A Small Finish

Yup.  I finished something.  Kind of.  Claire was leading a small blackwork/cross stitch SAL.  I found out about it two weeks or more into the SAL, but joined anyway.  I am, after all, a Sensational Serial Starter!

I wanted to try out some threads I finally recently got from Needleworker’s Delights.  I won’t link to ND as I do not recommend them.  I also don’t recommend the threads.  At least not the ones I chose.  I got three weights of Jar Designs Overdyed cottons in the spiced ginger color.  I was not happy with the stranded floss.  I used the lightest and darkest of the color for my little block.  There was so little variation as to be non-existent.

Not trusting my own eyes, I asked Jeff which stitches where the darkest and which the lightest.  He couldn’t tell and thought I was using the same thread throughout.  In the photo there does seem to be some variability.  Maybe my eyes aren’t as good as the camera!

Anyway.  I picked 3371, 355, and 356—all by good ol’ faithful DMC to finish the Seba freebie from Cyberstitch.Com called Square Magic of Colors.  I am satisfied with the finished piece.

Claire93 SAL project

Seba Freebie stitched

To have a Finish (versus finish),  I thought I would stitch a reverse color version and use the two for a biscornu.  Then I thought I might find a nice complementary fabric and have a fabric backed biscornu.  Now, I’m thinking fabric backed pinkeep.

Here are some of the fabrics I was thinking about:

Three fabrics from Keepsake Quilting and three from Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Which of these do you think goes best with the Square?

Clockwise from top left the fabrics are:

  1. Keepsake Quilting Gold, Not Necessarily Christmas
  2. Keepsake Quilting Pebbles, Water Lilies
  3. Keepsake Quilting Petals Tango Punch
  4. Robert Kaufman Spot On from Ft. Worth Fabric Studio
  5. Moda Ticklish from Ft. Worth Fabric Studio
  6. Moda Honey, Honey from Fr. Worth Fabric Studio

Now that I’ve seen the piece and the fabrics on the same page, Numbers 1, 3, and 4 are out.   Which of the remaining three do you like, #2, #5, or #6?

What would you make?  Biscornu or Pinkeep?

Thread Storage Is Not For Sissies!

Whether your passion is embroidery, quilting, knitting, or mixed media, storage is a problem for any fiber artist .  But when you live in a space that is 27 foot long by 8 foot wide, the issue of storage is a problem whether you’re a fiber artist or not!  From the beginning of our time on the road I have been searching for the perfect solution.

Initially I had  been “alotted” the space under the bed (queen sized and 17 inches deep) and one half of the cupboard area over the couch (about 8 ft wide and 14 in deep by 14 in tall).

Since Jeff and I have consistently been trying to decrease the weight we carry in the trailer, I am now using about ½ the under the bed space and ¾ of the living room cupboard space.   This has taken a lot of work and a lot of honesty, not to mention a fair amount of growth in the realm of non-attachment—for both of us.  (The dogs refuse to make any changes at all!)

A couple of things have helped to make this downsizing possible.

  • I decided what projects I really want to have done in a year that could realistically be completed given my stitching history.
  • I picked a couple UFOs to focus on, keeping in mind if I finish them before the end of October I can always pull out a couple more.
  • Given these choices, I picked out which reference materials would be critical to carry with me.
  • Everything else was put in  the front of the storage unit and labeled very clearly for ease in sorting next spring.
  • I found a way to store all the thread that doesn’t fit neatly on floss cards (without spending a small fortune for some fancy new “System.”)  Yup!  I did!
My new thread storage system

My new thread storage system for items that will not fit into my DMC floss card boxes.

I found a photo album that has archival quality photo pockets.  The pockets are divided by acid free paper.  They are supposed to hold a photo that is about 4 X 6, so are perfect for perle cotton weight thread.  I labeled each pocket front and back with the thread company, thread weight, and color number. (Each pocket will hold two skeins.)

Photo album for 4 x 6 photos, perfect for Perle Cotton weights

Ends close to rings stapled to prevent escapees!

I also found archival quality pocketed storage sheets meant for the older, smaller baseball cards.  The little pockets are perfect for Rainbow Gallery thread cards, Weeks Dye Works flosses, and other smaller skeins of thread.  Again, I labeled each pocket with relevant info.

Smaller pockets for smaller threads

Intended for smaller baseball cards but perfect for my smaller thread skeins and cards.

I like this because it’s flexible.  As I add a color, I can take off the labeled info and rearrange as necessary.  I have loads of extra pages so I can add as my inventory changes.   And it’s easier to maintain my Excel inventory of threads.  Most importantly,  I can easily pull colors from different companies to create my color palette.

There are still a few oddball items, particularly spools.  Those I have in two boxes, one a tin for metallics and the other is a Shaker box (made by Allen Fannin) that I use for my balls of Perle cotton.

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

TAST2012 Week Four: Laissez les bontemps roulez!

TAST 2012 sampler at the end of week 4

TAST 2012 Sampler End of Week 4

That’s French for let the good times roll, if you didn’t know.  And that was my theme for this week’s stitch challenge.

The stitch for TAST 2012 Week Four was the Cretan stitch–open or closed.  Or even knotted, if you like!   I like the Cretan stitch.  It layers well.  And it can be embellished in so many ways.  Two of my favorite books show some possibilities.  I bought Judith Baker Montano’s Elegant Stitches and Linda Causee’s An Encyclopedia of Crazy Quilt Stitches and Motifs some 15 years ago when I started dabbling in crazy quilting.  Other sources of inspiration and education include, to mention just a few:

But back to my Cretan stitch sample.  As I said in an earlier post, I’m letting the passing year’s events dictate color and how I will use the stitches in the challenge.  Right now I am in Mississippi, about 30 minutes from New Orleans.  Carnival has began on Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany.  It will end at the close of the Tuesday before Lent, called Fat Tuesday or “Mardi Gras.”  It is important to know this is not a New Orleans thing, but a cultural thing tied into the Catholic and other Christian calendars, linked back to when the French ruled this part of the US.  Truth be told it goes back way beyond that, too!

There are three colors associated with Mardi Gras:  Gold (or yellow), Purple, and Green.  The gold stands for wealth, purple stands for justice, and green stands for health.  The fleur de lis is a popular symbol which basically represents a lily.

The Gentle Art Sampler Thread: orange marmalade

Just yummy!

So, I used these colors to create a Mardi Gras or Carnival band on my TAST sampler.  I used an layered and stacked cretan stitch in DMC cotton #552 and #561 for the cretan stitches.  I filled the center area with a row of double knot stitches (aka Palestrina stitch) in The Gentle Art overdyed cotton # 0580 (Orange Marmalade, my favorite orange/yellow).

I used the purple DMC to make mini fleurs des lis on the top of the banner with a lazy daisy stitch  (aka detached chain) and straight stitches.  Then I used amethyst, green, and gold 11° seed beads on the bottom of the banner to give the effect of swag.

TAST 2012 Week 4 Challenge

Laissez les bontemps roulez

So, what do you think?  Do you want this graphed out for you?  You have but to ask!