Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Samara - Part 1

I'm writing this ahead of time. By the time you read this I should have submitted the piece that I stitched for the EAC board challenge I had mentioned in June. The theme this year is "Celebrating Canada". Now whether my piece really makes you think of Canada or not is a different story.

I didn't want to do the typical red and white. I'd found a Japanese emblem in a book with a maple leaf and maple keys. As a kid, we called maple keys helicopters because of the way they spin and we used to love playing with them. We didn't have anything like it in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia where I was born. So for me it was something that was unique to Canada. It's only now I realize these things have an actual name: maple keys or samara.

I decided to stitch this piece entirely from my stash. Last year when Alison Cole started a goldwork subscription box, I signed up but only ended up staying on for two boxes. The first box was gold and greens, which would be perfect for my piece. Before maple keys become dried and yellow they're green.

I spent a lot of time dithering on what I should do exactly, then one day I decided enough! I'll transfer the design and start with the parts I'm 100% sure of. I transferred the design using the paper tissue method. This was practice for when I needed to do it for my seminar class.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

I really loved the piece of green organza that came in the box and really wanted to use it.

I decided to use a technique I learned from Annie Penin. In a class I took with her, she had couched pieces of organza for the leaves and the frayed edges were covered with a line of beads. In my case, I used gilt pearl purl.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Here is what it looks like once done.

To add a little dimension to the piece, I decided to just outline the smallest maple key with a super pearl purl.

From my initial design sketch, I planned on padding the biggest maple keys and completely cover it in cut smooth purl.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Then I got an idea of only partially covering the keys with cutwork. The green area would be covered in the green organza. I tried it on one of the keys to see if it would work out and it looked much nicer to what I originally planned.

I first created a template of the shape of the padded area. From there I covered the open area with green organza. I wanted a clean shape so I went well passed the area that is visible, but it will be covered with felt. Next step, is applying the felt which is then covered with smooth purl cutwork. The key is finished with a line of pearl purl to define the bottom edge.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Around the maple keys is a tree branch. I knew as soon as I saw it I will cover it in couched gilt passing. So this was an easy decision.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

This is where the dithering started. Because of the shape of the maple leaf and it's size, I wasn't sure how I would handle stitching it. I was originally going to "needle paint" it using colored purl and even bought a lot of different leaf colors, but I wasn't convinced.

I was at my Japanese embroidery meeting and discussing ideas with the group when Japanese silk was mentioned. This reminded me that I might have the perfect green flat silk in my stash.

By this point, I'd started learning how to stitch at an angle in Japanese embroidery but I'm no where near proficient. I had a terrible time with outermost edge and had to do it twice. Doing the other edges helped me get some practice in.

Sorry for the terrible picture, I think I finished it late in the evening. I'm quite happy with how the silk came out. This was a great piece to play with flat silk and practice stitching, now I just have to do better on my phase 1 piece. As a reference, the leaf was stitched in 2F (2 strands of flat silk).

Next is some chipping. You might remember this picture. That's gilt bright check and green rough purl. I'm making use of the pretty metal threads I brought back from Turkey.

I used a piece of paper to cover the stitched silk. We don't want the metal thread to snag on it. I started off the chipwork with just green for the smallest key before inject gilt in the second key, with the last one only having gilt.

For the maple leaf, I didn't want to leave the vein uncovered. First, because it doesn't look nice and second, I really wanted to hide my uneven edges. You might not see them, but I do. I love s-ing and I thought it would look lovely against the green.

Everyone who saw the piece, kept asking "are you going to leave that third one empty?". They were talking about the smallest maple key. I decided to scatter tiny little pieces of check purl.

I needed one last thing to tie the entire thing together, a couched edge going all round. I had a piece of mat cut in a circle that was the perfect size and used that to draw an outline all around.

I thought about using passing for the circle but decided to go with a 3-ply twist that came in the subscription box.

Although, I didn't technically use all the materials that came in the box (still no idea what I'd do with the washers) I'm very happy with how it came out. It looks even prettier in the frame I bought for it. I will show how I framed it in the next post.

Friday, July 13, 2018


I wasn't planning on posting anything else but I looked at my calendar and realized it's time to post for TUSAL. This month the jar is filled with more cut fabric from the framing process. The white threads at the top is from beading Hanabatake.

Now it's really my last post before my trip. I will leave you with these two images of my preparations for seminar.

Ready to travel
Ready for class

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hanabatake - More Leaves

Things are still progressing steadily on Hanabatake. I've been working on a small section every night. I'm still a long way off from finishing, but things are progressing much better. I'm not falling in love with the piece again, but I am liking it more than I have in the past few months.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Here is what it looks like now after three evenings of stitching. I have maybe one more opportunity tonight if I don't get caught up with anything. I have to make brownies for an office BBQ we're having tomorrow.

Tomorrow night I pack my bags as we're leaving early Saturday morning. Seminar doesn't start till Tuesday but we decided to take our time getting there so we can make a few stops along the way. We're visiting Quebec City, Rivière-du-Loup and Moncton before arriving at our final destination on Monday evening.

I scheduled some posts to auto-publish next week. I will finally unveil my EAC board challenge piece I embroidered. If you want to follow along on what I'll be up to next week, as always, you can do so on Instagram.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hanabatake Came Out

For those who had been wondering: What happened to Hanabatake? The last time I showed a picture of it on the blog, I had finished all the bigger flowers and decided to start on the stem. Things started to go wrong when I was trying to decide whether I should do all stems first (this would involve lots of starts and stops which I hate) or do stems and leaves as I went. The technique itself is fine, I know what I need to do, the problem was in the bead combinations.

The instructions in Inspirations are pretty vague. There are two combinations for the larger leaves and each one uses three or four different bead colors. There is no mention how many of each bead to use for each line and the pictures are not good enough to make out what beads are used. So after stitching that lone green leaf on Wednesday, I decided to do stems and go back to leaves later. I had also made a commitment to stitch at least an hour a day on Hanabatake until it's time to leave for Seminar.

Easier said. I kept my word for one day and skipped the next two. On Sunday morning, I realized that doing only stems was not going to work. I needed to make a decision on those leaves. I set up my desk for beading and laid out the beads to be used for the two leaves deciding to simplify them to just two or three bead colors each.

That worked, I was able to get more of them done in a few hours. I more than made up for the two days I skipped. I've also decided to ignore how the leaves on the model were stitched as they completely disregard the actual line drawings on the fabric in the kit. I think things will go much smoother (I hope) from now on.

I really wish I had more space in my room. One of the reasons why I didn't touch Hanabatake for so long is that I'd put it away to clean up my workspace to do goldwork and never took it out again. If I had the space to keep it out, I could just sit when I have time and put in a few stitches. Instead, I have to spend a few minutes taking out everything and setting up my desk for beading. There are days when I can't be bothered. I still don't have a dedicated space, but it's no longer sitting in a drawer. Right now, it's on my desk, in plain sight, waiting for me to come home and work on it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tying Loose Ends

It was Canada day on Sunday, so we had a long weekend. I was away Saturday and Sunday for a cousin's wedding. It was a small thing, we were there for the family pictures and the reception. The place they picked for the pictures is a beautiful building. It's the Guardian Building in Detroit built in 1928-1929 and is a lovely example of Art Deco design. It was a bank before but now it's used as municipal court. I spent most of my time looking up at the ceiling.

On Monday I had no work, so I spent the day finishing up a few things for Seminar. There's one more weekend left before we leave so I wanted to take advantage as much as I can of the time left. I finished my EAC challenge piece and it has been framed. I'll share more of it in a post I'll publish while I'm at seminar, but for now here is a picture of the back.

The next thing I needed to do is for the seminar banquet. We were asked to wear something that we had embroidered. I was originally planning on making a sash but I'm still trying to figure out the logistics and decided on a brooch instead. Last year, I found instructions for a lovely purple brooch on a Russian website and had gathered all the materials for it. It seemed like a good time as any to stitch it and I was itching to bead.

It also gave me an excuse to try out the new Tulip beading needles I bought last month.

I have to admit I'd been stitching on it when I should have been working on my EAC challenge piece. Beading is addicting.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Now I just need to pick a nice dress to match it.

Stitching this piece has awakened my love of beading and I want to do more of it. I just need to decide if I should start a new one or go back to working on Hanabatake. It's been almost 5 months since I last touched it, I really should take it out again.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

They're Home

On Tuesday, I went to pick up my pieces from the framer. They were really fast, I wasn't expecting these till next week. In order to share my excitement, I decided to do an "unboxing" video.

(click on the post to play the video below)

I'm quite happy with the frame we picked. Reg is a genius! I've never had to tell him what I need. Just walk in, show the piece and wait for him to make his choice. His first choice is always spot on.

I can't believe it's only been a little over a year and a half since I started my first goldwork piece. I always though to wait a few years before starting to take classes. I had bought the Craftsy class but had no plans on learning it yet. However, as soon as I saw Pearl Butterfly I was hooked. It helped that my sister offered it to me as an early birthday gift.

Pearl Butterfly by Alison Cole
From there, the projects just grew larger. I moved onto completing the Craftsy class I bought.

Goldwork Flower by Lucy Barter
Between Alison Cole and Lucy Barter, I learned enough to eventually stitch this more complex piece from Mary Brown's book Goldwork Embroidery: Designs and Projects.

Japanese Landscape by Mary Brown
If you're wondering if your eyes are deceiving you, they're not. That is puckering you see. As I'd mentioned in my previous post, I tried stretching the piece myself but had a hard time getting it straight and centered. I had also noticed that the fabric was puckering within the stitched rectangle. They got the piece centered but couldn't get all the puckering out. It's not noticeable when you look at it from afar, but it is when you get close up or look at it from an angle. Good thing this piece is not being submitted for judging as it would fail miserably.

I'm wondering if my fabric was too tight on the slate frames. Because that is the only difference really between this piece and the other two. I had stitched the other two in a hoop. If anyone has any comments that will help me improve, please do send me a comment.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Comment Notifications are Back

Re-posting this from Jo's blog. Comment notifications are back! Thank you Jo for sharing.

We received notification this afternoon that the problems have now been resolved.

As many of you are aware we have not been getting email notifications when comments are left on our blogs following the European GDPR changes.

In order to receive emails now there are a few simple steps to follow.

1. Go into your Dashboard.  Select your personal blog.

2. Click on Settings on the left hand side.

3. Click on Email and this screen will appear:

No automatic alt text available.

4. Delete your email address from the large box and click Save (orange box at the top right).

5. Retype your email address and click Save again.

6. You will shortly receive the following email:

7. Click Subscribe and wait for the emails to come pouring in!

8.  Repeat for every blog that you admin and want to receive email notifications.

I have heard there are issues with some hotmail addresses so maybe use your gmail address instead.  There may be unreported issues with Yahoo and aol too.  We shall see.

Please share widely so everyone knows we are back in business!

Comments have been turned off for this post as I will combine it with the previous one in the future.