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The Illuminated William Morris - Fox's Head!

(originally published 17th September 2015)

Greetings all!

Poor Monsieur Renard finally gets his bonce this week! It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since I last wrote on my blog - what a humdinger of a year it was too, let's just say that I'm hopeful the one to come will be brighter and happier.

So where were we? Oh yes, I'd worked my way up the body to just underneath the head. If you're wondering how I got this far, you may want to start at the beginning blog by clicking here with the designing stage.

Remember to work the directional stitches

before you do anything else.

This design was completed in time for the 2014 Summer School, which took place at the new studio space in Kingswood, and we had a lovely if busy week. Some students worked the fox this way round facing right, others worked it facing left, depending on their choice of letter.

The colour of the head continues as red

as the upper back and shoulder.

When I stitched the head, I started at the back, under the ear, and worked my way forwardds, towards the nose. It was important to keep looking at my shaded drawing to know when to start bringing in new colours.

The curve of the ear is actually 'in front'of the inner ear fur, and is worked afterwards,

so that it stands slightly proud of the inner ear stitching.

The colours are all beautifully warm and russety (is that word?), and they all blend in with each other so well, but it's important to have what some refer to as a 'rogue' colour, or as florists call it, a 'gate crasher' colour, which brings the zing out in all the rest.

Time to break the rule of colour blocking!

The dark 'spot' in the inner ear requires a few

dark brown stitches worked closely together.

I find it very time consuming and tedious threading number 12 embroidery needles (which is what I'm using here), so for this technique, I have a separate needle for each colour. Every now and then I get COMPLETELY confused as to what's what, and this is the time to finish off all threads, regardless of how much is still left in the needle, and start again. The challenge is to 'park' the waiting threads nearby, but not too near to get tangled in with the needle that is in play!

Split stitch the ear 'turnover' in a dark brown,

to match the general colour of the outer ear.

You can see all the securing stitches in these pictures, where I started and finished off various threads. Poor thing, he looks like he's got a bad case of the spotties! :)

Tiny directional stitches!

If you bring the same care, attention and technique to even the smallest areas in a design, the finished effect will always be a good one. The temptation is to rush over these wee parts, but in the end it's not worth it - you end up unpicking your stitches because they just don't look right.

You can still manage a couple of shades of

brown in the outer ear; the eye is also outlines

in dark brown split stitch, so it too stands proud.

I always think that the face the most important thing to get right in a figure, whether it is a person or an animal. I'm really picky about how an eye looks, if it's not perfect, I'll do it again - but I have to be careful not to overwork the fabric or thread, because accidents can happen! (I have a story called 'the face that fell out' which I share with my RSN students who are embarking on a thread-painted figure...)

The eye is worked in rounds of split stitch from the

outer dark brown inwards, finishing with a central

french knot dot for the pupil.

I have to squint when I bring a needle up through an eye to stitch the 'sparkle', which sets the eye sparkling like you wouldn't believe! It just feels weird sticking something sharp into an eyeball, even a stitched one! But Foxy's face is now in, he can look around and see where he is, and can glare at me until I finish him properly.

See you next time for a VERY fluffy ruff!

Love 'n Stitches,


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