Friday, February 19, 2021

Mariner's Compass - Week Four, Five, Six & Finish

I've been bad about posting updates of this piece on the blog. Too distracted with my recent finishes I guess. In week four, we worked on the second round of couching.


And there was a lot of it.


I managed to complete all of it in one day, which was maybe not a good idea. I found I made a mistake stitching the last part of the North arrow. I was so annoyed I didn't touch the piece for a week. It's really a small thing and I almost didn't even fix it, but as I had some pearl purl left I felt that I should make the effort.


In week five, we had a short lesson. We only had to stitch the arrow. I had to sacrifice two needles to create the body of the arrow. This gives it some rigidity.


This is covered with a very shiny kid leather. Very hard to stitch through leather when working in hand. If I ever do this piece again, I would mount the entire thing, compass and arrow, in a slate frame. 


To set the back, glue is used. This made the back rigid so we can safely cut it out. I guess I got my first taste of stumpwork.



For week six, the last lesson, we put in the finishing touches on our compass.


We put in the South, East and West points, as well as all the directional divisions. For the compass points, I found that it was easier to couch down the black braid and then plunging the ends, rather than starting with a knot.


For the very last step, we cut out our arrow. If I did this again, I would stitch it on a darker fabric. It was very hard to trim all the white fabric that was showing from the front. I have a gold sharpie in my stash and used it to lightly color the edges that were peeking. This really helped mask what I couldn't cut away.


Here it is all done. I was really hoping to make a working compass, but I couldn't figure out how to properly magnetise the arrow. Also, although the body of the arrow is rigid, the ends are very soft. I would have preferred if it was a little more solid.


One change I did make to the construction was to add in a "washer" at the bottom to keep the wire piercing the arrow from shifting. If I did it all over again, I would also add a smaller "washer" right under the arrow before adding the large bead. This would help stabilize the arrow and keep it from shifting forward and back.

All in all this piece was a great experience. I really enjoyed learning from Cynthia. It was very well organized and she did a really great job shifting the class from in person to online. The Mariner's Compass is the first of a trilogy and I'm hoping to be able to stitch the other two pieces: an armillary sphere and an astrolab.

(click on the post to see the video below)



Friday, February 12, 2021

Blackwork Colorwheel - Finish

Last time I shared pictures of the colorwheel, it was set aside waiting for more purl pearl. Well they finally arrived last week and I quickly set to finishing that last outline.

I took my time posting pictures as technically I still had spangles to add in between the petals. I really liked the piece as is and decided to set it aside for a few days to make sure that feeling stayed. It has, and now I officially call this piece done!

Jen Goodwin's Blackwork Colorwheel

I really enjoyed working on this piece. If you're looking for a taste of blackwork but fear you'll be bored with all that black, this is the piece for you. There are two forms of it: as a flower and as a bands. I preferred the flower as I couldn't resist that bit of gold.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

First Finish of 2021

I did say that this will be the first finish of 2021, I just didn't realise how long it would take me to get around to it.

Teresa Wentzler - Tracery Dragons

The last bit that was left were the branches that are backstitched and then whipped.


For the eyes, I decided to deviate from the pattern and use beads. These are size 15/0 hex cut beads that I purchased a while back from the JEC. They have a blue green sheen to them, perfect for the blue dragons


The great thing about finishing this piece, I can finally put away all these threads. They've been in this box since 2015. There were two or three threads that were shared with another cross stitch and I kept losing track of them. It will be good to have them in one place for once.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Superimposed Cherry Blossoms

The dreaded cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms in themselves are not hard to stitch, you just have to make sure each petal is symmetrical. However, when stitched over a foundation every stitch is a struggle. Every time you think you came out in the right spot, the foundation either shifts or is sort of plump and goes over the stitch making it look shorter.


So the trick to overcome this: find the point where your needle would normally come out, then come out even further back from there. Same when coming back down, you always want to aim farther. You also have to get over the fact that the petals will not look perfect up close. What really matters is how they will look once you step back. I think that was the hardest part for me, but once I got over that things went much better.


Looking at them now, they're so cute. The flowers are still missing their stamens, but that won't take long. I'm just happy I finally figured it out. The next step on this piece will be to plunge the goldwork threads and then work on the cords. There will be lots of twisting in my future, but that just makes the stitching go faster.

January TUSAL





First TUSAL of the year! Most of the thread you see is from Bramble and the Rose. I've drawn out the thread for the inner border. I'll have to take a picture soon but there's really nothing much to see yet. The rest of the almost invisible thread and black are from my Mariner's Compass class. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Mariner's Compass - Week Three

 This week's lesson took a bit more effort than the first two.


Lots and lots of couching around the center, going round and round.


Followed by some s-ing.


Here's the trick for getting a perfect circle and this doesn't just apply for s-ing but also stem stitch as that's what it basically is. Your needle should come out to the right of the last purl/stitch and come down to the left of the first purl/stitch in the circle. This ensures seemless join.


The s-ing is then surrounded by two rounds of couched purl and lizerine.


The last bit was putting in the spokes in between the compass points.


This piece is so shiny! Usually it's really hard to convey the shine of the material, but this piece just captures all the light and reflects it back. It actually makes it very hard to stitch on for long periods as it strains the eyes. The best way to avoid this is to stitch during the day, so no artificial lighting is needed, and take lots of breaks. Three more lessons to go...


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.