Saturday, April 28, 2007

TAST 17 Running Stitch

For some reason I had a different idea about what to do with the running stitch this week. I like all the patterns and ideas from Sharon B and Elizabeth at Quieter Moments, and we even had an darning pattern sampler class at one of my EGA chapter meetings. But I kept seeing something that was sort of like Assisi work in my head. I wondered if running stitch could be used for something more organic. So I drew a design from a Persian carpet book I am reading on some 18 count aida cloth and filled things in. I like the effect although I would use linen so I could do more threads per inch to get more dense colour for the background. It would also be easier with a higher count to pull out the details of the design. And I think it would be better to actually plan the design on graph paper, especially since Susan at Crazy Quilt Susan has provided a link to make custom graph paper. I'm sure you can see it is more than a bit asymmetrical.

One of my other distractions

As well as work and vacation distractions over the past month, we also have the distraction of a new marine fish tank. This has been a great experience for the whole family. A new pet store had marine kits on sale and we have always wanted a marine tank - we gave away our freshwater fish tank when we moved in 2004. We decided we really wanted a reef tank because of all the beautiful corals so we picked up a couple of books when we purchased the tank. My older daughter has read the books through a couple of times now so she is the expert in the house.

The first thing we learned was that making space in one place requires moving many other things when your house is at capacity. The shelf we moved to make room for the tank stand had to go in the guest room/library and the desk from that room had to be moved to the art studio/garage for the sewing machine, and the shelf for backpacks that was displaced by the desk had to move to the other side of the doorway where it displaced a metal shelf which was moved to the attic where it displaced a small chest of drawers which luckily fit in the guest room/library that really did need a chest of drawers anyway. This all took several hours to accomplish since drawers and shelves had to be unloaded and loaded.

The next thing we learned is that marine aquariums require patience, lots and lots of patience. After conditioning the water we put live sand in the bottom of the aquarium which had to sit for a few days. Then we had to get live rocks (from Tonga and Hawaii) and let them site for a while - luckily this was while we were on vacation so it wasn't too bad. Otherwise we would have been watching this for a week.
Then finally we put in a few corals and a shrimp and hermit crabs and two snails and a fish. Later that week we added another fish and then later another coral. Now we have to let things balance again before adding a few more corals and one or two more fish. We also put a blue backing on the outside of the tank to highlight the colour.

As you can see there is now some colour and movement in the tank.

I'm very fond of this rock with yellow polyp and green button corals.
This is Zipper (I know it is blurry but it is really hard to get a photo). He is a six lined wrasse. We also have a Hippo Tang (blue fish like Dorey in Finding Nemo) and of course her name is Dorey.

They sun polyps aren't open much yet and the Kenya Tree leather coral is sort of floppy although the polyps all come out each day. We are now getting some algae build up on the glass and rocks but I understand from the books that this is all part of the mini-ecosystem we are trying to create. Luckily there is a very good marine aquarium shop nearby that has been most helpful in answering all our questions and recommending the easiest and heartiest fish and corals. It is fun to visit the shop with all the beautiful aquaria filled with colourful and amazing fish and invertebrates. There are a couple of giant tanks, one with a giant clam, that are truly spectacular and I can't even imagine how much they would cost to set up and keep. For now I am quite happy with our 29 gallon tank and the interesting creatures we have so far.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

TAST 16 Palestrina knot

Another new stitch for me this week, which is always fun. I've cropped out my boring learning rows and just put out the good stuff. The purple lavender flowers are closely spaced knots in linen thread which makes a great texture. The lavender leaves are a version of Palestrina from my old favourite, Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Needlework, called Palestrina knot with legs. I used two strands of perle cotton that had the right shade of greyish green. The trees are the opposite, tops in Palestrina with legs and trunks in close knots, all with 6 strands of floss.

With so many of the stitches we are learning I find it amazing that thread and spacing can make a huge difference in how a stitch looks. And it is nice to experiment on something small - I've never been a doodle cloth person and now I see that you miss something when you don't play around with a stitch. Thanks Sharon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TAST 15 Oyster stitch

I don't know why but the oyster stitch reminded me of a thumbprint and those books of making things out of thumbprints, so I went with the idea and came up with this. I used some alpaca wool I had from a previous project to make the sheep woolly.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Trip to England

Just came back from a wonderful 8 days in London, England. Sunny every day and in the 70s, so it was great for all the walking we did. I was able to tour through two gardens. The knot garden at the Museum of Garden History - which I was able to get as a kit for cross stitch and of course I started it on the plane - see above. I also toured the gardens at Kew, which didn't involve any embroidery but I love the gardens.
The other embroidery stop was the Victoria & Albert Museum. The textile area was closed on the day we went, but I found lots of textiles in other parts of the museum to drool over, including the Martha Edlin casket and some stumpwork mirror frames.
Of course we saw all sorts of castles and houses and museums and the Globe Theater and even went to a classical choral concert at St. Martin's in the Fields church. All in all an excellent trip.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hoppy Spring

My EGA chapter did mailable stitched envelopes for this year's president's challenge. The envelope had to be designed for a special day. I sent off a spring flowers envelope for the first day of spring. This week I received a bunny decorated envelope for Easter. Merry Susan stitched these and then tucked a really nice scissor fob chart into the envelope. I love it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

TAST 14 Bonnet Stitch

I had such fun doing this! I started with a couple of lines of the stitch to figure it out, but then realized that it looked very different depending on spacing and height and thread. As I thought about it, I realized that the closely spaced, short stitch looked like a rock path, and of course I thought gardens. I guess cleaning out the pond in the back yard made me thing pond - my pond is not that blue though. After the rounds of blue, brown and green, I did individual bonnet stitches for the flowers. I was going to just do French knots, but decided to try the bonnet stitch since I'm trying to only use the stitch of the week. It turns out they look a bit like tulips! Then of course, I realized that in orange the individual stitches could look like fish.