Over the Hump vs. Into the Slump

Everyone knows Wednesdays are Over-the Hump Day.  We have made it to the half-way point.  It’s mostly downhill for the work week from Wednesday on.  Mondays aren’t so bad because you’ve just had a couple days off to refresh your mind and body.

By the time Tuesdays come you’ve lost that burst of energy.  And if your work involves any kind of bureaucracy, Tuesdays are often meeting days.  They really suck the life right out of you.  Mindless posturing of bureaucrats wasting the time you really need to be doing your actual work that you will now have to squeeze into shortened breaks and later departure for the rest of the week until you can crash again in preparation for the next week of meaningless  gainful employment.  But Wednesdays are a day of hope.  Only two more to go!

Januaries are the Mondays of the year.  We get so energized with the lights and love and hope that comes from that last week of celebrations in December that in January all things seem possible.  And we make plans to improve our lives and our selves.  And we mean it.  The things we plan are things we’ve been thinking about, the things we know will make us more of who we truly are.

And we do pretty well with these plans, these things we have resolved to accomplish.  But Mondays end.  Then comes along comes life-sucking Tuesday.

I’m in the Tuesday of the year.  I actually think there are two Tuesdays in the year.  August is the next one!  I’m not following my stitching schedule regularly.  I’m not logging my food.  I’m not eating right.  I’m not walking.  I’ve frogged more than I’ve stitched and I can see the totally useless nature of TUSAL!

I’m not whining.  Just speaking the truth.  But the joy of truth is that it is not constant.

I can get back on schedule.  (Or I can accept that the schedule is meant to make life easier, not lock me into deadly time-trap.)   I can start logging my food.   (Even if I have to start a new account because I can’t remember my password.)  I can be mindful of my eating in any minute.  (Without becoming the Food Gestapo.)  I can always go out and walk around the trailer and that will be more than I’m doing now.  (And the next day do it twice, then thrice, etc.)  As far as frogging goes—c’est la vie!  (My TUSAL jar really is pretty and the more orts, the more impermanence prayer flags I’ll make!)

While things look bleary it’s not the end of the world, but I do have to mention WIPocalypse as this is the Show and Tell portion of this meeting.  I have had one Finish.  So, that’s something, even though it wasn’t a UFO!

A few more orts for the jar.

I’ve done more frogging than stitching. And more to come.

Side by side monthly comparison of Ort Jar for TUSAL

Feb is on the left and March is on the right.

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Detached Buttonhole Stitch closure

I used a detached buttonhole stitch to create the closure to match the vintage button.

Needle sheath in its own place on the front inside cover.

Jeff made this leather scissor sheath as a value add for me. He’s so sweet!

Personal touches added to the needlebook.

Added a little pocket in the back for packets of needles or whatever else the end user might like. And a special place for a threader!

Center top of Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles

No more frogging!

Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles using Caron Black Cherry

Another view, tried to edit to get more realistic color, closer.

Cirque de Coeurs variations evident but not the richness of the Caron Black Cherry color

Unedited Cirque de Coeurs, wish you could see the real color.

Into the second page of Bygone Stitches' Quaker Virtues

Slowly making progress. I love every minute stitching on this.

Close up of Quaker Virtues

I love the colors in this piece. I done good with Shanghai Nights and Turkish Red!

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?

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?!

Return to TAST 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Take A Stitch Tuesday stitching.  I’ve been designing my flag for the Prayer Flag Installation next month.  And working on a Christmas project for my youngest great-niece (a Shepherd’s Bush Stocking!)  I’ve determined it will take a minimum of 175 hours to complete this project for her.  I’ve never figured out my time in a project before, always just done an approximation at the end.    You should try to calculate your stitch per minute some time.  Your stitching will take on a whole new value for you!  You will be awed by yourself.  AND SHOULD BE!

While I have not stitched Sharon Boggon’s TAST selection for this week, the Pekinese Stitch, I have stitched it before.  And here it is:

Pekinese Stitch on CyberPointers Ruby Ribbons

The Pekinese Stitch
AKA
the Chinese Stitch, the Forbidden Stitch, the Laced Backstitch, and
the Blind Stitch

While I was a member of the cyber chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, I participated in the project to celebrate ANG’s 40th (or Ruby) Anniversary.  The final, framed four panel piece will be auctioned off at the National Conference in Philadelphia later this month.  The project piece was called Ruby Ribbon and was based upon a ribbon patterned quilt block, something like  Celtic knotwork.

One quarter of the quilt block is represented in each of four panels to make a whole block when appropriately arranged.  (I’d show you the block but can’t due to copyright issues.)  Each of the four panels was divided into 144 squares (12×12 grid) about 1.5 inches each.  Participants were told what value of what color to use in each block.  Then it was up to each stitcher to decide what stitch to do (there were to be no duplicate stitches!) and what thread to accomplish the goal.  The colors were different values of red, white, grey, and black.  It was kind of nice because you could sign up for a block based upon what threads you had available in your stash so it would not be cost prohibitive to participate in the project. Last I heard, CyberPointers was working on compiling directions for the piece to be sold as a fund raiser for the group.  Keep an eye out on their web site store page to see the completed piece and to get the pattern if you like.

My Pekinese block was supposed to be a Dark Grey, akin to DMC 413.  So I just used DMC 413 for the backstitching.  Then I used Rainbow Gallery’s Fuzzy Stuff in #19 for the lacing.  It gave an incredible texture, fluffy and soft.  Here are a couple photos of the block in context with several other blocks I stitched near the Pekinese square to give you an idea of how textures and shades worked together.

Pekinese Stitch, French Stitch, and my own padded combination stitch

Padded Stitch Combination in Black…Watercolours Midnight and Kreinik black
French Stitch in Very Dark Grey…DMC # 3799
Pekinese Stitch already described

Fern Stitch in Grey done in DMC #414
(The smidgen of red was stitched by someone else)

I really enjoyed the effect of the stitch, but using the Fuzzy Stuff was a bit of a challenge.  I would, however, do it again.  This was a great choice for Santa’s beard or stuffed animal representations or animal fur.  I look forward to using it some more in some of the Buddhist images I’ve been sketching on muslin to embroider.

I wonder?  Is anyone else as far behind in TAST as I am?  I got hung up way back on the buttonhole wheel.  I’ll finish it, I promise!  It’s pretty bad when a stitching sample becomes a UFO!

Stitchers’ UFO Challenge Update

I know it’s been more than a month.  Like every other stitcher out there, been busy.  It’s like you have a choice.  Blog or stitch.  I’ve been stitching.  Well, not true, I’ve also been updating two of my other blogs as well as this one.  (Relatively Ryan and Site Sniffing)  Sadly, my favorite blog is the one that gets the least attention.  That may be about to change though.  Thanks to the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge.

Followers know that I have been very busy with Take A Stitch Tuesday, the Pin Tangle sponsored weekly challenge.  In spite of this, I have been very actively working on two UFOs and a Pilot Project that I’m completing for the American Needlepoint Guild.  Although I’ve done all that I really need to for the Pilot evaluation, I’m enjoying the piece so much that I want to complete it.  I don’t need another UFO to add to the stash!  I’m writing the designer to see if I can post pics of the piece because it is such an incredible design, I think people would be excited to see it.

I am close to completion on my Blackwork Chess Board!  When it is complete I will get back to my Mystery Blackwork Sampler designing.  At this point all I have to do is  launder the piece and fringe it.  Jeff plans to actually use the chess board, so I’ve personalized it to his specifications.  He’s as excited to see it nearing completion as I am!

The other piece that I’ve almost completed is a Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stocking.  I was going to make it for my new grand-niece, but decided to make it for her mother instead.  Of course I had to purchase another stocking pattern for my grand-niece!  The stocking front is complete except for adding hair.  I will do that when I add the other embellishments.  Before I add the embellishments, I want to stitch the front and back together, so it lays flat as I push it through the sewing machine.  As soon as it stops raining here I can do that as I use the picnic table for my sewing machine wherever we are camping.  Not a lot of room in this travel trailer!

Do you like the gallery type of photo display or the slide show in a previous post?

So, by next month I will be able to cross these off the list and mark another UFO as picked up again!  Look at the list.  Is there something you’d like to see in its completed form?  Tell me, help me make up my mind what to pick up next!

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

Butterfly Chain, A Real TAST Challenge For Me

TAST 2012 Sampler

This is not exactly how I envisioned this would go, but it is a sampler!

I may alienate many people with this statement, but I have to take the risk:  I don’t like butterflies.  I used to like spiders because of the Greek mythology connection and because they eat other insects.  But then I found out that they are cannibals.  Now, I must simply say that while I respect the place of insects in Nature, on the whole I simply am not interested in sharing space with any of them, no matter how delightful the coloring.  Butterflies are too much like moths.  Bottom line they are creepy, crawly, wormy things before they mature.  I’m really more of a flora than a fauna person!Consequently, I was not thrilled with the idea of a stitch that is called Butterfly Chain.  But as I have committed to this year-long challenge offered by Sharon Boggon at Pin Tangle, this “little” thing called Take a Stitch Tuesday, I must tackle this stitch.  BUT, I have a re-frame, good little strategic therapist that I am!  My little chains are not creating the lovely body of butterflies out of my straight stitches, they are instead gathering together stalks of corn or wheat or some other grain that looks like liquid gold in a field!Ahhh, relief.  Now I can stitch!

And stitch I did.  Except…

When Jeffrey looked at the work I had done, he said, “Oh, are you stitching a fence?”  I said, “Oh, yeah,  that’s just what it is!”

Thjree layers of butterfly chain stitch embellished with seed and bugle beeds

Wisteria Fence

I didn’t start with a sketch this time.  I just kind of had an idea in my head.  It’s better to start with a sketch as it’s much easier to erase on paper than it is on fine, 32 count linen!  (That’s what my 2012 TAST Sampler is stitched on.)  The following slide show reveals the evolution of what I’m calling Wisteria Fence.  You’ll see why as the pics progress.

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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!

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!

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!