Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Giveaway

This week was easy; there was only one comment. Gill is the winner of the ribbon embroidery pin.

This is a needlepoint bracelet I stitched for a guild project a few years ago. The colors are actually a bit less purple--the reds and blues are more distinct from each other. Above is side one, below side two. There is a different needlepoint stitch in each square. The squares are about 5/8" each.
The bracelet is elastic and is surprisingly easy to wear for looking so clunky. I have a second pastel one I made for myself and I wear it often.

If you would like to win this bracelet, please comment on this post, including an easy way to get in touch with you.  Good Luck!
Sorry, the deadline for these giveaways is one week from posting. I'll pick the winner next Tuesday, February 7, at noon Central U.S. time.  Anyone, anywhere may enter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh, My, Goodness!

Mary Corbet of Needle 'n Thread and Evan of Evertite Stitchery Frames sure know how to make a girl feel special!

I was blown away when I opened the box with the prize I'd won in Mary's Twelve Days of Christmas drawings. Look at this card--it was right on top of all of the colorful wrappings.
Right below it was the letter listing all of the goodies in the box. I'd expected a small box with the two sets of frame bars and a small tool. I'm still wowed by this extravaganza!
I set about unpacking and unpeeling yards and yards of plastic tape and bubble wrap, periodically running out to the kitchen where hubby was trying to make us some dinner and telling him he just had to look at this or that...
Here it is all unwrapped. In addition to the two pairs of frames, there were two tools, a bag of tacks , some little rare earth magnets and a large magnet in a holder--I'm not quite sure what that's for yet.
Here it all is so you can actually see it.

I haven't had a chance yet to put my Tanja Berlin needlepainting robin onto these bars but I'm sure it'll be wonderful. The project has been languishing because the fabric needs to be kept drum taut and so each time I take it out, I have to laboriously untack the very-closely-placed tacks around it and restretch it. By the time I do that, my stitching time is used up.  

The centers on the bars are already marked, with nice long lines (not my random pen or pencil scratches i make where I hope it won't get on the fabric).  They're beautifully made and very smooth.  I can't wait to try them out.

They're available in the Chicago area at Designer's Desk. I know 'cause on a weekend trip out that way, some more sizes of Evertite Stitchery Frames jumped into my shopping basket and came home with me.

Thank you very much, Mary and Evan! You certainly made my week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some lovely gifts

I'm sorry things are so dull here lately. I feel that work has eaten up my life.  I've done an odd bit of stitching here and there, but not much at all.  Last week, on the perfect day when I really needed a boost, I received a late Christmas gift. It was very welcome!  It included an abundance of chocolate, which I've been using for motivation on late nights at work.
And also some chocolate scented thread!
I haven't seen this year in the U.S. yet, but DMC has a line of scented floss in the U.K. Above is chocolate and below is a kit that includes vanilla.
I was intrigued and began stitching the kit last weeknd. As I stitched with the cream-colored floss, I did get a mild scent of vanilla the entire time. It didn't bother my allergies at all and is very pleasant.  The scent is more apparent when stitching than in the skein. 
This book was also in the box of goodies. It's from the 1930s (if I remember correctly) and has lots of interesting projects and crafts from candy making (including a simple fondant recipe for "the little ones") to how to weave chair seats from rope.  A recipe for making your own gesso paste sounds like great fun--but I suspect I may have trouble finding French glue and "best" whiting.
This page illustrates leatherwork projects.
And this one an embroidery sampler (opposite a discussion on perspective drawing).
"Reggie" (for Regency Guy) came to live with us a while back.  We never realized how lonely he was until Jane appeared (yep, for Jane Austen, I'm not terribly creative).  I love the jaunty feather in her hat and her shawl.  Their faces make it clear they were made by the same person. They're now quite happy together.
This glorious "scrap" of fine lacis (a needlelace stitched on a netting grid) was the wrapping for Jane to keep her safe during shipping. It is gorgeous. The lacis and the post today on the  "Ivory Blush Roses" blog has me really inspired to work with whites. 

Plays with Needles isn't going white but her silvery winter neutral palette is very appealing, too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pear pincushion winner and new giveaway

Random.org picked #2 today, so Terryb is the winner of last week's drawing for
the embroidered pear.
This week's new giveaway is a pin to wear, in time for Valentine's Day. The smaller lace trimmed oval is actually the pin. It has silk ribbon embroidery roses on ecru moire fabric. It seemed to get lost to me--it's about an inch long--so I crocheted a heart to go underneath it and highlight it.  The two are not attached so if it seems too much for you, you can leave the pink heart off.

Same rules--anyone, anywhere may enter by leaving a comment on this post.  I'll pick a new winner next Tuesday.  Please make sure I have an easy way to get in touch with you.  Good Luck!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Way too many books

On Christmas Eve we had the great book landslide. We ran out of bookshelves, oh, about 20 years ago and being the readers we are, just began stacking them. I have three stacks next to my chair that act as a side table but..boom, crash, they all tumbled dramatically as I was wrapping presents.  Later that day a stack of antique magazines took a similar slide and that was the straw.
The cosmos is telling me that there is just too much stuff.
So for the last few weeks, I've been spending Saturdays clearing out. I've gone through my dresser, jewelry, a bookshelf in our bedroom and our main bookshelf in the living room. Last Saturday I moved books around until I had a clear space in which to pile up books and magazines that need to go.  (I also set aside two huge bags of needlework books for a niece--she and her husband will soon rival us in the book department--makes me proud!)

Anyway. I've listed the books. Old and new (1908, I think, to 2006) and magazines and booklets (again early twentieth-century to the present day), rare and not so rare, mostly needlework and set some requested prices--they're negotiable. Price, plus exact shipping costs to wherever you are. (If you're in the Chicago area, let me know and perhaps we can work out a visit to the piles.)

The thing is, I can't list or show them all here for sale (it's a free blog, not a commercial one).  Right now all I have is a pretty bare bones typed list--author, title, publisher, date and price (based on online research). If you are interested, let me know by e-mail and I'll send you the list. Most of the books are available somewhere online so they're easy to research.

That stack shown above is about a quarter of what I eventually want to sell. I just don't have room to pull them all out and have them available at one time. I have a pile about a yard high of old needlwork magazines, Modern Priscilla mostly, from the early twentieth century, mostly 1910 to 1930. So the sooner this batch sells, the sooner a new list will be available.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First 2012 finish

I can't believe it's this far into the year before I've finished a project. Work is taking up far too much of my time and energy!
I finished my hat, based on the pattern by my sister-in-law. I think it's sweet. The pattern called for tassels but I received a pom-pom maker for Christmas so I made pom-poms instead.
But it's a tad to small for my large head. I've promised it to a friend who seemed quite happy.
I really liked making this but I'm not sure about the yarn (a bamboo blend). It's soft but that softness makes it slide off my head (well, that and the fact that it's too small). So, I'm going to try to find the color in a woolier yarn.  I'm itching to start another hat, though, I really enjoyed stitching this pattern.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winner and new giveaway

Random.org picked 3 today, so the winner of last week's draw for the Alice in Wonderland pattern set is Jane. 
The giveaway for this week is a hand-embroidered pear.  I have a number of projects that I've stitched that never found happy homes, so I decided to make them giveaways here.  The pattern I used was Summer Pears from Crab Apple Hill Studio.  The pear is probably about 7" tall (I didn't think to measure it) and has a wooden stem and ribbon leaf.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post.  The drawing will be next Tuesday, January 24, at noon.  Anyone, anywhere may enter. Please make sure I can easily contact you from your comment.  Thanks! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New projects

I'm still working on my crewel piece but in between, I've begun a couple of other projects.  The mass of pink yarn above exactly matches my new winter coat. So, while it's not exactly ideal for the pattern, I'm using it. The pattern is a teaching pattern designed by my sister-in-law and I'm test driving the instructions.  It's a really fun hat to knit.  It goes all different directions, from a vertical cabled side panel to a side-to-side knit central portion for each half of the hat, finally ribbing.  I've got one half done, to the right on a holding needle. The second half is on the circular needle.
This piece has an interesting history. The materials were collected by a woman I met last spring. Jane was the kind of person I wish I had been able to spend a lot more time with and get to know a lot better. Smart, witty, an artist and art lover, definitely someone to know. Sadly, she passed away shortly after we met. Generous friends sent me some of the gorgeous fabrics she'd collected.

Amongst them was this piece of broiderie persé--applique using existing printed or stitched fabrics, following the contours of the design.  The original embroidery is on silk and the ground is quite fragile. She had basted this piece to the brown velvet ground--there are several other pieces of the embroidery I may use to add on or fill in. 

A young woman who grew up with Jane as a neighbor is getting married this spring and I'm going to complete this applique and make it into a ring bearer's pillow for the wedding.  Afterward, I'm going to disassemble the pillow, which will necessarily be fairly small, and remake it into a larger pillow for a sofa or a chair, as a wedding gift.

It's coming along nicely. I've found threads that match the embroidery pretty well for the applique.  I plan to edge the outline in a metallic thread to finish it off.  The silk ground is so fragile it turns under easily. It also sometimes frays and shatters a bit. Some of the embroidery threads are loose and I'm tacking them down as I go.  I really like projects like this where I feel connected with past stitchers, in this case Jane and the unknown embroiderer who stitched the original silk flowers and leaves.

While they're silk and a bit more formalized, the floral motifs are very reminiscent of the crewel I've been so immersed in lately. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Giveaway

This give away is a set of three gently used patterns. I copied the pattern pieces and the giveaway will include all of the cut-out (used) copied pieces plus the intact patterns and instructions. They will make the nine Alice in Wonderland ornaments that I made for friends this Christmas. You can see photos of the ornaments I made from the patterns on my Flickr page

The patterns are from Indygo Junction and you can see them here.  You can also purchase an accessories kit for the patterns full of small treasures used to embellish the ornaments.  I did and felt it was well worth it. This was a really fun project and I hope this giveaway will spread the fun.

To enter, comment on this post. I'd love to know which is your favorite character from the book, if you have one.  Anyone, anywhere may enter.  Please include a clear way (e-mail address or link to a blog or webpage with an e-mail address) for me to contact you.  The draw will end on Tuesday, January 17, at noon central time, a week from today. I'll announce the winner that evening. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Emery winner and a basic tutorial

Random.org picked #1:  so Linda at Lewmew is the winner of the emery.

I plan to do frequent giveaways over the next few weeks. I'll post the next one tomorrow.

To make your own emery:

I purchased strawberry emeries from Hancock's of Paducah.  I think they're filled with silica not emery filings, but they seem to work well.  For a pattern I cut a half circle and then trimmed it a bit so it looked like a broad v with a rounded top.  When I laid the emery on top of the pattern with the pointy ends together, the top of the paper was about 1" longer than the strawberry.  I made sure it went around the berry with enough for a seam. It was pretty-much seat of the pants.

I cut the hanging loop off the emery (it was too short). I added my own loop by a combination of sewing and glue--the purchased emeries had a glued on green top and it was hard to stitch through.

For most covers I cut the pattern shape from fabric, added embroidery, pinned the seam with right sides facing, stitched the side seam and turned it right side out.  I generally poked a bit of batting into the tip and some around the top if needed to fill it out. I pushed the emery inside. I folded in the top edge and gathered it, pulling it tight around my hanging loop.

To disguise the gathers, I added a frill of lace, rickrack, a bunch of ribbon roses, etc. around the base of the hanging loop.

I often added beads or additional stitching at this point.

To make the crazy quilted emeries, I drew the pattern onto muslin and pieced onto that, embroidered it and then finished it like the other. 

You don't want the emery to be overly embellished--it's a tool and you're going to be poking your needle into it to polish and sharpen it.  You don't want to have trouble finding a place to use it. The fun for me was to try and find the perfect fabric and trim for the recipient.

To start from scratch, you can purchase emery powder or filings and make your own emery. Use a very fine cotton or muslin for the inner fabric.  I also have enclosed the emery in the cut-off corner of a plastic bag before inserting it into the inner muslin berry, for extra security.  Sew the top of the muslin tightly closed.  Then make an outer covering as above.  If you make your own you can make them any size and shape.  Generally they are small so you can pass your needle completely through from one side to the other to polish it. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Crewel Friday and a bit more...

New Year's weekend provided some lovely stitching time.  I completed the acorns, began the main stem, outlined the hills with split stitch and stitched the deer. I feel I'm jumping around a bit but the main stem and hills are the same color family and I want to get them well underway before taking a break for some color with the last two leaves. motivation. I've also just about completed my paper.
Last week I won lovely prize. I'd mentioned I'm participating in a 30-day creativity practice with others, organized by Quinn Creative.  As part of the conversation, she asked us to post our words for 2011. She selected two participants to win these cute inner critic dolls. 
While it's supposed to be used to silence your inner critic, these days the way work has been going, I've been using it to remind me to keep my yap shut when I long to spout off.
The doll came with this awesome card.
The long holiday weekend, along with our monthly support group on Thursday, also allowed me time for Japanese embroidery. I stitched the flat silk foundation for the middle fan blade. It's a deep burgundy color (which some people see as purple, some as brown). The trellis on top is done in two metallics, alternating--gold and a variegated pink. I still need to tie it down at the intersections. I hope to get that done this coming weekend.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Emeries--and a giveaway

This year I made decorated Strawberry emeries for my stitching friends. I had fun customizing each person's design.
Here are some of them.
All of the images are available on my Flickr page here.
I don't know why this last photo is blurry--I took them all at the same time. I made this one for you. It's a giveaway, the first of several I have planned.
This is a simple give away. Please leave a comment on this post, include your name and either an e-mail address or another way to get in touch with you. Anyone, anywhere may comment.  The comments will close at noon central time on Monday, January 9. I'll draw a name that afternoon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Alice Ornaments

In the fall I found a really cool set of patterns by Indygo Junction with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I was going to make one or two but ended up making all nine and sending them off to a friend and her family. It worked out there was one for each person.  I had a blast making them, very little embroidery, a lot of crafting and assembling. I learned some new doll making techniques.  Here they are.
More photos are available on my Flickr page here.