Design Process

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.

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A Little Summertime Stitching

Free Helenium Flower Cross Stitch Pattern
Free Helenium Flower Cross Stitch Pattern

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

Click Here for Helenium Chart

Mosaic Seagull

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.IMG_2695

A Christmas Biscornu

Free Biscornu Pattern

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

Link to Christmas Biscornu Pattern

Christmas Cross Stitch Designs

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.

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Roses are Red

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Preparing kits for shows is often the time that my mind wanders to new projects. I have been designing some more traditional cross stitch charts for magazines recently and it occurred to me that greetings cards featuring cross stitch charts could work well.

I am increasingly working in just one or two colours, possibly an influence of all the Japanese embroidery I have been looking at in books and on Pinterest. It really forces you to think about shape and composition. ‘Roses are Red’ is my first offering and the greetings cards have been printed, just in time for the Knitting and Stitching Show.

I have quite a few more designs in mind, all scribbled on scraps of paper dotted about the house, but they will have to wait for the end of March. I am also wondering whether a kit or materials pack would be a good offering alongside the greeting card?

Let me know what you think and whether there are any themes you would like to see.

Printing Love Bears

Bear Screen Print

It is almost a year since I stitched a little hoop embroidery bear as a Valentine’s gift for my husband. This little bear has received a lot of love on social media and at the textile shows so by popular demand I have finally started to create a hoop embroidery kit.

One aspect of a new kit is new packaging and I really wanted to create a bag that would be both appealing and prove useful once the hoop embroidery was finished. I found some soft, white cotton, drawstring bags and plumped for screen printing the design on the front. I am the proud owner of a screen printing jig, emulsions and frames but I have to admit I have not yet plucked up the courage to use them! And I have chickened out yet again, choosing the option of a custom made Thermofax screen. These screens are made using 3M’s photocopying technology from the 1950s. A pure black and white image is exposed to Riso film, a heat sensitive plastic on a polyester mesh, to rapidly create a ‘silkscreen’ without the need for the photosensitive chemicals. The only possible downside is that the technology is not suitable for creating large solid print areas. However, with some clever use of hatching and textured lines it is possible to create areas of light and shade within an image.

Once I had drawn my bear on the computer I simply sent the image as a JPEG file to http://www.thermofaxscreens.co.uk and within 24 hours, and at very reasonable cost, I had my screen. I have to admit it took another day to finally test the screen but what a revelation, with some beautifully coloured textile paints from http://www.pickprettypaints.com I managed to get a perfect image first on paper and then on the cotton bags. It was quite interesting that the image was stronger on paper, possibly because it absorbed the paint more efficiently but two passes with the squeegee seemed to transfer well to the cotton.

Now to create a second screen with a less detailed bear to print on the linen for stitching, write some instructions and fingers crossed this little bear will be able to make his first outing at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, Olympia, 1st to 4th March 2018.

Do I Unpick or Just Start Again?

Very often an idea springs to mind when I am doing the most mundane tasks. This little juggling seal started life as a scribble on the corner of a spreadsheet.

I started stitching him yesterday and I think the red bunting has worked rather well. To keep the satin stitches quite small I added an extra line of back stitch down the centre of each triangle and it has created a three dimensional effect with very little effort. As a finishing touch I should be able to find some silver beads to add as little bells.

I started his fur in the evening, when the light was fading, and I now think the grey is too dark, it is going to hid his smile and little ear. The dilemma now is do I unpick or is it better to start again? There are rather a lot of grey stitches to frog and the linen is never quite as crisp and even second time around so I think I have my answer – back to the light box with a fresh square of linen and my favourite erasable Frixion pen!

I will update you on progress shortly and I think there may also be a rabbit brewing. Let me know if you like these hoop embroideries and I will look into options either as a PDF pattern or kit.

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X Stitch Magazine ‘Final Twist’

I am home from a fantastic Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia. It always seems to take me a few days to resurface after such a intense week, but I love it!!!

One of my favourite aspects of the shows is that it is such a wonderful opportunity to meet up with like minded makers, to swap ideas, to be inspired by a varied selection of work and to sometimes kick myself for not coming up with a particularly brilliant design first!!!

Jamie Chalmers aka Mr X Stitch is always on hand with his Royal School of Needlework students to showcase the best in funky, contemporary embroidery. His latest venture is a ‘cross stitch magazine for the modern world’ embracing contemporary cross stitch with contributions from some of the best known designers as well as some newbies like myself.

The first edition has the theme of ‘revolution’
I have moved away from my usual critters and come up with an optical art design based on a torus donut to give the impression of a twisting, three dimensional shape. There is a sneak peek of a corner of the design below as well as the header for the Kickstarter site for this new publication .

Please take a look as it should shake up the world of cross stitch – just click below

X Stitch Magazine WordPress Banner

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.

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