Saturday, September 27, 2008

UFOs, WISPs and WIPs - a treasure!

Earlier this month Sharon Boggon had a post on her blog about finishing projects. This led me to think about my UFOs, WISPs and WIPs. I have some UFOs that have been part of my baggage, literally and metaphorically, for up to 50 years. Yes, one would think that it would be easy to dispose of something that has sat around for that length of time. Not so, I find that when I think it might be time to get rid of something in this category, guilt overwhelms me and it doesn't happen - maybe the day I will really finish it is tomorrow.

When I took up embroidery just over twelve months ago (well I should probably say resurrected my interest in it after a long hiatus - like nearly 50 years) I made the resolution to stick to small items and not to indulge myself by beginning too many projects. So far I have kept to this and while I have a couple of very slow projects there is nothing one should classify as a UFO.

Well the point of this post is to document a long term UFO that transformed into a WISP early last year. My grandmother took up embroidery late in her life, at almost eighty. I find it difficult to believe that she would not have stitched in her youth but it was only in the later years that I remember her doing so. Despite her failing eyesight she did manage to stitch quite a number of centres and tray covers. They were all traced needlework on Irish linen that was freely available in the 1950s. At some stage, probably in the mid-fifties, she gave me this piece - one of my favourite patterns - the Blue Willow pattern - when the embroidery was complete. It needed a crochet edge. I felt I wasn't sure I could do justice to something she had embroidered so this unfinished piece came with us from one side of Australia to the other and back again . In March last year I finished the edge on a linen handkerchief and then looked for something else to do. The season had arrived and the centre has two of its three rows of edging complete. I do work on it spasmodically but hope to finish it within the next 6 months. It is something I will treasure as it is the only piece of her needlework I inherited.

Unfortunately while in storage a number of stains have developed - hopefully they will come out when I wash it - I was loath to do so before I completed the edge. I hope Grandma would be happy with what I have done - she was a very cheerful soul and an indomitable character - a very special person.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flower embroideries - #2

Well I am not sure I am not jumping the gun when I say this is finished! I feel that perhaps I should do further stitching on this one. Part of my problem is that it is an Inspirations design and I would like to add my own 'bits' to it. I have not used the colours suggested nor is it an exact copy - however there is not enough of my 'own work' in the design to completely satisfy me. Nonetheless, I think that I will say it is finished for now and go ahead and begin #3.
I have had a wonderful time stitching lots of bullion stitches and French knots.
Added later: I meant to point out the wonderful little butterfly beads that I found for these embroideries - they just happened to be in a bag of beads leftover from the ones I used for the girls' embroidery boxes last Christmas !!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Flower embroideries - #1

Wonders will never cease! Here I am with four blog entries in three days after a hiatus of weeks! I have been stitching, just not spending time on my blog (and very little else on the computer). There just does not seem to be enough time to do both.

I decided to start some flower embroideries for my granddaughters for Christmas - they are six and seven years old so any colour as long as it is pink will be great! I had borrowed Diane Lampe's book from the library and my first one is based on her season embroideries but the flowers are not as realistic as in her book .
The patches are intended for the centre of some cushions - not sure at this stage what to use for the actual cushion cover.

The stitching is in cotton thread much of which is stranded floss, the rest, perle. The fabric used is a quite good quality calico. What is interesting is how much easier it is to stitch some stitches on the tighter weave of the calico as opposed to on 28 count linen - my usual fabric. I love using linen and know there is no comparison of quality, but French Knots, in particular, seem to cause me problems occasionally on the linen but never on the calico. The cushions are meant to be used and enjoyed - so will get dirty and must be washable.
I had lots of fun stitching this one and am already half way through the second and ther are only three to do! Maybe this is the year I will manage to complete the handmade gifts I had planned .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Network drafting and how it started for me

Sometimes I wonder why I am not weaving more!

Yesterday I photographed a jacket I had woven some time ago. This weave was my very first network drafted twill. Alice Schlein had written a book about Network Drafting and I spent hours reading it and playing with curves on graph paper. (Alice's blog is worth a visit especially if you are interested in weaving but she often has wonderful photos without any connection to weaving). The book changed my weaving life and most of the weaving I have done for the last few years has been based on a variation of a network draft. No need to use anyone else's design now!

The jacket is woven in Australian woollen yarn - white warp with a black weft. The pattern, a Marcy Tilton design, was from vogue patterns. I lined and trimmed it with commercial fabric. It is a much travelled garment, having gone to and from Vancouver for the HGA Convergence fashion parade in 2002.

Memory training

What a fiasco yesterday! Sorry about that! I imagined that everyone was familiar with Buzan's memory training technique. After Paula's comment (thanks Paula) I went hunting on the web for it in case I was totally confused (it does happen -my memory is not as good as I would like). However I could only find references to his workshops and a Wikipedia article on Buzan. Neither gave the details I wanted and, of course, I can't find the book!

I did add a line on 'my' version of this - and will try to explain better. A picture is worth a 1000 words so instead of trying to remember the ingredients of a cake I found images to use. I chose fauna - to spell it out - Butterfly represented the butter ; Snake, sugar; Elephant, eggs and so on. I hope this is not as clear as mud! I did say that I didn't find the method particularly helpful.
I really needed something for my September TIF and I didn't want to stitch the Tower of Pisa.

One good thing has come out of this exercise - I have decided that redwork embroidery would not be for me! There is only so much stem stitch I can do at any one time. Back to my flowers and pulled thread sampling!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September TIF - Lists and Lists! Anyone for afternoon tea?

This is as you can see unfinished as I am not sure what to do with the separate blocks. The theme for this month was "lists". My first thought was a stitching of the leaning tower of Pisa but fortunately I decided against that - Paula has done a much better interpretation of that meaning than I could ever have managed - do go see her Whale Makes List .

I then thought of Tony Buzan's memory aid (I am sure he can be found on the web but this is from memory - I read his book in 1979 so I hope I am correct). He suggests if you have a collection of things you want to remember then draw a picture in your head for each - beginning with the same letter as the item - e.g. I need some sugar then the image I choose is that of a snake. I did not find this particularly helpful. It always seemed to me much easier to remember the actual item rather than an image I had dreamt up to replace it.
However when it came to this month's TIF challenge I decided to stitch a "list" of what I might need to make a cake!!

As may, or may not be, obvious I also used the month's colours - possibly a mistake as I think the images would have been more attractrive in primary colours. All the pictures are worked in stem stitch in stranded cotton - two strands - on calico scraps. I don't know if this will ever be finished but I did find some fabric in my stash that could be used as background. The only problem is that I am not a patchworker.
This was a fairly speedy exercise - whereas I usually spend a couple of weeks on the TIF challenge, I only started to stitch these on Sunday.