AnneLawsonArt My art work Odds and Ends Texture


My embroidery work is continuing to engage and enthuse me. It is encouraging a number of creative threads to come together. (Do you like that pun, Kate?!) I will tell you more about those mental ramblings at a later date.

My very good friend Liz is a reliable sounding board and creates wonderful embroideries of her own. She helped me to see that I was heading in the direction of trying to put in too much fiddly detail. I am attracted to detail ~ botanic art was great for this! ~ and find abstraction very difficult.

My original thought was to take a part of a watercolour I had been working on and make it into a small embroidery. The photos tell the story.

I then traced the outline onto the tapestry canvas. You can see the beginning of the problem…..too much detail already.

Outlining the scene in blue cotton (photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

As I was working I was feeling that it was all too cramped. Liz’s comment, that it needed to be more abstract and less of a copy, confirmed this. I would be interested to hear what you think, understanding it is only 10 x 10 cm.

Work in progress that may not get finished! (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

It probably didn’t help that I attached the boulder, which I had carefully woven to fit the image, upside down!

Liz came to the rescue again, loaning me some of her textile books. Stitch Magic: ideas and interpretation by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn was particularly inspiring.

So, armed with my 10 x 10 squares and the threads I have been working with, I played with stitch samplers. The first was blanket stitch.

Blanket stitch sampler (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

By putting down layers of stitches and by varying the length and direction of the stitches I was able to create a lot of texture. Also it covered the area quickly. Much less tedious than the usual half stitch filling in each hole. Great for foliage.

The next was chain stitch.

Chain stitch sampler (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

This creates a dense flat mat, as you can fill in the spaces with more chains. The creamy buttony things are made with an extended French knot. I can see me using chain stitch for the movement of water, as it gives a great sense of direction.

The third, feather stitch, is my favourite so far, possibly because I am getting the hang of creating these samplers.

Feather stitch sampler (image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

There are three layers of stitches here ~ a dark olive green, then the lighter lime green and then the shiny yellow green on top. I love the messy texture that it makes. It doesn’t have the definite edge of the blanket stitch, which makes it even more random. However it also doesn’t completely cover the canvas either. You can see it peeking through. So I added in the twisted chain stitches in the yellow green and the darker green. (That darker green is different colours because it is a variegated thread.) I also sewed some blue green cross stitches, but I don’t think they add much. Maybe the thread needed to be thicker.

In my usual impulsive fashion I have already begun a bigger piece using some of these ideas. My aim with it is to keep my ideas really free, just laying down stitches to see where they take me. I am enjoying this journey!

36 replies on “Samplers”

I am so pleased that you find it even mildly interesting, much less fascinating! So no pressure on the next instalment then?!! While I always hope that my ramblings have a positive impact on others, I often write posts to document where I am, and sort out a few things in my own mind.
I think embroidery is the right word for what I am doing, especially with these more free form stitchings. Your creative strength is your wonderful watercolours 🙂


A pun, just for me? Lovely, nearly as gorgeous as all that fabulous embroidery you’re getting stuck into. I love the last green feather stitch one, it looks like grass waving in the wind. Keep on making these little samplers in the same size, and one of these days you’ll find you’ve got enough to make a larger piece. And then…. welcome to the world of patchwork!

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I am sure there are a zillion puns in Embroidery World ~ and I see your cunning plan to turn me into a quilter 😀 The idea of joining them up is, however, a good one, and something to play around with. It can sit in the back of my mind and gently simmer.
How’s your back at the moment?


The back is amazingly good, considering! Certain activity still do and perhaps always will give me trouble, but for the most part I’m fine. Completely off the strong pain meds :-).
I’m visualising a wall hanging made of a whole lot of your 10cm squares, perhaps separated by bands of black. The richness of the textural contrast and the colours are really zinging in my imagination!

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Excellent news about your back!! What a pleasure it must be to be able to move around with relative freedom. The sampler quilt is still bubbling away at the back of my mind. However, I know that 3 squares don’t make a quilt!


Aren’t they beautiful colours? Most of them come from Fibreworks near the Grampians and have evocative names like Blue Gum. They are merino and wonderful yarns to work with. However I am amazed by the number of people who have businesses dying yarn. I wonder if it is a growing market?

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Thanks for that Meeks….but, I have to confess that my fingers are a bit sore, and I do prick myself. The main annoyance is that the canvas is awkward to hold and manipulate.


You are on the right track…..people do use frames. I am not sure it would suit my rather fluid style of stitching. Much more suited for stitches that go through one side of the canvas and are pulled out the other. I tend to be all over the place!


Aaaah. lol I see, I think. I wonder if you could get a big frame that allowed you to see/work on the entire picture instead of just one small bit? Or am I misunderstanding the problem still?


Great news about the Sketchbook, and I understand the different emotions involved. Would you be able to send me some photos of you contribution so that I can add it to my blog page? Or can you add a post to the Sketchbook blog?


As I said in the post, I find abstracting really challenging, so these are a great way to overcome that. I love the textures and depth I am creating. I see more samplers in my future, and maybe a quilt as Kate suggests!

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I don’t see them as “samples” as such – more like a series of miniature artworks – which when framed – will be either for your enjoyment or for someone else to enjoy….

I like to start with a layering type of medium as well – and adding more layers to see where it will lead me.

(right now, I’m not layering anything, packed up almost everything – as I’m hoping to move, soon).


They have turned out rather well, although I am trying to resist the temptation to think about them as a Final Product. If I think about that I get constrained by matching them to each other or becoming more result driven. So I am thinking of them as samplers, where I am trying out different techniques and effects.
As for your layering….you will be layering your house things to create your new home!

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I’ve been tempted by the Beaney and Littlejohn books more than once. So far I guess the time hasn’t been right. I love the freedom of movement you’ve achieved with your samplers. I’d like to be able to shuck off the old attitudes about needlework that plague me still (perfectionism; it’s a constant battle!).


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