Monday, September 25, 2023

Absente and Away

 It's been a while since my last post. I didn't even publish my minimum of one per month with my ORT jar. The reason is simple, there was nothing to share. I've been busy getting ready for my first vacation since 2018. In 3 days, I'll be flying out to Seoul, South Korea! 

I swapped my embroidery classes for an intensive beginners course in Korean as I really want to be able to read and talk to people when I get there. It will be in broken Korean but I'll at least be able to order food on my own. I'll also be meeting with other embroidery students and teachers that I've been in contact with over Instagram. There are two embroidery exhibitions being held in Seoul as we speak with my name on it!

I haven't entirely stopped making for the last two months, I've just been making things with my sewing machine. Here is one example of something I've made that I will take with me. It's based on a pattern by Aneela Hoey called 4 pocket case.

It has a few imperfection and is a little wonky, but I'm so happy with how it came out as there were so many firsts involved. I put in my first zipper, used vinyl for the first time, added a binding with corner. I really love it as it's the right size to fit an A4 cross stitch pattern, fabric, threads and all my stitching tools.

I was initially going to take a different piece with me, but sadly despite ordering early the materials have still not arrived in time. So here's the kit I'll be taking with me instead. It's based on Alphonse Mucha's Brunette. It came with 16ct aida fabric which I've already swapped out for a 32ct. I'll probably concentrate on the stitching the frame around the portrait during the long flights.

Friday, July 14, 2023



My June ORT jar was very poor last month. I've mainly been working on Japanese embroidery. In my down time I've been working on doing the finishing on the Virgin Queen Wallet and I decided to start a separate ORT jar for it. There's a lot of scraps.

I took some in progress pictures documenting the finishing process, but here's where I'm at now. I'm ready to start putting together the body of the wallet but am missing a few things, like the ribbons and buttons. I've placed an order for one but can't find the other. The buttons needed are 7mm flat two hole buttons which is really tiny, and I need three of them. I haven't been able to find anything online, my best bet is to hit the local flea markets and haberdasheries, and pray! So if anyone knows of a good source, please reach out.

Monday, June 12, 2023



If you read my previous update, you'll understand why I posted my TUSAL report late. Hard to explain all that black thread if I never shared my new start. 

Here's another quick update, I finished all the background stitching on the first bird. He's a wrinkly mess right now, but that's normal considering he's been in storage since 2016. He's long overdue a bath but will have to wait for his friends.

I'll be starting the second one and it'll become my WIP for end of days when Japanese embroidery is too much. The blackwork is very mind numbing.

Purple Iris - New Start

Way back when Margaret Lee released her book on Japanese bead embroidery, I purchased the kit for one of the designs from the book. It was purple, so I really couldn't resist. I always planned to stitch it one day on my own, but with Margaret's shift to online teaching, a great opportunity was presented to me. A few of my stitching friends also had this kit in their stash, so why not organize a class. 

We were a class of five students from Canada and one student from the US. Two of us had purchased kits directly from Inspirations and the other students purchased their kits directly from Margaret. Some are even doing this piece is a beautiful dark blue. 

While prepping for class, we discovered that the kits were not all made up the same when it came to the fabric. 
  • My kit from Inspirations came with two pieces of fabric, one for stitching and one for lining. The design was not transferred, but chaco paper was included to make my own transfer
  • My friend's kit from Inspiration came with two pieces of fabric, one for stitching and one for lining. The design was transferred (not printed) on the fabric. We asked Margaret about this later, apparently there is an early batch where they assumed stitchers would follow her instructions from the book to do their own design transfer. This was changed right after
  • Those who purchased kits from Margaret had 3 pieces of fabric, one for stitching the main body of the purse with design pre-printed, one for the sides and one for the lining

My preference for design transfer is tissue paper and running stitch. Yes, it's more time consuming, but it's more accurate and it's really easy to make design changes during stitching as the lines are temporary.

It took about a day to stitch and rip out the tissue paper. It goes fast while you're watching a movie.

All the beads in this piece are the same color, dimension is added to the piece by the different types and sizes of beads as well as techniques used. We have round seed, tri-cut, bugle beads and aiko beads.

The class was taught in three lessons, with tutorials in between and a final consolidation lesson. In the first lesson, we looked at the feathers which make up the main elements of the piece. I'm treating this piece as an opportunity to expand my bead embroidery skills and learn those "extra" things to do to get my stitching to the next level. One of the things I learned in this lesson is how to properly angle my "stitches" to create movement. A lot of the theory goes back to the separated single layer and long and short techniques in Japanese embroidery, so what I am learning here will be a definite benefit when I go back to my silk embroidery. I'm really comfortable with the separated single layer, but the long and short is still giving me some trouble.

Here's another thing I learned in lesson 1: a better way to stretch my fabric. I usually prefer to use a Japanese frame when beading but I have too many on the go right now and wanted something lighter, so I opted for my slate frame. I could not get it to stretch tightly enough and when I did I had a sort of "bowing" along the edge of the fabric. Margaret showed us the method she uses for her Chinese embroidery and it's fantastic. If you have a copy of her Art of Chinese Embroidery book, the method is described under the framing up process.


For the next lesson, we planned to go over the line of held thread technique with beads. In order to be ready we had to string beads to wrap around a koma. A lot of beads! This is 12 meters of thread doubled to give 6 meters of working length and there is 2 meters worth of beads on there.

The line of held thread technique is not a new concept for me, but I did pick up a few tips. How to better control the koma, watching out for tension and the best of all, how to travel to reduce the amount of stopping and starting. This technique alone was worth the cost of the class.

In the last lesson, we looked at three different filling stitch techniques and diagonal layer. As always, I'm terrible with random but Margaret gave us some tips especially for the scattered effect with the buggles. In goldwork, I learned from Alison Cole to create K's with the chipping to ensure a random look. Margaret suggests we create triangles with the beads. I think both in the end achieve the same results.

We have one final consolidation class in August. It's basically a last chance for students attending this class to ask Margaret questions on this piece if they needed help. Since we've covered all the techniques, I went back to stitching the feathers as those should be completed first before moving onto the next part. The correct order is:
  1. Feathers (filling stitches for feathers could be done at this step or later)
  2. Redo outline of overall piece
  3. Couched lines
  4. Right diagonals
  5. Filling stitch

Wednesday, May 24, 2023



I've been a very bad blogger. I keep meaning to post this but time keeps slipping away. I'm trying to remember what I did in April from looking at the pictures but it's all a blur. I do remember taking out this old bird and finishing him.

Since I was into it, I took out his brother to see if I can make headway into the blackwork portion. I'd stitched the blackwork so long ago, I wasn't happy with the stitching. So I ripped it all out to start again. That's where all the white threads in my ORT jar came from.

They'both been set aside since as May got really busy. I've had late night classes with Margaret Lee almost every weekend, but I did make some headway on Himotaba so that's good at least.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Himotaba - Update

 It's nearing the end of the month and I figure I should post something besides the TUSAL report. 

Since last posting Himotaba, a lot has happened. I'd been trying to stitch on Eternal Grace, but was really struggling. I decided to put her on hold and concentrate on completing the cords, as that would have been the correct order. I brought my piece to Margaret for extra guidance and we went through it cord by cord. 

I learned a better way to taper cord padding, so it and the stitching over it came out and was redone. This tapering technique will be useful for goldwork and English whitework.

Made an excellent attempt at the imitation wicker effect, realized that I used the wrong gold. I meant to use the white gold, so it had to come out.

Made multiple attempts at the single central braid in both twisted and flat silk. I knew exactly what needed to be done but could not get it to work. I finally had to sit down and just do it as best as I could. Whatever I did will just have to be good enough. 

I guess it worked because I got a "looks good" from Margaret and was finally able to move on. I guess I just needed to loosen up. Funnily enough, the double central braid was so much easier to do than the single central braid.

The wicker effect (in wheat) was also re-stitched. Margaret's method gives a nicer "raised" effect. The last bit I did this weekend was restart the single central braid with the flat silk. Again, it's not perfect but at least it looks pretty.

At this point, the only cords that haven't been re-touched are the imitation wicker in flat silk, rein effect and double central braid in twisted silk. We have a class in less than two weeks, I need to at least re-attempt the double central braid in twisted silk to get some feedback. The twist in that one is a little tricky.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023



Last month was a very colorful. I was in a bit of a slump where it comes to my more technical projects (except beading, that's going great). However, the cross stitch project I started last month went by so fast. 

I couldn't stop working on it. I really do miss cross stitch. I'll have to see what else I have in my stash. I also worked on a project with my guild. For the upcoming EAC seminar, we're having a guild group challenge. I got the chance to participate and stitch a small part of it. It's meant to be displayed in June, so I'll have to wait till then to share pictures.