Monday, May 9, 2022

Color Wheel Progress and Hickup

Since I posted the image of my ORT with all the colors, I figured I should share an update of my contrast color wheel.

Once the big blocks were completed, the smaller hue areas took next to no time to complete. It took more time to weave in the ends than it did stitching the areas.

I'm looking at the overall piece and I'm finding that blue-green color (the one between the green and dark blue) really jarring. I can't help but feel like I have a mistake... So I reached out to Jen Goodwin and she confirmed that there is a problem. I'm waiting to hear back from her again, but there will definitely be some unpicking in my future. For now, it's all the light green in the top block and lower block (where the red is the dominant color), as well as the weird blue-green blocks.

Thursday, May 5, 2022


Look, a TUSAL report not covered in white! Ramadan was tough but not as tough as previous years. I did do a little bit of stitching, the majority of it on the color wheel, but I also got busy doing the finishing on the Poppy Pouch. The finishing is almost done and I will share my process soon. Hopefully, it will help another stitcher finish their own one day.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Japanese Embroidery Phase 6 - Class

Our Japanese embroidery class was held last week. We were a mix of advance and phase 1 students. In order to use the time wisely, phase 1 students started on the Wednesday in order to frame their pieces and learn the basics of handling the flat silk. The advance students (there were two of us) came on Thursday and the class went on for four days. It was very exciting to pack up my embroidery things the night before. I forgot how much stuff we cart around.

On the first day of class, we looked at short stitch holding. As I've done my homework, I could jump right in. Short stitch holding is one of those techniques that is super Zen. It takes a long time to cover the foundation and it requires you to be in a very relaxed frame of mind as you want loose stitches. You don't want to pull too tight or it will show up on your foundation. Especially on that smooth flat silk, you want it to disappear. I struggled at the beginning, but it got better as I went along.

The same technique was used on the obi, but in this case we are covering a foundation of twisted thread. We also have areas where the dark and light colors meet. For those areas, the thread used is a combination of both. The goal is to blur the area where they share a hole.

At the end of the day, I have no visible update. Which is the whole point of the technique!

Second day of class, we started work on the face. In Japanese embroidery, we stitch foreground to background. So I could only go so far on the face before I had to stop.

I had a bit of collar and two little leaves to put in first. I loved stitching the collar, it's such a pretty color. But those leaves, especially the bottom one really gave me some trouble. I knocked out the top one and kept struggling with the angle of the second. Until my friend came to me and said: "Dima, is that the right color green? I don't remember using that shade. It doesn't go with the green of the kimono". It wasn't funny at the time, but it helped break the ice. I proceeded to remove both leaves and was able to get through it.

With that the rest of the face could be put in. The foundation is done in a really soft twist and it's the softest thing you'll ever touch (even thought I shouldn't be stroking it lol)

This is where you can start seeing some visible progress. 

On day three, Grace got hair.

We took a break in the middle of the day to have a special talk. We decided, in order to inspire and encourage the phase 1 students, we would hold a mini exhibition. Not everyone brought pieces, and some of our stitching group did not attend, but between four stitchers we were able to contribute 18 different designs. It was lovely to see them all together. I originally took a video, but somehow lost the footage, so you're missing the third table in the picture below.

Having had a lovely show and tell, we went back to our stitching. With my foundation in place, I needed to put in temporary holding stitches. I really struggled with getting the curves just right. I think I was starting to tire at this point, as my brain was no longer processing the concept of "temporary". It doesn't have to be perfect as it will be taken out later.

Finally we come to the last day. I considered starting work on the inner garment of the kimono, but I decided I wanted to finish the face. I spent half the day putting in the short stitch holding. You can barely see it in the picture below, and I'm so happy with it.

Once it's in, I can take out the temporary holding stitch. This is where the panic set in and I finally understood what they meant by temporary. When I pulled out the white thread, I noticed there were little nubs sticking out destroying my pretty foundation. Those were the stitches that held the long white thread in place. I lost my mind (in my defense I was tired and fasting, not a great combination), until my teacher calmed me down and showed me how easily they can be taken out from the back.

By then I was really glad it was the last day. I was quite happy to pack up everything and go home. I'm happy with my stopping point. I met the objectives I set myself and even got more done than my teacher did when she took the class herself. However, I don't want to look at this piece for at least two weeks. Which worked out as our next monthly meeting was being held on April 23.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Japanese Embroidery Phase 6 - New Start and Homework

Since our last online class with our Japanese embroidery teacher, the COVID situation has been getting better(?). At least well enough that we felt comfortable enough to plan for an in person class in April. As there were no guarantees and there was a chance we'd have to cancel and do a zoom class instead, I decided to have a backup plan. 

Sadly not all those silks were for me

I purchased both my phase 5 (Himotaba the extended version) and phase 6 (Eternal Grace). As they each cover two different techniques, cords and short stitch holding, I felt comfortable enough to ask my teacher if I could switch the sequence a bit. If we met in person, I would work on Eternal Grace. If it ends up being a zoom class, I would work on cords.

Once our teacher confirmed her flight details, I got the green light and started to work on doing some pre-work. My design came printed on kimono fabric with gold woven in. It's really pretty in person. I've noticed online that there are many different versions of Grace. With guidance, many stitchers changed the color of her kimono to suit their tastes. My color selection came from a friend who had stitched hers with a green kimono and coral obi. I really liked her palette and she was kind enough to share it with me. Lucky for me she takes such great notes. The colors are from the Heian period, which I really love. Bonus: it will go very nicely with the Himotaba and Hiogi as both follow the same palette. 

As I've done this previously with Hiogi, my teacher was ok with me starting some of the foundation. This would help save time in class.

My mission was to put in the foundation and temporary holding stitch on the right side, the obi that sits right under it and then the rest of the kimono going all the way down.

For the obi, we have light and dark areas where the obi is folded. I tried to play with the length of the stitches so I wouldn't just have a block of light and dark. Those shared areas will be smoothed over when I put in the short stitch holding and then the outlines later.

There is a color change towards the bottom of the kimono. Mixed in with the lighter green is a metal thread. I went with a lovely white gold. It gives it just the right amount of shimmer.

The obi is done in twisted silk, but the kimono was all flat foundation so it was imperative that I put in the temporary holding stitch in order to protect it.

The pre-work took two weekends to put in and I really enjoyed it. I love foundation work! With this my piece was ready for class.


Where did the time go! I meant to post this right after my last post and completely forgot. I'll make up for it as I have an exciting start to share with you.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Poppy Pouch - Stitching Finished

 The last time I shared pictures of Poppy Pouch, I was halfway through each piece.

I made a commitment to myself to complete all the previously covered techniques before our fifth lesson. This went by surprisingly well. It really helped to have one side completed to use as a reference.

The last technique we had to cover is the seed bead effect. It's the same one we did in Calm Flow. You remember, the part that took FOREVER to finish? Luckily for me, this time arround the areas to fill in are not only smaller, but we get to stitch with two beads at a time. Score!

I tried to make an effort not to pack in my beads, so the little gaps are normal. Packing too much is something that I'm always working on.

Stitching with two beads, I made quick work of filling the areas and managed to finish both over the same weekend.

I was super happy that I managed to finish the embroidery before the end of the class. In the sixth lesson, which happened last weekend, we covered the finishing instructions. I've gathered all my materials and am hoping to get around that this weekend. It all depends on whether I finish my homework. More on that next week.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Blackwork Contrast Color Wheel

It's been a while since my last post. I didn't mean to keep it so long, I guess I lost track of time. I have lots to share with you, but I will start with the color wheel as that seems to be a favorite.

I finally made it all around with the hues. It's very interesting stitching with the different colors. Every color gives off a different feeling. Some feel thicker than others, for example the purple versus the yellow. I enjoyed stitching with those colors more.

Now that the main blocks are in, I can use them as a guide for the remaining color blocks. As I fill more and more areas, I'll be able to go around the color wheel faster.

I'm actually further along than this, having completed filling the orange block with blue and am working on filling the purple block with yellow. Just no picture yet.

I can't wait to complete this round, so I can start stitching with another color family.