Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - The Last of the Bush Clover Leaves

I guess I had time this week. I had set myself two things to do before the weekend starts and both are done.

Yesterday I unwound the hank of Japanese imitation gold. It comes twisted on itself and folded in half.

I untwisted the wire keeping the halves together and kept it on one end of the hank as the other end already has a tie. I didn't feel that the wire was solid enough so I used a piece of cotton thread and tied it a few times.

In order to keep the hank tidy, it's better to wrap it in paper. A sheet of legal size paper or two letter size papers taped together would work. Some stitchers use this plastic slot thread organizer to store their metal threads. But in a pinch you can use paper like I'm doing now.

I had to do it twice to get it right. Luckily I had a friend to help me out with it. The trick is not to put both "legs" of the hank in the same place but to separate them. If you keep them together, the hank will be loose as it's very slippery.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

You can see it better here. It's also best if your fold is about two centimeters. Anything bigger and the hank has more space to shift around.

Once everything is good, the hank can be cut in half where the little tie is. Now it's ready for use. All I have to do is pull out a strand to stitch with.

My second task was finishing all the bush clover leaves of which there were five. The two smallest purple leaves were a little tricky as I had to figure out what is the best place to start and the angle of that first stitch.

Since both my goals are done, I'll have to make new ones. Someone suggested the leaves of the pinks. Those are very pretty, stitched with green flat silk with scattered stitches in metal thread. I can also finish my two pinks. Choices! Choices!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - Pinks

Last week I stitched the second branch of bush clover leaves on the right. At this point, I have five leaves left to do but I'm blocked as they are behind the pinks. Those dreaded pinks! I made it a goal that I would figure them out at our monthly meeting on Saturday.

So far I've been okay with every element I've had to stitch but these flowers we're just not working for me. I made a few attempts for the little time I had on Saturday (I had to leave early to attend a BBQ) but I was just getting frustrated. I had a very hard time imagining where each stitch should go.

I had received a sheet with tips on how the stitches should lay and noticed that the stitches on each petal formed an overall circle on the flower. So Sunday, I did some math and came up with a ratio. I marked out a circle within the petals and that would be my guide line for the first row of stitches. The first line has alternating stitches. My first stitch would touch the line and the second stitch, starting below the first, will end below the line. With this guide, I only had to make sure my stitches were all of equal length.

Once that first row was in, everything just fell into place and I was able to put in the second row.

I think in this situation I was blocking myself. Everything had been going too easily for me on this piece that as soon as I couldn't figure it out on the first go, I got frustrated. Next time, I need to take a step back and find a solution that works for me instead of just getting annoyed and giving up. This is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

There are three pinks in the piece and I got two out of three partially done. Partially done because there is one more row to go at the center of the flowers.

The last row is done using Japanese imitation gold. Before I can use it, I need to unwind the hank. In the meantime, getting those two flowers done means I can finish the leftover bush clover leaves.

A had a bit of time left for stitching Sunday evening and figured I'd get that last chrysanthemum done. This is the flower that wasn't mentioned in our chart. I asked around and decided to go with flat stitching and no padding.

An overall view of my piece that is now less empty on the right. This week if I have time I want to finish the last bush clover leaves and unwind my hank of imitation gold. If I get those two things done, I'll be set for the coming long weekend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Twist Festival 2018

The Twist Festival was held this weekend. For the first time they decided to hold it over three days instead of just two, starting on Friday at noon. Since I had work, I joined Patricia to help out with her boutique Atelier de Penelope after work. Hurrah for half-day Fridays!

When I showed up the boutique was already set up. I think I prefer this year's setup over last years. We had more wall-space to hang things up.

The festival is really fun as I get the chance to meet stitchers and fiber artists. This year their was a great influx of young fiber artists as well as young stitchers-to-be. I had a great dinner with Annelise of Mamie Lisette, Natalie Dupuis of Sew By Hand Montreal and Patricia, just talking about embroidery and it's future. Annelise spoke about bringing back embroidery in the classroom. Wouldn't that be great?

Remember this piece that I saw at the Dentelles et Broderies en Lumière exposition? I got the chance to meet the lady who stitched it.

A stitcher came to our booth carrying this lovely tote bag from Mexico that was stitched using a luneville hook. The technique is called gancho which translates to hook in English. The colors just popped against that black. Check the link here for more pictures.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Monika of The Olive Sparrow. We had met her at her booth and she mentioned needing needles to embroidery her doll's eyes. She came to visit our booth with her two girls Nissy and Tamina.

Patricia and I got the chance to hold them. I got Tamina, she's so soft and cuddly. The dolls are made of 100% cotton and wool and she dresses them using recycled materials like wool sweaters and antique lace.

I was very good this year and didn't spend a lot of money. I resisted buying wool even thought there were so many pretty colors. I bough 100% wool felt from Monika's booth. These will be great for goldwork. I also snagged some pins by Twill and Print, they were just too pretty to pass up. I plan on turning these into needle minders.

Just because I was away all weekend didn't mean I didn't get any stitching done. In between customers I took out the sashiko panel I had bought back in June. I like doing this as it helps customers who want to try out this technique, to see it in action. It also pricks the curiosity of the ones who don't stitch and they usually come into the booth to ask questions.

Last night I wasn't up to stitching anything too complex so I continued working on it. It's a very relaxing technique. I finished all the outline that will be in white. I'm still trying to decide how I will stitch the inside but there will definitely be color.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August TUSAL

Not much to show in my jar this month. It's mainly the felt and sewing thread from my seminar class. Ignore the white thread at the top. Those are from this year's attempt at knitting. Let's just say it was still unsuccessful. Most of my stitching this month went into my Japanese embroidery piece and the ORTs are all gathered in this Sajou tin.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - More Leaves

This weekend I worked on leaves. I put in nine more bush clover leaves (14 leaves to go).

I decided to change it up on Sunday and worked on the chrysanthemum leaves. I'm loving working with flat silks. It's such a pleasure to work with, I can see myself stitching with it full time. Just need to build up my stash of silks.

The piece is really feeling empty on the right side. I need to figure out those pinks, the last time I put them in they were wrong and had to come out. I also really should finish the elements that are almost done, like the chrysanthemums and valerians. That way I can tick them off my list.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Phase 1 - Part 6

The weekend right after coming home from seminar we had a our monthly Japanese embroidery meeting.

Added the first three layers on the lattice

We've decided we will hold a Japanese embroidery stitching retreat in October right after Thanksgiving. There was also talk of maybe bringing a teacher in the spring to do phase 2. Now, I haven't been stitching as much as I should have on my phase 1 piece so I feel like I'm falling a little behind. It doesn't help that I had so many projects to finish before seminar. But now that that's over, I can finally spend more time on my bouquet.

I've decided that from now till October, I will be spending 90% of my stitching time on my piece to try and get as much of it done as I can.

My setup at home
With the pressure at work, I've only been able to work on it on the weekends and on Wednesdays. So far, I've stitched the weft of the second valerian. This will be covered with a lattice later.

 The purple and blue chrysanthemum stitched in flat silk. I really love stitching in flat silk.

I've heard that the bush clover leaves get annoying after a while as there are just so many of them.

I actually find them quite enjoyable to stitch, so I don't mind them as much. Still, I wouldn't want to have to stitch all 31 leaves at the end. What I'll start doing is whenever I don't feel like working on a major element, I will work on those.

I had started this orange chrysanthemum in class back in October. Later on I realized that I didn't stitch it properly. The petals are stitched one at a time with self padding underneath. We are not supposed to travel between petals. As you can see, there is a mess on the back of the fabric.

All of it had to come out. I did manage to save some of the twisted thread. I ended up using it for the padding under the petals.

I've been posting images on Instagram and received a lot of questions about the silk used in the piece. On the left you can see a reel of silk. This is how it comes when we buy it from the JEC. A lot of times, we'll use it as it comes from the reel: flat. And other times we'll combine multiple threads together to create a twist or even split a single thread to create multiple twists. The beauty of this is the stitcher can decide how thick or thin and how tight or loose the twist should be.

I have one more chrysanthemum to stitch this time in white (next to the blue one). I'm still trying to figure out HOW it's supposed to be stitched as it's not mentioned in the chart. I asked for advice on Facebook, just waiting to see what the majority says.

Now remember back in April when I lost one of my needles. Well, I was playing with my cut strands (because they're really soft) and my fingers encountered something that was hard. I look in the tin and spot something metallic and thin. It seems I might have thrown out my twisted brown silk with my needle still threaded on it. Good thing I don't throw my ORTs! It's the last place I would have expected to find my needle.

Here is an overall view of the piece.

There is still lots to do even on the elements I have already stitched. The only things really done is the blue iris and the bush clover leaves, if you don't count the stem.
  • The wrapping paper has two more layers on the lattice
  • The Valerian flowers have a lattice, as well as knots along the edges
  • The chrysanthemums have a few stitches in the center, as well as knots