Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One of my favourite fabrics

Thankyou to everyone for the thoughtful comments on my TIF piece. I continue to be amazed by the variety of techniques used for the first month of the challenge.

As promised yesterday I posted a photo of a fabric I wove in the 4 colour double weave technique in 2005. It was for a weaver friend who made a lovely jacket with it for her daughter's wedding. An enlargement of the photo shows the separate threads in more detail.

The colours used were purple, grass, terracotta and fire Interestingly, while these were the yarn manufacturers names for the colours, the purple was identical with the DMC 333 and fire, with the thread I chose for the flower centres. It is easy to see why the colour interactions in this weave fascinate me. Since this fabric was not for me I needed to weave a series of samples using the colours in different orders in the structure . The set of samples is all I have left but I can still spend time enjoying the clolour play. When I was looking for a suitable photograph I wondered how long it will be before I can return to the loom - I have a lovely stash of colours and a good selection of drafts ready to go.

Colour is so wonderful and, while I still haven't managed to solve the reason I froze with my design for January, I am looking forward to Sharon's selection of colours for next month.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Further thoughts on colour or why did I freeze?

Thankyou for the encouraging comments on the colour piece.

Jacqui, I am not sure what, if anything I will do with my year's worth of challenges (at this stage I am very keen to keep up and produce 24 - time will tell!). At the moment they are just hanging around my loom room - currently my stitching room - being decorative! As I roam around all the exciting textile blogs I look at journal books and folios that have been made from samplers and think maybe? Yesterday I considered the possibility of a 2009 calendar - maybe just using photos or scans of the embroideries would be more practical. I wonder how many other people not producing quilt blocks have made a decision on how to handle these pieces already.

Now my colour question! As a weaver I have been weaving long enough to very well know that using two or more different values of a particular colour can give a fabric ever so much life. In the last three years I also have become fascinated by the almost unexpected colour interactions that can occur when one uses fine enough threads and different colour combinations with a single draft. So I am surprised that it took me so long to realise that I could combine the threads in equal or unequal proportions to give an effect I might find acceptable. Having said that, I have spent quite some time trying to work out why the palette of DMC skeins on the table did not appeal to me. Is it I just need more practice? Was my right brain completely turned off? Is it because I am so new to design for embroidery? I just don't know! Since my wardrobe is full of shirts and jackets mainly in colours that range from red-violet to blue-green I am totally puzzled by my inability in deciding how I might use that particular combination. It makes me wonder if I was alone in suffering from this dilemma.

When I first began to weave I was not comfortable with colour and would have happily spent my life using only white and cream threads. I worked hard to overcome this attitude - especially after someone made the comment "You need to be born with a colour skill - it is something that is impossible to learn!" Well, that was a real challenge and from that day on I was determined to do what was necessary to disprove that theory. After a three day workshop on colour with Sharon Alderman I read everything I could find on colour theory and spent hours just playing with coloured threads of different shades and size. So by now I am quite comfortable, indeed, very happy, to use colour when I weave. In the next post I will try to load some 4 colour double weave photos.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Colour Challenge for January complete

After stitching all day yesterday and a little readjustment this morning I am finished. Wonderful, as there are still some days left in January!

I feel very virtuous as I managed to remain within the colour parameters set by Sharon with only one small deviation - the addition of a little gold !

About midJanuary I purchased the DMC colours. However when I got them home and spread out in front of me I could not for the life of me design anything in which to use them, and them alone. So I proceeded with the theme challenge and tried a couple of options on paper and with stitch samples - the trees mentioned in a previous post - but nothing wanted to work. I tried an arrangement of paisley shapes and waited for some inspiration. It was some time before I realised that the linen I wanted to use was the same shade as DMC 822! Of course, pulled thread with a little extra stitching to make sure I did introduce all the colours (I had bought them especially, after all!). I did not allow for the fact that stitching pulled thread is dreadfully hard on softly spun floss - nonetheless I persevered instead of looking for a replacement (machine sewing thread in the same colour would have made much more sense and probably have done a better job) and am not too unhappy with the result.

All went well until it came time to use the other colours - they were still difficult. Suddenly I realised it was a "palette" of colours after all and why didn't I make use of a benefit of floss strands and mix my colours like paint? The only unmixed colours in the finished piece are the pulled thread and the outlines of the main shapes.

This was another good learning experience for me - I did use new (to me) pulled thread stitches. My stitching is still far from perfect but I feel I can see small improvement with each piece. I look forward to next month's challenge.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Still plodding along!

I cannot believe how quickly the time disappears when I am having fun! Here we are at the end of January and Australia Day already - unbelievable! I have been stitching steadily for the past six days - mostly stitching this time and not unpicking as I did for half the previous week, fortunately. I am designing this as I go - I wish I could do otherwise. This means there is always the need to undo something when it is not right. I think it would be so good to be able to get it all on paper beforehand and then be able to concentrate on the stitches alone. Maybe that will improve with practice - here's hoping!

In between times I have been enjoying the work and blogs of people who have finished their TIF for January. I must share a site I happened to find while I was cruising around. It is a wonderful site on Assisi embroidery - something I have never tried but something that appeals to me . I think the appeal is based on the fact that in Assisi work it is only the negative space that is stitched. The site is extremely interesting and contains blackwork as well as Assisi. Anyway here is the site www.stitchstitch.info/index.htm - enjoy.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Change of direction

After spending 3 nights stitching and unpicking I have tried both these ideas and have decided to shelve them for the moment. I think I need to stitch the design quite differently.

So while I have settled on something simpler I am not exactly sure how I will interpret it. Since the colour of the fabric is exactly the same as the palest DMC flosses it is suggesting pulled thread work. The linen is 32 count so that would provide an even bigger challenge!
I purchased the floss in the colours that Pam Kellogg kindly suggested (did I really need more stranded cotton?). My monitor certainly didn't suggest these colours but I found a site ( www.csh.rit.edu/~vance/pages/color )giving RGB values for DMC floss that suggested Pam's choices were much closer.
Initially I converted the hex numbers on the palette to RGB numbers as I wanted to play on my weaving software . I thought 4 of the colours might look good in a 4 coloured double weave design but when I tried them out I did not like the resulting draft at all. Nonetheless it was certainly an interesting exercise.
Anyway above are the paisley shapes and, as I said, the execution of the design is still fluid!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our trees and the colour theme for January TIF

We have some gumtrees growing in the block behind. The block on which we live is quite small - certainly not big enough for even one of the smaller varieties of eucalypts - so I am delighted to be able to enjoy such magnificent trees next door. When we moved back to the city from our 2 acres in the country I was delighted to be able find a house with this outlook.

One day sitting in a waiting room I tried to sketch two of these from memory. While I usually find it impossible to produce a satisfactory drawing this rough scribbling could serve the purpose.
I need an outline for an embroidery of gumtree trunks, looking at the coloration of the bark. This seemed a good place to start.
I am not sure how it will work with the colour palette chosen for the month - however I tell myself that colours look quite different in different lights and, besides, I am not aiming for realism.
There are two different ideas floating around in my head at this stage. One is to use running stitch with a single strand of cotton floss while the other is to do this in pulled thread stitches - I am tempted to do both working on them at the same time. Is there sufficient time left before next month's challenge turns up? Maybe, as the size will be postcard and if I don't finish they can join the WISP pile. I am not very keen on adding to this as my WISPs seem to become WISVPs!
I want to extend Sharon's palette - stay within the same sections of the colour circle but add extra shades to the palette. When I first saw the colours I decided that I would need to add at least one complementary shade and then when Sharon showed us her quilt block it transpired that she had also used some gold so I feel it is quite legitimate!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Finished! (I think)

I have stitched this on 26 count linen using mainly perle cotton and beads. The background is wave stitch with the hand outlined in whipped stem stitch. The textured area consists of buttonhole wheels, buttonhole bars, and french knots as well as a few bullion and caston stitches. I think there are so few of the latter two that it is a bit like a "Where's Wally? " exercise to find them.

As mentioned in a previous post this is also intended as a sampler for Lesson 6 in the Personal Library of Stitches. This is the first time I have used wave stitch, buttonhole wheels or bars in a finished piece so I was pleased to get the practice. However while I still feel uncertain about my ability to manage many caston or bullion in any quantity this is a 'further ' direction I want to follow in the future.

As I intimated in the title I am not sure the design would not be improved with further stitching on the background - however I will cogitate over this for a day or so before touching it up.

Now I can spend time on the colour theme.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

TIF Part 1 January

Here is my preliminary sketch for the first piece.

I kept it simple and added background and texture as I stitched. This means I sometimes have to unpick but I find this the easiest way to work. I am almost finished the piece and will probably add it tomorrow. It is amazing how, although I am a slow beginner, I want to keep stitching once I start. Just can't wait to see how it will turn out!

2008 has me running already!

Happy New Year. I am excited about 2008 and possibilities for stitching. When I consider that it is only six months since I rediscovered the joys of stitching I am amazed at the ground that has been covered. Sharon Boggon's two classes, Sumptuous Surfaces and Personal Library of Stitches, accelerated the process no end. I cannot remember how long it is since I enjoyed classes so much!

I have started my first piece for Sharon's challenge for the year - Take it Further. She gave us two great options - one, a colour scheme (more about that later ) and the other, a theme - a piece on someone we admire. I want to try both options each month if at all possible. In this way I can optimise the challenge opportunities.

While I have not yet scanned any images I will try to document the process.
After a week spent mulling over the theme I decided that there are a number of people that I admire and the reasons I do so are their generosity, dependability, tolerance, ability to accept challenges. I do have one particular person in mind who possesses these in abundance.

With a postcard as my canvas size I had trouble in deciding how best to get my message across. Perhaps an outstretched hand, palm up, might be the answer? I began where I usually do and googled 'images of hands' for ideas, before drawing one of my own .

I often tend to fall back on my creams and browns as I can usually find the threads and beads in my stash. Besides I am partial to monochromatic stitching - so this is the way to go.

This piece will also be a sample for the last lesson in PLOS - I ran out of time before Christmas. As well, I consider it an extension of my Sumptuous Surfaces learning - definitely a "take it further" exercise!