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Monday, June 30, 2008

WIP progress

So far, my rotation has been working! Unfortunately, I don't make much progress on any given day, so I'm uninspired to share it here regularly.

Cinders is nearing completion. I still need to stitch the vest, her hair, some random bricks in the background, and finish the coal scuttle and outlining. I'm thinking of stitching the vest in the darkest green from the wall. What do you think?
I've been making good progress on ScottLee, too.Note: I've removed any comments/pictures about Gay Ann's mystery at her request, to be posted at a later date. If anyone was upset by my early posting of this photo, I apologize. It was a lack of judgment on my part.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spiral Trellis stitch

****Warning - picture-heavy post!*****

As promised, when Examplar IV came through the rotation again, I took detailed pictures as the spiral trellis stitch was worked.

I mentioned in the last post that my first spiral trellis bloom was a bit flat. Here's a close-up of the flower from above.

And from the side.

On to the second flower. I had previously outlined the flower in double-running stitch. I specifically did not use backstitch because it has more thread on the back side, and therefore has more slack. This is the foundation row for the spiral trellis, and a loose outline would pull into the center and might leave gaps around the flower.

Here is the basic trellis stitch. Bring the thread up a the corner. Slide the needle under the next outline stitch. The needle point should be outside of the circle. Wrap the thread over and under the point of the needle, then slowly pull the needle through.

As you pull away from the circle, the knot will tighten up most of the way. Finish the knot by pulling the thread across the circle.

Slide under the next outline stitch to work the next knot. I stitch the spiral trellis counter-clockwise around the circle, but it can be worked in either direction. If working clockwise, the thread wrap will look different. Just be sure to bring the thread over and under the point of the needle.

Here are two completed knots.

After the first row is worked all the way around, start working into the previous row of stitches. The first stitch of the second row is the trickiest, because you'll insert the needle under the working thread before the first knot you worked. It's the loop between where the thread came up in the corner and the first knot. If you don't get it exactly in the right place, nobody will really know, though!

Work the rest of the stitches into the loops between the knots of the previous row. See the arrow? It's pointing to the loop between the first and second knots of the first row. That's where the next trellis stitch goes. This is why this is spiral trellis stitch. It spirals in to the center.

Here's my flower after three rows of spiral trellis. At some point, you might think you have have enough of this color and want to move to the next shade.

Bring your thread to the back close to the last stitch, but don't pull it too tightly. Your spiral trellis is starting to stand up from the fabric, and pulling this tightly will create a dent in your flower! I secured my thread with an L-stitch so it wouldn't pull any more, then brought the needle through to the front several inches away. After the flower is done, run the thread ends through the outline or neighboring stitches on the back.

With the next color in the needle, start your thread with an away waste knot (to be worked into the outline later) and an L-stitch. Bring the thread up in the middle of the flower close to the next stitch to be made. Notice that I brought it up slightly before the point where the other thread ended. On the next row, I worked a stitch into the little gap between these two threads so it looked seamless.

So far, you're still working the same number of knots on each row, and your spiral trellis is getting taller. If you do this long enough, you can get some interesting effects. You could make a chimney, standing straight up from your fabric. We don't want a flower to be too tall, though, so we need to start decreasing stitches. To do this, simply skip a stitch. See where the arrow is pointing? That's where the next stitch would be if I didn't start decreasing. Instead, I skipped that stitch, and worked into the next loop.

Judging when to decrease is one of the trickier parts of spiral trellis. The first time I tried this stitch, I ended up with a tall bump that looked a bit like a beehive. (That might be your objective. You could even stuff it! I don't know if this stitch was ever used in stumpwork, but why not?) That's why my first flower on this sampler came out flat. I decreased too quickly that time!

Keep working the stitch into the center, decreasing and changing colors as needed. You'll find you need to decrease more frequently as the circles get smaller. When you reach the center and can't fit in another stitch, stick the needle straight down into the center of the flower and through the fabric. Again, unless you want a dent in the middle of your flower, don't pull it too tight! You can then end off all of your threads.

Here's a couple of comparison shots of my two flowers. Both are fine in their own way, but I think I like the puffy one better. In her original sampler, Catherine Theron made hers much more puffy than mine, then squashed them flat. None of these is wrong. They're just different! Isn't it wonderful that we have so many options, all with the same stitch?

A side-on view shows the height difference in my two flowers. I haven't decided yet if I'll take the first one out. We'll see how it looks when the others are puffy. Maybe I'll make them all be slightly different, so the difference between these two isn't that strange.

If you try spiral trellis, please let me know how it worked for you! Also, please feel free to comment with corrections. I'd like to make sure these instructions are as helpful and as clear as possible!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Slow sampler progress

I'm making very slow progress on Examplar IV. The bits of over-one tent stitch, which I'm doing in basketweave, take forever! This is compounded by the fact that I'm using two strands of floss and I'm compulsive about laying any stitches that use multiple strands. (I've tried telling myself that nobody will notice if these tiny stitches aren't laid, but within a dozen stitches I'm reaching for the laying tool because I can tell the difference!)

The red-to-pink blooms in the yellow area are done in spiral trellis stitch. To show this stitch, I'll try to take good pictures of the next flower in progress. I may have to redo the first one because I think I decreased the stitch too quickly as I worked toward the center. It's supposed to have a bit of a three-dimensional effect, but mine doesn't stand out much at all. I think I was over-compensating because my doodle cloth from class ended up with something that looked like a beehive on it because I didn't decrease quickly enough!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Framed Winds

Here she is! This is my framed The Winds of Color, designed by Elsa Parrish. Unfortunately, the mat colors didn't show up very well in the picture. The inner mat is a pale silver paper mat, and the outer mat is a very dark mauve suede. The frame is actually wooden, but painted silver with purpley-red streaks.

It took a very long time to find the right framing selection, and this was made worse by the need to visualize it as a circle! Overall, I'm very pleased! I haven't yet found a place for this to hang, but I don't have to worry about it yet. I really want to send this in to the exhibit at the ANG National Seminar. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Attempting a rotation

On Sunday, I stitched on Examplar IV. Monday evening, Jean Hilton's Scottlee found it's way onto my stand for the first time in six months. Yesterday, after prompting from Cynthia and Joanie (thanks for keeping me honest, ladies!), Cinders was unearthed.

You know, it felt a little strange to be working on something different each day, after so many months of concentrating on one project at a time for a few weeks, but I enjoyed it! I used to have a "screaming rotation", wherein I worked on whatever project screamed at me loudest. That's how I ended up with so many WIPs and UFOs!

I've decided that I'm going to take this as a lesson. I like working on a focus piece because I feel like I make a lot of progress, but I also like the way working on something different each day alleviates boredom with a single piece. I find I actually stitch better if I'm not tired of a given section or a given piece.

The result? A three-day rotation! I'm going to work on three focus pieces, rotating to the next each day. I often am able to stitch at least an hour a day, with much more time on the weekends, so I should be able to make progress on all three. I'll be keeping three types of projects in the rotation:

  • a sampler or other counted linen project. For now, that's Examplar IV.
  • a counted canvas project. That would be Scottlee.
  • a non-counted project. Since most of the rest of Cinders isn't counted, it will fill the role for now.
I won't keep it so constrained that I have to keep these projects in the rotation until they're done. I know I won't stick to the rotation if I make a rule like that. For example, when the next part of Mystery in a Corner or the next Jim Wurth ornament shows up, Scottlee will be set aside for a bit.

I am going to try to stick to the rule that I need to finish two items in a given rotation slot before I start a new one. The exception is for this first round, where I'm giving myself an option to only finish 1 in each slot before pulling something from my stash.* I think I've been pretty good at limiting my starts this year, and a few things are calling loudly!

Here's where the rotation pieces stand now:
Examplar IV (Catherine Theron) - sampler

Scottlee (Jean Hilton) - counted canvas

Cinders (Marion Scoular)

*(Oh yes, of course the Jim Wurth ornaments and new class pieces are exceptions too, but I'm only expecting two more ornaments and 1 class piece for the rest of the year.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A twining vine

There was almost no progress on Examplar IV on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Wednesday was our ANG meeting, and I led another session of stitching on Gay Ann's Mystery in a Corner. On Thursday, I was late getting to the LNS stitch night, and then spent quite a lot of time with the owner trying to figure out how Winds of Color should be framed. With so many vivid colors in the piece, finding a mat and frame that would complement it was very difficult. It was also hard to figure out how something would look with a round cut mat in a square frame, especially since all of the sample mats were the standard right-angle cut. I'm glad we persevered, though, because I think it will be stunning. I'll be sure to share pictures when I get it back.

On Friday night, I worked on the next motif on Examplar IV. Here's where I left it at the end of the day.

I was able to spend several hours stitching yesterday, and made fairly good progress on this. It may not look like much, but the base of each of the flowers is done in trellis stitch, which takes a lot of time and concentration (for me, at least) to come out evenly.

Once again I'm finding that things actually get done when you spend time working on them! :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Surely knot!

Sorry for the cheesy title on this post, but I couldn't resist. :-)

I've just finished the bundle of knots below the butterfly on Examplar IV. You can see the very bottom of the butterfly at the top of the picture. The gap between these is for personalization. I haven't figured out what I'm putting there yet.

One of my pet peeves about stitching reproduction and historical-style samplers is the way the instructions usually say to outline first and then fill in the outlines. That was the case with these knots. I often hate outlining first, because then I'm fighting with the outline stitches as I try to fill them in. I think the purpose is to reduce problems with counting stitches, although it may also be more historically accurate. (Does anybody know?)

For the butterfly, I outlined it first, so I didn't have to count all of the tent stitches. I did struggle a bit with the outline around padded satin in the butterfly's body, and ended up stitching the outline on the body again after I finished. With the knots though, I did the knots first, then the outlines. I didn't have a problem counting the stitches in the knots. That's my rule of thumb: If I think I can count it correctly, I'll save the outlining until later.

On another note, I finally posted my colors for Gay Ann's Mystery in a Corner. They are in this post.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Examplar IV sees the light of day

As much as I love canvas work, working on the Quaker biscornu reminded me I also love working on linen. Because of this, Examplar IV found it's way back onto my lap stand. Before I put it down last, I had finished the strawberry border and started the butterfly. Yesterday, I was able to finish the butterfly.

I made one major change from Catherine Theron's original. I flipped the butterfly right-side up. Catherine explained that her original had the butterfly upside-down because historically the thought was that the butterfly in my orientation would look like it was flying out of the frame. All animals, bugs, etc. on such a sampler would be positioned so they were flying in to the sampler so that the viewer's eye would stay within the frame. I thought that as a sampler designed today it really didn't matter, and that the upside-down butterfly looked like it belonged in some entomologist's specimen collection. I wanted my butterfly to represent one that was alive, thank you.

I've now proceeded to the knots below the butterfly. I've stitched a bit more since I took the picture, and I might be able to finish the knots today during our EGA picnic, if it's not way too hot to stitch!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Quaker Exchange pictures

I just found out that my partner received the Quaker exchange piece I stitched for her, so now I can share pictures!

Here is my very first biscornu. I found out the hard way that I should have taken pictures of the squares before assembling it, since the whole piece can't be photographed well afterward - and that's why one of the pictures is upside-down!

If you're wondering how to make a biscornu, there are several good tutorials available on the web. I really like this one because it has more detail than some about adding the button at the end.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mystery Part I complete

I've finally finished part I of Mystery in a Corner by Gay Ann Rogers.
In response to Cynthia's comment on the last post, I did not use one of the color groupings shown on Gay Ann's blog. My LNS carries the threads needed, so I picked colors there. I was looking for colors I don't usually use, and really liked the colors in Ruby Watercolours. My trial and error efforts with the metallics are described in previous posts (here and here).

I'll list the specific colors tonight or tomorrow. I'm on my lunch break at work and don't have them here. Here are the colors I'm using:

  • canvas: French Blue
  • Watercolors: Ruby
  • Kreinik #16 & #8 braid: 012HL & 001
  • Impressions: 6044
  • DMC pearl cotton #5: 814
On a completely off-topic note: if you like musical theater and Wicked is coming to a town near you, RUN, don't walk, for tickets. I saw it Tuesday night, and it is fantastic! As soon as I got home, I bought the album from iTunes, and I've listened to it a couple of times already! I'm tempted to see the show again before it leaves town, but I think it's sold out. Oh, and I was originally hesitant to see it because I didn't enjoy the book that much. I was somewhat surprised to find that the play was almost a completely different (and certainly much simplified) story than the book.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May recap & June goals

May was a fairly productive month for me. My goals were:

  • Keep blogging, aiming for 3-4 posts per week. 11 posts / 31 days = average 2.5 /week.
  • Finish Cinders. Nope. I didn't even pick it up this month.
  • Finish Winds of Color. Yes!
  • Start Mystery in a Corner (especially since I have to lead the project at my ANG meeting on 5/14). Yes!
  • Start the next Jim Wurth piece, if it arrives early enough in the month. I started and finished Old Country!
I also started and finished my exchange piece for the Quaker Quarterly Exhange on the Legacy board. I'm putting it in the mail tomorrow, and will share pictures as soon as it's been received!

For June, here are my goals:
  • Keep blogging, aiming for 3-4 posts per week.
  • Finish Cinders.
  • Finish Part 1 of Mystery in a Corner.
  • Work on WIPs.
  • Maybe start one of the GCC's that will be due this fall.
I've been feeling like I'm stitching for deadlines a lot recently. I want to slow down a bit, stitch on what I want to do, and enjoy it. That's why my goals are pretty vague this month.