Wednesday, October 6, 2021

English Whitework Sampler - New Start

 The last two months were hard, especially after work as I never seemed to want to do anything. It took me a while to realize that I didn't have a single counted project on the go. It's all surface embroidery. So I went hunting in my stash photo album. I take pictures of all the stash I buy as it makes blogging about them later easier.

I completely forgot I picked up and kitted the English Whitework Sampler when I visited Traditional Stitches in Calgary back in 2019. I bought a lot of stash that year during my work trips. Anyways, this design is by Darlene O'Steen, the author of the book The Proper Stitch. An excellent book by the way if you like samplers. I don't own a copy as I'm not really into samplers, but I've had my eye on this whitework piece since it came out in 2011.

Some technical information as I will be asked, I'm stitching mine on 40 ct Newcastle Linen with #12 perle cotton and #80 special dentelle tatting thread in B5200.

I popped the pattern sheets in protective sleeves and into a binder to keep everything tidy, and then measured and cut my fabric. However, before I get to stitching, I wanted to put in some guidelines as I won't be stitching from the center out. I wanted to start from the top left, so I first put in the vertical and horizontal center lines (going over and under 4 threads). I also put in lines to define the sides and the top of the sampler.

Each row is surrounded by dividing band of four-sided stitches. I've been stitching them as I go and filling in the areas. 

The third row is all done in satin stitch. You'll notice I skipped the second row. As this is a sampler, it has the typical row of alphabet. I already know my ABCs and have no interest in stitching them. Instead I will fill that space with a quote, which I will do later as I'm still trying to figure out spacing and whether I want to stitch it over 1 or 2 threads.

As you get closer and closer to the end of the sampler, the rows start getting more and more complex. In the third row, there is a bit of cutwork to do.

Regardless, I won't be doing any cutting until I've completed the entire piece. Which means once I'm done I will be revisiting parts of the sampler to really finish it.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Calm Flow - Finished

 The last time you saw this piece, I said it only needed one last push to get done.

Well that was easier said than done. Each image in this animation was one session. When I say session, I mean a whole day of me just beading.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

It's done! I've already pulled it off the frame and it's waiting for me to finish it. The original is finished into a folio. Basically it's a folded "wallet" with two pockets, not useful for anything in my opinion. I've been trying to find a clutch clasp, but I haven't had any luck so far. So this piece will be set aside for now. If you want to see how sparkly it is, check out this post on my Instagram.

My biggest supporter while stitching this piece was my teacher Cecilia Roger. She kept me at it, asking about my progress and where I was at. So thanks to her I will be starting my phase 3 piece in Japanese bead embroidery in November *crossing fingers*. I've already ordered my kit and I can't wait to get my hands on those beads.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Armillary Sphere - Lesson 1, 2 & (some of) 3

If you remember Cynthia Jackson's Mariner's compass, I mentioned it was part of a trilogy and my hope I would be able to stitch the remaining two the design. The time was now (or July to be more precise). The second piece is the Armillary Sphere. It's another goldwork design with three dimensional components. There are no moving parts this time but still lots of finicky stitching.

We got our kits well ahead of class. This one has a bit more materials than the compass, including two different plate thicknesses. Lessons were released every Saturday for 6 weeks, which was at a much faster pace than the compass.

The first step is transferring the design lines onto the ground fabric. We used the same method as the compass. It takes a bit of time but well worth the effort to do well.

For lesson one, we only had to do the transfer and stitch the center of the sphere. Not too bad for homework.

Lesson two had a bit more stitching in it. A lot of stitching actually. The first step didn't take long to do, couching down the purl pearl.

The second step, which is that zig zag of plate took much longer as it requires some manipulation.

Here's a short video showing how I manipulated the plate. I wanted to make sure that the angle of each bend was the same to give the zig zag a uniform look.

(click on the post to see the video below)

This was done twice.

It took a long time but the next part took FOREVER! It was most likely tied to my mood in August but I really had a hard time getting through this part...

On top of the wave of plate, we have another wave of couched passing. I must admit it looks very pretty once it's done.

The final step is stitching 6 out of the 12 zodiac signs. The placement of the signs is up to us and it won't be exactly accurate as one of the band should be stitched with the signs inverted, but meh. As I would like to have my sign at the front, I'm stitching them in the order below. This way means I can get 5 out of 6 of my family's signs at the front with dad's showing at the back. Sorry Dad.
  • ground fabric: Libra, Scorpio (Dad's), Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces
  • 3d piece: Aries (my sign), Taurus, Gemini (Mom's), Cancel (sister's), Leo (sister's), Virgo (brother's)
We're meant to do the stitching for this free hand but that doesn't work for me. I printed out the page with the zodiac signs and resized it to 30% of the original so they would fit in the space available. I then made holes using an awl at strategic points. These points will be where my needle will come out or come down in.

Using the holes as a guide, I used a chalk pencil to mark my fabric. The signs were then stitched with passing thread.

The final touch is some random squiggles to fill in the empty space. I still need to plunge the dangling passing thread, but I want to put in that outside circle first to make sure I can plunge it right at the edge.

I haven't totaled how much time this all took, but I get to do this a second time on the 3d piece *sigh*. But that's not for now, I have other parts I can work on until then.

August & September TUSAL


For this month only (I hope), we have a 2 for 1 ORT report! I did some stitching in August, but I was not as productive as I could hope. 

September was a little better, but it was still rough. I can't remember if I mentioned this here or not, but back in February I changed workplaces for a position at a startup. After 7 months I decided to switch again last months. So the month of September, I was busy ramping up in a new position and there's lots to learn.

Switching jobs really helped my state of mind, but I think pulling out a new counted whitework project from my stash helped even more. I'll share more on that in the next post and this time I won't leave you hanging as I will be batch writing them right now.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

No stitching, but..

 I've had very little stitching time over the last couple of weeks and as you know I don't get much done after work hours. Still, I do have something to share with you.

First, I've completed my baby gift. It's an elephant! I've never made one before. I usually make a rabbit but the mom-to-be loves elephants and requested it have something in yellow.

If you're interested in the pattern, it can be found here. The original design has the elephant either in a diaper or a skirt, but the designer also has instructions for the cute overalls here. To give a little something extra to the elephant, I used a lovely chenille thread on the pads of the hands and feet, and ears.

After finishing my elephant last week, I felt weird not having something to do in the evenings. I decided to work on my bojagi piece as it's an easy piece to work on and doesn't require a lot of concentration. I really enjoy this type of work and would love to do more of it.

I've completed the stitching on the front panel. It's a true bojagi as I had to humpty dumpty a few pieces to get the correct size. Remember: measure twice, cut once! All that's left now is to stitch the two sides together, make the strap and attach it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021



I was a very bad blogger this month. I started a new goldwork piece which explains the yellow felt and black thread. We've had 3 lessons so far, but I'm still working on lesson 2. I'll share pictures soon, but first I have a baby gift to complete. It's due for next Saturday and I've wasted too much time procrastinating. Now I need to catch up. It's going to be an elephant, I've never made one of those. Here are a the little feet.

Friday, July 30, 2021

JEC Special Class - Peach blossoms with small bird

Happy world embroidery day! Sorry for the long absence. I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but work got in the way. I also got my second vaccine dose, so now that I can see friends I have less stitching time.

A little bit about this new piece I started. It is called Peach blossoms with small bird and is inspired by a scroll painting called "Touka shoukinzu" by Japanese artist Itō Jakuchū. It was originally supposed to be a special class for the group going to Japan for the JEC Nuido tour, but was cancelled due to COVID. Their bad luck is my good fortune. As virtual classes were so successful, the JEC decided to not only offer the class online but to also open it up for all students who are phase 7 and above. As you know, I'm no where near phase 7 but with permission from our teachers they were willing to allow lower phase students to join.

The class was taught by a professional embroiderer in Japanese with Arata-san translating over three days. We started off with an introduction of the art piece and history of the artist. The teacher explained how he designed the embroidery to recreate the translucent effect on the flowers. 

These peach blossoms will take some work to get them just right. We're used to working on pieces that are very structured and are always striving for perfection, but here perfection is set aside for what they called "feeling".

On the second day, we had a presentation on the history of Kurenai-kai before we started covering the blue bird. This bird is a mixture of structural and "feeling".

I really enjoyed stitching the bird and ended up doing a bit more when the class was over.

The third day of class, covered a few more elements on the bird, the stems and leaves. By the last day, I was very tired and didn't attempt any stitching. I was very happy to just sit and listen, taking notes. 

Since stitching on the bird, I've set the frame aside. My goal right now is to complete the beading on Calm Flow so that I can remove it from the frame. I'm very nearly there and I just need that extra push to get it done.