Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Giveaway: Hoop-La! Magazine

&Stitches - Hoop-La! giveaway
Happy Hump Day, everyone!

We are very excited that the good folks behind Hoop-La! magazine has given us a copy to give to one of you, lovely readers! I've had a little peek at the magazine and it is lovely as always. Full of beautiful inspiration of the stitchy kind. :-)

To enter the giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post.
- you can not get extra entries by tweeting, liking on Facebook etc etc. One person, one entry.
- we'd love to hear which stitchy magazines you've been reading lately. What inspires you? Anything we should check out?

There must be an easy way to contact you.
Make sure to either leave an email address, a link to your blog or somewhere else where an email can be found. We will not notify the winner by leaving a comment on your blog. You can also leave your Flickr name or Twitter @
Entries by 'Anonymous' can not be accepted, we must have atleast your first name - and a way to contact you as mentioned above.

The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere.

The giveaway closes on Wednesday, April 1 at 1pm UK time.

Good luck!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Assissi Embroidery

I must have a thing for negative space. I originally wrote about my French knot embroidery here, and I take inspiration from other’s void embroidery projects, like one I found here. I enjoy watching a shape build from what is stitched around it.

So I was intrigued and delighted to find out that for centuries embroiderers have been making use of negative space with the art of Assissi embroidery:
From Jos Hendriks

Assissi embroidery dates back to medieval times, where richly coloured threads were stitched onto a background, leaving the motif blank.  Originating in the Italian city that bears its name, the Assissi technique was used to create elaborate textiles for the church. Alters were decorated with embroideries stitched in deep reds, blues and greens, with the design standing out in the white fabric beneath.

The image above, from Tracy on Flickr, combines Assissi embroidery with blackwork to create beautiful patterned designs. 

Most backgrounds are worked in a style of cross stitching – the ‘x’ being stitched over one or multiple threads, depending on the fabric and design. Motifs typically are outlined in a Holbein stitch, which is like a double-sided running stitch, so the line is even on both sides of the fabric. This outline usually uses a darker thread to make the motif pop out even more.

There are some modern examples of Assissi embroidery on Flickr and Pinterest to inspire...

From Arte & Ricamo

See jizee66even

And Jos Hendriks’ web site, Embroidery and Embroider, offers dozens of beautiful and fun Assissi embroidery  designs (Jos has an entire section of duck motifs!). I found this rather gorgeous dragon border that will find its way to some cloth very soon:

I have the traditional red and black threads, but I’m drawn to a modern update with the juicy DMC shades, too. Which combo would you use?

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Colourful Satin Stitches

Here is some serious colour inspiration for you!

For a while I have followed Corinne Sleight's work on Instagram. The pieces she has done lately with satin stitch are so bright and colourful I had to share it! I asked Corinne a few questions about these pieces. Aren't the fab?

You started doing these satin stitched circles as a way to become better at satin stitch, but they seem to become much more than that. What is the process for each design?
I started stitching my colour wheel embroideries simply to practice my satin stitching which definitely needed improvement! However, in the end, I found the whole process so enjoyable that the designs sort of ran away with themselves! I usually embroider on a pale grey cotton backing fabric as I like the way the softness of the grey complements the shades of embroidery thread.

The first part of the process for me is to sketch out my rough ideas on paper first, just to make sure they will work. I always draw the circles onto the fabric with pencil and a compass although I am not too particular if they aren't millimetre perfect. My colour selection is the most important part of the whole process though, I love choosing my colour palette and find it very satisfying.

I usually have an idea of the shades I want to use but always choose the actual threads in natural daylight (I also thoroughly recommend a daylight light bulb to embroider by), it may sound obvious but the subtleties between different shades can be lost in electric light. After thread selection, I like to play around with their positioning until I am completely satisfied. As you can probably see from my work, the brighter the colours, the better, and I am not averse to a little clashing!

With my newer 'Variation on a Theme' pieces, I decided to develop the colour wheel theme further, both to keep the idea fresh and to make each subsequent piece totally unique by the introduction of geometric shapes in a second colour way. I am usually playing around with design ideas for the next embroidery whilst I am stitching my current project and always like to have a plan, toying with the next set of colour combinations.

The colours in your circles are very striking. Do you use colour theory to decide the colours or do you just go with your gut?
As far as colour selection is concerned, I always, always go with my gut instinct. There are certain combinations that are my absolute favourites - green and pink, yellow and pink, and red or orange with purple - but I try to vary the colour palette for each piece to make them truly unique in their own right. The shaded concentric circles are obviously the main theme of the pieces but I love to play around with the added shapes and their positioning.

Do you have any tips for putting together colour combinations?
My only tip for putting together colour combinations, is to go with your gut - if it makes you happy, it will show through your work.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Found on Flickr: Olisa's Modern Redwork


Redwork Mami

Redwork, the technique of thickly embroidering a design's outline in bright red thread, begins its long history way way back in the 1860s. Simple, effective, and affordable, redwork caught on quickly in both Europe and America. Additionally, the color-fastness of the Turkey Red color thread made redwork a more practical embroidery than other styles: the dyes in these Turkey Red threads wouldn't run when subjected to the necessarily harsh washing process of the times. Patterns were made widely available, as well as pre-printed panels to be made into common household items.

In her embroidered portrait above, Olisa has modernized the subject matter of redwork while retaining its traditional look. Thickly outlined in a bright red with simple stitches, Olisa's portrait shows her own mother, as she was during Olisa's childhood, looking off into the distance out of frame. The combination of modern and traditional gives this portrait a pop art feel, but is full of the emotion of family.

Read more about the history of redwork at Nordic Needle, and more about Olisa's piece on her blog.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book review: West Coast Love (ebook)


Here at &Stitches we are big fans of Megan Eckman's (a.k.a Studio MME) designs. So it's really exciting to be reviewing her new ebook West Coast Love.

The book includes twenty patterns themed around California, Oregon and Washington. They mostly feature local landmarks, both built and natural, and there are a couple of really beautiful bird patterns in there too. The patterns showcase Megan's skill for simple, linear design. I feel that the designs will appeal to novice and experienced stitchers alike. They don't require fancy stitch techniques but instead use bold lines to build a stylised image.
I like Megan's little introductions to each pattern which explain why she has selected each subject- it's a nice personal touch.
I particularly like the way her patterns use a restricted palette. All of the designs use only two or three colours. One of my favourites is this scene of St.Johns Bridge:

I think the economy of line here is just beautiful and combined with the muted blue/grey palette it creates a really striking image. This is the strength of Megan's designs; they are beautifully drawn and avoid any fussy details. You could easily vary the colours for a different effect.

A really fun idea in the book is making embroidery pennants- a few of these would make a great display. Each section of the book includes two pennants- one fun flag-themed and one tree-themed. It would be great to stitch up a matching set to hang together.
I have to say I would happily hang these pennants anywhere in my home but they would look especially cool in a kids bedroom. In the book are full illustrated instructions for making up the pennant flags - although I haven't tried it yet it looks simple, so I will definitely be giving it a go!

Megan has also included really clear instructions on how to get started, what materials are needed, how to transfer images and how to frame work in a hoop. These instructions would be great for someone new to stitching and there are step-by-step diagrams to help you along the way. There are also reversed versions of the patterns to make it easier if you are using an iron on transfer method and because it's an ebook its super easy to get started - just pick your pattern, print it out and start straight away.

If you like the look of this ebook it is available in the Studio MME shop where you can also purchase the patterns individually (plus a whole range of other cool patterns and kits).

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!