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?

Antique Almost Crazy Quilt

Antique Almost Crazy Quilt

Almost Crazy Quilt

The fact that I purchased this quilt in a dark little antique store in Burlington Square in Burlington, Vermont does not make this quilt an antique. Many things sold in antique stores are merely old. What does make this antique is the fact that every single piece of fabric on the front is from most likely the 1940s according to Allen Fannin (my former partner) who taught the business aspects of Fashion at Syracuse University until his tragic death in a head on car collision.

The back of one square on the Almost Crazy Quilt

The back of one square showing the hand stitching

What makes this quilt interesting is that every single square is hand pieced. Quite a few of the blocks are put together by hand, but some are also machine stitched. I don’t think that detracts from its charm at all.

Four Pointed Star motif

While the Four Pointed Star Motif seems central, in fact it is created at the corners of four attached blocks

There is a very definite pattern to each square. The quilter used a four pointed star for the basis of each block. Then the 12½ inch squares were filled in.  All 56 of them!  It has been suggested that the fabric came from either dresses, shirts, or robes.

Fabrics are most likely rayon

Can you see the shine of the fabrics?

What makes this an “Almost Crazy Quilt” is the fact that there is not a single stitch of surface embroidery on it. That’s why I bought this little beauty. My plan was to do the embroidery and finish it.

The question is where do I start? What do you think? All suggestions are more than welcome!

Button, Button: What do you think of my crossed buttonhole stitch?

Button Button Six Inch TAST Quilt Square

Not sure what the final orientation will be, but I kind of like this.

The TAST 2012 Quilt Continues!

This time my six inch square is covered with crossed buttonhole stitch.  And what goes better with any buttonhole stitch but buttons.  That’s where I started.  Given the stitch, the attachment was given.  Even though the vintage or old buttons I’ve brought with me reflects only a small amount of my button collection, there are still a huge number of choices to consider.  Off to the sketch pad.

Studio Journal Sketch for crossed buttonhole stitch

A quick sketch thinking of button bands on a sweater

The buttons I brought on the road from my stash

A small sampling of my stash

Given the sketch, I knew I needed a variety of button sizes to provide movement and interest.  Keeping the buttons within a color family is also necessary so there are not too many variables to grab the eye.  I want the buttons to enhance the stitching not compete for top billing.  After trying several possible colors, I found my selection of red buttons gave the effect I was looking for.  On to the next variable—threads.

I played around with some threads in colors complementary to the buttons.  Again, it felt like there was a competition going on between stitch and buttons.  Okay, monochrome it is!  But that doesn’t mean the threads can’t sing a bit on their own.  I chose different textured cottons.  And then I played around with numbers of plies of the cotton.  Thus the variability and color intensity of the buttons is reflected in the threads.

As for the stitch, I have not done this stitch before, so I had to practice a bit as my brain worked to cross sides as effectively as the threads!  I used a DMC #5 Perle Cotton scrap from my stash.  I also decided upon DMC variegated cotton floss #115.  I love Caron threads and chose a stranded pima cotton (Watercolours) called appropriately Flame.  Another of my favorite threads is Weeks Dye Works.  Don’t you love the color name?  Louisiana Hot Sauce!

I would have to say of the variations in the crossed buttonhole stitch that I tried, the one that looks like cross stitches with bars was the trickiest.  Not sure why.  Maybe more practice will answer that question.  I have presented photos of different orientations of the block in my photo album at Stitchin’ Fingers

What do you think?  Like the block?  What variation did you try?  Like best?  Are you loving TAST 2012?  What do yo think the next stitch will be?

The Dark Night of the Soul Births Creativity

The Last Straw

Murder Hill claims another victim

Jeff, the girls, and I arrived at our summer camp on Sunday, April 22 having barely survived the trip from hell.  I have left it to Jeff to write about those experiences as I don’t really wish to relive the experience.  When he completes his documentation I’ll reblog.  It took me two days in bed to decompress once here.  Another couple days to begin to engage in life fully.  And two days ago I went to Pin Tangle to see what the stitch for this week was.

I have over 30 six-inch squares of 14 count Aida cut.  They were for Kissing Pillows, but I’ve slowed down on stitching them since there are fewer troops being shipped out (supposedly.)  So what to do with all those extra squares?

I pulled out my Studio Journal, and sketched out the wheat ear stitch to get a feel for it. (I also ordered a tin of pencils of varying density to aide my sketching from Blick Art Supplies.) Then I did some doodles beginning with a small sketch of a wisteria tree.  It was a little too fiddley for me to get into so I started putting some lines in a square.  Yup, a six-inch square.

Then I saw a zipper that I had salvaged from one of Jeff’s favorite sweat shirts that was no longer wearable, one of the mindless tasks I did while I was restlessly trying to put the trip behind me.  I liked the zipper a lot.  The pull is kind of cool and has a nice feel to it, a nice weight and shape.  A little different.  People are doing cool things with zippers these days.  I wanted to do something cool with a zipper.

I also need to have get some brightness, so lively color in my hands, in my heart.  So much so that I made Bar Sugar Cookies just to play with sprinkles!

Bar Sugar Cookies with lots of colorful sprinkles

Bar sugar cookies with bars of color

Bar Sugar Cookies Cut and Arranged

Bar Sugar Cookie Collage

I pulled out the brightest variegated DMC floss I had.  I was being lazy, my first thought was to use Caron’s Cranberry Water Lilies, my favorite Caron color—well, one of them anyways!  But that would mean I had to get up and dig in the overhead storage to pull it out.  I had my box of DMC 000 – 500 at my side.  So I went kind of random.

My doodles included lime green, orange, fuchsia, red, purple.  You’ll see some of those colors in the beginning of my new baby, The TAST 2012 Quilt!  Block One is not done yet, as you can see.  I’ll show it to you when it’s done, too.  And you’ll see the other limbs of this new baby as they develop.  Since TAST will most likely run over into January, this baby has the traditional nine months to go.  I’m sure there will be additional development once delivered!

TAST Week 17 Wheat -Ear Stitch

TAST Quilt Block One

TAST Week 17

Wheat-Ear Stitch

I’m thinking there will be a theme tin addition to TAST with this project.  Something regarding attachments.  For me Dark Nights of the Soul often involve my relationship to attachments and loss.  This trip from hell involved the possibility of loosing our home and the ability to fulfill our dreams.  We were also in life threatening situations a couple of times.  We had to spend everything we’d saved to live on for the rest of the year to make it home.  And my special puppy who I’m very attached to started with the symptoms that have erupted into a horrid flu-like illness that she is currently struggling with.

I have learned that such situations are part of the cycle of life and also the creative cycle.  Just as wild fires clear the brush to allow for new growth, human life crises lead to a kind of soul cleansing making room for new ideas, new vision, and a heart that is more open and available to input.  Humans are creative beings unless we get bogged down with minutia rather than process, routine as opposed to ritual, and habit instead of awareness and engagement.  Sometimes it takes a lot to clear out those barriers to be free to create.  Whatever gets us to that place is a blessing.  That is what I have experienced so that is what I believe!

What do you think?  What frees you to be creative?