Posts Tagged ‘tree’

I finally returned to embroidery after about 5 years! I made some progress on the Swiss Folk Heart crewel kit mentioned here. It’s slow going but I hope it won’t take another 5 years.

Here’s a work-in-progress shot:


And a detail:


I think the embroidery is ehhhhhh (and the smartphone pics) but I’m not going to let that stop me.


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After finishing the two fill-in samplers from Beginner’s Guide to Blackwork I decided to press onward in my self-education.

Here are my attempts:

This was my first attempt at manipulating blackwork patterns. I was so ridiculously proud of myself. Here’s a detail of the top portion of the sampler.

Each column contains a different interpretation of the same fill-in pattern.

The first row in each column has a horizontal, left-to-right gradient, while the bottom row in each column has a diagonal, bottom left-to-top right gradient.

Before I began I charted each variation of the pattern on graph paper.

I think of the first variation as a degradation of the original pattern. It begins as an almost solid fill, moves into the pattern and then parts of the pattern drop out until something like seed stitches are left. Everyone I’ve asked so far likes this one the best and considers it the most effective. I’m wondering what other stitchers will think.

The other two patterns move from solid fills into the original pattern and then into at least two other patterns. I was ridiculously proud of this as well.

I learned that there can’t be an abrupt shift from one pattern to another, or from solid pattern to seed stitching. I had to “blur” the edges by carrying the patterns further in some areas and letting it change earlier in others.

When I was a child, I took art classes for years at the local art museum and could wield a pastel or Prisma color with ease but it’s been years and needle and thread are completely different mediums.

It’s satisfying but frustrating having to plan every single stitch. There’s nothing zen or meditative about this kind of blackwork.

The tree is inspired by a design in 4000 Flower & Plant Motifs by Graham Leslie McCallum. The patterns in the top three areas correspond to the columns above them and the bottom little bunch is the middle pattern repeated because I felt like it. Here’s a detail of the tree.

Here’s my second attempt:

Perspective in blackwork! I decided after relearning shading, I’d go on to the next lesson in any Beginning Drawing class and relearn perspective in this medium.

I used really simple patterns for the boxes, x’s and squares so as to keep the project from spiraling out of control.

In the right, which was the first attempt, the pattern stretches away from the viewer. This is my favorite of the two because the optical illusion makes it appear as though the sides of the box curve in.

In the left box the pattern stretches towards the viewer. I don’t like this one as much though that may be because I rushed it and stitched over four blocks of aida for three columns and that was just too much. I’m not sure either are effective at communicating perspective, though I guess I shouldn’t expect realism. I’m glad I stitched them up and can look back at these and apply what I’ve learned to future projects.

I wasn’t about to try a cone or a pyramid so the next test of perspective was a sphere. I spent a lot of time on this (be sure to click on the image to enlarge it, then click again to magnify it). I researched shadows and reflections and discarded a number of images before settling on this view. It was hard to know when to stop. I was constantly aware that it would be really easy to ruin it by overworking it.

Here’s a detail of the crosshatching I tested out:

I loved stitching this! I’d really like to use this to give a piece a “sketched” look. The left middle square is the best candidate I think. I’d want to practice some more to learn how to construct gradient with crosshatching but it’s such a great pattern.

The bottom two squares are my attempts to create a solid fill with crosshatching by stitching on both the x and y axis as well as both diagonals. It got a little cramped. I knew my needle should go in a general spot but I couldn’t be sure and the pattern just got too muddled. I don’t know if I would just use cross stitch or what for a solid fill. More practice is in order, obviously.

The topmost square and the right square in the middle row are a bit weird. I wanted to see what dropping out parts of the pattern would look like.  I’m still not sure.

One thing I do know: it’s incredibly time consuming. These are stitched on 18 count aida and come in at just under an inch square. This pattern also consumes a ton of floss. I stitched this a while ago so I can’t remember exactly how much this sampler used up but that and the time factor were enough to make me give up for the time being. It’s definitely something I want to revisit though.

I don’t consider these samplers as finished products so neither should you but rather as sketches and opportunities to learn. I hope this was informative to you and you can apply it to your own stitching or was at the very least entertaining.

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So, in addition to craft ADD I am a bit of a craft snob. When I got into embroidery as an adult it was ribbon embroidery that caught my attention. It was so striking and unlike anything I’d ever seen that it seemed better than anything else. I wondered how anyone could not be into ribbon embroidery if they’d heard of it and concluded most people didn’t know because it didn’t seem very popular. Well, that is the wrong attitude to have-pride goeth before the fall and all that.

I soon moved on to embroidery with cotton floss (it appeared to have it’s uses-that and my mother had a huge stash) and crewel work but I vowed never to get into counted cross stitch. I’ve moved on once again and the thing that’s caught my interest at last (hopefully permanently) is blackwork. I found working counted thread embroidery to be extremely relaxing and meditative. But I still thought counted cross stitch was lame.

It seemed too easy to me. Just following a pattern and laying down colors. Of course, this can describe all embroidery.

So arrogant! So judgmental!

I regularly search eBay for embroidery kits. In an effort not to miss any because sellers are often woefully inaccurate (or creative if you want to be positive) when they list I simply search for “kit” in the Needlecrafts & Yarn subsection of Crafts. In fact, I have a saved search set up to notify me when new things were added to eBay that matched my search terms. This is close to 600 items a day. How do I know this? Because I quickly made use of the RSS feed button at the bottom of the search results page and added the feed to my Google Reader and the reader counts each new item.

The new Search Experience eBay is betaing doesn’t include the RSS feature so I’ve opted out for the second time.

Casting such a wide net exposed me to all sorts of embroidery, including the dreaded counted cross stitch. But there, amongst the rough was this diamond:

Oh my god! RV Cross Stitch! Are you kidding me?! After cackling like mad I bid and won the auction. I don’t mean any disrespect to Full Hookups Inc. because if they hadn’t produced this kit I wouldn’t have been able to complete it. But it’s just so fantastical. And weird. Here’s a picture of the chart:

I hadn’t done counted cross stitch since I was a child so I did the best I could. I didn’t know to mark every ten blocks with thread or why one should work a section completely before moving on. As a result there are a few mistakes and why you’ve seen the development of the piece color by color.

I should have known I’d find counted cross stitch just as relaxing and meditative as blackwork and I’ve been thoroughly cured of my CSS prejudice. Well, except for the really lame kits.

I struck gold twice! I found another RV kit-this time for the Class C Motorhome.

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This is a kit I’m working on right now.  And this is all I have been able to finish so far. So when I say, “right now,” I mean, “whenever I’m least intimidated.”

It’s all satin and stem stitch with some french knots thrown in. Here are the instructions:

And here’s a detail of my stitching so far:

This is my first time working with crewel wool and I really like how dimensional it is. Unfortunately, the ground fabric feels mealy (kit circa 1977) and has a very loose weave. I’m having a really hard time getting good line definition with the satin stitch. If the wool goes between threads it leaves a huge hole so I need to pass it through the threads of the fabric but that’s not always easy.

I’d like to do backstitching on the lines like Mary Corbet of Needle’ n Thread did in this post but I don’t know if there’ll be enough wool. I can’t find crewel wool locally. Or at least I’m unwilling to drive around on the off chance someone has it. It’s a little frustrating. Here’s how much wool came with the kit:

The wool measures about 2″x7″ and the stamped area is about 13.5″x15″.

Finding this kit on ebay was a dream come true because I’d planned on creating monochromatic folk art embroidery myself. I still think it’ll look beautiful but I obviously need to re-think this project.

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The very first project of my return to embroidery was not the ribbon embroidery present for my grandmother. It was a Bucilla Creative Needlecraft kit No. 1958 called “Winter Morn.”

I chose this specifically because it reminded me of something my mother did. It was crewel (this used cotton floss) and there was a wagon wheel (this is sans wheel). But the perspective and general placement of the barn and the fence brought back strong memories of seeing her framed embroidery in the hallway.

Here are pictures of the instructions:

Detailed huh?  If sewing patterns are anything to go by I don’t know if we’d see this much information if this were a modern kit. This kit only required 4 stitches though: loop, back, couching, straight and satin.

It was a learning experience though. Here are some pictures of the work in progress:

I was working with a hoop then. It was easier for me to use a small hoop, since I was working really slowly and got very little done in one sitting.

Unfortunately, all that repositioning meant my hands came in contact with the fabric a lot and the pristine winter snow was quite dirty by the time I’d finished. I washed it and almost ruined the project. The red from the barn – but not the fence – bled like crazy. Nothing worked: salt, vinegar, gallons of cold water. This prompted a late-night run to the grocery store and I picked up something called Carbona Color Run Remover and Shout Color Catcher sheets.

I tested the color run remover and it did stop the bleeding but it also changed the colors. Reds became light orange, browns became green–it was almost worse. Maybe it would have worked differently with modern dye.

So then I moved on to the Color Catcher sheets and about ten sheets and several buckets of water later the color was stable. They really worked and I wholeheartedly recommend them if you’re at your wit’s end.

I don’t have a picture of the completed kit because I haven’t mounted it yet. It’s a behemoth – it requires a 22″ x 28″ frame!

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Like most people, I have craft ADD. Here are some pictures of my first but not current love: Ribbon embroidery.

This is my grandmother’s Christmas gift half finished. I got really into folk art and bought a bunch of books (bad me!) and chose this image from Pennsylvania Dutch Designs (International Design Library).

The other books in the picture are: Folk Art Cut & Use Stencils, Scandinavian Folk Designs (Dover Design Library), Russian Folk Arts and Crafts, European Folk Art Designs (Dover Pictorial Archive Series) and 250 Stencil Designs from India (Dover Design Library).

Whenever I get into a craft I think it’s the best possible craft and no other form can compare to the wonderfulness of that particular form. I liked how dimensional ribbon embroidery was, how quickly things stitched up, and the relative accessibility.

On the other hand, silk ribbon isn’t available locally and I’m hesitant to buy loads of silk ribbon over the internet (about the only thing I won’t buy I think).

Here are some shots of my grandma’s present finished:

I put it in a “Collection Cabinet” from Michael’s so that the embroidery wouldn’t get smooshed and the viewer can open the frame and touch it. It’s impossible to resist touching the stitches so I decided to make it easy on whoever ends up looking at it.

She cried when I gave it to her. She said, “It’ll last long after I’m gone.”

To which I replied, “Oh, Grandma! That’s because the ribbons are polyester.”

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