Thursday, June 27, 2013


About a week ago, I found this project in my stash. It was packaged in a nice box, with scissors in it that I'd forgotten about. It was begun my a friend, Rita Kortenhoeven, and came to me after she died. It looks to me to be a version of Chottie's Personal Plaid design, done a little differently, and was about 1/4 done. I worked on it and when I picked it up again, it was about 3/4 done. My problem is I never liked the color combination.
But I decided to get it done. So I did. This is the back, I used long arm cross stitch to join the edges.  The wool, something I've never seen before, comes in little miniature skeins like knitting yarn. It's 88 line/Trilla. (I have the leftover skeins--if you want them let me know.)
So, now it's done and I can move on.  And now that it's all done, I don't have as much of a problem with the colors.
This weekend I began the finishing process for the Shochikubai Japanese embroidery.  This is the back, just before beginning. 
Here's me steaming it.
And done ready to dry. I have the mounting board ready and hope to lace it on one night this week.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Me Time

In general, I feel a lot of my time is "me time." But sometimes, especially when the pressure is on at work, it feels great to take some time to do things I really enjoy.  On Friday, World Embroideries and I went to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fest, up at the Lake County Fairgrounds (IL).  It was, as usual, great fun.  Even heavy storms didn't detract from our visit.
 I did find some treasures to add to my stash.  I have a shawl underway, but it's more complex and needs more of my attention than I feel I can give it right now.  The colors remind me of the shore.
I'm going to try wire knitting, and make this bracelet. The chips are peridot, my birthstone.
This fun kit makes two adult hats and three kids hats from the one skein. You knit using both the outside end and the inside end of the skein to produce the color changes.  I think it'll be tangled but fun.

On Saturday, after errands, I had a massage, a rare treat.  It left me relaxed (limp as a noodle). I finished as a spa night with a hot bath with epsom salts and an early bedtime.  

I stayed lazy on Sunday and finally began to rev up Sunday night.  Good, 'cause this looks like a killer week coming up.  But now I'm calm, relaxed, destressed and detoxed, ready to dive in.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Productive Weekend Round 2

Sometimes you go along working slowly and all of a sudden it's done. That's kind of what happened with this small piece of Japanese embroidery. I began it a couple of years ago and just worked on it here and there until this spring, when I realized I could finish it if I worked at it.
So, it became my focus.  The piece is called Three Happiness. The motif is Sho Chiku Bai in Japanese, a natural winter group of plum blossom, bamboo, and pine. It's also called the three friends of winter and is a symbol of good luck and happiness.
The materials were familiar to me, and some of the stitches, but not in the same context. So it was a learning experience.  I had a lot of trouble controlling the tightly twisted "katayori" thread used to outline the bamboo.  I've never done the stitch in the bamboo leaves with two colors. I found that really difficult, too.  I liked doing the pine boughs and needles, though, and enjoyed the plum blossoms (although I ripped a lot there).    The setting above is how I plan to frame it, with the white space at the bottom.

Rather than resting on my laurels after finishing the stitching, I got out the ruler and measured the piece, decided on a mat and frame size, cut the foam core base and covered it with thin batting. I also got out my books, wheat paste (or is it rice? it's a white powder, whichever, to be mixed with water and cooked), my white velvet pillow to beat out the dust, finishing paper and instructions.  I hope to begin the finishing process next weekend.
Then I really rested.  And while I was sitting, I finished a bracelet. I had been working along on it for a week or so, a bit here and there. It's the same chain maille pattern as the others.  As I was working on it, I really questioned my color choices.  But now that I've worn it, I like it better. I didn't make earrings because of the color issue, but I may now.  I was overtired when I finished it and the pliers kept slipping (you use smooth jawed pliers so you don't damage the wire). I should have my mouth washed out with soap.  But at least I didn't fling the thing across the room when it slipped for the umpteenth time on the same ring.  I've been known to do that with beading.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Productive Weekend

 We stayed home most of this weekend. I was whacked from the busy week and he was not feeling very well.  In spite of that, I feel like I got a lot accomplished.

First, I finished the embroidery on the strawberry ring-bearer pillow.
This photo is off angle--I was looking down at it as it stood upright on the frame.
Not only that but I got out the stretcher bars, laced it up nice and taut, and washed and rinsed it.  It came out nice and smooth.  It's a pain to lace things, it really is, but the results are well worth it.  I used dental floss to lace--it's nice and tough and doesn't break and while it's hard to tie into a knot, it's also not round and slippery like thread. It kind of stays where you put it.
And I got out the felt and began to make up the four strawberry dangles for the corners of the pillows.  Each is made from a half circle, rolled into a cone, and covered with random detached chain stitches (lazy-daisy stitches).  You can see a completed one on my scissors fob.  The brown twisted cords will be the stems for the berries.  I'll add a green frill.

I'm still debating between box pillow and knife edge and what kind of trim or piping to use on or in the seam. 
That's not all I managed this weekend.  More to come.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family Visit

Last weekend we all got together for barbecue and sat overlooking the Fox River as we chowed down.  It was overcast but otherwise lovely--not to hot, not to buggy, not to cold. And not raining. That's saying something for Chicago these days!
 Here's my sister with her gimpy foot (she broke a bone in it a couple of weeks ago).
 And the sister-in-law's new sweater--she designed it herself and it is really lovely. I didn't get a photo of her equally lovely hand-knit original dress. 
And I have a finish to show. I made another chain maille bracelet and earrings set.  I also got some inexpensive colored aluminum rings to play around with chain maille patterns.  It was fun to just play.  I'm at work on a third bracelet set. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

making progress

Last week was a conference week--I'm still recuperating.  I seem to have more help each time and do less myself, but I'm still just as tired when it's all over.  Last one for the academic year, though.  Now on to the two-week summer seminar.

So I want to get this done and on its way before that hits.  
 I left a bit of this one uncompleted to show the paddings.  I'm padding the petals with self padding--a split stitch outline then a lazy-daisy inside and, for the front-most or biggest petal, a few straight stitches on top of the lazy-daisy.  The strawberry is padded with cut-to-shape felt before laid stitches, then trellis couching.  It's the tie downs on the trellis that make the seed pattern on the berries.

Most of the leaves are just satin stitch.  Some things I'm stitching "western"--background up--and others "eastern"--foreground back.  I think the stems in the leaves make a huge difference. I left them out on that final stem near the unfinished flower.

You can tell how wrinkly the fabric is--I'm using a hoop.  And I just plopped this down on the scanner this morning without any pressing.  By now it's just grubby enough from my hands (you can't see it but I know it's there) that I won't press it until after it's washed.

The garden is lovely but out weather's been so bad I've gotten out of the habit of carrying the camera.  The plants do like all that extra rain.