Sunday, October 26, 2008

My loom room - hideaway.

Here is the promised shot of my stitching workroom - in probably as tidy a state as one could ever hope to find it. The sewing machine is behind the photographer and there is a large notice board to the right of the loom. I am extremely lucky - while I know we looked very hard for a house to fill a workspace requirement this was probably the best we saw. The room is the full width of the house and has more windows than most, with two at each end. Its only drawback is it is on the western end of the house which is on a small lot. However I am a 'morning' person so have the perfect excuse for not being able to work at the wrong end of the day. Not that that is much of an excuse as there are fans and, in really hot weather, the air conditioner can be used. The biggest problem is that I need to shut the blinds at the back to keep the sun out of an afternoon.
When I look at this photo I know why I feel so comfortable, settled and at peace whenever I sit down to work, or not, as the case may be.
When I think about my comments on Patricia Bage's book yesterday I do hope I have not misled anyone. While I was disappointed when it arrived it was because I expected something more. The title of the book is perfectly correct - it seems to provide a very thorough introduction to drawn thread work and I am not sorry I have bought it. There seem to be very few new books published on a number of subjects in which I am interested - whitework, drawn thread, pulled thread and blackwork. I am always delighted whenever I find anything. I have quite a list of classics that I would like to find. Yes Paula and I both seem to enjoy searching the second hand shelves in the area . She has very kindly lent me a number of books that will probably only add to my list of wanteds

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not quite cheating! TIF October challenge. Some new books

This is not quite what I intended to do for my answer to the October challenge - how does my workspace affect me? I have had a busy month and had hoped to finish my star that is intended for a Christmas box and then get onto my TIF embroidery. Very early in the month I knew exactly what I was going to do - just how I was going to do it took a little longer to decide. However by the end of last week I knew exactly what and how I would stitch it. Unfortunately life got in the way and I have only just completed this piece. I was beginning to feel quite sad about the prospect of ever managing to do the challenge for October as November is just around the corner - my daughter arrives for a visit tomorrow and then I will be out of commission for the fair part of next month. Suddenly it occurred to me that the feeling of this piece was exactly the same as the feeling I get whenever I settle down in "my" space to stitch.

So here is my offering for October, with no apologies. My Christmas star imparts the feeling of peace and joy I get working in my workroom. I have a rather good sized room at the back of the house. When we were looking to buy it was important that we found somewhere for my loom which occupies more than a four foot cube. The loom and sewing machine area is at one end; there are bookshelves along the back wall (so the loom room serves also as a library ) and at the other end there is a comfortable chair (a nice place to relax and stitch or just think) , a very big coffee table and a high smallish work table where I can sit and stitch or use my laptop. What more could anyone want? Nonetheless, I have to admit I seem to be forever looking for somewhere more for storage for all the odds and ends that one accumulates almost without realising. I will do another post with some photos of the loom and the workspace.

This piece goes back to my first Sumptuous Surfaces embroidery last year - I used only French knots, whipped stem stitch and , in this one, pulled herringbone instead of pulled cretan, as well as the beads and sequins. Unfortunately much of the sparkle does not show up in the scan. The pulled thread work is done using Moonshine, a very fine acrylic weaving thread with a lovely pearlised finish. Neither it or the pearls have any gleam in the image above.

Now I am cheating - I won't put pulled herringbone on my pulled thread sampler that I am stitching for the stitchalong but will certainly cross it off the list of stitches (otherwise I will never see the end of that list - it would help if I didn't keep finding stitches I want to try that are not actually listed!). It does make an effective background and I like the fine thread especially.

I have acquired two new (to me) stitching books by Edith John - Needleweaving and Filling Stitches - both in mint condition and published in 1967. I love her books and suggestions for stitches. Also I got a new copy of Patricia Bage's Beginner's Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery. This one came from Amazon, sight unseen - not my preferred method of buying books. I was slightly disappointed as one of the reviews said there was contemporary work but it appears to me that the only contemporary idea was using colour as well as white and natural fabric and threads. Maybe I am unfair as I really know nothing about drawn thread work and she certainly gives me a good grounding in how to work the stitches. However I would love to have had access to drawn thread used in a contemporary fashion - some people are never satisfied!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Flower Embroidery #3

Well the embroidery is finished on all three designs - unless I add a name to each - am considering doing that in stem stitch. Despite my grumbling about the "pinkish" focus I have really enjoyed doing these and, surprisingly, was a little sad to add the last butterfly bead. The shape for this design came from a recent Ispirations but there the resemblance ends.
Adding the name in my own handwriting in stem or chain stitch has become an issue since I recently reread Claire Bloom's The Inspired Needle. I bought this book in 1962 (or so the flyleaf tells me) - and have read it many times over the years. A wonderful story about her life with a needle much of in wartime - if you can pick up a copy do so. Claire Bloom wrote mainly fiction but I also enjoyed her autobiography. She advocates using script, one's own, in embroidery.

Back to the cushions - I dug in my fabric stash and found pale green gaberdine for the cushion cover - a perfect colour, I think. Now I just have to make time for some machine sewing.
In the meantime I have been stitching a number of my TIF challenge embroideries to card - a job I hate, by the way - and will take some photos when the finished pieces are complete. This will be an embroidery Christmas!!! They might all encourage me to go back to weaving!
Also I have begun to sample Hardanger and started a new embroidery with French knots as the main texture stitch!!! Who promised herself to not start anything until she finished the previous piece? Just a collections of WIPs - however I am enjoying the ability to change direction . Also the hardanger is impossible to stitch correctly (and I quickly discovered it is impossible to fudge things in Hardanger!) without a magnifier so there are very definite limits to the length of stitching time.
For some unknown reason beyond my comprehension I have managed to add some text above the picture! Bloggerland is an amazing country!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stitchalong - a new pulled thread stitch.

Another stitchalong sample finished!

I love pulled thread work - have I said that before? I am not sure why but I feel a real sense of peace and contentment whenever I start this work. Maybe it is working in monochrome? Maybe it is the repetition that I enjoy? Whatever it is - it really doesn't matter but it is wonderful that it happens.

I have a TIF challenge piece to do as well as some dressmaking to finish. However the other day while rifling through Edith John I came across a stitch she calls Chinese Stitch which is basically just two vertical stitches crossed over the single horizontal stitch. The temptation was too great. The two top sections are in perle cotton #12 and the bottom section in filasil - a machine rayon thread. I tried the fine thread for my last stitch sample and have decided that it is interesting to see how each stitch looks in a very fine thread.
I think I prefer the two rows slightly separated as the first and the third. However,I am sure there will be a use for the closely worked kind.
Also I have only tried the regularly stitched version - there are a number of "what if"s that occur to me. What if I make longer horizontal stitches and use more verticals for each one? What if I make regular changes eg. one with 3 vertical stitches, the next with 5, another with just the two again? These could be arranged symmetrically or assymetrically as the mood takes. What if the verticals are different lengths? I could probably come up with a few more variations - just need the time (and good light) to try these out.

Chinese Stitch is an interesting name - I have looked in my other stitch dictionaries and cannot find it. However Mary Thomas uses Chinese Stitch as an alternative name for Pekinese Stitch - quite a different beastie! Interesting to realise that not only weavers like to confuse eg. the weave that is honeycomb and waffle, depending on the country of origin!

I have also finished the third cushion piece but that is another post. Another reason that pale stitching is agreeable - I have discovered one CAN have just too much pink!