Monday, August 13, 2018

Continuing on with Sarah Braizear - Fabric preparation

Life has a way to accelerate into ‘busyness’ without warning sometimes .... I don’t mind being busy at all ... It is in such times that the fun stitching and projects like Sarah make a lot of sense !
Some glimpses of the sampler as it progresses ... lots of motifs that can be used in so many ways ....
If one had the TIME and Leisure that is ! ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜Š

Progress photo as of August 1,2018
40ct Zweigart linen, color Summer Khaki
& AVAS silks as listed 
 I have been meaning to update this blog for a while now;  many of you have been asking me questions either directly via email or through Facebook Messenger and within the Facebook SAL (Stitch- A- Long) group as to how I did certain things.  I will address these questions in time I promise.

I only want to discuss how I started this project in this post since many are planning on starting their journey in the upcoming days.  Again, this is just one way I have used successfully in projects that have a lot of elements  and will be stitched on again, off again, many times when I am tired, or traveling ( e.g. Dutch Beauty by Permin which I also blogged about).
 I have found that taking  the time to prepare things well for such 'side projects' right from the beginning pays off in the long run ... I am more apt to then just place the project on my floor stand and stitch a motif or two in an evening, it is easier to work on it when distracted by watching tennis, easier to pack and take along when traveling.  Proper preparation usually is worth the effort, and in many ways provides a way to start understanding and noting things specific to the project ahead.

 I set up this project at a very busy time between meetings this past May just so I could take it along on a trip at the end of the month even though I suspected I would not be stitching much in the evenings.  In fact, I didn't put even one stitch in while away ... but that is another story all together... it is always reassuring to have needlework along anyway, so no regrets in taking it along.

Just for clarity,  I will concentrate on just how I prepared the fabric first - I will follow up shortly with other details on stands/organizers/light/tools etc.... many of you who follow my blog have already seen some of the ways I transport things, some of my favorite frames and tools anyway.  Again, the methods I used here are just one way; there are many ways,  and each way works, each approach has it's pros and cons.  So,  things started out like they always do when I work with linen... the first step is to inspect both sides of the fabric for any issues with the weave, dirt etc.  Then, I determine the weft and warp of the linen and verify the amount of linen I will need  - this means checking the math once more to make sure the stitch count is transferred to the linen count correctly and then quickly using the tape measure to make sure I have ample fabric and marking it off with pins.   Then I take one side of the linen (usually the side that is least frayed) and pull one fabric thread out, usually the weft side first... I pull the linen thread out slowly but deliberately- this then gives me a nice channel to cut the fabric in a straight line ... I stop about an inch away from the pin with my initial cut.  I then go back up to the freshly cut edge and measure out exactly how much width I need and adjust the pin.  I then pull out one thread outside the pinned area and cut down along this channel, parallel to the initial cut; this then establishes the width of the fabric.  I then measure and pin the length accurately  along both cut sides and adjust the initial pin;  again I pull the thread outside the pinned area and then cut down to this channel on both sides and then across.  I then fold the fabric in both directions to make sure that the sides are even and finger press the middle of each side about an inch or two towards the center.  I then use my serger to serge all four sides of the fabric.  One can use a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine or baste/hem the edge by hand.  I know that some stitchers like to use FrayCheck or even masking tape - I personally prefer not to use them.
Usually I iron the fabric at this time,but before doing so I verify the finger pressed midlines again to make sure the linen did not somehow get stretched etc... I am not as confident with sewing machines so it is just a good way to check myself.  After ironing I gently fold and mark the midline on all sides with pins,  then use the measuring tape to verify, then I follow the midlines down to the center of the fabric and mark it with pins in both directions.  Now I examine this center point to see if my cross stitch would be in the 'right' place. I want the first leg of a cross stitch (/) to start on the left of a vertical thread - this prevents the cross stitch from  'disappearing'  within the weave of the linen.  It also is a good guideline to always be able to check each stitch and quickly find a counting mistake.... I can 'feel' when the needle comes up in the wrong place just from the resistance /the way the needle acts when being poked through the linen.  I do this also if I am not planning to start in the center but on the upper left side (3 or 4" from the top and side edge).  I mark this correct stitch center point then with a short bit of thread in both directions thus establishing the adjusted center/ edge point.

So,  it was late in the evening after an all day meeting that I decided to do all this fabric preparation  - I was well aware that these were not the best conditions but I also wanted to put my first stitches in on Sunday (Mother's Day) since that would be the only day I would have time to make sure I got the project off to a good start.  My next step was to examine the multipage booklet to see how the center lines up with the design.  I usually just mark the center lines with basting/runnung stitches but this time decided to count out and mark the grid exactly so that it would correspond with the charted pattern.  It was a sure way not to miscount.  It was also the reason I started this project in the center - it makes sure you avoid running out of fabric because you miscounted or having uneven margins etc...  I chose to stitch the bee, then the stag and then extended my stitching to each side marking off the motives as I got to them;  I also chose to run basting lines marking each page - the motifs and the center line grids gave me two ways to cross check my count, again assuring me accuracy irrelevant of how tired I was.  On Facebook there were lots of comments on having borders meet etc - I had never worried about that before - ever - but now was curious if all of mine would (!) so my approach evolved.... I will get into this and a few other points next time since I am running out of time right now - the birds are already ushering the new day of the week.... just wanted to get this out since I had promised I would over the weekend.

Hope this was clear enough - if there are questions, please post in the comments below ....

you can see the grid and motif placement here

For the grid lines I just used Gรผtermann thread - there is special nylon thread specifically made for gridding - it allows for easy removal at the end.  I have that thread but was too tired and lazy that night to go upstairs to get it ... I always remove the basting threads as I get to them while stitching - I remove them  and stictch and then sometimes go back and stitch the grid over the motif to mark the spaces ....



Monday, July 16, 2018

Continuing on one last evening with Sarah Braizear sampler

Have to now get serious and move away from ‘fun summer projects’ and get back to my other projects....
This simple sampler proved to be a great project for watching sports on TV these past weeks although I didn’t get as much done thanks to the excellent tennis at Wimbledon this time....

Got a lot done anyway - one last evening with this project tonight and then it will only be a project I will work on 1 or 2 evenings a month after a day at the office.... hard to leave this be though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Can't wait for the USOpen Tennis championships to start soon ๐ŸŽพ

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Update on Sarah Braizear

Stitching update : 
I am continuing on with Sarah Braizear 1829 while watching Wimbledon....  just noticed something - posting on my Facebook page and my blog also for those of you not in the SAL but who have the chart .... I will update this once Nicola has had a chance to clarify this.

...need clarification on color placement ...
came across what might be a discrepancy between what is charted and the color picture ...

picture of sampler in chart booklet

Post script : colors are correct as charted; It is just the way the light reflects off the silk threads.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ten day Progress on Sarah Braizear sampler

Just a quick post on my intermittent stitching while watching recordings of tennis championships and horse races.... stitching can be described as being  'interrupted' or 'intermittent'  at best because the caliber of play in the tennis championships has been extraordinary and watching the races at Ascot has been entertaining.  It is interesting to see how technology has given us easy access to watching the heart, passion, dedication to excellence in so many fields... music, art, sports - all areas where details matter just like in needlework.  They are perfect arenas to see how much can be achieved by the human mind and spirit if we choose to focus our minds and thoughts.
In any case, this simple cross stitch sampler has proven to be a good choice for summer stitching  - it is a good way to just 'cruise' and allow the mind to just plan and think through priorities regarding future needlework projects.  I was initially planning to work this sampler systematically but that became a bit too boring at times because of the repetition of motifs (slight differences) since it is a fairly symmetrical sampler,  so I decided to establish the perimeters and some other areas and just be a bit free with my approach.... enjoying the 'freedom' of this approach for the moment!
From the center to the right side

From the center to the left side

 From the left center to the bottom left border

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Summer Travel project

Materials gathered and packed for ‘travel’ ... well, had a busy time with lots of travel since and I managed to start the project in between meetings at home and take it along BUT no stitching was done at all ! It is okay though... my plan to have this as a side project is still in place - one day a month and during ๐ŸŽพ tennis ๐ŸŽพ
Chart and AVAS silks and 40ct Zweigart Summer Khaki

I will post updates on this shortly.  It is a larger sampler in simple cross stitch - kind of nice to have a simple project to fall back on during busy times.  I have plenty of simpler projects in my stash but got caught up in the excitement generated on Facebook;  it didn't help that I saw the chart before it had officially been released at a needlework store - it was still being price tagged etc.  but the design reminded me of how much fun I had had working on Dutch Beauty last year.  The stag is an age old motif and I have always enjoyed stitching it on other reproduction samplers, my own sampler designs and crewel work pieces...

Summer is upon us - the wild roses perfuming the air,  great tennis on TV, and the birds, frogs and crickets herald the progression of the seasons.... hope you are all enjoying each day and getting a bit of stitching in too!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A long overdue 'brief' update

It has been quite a while since my last blogpost ... the past few months have been good ones, productive ones.  Life has started to resume it's old rhythm which I am most grateful for.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have emailed me personally, prodded me on Facebook or nudged me on Messenger or WhatsApp... inquiring about my projects, my hands, my activities and hoping I will continue posting on my blog.  I was touched by all this interest and a bit surprised too ... the 'Follower' area has not really changed much over the years, nor are there many messages left here; if I post a link on my Facebook page I get some activity with 'thumbs up' emoticons mostly...  so I have often wondered about the relevance of this idea of blogging for me personally.

You see, I am perfectly happy working away on my own projects of diverse nature in my own little corner of the world... I love all sorts of needlework as most of you might know and am passionate and intense about it - like just about anything I choose to spend my time on.  I started this blog at a time when I was down with a nasty cold/cough years ago, on a whim and egged on by people on another sampler blog (now defunct) who wanted to see more photographs of my samplers.
I am dealing with another one of those unscheduled cough/fever downtimes right now and decided to try and figure out the issues relating to why I cannot connect to my blog using my Apple devices....
still haven't been able to figure that out yet but, finally, now that my neglected laptop has finished updating a million things, I am just trying this post out - seems like a lot has changed again!

I have surprised myself as to how many things I did complete last year when I was going through my self prescribed 'hand therapy' mode of choosing projects.  I didn't realize it myself until I was putting them all away in the 'finished, yet to be framed' drawers or in the ' completed, can be used' drawers.  I took pictures on my phone ( not the camera anymore for a while now after I learned about the pirating issues and copyright issues ) ... but still, the phone takes pretty detailed photographs which makes me hesitate to post large or detailed pictures like I used to.  Even so, I know that the more recent pictures are not a deterrent to a determined person...which is really a shame.  My main reason for blogging on mainly samplers was to encourage people to try other stitches and explore this amazing world of 'needlework'; and many of you have emailed me to tell me that after you read my ramblings,  you  are now happily over your 'fear' and are busy learning and trying techniques you once never dared to even try.... my smattering of a few crewel, stumpwork, whitework, Schwalm, and other little needlework posts interspersed between the sampler posts have also had the desired effect and people have either started learning or rekindled their love of crewel for example.

Lots to share but have to still figure out all the new things here and the interfaces etc. and see if this even posts.  I even have a perfect sampler I started and finished this year that would have been good for a post yesterday, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!
SO, I will be back to blogging periodically if this works and I can figure out the other issues shortly ...

For now, just experimenting with photos - from old blogposts:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

I want to wish you all the very Best in this coming year, 2018 - may it bring many joyous moments.

As I reflect on this past year, I am surprised by how much I was able to accomplish even though for most of the first five months I was still dealing with the direct after effects of my fall and then had to slowly build back my hand's agility and then work on the stamina for some more months. I am most grateful that I am able to resume all activities, also thankful that this long recuperation gave me a chance to reflect on things a bit.  A more detailed account will follow in the upcoming weeks but I think I was able to complete three tablecloths, three table runners, two maybe three samplers and one or two other things  (will have to check the finished drawers), a crewel piece and these three Santas.... may they usher in Peace, Joy and Hope for 2018!
May we cherish the ordinary moments!