When I first noticed Becky Hogg‘s animal kits in the RSN shop I fell in love with them instantly. I like the modern look and the way the metalwork embroidery has been used to create an instantly recognisable image of the animal. Becky has designed kits for 8 animals in this series: snow bunting, heron, barn owl, woodpecker, fox, squirrel, Badger and song thrush. I had a hard time choosing just one, but in the end, I settled on the fox as I thought it was the cutest.
I bought the kit over a year ago, I think, but never got around to stitching it as my RSN certificate projects just took up so much time. However, having finished the silk shading module and having finished all of the preparations for my upcoming goldwork module I thought it would be a good time to have a go at this kit and practise some goldwork before the ‘real thing’ next month.
With hindsight that was a really good idea, as I have learned a lot from this kit, gave me a lot of practise, and it has also raised some questions about how to stitch particular bits that I will definitely ask my tutors during the RSN summer intensive as those issues will definitely come up in my own piece.
Becky’s kit is beautifully designed (I love the cardboard box design) and the instructions are very detailed. She even gives you little tips in the margins of the instructions to get the best results. She has included plenty of materials in the kit. You even get 2 full spools of Guterman thread (grey & gold) and a full skein of Anchor stranded cotton! You will have lots left for your next projects. The metalwork threads included are also plenty. She has included lots of the copper wire check for the cutwork, which I was particularly happy with as it is so delicate and I found it very difficult to the get it right the first time so I was really happy with the extra supply so I didn’t need to worry about running out. Becky also has included a hoop and ribbon so you can frame your work after stitching it. You will need a 6″ or 8″ ring frame to stitch the fox though as the 4″ hoop is too small for stitching the fox into.
After attaching the felt padding the metalwork started with couching gold passing thread. It is a bit fiddly at first but quite quick. I did find it difficult to see where I was going when all the ends are still at the front, so I started to plunge them as I went along and used a bit of sticky tape on the back to keep them out of the way until I was ready to stitch them down after the entire area was couched. Part of the foxes back is stitched in a continuous spiral, which creates a lovely effect and it saves having to plunge lots of ends. The only really difficult bit is to stitch the spiral centre, as you need to bend the passing thread to sit in the right spot. A pair of tweezers is invaluable! I also have to watch the tension of my couching stitches. I didn’t want them too tight as it distorts the felt padding, but too loose is not good either as they won’t hold the passing thread in place and they also end up looking like fluffy loose stitches on top of the smooth gold.
Next, I needed to do the pearl purl outlines. I had worked with pearl purl before so that went quite smoothly. I was just wondering whether I needed to stitch it on the felt, on the exact edge or next to the felt. I went with stitching it on the edge.
After the pearl purl outlines, it was time for some silver check purl chipping. I did manage to keep the chipping random but did find it difficult to keep the chipping flush and make sure there are no holes. I did find it difficult to decide how dense I should have stitched this area.
Copper check purl is used for the cutwork on the tail. I had done cutwork before with smooth purl and I thought check purl would be easier and less fragile, how wrong I was. You need quite a long length for the widest part of the tail and I did find it difficult to cut the purl at the correct length (not too long and not too short) and to stitch the next row at the correct distance to prevent overcrowding and to not have any felt showing. Also maintaining the correct angle is a challenge in itself. There is definitely a lot I have taken from this that I can use when doing the cutwork on my certificate project.
The final bits that needed stitching was some smooth purl cutwork on the ears and nose and beads for the eyes.
I love the final look of ‘my’ little foxy. Having shared the finished fox on Instagram yesterday, everyone seems to love him too, as the photograph is more than twice as popular as my previous popular photo! Thank you all so much for your likes and comments!
I would highly recommend this kit for anyone wanting to try metalwork embroidery. The design is really lovely and incorporates all of the main metalwork embroidery techniques. The instructions are very detailed and if you have done other embroidery techniques but never tried metalwork embroidery, you will be able to try it out with this kit.