If there’s something Scotland has a lot of, it’s sheep. Not only around here, but across the whole country, the hills are always dotted with fluffy white animals, and one of the first signs of spring is the appearance of lots of little lambs skipping around. I’ve always thought it so funny that farmers need to identify which lamb belongs to which mother by spray-painting big numbers on the sides of the animals – I’m sure the sheep themselves all know perfectly well which lamb belongs to who. But it’s fun to survey the fields and pair up (for example) lamb number 27 with its mother ewe number 27, and that’s what inspired this week’s picture
How to know where you belong...
As they were pictures of sheep it was natural to use my embellisher machine to make applique fabric out of some old scraps of wool roving and yarn, felted onto a fabric backing. Like all my attempts at felting, the results are a bit scruffy, but it all looks fine when the pieces of woolly cloth are made into sheep
Oh no, not another crow...
Afraid so! I don’t seem to be able to keep away from them. One thing that both intrigues and frustrates me about drawing crows is that their feathers are wonderfully complex, but because they’re all black you can’t really see them clearly. But the other day I saw some beautiful drawings of crows, and I thought that if you could draw crows in pen and ink, you should be able to do them in thread.
So here’s a trial. It’s technically complicated – the crow is done with two colours of applique, dark black for the head and breast, and a streaky grey for the wings and tail. And the fabric is just left raw around the edges – there’s nothing that binds off the edges. Instead, there’s a lot of complicated overstitching of various kinds to suggest the texture of the feathers
The latest crow
Well, for a first attempt of a very demanding design, it’s not bad. Next time I think I’d use a lighter grey for the wings and tail so you could see the detailing more clearly. But the raw edges of the unbound fabric work very well, and help suggest the roughness of the feathers, and the effect is a lot more realistic than if the edges were bound in the usual satin stitching
A free Mexican bird
Time for another freebie, and this is another one from the archives. I just can’t resist Mexican folk designs with their charming animals and flamboyant colours, and this is a version of a Mexican bird that I digitised years and years ago. It was done with an ancient version of PE Design, so if you bring it up on your screen the image looks pretty clunky. But it stitches out OK. You can download the design (.pes v6) here and the worksheet is here
A colourful Mexican bird for June
A Confusion of Curlews
Well, after last week’s frivolous cat it's back to Serious Stuff, and it’s the Scottish bird series again. One of my favourite birds has got to be the curlew, with its weird, otherworldly cry. We usually get a few up here in the spring, but they’re becoming a lot rarer than they used to be. This started out as another illustration of camouflaged animals, but the colours of the birds blended more and more into each other, and as I liked the confusion of shapes and colours I just carried on until the shapes of the birds were in danger of getting totally lost.
The Complicated Curlews
I know I go in for complicated designs, but this one was excessive even for me – it had 52 colour changes and each of the five birds was appliqueed on separately, so stitching it out was a big job
The cat who got the fish...
I don’t necessarily like everything I do, but I have to admit that this one makes me smile. It’s not perfect – there are several technical flaws (as you can probably see) but these can be easily corrected. I got the idea from Cherri (http://thecherritree.blogspot.co.uk) Thanks, Cherri!
Scruffy cat after a fish dinner
When I finished the first version – well, it was OK, but even that silly smile didn’t really give him all that much of a personality. But then I had a sudden inspiration and added the scruffy coat by running a feathered outline around the whole body. That really made a difference and turned him from a sleek cat into an untidy, mischievous alley cat who’s made off with something he clearly wasn’t allowed to have