Thursday, November 27, 2008

November TIF progress

My November TIF project is finally underway. I’m feeling my way here and I think I should have set it up differently perhaps. First, I tacked my paper form to the ground fabric, using the floche I’ll stitch with. I think perhaps I should have used something thinner. Then I basted the ground fabric to muslin. Which I probably should have done before basting the letters on. Here’s a picture of the basted piece, ready to go.

When I was at Designer's Desk in Geneva, I had walls of fibers to choose from (literally, there are moving pegboard panels four deep along two walls of a room, loaded top to bottom with fibers. A third wall is cabinets and more pegboards. And the DMC and Anchor flosses and perle cottons are in boxes elsewhere).

I like floche for satin stitch and they have a good variety to choose from. I brought my rust-dyed fabric with, thinking I'd go with a dark brown color. But the blue just jumped onto my fabric. A rich, royal blue. I also got a nicely complementary rust, in case I want to add some touches in that.

I began stitching on Monday night. It’s a bit awkward working with the paper but I think it can also help make some nice satin stitches. I’m using floche and that helps, too.

Here’s a photo of the progress I made on Monday. I began stitching in two places, to try and get the paper firmly onto the fabric. I have removed some of the basting as I’ve stitched. Mostly because the stitches holding the paper are made too far from the edges of the paper and thus stick out.

It’s tough going. The rust-dyed fabric is a bit heavier than the cotton I’ve hand quilted before and I’m finding my hands hurt after a couple of hours of stitching. But so far, so good. I hope to finish it this weekend.

Right now I'm planning to do the letters all in the one shade of blue, so the graphic effect will be similar to the maroon. (It's on maroon paper because that's the cover stock they were throwing away that I grabbed to use for projects like this--it's white on one side and shiny maroon on the other and will go through the copier and print on the white side.)

I did some searching online to see if I could find any photos of the small monogram letters of pressed paper used like I'm using my huge one, but I didn't find any. I remember seeing a box full of little glassine bags and each had several heavy card letters in an Old English or Germanic font for monograms. I've also seen them in a script type. The letters were rounded in the center of each stroke and would work like pad stitching. The largest were maybe an inch high. The instructions said to baste them onto the ground fabric and then satin stitch over them. I can't imagine they would be washable but many of the clothes in the 19th century were not washable.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

finishing small projects

Last weekend, after my big day out on Friday, I got some things done at home. I’ve been sorting through some old stuff and found some things to finish. I made a eyeglasses holder using Chinese knots (and instructions and a form from the Japanese company, Clover), and made this bright red knot in order to learn how to do the knots so I could make the eyeglasses holder.

I finished taming the wild scrap felt ball I made a few weeks back. I trimmed each bit of felt into a little circle and pinned them all on like sequins. I'm much happier.

A while back I had gotten a kit for needlefelting birds from A Child's Dream Come True website, along with a book on felted animals. Backyard Birds is the kit and it was put out by Black Sheep Designs. The instructions are clear and my first two birds went well. They were also much quicker to do than I'd expected. (the nest is also from the kit.) I have two more birds to do and then hope to attempt some other animals, all for holiday gifts.

I found a bunch of Classic Stitches and Needlecraft magazines that had little kits on the front of them. Here’s one I made up with an Autumn scene. I’ve completed another with some yellow ribbon flowers and begun some green and gold gift tags from yet another. They're all from the 1990s.

I found a large baggie of felt and metal goodies from Art Girlz that I'd purchased at the quilt show in April. I made up this cone doll for a niece, complete with wild hair and cowboy boots. I also swapped out the crown that was in the kit for another that I'd gotten that says "be bold." I have some materials for another cone doll and some faces and hands I plan to use for more comfort dolls.

And last, here’s a small (the maximum size was to be 2", this is a little less) sample of oyster stitch I made on Sunday evening for my EGA chapter’s forthcoming cookbook. Many of us are stitching small samples for the divider pages. I like oyster stitch. It was supposed to be on 32 count linen but I didn't have that so I think this is 28 count. It is not counted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my favorite holiday (although I haven't met a holiday I didn't like) and I think that's true for many people I know. It's important to take some time occasionally and pay attention to the things we are thankful for.

I have more things I'm thankful for than I can list: my husband, family, that everyone's healthy (more or less), good friends, a job (more, a job I enjoy), great coworkers, a home and food for the table, embroidery, the bright berries on the bush by the parking lot, even the sparkly frost on my car windows this morning...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day if you're in the U.S., feel free to share our holiday if you live elsewhere. Thank you for enriching my life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shopping Day!

I had a shopping day out on Friday. It was a long day and I was exhausted when I got home, but also very satisfied. I had to go to Geneva, IL to get a new set of allergy shot vials from my doctor there. Usually when I head that way, I’ll make plans to see my sister but she had to work on Friday. We did a drop-n-swap at the doctor’s office (her doctor, too). I picked up my niece’s Christmas stocking (more on that later) and left a bag with Bubble Jet Set.

I headed out at about 6:20a.m.—way before my usual time. I watched the sun come up behind me as I drove west. I got to Geneva (about 65 miles) in time to stop at Panera for breakfast: an artichoke/spinach egg souffle and a huge cup of Earl Gray tea. (I checked out the nutrition information on that souffle and don’t think I’ll ever be having one of those again! But it was yummy!) After that I headed to the doctor’s office. I got my new vials and saw the doc for an annual “state of the allergies” check. Business done—playtime!

First I drove across the street to Coldwater Creek. I had a coupon burning a hole in my pocket. I found a lovely reversible jacket and gift for my sister-in-law. Then across the mall to Crate & Barrel. Here I had a gift card and I got a few more gifts and some kitchen scrubby sponges for us. I had $.03 left on my gift card when done.

Back to business. I headed north to St. Charles and Blue Goose where we buy Bell & Evans organic chickens. I’d brought a cooler and I stocked up. I also found a couple of food items for gifts. Back north to Geneva and Designer’s Desk.

I’d been there once since they had moved from Bloomingdale but that time hubby was waiting in the car. This time I took my time. I couldn't find a website for them but they are a really wonderful needlepoint and cross stitch stop with every fiber imaginable. Even the basement sale area is a delight.

My niece (of the stocking) has asked me to make her hubby a stocking. This was my first stop, to see if I could find some threads. When they were born, I made each niece and nephew a cross stitch and strip pieced very large Christmas stocking. My niece’s, made 22 years ago, featured her name and an angel in cross stitch. I’m going to satin stitch the name on this new one with perhaps some ribbon embroidery for a couple of designs. No lace. Bright red and green colors. (I don’t have a picture of the stocking and will try and get one later on.)

I also wanted to find some floche to use on this month’s TIF project. And I just wanted to bask in all of the fiberly goodness.

I splurged and purchased a spool of Gilt Silk Twist—purple. To accompany it, I chose a selection of coordinating threads from the sale room. I’m thinking a crewel type design with a pomegranate in detached buttonhole from the SGT.

Then it was time for lunch, phew! I walked up the street, window shopping all the way (Geneva, IL is full of lovely shops if you're a shopper or even a browser, I'm not really but don't mind window shopping) to Matsuri’s and had California roll, miso soup and tea.

On the stroll back to my car, I stopped in at Graham’s fine chocolates and ice cream. My brother-in-law loves the place and my brother is pretty fond of it, too. I got gift certificates for presents for them and a piece of dark chocolate toffee for me. I also found this nifty Advent calendar.

As I headed out of Geneva I stopped at American Science and Surplus. It’s a rather indescribable place but their website give a good feel for it. I get stocking stuffers there, odd things and some useful things.

This time I got bags of marbles for the guys' Christmas stockings, some other cool things, and sequin waste (also called punchinello). This is a long band of metalicized plastic with holes punched in it from where the sequins were punched out. I’ve seen some lovely things stitched with it couched down but it also makes a great stencil for printing fabric using paints, paint sticks, etc. I’ve long wanted some to play with and at $.50 for a package of three really long strips, I couldn’t pass it up. I got two packages! (there were different colors in each package but it doesn't really matter because the colors are really garish.

I head back south and east toward Naperville. My first stop there was at Stitches and Stuffing. I found some fabrics in my stash that I’d used in my nieces original stocking but I need more to fill it out. I got a solid rich red and a white-on-white “snowball” print to use as background for embroidery. I also found a couple of patterns I couldn’t pass up.

I went into downtown Naperville to stop at Penzey’s Spices to pick up some thyme and pepper. (I use a lot of pepper!) I've bought my spices from Penzey's since the late 70s or very early 80s.

My last stop was at Peaceful Heart fabrics. I got there just before they were closing and got some candystriped twill tape and a couple of holiday print fabrics. And some wool felt. They had a nice color selection in pieces in a variety of sizes. It was after five when I left. (This shop is well worth a visit--on my first visit there I found myself in the middle of a frenzied sale and all of the clerks were these islands of calmness and serenity. They are also the friendliest staff I've met, ever.)

I hit heavy traffic on my way home and got off to take a short drive through the Bolingbrook Mall to see what it was like. Then I got back on the road and back into more backed up traffic. I got off early and swung by Jo-Ann's to pick up some card blanks, see if they had ribbon I could use (they didn't) and to see if they had some prequilted Christmas fabrics to use for backing the stocking (if the did, I didn't see it). I got home a little after 7pm. I unpacked, put the food in the ‘fridge, and collapsed.

I'm happy I've gotten a start on my holiday shopping. I also found myself really getting into the mood of the season. And I've gotten fabrics and fibers together to get going on some projects. All in all a good day.

Bookworm Award

Pat Winter tagged me for the Bookworm Award
The rules for this award are:

Open the book closest to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, and turn to page 56.

Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

And pass the award on to five blogging friends.

Pat suggested I might have a law book nearby. Well, I do, I’m surrounded by them since my office is a law library and my office shelves are full of books and journals. However, the book on my desk right now is the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. Which does not have five sentences on page 56, because it is the tail end of a chapter. It’s also boring.

The second closest book is the novel I brought to read at lunch. It’s sitting on the back desk. That has a much better page 56. Here are sentences five and six: “Her head bent in mute acknowledgment and she made no demur at the soft, loving intimacy of the name. He drew her backward to the divan, pressed her into the cushions.” (Bold Destiny by Jane Feather)

I pass this award onto Leila at Stitches of Life II where she writes about her reading, World Embroideries we pass books back and forth but who knows what she's reading now, Averyclaire because I’d like to know what she’s reading, and From Somewhere in Time another person always surrounded by books and who finds really interesting things to read. I know that’s only four but that’s all I can come up with today.

I would love to know what you're reading now but don't feel the need to pass this on. I have really mixed feelings about "chain letters" and "awards." This one seems interesting and piqued my curiosity.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We had a blast last night at the circus! Many of my pictures are blurred due to the dim light and contstant movement. But I think they're still fun.
And, of course, being me, I was fascinated by the racks of brightly colored and spangled costumes they had out for children to try on before the show. . . My sweetie watching the show above us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

not much going on

I didn't stitch much at all this weekend so I don't have anything to show. I've been doing some cleaning and sorting in the basement. (Anyone want any cross stitch, beading, needlepoint, crafts or other magazines? I'm up to three copier paper boxes that I want to move out.) I did redo the spiky ornament from my last post. I cut each of the pieces of felt into little circles and pinned them on like sequins. I like it much better. But I don't have a photo yet.

We also went to a concert, not our usual activity. It was a belated anniversary gift to ourselves (32 years in September when the tickets went on sale). We saw Leo Kottke and Loudon Wainright III. Here's Leo pretty much exactly as we saw him (from a fan site). We're big fans. We'd never seen Loudon Wainwright III before; I don't think I've ever laughed so much. His songs were poignant and sad and angry and very funny all at the same time.

I did have my computer at home to work and played a bit with PhotoShop and the initials I am going to stitch for this month's Take It Further project. (above) I had a great time playing with them. Here are the results. The last image was made when I took one of the images with four pairs of letters, rotated it 15 degrees and then cropped a section. I rotated it to loose some of the sense formal balance when cropped.

Tomorrow we're going to the circus--our holiday gift to each other! I can't wait.

Friday, November 14, 2008

rose ornament

Last week I found a tutorial for a pomander that struck my fancy. It was on Betz White's blog. The tutorial was in a slide show format, which meant I couldn't print it out so I took some notes and then played this weekend. My notes weren't great but I'm not one to follow directions well, anyway.

I used generic Jo-Ann's felt (not 100% wool), golden pearly-headed pins, and 3" and 2" Styrofoam balls. The tutorial said to glue the flowers. I stitched them. I'm just not that neat with glue and glue and fabric just don't mix for me. I enjoyed stitching and molding the flowers as I went and am quite happy with the results.

The first ball is larger, made using a 3" ball. It took more roses to cover but I like the proportions. The second ornament is done on a 2" ball. When I added the hanging cord (I used gold ribbon I had on hand), I added jingle bells to the bottom because I want to use the balls as ornaments. For the two balls, I used five sheets of felt for the roses (pale pink, hot pink, red, yellow and orange) and two sheets of green (I only used a little of the green, for leaves). With a sprig of mistletoe pinned to the bottom, they would make nice kissing balls.

The rose that Betz taught in the tutorial is a very nice rose that is simple to make. I've been thinking about what I want to do with the extra roses I have. I may use them for a small corsage-like brooch. I like the look of the pin in the center of the flower so I'll need to find some similar beads to add. They'd also go nice at the end of a hair clip.

This last globe is the product of hating to waste anything. I love how these colors look together and was sad when I ran out of felt. So I took all the scraps from cutting the circles for the roses and pinned them randomly to a ball. I just kept adding more and more scraps. At first it looked really mangy but as I added scraps it got a bit better. I still haven't decided if it's ugly enough to be cute. I don't think so. In any case, it will be simple to unpin the scraps. I have had the thought of unpinning the scraps and cutting them into small circles and then covering the ball with this "confetti." I think it would look rather like those sequin covered balls from the 50s and 60s, without the glitz.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Photos from last weekend

Last weekend was pretty quiet. Wintry weather hit our area and it was chilly, dark and damp. I had some nice quiet time Saturday morning to finally finish my sample piece for the Plimoth 17th Century jacket embroidery project. It was quite a challenge for me but I really enjoyed it. I don't feel competent with any of the stitches, but I do have a better understanding of them. Now I can make my bee!

I haven't yet sent this off to Plimoth, but will. I'm too late to stitch on the jacket, but the notes say they will display some of these sample pieces in the final exhibit. So I've made up my label and have it ready, but just can't quite part with it yet.

I believe you can still obtain these kits. They're well worth it--you get great instructions and materials plus the chance to help out a wonderful cause.

You can help them even more...their blog just announced they are taking orders for the new Janet Arnold book, Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660. I have one of her other books and it's really interesting. I think the items in this one are even more interesting. (To order, you can access the mail order gift shop through the website at You can also contact the retail department directly at 1-800-262-9356 X 8204 or X 8332 Nicole Hallahan is in charge of retail mail order and you can reach her at

Sunday, at the antique show, I found a few goodies besides my needlework booklets. First, I found the photo of this charmer holding his apple. He looks so serious! I really like these pictures of children. I know it's more from having to be still so long for the photo, but, still, I find their serious little faces charming. I've been thinking about what other objects I might be able to place in his hand. Now, if only there was more time in a day so I could do everything I want to do.

In a holiday mood, I purchased these loose garland beads. I had a notion to add them to holiday decorations of some sort (no plans as yet).

And last, I couldn't pass up this hand embroidered kitchen set from the 60s or 70s.

It will be perfect for the next bridal shower I attend (not that I have any in the offing, but you never know). The set comprises two of these pot holders, two towels, an apron and a toaster cover. All with the red trim and charming embroidery. The other pieces have a vaguely chicken or rooster motif. They look unused. It was a bargain and I couldn't pass it up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mostly Take It Further

A trip to an antique show this weekend sparked an idea. While browsing I found two issues of Corticelli's needlework publication, 1898 and 1899. This photo shows the front of one and the back of the other. I love these publications.

Each one features different stitches. They often include common stitches with uncommon (today) names and also stitches I've never seen elsewhere. The color images are mostly of needlepainted flowers.

At the back of one of the issues, there was an article about crocheting over oval and circular shapes and appliqueing them to fabric for sort of a lace effect. It wasn't terribly appealing but it began a thought train.

In the past, in various antiques shops, I've seen envelopes with small card initials that were made to be stitched over on fabric. I assume the cardboard would act like the padding for padded satin stitch. It gave a more integrated but similar effect to the oval and round pieces used in the booklet.

I made some intertwined initials, playing around with this month's TIF, and liked the idea of a monogram like this.

I'd like it to be large, to fill the journal page but also knew I'd never get so much stitching done in padded satin stitch. So then I thought about the cardboard thing. And decided to use that as a technique. I've printed the intertwined initials below onto cover weight paper and plan to stitch over that for my page this month.

I think I may use the bok choy "rose" printed fabric I made recently (here) as the background fabric. I'm not quite sure yet what colors I will use for the initials. White is traditional and I think perhaps two very pale tints might be fresh, but I like the contrast in the artwork and want to preserve that. I'll have to play with flosses. I do think I will use plain solid color floss on the busy background.

Now that I have a plan, I need to get to work!

P.S. I often post these photos and additional photos to my Flickr page: Marjorie from Illinois. Photos are often there days before they make it up here.