Inspiration from a notebook and piece of plastic

I have finally recovered from a very hectic but thoroughly enjoyable week at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London. I think I must have chatted about needlework solidly for the entire week! But how inspirational and I am now buzzing with lots of new ideas.

My lovely husband always buys me a notebook for birthdays and Christmas – these are where all my very quick sketches and ideas are scribbled down.

My latest jotter has the most fabulous bird illustrations on the cover. Combined with the surprising discovery of plastic canvas from Darice has triggered the idea of some really quick, chunky wool cross-stitch designs. I am trying to keep the colours to an absolute minimum and at 7 holes to the inch these new critters should be ideal for children but hopefully still appealing to us grown-ups….Oh, and I have sneaked in a beady eye!chunky-cross-stitch-birds



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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Beaded Garden Birds

I am so fortunate to live in a village with ancient woodland and fields to the back of our house and garden….making a real haven for birds. At this time of year their chattering noise is a real fanfare to the onset of spring. Designing beadwork embroideries celebrating these visitors to my garden has been a real pleasure.

I shall be taking them along to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia 3rd to 6th March so if you would like a closer look please come and see us at B68.
Alternatively head to the online shop – hope you like them x

Birds and Snowdrops

Little Beaded Valentine Heart

Ideas come at the funniest time – whilst eating breakfast yesterday morning I suddenly realised I needed to embroider a Valentine’s heart in seed beads.

Fortunately I have plenty of fabric, beads and embroidery hoops to hand so within a few hours all was finished. The inclusion of embroidered initials within the heart would make for a lovely wedding gift or alternative shapes could be used for different occasions, a rattle for a new baby or a rabbit for Easter.

I have used size 11 seed beads for this example but it would be very easy to substitute French knots or seed stitches to give a similar effect.

If you would like to have a go please click below to see how I made my little heart – it would be fantastic to see your creations!

Beaded Heart Instructions

Beaded Hert Lifestyle Smaller

How Long Does it Take?

One question I am often asked is, ‘how long would it take for me to stitch this?’

Surprisingly my answer is often very vague as generally the sewing is the trickiest part of the design process and involves a lot of stitching, unpicking, trying another colour, trying another bead……So it can take me a long time even if the final design is quite simple and may be stitched in a couple of hours.

This week I have been wrestling with a good choice of background colour for my little garden birds. Often the best solution is to choose a contrasting colour for the thread. Unfortunately, the beads used to make these birds cover the entire rainbow so there isn’t an obvious background colour that works with all of them. There are added complications. The background has to be dark enough for the whites to shine but sufficiently pale not to dominate. Then there is the problem that glass beads reflect light so will change colour depending on the thread they are sitting next to.

I had avoided trying one of my favourite, fail safe colours, ‘chicken blue’ until this morning because I was sure the blue tit would simply disappear but I think it might work…..Love to know your thoughts. In the meantime I had better start stitching the other three birds again!

Bird Samples

Breakfast Time Bead Delivery

Nothing quite like a big box containing a rainbow of seed beads to brighten up a chilly January morning.

It is always quite a gamble when ordering based on a photograph on a computer screen, you never quite know what is going to arrive! I am particularly pleased with the slightly chalky colours, they are quite jewel like whilst retaining some subtlety. There is also quite a vibrant mustard yellow which rather smacks you in the eye but could work well in my new American Goldfinch.

Bead Delivery

Teeny Tiny Beaded Brooches

I have had my eye on these lovely silvery brooch frames for a long time and finally managed to get my paws on some last month.

They are quite a generous size but even so I have had to switch to a teeny, tiny size 15 Japanese seed bead to squeeze everything into the frame.

I have lots of sketches for brooch designs but thought it best to start with a couple of dogs, Percy and his new girlfriend Petunia the Poodle, as well as an alphabet chart to create personal initial brooches.

The Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate, 26th to 29th November will be their first outing. If you cannot make the show then I’ve also popped them in the shop.

Brooches header

Phew, Embroidered Clutch Bags Ready Just in Time!

Little did I think back in the Spring that these clutch bags would take the best part of the summer to design….but they are finally ready with only a matter of days to spare before the Knitting and Stitching Show in London!

It has been quite a challenge to develop the drawings to fit exactly into the silver clutch frame – there have been a few urgent phone calls to the fabric printers. However, I am really pleased with the end result – hope you like them!

Embroidered clutch bags

Stitch a Taste of Summer

I was given a small, silver brooch frame a few weeks ago and as the sun was shining I was inspired to stitch some little ice creams and lollies to fit.

They have been sewn using white sewing thread, half cross stitch and seed beads on 12hpi canvas. The background has been filled using continental stitch and the full six strands of embroidery thread. Have a sift through your stash, any threads or wools could be used for these little motifs. An embroidered border to the edge of a towel or pillow case could be jolly and I have recently use the Fab lolly to make a ‘FABulous’ birthday card for a good friend.

Just click below for the free chart – Enjoy!

Lolly Header