Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Brocade

I wasn't planning on sharing an update on this piece until I finished the first row of brocade. However, progress has been very slow as I've been in a slump. It's one part me and one part brocade. I'm sure you'll understand when you see the cheer amount of repetitive stitching and layers involved.

(click on the post to see the animation below)


The brocade is made of up 4 layers: lines in white going vertically and horizontally to form squares, a sort of pop corn stitch in black inside the white squares (you'll have to enlarge the picture to see them), this is then surrounded by stitches in gold thread and finally beads.


I haven't reached the beading yet. I've been stitching each layer on both areas at the same time and I just completed the third layer on one of them. After working on the brocade, I understand why they would be treated as their own row. If you didn't they would never get done. I will have to rethink my strategy if I want to finish this piece before end of year.

Now onto the me part of the slump. I've been thinking about it for a very long time and I think it's directly related to the fact that my stitching area and my "work" area are sharing the same space. It's not very conducive for any relaxation, especially as our work days have been getting longer. I can't move either of them out of my room as I like to have my computer for playing videos while stitching and I need the quiet space for all those meetings we have everyday. What I can do is re-organize the layout of my desk.

I didn't take a before picture to share, but believe me it was a disaster. I forgot how wide my desk is, as I had things piled on both ends of the desk. The screen was also moved from the corner to the center, so all in all it feels like a brand new workspace. There are still a few things that need to find a new home but I already feel much better.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

French Needle Collab - Alphabets Botanique

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen that I've been collaborating with a shop called the French Needle. I met the owner Lisa on the French Needle Paris tour I went on back in 2016. I kept in contact and last fall they reached out to ask if I would be willing to collaborate with them. We started with one of my favorite designers Hélène Le Berre. I was lucky enough to meet Hélène in person during our tour and have been following her on Instagram ever since.

Quick Disclaimer: Other than exposure on Instagram and the pleasure of getting to stitch on many pretty pieces, I don't benefit financially from this collaboration. The embedded links are for your convenience, I don't get any commission when you click on the links.

We selected two different designs by Hélène: one is a delicate butterfly design and the other a colorful bouquet stitched in wool.

Hairstreak Butterfly
Kalinka

So far, I've kept my blog and the collaboration with the French Needle separate, but I'm so proud of this latest one that I just had to share it with you here. For our third collaboration, Lisa sent me a botanical monogram by French designer Benedicte Reveilhac. As it's a French monogram, you won't see the flowers that are typically used by North American designers.


The designer uses very simple stitches making it an easy stitch for any beginner. There are no fancy threads needed, only DMC stranded cotton that are very easy to source. My favorite part though, is the fabric. The designs are printed on high quality linen that is a pleasure to stitch on. I need more of that linen in my stash.


I started off following the instructions for the stems, but then I thought "those berries would look really nice padded". That quickly went to "I wonder how those leaves will look needle painted?". Before I knew it, the piece although still looking like the original design, the techniques used had moved it up a level in terms of difficulty and challenge. 

(click on the post to see the animation below)


To push it even further, I decided to stitch the little beetle on the bottom leaf using goldwork techniques. Having stitched many pieces over the last few years, I had a lot of leftovers. The brown purl was initially purchased for Samara but didn't end up being used. I was very happy that the purchase was finally put to good use.

(click on the post to see the animation below)


For the flowers, I knew I wanted to needle paint for sure. Lisa had send me two packs of Chameleon threads that I really wanted to try. I was happy to see there where two colors that were a perfect match. Chameleon is a company out of South Africa that produces hand dyed threads. They dye a variety of threads like stranded and perle cotton, but what I got the chance to try was their range of dyed silks. These are actually Soie de Paris silks from Au ver à soie that were hand dyed, and they are so pretty and soft. 


What I've realized stitching with these threads is that I would do more needle painting if I got to do it in silks. The threads are a little thicker than a single strand of DMC stranded cotton, so they covered a bit more. The color variation was a plus, it made the shading easier as I didn't have to switch threads. I just moved to a different area if I found one area got enough purple and moved back when the color changed.

To balance the piece out, I padded the centers of the flowers and covered them in goldwork purls. It gave it just the right amount of glitter.

(click on the post to see the animation below)


I really love how my monogram came out. I'm so happy I decided to stray a little from the original design. It also allowed me to practice needle painting and I hope to do more of that in future. Over the summer I received Trish Burr's latest book. I'll have to take another look at it and select a piece to stitch. I can make that a challenge for next year.


I've already received a package from the French Needle for the next collaboration. Let me know if this is something that you'd like to see here :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Motif 2-2

Dawn to Dusk is progressing nicely, I completed another motif.

(click on the post to see the animation below)


I'm halfway through another. I just had to give a sneak peak of this one, the color combination is just too pretty.


Once this row is completed, I will have reached the half-way point on the stars. I think it's time for me to start filling in the brocade. I've been following a stitcher on Instagram and she has been treating the brocade as it's own row so it's not left till the end. I think it's a good plan and will do the same.

The brocade might make a good filler piece for evenings after work, because my other piece, Bramble and the Rose, is almost done. One more evening should do it! Still can't believe how fast this piece progressed during COVID.

Friday, October 2, 2020

September TUSAL



This month's TUSAL report is filled with cream and gold thread from Dawn to Dusk. It's really pretty.

We're on red alert here as of Wednesday midnight due to rising cases of COVID and are required to stay home unless we need to do our shopping. This means stitching marathon for me. I'm going to try really hard to spend sometime on other projects than just Dawn to Dusk. For example, finishing Bramble and the Rose. This picture is actually from Monday, I'm much further along than that. So close...



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Motif 1-3 & Motif 2-1

I originally planned to only spend one day on Dawn to Dusk but once I started I didn't want to put it down. 


The previous weekend I had started motif 1-3 when I realized there was a mistake in the foundation for the interlaced Maltese cross. I found myself constantly flipping back and fourth between two pages: One page showed the steps for the foundation and the other showed placement. I went back to the instructions and retraced my steps, having decided to merge both diagrams into one, and found a mistake in the weave of the center on one of them. Once I understood the flow of the stitch I was able to complete the stitching.

(click on the post to see the animation below)


The first eight-pointed star of the second row had a pretty bargello design. This is a technique I've always wanted to try as I've seen examples stitched with a beautiful range of colors.


I was half-way into the another motif before I realized I made a mistake. This is becoming a habit on this project. It's also a sign that I should slow down as the mistakes always happen towards the end of the day when I'm close to finishing a motif. This time, I stitched the center stitch sideways. Easy mistake to do as working on the piece sideways and am constantly rotating the chart. I just need to be more careful in future.

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.