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.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Stumpwork Lion Roundel Class

It was great to see so many familiar faces in class today as we listened to Tricia explain the new threads and stitches we needed for the stumpwork lion and the surrounding roundel. As always, the kit is like Christmas all over again, and the slides of pieces in various collections are inspiring.

It was also fun to hear all the stories of the Jacket Trip. I would be extremely envious since I really wanted to go but it was a bad time of year and I don't think my DH wanted me going to England without him; but since I didn't go, I was able to go to Italy with DH when he was invited to speak at a meeting Sicily held at the same time, and it was an exceptionally wonderful trip, so I'm not that envious. As it was, Tricia had lots of slides from the pieces they saw on the trip. Be on the lookout for a possible kit from Thistle Threads to support the V&A Museum textile collection, just like the snail from the glove in the Bath Costume Museum.

So here is a view of the kit from today. The square cream coloured paper is actually parchment! Real parchment! It turns out the roundels on stumpwork or on framed pieces are strips of parchment wrapped with silk or silk purl ( have I said before how I love that the purl coils seem alive - they really are neat and I have 8 boxes of various colours!)

As well as brown colours of purl, the other new thread is the silk gimp - the tan in the top of the photo below. It is a silk core wrapped tightly with silk and so it is heavy enough to be couched with rather than stitched. Tricia made some for the mermaid project last year, but this year it is actually in production and should be for sale soon. Get some if you can!!!

The gold is crinkle gilt strip that is used for the sun's rays and there is flat gilt strip for the sun itself. So much fun.
I went to Haus Tirol - The Stitching Well (see info below since they don't seem to have a web site) at lunch to get stitching frame since I forgot mine and I need it for tomorrow's and just happened to look around at the threads they had and while I did get some silk threads (how could I not) none had the heft of the silk gimp. It is really excellent for a nice couched border or for couched fill, as you will see with the lion.
BTW: the ladies at Haus Tirol are wonderful and they have a great stock of patterns and threads and so many colours of fabric I nearly swooned. Be sure to check out the shop if you are near the area - especially if you visit to see the costume exhibit that I'll report on when I visit on Saturday.

Here is Tricia's model for the class. As you can see, I have a long way to go since I've only put down some felt padding, done a tiny bit of outline, and started the grass (with a neat technique that involves a large paper clip).
I was reading Spinster Stitcher today and she mentioned a designer, Orna Willis, who encourages students to change and rethink her designs. Well, Tricia encourages us to try new things as we create her designs as well. We looked at at least a dozen lion heads in embroidery today and each time she said we could try it that way. The mane and face are going to be fun.

Haus Tirol: the Stitching Well: 1915 Pocahontas Trail Suite E6, Williamsburg, VA 23185. The winter hours are 10AM to 4:30PM Monday through Saturday, during the summer they may stay open a little later. The phone number is 757-220-0313 and the e-mail address is

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Getting Ready for Fun!

So, here I am, sitting in a lovely hotel room in Williamsburg, VA, getting ready to start stitching tomorrow. This trip is one of my big gifts from my DH at Christmas. (the other an amazing giclee of Jane Goodall in Gombe that is being framed). I don't know if all the participants will make it through the snow, but Tricia Wilson Nguyen, the instructor, came down from Boston by train yesterday to be sure we could have the class.
I'm very sorry for those of you trapped in the storm (having been through many while I lived in London, Ontario, Canada) but I'm very glad I live in Virginia now where it was 67 degrees while I walked the dog today.

Anyway, a coif update before I get wrapped up in the new projects I'll get over the next couple of days.
Some leaves for the coif. There are 3 shapes that will be two tone, the rest will be one colour. I'm not sure if we should actually assign colours for the solid leaves or let people choose, we'll have to see how things look. Maybe if there are 3 close colours it would work.

And this bud will be on either side of the mystery flower.

So here it is so far. It is really quite wonderful how every flower or leaf changes the piece. Can't wait for the gold!

P.S. I've been experimenting with my cameras to see what combination of zoom, etc. gives the best photo. Unfortunately, I've neglected to write down what I'm doing so I have no idea what is the best way to take the photos. I think that may need to be a priority soon.