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!

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?

What Inspires You?

The State Bird of New York is the Bluebird.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a bluebird while in New York state.  I’ve seen quite a few since we’ve been spending time in Mississippi and Alabama.  And now that it is spring I’ve been seeing even more.  They are beautiful!  Jeff has been watching the endangered Gopher Tortoises make their way out of their tunnels to warm themselves before it is time to lay their eggs.  I love spring!  I also love fall.  All the colors and the contrasts are so beautiful.  Life just seems so close and the Cycling of Mother Earth is so palpable.

Last year a crazy robin built a nest in the cross boards of our picnic table that was right outside our bedroom door.  Every day for about a week we would see the new fixings until there was finally a gorgeously and neatly woven nest.

One of several initial nest building attempts

This robin is persistant! One of about four false starts.

Day by day we watched as the mother laid one egg every day until she had 4 blue eggs side by side.

An egg a day

How many will hatch?

I was so worried because it was still kind of chilly out and everytime we opened the door the mother would fly away.  I was afraid the eggs wouldn’t hatch.  I think I drove Jeff crazy with my worrying.  But I think the mother got to know us and if we were careful we could walk into the bedroom and watch her watch us.

Mama Robin sitting on the eggs

"Do NOT mess with me!"

Finally, one day there was a tiny orange fluff ball in the nest.  And the next day there were two.  Mama bird kicked one egg out and the fourth just never hatched.  I wondered if it was our fault.

Two hatched and two to go

One is so new it still has shell attached!

Mama bird fed them and so did papa bird.  These kids ate a lot!

Mama Robin feeding waiting babies

Mama Robin feeding waiting babies

And it took some time before the hatchlings actually looked like robins.

Baby robins are looking around now

What's that I see?

These birds sure do eat a lot

These birds sure do eat a lot

The two hatched robins finally resemble birds

We are robins, red breasted all!

Then they started to move around the nest, walking around the edge.

Baby Robins walking around nest rim

Ready to fly

Then one day they were just gone.  Never even said good-bye!  But then we noticed there were other nests around us.  One in a neighbors satellite dish.  Another under the front end of a fifth wheeler camper.  They were for robins.  Then we spotted this one…a hummingbird nest with a new family, too.

Hummingbird nest high in tree

Hummingbird nest

So in honor of all the beautiful birds that are nesting right now in this week’s TAST Challenge to use the Stem Stitch, I stitched a little bluebird.  Here she is, with a stem stitched sprig of spring to begin her new nest!

Stem Stitch Bluebird

House Building Time

I hope you like her!  But tell me….What inspires you!

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!