Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back at 2020

2020 has been a strange year. I traveled for work twice before we went into lock down. Vacations were cancelled all around and a lot of time was spent at home. We've all moved to meeting online, even my local guild embraced Zoom. I was able to see members I never get to meet as they usually join the day meeting while I only went to the evening meeting. One of the best things that happened in my opinion in 2020 that I hope will continue, many teachers have decided to start online embroidery classes. It doesn't replace taking in person classes but it sure is more affordable when you don't have to account for travel costs.

Another one for the plus side, my collaboration with the French Needle has continued. I had the chance to work on some beautiful pieces. 

I worked on my finishing skills, getting more familiar with my sewing machine. I even made masks for the family.

Finally plucked up the courage to start one of my Hazel Blomkamp kits. Midnight Meander came out so beautifully, I definitely want to work on another one in 2021.

The oldest WIP in my roster, Bramble and the Rose was completed. Amazing considering where this piece was this time last year where I was still trying to finish that one page to reach the bottom right corner. I'm now working on doing the finishing, so there will be a second "finish" for this piece.

I was interviewed by Gary Parr and Beth Ellicott on FiberTalk which was an amazing experience. Following that I decided to join them on their Dawn to Dusk SAL which was fun.

One project that was so close to being finished but didn't make it was Tracery Dragons. It only had the backstitch left. Not sure why, but a few days before the end of the year I suddenly woke and decided this should be my last finish of the year. Sadly it didn't make it, but it will be my first finish of the year instead.

December TUSAL Finale

The last TUSAL was the most colorful thanks to Jen's Colorwheel. 

Check out how full my jar was this year. There are also scraps of fabric in there but it's mostly threads I promise. I'm way behind on posts, so I'm off to writing my review of the year and the plans for 2021. There is lots coming up soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Blackwork Color Wheel - New Start

Now that I've completed Dawn to Dusk, I can start a new project. Spoiler alert, I'm way more ahead than I should be. I couldn't help it, this piece is absolutely addictive. The design I decided to start is a "blackwork" Color Wheel embroidery kit by Jen Goodwin Embroidery. I'm using quotation marks because blackwork is traditionally stitched in all black and this one uses lots and lots of colors.

To be honest, I don't think I would have purchased a blackwork kit if it wasn't for all those colors. You'll understand once you see the contents of the kit. I love those pastels!

(click on the post to see the video below)

The fabric comes un-printed, with the design printed on paper to be transferred using tack lines. I find printing paper too thick for this method and prefer using tissue paper. However, I want perfect curves so redrawing by hand is not an option. One of the things I've been learning during COVID is Islamic Geometry, and using a compass to draw them. This particular shape is actually a circle split into seven equal parts. I also learned how to find the center of a circle, thank you Youtube!

As this is a small design, I'm using stretcher bars for this project. You can use a hoop, but I like to avoid hoop marks when I can.

The design is transferred onto the fabric using tack lines as they are temporary. Once the entire piece is stitches, they will be carefully removed.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Before starting, I moved the threads to a larger ring and inserted a label to identify the color groups. Each set of threads is used at a different level in the flower. It is very important that they stay in the exact same order they came in as otherwise you won't get the same effect.

Blackwork patterns look complicated at first glance, but they can be simplified by breaking them down into layers. The patterns in this design can be broken into two layers: horizontal and vertical. I found that by stitching one layer for colors, makes it easier for me to put in the partial stitches needed where they meet, before doing the next layer.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

I must say I haven't been able to set it aside once I started. The stitching also goes buy so fast once you memorize the pattern. That's also a pitfall. The pattern changes once you reach the third layer and despite the fact that I had studied the diagram, my muscle memory went ahead and replicated the old pattern. Luckily I realized my mistake by the third color change so it wasn't too bad of a fix.

I will be off starting Friday afternoon for my annual two week stitching holiday. I'm so looking forward to it. So far the plan is to work on this piece and Hiogi, but primarily Hiogi as I'd like to get that piece finished next year. I also need to start thinking of what my new years day start will be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Dawn to Dusk - Finished!

I didn't post last week as I was so close to a finish, I decided to skip one week. Dawn to Dusk was just about done, all that was left was the outer border and the beading on the brocade. 

It took a full weekend to stitch the outer border. You can't see all the stitches, but I stitched around that border five times.

It took two evenings to complete the beading.

And it's done! I really enjoyed stitching this piece but I do admit that brocade was really tough to get through. Whatever you do, don't leave it till the end!

I tried taking pictures showing the sparkle of the piece but couldn't get it across. Still, you can appreciate the textures all the different materials give it. By the way, I didn't end up modifying the last motif. I was convinced not to change it, but I think by then I was ready to move on so it wasn't very hard to do. I also had to share a picture of the back, the brocade reminded me so much of tweed fabric.

For those curious about the kit, I purchased mine directly from Karen Dudzinski and she includes full skeins and reels of everything. I have lots leftover to bling other projects and way more of that ribbon than I'd like. I'm not a big fan of ribbon embroidery no matter how pretty.

As for Dawn to Dusk, it's going into storage with my other canvas pieces waiting to be framed. I'll probably frame it once the COVID situation is better. I normally say this will be the last canvas piece I do, but I learned my lesson last time. You never know what piece you'll come across and fall in love with. So I will keep an open mind.

Monday, December 7, 2020

November TUSAL

My ORT jar is so full this month. I really should have taken a side view of my jar but I didn't think about it at the time and I've already emptied it out. I did complete Dawn to Dusk, I'll post pictures of it very soon.