Thursday, January 21, 2021

Mariner's Compass - Week Two

 For week two on the compass, we worked on the compass points and enclosed the area.

I got to try a new material: looped wire. This one was actually hand made by our teacher Cynthia and is meant to be couched in place. She shared her process with us during our weekly zoom chats, so we would be able to make our own in future. A great asset to add to my skill set.

The compass points are surrounded by a circle of couched lizarine. Did you know there are two types: lizarine and lizardine? They're both used the same way, but I think the lizarine is finer than the lizardine. I guess I'll have to get my hands on some to really make a comparison.

I've gained a companion on my journey. I needed something to hold my hoop still, but still be able to quickly adjust and rotate my hoop. This puffin weight came in handy. He was a gift from the 2017 EAC seminar in Newfoundland, hand made by the members of the hosting guild.

Now I'm ready for lesson three. I looked at the lesson plan and it's going to involve lots of couching. Good thing I just got lots of practice.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Mariner's Compass - Week One

I think a year or two ago, I spotted this piece by Cynthia Jackson and just fell in love with it. It was one of the class that was going to be taught at the EGA 2020 seminar in Boston. I couldn't attend and later on that seminar was cancelled but I always kept it at the back of my mind. Then it started popping up on my social media. An online class had been organized and I don't know how but I missed the registration. Luckily there was so much demand, Cynthia decided to offer a second round and I jumped at the opportunity.

It's a goldwork piece, with lots of new materials I've never tried so I look forward to the experience. It's my first official Zoom embroidery class. The way it's organized is that for 6 weeks, we get homework on the Saturday(ish) and have the week to do it. It includes a document and video demonstration. Then on Friday evenings, we have a Zoom meeting with Cynthia where we can ask questions.

Homework for the first week included transferring the design onto the black silk. I learned a new method. I would have never though of drawing the design on the calico and the stitching with the front and back fabric together. I will definitely remember this option. 

The second part was to put in the kid leather at the center. All this took about three hours and a half of work.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Holiday Stitching

Every year, I take time off between Christmas and New Years. It usually gives me about two full weeks off and I spend a lot of time stitching when I'm not being dragged outside by my family for my own good. This year due to COVID, we had nowhere to go! I like to give myself goals and the two projects I selected were Jen Goodwin's Colorwheel and Hiogi.

I would alternate between the two pieces. In the morning, I would stitch on Hiogi to take advantage of the light. As this piece is big, I concentrated on the fan handle which is stitched in couched gold threads.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

That took way more time than I expected. I was hoping to complete the handle and work on the cherry blossom but that will have to wait for another time. I still have to plunge the threads but that will be done at a later date.

In the evenings, I would spend my time working on the Colorwheel. This piece stitched up very fast and I was hoping for a 2020 finish. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. I ran out of the purl pearl that is couched around the entire piece.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Here's a close up of the intersecting areas. I wanted a true weave, so the couched purl pearl go over and under. A little something I picked up in my Islamic geometry classes.

Right now this piece is sitting on the side while I wait for more purl pearl to complete it.

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 Goals

I did okay this year, could have done better considering I was home all the time. I did make great progress on one of the older WIPs.

  • TUSAL posts on the last day of the month --- DONE
  • Complete Hedebo Starburst by Jette Roy Finlay-Heath (Hedebo) --- DONE, but still need to finish the edges
  • Stitch on phase 2-3 piece Hiogi Fan (Japanese embroidery) --- DONE
  • Start phase 4 piece Karahana (Japanese embroidery, goldwork phase) --- Not even close, class was cancelled due to COVID
  • Stitch (and complete?) Blackwell Roundel by Jenny Adin-Christie (metal and silk work) --- Not even close
  • Stitch Russian Domes class (goldwork) --- Not even close
  • Start Midnight Meander by Hazel Blomkamp (crewel) --- DONE an completed :)
  • Continue learning tulle embroidery --- Not even close, I can't blame lack of time :P
  • Older WIPS:
    • Complete at least one page of Ink Circles' Bramble and the Rose --- Above and beyond :)
    • Stitch the hemstitch border on Donna M. Olson's Fantasy Lace --- Not even close 
    • Finish Katherine Drummond's Romantic Rosebuds --- Not even close 
    • Finish Annie Penin's Fleur de Sakura --- Not even close 
This year's goals will be:
  • TUSAL posts on the last day of the month
  • Finish the Colorwheel by Jen Goodwin (blackwork)
  • Finish Tracery Dragons by Teresa Wentzler
  • Stitch and hopefully finish phase 2-3 piece Hiogi Fan (Japanese embroidery)
  • Start phase 4 piece Karahana (Japanese embroidery, goldwork phase)
  • Start phase 2 piece Flow Folio (Japanese bead embroidery)
  • Start Goldwork Compass by Cynthia Jackson (goldwork)
  • Stitch (and complete?) Blackwell Roundel by Jenny Adin-Christie (metal and silk work)
  • Stitch on Dolcetti by Katherine Drummond
  • Finish Elizabeth: A Sampler Doll Pincushion Maiden and Trunk by Giulia Punti Antichi
  • Learn a new technique - Korean traditional embroidery
  • Older WIPS. I'm putting these back in because they still need to be done. I'm hoping I do better this year.
    • Complete Hedebo Starburst by Jette Roy Finlay-Heath (Hedebo)
    • Stitch the hemstitch border on Donna M. Olson's Fantasy Lace 
    • Finish Katherine Drummond's Romantic Rosebuds 
    • Finish Annie Penin's Fleur de Sakura 
I have many new pieces starting in January-February, most of them are classes. Just to highlight, I have two goldwork classes, a bead embroidery class and one on traditional Korean embroidery (very excited to share this with you). Those will be prioritized over new starts and current WIPs. I will definitely be starting some new kits as I'll be too busy with the coming new starts. 

There are no travel plans this year. I don't plan on travelling anywhere until all my family members get vaccinated and even then I plan on waiting until at least 2023 just to be safe. On the plus side, the EAC seminar may go virtual. If it does, I will take some time off in May to attend.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back at 2020

2020 has been a strange year. I traveled for work twice before we went into lock down. Vacations were cancelled all around and a lot of time was spent at home. We've all moved to meeting online, even my local guild embraced Zoom. I was able to see members I never get to meet as they usually join the day meeting while I only went to the evening meeting. One of the best things that happened in my opinion in 2020 that I hope will continue, many teachers have decided to start online embroidery classes. It doesn't replace taking in person classes but it sure is more affordable when you don't have to account for travel costs.

Another one for the plus side, my collaboration with the French Needle has continued. I had the chance to work on some beautiful pieces. 

I worked on my finishing skills, getting more familiar with my sewing machine. I even made masks for the family.

Finally plucked up the courage to start one of my Hazel Blomkamp kits. Midnight Meander came out so beautifully, I definitely want to work on another one in 2021.

The oldest WIP in my roster, Bramble and the Rose was completed. Amazing considering where this piece was this time last year where I was still trying to finish that one page to reach the bottom right corner. I'm now working on doing the finishing, so there will be a second "finish" for this piece.

I was interviewed by Gary Parr and Beth Ellicott on FiberTalk which was an amazing experience. Following that I decided to join them on their Dawn to Dusk SAL which was fun.

One project that was so close to being finished but didn't make it was Tracery Dragons. It only had the backstitch left. Not sure why, but a few days before the end of the year I suddenly woke and decided this should be my last finish of the year. Sadly it didn't make it, but it will be my first finish of the year instead.

December TUSAL Finale

The last TUSAL was the most colorful thanks to Jen's Colorwheel. 

Check out how full my jar was this year. There are also scraps of fabric in there but it's mostly threads I promise. I'm way behind on posts, so I'm off to writing my review of the year and the plans for 2021. There is lots coming up soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Blackwork Color Wheel - New Start

Now that I've completed Dawn to Dusk, I can start a new project. Spoiler alert, I'm way more ahead than I should be. I couldn't help it, this piece is absolutely addictive. The design I decided to start is a "blackwork" Color Wheel embroidery kit by Jen Goodwin Embroidery. I'm using quotation marks because blackwork is traditionally stitched in all black and this one uses lots and lots of colors.

To be honest, I don't think I would have purchased a blackwork kit if it wasn't for all those colors. You'll understand once you see the contents of the kit. I love those pastels!

(click on the post to see the video below)

The fabric comes un-printed, with the design printed on paper to be transferred using tack lines. I find printing paper too thick for this method and prefer using tissue paper. However, I want perfect curves so redrawing by hand is not an option. One of the things I've been learning during COVID is Islamic Geometry, and using a compass to draw them. This particular shape is actually a circle split into seven equal parts. I also learned how to find the center of a circle, thank you Youtube!

As this is a small design, I'm using stretcher bars for this project. You can use a hoop, but I like to avoid hoop marks when I can.

The design is transferred onto the fabric using tack lines as they are temporary. Once the entire piece is stitches, they will be carefully removed.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Before starting, I moved the threads to a larger ring and inserted a label to identify the color groups. Each set of threads is used at a different level in the flower. It is very important that they stay in the exact same order they came in as otherwise you won't get the same effect.

Blackwork patterns look complicated at first glance, but they can be simplified by breaking them down into layers. The patterns in this design can be broken into two layers: horizontal and vertical. I found that by stitching one layer for colors, makes it easier for me to put in the partial stitches needed where they meet, before doing the next layer.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

I must say I haven't been able to set it aside once I started. The stitching also goes buy so fast once you memorize the pattern. That's also a pitfall. The pattern changes once you reach the third layer and despite the fact that I had studied the diagram, my muscle memory went ahead and replicated the old pattern. Luckily I realized my mistake by the third color change so it wasn't too bad of a fix.

I will be off starting Friday afternoon for my annual two week stitching holiday. I'm so looking forward to it. So far the plan is to work on this piece and Hiogi, but primarily Hiogi as I'd like to get that piece finished next year. I also need to start thinking of what my new years day start will be.