Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Motif 1-2

Quick, short update. I completed the second eight pointed star on Dawn to Dusk. There was lots of laying of thread in this one. I wanted to make sure nothing was twisted. I keep looking at it and I must say it's not my favorite so far (and I'm still only at the beginning).

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Not much else to say on this except I've already started the third star. I was very close to a finish until I realized I made a mistake in the foundation of the center motif. I'll share more of that later.

I also did some Japanese embroidery this weekend. Despite my hard earned win last month on those cherry blossoms, I'm back where I started. I've made the decision not to try again until I have at least a 3 or 4 days stretch to work on completing them. We were discussing this during our stitching meeting that unless we can stitch for a few hours every day, our bodies need time to adapt back to stitching with the silk. So I figure with 3 or 4 days, the first day will probably be a waste and by the second and third I should be back into the swing of things and knock those flowers off my check list. I did at least make some progress, I stitched the left side of the green leaf.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Motif 1-1

I've been steadily working on Dawn to Dusk for the last two weeks. I've completed all the eight pointed stars and diamonds that go in between. Now to start filling them in.

I made my first Jessica stitch in this piece. It's a beautiful stitch, especially using the Rainbow Gallery knitted ribbon, that took some thinking to get used to. I made a few mistakes at the beginning but after the third or fourth I got the pattern down pat. One thing about the knitted ribbon, my needle kept shredding it as I pulled the needle out while putting in the surrounding stitches. I got around that by pressing the stitches down with my finger nail as I pulled the needle through the canvas. This kept the ribbon from shifting.

The first motif uses 10 different threads and beads. It's amazing how much is packed into such a little area.

Here's a little animation, I love making these when I remember to take pictures.

I don't stitch canvas pieces very often, it's been five years since the last one. So as I was stitching this piece, I found myself reaching for tools I haven't used in a very long time. 

The first is a really big needle. I normally use this one for finishing off wool threads when I crochet, but the blunt edge makes it an excellent tool for enlarging the canvas hole to help pull the threaded needle through. Hopefully, this time around I won't get a stitching injury.

The second is a needle trolley. I use it the same way I would an awl or tekobari, to lay threads nice and flat. The nice thing about the needle trolley is that it's attached to my finger and I don't have to reach out for it. I bought this tool when I stitched my very first canvas piece and didn't own an awl. I probably wouldn't buy one today, as I have my tekobari. If I didn't own one, any large needle or even knitting needle would do the job.

The first motif is completed except for the center. It's supposed to be filled in with French knots. The one time I did French knots on a canvas, I really didn't like the look of it. So I'm going to leave it alone for now while I decide what to do for the center. I received many suggestions to use beads instead. I probably will do that, just need to think of how I will fill in the space.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

August TUSAL

Forgot to do my TUSAL report. Lots of pearl cotton from Dawn to Dusk overshadowing everything. I'm pretty sure I forgot to empty my jar last month so this also has threads from July. The cut fabric is from my attempts at finishing the Elizabeth trunk's lid. 

Here is a sneak peek at it, as it sits half completed. It was waiting for some green felt to come in to finish the insides. The green felt has come, but I haven't come around to doing the work. I've been avoiding it as I can sense it will be finicky attaching that lid. 

I've taken pictures as I went through the process to share on the blog. I will share them once I finally finish it.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - New Start

If you follow Fiber Talk, you'll know they're doing a SAL right now. They are stitching Karen Dudzinski's Dawn to Dusk. It's a counted canvas design that I happened to have in my stash, having purchased it after seeing the stitched piece in person back in 2017. The design is available in multiple colorways, but the one I really loved is the cream and gold desert sands on black canvas.

It didn't take much to convince me to pull it out, I just needed something to stretch the canvas on. I didn't want to purchase a set of embroidery stretcher bars as I don't really use them very often. Instead, I visited my local art supply shop and got a pair from there. They're also called stretcher bars, but they are used by artists to stretch their own canvases. A little thicker than I need but that's okay.

I've been working on the piece for the last few days and made some good progress on stitching the eight pointed stars. I have one more row to go. I like to do things in order and so it will take me a bit longer to get to the fun stuff which is filling in the stars. So far I'm loving the geometric shapes. It has a middle eastern feel to it, which is also why I went with the colorway I picked. It reminds me of the seashell boxes made in the middle east. 

(click on the post to see the animation below)

I've also been using this piece to practice stitching two handed. It's a great technique to practice on as the canvas holes are very big and the needle is also much bigger than usual. My aim is getting better, I just wish the needle was a little shorter. I've gotten so used to the smaller needles, it's been a while since I've stitched with a no 22.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Fiber Talk Podcast

No embroidery update from me this week. My friend recently bought a chalet in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region (5 hour drive) and invited me for the weekend. We had really nice weather and went blueberry picking. The area is known for their delicious blueberries.

While I was there, I also taped a podcast with Fiber Talk where I shared some of the projects I've stitched over the years. If you've never heard of Fiber Talk, I definitely recommend you check them out. Hosted by Gary Parr and Beth Ellicott, it initially started as a podcast and now it also includes video chats on YouTube. They do three podcasts a week; one is an interview with a fiber artist/teacher/designer, the second is a mid-week chat and the third is a live show on Friday where they invite stitchers to showcase their work. 

I was recommended by a follower on my blog. So I just want to say, thank you! I write this blog as a personal journal of my stitching journey, but I'm always happy to know that someone out there finds my writing useful.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Struggling with Superimposed Stitches

It took me longer than I expected. Things kept coming up on the weekend and I didn't want to share another update of just a pink area. In my last post I mentioned that the next step was tying down the foundation. The process involves putting in short holding stitches across the foundation using a 1/2 twist (couching thread) of the same color as the foundation. A different color can be used for effect, but this is not necessary for my cloud.

Normally, I would have stitched the superimposed cherry blossoms first and then put in holding stitches on the leftover open areas. However, as I've been having a hard time with the flowers I decided to do this step first. It will help keep my foundation in place and prevent it from shifting while I stitch. In the picture below, my finger points to where I stopped for the day. The area on the left has been held down and you can see that it looks smoother than the right.

Here is a before and after picture.

The next step is putting back the outline of the cherry blossoms. There is a number of ways to do this, here I am using the tracing paper method.

The elements are drawn on a piece of tracing paper, which is then held in place and the lines are stitched. You can use Japanese back stitch but here I am using the line of held thread technique as it gives me a nicer curve.

Once all the elements are transferred, I removed the tracing paper.

Here you can see all 5 cherry blossoms.

Here is where I was back to struggling. No matter what I did I couldn't stitch a petal I was happy with. I'm so used to seeing images of beautifully stitched round petals and no matter what I did, I couldn't recreate that. This weekend, I had a nice chat with my mentor on superimposed stitches and we looked at examples together. It turns out I was looking at this all wrong, jagged edges ARE okay. The smooth lines will come when you look at the piece from a distance. We are so used to having our noses almost pressed up to our stitching that we forget to take a step back and really look at what we've done. Once I got that in my head, I was able to get one petal stitched.

That was one hell of a pep talk, because look, I managed to stitch one whole flower! I'm so proud (and relieved).

So there will be three red flowers and two that will be silver. I originally wanted to do them in red and white silk, but the instructions ask they be done in silver and gold. Since I ditched the gold, I figured I will compromise and use the silver so I don't get in trouble if I submit my piece for review one day. 

By the way, ignore that silver petal. I was thinking about my progress the day after and was puzzled about the color of that petal. Why was it yellowish? Shouldn't it be closer to white? I took another look at the pictures I took and quickly realized that I used the wrong #1 silver. I used the twisted metal thread instead of the regular one. No harm done as it's only one petal, but I'm glad I caught it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


Despite my lack of update, I'm still here and stitching. I keep hoping to have some progress to share on Hiogi but I'm still having trouble with those cherry blossoms. The weather has also been nice on weekends so we've been taking advantage of that and going out for day trips. We're being safe and going to places where there are no crowds.

During the weekdays, I try to put in an hour or two after work on Bramble and the Rose. It's really paying off. Maybe it won't take me another 7 years to finish. If anything good comes out of COVID, it will be this piece being finally completed.