Thursday, January 28, 2010

Scissors sheath finish

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but Saturday was dreary and rainy and we stayed home all day and I stitched way too much. I began working on this at about 7am and stitched off an on until midnight--I probably stitched at least ten hours. My hands and arms were quite sore and achy, it lasted through Sunday, but I was done!

I'd also done laundry, cooked dinner and tucked in a couple of chores, watched "Bell, Book and Candle" on dvd and also a strange but interesting dvd by, about and for fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fans are sure a strange breed.I had the embroidery nearly done when I started. I did this added floral row Saturday morning(an outline stitch stem with French knot flowers and lazy-daisy leaves) and began working on the felt scissors fob. It's a stuffed felt shape covered with detached chain stitches and then beads. The second fob is actually an emery. I had some left over from another project and stitched a muslin liner for the felt and made the emery. I used ribbon I had (which needs pressing) for the cord and frill at the top.

If you stitch a lot, especially if you have a favorite needle, then an emery is very helpful. Remember the little berry that came attached to the old tomato pincushions? That was an emery. They're hard to find these days. It will clean, polish and sharpen your needles and I can definitely tell the difference. I poke the needle in and then hold it and run it back and forth, sometimes giving it a twirl, too. Just takes a sec.I put the sheath together by hand. First I basted around the drawn-on cutting line. I used pinking shears to cut out just outside of that line. That way I knew the muslin liner would stay smooth and my edges wouldn't fray. I marked seam allowances (6mm) all around, using the drawn cutting line as a guide--just pencil on the muslin liner. Then I stitched the embroidered wool to the cotton lining all around. I did this for both the long back and the shorter inside front of the piece.

A piece of plastic was cut to the pattern size and fitted into the base of the longer piece. I'd never thought of this before, it was in in the instructions, and it does add a lot of body to the scabbard. Then I overcast the front and back together.I made twisted cording as instructed and stitched one into the top of the strawberry fob and the longer, thicker piece around the scabbard. I added the ribbon frill to the fob and the ribbon to the emery. Then I decided the scabbard needed a snap and so I stitched one on and was done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The winner --and new giveaway.

Sixteen people entered the drawing for the little cross stitch cottage kit--Thanks! picked #10, which is KimB. Thanks to everyone who entered and included your contact information. That makes this so much easier to manage!
The next giveaway is a charming antique kit: Good Deeds Live Long. It's stamped cross stitch, not counted. This sampler kit comes with wooden bars for the top and bottom, so it's finished similar to a bell pull. All of the original packaging is there, if a bit tattered. There is, however, no floss.

It looks like the kind of thing you might have mailed away for in the 50s or 60s perhaps, from an ad in the back of a magazine. I've looked in my old magazines but never spotted this one, but have seen similar kits.

Please make a comment to this post before February 3 if you want to be included in the draw ( for this kit. I will send it anywhere in the world. I will draw the winner on Thursday, February 4.

I do ask that you include some way for me to contact you directly. If your blog profile includes your e-mail address, direct me there--that'll work. If not, please e-mail me directly or include a spelled out or otherwise uncopyable address in your comment and I'll use that. I cannot go looking for you and if I can't reach you easily, I'm going to have to skip you and I really, really hate doing that.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for some sun

I wrote a post on Friday night and posted it and now, today, it's gone! Vanished. No trace anywhere. I'm going to redo some of it... How annoying! (Oops, posted it to the wrong blog!)

First off, I need to say that due to the normal confusion on my part, I set the cross stitch house giveaway to end on Monday, January 26. Hmmm, well, today's Monday but it's the 25th! So I'm going to wait one more day, for those who looked at the date and not the day, before drawing the winner. I'll also have a new giveaway to post.My hubbby brought me this sunny pot holder last week. We desperately need even a hint of sun here--it's been days and days of gloom. I've hung it in our more-or-less blue and yellow kitchen and it adds a bright spot.The tea towel is completed.I've not completed three of these washcloths and used up every inch of the skein of cotton. Mostly I've been not doing too much. Slowly stitching the crewel scissors sheath, shown previously here and here. Occasionally working on the needlepoint fan. Each camellia leaf takes about an hour to stitch and the other parts of the design are similarly slow...not bad just time consuming. The leaves are a variation of or nue.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2010 Giveaway

I have gathered a new pile of things to offer for giveaways this year. They are going to be varied and, hopefully, interesting.

This is a kit that I believe I purchased in England over ten years ago. It's a complete kit, original, everything's there to make this little cross stitch cottage.

Please make a comment to this post before January 25 if you want to be included in the draw ( for this kit. I will send it anywhere in the world. I will draw the winner on Monday, January 26.

I do ask that you include some way for me to contact you directly. If your blog profile includes your e-mail address, direct me there--that'll work. If not, please e-mail me directly or include a spelled out or otherwise uncopyable address in your comment and I'll use that. I cannot go looking for you and if I can't reach you easily, I'm going to have to skip you and I really, really hate doing that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


My recent foray into hemstitching had me digging out my books to refresh my memory. I included photos of the two I used in the hemstitch tutorial. I also explored some others. Here are two of them--I was sure the hemstitching refresher I needed would be in them--but it wasn't!
This book is from the 50s and assumes you know a lot. A whole lot. It's why it was on the shelf. I do love the section on plain sewing and every time I look at the book I think about doing a plain sewing sampler, with hems and edgings and buttonholes. The book also has some great designs and ideas. And I may have solved a mystery. I showed this embroidered waterlily before. It was a holiday gift. I thought it might be a coaster. Why I thought that was probably from the Anchor book. This is a "liquor set" and there were several in the book. All were stitched on thin, sheer materials and were more fancy than practical for soaking up drips or condensation. But they seem very much like the waterlily.
I've had this book of Italian whitework for a while. It's spectacular with lovely designs. What amazes me most is that these elaborately stitched designs seem to be (I can't read the text at all) party favors for weddings, anniversaries, showers, etc. There are delicate sachets, little bags for small gifts, and sweet cutwork cloths to decorate trays with candies on your table. They are amazing but I can't imagine making more than one, much less the number that would be needed for a party!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hem Stitching Part 2

Here are a couple of the books I used to remind me of the stitch. This first is French. The actual stitch is made from the back of the fabric.And this one is Polish. Here is the finished piece from the back. I made the stitches on the front very exact (straight down two threads) but I was less concerned about the back and these stitches come out mostly two stitches down but sometimes three and sometimes over one or two to the side. When you are stitching a hem, you have to watch both sides.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hem Stitching Part 1

This is a little photo intensive so I split it in two. The first part is the withdrawal of threads and pressing and that's the most important part. Once you do that, the stitching is a piece of cake. This is how I do it and it is by no means definitive. Or perhaps even the best way.This is a schematic I made up showing the threads drawn for folding and stitching. You do not need to draw threads for the fold lines but I find it much easier than trying to follow one thread line with a hot iron all of the way across a piece of fabric.

Pulling out a thread gives you a clear pressing line. Just be sure not to count it into your hem was eight threads so I counted out eight threads from the line of drawn thread for hemstitching. Then I pulled one thread. Then I counted eight more threads for the back of the hem and then I pulled one. I counted four more for the turn under to hide the raw edge and then I pulled a thread to make a clear cutting line.

Here is the fabric with all of the threads pulled out.Here I've folded side one and pressed it. I folded the raw edge over on the first withdrawn thread line and pressed it, then I folded on the hemline, the second withdrawn thread line, and pressed the first fold so it just meets the withdrawn thread for hemstitching. I don't want to cover or obscure this line.I've opened up side one so I can fold up side 2. I miter the corner. After folding and pressing both sides, I open out the corner. I trim off the tip of the corner to reduce bulk and fold it diagonally so the fold matches the withdrawn lines for the raw-edge fold on both sides (an exact 45 degree angle without having to measure!). Once that is done, when I fold both sides back in place on the fold line. The corner will now fold up to meet in the corner on the diagonal. As I stitch around with the hem stitch, I whip or tack this diagonal line to hold it in place.This is the back side folded up. This is the side you stitch from. Bury you thread knot (I do knot this thread) inside the folds.

I used the same perle cotton I used for the needleweaving but it you want a really invisible hemstitch, pull warp threads (not the cross threads, weft, but the stronger lengthwise ones) from a scrap piece of fabric and use them to do your stitching. It works beautifully.This is the front, before stitching.And this is my secret weapon, a simple spray bottle with plain water. Especially for a sized fabric like unlaundered Hardanger or linen, I like to spritz it with water much more than using steam. I use a dry iron. I didn't even need to pin the hem at all as I stitched it on this runner. Iron the fabric on hot until it's completely dry.

Part two tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finished Hardanger

The completed Hardanger runner. It took me about five hour's work on Saturday morning to finish the needleweaving and hemstitching. This is the original pattern booklet and below are photos of the vest as it was designed. It was waist length and I'd wanted mine a bit longer so I purchased extra fabric and finished the missing corner on the vest back motif. That change made this work as a complete design and gave me enough fabric to complete the runner.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I won!

I won, I won, I won! And I finally have photos to show. Over on World Embroideries's blog a while back, she had a contest for counting the squares in a children's book she made (hey, if a kid can do it, I can do it , too. Sometimes!) And I came closest to the correct number and won. This was my prize--an original temari. Pretty cool prize, huh? I love it.

Failed experiment

I've been stitching tea towels as my "carry along project. When I saw the blue transfer on this blue-striped towel, I liked the way the image only showed up in the white stripes. So, I thought, what if I stitch just the white parts, like you're viewing the cup through a screen.

I still like the concept but it wasn't working at all. I think for it to work properly, I'd need to think of this in advance and carefully place the design on the fabric so important pieces would appear and the design would retain it's integrity.

Plus, the embroidery I was doing was too thick to recede behind the stripe. Plain running stitch, my first, undocumented, experiment, didn't work either. So I ripped the above out and began stitching the design in a more conventional fashion. I'm pleased with it now.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A couple of cool things..

have come to my attention recently.Check out Fraser Smith, a guy who makes these absolutely incredible (hard-to-believe it) wooden quilts (and also wooden clothing).

There's a Slow Cloth group over on Facebook that is having an absolutely wonderful conversation. I found it via Jude's Spirit Cloth blog. I spent way too much time browsing the blogs of the people joining in the conversation. Jude kindly included links to most of them on her blog. Loads of inspiration. The first issue of Needle. I haven't spent as much time here as I would have liked, yet, but have it bookmarked. The online magazine is slow to load but it is full of very interesting articles: artist profiles, the textiles at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, African needleworkers, a couple of projects.... I love the star. It's put out by HEN--the hand embroidery network. I really like that name! Here's a link to their site. This is where I got some of my twill tape for the chatelaine. Great service and interesting products to browse. I love twill tape for apron strings, totebag handles. To me it has a nice antique look and feel.

Oh, and Hedgehog Handworks is having a sale--15% off everything through January.

That should keep you busy if you're snowed in this weekend. enjoy

Friday, January 8, 2010

The distraction

Last weekend I started in with the cleaning out of my endless stash. I cleared a shelf and sorted--the "I'm likely to do this one day" items went back. The "I'll never do this items" have been given away or put into a bag for future blog giveaways. And then there was this large bag with a mass of lilac Hardanger fabric.

In 2000 the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild had a weekend class to make a Hardanger Vest. I know of one person who completed hers. Not me. I haven't touched it for eight years or more. I realized I would never, ever make the vest and probably wouldn't wear it much if I did.

So the center back, with the motif nearly complete, is on it's way to be a runner, photo above. I snipped out a small section of stitch samples to use for something, sometime. A fragment. The rest of the fabric, threads, pattern, etc. has been given to a friend.

I plan to complete the runner this weekend. Big load off...this project kept whispering to me.

As I'm doing it, I took some pictures for a minitutorial on hemstitching. I love hemstitching and find it very meditative and peaceful. I also think it's a very handy thing to know. soon.So, I've been doing Hardanger instead of my crewel scissors case. Here's the start of the scissors case. I've also been spending time reading through some of my books. This began when I wanted to look up hemstitching before beginning the Hardanger project. I can't tell you how many books I have that I thought would show hemstitching and don't, and how many more I have that do show it. But then I just got into browsing the books....bliss!

We've had loads of snow this week and I'm hoping for a quiet, stay in and stitch weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010--first finished project

Here is the crewel pincushion, all done. And photographed to show the bright colors. I almost had it done by new year's day but decided I wanted to steam the completed crewel and let it dry well before finishing it up. I really like it. The stitching is Appleton crewel wool on hand-dyed doctor flannel (backed with muslin for extra body). The edging cord is a silk fiber.

After I finished this, I began the strawberry scissors case, but I've gotten sidetracked, a bit. (more on that to come)This is a project I completed about a month ago but only showed it to one friend (I HAD to show someone or I'd burst!). It's a crewel chatelaine that I designed as a teaching project for my local EGA chapter (July 2010). All of the 2010 projects were revealed to chapter members last night.

I adapted the design from one in the A-Z of Crewel Work. I took a long design and split it into two and edited it to fit, and then came up with my own colors and stitches. It uses 18 colors of Appleton crewel wools. One side is a pincushion and the other a little pocket. I modeled that part of the design on the 1970s Erica Wilson chatelaine I stitched earlier this year. The neckband and trim are two different widths of cotton twill tape.I put loops of tape on the back of each strap so you can loop your wools for a project through and have them handy. I didn't count but I think it will hold about a dozen colors. The bows at the bottom are to hold tools, like scissors. With my name on it, it can also act as my name tag at meetings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ending up 2009

I have a hard time letting go, and that's true with years, too. So here's a few last items from 2009. I made these little felt items for some small friends. I hope the green creature resembles the Mario character it's supposed to represent. (I was working from an 8-year-0ld's description.)This is the third entrelac bag, all complete before the new year arrived. It was knit from the leftover wool from the first bag. I put a zipper in this one.

I usually do my felting on a lovely small washboard, but I lent it to my sister at Christmas, so I got creative. I felted the handle using a cake rack (rubbing it up and down across the wires), a vegetable scrub brush, bubble wrap (a bit more delicate than what I tend to use to convince my wools to shrink up), a wire mesh colander, and lots of alternating hot hot hot water and cold water and soap. It worked.It's cold here. Not nearly as cold as friends further north are experiencing (brrrr-- 16 below!!). We're between 10 and 20F most days, which really isn't too awful. We've had some sun, which has been nice.

On Sunday we went out to the Illinois State Gallery in Lockport to view their current exhibit, The Leaf and the Page. It features artists inspired by nature. Just outside of the gallery, we found a more natural artistry--amazing frosted windows. Most were etched in incredible overall patterns, like acanthus leaves. This is the only one I was able to capture without background reflections, and it was the least impressive window (there were five). The reflections are the curse of the digital camera--hubby went back the next day with a real camera to get good images. We were awestruck and amazed by the frost patterns.A last Christmas shot--on our trip we visited Birdhaven greenhouse in Joliet and their poinsettia display was just finishing up. I think these would make a lovely holiday greeting card.

Friday, January 1, 2010

back to stitching

These two towels are gifts for friends. They are Aunt Martha's iron on designs from Jo-Ann's and they worked wonderfully and washed out completely. Both are stitched with floche, a fiber I love to use. The majority of the designs are done in stem stitch with some straight stitches, French knots, and lazy daisies thrown in.

I had a baggie of floche in my stash that I'd either purchased or won. It was a set of colors with two greens, red, two oranges, yellow and beige. I have no idea where or when I acquired it but it was perfect for these designs. I used all of the colors except for the beige.

I have two more towels with designs ironed on ready to go. One is in this vegetable series: green beans. I think I'm going to use floss for it, perhaps an overdyed green. The other is a blue-and-white striped towel. A teapot design is on it. At first I was going to stitch the pot, ignoring the stripes, but the design transfer is the same color as the stripe and I've been debating stitching the design only on the white stripes, leaving the blue stripes blank--so it looks like the teapot is peeping out from behind. It's set aside while I think about it.I began a new project from my stash last weekend. The three crewel kits below are from Australia and by Lorraine's on Capri (they don't have a website). The colors are bad on these scans of the photos that came with the pieces. I began this pincushion over the weekend and am about halfway done. (I'm staying up way to late at night to stitch!) The background is greenish and the central flower is bright pink. The red stem and yellow leaves are the only colors close to what they should be. Once it's done I'll get better pics.These next two projects are ready to go. The colors on the needlebook are closer to those in the magazine and kit. These are unusual colors for crewel projects and are what had me interested in them. This project was featured in Australian Embroidery and Cross Stitch magazine a few years ago. (You can see some of the issues here atErica's.) They're stitched on hand-dyed doctor's flannel with Appleton wools. The wool fabrics in the kit aren't as mottled as those in the magazine and the photos. I love the concept, but I'll have to dye my own. The scissors case below is more traditional. The kit includes the strawberry fob. All of the designs are finished with cording made from silk threads included in the kits. I've been keeping track of the projects I completed this year over on Flickr, in Finished in 2009. It's a new way for me to keep a record and I like it. I've found out I can import the images to Snapfish and make them up into a little book. I may need to do that!