Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Weekend Progress

We had our monthly Japanese embroidery meeting. We spent it going over the flax leaf effect on the wrapping paper. I didn't get far and it all has to come out as the shape isn't exactly right, but still I got the idea. I'm going to give it another go this weekend.

Bouquet from the Heart of Japan - JEC
We also talked about the next phase. Our aim is to finish phase 1 before March-April when we plan on bringing in a teacher to start the next phase. I decided to do a combined phase 2-3 piece that way I'll only have to pay for one kit. I've already picked my piece out. This time we'll have homework to do before the teacher comes so I'll have to work hard on finishing my bouquet before March. It's either that or buying a second frame.

Hiogi - JEC
Sunday I spent it working on my other Japanese embroidery project. I'm at the halfway point. I think I need one or two more sessions to get all the flowers done. After this, I'll have to put in some scattered seed beads in the background which would take another session or two. 

Hanabatake - Margaret Lee
I started this piece at the end of December 2017. I'm aiming to complete the embroidery and finishing before the end of December of this year. I have a few things starting in October so I hope I don't get too distracted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - Lattice Work

This coming Saturday is my monthly Japanese embroidery meeting. I like to show up at meetings with at least an idea of what I want to work on. At this month's meeting I want to finish the wrapping paper. The last layer of which is the flax leaf top stitching. Before I can do that I need to tie down the lattice I had put in.

In order to tie down the lattice, I needed to create my own couching silk. Basically, I'm taking a single strand of silk, splitting it into four and then combining two of them into a single twisted thread. I was mainly doing this by eye. Sometimes it was easy, and at other times it was very hard pulling the silk apart as it tangles.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

To give you an idea, from right to left: one strand of flat silk, half a strand of flat silk and the last two are a quarter strand of flat silk.

Since I was making couching silk and working on lattices, I figured this was a great time to work on the other lattice on this piece: the valerians.

I love how they look quilted. I wonder if I did them properly though as there are horizontal lines showing. I guess I will find out at the meeting on Saturday. I think once I get the wrapping paper done, I need to look at doing some Japanese knots. There are many elements that need it, like the chrysanthemums, valerians and bush clover flowers.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hanabatake - Part 9

Why part 9? Because the leaves are all done! I spent the day at home Saturday and powered through the rest of them.

There are still a few leaves here and there but I can now work on something that isn't green and gold. It will be a relief to add more colors to this piece.

Not to say things are moving any faster now. It takes some organization keeping track of the different bead combinations for the smaller flowers.

Good thing I have a plan already. Before starting, I marked out my color chart so I know exactly which color combination I'm using it.

It helps me stay in the flow and not have to stop and consult the pictures in the magazine.

The piece is moving along nicely.

September TUSAL

Lots of white threads in my jar this month as I'm putting in a lot of time on beading Hanabatake. Again most of my more colorful strands went into my Sajou tin as I spent a lot of time my Japanese embroidery piece.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Leaves, leaves and more leaves

Even switching projects I can't get away from them. We had a long weekend in Canada and I took advantage to work a bit on Hanabatake. The plan was to work on it one day and go back to working on my Japanese embroidery piece (where there are still leaves to stitch). Things were going so well that I never switched. Here is what it looked like from the last update.

I started on Friday afternoon, putting in seven leaves.

Sunday, I put in 15 leaves.

Monday, I put in 18 leaves.

It was very slow going. There's lots of starts and stops, which I dislike immensely. Each leaf takes about half an hour or more to do. Surprising since they're so tiny. I have about 15 more leaves that I can stitch before I move onto the smaller flowers. There are a few leaves that I've skipped as they are behind flowers, so they'll have to wait.

With this weeks progress, I'm confident that Hanabatake will be finished before the end of the year. I'll be happy to finish it. I'm all leafed out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - The Last of the Bush Clover Leaves

I guess I had time this week. I had set myself two things to do before the weekend starts and both are done.

Yesterday I unwound the hank of Japanese imitation gold. It comes twisted on itself and folded in half.

I untwisted the wire keeping the halves together and kept it on one end of the hank as the other end already has a tie. I didn't feel that the wire was solid enough so I used a piece of cotton thread and tied it a few times.

In order to keep the hank tidy, it's better to wrap it in paper. A sheet of legal size paper or two letter size papers taped together would work. Some stitchers use this plastic slot thread organizer to store their metal threads. But in a pinch you can use paper like I'm doing now.

I had to do it twice to get it right. Luckily I had a friend to help me out with it. The trick is not to put both "legs" of the hank in the same place but to separate them. If you keep them together, the hank will be loose as it's very slippery.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

You can see it better here. It's also best if your fold is about two centimeters. Anything bigger and the hank has more space to shift around.

Once everything is good, the hank can be cut in half where the little tie is. Now it's ready for use. All I have to do is pull out a strand to stitch with.

My second task was finishing all the bush clover leaves of which there were five. The two smallest purple leaves were a little tricky as I had to figure out what is the best place to start and the angle of that first stitch.

Since both my goals are done, I'll have to make new ones. Someone suggested the leaves of the pinks. Those are very pretty, stitched with green flat silk with scattered stitches in metal thread. I can also finish my two pinks. Choices! Choices!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - Pinks

Last week I stitched the second branch of bush clover leaves on the right. At this point, I have five leaves left to do but I'm blocked as they are behind the pinks. Those dreaded pinks! I made it a goal that I would figure them out at our monthly meeting on Saturday.

So far I've been okay with every element I've had to stitch but these flowers we're just not working for me. I made a few attempts for the little time I had on Saturday (I had to leave early to attend a BBQ) but I was just getting frustrated. I had a very hard time imagining where each stitch should go.

I had received a sheet with tips on how the stitches should lay and noticed that the stitches on each petal formed an overall circle on the flower. So Sunday, I did some math and came up with a ratio. I marked out a circle within the petals and that would be my guide line for the first row of stitches. The first line has alternating stitches. My first stitch would touch the line and the second stitch, starting below the first, will end below the line. With this guide, I only had to make sure my stitches were all of equal length.

Once that first row was in, everything just fell into place and I was able to put in the second row.

I think in this situation I was blocking myself. Everything had been going too easily for me on this piece that as soon as I couldn't figure it out on the first go, I got frustrated. Next time, I need to take a step back and find a solution that works for me instead of just getting annoyed and giving up. This is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

There are three pinks in the piece and I got two out of three partially done. Partially done because there is one more row to go at the center of the flowers.

The last row is done using Japanese imitation gold. Before I can use it, I need to unwind the hank. In the meantime, getting those two flowers done means I can finish the leftover bush clover leaves.

A had a bit of time left for stitching Sunday evening and figured I'd get that last chrysanthemum done. This is the flower that wasn't mentioned in our chart. I asked around and decided to go with flat stitching and no padding.

An overall view of my piece that is now less empty on the right. This week if I have time I want to finish the last bush clover leaves and unwind my hank of imitation gold. If I get those two things done, I'll be set for the coming long weekend.