Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crewel Friday

It's back again. I sent off lesson two yesterday with the pockets and band sampler and the rough draft of my paper (mostly notes).
I traced the final design onto the twill fabric and am ready to get stitchn'!

I'm off this weekend for the Japanese embroidery class.  Too much fun!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

new book

Between my meetings and the rain this weekend, most of the things we'd thought to do on our mini holiday didn't happen.  We did visit Half Price Books, where I found this book.  It's by Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction and I've been looking at it for a while.  I really like it--it's in that early-Twentieth-Century design style that I've been indulging in lately. 

The book and Amy's website led me to the Cornell University Home Economics Archive, with a treasure trove of books to explore.

Later this week I'll be off to the Japanese Embroidery class. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This is pretty much it for fiber content this week.  I've been mostly working on a guild mystery project I can't show yet.  This sweet flower was a kit in the Molly Makes magazine I bought a couple of months ago.  It's cute and I have absolutely no idea what to do with it.
This weekend I attended the Embroiderer's Guild of America Great Lakes Region board meetings--two of them, the executive and the general. I don't vote which means I don't have much to do so I knitted.  The meetings were in Indianapolis so hubby went with and we stayed with our niece and her husband. It was great (the visit, not necessarily the meetings). I really enjoyed getting to know them better. The cool gate above is the entry to their sublet condo.
This rose is one of the last. I don't have any more pictures because it rained all weekend. It's still raining, for that matter.  I saw the most amazing rainbows during my commute to work yesterday. One was a big, bright full arc.  Amazing!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


No crewel to show this week. I'm starting to write my paper. I'm still in the "what goes where" sorting stage, trying to figure out what I want to say and what I have to say. Gathering my illustrations and organizing them in the document. I'll send it to the instructor once I have some bones in place. The fleshing out will, hopefully, come later.  I should have kept better track of where I read what.
I've been knitting on the leaf shawl and have three repeats done now. Four to go.  I noticed that my tension loosened considerably after I had completed the first repeat. Oh, well.  I have written the pattern in a notebook so I can flip pages as I go along so starting and stopping is painless.
I've made progress, too, on the chemo cap. It's very soft and will be nice.  It's my doctor's office project these days. More of that to come in the next weeks, so more progress on the cap.  Since it's just knit (and knit and knit) it's easy to put down and pick up. 

Early Christmas

Aurelia Eglantine is hosting her first blog giveaway and it's a generous and colorful assortment of goodies that will make your holidays shine.
I think I made the picture a link but, just in case, I also put the same link on her name.
Well worth entering!  It ends October 12th.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Old fabrics

We were going in to look at a dresser. Hubby had spotted it and the handles on mine keep coming apart, so he brought me to the antiques shop to look at it.  The dresser was already gone and instead I came home with this embroidered pillow top.  The grapes need to be stitched. I have two shades of purple flat silk that I hope I can softly twist to look similar to the thread used for the rest of the piece.
And in the mail yesterday I received a package from friends in England. It was full of wonderful fabrics collected by a really lovely woman who recently passed away. I wish I had gotten to know her better--we just met this spring and it was not enough at all.  I already have some plans for some of the bits.  They are of all types, eras, styles. Some of the pieces are quite small and others over a yard.  It's a treasure!
This is not an antique nor a textile, but I am really enjoying this replica of an early Twentieth Century map of London. It was created to encourage people to use the Tube to see the wonders of London and it's full of quirky places to visit and also some very interesting characters.  Every time I look at it, I see something new.
I've always liked maps and have used them as a basis for some collages. The last few years I've been seeing some map-based art quilts and I'm intrigued.  Then I realized that my hexagon quilt with fabrics I bought in London (most recently pictured here--I need to get back to it) is a map quilt of sorts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With a Cunning Needle

Kudos to Winterthur for making me feel really great.  A while back Tricia Wilson Nguyen announced that the Plimouth Jacket would be exhibited at Winterthur in the exhibit "With a Cunning Needle." She offered a needlework project as a fundraiser. I decided I didn't want to stitch this one, but did like the idea of the exhibit so I clicked the link Tricia wisely provided and donated some money to the project (not much, but what I could).  The lovely catalog below is, I think, the third item I've received from the museum, in thanks for my donation. I was amazed to receive this exhibit catalog.
This is one of  the inside spreads of the catalog. It's wonderful.
And at the end is a list of donors with my name.  Wow!

No heavy duty solicitations, no cards saying "you gave $10 last time so we'd like you to give $20 this time." If I had any loose change, you can bet it would be going to Winterthur. They've got it right. (and if I can figure a way to get east to this exhibit, I will)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crewel Friday Stitches

For those who asked:  I don't have images or scans of the stitch charts but I do have sources where I got some of them. Most of the fillings begin with a simple lattice, tacked down with a tiny diagonal stitch. I used a cut strip of paper to help guide the lattices, different sized strips for bigger or smaller lattices.  Most of the lattices stitched in the sampler are vertical/horizontal, but the first and last ones are diagonal. They're done the same way: lay long parallel stitches in one direction, cross at a 90 degree angle the other way and then tie down the intersections. (stitch back and forth, not like satin stitch)

The first two samples below have a laid stitch ground. The others do not. It took way too long.
The left hand box in the first row is my attempt at using a Japanese embroidery stitch, tie-dye effect, in crewel wool. First you stitch the diagonal grid, then instead of a small diagonal tie down, you take three longer satin stitches over each intersection. Last, you add two small satin stitches to the center of each open area.

The right-hand pattern is a not very successful try at my own design. Alternating lazy-daisy stitch flowers. Kind of inspired by the Dover book mentioned below.

Second row, left is a large vertical cross in pale green over the grid lines with a yellow French knot in the other squares. This is from the Dover book, Jacobean Iron-on Transfer Patterns by Linda Ormesson. While the transfers are okay, I got the book for the three pages of filling patterns at the end. 

Next to it is another lame attempt at design. I stitched large diagonal crosses and tied them down. I didn't plan it before beginning and it would be improved with better spacing, I think.

The bottom row patterns were taken from Stitches of Creative Embroidery by Jacqueline Enthoven.  One is a double vertical cross, tied down with a small diagonal cross and French knots.  The other is a double lattice.  I stitched one lattice and tied it down and then stitched another in the same directions, midway between the laid lines of the first, and tied it down. The experiment here was with color. The bottom lattice is dark green tied down with red. The top lattice is pale green tied down with the same pale green. It gives kind of a plaid effect.
The top left strawberry is spaced buttonhole stitches on a laid ground from Crewelwork Embroidery Stitches by Anchor.  The leaf on that side is satin stitch held with long laid lines that are couched at intervals.  I saw this in several of the older books I've been reading and it seems to have been a common Medieval filling stitch in Europe and was also used in many other countries.

The little three-lobed leaf is shaded chain stitch.

On the right hand side, the top leaf is Battlement Couching, which is layers of grids, just moved over a bit each time, with the top layer secured at the intersections.  I found that in several books. I outlined it with stem stitch. The right-hand strawberry is also from the Anchor book.  Blocks of satin stitch are alternated with large crosses, tied in the centers.  It was very hard to keep the satin stitch blocks even and square, even though I drew them onto the fabric.

The mounds: the top mound is rows of shaded chain stitch with the topmost row being a twisted chain so one arm sticks out (hopefully like grass).  The mound on the right is a buttonhole stitch I saw in the old books.  It was done as a solid filling in the books; here I spaced it out more. You stitch the first row like regular buttonhole, with the "purl" edge down. For each subsequent row you begin each stitch just above the purl edge of the previous row, stitching over the edge, as you make a new row.  If it's close it doesn't look like buttonhole at all but rows of satin stitch with a raised edge. 

The mound on the left began with laid stitch, then a diamond filling.  I made my tie downs long--each one began right at the bottom edge of where two laid threads crossed, but then extended up midway into the diamond. I added a French knot at the end of each tie down. The idea was to look like flowers and stems. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crewel Friday

I've completed my second pocket, which focuses more on filling stitches. It's stretched and dried and ready to go. I think I'll leave it on the frame until I'm ready to mail.  I'm in the process of documenting the where I got the designs for the filling stitches I used.  Good thing I kept some notes!
Here are both pockets. Once they're reviewed, I can make them up. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Homewood Projects

We're going to teach the ornaments above at the October Homewood meeting.  The top three are mine, the sparkly one was done by World Embroideries.  I really like how we can take the same basic pattern and come up with something very different. Hopefully our members will come up with their own variations. I've put a template for making up your own snowflake designs at the bottom of this post.
One of our classes for Homewood Embroiderer's Guild will be to make mixed media Artist Trading Cards. They fit our theme since they're the same size as a playing card.
I think the playing card fabric (from Jo-Ann's Online) is pretty cool. 

I made up this sample from fabrics and threads I had assembled when I was doing my summer challenge project.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homewood Guild Projects

World Embroideries, Marge and I are program chairs this year for Homewood Embroiderer's Guild. Our theme is Fun and Games! Each year the guild has a summer challenge to do while we're on hiatus.  This year we challenged members to draw a card from a deck and use the card they drew to inspire an embroidery of some sort--or even just think about what they might do and make notes and sketches.
I drew the 10 of Clubs. Not too inspiring, like, say, the Queen of Hearts. But I noticed the card is one of few that are exactly the same no matter whether it was right side up and upside down. Which got me thinking about topsy-turvy. Being a literal sort, I decided to make 10 club embroideries, to try some new techniques, and to make them into a Jacob's Ladder. Above are the 10 embroideries, below the assembled toy.
I think it's kind of cool and it actually does tumble like it should.

Monday, September 12, 2011

WIPs and a finish

A couple of weeks ago my sister gave me a belated birthday gift--this Bareroots pattern and materials kit.
I love small projects like this and got busy on it.
I finished it yesterday.  My first Christmas project for this year done!
Since I finished my felted totes, I needed a new knitting project. This "Garden View Shawlette" by Tracey Whitanee, found on Ravelry, was in my pile.  Another brithday gift, a gift card, supplied the yarn. The instructions are great--very clear with both written instructions and a chart. Great for novice lace knitters like me.  I'm new to Ravelry, Marjel3--if you're there come by and say "hi!"
Recently our EGA chapter received a donation of tapestry wool, floss, and some white yarn. The floss will be used for Camp Quality next summer (and I won't be struggling to find an idea at the last minute--I already have what I think will be a good one).  The wool is in our storage area while we think of ideas for it. Some is in large uncut skeins and I was thinking of using it to knit with--perhaps coasters for Hospice to sell.  And I thought the white yarn would make nice chemo caps--it's very soft. 
The day after I got the donation, hubby and I were a our local store and the pharmacy clerk he often chats with was telling us how her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer. So I began knitting the first hat. It's great traveling knitting--it's mindless now, just knit.  (Several doctor visits last week means that this has grown quite a bit since I photographed it.) I think the yarn is fine enough that it would be good for preemie caps, too.  I need to find a pattern.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crewel Friday

I've completed all of the stitching on the sampler piece. Here it is before blocking. I've since damp stretched it and it is nicely smooth now.
I've turned my attention to the second pocket but haven't taken a photo of my work on it yet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Done!

I took advantage of the long weekend and our first-Thursday stitching session last week to complete my bouquet. At long last (I'm pretty sure I started it in 2004).  The offending petal is redone. (Upon checking the picture and the tracing, it did stick out that much but I still disliked it so I made it stick out a bit but it's much shorter and I like it a lot better now.)  I'm not thrilled with the cords that go across the brown paper but I decided that the second one I did is much nicer than the first, which shows I've learned something and left it as is. Our class begins Sept. 30, at which time I'll do the pasting and steaming of this piece and then begin Phase II.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crewel Friday

I'm still spending my free time mostly reading (or working on projects I can't show yet).  Here's what I'm reading right now.
The Art of Embroidery by Llanto Synge

When I was in London, a friend showed me this book. I made copious notes, but then discovered it here in our library, so I've been reading it cover to cover. Mr. Synge is quite knowledgeable and the book is well written and lavishly illustrated. It has a lot of great information on crewel. Now that I think of it, it is not much of a how-to-stitch book but a wonderful history/survey that includes modern embroidery.
Embroidery by Mrs. Grace Christie and others

This is also from the library, a fragile gem, kept in a box because it's falling apart.  It's a rarer book by Mrs. Christie (Her Samplers and Stitches and Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving books are better known). It has articles by several people on stitching, designing, color, history and includes some lovely designs, with instructions plus ideas on how to vary the design/stitches/colors to suit your needs. Mr. Christie wrote some of the articles on design and color. And scattered throughout are how-tos for various stitches and techniques.

One of the articles in this book mentioned a book I just found online.  The Art of Needlework by The Countess of Wilton. It's from 1840. I was hoping for a section on crewel or pictures; it has neither. But it does have chapters on embroidery by royalty, the famous field of cloth of gold, and embroidered book covers, so I've saved it to read.  You can find it several places online. I downloaded it from here.