Monday, May 28, 2007

Stitching kit done

Despite having a few other things to do, I managed to finish the stitching kit I'm giving to the art club teacher who supported my VA tapestry idea. The last meeting is today after school and I'll post the finished tapestry tomorrow. For the top of the tin I decided on a real sampler of stitches so she would have a small reference library in hand. Being a part of TAST made this an easy project, although choosing what to do was a bit hard. The top row is cross stitch, the next a blackwork lozenge motif, both done with cotton floss, then Queen stitch, which is done with flower thread. The initials are cross stitch again, but this time in Vicki Clayton silk. The chevron stitch is done in linen thread (you may recognize this from my TAST work). Next Algerian eye done with Gumnuts Poppies wool/silk thread (really fun to work with). The up and down buttonhole variation is in floss again (this was from Elizabeth at Quieter Moments) and finally a row of flowers with herringbone leaves done in flower thread (remember TAST week 1) and French knot flowers in floss. The border is the crossed buttonhole from TAST last week.
Here is a side view show the ribbon I used to cover the tin. The lid has had dyed silk ribbon wrapped around 3 times. The bottom is some new Martha Stewart ribbon from Michael's. It is self adhesive and fit perfectly around the bottom of the tin. I used the same ribbon and a couple of the others in the pack to cover the bottom as well.
Inside is the biscornu and scissor fob, on a new pair of scissors. I put a magnetic bottom in the box, and included some gold plated needles and a needle threader. Below is the finished scissor fob since it wasn't completed in the last post.
I really had a great time doing this. I always wondered about people who specialized in 'smalls' but now I can really see the appeal. It was just so much fun deciding what to include and stitching up these things, and the change from stitching to finishing keeps the interest going. Mind you, I think I need to read up on how to finish tin tops. I sort of fudged it with some double-sided fusible interfacing and double-sided tape and I'm sure there must be a better way.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

TAST 21 Crossed Buttonhole Stitch

As mentioned in my last post, I decided to devote my stitching time to making a small sewing set for the art club teacher who didn't think I was crazy when I suggested the VA tapestry project to her. So while I don't have a neat little picture or interesting set of variations, I do have this week's TAST as a nice border on a biscornu and scissor fob. This is the finished biscornu (can't begin to list all the sites I have seen this at, as well as seeing a couple done by an EGA chapter member at a meeting, just Google the word and you'll get instructions).

This is the top of the scissor fob. Both of these will fit in an Altoid's tin, so I'm also going to stitch something for the lid. I'm not sure what yet, but it will have the same blue crossed buttonhole border.

I'm using 28 count Monaco cloth for this project and it is the first time I have used this type of cloth. It is quite nice for the over one work I am doing on these pieces. One of the members of my EGA chapter did some hardanger work with it and she thought it worked quite well for that. Having recently done a pilot class for a pulled work project I think it wouldn't be very good for that, a bit too stiff.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Needle felting for fun!

Last fall we went to the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia and saw some wonderful needle felted figures. My daughters and I fell in love and one of them decided she wanted a needlefelting kit, so we bought one. But no instructions! So I looked and looked for the perfect book to get us started and then one day at a friends place I saw what we needed: Fleece Dog: A Little Bit of Magic Created With Raw Wool and a Special Needle by Nobuko Nagakubo. I couldn't get to the quilting shop where my friend purchased it (good thing because I would have bought lots of fabric) but I did order it online. And this is what I've done

The dogs my daughters have made are adorable but they are waiting for glass eyes - I was to impatient! When they have eyes I'll post photos.

Aside from the expected needle pricks to the fingers this was a surprisingly easy and fun project. Not outrageously expensive either. Now I'm thinking of other things I could felt. Luckily there are great things to view on the Internet like Mandy's felt and Dy's felt box

Along the same lines there is silk paper at Calidore but I'm getting ahead of myself. This weekend I'm devoting myself to a small pincushion and scissor fob for the art club teacher who has been so wonderful to take on my crazy tapestry idea. She now wants to do more stitching and is going to work on a stitch book! I'm such a bad influence.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

TAST 20 Butterfly Chain

As I was thinking about what to do with this stitch I was also reading a book I received for Mother's Day, Medieval Gardens by Anne Jennings. It is a lovely book and one of the garden features it covers and gives instructions for is a turf bench. There was one picture in particular, which I can't find on the Internet to link to, that shows a woman reclining against a wall that seems to be set into a hillside. There is grass with flowers under her and extending out from the top of the wall as well. So I thought that closely packed butterfly chain would look like the wall, and then spaced butterfly chain would be the flowers on the lawn. I had no green linen for the lawn so I got out my trusty watercolours and made some green linen. Instead of plain butterfly, I tried a sort of weaving butterfly, hoping to get the effect of bricks, but as you can see below, it doesn't look at all like bricks. But it sort of looks like trellis work, so I changed my idea, but kept the green linen.
So I made really long foundation groups, with four threads to make trellising easy, and came up with this.
Then I decided to play around and this is what happened. Once again, if I was going to do this on something I'd plan a bit better so things weren't lopsided, but I really like playing around with weaving the threads under and over the foundation stitching.
Maybe I need to think about getting a loom!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Blog - The Embroiderers' Story

Dorothy just posted to the EGA group about a wonderful new project to recreate an amazing embroidered jacket. The project is being done at Plimoth Plantation and they are going to keep us up-to-date with a blog It looks like it will be a very interesting project. Now there is something that will take a long time!

Inspiration and Creativity

I have so much to think about this week that my brain is racing faster than I can really think - and it's not just the tea and coffee I've been drinking all day. Rather, it is all the interesting and inspiring blogs I've been reading. Add to that the new things I've been reading up on for work, and well, you have one busy brain.

To start with, I've noticed that since I started my out-of-the-house part time job I've had alot more mental energy. I've had to read up on lots of new technology and start using it as well (Sharon B's Mindscape blog has been helpful for this). And I've had lots more face-to-face interactions as well, which has been nice. Despite lots of professional reading, I'm actually feeling more creative.

So then Sunday I see the most amazing piece of stumpwork imaginable. It is a large alphabet sampler by Donna at By the Bay Needleart. First she teases us with a few shots for Mother's Day. But after I wrote wanting to see more, she posted a photo of the whole piece. Donna has been working on it for a year and as well as the inspiration of seeing the beauty of her piece, I am inspired by the time she has taken. I mentioned it to a couple of members of my EGA group last night and they said they had pieces that have taken longer - in rotation with others. I have often slipped small pieces in with a larger piece, but my one big piece was not rotated with much of anything. I've been thinking of doing another big project but I felt I didn't have the time, but I realize now that maybe I just need to be willing to rotate and not set a deadline or deny myself different things while getting one thing done.

Elisabeth at Sew in Love had this problem a while back with her dog needlepainting and I voted for the finish is and get it over with plan, although she decided on the rotate it with other things plan. And now I'm thinking that maybe I was wrong.

Which leads me to one of the gapingvoid tips: Don't worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually. If I worry too much about when to do something, I won't be ready for inspiration.

Sharon B, crediting Serena of Layers of meaning , pointed us to this wonderful list of tips from 2004 (before I was blogging). I like Sharon's choices, but I also enjoyed reading Sarah E's list because I too have times when I want to ignore everybody.

I think, given my own experience, my favourite one is: You are responsible for your own experience. There have been times in my life where I just did what had to be done because it seemed so overwhelming to take care of everyday life. I started to make time for needlework and then my husband gave me a classical guitar which brough music back into my life and it was funny how I was able to do those things and still take care of everything else. I can't say the cleaning suffered because I was never really cleaning all that much, so I'm not sure where the time came from. And of course now I feel better as well.

Just to give you an idea of where the inspiration and creativity can all lead, here is my crazy idea for this year (last year it was having every child at the elementary school plant a plant for Earth Day - it worked, but was exhausting). This is a map commemorating Jamestown's 400th anniversary. It was inspired by Catherine Jordan's Jamestown map and the EGA National Tapestry I saw at the National Seminar in October . The version done by my daughter's art club has a painted map with embroidered motifs designed by the kids (done on muslin and then stitched onto the map) and satin stitch lettering. Very little work has been done by the adults (the art teacher, my EGA chapter president Wendy who has been helping, and me).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TAST 19 Basque Stitch

I've been waiting for just the right stitch to do an underwater scene. The Basque stitch reminded me of seaweed and polyp corals. We have two in our tank, so I have put them here; green button coral and yellow polyps. We have live rock in our tank too. The Hawaiian rock has lots of red algae and the Tonga rock is pale with green and brown algae on it. We don't have a clown fish yet - we will need to get a tank raised one because we don't have anemones. The background fabric is marbled in blues and greys - I thought it would be interesting for this project. Would you believe I found it at Hancock Fabrics?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

TAST 18 Woven or Whipped Wheel and finished knot garden cross stitch

For this week's TAST I combined weaving and whipping to make a knot garden - literally since I added a knot when I went around threads. I first did the black for paths, going under all the light brown base threads and knotting on the vertical and horizontal threads. Then I started with the green, making knots in a square for the boxwood edging in each quarter and weaving in between to give the idea of leaves for the roses. Then I went around with each pink making knots for the flowers. I am happy with this one except for my choice of path colour - I should have made it a dark brown. The green and pinks are DMC linen thread which I just purchased Thursday and had to try out. As you can see, I've gotten over the idea of saving threads for some important project! I really love the texture of the linen. I used 4 stands of the green and six of the pinks.

I was inspired first by the radially symmetrical pattern of the wheel, and I thought there was potential for multiple rows creating an interesting pattern. Then, as I finished off the knot garden from the Museum of Garden History below I thought a knot garden would be perfect. I did make an attempt at a more complex design but it was not to be, so I stuck with an easier plan.