Monday, November 18, 2019

Blast From the Past

Remember this piece? It's Tracery Dragons by Teresa Wentzler. I had to look it up, but the last time I stitched on it was December of 2016. After I finished Mermaids of the Deep and Miniature Midnight, I didn't have enough time to start something new (I was leaving for Winnipeg) and I didn't feel like working on my other WIPs. So I decided to pull out something that I haven't touched in forever.

Another more practical reason is that the thread box is taking up some space and hogging floss. It would be great if I can finish it and pack everything away.

Once I got back into it, I made some very good progress. There is still some stitching to do on the bottom half (more leaves) but it should be almost done. Except for the dragon, I haven't started putting him in yet. I think I will leave him for last. I really should have been working on my Japanese embroidery but I couldn't stop once I started.

I also worked on Hedebo Starburst. The top side is all done and you can see the entire pattern. I need to clean up the sides (or at least one) in order to continue. I'll try to put in some time tonight.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

October TUSAL

I realized this morning that I forgot to post my ORT jar for the month. I'm looking at what's in there and I couldn't remember where some of the threads came from lol. I had to look at the previous blog posts.

I'm still recovering from my stitching marathon last weekend, so I have no set stitching plans this weekend. I'll see what I feel like doing tomorrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Japanese Embroidery Phase 2-3 - November Class

This weekend we had a 4-day Japanese embroidery class. We were 10 stitchers working on 5 different phases with 7 different designs. Our teacher has the patience of a saint, I don't know how she was able to keep up with all the different people and pieces.

I was working on Hiogi, learning the phase 3 portion of the piece. We did phase 2 last April.

Day 1, we worked on transferring the cherry blossoms back onto the the peach cloud. We did this with tissue paper, putting in little tacking stitches.

Once the tissue paper is removed, we are left with little flowers on the foundation layer. Stitching over a foundation is called superimposed technique. I attempted to stitch a cherry blossom but I got so frustrated with it. My padding string kept sinking into the foundation. I decided to leave it alone and work on something else.

On day 2, I started working on the grommet (I had to learn that word). We realized too late that we should have had this completed before class so we can start stitching the cords. In Japanese embroidery, the rule is you always stitch from front to back. So here I am putting in string padding.

I only had time that day to put in all the padding and stitch over one part of my grommet.

On day 3, we started cords. This particular cord is called a single central braid. I was really nervous about starting cords as getting the angles just right are very hard to do. However, it went much better than I expected. Not to say I'm looking forward to stitching an entire piece of cords (phase 5 is a cord piece), but I'm not dreading it anymore.

On day 4, I continued stitching on the grommet. I needed it to be completed before we can start stitching the fan handle which is covered in goldwork. We really should have done all this before class.

I made one attempt...

...two attempts...

...before I figured out how to get them just right. It was just a matter of using a single strand of flat silk versus two. Once we figured it out, it all worked out on it's own.

I'm really happy with how my angles came out, especially on the left side. I didn't end up starting goldwork on the fan. The teacher did a demonstration in class with phase piece that was much further along. But for those of us still in the middle of our stitching, we decided to hold off starting until we have more done. In normal circumstances, the goldwork is only put in at the very end, which is a hard rule to follow if you are taking classes and need to at least do enough to show the teacher you understand the technique. I made the decision, to finish the cords before I start the goldwork.

On the last day, we also covered a new kind of twisted thread. This is called a katayori. It's kind of like a rickrack thread and very finicky to make. We need to learn to make them for our learning pieces, but apparently once we reach phase 10 they want us to buy the machine made threads which are more perfect. I wasn't particularly crazy about them but I could learn to like them as it means I can create my own color combinations. The one I made is a peach with #1 gold embedded in it.

So here is my piece after four days of stitching. It doesn't look like much, does it? After this class, I can confidently say I can finish this piece on my own. I plan on taking some time off around Christmas so I'll have lots of time to work on it then.

My ultimate goal is to get at least 80% done by April of 2020 for our next class, where I plan on starting the next phase. So here's my to do list, there is more but I think it's enough for now:

  • finish the snow flake in the upper right corner (high priority)
  • continue cords and finish them
  • finish shippo cloud
  • finish peach cloud
  • start and finish the separated single layer paulownia (low priority)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Back From Winnipeg

I'm back! And look two posts in one week. As I write this, I'm working my last night shift. Lots of time waiting around for things to go wrong. Luckily things have been going very smoothly.

I took three projects with me to Winnipeg, but only touched two of them. The third one was a really bad choice as it was on a dark fabric, not to mention it took up space in my suitcase. On the plane, I stitched on Bramble and the Rose. I'll probably do the same on the return flight. Trying to complete that bottom right corner.

The rest of my trip was spent working on my Hedebo piece. I've been avoiding it before as I have a lot of really short strands to weave in. To avoid dying of boredom, I'm doing enough at a time so that I can start the dove's eye pattern.

Every time someone sees me stitching this piece, they ask "you don't use a hoop?" Well, here I am finally using one. I always prefer not to use a hoop when working on counted whitework. I only pull it out for the pulled thread portions, as you need an even tension on the fabric.

After few days of working on and off, I can finally see the beginning of the starburst pattern. With the amount of weaving I still need to do, I'm a long way off from the end. But it's going to look so pretty when it's finished.

While I was in Winnipeg I had some free time. I visited Lizzy B's, a cross stitch store where I bought the Thea Gouverneur kit, Teresa Wentzler pattern and the pretty needle threader. It's purple, I couldn't leave it at there! The second shop is called NeedlePoint Place M & N's. The owner Ewa was nice enough to host me for a little stitch-in at her shop, so I would have a place to stitch outside my hotel room. I did buy some threads from her (not pictured) for a project I want to start very soon.

Before leaving for Winnipeg, I also organized a stitch-in with the Winnipeg Embroidery Guild (did you know that EAC was founded in Winnipeg by Leonida Leatherdale?). One of the guild members agreed to host it at her house and it was Kathryn Drummond. I met Kathryn back in 2014 at the Creative Festival in Toronto where I took Punto Antico for the first time. We had a lovely time catching up and I even brought back some goodies from her house: three new Punto Antico books. I also met a fellow embroiderer from Instagram. It's always exciting when I get to meet Instagram stitchers in person. Her name is Cathy Wiebe and she's a couture dress designer. We had a great time exchange information on embroidery, me on Japanese embroidery and her on Lesage where she is learning Luneville embroidery.

All in all I really enjoyed my trip to Winnipeg, despite the snow at the end of it. I could have lived without that.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Midnight Miniature by Hazel Blomkamp

A long time ago, while I was still only doing cross stitch, I purchased many kits from Hazel Blomkamp when she visited Montreal in 2015. I was very ambitious you see.

As the years pass, I will take one out, look at the instructions and pack it away again. I kept putting it off as I didn't feel like I was quite ready for this type of embroidery. I'm just really intimidated by traditional surface embroidery. Despite the fact that by now, I've learned goldwork and Japanese embroidery, which are both, in a sense, also surface embroidery techniques.

When Hazel released her last book, I decided to order it and get one of her smaller kits to dip my toe in so to speak. I ended up getting Midnight Miniature, also known as JAC-20. It's a smaller version of Midinight Meander, which is the first kit I would want to stitch, so it works out. The kit comes with everything to stitch it, including needles. All I needed was a hoop and scissors.

Having just finished a big project, the mermaids, I was itching for a new start. The piece has a lot of beading, which I love, and a tiny bit of surface embroidery. Mainly sating stitch, chain stitch and needle painting. The only part I really dreaded was the needle painting as it's hard for my brain to stitch randomly. But all in all, I think I did very well.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

The piece came out more gray and silver than the purple you see in the kit picture. It still looks lovely. It would make a lovely applique for a black dress or blouse if it was stitched on organza. Something to think about for the future (not that I like to stitch the same thing twice...). In the meantime, I need to decide how to finish it. I'm thinking a box top.

The kit took me 3 days to complete from start to finish, about 11 hours of stitching time. Not bad, considering the kit cost. If you're thinking of stitching one of Hazel's kits and are not sure if you're up to the task, this is an excellent piece to start with. The instructions in the booklet are structured in the exact same way as her books, very easy to follow. And with it's size, it makes a great weekend project to stitch. After finishing it, I felt ready to jump into stitching the real Midnight Meander, so I might just do that when I get back from Winnipeg. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

September TUSAL

I meant to post this two weeks ago, hoping to publish two posts in one week, but time just ran away from me. Work has been taking up most of my time and I was coming home late for the past two weeks. I did do some stitching on the weekends.

I managed to finish what I need for my upcoming class in November, so that's a relief. I have one more weekend before I leave for Winnipeg. I potentially might have time on Sunday to do some work on some of the started elements, but if I don't it's okay.

I finished Mermaid of the Deep on Sunday. I'll take pictures when we have a good bright day. Once it's ironed, I can take it to the framer but that will have to wait till I get back.

Here's a sneak peek. I swapped one of the beads that I didn't like for Swarovski crystal pearls and I love how it looks. I really want to use pearls more in projects, they are my favorite stone.

So next week I'll be in Winnipeg. There will be stitching as the flight is 3 hours one way and I'll probably have time when I'm not working. I just need to decide what I'm going to take with me. Last time I took three WIPs and only worked on the hedebo piece. I'm kind of avoiding it right now. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Boring But Necessary

We had our monthly Japanese embroidery meeting on Saturday. I made good progress, just not something that's visually appealing. I worked on outlining the cords of the fans in preparation for our upcoming class. This is something that needs to be put in before stitching. It gives you a guide when stitching and a little bit of padding along the edge. I've got one side, completed and started the other.

I want to get these done ASAP as I will be away on another work trip right before our class. This time it will be in Winnipeg. Any readers from Winnipeg with recommendations of embroidery/fabric/bead shops?