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Friday, September 24, 2010

Mystique class with Carolyn Mitchell

Yesterday and today I had the privilege of taking another class with Carolyn Mitchell. As in my previous class with her, I found her teaching style quite enjoyable.

She was thorough in explaining the placement of easier stitches, and in specifying which threads were needed for each stitch being reviewed in class. This wasn’t completely an easy feat, since there were two completely different color schemes available to participants. For more challenging stitches, she demonstrated each stitch several times in small groups.

After discussing or watching a demonstration of a given stitch, we had plenty of time to try it out and ask questions, which she patiently answered (some multiple times!). In fact, I think I finished more in the past two days than I’ve ever managed to do in a class.

Carolyn’s method of designing, she explained, is to stitch first, and then write instructions and chart the project. When she first started designing, she’d try drawing up the chart first, and then stitching, but she ended up making changes while stitching, which resulted in recharting the design.

Due to the lag between actually stitching an area and writing the instructions, we did have a few differences between the original and the eventual written master thread list and descriptions of which threads were to be used in a given area. Because of this and changes in dye lots, it was necessary to make a few changes to the instructions. Fortunately, these were fairly few and far between, and were all corrected at the beginning of class.

All in all, another wonderful class, and I look forward to making more progress on this project!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Looking ahead

Having finished My Way last week, I now have no fewer than THREE large canvas projects on my near-term radar.

The first, of course, is Mystique, the project from my Carolyn Mitchell class over the next two days. We did have to stitch the borders for the project as pre-work for the class, but fortunately the most time consuming part of this was the counting. The stitch is a simple slanted gobelin stitch over two canvas intersections.

Unlike My Way, Carolyn strongly suggested that all students use one of her two color combinations, so there’s no chance for my progress to stall simply due to decision paralysis. I’m looking forward to this!

Also on the horizon is Jim Wurth’s Prelude to Peace, an online class through Shining Needle Society. This class is scheduled to start October 1st. I’ve chosen my colors – just slightly brighter versions of the original blues and browns, but haven’t actually purchased any of my threads yet. I guess I’d better get going on this! (Note, the picture in the link above is another stitcher’s, not Jim’s original. I couldn’t find a picture online of the original colors, except in the SNS Home Room. If you’re really curious, you can always join – it’s free!)

Finally, my local EGA chapter is doing the correspondence course Cleopatra’s Cat by Mary Long. Since I’m not a cat person, I’m taking some liberties with this project. I’m making a greyhound outline from a picture of my Sophie, and will be stitching it in shades of brown and black to match her brindle coloring.

I’ll try to post a bit more frequently to share how I’m approaching this. Yes, it means a lot of decisions, but since it’s mostly thread decisions rather than color decisions, it shouldn’t be too difficult, yet will still present an interesting challenge.

In the meantime, I’ve actually picked up one of my slow WIPs. Over the past week, I’ve made a bit of progress on the border of Rae Iverson’s Blackwork Band Sampler.

If I don’t actually finish a few things, I’m never going to meet my goal of ending the year with fewer WIPs than last year. But then again, I’m sure that’s not the only yearly goal that won’t be met! :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Finish: My Way

Yes, it’s finally done!

Design: My Way

Designer: Carolyn Mitchell

Technique: counted canvas

Ground fabric: 18ct mono canvas

Threads: LOTS!

Stitches used: LOTS!

Stitching timeframe: Started borders October 16, 2008; class November 8-9, 2008; finished September 14, 2010

For more detail around the threads and stitches used in this project, see my previous posts about it. And no, I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. It won't really "go" with anything in my house, but I had fun stitching it and though the decisions frustrated me from time to time, I think I learned a lot from this challenging piece!

I finished just in time. My next class with Carolyn Mitchell (her gorgeous Mystique) starts next Thursday!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another shop’s demise

Earlier this year, I received a letter from one of the two local needlework shops. The letter explained that the shop was closing, and detailed the merchandise sale prices during the summer.

It’s always depressing to hear of another shop closing, but this is the first in my area. While this is not my most-frequented shop, it carried a different selection of items than the larger shop in town.

Fortunately, the pair that run the shop, Frame Of Mind, do have another venture: Woolen Thread Designs. Their designs are lovely items, some of which are made entirely of wool felt, and some combine wool felt with cross stitch. They’re a lot of fun. I believe the owners will be continuing their work on the design company, but have decided to retire from the shop.

Next Saturday is closing day.

Today, MIL and I (with E in stroller!) went shopping.

I spent a little over $60, and came home with this:

One of the items that this shop carried that isn’t available anywhere else locally is Anchor floss and some pearl cotton. Since it won’t be available for me to look through there, I thought it best that I take some home with me. Besides, they’re trying to empty out the shop, so I couldn’t refuse to help them.

In case you were wondering, that pile is on the seat of my stitching chair, and consists of 375 different colors of floss (at 14.5 cents each), and 31 balls of pearl cotton, sizes 8 and 12 (at 4 for $1.00).

All and all, a great deal, right?

Then why do I think I’d prefer that the shop stay in business instead of practically giving their inventory away? :-(

Friday, September 3, 2010

Almost a Friday Finish: My Way

I’d like to apologize. I know my posts have been much too infrequent, and, worse, rather… um… boring and mechanical, if that’s the right way to say it. I hope you know what I mean.

There’s a simple reason behind this. My stitching has slowed down to a point where I’ve felt like I have to show some significant progress on a project before I can post about it. As a result, I’ve gone overboard. I get to the point where something is done, or nearly done, before I post about it.

The result, if I post too often, is that there’s nothing to show, and if I post too infrequently, you miss the process of my stitching. I’ve got to try to find a happy medium.

Anyway, I was going to post one block of My Way every few days just to put something up here, and I realized I was sorta dreading writing those posts. They’re as boring for me to write as they are for you to read!

The truth? All of the blocks are done. I’ve just got to make a few decisions on the border. What do you think?

You can see the slight beginning of some of the border decisions. The thin outside border is meant to be in a thread like pearl cotton #5. Unfortunately, all of the values of my border (gray-green) color family don’t come in DMC pearl 5. Specifically, the medium dark value of this family is only available in floss.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to try Linda Reinmiller’s method of making pearl cotton out of floss, so I gave it a shot. I guess I have to play with this a bit more, though, because I really didn’t like the look of the thread that resulted. It’s likely just operator error and lack of practice.

I did try stitching with my homemade pearl, but it didn’t stay in the project long enough for me to take a picture. I’ve decided to just lay three strands of floss for the thin outside border. Despite the need to pick up the laying tool, this will undoubtedly take less time than trying to perfect my pearl-making skills. And my stitching time is limited enough right now.

I’ve also put crescents around one of the corner blocks with two strands of the same color floss. So far, I really like this combination. Now I’ve just got to figure out what goes in the middle of each of those corner blocks!

I’d be interested to hear if you’ve tried making pearl cotton from floss and how your experience went. Some people swear by it, but I’ll reserve judgment until I try it again.