Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Creepy Eye Pincusions

Yesterday Leila sent me a link to this cool tutorial for creepy eye bottle cap pincushions. I went home last night and made one. Mine has a vertical pupil for added creepiness. I began a second one. I think it will have green skin. Hallowe'en's coming!

I haven't been stitching much lately, just not motivated, so this feels very good. It got the ideas flowing---for a less creepy pumpkin bottle cap pincushion and for a evergreen tree pincushion. I feel like I'm back!

Monday, September 29, 2008

loads of goodies

Yesterday I received a belated birthday gift from Lula. It was chock full of the best goodies -- luscious laces, ribbons, trims, buttons and roses!

Her card features dressmaking fairies which remind me of my favorite scenes from Cinderella, with the birds and mice making the perfect dress, and Sleeping Beauty, with the fairies who kept changing the dress's color as they worked on it. Needless to say, this is the perfect card for me!

She wants to see what I do with them. I'm itching to dye some of the laces.

But then, what if I leave them white and use them on brighter fabrics? Or an all white design, just the texture of the laces. And the buttons.

And I want to hunt through my stash for fabrics to complement them. Already I find myself grouping the ones that feel compatible to me. I have two piles now, neutrals and brights. Perhaps I should mix them up a bit.

The last time she sent gorgeous ribbons I ended up folding them into 2" squares to put in a little box of 2" fabric collage squares I keep on my desk at work. I couldn't bear to cut into the ribbon and folded and tacked it into place to show both sides.

I feel the urge for some crazy quilting coming on!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Portuguese Embroidery

A very good friend sent me these pictures from a recent trip she made to Portugal. The pictures are of antique embroidery in Alentejo, Portugal.

This first one is intriguing, with the photos stitched in place on it. At least it looks to me like they are stitched on.

My initial inclination would be to print the photo onto fabric but I like the contrast in texture with the paper print.

The other three pieces are even more intriguing--they are made using chestnut skins. From what I can tell, the skins are cut into shapes and stitched down to the fabric.

They're combined with other embroidery stitches, ribbon embroidery, and photos to make really interesting pieces. The chestnut skins have a bit of a sheen and are somewhat similar to the photo paper. I have no idea what the very shiny material is in the red picture

My friend was on tour and didn't have the opportunity to ask more questions about the embroideries. She knew I'd be interested so she took the pictures and sent them on to me. I tried to search information but I don't have the name of the embroidery so I didn't have any luck.

As in most places, there is at least the perception that women no longer have time to stitch. However, my friend indicated that there was a needlework shop there--in an area where there weren't too many shops. It is an undeveloped region, but needlework is something they did have.

If you know anything about this type of work, please let us know!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More anniversary and stuff

Here's a photo of my anniversary flowers (along with some of our other plants in the kitchen). They are really pretty. My dh also scrubbed the bathroom, vacuumed, and we cooked dinner (tacos) together on our anniversary. It was a nice, relaxing evening. Oh, and he shaved, something he likes to avoid doing.

This weekend we had summery weather, almost hot. Saturday we went to downtown Hammond to what we thought would be a car show. Not many cars showed up but the Bizarre Bazaar had a community flea market, some local artists booths, a hot-salsa eating contest from El Taco Real (one of my favorite places) and great music from the Northwest Indiana Symphony. We did a really fun architectural scavenger hunt with clues you had to find on local buildings. A bit of history was provided for each of the locations.

Sunday we went to the Park Forest Art Fair. The fair is always a fun one and we've gone for ages. We thought the crowd of shoppers was noticeably smaller than in previous visits--probably the economy.

When I had some spare time, I stitched up this pumpkin mat. After I took this photo, I added a ribbon loop at the top so I can hang this. We don't have empty horizontal surfaces for mats.

The design is by Wooden Spool Designs (Thanksgiving Pumpkin) and was kitted by Erica's. In addition to the black perle cotton called for by the pattern, the kit included a skein of watercolors. (The ribbon I used for a hanging loop was actually the ribbon that tied the kit together!) The kit was very generous and I've cut out another kit I got on our August trip there. This one is a spring chick with an umbrella.

To continue my fun interlude and extend the weekend, I had dinner last night with a friend. Every time I do this, I tell myself I should find time to do it more often. I had a great deal of fun and talked her ears off (sorry!). It's just too much fun to visit with someone who has many of the same interests and tastes, stash piles and book stacks. Not too many people are willing to engage in serious discussions comparing various fusible web products! A.C.--we'll have to do this again!

Last, JLC Studios turned me on to this great time waster. Make Your Own Snowflake. It creates images somewhat similar to those I mentioned a couple of months ago with the kaleidoscope program. These rotate, too, forming new papers but this site also does a 3-D spin. Wicked!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Thanks go to Pat at Gatherings for the idea for my anniversary card. She came up with her puzzle piece swap just about the time I was looking for something to do to celebrate our 32d anniversary.

We have concert tickets for November but I was looking for something for today. Initially I was going to stitch two puzzle pieces that fit together, but time was tight so I made a watercolor. Two, in fact. It doesn't show in the photo but the puzzle pieces are about 1/2" above the background--I used folded paper strips to give some depth. The two pictures follow the same general outline of bands (dunes grass, sand, water and sky) but the proportions are different as are the colors.

I was also going to have two separate pieces that fit together but once it was done it seemed better to leave them together. I wrote a bit on the back.

I never would have thought to do something like this before taking SharonB's Studio Journals class, which got me back into working with paints and such. I used watercolor pencils and a new "water pen" I have to create my paintings. I find I have much more control than with "real" watercolors. I did a layer, wet and blended it. Added another layer on top and blended it. Then added a layer which I didn't blend. I only have about a dozen watercolor pencils and I got loads of different colors by blending.

Then I scribbled on top with a Pigma pen to make the dunes grass and plants. The outline is a black Sharpie outlined all around with a silver Sharpie. Now I'm going to head home for our evening together!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September TIF done

Here's my September TIF journal page on lists, all done, early for a change!

I stitched my chain of lists in a random order and intertwined them a bit when I stitched them to the background. The binding loops are more selvedge strips.

The top and bottom edges are "finished" edges of selvedge strips. I left the sides unfinished. I was going to bind them and then I realized, lists are never done, they're never finished, so I left the sides unfinished.

There's more description of the selvedge background in my previous posting.

It's certainly colorful, a bit raggedy feeling and uncharacteristic for me and to get myself back to my comfort zone I added a plain backing of tan felt, attached with buttonhole stitch in red perle cotton. I wrote the title with a Sharpie. I can now check this off of my to-do list!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September TIF underway

I've finally gotten underway with my September project. It's been pretty much a one-step-at-a-time project. I realized my problem with lists is that I have really mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, they are a huge help for someone with the memory of a gnat. On the other, they sit there on my desk and just nag at me endlessly, all these lists of things that really need to be done. Sometimes I write down things I've already done so I have something to cross off!

I began with the selvedge meaning of list that many of us liked. I shipped selvedges from fabrics lying about and overlapped them and stitched them to stiff felt with a running stitch. In a way, they make their own list--of projects I've completed and those waiting to be done.

That's the photo here.

Then I took a sheet of plain paper and wrote down all of these lists--the good ones and the nagging ones--shopping lists, to-do lists, supply lists, chore lists, book lists, instruction lists, member lists, lists of things I want to do, lists of things I should be doing. I used gloss gel medium to back the paper with some muslin that I'd used as a paint rag--I like the random splotches but never quite know what to do with it other than backing things. In keeping with the randomness of this month, I used an old catalog to keep glue off the counter and some of the images transferred ink splotches to the list.

Then I cut the list into strips and will make them up into a chain--the chains that keep me going and together or the chains that weight me down with shoulds. I'm not sure how this will work or how I'll attach the chain to the background but, as I said, it's a step-by-step process this time. I don't think it's going to be really readable, but I think that's okay.

This month I've noticed I've integrated the TIF project fully into my life. At first, it was overwhelming and seemed to be all I thought about or did. I was exhausted at the end of January! Now it's just part of the flow of my days. I don't think I really think about it less overall. Perhaps the designs are a little less time-consumingly stitched. I already know a lot about the engineering of the pages and don't have to spend as much time on it.

I am very much more relaxed about the whole process. At the beginning of the year I was in a panic until I came up with a viable idea. Now I'm trying to work with the ideas a bit more, at least on a conceptual level. And if one doesn't manifest immediately, I keep trying to look at the question from different angles and see what I learn.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

not much going on

This is a busy week, another conference coming up at the end of the month and lots of evening activities, so I'm not home much and not stitching much. I worked some last night on the Hardanger piece I'm testing for my EGA chapter.

Monday night was the dinner meeting for the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild and we had our summer challenge unveiling. I must say, my little half butterfly was the least impressive item on the table. And I was pretty pleased with it!

Everyone else did full butterflies. I opted for the half so it would be small enough to be worn as a pin plus, to be honest, I knew I'd never have the time to complete a whole one.

There were some gorgeous pieces. J beaded a two-sided neck pouch with amazing butterflies, lush fringe and a lovely cord. C. made a pastel linen six-sided box with half a butterfly on each triangular top piece so when it's together there are three full butterflies. It was very elegant. I wish I'd brought my camera.

These are photos of the encaustic screen I got. This is the front. They do not show it off well at all but were the best I could get on a cloudy day. The screens are somewhat translucent so the sun coming through them is glorious.

Here's the back side, which is also lovely.

The http://www.tallgrassarts.org/ Shop had a lot of really lovely examples, many set on glass shelves in the windows to really show them off. I had a hard time picking just one!

My husband says now I'm an art collector!

Speaking of my sweetie, our 32d wedding anniversary is a week from today. We have tickets to a concert in November (Leo Kottke at the College of DuPage) but I'd like to make something small and right now I'm totally blank...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What I've been doing lately

Not much, really. Here's the partially complete sampler from Plimoth. It's so-so, imho. It's been a real learning experience, I can say that. And I'm really pleased with each bit I complete. The instructions are amazing--clear and detailed. They are by Tricia Wilson Nguyen.

I've learned how to rip out each of the stitches, which is kind of my gauge for having learned something--if you can rip it, then you know it. I have the round circle on the right to fill in and two wings on the bottom to do. I may still rip that braid stitch out again and have another go. It's as curvey and uneven as my spine! (lower right) It's waiting for the weekend and quiet time.

This piece is the beginning of a Hardanger piece my EGA chapter will be teaching for Indiana State Day in a couple of years. I'm one of many testing out the pattern. Of course, I'm not using the color or size of linen specified--I had 24 count pale gray linen in my stash and didn't have 28 count beige linen.

I'm also not using some of the recommended fibers. And I've already begun changing where some minor elements are placed because I disagree with the designer (who is a good friend of mine). For me this is part of the process of testing directions--I hope my friend agrees!

I did something similar with the last State Day project we did about ten years ago. It was a pulled thread sampler. I finally did a model on the recommended linen with the recommended fibers but looking at it closely recently I realized I made a number of changes in color placement and added a couple of elements. I just can't leave it alone. The first piece I did testing this long-ago design used totally different materials and I made a lot of changes.

It's fun now that I'm stitching--I spent an entire evening basting the guidelines! None of this hard work showed up in the photo. I learned long ago to use a basting thread close to the color of the fabric--too much contrast and it can be hard to get rid of all traces of the basting when you remove it.

My tip for Hardanger--watch the back. For some reason it is much easier to see where your stitches are--and whey they go astray--when you look the back. This is especially true with buttonhole stitches--it's much easier to see what's what without the buttonhole edging in the way.

I won't be showing this again as we want to keep it a surprise, at least for now that's the plan. Web in an Autumn Garden is the name and if you're in an Indiana EGA chapter, watch for our announcements.

Saturday we went to a local gallery, Tallgrass, in Park Forest, IL. They have a very nice show of landscapes called This Good Earth. While there we bought a small oil and encaustic painting and a watercolor and encaustic miniscreen. The artist is Jenny Learner and you can see more of her very interesting work here.

On Sunday we went to a British car show out near Palos. Old and new, big and little cars made in the United Kingdom. Our friends brought a Hillman Imp. MGs, Triumphs, Jaguars and Rolls Royces. It was pretty cool but I'm not big into the car thing (a nice stroll on a sunny day is the appeal for me). But I did spot this lovely crazing and rust on a car in a "before" display for a restoration company.

Friday, September 5, 2008


It's been a quiet week and I haven't been stitching or home much at all to do anything. This month's TIF challenge is lists. When I looked it up, the dictionaries only had list (singular). There were some very interesting definitions...here's my list of what I found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Hearing; the sense of hearing. to have or give a list: to give ear, be attentive, keep silence.
Art, craft, cunning. Also phr. by or with list.
Border, edging, strip. a. gen. A border, hem, bordering strip. Obs.
Pleasure, joy, delight; Appetite, craving; desire, longing; inclination.
The careening or inclination of a ship to one side; A leaning over (of a building, etc.).
A catalogue or roll consisting of a row or series of names, figures, words, or the like. In early use, esp. a catalogue of the names of persons engaged in the same duties or connected with the same object; spec. a catalogue of the soldiers of an army or of a particular arm; also in phr. in or within the list(s, in list
The flank (of pork); a long piece cut from the gammon

Ready, quick (esp. of hearing). Also applied to rooms, etc. in which one hears well.

Some of these are appealing, especially the first few, but I know that those meanings were not Sharon's when she said "Lists." So I'm going to go home and cogitate.

I think I'm so imbued with lists and listing things that I can't see the forest for the trees.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

pincushion giveaway

I'm sorry for the long delay. It wasn't as long as it could have been!My computer crashed Tuesday morning 8-( Our very good tech people had it wiped and reinstalled by late yesterday afternoon. I'm sure it this was my home machine, I'd still be waiting.

Anyway, I had one of our researchers here do the draw, so it would be totally impartial. I cut paper strips with everyone's name and put them into my hat for Laura to draw. The winner is:

Jo in NZ!

Now that I'm this far into it, I'm not sure the best way to proceed. Jo, I've noticed you've done giveaways. Would you please comment and we can sort out how to share addresses, etc.

I've been working on things but have nothing to show. I completed my summer challenge for a group I'm in (they provided a butterfly chart with no key--you had to make up your own). I'm pleased but can't show it until after our meeting next week.

I've been struggling with the sample for Plimoth Plantation's jacket project. It's small samples of 17th century embroidery techniques using similar materials. Little bitty spaces, little tiny stitches, and what seems to be great huge thread (soie perlee) to make those teeny stitches with. I did okay with reverse chain, back stitch, and detached buttonhole but some of the othes are not going so well. With these loopy stitches it's all about tension. (and being able to see such tiny bits!).