Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MIA All Year

While writing my 2014 review I realized that I hadn't put in a single stitch in Bramble and the Rose and since I couldn't work on any of my new starts I decided to work on it.

At first I didn't think I did much progress, but it's not bad once you put them side by side.

That's it for this year. I will try to get lots of rest tonight because tomorrow I will be starting my new WIPs :) I probably won't put up progress posts on them tomorrow (maybe Friday), but will for sure post pictures on Instagram so you can follow me there if you use it.

Happy New Year!

Last Stash of 2014

Since I will be on a stash diet starting tomorrow. I decided to make one last purchase this year.

I wanted to try out Colour Complements hand dyed threads and I had a SAL coming up that would be perfect for them. So I bough two skeins for the project, but then couldn't resist getting other colors. Might as well pay shipping once right ;) The four skeins on the rights are hand dyed 6 strand DMC Egyptian cotton, the fifth one is twisted silk. The owner was nice enough to add in the last two for free. Which is great because I actually wanted to try out the other threads she has in her shop. One is a hand dyed size 8 DMC perle cotton thread and the other is a rayon viscose thread.

Since I was buying something from Etsy, I figured I might as well get something else from my wishlist. I've been eyeing this Japanese Hardanger book for a while. They make the best craft books :) and even thought you can't read it, they use lots of diagrams so anyone can figure it out. You can check out this listing for more pictures. This book will have to satisfy my addiction for embroidery books for the next while. Books with patterns are listed as stash in the Stitch from Stash rules and buying one book would wipe me out for the month.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Looking Back at 2014

Jan from One Stitch At A Thyme mentioned that I haven't posted before and after pics for this year's projects. I will endeavor to correct that right now.

I've never had so many finishes in one year. I counted 10 finishes and I still have 5 WIPs. This year was a year of firsts for me.

I finished my first BAP, Peacock Tapestry.


I participated in my first SAL, the Smalls SAL, and found out I'm not cut out for those small projects. I also stitched my first Hardanger piece, which I really enjoyed. I will definitely be doing more Hardanger this year.

I started and finished Spirit of the Southwest.

I managed to finish two out of five Creative Festival courses.

But the thing I'm excited about is that I managed to finish my oldest WIP, Flower Patch.
Unfortunately I can't say the same about Bramble in the Rose. I haven't touched it since last year. I still have a few days before end of the year, so I might put in some stitches in it yet.

That's it for this year in review. I've already organized the kits for next year's projects, I just have to find time to take pictures of them. Lighting is really bad these days.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Autumn Leaves Needle Roll

My last finish of the year is a course I took at this year's Creative Festival. It's called Autumn Leaves Needle Roll and was designed by Kim Beamish. This is supposed to be an intermediate level Hardanger but a beginner should also be able to stitch it.

It was a 3 hour class, so we didn't get the chance to make a lot of progress. The fabric, although very seasonal and perfect for the autumn leaves, was very hard to stitch on with the lighting we had in the class room.
Progress during class
I mentioned that I had to unpick this project at least 3 times. Well the first time was all the buttonhole stitches I stitched in the class. I noticed when I was almost done with the top side that I had miscounted. And you can't miscount in Hardanger. So all of it had to go.

The second time I misread the chart where the lattice stitch is (right under the satin stitches). I added extra back stitches where there weren't any. Luckily that part was easy to undo without having to redo the X's.

The third thing I had to rip out was the first maple leaf I stitched. It's the first time I've cross stitched with variegated thread. Although I was trying to alternate my stitches I guess it wasn't enough. You can see that my second try is much nicer.

This morning I put in the final stitch and cut the fabric.


Here's a close up of all the different stitches. The top one is actually a Nun stitch. It comes out much nicer if you use a sewing motion instead of the stabbing motion. That's where the ribbon is passed through. It's followed by the Satin stitches (my favorite stitch right now, it's so soft) and finally the Lattice stitch.

And here it is all made up. It is very pretty and the reds are gorgeous.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December TUSAL

The last TUSAL of the year. What you see there at the top is a lot of frogging. Since I finished two of my WIPS I didn't want to start anything new before the new year starts (no matter how much I want to). So I've been mainly stitching course kits from this year's Creative Festival. I had to put one on hold until I got more detailed instructions and have been busy trying to finish the other before the end of the year. It doesn't help that I've had to frog parts of it at least 3 times. I'll post more details later when I finish it.

Here is a picture of my TUSAL jar for the entire year. It is much more impressive than last years. I'm hoping that this year it will be even bigger :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spirit of the Southwest Finished

Another finish! This was actually finished on Sunday, but I haven't had the chance to put up pictures yet. So here they are:

I will put up close up pictures of every Octagon here.

I have mixed feelings about this project. On the one hand, it was nice to work on something that was different and learning new stitches. I'd been looking at other stitchers WIP photos of it for over 2 years before I finally decided to buy the kit. On the other hand, when I picked this colorway I was expecting to get the same result as I saw in the pictures online. Due to threads being discontinued, substitutions were made and the end result is that what I got is very different. Most of the octagons are still stunning, but the octagons on the left and right of the middle row are a little blah compared to the others. But that's just me.

In the end, I am happy with it but not as enchanted with it as I was when I was looking at pictures of it.

I like to show the back of projects when I remember to take pictures of them.

Now I have to decide what I will do with it. My mom didn't really like the design, although she loved some of the colors in it. So I was planning to put it aside and have it framed and hung in my own house one day. A few weeks ago, she suggested I make it into a pillow. I kind of like the idea, I just have to figure out what to stitch in the spaces left over to make it into a square.

By the way, except for the class kits from the Creative Festival I am now down to one WIP :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Flower Patch Finished

After 3 years, I can finally say that I finished stitching Flower Patch. This design is from Papillon Creations.

I originally started this piece to take with me on my trip to San Francisco. I had just been hired at my current company and they were sending me there for training. It's also been to Calgary when I was there for the Stamped.

Flower Patch is stitched on 32 count Jobelan Lambswool, which is my favorite fabric. I decided to stitch it 1 over 1 because I didn't have enough of the fabric to stitch it over 2. I love the effect, but all those leaves became tedious to stitch over 1.

I also made some changes in the colors. I didn't really like the pale green in this pattern. Actually, every time someone would see me stitching this piece, they'd tell me it's out of place. It was too late to do anything about the octagons, but I could at least change it in the leaves. I switched it out for DMC 3052.

The thing I love about stitching over 1 is the back. It looks almost exactly like the front of it.

Best part of all this, is that I reached one of my goals for this year :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

That moment you go "Ooh!"

I mentioned in my last post that I would be visiting La Maison Tricotee's booth at the Nutcracker Market. So I did go that day and bought a pair. You can see it in the picture below on the right, next to the one I bought last year. I was aiming to buy another small pair, but this is just as good. The owner promised more were coming in January/February.

While I was there I also brought up the fact that I'm trying to learn to knit in order to make a gift for a friend, but was having some trouble. When I mentioned the book and the pattern I selected, all three girls (and I'm not kidding about this) promptly told me that with my (none) experience and the time I had it was impossible. It was quite an "experience". They were all standing with their knitting in hand, their needles constantly moving while talking to me. They said it would be very difficult for me to finish, much less start the pattern. Did I forget to mention I picked a lace knitting pattern as my first project? They gave me suggestions and possible alternatives. One of their suggestions was to pass by for a clinic session (5$ for 15 minutes) where someone would sit with me and see if I'm a quick learner, and based on this they will allow me to register for 4-class workshop (costs about $185, all materials are included) where I can make a shawl. The shawl looks quite nice and there is an option to add beading. So I left the booth disappointed, but with some options. I decided to sleep on it and make a decision the next day.

Wednesday morning I woke up and the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I understand they were trying to be nice by informing me of how hard it would and to forget it, but I was still angry that they would assume I couldn't do it AT ALL much less with the deadline I gave myself. I was also angry at myself for not being able to even do a two needle cast on. Anyways, while ranting about all this to my mom, I mentioned my trouble with the cast on and showed her the video (just to mention, my mom used to knit when we were younger, but doesn't really remember all of it anymore). As she was telling me that I should easily get this stitch as it was a basic one, I realized that I was missing a step which explains why my stitches kept getting tighter and tighter. This was my first "Oooh" moment. That night I went back to my needles and by the end of the night I was able to stitch this:

Now my tension was still a off and I was having trouble reading the pattern, I was using YouTube videos to figure out the different stitches and couldn't understand why I had extra stitches all of a sudden. I set it aside and decided to start fresh tomorrow.

Thursday, my goal was to figure out reading a pattern correctly. By this time I've restarted the same rows at least 10 times and I'd like to think that my stitches are getting better. It took a bit, but I figured out how patterns work and I could stitch a row and still have the correct number of stitches left on the needle. The problem this time was that all I saw was purl stitches and no knit stitches. I tried different variations, but still got an ugly mess. On the bright side the lacy holes were all in the right places.

Ugly mess

I had another rant session, this time with my dad. By the way, my dad never learned to knit but he was surrounded by sisters who did and grew up watching them knit. With all these knitters in the family, you'd think I'd be have grown up knitting. Anyways, while I was talking to him I got my second "Oooh" moment. I should be doing the knit stitch on the right side, but when I'm on the wrong side I should be doing the purl stitch.

So in a week of knitting for an hour or two every night, I learned how to do a two needle cast on, the knit and purl stitch, how to read a pattern, change rows, the yarn over and the sl1 k1 psso stitch. Not bad for week's work. So my question to those three ladies: Do you think I'm a fast learner now?

Note: Again, the owner and the girls at La Maison Tricotee are really nice. They have an amazing selection of threads and knitting stash. Once I make a decision I will probably buy my thread from them. I just don't like being told I can't do something just because I'm a beginner.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Project Updated

I haven't posted an update on my projects in a while, so here it goes.

Spirit of the Southwest is almost done. The string art was all finished last weekend (no pictures of that yet) and I started on the outer border right away. Here's a picture of where I was at Sunday afternoon. Since then I've stitched the second layer of cross stitches and have started the last layer of long stitches.

Flower Patch is almost done. I haven't taken pictures of it since finishing the roses, but there isn't much to see until it's all finished. I'm on the last side of pale green leaves and I should be able to complete it this week. I've been stitching this for 3 years and will be happy to move onto something new.

Knitting... So last week I said I would buy another type of needle (I got circular needles) and try again with the mystery thread. That didn't work out any better, so I left it alone. Yesterday, I received the book that contains the pattern I want to knit and decided to try it one more time before crying help. This time I pulled out a ball of thin baby thread that I had and tried again.

I tried casting on using the two knitting needles like they show you in the video and was still having a hard time. The bamboo needles are too long and awkward to hold, and the wire part of the circular needle keeps folding on itself. That and my tension is horrible. The last time I tried knitting, I did the cast on with one needle, it was awkward but I was able to get to the next step. Right now I feel like I'm floundering.

Tonight, I'm going to the Nutcracker Market to visit La Maison Tricotee's booth. I want to pick up another pair of scissors (You can see the pair I picked up last year in the picture below). They are hand made and feel very comfortable in my hands. The tip is also perfect for Hardanger. The person who makes them retired last year I think and they had a few of his scissors left. While I'm there I'll see if they can help me with my knitting issues.