Where, oh where, has Julie been?

It might seem like I have dropped off the face of the Earth.  It might have been easier if I had!  So what’s been going on you ask?  Welll…

I’ve been getting settled in our winter campground

Frame Cage for trailers of all sizes

Betsy in the Frame Cage

We finally made it to Azalea Acres in Robertsdale, Alabama after sitting in a motel for one week while the trailer frame was repaired.  During that week we lost all our food that was in the fridge as the repair people kindly plugged the trailer into the electric and didn’t turn the fridge on.  Then we hit bad weather.  

Behind the garage for one night

We camp in some of the most interesting places!

When the weather got better, the radiator sprung a leak.  So we camped overnight behind a service station where the radiator was replaced the next day.  Several days after that we made it to Alabama.  It takes us a week or two to get settled.  

Steep hills in Tennessee

Ups and Downs

We have to reorganize cupboards, put the kitchen back in order after storing everything that is breakable.  Then there’s all the laundry and all the leaves and sand on the floor compliments of Taz and Jojo.  (Yes, and Jeff, too!)  And this time we had to gradually restore our food stores.  

Ramps, hills, and trucks! Oh, my!

Ins and Outs

While we were headed South everyone we knew was worried we were driving into Frankenstorm Sandy.  When we got here, we had to worry about family and friends back in New York instead!  

My leg wound is far from resolved.  

I finally gave in to Jeff, and made an appointment to be seen at the Wound Care Center in Mobile, Alabama at Providence Hospital.  It was a smart move.  Currently, I’m only out of bed for about an hour at a time.   If you want to know more about this, brave souls can read my Note from the Doctor.

As promised, now that we’re in Alabama Jeff has agreed to see a Gastroenterology specialist to help him figure out what his problem might be.

Of course, who knew we would end up driving to the far side of Mobile.  Once last week.  Three days this week.  Once next week and we don’t know about after that.  Yet.  But Jeff is getting an incredible work up, complete with breath testing for all kinds of digestive gases that occur with different sensitivities.  He’s had all kinds of blood work and other labs.  The bigger tests are coming up.  If there is no answer after all this then there is no answer anywhere!  We will be happy with any answer that is not spelled C-A-N-C-E-R.  He’s been there and done that, not going to do it again!

I’ve joined three more stitching groups.  (Yes, I am a certifiable idiot!)

Yup, three of them.  They are Face Book groups, one of them is a closed group.  I must say the people in two of these groups are nuts!  (But in the best way!)  The name of one group should give you a clue:  The Superstar Serial Starters & Divine Disciplined DivasClub.  Guess which one I am!  Yup.  I’m a Serial Starter.  I have more to add to my UFO list as a result of connecting with these women (and men, too.)  I’ve signed up for a number of really cool and sure to be fun Stitchalongs.  There are oodles of choices right through 2014 and new possibilities whenever someone finds a wonderful new pattern. You can check the groups out if you’re interested.

And you can stitch along with me on the patterns I’ve committed to stitch along with others:

2013 Start Dates:

        • 1/27          Any Heaven and Earth Design will run Sunday thru Saturday. (We’ll stitch for one week or per choice on the last Sunday of every month.  I’m doing Buziak’s Tree of Creation.)
        • 2/14          Cirque des Couers (Ink Circles) SAL
        • 5/29           Papa SAL
        • 10/15        Quaker Christmas  (ByGone Stitches)
        • 12/1          Our Neighborhoods/Village (This is a design your own community project)

2014 Start Dates: 

And these are not the only choices.  I want to do them all, but maybe another time.  For now I’m limiting myself to these.

I’m in the middle of Sharon Boggon’s GIMP online class.

GIMP is a open source software program that allows you to manipulate and enhance your image files.  In other words it’s a free software program for playing with your photos!  Sharon’s class teaches the basics of GIMP and takes you to the point where you can create designs for textiles from your photos or other images you find.  I’m finding it to be an excellent course and an incredible opportunity.  It’s not often one gets to have someone hold your hand through a free software program.  In the future I’ll share some of what I create from these lessons.  I’m not able to spend as much time online as I like so the class is a bit slow going for me right now.  

I’ll close with an image of what I’ve been stitching while in bed and waiting for Jeff at the doctor’s office.  And try to get back sooner!

Christmas Countdown by Durene Jones

Christmas Countdown Stitching by me but Durene Jones’ design in Cross Stitch Gold, 12/12, issue 33. Just needs the numbers and a frame!

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…

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?!

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!

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!