Sunday, February 25, 2007

TAST 8 Fly Stitch and stumpwork

Other commitments kept me from TAST earlier this week, but that was fine because this morning I was able to surf around the blogs and get inspired. This week I was taken with the fly stitch wheel and kaleidoscope that Mary sketched and stitched and did my own starburst sort of design. I'm also learning about colour so I tried working on a monochromatic colour scheme.

I have used fly stitch in the past as leaf and stem parts of plants.

Finally, I have been working on my latest 3D flower. This one is going to be a fritillary

Luckily I had a pattern this time, from Jane Nicholas beetle book. She has hers done as regular stumpwork with 1 full petal and two partial petals sticking out from the fabric. But I did all the petals with the one pattern and used her suggested weaving pattern - and her suggested DMC colours. I 'm making two flowers on one stem so I drew all 12 petals on the same piece of fabric, but then I realized when I had the first six done that I had to see how the flower would look. I'm still working on the stamens, but I have cut out the petals and held them together and I think it will look good. Of course that wastes some material but I just had to cut them out!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reviews of needlework related books

While I contemplate what to do with the fly stitch (TAST 8) I thought I would share some short book reviews I included in my EGA chapter newsletter. I only own the first of these books, the other two were borrowed from my local library - in fact I found them on the new books shelf! Be sure to check out the great things in your local library.*

Women’s Work, the First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. By Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Published by Norton, 1994.
My husband learned about this author and book from one of the weavers in Colonial Williamsburg. She was conducting a sheep program that my husband and daughters were attending, and when she mentioned this book, he thought of me and wrote it down.
Women’s Work is an excellent history of cloth, and the social and political place of cloth and the women who wove it, starting with the Paleolithic period. Wayland Barber has had to piece together archaeological evidence from around the world to tell the story of weaving and cloth. Even where written records exist and can be deciphered, women were not often mentioned. It is interesting that embellishment and decoration are seen on the earliest pieces of cloth, as if the need to be artistic is a very early instinct in humans. The book is well written and very interesting, and since cloth is integral to embroidery, it is helpful to see where it all started.

1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry.
By Andrew Bridgeford.
Bridgeford gives a convincing account of an alternative history for the Battle of Hastings found in the subversive stitching of the tapestry—which of course isn’t a tapestry at all, but rather a very long embroidery. The are colour figures of the whole tapestry and close ups of some of the noted sections. Even if you don't agree with the interpretation, it is still interesting to get a closer look at the tapestry.

The Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery, and Lore of the Persian Carpet.
By Brian Murphy.
Murphy is a political reporter who loves carpets, so the story of finding the patterns and dyes used throughout history is woven with the story of the politics of the region right now. You will be glad you are relaxing in your nice clean home when you read this book. But it is very exciting and interesting.

*Yes I'm a librarian plugging for library use. Be sure to check if your local library is on the Internet. I can search for books, renew books and put holds on books while sitting at my desk at home. Very convenient.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Band RR second round

I am so excited to be a part of a Sampler Band Round Robin. I've never done any sort of RR (unless you count the names on the membership band for our EGA chapter) so I have been looking forward to starting with this group. This piece was started by ktj of Katie's New Place.
Usually I take quite a while to decide on things for non-kit projects. I went through multiple ideas for the two President's challenges I've done for my EGA chapter, so I expected the band sampler RR would be similar. But somehow it wasn't. There were multiple inspirations that all lead to this band. When it arrived we had just started planning a trip to England for the spring, and I was checking the growth of my outdoor bulbs every day, and I was working on a bookmark of London motifs for my daughter (in the post below). At the same time I've been reading a book on symbolism in art and I wanted to include some special things to give the band meaning. The British and garden themes led me to patterns from another bookmark I had finished that had medieval garden motifs. I did some modification of the motifs and used many of my new colour variation DMC flosses to create what I hope is a lovely spring garden that comes after the wintry first band of this sampler. There are bees/honey for sweetness and water for tranquility. I realize the pictorial aspects of band samplers are usually at the bottom, but think of this as a minor update.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

TAST 7 Feather Stitch

I had one of those weeks where I lost track of the days, but that doesn't mean I didn't stitch. For this weeks sample, I tried stitching on a piece of black linen I received in a sample pack. I have always liked to look of black backgrounds, but I've never tried one so I thought this would be a good chance. I was surprised to see that the silver blending filament I used on the third row of double feather and closed feather stitching did not show up that well - even worse on the photo. On the other hand, all the floss colours I tried look quite nice. I especially like the feathered chain stitch - fourth row down in green. Because I am doing a stitch book, I've been trying to only use the one stitch in my sample, but I really like the use of feather with other stitches like the seems Ati has done. Since I mainly do embroidery, especially flowers and gardens, the packed feathered chain in white and purple at the bottom of my sample interest me because I can see doing long arching rows in green to make trees.

Below are a couple of my other projects of the week (I have also been working on a band RR and I had to wait until today to get muslin for more 3-D flowers). The top is purchased bookmark material with horses from a pet cross stitch book. I did the horses in the colours my younger daughter wanted. The left is the Appaloosa pony she shows, the middle is a bay, and the right is a fantasy horse with a silver tail - note that the silver seems to show up better here than on the black.
This bookmark is from a kit we purchased in England two years ago. My older daughter wanted to make it. She decided after starting the border that she didn't like cross stitch so it has been sitting since then. We are now planning another trip to England and I had the urge to stitch something British, so I confiscated the kit and made it up for her, which she was happy with.

I also practiced my lute a bit. I am working on two pieces that have a know tune since that makes it easier to tell if I'm actually playing it correctly. It is sounding a bit better. I received peg dope and some better quality strings for Valentines day (who needs chocolate) so I'm hoping to work with those tomorrow to see if the sound quality improves a bit. I'm hoping the peg dope will make it easier to tune the 13 strings and the better strings should reduce the buzzing on the lower notes. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 09, 2007

TAST 6 Algerian Eye

While looking for another pattern this week, I came across an old Leisure Arts leaflet by Betty Burchfield called Needlepoint Borders. It had a really neat woven ribbon design using the border patterns which inspired me to try my own ribbon piece. Not only did I try lots of colours and stitches but I had to do some compensation stitching which is always good practice. I used all DMC floss, except the light pink small flowers which are Weeks Dye Works floss. The red and blue band is the new colour variations DMC floss. I purchase a 12 pack with the weekly coupon from Michaels and I'm very pleased with the way the variegation looks, much better than the old variations floss and better colours too.
On an historical note, I found eyelet stitch in two reproduction samplers I have done which points to the utility of the stitch.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So many projects, so little time...

I am busy working on a more complicated than usual TAST sample this week, but in the meantime I wanted to share some of the different things I've been working on lately.

I finished another 3-D stumpwork flower.
ktj asked me what size they were, so here are all three I've done so far with a ruler:

My daughter had some time this weekend to draw me a dragon to stitch to put in the middle of her CQ pillow. I decided to try to imitate scales by covering the dragon in detached chain stitch (TAST 3 so I'm in practice). I've used some dark blue variegated DMC floss with a strand of peacock blending filament. I hate blending filament but it looks nice - hard to see in the photo but in real life it just gives a bit of extra depth to the colour.

I've also been working on this year's President's Challenge for my EGA chapter. Some Stitching Post members may remember that I wanted advice on what to put in a fabric envelope, because the challenge is to stitch an envelope and send a token gift to another member in it. The recipient is a secret until it arrives. It also has to have a holiday theme - although any sort of special day will do (maybe Talk Like a Pirate Day?). So I'm sending a spring envelope. This scene - based on some DMC charts - is under the envelope flap so it won't get ruined in the mail. It has been fun to design the envelope, but now I have to line it and sew it up so I hope it works!