Friday, December 4, 2015

Frances Cheyney (1664) - December- progress report

This sampler is proving to be a lot of fun to stitch!
The band below was really fun to work out even though it was time consuming.  I am finding it hard to keep to the time allotted and stop working on this sampler now that the bands ahead are even more intriguing but I know I have to get back to my other stitching.
Here is the sampler showing the past weekend's progress:
Frances Cheyney - buttonhole stitch in all it's beauty

Thanks so much for all your kind comments and 'likes' on Facebook as well as here on my blog.  It would be great to see them here so I could thank you all personally.
A number of you apparently have this chart/kit in your stash but have not started it yet - all I can say is that this sampler has been an enjoyable one for me to stitch so far - it demands you to be patient and not get too bored with the repetitious nature of some areas; it requires a methodical approach and accurate attention to tension of stitches, has a variety of techniques.   

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Frances Cheyney 1664 - November- progress report

Here is the progress on this sampler to date.  I will be focusing my attention mainly on other projects and will continue to put in about 20 hours or a weekend each month on samplers and other projects so my progress reports may be spaced out a bit.
This has been enjoyable stitching so far although the repetitious nature of Band 1 was a bit boring.

Wishing you all a peaceful Thanksgiving holiday - I know I am thankful for all the ways my needlework enhances my life...it is a quiet haven for me in these changing times. 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Frances Cheyney (1664) - moving along

Seems like this sampler generated a lot of interest.  So far I have established all the parameters and started stitching some of the bands.  Here is the final band that is composed of predominantly satin stitches and detached buttonhole.  The smaller three pronged detached buttonhole areas would lend themselves well to bullion stitches or combination of detached buttonhole on the side arms and bullion in the middle but I have decided not to change too much on this sampler. 
My plan from now on is devote approximately 20 hours to 'other needlework' per month... so I will post periodically as I finish bands.
So here is a picture of the band I just completed.







Friday, October 30, 2015

Projects & plans for 2015 : New start - new goals

These past months I have made good progress on the Hardanger tablecloth.  I cannot post things here since this will be my EGA Master Craftsman submission; I hope to submit it in Spring 2016.  I am enjoying the MC programs again ever since I made the decision to not impose deadlines on my submission times - it freed me up to enjoy the process again especially in these stressful times.

On my birthday, I decided to start working on a sampler that has intrigued me for a long time.  At the same time for years I wondered if I had the skills necessary to do this sampler justice.  Well, it is time to find out... this will be one of the samplers that will occupy my time in the upcoming months.  I will also add one sampler from my WIP (works in progress) pile to the mix for a bit of variety should the need arise.
My primary goal, however, now that I am feeling better and am free of the shoulder issues, is to devote the majority of my time back to silk embroidery again.  The MasterCraftsman submissions will be another priority and the third area of my attention will be to add other types of needlework (samplers, researching techniques, WIP etc.) into this mix.  Looking forward to resuming my 'old' ways again after such a long spell...

So, without further ado, here is the sampler started on my birthday earlier this month :

Frances Cheyney (1664) - a kit by The Essamplaire
Thank you, Margriet Hogue for allowing me to show my progress here on my blog.  Please respect copyright - we rely on designers to allow us to reproduce such lovely works.

These past months I have made good progress on the Hardanger tablecloth.  I cannot post things here since this will be my EGA Master Craftsman submission; I hope to submit it in Spring 2016.  I am enjoying the MC programs again ever since I made the decision to not impose deadlines on my submission times - it freed me up to enjoy the process again especially in these stressful times.   On my birthday, I decided to start working on a sampler that has intrigued me for a long time.  At the same time for years I wondered if I had the skills necessary to do this sampler justice.  Well, it is time to find out... this will be one of the samplers that will occupy my time in the upcoming months.  I will also add one sampler from my WIP (works in progress) pile to the mix for a bit of variety should the need arise.  My primary goal, however, now that I am feeling better and am free of the shoulder issues, is to devote the majority of my time back to silk embroidery again.  The MasterCraftsman submissions will be another priority and the third area of my attention will be to add other types of needlework (samplers, researching techniques, WIP etc.) into this mix.  Looking forward to resuming my 'old' ways again after such a long spell...   So, without further ado, here is the sampler started on my birthday earlier this month :   Frances Cheyney (1664) - a kit by The Essamplaire

These past months I have made good progress on the Hardanger tablecloth.  I cannot post things here since this will be my EGA Master Craftsman submission; I hope to submit it in Spring 2016.  I am enjoying the MC programs again ever since I made the decision to not impose deadlines on my submission times - it freed me up to enjoy the process again especially in these stressful times.   On my birthday, I decided to start working on a sampler that has intrigued me for a long time.  At the same time for years I wondered if I had the skills necessary to do this sampler justice.  Well, it is time to find out... this will be one of the samplers that will occupy my time in the upcoming months.  I will also add one sampler from my WIP (works in progress) pile to the mix for a bit of variety should the need arise.  My primary goal, however, now that I am feeling better and am free of the shoulder issues, is to devote the majority of my time back to silk embroidery again.  The MasterCraftsman submissions will be another priority and the third area of my attention will be to add other types of needlework (samplers, researching techniques, WIP etc.) into this mix.  Looking forward to resuming my 'old' ways again after such a long spell...   So, without further ado, here is the sampler started on my birthday earlier this month :   Frances Cheyney (1664) - a kit by The Essamplaire




Saturday, October 17, 2015

Plans and schedules are meant to be changed it seems...

Thanks to all of your well wishes on my birthday - I was amazed how many of you remembered!  We made a glorious 3 day weekend of celebrating the day since Monday was Columbus Day.  
I really wanted to stay home this weekend since we have hardly spent time at home lately.  The weather was absolutely excellent - beautiful Indian summer days that add to the celebration each year. We had planned to go to my parents' home for dinner but as I stepped out of the house I seriously twisted my ankle...got in the car anyway but then the pain was too much to deal with so we turned around after just  a few miles on the highway... spent Sunday at home too with my foot elevated ... BUT I didn't mind because I had finally started a sampler that has been in my stash for years!  Initially, this sampler, though intriguing, intimidated me a bit... now I find myself looking forward to the challenge ahead!  My plan had been to post things on my birthday in the evening but that changed; then I planned to post about my progress to date this weekend but that too will have to wait... we got a call from the doctor this morning and head back to Florida tomorrow instead of the latter part of next week as planned.  I will take this project, along with the Hardanger tablecloth with me but I suspect that our time will be spent differently this time...things do not look good with my father-in-law's health.
Plans this year seem to be elusive in our lives ... rolling with the punches is a better description of our life lately.
Here are just a few pictures showing some of the colors of Fall in New England - the colors are not as brilliant this year because of the dry summer and we are not yet at peak color - maybe by this upcoming week but Fall in New England is quite special every year.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Traveling with my needlework

Since my post with pictures of my large hardanger tablecloth project, many of you wondered and asked how I take such a large frame with me everywhere.
Well, we just got back from another flight to Florida and I wanted share these pictures with you to show you how portable things really are!

This is ALL I take with me : the tube contains my horizontal bars with my fabric rolled onto it;  the zippered pouch has the everything else, the magnifier fits into the padded pouch next to my laptop in my carry-on;  if my project is smaller then it fits into my carry-on and I do not need the tube. 

Contents of the zippered pouch: clamp, vertical bars, another pouch with all my threads and my needle book and tools and thimble case; the tube showing my wrapped fabric and horizontal  bars
All set up in less that five minutes and ready to go!

I have tried to stitch in hand and with just a hoop also and so far I am not so sure if I like the results so much - I guess I have been used to scroll bars and stretcher bars and the drum tight feeling of slate frames or similar frames like the Millennium frame above.  It is less 'hassle' for me to have the frame set up and have both my hands free to stitch;  I also prefer less wrinkles and 'handling/crumpling/rolling/holding' things  in one hand and stitching with the other.  The sewing method is not as accurate for me so far - the threads sometimes twist or my needle sometimes pierces the thread of the previous stitch etc. I guess I still have to practice and perfect the technique of sewing in hand or with just a hoop.  I prefer the control on many things that a frame affords me - I can concentrate on the stitch and the tension and texture with a frame but find myself fidgeting a lot with stitching in hand.  I will keep trying but I suspect that my conclusions will be the same as many times before.  It is a matter of preference of course but I do want to continue practicing in hand for a bit longer this time. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Good things....

Well, lots of good things happening in my little world :
- I am finally fever free and feeling 'normal' since Saturday
- my frozen shoulder is definitely a thing of the past - most range of movement has been restored thanks to Indian acupressure techniques and daily, gentle movement
- all tests I had them do to try and get to the bottom of these cough/fever/cold episodes revealed ALL numbers well within the range!
My final conclusion : refocus my mind and find a different way to deal with things.  So, I am on that quest now discovering all sorts of new things!

Since Saturday, I have continued my refining and editing of my needlework stash area AND I finally 'found' the sampler that I had slated to start this year... it was very logically kitted and placed in the 2015 folder but then had been placed back in the old system!  So, I will start this on my birthday this year instead. 
It is very therapeutic to just play with stash... after the 'fun' times these past years,  I am finally resetting my goals and daring to plan again!
I am continuing to try my hand at stitching in hand, watching the U.S.Open tennis matches and organizing/playing... just enjoying the Labor Day weekend at home.
More travel planned... my father-in-law's issues remain and will continue to impact our lives... but that is okay - he needs our help;
Thank you all for all your encouraging words.... and look for more needlework related posts on various topics from now on! 
"Savor each moment!" was my motto at the beginning of the year ... plan to do just that!  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stitching simply? Needlework essentials - a matter of preference...


These past few days I have been thinking about how I am so used to always taking a "few" needlework things with me when traveling  anywhere.  I do not even consider them as 'weight' or 'cumbersome'; they are for me more precious than my clothes actually.
With all the travel this summer I had decided to work on a Hardanger tablecloth and here are some pictures my husband took of me working away in the hospital (some without my even knowing!) In case you wonder - I am wearing a mask throughout because I was running a fever, had a cough and cold and am still dealing with the aftermath of all the 'fun' we have been having this summer...



I have been wondering why I could not have just taken the project, a hoop and maybe a book-light/small magnifier combo with me - didn't need any books etc. since I was developing the design.... I realize that over the years I have just become accustomed to a frame, two handed embroidery and good, magnified light along with good tools (scissors, tweezers, thimbles, laying tool, good needles and pins) and find I do not stitch at all otherwise.

I do have all the various types of paraphernalia as you may suspect in my stash and have been trying to convince myself all last week that I need to perhaps try out my hoops, sit on hoops, hoops with lap stands or clamps etc. and simplify things a bit.  I have even taken them all out but then keep hesitating! I have not even tried them again yet because I do not want to crumple up my fabric!

I posted a question on this same topic last night in a few Facebook groups because I wanted to see what the majority of people use : a hoop, a frame, a stand or in hand when they stitch samplers or work on hardanger type projects.
I am intrigued by the answers so far - most seem to use smaller hoops or Q snaps or just stitch in hand and some use frames only for larger projects.  
So, I am not sure if becoming so pedantic about things is such a great trait - after all, beautiful needlework can and is done all over the world with simply needle and thread! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I'm still around!

Life has been busier than planned with activities that are quite different to the ones we originally thought we would be busying ourselves with.  Since May it seems we have traveled all over the East Coast!
Just wanted to let you all know that I am still here and that I am still stitching - various things are being lugged around on the plane to give me something to keep busy with - in May it was Bead embroidery, June and July it has been mainly Hardanger (a tablecloth)... I used to think that only filament silk reflects your inner thoughts and calmness in the shine and evenness of each stitch... not so,  even Hardanger reflects the inner calmness or turmoil... lots to worry about lately - been in a strange bubble of  ICU/hospitals/nursing homes with perhaps tough decisions ahead.  The summer is  marching on relentlessly and I still have to plant the petunias and tomatoes plants I bought at the end of May!
This entry is most appropriately described by a word in German "Lebenszeichen"... it means a sign of life... I am still here and still stitching....my thanks to all of you who emailed inquiring how I was doing.... oh yes, all those Indian acupressure techniques and stretching exercises are finally showing good results - I am able to move my arm and shoulder up quite a bit more for the past few months!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Healing properties - not just in foods and medicines...

Have not posted for a while - life has been a bit of a challenge lately.  The 'flu' with all it's complications has been an uninvited guest. Anyway, I have not been able to do much of anything but decided last weekend that I had to 'do something'.... so here is a glimpse of what I have been trying to focus on - again, I find that bead embroidery has such charm and the beads have healing properties all their own - the glistening beads, the texture - you cannot help but feel better! 

JAPANESE BEAD EMBROIDERY - trying to focus one bead at a time






Monday, February 2, 2015

Continuing on... focus, intention, new beginnings...

This past month has been action packed as always.
My needlework time has been very focused on continuing to use various types of needlework as a form of physical therapy.  I am at this point longing to get back to my silk embroidery and continue to strive to regain control over my shoulder movement... things have improved considerably but I am still not happy with my silk embroidery results yet...still issues with tension/shine so I am continuing to figure out exercises to try and build up strength and flexibility and regain more range of motion.

Earlier in January I was trying to sort out many things; when going through my stash I came upon a sampler kit by The Examplarery - it is a simple sampler, predominantly cross stitch but one that had appealed to me because of the color combinations.  Joanne's kits are always a joy to work with; her instructions are clear, her diagrams are so explicit and her stitch pathways eliminate the need to figuring them out which is something I enjoy so much so most of the time I do not use the specified pathways just to keep it interesting.  Her classes are an amazing way to gain so many more insights and put things in historical context.
Anyway, I was trying to figure out what I could do to keep exercising the motion required when pulling silk up and down through the fabric - and decided that the Ann Bowers sampler from my stash would be a good fit... simple stitches but perfect to try and build stamina and increase control.
Had it ready to start in my stash for years!


All the movements are still painful but the arm/shoulder feels stronger as I go through the motions - so I know this will also yield good results in time.
So, I will continue to practice my only intention for this year : Savor each moment and continue working on this Newport, Rhode Island sampler.  The color combinations are quite intriguing!
Here is my progress to date :
Add caption
  So this year begins, much like the last ended, with my still trying to overcome the issues relating to my frozen shoulder... continued lessons in patience, gratitude, focus and intention... amazing power of mind over matter!
And, in some ways this is an example that sometimes it is good to have a variety of things in my stash.    

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Sharing....

These past few days have been fairly busy and unsettled...
many of you know that I am pretty new to actively participating on Facebook or even sharing my needlework through my blog.  My needlework was and continues to be something I love to do as a way to settle down and cherish the day and think about all the events... I usually carve out my time in the evening or early morning and do try to keep my hands busy every day... with some forms of needlework this is also a very meditative process for me.

My shoulder issues have hindered a lot of my activity these past months but as I evaluated all the activities of the recent past at the end of last week, I got word that my grandmother's younger sister was not doing well and had been admitted to a London hospital.  I had had a 'weird' feeling about her recently and so this news obtained from an email from my father and a post on Facebook from her granddaughter made me stay up all night - and stitch and think.

I may have bored many of you and perhaps even irritated many of you with my posts to try and assess what you wanted me to do with the little Schwalm bird design... and I do apologize if I did and for any faux pas I may have committed with posting them on various Facebook groups....
BUT this news reminded me of the support and love I always received not just from my grandmother but also from my grandmother's sister - she was closest to having the feeling that my grandmother was still around.  She was most interested in needlework and was always interested in learning about new techniques - she was doing Goldwork and taking classes not too long ago!  I used to send her pictures of my work and we exchanged many emails and phone calls with needlework being one of the points of discussion.  This past year she was not doing very well, was trying to make the best of it all but her physical conditions were starting to wear her down.  She was courageous enough to undertake the flight from London to Toronto to meet everyone... I of course talked to her on the phone and could hear her despair over the phone but in true form she was more concerned about my shoulder than her own issues!  She stated that she couldn't even access her computer because of arthritis anymore and apologized if she had missed emails and longed to see my needlework up close and personal.  When we hung up the phone that Sunday, we both knew that we had to meet her - we rearranged schedules (not hard, since I was not really doing anything) and a few days later we drove up there accompanied by my parents.
This is when I realized that not framing everything was a good thing in some ways - I was able to pack a lot of my recent projects into two portfolio bags and take them up for her to see.  In her haste to get ready and meet us for lunch at the restaurant, (her treat! and we couldn't talk her out of that... ) she had forgotten her glasses at her daughter's home but that didn't bother her - she borrowed her brother's glasses and then we spent a glorious afternoon 'examining' my needlework with glasses, without glasses, with my magnifier or just up close in the sunlight.... she forgot about her pain, I forgot about mine, she was not interested in resting in the afternoon or having tea AND this was the best example of sharing.  A few years ago, when I visited my grandmother in India, she too enjoyed an evening just looking at all the pictures of my work on the computer screen - in those days my grandmother hardly came out to the dining room and preferred to eat in her room...but both of them got ready, came out and both of them enjoyed seeing what I was up to and 'sharing my needlework' with them will be my last memory of them.
In retrospect, I am amazed at the similarities - both of them 'forgot' even if only for a short time about the trials of age, both of them loved hearing about needlework techniques and both asked detailed questions.  Interestingly both 'needlework sessions' with each of them had generations of family around us, and both times they had one of their brothers there...both times all the rest of the family, males and females, were all interested to see ALL of the things which absolutely amazed me!

So, if my 'blogging'  and showing my needlework has this effect on some of you 'out there', then I will continue sharing some of my work here on my blog.  I have however decided that I will restrict my Facebook activities - I need to guard my time and many a time I was too busy reading and following links etc. and spending too much time with all that. It is time to refocus my energies.

So here are a few pictures of my great aunt from that afternoon last summer - I will always be thankful to have had the opportunity to have met and known this extremely intelligent lady for most of my life, thankful to her for teaching us some of the chess moves in Wales and Germany, making excellent scones and many amazing dishes we had never ever even heard of when we were kids, thanks for all the love and support you showed each of us at all times... she shared a lot of herself... I will always remember her grace, her smile and all her amazing talents - from needlework to cooking to just living.... thanks for teaching us all the many ways of sharing!

 
       

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thank you : Survey - little Schwalm bird design

Thank you all for giving me an idea as to what most of you prefer.  Some of you had difficulty commenting here (?)  so I appreciate you emailing me through the blog or posting things on Facebook.  You can continue noting your preference here on my blog...
I will tally things up in about 10 days and then research all the options, figure out the logistics and see how I can 'enable' all of you!
I truly appreciate all your compliments on my little design - it was just something I put together to commemorate a very nice Sunday afternoon I spent with a needlework friend 'in person'.
It may take me awhile to work out all the details because February, March and May are going to be very busy months for me on all fronts BUT I will be in touch with you all as soon as I have figured it all out.
Thanks for your help!   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Need your input : my little bird using Schwalm techniques

This is a different type of a post - it is a request to all of you to help me.

I have received so many positive comments and 'likes' on my little bird and many of you have emailed me to request a chart, a kit or an online class!  I had never expected such an amazing response when I posted one of my own designs here and on Facebook groups and truly thank you all.

Could you all help me? - I know there are surveys etc. I could look into and send out but may I ask you all just to leave a note as to what you might like in the comment form below?  You could just note your preference : chart - kit - online class/online forum.  

It will give me a general idea what most of you prefer... thanks so very much!
Please help me figure out what you all want by leaving a comment below

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year... a new approach

New Year's Day : a start and finish...
                             one goal...  

Over the past few weeks the whole world seems to be focusing on new resolves in the coming year...
 in the stitching world lots of people are poised with needle in hand, ready to ring in the New Year with a newly acquired project, a new sampler, a new technique they have always wanted to try.  The excitement surrounding this new start is readily evident when reading all the blogs and Facebook comments, stitchalongs etc.
I have been sorely tempted to join in and start yet another project but have decided not to let the general fervor and the 'new year - new project idea' get to me this time and focus my energies on working on projects I already own and research things I have put on the back-burner for far too long.

With that said, on a whim,  I did start a small new project last night about five minutes after midnight, and finished it this evening... the little snowman design was posted on a blog I follow(thank you Renate) a few days ago as a Freebie - it was one that made me smile... so last night I picked up my needle, got some of the materials/threads that were on my mind  'to try'  and I spent some time on this first day of the New Year stitching my little adaptation of the design - over one, using Pearsall's silk (white thread) contrasting it with Soie d'Alger (black thread) and cotton DMC and Coats tatting cotton #70.  I decided to add a little saying that will remind me of my only wish and goal this year on the back side.  In addition, I decided to use one of the little Plexiglas stands I had bought earlier last year... so, I ushered in the New Year with a new start and finish while using many things that were new to me and gained some idea about Pearsall's silk - it is a beautiful silk that is sadly no longer in production.

The serendipity of this unplanned project struck me as I was  stitching the little snowman.
In the past weeks I have been thinking about all the events this past year... the painful frozen shoulder times had made me wonder about all the stash I had accumulated over the years - it had been bothering me for quite a few years because no matter how much or how fast I stitch I will never be able to stitch all the things I really do want to ... AND I really still want to explore some areas for which I hardly have the time!
I was not able to work on my silk embroidery at all because of the pain and limited movement  of  my shoulder and arm - it was most worrying and frustrating until I decided to just try and work on some of the 'other' types of projects in my stash.  Interestingly enough I have learned a lot from this experience and come to be at peace with many things.  A lot of people who do Japanese embroidery have decided to 'let go' of all the other types of embroidery and only focus on Japanese embroidery.  I had put everything else aside when I was focused on learning the techniques (Phases 1 -10) for a year and a half but then realized that I just could not walk away from other embroideries that intrigue me still.  The frozen shoulder episode made me embrace all my needlework projects again - I was/still am not able to work on my silk embroidery thanks to my shoulder but I was able to work on so many other types of needlework and finish a lot of projects.   My shoulder made me abandon all my plans and deadlines and literally stopped me in my tracks for a few months on ALL my activities.   I have gained some new insights in how much energy it takes to override the 'pain' and focus your thoughts, learned a lot about the benefits of acupressure, learned a lot about embracing each day and making the most of each moment we are given.  I am thankful for so many things I learned, grateful to all the people who helped me, and most of all I realize now that I am 'okay' with not having deadlines and goals relating to my needlework hobby... so my goal for 2015 is a 'simple' one: I want to be mindful of each moment I have ...  I will continue to focus my energies on all the needlework techniques that interest me AND continue to refine my techniques BUT I want to spend my time focusing more on the 'NOW', this very moment, and not be distracted by all the sensory distractions bombarding us at all times each day.  And yes, I include blogs and Facebook as one of the main sources of distraction for me recently... because even though one can learn a lot ... it can also be a source of 'wanting more stuff'... and then at some point this becomes futile and robs me of the little time I may have to work on my own projects.

As  I was stitching the little snowman I realized why this design had appealed to me when I first saw it;  the image of snowflakes is instantaneously there when I read the word; and yet,  I find that many times the essence of something is lost in the clutter of words and we forget to marvel in the beauty and uniqueness of the moment/snowflake. I have always found it is better to sit quietly and spend some time figuring out a stitch and enjoy and understand the materials and techniques instead of looking for instant 'fixes'... in my profession there are many times you can experience this 'being in the zone' feeling;  Japanese embroidery is also that way but what I realized this past year was that all needlework can be that way too - it is up to me to switch off all the distractions and go beyond the pain and be mindful of each moment, each stitch.

So, I wish you all the Best in 2105 - thank you for all your support and kind comments especially on the Little Bird project I designed and posted recently - I am overwhelmed by the 'Likes' and comments and requests to teach ...  I am thinking of many things BUT for now I am happy just 'savoring this present moment'  ... here is today's start and finish - an adaptation :
Original Freebie design -  stitched over one thread of linen

My additions to the design

Front of my adaptation

Started and Finished project on January 1,2015

Backside of project - reminding me of my new approach in 2015
Backside of project showing the little plexi glass stand