Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Japanese Embroidery!

Thanks to the Vintage Workshop for this image.

This was a holiday weekend in the U.S., Decoration Day when I was a child, now Memorial Day. The former honored the military, I think the latter is more general, to honor and remember all who have gone before. The hubby and I both grew up visiting the cemetery on Decoration Day. All the veterans' graves would have a little American flag. We've visit all of the family graves.

Well, this year I had an unexpectedly long holiday--I went to leave for work on Friday only to find the car's battery was very dead. Since the other car was also scheduled for work on Friday and since the dead car is under warranty, it went off to the dealership for repair. And I got an extra day at home alone. I did some chores and then got out my frame stand and my Japanese embroidery.

I'd never stitched Japanese embroidery at home before--we don't have a lot of free space and the frame and stand take up all of the kitchen. But the kitchen has a lovely double window I can place to my left (as is proper) and I had room for my chair, stand and frame, a tv table for my threads and such. It was pure bliss.I tried to make a picture with arrows showing progress, but they vanished when I saved the image in a form Blogger would accept. I stitched Friday afternoon and then I left the stand out (moving it around from room to room to get it out of the way) and stitched again in the early mornings on Sunday and Monday. I completed the red and white striped cord at the bottom, the two leaves next to the red mum, and four of the little round green clover leaves at the top (only three are done here--I took this photo on Sunday morning, before Monday's stitching). Little by little.

It was different stitching alone--I've always been in a class or with a group. I liked it. I could really focus.

I still rip as much as I leave, but I'm more often seeing what's wrong before I make the mistake.

And even though she wasn't there, I could "hear" my teacher as I worked.

All of my stitching this week was with flat silk and it was nice to concentrate on just one thing, managing the silk and also trying to work more on the detail--the separation in the leaves, keeping the spaces between stitches even, turning the curve on the leaves nicely. I still snag the silk but I'm fighting it much less and am happier with my stitching. Now I'm looking to the next long weekend when I can try this again (I don't know how hubby would feel about waiting for breakfast every weekend...)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crewel Thursday

Sorry for the quite posting week. I've been focusing on work so long days and little stitching. A funeral last week and a wake this (family of friends, both). Fiscal year end and graduation are looming. It's not all work--yesterday World Embroideries came down to campus with me. She posted some lovely photos here. I didn't get to play, but we did go out for a nice lunch. My crewel strip sampler is done. I need to block it. I like the way the flower came out.This is the pocket sampler. I made some progress and I can see both improvement and room for more improvement. The foremost mound will be long and short stitches as will the circle on the left--both green. The curved stem will be dark red like the other and the little dot at the end will be bright red. And I'll be done.

I've also been working at gathering the other materials I will need to send with the samplers to the course instructor and I hope to do that very soon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crewel Friday

I didn't do a whole lot this week. I did get stitched some of the samples I talked about doing last week. I learned a lot. The one shown below is where I did a row of blanket stitch across leaving space for a row of second blanket stitch to fit in across the other side. It was ripped out several times. It's very hard to just the spacing right but more frustrating for me was getting the second row stitches centered in the space. They'd be nicely centered as I made the stitch but as I moved on they'd all shift to one side.Below you can see the reason you're looking at the end of the mini-frame above. When I began doing this larger flower, I realized I needed the fabric to be more taut and so I laced the sides. I won't be taking it out until the flower is done. At the top of the frame below is some shading done with blanket stitch rows.For my pattern I used cut folded paper. I got a design/size I liked and then I glued it to a piece of lightweight card and cut it out. I traced the design in pencil, must more satisfactory than my heavy handed marker lines above. One half of the flower will be blanket stitch (done). The second half will be shaded long and short stitch going from pale yellow to white and just a bit of green toward the center.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

London quilt

Before I left for London in March, I gathered supplies for English Paper Piecing and a William Morris design charm pack. No plan beyond keeping busy on the plane. When I was in London I bought some fabric to add to the mix. And I began sewing pieces together. While I was ill in April, I kept on covering cardboard bits with fabric and playing with them like puzzle pieces. I sewed some more together and decided I needed a plan. I settled on a a "map" of central London with the Thames running through it. I drew up a bunch of plans, settled on one and got going.
This is how far I got over the weekend. The weather was nasty--cold and rainy and windy--and I stayed in and stitched obsessively. It's slow work but in addition to sewing hexagons together, I covered a whole bunch more with fabric. I joined the big hexagons to the smaller river hexagons and began to see how it will fit together (and where it's not quite fitting...)

My overall plan is to make a wall hanging. I expect to have borders at least on the sides, using some of the ribbons and laces I got in London. I want to put daffodils on it--London was abloom when I was there. I had thought ribbon embroidery but I think the scale will be wrong, so now I'm thinking fabric applique or perhaps 3-D fabric flowers. I don't know about quilting it. I thought about putting the flowers below the river and above quilting it with the shapes of buildings. Those decisions can wait.

This paper piecing is addictive--like popcorn, just one more...and what if I put this color here...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Odds and Ends, mostly about food

Sonia's smile says it all... I met with her and two other friends, Liz and Ruoke at Lao Sze Chuan for Hot Pot Monday night. Sonia is queen of the noodles here.We got the split dish, with both hot and mild broth. We haven't gotten underway yet--can you tell Liz is excited? The table was piled high with things to cook in the broth. Then the noodles go in at the end. They were quite a challenge to remove from the hot broth with chopsticks!Ruoke ordered for us and showed us how to manage cooking the food. It was yummy and a very nice, relaxed way to dine. A nice break as we approach paper deadlines and exams.A couple of weeks ago I posted about my new tool. I tried it out this past weekend. These are trials. They're not quite even or centered. I also was experimenting with hand embroidery--the bookmark is a free project from the ruler designer and is designed for machine embroidery. Hand stitching is challenging. At some points you're going through six layers of fabric and two of fusible innerfacing (I used Mistyfuse which is easier to stitch by hand than most).This is quite belated. My niece in Japan sent me (at my request should she ever see it) kits to make felt food. I've done this before to make a layer-cake box but these are better--they're Japanese pastries. I really like Japanese pastries and don't get them often so it'll be a treat to have felt reminders around. They're made to be magnets. Thanks, kiddo! I'm gonna have fun making these.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crewel Friday--it's back!

Not much progress here--not stitching for a month will do that. The stitches at the opening of the pocket are made with a version of "buttonhole" (as opposed to blanket) stitch. It's also different from "tailor's buttonhole" stitch diagrams I've seen. I found it hard to keep consistent edges. The knot edge is, well, a knot and I gained in consistency as I went along (I stitched the right hand side first, then the left hand side of the opening.) The outer edge is where you come up, and that made it hard, too, to keep a smooth edge. Especially since this particular stitch can't be stab stitched--you go down and come up with the needle and then wrap the thread around the "parked" needle before completing the stitch. (I can't find the book where I got this but when I do, I'll post a photo.)I've outlined a leaf in preparation for some long and short.

As you can tell from my comments above, I was a bit frustrated by the buttonhole stitch I chose for the pocket opening. I reread the instructions about the sampler--which is primarily for blanket stitch--and decided to do more samples and play a bit.So I began the band sampler above. I marked three stitching rows, 1/8", 1/4" and 3/8" and some circles. I just used a Sharpie to mark permanent lines using a ruler. The lines are a bit thick and blobby. I'm working hard to come up exactly on the line and go down exactly on the line.

While I'm striving for even edges, I'm varying the density of the stitches to experiment and see what I like best. The circles were hard to keep a nice even "purl" on the edges of the blanket stitches. The little red dot is a "granitos" stitch--I just got sick of all the green so I added the yellow and red--an experiment in propotion of hue.

In stitching this sampler I learned:

  • It's very hard to keep straight, vertical stitches when they get further apart. (you can "fake it" when the stitches are closer.)

  • Stab stitching is much better than sewing.

  • When coming up I poke the needle up where I think it should be and then move it one thread closer to the previous stitch--I ended up with more vertical stitches that way.

  • I thought 3/8" was too wide but I actually liked it the best.

  • Even though I'm experimenting, I find I'm doing a lot of ripping.

  • When you rip wool, just replace it, don't try to reuse it.

  • I find it very hard to be consistent when the thread itself isn't--the Appleton wools definitely have thick and thin areas. How do you compensate for that? I haven't figured it out yet.

    For the next set of lines I plan to try some blanket stitches with different "leg" lengths, I want to try a row where you space it so you can fill in from the other side with another row of blanket stitches. I'm not sure about the third row.

    Then, the new RSN Essential Guide for Crewelwork (here's Needle 'n Thread's review) there's a blanket stitch flower that I like and I may try to replicate that.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Finally a Finished Object

    I've been working on this for a long time. First in the back of my mind. Then I strugged with the design. It was a much belated birthday gift for a friend--World Embroideries--so I went to her blog for ideas. Finally, I "borrowed" a photo off of her blog and adapted that. I liked the overall composition, but I changed the colors and sized it to fit the towel.

    I did my best to translate temari from 3-D to 2-D, while still looking three dimensional, and also being usable as a dish towel, washable and all of that. It journeyed to London and back with me and this is pretty much the only thing I worked on while I was sick. Now that the recipient has it, I can share. For a while, midway through, I thought it was ugly and hated my color choices and stitches--I did a lot of ripping. Now I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    And the Winner Is...

    The winner of the Sampler Giveaway is Marjorie! It feels almost like giving it back to me, but it's another Marjorie. She's an avid cross stitcher from the blogs she particpates in--most are exchange blogs. This is the one I liked best.

    I'm pleased I finally figured out how to capture the Random.org results (I printed the page to PDF and then saved it as a JPG and then cropped it).

    Congratulations, Marjorie. Please send me your address.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    seeing faces

    I've been trying to keep up with my morning walks, it's been hit and miss for a while now. Down the street from our house, I spotted this face-in-a-tree a few weeks ago (early April). I thought it was funny and snapped a picture.I think it's even funnier now with it's new growth of whiskers and eyebrows. Still smilin'.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Memory Wire Dragonfly

    Last summer I designed this project for the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild, to teach in April. (I was sick so hopefully we'll do it tonight.) I wanted a charm to go on the panel but couldn't find one I liked so I devised this dragonfly from DMC Memory Thread to add instead.You can make your dragonfly any size you want. These are about 1-1/2" to 2". To begin, cut a piece of Memory Thread about 6" to 7" long. Do not use your good scissors for this--this is wire. It's thin but will still mar your nice scissors. Use wire cutters or old scissors.Fold your Memory Thread in half.Tie an overhand knot in the Memory Thread at the cut end.This is the head. Tighten it so that you have antennae of maybe 3/8". You can trim them later if they're too long but you can't make them longer.Now push the Memory Thread up toward the head so it bows out at the sides to form wings. Or pull it apart to make the wings. Make them what ever size you want.Twist the wire just under the wings.Don't worry about the shape, that comes next.Shape your wings like you want them and then twist once at the base of each wing. Continue to shape it until you're happy.That's it. I tacked the dragonflies to the felt at the twists. For this project, it didn't need more but you can also tack it down just above the head and at the tip of the tail, too.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    I'm back!

    More or less. I feel like doing more than the bare minimum. I'm feeling restless and noticing the house is dirty. And I've been doing some stitching. (Nothing to show yet.)This card is from Lelia. The cute tatted butterfly has been brightening my days for a couple of weeks now and I was finally able to get it scanned. Thanks for the great card, Lelia!

    Yesterday I had a much needed Girlz Day with my sister. We had tapas at the RX Cafe and visited a cool quilt shop in Huntley, IL, called Quilt in Joy. I found a new tool--and you know I'm a sucker for cool tools! It's a Double Diamond Ruler and I got it to make bookmarks for Hammond Reads (I'm way behind with that project, so I really needed it.)I also "needed" some fabric and some fabric glue for the project. My final "necessity" was a spray that's supposed to remove those seemingly permanent creases in fabrics. We'll see.Next week I'll post a tutorial on how to make these cute little dragonflies. They're from a project I did last summer to teach last month at Homewood Guild. I was sick but I did send the kits and I'll be on hand at our meeting Monday to help anyone that needs it. And after that I feel free to share the fun with everyone.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Sampler Giveaway

    I'm determined that I'm finally going to get rid of this crud once and for all--I haven't done any stitching for a month. I don't have anything fun to talk about here. In addition to the feeling bad and being tired, I've been having problems with my left thumb. On Friday I saw a hand specialist and I have three problems. The base joint of my thumb is out of alignment--the doc said he sees a lot of needlepointers with this--it's from holding the frame/hoop. I do feel it then (and have for, oh, fifteen years). I feel it more when knitting now (and I try to use a stand to hold my hoop or frame). My thumb won't bend--problem 2--a bone spur and "stuff" in my knuckle joint. And when it does bend, I can't straighten it without a jerk--trigger finger. That's the inflamed tendon, issue #3. For the latter I received a cortisone injection in the tendon sheath. Hopefully it will begin to help over the next few weeks. The other two issues involve surgery and I'm not going there any time soon. But it's a relief to know what's going on and that it's not dire.

    So, it's time for a giveaway. I found this in my stash when I was cleaning recently. It's a sampler I began as part of a stitch-along and I know I will never finish it. It's called the Pineapple Bellpull and has many traditional sampler elements and some interesting stitches. The design was in the premier issue of Fine Lines magazine, which I think is no longer being published (I'm not sure of the year but 2001 rings a bell). I've completed the first section of the sampler, about 1/4 of the design. The linen is a bluish-gray. The Giveaway will include the partially stitched sampler mounted on the small scroll frame....
    All four issues of Fine Lines magazine (plus photocopies of the sampler charts for the first three issues, copied and in sleeves for easier working).....
    Plus the whole slew of threads I collected for the project, many overdyes, sampler threads, some flower thread, flosses. I did not follow the colors of the chart as given (of course--there may be notes on the charts or there may not--I forgot to look). Also, there's a scrap piece of the linen for testing things out.....
    The whole pile comes in its very own coordinating tote.

    I will use Random.org to draw one winner for this project on at noon central time Wednesday, May 11. Anyone may enter--no matter where you live (although if you're overseas, it may take a while for the package to get to you). To enter, please leave a comment on this blog. Please include an obvious way to get in touch with you (either an e-mail address or a blog link with an e-mail address). I'll announce the winner here and contact them by e-mail.