Friday, April 28, 2017

French Needle and JEC Stash

Since I was in D.C. for a sort of reunion with some of the ladies who were on last year's French Needle tour, I got the chance to meet up with Lisa the owner of the French Needle. She had us over for dinner at her house one night and was kind enough to show us the shop. There were so many things I wanted to bring home with me especially her gorgeous scissors, but I settled for getting these three kits.

Two kits are by Canevas Folies. Lisa has decided not to carry them anymore and has reduced the price of the kits. There should be some left in the Sales page. I also got this adorable little thread painted fox by the Bluebird Embroidery Co.

Months ago, I had placed an order for the goldwork kit for Lucy Barter's craftsy class. My friend Carolyn was kind enough to lend me her address so I can save on shipping. Lucky I bought it when I did, it seems the price went up. The kit comes in a lovely tin to keep it all safe, but doesn't come with fabric. I'm picking that up in May from Alison Cole. The plan is to start this piece in the fall, so I will show you the contents then.

I also picked up some lovely inspiration art and postcards from the museums we visited.

When we were at the JEC, we picked up our orders for class which included any tools we would need. I had purchased a full set of the needles with the wool felt for storage, an awl (this one came in very handy during class), and a pair of standard komas. Standard meaning they're not made of any special wood. You can see the other wood selections here, some of them are quite pricey.

Here's a close up of the needles. There is another longer needle at the back for lacing fabric. For our class we only used the M2 and M3 (M is for machine made). They are really tiny and very short. I'm really worried I might lose them, so I will have to be very careful. We used them for beading, but they are also used with couching thread.

We had the opportunity to do some shopping at lunch time. You could peruse all their stock which was at the back of the class. I was very good and didn't look at any of the fabrics, metal and silk threads. I'm no where near that level yet. For us beaders, they laid out their stock of beads for us to do some shopping. I tried to be smart in my color choices but couldn't help getting the berry and purple beads. The beads they stock are a combination of Miyuki and Toho beads, but their 3-cut beads are Czech not unlike the beads I bought for Hana. I was talking to one of the staff members and she mentioned it's getting harder and harder to find certain beads in Japan.

I took the opportunity to buy 3 sets of postcards: one to keep and two to send out to friends. And you know my love of books. These can be bought separate or as a set and contain traditional patterns for Japanese Embroidery.

They are not very different from coloring books, but you'll never see me coloring in them.

The books are pocket sized, so the patterns are small. They would be perfect for embroidery.

These also came back with me.

Unfortunately, I can't say they're mine :P A friend who does goldwork heard I was going and asked if I could pick up an order for her. These are a selection of some of the metal threads the JEC carries including a sampler card. She's already started playing with her new stash, you can see her progress on her Facebook page here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Lots of long white threads this month. Some of these are from the pre-work for my seminar class Hedebo Enchantement, but the majority is from my Japanese bead embroidery phase 1 piece. I actually got a little bit more time to work on it yesterday. I stitched a few garnet flowers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Talliaferro Challenge - Part 4

Now that I was satisfied with my flower, the next step was the ovary(?). For this I wanted to add in more white this time in the form of a Swarovski sew-on crystal owlet. This is stitched down with two silver-lined beads.

For the actually shape of the ovary, I wanted to try out a technique I saw in one of my beading books which is a raised stitch using hidden beads to add volume.

Once the bead "padding" is stitched, this is covered with beads of the same color all around. I'm not a 100% satisfied with some of the angles, but you can't really see it from afar.

The berries were more of the same satin stitch beads. By the time I got to these, I'd figured out the best way to lay them so they would curve nicely.

Now onto the stem and leaf. I really love the silver-lined green bead.

The stem was easy.

The leaf needed more thinking. To ensure all the beads angle correctly on the leaf I couldn't just start on end and stitch. The empty space in the middle made it more difficult as well. So I decided to start at the middle and stitched all the way to the end. I later went back and stitched the other way.

It looks a bit weird where the edges meet at the top, but I really love how the furl of the leaf came out.

All done.

This makes it the last post on stitching this piece. The next post will show how I finished it into a pouch. By hand!

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Japanese Embroidery Center

As a special birthday treat this year, I decided to sign myself up for phase 1 of Japanese Bead Embroidery at the JEC in Atlanta. I flew down from D.C. with my friend Carolyn who decided to take it as well. We flew to the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and from there we took the train to Doraville. The trip takes about an hour. Luckily, the hotel we decided to stay at offers a shuttle service, so there was someone waiting to pick us up at the station.

The school is located in a regular neighborhood about 15 minutes away from our hotel. We would take the shuttle in the morning from the hotel and someone would meet us at the end of the day to take us back.

The house itself is very traditional with shoji screens instead of doors. We had to take off our shoes and change into slippers (which we brought with us). Sorry no pictures of the inside since it's some one's house.

Phase 1 is a two day class. We had the choice between an eye glass case and a Kobukusa which is a small gift wrapping. I went with the eye glass case. Since phase 1 is so small we are using stretcher bars instead of the traditional Japanese frame. Once we move onto phase 2 we will start using them. The first day we worked on setting up our frame (with a hammer! No need to be delicate here) and stretching our fabric. In complete contradiction to what we're normally told, when doing Japanese bead embroidery, you don't want your fabric to be completely taut. You want it tight but not too much that once your fabric is loosened your beads have no where to go. This will help the beads lay nicely once the fabric is removed from the frame.

We did a bit of the border and then dived into beading flowers. At lunch, we had the chance to do a bit of shopping. I will share those later ;)

The second day we got more instructions on the petals and leafs as well as the finishing process. I didn't get very far in class. Only enough to show our teacher that I understood the material.

In fact, I only stitched 5 flowers which is the exact number of colors we had. The chart we are given doesn't tell us where to place the colors and I needed more time to figure out a game plan. I couldn't just stitch them willy-nilly. I wanted a geometrical pattern otherwise my brain will keep looking for one and go crazy. It also didn't help that the model piece they had on display was stitched with a different bead kit. Apparently they adjust the kits as things go out of stock with distributors.

So as soon as I got home and unpacked, the first order of business was figuring out where I wanted to stitch each color.

The original pattern is printed on paper that can't be scanned or photocopied, so I had to trace a copy for myself to color.

Once I got an approximate shape, it was easy to see the full pattern and start coloring.

Can you see the pattern?

Here is how the overall piece will look like. Now that my mind was at ease I could dive in.

You would think I would be stitching non-stop once I got home, but work got in the way :( This weekend was the first time I had any time to stitch on this piece. By the way, I got this bead mat from Sarah Homfray and it's really great. I love that I'm able to separate my beads in different piles. The other side is covered in the royal blue velvet and will be great for doing cutwork for Goldwork embroidery. I almost wish I got the luxury version of it but then I wouldn't have any space to work on my desk.

So far I've stitched the border that goes all around and started working on flowers. I decided to stitch one color at a time during a stitching session, so I'm not constantly switching between beads. I think next time I sit down I will stitch some red flowers ;)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tudor Place

While I was in D.C. my friend Donna arranged for us to visit an old historic home in Georgetown called Tudor Place. The house was built by a granddaughter of Martha Washington and a son of Robert Peter who was a prominent Scottish-born merchant and landowner and Georgetown’s first mayor. The house was designed by Dr. William Thornton, architect of the first U.S. Capitol and a family friend. It was completed in 1816 but additions were added later on. What is so special about this house is that it stayed in the Peters' family for six generations for a 178 years. Many of the pieces housed in the museum even belonged to George and Martha Washington from their time in Mount Vernon.

We started off with a short tour of the house. We had the place to ourselves as the house is closed on Mondays.

There was a box with what looks like bone needles for lace-making.

Even some old goldwork pieces.

The gardens in the back are beautiful. The house is available for rent to hold weddings and special events. No wines allowed though! Can you imagine spilling red wine on the carpet.

Donna didn't just arrange a tour of the house, but also a special look at some of the pieces in their textile collection. This is Grant. He takes care of the collection at Tudor Place and was kind enough to present different pieces to us and tell us their origins.

This is a sampler stitched my Columbia Washington Peters who was Martha Washington's great granddaughter.

A cushion seat needlepoint (out of a set) stitched by Martha Washington.

A silk stocking that belonged to America Peter. We think from the quality of the pulled stitches it is most likely French.

Ever wonder what your goldwork will look like in a hundred years? This piece came from a military uniform. They have another piece framed on display in the house (I had taken a picture of it). It was great to be able to get a much closer look at it. It looks like the leaves were stitched in something similar to the gilt rough purl I used in Pearl Butterfly for the s'ing. On top of that, there are spangles stitched with what could have been gold braid that has a core. Some of it is tarnished while in other places it looks like the braid wore off.

There were other pieces.

My favorite was this waist coat with embroidered olives. If I remember correctly, whoever this belonged to wore it for the L├ęgion d'honneur award ceremony (I will have to look up the name) so the theme was very apropos. It's stitched on wool with padded satin stitch. Even the buttons were stitched. The colors were gorgeous and it was fun to examine it in person to see how it was put together. Too bad the moths got to it in some places.

They have many more pieces, but these are the only ones we got to see. Maybe next time I visit we can try and get a peek at the rest of the collection.