The Beat Goes On

Blue Button Badge of Courage

Stitching this week’s Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge was a challenge, for me, until I got the rhythm and then, as the song says, the beat goes on.  It could go on and on.  I should have taken pics of all my attempts so you might not feel as dense as I did while getting the lovely Beaded Hedebo Edging down.

Here are some tips I gathered while unstitching:

  1. Most important—Don’t just look at the pretty pictures, read the directions!
  2. Use a thread that does not “shed.”  I did one swag in Kreinik Braid.  It did not go well.  The frequency that you are pulling the braid through loops is excessive and pulls the metallic thread from the base thread leaving you with something that looks old and worn out.
  3. Sharon’s directions say to pull snug.  They do not say strangle the base threads!  You can see in my photo that the section on the left has that strangled appearance.

I need to practice this stitch more and really focus on conformity from one section to the next.  But I like the stitch and can see the Beaded Hedebo Edging becoming an old, faithful, friend.

Close up of beaded hedebo edging on the blue button badge of courage

I need more practice. The bottom left looks like the neck of a chicken I strangled for Sunday dinner!

While looking for other information about “Hedebo,” I found out that

“Hedebo Embroidery is the common name of seven different embroidery variations which were developed sequentially and used in Denmark in parallel from the end of the 1700s to the mid 1900-century. Hedebo Embroidery is named after Hedebo area, where they were sewn.

Hedebo Region is a geographical area of Copenhagen, Køge and Roskilde, Denmark, where the soil is very fertile.”

You can find this information at the Greve Museum website featuring Hedebo Embroidery, A World of Variations.  This site includes video instructions for doing six types of white work affiliated with this Danish fiber art.  Spend a little time looking at all the info on this site.  I’m sure you’ll find the practical application information inspirational to your own work. Especially if you do any historical re-enactments.

When you’re done there you might be interested in the PDF Classic Books title:  The Needlecraft Practical Journal of Danish Hedebo Embroidery, 1st Series.  This booklet was published around 1900 and has some really cool motifs you  can master and use in  your family linens done in Hedebo.  One day…

Whole Lotta Stitchin’ Goin’ On

Thursday, September 27 PM

I’ve been stitching and been stitched on in the past 24 hours! Maybe I should back up a little.

Monday, September 24

When I was at the laundromat the other day, I practiced a few TAST Week 38 Drizzle Stitch.  I was glad to hear that this Brazilian Embroidery stitch is often stitched with rayon threads.  I just happen to have some rayon floss and some metallic floss that I hate stitching with.  While it is pretty and shiny, it is unruly and knots and slips about and is hard to keep threaded.  I was thinking about giving it away.  But that seems kind of cruel.  I thought about sending it to Fireside Stitchery so they could sell it on their E Bay service, but I kept thinking that is the coward’s way out.

Thanks to the Drizzle Stitch and other Brazilian Embroidery stitches, I have found a way to use these threads and take advantage of their lovely sheen and sparkle!  Unfortunately, the sampling I did at the laundromat, was not exactly “pretty,” so I didn’t photograph it to present in the weekly TAST review over at Pin Tangle.  I thought maybe I would just incorporate it into a sample I work up for other TAST challenges.

Who knew the opportunity would come so quickly!

Tuesday, September 25

Every Tuesday Sharon Boggon announces the new stitch challenge, hence the moniker “Take a Stitch Tuesday!”  This week was no different.  The Week 39 challenge is the Knotted Buttonhole Stitch.  And, like every week, I start thinking about where I might see a similar shape or pattern in nature or in general.  I think about where it might have fit into previous stitching I’ve done.  I consider what colors and thread textures would really stand out with this stitch.

Wednesday, September 26

I’ve found a button that would go very nice with the thread I want to use for the Knotted Buttonhole Stitch.  I’ve been enjoying using the DMC Color Variations perle cotton and will use it yet again.  I had just finished hand stitching the lining of Katie’s Stocking to the stocking and was about start working with the Knotted Buttonhole Stitch when I went outside to try to catch my neighbor before she closed up for the night.  Almost immediately I found myself slanting towards the ground and hugging the propane tanks to avoid falling to the ground. It felt like my leg was wedged into the trailer hitch.   The pain was incredible.  The fact that I could stand suggested the leg was not broken.  But the amount of blood I could feel pouring down my leg suggested this was more than a bit of a boo-boo.  Jeff had a good description of the wound, it looked like someone took an ice cream scoop and dug out most of the front of my leg.  All the ER doctor would say is, “this is really a challenge.”  He said it more than once.  It took over two hours for him to stitch the leg back together.  There are 35 stitches on the inside and I don’t know how many on the inside just to try to get the top closer together.   Luckily, Dr. McClung was up for the challenge.  He even listened to my stupid jokes/stories.  Knowing some are sensitive to such images I’m not posting the pic, but if you want to see the Doc’s wonderful stitching, you can click on the last hyper-linked text.

Blue Badge of Courage

Vintage button surrounded by Knotted Buttonhole Stitch and Drizzle Stitch fringe all attached to grey fleece.

So, Knotted Buttonhole stitch.  I ended up making a badge for myself.  It is a combination of my attachment series and my patch series of stitch samples.  It has not only the Knotted Buttonhole stitch, but also the Drizzle stitch to make the little fringe at the bottom of the button.  It’s to congratulate myself on surviving what was akin to surgery without anesthesia or pain medication until the actual stitching began and Lidocaine  was injected into raw tissue.

It’s about all I can accomplish at this point.  It’s taken me three days just to write this post.  And I’m ready to go back to bed now.  I’m not supposed to be up and about as there is every danger that the stitches will tear through the thin skin, especially since quite a bit of the subcutaneous tissue sloughed away during the injury.

So, I’m going to bed.  You may not hear from me for a couple weeks.

Pistil Stitch Pomander Patch

TAST 2012 Pistil Stitch Challenge

TAST 2012 Pistil Stitch Patch with Pistil Stitches, and French knots on Organza and muslin

Pistil Stitch Pomander Patch—say that five times real fast!

(Aside:  I do love alliteration!)  The Pistil Stitch is this week’s TAST challenge where one can learn the stitch or, if familiar with it, go crazy using it.  As you can see I didn’t get crazy with it, but I did mess around a bit.

You will not see the Pistil Stitch in a lot of my work.

Mainly because I don’t love making French knots.  And as you know (or can see), the Pistil stitch is basically a straight stitch which is finished in a French knot. Fancy name for two not so fancy stitches.

But patches…you will begin to see more of.

From me, at least.  It is my latest way to make my TAST samples functional.  (The other two—so far—are the TAST 2012 Sampler and the TAST Attachment Quilt Blocks.)  For me, it is important to have an end product.  I don’t need any more bit and pieces of stuff to collect.  I know!  What are patches but more bits and pieces?!  But these are bits and pieces with a future.

I have been making some clothing and sorting through fabrics in storage.  As I find a piece that is too small to do something useful with, I consider if it would make an interesting background for an embroidery stitch of some sort.  If the answer is, “yes,” then I have added the piece to my trailer embroidery fabric stash.  If the answer is, “no,” then I ditch the piece of fabric.  All part of my seasonal reorganization for on the road crafting.

When I have collected a few patches I will begin to stitch them together to make a patch-worked wall hanging.  I already have two patches.  The background fabric in the following is a scrap of leftover binding I made for a kaftan I made for Jeff.  (One day I’ll get him to model it for a photo!)

Cast On and Sheaf Stitch

Poppy Field–Cast on stitch poppies and sheaf stitch stems

The patch I did this week has a scrap of muslin leftover from the lining of Katie’s Christmas stocking.  The bow is made from a scrap of ribbon that my best friend used on a birthday gift she gave to me years ago.  The orange organza is a remnant that I couldn’t pass up at JoAnn’s.  I mean, really—it was on sale and I had a card for 10% off the sale price, too!  I picked up a couple other remnants the same day.  You’ll see them sometime in the future I’m pretty sure!

TAST 2012 Pistil Stitch Challenge

TAST 2012 Pistil Stitch Challenge

A better look at the pistil stifches

Closer view of the Pistil Stitches

When the wall hanging is completed, I will assemble the posts that tell about the provenance of the “bits and pieces,” the patches.  That might make I nice little gift-y, or even a blog give-away.

Or maybe I should just make the individual patches blog give-aways?  What do you think?

Attachment to Guilt Can Kill Creativity

Cast On and Sheaf Stitch

Poppy Field

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty these days.  I don’t like feeling that way.  And why do I feel guilty?  Because I committed to participating in Sharon Boggon‘s Take A Stitch Tuesday at the beginning of the year and back on Week 24, I got hung up and have not been able to catch up.  Look at this list of stitches!  There are 12 of them!  Do you get overwhelmed looking at it?  I do!

(Note:  Click on the stitch name to go to Sharon Boggon’s Tutorial page for the stitch)

Not only that, I’ve started yet two more projects which means I’m adding insult to injury! (Project 1 & Project 2)
And then there’s all those UFOs!

It’s no wonder I’m having “bad food days” and “bad brain days”!

So how does one get past this block?  Well, my Mother, the inveterate no-nonsense Vermonter, would simply say, “Knock it off!”  The Buddhist translation is: “become free from your attachment to suffering!”  Begin by accepting that you have this feeling.  Then you are free to release it.

I’m releasing the guilt by taking action—by considering what I have accomplished and determining what I CAN do to accomplish what is left to be done.

First:  I have color coded the word “Week” in the following list.

RED= Completed, yea!
GREEN= Completed & posted about earlier
Black= Yet to be done

Here are photos of what I have been doing with the exception of a Caftan that I created for Jeff, a dress I’ve cut out for myself, and Blackwork Lessons details some of what I’ve been up to as well.

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And Second:

Wow!  There are only four more stitches to go on the list and I already know where I’m putting them.  I’m going to layer three of them along the Linked Double Chain at the bottom of the TAST 2012 Sample.  The Up and Down Buttonhole stitch will become the rays on the sun in the “Sunshine and Lollipops” piece.  How about that!

Finally, Third:

There!  No longer attached to guilt!   I feel so much better!  How about you?!

Return to TAST 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Take A Stitch Tuesday stitching.  I’ve been designing my flag for the Prayer Flag Installation next month.  And working on a Christmas project for my youngest great-niece (a Shepherd’s Bush Stocking!)  I’ve determined it will take a minimum of 175 hours to complete this project for her.  I’ve never figured out my time in a project before, always just done an approximation at the end.    You should try to calculate your stitch per minute some time.  Your stitching will take on a whole new value for you!  You will be awed by yourself.  AND SHOULD BE!

While I have not stitched Sharon Boggon’s TAST selection for this week, the Pekinese Stitch, I have stitched it before.  And here it is:

Pekinese Stitch on CyberPointers Ruby Ribbons

The Pekinese Stitch
AKA
the Chinese Stitch, the Forbidden Stitch, the Laced Backstitch, and
the Blind Stitch

While I was a member of the cyber chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, I participated in the project to celebrate ANG’s 40th (or Ruby) Anniversary.  The final, framed four panel piece will be auctioned off at the National Conference in Philadelphia later this month.  The project piece was called Ruby Ribbon and was based upon a ribbon patterned quilt block, something like  Celtic knotwork.

One quarter of the quilt block is represented in each of four panels to make a whole block when appropriately arranged.  (I’d show you the block but can’t due to copyright issues.)  Each of the four panels was divided into 144 squares (12×12 grid) about 1.5 inches each.  Participants were told what value of what color to use in each block.  Then it was up to each stitcher to decide what stitch to do (there were to be no duplicate stitches!) and what thread to accomplish the goal.  The colors were different values of red, white, grey, and black.  It was kind of nice because you could sign up for a block based upon what threads you had available in your stash so it would not be cost prohibitive to participate in the project. Last I heard, CyberPointers was working on compiling directions for the piece to be sold as a fund raiser for the group.  Keep an eye out on their web site store page to see the completed piece and to get the pattern if you like.

My Pekinese block was supposed to be a Dark Grey, akin to DMC 413.  So I just used DMC 413 for the backstitching.  Then I used Rainbow Gallery’s Fuzzy Stuff in #19 for the lacing.  It gave an incredible texture, fluffy and soft.  Here are a couple photos of the block in context with several other blocks I stitched near the Pekinese square to give you an idea of how textures and shades worked together.

Pekinese Stitch, French Stitch, and my own padded combination stitch

Padded Stitch Combination in Black…Watercolours Midnight and Kreinik black
French Stitch in Very Dark Grey…DMC # 3799
Pekinese Stitch already described

Fern Stitch in Grey done in DMC #414
(The smidgen of red was stitched by someone else)

I really enjoyed the effect of the stitch, but using the Fuzzy Stuff was a bit of a challenge.  I would, however, do it again.  This was a great choice for Santa’s beard or stuffed animal representations or animal fur.  I look forward to using it some more in some of the Buddhist images I’ve been sketching on muslin to embroider.

I wonder?  Is anyone else as far behind in TAST as I am?  I got hung up way back on the buttonhole wheel.  I’ll finish it, I promise!  It’s pretty bad when a stitching sample becomes a UFO!

A Chain Stitch Sampler

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

Chain Stitch Sampler or Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains

This past week TAST 2012 is taking a “catch up” or get crazy creative break.  I focused on my Attachments Quilt Blocks (and UFOs) to create a sweet little sampler. Something I call Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up, sometimes at the expense of other projects.  But I have no other serious obligations.  And, I see the TAST Challenge as well as the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge as a means to reestablish  discipline that has waned since leaving the Social Services Rat Race.  I’m looking at it as “practice,” as in meditation or spiritual practice.  I really want to create my own designs and stitch them instead of always enjoying the fruits of other people’s’ creative endeavors.  As a follower of “The Artist Way” for decades, I know there are many ways to get to the creative source in one’s self.  One of them is to engage in play.  Another is repetitive activity that frees the mind from clutter.  A very important way is to lose one’s attachment to perfection or preconceived notions of what is good or bad, pretty or ugly, worthwhile or useless, and so on.

I am learning a lot about that through the TAST Challenge.  Taking the Studio Journal As A Designer’s Workhorse really helped, too.  There are a lot of ugly images in my journal, but the images represent something quite beautiful in my mind’s eye.  I don’t draw well, nor do I have a whole artist’s studio at hand.  So my journal is full of reMINDers of things I want to stitch.  And some of my embroidery is not necessarily pretty either.  Case in point is the TAST 2012 Attachments Quilt Block I did with safety pins.  Even though no one will say, “Oh, that is so gorgeous, I must have it!,” the piece communicates exactly what I meant to say about attachments to unhealthy things.

Same thing with my Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains sampler and/or Attachments Quilt Block. It is a reminder to myself that an abiding affinity to ribbons and ruffles and a pretty world is not only living with blinders on, but will keep your heart chained from the experience of compassion and the opportunity to relieve any suffering in the world.  Attachments make it hard to have a heart that is open to full life including true love.

The layout of the stitches on Chain Stitch Sampler

A schematic of the stitch layout
(click for larger view)

This block is also about practicing a stitch in an array of its variations. The Chain Stitch.  I had A LOT of fun with this.  And learned a great deal.  I even have a couple new favorite stitches.  I especially like the stitches in the lower right corner of the sampler.  Overall I used 11 chain stitch variations:  chain, twisted chain, barred chain, butterfly chain, wheat ear stitch, braided chain over one stitch, braided chain over two stitches, open chain, heavy chain, raised chain, and cabled chain.  I especially liked the tutorials at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery.  She has a section of nothing but change stitches that you can find in the right sidebar.  I’m thinking I’ll do another sampler with the variations that are not on this block.  Here is a schematic of the stitches I did use.

I hope these close-ups help you pick a few variations you might like to try.

Ribbons, Ruffles, and Chains Close Up Left

Close up of upper left corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Scan of lower right of my Chain Stitch Sampler

Lower Right Corner of my Chain Stitch Sampler

My favorites are the raised chain, the braided chain, the cable chain, twisted chain, and wheat ear stitch.  Which do you especially like?  Which one have you never done but will now try?

Stitch Challenge: TAST OR Math?

There are a few stitches that challenge me more than others.  And Sharon Boggon from Pin Tangle’s Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) has included more than one in her weekly challenges.  This week in fact!  The Knotted Cretan Stitch is lovely.  I love the texture.  I don’t love the math.

I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if I drew lines on the fabric rather than counted threads.  But the threads ARE lines so it really shouldn’t matter.  Actually a basic line of Cretan (or chevron or herringbone) stitches isn’t a problem.  The problem is when I try to layer them.  The second layer takes a few minutes to figure out my new count and placement.  But the third and fourth are killers.  It feels like I’m using my left hand instead of my right.  Is this a Right Brain vs. Left Brain thing?  Can anyone tell me how to make this easier?

I can fold egg whites into a batter without loosing a molecule of air, but I struggle beyond belief with multiple layers of these stitches.  I can take the sugar out of a recipe and make the item taste like a thousand calories.  I love the texture of  layered stitches.  And when I look at other peoples’ work, it all seems so lovely and effortlessly layered.

I know it’s about multiples.  That’s kind of like permutations—right?  Could someone please write a blog about this for we mathematically challenged stitchers and send me the link?  Or will this not really matter when I pull my antique crazy quilt out of storage and start the embellishments that were never done?

One thing I have learned this week with the Knotted Cretan is about when to end the thread if you didn’t start with enough.  End at either far end of the stitch (A or D per Sarah’s pictorial tutorial.)  Bring the new thread in at the point where the stitch will be bisected, the middle point, the C point if you use A-B-C-D notation for a stitch.  If you end your thread in the middle, you have to introduce the new thread in the same space and it looks messy.  Thank goodness I DID learn something.   Everything else was kind of accidental!  But I DO like what I did and think I could recreate it.  What do you think?  How would you further embellish this?

Knotted Cretan Stitch in four threads and different lengths

Knot sure what I did here!

Oh, and I played with threads.  This is the first weekend for picking strawberries here so I was thinking about fruity colors.  Colors related to cherries for the bottom two rows.  Grape and watermelon for the top two.  I was going to add something for blueberry, my favorite, but pooped out.  There’s a variety of silk, stranded cotton, and perle cotton in this sample.  Here’s the cast in order of appearance:

  • DMC Perle #5 3042
  • Weeks Dye Works floss #2262 Watermelon
  • Caron Wildflowers #081 Black Cherry
  • Caron Waterlilies #149 Cherry Cordial

The Bullion Stitch, Not To Be Confused With Bouillion Cubes!

I have to wonder if I have ESP.  Last week when I posted about French Knots, I mentioned I much prefer the Bullion Knot or Bullion Stitch.  And what do we have for this week’s TAST Challenge?!  Yup…The Bullion Stitch.  I decided to make a spray of wisteria on my Sampler.  The Bullion Knot is perfect for such drapey flowers.  I’d be interested to hear from you what other flowers this stitch would be good for.

Swag of wisteria in Bullion Stitch

Yet another Spring Swag…this one with Bullion Stitch, Stem Stitch, and Chain with Bullion Stitch tip

It was interesting to look at the different tutorials available for this stitch.  Using my own Stitch Diagram reference page, I found Sarah’s tutorial to be most useful to me.  I really needed a refresher, too!  The last time I did bullion stitches was in (about) 1996 when I was determined to learn ribbon embroidery while I recuperated from surgery.

Sharon’s recommendation to use a needle whose eye outer diameter is the same as the needle shaft to the point is right on.   As she says on Pin Tangle:

People either love or hate bullions, but most of the problems associated with working them is that people use the wrong needle.

I recommend milliners or straw needles because most embroidery needles have an eye that is wider than the shaft of the needle. Milliners or straw needles have an eye and shaft that are the same width which makes sliding the wrapped bullion knot along the needle easy. Try it as it does make a difference. (Sharon Boggon)

She’s so right!  This is important because not only does the needle have to go through the thread you wrap or coil around the needle, but you also need to drag the doubled thread through the coiled thread, too.  I did not have the perfect needles on hand for this, so I tried to compensate by allowing the coils to relax as I wiggled the needle and thread through the coil.  I think that may have given me my little problem of the bottom-most coil being a tad loose.

I used three types of thread to work my bullions—a silk ribbon (the green), a rayon loosely woven ribbon (the darker purple on the left), and DMC #5 Perle Cotton (the light purple on the left and all purples on the right.)  It was definitely easier making the bullions with the cotton Perle.

Close up of chain stitch with bullion ending tip

The leaf on the right is a fair example of the Chain Stitch with ending done in Bullion Stitch. The Silk on the left leaf was somewhat twisted while wrapping the needle.

There are actually three stitches in my sample.  First, I made a “branch” with stem stitch using two plies of cotton floss.  Then there are the bullion wisteria flowers that I made with the Perle cotton and the rayon silk.  The green leaves are a composite stitch made up of a chain stitch where the anchoring final stitch is completed as a bullion stitch.  It gives a nice shape to the leaves, I think.  What do you think?  Come on  Don’t be shy!  I can take it!

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Satin Stitch Easter Basket

I had so many ideas for what I’d do with Satin Stitch, the 13th stitch in Sharon Boggon’s Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge.  First I was going to do some musical notation for the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” but found it was copyrighted.  Then I was going to make a band of bunny ears in various states of awareness.  But that seemed kind of boring.

I also thought about not stitching at all because I have so many projects that have Satin Stitch in them.  But, this is not just about learning the stitch, it’s about challenging one’s self.  And truth be told, I hate Satin Stitch.  I’m always worried about coverage and pulling too tight.  I want it to be perfect.  I like using it in needlepoint on canvas or congress cloth because I use a laying tool.  For some reason using a laying tool seems kind of heavy-handed on linen.

Satin Stitch Easter Basket with Eggs
Satin Stitched Easter Basket

So, I challenged myself.  I tried to do a design that was 100% Satin Stitch.  I almost did it.  But then the handle and rim of baskets are often different in texture than the basket (or so I rationalized.)

I used DMC 3858 (2 ply) for the basket.  I wasn’t happy with the coverage so I increased it to 4 ply for the rim and handle.  The eggs were done in four different Caron Waterlilies.  The two furthest back I’m not sure which Waterlilies—leftover threads from other projects done long, long ago.  The one on the right front is 013 Peach Sherbet.  The one to the left of that is Tropic Seas.  The directions for Waterlilies says to use 1 ply for 22 count linen.  Since the Sampler is done on 32 count linen, I used 2 ply for the first egg I stitched, the one in the very back.  I didn’t like the coverage, so I used 4 ply on the egg in the front right.  That seemed kind of puffy, so I used 3 ply on the remaining eggs.  I think that was the best coverage.

What do you think?  What would you do to improve this little design and my Satin Stitch?  Please do leave a comment as I think I need to do more work on this, but am not sure what exactly is needed.  Help!

Blackwork Bow Tie: TAST Bonus Challenge

Blackwork Black Tie

Black Tie Nap

This week there is a break in TAST 2012 to give stitchers whose lives have gotten really busy a chance to catch up.  After all, if you get frustrated and so behind the challenge might just become another UFO!  And Sharon Boggon is all about setting people up for success!

For those who were up to date she offered two bonus challenges.  One of them was to create some “Bling,” some eye candy to inspire others using from 3 to 6 of the stitches from the challenge list to date.  For some reason “Bling” hit me.  And when I think of Bling I think “Black Tie.”  And, with my interest in Blackwork, my mind obviously jumped to Blackwork Bow Tie.  Here is what I quickly stitched up (based upon a sketch in my Studio Journal.)

Blackwork Bow Tie

TAST Week 13 Bonus Challenge: Blackwork Bow Tie

I have used these stitches:

I will be posting more details later this week on my blog, Blackwork Lessons, after I create a clean copy of the pattern and directions.  Followers of Blackwork Lessons and The Shop Sampler who leave a comment requesting a copy of the pattern will receive it, gratis, of course!