Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Introducing the Heron

During the summer Becky Hogg showed off her latest design on Instagram. If you'll remember, last year a group of us were doing a stitch-a-long of of Becky's kits. I was working on Foxy, while Natalie (Sew by Hand) and Catherine (Hillview Embroidery) were working on the Owl. As soon as we saw the Heron, we decided that this would be our next stitch-a-long.

This time around, our group has grown to include two more members: Carolyn and Pam. They don't have a blog but you can follow them on Instagram.

The plan was to order our kits once they were available and plan for a start in October. Things got delayed a bit on account of many of us being busy with other projects, but we finally agreed to start this past week.

As soon as I saw the pictures on Instagram, I really fell in love with the color palette. The blues goes very well with the silver. The design also includes a material I never used before which is silk wrapped purl. I always like to try something new when I pick a kit.

Our first goal is to put in all the padding and stitch the legs. It just so happened that the instructions said to put in the beak before the legs, so that was done as well.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

So here is the beginning of my Heron. The next step is the head, but I will give the group time to catch up, while I work on Hanabatake.

Speaking of Hanabatake, I'm almost done. I need a week, at most two, to finish. In my last update I mentioned planning to order more beads. That's been done, now I just need to wait for them to be delivered and hope I don't run out before then.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Growing like weeds

Last week, I spent most of my time beading the background on Hanabatake. I put in about an hour a day, except for Sunday when I was able to spend more time, on it.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Is it just me or it's looking like weeds crawling among the flowers? At least it's pretty weeds. I'm hoping to get to the half way point by end of week. This means covering the upper right side by Friday. Let's see if I can meet my goal.

Here is a disclaimer: If you're currently stitching or thinking of stitching this piece, and want to stitch the background the same way, I haven't gone through all the beads in my kit yet and it does look like there is a lot left. However, I'm not taking any chances and plan on ordering extra. Luckily, the beads are a standard Toho seed bead so I was able to find a source for it. I'll keep you posted on whether I run out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October TUSAL

I completely forgot about TUSAL this month. I think I'm over a week late. I don't have much to show since I spent most of my time beading. There is a bit from my work on the sashiko panel and bearded iris.

By the way, I had a few animated images in my last post and I forgot to put a comment. I've updated the post since. If you want to take a look at them, click here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Japanese Embroidery Retreat 2018

Our Japanese embroidery retreat came to an end yesterday. We had a lovely 4 days stitching together in the same space, talking about embroidery of all kinds and exchanging tips and ideas. A friend came all the way from Victoria, B.C. to attend the retreat with us and I hope she decides to make the trip again in future. It was amazing to have her as she has a lot of experience in Japanese embroidery.

The retreat started on Friday and I had taken a day off to attend. The first thing we did was to double lace our frames, in the opposite direction. This was something one of our members learned from her favorite teacher. When we set up the fabric on the frame, it's laced going one direction and the bars pushed apart with pieces of bamboo. We're always supposed to loosen the bars if we are travelling with our piece or weren't going to stitch on it for long periods. By double lacing the frame in the opposite direction, we would never have to loosen the bars anymore and now there will be an even tension on the fabric.

Once that was done, we could start working on our piece. My plan for the retreat was to work on the cords that wrapped around the wrapping paper. The first step is to put in twisted string padding. Below is my flat string padding hitched onto a koma ready to be twisted.

This technique is very familiar to what is done in goldwork but there is no wax involved. You also have to make sure to maintain the twist as you work with the string.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

By the end of Friday, I had most of the string padding in place.

Saturday morning, I continued putting in string padding this time over my pretty flax leaf. Before I could do that, I needed to put back the outline of the cords that were covered when I put in the foundation layer. The outline took all morning as I needed to make sure there was a stitch every millimeter or two.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Once the outline was in, I could finish my string padding.

On Sunday, our third day in, I was finally able to start stitching the cords. This is done with flat silk in a combination of white and red or white and blue. I'm starting off with the red. It took three tries for me to get the angle right. You can see how my angles changed until I got the right one. The trick is to aim for LONG stitches.

First attempt
Second attempt
Third attempt
Sometime during the day we got a refresher on how to make karayori. It was good as I have many to make in my future for all the stems.

I unfortunately had to go to work on the last day of the retreat, but I did join the group at the end of the day for a supper. Looking back at my progress, I'm very happy with the amount of stitching I put in. My cord has a good angle started thanks to the guidance of my group. Now I just need to make sure I go around that curve without losing length on the stitches.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Long Weekend Progress

I meant to post this yesterday but got derailed. Canada celebrated Thanks giving over the weekend. I'd been really looking forward to having three days of stitching. I ended up only having a day and a half but that's okay.

One of the projects I wanted to work was my seminar piece Bearded Iris by Alison Cole. I put in the last piece of felt and cleaned it up a little. I had to take out some cutwork and chipping that was applied with a single thread (we're supposed to use a doubled thread). I also cut out any outline stitches that were showing.

I also put in the last petal. I forgot how fiddly these things are. I'm looking at the overall shape and it looks okay, I just hope I'm able to hide those stitches when I go in to outline the petals.

I finished the leaf I had started in class and plunged all the passing. These are not the regular Japanese passing I'm used to. These suckers are slippery! I didn't realize till I started plunging the other end that I had pulled too hard on one of them and it slipped way to far. I had to carefully pull it out and re-couch it. It did unravel a tiny bit but it probably won't show unless you look at it too closely.

It looks good from the front, but I still have to clean up the back. I'll leave the boring work for the days when I'm too tired for a long stitching session.

I started beading the background on Hanabatake. I had initially started on the lower left corner but felt like I was crowding my beads too much and took it all out. I re-started this time on the lower right corner. They're not as crowded as my initial start but it's still more densely beaded than the original design.

I've decided that I like how it looks and will just keep going. I only hope I have enough beads to do the entire piece. If I thought the leaves took a long time, the background will feel like it will take forever. I've gotten into a rhythm where I stitch a scoop of beads at a time. It's not a huge amount, about 20-30 beads I think. Once I finish those, if I still feel up to it, I would get another scoop. I'll have to keep at it if I want to finish before the end of the year.

Here's a project that hasn't appeared for a long time. It's been almost a year actually. I've been finding that my eyes have been too tired lately. I think it's because of the materials I've been stitching with. I decided to test it out with some cross stitch. Every time I felt like stitching but too tired to work on my bigger projects, I would take out Bramble and the Rose and put in a few stitches. I've been doing that on and off for about 2 weeks and it seems to be paying off. I just might be able to reach my goal of finishing one page this year.

For this week's stitching plan, I want to try to put in some time on Hanabatake between today and tomorrow. Maybe reach the lower left corner?

This weekend is my monthly Japanese embroidery meeting, but instead of a single day we're doing a retreat over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The group is also meeting Monday but I have work, so I will join them at the end of the day. It will be great to play hooky from work on Friday at least and spend the entire day stitching. My plan is to work on the cords that wrap around the bouquet's paper. That should keep me busy and if I get bored I have a ton of twisted thread to make for the stems.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hanabatake - Part 10

On Sunday, I had a very lazy morning as I was resting from Saturday's fair and the drive back. After lunch I sat down to put in a little progress on Hanabatake. I never imagined that by the end of the night I would put in the last bead on the last flower. You read it right, all the flowers are done! I made a little animation to celebrate.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Looking at it now, I think it's those little flowers that are really what attracted me to this piece. Especially the light pink.

I couldn't help taking a micro shot. I think this will be my new wallpaper on my phone.

Now I just need to fill in the background with seed beads and it will be done. I think it's time for me to take out the instructions and take a look at them. If I remember there are some steps that might require a sewing machine. Since I don't own one, I'll have to figure out how I will handle that.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cataraqui Guild 2018 Needle Arts Fair

I was happy to be able to visit the Cataraqui Guild of Needle Arts fair again and reconnect with my stitching friends from Ontario. On the way in, I spotted the new bookmarks the EAC made this year to promote the association, one of which has my friend Natalie's design. I made sure to snag one for myself.

I'm sorry to say I wasn't able to get enough pictures to really show off the fair as we were busy all day (which is never a bad thing).  I just had enough time to take pictures of the setup for L'Atelier de Penelope's booth before customers started coming.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

This year the boutique was in the gymnasium which was a more comfortable setup.

There were some new vendors this year, one of which was Lianne van Leyen of 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers. I met Lianne at last year's fair and she had brought in one of her antique samplers that she was creating a cross stitch pattern for. This year she was back with her own booth selling her patterns. I'd been following Lianne's progress on Instagram and she accomplished so much in the last year getting her samplers in multiple shops. When I visited her booth she was in the process of acquiring a new antique sampler for her collection.

I did get new stash. I found Luzine Happel's book Fancy Hems at Books for you. I've been wanting it for a long time but only found copies online. It was good to save on the shipping.

Picked up a few things from L'Atelier de Penelope. More sashiko threads for my panel as well as the last Marie et Co. book on whitework (how could I resist?) and a box of Tulip tapestry needles.

I couldn't pass up these pretty glass head pins. They come in a blue color-way and a mixed color-way as well but I really liked the pink and purple.

Patricia just got these silk combo packs (I showed the purple one earlier) and this dark blue was exactly the colors I needed for a design I'm working on. I almost caved and got another one as well, but they are a little expensive so sacrifices had to be made.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

In July I bought this Mirabilia kit, called Mermaids of the Deep, that I will stitch as a gift for my sister's birthday. A while back Patricia mentioned she had someone at the boutique who has been experimenting with fabric painting and dyeing, and could create a custom fabric for the pattern. This is what came out of it. I did a floss toss just to make sure the colors will go well with it.

I love that shade of blue and there is just a tiny hint of purple in there. The colors are also not too dark so it will look great in her bedroom. The artist had also added some sparkle in there which you can't really see in the pictures unfortunately.

Now that I have my fabric, I can start stitching. I think it would be great if I can have it finished and framed in time for her birthday next June. I just need to finish Hanabatake first.