Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas wishes - a la Schwalm - my design

I came up with an idea just a few days ago, sketched it out, found a remnant of 'suitable' linen and started stitching it - this was an exercise for me to not just familiarize myself with the techniques of a German whitework technique commonly known as Schwalmerstickerei / Schwalm embroidery, but also to test myself to stitch something without spending too much time 'thinking' and 'studying' - the emphasis was on the 'doing';  I wanted  to get familiar with thread thickness, stitches and their effects etc.  I have collected a number of books in this area over the years and was fortunate enough to see a beautiful collection of embroideries - the technique is a combination of  using pulled thread techniques, needleweaving, and some crewel stitches.  The designs are made up of the simplest of shapes and the motives are taken from nature - the linens produced are exquisite.  The overall effect of this embroidery is finer than Mountmellick although they both have similar motives taken from nature; it is a bit like Hardanger - quiet and elegant;  Hardanger is more geometric, Schwalm embroidery is more playful.
I am not quite sure if I am 'finished' with this piece yet - but this is the current status as of today... I'll think about a few points and then once satisfied will finish it as a standup Christmas decoration.  Here is my rendition of some of the techniques of Schwalm :

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas tablecloth - Happy Holidays

 December - a month that is always linked with my brother's birthday and holiday celebrations and decorations.  I enjoy decorating the home with Christmas decorations and candles and even though Christmas is not a religious holiday for me I do respect the significance and the sentiments.
So, even though I had not planned to start new projects this year, I did - I started working on this pre-stamped tablecloth kit by Rico Design last Sunday, on the first Sunday of Advent - using a hoop/stand which is not common for me but I am trying to make friends with my hoops again because of their amazing portability.  Here is one of the motives finished in time to wish you all a quiet Sunday on the 2nd Sunday of Advent.  So far, only Santa decorations have been up to celebrate St. Nick's day (Dec. 6) and now slowly I will introduce other ornaments and decorations into the home and office.  Wishing you all the Best for the Holidays!  

 These kits from Germany are quite pretty and even though they use simple stitches I enjoy them - they still hone my skills and have plenty of threads to allow for a bit of 'personal interpretation'.
Please excuse the hoop marks and wrinkles - have a great Sunday. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thoughts on needlework....

I have been thinking a lot about various things regarding my needlework activities.  I came across a quote I had read many years ago today which propelled me to write today's entry on my blog.  I hope this inspires you... to try, to venture into areas that might feel uncomfortable at first - the nice thing about needlework is that the techniques are multifold and most intriguing, learning them is exciting and pleasurable, your own applications of techniques once mastered, are infinite... AND most of the time, needlework can be reversible.  It is one area in life that you can control, redo, perfect and play to your heart's content... practice makes perfect and time is 'relative'. 

The quote is attributed to Plato - it is an old 'friend' that I had forgotten about but rediscovered again today - always liked it, still do :
"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. "
Reading it again today reminded me of a story I was told at one of the classes at the Japanese Embroidery Center.  As many of you know I have learned most of the needlework I have shown on this blog on my own, mostly from books; my early introduction to the world of needlework was initiated by my grandmother and mother showing me some of the basics stitches of embroidery (cross stitch, stem and chain stitch,  lazy daisy, french knots), needlepoint, knitting and crochet.  I will always be thankful to them for this and remember fondly the long days of summer holidays trying to work things out.

The only 'formal' needlework education I have received is my training in Japanese embroidery and I will always be indebted to Mr and Mrs Tamura and Kazumi for 'putting up' with me during the year and half I was cruising through the initial ten phases and their continuing to support me in my endeavors today.
At the Japanese Embroidery Center each class starts with a 'morning talk', followed by a 3 minute quiet 'meditation' period... I truly appreciate this time... I rarely stitch much during class - too busy just taking all the information in and getting distracted by everyone else's 'stuff'.  The actual digestion of everything comes in the wee hours of the night and early mornings at home.

So, at one of the morning talks, they shared a story... it was a mixed class - people were working on different difficulty levels of projects... some of the beginning students were perhaps 'intimidated' by the higher phase students, the higher phase students in turn were perhaps 'intimidated' by others who were attempting more advanced 'challenge' pieces etc. etc.  I am always curious and inspired by what we can achieve if we focus our minds - so this idea of intimidation is really 'bugging me'. My ideas on  blogging about some of my needlework projects is truly because I believe in sharing, it is not about intimidation or boasting etc. - there are many, very talented people 'out there' and some of your emails and comments are giving me a lot to think about.

Anyway, the 'story' that morning was about a time long time ago, when the late Master Iwao Saito
 (founder of Kurenai Kai- the professional guild in Japan) was reviewing the apprentices of that year.  Most apprentices that year were young and unmarried, and quick.  There was one apprentice who was married, a bit older perhaps, and slow.  Many thought that he would not 'get to be a good embroiderer';  Master Saito, however, told them all to just let him be and supported each of his apprentices in the best way he could.  Time passed, Seasons changed, and years later, this 'slower' apprentice became the most exquisite embroiderer, and in time became the head of the workshop!  I have never met Mr. Yamashita personally but have seen pictures of him - in the workshop conducting organizational large projects and sitting at his frame, embroidering.  From the pictures of him embroidering,  I see a person totally engrossed in his work - his hands, his entire body is poised and focused on the embroidery in front of him...  I have never seen his embroidery 'in person' but recognize his hand - his work has a 'light/shine' all its own... it is what really embodies another well known phrase of Mr. Tamura "Hands are the Exit of the Spirit".  A few years ago, during Teacher's class, Arata-san shared with us the more recent pieces Mr Yamashita had been 'busying' himself with... his mastery of the techniques are widely accepted I think, he continues to head the workshop but now, after all these years, he wanted to see if Japanese embroidery could be more 'expressive'.  He set about trying to show the feeling of freshly fallen snow in his embroidery we were told and then a picture of his embroidery appeared on the screen... he had achieved his goal and he had 'broken' some of the rules of traditional Japanese embroidery techniques.... 'broken' was the word used but in my mind, a true indication of mastery in any field is to know when and how to use the rules and then apply your skills to move beyond them.   In embroidery, the medium of needle and thread then becomes the vehicle to deliver the message, achieve the goal.... it is something I aspire to in all aspects of my life.  Understanding the basics, appreciating the more delicate aspects of any field, learning more advanced techniques to then someday be able to go 'beyond just techniques' and  be able to make your mind and hands deliver a result you thought was possible, is what makes life so exciting for me.  Shortcuts or using other stitches because they are 'easier' keeps us in our comfort zone and makes us feel good BUT there is no harm in trying, failing, trying again with more insight, getting better and enjoying this process... it opens up a world and takes me on a journey I could not have even imagined.  It is worth all of it... in every field - at least in my opinion. 
Hope you all do not mind this type of a post... my hope is that it propels you to just 'try'... and learn to enjoy the process....     

Saturday, November 15, 2014

About plans, UFOs, new starts and honing techniques...

I have recently read many blogs discussing the merits or non-merits of unfinished projects; lots of discussions of if it is worth finishing things if one has 'gleaned' the information one needed from a class etc.  While this is an entirely personal decision, the one point that I would like to make is that there is merit in finishing a project even after one has perhaps moved beyond it technique wise over the years it languished in the unfinished project drawer.  It hones your skill, teaches patience and strengthens discipline and best of all refines your skill and deepens your knowledge... all important traits for any 'current', more difficult project that you might be involved with presently AND if shared with others brings pleasure to friends and family even if you personally may have moved beyond it.  My blog posts since April of this year where my frozen shoulder side lined a lot of my current projects are perfect case in points... I am glad I was fortunate to have  'UFO drawers' with a variety of different types of projects to keep myself busy over the most painful months this year.
Now that I am starting to feel much better about my frozen shoulder I am starting to refocus my thoughts on my current projects and hope to delve into them fully by December.  My shoulder is still 'frozen' but in the absence of pain for long periods of time, I am gaining the range of motion and stamina back little by little.
So, this is the status - I will continue working on Tree of Life by Lynn Payette but will not show various steps here on my blog like I have with the other projects - mainly because I have emailed and called Lynn but have not heard back from her and do not know how she feels about my 'blogging' about her projects. I have decided to keep that project around for the the days that I am too tired to work on something else since all the 'fun stuff' is already done and now I just have to 'finish' some of the branches.
Yesterday, I tried once more to work on my silk embroidery but was not too settled with it yet... so, I looked through all the things I planned to do ....and found three projects that I had prepared, kitted and put together to be worked on at some point.  It is amazing how fast time goes by - they were at the time I kitted things up fairly challenging for me years ago... now they will still be good to work on because they address techniques I want to hone anyway but at the same time I will be truly tracking how long it takes me to work on each element for the first time.  This should give me some insights on my pace which is not fast at all... I will be working them in front of the TV so there may be a bit if time spent being distracted but that is okay.  These projects are all from the textbook the Royal School of Needlework published many years ago and I was lucky to buy it at the RSN shop when visiting Hampton Court then.
One technique that always fascinates me is realistic technique so that is the project I decided to start yesterday.
This is a picture of all the preparatory work I had done years ago:

For those who were hoping for more pictures on the Tree of Life design - I will post a finished picture in the near future.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another UFO uncovered .... on a roll, I guess...

My shoulder is making progress on my silk embroidery much slower than I would like -  a full schedule at work means that I have to take it easy still at home so I guess I will have to try my hand at silk embroidery again for a little while over the weekend.  So, after putzing around a bit, organizing my stitching stash a bit more and looking through things again.... I've selected three UFOs that I really should just complete... not sure which one I will settle on but I'll see if I can get this one done since it doesn't have far to go.  It is another one of Lynn Payette's designs - again some interesting techniques, again one that I stitched on for about a week or so and then put away... I'll check the paperwork again - thank goodness for being organized!  Just have to open the box and get reacquainted with this again. 
Here is where I left off a few years ago:
Tree of Life by Lynn Payette - another UFO...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Little Quail" - Finished!

Another UFO finished!
Here is my version of Lynn Payette's Little Quail.  I checked on my project data for this piece - I worked on it from December 10 - 14,2012 and stitched the quail, applied it to the background fabric and worked on getting all the leaves done - some were wired, some were applied to the fabric.... and then, after learning all the things that were of interest to me at that time the project 'sat' in my UFO drawers!  Some other deadline must have entered into the game plus I remember lots of snow that winter... so who knows what I kept myself busy with after this - my hunch is it was Japanese embroidery.     Well, I am glad to report it is now 'finished' so now it will move to the "to be framed" drawers or just sit propped up until I have the time to select and order the frame.
This proved to be an interesting project, lots of areas of fine stitching, discovery and experimentation of materials and techniques... it has elements of stumpwork techniques with modern applications of materials.

So, here are the pictures :

where I left off in December of 2012

adding all the details - October,2014

After a few evenings of stitching : FINISHED!

An attempt to show the dimensionality of this piece

made some changes from the original directions...


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unearthing two more UFOs + a small triumph!

Okay, so it seems that most people who took the time to answer liked my version of the thicker stem on the crewel piece Autumn Frolic.  I will revisit this project one more time at the end of this month and then make the final decision.

In the meantime I unearthed two other UFOs (unfinished objects) - one of them is a Japanese embroidery class sample I had started early last year.  I have stitched many class samples so that my students have a 'real' life sample available to study during class in adjunct to all the materials they have.  The other is a cute little stumpwork/mixed media project by a EGA/ANG teacher, Lynn Payette.  She has an amazing talent for putting together various techniques and I was intrigued by this little piece.  I was so enthusiastic about learning the techniques that I had most of this done in about four days - and then, after learning about how certain things were accomplished this little project ended up being sidelined and other things took up my attention.  I took out both these projects this time - the Japanese embroidery as one of my bimonthly 'trials' to see if I could even stretch my arm across the frame ever since this frozen shoulder issue started and the "Little Quail" just because I am biting time with finishing things from the UFO drawers.

Well, I can finally stretch my arm out enough and control my needle enough to do Japanese embroidery again!!! Albeit for short periods of time BUT I'll take it!!!!  In time I know I will be able to do more ...

So here are the two projects :
... where I left off years ago....

... where I left off early last year....

Chrysanthemum and leaves completed - 2 days, short periods of stitching BUT still a small triumph!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Autumn Frolic - customer service at its best!... some thoughts

I had a great day today - my small little group of Japanese Embroidery students had all finished one of their projects and we had a 'Finishing Class' in addition to our regular class.  I was quite impressed by all of their efforts and triumphs - they each had a lot to be proud of and I am truly humbled by their willingness to allow me to teach them this beautiful art form.
When I got home, my husband had placed a package near my area.  It was an envelope from Barbara Jackson - the owner/designer of TristanBrooks.  Those of you following my progress of Autumn Frolic may have noted that I was afraid of running out of certain threads and that I had contacted her about this.  Well, she had not only responded immediately to my query but had put the threads in the mail right away.  I was expecting a few threads of the colors that I was worried about but was quite surprised to find that she had included more than enough threads - full skeins in fact!  I had not expected this at all!

I did want to address some of the comments on the Facebook groups and emails I have received while switching gears to this Crewel piece.
It is something my students have heard before.  I appreciate all the positive input but still cannot figure out if the 'likes' on Facebook means that you prefer the thicker stem vs. the thinner stem on my last post since Facebook is a very 'new' thing for me. 
However, I was also a bit surprised and actually saddened to see how many people commented that they were 'afraid' of Crewel - it is one of the oldest forms of embroidery, has many stitches and variations and has a charm all its own.  Plus, most of us embroider as a 'hobby' - so there is no financial downside to taking time to learn and try things AND, most of the time, all embroidery is reversible - one can practice stitches over and over and in time, master them. I personally love to challenge myself, learn about all types of embroidery in this world... there is such an amazing variety available to us.
We are also very fortunate to live in these modern times where so many threads and fabrics are available to us, so many teachers have dedicated their energy in producing top quality classes, kits, online classes, books and youtube/blogs.  It is not at all necessary to start with expensive materials or feel bad if our budget does not allow for silk threads for all projects etc. etc... there are so many embroidery techniques that use basic materials e.g. Hardanger, Mountmellick.
The kit for Autumn Frolic for example not only used authentic, high quality materials but came with clear directions.  All the designers I have featured on this blog so far strive to provide us with as much information and good materials as they can.  There are many other great designers and teachers that I will also feature as I work through my UFOs that I have found to be most supportive.  There are many books one can get through libraries - many of the older books on Crewel for example are absolutely excellent and more thorough than some of the newer publications.  All I can say is, don't be afraid to try something different - it is just needle and thread after all!

Another set of comments that truly puzzled me a bit were related to people feeling 'intimidated' by my stitching.  That is the last thing I want people to feel... it is irrelevant how well one stitches, how fast one completes a project... what is important to me with all my needlework is to learn something and most of all ENJOY my time... it is a 'reward' all my own at the end of a day to be able to take a few moments for myself and "play" with needle and thread.  There are so many very talented embroiderers and the professionals are absolutely amazing in their precise and fast execution.
I am not at all a fast stitcher, just a focused and deliberate one and 'blogging' about things was never meant to make anyone feel bad about their own work... we are all learning and practicing an artform and my intention is just to share a bit of my nutty endeavours.

So, please try your hand at various techniques - give yourself time - and enjoy the process!

Putting things more succintly:

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare,
it is because we do not dare, that they are difficult." 



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Autumn Frolic - some changes/refinements - still pondering

Many of you emailed or commented on the Facebook groups that the project was "a great finish".  While I do appreciate all your positive comments, I was and still am 'bugged' by a few areas.

The main areas of concern to me were the yellow flower/stem and the larger blades of grass - a minor concern is the asymmetry of the right hillock/my shading due to thread issues.
The yellow flower was stitched exactly as drawn and even though I know that Crewel embroidery can be more whimsical, I did not like the way the flower seemed heavier, the single stem stitch stem did not seem to support it well and the center of the flower seemed 'off ' - the perspective of the whole thing was off to me.  The larger blades of grass were supposed to be stitched with two rows of stem stitch per blade of grass in variegated silk...and they seemed stiff to me - like fingers/no movement etc.
Anyway, here are the pictures - before and after - it is one attempt to address these 'issues'... I ran out the yellow wool totally and had to use small bits from my orts area.  I contacted the designer, Barbara Jackson, and she responded immediately, explained that they had used an outside source to package the kits at one point years ago and had run into some problems with that, and that she will mail additional threads to me right away... so when they arrive, I may just take the entire yellow flower out
and stitch it again! I did not have enough of the darker gold color to truly shade the petals so most likely I will stitch it again.  Not too happy with the grass still so I am still not calling this project 'finished'. The hillock had thread issues so that may still be corrected.  If my arm does not cooperate then they will be corrected otherwise I will get busy with my silk embroidery and then this project will disappear in the 'finished' drawers!  ;)

So, here is 'before':
Here is the 'after' - Version 1 :

A close - up showing the changes :

Center of flower : Additional french knots in an attempt to reshape the center
Stem area : addition of another line of stem stitches and filling in with satin stitch and silk threads.
Grasses : using whipped stem stitch and a bit of satin stitch at the tip

I would be curious to know your opinions on the 'issues' I am having with this; it is entirely possible that I am over-thinking all this anyway.
Would truly appreciate your comments

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Autumn Frolic - a finish?

Happy to report that I've stitched the squirrel now and added all the other elements so in theory, I could call this a completed project.

Well, there are a few areas I will revisit - they just did not 'feel quite right' as I stitched them...I will now go back and evaluate this project and also do this on the recent finish of "SH", the Essamplaire sampler.  I will post more pictures after that. 
All in all, this was a lot of fun to stitch...
so here is my version of the squirrel...
took a little while to stitch up this little fellow!

Theoretically a finish - need to revisit a few spots...

Anyway, here are a few pictures of this project for now... I'll post details in the next few days with "final" pictures and answer some of the questions I received... hope to be able to get to my silk embroidery over the weekend-hopefully my arm will cooperate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Continuing on...almost there

Just a bit more to go - took a bit of fiddling because I was running out of of some colors of threads so had to use small bits and pieces... squirrel, background and evaluation/refinement of a few spots left to go... will finish this after work this evening ... fun to work on just took a bit longer than expected thanks to thread issues!
Just a bit more left

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Autumn Frolic" - continuing on

Truly enjoying this little crewel sampler... worked on it for a few hours in the evenings while away at the hotel is the progress to date:
simple stitches but very effective

texture and pattern - simply achieved

Hope all of you enjoy Columbus Day in the States or Thanksgiving in Canada today and take some time out for stitching!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Enjoyable stitching...

Spent a few hours working some of the basic stitches of crewel embroidery.  This kit uses Heathway wool threads and they are a joy to work with - the only thing is that I have a tendency to stitch things smaller and tighter so it takes more rows of stitches to fill an area so I am running out of some of the threads. I literally had to use the small fragments from my orts area to try and fill all the areas of the trunk - took longer and it was hard controlling the tension of each stitch.
Anyway, I enjoyed a few hours of stitching some of the fundamental stitches of crewel embroidery; it is enjoyable to find the rhythm of a stitch and not have to worry about counting - both are fun but it is a nice change from all the figuring out of the Montenegrin stitch on the "SH" sampler - finished the top area and plan to take this project with me to work on in the hotel room after the meetings scheduled in the next few days.
Picking things back up...
Simple stitches - nice texture!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Switching gears...

I have been wanting to work on silk embroidery for a long while now... tried to do so but my shoulder/arm is still not strong enough yet.  So, I delved back into my UFO areas this time determined to find something on non-countable ground.
I am switching gears from samplers on linen to crewel on twill.  This was a project started on a trip a very long while ago.  It is a nice little piece by TristanBrooks using a variety of crewel stitches.  The theme of the piece is season appropriate - acorns and squirrels abound outside.
This is how I left this piece off years ago

A few hours into stitching this again....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Fun Project - a quick finish

Started this little project in the hotel room after a meeting on Thursday evening, stitched a bit on it on Friday evening and finished it on Saturday... fun little interlude and the first 'seasonal' project for this year. It is the one that appealed to me most when I looked through the drawer with the small, quick projects when packing for the meeting - can't leave home without my needlework!  It is a design by Chessie & Me.
A quick but fun project!

cross stitch over one thread

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Completed last band of "SH" sampler....

Completed the last band of the "SH" sampler...
This band took some time to complete but was intriguing in many ways... all the configurations of the Montenegrin stitch as it turns and twists around this band required some thought initially but after a while it all flowed quite naturally.  It was a band I had skipped initially because the shoulder pain was not allowing me to think clearly... and in many ways I think this band is best done after 'figuring' out the Montenegrin stitch in smaller doses in the other bands. 
This then completes this sampler - I will take more pictures of the entire sampler in the next few days but had to post the completion on the last day of September.

This sampler was an enjoyable one to stitch! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tackling part of a band - most interesting designs and stitches!

I decided to finish up the band I had partially stitched before. I became worried about not having enough of the yellow green silk and discovered that the other bag of silk in my stash had a different dye lot.  I decided that I would not stress out about this but rather figure out a way to blend in the new dye lot.
On first glance this band and the remaining area did not seem too interesting to me - just more blackwork and satin stitches but then I realized there was much more to this area than I had initially anticipated.  It provided me with hours of most enjoyable study and stitching!
This little band had an interesting interpretation of design and stitch placement... blackwork, satin stitches and trellis stitches.  I decided to work the trellis stitches in different orientations to see if working direction and stitch orientations mattered and if they enhanced the textural quality of the design.  Initially when I was placing the blackwork outlines I did not quite understand why there were such 'weird' petals, both shapes and angles seemed to be all quite arbitrary BUT then when I was working out the details of the trellis stitch and other patterns and color placement I was most intrigued by how such a small area allowed me to obtain a deeper appreciation on how to turn angles and 'fit' the detached trellis stitch to the shape.  This was perhaps one of the most interesting areas to stitch on this sampler and a great study!

Here are some pictures of the completed band and then some closeups of the trellis stitch in progress...

A most surprising band...
An interesting interpretation of a motif and stitches - don't remember stitching something like this satin stitch area before

Trellis Stitch in progress

The trellis stitch is detached and quite textural
Hope you can see the dimensionality of the trellis stitch in this motif

Just a note on some of the questions asked about this sampler and my choice of colors etc.  I am a bit hesitant to post all the details on a blog so all I will say here is that I am working this from a chart that was made by Margriet (The Essamplaire).  I chose a linen color that closely resembled the one of the original shown in the chart and I am using all the same colors of silk as specified.  The only change I made was in the color 'Beige' - I decided to use AVAS 4236 after trying another color similar to the one specified and the one specified.  I felt that this way the stitching stands out evenly all over instead of having areas of bold color and other areas that are hard to see from afar.  The only other difference is the unanticipated fear of 'running out' of the yellow green and realizing there was a dye lot difference... in the end this turned out to be a nice thing.
Please email me personally if there are any other questions ... hope you understand...  I know you all like to see my close up photographs but it is  an area of concern especially for designers who depend on the income from their reproductions and designs and one of the reasons I have yet to post my own designs here....   

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interesting study in Blackwork

Another band completed - a most interesting study in working out the pathways to achieve the patterning on both front and back -  reversible blackwork is always fun for me.  I enjoy working out the pathways to achieve reversibility which in my mind is the intriguing aspect of Holbein stitch and perhaps the reason so many samplers show this stitch historically.  For example,  the pineapple area could have been one involving a lot of counting if worked horizontally or vertically...however, working it diagonally made it easy and the pattern developed almost automatically. 
Hope to get this sampler done by the end of the month (end of the week ideally)... 
changed the yellow green color - different dyelot/same color because I thought I would run out of the brighter yellow green.  Worked out fine in this case because the darker dyelot stands out more.  Added the lighter yellow green as filling stitches.

The above picture shows the bands left to go - the one above this band and a bit more left to go on the band below.  Turns out I did have enough of the original brighter yellow green dyelot but because I was not sure I decided to blend in the new darker shade by distributing it through these remaining bands... in a way the darker shade stands out more in the blackwork area so it all works out anyway.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another band ...

Another band - just two and a half bands left to go!
The positioning of the colors are a bit different - also chose to work some areas in a pulled thread version of the four sided stitch just to add some texture 

Added a zig-zag line of stitches in the area marked with my stiletto...the space was bothering me a bit so I decided to adapt the design a bit

On the shoulder front - the recurring pain cancelled all plans for the weekend and  I stayed home 'resting' with the hot water bottle and this sampler.  This pain was different to the frozen shoulder pain from before - it was probably caused by my falling/tripping over a chair while teaching my Japanese Embroidery class last weekend ... I had been successful in avoiding hitting the right shoulder, my forehead and any other areas as I fell backwards but the back of my shoulder had hit the chair anyway... this after an active week in the office had caused the area to be quite achy by the end of the week.  Well, resting had helped but then another treatment using Indian acupressure technique, this time on my foot, relaxed the area completely last night and things have remained 'comfortable' since.  Amazing results with simple techniques!  Thank you all for your emails and good wishes.
Appreciate your kind comments on my stitching too...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Continuing on .... "SH" sampler

Stitching into the night with more Montenegrin stitch variations to keep my mind off the shoulder issues.  Even though I optimistically reported that most of the pain is gone most of the time,  I am finding that after a lot of activity some of the pain returns and the spasm like pain intensifies at times.  The solution is to allow time for rest and a hot water bottle....and something to keep myself distracted with... that is how I spent some hours in the middle of the night... and also how I will be spending most of today...
here is last night's progress:
Last few bands left to go...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

More on "SH" sampler...

Finished the band with the spot motifs - did not reproduce this band exactly because I wanted the motifs to stand out separately.  The original has areas where motifs bump into each other.  Some of the motifs are  quite pretty and I could easily see them worked into future projects. 

Spot motifs - band stitched with some changes

will add to the area after finishing the remaining bands


Friday, September 12, 2014

"SH" sampler - continued

It is hard for me to continue on with this sampler these days... it is an interesting one to stitch but at this point I am really missing working on my Japanese embroidery and working on some of my own designs.

Some good news to report on the frozen shoulder front - I am finally pretty much pain free thanks to Indian acupressure techniques.  It was such a 'simple'  treatment (SIX 15 to 30 sec. applications of pressure)administered periodically over an afternoon and I have been pain free for the most part since!  Amazing stuff... my range of motion is now slowly but surely getting better as I work through the exercises... if I exert myself too much (nonstop activity for about 6-8hours) then I do still have pain and need to rest the arm for a few hours/day.  Being pain free for most of the day/most movements is such a relief after the constant, 9+ level of pain since April, the range of motion is still restricted but getting better... so I am slowly resuming all my activities and picking up all the things that were 'dropped' so suddenly. 
The good thing about this sampler is that I do not have too much more to go on this project and hope to just get it done before it disappears for years into the UFO drawer again.  It is a good sampler with a fair amount of complexity.  If you ever wanted to figure out the Montenegrin stitch in all of it's variations this sampler is a really good way.

The sampler has a band of upside down animals/critters and spot motifs... I took a break from some of the bands and started working on this area - made a spur of the moment decision to 'upright' this band and have it work with all the others...not sure if this was wise but at this point it will remain this way on 'my' version.  So here is the progress report on this sampler so far:
SH Sampler - 2nd to the last band

SH Sampler - last band stitched not upside down as charted
Have a good weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2014

"SH" sampler - continued slow progress

Been a bit erratic lately and not stitching as much as I would have liked.
So only some progress to report... lots of Montenegrin stitches going in various directions and setting up the next band. 
My plan is to get a fair amount of this sampler done in this upcoming week - let's see how things go.
Here is where I am with this at them moment:
Establishing bands and Montenegrin stitches

Blackwork - Holbein - reversible

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"SH" sampler and a new idea & practice project

Well, I did not make as much progress as I would have liked thanks to my erratic shoulder issues.
So, I do not have much to show....
however, I've had ample 'thinking' time though and it seems that I am coming closer and closer to making a decision regarding some of my activities.  It is interesting to note that the very thing that attracted me to a certain project or study years ago ceases to challenge me after some years.  Not because the challenge disappeared but more because my heart wants to do something different, perhaps because my skills improved/got added to and suddenly the very thing that intrigued me about a program is the thing I find constraining and limiting.  I am slowly realizing fully and consciously admitting to myself something that my heart was already 'murmuring' to me years ago but I was not listening to that little voice then because I was still convinced that it is best to 'finish' something once started....lately,  I am not so very sure about this idea and long held belief anymore... perhaps it is time for me to explore my own path... some of my own designs and ideas ...  let's see where all this leads me ... I have already come to a decision on this but want to wait a bit before taking action - it is best not to decide 'major' things when in pain and in a 'weakened' mode.  Perhaps, once I feel better, I will continue to find a way to continue all my activities at my usual pace and intensity.
Anyway, this is a small amount of progress on "SH" :
"SH" sampler - resuming where I left off years ago
Some of you may have read my post in other arenas that I am desperately looking to find (and purchase) fine cotton threads (DMC or Anchor Special a broder No. 20 and finer) ... I have an idea for a project... and it would be nice to work the project in the older, more traditional threads.  I have received some leads that I will follow up on but if any of you know of a place or have some of these threads in your stash and are willing to part with them, I would be most grateful.  I was eager to start working on some of the ideas and started a small practice piece this evening...  exploring areas and some techniques... this is just a start...
Exploring and figuring out ....