We are lucky to be enjoying a long weekend here in the UK this weekend, and it has turned out to be beautiful weather! Not particularly warm, but nice and sunny, which according to our little cavalier is just right!

I have been trying desperately this weekend to catch up with the red fox course I am doing with Tanja Berlin, and fingers crossed, I will be all finished with lesson two by the end of tomorrow, which gives me about two weeks to finish him off during the remainder of the course. Just enough time!

My first attempt at stitching the browns I pulled out before I even bothered sending it off for critique. I wasn’t at all happy with it – compared with the greys, the first row was too long, and looked out of place. My stitch direction lines were a little off as well. Throughout this whole section to date, I have actually found the stitch direction to be a little difficult. And I thought it was going to be straight forward! I was so frustrated I forgot to take a picture, but you can see in the photos the marks of the original thread, and just how long they were. Does anyone have ideas on how I can ‘eliminate’ these marks? They are fading with time, but I’m not sure they will ever ‘disappear’.

So attempt two couldn’t have been any worse! And I am really glad I went to the effort of pulling it out and starting again. I am usually quite reluctant to pull things out, but the more stitching I do, the more I realise that at times, it really is the best option.

In keeping with the pattern of the greys, the browns are worked in much the same way. First, the darkest brown is added, followed by the dark brown on either side, moving down until you need to squeeze in the lightest brown. Since the feedback I received on the grey section was that I hadn’t put enough of the lightest colour in on the first row, I tried to remedy this, but still struggled to get the balance.

row 1 again

Now I am much more used to the ‘correct’ way of stitching long and short stitch, I fell into the rhythm of the stitch quite nicely, always remembering ‘up’ then ‘down’, not long and short at all!

As I am much more comfortable with the stitching now, I powered through, until I reached the point where his neck fur meets his head fur, and decided that this was as good a spot as any to get some feedback. And crossing my fingers that I hadn’t done something too wrong, which would require un-doing and re-doing the majority or all of it!

Thankfully, Tanja was very kind (maybe because I’m so far behind and desperately trying to catch up!). She said that my stitching was good on the whole, and that I just needed to be careful of ‘blocking’ the colours too much. So whilst I was following the pattern of where to put each colour (dark on light), I wasn’t achieving an wholly realistic effect, as my colours were blocked into a chequer board a little too much. When looking at it again, I see what she means. You can see the first couple of rows aren’t too bad, but then about half way up, I make the blocks of colour far too large in each row. So to remedy this, Tanja has suggested I squeeze some alternate colour in to break up these blocks, and create a more natural looking fur.

The other point was one I pointed out myself, and that is that the edge of the fur on the right of the body isn’t great. I really struggled with this all the way up the body, and couldn’t place the stitches well at all. Again, thankfully, Tanja has suggested I just pop a few more in (and she has shown the direction lines of where they should go!), into the existing stitching. She has also recommended that when stitching these stitches, to start at the point where you want the stitch to end, rather than in the body and working out.

blocky look

Some more excellent advice from Tanja, although it would be interesting to know what she would have said if I weren’t so far behind!  I do get the impression however, that she isn’t particularly fussed if you finish the course in the time frame or not, she is a true teacher, and wants you to get the most out of the experience. She very generously offers advice on some of the kits she sells, so I’m sure that if you don’t get it all finished, she would be more than happy to continue offering advice to make sure you do the best job you can.

What feedback would you give on my fox so far? I can see where improvements need to be made, and I would love to know what you think!

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