Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jane Turner and More Changes Planned

The next band of Jane's sampler is a big pictorial one featuring two very leafy trees flanking a fine lady dressed in a couched and needle lace gown. Here's a picture of band as stitched in the reproduction

I'm thinking of making some changes though. I feel like I'm caught up in the "coloring book" feeling I mentioned in the last post. And I'm thinking I may want to do a little something different.

I do have the outline of the two trees done. And I started the fillings on the left-hand tree. Once I saw the orange and white fruits, I got to thinking about how I wanted to do the leaves. Jane originally did yellow and green striped leaves (very similar to leaves earlier in the sampler). But I really like how the orange and white fruits seem to pop. . . . and so got to thinking that maybe I'll do the leaves in two shades of green to help keep that pop from the fruit. With that plan in mind, there won't be any yellow on the trees except for the large bird, so I decided to make it a little more colorful. Hopefully, the result will be more emphasis on the birds and the nice bright orange and white fruit, with the leaves receding just a little in the background.

Here's the band with one tree partially colored in and the other just outlined.

And here's the left hand tree with everything except the leaves colored in.

Having already departed from the original sampler, I also have plans for the lovely lady in the band. But decisions on that will have to wait for another day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Pretty Flowered Band

I've continued work over the past week or two on the Jane Turner Sampler.  Yes, I have other projects that should be in the rotation, but right now, I'm not in the mood for things requiring really close attention to technique.

Here's a recently finished band that's created with a double running outline filled in with satin stitch.  (The arc you see is the angle of my photo, not the band itself).

Isn't it a pretty pattern?  I can just imagine it decorating all sorts of items.  And with the outline filled with satin stitch, I'm feeling a little like I'm a little kid with a coloring book. . . except with thread rather than crayons.  I wonder if there was any sense of this back in the 17th century as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blackwork in Red

This week a WIP came back to me.  Earlier this year my friend, Kerrie Hollihan, asked if I would stitch some blackwork (i.e., reversible double running work) to possibly be used as an illustration in her forthcoming book on Queen Elizabeth I.  (Kerrie writes delightful and intelligent books on historical figures -- including Sir Isaac Newton and Teddy Roosevelt -- for middle-school aged children.  You can find more info at her website here.)

We thought that a band from a sampler wouldn't mean much to most children today, so decided on a stitched handkerchief.  So with help from stitching friends who lent books of historical patterns and dipped into their stashes for soft and fine ecclesiastical linen and tightly wound silk sewing thread, I was set.  And stitching away I went.  Seeing the piece in progress, Kerrie thought the in-progress piece might make the best illustration, so she has had it for the summer.  Now it's back, and I hope to finish the stitching this fall.

Here's a photo of the front of the piece thus far:

And, because I have to show off just a little, here's a picture of the back.  All in all it looks pretty good, and it shows how stitching like this would have worked in functional items.  The problem really isn't doing reversible paths in the stitching or even ending an occasional thread.  The problem is that in repeating the pattern again and again, I tend to make little errors in the pattern, which then have to be filled in later. . . which create more starts and stops.   (If you look carefully you CAN tell which is the wrong side. . .but I'm not going to give you that good a picture!)

Here's a close-up of the pattern.  It's so charming and feminine, and I've been enjoying stitching it. 

It has also been an interesting experience working on a fabric that one can easily imagine wearing.  I haven't counted carefully, but the thread count here is around 50-55 threads per inch, and you'll note from the photo that thread count is slightly different horizontally from vertically.  Interestingly, working on that small a count isn't as difficult as one would think.  The trickiest part is that I'm using a small sharp needle because of the small thread count, and from time to time it's easy to pierce a thread.  It's also really easy to create little white gaps on the reverse side if the needle isn't angled STRAIGHT through the fabric.  I find I get the best results when I am able to actually pierce the thread from the first journey as I do the second journey, although this isn't always possible.

It's also interesting working with the very tightly wound sewing-type silk thread.  I'm using beeswax to prevent totally impossible knotting.  But beyond that, there are definitely some advantages to this thread.  In particular, the thread is REALLY tough.  Even very very tight knots can be pulled apart, and the thread does not fray.  That's quite a difference from DMC floss or many other silks I've used.

I will be traveling over the next few weeks, and this will be a take-along project -- perfect for traveling because it's very small, has only a 1-page chart, and a small spool of thread.  It all fits in a sandwich size zip lock bag.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thank you secret stitcher!

I got a wonderful surprise in the mail recently!  A package from my secret stitcher pal (from Queen City Sampler Guild).  I've been really lucky with my pal's ability to seemingly read my mind, but she really outdid herself this time.  Look at the beautiful quilted tote -- in blue, my favorite color -- complete with matching covered notepad, bookmark with my initials, some beautiful sampler charts. . . plus all the other goodies. 

Thank you S.S.!  The package arrived when I really needed a pick-me-up!  I love it!