Wednesday, October 15

Couture Birds

Embroidery & design by Nicola Jarvis. photo used with permission

While I was browsing the website of the Royal School of Needlework I stumbled upon a fabulous looking workshop called Couture Birds (Kings and Queens) hosted by Nicola Jarvis. I first found out about Nicola Jarvis' work last year when I read about her beautiful embroidery work in a William Morris inspired exhibition (read a review here). Besides the Morris' Birds Nicola has done lots of other exquisite highly creative embroidery work in different techniques.

So I needed very little time to think it over and very spontaneously booked my place in the class. Without worrying about details of how to get there and where to stay or that I don't know anyone there. It's next July so I still have some time to figure all that out. :) Incidentally I also forgot to check whether my embroidery skills were good enough to take part. It's Crewel and Gold work, two techniques I haven't tried before. At least not Crewel work with wool, because apparently you can also do Crewel with regular stranded thread which to me sounds much like surface embroidery. And that is something I happen to do quite a lot! I'm not particularly keen on formal gatherings but the RSN says the classes are small and friendly (just like me!) so I should be ok. I'm just incredibly excited to be taking a class with Nicola and I expect to learn lots from the experience!

As I write this I saw there was only one spot left in the Couture Birds class (come join me!) but there are lots and lots of other interesting courses available through the Royal School of Needlework for all skill levels and on different locations as well. The majority is in the UK but there are also classes taught abroad.

Do check out Nicola Jarvis' shop where you can find gorgeous Embroidery kits, including several William Morris inspired Bird kits.

In preparation for my class I will go and explore Crewel Embroidery a bit more. Obviously I will share my findings here on the blog. :) 

Monday, October 13

Inspirations: patterns in my neighbourhood

On my way to the bike repair shop (with a broken bike wheel in my hand) and back (without the broke bike wheel), I took some pictures of interesting patterns in my neighbourhood. Once you start looking, you see patterns and interesting details everywhere. Today I spotted lots of simple but stylish ornamental work in stone and metal.

And on my way back I found this object in a little shop.

It's a bird on a tree trunk (obviously) and at first I thought it was a tiny vase because it has a hole on top. But then I found out it had a hole in the bottom as well which makes it kind of useless as a vase. ;)  It now keeps my vintage porcelain owl (which is actually a perfume lamp) company.

Monday, October 6

Old Stitches, New Tricks

Just in case you don't read the &Stitches blog: we have a fabulous new Embroidery competition going on called Old Stitches, New Tricks You can read all the details (about how and when to enter etc) on the &Stitches blog but basically the idea is that you take something 'old' (an old pattern or technique for example) and use it in a contemporary way. An interesting challenge for sure! 

Great prize to win: this is the loot the winner will get!

I was planning on playing along as well. Obviously I can't enter the contest (as I am an &Stitches co-host) but I really wished I could, because the prizes are fantastic.  Anyway, I started researching an old, somewhat forgotten technique yesterday (not revealing what it is yet!) and I hardly could find any information on it. Nothing in my personal 'library' and very little online as well. I wonder why that is but I'm determined to bring it put it in the spotlight a bit before it disappears in oblivion  :) 

Tuesday, September 30

Dapper Jackalope Pattern available now!

Isn't he sweet, this dapper Jackalope? As I mentioned recently: it's my first pattern since last October so it really *was* time for a new one. I'm really happy with it and I hope you all like it too! The pattern includes colour and stitch suggestions and is now available as instant download (so you can start stitching tonight!) in my shop.

Saturday, September 27

How to pull thread from a skein

I have a confession to make. Until last week I didn't really know how to pull floss from a skein. Usually I just pulled at the first loose end I'd find. Not noticing which end of the skein it was. Sometimes it was the right end and the thread could easily be pulled from the skein, often it was the wrong end and I would end up with a tangled mess.

The other day I thought it would be wise to try and find out if there was some logic to the whole process. It turned out the DMC skeins I was using do have a 'business end'... I felt a bit silly posting my 'aha' moment on Instagram but then it turned out I wasn't the only one. It's just one of those things no one ever talks about! Soon I started referring to the whole thing as #Flossgate and like with other 'gates' it needed further investigation!

I conducted a comparative 'thread-pulling' study of four different brands of embroidery floss I found in my stash: DMC, Sublime Stitching, Anchor and Cosmo. These are all six stranded flosses, but I must add the Anchor floss is rather old so possible today's skeins will give a different result.

Let's start with DMC: the business end is the side where the thread number is.

Anchor: the right side to pull the thread from is the side where label with the brand name is.

Sublime Stitching: it took me quite a while to find out that the beginning and the end of the thread where at the same side! It's the side where the number label is. You just need to gently pull both to find out which one comes loose from the skein more easily.

Finally Cosmo: as you can see in the photo the best way to pull thread from the skein is on the side where the brand label is.

I hope this study is helpful for some of you! Do let me know in the comments if you happen to know how this works with other brands. :)

p.s. find more of my Embroidery 'Aha' moments here.

Thursday, September 25

Book review: Stitch the Halls

Although we 'do' celebrate Christmas in our house, in our own quiet way, I'm not a huge fan of covering the whole house in Christmas decorations. Most decorations that stores offer don't appeal to me anyway. Santas are not allowed in my house (only the real one is, to drop off presents) and the only decorations I indulge in are a Christmas tree and lots of sparkly fairy lights.

But now Stitch the Halls by What Delilah Did* has arrived and I suddenly feel I need Mini-sampler Stockings in my tree and send Christmas cards with tiny jumpers on.

The Polar Parade bunting is one of my favourite projects in the book. Sophie's signature silhouette designs make this decoration sophisticated and timeless. Festive, but in a not exclusively Christmas kind of way. Brilliant.

With it's 80 pages this book will not take up much of shelf space but the 12 projects are all of great quality.  Personally, I'd rather have a small volume with great useful designs than a large book with lots of mediocre stuff.

Another favourite (it's so hard to choose though!) is this tiny 'Miss Prance-a-Lot' Peg doll ornament. The attention for detail is just fantastic.

The book starts with a chapter about Supplies and the basics of  Cross Stitch and Counted Thread embroidery are discussed. I thought this was particularly interesting as Counted Thread embroidery doesn't always gets mentioned in today's Embroidery books. A lot of the projects aren't incredibly complicated or time-consuming so all in all this would be a good starting point for anyone who wants to try their hand at cross stitch and/or counted embroidery.

Just like in Story Land Cross Stitching the photos (by Rachel Whiting) and illustrations (by Ana Victoria Calderon) are very charming.

Stitch the Halls is perfect for anyone who wants to add stylish, handmade stitched decorations to their home and presents (without the 'loudness' of the usual Christmas decorations!). It's available now in stores and online shops (including Sophie's own shop).

*As you may know I'm a longtime fan of Sophie's designs. I already had the book on my 'to buy list when I received a copy from the publisher for review. :) 

Monday, September 22

Jackalope Pattern in Progress

There's much going on behind the scenes here at Follow the White Bunny HQ (which is really just my house) so you have to excuse the not so great photo I nicked from my own Instagram account. I thought I'd share a peek of my new pattern with you and I am touched by the kind comments I got on IG so far. It's kind of a big deal for me as this pattern is the first new pattern (besides the ones in books and magazines) since last October.

Pattern design doesn't always (read: rarely) come easy to me and I rejected many designs before I decided on this one. And then I made some changes while I was stitching the pattern too. I think it's really important to stitch a pattern before you release it to find out what works and what doesn't. So in the process I left out some elements and added others. Obviously the Jackalope was there from the beginning, as were the poppies (my mother's favourite flower). I'm doing my best to have the Jackalope in the shop early next week!