Wednesday, 29 February 2012

In which I draw a spinning wheel

One of my resolutions this year was to draw more.  I bought a fancy-shmancy new pen at the weekend and a new sketchbook.  I'm obsessed with stationary, I must have dozens of half used sketchbooks and notebooks hidden around the house.

So, I got drawin', and did draw my spinning wheel.  It looks a big long - it should be more compact.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

In which I finish the silver fox

They're completed!  I finished my silver fox on Sunday, and added constellations in the form of little white French knots.  You can get brownie points if you spot the constellations!

Overall, I'm really pleased with this.  I achieved what I wanted to - to learn how to do silk shading and work with metallic thread.  I like the way they almost look like constellations themselves, and that the silver fox is almost ghostly.  I was wondering if I should have padded the silver fox, but Mr P said he liked the way you could see bits of the dark fabric under the thread, it made her look more ethereal.

If I were to do this again, I'd do the back of the silver fox differently.  I used different threads, partly to create different textures, and partly to get experience working with different threads.  I also used brick stitch with coloured cotton to see what they would look like.  If I were to do this again, I'd use just the Jap thread, and not use coloured cotton, but do the fur in a wavy pattern. 

So, overall, dead chuffed with this.  Thanks for the inspiration, Bjork!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

In which I use silver thread

I’ve been working on the silver fox for a couple of days now, and she’s starting to take shape.  My main problem is that the tapestry needle I’ve been using to stab the silver thread through the background doesn’t really have a big enough eye.  So I’m squeezing it through, and then it unravels on the back.  Anyway, here’s a sneak peek at the first bits of the silver fox…

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

In which I scribble

I got my supplies from Golden Hinde in the post last week – here’s a poor quality pic of the Jap thread and the twisty one.  I had a think about how I wanted to sew the silver fox, and this sketch shows what threads I’m going to use where – the cross hatch on her belly will be the twisted thread, and I’m going to use coloured silks to couch the Jap thread on the top of her back.  I’m just making this up as I go along!

Monday, 20 February 2012

In which I finish my first fox

I finished the cunning mate fox last week – the one I’ve done in silk shading.  And here he is!  I didn’t use the black thread in the end – I appliqu├ęd black cotton onto my background for the eyes and nose, and sewed little French knots onto the black of the eyes to make them more lively.

I like how much the silk shading looks like fur.  The delineations between the colours are quite marked, so I did a few stab stitches in alternative colours either side of the lines.  The dark stab stitches on the light silk shading works ok, but it’s not so good the other way round.

Anyhoo, I’m pretty pleased with this little chap.  The work is neat, I’m happy with the colours, and most importantly, I’ve learned to do silk shading!

Monday, 13 February 2012

In which I order silver thread.

I’ve nearly finished the silk shading on my cunning mate fox – I’ve done the body and the tail, and I’ve just got the head to do.  So I turned my attention to the materials I’ll need for the silver work on the front fox.

Back in the autumn I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, and I took part in a session on introduction to goldwork.  It was held by Sarah from Golden Hinde.  We used Jap thread, ophir and special twist thread, and used Ultrafyne thread for the couching.  So, I’ve gone back to Golden Hinde and ordered some special twist and Jap thread in silver, and Ultrafyne in white for the couching.

Here’s the little star I produced at the goldwork seminar at the Knitting and Stitching Show – as you can see my skills are pretty primitive.  Will have to learn on the job for the silver fox!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

In which I learn to do silk shading. Properly this time.

I've started sewing the cunning mate fox using silk shading.  I'm working from the RSN's Guide to Silk Shading - last time I tried to do this stitch, I didn't really know what I was doing.  This time, well, it's different.  And the stitches I'm producing are pretty fab.

I'm starting with a line of split stitch, which you then embroider over to create a firm line.  You work silk shading back to front - you start with the areas of the design that are at the back, and work to the front.  So, I'm doing the fox's body before I do his head, and working on legs at the back before I work on legs at the fron.  I'm using 2 strands of DMC cotton together, and taking the stich up through the previous row, almost like a sort of vertical split stich.  Well, it makes sense to me.

And my stitches are so neat!  I'm going to blow my own trumpet here - I thoink this is some of the neatest stitching I've ever done.  Tootle toot!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

In which I make a start

I've made a start on the cunning mate fox - I popped to the Viking Loom and chose some DMC cottons.  Why can't DMC arrange their cottons so similar colours sit together?  Anchor are better at that, but I prefer DMC.  I guess it's like that, and that's the way it is. (1990s music and embroidery puns!)

I've traced the outline of the cunning mate onto my dark blue fabric, and I'm just about to start stitching!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

In which I shade a fox

So, the next step in my foxy embroidery is to decide what's what.  The fox in the background is going to be done in silk shading, and the front fox will be in metallic silver thread.  I'm going to work on the back fox first - the cunning mate. 

I looked at pictures of foxes (and Tessy cat) to get a feel of the direction of fur, and marked that on my fox drawing.  I've been using my Bamboo tablet for this - I find it's easier to work on my computer (I use GIMP for working on images) because I can just erase lines easily, and resize things quickly.  Again, looking at pictures of foxes, I coloured the fur in with six different colours, to show roughly where my silk shading will change colour.

The next stop is to go to one of my craft suppliers in town and have a look at colours of embroidery cotton to use.  I've got a dark blue shiny fabric I want to use as the background (it's the one I used for the shadows in my stalagtites piece), and I'll take that along to hold up to embroidery cottons.  I want the cunning fox to be sandy-silvery - not as sandy as a real fox, but not as silver as the fox in front.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

In which there are foxes

I’m starting a new embroidery project.  For Christmas/ my birthday (no I am not the baby Jesus, it’s just these two events happen very close to each other) I got the RSN’s book on Silk Shading and A Beginner's Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberlain. So, I want to do a project that combines silk shading and goldwork.  And I want to do my own design, because I get bored working to other people's designs.  I'm nothing if not overambitious. 

I also got Biophilia by Bjork for my birthday - my fave song on this is Cosmogony where Bjorkles sings about creation myths.  I loved the lyrics:
"And they say back then our universe was an empty sea
Until a silver fox and her cunning mate
began to sing a song that became the world we know."

It reminded me of Fennec Fox (Dog Star) a paper and stitch sculpture by Anne Lemanski, which I saw in Fibrearts Magazine.  

So - the plan - to make an embroidery piece with silk shading and goldwork based on Bjork's silver fox and her cunning mate.  I've been doodling foxes - especially fennec foxes - and come up with a basic pattern.  Watch this space for more in the design process!