Monday, July 31, 2017

Change of Plans

I met with my Japanese Embroidery group on Saturday and was able to put in a few more beads in my phase 1 piece. I'm almost done with the light topaz. I have one flower and a few tiny petals along the edges left. I bought extra beads but I might not need them after all or at least not for the light topaz. I'm sure I will find some use for them :)

After my stitching session, I went by Michaels to pick up a set of pliers to finish my beaded sweet charm. I only need the round nosed pliers to finish it but I figured might as well get a good set as they come in handy. And look, I even finished the other kit!

These kits are pretty good. I had plenty of beads to finish the charm (extra beads were included in case you tend to drop a few like me), they even included an extra piece of metal with the mille-feuilles (the charm on the right) just in case the first one get's ruined. The instructions were very clear as well that I was able to complete them in no time.

Tiny pieces on Lemon Tart charm
Now the change of planes came on Sunday. Originally I planned to stitch the entire day and get some progress on Foxy. Instead, I was dragged out of the house the entire day because the weather was just too nice to stay indoors. By the time I got back I was very tired, but I was determined to do some stitching on World Embroidery day. This is an excellent time if any to introduce the whitework project that I started in secret.

This piece is from the Italian magazine Giuliana Ricama that I reviewed back in March. It took a while, but I was finally able to get my hands on the Graziano linen. I will talk more about the linen in a later post once I've finished the piece.

I was surprised by how small the runner is. The linen is about 27.5 by 11 inches. Not as big as what the picture shows. I've been at it since the beginning of July and finished all the cutwork a few weeks ago. I'm stitching the last border going around, but I still have quite a way to go before the pulled thread portion is finished. After that there's some satin stitching and the embroidery of the flower that goes in the center.

So Foxy got sidelined again :( I'm determined to finish him before the end of August as I can't start my next goldwork project until he's done. If it means stitching a few cutwork pieces a day to get it done I will.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fun Distractions

I admit it! I've been avoiding Foxy all week. It's so easy to do when something super cute comes in the mail. The Beading Room had a sale on some of the bead kits last week and I couldn't resist.

I bought two sweet charm kits by Miyuki. They only had these two on their site, but there are four more delicious dessert kits in the series.

The kit comes with everything to make the charm. The one thing that I couldn't find was a needle. This was very confusing for me since it's a bead weaving kit. You need a needle for that. I did a quick google search and found out that no needle is necessary to make it. The nylon thread that comes with the kit is rigid enough you can use it like a needle to pick up your beads.

And then I was off! I spent the rest of my evening working on it. According to the difficulty level on the packaging, this is a medium difficulty project. But if you're familiar with reading bead weaving charts (there are a bunch of circles representing beads and lines with arrows showing directions) then it should be fine. Once I got the gist of the technique, I progressed really quickly and didn't have to constantly refer to the chart.

I'm actually one layer further then what the picture above shows. I should be finishing it tonight, and then I'll need to buy myself some good pliers to finish it into a charm. Concerning the materials in the kit, I'm not a huge fan of the nylon thread but without the experience I wouldn't know what to replace it with. So if you know of a good substitute, please let me know.

Tomorrow is our monthly Japanese Embroidery stitch-in at Nancy's house so I will be working on my Japanese bead embroidery phase 1 piece. I'll also be taking Foxy with me. Nancy has a tip for cutwork she promised to show me. Hopefully that means my little fox will see more progress this weekend. Which means I know what I will be stitching on World Embroidery day.

If you didn't know World Embroidery day is this Sunday July 30. It started out in Sweden in 2011 but has quickly spread internationally. So if you're stitching alone or in a group, I hope you have a wonderful day of stitching :)

Monday, July 24, 2017


Yeah... did I forget to mention I started working on another whitework project? This is actually not even from stitching. All that white you see up there is threads that were cut out of the fabric to do the hem borders. I haven't shared pictures yet because there really isn't much to see. I'm hoping I'll be able to show something soon as I've finished the cutting and have started stitching what amounts to a lot of four-sided stitches. Any guesses on what the project is?

This month, you get not just one TUSAL report but two. When I started doing goldwork, I decided to start a second ORT jar/container but this one will never get emptied. In the old days, metal threads like this were saved to be melted in order not to waste the precious metal because back then goldwork embroidery was done with REAL gold and silver. Today metal thread are still expensive but they're not made of the real deal (or at least not the ones I buy). You'll never see longs strands, just short stubs that are too small to reuse. Although, I might rescue one of the longer metal passings to fill out the tiny spaces in my Foxy's body.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Art of Bead Embroidery by Margaret Lee

When I got my copy of Margaret Lee's The Art of Bead Embroidery a few of you requested a review of the book.

I decided to change it up a bit and taped a video review. It's my first one so it was quite an experience figuring everything out and learning how to use the YouTube video editor. You will all have to let me know what you think about it. I don't plan on doing videos full time instead of blog posts, but for things like this a video is much more efficient. If you're reading this post by email, you will need to open the post in your browser.

This is a disclaimer on traditional Japanese frames because I know my friend Nancy will email me about this (wave!). The book includes instructions on how to stretch your fabric on the Japanese frame, but it is highly recommended that you do this for the first time with a teacher. For beading, the fabric doesn't need to be as taut as it would be for Japanese Embroidery with silks. However it is still stretched tighter than you would normally do with other forms of embroidery. An experienced teacher would be able to teach you how to stretch your fabric and judge when it's ready for stitching.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Fair Bit of Progress

Last week (Monday) I said I'd take out Foxy to work on the last remaining areas left to be covered with the passing. I did do that, but then left him aside trying to avoid all the plunging.

I didn't touch him for the rest of the week. On Saturday I said "enough was enough!!" and got all those suckers in. I was so relieved this part was over.

Next step was a more enjoyable kind of couching. This time with Pearl Purl.

And I really mean enjoyable. I was finished outlining in a matter of hours while the passing took days. Unfortunately, I still have some touch ups to do with the metal passing. Notice the teeny tiny bit of felt where the head lays on the body. I was really hoping that would get covered with the pearl purl.

I'm now at what I like to call the fun part: Chipping! It's really no different from beading except I'm using bright check purl cut into tiny pieces. This one is silver and has a lovely shine to it.

The silver bright check is stitched only on the white tips of the tail. I'm still chipping away but I should be done in no time. Things have really progressed much faster. After the chipping comes the metal cutwork. It will be great to get more practice in of that technique.

Also, remember that beading book by Margaret Lee I ordered last week? It's here! I thought for sure I'd have to wait till next month, but no I got it within a week. I also got Karen BarbĂ©'s book Colour Confident Stitching. I've already looked thru Margaret Lee's book but I'm still reading the other one. I've promised Jessica to do a review of the beading book and will try to get that out soon. I've been tinkering with the idea of making it a video instead of writing a post. I will see which one is more efficient.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Couching Around and Around

Last week, I started couching the passing for the body. I still had a few rows left.

Once I got into the rhythm of couching, the last few rows finished very quickly. At this point I needed to make a decision: plunge what I've done before couching the rest or leaving it for now. I decided to leave it. I wanted to get the curve just right when I plunged these first few rows. The reason is because the next step on the body is couching in the round. To help get the angle just right, I took a pen and sketched out how I imagined the curve should look.

Becky Hogg's instructions said to cut out a 120 cm piece of passing that gets folded in half. Now that piece even folded was really long. When I started couching, I could never imaging running out. However as I got closer and closer to the center, I started to sweat. My passing was getting shorter with no end in sight. I started trying to remember if I ever read/heard of what to do if you run out of metal thread to couch before you reach the center. What do you do if you underestimate the length? Definitely something I will be asking in the future.

Becky's instructions are pretty good. I have exactly the same amount of circles as she does and the amount of passing I needed was spot on.

I like how the back looks. Doesn't it look like fur? The head looks like it has Shirley Temple's hair :P

I didn't go further than cleaning up all the passing. I'm going to try and work on it again tonight. I saved a few pieces of passing that are long enough to fold in half that could fit the really tiny spaces.

Friday I cam home to find that my copy of Inspirations finally came in. We had two holidays one after the other, meaning Canada Post was closed so post was a little late.

I was really eager to get my copy because there was a Japanese bead embroidery project by Margaret Lee in it. This project was a class that Margaret taught at Beat Around the Bush last year. I'm so happy I don't have to go all the way to Australia to do it. It's finished off as a lovely case for you stitching tools.

I've already started looking into gathering the beads, but it's very hard finding some of them. They're all TOHO beads and there are 3-cut beads again. It seems like it's a favorite kind of bead to use. Also impossible to find in North America. Last time I replaced them with Czech beads. So I will either make adjustments keeping to the same colors or change the colors to suite my tastes. I haven't decided yet, but I spent Saturday doing some adult coloring to figure out where each bead is used.

And look! At the back of the issue there is an advertisement for Margaret Lee's new book on bead embroidery. I've already placed my order at Book Depository for it. The site says it's available but the publication date for the book isn't until July 27. So that means I will have to wait till next month to get it. After getting a peek at the inside of the book I think it will be well worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

More Couching

The last time I showed this piece I had reached the edge of the ears on each end. The next part was going to be tricky, I had to couch down small pieces of passing in the areas below the ear.

Foxy by Becky Hogg
I guesstimated the amount I'd need, making each strand shorter and shorter until I reached the end.

So that I wouldn't forget how long the passing should be, I cut the ones for other side at the same time.

The easy part was couching them down. When it came to plunging them it was really hard since I'm pulling down through felt. The first one made a "big" hole and freaked me out. Luckily it doesn't show once everything was in. What really made me sweat was pulling too hard on that last row and losing the passing to the other side. The piece was so tiny it unfolded and I had to tinker with it to get it back to what it was before.

It took me a few days to get over that panic and pull Foxy back out to do the other side. That one wasn't too bad since I knew what to expect and to be careful when pulling.

I had enough with teeny tiny pieces. I decided to start working on the body where there is more of the same couching. You start off by couching 11 rows of passing and then once you get to the middle, there will be some circular couching. I have 7 done so 4 more to go.

It does have a very pretty look to it and I'm very happy with him. I'm a little behind now, as both Natalie and Catherine have finished theirs. You can check out Natalie's on her Facebook page Sew by Hand and Catherine's on her blog Hillview Embroidery. Luckily, Natalie has decided to stitch a second Becky Hogg piece, a wood pecker this time, so I will still have some company while finishing Foxy.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The End of Hedgehog Handworks

As many of you have heard through Mary Corbet, Hedgehog Handworks was closing their doors. I had already taken advantage of their closing sale before, buying only books. They had a final, final sale last month and I decided I really should make an effort and enhance my stash. I don't know if you've noticed, but I always buy kits. I'm complete rubbish at buying stash that is not actually for some sort of project with a supply list. Especially colored thread. I really should work on that :P

First off, I got needles. These are all sharp needles by Bohin. I keep hearing from other stitchers that they are the best needles. As I slowly start veering away from counted, I find that I don't have good sharp needles. So I figured I'll stock up. I got one of each size: 7, 9 and 11.

I got two of each size cotton DMC broder special that they stocked. They only had #20 and 25. I'm thinking maybe I should have gotten more.

I've been wanting to try Mountmellick embroidery and Hedgehog Handworks had the threads in stock. I got 2 of every thickness. They range from Very fine to Heavy. Even with the sale they were pricey. The heavy thread is 6$ each!

I didn't even bother to look at the silks even thought I would have loved to get some Au ver a soie. I think instead what I really need to do is invest in a color card. It was even worst in the metallic thread section. Luckily, they decided to make things a little easier: they created mystery bags. Now I don't normally buy things like this as you never know if what you will get will be even worth it. But since they were closing and the price of the bags were so good I decided to chance it.

The first one I got is a metallics mystery bag. I recognize the typical Kreinik, Rainbow Gallery and DMC metallics (yuck!). I've heard of Madeira and one of these is by Access Commodities, but the rest is a complete mystery and I have no idea how they are used. If you recognize any of it, please don't hesitate to chime in below. I'd love to know what I can do with them.

The second bag I got I'm VERY happy with. This mystery bag was for Japanese embroidery. The description was products from the JEC and it could contain silks or metallic threads. I didn't get any silks, but I did get lots of metallic thread. They also included a felt block for needles and a hybrid #9 needle. I will have to bring these at the next Japanese Embroidery get together so I can learn what I can do with each. Honestly for the price I paid, I wish I got a second one of this bag instead of the metallics mystery bag. Too late now.

Other than that, I had a very productive long weekend. I'd been steadily working away on a course that I have been testing for the EAC for the past month. I can't share pictures as it's a new class that will be offered in the fall, maybe later I will be able to. Now that it's over I can go back to my regular scheduling and put in some good progress on Foxy and the others. Hopefully, I will be able to a share an update of my progress sometime this week.