Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TAST 31 Cast On Stitch

This was so much fun! I started thinking I'd do a pink flower but the first petal reminded me of a worm so I went with it. In keeping with my personal challenge, the dirt, beak and bird feathers are also cast on stitch. The eye is a French knot.
I did notice with this stitch that I had to be careful of twists. If I cast on lots of stitches it was hard to keep things straight - although sometimes I let it twist, like the worm. I regularly let my thread hang to keep the twist out.

Monday, July 30, 2007

TAST 30 Buttonhole wheel

I did another sort of experimental (at least for me) sampler this time on a piece of felt I made recently. It was very interesting to see the way the different colours worked on the different backgrounds. This piece has the highest form of compliment - my daughters like it! And I had fun which is even better.

TAST 29 Arrowhead stitch and finished Dragon CQ pillow

I've had stitching time but not blogging time the last couple of weeks, but I finally have a chance to sit and write. I'm very excited because this morning I sent off an article and some photos on the VA tapestry project I did this year with my daughter's art club. It will be in the December issue of the EGA magazine, NeedleArts. That has been one of the things keeping me busy.

On the TAST front, I was so taken with some of the multiple arrowhead rows in Sharon's samples, I decided to use that stitch on my last Dragon CQ pillow seam. First, since I've learned how important testing is, I tried some arrowheads on a counted thread doodlecloth to get a feeling for even arrowheads. I decided I liked the triple blue one best, with all the arrowheads in the row starting from the same seam. By the way, the green mess represents Sting singing a John Dowland song on the album Songs from the Labyrinth. It is a contrapuntal sort of round and it was going through my head. I don't think I'm ready to illustrate Fantasia style yet.

So, after the practice I came up with this seam. This was the third try at the bugle bead row. The first time, I didn't have enough to do the whole row so I took it out and tried using some coloured half bugles I had lying around for every other arrowhead. It looked horrible so I took it out again and waited until I could get out and buy a new tube of beads. I'm very glad I did because I'm happy with this seam.

And here is the final pillow. My first CQ project is done! As well as having help from Sharon's TAST challenges, I had help and encouragement from ktj in pa who sent me patterns and encouraged me to try crazy quilting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Learning to ride at 45

My daughters have been riding horses for just over 4 years now and for the last two they have been particularly active helping get younger riders get ready for lessons, helping around the barn, and most recently, we have been feeding all the horses two evenings a week. Of course they are too young to get there alone or be at the barn alone, so I agreed to stay with them. At first I just sat and read, but it took them a long time and they argued about who was doing what. So I stepped in to delegate and took over the job of putting the grain in the buckets; the girls move horses in and out, and give water and hay. It has been a wonderful experience for all three of us and I have come to enjoy the horses very much. They all have such wonderful personalities, all very different. Well, I finally decided that it was time I learned as well. At first I didn't say anything and kept putting it off, but then I actually mentioned it, so I had to follow through. Today I had my third lesson (the photos below are from my first lesson a couple of weeks ago). I have discovered that getting off is much harder than getting on. Steering isn't too bad, but it is counter intuitive that the opposite leg from your turn is the one you need to squeeze with. And, I must admit that it is much, much harder than it looks. You have to think about body posture, and legs and heels and toes and hands and reins and then on top of it all you have to look where you are going! And when you trot, you have to bounce at the right time! But I have a fantastic instructor who is very patient with children and adults and I'm having a blast. And there are only a couple of muscles that are complaining at the end of the day.

I don't know how long or how far I'll go with this, but I'm pleased that I pushed myself to get out and do something active, it has been good to know I can do it, and I'm very happy I found the time. I highly recommend trying something new to everyone!

Monday, July 16, 2007

TAST 28 Sheaf stitch and Dragon CQ progress

I had limited stitching time last week because of work, so I did a very small sheaf stitch practice before using it on my CQ block. I was glad I did because I tested different spacing, both of the uprights in the single stitch, and the spaces between stitches. When I tested the beads with the stitch, I realized that I had to give extra space between stitches to make sure the beads had space. Once again, I've learned the value of testing on a doodle cloth before stitching on the actual piece. You'd think after all these years I'd have learned that but I've always had the mistaken belief it would waste time, when really the time waster is pulling out stitches that don't work because they haven't been practiced.

So here are the rest of the seams I've done. This is the feather chain and wheatear intersection. I added beads since the last time I posted this block, and purchased more of the pearl coloured Krenick to finish the wheatear seam.

I added blue beads to the gold Basque stitch and charms to the Chevron.

I'm still not sure about the light blue ribbon seam. I've added gold spacers in two different sizes but it still isn't right. I'm thinking of weaving some silver filament thread through the ribbon. We'll see.

I think this will end up being my favourite seam. It is the bullion braid I worked on during TAST 27 with different colours. I'm not quite done yet, but it looks good so far.
Here is the whole block as of last night. I'm not sure if you can tell, but I've padded the dragon to make it stand out. I'm thinking of the best way to ground him, since right now he is just floating there. We looked at crystals for him to have his front paw on, but there was some disagreement about the size yesterday, so next time we are at the craft store I'll take the block so we are sure of the size. The last seam is in the bottom left and so far no inspiration. Any suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Inspiration from science

I was surfing some science sites at work and came across the Nikon Small World contest site. Have a look at this page of images taken by microscopes and see what you think. Sort of reminds me of the piece at Fiber Art Chic or the aerial view of Death Valley by FreeFlyingLady (although obviously Death Valley is not microscopic, but take a look and see what I mean.)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

TAST 27 Bullion and a CQ block

As I thought about the bullion stitch, I wondered if you could use it to make something that looked like cording, so I used some gold to try and get the look. I started without enough of an angle, but I think the top bar of gold comes close. Then I played around with flower forms, then I wondered if I could make upright loops. The blue loops have over 20 turns of thread around them. I had to try fuzzy white crewel wool in raised loops to make a sheep, and I thought smaller loops, some raised, would make a nice grass or moss look. My final trial was a braid, which was fun, and I really like it so I'll use if for one of the seams on the dragon CQ block below, although in different colours.

I used my TAST stitch book to decide on seam treatments - I think it will be a great resource and with 27 stitches in it now, quite full. As I look at this block, I realize it needs more so I'm going to add beads or sequins to the seams. I'm also thinking the dragon's front feet need some sort of crystal to rest on, and I think I've seen just what I need in the beading and jewellery aisle at Michael's. I'll wait for the next coupon though.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Beading WIP done

This has been a quiet week so I've had time to finish my small beaded turtle pond picture. Luckily I decided to check how the frame edges fit before I was done and discovered that I had somehow misjudged the width, so I had to take out a couple of cattails and some tiny gold beads. At least I knew how far to go with the blue beads in the water.

This has been a great learning experience for me. I won't offer to make a picture with beads chosen by somebody else; I found it impossible to use all the beads and sizes my SIL had picked out in the same picture.

I've also learned that I need to have a better work area to do beads. I sit in a very comfortable chair under a light and I would rest the bead container on the arm as I worked. Of course I knocked it over more than once and had to dig beads out of the chair - and I'm sure some are still there.

I really enjoyed doing the completely beaded lily pad and the water around the lily pads. I like that densely beaded look. But at the same time, I like the purple pickerel week flowers and the beaded cattail. Just a few beaded highlights are nice as well.

I think I'll eventually try another beaded picture but I will have to gradually enhance my stash before doing so - this took lots more beads than I realized for such a small piece - and I'll plan very carefully.

I've included this photo of the picture framed along with the unframed piece as well. I always find it interesting how much of a difference the frame makes. The frame colour is greener in real life so it does go with the picture.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Next Challenge - some more beading

Between making beaded stitch counters as favours for my EGA chapter's June meeting and my daughter becoming very interested in beaded jewellery making, it seems inevitable that I wanted to try using more beads in my embroidery. How can you walk down the aisles of beads and not want to try some! My SIL had a collection of beads that she wanted something made from so I offered to make a picture for her so I could try my hand at this. The main bead is a tiny turtle (not yet in the pond) and in a sense this is a memorial picture for her long lived turtle that is now gone.

Anyway, it is much harder to get things looking good than I expected. Not that I expected it to be easy, because I can see how much work goes into the pieces on people's blogs. But I just don't seem to be able to get the beads I have to fit in with the design I've started. Maybe I just need a different selection of bead colours and sizes than I have right now, at least for this type of piece.

I embroidered the background plants last night and added the brown beads for cattails and the tiny purple and gold beads on the other plants. So far so good I thought, but then I tried to sort of fill in with various beads and discovered they all just looked to big and bulky for this picture. I had rock like beads for the pond's edge and again, too bulky. The small flower shaped beads seem fine, and I do like the glass butterflies, but most of the other beads don't work. So I think for the pond I'll stick to some small bead highlights so I don't detract from the turtle.

This piece is only 4x6 because I found this neat picture frame that actually has 1/2" depth built in which would allow for the beads. I'm thinking I'll get another in a different colour and try a modern design in beads, maybe working in a different style will allow me to develop the bead dense look I would like to try. Or maybe, after I finish a piece I have due at the end of the summer, I'll look into taking Sharon B's sumptuous surfaces course - her beaded shell design is just the sort of thing I'd like to work on. There is no way I can manage it for the July 11 course, but I think it is in my future.