Friday, September 29, 2017

Busy Weekend

This weekend is the 2017 Needle Arts Fair of the Cataraqui Guild of Needle Arts in Kingston, Ontario. I will be there tonight and tomorrow to help out l'Atelier de Pénélope at her booth again. I've always wanted to go to this fair, but every year we either forgot or weren't able to go. It's a 3 hour one way drive from Montreal! So I'm really happy with this perfect opportunity :)

This does mean that I will not be able to get any stitching this weekend. I am meeting my Japanese embroidery group on Sunday so maybe there will be a little bit of stitching but I wouldn't be surprised if we spend most of it talking about our upcoming Japanese embroidery class. However, I did make sure to meet some of my goals for this week. It's not as much progress as I'd like but still progress. 

I've finished my pulled thread border on Hedebo Enchantment. The next step would be to start the needle woven border that goes in between the two satin stitch borders.

I plunged all the Japanese threads on my goldwork flower. Next week I will start with the two padded areas that are around the filaments (? I had to look that one up and I'm still not sure it's the right word). It's more couched threads, but this one should be interesting as it alternates between Japanese and passing thread.

I also did a tiny bit of beading on my phase 1 Japanese Bead Embroidery Wednesday. I was hoping to do more yesterday but work got in the way. At least I finished the row I had started before.

I'm really looking forward to the fair, I hope there will be some sort of exhibition from members. I also took a look at the list of vendors and there are a few interesting ones including some bead shops. I'll try to take pictures to share on Instagram and the blog.

Monday, September 25, 2017

White and Gold

This weekend I made a good deal of progress on two of my main WIPs. We had wonderful weather so I sat outside for a bit and worked on the many borders on Hedebo Enchantment.

I'm almost all the way around, a little over a quarter is left. I should have this done this week and I can start on the next one.

While we had great weather it was also too hot to sit outside all day. Those times I spent inside on my Goldwork flower. The first step is couching the larger petals in Japanese thread.

I'm in love with this thread. It gives off such a beautiful shine.

The Japanese thread is couched around the petal outline, but the very center of them are going to be filled with chip work. I'm still trying to decide if this is a good place to stop couching or if I should do more. By the way, it's not your imagination: the petal on the right is bigger than the left which adds to my dilemma. Thoughts?

In any case, I've decided I will plunge all the metal threads before I make any further decisions. My goal is to get that done by mid-week so I can move onto the next part to be couched. This piece has a lot of couched areas.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September TUSAL

First off, I just want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my last post =D I replied to most of you but many comments were coming in as no-reply. So thank you!

It's TUSAL time. I'm actually not late for once. This months it's all white threads from finishing my runner (there might be some color underneath) and yellow felt from starting my goldwork flower.

Stitching updates: I finally finished all of the squares on Hedebo Enchantment. Now it's all about that border. I'll have to review the instructions, but I think I have to go around about 5 times. There is a drawn/pulled thread border, as well as some weaving and buttonhole stitch border with needle lace to finish it off. Still aiming for an end of year finish and I think I'm making good time.

This week, I want to work on the couching for the large petals on the goldwork flower. I started last night so I'm hoping to have at least one of them finished before the end of the week.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Short Update and Surprise Win

So I did no stitching this weekend on account of being busy with the Lakeshore guild's exhibition. I was there Saturday and Sunday. Saturday to help out l'Atelier de Pénélope with the setup and customers, and Sunday I was volunteering with the guild as a "guard". The day was very long so by the time I got home I was too tired to do anything.

The guild holds exhibitions every two years. When I initially joined they asked if I wanted to submit something but I decided not to. Instead, I went to see it just to get an idea of what members submit so I would know for next time. I remember my dad saying I should have put in my Peacock Tapestry to the exhibit. Good thing I didn't because I wouldn't have gotten THIRD place in the Best in Show category =D

Here I am accepting my prize from our guild president June Berry.

The voting was open to both members and the public. First and second place went to long time members Paula and Rita. Paula's piece was the huge Elizabeth Almond Save the Stitches blackwork piece and Rita's was one called Insomnia set in a wooden tray, which took the second place for best in show AND first place for best original piece.

As a prize, we each received this beautiful oak ORT box (click on the post to see the video below). The pieces were made by Denise Tremblay a member of the guild. They were purchased by long time member Erma Scrimgeour (who sadly passed away this year) to donate to the guild for the Best in Show prizes.

I've been eyeing the one that Nancy, my Japanese embroidery friend, has and thinking: One day I will get me one of those. It's so much more satisfying to receive it as a prize for all the hard work I put into my peacock :)

I took pictures of my pieces as well as my favorites. I also took a walk-through video of the exhibit, I just need to do the editing before I can share it. So watch out for that soon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Prepping Squares

My goal over the weekend was to finish all of the fillings for square #4. I finished those on Sunday and quickly moved onto square #2.

The filling for square #2 starts with the four-sided stitch over 2 threads in the thinnest thread we have in the kit. Doesn't sound too bad right?

The hard part comes when you have to do the cutwork seen in the animation below (click on the post if you're reading this by email). We do the actual cutting in the middle of the square to make sure we have a long enough strand on each side. The fabric thread is then unwoven and anchored at the back of the four-sided stitch. You have to do this strand by strand. You cut two strands at a time but you can't anchor them together in one shot or you'll pull on the stitches along the sides. Believe me I found that out the hard way :|

The final square looks very neat from the front.

But it's a different story at the back. Those strands are super short, less than half an inch in fact. These threads will be left there until the piece is finished and washed. The fabric is real linen so it will shrink and I wouldn't want them to slip out of their anchor.

I don't think I would dislike this square if it was bigger or if we had longer strands to work with. In fact, once all the preparations are done, I enjoy doing the actual filling of sling stitches and dove's eyes. I liked it so much I bought this kit from Jetta at seminar that is just riddled with them. I'm sort of looking forward to it, but first I need to finish Hedebo Enchantment.

Goal this week on this piece is to finish all the #2 square filling stitches. I have one more square to prep and then I can start the filling.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Craftsy Goldwork Class - Part 1

Back in April, I got this little tin containing the kit for Lucy Barter's goldwork flower that is taught on the Craftsy. I promised to show you the contents of the tin when I started the project in fall. It's not officially fall yet but September and back to school has always marked the beginning of fall for me so here we go.

As I had mentioned before, the kit comes with all the goldwork materials to stitch the flower that is featured in the class. The kit was put together to make it easier for students who don't have the resources to get the various metal threads. It also contains the wool felt, soft string and hard string padding. Students still need sewing thread that matches the metal thread, beeswax, special (or old) scissors for cutting metal, hoop/frame... A mellor is nice to have, but a lying tool can be used as a substitute.

Here's a close up of the full contents of the box.

You also need fabric. The fabric I decided to use is an ivory delustered satin polyester that I picked up from Alison Cole at Seminar back in May. Since this piece will be hanging next to my Pearl Butterfly (and another third mystery goldwork piece), I wanted the fabrics to sort of match. I went with ivory as it picks up the white from the butterfly.

The instructions don't say what size fabric to use. I ended up cutting a piece that is about 14" x 14". The fabric is translucent enough I was able to trace the design onto the fabric without a light-box. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I used a sepia micron pen to trace the design. It should all get covered by the stitching anyways. As a note, I did test the pen somewhere on the edge of the fabric to make sure it doesn't spread and my lines are nice and clean.

The design, once traced on fabric fit into a 10" hoop. I backed my fabric with a cotton muslin. This is a definite must as it gives the fabric some weight. Lucy suggested basting the fabrics along the outline of the design in case you need to remove the fabric from the hoop. This prevents the backing fabric from shifting and puckering when you put it back on the hoop. Since I have no plans to do that, I skipped that part.

Last week, I concentrated on getting all the padding stitched. The materials for the class include 3 charts: one for tracing the design, second for tracing the felt padding and a third one that shows what technique is stitched where and with which thread. I love that it's in color, it makes things so much clearer. Instead of making an extra photocopy to cut out the shapes for the padding, I used tracing paper.

Design chart for padded areas

The left and right are clearly marked as there is a slight difference between them. The flower is not a 100% symmetrical.

The cutouts were then used to mark out the shapes on the wool felt. I used a black Sharpie pen.

This is the fun part. I don't know why, but I really enjoy stitching felt padding. (click on the post if you're looking at this by email so you can see the animation)

Once the felt padding is applied, it was time for the soft string padding.

Lucy Barter says to estimate the length of the string we need and then just fold the string till you got 10 strings all together. I was a little worried I would not have enough so I decided to first cut the soft string padding in half and go from there.

The string is then (heavily) waxed and couched onto the design.

This next one I've never tried. It's called hard string padding. In the video, I think she called it parcel string or twine if you live in North America. It's normally white but you can use a fabric marker to color it to match your metal threads. In the kit, the string is already colored so we don't have to do it.

I haven't decided if I like hard string padding yet. I'll wait to see what the final result will look like once it's covered. I will say that it is more tedious than the felt padding because you're constantly stopping to cut before you continue with the stitching. By the way, any comments on whether it's a good idea or not to use your embroidery scissors to cut hard string? I used mine but would like to know if it's something that will ruin my good scissors.

To give you an idea, here is what is left from the wool felt and the hard string. I don't have any soft string left as I used it all and even then the extruding strands that I cut off once it was couched were not that long. I have more than half the wool felt to use for another project. Project singular as I've noticed that the yellow felt designers use are not the same shade. It might not make a difference since it gets covered anyways but we're always warned to be careful of dye lots. So for now I'll just leave it in my goldwork box.

I haven't had the chance to look at the next lesson yet, but I suspect it's couching on the large petal areas. I'm currently having a good stitching streak on Hedebo Enchantment, Tuesday evening stitchings with the Lakeshore guild are starting up again this week. This means I'm not a 100% sure if I will be stitching goldwork this week or if it will have to go to next week.

Speaking of the guild, we're holding an exhibition this weekend. So if you live in the area, you should definitely pass by :) I will have a few pieces in there including Foxy and the runner I just finished.

Update 2017/09/12: Jessica gave an excellent tip I want to try next time

Just a tip: trace your padding pieces on Vliesofix/Bondaweb and iron it onto your felt. It makes cutting out the shapes so much easier. And the 'glue' side of your felt can either be used up, so no hairy bits of the felt poke out between the gold threads. Or down, then they stick a little to the background fabric when couched down. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Finishing My Runner

After all the stitching was done on the runner it was time to finish the hem. I've never done this before so I looked to the experts. I found a few good posts online but the one I "followed" was Mary Corbet's found here.

But first I created a channel for the inner fold to use as a guide. I saw this idea on another post (can't remember which).

Once the channel is created, I folded along that line and then again till it reached the edged of my stitched border. I finger pressed each line to create a crease that I could later use to as a guide.

For the corners, I folded twice to create two creases. The first one is from the corner of the fabric into the corner of the stitching. The second is from the point where the channels meet into the corner of the stitching. Following Mary's post, I cut one of the creases (see image below) and then used the creases as a guide to fold the hem along all sides.

I pinned along the hem to hold the fold as I started stitching. It looks a little wrinkly so I wonder if I should have ironed it before I started stitching. In any case, I just made sure to straighten and pull on the hem as I was stitching.

For stitching the hem, there were no set instructions in the magazine. Luckily I have an excellent book in my library. The book is called Drawn Thread Embroidery by Hisako Nishisu. It's in Japanese but has excellent instructions. It's my go to book for all things drawn thread. The stitch has two steps: come out from the fabric and grab a "leg", then stitch into the fold. Repeat.

Step 1
Step 2
You only want to stitch through the fold at the back of the fabric. This makes sure that the stitching doesn't appear at the front.

I finally got the chance to take some pictures in the little light we had. Summer came late over here but it seems like fall is coming early.

I'm very pleased with how this piece came out. Especially the needle painting which is not something I though I would say.

I was a little worried about the color choices but they look amazing in the light. That beige looks like gold in the light.

Here's a picture of the finished corner.

I think this test was a success. The instructions in Giuliana Ricama, although limited and in Italian were clear enough that I was able to stitch it on my own. I LOVE the linen and can't wait to use it again for another project. It's very soft once it was washed and ironed so perfect for runners, doilies, table clothes and the like. The needle painting on it has also boosted my confidence so I hope this means I can finally take out those Hazel Blomkamp kits I've been holding onto. Maybe next year?

Next up: I've started prepping my goldwork project. So this weekend I want to finish the padding and work a little on Hedebo Enchantment to finish the fillings for square #4.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Catching Up

Coming back from Labor day weekend and I really wish I had one more day off. I took the opportunity to catch up on some of my long neglected WIPs runner is finished!

I finished the hem on Friday night, but didn't get around to washing and ironing it till Sunday. And obviously by the time it was ready, there was no good lighting for pictures. Crossing my fingers for some good natural light in the living room. I want to take pictures of it against the dark wood of our coffee table so that the drawn thread portions really pop out. In any case, I'm so happy that it's done and I have plenty of time to arrange a drop off for the exhibition.

Finishing on Friday meant I had the rest of the long weekend to work on other projects. I was tempted to start preparations for the goldwork piece I'm starting this month but realized I never printed the instructions. So instead I devoted all of Sunday to my JEC phase 1 bead embroidery piece. I was able to finish all of the flowers. What's left now are stitching those leaves. That should keep me busy. They don't take as long to stitch as the flowers (each flower takes about 30 minutes), but there are a lot more of them.

By the way, those extra beads I bought? It turns out they made a mistake with the shade of topaz. I ordered an extra hank of garnet, light topaz and dark topaz. The two bags on the right are the dark and light topaz they sent. What they sent as my dark topaz was in fact the light topaz. The dark topaz is the one on the left which is much darker. I did run out of light topaz but I was very lucky that I had enough of the darker shade to finish all the flowers. Otherwise I would have had to contact the JEC and place another order.

Monday was all about Hedebo Enchantment, my piece from this year's EAC Seminar. I decided to concentrate on the filling squares and finished all of square # 3 (the one with the doves eyes) and started square # 4 (this one looks like a '+'). I've been sort of avoiding the problem child which is square # 2 (the one at the bottom left corner). It was really annoying to stitch in class so I will have to do them in between working on the border. Right now my aim is to finish before the end of the year. I'm going to try and stitch on it at least two or three times a week so I can meet my deadline.


So all in all I had a very satisfying and productive long weekend :) Did anyone else get any stitching done? Aim for this week is to photograph my runner, work some more on Hedebo Enchantment and setup my goldwork piece. So hopefully I will have another update for you at the end of the week.