I am currently taking part in ‘March Meet the Maker’ on Instagram and the prompt for today is ‘process’ … so I though it might be a good opportunity to share how I work.
I lot of the time my approach to design can be quite random. I spend a lot of time looking at things and I guess all the images ferment inside my mind and can sometimes just come to the surface as an idea for a new project. I also find the process of designing can spark new ideas. One of my key tools is to keep notebooks as the ideas tend to come faster than my poor fingers can work … so if there is ever a dry patch I can simply look back to old ideas.
These irises are a project I started earlier in the week and I’m having to be slightly more organised than usual as the size and to a degree the style of the finished chunky cross stitch cushion has to sit comfortably with a nasturtium cushion I stitched last month. I was first drawn to irises after seeing a picture of a six panel screen by the Japanese artist Ohara Korin. I cannot replicate the gold leaf but the colour combinations and abstract shapes are so compelling.
For this project I spent some time simply looking at images of irises simply to get the shapes and colours in my head. I then drew a rough sketch on my iPad. This is such a flexible medium to work on as you can create layers, resize, move and very often delete elements to create the most pleasing composition.
I then overlay a grid at the correct scale and simply draw lots of x x x x … It really is the same as transferring a design to squared paper with coloured pencils. This rough design is then plotted in the computer using Stitch RXP (there are lots of other software options available). At this stage it is really easy to switch different colour combinations in and out of the design – sometimes too many options!
Finally, I’ll start stitching the sample – the canvas for this design is cut and about to be laced on the tapestry frame. Stitching very often involves a lot of unpicking as a pattern on the screen can look very different in tapestry wool, so colours continue to change throughout the process.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day it seems the perfect opportunity to share with you this little cross stitch lobster I designed last year for Lakeside Needlecraft’s Summer Cross Stitch Book.
Stitched in just one colour of embroidery floss over two threads of 28 count Cashel linen or one thread of 14 count Aida this fellow measures approximately 11cm x 11cm when finished and you may already have the materials you need in your stash.
This project is perfect for squeezing into a weekend … In fact, my good friend Lesley, who stitched the sample, managed to fit in 14 miles of Nordic walking and cooked dinner before whipping this critter up in the evening!
We are planning to take a break for a couple of weeks and enjoy the sunshine with family and friends. I am hoping to use the time for some intensive stitching. There are a lot of projects I have planned for the autumn shows but many have not yet been started!
In the meantime, I was inspired yesterday afternoon by the lovely weather and the glorious show in the garden to design some jewel coloured heleniums in cross stitch. I’ve not yet had time to sew them so the only recommendation as to fabrics and thread is to simply raid your stash!
Please let us know by Friday 5th July if there are any stitching goodies you need so we can get them posted by the weekend otherwise I’m afraid you will need to wait until Monday 22nd July 2019.
Have fun with these cross stitch flowers and please feel free to share with family and friends, Emma x
In a past life when I was working as a research scientist there was a whole host of professional training; ‘writing COSHH assessments’ ‘how to build a database’ ‘time management’ ‘working with radioactive materials’ …. Anyway, now I work for myself I thought I ought to arrange some more training, but none of that dull, useful stuff!!! Instead to celebrate yarn shop day on Saturday 27th April I book myself in for a beginners machine knitting afternoon with KnitWorks in Bethnal Green, London.
Oh my goodness, what a place, stacked from floor to ceiling with cones of yarn of the most glorious colours and textures. After four hours of very patient teaching I came away with some of the skills to master machine knitting, a rag tag collection of samples, a bag of yarn and a finished scarf, which, after a hot wash with plenty of fabric conditioner to shrink it after an error with the tension dial, is good enough to wear!
I now NEED a knitting machine…much to my husband’s horror! The problem is which brand and model. Many of my friends swear by Brother but they stopped production in 1996 so all the machines are vintage and my concern is how to get my paws on a good one??? The other option is to choose a new Silver Reed machine, not cheap but still in production so maintenance should be easier. Then there is the question of a simple manual machine or a full on electronic beast! So many options so any thoughts would be appreciated.
Just before Easter I had to take my daughter to the University of Bath Architecture Department for the day. Surprisingly she didn’t want her middle aged mother ‘hanging about’ so I took myself off to the American Museum & Gardens. Well, what an unexpected treat – Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in America exhibition featuring a selection of the most exquisite antique American quilts and a collection of Kaffe’s designs inspired by the work.
Not only were the antique quilts so carefully pieced and stitched but you could see they had been used, repaired and some of the fabric had become quite worn and taken on a subtlety of colour after years in sunlight. Kaffe Fassett’s new quilts sang with colour and pattern but the piecing was very closely matched to the antique quilts so made for an interesting comparison.
If you are fortunate to be in the Bath area I would thoroughly recommend this museum, packed full of the most beautiful objects in original room settings. The grounds are inspired by George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon and there is a superb cafe with views over Limpley Stoke Valley and River Avon. The quilt exhibition runs until 3rd November 2019 and is closed on Mondays.
Gosh, it has been a long time since I last wrote a post. I have been mainly working on our house. A lovely old property that looks just like a typical Georgian dolls’ house but very demanding of my time with a constant stream of maintenance to keep the old dear in shipshape condition.
This month I foolishly decided to block up one of the four doors into the kitchen to create a large coat cupboard under the stairs, tile the entire room and commission a pair of larder cupboards. Like many tasks I completely underestimated how long the work was going to take! The larders are about to be delivered and I have just about tiled enough of the walls for them to be fitted. It has got me thinking though about how much I must really love tiling because there are an awful lot of tiles throughout the house, even the bookshelves my husband made have a frieze of Delft birds along the top.
The first time I ever attempted using tiles for mosaic was one New Year, in the highlands of Scotland, when visiting the family holiday home of my University flatmate. They had chosen to create a mosaic of the local wildlife that covered the entire conservatory and kitchen. It was a truly epic undertaking and I’m not sure my contribution had much of an impact!
My next attempt was much more successful, a seagull mosaic kit from the marvellous Martin Cheek – check out his work as he uses fused glass elements to created the most characterful designs. The colours are quite vivid when you first cut the mosaic but the entire design takes on more subtle hues with the grey grout, the odd pops of gold around the edges and that fabulous red spot on the beak. I really think I should have another attempt but first I must finish this kitchen.
I am currently spending my days making up needlework kits for the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia so in the evenings I look forward to picking up a crochet hook and some yarn. This cheeky chap was designed by the very talented Claire Garland and can be found in her book ‘Toys to Crochet’
I have to come clean here and admit that I am terrible at following a pattern, even really great patterns, so things often get tweaked as I work. To start with I didn’t have the correct yarn but I did have a very piggy pink in DMC Natura XL and I found some Scheepjes 4ply Catona in a dark grey colour.
Unfortunately, I didn’t actually write any of my pattern tweaks down as I worked but I think the following is a good approximation of what I did when worked in combination with the original pattern. Everything is written in UK crochet terms. The majority of the pig is crocheted using a 6mm hook but I will indicate when another hook is required.
When starting the head, spots and legs I chose to use a magic circle and 6 double crochet (dc) rather than the 2 chain (ch) foundation row and 6dc as originally described.
For the head and body I switched to a 5mm hook for rounds 4 to 18 and I also worked into the back loop only for 18dc in round four to give a slightly raised edge between the nose and snout.
To create a plumper bottom I worked repeats of round 24 until the head and body measured approximately 22cm from the tip of the snout before starting the following increases and decreases:
*1dc into each of the next 11dc, 2dc into next dc, repeat from * around (39dc)
1 dc into each of the 39dc
*1dc into each of the next 12dc, 2dc into next dc, repeat from * around (42dc)
1dc into each of the 42dc
*1dc into each of the next 13dc, 2dc into next dc, repeat from * around (45dc)
1dc into each of the 45dc and repeat this round twice more
*1dc into each of the next 12dc, double crochet two together (dc2tog) , repeat from * around (42dc)
1dc into each of the 42dc
*1dc into each of the next 11dc, dc2tog, repeat from * around (39dc)
1dc into each of the 39dc
*1dc into each of the next 10dc, dc2tog, repeat from * around (36dc)
*1dc, dc2tog, repeat from * around until the gap is almost closed, stuff firmly with polyester filling, finish closing the gap, fasten off yarn
For the tail I doubled up on the pink DMC Natura XL and switched to a 10mm hook
dc twice into the second chain from hook, repeat for next 9dc, 1dc into each of the remaining foundation chain stitches
Fasten off yarn and sew to the pig’s bottom
For the spots I doubled up on the grey Scheepjes cotton yarn and followed the original pattern using a 4mm hook.
The legs were worked according to the original pattern except I tripled the grey Scheepjes yarn to maintain the correct tension using the 6mm hook and chose to work three rounds of dc in the grey rather than switching to double trebles as described.
For the eyes I raided my stash of beads and stitched a couple on using dressmakers cotton. However, if you plan to let a child play with the pig it is probably better to opt for safety eyes and fit them before stuffing the head or simply embroider some eyes on the finished pig.
I have been so fortunate over the past year to have received so much support and encouragement for my little needlework business. It means so much to hear such positive messages from this community of crafters and to be so inspired by your creativity. One of my favourite projects has been designing cross stitch biscornu so it seemed appropriate to create one as a Christmas gift.
This quirky shaped needlework is surprisingly easy to make. Simply two squares of Cashel linen covered in festive cross stitch motifs and then the process of offsetting the finished needlework squares when stitching them together causes the shape to fold itself.
For a PDF copy of the cross stitch charts and instructions simply click on the link.
I do have a few kits available but feel free to raid your stash.
You are very welcome to share this pattern with friends and family
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and joyful New Year x
After all the rain the weather is now beautiful and the sun shining so it is very hard to believe we are mid way through November and Christmas is on the horizon.
It is this time of the year when I am preparing for the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, crafting some presents and thinking of a Christmas pattern giveaway. One of my favourite projects this year has been designing biscornu so I thought a Christmas themed version would be perfect for a little seasonal stitching.
One side has been designed over the weekend and the stitching should be complete by tomorrow I just have to design the second side!!!! Normally inspiration strikes when I am in the midst of doing something very boring. It is as though part of my brain is at a loose end so starts wandering off into creative thought and the images start to appear in my mind. Since I have a set of shelves and the ceiling of the summerhouse to sand and undercoat today I am hoping this will be the perfect stimulus to create some more motifs to complete the biscornu.
If you would like a free copy of the finished pattern, hopefully at the beginning of December, please head over to the homepage and sign up to my newsletter.