Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Busy, Busy

Since finishing Foxy, I've put all my time and concentration on trying to finish the runner I introduced to you at the end of July. I've set myself a deadline for beginning September as I'd like to display it at my local guild's exhibition.

On Friday, I finished all the stitching I need to do with the #12 perl cotton. All that's left for whitework is some satin stitching in #8 perl cotton and the actual finishing of the hem with DMC cordonnet special. I decided it was time to start working on the design at the center if I wanted to finish in time.

I used a blue pen that washes away to trace my design. It looks very faint in this picture I think because of my stitching lamp but it's much clearer in person. If you're tracing a design for whitework and want to use a pen, the best color is blue. The color blue tends to get absorbed into the white so if there are markings that didn't disappear in the wash your eyes won't see them.

The center design involves a technique I've been avoiding for years now. Goldwork doesn't scare me and I'm unfazed when it comes to cutting fabric, but traditional embroidery and needle painting makes me nervous. I actually picked this design specifically to see if I can get over that fear. And to help with that is Trish Burr's book Needle Painting Embroidery Fresh Ideas for Beginners. I bought this book ages ago when I was gung-ho on learning the technique.

First step is split stitching the outline. I wasn't sure which color to use, but after closely inspecting the projects in Trish Burr's book I noticed she always uses the color that is used at the center of the flower. In my case, it would be the darkest pink. By the way, those markings that go down each petal are not part of the original design. I put those in to help with the embroidery later.

I got all the split stitching done and moved onto the second step: stitch all the stem stitches. I closely looked at the pictures in the magazine to see where each thread is used. I spent some time flipping through the pages and looking at my fabric and decided to just redraw the design on paper and color it.

Once I marked out where each green is used for the stems, things went much faster.

The piece is very long so I needed to take two pictures, but you can get an idea of the what the runner looks like with designed outlined in each color.

The leaves and flowers will all be filled in. I didn't particularly like how they did the actual shading in the original so I needed to figure out the shading on my own. I used markers but I really need to invest in a set of coloring pencil. I find myself doing this more often and sometimes you just can't get the same shading effect with markers. Also, the DMC thread numbers you see in the picture below are my own choices. The pattern itself doesn't specify the thread color used. I decided on colors that closely matched the sofas in our living room.

I should be able to finish this piece for the exhibition, providing I don't procrastinate on the flowers and leaves. There is still some whitework left for me to use as an excuse to avoid them, but not enough for me to do so for very long.

Now onto the fabric. Some of you asked me about it when I first introduced the project. The fabric is called Graziano linen. The stamp on the edge says pure linen in Italian and it certainly feels like the linen fabric I have for my Hedebo piece.

Below is a macro shot. The linen I'm using is 38 count in white. The white is very similar to DMC B5200 which is what I've been using for the whitework portion of the runner. It is heavier than fabric you would use for cross stitch and hardanger. I don't recommend you use it for cross stitch as there are slugs, but for drawn and pulled thread work it's fine. It was a little difficult to withdraw the threads as the weave is very thik. This thickness of the fabric also makes it ideal for traditional forms of embroidery as it's heavy enough to hold the stitches. I'd still recommend you back it with muslin so you can hide the ends of your threads.

I showed the fabric to Natalie of Sew By Hand who uses Alba Maxima linen (check out Mary Corbett's post to learn all about the different linens) for her goldwork embroidery and she said it would be great for that technique as well. Not to mention it's a less expensive option to Alba Maxima.

I bought the fabric from L'atelier de Pénélope. The owner was nice enough to look into ordering it for me. She ordered a sample card of the fabrics they made and even sent me swatches of each so I can make my choice. She now stocks a few of the colors to start with including the linen I bought. They are available to purchase by the meter and in the case of the 38 count, it's 70 cm wide. There is plenty in there to make multiple projects.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blogger of the Week

For the past 6 month, Jo of Serendipitous Stitching has been showcasing different stitchers on her Blogger of the week page. It's been fun discovering a new stitching blog or learning more about those that I've been following. I love reading about how someone started stitching.

So when Jo emailed me the questions I was delighted. Click on the link here to read my asnwers. I even share a picture of the very first stitching project I ever did. When I look at that picture side by side with what I'm working on now I'm really amazed at how far I've gone.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

First Step on a Long Journey

It's been five years since my first post on Japanese Embroidery. The plan was always this: start with Japanese bead embroidery and then one day, go back to the JEC and start phase 1 for Japanese Embroidery. This was always the plan for three reasons:
  • I didn't have the space (I still don't) to accommodate all the paraphernalia that JE would involve (frame, trestle, special tools and threads). Right now all my tools for my phase 1 Japanese bead embroidery fits in one tote bag.
  • I don't have the time to really give it the proper attention as I'm still working full time. 
  • And the really big one, there are 10 phases in JE and it would be too expensive to travel to and from the JEC to do all of them as there are no teachers anywhere near my area.
That all changed last year when classes for seminar 2017 were announced. At the EAC seminar this year, a taster class on Japanese embroidery was offered. Not only that, the teacher Sue Sprake lived in Ontario, Canada. Since seminar, we've approached Sue to see if she would be willing to travel to Montreal to give a 4-day class and she has accepted! This means, starting October 27 I will be beginning my (long) journey into Japanese Embroidery.

I'm beyond excited to start as I've been dreaming of this moment for a long time. I've already payed for my deposit and booked the days off at work. Now all that's left is picking my phase 1 piece and placing my kit order with Sue. There are four phase 1 designs offered by the JEC but I'm stuck deciding between two right now and can't make up my mind. So I figured I'd ask you all for your opinions.

Choice #1: Hanazume - Flower Circle. This is the piece my friend Nancy has stitched. I've seen hers and it looks wonderful. It's a great beginner piece as it has a little of everything without being too big. The colors are lovely in person with soft peaches and creme, coral and greens. It would suite my more traditional tastes perfectly.

Choice #2: Bouquet from the Heart of Japan. I was not particularly enamored with this piece and I've never seen it in person. However, Nancy sent me closeup pictures of it that she had saved from the now defunct Stitching Fingers and it looks beautiful. So now I can't decide. The bouquet piece is bigger and has more work in it than Hanazume. It's more complex and there are also a few extra techniques in this one that aren't in Hanazume like the basket and the cords. This is the piece recommended by the JEC as it introduces many techniques that are expanded on in the later phases.

So now I have a problem. I have to decide between satisfying my tastes and my love of complexity. The bouquet piece would look just as lovely hanging in my home, but Hanazume would fit better. What do you think?

Monday, August 7, 2017

He's so Foxy

My friend Natalie from Sew By Hand is teaching Becky Hogg's Owl in Montreal and had asked if she could borrow Foxy to show the class. I was supposed to bring him over on Friday but because of work I had to reschedule to Sunday.

I was kind of disappointed that I had to cancel as she's just come back from a trip to the UK and had loads of stitchy things to share. When I came home I figured it would give me more time to finish the cutwork on the tail.

Not only did the afternoon speed by, but the stitching did as well. I definitely have a handle on the cutwork now. I finished the tail in no time. I'm so happy with the curve. I think I can come to enjoy cutwork as much as I do chipping one day.

I still had plenty of time so I decided to keep stitching and before I knew it the ears were done and eyes were stitched in.

I had some fun taking pictures at different angles.

And here's the back. Not bad, I didn't have any stray threads this time. I'm doing better with the length of threads I'm cutting. I don't get as many tangles anymore.

Saturday morning, I busied myself in finishing him. I decided that I wanted to use the hoop that came with the kit.

Fabric is cut all around the hoop...

 ...and then gathered. The fabric bulges a little at the back but it doesn't really bother me that much.

 Here he is all finished.

 I've already picked out where he will hang. I have the perfect spot on my cork-board.

It's great to see more color on the board. I will have to look for more small projects to fill in the empty spaces.

Just to give you an idea of what's leftover from the kit. I still have plenty of metal threads to play with. If you're a beginner worried about not having enough in case you have to cutout and redo, don't be. There is plenty to finish it.

So what's next? I'm looking at my list of WIPs and the priority right now is:
  • Giuliana Ricama runner 
  • Hedebo Enchantment
  • Japanese bead embroidery phase 1
I'm going to try very hard not to start any new projects from now till the fall as I have many projects that will be starting then. I do have plans to start another goldwork project (I have two planned to start and finish before seminar next year). I'm aiming for September 22 to start the first one.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Surprise in the Post

I came home from work Thursday to find a surprise in the post from Jo of Serendipitous Stitching. She had mentioned that she mailed something to me but I had no idea what. So when I got the envelope I was very curious. Look at that lovely card! Jo, how did you know I love rabbits =D and you have a lovely hand writing.

Many years ago, Jo took a goldwork class at a summer school in London. The class kit was put away for many years as life got in the way. She found it when she was going through her stash and though of me :)

The kit came with plenty of metal threads to finish it and a piece of paper with the instructions on it. It's really a diagram with arrows showing where each thread is used. Underneath it is a list of steps to follow. It looks like a great beginners class design wise, but the take home instructions could have been more meaty. Luckily, there are now plenty of resources online to fill in the blanks.

In class, Jo did all the padding for the body and the little tear drops. I'm especially interested in the body of the butterfly as the padding is much more substantial than on my Pearl Butterfly. I'll have to read the instructions more carefully to see what was used. The couching with the pearl purl around the tear drops and most of the chipping is done.

I'm surprised they included a huge amount of couched passing thread as it's very hard for beginners. Jo did really well on that. I don't know if I could have done so good when I was first starting with embroidery. The back is really neat as well. My favorite part I think is that curled smooth purl on the body. I'd love to know how that first stitch was put in.

Thank you Jo for the lovely gift. I will definitely stitch it as the design is quite pretty and I love butterflies. The one thing I would change is I will add a backing fabric. The metal threads needs more support.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's Working!

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon baking a Japanese Cheesecake and everything that could have gone wrong went wrong (don't ask!). So when I sat down in front of Foxy I was feeling kind of down.

My mood picked up again as I continued my cutwork. Everything was just working so great. And look! I have a curve =D

The left side got filled in very quick. If you compare mine to the original it does look different, but I think I prefer mine like this instead of cramming in extra check purl. I'm starting to really get into the hang of it. I still have to do better with estimating the length of the check purl, but it is much better than when I started.

It's my sister's birthday today and we will be going out to dinner tonight. I'm going to try to put in a few more check purls before we leave, otherwise it will just have to wait till tomorrow.