Tuesday, 18 March 2014

In which I embroider a catfish

Phwoooof! (Sister Twisty blows the dust off this blog).  Hello.

I've been involved in the first Phat Quarter swap over at Weave, Mr X's new social media space for stitchers.  The theme was bestiaries, and my swappee was Mad of Mad Monsters.  She told me she likes cats!  I love cats too, of course.  Those furry rapscallions of the deep!

Wait, what?  No. This is a catfish, an unholy mating of kitty and fishy. 

I used split stitch for the fur, and chain stitch for their scaly tails. 

One detail I was rather happy with were the sea snails.  These were made with shells I'd found on beaches in Guernsey.  I sewed a translucent pink bead into the hoop, and glued the shell on top to give the impression of little sea snailios hiding in the seaweed.  I just hope the catfish don't try to eat them.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

In which I stitch a foxy lady

I joined in the recent Phat Quarter swap to celebrate Mr X's 5th birthday of blogging, with the theme of FIVE. I was partnered with Jessica Kelly who is a innovative and wonderous stitcher, who does a lot of stitching on paper.  I'd received an amazing piece from her in a previous swap - no pressure!

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the idea of FIVE, but I'd had the idea to stitch a nude for a while, so I started with that.  I wanted to embroider a big fat nude - I'm a rounded sort of lady myself, and I think images of a large female body can be very powerful - like the Venus of Willendorf.

I primarily used stab stitch rather than long and short stitch, and went for blocks of shading that followed the contours of her body.  I started with no proper sketch, just putting my ideas on the cotton.  I began at her legs, and by the time I'd got up to her neck, I didn't want to make her entirely human.  I wanted her to be a bit wild.  So I gave her a fox's head, playing a flute.  She feels magical and wild and dreamlike.  It was then I saw how she could tie in with the theme, and I gave her five flowery beads as the musical notes.

Foxy lady playing five notes

I then looked to the background, and used watercolour to give a pale green background, and stitched some ground and tendrils, as though she's emerging from a dream-like forest....

Foxy lady playing five notes

Sunday, 28 July 2013

In which I embroider the Theotokos

This is a project I'd been wanting to work on for a while.  I love the icons of the Orthodox church, and I wanted to try embroidering one.  I was a bit unsure if that would be sacrilegious or disrespectful (I'm Church of England, not Orthodox), so I asked the opinions of the lovely Orthodox shippies on the Ship of Fools. 

I understood from them that it would be ok to embroider a sacred image in the style of an icon, that wouldn't be disrespectful, but it would not be an icon.  And icon has to be 'written' (painted) in a certain way by people trained to do so, with the permission and blessing of a priest.  For more on the theology of icons, Wiki seems decent to me.  So although the embroidery below is in the style of an icon, it it not an icon. 

Theotokos embroidery

My embroidery shows the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos - God-bearer - with the infant Christ.  The image of the Blessed Virgin is based on Greek and Byzantine icons, with the defined outline of the features, long nose and almond eyes.  She's wearing red as that's how she's portrayed in icons, which was a surprise to me - I'm used tot he western depiction of Mary in blue.  I based the infant Christ on a Chinese nativity picture of the early C20th I saw in the Church Times, where he almost looks like a little Buddha.  I like the way he looks like a baby, not like a mini-adult, which is how he seems to be shown in a lot of icons.  Here's my first sketch for the embroidery:

Theotokos sketch

The final embroidery measures 17cm by 13cm, and was done primarily in long and short stitch, with a bit of back stitch and satin stitch.  I used couched gold thread for the halos, with a sightly smaller gauge thread for the infant Christ's halo.

Theotokos embroidery detail

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

In which I crocheted some slippers

I crocheted some slippers for myself.  It might look like they are children's shoes, but that's just cos my feet are very little.  Took me about a week, I kept getting bits wrong!  The soles are made with garden twine to be extra hard-wearing.  This was from a pattern on Etsy, but I can't find it there now...

Monday, 3 June 2013

In which I mess with your mind...

I recently took part in the Phat Quarter swap on the theme "Blinded by science".  My swapee was Mr X Stitch  himself, so no pressure there!  I liked the idea of being blinded by science - your eyes seeing one thing but your brain receieving it another way. So I thought I'd have a bash at an optical illusion - I've not seen this done before.
Blinded by Science
The idea is that the lines of squares move or bulge diagonally. If you let your eyes unfocus slightly, or look slightly away from the piece it works best.  It works better in real life than as a photo of an embroidery on the net!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

In which I receive a wonderful piece

For the last Phat Quarter swap, I received a piece from the swap organiser, the fabulous Olisa, aka cocoaeyesthestitcher.  Check her out if you need some more Vitamin Fabulous in your life.

She sent me this wonderful colour wheel, based on one drawn by Isaac "The Silver Fox" Newton.
Chroma de Newton

I just love this piece - Olisa's work always pops with such amazing colour.  The paper pieced hexagons are a perfect background to the colour wheel and the Morse code on the side is great.  There's something about Morse code using French knots that really tickles me - it's such a simple idea and so effective!

You can read more about the piece in Olisa's blog here

In which I buy some random shit...

I went to the car boot sale yesterday and bought some stuff. 
  • A brochure describing needlework techniques you can do with "Peri-Lusta" thread
  • Lancashire's smallest loom - sadly missing a part but I couldn't resist it
  • A 1920s (?) broach containing a photo of a man with a moustache
  • Two ceramic doll legs
It's just how I roll.