Friday, March 30, 2007

3-D Boquet DONE! (for now)

Since I had a few comments on doing the stumpwork petals for the first fritillary flower I thought I'd do the next set as a demonstration. The First on the left is the couched wire. You can see I used a plastic coated copper wire and only one wire sticks out - this is so I only have 6 wires for the stem when I'm done. This particular flower is based on a Jane Nicholas flower (unlike the others that I designed myself) and you can see a bit of wire sticking into the petal. This is because the real petals actually have a line like this that sticks out (see photo in previous post) The second petal has the wire covered in buttonhole. The third shows the start of the satin stitch layer in the lightest colour. You can see it goes under the wire that sticks into the petal. The fourth shows the finished satin stitch, with the tip of the wire under a few threads. The fifth petal shows the darning stitch used to get the checkered pattern. And the sixth is the finished petal. This time instead of detached buttonhole petals I tried doing the satin stitch on muslin technique like the petals, being very careful to make the backs completely covered.
And the completed stem, with two flowers and two leaves is below.

Then I put all my flowers together as a posy.

Now that I actually have spring flowers blooming (first tulip today) I don't feel the same urgency to design more - maybe next January. In the meantime, I have several WISPs I would like to work on, and a few other ideas in my head. The laidwork pattern I did for the TAST couching stitch looks like it would make an interesting brick pattern in a knot garden and I have been pouring over Embroidered Knot Gardens: Using Three-Dimensional Stumpwork, Canvas Work & Ribbonwork by Owen Davies and I'm thinking I might start planning!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

TAST 13 Knotted Cretan

I was able to get a peek at TAST 13 during work yesterday and after mulling over the organic, textured aspects of the stitch, I had an idea to work on last night. I guess I had cherry blossoms on my mind. I did do some test rows on a separate piece of aida cloth (which is the only way I can come close to stitching a straight line), and it seemed to me that 2 strands of floss just didn't give much texture, so I used 6 strands for the trunk and leaves and three stands of the pink with 2 strands of Krenick filament added - although the sparkle is hard to see in the photo.

Although this little tree isn't perfect, it does make me realize that there can be impressionistic needlework as well. I was able to move my watercolour painting to a new level with a teacher who showed me how to be looser with my forms and colours, and I see that the same can hold true for needlework. I have been concentrating on realism with my 3-D flowers and I really love them that way, but I can see doing a piece with looser stitching and a more Monet like feel. It will be something to note in my journal and come back to when I'm ready to do another framed piece.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

TAST 12 Couching - Kicking it up a notch.

I haven't had time to surf the TAST web ring for a while so before starting to stitch on Thursday, with my trusty cup of coffee at hand, I began my journey and the blog right after mine on the list was so great! Here is one of the posts from Amy of In The Fold showing her fabric postcards with the TAST stitching. But be sure to look at all her work. Then I was guided to an absolutely fantastic up and down buttonhole Stonehenge by Pat. They are doing such creative and beautiful things it really made me reconsider what I have been doing with my TAST samples. I know that 'If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter' but in this case I was inspired to try harder to make my own work more challenging.

I decided originally to use the challenge to create a stitch book of my own, and quickly realized that it was also a good way to try new threads and fabrics and colour combinations. But as I look through my samples I realize that the ones I like best and enjoyed stitching the most were the ones that were more than just rows of stitches. So, unless I really need to do some practice rows, I'm going to stitch something other than rows. I also tried to use only the stitch of the week in my work, and I'll try to stick to that unless I find myself blocked by it.

So this week I have two couching designs. The first is gold Krenick braid in a laid work pattern based on a chimney at Hampton Court Palace. I sketched the design in my visual journal (thanks Sharon B) and then was able to use a ruler to find the common lines to lay the long threads. I'm quite happy with this one and will use the pattern in other things.

The sunset interpretation is made with Bayeux stitch, which I learned about from a post by Carol-Ann at Threads Across the Web. I have been watching her progress on a Japanese embroidery with great interest and her stitching is exquisite.

For those awaiting spring, it is spreading north. I have snowdrops, squill, hyacinths and daffodils, but the crocus have finished. And my Lenten rose now has THREE flowers. I realize there are some of you over in GB who will laugh at such a thing, but it is a big deal for me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

TAST 11 Up and down buttonhole

I didn't get a chance to think of this week's TAST until yesterday and lucky for me Sharon posted about Elizabeth's 3 pronged up and down stitch. As I looked through Elizabeth's variations, I was taken with one that looked like a flower (what else) at the end of the next entry. Actually, all of her variations are wonderful. I am in awe of so much talent - be sure to check out Elizabeth's Quieter Moments blog.

So last night, I made sure I could actually do the up and down buttonhole with a row, then I tried the pattern, all with my favourite floss of the moment, DMC Colour variations. I love this pink/orange variation. I started on 25 count Dublin linen, a very early purchase which I've decided was a mistake, but I see some potential for pulled work with it. Then used a 35 count Belfast linen with the same count in the pattern and I think I like the design even better in the smaller form.

The big excitement this week was finally have the girls' hair cut for Locks of Love. It wasn't as traumatic as expected for them, but now they both look older so it is traumatic for me. But I'm proud of both of them.

Thanks to everyone who has posted comments recently. It is great to get feedback on the things I am doing and I value everyone's opinion.

Friday, March 09, 2007

TAST 10 Barred chain and Stumpwork Fritillary

This week I decided to try something completely different and so, inspired by Sharon B's embroidery samples I made a colourful pattern out of barred chain. It was great fun and helped me learn alot about colour combinations. I also wish I'd used more textures as well, since I was only using the one type of stitch. But all in all I'm happy with it.

Below is my first fritillary flower. I tried wrapping the wires to form the stem but I didn't like the way it looked so I went back to the floral tape. I find I can get the wires together much tighter this way, which makes a big difference when trying to bend wires to adjust the way the petals fall. I still need to do another flower and two leaves to finish the full stem. I think I'll make the petals slightly wider on the next flower because they don't' quite overlap the way they do in the picture I posted. And since none of my fritillaries are in bloom right now in the garden, I can't check a real flower.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Old WIP returns to the light

Although I am really enjoying my new job, I must admit that I am exhausted. I am used to getting up and puttering around the house for a while, picking up. doing a load of laundry, etc. then getting down to work at the computer. I was very lucky that a new job presented itself just as the at home computer job finished, but I have to get up earlier and get out of the house before everyone else. I still want to do needlework in the evenings, but I'm too tired to create anything, so I looked through my WIP kits and such and found an Irish stitch pocketbook that I had started a few years ago. It seemed perfect, but then I remembered why I stopped working on it - I couldn't count the threads. Well, since then I have been fitted with bifocals and I have a magnifier, so it turned out fine, except the first rows of stitching had to compensate for my old miscounts!!! But it is fine now and stitching up much quicker with the extra magnification. I have done another pocketbook, also an Examplarery design by Joanne Harvey, The Henry Row Pocketbook Kit.
I have one garden photo to show off, my first ever Lenten Rose. I have been trying to grow these without success for 10 years in NY and now here in VA for 2 years. When I first planted this one, the lovely man who does the mulch covered it up and I had to rescue it. It have finally recovered and this spring I have 1 flower - yes ONE. But I am still excited. I don't think I'll ever have a drift of Hellebore's like I see in English garden photos, but I got one to bloom.

By the way, if you like to be inspired by old botanical prints, try going to A Modern Herbal, an online version of a book by Mrs. M. Grieve, first published in 1931.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

TAST 9 Cross stitch

Since my first embroidery work as a child was cross stitch and then my first pieces when I returned to embroidery as an adult were reproduction samplers, I felt quite at home with this week's stitch. I am also working on the EGA Counted Thread Mastercraftsman program, specifically the first step which is to design a cross stitch sampler. I have just started a family sampler using the names of the women in my Mother's family. All the borders will be of Hungarian design, since that is where the family is from. I'm using patterns from old Hungarian pattern books.

The next step in the program is Assissi work, and I was reading that the background can be cross stitch, long armed cross or two-sided Italian cross, so I thought I would test these stitches to see what would be a suitable background. Then I went on to test various other cross stitch variations. I hope you can read all my labels when you click on the photo. (The yellow stitches were a test of row vs. single crosses. Not a huge difference if done carefully, but my upright was not done carefully!)

After doing very small areas, it seems that cross stitch would be the fastest to fill the background of Assissi work. However, the long arm and Italian stitches do give better coverage, but they take forever and I would have to work out ending compensation stitches. I especially like the two colour rice stitch but it is labour intensive so it could not be used for really large areas. The Smyrna cross is a fun stitch and while coverage is good when done over two threads, I really like the star effect when done over 4.