Lush, leafy greenery in a free design for #WorldEmbroideryDay

The idea for a lush, tropical design had been knocking about for a while. So when I was flipping through the file of my gran’s old needlework transfers, photocopies and tear-outs, looking for an idea for this year's free design, this one jumped out at me.

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Like Blue Bird and Minikin Garden previously, I’ve taken a vintage design and reworked it into a modern embroidery pattern, filled with different stitches to encourage you to get embroidering in July – the month that culminates in World Embroidery Day on the 30th.

Unlike Blue Bird and Minikin Garden, which started out as vintage iron-on transfers, Leafy Tropics is based on a photocopy of what looks a bit like one of those old colour-by-number designs as it’s carefully numbered. Who knows where my gran found it originally, but the elements are so beautifully retro and well suited to embroidery that it makes a great design, one I've stitched using deep greens with touches of vibrant red, orange, yellow and blue.

I used rows of tightly packed blanket stitch in my Wild Pods pattern and loved the way it turned out. The upper leaves lent themselves to a repeat of this stitch idea, although I graded the colour this time from yellow through light to dark green as it made up quite a large part of the overall design. It's a really effective and lovely looking way to fill an area with embroidery.

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The pattern is available to download for free from my Craftsy shop and you can share your work with me on social media @kfneedlework or using the hashtag #kfneedlework. Remember to use the tag #worldembroideryday as well if you decide to embroider Leafy Tropics in July.

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Anatomical Creatures: An embroidered bat, frog, lobster and turtle

I loved designing and embroidering the Anatomical Insects, as did a lot of you. And to be honest, I just wanted to do more of them. I’d embroidered all the insects I could visualise in stitches though, so started thinking about other creatures that would work well in my style of embroidery.

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I like ceramics (I have a Pinterest board devoted to the art form) and when I came across a mug with a little lobster etched into it, I knew I had my first creature: Anatomical Lobster.

My grandparents had bats nesting in the eaves of their farmhouse and, as kids, we’d head outside at dusk armed with wooden tennis racquets to “get the bats” – a wholly unsuccessful but highly fun half-hour of swooping and whooping for a bunch of young siblings and cousins. And so Anatomical Bat made its way into the range.

Both of these were mostly single-colour creatures and so the next one had to be more colourful. I’d had the vague thought that a frog might deliver on colour and when I came across photos of the red-eyed tree frog, I could instantly see him in stitches and so Anatomical Frog was quickly added to the range.

I’d had some photos of turtles tucked away in my ideas folder for a while, because the shell offered interesting stitch opportunities. What I wasn’t expecting was the rest of the turtle to be so well suited to embroidery. Anatomical Turtle uses varied and interesting stitches while still looking lifelike and staying true to the spirit of the Anatomical ranges.

The designs are available as individual PDF patterns:

And as a single pattern containing all four creatures at a bundled price:

The links above take you to my Etsy shop, but they’re also available on Craftsy.

Easy, breezy butterflies

I loved Henri Charrière’s novel, Papillon. So when I made the decision to let go of most of my books a few years ago, this was one of the few printed copies that I kept. Charrière had a butterfly tattooed on his chest, earning him the nickname Papillon. And his story sprang to mind when I was thinking about what to call this collection.

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The six butterflies that make up the Papillon range are not new designs, I did them a few years ago. With spring coming to the northern hemisphere, I thought it a good time to re-release them. There are smaller, individual patterns for a quicker stitch and then I’ve bundled them all into one pattern for bigger projects, where you get six for roughly the price of four – I'm thinking mixed with designs from my Wild Nature and Anatomical Insects ranges to create bigger embroidered panels or quilts.

The patterns are suitable for all skill levels, from beginner stitchers who want to learn and practise, to more advanced embroiderers looking for a quick project. They're also all available on Craftsy.

There are some interesting stitches and stitch ideas in the designs. A double row of two different stitches not often paired creates a nice, strong outline and small, tufted circles add texture. There are some not too common variations on chain stitch, a bit of mark making or patterning using stitches and a colour switch halfway through a row of embroidery that works well to get two colours to flow seamlessly into each other.

The Papillon butterflies are quick and easy to embroider, in a fun selection of bright and breezy colours.

Skinny Fish and a new stitch

This one's a bit of an embroidery sampler, with 22 different surface embroidery stitches - including one new to me that I've not used in a pattern before.

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Skinny Fish uses quite a few of DMC's new thread colours, from eggplant to alizarin to apple green. The lighter, brighter greens among these new colours are particularly nice to work with as there aren't actually all that many vibrant greens in the DMC range, so a few new ones have been a welcome addition to my floss box.

The design offered a good opportunity to play around with different stitches. It's a small thing, but changing the size of the fly stitches in a row, from big to small to big to small again and so on down the row, gives a really nice effect. I flipped a blanket stitch variation upside down, basically doing it as a left-handed embroiderer would, and so that was an interesting experiment. And then there's a new stitch in there as well: fly stitch filling.

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Technically, I used a variation of fly stitch filling. The traditional and variation are new to me, so not included in 120 Embroidery Stitches (I can see the need for a follow-up stitch ebook already...). So the instructions for that one are included in the pattern.

The Skinny Fish PDF pattern is available as an instant download from Etsy and Craftsy. It's a fun project that doesn't take all that long to embroider, especially if you split the fish up and do just one at a time. And it works really well as a sampler with all the different stitches used, if you're keen to add some new ones to your stitch arsenal.

 

 

Dogs in a Park, if you like dogs and embroidery...

We walk in our local park at least once a week and some of the dogs and their owners have become familiar to us, if only by sight. It was just a matter of time before I embroidered them.

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There's the border collie who runs up and down alongside his walkers, crouching with frisbee in mouth, waiting for a throw, which comes when they hit the big open field. I love watching him at full speed, racing low to the ground, and the effortlessly graceful way he jumps and catches that frisbee every time. 

The English bulldog makes me laugh, with his snuffling heavy breathing. I can almost see him rolling his eyes and sighing as his owners cajole him around the park when he'd probably rather be snoozing.

The French bulldogs are a bit more sprightly and inquisitive, with their scrunched-up faces. And the Scottie dogs will always be among my favourites with that distinctive shape and those long "eyebrows" - there are a few that trot around on their short little legs.

We often end up grabbing a bench near or en route to the dog park for a bit, to enjoy the outdoors and watch the antics. This is the view from the bench under the oak tree:

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Dogs in a Park is similar in style to Birds on a Wire, Cats on a Wall and Succulents on a Sill. And it can easily be split up into individual dogs as well.

The PDF pattern is available on Etsy and Craftsy.