Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crewel Work Doodle

I mentioned in my last post that I made up a new crewel small design by combining snippets from a pattern in the A~Z of Crewel Embroidery book, and have made some progress on it. What I am finding out from this is what a terrible job I did transferring the design using the prick and pounce method. The pricking and pouncing went fairly well, but I had trouble connecting the dots with the paint. If you look very closely at the leaves and tendrils you can see a bit of the lines peeking out from under the stem stitching. Maybe if I wrapped the stem stitch it will make it bulkier and hide the paint.

But the really bad parts are on the flower on the left and it's accompanying upper leaf. Look how thick I made some parts of the line, and also note the ovals in the center of the flower. They're not exactly centered, are they?

So I had to cover the flower completely, instead of having some white space around a green satin stitched center oval, as shown in the original design.  I'm having to alter the upper leaf quite a bit as well. So the lesson to be learned from this is, when the directions say to use a 000 sized brush, they aren't kidding. Don't use the brush that came with the paints! You really need very fine lines. My directions came from the RSN Essential Stitch Guide to Crewelwork, and also from blog posts by Mary at NeedlenThread.com. I know others have posted about this, but I can't quite find the references. 

I also mentioned that I'm using threads leftover from previous Tristan Brooks kits, but am finding that I have quite a lot of thread and there is no way I'll use anywhere near all of it. So I may make another little design and try my hand at the painting again, this time with the right sized brush.

By the way, in answer to Bunny's comment about the charcoal coming off, it blew off quite easily and there's not a trace of it anywhere. I did decide to see if the paint could be rinsed off easily, so I made a little test sample.

Notwithstanding the spelling, you can tell what Beatles song was floating around in my brain this morning.

I dabbed some water on the "y" with a cotton swab. Pretty ugly.

Then I washed the sample with a bit of soap, squeezed out the water and took a pic. I enhanced the photo due to some ugly shadows in it, but basically the paint didn't come out. The results of this experiment are pretty obvious, don't try washing your painted prick and pounce design.

I hope to finish this soon and will show you the final result, and have made some progress on the Smocked Hanger Cover.  I brought it with me today when I took my mom to the doctor's, but they are getting efficient these days and we didn't have to wait much at all. Consequently, I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pesky Crewel Pomegranate Finished

In my last post on working the Charleston Small, I had run out of the red Gumnuts Poppies threads in my frustrating efforts to work the pomegranate in coral stitch. I pretty much thought that I would order more when Tristan Brooks came back on line at the end of the month (tomorrow, in fact). But then I remembered that I had a few skeins of Appleton wool and sure enough, had a pretty close match of the right colors.

Then Gail left a comment directing me to Mary Corbet's post on this very same kit. She did the pomegranate in coral stitch, but remarked that she would have like to try stem stitch instead. So I thought to myself, let's try the stem stitch. I'm pleased with it, and also with the lattice. I didn't like the fly stitch recommended in the kit. I used the thread that was supposed to be the lightest pink in the original directions, Gumnuts Poppies 857, to form the lattice. Then I had just enough of the Heathway Pomegranate 5 to couch the lattice, but only in one direction.

I don't like the top leaves at all. I may redo them.

The center looks a little bit caved in, doesn't it? I'm sure that just the way the fabric lay. But I do like the look of the stem stitch, even if the Appleton wool does look a bit fuzzy. So that's the end of my Tristan Brooks kits. Since I have a lot of odd bits of threads left over from the previous kits, I thought I would make another small embroidery and then have a nice grouping of four to frame and hang somewhere in the house.

I found this design in the A to Z of Crewel Embroidery and thought it would be just perfect! Well, parts of it, anyway. So I copied the design, then snipped it apart, and rearranged it to make a much smaller design. 

This is what I came up with. The box around the design measures 3 1/2 inches (9 cm), which is the same size of the designs in the other crewel embroideries.

I then decided I wanted to try the prick and pounce method of transferring the design to the linen. I placed a piece of vellum paper and the decorative spools from Michael's, a discount hobby store in the US, and glued a felt circle to one end to use as the pouncer. That's a #3 embroidery needle stuck in the cork. I used it for a while but then switched to a push pin, which was much easier to control.  By the way, Navarro Winery is our favorite winery, located in Mendocino County way up north in California. We visited them when our children were young, and they welcomed them and let them taste their grape juice in wine glasses, just like an adult. I've always appreciated that so we've been members of their wine club for over a decade. Oh, and the wines are great!

It worked pretty well to transfer the design. I used the charcoal dust left in the bottom of the charcoal bags we use for the barbeque. (Don't use the Match-Light, you don't want the smell of lighter fluid on your embroidery!). However, my hand isn't particularly steady, as you can see on the large leaf on the left. I'll have to use some fancy embroidery to cover that. Still, the technique wasn't as daunting as I had expected, so I will definitely use this again in the future. But I do need to invest in some better brushes, and stretch out the fabric before painting.

This will be something of a doodle piece. I'll just make it up as I go along. I'll use some of the stitches in the original directions, but probably not all. And of course, I'll change the color scheme to use up my little bits of thread left over from the previous projects. It should be fun, and will be something I'm doing that's not completely from a kit, which is quite unusual for me.

Well it's Sunday evening, and time to get ready for the week ahead. I hope all of you can find a few minutes in the day to stitch, as I certainly hope I can.  We did go to the movies this afternoon and saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. All I can say is WOW!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rainy Day Fun

Today is our first good rain of the new year, and I managed to get in a couple of fun hours in the sewing room. While rummaging around in the mess, I found this piece of pleated cloth, Imperial Batiste, I think, that our SAGA chapter had put together for our Smocked Hanger Cover a year ago. You can see where I flattened the middle section and stitched a 10 cm buttonhole for the hanger hook. Last year I made this with ivory silk dupioni and added some ecru Swiss edging to the long sides.

But last Sunday, Laurie of SewNso's Sewing Journal gave a tutorial on adding and rolling and whipping lace in one step, so I dug out some lace and gave it a try. It worked beautifully!

I even added pinstitching, but I used a 120 needle instead of a wing needle as Laurie suggests. I used Mettler size 60 thread, but I've found that if I use Madiera size 80 it looks very much like hand work. However, I didn't think of it until after I started. I really didn't want to change the thread in the machine anyway. Too lazy.

So here is the piece, all ready to smock!

For this project I'm using an overdyed floss by Needle Necessities, now sadly out of business. I bought it at a quilt shop near my home which is also out of business. This economy stinks, doesn't it? Threadworx, which is based here in Southern California, is using the same dye formulas as did Needle Necessities, so if you happen to have the old NN products you can buy the same ones as Threadworx. Several shops offer the Threadworx, with the NN numbers cross referenced. This particular color is NN 149, which is now Threadworx 1081 Shortcake. You can buy it at Needle in a Haystack in Alameda, California, and I imagine at quite a few other places. It's a pretty lavender/mint green combination that I think will look lovely. Now mind you, I've never smocked with overdyed floss before, so this could get interesting. I'll probably waste quite a bit to make the colors look like they are flowing, and not choppy. We'll see how that goes.

Now it's time to try to tidy up the sewing room so I can work on something without searching for threads, needles, etc., under all the stuff strewn about. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Frustrating Crewel Work!

One of the reasons I really love carpooling (aside from saving money, which is always good) is that it gives me several more hours each week in which to stitch. I decided to work on of the smalls from Tristan Brooks while carpooling to work. Should be nice and easy, right? After all, the kit contains preprinted linen, all of the threads organized on a card, needles and instructions. And I have already done a few of them as well as the Elizabethan Pencil Box. All I need to add are scissors, needle threader and glasses (always glasses, sigh). It's a fairly easy project, with stitches suited to a beginner. So what's the problem?

The stems, leaves and the partially worked blue flower look pretty good, but take a look at that wonky pomegranate. It consists of two rows of coral stitch, but I didn't manage to stitch a nice, smooth curve. I had just enough of the Heathway Pomegranate 5 left, so I took it all out and redid it at home.

So here it is with the outer two rows in 5, plus two inner rows each of 4 and 3. Much smoother outline, don't you agree? But look at the top and bottom where the lines of stitching meet. It doesn't look at all like the photo, and it bothers me so much that I can't live with it. After all, this is a practice piece to get me in stitching shape, so to speak, for working the Royal Persian Blossom. But the problem is that I'm completely out of Pomegranate 5 and there isn't enough of the 3 and 4 left to redo it. But, I can order more, right? Well only partially. Tristan Brooks, whom I think is the only American supplier, is closed until the end of the month. But I'll put my order in and try to be patient.

The moral to this story: Don't do anything requiring precision in the car! Especially on the really bumpy section of the I-5 near San Juan Capistrano. I'll dig out a crochet project to work from now on.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sweet Pincushion

I picked up a kit for this sweet little pincushion at a quilt show last year. It's made entirely of 11/2 in squares sewn together with standard (well, for quilts anyway) 1/4 inch seams. The kit contained enough squares for two pincushions, and I supplied the buttons. This is one side,

and this is the other. The pincushion is made with two top and bottom panels consisting of five squares sewn together, then joined with five more squares. Stuff with polyester batting, sew the opening closed, add buttons (be sure to use quilting thread here) and you have a darling pincushion.

I made both of them while riding to work, with each taking one round trip's worth of hand sewing (less than three hours), then stuffing them at home. I gave one of them to my carpooler, as the fabric raveled a bit and I left threads all over the passenger seat in her brand new Honda Civic. She brought it in to work but none of the other ladies believed it was hand sewn. Actually, on the first photo, you can see the seam sewn shut from the outside as I wasn't particularly careful with it. This just goes to show that you can make things by hand if you aren't afraid of threading a needle and tackling the job. I used Sarah Howard Stone's handsewing thread, which is prewaxed and pretty strong, but as mentioned above, quilting thread for the buttons.

I'm thinking of making a big one for the cat in shades of black and white to blend with the fur. Should be cute, but knowing him he'll probably ignore it. This one I would make on the machine.

It's now Friday night at last. This was the first full week I've worked since mid December and it seemed like an eternity! I hope to work on the Black and White Log Cabin Quilt this weekend, and maybe get some time in on my Persian Peony Tile.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Bit of Eye Candy

This little lady came to see me last week, bringing her mom, grandpa (my brother) and aunt with her.  Her aunt, who is visiting from grad school in Seattle, is holding her in this photo. She is wearing the Embroidered Blue Baby Dress 2 made from Best Embroidered Baby Clothes I, an Old Fashioned Baby pattern.

Here she is when we first put the dress and bonnet on her. As she had the bonnet ties soaking wet in no time, I dug up the bib that you can see on the first photo. Mom should be sending me photos of the other outfits I made for her, soon, I hope!

My youngest goes back to school tomorrow, and after I take the Christmas tree down I hope to get some stitching time in. I haven't touched the Persian Peony Tile since the last post, four days ago. I'm also working on folding all my fabric around the comic book boards, and am almost finished. I have way too much fabric. (is that even possible?)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Persian Peony Tile Progress

It's now Tuesday evening, and as I've been home with a cold for the last two days (what a way to start off the new year.) I did make a bit of progress on the Persian Peony Tile between taking naps and drinking gallons of herb tea. This is where I left off, notice the felt knapweed shapes scattered randomly on the surface of the piece? I did get those tacked into place, but more about those later.

This is Gilt Pearl Purl in it's unstretched form. I snipped two five inch (20 cm) lengths and gently stretched them so they measured 12 inches (20 cm). 

Then I wrapped six strands of Cifonda Art Silk 754 (purple) around the pearl purl. This floss was so fine it was very difficult to use, almost like rayon. So I waxed it! I know, it's almost a sacrilege, but after all, it was just for wrapping the pearl purl and I didn't want the strands to separate.  I found that taping the end helped to keep it from unwrapping - pretty handy.

I then couched it into place with one strand of the same thread, and using my tweezers, bent the pearl purl at the tips to give the shape a bit more definition.

And here it is, with all the wrapped pearl purl couched into place, and the knapweed felt bodies stitched down. I don't like the one on the right, so I may redo it.

Next up, embroidering the leaves on the bottom, then couching more stems. But it's back to work for me tomorrow, so not too much stitching until the weekend.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Persian Peony Tile - Very Little Progress

I've made just a tiny bit of progress on the Persian Peony Tile. I managed to almost finish half the border on the right and add a few beaded flowers.  Hmm, I must have used the flash on the second photo. 

Not much in the way of progress, but I am plugging away on it when I get a chance. I did take it out of the hoop and put it into an Evertite frame. The fabric was just a bit to small to fit properly so it was impossible to keep it tight. Now that it's in the frame I'm much happier with it as the fabric stays nice and tight, then I tacked some muslin around the embroidery to keep the silk clean. I found enough quiet time to add the border on the left. It still needs the stretched pearl purl with floss wound around it on the outer border, but I'm saving that for when I have an hour or two of quiet time. That may not happen soon, as our youngest son just came home and will be here for the week.

Most of my time over the Christmas break has been spent on the black and white quilt for my son. I've managed to square the body of the top, add a gold border, and am now working on the grey border. I'll post some photos soon. It's now Sunday evening, and I have to go back to work in the morning. I think I need another week just to get a few things done!

I hope all of you had a lovely New Year's Eve and Day. We watched several episodes of The Twilight Zone on SyFy then I went to bed early with my cold.  I can't get over how good that show was. It's still very riveting.

I hope all of you have a wonderful first week of 2012!