Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Seduced by smalls

I must admit that until a few years ago I had a rather dull cross-stitched pincushion and a very hastily assembled pin keep made from vivid orange felt. What did I need with something fancy? Then I saw a lovely bargello pincushion being used by the milliner in Colonial Williamsburg and thought I'd like one of my own. So I made one and finally had a nice pincushion. Then, on a trip to England I purchased a couple of kits, a needlebook with a Tudor rose and a scissor fob with a thistle. I discovered that it is very nice to have pretty things in my sewing basket and I don't know how I did without the scissor fob - actually, I know, I regularly couldn't find my scissors. Of late I have taken to drooling over the photos on The World's Largest Collection of Smalls blog.
So when I thought about a present for my SIL and started making a sample for my November Assisi class, I made smalls.
The rabbit pattern used here is from : http://www.bayrose.org/needlework/Voided_Work_Rabbits.html and the bird is from a Hungarian embroidery book I own. I used one skein of the DMC colour variations floss for all the stitching and finishing seen here. I only used cross stitch for this sample.

I also made a sample of three of the stitches used in Assisi work. The piece below is adapted from a Tokens and Trifles free chart designed by Tricia Wilson Nguyen. The fields are cross stitch. The mountains are 2-sided Italian cross stitch. And the sky is long arm cross stitch. This is sort of a modern interpretation of Assisi work. It will go on the top of a different sort of small - an Altoids tin that I'm making into a horse memory box for my daughter. I finished stitching the sky at a horse show on Sunday, just to make it more of a memory - the lingering smell of horse.

This is another pincushion and scissor fob set I did in silk for my SIL. I love the colour on this, it is In the Reds, Silk 'n Colors from the Thread Gatherer. The pattern is from a chart in the August 2007 Just CrossStitch, also by Tricia Wilson Nguyen. It was hard for me to use all the silk needed for the cord but it just had to be the correct colour, and after all, I can buy more. In the end, I think it looks great so I don't mind using so much silk.

Monday, September 17, 2007

TAST Catchup 34-37

While my body is not entirely adjusted to the early school year wake up time, it has been nice to get back into a routine that allows for more regular stitching time. I also had a birthday present and class demo to make up (I'll post more later) but then finally I had time to try out the latest TAST stitches. I really like the challenge of something new and everything but the rice stitch was new, so I concentrated on stitch mechanics rather than creating a picture. Especially with something the Shisha stitch, I really need to know how it works to feel comfortable using it. What you don't see are the numerous trials as I tried to tie down a sea shell - I'm still working on that one and thinking that a small hole would be easier than Shisha!

TAST 34 Portuguese stem stitch. While thick thread and closely packed stitching can make a rope, it seems to work nicely as a snowflake with just a couple of strands of floss and long stitches.

TAST 35 Shisha stitch. This one was completely new but I can see the use. I don't recommend trying it with a slippery bead the first time - upper right. I did finally get it down. The red at bottom is with nothing so I could get a better idea of the form of the stitch without having to keep something down. I think the thicker floss is better as well.

TAST 36 Cable Chain. First I tried to actually make cables - like a sweater - and I think with the right thickness of wool and size of stitch you could really get something neat. Then I tried with floss and metallic thread. The metallic thread looks like a chain and could be quite useful in future.

TAST 37 Rice and boss variation. I think you could work up a really neat pattern with these stitches.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Summer's End

Isn't it nice to know we never stop learning about ourselves?

This summer I learned that I should never make big plans when I think I'll have lots of time. I wanted to get so many things done while I didn't have to go in to work on a regular basis, but of course almost nothing got done. (I've learned this before so this is reinforcement.)

I've learned that it is important to seize the day. I had a fantastic time up at Plimoth Plantation working on the reproduction jacket. I didn't even know about the project at the beginning of May and yet early in August I was flying up to help (many thanks to DH for telling me to go).

I've learned that sometimes you don't have to keep every commitment you make to yourself. Sometimes more important things come first. I've missed the last couple of weeks of TAST because of travel and such, and as much as I was pleased that I was keeping up, now I'm relieved that I can let it go. Also, I've decided against continuing with the first step of the EGA mastercraftsman program in counted thread. I have so many things I want to do with stumpwork that counted thread isn't enjoyable. Plus the stress of perfect backs is making me miserable. Sometimes you have to let go.

I had an excellent end to the summer. My daughters and I visited SIL in WV. We painted a mural in her Tiki Room/garage, went tubing on the Cheat River and enjoyed the mountains (except when we were getting car sick on the winding roads). Since I always like to include photos, here are some of our trip.

My SIL is an excellent gardener. This is just one part of the amazing landscape she had carved out of the mountainside. Here is the mural. It is multimedia. We used wood cutouts and real nuts and dried starfish and stickers and bird feathers, etc. We all participated and had a great time.
This is the dog. She didn't help at all - just slept in the hammock!