Staffordshire Dogs & Cats

Oh my goodness, it seems like an age since I first thought about making some cushions inspired by Victorian Staffordshire pottery figures, but they are finally finished. I was rather tickled by the thought of them all lined up on a sofa with their ceramic cousins sitting on the mantlepiece.

Designing them proved to be much more of a challenge than I had imagined. My first mistake was to paint them full size only to find it was impossible to scan them into the computer. Careful photography, many hours on Photoshop, two fabric test prints and I was finally happy with the designs.

The embroidery turned out to be relatively easy ….
The problem was that although the critters and thread were highly portable and easy to work on, I did not always remember to carry my notebook to record the quantity of thread being used – essential for the kits! It also proved tricky to find enough time to fit the embroidery around all my other jobs. Thank goodness for my fabulous neighbour and good friend who stepped in over the summer and embroidered endless French knots on the poodle for me.

Today, I am on the final stretch writing the instructions for these creatures. Unfortunately my old, faithful computer did not appear to be aware of the looming deadline for printing and conked out two days ago. Thankfully I have a back-up drive and second computer BUT I no longer have my stitching software and my most recent uploads to iPhoto were lost – They just happened to be photographs of the steps to make-up the cushions – Arrggghhh!

It has been a rather frantic rush to embroider another fabric panel simply to be able to replace the missing photographs, but I have done it. Fingers crossed there will be no further mishaps – these chaps have an appointment at the Knitting & Stitching Show in less than three weeks time!



We Have Some Winners!

How do you persuade a teenager to draw the winning tickets for the Knitting & Stitching Show Competition? Well, you have to promise that you will not photograph him.
So, although he has done a sterling job picking our winners early on a Saturday morning I’m afraid we will just have to make do with a photograph of paper scraps.

BUT…Many congratulations to Esther Sparrow and Suzifloozie both winners of a pair of tickets to the show and a mini beadwork kit and frame of choice. Please contact me to let me know what you would like and I will pop everything in the post.

Meanwhile, please keep an eye out as I am expecting some tickets for the Harrogate show which I should be able to give away shortly.

Right, I had better get on with some very speedy embroidery if I am to have my Staffordshire dog cushions ready in time for the show!


Win!!! Tickets for the Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London

Ally Pally Tickets 2016My children have finally gone back to school after a two month summer holiday.
BUT….no time to catch my breath as I have just a matter of weeks before the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London, 5th to 9th October.

This is probably the biggest show of the year, absolutely jam packed with fabrics, wool, haberdashery and crafty notions as well as showcasing some of the most inspirational textiles from designers, graduates and students.

It really is a wonderful event to spark new ideas, try new crafts or to simply stock up on some really beautiful fabrics and yarns.

If you would like a chance to win a pair of tickets to this fantastic event as well as a mini beadwork kit and frame of your choice simply comment here or leave a message on the contact page of my website.

All entries need to be in by midnight Friday 9th September and two lucky winners will be drawn on Saturday 10th September … Good Luck!

A Room of One’s Own

Sorry for the lack of blogging, I seem to have spent most of this summer enjoying the sights and sounds of Europe with my family….But there is something quite magical about coming home to all that is familiar and personal.

Perhaps the most personal part of our home for me is my very own room, a beautiful green oak studio we built at the bottom of our garden. My long suffering husband was perhaps hoping all my wool, threads and beads might finally be contained in one space! To a degree he was right, it is such a lovely peaceful and light space that I do spend hours working here but I have to admit that late in the evening part finished projects tend to follow me back into the house.

Ann's Orchard Room

Iris Cushion

A leaking bathroom pipe has meant some emergency plumbing, plastering and redecoration over the past week so I have only now found a moment to write about my latest crochet cushion, a deep lavender coloured celebration of the irises in my garden.

Purple iris in double crochet.png

Just like the fern cushion I have used the most beautiful Ultra Prima cotton yarn from Cascade and worked in the round using two different coloured strands in double crochet.
The designs are very much like a counted cross stitch pattern, each square on the chart represents a single stitch. The unworked thread is run through the stitch and hidden within the work but always available for when a colour change is needed.
Working in the round means that the pattern is continued on both sides of the cushion and best of all there is only one seam to finish at the end.

Iris crochet cushion.jpg

I am heading off to catch some sunshine for the next couple of weeks but at least 8 hanks of yarn are going in the suitcase as I have another two cushions designed and they will make the most perfect holiday project.

Doggie Bags

Doggie Bags - 1

I really should stick to one type of packaging, but I flip between so many different project ideas that the each requires rethinking. I have customised these cotton tote doggie bags using inkjet transfers and I am rather pleased with how they have turned out….

I just have to finish putting together the contents. The most beautiful fabric, printed with the dog and cat designs, arrived on a couple of very large bolts yesterday morning. I have industrial quantities of needles, beads, embroidery thread and bobble trim.

All I have to do now is finish sewing the samples, photographing, writing and printing the instructions – better get my skates on if they are to be ready for the Knitting & Stitching Shows this autumn!

Beagle Paw Colour Dilemma

A brief insight into how I design my little beadwork kits….

The initial design is drafted directly onto the computer. I have lots of source photos and start by trying to get the shape approximately right before thinking about the colours.

The computer is brilliant for very quickly trying ideas. This may sound strange but it is almost like modelling with clay, I can push the pixels around the screen until they are sitting in just the right place.

Once I am fairly happy with the design I will start stitching and this can sometimes be a long process. I have a fairly good idea of which beads will work well together and how to get enough contrast to allow the individual colours to shine out. It also works best if a contrasting thread is used for the background. However, it often takes several attempts before I am happy with my little critters.

For the past couple of days I have been working on a beagle….

Beagle Dog Design

He started with quite a shiny brown for his ears and tail which was then swapped to a sandy bead. I’ve also decided against having his tongue hanging out because it made his neck too long.

This morning my dilemma is the front paws…. I cannot decide between brown or sandy so your thoughts would be appreciated!

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