Monday, 21 May 2012

Three bags full

One of the great perks of meeting and making friends with other crafty folk is that you can pass on to each other things you no longer need. Well, you can imagine my delight these last few weeks when I received not one, not two, but three free bags of goodies from friends! 
Tangly but tempting
Firstly, I received a large bag of mixed, tangled threads from work. Museums with a mixed collection often have machine and hand thread to repair costume collections, make fabric supports and protective covers. Our conservator found a 'lump' of tangled thread that we had no use for, so I volunteered to give it a new home, assuming it was a tangle of machine thread that I *might* be able to find a use for. I was later surprised to learn that some of it is cotton perle thread! I've really only been doing embroidery for a fairly short time, and though I'm aware that there are other thread types besides 6-stranded cotton, I've been deliberately keeping that knowledge behind a little locked door in my head marked 'not yet!'. There are so many styles, techniques and fabric and thread you can use in embroidery, that if I didn't deliberately stick to a small section of it while I learn, I'd be completely overwhelmed. Does anyone else ever get that feeling? Still, free thread that comes to me is always welcome! It's interesting to see a thread with a round profile, and I think I might even use some of it to add some loose hairs to my wolfman's head. Oh dear, not doing very well on the 'not yet' front am I?

Secondly, my friend Bea who volunteers with us at the museum (and is a mean embroiderer and member of the local branch of the embroiderer's guild) gave me this wonderful bag of fabric scraps. Some of them are actually quite huge! I've already earmarked some for bunting that I have a plan for...I can't wait to dig in and sort them all out!
My brain whirls with ideas when I look at this little lot!
Lastly, but by no means least, Lorna from my local Stitch group gave me a big bag of unwanted embroidery thread! My stitch group is great, we meet every Thursday night for a couple of hours, and much knitting and sewing gets done. Lorna is a fantastic knitter, and was so kind to offer me her thread! I haven't dug into this yet, I'll wait until I have time to sit on a comfy chair with a cup of tea. I do the same with magazines, I don't really read them until I have time to sit down with a cup of tea. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable don't you think?
Om nom nom!
Embroidery WIP update
I mentioned my wolfman above, so I can't really sign off without an update. Work continues on him, but rather annoyingly I've ran out of the grey-brown that is his main fur colour and I have no note of the number! Luckily, Bea has a colour chart so I gave her a scrap of thread away to try and match up. I tried one of my local shops but no joy. Also, although these updates don't show it, I've started work on his little vest - in a lovely bright blue which contrasts nicely with the natural tones of his fur. It is quite nice to get a break from fur every so often, though I'm looking forward to getting back to it.
His head is pretty much complete, with just some extra 'loose' hairs to be added on top.
When I ran out of the grey-brown to finish his arm I moved on to the feet. I decided to stitch his paw pads in a dark brown colour. I first outlined the areas, then started in the middle and slowly circled out to the edges. This created a lovely raised effect in the middle, giving his pawpads a bit of depth, and a different look and feel to the fur.
Hoping to have his top blocked in for the next update, and maybe have some more grey-brown thread!


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Counting those stitches...

I've been thinking over this last week how I'm gradually learning more and more about embroidery. New stitches, new techniques, new hints and tips. I am loving this process so much, and taking it at my own pace lets me play and explore, and not rush things too much. However, to inject a bit of fun and to try and keep tabs on my progress, I'm going to add a couple of stitch counters to my blog. One just for fun, one to act as a bit of a reminder on my progress.

The first counter is going to be for french knots. In my very limited experience, many people new to french knots seem to react in this way to them
1. French knots are scary and intimidating. I've tried them a couple of times but they either don't work right or disappear! argggh!!
2. I see. I can do them! Hurrah! Mystery solved!
3. Proceed to add french knots to every project...all the time.

Certainly, this is the way it has progressed with me. So, I'm going to keep tabs on all the french knots I have done ON FINISHED PROJECTS. Just for fun, because it tickles my fancy. I wonder how many I will reach? I'll go count up my current total and add the counter with my next post.

The second counter, will be a stitch counter. I know that the number of stitches you know or do, do not necessarily a good embroiderer make, and I will never shoehorn a new stitch in where it isn't needed, but I do enjoy looking for that perfect stitch to fit that idea I have in my head. This counter will act as a very rough progress chart for my descent into full embroidery obsession. Oh, and like the good like scientist I am, I had better quote my sources. I will count stitches in FINISHED PROJECTS that feature in 'The Embroidery Stitch Bible' by Betty Barden, printed by Search press. It will be interesting seeing that number slowly grow!

Back to actual embroidery, I've started a new project. I wanted to start something big, something that I could work on gradually when I finished other, smaller projects. I decided to head back to the sketchbooks, and I selected this image, on page one of a book a number of years old.
I've always liked this image, and the one line explanation at the bottom "He looked back once, and then he was gone". I like the fact that that is all there is. It's a portrayal of a moment. Which moment exactly I don't know, and I kind of like not knowing. Do you know what I mean? It's like a film that ends with possibilities rather that a fully detailed ending. I quite like those films.

Anyway, I decided to transfer the image full size, A4, and work on that. Since I transferred the lines, it feels like I've never put it down and I'm loving it!
Head almost done, but lots of added colour and definition to go!
I'm going for a full-filled realistic fur look, so the final feel will be less cartoony. I really need to get a few other things prepped for stitching, but for now, the strange, enigmatic wolf-guy will be keeping me busy :)

See you next time for geeky stitch-counter fun!