Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recovery

It has been an exciting month and I finally have a chance to breath! My courses for the fall are done (2 exams and 2 papers due early in December), work finished for the month, kids finished university and high school, and then all the cleaning and cooking. But now the company has headed home, and the DH and DDs are doing the airport run and then off spending gift certificates, so I am home alone. My only responsibility is the laundry, which leaves me time to clean out my embroidery area. I've been working on a few projects, but not cleaning up afterwards so I have a huge pile to organize back into thread keepers and boxes.

The biggest excitement is one of my gifts from my husband - The Cabinet of Curiosities Course!!!
Like Tricia, I have always wanted to make my own, with stumpwork, so I can't wait to take the course, and then the second one as well with the stumpwork.  As soon as Tricia announced the course I told my husband it was all I wanted for all present giving events for the next 18 months, but then he got me other things anyway. Two really neat fabric related things are a Harris Tweed book, everything from the sheep to the fashions, and a Harris Tweed purse to go with it.  I feel quite lucky to be so indulged.

Part of my busy December was finishing this pillow as a gift for my mother in law.  I took a Fabulous Fillings course with Joyce Lukomski back in October at our regional EGA meeting and used her filling designs to create this wavy pillow.  I used Planet Earth Fiber Silk for most of the purples, yellows, and greens, and Opal for the dark gold, plus some Kreinik braid in purple and gold and Rainbow Gallery Silk Lame Braid in dark green.  It was great fun and I finished with a backing of purple silk duponi.  I'm really happy with the way this turned out.

I've managed a couple of smaller things that will eventually reside in my 'Cabinet'.  I finished the Tulip Slip from Needlework Nibbles (please excuse the orientation of the photo but the new Blogger won't let me fix it).  I love the Grecian braid used for the finishing and the silk velvet is wonderful to work with.

This pinkeep is from a kit by The Posy Collection.  The silver ring and chain were a silver anniversary gift from my husband.  Both were purchased in Colonial Williamsburg back in August when we went for our anniversary.
I have until January 9, when I start 3 new classes online, to get my workspace in order and get projects ready to go.  I found an excellent Jane Austen knitting magazine with a couple of scarf patterns I want to try, and I'm thinking of a small embroidered purse to hold my phone when I'm at work and don't have pockets in my clothing.  I think a sweetbag design with a long strap would be very functional and decorative and if I don't make it too flashy, it should go with anything.  I knit my daughter a small purse out of a specialty yarn years ago and that would also work, so I'll have to think a little further on that one.  I just want something small for keys and a phone so when I have to go to another building or even to the ladies' room, I'm not holding my cell phone (it is the emergency phone number for the high school so I hate to go around without it).  And of course, we will continue to work on the coif!

I'm not sure how much I will be able to post once classes start, but this term finishes in March so I'll be able to catch up then, just like now.  The 'Cabinet' course will start in May and luckily the first few months will be spend studying the history of caskets and their design, so I will be able to easily catch up when I'm finally done all my certificate work in August.  I can't wait to make my own box!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anniversary quilt and coif update

I received a wonderful surprise in the mail today. A quilt made by my SIL as a 25th anniversary gift for my husband and I. As you can see it is absolutely lovely, and she made it especially with 25 blocks. Cynthia is an incredible quilter and sewer - you can see her work on her blog: Kryotime BTW, if I remember correctly, the name of her blog relates to one of her other pastimes, drag racing.

I've been incredibly busy with homework for 3 courses of an online graduate certificate course, so I've been forgetting to take photos and blog, although I've made sure to have a little time each week for stitching. I did manage to forget to take a good photo of the coif after some goldwork was added, so I just have the cell phone photo below. The in-progress coif is on display at Agecroft Hall as part of an embroidery exhibit, "Woven into English Society: Textile and Embroidery from the 16th and 17th Centuries". If you are anywhere near Richmond, VA, be sure to stop by and see the exhibit and Agecroft Hall. We will probably retrieve the coif in January to finish it off, which is actually hard to believe since it seemed like it would be forever to finish when we started.

It is really amazing watching the coif progress. First the fun of seeing all the colours come together as the flowers are finished, and then the excitement of adding the gold. I really can't wait to see the whole thing finished. It should be beautiful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wonderful Surprise - A Winterthur Gallery Guide

I've been reading Tricia's blogs about the Winterthur exhibit and while there was no way I could get to the seminar, I'm making plans to get up for the exhibit. In the meantime, I had a great surprise yesterday when the lovely, little gallery guide came in the mail. It is a small 5.5 x 8.5 booklet with nice heavy paper and wonderful colour illustrations of pieces in the exhibit. The cover is the Plimoth Jacket. It was sent out to all those who sent in donations. Thank you Winterthur! Now I really must get there.

Friday, September 09, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Sometimes you have to go back and compare to see how far you have come. So I thought I would show you the coif back in late August 2010 and today. Even though we still have a way to go, it is good to see how much has been done, just by passing the coif around to interested group members. Dare I say - the end is in sight?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Summer Projects.

The addition of a horse to our family has changed my schedule quite a bit. Instead of going to the stables once a week for lessons and maybe a second time to excercise a horse for somebody, we are there 6 or 7 days a week for lessons, riding and work ( to help with the costs of board). I'm gradually getting used to the new schedule - I have been able to read a book I have to review as I was sitting around for the last week - but it is still hard to feel up to stitching in the evening when it is so hot and humid here, even with air conditioning! But I've managed to get some time to work on things this summer and the Pamela Darney sampler I started in my previous post is now done, including the framing. It is a birthday/anniversary sampler for my husband and I.
I purchased the canvas for this bookmark at The Stitching Studio, a new shop in town, and the only LNS nearby. The owner is in my EGA group and she is very nice and helpful. I actually went in because there was a Facebook post that they were going to carry Gloriana silks, but they weren't in yet. Instead, I encountered the new canvas work! Just like with cross-stitch, things have changed since I started stitching as a child ( of course it has been 40 years, what was I thinking).
Anyway, there were so many beautiful canvases and threads it was hard to decide. What I finally decided on was a bookmark, I think a Whimsy & Grace painted canvas but I've cut off the name. Don't blame the designers for the colours though because I saw a new cotton floss, at least new to me, in overdyed colours that I had to try. I used Sullivans floss, which has comparable DMC numbers right on the label. What is really fun is the overdyed colours have fun names like Blazing Bonfire (the orange flower to the right) or Rainbow Sherbert (the orange and pink flower to the left). Sorry, I can't resist a good name or a romantic classical music CD cover (not always a good idea with music, but you can see the colour so that is okay). The Sullivans floss seems a bit rougher than DMC floss, which isn't really a problem on canvas or aida cloth, but it could be an issue on fine linens. But there is a huge array of colours so it is worth a try if you see some. This isn't really a finish yet, because I need to put on the backing, but in this heat, the thought of the iron is too much for me.

My final project for July is the latest Needlework Nibble from Thistle Threads. This Tulip Slip was lovely to work and went much faster than I expected. Of course, now I have to cut it out and mount it on the silk velvet, but at least I've done this much.
The coif project for Agecroft Hall is moving ahead. Check out the Gentle Pursuits blog for our visit to Agecroft Hall with the coif. There will be an embroidery exhibit at Agecroft Hall in the fall to coincide with the Mid-Atlantic Region EGA meeting being held in Richmond in October. The coif and some of the practice motifs will be on display. More on that as soon as I know the dates. There is also a lovely sweet bag made by Catherine Jordan, and a blackwork handkerchief by Jean Connelley that will be donated to Agecroft Hall for their interpreters. The Director joked that he would need to have a special dress made to go with the coif. It is so great that they appreciate what out group is doing.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Measure twice, cut (or stitch) once

I wanted to finish at least one of the things I worked on last month, so today I sewed up an ornament for DD the younger.

I had DD the elder draw our new horse on some fabric, and then I did some thread painting to fill in. As usual, I forgot to take a photo of just the drawing, but from this you can see it was good, and any issues with the finished product are because of my stitching skills.
So this is where the measure twice part comes in. My EGA chapter had a class with Pamela Darney (see here for the class write up and below for my work on the sampler) and she gave us graph paper and alphabets and told us to be sure and graph our names before adding them to the sampler. We discussed changing size of letters and space in between and abbreviations and such, and we all went away with a firm resolve to count things out. Well, when I went to do the name on linen for the back of the ornament, I didn't bother to check the linen count or the number of stitches. So of course things were too big for the square form I was using for the ornament, not once, but twice! I did finally get it right though.

And here is the finished ornament, with Jasmine in all her gray paint horse glory.

As for the Pamela Darney sampler, here is my start (and her web site).
I really had a good time in the class, and I must admit to being in love with Quaker sampler motifs now. I haven't done much sampler work recently but I did quite a few reproductions over 20 years ago and haven't really gone back. I've always admired the Quaker samplers and smalls done by my EGA chapter members, but have somehow resisted doing to much until now. But after devouring a table of Pamela's samplers, I must do some more. And after dealing with the coif on a very large frame, a bit of linen in hand is really relaxing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Break 2011

While I did do some stitching over spring break, I thought I'd post a few photos of other things first, since it was an exciting time all around.

First we went to Cocoa Beach - we love beaches. It is a nice beach and generally not too crowded and has the advantage of being near Kennedy Space Center, which my DH loves. We had hoped to see a shuttle launch, but the launch was rescheduled and you can't change spring break at school. So here is the lovely beach.

And here is a sea turtle we rescued! It was floundering in the surf and I realized it wasn't well. We were able to contact the local sea turtle rescue group and they came to pick her up. I hope she is doing well now with expert care.
Then it was on to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando. We stopped doing theme parks back when the girls were in elementary school, but we knew we had to see Hogwarts and Hogsmead. It was worth the crowds and heat to go on the rides and see how well the village and school have been set up.

Inside the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom there are lots of cool things. In fact all the rooms you walk through to get to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride are wonderful. Dawn French does a bit as the Fat Lady portrait as well.
Night time is a great time to see the village.
And meals at the Three Broomsticks are okay but fun for the atmosphere.
All in all a great trip and we have plans to go in a few years when they expand the Harry Potter area of the park.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Not your grandmother's crochet

I have been working on the coif recently, and when the next flower is done, I'll post the progress. I've also been doing a bit of crochet. I've had to adjust the pattern because I used a different weight of yarn - the pattern called for mohair and I didn't think that would be a serviceable material for this:
It is a fly bonnet for my DD the younger's new horse, Jasmine. It isn't just for decoration, as my DH originally thought, it keeps bugs out of her ears and the tassels keep bugs out of her eyes. It is used mainly in the summer when the bugs are bad. I may have to try another in a thinner cotton to see if I can get the pattern to work properly.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Send a heart

Hearts for Christchurch is organizing the donation of stitched hearts from around the world to show concern for the people of Christchurch.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lion Roundel final steps to FINISH

So last week I was so busy stitching in the evening, so all my stitching is in one big blog post.
Here is the sun, made with gilt strip and crinkle gilt strip with an outline of gilt 1 1/2 twist, all couched down with TIRE silk.

The grass is Soie Ovale stitched over a large paperclip. In the historical pieces and the sample from Tricia, they cut the loops to form a fuzzy surface - much easier than Turkey work but very susceptible to pulling. One of Tricia's hints was to wait until all the stitching was done before cutting. But when I had it all done, I was rather fond of the looped look. I'm also not sure of my ability to cut the loops evenly. So I'm leaving my grass as loops. Maybe I'll try the cutting on a smaller area some day.

So, here are the sun and clouds and grass all done.

Next up, the mane and tail. Tricia used a combination of purl left as is and pulled, and twisted silk gimp. As I've mentioned, I love the silk gimp, but the purl curls made me think of the Cowardly Lion after his makeover in the Emerald City, so I started thinking of something different. I looked through all my books to see how the various manes looked and then I though of a technique used for the mermaid. We threaded Soie Ovale through purl, then pulled the purl, then twisted to purls together to mix the colours. You can see this in the rock below.

So I twisted various colours of brown purls threaded with various colours of brown silk and then couched it down with light brown Soie Ovale. I am very pleased with how it looks. I added ears done in detatched buttonhole on wire so I could shape them. DD the younger says they look like rabbit ears, but I think she is trying to push my buttons.

The face came next and then the covered parchment around the lion. I spent time watching football and hockey twisting 3 shades of Soie Ovale and one shade of purl around 1/8 in by 5 in strips of parchment. You can see the face and roundel below.

The final step was adding spangles at the corners. I think it is very interesting how a few little spangles can really finish a project. The top photo below is a plain corner, the bottom has spangles. I makes a difference.

Framing is a bit of an issue. I didn't use glass on the mermaid, but with the parchment and purl mane, I really felt this one needed glass. I found a memory box type of frame, with a front that opens, but the 5x7 frame was deep and dark inside so it didn't seem like the best thing. So I picked up an 8x10. I'm not sure about the amount of space around the embroidery, so this may change. There is some glare, but you get the idea.

Here is the close up, no glass in the way. I'm pleased with my final product, even if the lion is neither scary or fierce looking.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Florettes and Cloud 1 for Lion

I've been having some very productive evenings this week. I've been watching episodes of Last Chance to See, on DVD, with Stephen Fry following in Douglas Adams footsteps to view endangered species. And stitching at the same time. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I did the florettes in the 4 corners of the piece using purl cut in small pieces and looped into petals. It is fun and looks really neat.

Then I went on to couch down blue gimp and blue and cream gylt silk twist to form clouds. The threads are couched down with Tire silk, which is a nice shiny gold silk.
So this is how it looks so far.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lion progress

I have not been able to do much stitching because of a stye in one eye that has finally cleared up. There is nothing more frustrating that being home from work but not feeling well enough to stitch. My lion is slowly progressing though. I've been working with a new stand lately - an F.A. Edmunds Adjustable Craft Floor Stand. I purchased the stand at a Hobby Lobby opening sale because I needed some help managing the coif frame. Well, it is okay for the coif frame, it does help hold it steady, but for something that big, you really need the two legs slate frames normally have. On the other hand, the small scroll frame I have the Lion Roundel in fits the stand very well and really helps. There are mixed reviews for the stand on Amazon, but for the right project, it is very good.

So here is the lion's body with all the silk gimp couched down. I must say again, I love working with silk and I love the silk gimp. It is worth getting some and trying it out.

Here I've done detatched buttonhole for the lion's face. Tricia used the Soie Ovale to do a satin stitch face, but one of her personalizing suggestions was detatched buttonhole. I've been doing lots lately because of the coif so I thought I'd make less of a mess this way - since I tend to snag Soie Ovale constantly and I just happened to have the right colour of Soie Perlee. The corner florettes are couched gilt 1 1/2 twist - I've sunk the gilt but haven't pulled back the tire silk ends to catch the gilt ends.

I wanted to mention a couple of my Valentine's gifts because they are very special. First DD the younger made me two watches with beaded straps. I think I may be getting her to make more so I have lots of wardrobe options.

The other gift is chocolate and coffee from Full Circle Exchange which is a group that supports CARE and other groups. I received the Name Your Love CARE chocolate that allows you to put your own message on a box of really good chocolate, plus the coffee and chocolate send money to CARE as part of the Wake Up To Justice project. I hadn't realized it, but CARE is focusing on girls and women because they have found that the best way to help a village is to take care of the girls and women, isn't that wonderful.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New Family Toy

While in Williamsburg last week, there was talk of tools as well as fiber. One woman had a pair of magnifying glasses with lights at the temples that everyone was interested in. The other day while I was in the drug store, lo and behold, there they were. Foster Grants at that. I was laughed at by DD the younger when I wore them the other night, but last night the power went out and suddenly she wanted my glasses, as did her sister. And when DH saw them, well of course, there are several steps in violin making where he could use them. I may be going back to get a couple of more pairs.

The nice thing is, the light is at the white end of the spectrum so the colours look very good. The top photo is the light from the camera and the lower photo is just the light from the glasses. I'm very happy with my new tool.

BTW that is a Betsy Morgan needle roll sewing kit I did a few years ago.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Metal Stitches for the Glittering Floral Lattice

The silks I picked up yesterday. No plans, just like the colours.

Except for some basic instruction from my mother early on, I have spent most of my life learning stitches and techniques from a book and a couple of Erica Wilson videos. So it should be no surprise that my stumpwork class in 2006 was a revelation and my technique improved dramatically. And going to work on the Plimoth Jacket did wonders for my detatched buttonhole stitch. All the classes I've taken with my EGA chapter have helped as well, and now I have a new respect respect for blackwork and metal stitching.

The blackwork class was a chapter program tied to Agecroft Hall - we are now working on a couple of blackwork edged handkerchiefs. You can see the class photos here. I had tried following instructions in the past, and some of it looks like it should be easy, but I never could get it right. Jean made things very easy so now I'm ready to work on a handkerchief.

Today's Glittering Floral Lattice class was the same. I've tried a couple of the stitches from diagrams in a stitch encyclopedia, and it was never quite right. But today, with lots of explanations and hints and Tricia's great diagrams, I think I got most of them. The big part of this kit is the two very large spools of real silver and gold thread. I've been practicing with faux silver, but I did try some of the gold and it is wonderful. The two boxes of Grecian twist and the yard of gold lace ribbon are extra purchases that will frame my work when I'm finally done.

So here are my stitch trials. I used a .o5 micron marker to label the stitches because I'm not likely to remember the look without a label. As the day went on my stitching got better. Just like everything else - practice, practice, practice.

Here is Tricia's almost finished sample for the class. I've just realized the photo is upside down but being a basically lazy person, I can't be bothered to rotate it since I don't think Blogger will let me do it in the post. I'm sure you can see it is lovely.

Tricia gave us lots of hints for combining gold and silver or different sizes of gold or adding coloured silks. She also suggested doing the motifs (which aren't that large) as scissor fobs or other smalls. I'm thinking of a small box with a motif on each side. I've been contemplating making a box for a while now and testing different techniques would be perfect. Don't hold your breath though. What with the coif and a second one to start and handkerchiefs and life in general, I'm not sure when I'll get there.