Monday, August 31, 2009

Ann's Spiders & Webs II RR Block in Progress

I have found myself really challenged with this block! It is nearing completion in the round robin rotation and all the work already on it was so lovely - mostly really lovely silk ribbon florals done in gorgeous hand dyed ribbon. I could not manage any silk ribbon good enough not to stick out like a sore thumb so have decided instead to stay with the floral theme but to use another technique.

So this is the first part of what I have done. Here I am again embroidering a plant I have never seen - or at least never seen in bloom except in pictures. It is an aloe vera.

Someone on the CQI list had mentioned it would be helpful to them, and others new to cq, if it were explained what stitches are used, what threads, etc., so I am going to try to make it a practice to go into excrutiating detail from now on in hopes it is helpful. If you aren't interested in all the details, just look at the pretty picture! lol

The inspiration for this motif came from the book, Ribbon Embroidery and Stumpwork, by Di van Niekerk. The first step was to make the three stems. I used beading wire for this and secured each piece in turn by pushing it through to the back of the block. I bent it back on itself and secured with several stab stitches, then bent it back on itself again and added more stab stitches. To cover the wires I used two strands of Weeks Dye Works cotton floss, brought it up through the fabric at the bottom of my wire and just wrapped it around and around until I had the length I wanted the stem. I secured the end of the wire the same way as I did at the beginning except left it on the front because the bullions would cover it. If I did this again I would take it to the back because the end of the wire keeps wanting to peek through the bullions. I made the wire a little longer than it needed to be for the distance so it would have some dimension.
Next step was the blossoms. I used three colours of Gloriana Princess Perle Petitle silk thread in progression, starting at the bottom making bullion knots of random length, covering the end of the wire of the stem and then working up to a point, each layer of bullions overlapping the last.
More fun then with the leaves! They were mostly open picot stitch with a couple at the front being closed picot stitch so some of the front leaves would have a nice point at the bottom. For these I used House of Embroidery Perle Thread No. 8. It is a 100% cotton thread, hand-dyed in South Africa, that I received as a gift. Such a wonderful thread to work with! Most of the leaves were left free at the top but a few I secured to the fabric with a tiny stitch or two to shape them as I wanted. I wanted to have a few bending over.
The last step were a few french knots and little straight stitches for a suggestion of the earth under the plant, again using the same thread as the leaves in another colour. Hope this explanation helps someone!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Last Puzzle Piece Arrived

This lovely puzzle piece arrived in the mail this week from Pat Winter, along with some lovely goodies I will put to use very soon in my stitching. I think this puzzle piece is adorable! Pat does such lovely stitching - it is a real pleasure to have a piece of her work now. Thanks Pat!

Another Hankie Giveaway!

I came across more initial hankies at the thrift store, another box of three, with the initial "E" this time. I am popping one in the mail to my friend, Leslie E., and the other two are up for grabs. I love the embroidery on these ones and think they would make a lovely addition to a piece of crazy quilting. So, if your first or last name starts with "E", or if you have someone special in your life with an initial "E" that you would like to make a project for using one of these hankies, leave a comment on this post. The first two comments will receive the hankies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

BAS Week 35 - Bullion Stitch

This time the BAS Challenge is a stitch that can be used in either seams or motifs. It is an incredibly versatile stitch once you learn it. I put off learning the bullion stitch because I found it very intimidating, but I have to say that once I got the hang of it I have had a lot of fun with it. The possibilities are almost endless..... bullion roses...

... figures like watering cans...

...Christmas puddings...

... this little robin and worm - my personal favourite!...

....romantic hearts filled with roses...

... even a beehive and little bees....

... or baby rattles! See, the possibilities really are endless!
Now that I hope I have you inspired with ideas, here is the scoop on this stitch. It is simply a glorified french knot!
There is an excellent video tutorial on Mary Corbet's Needle'nThread blog in her Video Library of Stitches. Mary has also written very good information and tips in this post.
You can also check out Sharon B's Dictionary of Stitches for a good written tutorial with very clear photos.
There is a wonderful book in Country Bumpkin`s A - Z series, A - Z of Bullions. You can often find a sale on these books if you google the title. Most of the motifs I have shared above came from this book and I highly recommend it. While searching for information I found another book listed, Bullion Stitch Embroidery: From Roses to Wildflowers, written by Jenny Bradford. I have ordered a copy and am looking forward to seeing it when it arrives. I wonder if anyone already has a copy and can tell me if they recommend it?
My last word on bullions is that you will save yourself a lot of headaches if you use a Milliner`s needle. These needles have no bulge in the shaft where the eye is so they pass through the stitch much easier.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ilys' Baby Quilt Block

My friend, Ilys, came out for a few days to the campsite and worked on a baby quilt. This is one of the blocks (and Ilys!) The fabrics are all flannel and the prettiest colours! The centers are all these little animal characters that are fussy cut. The sashing that Ilys has planned is a white flannel with tiny mini-polkadots in multi-colours. I think this is going to be just adorable and I can't wait to see it finished!

Great Giveaway

Jo in NZ is having a great giveaway on her blog to celebrate her 600th post. Check it out! While you are surfing around, Jo also has a couple wonderful Etsy shops that are worth taking a peek at: the first one is where you will find all Jo's crazy quilted and embellished functional art, and the second is "Vintage Vices", where you can find all sorts of vintage doilies, linens, etc to use in your own art.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Debbie's Christmas Block - again!

Well, I thought I was done with Debbie's Christmas block when I posted a picture of it earlier but I just had to go back and add a little more. I like it better now - I can still see more places I would like to add more work but this time I really will mail it! It is in the envelope with postage etc so this is it! lol
I decided that the vintage star sequins were a little too flat and uninteresting so I removed them and did it again. This time each one has a sequin, then a bead, another sequin and another bead. I think the added depth adds a bit more interest.

This area of the block was bothering me that it was too bare and I had these great sequins I found recently and decided to make three sequin flowers here. These sequins are quite large - now I am starting to worry about how many larger size motifs I have on this block. Time to stop second guessing myself though - Debbie can tweak to her hearts content when the block gets home.
So, I think this is the most sequins I have ever used on one piece. I guess I am in a sequin phase! lol

Lorna's Miniatures

A couple of my favourite regular campers, Ross and Lorna, came out for a visit this week. I was thrilled when Lorna brought some of her minatures to share with me - I have been anxious to see them. The rug above is needlepoint and was one of Lorna's first pieces she made.
The afghan in the foreground of this picture is crocheted from a regular afghan pattern. It is only the thread and tool she uses that makes it this tiny! Can you believe how delicate it is!?
This chair is my favourite piece! It is hard to believe but Lorna makes these from scratch, doing the woodwork, stitching and construction - she just wings it! The upholstery on the chair is done in petit point - 50 count! I think it is just beautiful!

She constructs the doll from scratch, building the body and then the clothing after, including all the jewelry and accessories. I love the little cameo at her waist. You can't see it from the picture because of her full skirt but she is sitting on a rattan settee. Yes, Lorna made that too! She said she just had to try her hand at rattan and used string for the wicker. I wish I had got a picture of it because it is worth seeing!
Somewhere in my sewing room I have a kit to make a wooden dollhouse and I have always had it in the back of my mind to put it together and then furnish it with minature stitching. I am definitely reinspired after seeing all these pieces. I am so happy that Lorna took the time to bring them out to the lake for me to see. Thanks Lorna!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Debbie Q's Christmas Round Robin Block

I have finished my work on Debbie's block for the Christmas Round Robin I am in. I have already posted the two waste canvas cross stitch motifs I have done. If you look closely you will see three of my BAS seams as well: the braid applied to the ribbon surrounding the silkie Debbie provided was one,under the deer is my Hedebo edging with beads, and the seam between the blue and burgundy patches is my sample of Sorbello stitch.
I have been wanting to try the bullion stitch Christmas puddings from A - Z of Bullions for awhile now so this was my chance. They were a lot of fun to do!

I have admired the lovely pine cones I have seen people stitch so I wanted to try one. I built an evergreen branch with stem stitch wood and needles and then built a cone with sequins and seed beads.
I feel like I could keep stitching on this block for another couple weeks but I have to send it on sometime so I guess it is time to quit. I sincerely hope Debbie likes it!

Postscript to Waste Canvas Tutorial

In the waste canvas tutorial in a previous post, I mentioned that fractional stitches could be accomplished but did not elaborate. Since I was doing just that this afternoon I thought I would take this opportunity to illustrate what I meant.
The waste canvas is made up of pairs of threads. In most cases, you treat the pairs of thread as one thread as I have done using the silver metallic thread above. However, if you want to make half or quarter stitches, you can divide the pairs of thread to give you a middle space. If you click on the above picture, I hope it will be clearer and you can see that is what I have done with the stitches in the gold metallic threads above.
Here is this motif finished after the waste canvas has been removed. It is one of several lovely blackwork motifs in The Cross Stitcher's Bible by Jane Greenoff.

Friday, August 14, 2009

BAS - Week 34 - Sorbello Stitch

This week's stitch is the Sorbello stitch, an old stitch that originated in the village of Sorbello in Italy. It is closely related to the Palestrina Stitch that we used in Week 28. According to my research, Sorbello Stitch is a common stitch used in cross stitch, needlepoint and embroidery. I have to admit that it is a new one on me!
There is a set of diagrams in Sharon B's Dictionary of Stitches which should be very helpful. You can also read more about the use of this stitch in Embroidery Stitches by Mary Webb at Google Books - the photograph of the stitch in progress is especially good there.

When you try this stitch keep in mind that it needs to be worked fairly loosely. A looser tension really allows the beauty of this stitch to shine through. It is a lovely stitch to do - simple yet effective - and a great rhythm develops as you are doing it. I hope you will give it a ry. Enjoy and have fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Notes from the Lake - Whine and Roses

First, the roses... This little blossom is the wild rose, which is incidentally the provincial flower for Alberta. It grows low to the ground and is very hardy - comes back year after year no matter how many times it gets mowed down. Smells gorgeous too.

Now, the whine... It is "crunch time", the time that comes each year when I just want to go home so bad and would quit my job at the drop of a hat and leave the lake to go back to my home, sweet home. I am so homesick! DD, Katie, will be moving to the city the 26th of August so she will be gone before I even get home! It makes me so sad that she will be gone and that I am missing 0ut on all the fun of helping with the first apartment - picking towels and shower curtains, talking about how the furniture will be arranged, etc. Duke, the bloodhound, is getting into all sorts of trouble because there is no one there all day - that would usually be me that would be there to keep him company and watch he doesn't get into mischief while everyone is at work.
Just today he managed to chew up the last of the three phones he has demolished this week and topped it off by eating the remote controls for both the tv and the satellite system. DH is not amused. Lots of friction caused by this but, really, it is because the dog is lonely too - like me out here! Maybe I should chew up something... besides donuts. I want to jump in my truck and pop off to visit the kids and not have to worry about the 24/7 that the campground is each year. Enough whining I guess - anyone have some cheese to go with this whine?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Notes from the Lake

I keep taking pictures of the sky and the water... the water and the sky... Can't help myself since both are constantly changing!

I love it when the sunshine comes down in rays through the clouds. I can't remember who told me these were "the fingers of God", but I have thought of it that way ever since. It seems so apt.

BAS - Week 33 - Hedebo Edging with Beads

I found this stitch while looking for something small but with some interest to use as a seam treatment. I needed something small to compensate for a large seam adjacent to it.
This is usually used as an edging but I thought it would make an interesting seam so I am sharing this here and it is the Build a Seam Challenge for Week 33. I hope you like it and will give it a try! It is not difficult but it was totally new to me. I hope when you see my wonky tension, etc you will keep in mind that these stitches are new to me as well usually! lol
I have posted a tutorial directly under this post, showing how I did the seam. I broke it down into a lot of little steps to try to make it clear. I hope it is! Have fun with it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hedebo Edging with Beads (Tutorial)

This stitch is a Beaded Hedebo Edging. As the name implies, it is usually used as an edging stitch. I came across it though while I was looking for something to use for a seam treatment that would be on the smaller side and yet a bit unusual. I think it fits the bill perfectly. There are quite a few steps but once you get in a rhythm it isn't bad. I need to practice a bit more and work on my tension but I am still pleased with it.
I used my trusty Tiger Tape again for this one. The stitch is worked in two steps. First you work the row of large and small cross stitches and then work across them again adding your beads and Hedebo stitch.
Start by bringing your needle up at the bottom left hand side of your seam.

Take your needle to the top of the seam area and take it down, bringing it up again directly below. This forms the first leg of your first small cross stitch.
Now you form a larger cross stitch. Take your needle down at the top, leaving a larger gap and bring it up again directly below.
Continue these steps until you have worked all the way across your seam.

This is how it should look at this point. Notice the short and long stitches alternate.

Work your way back across the seam from right to left filling in the other leg of each cross stitch. When you get to the end take your needle down just above your the spot where you first came up at the when you started stitching.

This is how it will look at this point. I take off my Tiger Tape at this point because I do not need it anymore. You can use any other method of marking or, if you have a good eye for spacing, you can likely wing it. I really like my Tiger Tape so that is what I use.
Now it is time to work back across the seam adding the beads and the Hedebo stitches. You are going to add the beads on the small cross stitches and the Hedebo scallops will be formed on the large cross stitches.
So, to add your bead you will bring your needle up just below where you last went down, thread a bead onto your needle and take it down up and to the right of that spot. Basically you are making another leg of your small cross stitch from bottom left to upper right over the original leg but this time it will hold a bead.

Now you work your scallop of Hedebo stitches on the large cross stitch. Slide your needle under the large cross stitch, keeping the thread over your needle.
Pull your thread through until a small loop is formed. Next take your needle under the top of the loop and over the bottom of the loop as shown in the picture above and take your needle through.

Pull the thread until the stitch sits snugly. (Please note that although it looks for all the world like I have a coffee stain on my fabric, I don't! lol It is just the way the fabric reflected the light.)

Repeat these two parts of the Hedebo stitch until you have filled your large cross stitch. Pack your stitches as much as possible - this forms the scallop effect. To complete the scallop of stitches, take your needle down at the top of the next small cross stitch and bring it up directly below. You are now ready to thread on another bead and continue as before. Keep alternating placing the beads on the small cross stitches and the scallops of Hedebo stitch on the large cross stitches until you reach the end of your seam.

And here is my finished seam! I used a Wildflower thread by Caron for this, colour 217 (Chili). This is what I had on hand that looked the most Christmassy to me. The beads are a thrift store find - pretty nasty little beads actually being plastic coated with a metallic finish. I loved them when I saw them though because they just screamed `Christmas Balls` to me!
I have broken down this seam into a lot of steps to try to make it easy to follow. Don`t let the number of steps intimidate you - it isn`t difficult. It just needs a bit of practice and to keep your tension consistent.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Waste Canvas Tutorial (Cross Stitch)

I was preparing to put a small cross stitch motif on a crazy quilt block when I remembered I had promised to do a tutorial on doing this with waste canvas, so here it is. You need to find a small cross stitch pattern you like that will fit in the space you have and figure out how large a piece of waste canvas you will need. Most cross stitch charts are graphed into 10 X 10 squares like the ones above. Waste canvas looks like needlepoint canvas except a little lighter-weight and is marked off in 5 stitch divisions by the blue threads. It comes in several sizes, 14 count being the most common and what I am using here. The canvas has double threads between each hole but you treat them as one unless you are doing a quarter or three-quarter stitch - they come in handy then as you can put your needle between the double threads to make the half stitch.

I allowed myself half an inch on all four sides beyond the outer edge of where the motif will reach. Center the waste canvas on the spot you want your motif and baste around the edges to hold it in place.

Cross stitch the design from the chart as usual, except where you would usually be counting the threads in your linen or other cloth, you will be using the holes provided in the waste canvas much the same way you do with Aida cloth. One note I would make is that I use a sharp embroidery needle instead of a cross stitch or tapestry needle. The sharp needle will make it easier to needle through the underlying fabric of the block. Take care not to pierce the threads of the waste canvas with your needle. It will make it more difficult to remove the canvas threads later.

Complete your cross stitch design, including any backstitching required and remove your basting thread.

You can now start pulling out the threads of the waste canvas, starting on the outer edges and working in. The picture above shows the threads removed until the cross stitched area is reached. Some instructions tell you to moisten the waste canvas before pulling out your threads but I have not found this necessary and I am reluctant to try it in case the water spots the silks or other fabrics in the crazy quilt block.

Continue pulling out the threads under the cross stitch design one at a time. This is where it is much easier if you have not pierced any of the threads of the canvas. I find it helpful to hold my thumb on the cross stitches as I pull out the threads. You can start to see your design more clearly as the canvas is removed.

And here it is - my finished motif! I did cross stitch for years and years and sometimes it is nice to do a little again. Since I became obsessed with crazy quilting I have left cross stitch behind for the most part.
Waste canvas can be used to do counted cross stitch on any fabric that is not evenweave. I have used it on socks, baby clothes and many other items.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Giveaway Winners

Sending out the "B" initialed hankies to Thelma and Lauri today - have fun with them!
On the Christmas in July giveaway I am sending out the book to Skye today, thanks to the help of the random number generator. Hope you enjoy the book, Syke!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Notes from the Lake

The August long weekend is over and it was a mixed bag. The campground was very busy and that was good. The family came out to visit and give me a hand and that was the best part. It is always great to see the kids and the grandkids and to get to spend some time with them! The down side was the two nasty storms we had go through during the three days. Friday night we had a thunderstorm preceded by a wild wind storm. There were at least fifteen tents absolutely flattened! A lot of campers gave up on the weekend and went home then - likely a decision they are happy about now since we had an even nastier storm come through on Sunday night. Everyone was woken up at 3:15 a.m. by lots of thunder and sheet lightening. Then the hail hit. They were golf ball size or bigger and none of the trailers escaped damage. It was really scary in the middle of the night to wake up and find all the roof vents were smashed and we were all cold and wet with hail and water pouring in. The noise was incredible - it sounded like a freight train or like there was a dump truck pouring a load of gravel on the roof! Outside the windows was just a wall of grey - you couldn't see anything. I think we must have been very close to the edge of a tornado. Just down a bit from our campsite it looks like something touched down. There is a path where the grass is flattened and debris was swept along. The part I found most troubling were the birds. I have been enjoying my beloved swallows all summer - both those I have watched in the nest as well as the huge flocks that come out morning and night to do their astounding aerial acrobatics as they eat mosquitos. While surveying the damage of the storm near the path I mentioned we found two large trees where the swallows had been roosting. Under them and along the path were large numbers of dead and bloodied swallows. These poor birds - it just made me so sad to see them all. There were several ground squirrels among the victims of the storm too. It appears they were forced from their burrows to avoid drowning only to be beaten to death by the hail.

The family all went home on Monday afternoon but one of the campers who had gone back to the city phoned my house to let them know that there was another severe thunderstorm and hail warning for last night. I was surprised last evening to find my darling daughter, Katie, on the doorstep of my trailer with dry blankets and pillows, announcing she was here for a sleepover! She had to get up at 4 am to leave for work but didn't want me to be alone out here with another bad storm. I was very happy she was here - everytime the thunder and lightening and rain woke me last night my first thought was that I was not alone because she was here. I know I am loved but sometimes it is such a good warm feeling to feel it surround you like that! Today the I will be working on the big cleanup to get things back to normal before next weekend when there is a big fishing tournament at the lake.