Sunday, November 30, 2008

November TIF

November ends today. Now can anyone tell me where the year has gone? The television weather reader tells me that today is the last day of spring. What kind of airconditioning has she been languishing in for the last month or so? We have had temperatures well above the mid20's most days and even some as high as 34!

My planned TIF embroidery based on jacaranda colours is still mainly a plan - definitely an idea I want to take further but not this year. Nonetheless I refuse to let the month go without something to show for the challenge. Does it matter that I wove this in 2006? I think not.

I wove some coffeecosies and decided that they mustbe lined with handwoven fabric.This particular draft was the result of many hours of sweat and tears. I had decided that the structure would be summer and winter - so easy to make images in that structure! Ha, ha! Yes the letter shapes were easy to put in the tieup but it took me forever to work out exactly which way to get them to sit so that the white lettering read on the green background (I used 2/20 mercerised cotton for warp and both wefts). It would look correct on PCW but then appear in a completely different orientation on the cloth as it came over the front beam.

Then I had to complicate the process further by deciding that I wanted them to read the other way up on the other side of the lining - more tears!

This was definitely an exercise in letter shapes rather than actual words - the words were easy, getting the shapes right was not so easy for the 'bear of little brain'! However I did get there and as well as a series of linings I made a mat with the leftover fabric - just in case noone recognised the puzzle on the cosy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Handkerchief Edges

With a few days of enforced rest recently the crochet edge on the Grandma’s cloth is finally done. There are now just a couple of tiny details to stitch that she missed and the marks to be washed out of it before I post the finished item.

Crochet is a nice restful occupation, especially when there is no longer a need to consult the instructions. Unfortunately this also means I don’t find it particularly challenging so of course don’t have the patience to sit at it for hours.

With this piece finished it was important to have something under way , just waiting for that errant moment! Mind you, I have to admit that I am not sure about errant moments but I definitely have an errant brain! I have just found a linen handkerchief with an almost finished edging – when I started to crochet it I have no recollection – probably early last year.

I am one of a dying breed who refuses to use paper tissues except when I have a terrible cold. I just don't like the feel. Although I use cotton hankies for everyday it has always made sense to me to put my time and energy into linen. I may have to change this attitude as my supply has almost run out (this is the last, I think) and they are ridiculously expensive these days , even if I can find a supplier. Maybe I had better invest in a few as I think I have given away all but one of the many I have crocheted over the years.

Although I can’t remember this edge, I like it very much and it fulfils my criteria for crochet – the design must be fairly simple, no more than 4 rows deep and definitely not too lacy.

I have been collecting handkerchief edge designs for years and years. Some came from lovely old Myart, Paragon, Penelope, and Semco books , while others were pulled from magazines – this one was from a Family Circle, May 1982. I still occasionally find a book I don't own in an op shop or at a market. Is there anyone else out there who can remember the days when every department store and all those wonderful little haberdashery shops each had a rack of nice fine steel crochet hooks and a tremendous choice of cottons and the small pattern books? Now to find anything like that necessitates a hunt and a drive to goodness know where or else a shop over the web.

I have to apologise for the scan but it does give an indication of the edge and I promise to take a better one when it is finished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogs and Awards

Quite some time ago Carol Anne and Paula gave me awards. I feel I must apologise for not doing anything before this. I had not been blogging very long and while I felt very honoured I could not respond to these as at the time I was unable to use the hyperlinks. Everyone said it was easy, and it turned out to be so when I discovered how! Nonetheless it took me some time to discover how to do it.

Since then Shelley at Mermaids' Purse has tagged me so I am taking the easy way out and following the rules for ‘tagging’ and will give you 7 random facts about me –

1. I am a veracious reader and while I may have slowed down in other aspects of my life I can still consume written matter at a good pace.
2. I am a vegetarian – by circumstance not by intent – still prepare meat dishes for the rest of the family. I am allergic to chili and this makes the choice of recipes difficult.
3. I am a retired librarian who loved being a librarian but who really enjoys her retirement.
4. I like to cook if it doesn’t interrupt my other activities - my other blog is even more neglected than this one.
5. The kitchen tool I can’t live without - my knife set, which is sharp!!!
6. I only discovered that there is a right side and a wrong side to a needle eye quite recently.
7. I have run out of random thoughts.

Now, I am supposed to tag a number of other people but I won’t do that because I realise that some people have said recently they are not interested in tags or memes and of course I can't remember who they were but will take the easy way out and give you a few of the blogs I visit regularly and the reasons why I can’t stay away from their sites. I think they are all worthy of awards – and if anyone would like to regard themselves as tagged please do.

I seem to spend a too much time on the web and there are dozens more I could mention but these came to me first. I hope everyone else I think does a wonderful job will forgive me for not including them . I do intend to add a blogroll sometime soon. One can't hurry these things - how long have I been blogging?

Paula of The Beauty of Life – a friend who makes me laugh – and happens to be a magical embroiderer.
Christine of Lily and Paris – another friend who is generous and incredibly talented with her machine
Elizabeth of Quieter Moments – whose approach to embroidery is unbelievably detailed
Neki of amoveablefeast whose website I discovered because she is a weaver but much later discovered her amazing talents in so many directions.
Alice Schlein of Weaverly – the weaver par excellence with a wonderful sense of humour
Jude of Spirit Cloth – a patchworker and embroiderer with a very interesting approach to her work
Jocelyn of Pins and Needles - another meticulous embroiderer
Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread – a generous needleworker
Megan of Elmsley rose – if anyone can interest me in historical needlework it will be Megan .
Susan of Playing with Needles – a needlewoman who thinks and writes beautifully
Sharon of Pintangle – who started me on my embroidery voyage and continues to inspire me with her challenges
Carol Anne with wonderful Japanese embroidery
Rayna Gillman whose shibori and stories fill me with joy
I cannot omit a reference to Grace Lister who does not have a blog but has some really exciting embroidery on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another pitiful attempt!

I had a good friend once who seemed to be always telling me "A little humility is good for the soul". I am not sure I liked to hear that, then or now!

Nonetheless, I will show you my first attempts at Hardanger with its many mistakes. It was just on a scrap of linen so there was no room for the hoop (of course I didn't have time to add any calico!) and that did not make for nice even stitching. Many of the books say that you don't need a hoop but I am sure I would have been more comfortable using one.

I couldn't count threads properly and ended up with the most peculiar point to my original shape of kloster blocks. This wasn't what I had intended but I could have made it a design feature. However I decided to simplify the whole thing and made the groupings with the needle weaving and the Dove's eye (Spindel) (another mistake in it) and my ambitious Skraspindel or square filet filling. Also it is obvious why a new sharp pair of scissors, more suitable than the ones I own, is at the top of my Christmas wishlist (Santa has promised to oblige!).

Once again my eyes let me down and this is work (on 28 count linen) that can only be done in small bites.

I did learn! I used #5 perle for the kloster blocks and feel that they would have been much more satisfactory in #8. I will use a hoop in future and probably take the time at the beginning to mark out the fabric.

Last week after an extended library loan it was necessary to return the library books on Hardanger I had borrowed - one by Jill Carter and the other by Yvette Stanton (one amazing needleworker!).

Not sure whether I prefer Carter's book, Hardanger Embroidery , because it is the one I read first but I find her easier to follow than Stanton. I am certainly not wanting to denigrate Elegant Hardanger - it is up to her usual high standard - beautifully illustrated descriptions of all the steps . I am just expressing a personal preference. In fact, I will probably buy the Stanton book because I can't find that particular Jill Carter book at a reasonable price. I would recommend either of these books to a beginner.

It goes without saying that this is an embroidery style that I want to pursue further. Much as I would love to own a runner, I am thinking realistically I might manage maybe a coaster, or two when I polish my technique a little (or a lot).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pintangle and Jacarandas

I didn't do this very well yesterday. Sharon has moved her blog to pintangle - she has given it a spring clean so go have a peek. Make sure you she gave us a day or so ago. I have added the Christmas decoration design she has shared to my 'to do' list. Should be an interesting exercise as I have not tried couching yet.

Sharon initiated an interesting discussion on blogs and whether or not it is important to stick to the topic has come up. This made me think about mine and my first question would have to be "Why am I writing this blog?" Is it for me? Or the readers? I can only answer for myself .

The main reason is for me to have an easily accessible record of my work - I wish I had started a blog years ago when I was dyeing and weaving regularly. While I did keep quite detailed paper records the ability to access any particular draft or dye recipe has become so very time consuming now- sometimes I think it might be easier to start again.

Then last year I rediscovered embroidery - something I never anticipated I would ever do again. I find myself absolutely rapt. So now I need to keep a fairly detailed record of this wonderful new adventure. It never fails to amaze me that other people might also be interested in what I am doing,

I reply when I can to comments and I delight in the new blogs I discover this way. My textile world has widened beyond belief since I started this journey about 16 months ago.

As for "off topic"I find I am interested in all sorts of things, the books other people read, their photos, their vacations, their gardens, their cooking adventures, the ups and downs of their daily lives - these all keep me enthralled - sometimes to the detriment of other things I might be doing. Some of my favourite 'textile ' oriented blogs venture far and wide and I realise how much I do enjoy this.

After all this introspection I have decided that I would like to try to widen my focus and start to include other things slightly off topic. I am an avid reader when I get the time - so be prepared to find details of my current reading in this in future.

I have also made a New Year resolution to be a better blogger (Yes, I know New Year is not quite here yet, but aren't the best resolutions test driven well in advance?) My textile output is fairly slow so some off topic input may help.

Now for the eye candy - definitely on topic - these photographs are the inspiration for my November TIF. I hope I can deliver. This tree is in the park around the corner and was at its best in late October.

I really love jacarandas and have left mature trees we planted in various gardens around the country. There are 3 magnificent ones on the 2 acres we had to leave three years ago when we returned to this little block in the city. Unfortunately not even I am optimistic enough to think that we could grow one on this miniblock, but that does not prevent me from revelling in the clouds of blue flowers all over Brisbane each October-November. When I was at Uni the accepted folklore was that if the lovely blooms had already appeared it really was much too late to start to cram. I am unable to verify this - never really brave enough to test it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A failed experiment!

This seemed to be an exercise in "what not to try again". I have never managed to do more than one or two of the TAST stitches that Sharon Boggon ran on her blog in 2007. For many reasons - not the least, I did not discover TAST until the challenge and the year was well under way and even then I had trouble threading a needle, much less attempting any of those "fancy" stitches.

Well life moved on and with 3 of Sharon's classes under my belt I have decided to take on the challenge. I have made the decision not to join the TAST group on Stitchin Fingers - I feel I am unable to commit to a timetable and really want to work through these at my own pace.

I have girded my loins and printed off Week 1 and am ready to go with Herringbone Stitch. I did use herringbone in some samplers for the PLOS class last year - I need to see exactly what I have already done.

Whilepasting the printout into my journal I was taken by two examples of varying heights - as these were two illustrations which I labelled them #7 and #8. Sharon has done these on dyed Aida. I am always on the lookout for stitches that might be suitable for pulled thread work and since I had already used freehand pulled herringbone for the background in my last TIF piece I wondered if these variations might be interesting possibilities.So I filled in one of the squares in my sampler for stitchalong - here is the back view of #7 and #8 .

- not very exciting but better than-

the front view. For #7 I 'stacked' the rows with no threads in between while I left 3 threads between the rows in #8. This took most of the afternoon - my eyesight is not the best and today was greyand dull.

I am definitely not complaining about the weather - after all, we did not even lose power on Sunday afternoon while some people in the western suburbs are still without power and , in many cases, without a roof! A horrific storm came through late afternoon and left devastation in its wake. The rain is still falling - filling the dams - but a headache for the emergency teams. There is a news story here.

Pulled Thread Sampler so far -this must surely qualify as 'slow cloth' . I spent some time recently stitching the outlines for this sampler so have crossed Back Stitch off my list on the stitchalong.

Now I need to get onto my November TIF - I like the idea of playing with my initials but then how can I resist using those gorgeous jacaranda colours that Sharon has given us for this month? Jacaranda trees are favourites of mine - my next post will feature some photos I took recently.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Four sided Stitch

I have not done any stitching for the last fortnight except for this small sampler section. I had used four sided stitch a few times so had no intention to put it in my pulled thread sampler just yet - I really need to investigate stitches I have not used previously! One of the disadvantages of pulled thread stitches is that it is often difficult for me to envisage exactly how it will turn out on my fabric (also an advantage - as I love the surprise I sometimes get when I try a stitch for the first time).

However, after borrowing Tracy Franklin's Contemporary Whitework and seeing some of the interesting things she does with pulled thread work, it was of utmost importance to see if I could possibly manage the doubled version. You use two pieces of fabric of the same count and stitch through both layers at once. I thought this might be quite difficult to achieve but I tacked them together carefully and there didn't seem to be too many problems.

I love the stitch used singly as a background and haven't quite worked out how I can incorporate doubled foursided stitch into my embroideries. No doubt I will happen upon an idea one day.
Can you imagine the possibilities for other stitches? Three sided Stitch - in fact, many of the pulled thread stitches would provide interesting ideas, I am sure.