Friday, May 30, 2008
Not only are they fun but they recycle: The ones with green bottoms are made over bottle caps and the little pink pincushion fits on your finger and is made from a plastic pull tab. I'm not out of bases and tabs! Oh, and I filled them with bits of minced up wool felt scraps or the cotton from the top of my vitamin bottles (it's real cotton).
I made all three last night. One went into the mail this morning and another was given as a gift this afternoon. I wanted to get these done for those purposes, so they're simple, but, oh, the ideas! I think I may have seen a bottle cap lurking in the recycle bin!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So I decided to take a side trip into Chinese embroidery. When I think of Chinese embroidery, I tend to envision something like this first piece. I might also envision some of the lovely two-sided embroideries that I've seen. A Chicago museum once had someone who was showing how it was done--it was amazing! Or perhaps some of the embroideries I've seen on clothing and those tiny shoes.
The embroidery I could find on the web seems to primarily be a commercial endeavor, which isn't really surprising.
At Marla Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs I found a lovely page on the infamous Forbidden Stitch in Chinese Embroidery with a variety of knot stitch diagrams. The Travel China Guide has a page with an overview of embroidery in China and some of the popular regional styles. I found this interesting article on Chinese Hair Embroidery. ChinaCulture.org has a longer article on Chinese embroidery with examples of the four best-known styles.
I used to have a book of Chinese counted cross stitch designs that was titled something like Blue and White but I couldn’t find a listing for it online and the only article I could find was solely the table of contents listing for an article in Piecework. I remember reading quite a bit about it in the 1980s.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Please come and join the festivities, a joyous blog party happening August 1- October 15, 2008 on our blogs and in our homes. Mark those calendars to attend an event orchestrated by The Pink Artists to raise awareness & donations for breast cancer research.
We're fighting back with ART! Won't you join us?
The flower spray reminded me of the famous Shaker tree of life image as I was working it. This one is an adaptation used as the logo for Shaker Workshops.
It was a nice three-day break. A nephew graduated high school (woo-hoo!). We got some yard work done and also some work on the cars (my task was mostly to watch from the sidelines but I also helped haul things like jack-stands from the garage at the back to the street out front). We went and saw the new Indiana Jones movie (liked it). We also went to the cemetery, watched a lot of old Father Ted videos (love them; thanks Jenny!) and I got some stitching done. You'll notice that chores and laundry are missing from the list.
Rather than getting back to my now overdue graduation sampler for my nephew, which has been languishing in a pile, I took off on a new project. I began weaving on a purse loom I recently purchased from Spring Beauty Farm. You weave a 3-D shape on this loom, with an open top. The warp is held by the pegs at the top. I've woven the bottom of my purse and am now working up the sides, using a skein of Noro Silk Garden that was handy. I'm not at all sure what I'm doing, but I'm having fun and my overused and abused left thumb is much happier holding this than it is holding fabric or a frame these days. The purse looms come in three sizes and are lovingly handmade.
As I'm weaving, I'm imagining the possibilities with wrapping, beads, tapestry weave. Right now I'm just doing plain weave, to try and get the turns and corners sorted.
Friday, May 23, 2008
At the end of seminar I was hanging around, helping pack up, and happened to be handy when the question of what to do with the big bag of leftover tassles came up. They were lovely wooly tassels made as gifts for attendees and also used in matched pairs for the bag check. I offered to take care of them and use them for Camp Quality. So we had tassels.
When I shared the good news at a chapter meeting, the consensus was bookmarks. The children like plastic canvas so a bookmark with a colorful tassel was planned. Joyce gave me a lovely sample of designs on plastic canvas that she used for a workshop at another EGA chapter. We were on our way.
Then two things happened at about the same time. We were told our theme was Paris and France and all things French. And we were given a second donation, from a large donation made to the guild, of no-fray Aida cloth. A whole lot of no-fray Aida cloth. So now we have bookmarks in Aida cloth, not plastic canvas, and with a Paris theme.
Another chapter member made a lovely plastic canvas Eiffel tower cut-out design and got it to me along with the drawing she used for inspiration. I thought it was really cool so I took that and made a paper pattern. Then I put the pattern on the Aida and cut out large Eiffel Tower shaped bookmarks.
I put a hole at the top so we can add our tassels. I think I have just about enough Aida cloth to make enough (usually there's around 60 children--what's saddest is there's always a waiting list!)
I also cut some square bookmarks, too, from the extra pieces of fabric. Perhaps someone can chart out a simple back stitch Eiffel Tower and the word Paris. Or a fleur de lis. What else is Paris?
I got four Eiffel Towers from one piece of Aida (three shown here). I have red, green and pale blue so the bookmarks will be colorful. The tassels are each a solid color but there are many colors in the collection. (It looks like they were made from donated Persian needlepoint wools so the colors are fairly subdued.)
The last piece of the puzzle for this year's project is to find some thread for stitching. I had said I'd contact DMC but I haven't. The project kept evolving and when asking for donations, it helps to be very specific and clear. Since it's Aida we can use floss and so I plan to hit up our membership once again for donations. (they should be used to this by now!)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Each issue has more lovely designs and ideas than the last, although it doesn’t seem possible. I get my copies by a subscription with The Wooly Thread. This is a lovely online shop and Jan is a delight to work with. It’s not easy to find crewel supplies (at least not near where I live) and Jan has them. It’s really fun and convenient to have a subscription to Inspirations through Wooly Thread—I always know when to expect my issue and they come really nicely packaged and in perfect condition.
I’m getting to the age when I’m not quite as thrilled by new magazines as I once was. I now enough projects going to keep me busy for the next twenty years or so. I don’t necessarily need new ideas. But I must say I don’t think I’d ever want to give up Inspirations or Stitch with the Embroiderer’s Guild.
The mail also provided another goodie for me last night. My friend Carol send a really lovely skein of pink and mauve overdyed floss from Valdani Hand. The tag says “Creating Art” which I love. It’s a cool website and I hope to have time to explore it further soon. My color is one of the lovely "Muddy Monet" collection which seems to be a strange name for some really lovely colors.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I've been leading this project for the last few years and this is very late to get going on it, although we have had some ideas to work with and materials donated. Before talking about this year's project, I thought I'd share some past projects. The labor and most of the materials are donated by members. Many also take time off of work to go to camp and teach.
This mass of stuff is a collection of belts made from Zweigart Stitch band, baggies with floss and a needle, and pattern charts we made up with some motifs, alphabets and space for the children to chart their own name. The stitch taught was cross stitch. Many thanks go to Zweigart and Susan Johnson of SJ Designs for help in obtaining the Stitchband fabric. The belt buckles are D-rings.
In 2006 the theme for our day was Hollywood so we created totebags based on the "walk of fame." On one side we ironed on a star in advance. At camp the children wrote their name there. We had a variety of fibers and big buttons for them to use to decorate their bags. On the blank size we traced the child's hands and helped them couch metallic cording around the outline. We had other fibers to couch around the star if they wanted. We taught couching and how to sew on a button.
One of our most popular projects was a journal cover. We bought spiral journals at a discount store and used our Jo-Ann's coupons to get loads of felt. We did some of the finishing stitching as prework so the project would be quick to complete. We also used cookie-cutters as patterns to cut out all sorts of felt Halloween shapes, our theme for that year. We had some perle cotton for stitching and Kreinik generously donated a whole lot of glow-in-the-dark metallics to really make the covers pop! This cover was stitched as a sample by a NANI chapter member, Carol.
The children got very creative with this one. Some even used extra felt to carefully cut out their names and apply the pieces to the felt. We taught applique and the buttonhole stitch.
The final photo is one example of a project done with plastic canvas. The children get very creative with the canvas and do some lovely things with their stitching. This colorful box was conceived, I believe, by Tina, a former member of NANI.
These are just a few of the projects we've made with the children at camp over the last 10+ years.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The hand got quite 3-D and is completed. I just need to stitch it to the backing. I want to tuck some leaves in under the fingers and they're not stitched yet, do it's waiting. This is the backing I plan to use.
I've also completed some of the leaves for the bottom of the hand. The cluster on the left is complete and stitched together. Those on the right are in process--the dark leaf hasn't been stitched yet (rather, it's been stitched and ripped because I didn't like it). They're pinned together in close proximity to the final arrangement.
I'm using mostly DMC perle coton #5 and #8 and Medici wool, but I've also pulled out some lovely Needle Necessities overdyed perle #8 and some Steph Francis fibers that I got in England a few years back. They're subtly overdyed.
I've also tried some new stitches: including a Spanish knotted feather stitch but I find myself going back over and over to straight, chain, and stem stitches, and French knots--the basics. I used some feather stitching, coral stitch, and Portuguese knotted stem stitch and variations like tiwsted chain, but I've also ripped them out and gone back to simple chain and stem.
Have you ever found that you've gathered together a wide range of fibers and then you work mainly with floss and perle? And you have to learn all the new stitches but keep going back to the basic ones?
Friday, May 16, 2008
I would put it in the science-fiction/fantasy genre but it's a good story, no matter how it's categorized. Dan's quite a character and he's created some really interesting ones for his book. More on Dan and his book here and here. The Amazon.com link. Barnes and Noble. Borders.
I read bits and pieces of various versions of the book and am looking forward to sitting down and reading the whole thing. (I expect to pick up an autographed copy from the author himself tomorrow.)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I've learned when working with layers of felt like this you need to start with the top layer and work down. So that's my plan.
This took more trial and error than I had expected and I now have several felt hands and fingers, hearts and paisleys in various colors in my scrap bin.
I also went down and pulled out some pastel Medici wools to work with, too. I'm not sure what I'll use when I begin stitching. Probably a combination. I still need a pupil for my eye.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
This may be my passion but it's not my career and I'm not exhibiting or selling my work to the general public, so I tend to just avoid altogether the issue of what to call what I do--I've gotten too frustrated trying to explain it to people who are never, ever going to "get it." So I usually don't mention it.
I stitch in public fairly often, but then I can just hold up whatever it is I'm doing and say this is what I do. (And it's most often knitting, which many more people are familiar with, because I need more light and magnification to see to stitch.) But last week I sat outside a meeting of academics, stitching away. (There's only so much work I can do away from my office and computer.) And my project engendered some interesting and insightful questions. I was working on the last band for April--the trees.
Surprisingly, no one asked me anything more than what I was doing and listened politely. One of the attendees was a needlepointer, which was fun. But the experience has me thinking about the issue all over again.
Since I was a teen, I've described it as "I make things." I think most any kind of making can be a creative outlet. I've made with wood, metal, paper, the computer, and words, but it's fibers and textiles for which I feel the most affinity.
For some time now I've been intrigued by the Hamsa motif (also here). I received one as a gift from a friend a couple of years back and have it on my key ring (much battered but still keeping me safe). It's a protection symbol. I've stitched it a few times over the past couple of years, mostly as small tags and ornaments. To me personally, the hand symbolizes the making aspect.
I've also been thinking about a vaguely remembered quote about the difference between art and craft. I tried to find it an couldn't. But it was basically that if you just used your hands, it was work. If you used your hands and your mind, it was craft. But if you used your hands, your mind and your heart, it was art. I'm not sure I agree with those distinctions but I like the concept of being fully engaged in the activity for it to even approach art.
I've begun combining the to concepts to create a Hamsa with a heart and an eye in the palm. I think I'll do it in layered felt, something I've been wanting to work with more ever since I saw this pillow on the cover of Stitch. So, I think pastels and perle coton with the felt (and perhaps some Watercolors. I want the pupil of the eye to be iridescent fabric or perhaps a shisha mirror. To make my hand I've broken the tradition of five fingers for the Hamsa, which has a lot of symbolism and which probably makes it no longer a Hamsa.
I traced my right hand and then placed my left hand over it, matching up my middle fingers, so now I have a seven-fingered hand (or five fingers with two thumbs). I placed a couple of paisley shapes at the bottom, to echo the curve of the thumbs. I'm still playing with these. I may use the halves of a yin-yang symbol, but so far it's not working out like I want.
I've also sketched in a viney flower growing from my middle finger that I'm liking. I'm aiming for a tree-of-life feel.
So, those are my first steps. I have felt out and perle. I was too tired after my embroidery group meeting last night to choose colors so I plan to start in tonight. (oh, as soon as I remember where I put my pinking shears--I think they'll be perfect for cutting the paisley shapes.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I backed it with a lovely hand painted silk by Laura Wasilowski, ArtFabrik. The piece of fabric is a pastel rainbow and I'd planned to use the yell0w-peach end but ended up using blue to green.
One thing I noticed was how the different stitches affected the fabric. I measured each piece before stitching using the same template, drew threads to outline the border and stitched. The four-sided stitch band (second from left) shrunk considerably more than the hemstitched band (leftmost). The buttonhole stitch edgeing added to the size of the band (second from right) and the needlewoven sections in the tree band really pulled in the fabric. I was vaguely aware this would happen but wasn't sure how to compensate for it without stitching the band twice.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I have just a last few photos of things from my trip to the EGA Great Lake's Region seminar. The first is a skein of yarn I dyed at a fiber fair: 13th Annual Stephenson County Fiber Art Fair
Saturday, April 19 (here's the page for next year's event--are they on the ball or what?)
This was the most fun! They had it all set up with covered tables, elegant trash-bag protective gowns, mixed dyes in old-fashioned baby bottles, and a microwave to set the dyes. I had great fun squeezing and squishing colors onto my skein. The fair itself was also a great deal of fun. Any and everything to do with fiber--fleece to lace.
The little yellow booklet was our first favor at the GLR seminar. I really got into it and collected a bunch of autographs. The pages fold out this way and that and it all ties with the pretty ribbon. I really enjoyed doing it but, more, once I got home I had a great time reading notes from friends, acquaintances, teachers...
Sampler and Antiques Needlework Quarterly's new issue features an article on autograph books, in particular autograph books with stitching in them or ribbon weaving, etc. It's a really interesting article and worth looking for.
The last photo is of two items I purchased from the Needle Workshop from Wausau, WI. It looks like a great shop and the next time we visit family nearby, I plan to do some shopping there.
The acorn holds a thimble. I really like acorns and have long wanted one of these thimble holders. This one is smooth and lovely to hold and touch.
The long item is called a "soldier's friend." I couldn't find anything about it in a quick Google search, so I'm not sure if the stories are just that or not. The ridged part holds threads. The nobby end comes off to hold needles, so everything is there when the soldier needs it to mend his uniform. I was told it was based on a model from the U.S. Civil War. I think it's pretty cool and "needed" it so it came home with me.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
On Monday-Tuesday I did the Perfect Forest (shown here) with Catherine Jordan (at my guild meeting this week another member showed off the gorgeous fabrics and fibers she had dyed in another Catherine Jordan workshop at seminar). On Wednesday-Thursday I took Cricket with Lynn Payette.
My piece has a LOT of work to go. But here's how far I got in class...mainly just setting up the background to begin stitching. I love all of the choices you have working with layering sheers. It's amazing how different they will look just by changing the angle at which you place them!
We used a whole bunch of different fabrics and sheers and it's up to each person where to put what color, where to overlay, etc. Of course, Lynn had advice (and it was always good) and made suggestions as we went along. It's easy to get stumped--there are so many choices--but generally once you get going it kind of rolls along. All of the class pieces were looking very different from one another.
So, that said, here's a picture of the finished model. Mine will look vaguely similar but most likely quite different, too. In addition to the background, I did a little bit of the cording that will surround each leaf and I completed the wired, detached cricket wing. And, yes, we all know it's really a grasshopper. Apparently, Lynn was told that calling it grasshopper wouldn't sell but cricket would.
These last three pictures are of favors we got at some of the dinners and also my door prize, which was the magazine and wooden post-it note holder. The lipstick tube is actually a cunningly camouflaged sewing kit! It twists right out and you can remove the flannel with pins, needles and some thread. It is a lot of fun.
Most of the favors had stories, which made them even more fun. The story for the lipstick sewing cases was about how they gathered them and how they were able to remove the lipsticks in them.
The spool of perle cotton is in a little snap together ball. They had these for sale, too, and I got a load of them. Now, perhaps, my endlessly tangling perle will be tamed! (They're like the containers you can get from those gumball-like machines that have little toys or removable tattoos in them.)
The pincushions were all hand stitched, but three area chapters. The bases are zinc canning jar lids and many came from the estate of the mother-in-law of the seminar organizer. Some still had the penciled-in labels on them!
I still have more stuff to share but once again, time's up and I've gotta scoot.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I added more to #5 after I changed the plan. I used one of Laura Wasilowski's overdyed perle cottons and some silver braid from Kreinik and went wild. It was a lot of fun.
And here's the start of #6. I'm feeling a bit of time pressure so rather than finding textile paints, setting things up, painting and letting the Lugana dry, I used some fabric markers I had handy to block in the general areas of grass, trunk, leaves and sky. It's not as delicate as the painting. Then I pulled and rewove the threads and my plan worked quite well.
I should have put it on a frame but I was working with a small piece of fabric and managed okay. A frame would have been a bit easier, though. Now I've started hemming with a nun's stitch along the folded edge. I folded it because the Lugana's quite loose and I didn't trust just a plain edge stitch to hold it.
Since scanning it, I've gotten about halfway around the edge with the nun stitch. Once that's done, I have a more stable edge to work with for mounting it to a small stretcher frame if I choose to do so.
I think I'll make one big tree in front with a couple behind it. Since taking this class, I've been really looking closely at trees! I thought of a way where I could add more dimension to the front tree by bring a making a branch to the back. It has a ways to go.
We finally are having spring here. We spent Sunday at the Dunes area and saw more wildflowers than ever before (we've gone every spring for the wildflowers for about thirty years now). We saw a couple dozen Jack-in-the-Pulpits! I've never ever seen more than one or two. And thousands of spring beauties. Plus many colors of violets, phlox, toothwort, trilliums (red), hepatica, and lots of plants we don't know. Fields of Mayapples, too, just about to flower.
And Mrs. Bailey's Narcissus. The place where we walk is the Bailly Homestead. The wildflowers are all along the walk between the parking lot and the homestead. And near the very old house are Mrs. Bailly's flowers. This year the grass was full of spring beauties, too. They used to be a bit closer to the house and had bigger blooms: narcissus and hyacinth. Ages ago a docent told us that Mrs. Bailly had planted them in the 1840s. I doubt it's true, but they're still around here and there and we make a point of looking for them each year--they were abundant this year. It was glorious.
Friday, May 2, 2008
So now I want to make my last band for this month's TIF a tree. My bands were originally designed that the threads are pulled the length of the open area (few threads to pull and reweave) and I could probably do a forest of tiny trees. But I'd rather do one long one so I've been trying to think of ways to manage it. I think I have a solution.
For now, here's the last of the goodies I got at the quilt show. I found the booth of Helen Gibb and her lovely ribbonwork flowers. They are so lovely and delicate. I noticed that Pat Winter of Gatherings found the same booth on her visit. (see here) Helen was delightful and I got a lot of goodies at her booth.
I got a beginners kit with her book, "Ribbonwork: A Complete Guide," a companion dvd, and a lovely zippered case with ribbons galore along with all of the materials called for in her book and the dvd. I had my choice of ribbon colors and that was tough! Behind the ribbons are the stamens, backing material, needles--a ready to go kit!
I also got a kit for a brooch, which I should be able to make once I practice a bit with the materials in my set.
I also got some odds and ends of ribbons, that I didn't get scanned.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In the meantime, I have some photos of my goodies from the quilt show in early April. I'd planned to post them last week but the computer problems prevented it. 'nuff whinging.
I found this quilt a while ago and fell in love with it. At the quilt show I got to see the real quilt, meet the artist, Sieglinde Schoen Smith, and she signed the book for me. Each page is illustrated with a bit from the quilt that is appropriate and the entire quilt is printed on the inside of the dust jacket. It's a lovely book and I was thrilled to meet the maker and see some of her other quilts.
I already posted that I took two classes in the Quilting Arts space. ArtGirlz were nearby and I did the usual damage there, buying some cones for dolls, charms for faces, hands and feet, and felt beads. I don't have photos of that yet, but have been working on one of their new mini-cone-doll pins and will take a picture when I'm done.
Also nearby was a lovely booth for Magic Threads, Julie McCullough's company. I kept eyeing it as I was working on my painting project and scooted in there the minute the class ended. Julie herself was there and we had a nice chat about her dolls. They're lovely with lots of painted lace and delicate touches. I purchased this fairy kit to make a Bluebell Fairy. The kit has everything.
Another of my favorite booths is Laura Wasilowski's ArtFabrik. I've mentioned her before. I got some lovely hand-dyed silks she had.
They're kind of all muddled together here. There is a burgundy/blue fabric, which is a lovely damask weave on the upper right, two rainbows, one pale and one brighter (upper left and bottom). I purchased those to go behind the drawn-thread pieces I'm working on for this month's TIF challenge. There's also a piece with mottled greens in here that I just love (in the middle). There are a lot of color changes in these fabrics and they're hard to show in all their glory. (They're also slippery and don't want to stay flat and smooth on the scanner.)
I have some more scans for tomorrow, too. I need to revel in the goodies -- the bills just hit and I need to remember why.
I haven't abandoned the TIF challenge, although I didn't make the deadline. I have one more band completely done (thanks to a follow-up CAT scan my hubby had Tuesday) and one more than half-way finished. My problem now is that I learned some new things to do with drawn thread in a class at regional and I'm inclined to try to include them in my changes piece, but not sure how to do it. So I'm changing my plan midstream and still planning. I do feel I have much of it together--I know pretty much how this month's page will go together and that's half the battle.