Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Something new and TAST 26 Half Chevron

Well, I finally did it, I tried making felt. We had some roving from a needlefelting kit, and since the kids just wanted to make dogs, I decided to use the other colours to make felt. The photo above is the front (or at least the side I decided to use) and the photo below the back, which is also quite nice. It was a fun experience and my younger daughter also tried her hand at is and enjoyed it as well. Of course our pieces are only about 4" x 5" so they are only useful for so much. And they aren't thick or strong. We'll continue working but in the meantime, I had a new medium for my TAST practice.
Here is what I have done with the half chevron, including two beaded curves, also something new for me. I'm very pleased with this since this type of embroidery is such a new thing to me. It was very nice working with the cotton floss on wool felt, and the beads weren't as tedious as I expected. I just sort of followed the shapes in the felt and tried not to make the colours clash. All in all, a very fun experience.

Friday, June 22, 2007

TAST 25 Long and Short Stitch

In my stumpwork projects I often use long and short, or at least a reasonable approximation, for shading and filling petals and leaves and such. So I thought I'd try doing counted long and short to get a real feel for the stitch. I also wanted to experiment with colours and shading so I made a rainbow band of sorts. I had a harder time than I expected getting four shades of the same sort of colour, I guess that means I need to add to my stash:-) But it was very interesting to see how the shades worked together or in some cases didn't - although I guess it would depend on the look you were going for. The small red sample is done with 2 strands of overdyed silk. I love this colour and I love the way the shading works. It would be quite different with satin stitch covering the same area so I can see the use for this stitch with overdyed threads as well.

Below is a stumpwork version of the watercolour 'portrait' of Jane Austen done by her sister Cassandra. which I have stitched using long and short.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stumpwork project done!

Back at TAST22 Satin Stitch I showed a leaf and some petals that I was working on for a new stumpwork project. It all started out with my trying to figure out what I could do with Altoid tins, other than a tiny sewing kit, since I've become very fond of the chocolate coated Altoids and have a few tins lying around. I came up with the idea of making a book, sort of. The outside shown above is supposed to look a bit like a book, complete with gilt page edges. Instead of pages inside, I have put a stumpwork Virginia rose.

In my new spirit of creating for art's sake, this piece has no purpose and will not be a gift. I am just going to enjoy it.

I would love to hear from others who have done stitched things with Altoid tins (since I have more). I did do an online search and found all sorts of things, but most weren't stitched and I really don't want an Altoid tin mouse for my computer or an Altoid tin wallet! I am also interested in how you stick things to the tin. I have used double sided tape and some Heat n' Bond for my projects so far because I hate liquid glue.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

TAST 24 French Knots

Even though Sharon gave us leave to mix French knots with other TAST stitches, my personal challenge is to try and use only the stitch of the week with maybe a bit of another stitch. I've used French knots in many things, especially since they are quite useful when doing flowers. This week I decided to try French knots with as many types of yarn as I could find, and with different numbers of strands. I've used tapestry wool, DMC cotton floss, DMC linen floss, rayon floss, silk, silk ribbon, and Krenick braid and blending filament. I learned alot. Using blending filament (4 strands) to make a French knot is like trying to herd cats. Silk ribbon doesn't make a French knot different enough to make it necessary to use ribbon. Rayon is almost as bad a blending filament. And as always, I love silk!!!
For those who are wondering, I was thinking of the parterre garden at Hampton Court Palace when I drew this design. As usual, it ended up lopsided, although the initial drawing didn't look quite so skewed. I must work on symmetry!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Book Review of Austenland

Last week I learned about a new book, 'Austenland' by Shannon Hale, when a short description was posted on the Janeites list.

Yes, I'm a fan of Jane Austen. I'm not obsessive, and I'm certainly not a scholar, but I do enjoy reading all of her work and some of the biographies, comments and critiques. I also enjoy reading sequels and other related books, although I don't necessarily like them all and I rely on my local public library for many of them for that reason. But I won't be reading the new book that suggests that Mr. Bennet had autism!

Anyway, Austenland seemed like nice, fun reading. Here is the blurb I saw.
"Diane Hayes seems to be a normal young New Yorker, but her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in "Pride and Prejudice," is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. On a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane' s fantasies of meeting the perfect gentleman suddenly become more real than she imagined. Shannon Hale's bestselling young adult novels (Goose Girl, Princess Academy)portend great fun for readers - Austen fans or not - of her first novel for grown-ups."

At first I was thinking I would rush out and buy it, but a quick look at the Amazon reviews made me think library instead, and sure enough it was in processing and I put it on hold and had it in my hand within 4 days.

To start with, if I had bought it, I wouldn't have been upset. It was a fun read thatI was able to finish in one day (with the usual family interruptions). It was quite funny to read the lines the actors at the resort were given to create the Regency feeling for the visiting women. The author was obviously familiar with Austen's work because many of the characters, scenes and plot stories were based on things from the novels. It was a fun challenge to be able to pick out the Austen novel or character that was the inspiration.

While there were many enjoyable and silly parts to the story, it was also interesting to follow the main character, Diane, as she wrestled with what was real and what was fantasy. As Diane comes to grips with what it might be like to live at the time of Jane Austen and what she wants from her real life, you get the sense of personal growth that Austen's characters actually go through in the novels (Even Fanny Price grows a bit, thought many critics don't agree).

All in all, I would recommend this book if you enjoy Austen sequels or Regency romances. If you don't like the Kiera Knightly P&P, you probably won't like this book.

Friday, June 08, 2007

TAST 23 Wheatear and Plimoth Jacket sample

I'm afraid after my excitement over the Plimoth Jacket project sample that I wanted to mail off as soon as possible, I had little energy left for wheatear samples, but I did manage a nice row of strawberries. The funniest thing about the wheatear, after seeing the amazing things people have done with it, is the comment in Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Needlework "Works best in straight rows, but may handle gentle curves."

This is what occupied my time, the stitch sample I'm sending off to Plimoth Plantation in hopes of participating in their jacket project. My favourites, which ktj concurs with, are the Ceylon stitch worm and the Spiral Trellis circle. The bottom sample is not in my test sample below, it is Detached Buttonhole Needlelace. The bottom right section lifts up.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Couldn't Wait

How many of you knew I wouldn't wait until Wednesday to try out the Plimoth Jacket stitching? Well, you were right. Despite the silk calling me, I sensibly decided to try out the stitches and especially the shapes first with some perle cotton. So top left, detached buttonhole with reverse chain outline. Middle is trellis stitch on a backstitch outline. The worm is Ceylon stitch, very, very fun. The circle is spiral trellis which was a blast and the line is knot stitch which took a few stitches to get into. There is one more thing, and outline with detached buttonhole needlelace that I will try tomorrow. I am very happy I tested things first since all but the detached buttonhole and backstitch outline were new to me. It really helped to get the feel of the tension and size of the stitches. I can hardly wait to try it all with linen.
In case you are missed my original mention of the blog about this jacket, here is a link to the first post on The Embroiderer's Story blog that has a picture of the jacket.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Plimoth Plantation Jacket Project


I am so excited. I can hardly wait to get started with this project. For those of you who haven't seen the information about the blog and the project, go to

The instructions are excellent plus there is a CD with colour photos. And who can resist 4 new spools of silk. I'm trying to figure out when I can start, given that I must get some things done for work this week. I'm thinking I'll read over the instructions while I watch the kids ride, and then wait until Wednesday and Thursday when I have long stretches where I can really get into the stitching. I've used many of the stitches in stumpwork, but then there is this great spiral trellis that I can't wait to try. For those who like to look at stitch instructions there are pdfs of all the stitches in some of the blog entries.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

TAST 22 Satin Stitch

I use satin stitch heavily in many of the pieces I've been working on lately, especially stumpwork. But since I slacked off last week by using what I had been working on, I thought I'd do something just for TAST this week. The inspiration for this was a fill stitch gone bad, done by somebody else, and while it didn't work for that piece, I thought it would be perfect for this. The leaves and flowers are also satin stitch.

Since I've mentioned recent projects with satin stitch, here they are. These two are petals and leaves for a wild rose stumpwork project. I'm planning a special finish for these so I'll post more photos soon.

This is the tail of a dragon I'm putting in the center of a CQ pillow for my daughter. I started the dragon back in February with the tail and discovered I needed more floss but I could no longer find the DMC colour variations I had started with. They had stopped making the all dark blue and now only had a dark blue with purple. So I blended it in by adding some purple to the tail and then getting on with the rest. So far I am happy and so is my daughter. She likes the scale effect of the chain stitch in the body. I love the way the satin stitch reflects differently with the different directions.

Finally, here is the Virginia tapestry project finished and framed. Most of the motifs were made with stain stitch because that was the easiest filler for the designs the kids drew. Some, like my daughter, thought about the direction of the fur or petal growth while stitching, others went higglety-pigglety but they still look good. This was displayed at a county festival today and well received by those who saw it. It looks like a local museum wants it for the summer, but afterwards the principal wants to keep it at the school - she even paid for the framing!