As with all of us, the beginning of a new year includes ideas for what we’d like to accomplish. My plans for 2019 were pretty extensive; they included finishing my City and Guilds Course, launching the Trevelyon’s Pocket course, finally holding classes in my new studio, designing and embroidering a design that includes a lion from Trevelyon’s Miscellany, finishing the Queen’s Pomegranate design I’ve begun…and much more!
But last week I got some news that’s putting everything on hold.
In the next months I won’t be designing, embroidering, writing posts or answering emails. On Monday I’m having surgery and will be recovering for the next 4 – 6 weeks.
If you want details, here is a link to a letter I wrote to my students, readers and friends. If you don’t need or want details, I understand.
Look for me to be active again sometime towards the end of February/beginning of March. Until then, have a happy start to 2019!
Over the past 3 or 4 weeks a project for my City and Guilds course has been sitting on my table, stuck in “Kathy has no motivation land”. The inspiration for the piece were leaves that had been caught in cobwebs on the back of a wooden patio chair. I planned, I cut and pre-assembled, but the fabric just sat on my table. I had zero motivation to do anything with it for weeks.
Then, two days ago, while I was waking up, I realised that my initial idea was really not very interesting – it had no movement – it was static and that wasn’t how I wanted this particular piece to be.
It was at that moment that the motivation came roaring back. Within hours I was at my machine (yes, machine dear readers – it’s a requirement of the course to do free machine embroidery which I admit to really liking!).
The resulting bowl captures the movement of leaves from a pile to that delightful swirl we all know happens in the wind during autumn.
Using a product called Solvy, I placed the wool leaves I’d cut out using my pinking shears, carefully in a swirly kind of circle. I set my machine up for free motion embroidery and was off, catching the leaves with the silvery thread as I stitched a cobweb.
Above is a photo of what it looked like when I was finished stitching. Not very pretty, I admit. Can you see the circles and spokes that I stitched to make the cobweb? No self respecting spider would be happy with this, but I was!
I trimmed the Solvy so I had a circle and rinsed the piece under warm water. Then I draped it carefully over a bowl on top of a plastic container, shaping the piece carefully against the bowl. It dried overnight.
The next morning, even before I made my first cup of coffee, I removed the bowl and took a look – it had turned out exactly as I hoped! I took some photos and especially like this one in black and white – it highlights the negative space.
Here is the bowl lit from underneath as it sits in a plexiglass box where it will be displayed.
I’ve sent all the photos off as well as photos of my sketch book pages (inspiration, process, time, costs, etc.) to my tutors. Here’s hoping this one is accepted as well! Either way, I am really chuffed with the result!
Continuing on the theme of the woods that surround me, I decided to do the next sample for my City and Guilds course using twigs from our trees. After every storm there are twigs all over the ground. One day I picked one up that caught my eye and saw the texture and gentle colours and decided that my linear stitches sample would be inspired by twigs.
Every morning in the late fall and winter, when I wake up, I look out a narrow window in our home to see the silhouette of the trees in our woods against the lightening morning sky. In the photo of my sketch book, above, you can see photos I’ve taken of the view through that window.
The next step was to gather twigs and draw them in my sketch book. I love drawing things I’m going to stitch because it helps me see them better.
After looking at fabric and thread choices, I decided on a moss green linen I bought years ago in Belgium and different “woodsy” shades of Appleton’s wool. Then I did a test embroidery using short twigs. When it was finished, I was NOT happy with the result and almost abandoned the idea. It look too much like a camp project! Fortunately, I got advice from an artist which made all the difference.
She suggested a limited colour palette of moss green – the fabric and the wool thread. That seemed to me like it would work based on the one twig I’d stitched in the sample using that colour of thread. The next step was to arrange the twigs on the fabric. I knew I would embroider this sample in a hoop, not on a frame, since the size would fit perfectly into a 10″ hoop frame. Using the frame as a guide for placement, I worked out where I wanted each twig to be in the finished design.
Then the fun began! Choosing which outline stitch to use where, was guided by the twig more than anything. The longest twig, which is towards the middle, seems to be perfect for a line of stem stitch that extended beyond the end of the twig. The gnarly twig at the bottom left cried out for clusters of French Knots.
When the embroidery was finished, I mounted it on a piece of pine board covered with batting. The pine board means that the embroidery can stand on a table or shelf so the twigs and the stitches are the focus rather than the frame.
The best part is that it passed and my tutors liked it! Only 8 more to finish…