Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bramble and the Rose - A Disaster and a Finish

This is really a finish and disaster all wrapped in one. I completed the stitching on Bramble and the Rose about a week and a half ago. As this piece has been ongoing for almost 8 years and has been everywhere, it needed to be washed. I was also hoping to get the streaks of purple out from the water bottle accident in 2019.

I did the usual cold water bath with some liquid dove soap (it was the softest I could found at the shops near me). The lines of purple didn't come out so I took the loss and rolled it up in a paper towel to dry.

I like to iron my pieces while they are still a little damp, so about three hours later I unroll the piece and find this disaster.

It immediately went right back into a cold water bath to soak and stayed there for three days. I was obviously in a panic and went to Instagram for advice.

There were many solutions suggested, the one that came back a lot was using a color catcher. I did end up purchasing a box and trying it out, but it didn't change color. By the time I received it, the fabric had been soaking for three days, with a refresh every few hours. There was nothing left to catch but it was good to know 100% that there was no more excess dye.

I did a lot of research on my end as well, on how to save embroidery that's bled and the ice water bath seems to be the best one. You can read more on it here. The most important thing is to be patient and not iron the piece. Once it's ironed, the colors will set and you can't get it out. The soaking process could take weeks. Proof, the little streaks of purple I was willing to leave are now gone because the piece was soaked the time it needed.

A bit more information on the threads I used. It's a cotton overdyed thread by Threadworx. I purchased and started the kit when I was first starting out. I'm pretty sure it's the first dyed thread I used. I've never washed any of my cross stitch projects as they usually contain beads or kreinik threads. They also don't go traveling with me. I've only ever washed whitework pieces before this.

All in all, this was a good learning experience. I initially decided I would never use this thread again (I think I still have a few skeins left unopened), but I don't want to limit myself. Not to mention I plan on stitching the companion piece and I'd like to use a similar thread. There is some literature on Threadworx website that I'll put here for the future:
  1. If you plan on washing the final piece, before starting to stitch: un-skein the thread and soak it for 2-3 minutes in cold water, with 2 tbls. table salt and 2 tbls. vinegar. Remove, blot with a towel and let dry. I'd recommend braiding the thread once it's dry to keep it from tangling.
  2. When the piece is completed, don't wash it in hot water and don't use steam or a damp cloth when ironing, as it could reactivate dyes and cause bleeding.
  3. Throw in a color catcher when washing the piece if you're worried, but cold water should be enough. Leave it to soak for more than a day.
  4. If the threads bleed, soak it in ice water until the colors bleed out. Have some ice cubes ready to rub over problem areas before soaking it again in fresh ice water. Repeat the process until the area is cleared. As I mentioned earlier, this could take many days. I can attest it does work!

Despite the disaster, I'm super happy with the results. I learned something new and know how to solve it. I also have a beautiful piece that is now on display in the living room.

Here's a closer look at the hem. The inner border (12 threads) is wider than the outer border (8 threads), so I went with a double and single peahole. I liked the simplicity of the stitch. The finishing took a while but was well worth the effort. I'm glad my mom suggested it. I was initially going to cross stitch some flowers in the corners but finally decided I like the clean border.

I now find myself with no counted project to work on. Maybe it's time to pull out my hardanger project again to see if I can finish it. Or I may be tempted to start something new, we'll see.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Karahana - Lesson 3

Last Saturday we had our final lesson on Karahana. We had two elements left to cover on this piece. 

The first one is the leaves, there are three total, which are stitched using the woven effect. This isn't a new technique for me as I covered it in Hiogi. It's done in four steps, but instead of silks we used a twisted metal thread.

It looked ok at the beginning but at some point it started looking funny and I wasn't sure it would look good at all.

Thankfully by the time all the steps are done it looks really nice. I still need to outline it in metal thread. That will help hide any imperfections in the shape.

The second and last thing we covered is the single thread "to and fro" technique to complete the petal turnover. This technique is very similar to a basket weave, with some slight differences. Instead of a pair of metal threads, we are using a single strand. We're also going back and forth, turning at the edges instead of ending the threads.

It was really hard getting that first line straight, so I put in a temporary guideline to help me eyeball it.

Another difference from the traditional basket weave is we don't alternate where the thread is couched down after every row. Instead, we're forming rows of 6mm before we change where we couch.

So after four weeks here is where my piece stands. My homework: finish this piece by June. The reason for this is that I have a class scheduled in June and I need the frame. I could buy another frame but I'm not sure our woodworker will be able to get it ready before then. So finish it I must.

Here's my to do list:

  • trefoil stems, I'm still trying to decide if I will do them in #1 gold or #1 twist
  • outline the bottom leaf
  • stitch and outline the other two leaves
  • outline the stem
  • stitch the petals - add spacing and couch round and round
  • stitch the turnovers - add spacing, pad, couch to and fro
  • remove spacing
To throw an added complication, Ramadan started yesterday. If you'll remember I didn't do too well on the stitching side last year. So I'll take it by ear and see what happens.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Karahan - First Petal

I took the day off on Good Friday to extend the long weekend and meet with my Japanese embroidery group. We meet once a month, but there is a smaller group that meets on Fridays and I really wanted to work stitching that first petal.

This petal is the largest of the bunch and needs to get stitched first as we always work from foreground to background. Before starting thought, I put in a thin karayori thread to help maintain the empty space. It's the little purple thread that's sticking out.

Spacing isn't the only important thing in this piece, curves and edges are very important as well. The sharp edges, when stitched correctly and maintained throughout, will give a lovely "vein" to the petal.

It takes a while for it to come out, but after about six rounds it starts showing up. The picture below is my progress from Friday. 

One of my objectives for the long weekend was to complete this petal by Monday, so I continued working on it on Saturday. This was supposed to be a few days work, but I got so into the flow of things that I just kept going. Every time I wanted to stop, I'd look at what was left and just keep going.

Until it was all done. Just to give you an idea, that petal took around 14 hours of stitching. I deeply regret doing it in two days, it's too much goldwork for the eyes. At the same time, the big hurdle is over and the rest of the petals should go a little quicker.

Looking at the list of items to do before class on Saturday, I have the important stuff done. I could work on the stems for the trefoils as I picked up the missing threads. On the other hand, I need a break from this piece so maybe I won't. If I do work on it this week, it would be to put in the karayori thread to prep the petals on either side of the one I just completed.

  • Complete padding the turnover - Done
  • Put in the karayori spacing between the turnover and the petal - Done
  • Start and complete the first petal. Once I start, I have to commit and complete it as we need the #4 gold for lesson 3 - Done
  • Stems for the trefoils elements. I need to pick up some twisted gold for this - threads were picked up
  • Extra: if the first petal is completed and I have time, stitch the curled stem that is next to it
I received a question on my last post from an Unknown commenter, asking where I purchase the patterns and pieces. All the Japanese Embroidery I've worked on so far are phase pieces and can be purchased from the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta. Keep in mind tuition is not included when you buy a kit. If there is interest, I can do a separate post to explain how it works for a student starting up.


A few days late on my TUSAL report due to the long weekend. Still lots of black, white and orange threads from both Karahana and Calm Flow. I worked on a few things over Easter weekend that I will share here soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Karahana - Lesson 2

 Last weekend, we had lesson 2 on Karahana. We mainly covered how to stitch the petal turnovers. 

The turnovers are outlined with two rows of a pair of metal threads. The inside is stitched in a technique called "to and fro", very similar to basket weave in English goldwork. Before we can get to the stitching, we have to put in padding.

Cotton padding is used and then these are wrapped very tightly. I used gold cotton sewing thread, the same stuff we use in English goldwork, as it'll give me a more rigid line.

The one petal turnover took all day. The padding is very tedious but it must be done. I'll have four more to look forward to in the future. For now though, I'll need to stitch the first petal. We covered other parts of the piece but didn't get the chance to stitch anything. So much is dependent on getting that first petal done.

For next class, I need to:
  • Complete padding the turnover - Done
  • Put in the karayori spacing between the turnover and the petal
  • Start and complete the first petal. Once I start, I have to commit and complete it as we need the #4 gold for lesson 3
  • Stems for the trefoils elements. I need to pick up some twisted gold for this
  • Extra: if the first petal is completed and I have time, stitch the curled stem that is next to it