Calling Mission Control…

Jeff, Jojo, Taz, and I have revised our “Mission.” Originally we were going to travel all over the US and maybe Canada, “boon-docking” where we could utilize our solar panels to provide the juice for whatever propane couldn’t energize—things like putting out the slide to give us living space and what few lights we might need beyond our lantern.  The fridge and hot water can be run on propane.  So anywhere we could be a defined distance from the road (per National Forest regs) we could just park and play.

For me, play was to visit needlework shops in the areas we traveled.  By talking with the owners/managers I would come up with favorite threads, colors, and stitches of the owners.  Using that input I would design a sampler.  Describing that process was the original Mission of this blog.

Well, shit things happen, times change gas prices skyrocket, and Wal-Mart the economy pushes lots of small shop owners out of business!

We are into plan Z-19.

And this blog is all over the place, but not where it started out.

Map of Baldwin County

The yellow dot is where we are camped in Senate District 32 of Alabama

I can’t really tell you what we’re doing outside of sitting in Alabama where the weather is great and the rent and utilities are real low.   We know we’ll be here for a year unless a hurricane  forces us to evacuate.  We will re-evaluate our plans a year from now as to whether we head back north or stay another year.

Unfortunately, there are no local needlework stores outside of the chains and I am back to my old faithful internet stores.  I really miss the joy and inspiration that comes from walking into a shop and seeing all the geegaws and whatsits.   And picking up the patterns and books, reading a bit before I create my priority list.  But that’s neither here nor there in terms of a Mission Statement or description.

When I look back upon the past several years, most of my posts fall more under the subtitle of this blog—”And Other Stitching Challenges.”  Completing the “Shop Sampler” is going to be an incredible challenge, one that may need to go to the bottom of the “To Do” list.

But I’m wondering.  If the Mission changes and the Shop Sampler is not the focus, should the title of the blog and mission statement be different?

I think not.  I think I may need to reconsider how I gather the Shop information.  I’m thinking that I may enlist readers to help me.  And I’m thinking I may create a challenge to make it work.  Maybe something like this:

  • I write a formal challenge asking for the shop name, the shop web and/or email address, the shop owner/manager’s favorite thread and color and the favored stitch using that thread and color.
  • Readers email me or make a comment on the formal challenge post with the requested info.
  • I add each submission to a page under the Sampler Shops button (at the top of the page) after I send a note to each Shop so they can check out the link.
  • Once a month I choose one submission randomly.  That poster will receive a token of my appreciation…maybe a small, a tool, a bit of fabric…nothing major, just a token.
  • Start all over again the next month.

Sewing basket

So…that’s what I’m thinking.  What do you think?

Ode to European Reproduction Samplers: Preparing for Papa

About six months ago I opened my big mouth and said, “Papa will be my birthday present to myself.  I will start Papa by then or on my birthday.”  Well my birthday is in just a couple days.  And I’ve been getting ready!

I purchased Papa probably four years ago when I discovered Sabine Taterra-Gundacker’s  website “Alte-Mustertücher-nachgestickt.”  Since then I have spent hours and hours looking at the patterns and at the gallery of Sabine’s works and collection.  I personally think everyone who stitches should have one of Sabine’s patterns in his or her repertoire.  Personally, I want them all!

Where do the ideas for these patterns come from?  Sabine finds interesting samplers in museums and in private collections.  She then sets to recreating the original works, documenting threads she uses, trying to match to the original as much as possible.  She includes the errors as well as the beauty and the history, counting every old thread.  I have come to respect her skill even more having been working on the Martha Stones Sampler.  I struggle with “do I correct the spelling or leave it as is?”  I’m leaving it.

Another of my favorites is Erna Schuppelius.  I love how Sabine’s photos included the finishing done on this piece and plan to add the crochet border and ribbon trim to mine.  The alphabet is charming and I will use it in work that I may design myself or for personalizing other works because I love it so.

I have learned so much about samplers from perusing Sabine’s online shop.  And I have come to love samplers from a variety of cultures and can even now begin to identify origins when seeing an unlabeled sampler.  I have several other patterns in queue from Sabine and another that I have started that is purely a labor of love.  (IFAKHS 1817)

Before I seek your input on my color choices for Papa, let me show you how Sabine packages her products for you.  It’s like getting a birthday present in the mail when you open it.

Now here is my dilemma.  I have the fabric it’s a 32ct Wexford linen in blue with grey and charcoal markings.  You’ll see it in the photo gallery following.  I had chosen Threadworx Deep Blue Sea to outline the “pages” of the pattern and Crescent Colours Lobster Claw to do the pattern design using the Threadworx for any accents.

I’ve been testing the Lobster Claw against the fabric in a blackwork SAL.  It’s not bad.  The problem is Jeff hates orange.  It’s not absolutely important that I avoid orange, but I do think he is more likely to help me frame and hang it, it the colors are pleasing to him, too!  And I don’t want to give this one away.  After all it’s a birthday present to me!

Jeff like brown.  He love the colors in my Quaker Virtues.  He has suggested a reddish brown, not too red.  I found a currant color that he likes.  I like it too.  But how will it look on the fabric?  I don’t want to have to wait to get the thread.  That means I’d have to start after my birthday has passed.  And then there is the question of what color should I use for the outlining?  I think the darker blue will be too much dark.  I thought about using the Lobster Claw.  But I don’t know.

What do you think?  Check these pics out and let me know what you think.

Stitching Busy

It’s that time again.  Time to assess where I’m at in my stitching life for WIPocalypse.  Time to share my Vierlanden progress with Dijn and the other SAL members.  Not to mention Quaker Virtues SAL progress and Cirque des Cœurs SAL progress.

I’m glad to say I have made progress!  I have even added a couple more SALs to my list (this one, and this one too), one another small blackwork SAL.  It feels good!

I think rather than describe my process in all the projects I think I’ll just post the pics .  You can always do before and after comparisons by searching for the appropriate names using the internal search.

As always feedback is more than welcome, so bring it on!

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P.S.  Jeff, Taz, and Jojo went for a walk on Mother’s  Day and came back with the flowers in the feature image.  They grow wild around us!  Mother’s Day is now also called Big Puppy’s Day!

February Is The Shortest Month: HAED Stitchalong Update

It seems like I just put my Heaven and Earth Designs Stitchalong project away.  I really missed working on my other projects for the week that I worked on The Tree of Creation.  Especially Erna and Quaker Virtues.  I am so close to done working on the stitching part of Erna and stitching on Virtues is just so fun and relaxing!  A real sense of accomplishment working on them.

But The Tree of Creation?  Not so much.  This sucker is HUGE!  I know there are some that are even bigger, but this is the biggest pattern I’ve ever attempted.  She is 332 stitches by 380 stitches.  That is a total of 126,160 total stitches.  In the week that I stitched I completed 1002 stitches.  If I stitch at the same rate that means it will take about 126 weeks to complete this baby!  That’s almost 2 ½ years!

As you think about your Heaven and Earth Design projects, think also about the song from RENT called “Seasons of Love.”  If you don’t know the tune, check it out on YouTube.  Then change the lyrics to these below.  Substitute the numbers for those of your project.  All this week, we’ll be making a nice chorus about the globe!

Or sing it while you look at the photos of my work!  (below)

Ode to Heaven and Earth Designs (Tree of Creation by Cari Buziak)
(These lyrics by me!)

One hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
One hundred twenty-six thousand
Stitches so fine
One hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
How do you measure — measure your Heav’n Earth progress?

In colors – In pages
In minutes – In hours spent stitching
In skeins used –In floss yards
In frogging – In tears or years?

In one hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
How do you measure
The accomplishment of completing a piece?

February TUSAL

It doesn’t seem like it’s been so long since I posted my January Ort photos for the Totally Useless Stitch Along (TUSAL).  No matter—I still have added quite a few snips and strings to the container.

Remnants of stitching history

Kind of pretty aren’t they!?

And then I dropped the container in the dogs’ bed, so everything got shaken up and turned around!

February TUSAL

What was the top is now the bottom!

But here’s a new one for you.  I have a good number of orts still on the fabric!

Orts in progress

All the color you see represents orts not yet in the jar!

I was working so diligently on a model that Sabine Taterra-Gundacker will soon be posting as available at her sensational e-store, European Reproduction Samplers.  This one is a reproduction of the sampler created by Martha Stone in 1840  when she was young, but exact age not certain (that I know of.)

It is a simple but charming design representing two young girls in their fancy dresses with what were typical toys of the time.  A couple cupids add to the charm.  And the whole thing is surrounded by a continuous strawberry border.  I’m thinking the girl didn’t clean and cut up too many strawberries because her color gradation is backward.  And the right side and the left side are not symmetrical—that kind of bugs the perfectionist in me.

But for heaven’s sake she was just a kid!  Imagine yourself at 7 to 9 years old and no pattern to stitch from.  You sit down with some fabric and thread and “color.”  When you think if it that way, this kid was a prodigy!  Shoot, many of us adults don’t do as well!

Original Martha Stone sampler

Photo from European Reproduction Samplers.
This is the sampler Sabine is creating the chart from.

The hard part, well actually two…

The first hard part was not correcting what I perceive to be her mistakes—changing the gradation of the berries and making the border symmetrical between berry groups.

The second hard part was realizing after 17 hours of work that I made a mistake back in hour two of work.  I was off one stitch.  It affected the left and bottom borders, one that I had already completed and the other had a good start on.  So, I started unstitching.  (Some call this frogging because you “rip it, rip it, rip it!”)  The more berries I ripped out, the more uncomfortable I was with the idea of continuing with the fabric.  The red thread (DMC 304) was discoloring the white fabric slightly.  Because I really thought it would show, even just a little, I started over completely.

See how red runs

See how they run!

But the new work is looking beautiful and I am happy with how it looks.  I am triple checking my count because I don’t want to go through this again.  And I want my piece done when Sabine is ready to post the finished instructions.  So, I’ve set all my other work aside temporarily.

Martha Stone coming along

So far, so good.

Don't like running colors or threads.

I don’t like running colors or threads…this is the back

So why did this happen and how can you avoid doing the same thing?

Let me say that most of my stitching during my stitching life has been when I lived alone with no television and no pets.  NO DISTRACTION!  It’s a lot like meditation.  Very easy to be peaceful and calm when you’re isolated and have no interruptions—when you have total control of your environment.  Not so easy when you’re folding clothes in the laundromat on a Sunday afternoon.  Not so easy when you’re walking down a sidewalk of Washington D.C.  when all schools in the country have sent their school children for their spring trips.  Not so easy when your dogs are barking (i.e. screaming) at strangers walking by or jumping on your knee indicating it is time for a walk in the wilds.  Not so easy when your partner decides—just as you get that empty mind thing going (i.e. counted the 30th  stitch of 42)—it’s time to talk about where we want to retire!

It is time to learn to meditate/stitch in the middle of living.  It is an incredible challenge.  But that’s living.  It’s a challenge to walk and chew gum.  It’s a challenge to move from left to right brain in milliseconds.  It’s a challenge for a vegetarian to live with someone who doesn’t eat beans, cheese, or rice!  These are the sorts of things we choose to and that also that we must do sometimes.  And we do it.  And I will learn to stitch with distractions, just like when my monkey brain jumps into the calm pool I can get it to sit still.

In stitching terms, this mean I must:

  1. recognize I’ve been distracted
  2. determine when the distraction began
  3. go back to where I was at in my stitching when the distraction began
  4. recheck my work
  5. when I pick up my work anew, recheck from the beginning to ensure dealing with my distractions didn’t distract me further previously and contribute to unrecognized mistakes!

It’s all about recognizing, accepting, and assuming one’s place at the baseline to continue.    Pretty simple.  Right?!

Until then, there’s the Totally Useless Stitch Along.  Which is a lovely piece of art in progress.  (And so, not so totally useless!)  And when my jar is full, all those scraps will be turned into Prayer Flags!  More on that later!  Until then love the froggy green!

Hurricane Sandy Embroidery Pattern Giveaway

I’m slowing but surely getting back to regular life given traveling, the leg injury, and frozen shoulder—just like those effected and affected by Frankenstorm Sandy.

I have purchased an extra of a charming pattern created over at The Floss Box to help support the financial efforts of recovery from Sandy.  This is the image:

Pattern from The Floss Box

This pattern is being sold as a fund raiser for Frankenstorm Sandy survivors.

I will give my extra copy to the 13th person to like and/or comment on this post.

For those of you who would like to do the same on your blogs, here is the link to the page at The Floss Box.

http://www.theflossbox.com/store/pattern/sandy-cross-stitch

TAST 2012: Week Six Chevron Stitch with Bamboo and Sea Grass

TAST 2012 Sampler stitched by Julie Castle as of Feb 12

My TAST Sampler to date

It’s been a very busy week, but I managed to stitch a few Chevrons…and more!  We are preparing to move to our next camping location.  Doing so is kind of like tying off loose ends, weaving in bits, and getting a finished piece ready for framing.  Yup—nitpicking chores!  But there was some fun, too!  I have a new grandniece named Peyton Marie born to the little boy I helped deliver too many years ago (who I’m proud to say is now a not so little member of the U. S. Navy)!  I started Sharon Boggon’s Online Class Studio Journal as a Designers Work Horse.  I went to New Orleans to visit the Garden District Needlework Shop where I spent too much money but had so much fun!  (I’ll be doing a full write-up about this incredible shop once we get relocated.)  I used some new to me threads in stitching the TAST Week 6 Challenge:  the Chevron Stitch.

The Thread Gatherer Sea Grass Cotton in Turkey Red

Sea Grass by The Thread Gatherer

I have seen Sea Grass by The Thread Gatherer in catalogues, but not in a shop.  The Garden District Needlework Shop had a supply, so I picked up a packet to try it out.  It was very nice to work with.  In some situations I could see using a laying tool, but in this case I simply used my needle to smooth the flat thread out.  The texture reminded me of the shredded paper type of grass  for Easter Baskets (as opposed to the plasticky stuff.)  The colors are nice, too!  I can definitely see a stash of Sea Grass in my future.

Layered Chevron done in Sea Grass Cotton and Pink Ribbon

Foundation Chevron in Pink Ribbon, Top in Turkey Red Sea Grass

Another thread new to me was Rainbow Gallery’s Bamboo thread that is sold under the moniker, “Mandarin Floss.”  Just looking through the bobbins on the stand, this color popped out at me.  While I had no idea what I would do with it, I knew it would fit somewhere in my color world.  I was right.

Rainbow Gallery Bamboo thread

Mandarin Floss in M294 a Bamboo thread by Rainbow Gallery

Using the Sea Grass over the pink ribbon Chevrons and not being sure what the next stitch would be, nor what colors would be most fitting, the variegated bamboo thread provides a really nice bridge to just about anything! Wanting to use previous stitches to offset the Chevrons, I used the Mandarin in Fly Stitch to underline the Chevrons.

I haven’t even mentioned the beginning of the Chevron sample.  The pink ribbon chevrons were tied with layered Herringbone in a Caron’s over dyed cotton.  Not really sure which one—it was pretty and went well with the pink!  That set of Chevrons was framed with Buttonhole Stitch

TAST Week 6 Chevron Stitch Sample

TAST Week 6 Chevron Stitch Sample

Tell me!  What would you do differently?  Be tough.  I can take it!  Should I do something other than bands?

Off With Her Head: Handbag Hardware

Maybe Mary isn’t the only one wondering about the hardware used to make the blackwork purse in my last post. The directions that came with my chart say you can get the hardware from Lacis (#LS75) for shops. It is a 3 inch heavy frame. If you can’t find it in a shop then you can call Wyndham  (1.860.974.1214). Maybe they could direct you to a finisher if your local shop cannot help.

On the other hand here is a link for some pretty cool handbag frames: UMX Fashion Supplies: Purse Frame.   This image shows how easy it is to assemble.  (click on photo for larger image)  However these frames are more than 3 inches, so your worked piece should have enough extra fabric to accommodate the 4 or 5 inch frame.

Purse Frame Assembly instructions

Instructions for assembling frame

I suspect you could find people in your local needlework or quilting chapter who might be able to help you. If this doesn’t help, contact me and I’ll see if I can get my partner to help out. He is a leather worker and engineer and takes care of my more challenging assembly problems. You can use the contact form found in the TSS Mission section of the heading tabs.

Golden Thread Needlearts, East Rochester, NY

East Rochester Needlearts Store

Behind those doors are hours of needleworker Nirvana!

When I first joined the Rochester Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America, I learned about this shop. It is staple for EGA and American Needlepoint Guild members of the area, as well as the solitary stitcher. I can honestly say all stitching needs are met here!

There is an abundant sampling of countless thread types suitable for needlepoint, crewel, any form of embroidery or surface arts. There are a number of walls loaded with instruction books for all these art forms as well as a special rack for the newest and/or most popular texts. Tools and buttons and frames and trunk shows and samples of completed works fill all remaining space including the glass showcase counter in the center of the store. There is a separate fabric cutting area and a corner in the very back devoted to framing needs for your treasures. And that’s just the “stuff”.

Whenever I have a question the very busy staff answer it completely and in turn. (I think this is important, some shops tend to give all their attention to the frequent and familiar shopper or let familiar people interupt. Those sorts of shops will not find their names on this blog!) When I have seen a finished piece somewhere all I have to do is describe it and the owner (Andrea Kelly) walks right to where that obscure little packet is filed. Case in point. I saw a set of blackwork “Alice Through the Looking Glass” pieces framed in another shop. That shop did not have the patterns available. (Why showcase a piece you can’t sell the pattern for?!) When I described the piece, the Andrea put a couple different patterns from the line in my hand. I walked out with what you see on the right.The needlepoint in the heading area was my first attempt at needlepoint. The Andrea helped me pick out the materials every step of the way. And did not make me feel stupid, either. You see she’s a stitcher, too. Once I walked in and she was repairing a sampler that was dated in the 1800s! She let me touch it! I get shivers just thinking about it. But that’s how good Andrea Kelly is.

Nostalgic Needle Pattern

“Off with her head!” by Nostalgic Needle

Golden Thread Needleart Choices

Tough choices must be made!

On my last visit before we hit the road, after she had helped me with my purchase, I asked Andrea my questions. What color, what fiber, what stitch? No one so far has had as much trouble as she did! I felt like I was asking her to name her favorite child. Sacrilegious! In fact, she really balked at doing this. Finally, though, Andrea revealed that that she liked vibrant earthy colors that spoke of life. She named a couple fibers that had the quality that she liked. I picked out several possibilities with these descriptions in mind. This is the selection. No, Andrea absolutely could not choose just one! And there are special directions for the working!Caron’s Watercolours in #144 Pomegranate should be stitched (on 18 count mono canvas) as the flat stitch in Criss-cross Hungarian stitch and Rainbow Gallery’s Fyre Werks #FT26 for the crossed part of the Criss-cross Hungarian. Actually Neon Rays Plus was the first choice for the metallic fiber, but the colors on hand just didn’t work as well with the overdyed floss.

It’s very clear why stitchers return again and again to this stitcher friendly shop. You should put it on your “To Visit” list, too!

The Year of the Blog: 2012

New Year–fresh committment. I will be rotating posts daily across my four blogs so things will hopefully be more fresh. For The Shop Sampler I will be adding posts about Sharon B’s Take a Stitch Tuesday that starts tomorrow, January 3rd. I will also be sharing how Pin Tangle’s Studio Journal class goes. I see both of these learning experiences as tools for ultimately designing my “Shop Sampler.”

So far the majority of the colors chosen by shops are in the green range, so the resulting piece may be more abstract than representative of events and images from my travels. But that’s okay. And I happen to love green, too! The trick then will be to really work with texture and shading. Both of the Pin Tangle experiences will let me focus on these techniques to the extreme.

Just a note, while the Studio Journal class (beginning in February) does cost $60 and is limited in class size–for all I know the class may already be filled–TAST or Take a Stitch Tuesday is open to the public and free of charge. Click on the links for either of these events for additional info!

See you on Saturday. If you’re going to do either of Sharon‘s lessons, leave a comment so I can link to your photos!