Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where the heck. . . .??

. . . have I been?

Well, the year plus absence would seem to warrant some wild and exciting story.  Not really.

In addition to a great big ol' stitching slump, DH and I completely lost our minds and contracted for a big house renovation, scheduled to start in August - September 2015. . . and take about four months.
Need I say that things did not turn out exactly that way?  Heading into September 2016 we're moving into MONTH 10 of our 4 month project. . . still with no real finish date.  Grumble grumble.

In any case, my stash was carefully packed away last July, and since construction began in November the house has been generously festooned with deep dust.  But I was determined to eventually start stitching again. . .. so I had a plan.

This spring, I signed up with The Essamplaire for an on-line course that began in June -- by which time our renovation (according to schedule 4 or 5) was SURE to be done.  I had wanted to take this class in person several years ago, so decided to go with it.  Just the thing, a brand new project -- no unpacking of stash required -- ready to start in June!  Wonderful!  Here's a photo of the piece.  Looks like fun, right!

Well, delay is my life these days, but in mid-August, enough construction work was done that dust could be kept at a reasonable level. . . and I actually started stitching.

The first step was to stitch the entire tree trunk -- using detached buttonhole in green and yellow silk to couch silver thread return.  As shown in the photo below, I have at least gotten a good start on this. . . although there is one big side branch to go.

Stitching that big branch got a little tedious, so I jumped ahead and stitched three of the leaves -- two in multi-color detached buttonhole, the third in multi-colored stem stitch - and one little acorn.  Here's what's done so far:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Playing with Dolls

I wanted to post some photos of a super fun little project I completed earlier this year.

Each January our EGA chapter hosts a workshop that does something requiring a needle and thread. . . but usually a little outside of traditional embroidery.

This year our guest teacher was beading instructor Cathy Helmers, who taught a 3-dimensional beading class.  You can see some of Cathy's work here.  We could choose either a little fantasy animal (called a snootie) or an art doll.

The stuffed fabric doll and snootie forms were premade (complete with the cabochon doll face), and we were each allowed to select from a great selection of fun beads.

I chose the doll was thrilled that I completed her over the winter.  Here she is in all her glory:

Back view (love the wild and crazy hair!):

And here's a super close up that shows the underlying fabric.  Deciding what to do was a challenge for me (at heart I'm a counted thread embroiderer).  But I'm really happy with the large diagonal motif across the front and back.  I think the brown textured beads were the key here.  They provided EXACTLY the right amount of color and texture contrast.  And I went all out and added the tiny pearls all over where there were little white dots on the underlying fabric.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Taking Stock

After getting the stitching on the ground fabric completed, the next steps involve attaching various detached elements to create the final picture.  I'd long since forgotten exactly how much had been done on these small elements before the project went into the great big WIP pile.

I was happily surprised to find that most of the nine required pink petals and over half of the woven detached sepals were complete and ready to go.  Over the past several days, I've made the rest of those elements. . . most of which you can see on my little embroidery hoop below.  The petals are made of wire couched and then bottonhole stitched to a ground, then outlined with split stitch, followed by two layers of satin stitch.  The final touch is the five straight stitches in light pink.  I will cut the individual petals out as I need them to avoid the danger of them getting lost.  The sepals are just wire wrapped with silk thread. . . over / under / over / under until the required length is reached.

I've started the attaching process, and two additional buds are almost complete.  Completing each bud involves working two woven sepals on the ground fabric, then inserting three detached sepals. . . covering the bud with light green satin stitch, then finally working three wrapped lines over each buds.  The remaining three buds / flowers are flowers beginning to emerge from their buds, so in addition to the green sepals, they will have one or more of the little pink petals.

Next goal:  Complete the plant and get ready to move on to the butterfly and bugs.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Week of Leaves and Stems

I'm trying hard to climb out of my stitching rut!  Step one was finding something ready to go. . . all in one place . . . and near the top of the WIP pile.

I'm really happy with my choice -- a Jane Nicholas piece that was taught at our EGA chapter as part of the fall 2013 International Teachers Tour.

During class we worked through different techniques. . . but not many parts of the design were actually completed.  Starting back up, I wanted to follow the correct order of stitching.  And that meant jumping right in to working the background leaves and stems.

Day 1 - This photo is pretty much as the piece stood at the end of class.  On Day 1, I did complete the leaf of the bottom right and added the central stem.  The bud you see on the left was a sample of about a half dozen techniques that will be copied in 5 more buds and flowers, and the little blue blob is made up of blue and black detached elements that have been attached to the ground fabric and will eventually be a little lady bug.

Day 2 - More leaves and stems are in progress.  Each leaf consists of three steps:  a split stitch outline, which is then filled in with satin stitch padding stitches, and finally covered with satin stitch. All three steps are evident in this photo which shows where I stopped on Day 2.

Day 3 - It took 3 days of work, but the leaves and stems are now complete!

Day 4 - Moving forward, it's time to start work on the bases of the buds and flowers.  The one bud on the lower left was mostly done in class, but now looks MUCH better with its top layer of light green satin stitch.  I had also traced the padding layers for the other buds in class, so stitching those in place was also fairly quick.  Yea!

Going forward, there's one more bud to pad, and then I need to take inventory on how many little pieces are actually complete and ready to go. . . and how many still need to be made.   But I do have a nice glow of accomplishment for the week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A rut? A ditch? Maybe a chasm. . . ?

OK, OK. . . I have not posted in so very long.   A friend has opined that my "rut" has long since become a ditch. . . but perhaps it's worse than that.  A trench?  A chasm?  A canyon?

Well, I'm making an effort here.  Let's see if it takes this time.

One reason I have not posted is that I have not stitched much.  Don't know why.

But I have not been totally idle.  Here is a (not so wonderful) picture of a little jacket I crocheted last summer for a friend's first grand child.

It's called a hexagon sweater, and you can find the free directions on-line here:


Its made of two identical hexagon shapes, which are folded over and joined at the back into a jacket shape.  I LOVE the pale blue yarn (for a little boy, naturally), and I was super tickled when I found the blue buttons that just set it off perfectly.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Still Here!

As I bet you've all guessed, I've been in a MAJOR stitching rut this year.  Why?  The usual. . . .I'm either avoiding some stitching I SHOULD be doing (and end up doing nothing) or (major reason) I get to a point where I need to either make a decision or tackle something I'm not terribly good at. . . and again. . . . react by going into paralysis mode.

I finally did manage to finish something, though. . . this little flower design on a pre-made mini-denim bag.  These bags are available for just a few dollars at our local Hobby Lobby, and I'd been thinking about stitching on them for while now.

I started working on this sometime last fall as a possible EGA program this year.  Fairly quickly, though, I realized that working ALL those woven petals got really tedious really quickly.  And that is not a good thing for a program designed for a variety of stitchers with a variety of interests.  So off it went into the mountainous UFO pile.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out again -- all that was left was half of one flower and the bigger leaf, so it was just a matter of sitting down and finishing it off.

This project was inspired by Pat Trott's Three Dimensional Embroidery Stitches book and by a daisy wreath project designed by Manya at Humming Needles

The main technique is a woven picot leaf technique used to make the white daisy petals. 
The photo shows the instructions for this in Pat's book. 

This creates shapes that are only attached along the one short side, as shown in this picture.   Since the little bag is an item that will get fairly hard use, I went back and tacked the petals down. . . . but they still retain a nice dimensional feel.

The flower centers are created by working French knots in two different yellows on a small piece of muslin.  After doing the embroidery, the little round piece is cut out with a small fabric margin, you run a row of running stitches along the outer edge, and gather the margin to the back, then stitch the whole thing down onto the fabric.   You can see the yellow center piece before it's applied in the photo above, and here it's being tacked down.

I also liked the spiky little leaves, which are stitched in fly stitch.  I thought it worked really well for the smaller leaf. . . but doing the larger one got tricky. 

Although this didn't work out for an EGA group project, I'm pleased with the results.  I'm thinking about putting a piece or two of Velcro as closures.. . . or possibly a button and loop closure.  I rarely am organized enough to change out purses to match my outfits, but I think this little bag would work well as a mini pocket book in a vacation type situation or as a stitching project bag for a small project.