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!