Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pretty Mail - Part 1

Yesterday I had a lovely bit of stash come in. I'd been waiting for them for while now but was never notified that they were shipped so I didn't know when to expect them.

Both kits came from across the ocean, but from opposite ends. A kit all the way from Australia from Inspirations and another that came from Jen Goodwin in the UK. But lets put the Inspirations kit aside for now.

A few months back, Jen Goodwin had an exhibition. She decided she wanted to create a catalog of all the pieces that were being exhibited. The catalog would be sold at the exhibition and at the same time, it could be bought by us international stitchers who would not be able to attend. To fund the printing she had a GoFundMe campaign. There were different packages that you could donate towards. The one I picked meant I received the catalog, two cards and a gift card for anything in her shop. It was a sneaky way on my part to support another stitcher and get stash =D

It took a while for me to make a decision, but in the end I decided on this lovely goldwork kit of purple bluebells. I was hoping to get the kit earlier to show it to you as Jen is currently accepting students for a distance learning class for this kit (deadline to sign up was August 30). You can still order the kit even if you don't take the class.

The kit comes in it's own little box with a clear picture of the design.

Inside, all the materials are individually packaged.

The metal threads are clearly labeled. Jen was waiting for her order to come in from Benton and Johnson so she could send out the kits to students. Natalie actually saw the order at the factory when she went for a visit in July. The kit also includes felt, string padding, sewing thread (I think I'm starting a collection of these), cotton threads and a tiny container of beads. I'm really tempted to open some of these packets. There are some in there that I've never used.

The ground fabric for the design is very interesting. I asked Jen and it's a viscose wool blend of felt produced by a UK company called 21st Century Yarns. The color is gorgeous in person. Jen also has the design already traced for us and even includes the muslin to back the piece. So there are no excuses, you can just jump right in and start.

Instructions with colored pictures are included in a small (but thick) booklet. The pages are stapled together so no chance of losing pages and it fits nicely in the box keeping all the materials together. 

I haven't had the chance to read through the entire booklet but I love the fact that there are plenty of clear pictures. I'm really eager to jump right into this kit, unfortunately it will have to take it's turn behind the other goldwork projects waiting to be started.

Next post I will show you what's inside the Inspiration kit :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Almost There

The last time I mentioned the runner, I was working on the center design needle painting. This past week I've come to the realization that I don't like to stitch under pressure. Particularly not with a technique I'm not completely comfortable with. As my deadline loomed nearer, I was getting more and more anxious to finish this piece in time for the exhibition.

I actually started to resent the piece and even setting myself small goals wasn't helping. My friend Carolyn told me something: this is not my livelihood but my pleasure. If I don't finish it in time for this year's exhibition it just means I'm ahead for next year's.

That really changed my perspective on the piece and took the pressure off. And the funny thing is, once that load was off things just went smoother. My goals last week was to finish at least two flowers. Not only did I finish the two flowers, but also the leaves...

...and another flower and more leaves.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday and I was starting the last flower.

It took all day, but I persevered and it's done.

What I learned from this experience? First, never put myself under this type of pressure for my hobby. Carolyn is right, this is not my living but a way for me to relax after a long day at work. Second, although I will eventually learn to master needlepainting (it's on the list!) I don't think I will ever enjoy it as much as I do something more technical like whitework. It feels too random for my tastes, all those stitches wildly stabbed into the fabric. I know that I can do it, just not with a deadline looming over my head.

Now that the hard part is done, I can go back to finishing the whitework. I already have a head start on the satin stitching. There is only a small side left to do. Afterward, all that's left is finishing the hem. I need to figure out if I should be washing and ironing before stitching the hem or after. Any hints?

August TUSAL

I'm really late for this month's TUSAL report. It's not as plentiful as last month's. I've been mainly stitching on the center design of the runner with a single strand of DMC so it's not very visible. Speaking of the runner, I have a big update on that to share with you soon :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Twist Festival 2017

I have no stitching update to share today. I did almost no stitching this weekend. Instead, I spent the weekend at the Twist Festival with Patricia Côté the owner of l'Atelier de Pénélope helping out at her booth. Patricia came to pick me up at home on Friday and we made the hour and a half drive to where the Twist Festival is held.

The weather was very strange on our way there. When we got to Montebello, it suddenly started pouring rain (check out the video below).

Luckily the rain stopped before we reached our hotel. We dropped our stuff and made our way to the festival complex in Saint-André-Avellin which is about 10-15 minutes away from where we were staying. The drive there was lovely and we saw some beautiful sights; farms and fields, horses, cows and even lamas. So glad the sun came out so I could takes some pictures.

When we got there everything had to be unpacked to get ready for the opening of the festival the next day. Luckily our booth was in the gymnasium. The second larger location was in an arena, an ice arena!! It was freezing in there. I don't know how the exhibitors there could stand it.

Patricia brought all kinds of goodies with her. I love looking through everything when I unpack the stock. Here's a video tour of the booth. I really love how she displays her fibers.

We weren't the only ones setting up on Friday night. Once we finished, we took the time to walk around the empty gymnasium and arena. The booth below was not far from ours. The owner makes the cutest felted dioramas.

There was also a booth selling brooms.

Natalie who was there as a teacher bought one for her daughter.

It's not only the inside of the complex that was filled with fibers. The outside was also yarn bombed. The fence below was decorated with "Pourquoi tant de laine?", translated to English it means "Why so much yarn?".

There was even a tractor and spinning wheel that was covered in crochet and knitting.

We were completely swamped on Saturday, barely getting the chance to eat lunch. Patricia even taught me how to process sales so she would be able to help out customers. I met many embroiderers who came especially to see Patricia's booth. It was the perfect opportunity to advertise the Lakeshore Creative Stitchery Guild as many of them were coming from the Montreal area and had no idea there was a guild there.

Things were quieter Sunday morning, so Patricia and I took turns going around all the booths for some shopping. I got two cute bags as a souvenir of the festival. This big one below would make an excellent bag to take to embroidery classes and I got a smaller one (in the next picture) that would be great as a project bag.

This year there were two embroidery booths: l'Atelier de Pénélope and Mes Broderies, Ma Passion. The rest of the booths were all about wool, yarn and felt. I considered bringing back some felt for my sister but there were so many booths I didn't know what to get. So I stuck to getting stuff for me :)

I really couldn't resist getting a felted animal from the booth I showed you earlier. The fox is a creation by Melissa Bellmare. Carolyn I think I bit the fox bug, they're just too cute.

A hand made wooden thread minder from La Maison Tricotée that is so Alice in Wonderland. This will come in very handy.

Some beaded bracelet kits from BeadAddict. These bracelets uses a bead weaving technique, which I've been wanting to try out. I've already tried Kumihimo and bead crochet.

From l'Atelier de Pénélope, I got two magazines, a sashiko and cross stitch kit. We sold so many sashiko kits that I got tempted to try it out again. I didn't get the threads as we'd sold out of the navy thread I wanted, but I'll pick that up from Patricia the next time I see her. The cross stitch kit is a really cute pincushion with a darning pattern in pink, black and white.

The Italian magazine is a technique book on whitework embroidery. It was the last copy in stock so I couldn't pass it up. The other magazine is volume 3 of Les broderies de Marie et cie which is a project book. It's a pretty magazine but I mainly got it for the projects below. (Open the post in your browser to see the images)

I also got two panels of this fabric. Patricia had stitched two of them for the shop to make into cushions and I thought they were just so pretty I wanted to try my hand at designing something with them. I don't know when I'll have the time though :P The panels I bought are pink but they are also available in red.

This last one is not a purchase but a sample piece of fabric. When Patricia ordered the Graziano linens she ask for samples of of the Bissos linen. They sent her 5 meters of it! It's a 42 count very fine transparent Italian linen that's great for shadow work and very fine white work. Patricia gave me a square piece that would be great to embroider a handkerchief or doily. I'd love to stitch a design in the broderie blanche technique using DMC broder special thread. My eyes will not thank me but it will looks amazing!

This week I need to really spend some time on stitching my runner. I need to finish at least two flowers before the end of the week or I will be in trouble of not finishing in time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Busy, Busy

Since finishing Foxy, I've put all my time and concentration on trying to finish the runner I introduced to you at the end of July. I've set myself a deadline for beginning September as I'd like to display it at my local guild's exhibition.

On Friday, I finished all the stitching I need to do with the #12 perl cotton. All that's left for whitework is some satin stitching in #8 perl cotton and the actual finishing of the hem with DMC cordonnet special. I decided it was time to start working on the design at the center if I wanted to finish in time.

I used a blue pen that washes away to trace my design. It looks very faint in this picture I think because of my stitching lamp but it's much clearer in person. If you're tracing a design for whitework and want to use a pen, the best color is blue. The color blue tends to get absorbed into the white so if there are markings that didn't disappear in the wash your eyes won't see them.

The center design involves a technique I've been avoiding for years now. Goldwork doesn't scare me and I'm unfazed when it comes to cutting fabric, but traditional embroidery and needle painting makes me nervous. I actually picked this design specifically to see if I can get over that fear. And to help with that is Trish Burr's book Needle Painting Embroidery Fresh Ideas for Beginners. I bought this book ages ago when I was gung-ho on learning the technique.

First step is split stitching the outline. I wasn't sure which color to use, but after closely inspecting the projects in Trish Burr's book I noticed she always uses the color that is used at the center of the flower. In my case, it would be the darkest pink. By the way, those markings that go down each petal are not part of the original design. I put those in to help with the embroidery later.

I got all the split stitching done and moved onto the second step: stitch all the stem stitches. I closely looked at the pictures in the magazine to see where each thread is used. I spent some time flipping through the pages and looking at my fabric and decided to just redraw the design on paper and color it.

Once I marked out where each green is used for the stems, things went much faster.

The piece is very long so I needed to take two pictures, but you can get an idea of the what the runner looks like with designed outlined in each color.

The leaves and flowers will all be filled in. I didn't particularly like how they did the actual shading in the original so I needed to figure out the shading on my own. I used markers but I really need to invest in a set of coloring pencil. I find myself doing this more often and sometimes you just can't get the same shading effect with markers. Also, the DMC thread numbers you see in the picture below are my own choices. The pattern itself doesn't specify the thread color used. I decided on colors that closely matched the sofas in our living room.

I should be able to finish this piece for the exhibition, providing I don't procrastinate on the flowers and leaves. There is still some whitework left for me to use as an excuse to avoid them, but not enough for me to do so for very long.

Now onto the fabric. Some of you asked me about it when I first introduced the project. The fabric is called Graziano linen. The stamp on the edge says pure linen in Italian and it certainly feels like the linen fabric I have for my Hedebo piece.

Below is a macro shot. The linen I'm using is 38 count in white. The white is very similar to DMC B5200 which is what I've been using for the whitework portion of the runner. It is heavier than fabric you would use for cross stitch and hardanger. I don't recommend you use it for cross stitch as there are slugs, but for drawn and pulled thread work it's fine. It was a little difficult to withdraw the threads as the weave is very thik. This thickness of the fabric also makes it ideal for traditional forms of embroidery as it's heavy enough to hold the stitches. I'd still recommend you back it with muslin so you can hide the ends of your threads.

I showed the fabric to Natalie of Sew By Hand who uses Alba Maxima linen (check out Mary Corbett's post to learn all about the different linens) for her goldwork embroidery and she said it would be great for that technique as well. Not to mention it's a less expensive option to Alba Maxima.

I bought the fabric from L'atelier de Pénélope. The owner was nice enough to look into ordering it for me. She ordered a sample card of the fabrics they made and even sent me swatches of each so I can make my choice. She now stocks a few of the colors to start with including the linen I bought. They are available to purchase by the meter and in the case of the 38 count, it's 70 cm wide. There is plenty in there to make multiple projects.