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Saturday, February 27, 2010

A right-handed stitcher, stitching left-handed

(Updated to make the picture clickable!)

Thanks for all of the well-wishes on my carpal tunnel surgery. I'm now back to typing with both hands, but I can't lift anything heavy (as in >1 pound) or do much grasping or pulling with my right (dominant) hand.

As a result, I'm obviously slightly challenged in the stitching department! This situation rules out:

  • Anything that requires the use of a laying tool – and I use a laying tool for everything that calls for more than one strand.
  • Anything done in hand. (Thank goodness for my handy Elan lap stand!)
  • Anything with less than tight tension on the ground fabric, since my left hand isn’t as sensitive to stitch tension.
  • Any fancy stitches that require manipulation of the thread and needle separately.
This means that all of my canvas projects are on hold, as well as all of the in-hand stuff I was avoiding due to the carpal tunnel, and complicated areas on samplers.

What’s left?

Well, I guess I could read a couple of books that showed up in the mail last week (Samplers by Rebecca Scott and Stumpwork Medieval Flora by Jane Nicholas). I do want to write up reviews on each of these soon, but I want to stitch, too! So I’ll be picking up these books in between stitching sessions for the next week or so.

I tried to work on Hannah Thornbush, since the section in progress is a simple stitch in one strand. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Soie de Paris used on this piece (a very loosely twisted filament silk) wouldn’t  cooperate with my winter-rough skin. Even a sugar scrub wouldn’t help.

Back to the WIP pile. Oh, how about this? It’s my affectionately-nicknamed Ninja Squirrel Sampler. Mostly just simple cross stitch with one strand of twisted silk. That will work, especially since I recently laced the very limp linen to the sides of the scroll frame, so linen is now fairly tight, which lets me get decent stitch tension even with my “dumb” left hand.

Even with one hand, I’m slowly making progress on this piece.

I have a feeling I might want to work on something else soon, though. Does anyone see any candidates in my WIP list?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Carpal tunnel surgery today!

Just a quick note today to say I'm finally getting my right hand fixed! I should be able to get back on the computer by tomorrow evening or Thursday (or I may just resort to left-hand only typing) to let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A great stitch for baskets: Large Woven Stitch

In a recent post, I explained how I would be stitching hearts for cancer outreach in between each of my normal WIP finishes this year. To decide which stitch I would use for my first heart this year, I turned to a recent acquisition (purchased at my LNS's Super Bowl sale): Suzy's Surprize Stitches by SuZy Murphy.

I planned to use Caron Watercolours for the heart, just because

  • I have several great colors of this in my stash.
  • Only one strand is needed for coverage on 18ct canvas, so I don't have to dig out my laying tool (and therefore it stitches up more quickly!).
A good friend used Watercolours on one of her hearts, and it didn't cover very well when the stitches were all vertical or horizontal. This prompted me to look for a stitch made up of diagonal stitches. After considering several alternatives from SuZy's book, I decided to go with what she calls "Large Woven Stitch."

Here's my diagram and method of working this stitch. (Note that I used the same color throughout. The diagram only shows different colors to differentiate the rows.)

I like to think of this stitch as "inside-out Criss Cross Hungarian." You can see what I mean in my diagram of CCH:

Apparently I'm not alone in thinking of the Large Woven Stitch as a variation of CCH. In 2007, Brenda Hart showed this as Reversed Criss Cross Hungarian in ANG's Stitch of the Month series.

So, how does it stitch up? I think it looks pretty nice on my heart so far. I'm using Watercolours in Slate. (And yes, I know I stitched right over the spot where the cancer awareness ribbon is supposed to go. I'm going to add a separate ribbon later.)

This Large Woven Stitch looks like it would be a nice addition to any canvas worker's repertoire. It would make great baskets, parquet floors, or even a stone walkway. It might also make a nice non-directional background using a lighter-weight thread.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Medici wool is available again!

Several years ago, DMC discontinued their line of Medici wool thread. If you've looked for it since, you may have had to scour several shops to access their dwindling supplies. But here's good news for Medici wool fans!

This past weekend, Denise at Threadneedle Street in Washington state sent out an announcement that another company is now making Medici available again. According to this notice, the new thread is "virtually indistinguishable" from the old, and that a vast majority of the previously-available colors (and 13 new colors) are available.

The picture shows a few skeins of DMC Medici next to the same colors in the new version.  For all of the details, see the announcement on Threadneedle Street's website.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A win-win situation

Back in 2008, my ANG chapter kicked off an outreach project. For this project, each member was invited to stitch one or more hearts to be given to cancer patients at a local hospital. I decided to use purple, since this is the ribbon color for pancreatic cancer (much as pink is the ribbon color for breast cancer). Since two of my grandparents died of this horrible disease, purple it was! The picture on the right shows the heart I stitched then.

Our chapter's initial donation of 25 hearts (give or take a few) were a great success. The cancer center gave them to patients having an especially tough day, and the recipients were touched that complete strangers would make something like this for them.

Now, the cancer center has reported that they've run out of the hearts, and the chapter has decided to continue the project for as long as members are willing to make hearts.

If you'll recall, one of my goals for this year is to decrease my WIP count. I'd pretty much settled on the finish-two-start-one plan, but sometimes that means a LONG wait to start the next project. So, I've changed my plan. Now, after every finish, I'm stitching a heart for the cancer outreach project. In other words, the plan is now

  • finish one WIP
  • start and finish a heart
  • finish another WIP
  • start and finish another heart
  • start something NEW!
Talk about a win-win situation. This lets me continue the WIP reduction, while scratching the itch to start something new and get another quick finish, all while contributing to our outreach project.

In addition, I've decided to use stash threads (primarily Caron's Watercolours for now) while trying out some new-to-me stitches. Since I finished a project earlier this week, I started one of the hearts. Stay tuned for a report on my thread and stitch choices!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Dance: How Great the Blessing

Ok, now it's done. Here is my version of Catherine Theron's How Great the Blessing.

This is stitched on the 36ct linen supplied by Catherine as part of the kit, using Vikki Clayton's Hand-Dyed Fibers regular silk floss and a tiny bit of Rainbow Gallery's Splendor.

I made minimal changes to the design, primarily in the areas designated for personalization, but I also
  • placed the birds and squirrels as I liked
  • skipped the crown originally over the house (it just seemed odd!)
  • left the queen stitch flowers in the large vase open, with just the outlines
All in all, I really like this piece. I think this one will actually get framed rather than finding a home in my closet. (Does anybody else do this?)