary was utterly unique, a real English eccentric with an absolute passion for art and cookery. She was so generous with her time, spending a good part of the afternoon showing us around the studio and demonstrating her slipware technique using bicycle inner tubes. We were then give a tour of the garden; introduced to ‘Pidge,’ a grey plastic shooting pigeon who sat on a pile of green glass sea glass in a ceramic urinal, shown the garden screen covered in ‘Barbie’ dolls which led to the private, grass amphitheater where, Mary told my husband, ‘she liked to dance naked!’

We returned to visit Mary a couple of years later to collect my sister’s wedding plate. Again, we were given free reign of the studio and I found one of my most treasured possessions, a sgraffito plate celebrating the Queen Mother’s centenary, pushed under an old garden bench! Mary then took us though to the kitchen….Oh, my goodness, it was quite unbelievable. Every surface was covered with her collection of old metal meat grinders and there were at least ten small enamel saucepans on the Rayburn each filled with wild fungi she had collected with her friend, Clarissa Dickson Wright, earlier that morning.

Mary died 26th December 2016 at the grand age of 93….. she was still painting!

Words really cannot describe this remarkable woman so click on either picture for a video.

mary-wandrausch-potter

queen-mother-plate

We Have Some Winners

Hooray, we have some winners for the Knitting and Stitching Show tickets.
Congratulations Milla, Rebecca and flowerpot1981. Please let me know which minibeadwork kit you would like or take a punt on one of my new chunky cross stitch kits, they are lovely, super easy and great fun to stitch – honestly!

If you are still hoping to come along to the show then please take advantage of voucher code EX17 for a discount when booking your tickets on the Knitting and Stitching Show website.

Give us a wave if you see us at B66 …. we should have some new goodies.

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WIN!!! … Tickets for the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia

Horrah, the first sign of spring, tickets have arrived for the Knitting and Stitching Show, Olympia, London, 2nd to 5th March 2017

This should be a lovely day out. Lots to inspire and plenty of fabrics, threads and general loveliness to stock up on for all those projects you are planning for the year ahead.

I have three pairs of tickets to give away for this event and to get you in the stitching mood either a minibeadwork kit and frame of your choice or one of my new chunky cross stitch kits – they are almost ready so it may be a pre-production kit – very exclusive!!!!

If you would like a chance to win please leave me a message below or via email – epavier@annsorchard.co.uk

All entries need to be in by midnight 27th January 2017 and three lucky winners will be drawn on Saturday 28th January 2017.

Best of luck and give us a wave if you are heading to the show – stand B66

competition-spring-2017

Antique Inspiration

It was a very chilly -6°C this morning but I wrapped up well and was determined to head to the local antiques fair at Ardingly with the intention of finding some furniture for our entrance hall. A sideboard or chest with lots of storage for my precious fabrics and yarns would have been perfect!

Alas, none of the furniture quite fitted the bill but the great joy of an antiques fair is all the other unexpected treasure that is on offer. There is often a lot of vintage clothing or curtaining made with really quirky fabric. Chairs may be in pieces but the seat still covered with beautiful needlepoint and then there are always unique pieces of art!

Probably much to my husband’s relief I only made a couple of purchases, including this pair of Staffordshire rabbits. I have never seen a pair quite like this and I think they may be an imported Chinese interpretation, but at only £20 they were, ‘cheap as chips,’ and are crying out to be made up into embroidered cushions.

staffordshire-rabbits

Colour Dilemmas

Designing is my real passion and I just love heading to the haberdashery shop and being able to choose a rainbow of threads, often without any clear idea of what I plan to do with them. Sometimes just seeing a particular colour, ball of wool or size of canvas will spark an idea. These are then jotted down, mulled over and some will eventually be stitched, knitted or crocheted.

This New Year I am finishing off my new chunky cross stitch designs. I saw the plastic canvas last summer and immediately thought it would be perfect for children or beginners to counted cross stitch. I wanted to make the designs quite simple, using no more than four or five colours but characterful without being kitsch. I also wanted to use beautiful materials as some of the kits aimed at children seem to contain the poorest quality products which are often very difficult to work with and give disappointing results.

The design process often starts with a very, very rough sketch, a selection of photographs and then I just doodle it out on the computer. Sometimes I get lucky and  this can take a matter of minutes but often takes much longer as stitches are moved and colours changed. Then comes the fun….stitching.

Radio 4, plenty of canvas, piles of wool, good light and lots of time – these critters can be stitched many times until I am happy with the colours. Not only do they have to be looking at their best but they also need to complement their neighbours – again it helps to keep the colour palette fairly simple.

Yesterday I was debating the background to Foxy, blue or green? To be honest he looked good on both but there was already rather a lot of blue wool in the collection and the general consensus on social media was that this chap looked better on green.

Hoorah, another design complete, and on trend, rocking Pantone colour for 2017.

blue-or-green-foxygreen-fox-cross-stitch