Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finally spring and spring cleaning

This is my sister's garden on Easter. It was a gorgeous weekend and the flowers are finally popping. It's still chilly, but everyone's spirit seems to have lightened with the change in seasons.
While cleaning recently, I came across an ancient UFO. I think I began this project in 1979 or 1980. Before I joined Homewood Guild.
 Completed tablecloth center, one end up close. It's hard to see but it's been cut and woven with picots.
It was my second Hardanger project ever. I'd grown up around needlework and sewing and had done some of my own, but the first class I ever took was Hardanger Embroidery with Aina Momquist at the Scandinavian Boutique in Homewood. The first project was a small ornament. I discovered I loved Hardanger, absolutely hated the buttonhole stitch (that opinion has changed dramatically), and really loved the possibilities of designing my own.
This is the entire center design. Completed probably in 1980--right away.
So that's what I did for my second project. I designed a table cloth for our dining room table, which had been my Great-Grandfather's kitchen table. It is blue and ecru, to match the Pfaltzgraff dishes my mother-in-law had just given us. The pattern is Yorktown.
 This is a portion of the border, completed up to the cutting. More than half is at this stage.

I designed it myself. Another first.  I have no record I can find of the counting, charting, etc.  Just the tablecloth (thankfully without a needle parked in it somewhere!) and the original bag of perle cottons.

I'd gotten about two-thirds of the way around the border when I began to get nervous about it matching up.  This was the first time I'd ever basted (with really dark thread, too, gasp!) and I'd counted wrong somewhere because the pattern didn't match the basting lines. I checked for errors all along the way and hadn't found any but was convinced something was off. 

I had been stitching the entire border--four-sided stitch, Kloster blocks, eyelets, flowers and faggot stitch as I went along. I stopped and began to just do the four-sided and blocks in my haste to see if there was an error.

Then the years passed and we no longer used that table as a dining room table (it's now a computer table) and I had no use for the table cloth. But every once in a while I'd pull it out and work a bit.
Last weekend was the first time I'd seen it all laid out--it takes up all of our Queen-sized bed. 

So, I pulled it out and picked up a needle and began stitching. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Hardanger. I completed the four-sided stitch all the way around and it came out even.  So I picked up the Kloster blocks and began working on them. I decided to work toward the last corner--it would be easier to fudge, if fudging would be needed, there.

So here's where I am now. That bottom row of Kloster blocks is exactly where it should be. I finished the second row at the bottom last night. It, too, came out even.  Next, I'll pick it up at the side and work down to the corner.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finished finishes

I put the project planning on hold and decided to focus a bit on finishing up some completed projects.
 I got the kit for this little pillow in December and have been working on it off and on since.  I didn't bother to pull out the sewing machine and just stitched it by hand.
 I made the Flower Power Angel up into an ornament.  She's going to be on exhibit next month at the Irwin Center in Homewood (with many other amazing pieces by the ladies of the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild.)
And I framed the Sweet Hearts needlepoint. I added some gold to the frame; I'm not sure how I like it.  It's also in the Irwin Center show.

It felt nice to get these things finished finished. All the while the other projects are percolating.

We took advantage of the nice weather on Saturday to take a walk in a nearby woods. We went to Thorn Creek Woods in Park Forest.  The path was the roughest I've done so far. I did okay with it. It's more up and down than what we've been doing, which was nice.  Bits of green starting but still mostly brown landscape. We visited the charming nature center and had a nice chat with the volunteer there. I spent some time at the bird watching window, enjoying the view. I think I saw a Tufted Titmouse.

After the nature center, we stopped at Park Forest Plaza at the Tallgrass Arts Center.  They had an interesting exhibit juxtaposing amazingly detailed landscapes in oil and watercolor paints with encaustic "landscapes" based on satellite images. It's called Near and Far.  We had a lovely chat with the volunteer there, too.  Such interesting people!

This week so far has been crazy.  Ice, sleet and then snow! I had to scrape my windshields this morning and my walk across campus today was way too cold. Yesterday I managed the visit of a circuit court judge and today hosted a big lecture and reception. Now I feel like I need a rest.

Friday, April 11, 2014

More Planning

I did it--I signed up for the EGA Challenge with a Twist. I've thought about it for years, each time a new one is announced, and decided to go for it. I think I have all of Judith Baker Montano's books, which means I like her style and techniques, and it will be amazing to have my work critiqued by her.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my photo choices in the previous post.  The feedback was fairly equal amongst the pictures, which made me feel like all my selections were possible. Thanks!
I had a thought that if I did one of the pieces from Avebury, with the stones, that I might want to use actual stones in the piece. Years ago I saw a quilt where stones had been wrapped in sheer chiffon and attached tot he quilt. I thought that might work. 

On our Dunes excursion Sunday, I looked for possible stones.  The ones below are my picks for the two pictures. Not quite the exact size and shape of the photos, but they capture the feeling of the ancient stones for me. 
They're just about the size of the stones in my printouts. Which is great if I decide to work that small. I'll need to look for some larger stones if I enlarge the pieces.

I still haven't decided on which image, so I'll thinking about all three still. While at the dunes I studied the colors of the water and sky and also looked closely at the dunes grasses.

I'm planning another embroidery now, too. My EGA chapter is doing some programs on Crazy Quilting and I decided to play along.  One of my favorite online shops, Evening Star Designs, is going out of business. (sadness)  I took advantage of a sale to get a creative pack with the silkie above. I love all of the detail and how the embroidered flowers and birds come to life and fly from the hoop. I didn't notice the dragon or his hoard until later.
Between that pack and a creative pack sent me at the holidays by a good friend, Jenny, I have a good start. Most of the fibers, beads, and trims above came in the Evening Star Designs kit.
These fabrics are about 50/50 Evening Star Designs and the pack from Christmas--from the Old Chapel Textile Center and National Needlework Archive in Berkshire, UK. I had some red velvet on hand to add. Just at the thinking and gathering stages right now.  It may never get much further, but I'm having fun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some signs of Spring!


Last Sunday we went out to Lubeznik Center for the Arts to see the current exhibits. 
What Is Left Unspoken is the show in the main gallery.
 Doug Fogelson is a photographer. (Tree branches placed onto sensitive paper, above.)
Barbara Hashimoto did a series of pieces based on shredded junk mail. 
Both artists had very interesting concepts that made me think.
Upstairs, Laurel Izard had a couple of exhibits. One was of her drawings and collages. The collages were made with textbook pages (she's a teacher). They were a really fun surprise. And very different from her art that we had gone to the gallery to see...
The main reason we went was to see Laurel Izard's embroideries--Embroidered Archetypes: The Major Arcana.  They were awesome and you should go and see them if you can get to Michigan City. (the show runs through May 10)  Sorry, the photo is off kilter--it was really hard to get a picture without reflections. Another image is here.  And some of her other work, here.

The pieces are small and solidly embroidered. They are full of details--each time I looked at a piece, I saw something new. And there are a lot of them.  I'd say around 30 perhaps.   Go!

Downstairs was some school art--their take on the "Keep Calm" meme was fun.
And, finally, some green growing. These bulbs coming up were are the Dune's Visitor Center.  Sun, too. Notice--no snow on the ground.  It was still chilly, but at this point, I'll take what I can get!
This lovely tile flower was decorating a pillar inside of the visitor center.  Spring year 'round.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


The EGA is currently offering a Challenge, Thinking like a Painter with Fabric, Threads, and Yarns, with Judith Baker Montano.  I really like her work and the Challenge would be a chance to use some of her techniques and ideas to make my own design.  

So, I'm really thinking about doing this. I'd do the Challenge with a Twist--for a bit extra fee, I can have her review things before I get too far, followed by a critique at the end.

I need an image with a distinct background, midground and foreground.  I've been looking through my photos and I can't decide. I've weeded it down to three and I'm not sure which would be the most interesting and has the strongest design.

All of my choices include either people or houses--some sign of people. Most of Judith's designs do not have people (although some have houses).  And I don't take many landscapes--most of my photos are of family and friends or are close ups of details I see.  

Please let me know what you think about these photos--can you see any of them as embroideries?  Does one stand out to you? Do you think they're all "feh"? 
 1. Lake Michigan
 2. Avebury
3. Longstones

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Flower Power Angel

When I first saw this angel, with her braids, I thought of me. I used a Needle Necessities overdyed floss with a bit more gray in it than I had back then. I dug in my stash for some beads and butterflies and some teeny-tiny buttons to sew on.
Recently, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of us in the 70s. I was wearing big heart shaped, hot pink sun glasses. (The first sunglasses I liked enough that I never lost them! I wore them for years.) So, I decided to give my angel hot pink, heart shaped sunglasses.
Inspired by Susan Elliot of the Plays with Needles blog, I made a plan. I found hot pink wire at Jo-Ann's and bent it into the right shapes (my first effort ended up being the final glasses I used). I tried gluing plastic wrap onto the formed test wires, and it stuck! So, then I found dark green nail polish and painted it onto the plastic wrap and glued that to my wire glasses and voila!  Heart shaped, hot pink sun glasses!  I poked them through the canvas and just bent the wires over. 

I'll make her into an ornament.