Monday, September 26, 2016

No Stitchy Update But...

Guess who signed up for Japanese Bead Embroidery ;)

Now I just need to figure out flight plans and a roommate. Anyone know someone going?

By the way, my heart was pounding so hard when I clicked that submit payment button >_< I always get nervous when I'm starting something new and unfamiliar. I had the same feeling when I signed up for Seminar for the first time, but the next time I did it I just felt excitement.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hana Beaded Fob Finished

I didn't get much stitching time this weekend except for Sunday, but I still did very good. Sunday morning I sat myself down, determined to finish stitching the stems on the last row of flowers. I want to apologize in advance for the pictures. They're kind of blurry and my camera had a hard time focusing. Everything was too shiny.

The stems are stitched by couching down beads. Sounds easy right, but very finicky. You start by using a double threaded needle coming out right under the center of the flower.

The instructions say to thread 8 beads on the needle, but I ended up using 7. With 8 beads, my stem would have been too close to the flower next to it. Once the beads are threaded, I pinned the needle to the side, making sure the thread is taut and won't move around while I'm moving the beads around.

Here is the tricky bit: you want your starting bead to be right up against the center. If you bring your needle too high up and there won't be space for the bead, too far down and you'll end up with empty spaces. Once that's figured out, another needle is threaded with a single thread this time. This will be used to couch down between beads. To help with that, I would push the beads up as tight as I could with one hand while poking through the fabric with the other hand and couching down. I'm horrible at two handed stitching (strictly a righty), but with this project I'm forced to learn how to use both hands.

The second part of the stem, we come out from the bottom and use the same technique. I threaded 7 beads again instead of 8 for things to be consistent. That and I couldn't possibly fit 8 beads on this tiny stem. Again where you come out from your starting point is important.

I found that I could only fit 3 beads on the bottom leg so I had to make sure not to come out too far from the stem. If I came up too far down, there would be an empty space between the bead from the first part of the stem and this second one.

Once the first 3 beads are couched down, it's just a matter of squeezing down the last 4 beads. It's a very tight fit.

As I write this post I've noticed I wasn't very consistent with my stems. That's what happens when you take too long of a break between stitching sessions :( I started off with 8 beads and then went to 7. Afterwards, I started with a combo of 3-4 and ended up with 4-3 beaded stems. Also, some of them are very crooked. My only consolation is that the center one looks pretty good and that's what everyone will really look at, no?

Since I was already set up, I decided to keep going and stitch the last step of the fob. The final step is a scattering of stitched black beads. It's essentially a seed stitch. The same procedure applies: don't stitch too closely together, stitch in random directions.

I personally find my brain doesn't work like that. I never know if it's random enough or my brain is using a pattern that only it can see :P When I was done though I was pleasantly surprised with the effect. It looks pretty good and the effect is stunning.

I've learned a lot with this small project and now I can apply all that to my next challenge: stitch the same pattern for a matching scissor case. So it will be a while before Hana is cut out and finished into a fob. The current goal is get it done before April in order to submit it at my first members exhibit at the EAC Seminar. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

French Needle Stash Part 2 + More

I got my second package from the French Needle last weekend. I FINALLY got my hands on Marie-Thérèse Saint-Aubin Pivoines (Peonies) and it is gorgeous. And no stitcher has every bought just one item when shopping. I decided to throw in Hélène Le Berre's last book Icones de Mode which I got a peek at in Paris.

You can't call Pivoines a book, it's more like a portfolio or collection of Marie-Thérèse Saint-Aubin studies on the peony flower. The "book" is very robust and has a larger size than a regular stitching book. So it will be hard to put this on a book shelf.

When you open it you find, the pages are printed on thick high quality paper. Each page has the printed image of the design and on the back it has the pattern. All the patterns can be stitched in either DMC or Au Ver À Soie thread and there is a conversion chart for each pattern on the last page. However the designer stitched the patterns with Au Ver À Soie.

I won't have a shortage of pretty designs. There are so many lovely ones in this book that would look amazing once they're done.

When I was looking closely at the pictures, I noticed that all the designs were stitched 1 over 1. They can still be stitched with 2 threads over 2, but I think that when I stitch the pieces I will do it 1 over 1. I always like to have at least one project like that a year. Unfortunately, I've already started my 1 over 1 project for this year so this book will have to wait for me to finish :) I was talking to a stitcher recently and she mentioned regretting not doing more 1 over 1 stitching while she could. So I'm going to make sure I do as many as my eyesight will allow me.

I'm not going to go thru all the pages in Icode de Mode. If you want to get a look at some of the patterns, you can see it here. Just click the link that says Feuilleter that is under the book cover. I will show you my favorite design though. Except for the high heels (I'm more partial to flats) and blond hair (I'm a brunette) it's a pretty good description of how I dress when I go out and how like to spend my time when I'm not stitching ;)

This week I also got a lovely package from Kim of Wisdom with Needle and Thread. Kim is celebrating a big milestone in her life and wanted to share it with other stitchers around the world. For her 60th birthday, Kim decided to send 60 RAKs (Random Acts of Kindess). A huge undertaking! A few month ago I saw a fabric that she had sent Jo of Serendipitous Stitching and commented that I loved it and asked where I could find one. She replied back that she would add me to her list.

So here it is, the fabric that I fell in love with as well as a little kit and bracelet. I love the fabric but I adore that bracelet. I can't wait to wear it, I've already picked out the dress that will go with it. Thank you Kim I will cherish it :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

WIPocalypse 2016 – September

This month's theme is: Tell us a story about the journey you took through one of your completed pieces. I'm going to be lazy this month and just post to my previous answer here.

I finished the layer of four-sided stitches on Fandango and even finished the next layer which is an Italian hem stitch. This means I only have the final border left to do (at a later date). My next step is concentrating on the filling stitches for the four small squares. This means that the piece is now officially an in-door piece only. Luckily it's getting too cold to sit outside.

I've continued with my beaded fob Hana, and got two rows of stems done. These stems are really finicky and I'm not 100% happy with the look of them except for the center flower. The piece is almost finished, once I get the last row of stems done I just have to stitch in a scattering of black beads. Sort of like seed beads.

No work was done on Fleurs de Sakura. I took it out once and then put it away without stitching anything. I'll try to get at least the rest of the olive green leaves done for the next check-in.

One thing I'm very proud of this month is that I finished ALL the eyelets on Fantasy Lace. Which means that I've done 3 out of 4 goals I had for this year. I can thank my summer cold for this :)

Satin Stitches - Donna's Fantasy Lace

No update on Bramble and the Rose.
No Update
Ink Circles - The Bramble and the Rose

Still hidden away poor dragons. But, putting stitches into this piece is the last goal I have for this year. So this means that by the last WIPocalypse post there will be some progress on it.

No Update
Teresa Wentzler - Tracery Dragons

I didn't touch Sfilati Fantasia.

No Update

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bead Embroidery Bag Book Review

A guild member (hi Nancy!) found out about my interest in Japanese Bead Embroidery when she read my first post on Hana. She later contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in buying a book she had that was from the JEC. I was obviously interested, I'm always up to buying more books. So when I replied back asking which book it was, imagine my delight when I found out it was the same book I've been eyeing for a year =D

This is actually THE textbook on Japanese bead embroidery and I've been putting off buying it because of shipping cost. Well thanks to my friend I was able to get it for 20$! The book is in Japanese but the JEC provides a pamphlet with English translations.

While in Japanese embroidery the different phase projects end up being framed, for bead embroidery the projects are beaded bags. The story my friend told me is that while Master Saito the founder of Kurenai-Kai learned traditional embroidery, during the war there wasn't a very high interest in it. So to provide for his family, he learned bead embroidery and made beaded purses to sell.

The book shows the different purses embroidered at each phase and each one brings in a new technique to be learned. I'm not showing all the projects, but here's a peek at my favorites (not forgetting the one on the cover, which is phase IV Floral Melody). It also includes the "special project" bags that don't belong to a phase, but are extra projects embroiderers can buy.

P.S. The pictures aren't great but you can see what is in the book at least and get a good idea :)

Phase II Calm Flow

Special Project Camellia Bag
After the pretty pictures, there is a section on the tools used in this technique. 

As well as a section on setting up the fabric.

Following these, are page after page of detailed instructions on how to do each technique. I really love Japanese embroidery books, the diagrams are always excellent.

At the end of the book, are the details for making each purse. Each project has the list of materials and the pattern showing which beads should used where.

Now obviously this is all in Japanese, so it's nice that they've included English translations. However, the translations don't include the pages detailing each purse. Which means, you have to buy the kit from JEC and take their classes in order to make them. And there are no skipping lines. If I wanted to make Floral Melody which is phase IV, I'd have to take and finish all the phases that come before it.

The JEC has released their schedule for 2017 but I'm still waiting to hear about the bead embroidery classes. So we'll wait and see about that ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor Day Long Weekend

Last Friday was our last half-day of the summer, starting this week we're back to our regular schedule. I'm going to miss those Fridays! At least we got a long weekend out of it and the weather was fabulous.

I took the time last week to finish all the corners for my Italian hemstitch so I can take advantage of the good weather. I tried stitching one of the corners outside and it was very awkward. So I made sure to do the rest inside.

Once the corners are done, the Italian hemstitch for Fandango is done in two rounds. I first had to bundle the fabric in groups of four threads while simultaneously drawing the thread out of the way. This was very slow. The stitching goes really fast, but removing the thread kept interrupting my rhythm.

Once I got all the way around, I had to go around again. Bundling the fabric thread by four again but picking up two threads from two bundles so that we get that nice zigzag. This process goes much faster since I don't have to do anything but stitch.

I should be done with my Italian hemstitch by the end of the week if the weather holds. If not, you'll see something else ;)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

French Needle Stash

As you know, I went to Paris with the French Needle in May. What you don't know is that I've never actually bought anything from the French Needle. I was never a customer of the shop. The only reason I even found out about the trip is because I signed up for their newsletter. At some point, the French Needle was hosting a giveaway for a pair of M. Roulot's scissors (if you don't know the scissor man read about him here).

I would occasionally go thru the shop website to look at their products but never committed. It always comes down to shipping cost. For some ridiculous reason, it's really hard to get decent shipping cost to Canada. I don't have anything against the shops, as prices are set by the postal office, but a minimum shipping cost of 15$ for a paper pattern doesn't make sense to me. It feels like I'm always venting about shipping costs :(

In any case, I now have a friend who makes trips to the US at least once a month, so I've been kind of going on a spending spree. A few weeks ago, I made my first purchase with the French Needle.

I first took the opportunity to get the Hélène Le Berre Ribboned Panel pattern I've been wanting.

What really pushed me was this metalwork feather called Swan. The design is by Helen Richman of The Bluebird Embroidery. The first time I saw it was on the RSN website and has been on my pinterest board since 2015. Lisa posted the kit on Instagram on the weekend and I was trying to decide if I wanted to get it or not. The very next day Mary Corbet posts a notice about the kit and I knew if I didn't move, it will be sold out.

Obviously the kit is now sold out and is actually on back-order till October. The kit is only 39$ and comes with everything to stitch it. Look at that fabulous shiny fabric! I'm looking forward to opening up those little pouches and seeing what's inside. Small pouches means the check purls are all pre-cut for us, which is nice for beginners.

In order to qualify for free shipping I needed to add one more thing and I chose this pincushion kit by Mary Jo Hiney Designs. It's really cute and comes in two colorways, I went with the vintage blues. The kit comes with velvet fabric and ribbons hand-dyed by Mary Jo as well as the beads and trimmings to decorate it.

I've actually already placed another order with the French Needle, but I won't get it for a while as it won't ship in time for my friend to bring it back to Canada. While we were in France, I mentioned to Lisa that I was looking for Marie-Thérèse Saint-Aubin's book Pivoines. I've always regretted not buying her books when they were available. Lisa had promised to keep a look out and let me know if she ever found a copy. In fact she found four, and I quickly placed my order to make sure to get one. I'll post pictures once I get my hands on it :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September TUSAL

I'm actually on time for once :) I have a nice bundle again this month. Lots of white from Fandango and from a kumihimo bracelet I made. That's where the longer white strands are from.

All the pink thread at the top is from me re-purposing a piece of fabric for another project (coming soon). I had started doing the gridding for a project that never ended up happening. Since I don't need the extensive gridding, it all had to come out.