Friday, December 7, 2012

Small things!

This morning Sharon on Pintangle  highlighted a video on making little gift boxes.

 About 7 years ago I made a dozen or so using surface treated fabric from an exchange.  I have gifted all but this one so took a quick photograph to show my effort.

Now I just might have to try some embroidery on the fabric before I make another.

It would be a change from my current biscornu obsession

Friday, April 20, 2012

Satin Stitch

Satin stitch was Week 14 for TAST.  I am giving my TAST catchup rather out of order - why? -basically because I am a fairly disorganised person and these photos were the easiest to find.

This design is stitched on either end of a table runner  - the fabric is Lugano, the thread #8 DMC perle cotton - one of my favourite threads.   Lugano is not - I much prefer 100 % linen, however I had this fabric in my stash.  The design is part of a design from a recent Rakam - the marvellous Italian magazine.  It includes a hardanger square above the motif which I decided not to use.  I did find following the chart quite difficult - however that did not surprise me.
The doubled inch hem is in antique hem stitch - another  of my favourite things.  I was reasonably happy with the end result and can't wait to work my own design for the next one.  However that is on the back burner as much of my time is currently taken up with a Creative Embroidcry course from the NSW guild - however that is a story for another time.

Totally knotted!

Although I did add a few knots after the TAST stitch for the week was announced, this knot picture has been quite some time in hte making.  It was begun on a day when there was a need for colour in my life.  I love monochromatic colour schemes - especially white and cream but eventually I find the need to branch out into some wild colour work - I think I was working on , what seemed at the time, to be an interminable foursided hem on a cream table square.  The problem was what to stitch.  I thought I might be able to translate a picture using little knots.  I have intended to follow up knot pictures ever since I finished the knot garden I stitched from instructions in a book a few years ago.

I used a single strand of DMC floss and some 2/20 weaving yarn which is fortunately of much the same weight.

While I have not contributed any work with stem or satin stitch - I do have photos to add soon.  we spent some time at the beach recently hence the tardiness.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In the Beginning.....

Way back mid2007, there was a weaver who couldn't. To satisfy her yearnings she roamed the web looking at any reference to textiles.  The ancronym, "TAST" kept appearing on blogs with very little extra information.  Nonetheless, Google turned up Sharon Boggon's blog In a Minute Ago  ( a treat in itself) and, I think , her first Take A Stitch Tuesday series.   That seahorse on the same page  looked gorgeous -and ever the optimist, that weaver thought maybe, despite her lack of skill and experience, she could learn how to do something like that.   Sharon was to give a class, Sumptuous Surfaces.   ( The weaver is now a weaver who doesn't!  (but one day might!))

Of course I enrolled - but in the meantime there was  TAST.  I can not remember what the stitch that week was but it was definitely way out of my scope.  So back to the list to find something possible - Running Stitch.

The effort this piece took!  Oh dear, how was I ever going to manage to cope with Sumptuous Surfaces? Not many running stitches in that seahorse - but I was committed. The rest is history -   Sharon was very patient and a whole new world opened to me. This is where it all started   - my contribution to this week's TAST

  PS That seahorse is still on the to-do list!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sprig muslim....?

 When TAST 2012 began I thought this might be an opportunity  to combine each month's allocated stitches in a carefully designed piece.  Easier said than done!  In fact I am still trying to decide what I want to stitch with the first 5 stitches for the year..

However February's stitches seemed easier to use- a biscornu seemed a logical shape for the chevron and chain stitches.  I already had stitched buttonhole and back stitch edging on both sides. The dark blue-green=yellow variegated Anchor #8 was darker than I wanted but the edge was already done and I decided that maybe it added to the design challenge

 .  After much deliberation I thought I could get something delicate looking with a pale pink contrast.  However it was like looking for Jane Austen and finding Emily Bronte on the bookshelf - the former, delicate like sprig muslim and the other, a tad dark, heavier and gloomy!

Nonetheless I persevered and used chevron and lazy daisy on one side.

  Then more chevron with zigzag petal stitch on the reverse.  This side used crossed chain with the whipping stitch couching a thicker apple green thread for a border..

 As well as couching this thread along two chain rows I used three detached chain to couch the thicker thread in each corner ( not as obvious in the photo as I would wish).  This is my only couching for the week's TAST stitching.

I am satisfied to a limited extent - I did manage to produce a finished piece using the month's stitches and, while I am not completely happy with my colour choices, I feel they are reasonably acceptable.

Now to get back to the design board and the 5 January stitches!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Early Again!

Well, on Tuesday I stitched my TAST for the week. I really love chain stitch - not sure why  i feel differntly about detached chain. Anyway chain stitch is the stitch of the week and here are some examples of my hain exploration.

This is something I did for my PLOS stitch exploration. I was very happy with it in 2007 and still am.

This time around I have decided to find some variations from Edith John's Creative Stitches

Yellow Finca #8; Variegated Anchor #8

From the top (enlarge fo a better view)
Tied Chain - three rows of chain - the top two tied with yellow, the bottom, with variegated.

Threaded Chain - a row of variegated #8 , threaded with #5 DMC yellow and tied with #12 DMC Black

Crossed Chain - two rows of chain (variegated) the first section is crossed in only one direction while the second is also crossed back

The next three rows are interesting - I was trying , fairly unsuccessfully, to follow the instructions in the book for Linked Chain  - I left the erroneous ones deliberately.  The bottom row in yellow is I think correct.  Interestingly Linked Chain is really linked detached chain.

This is followed by a row of variegated Barred Chain.

Alternating Barred Chain , in yellow.

The last row is what Edith calls Triple Chain - again  I tried something different towards the left - not very obvious in te photo but the little detached chains are at a slight angle to the vertical. Next time I would probably slant them further.

There are not many of these stitches I would use in my embroidery. A pity I am not a crazy quilter! The only purpose I can think of is in, possibly, a biscornu on Aida. I like ordinary, everyday plain chain as an outline stitch and, sometimes, as a filler. However I had lots of fun trying these variations (also it is an excuse to use the psychedelic thread).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Detached Chain

Although I am posting two days earlier than usual, sadly I can't get very excited about week 7 in TAST  - it is detached chain, daisy, lazy daisy or whatever.  There are not too many new ways I can use it without adding other stitches.  Finally I decided to add it to my Fly Stitch spiral - an excuse to use a different Anchor variegated cotton.  This pale one is much easier to manipulate than last week's strident colours.

After chasing through my stitch books up came Edith Johns' Zigzag Petal stitch - a two way stem stitch with the addition of a detached chain in the middle of each stitch. 

Not a particularly well executed example - I definitely need to practise to get the stitches more even. However this gives the general idea of the stitch.  I usually work stem stitch without a hoop or frame and feel my control is good - however some tautness of the fabric might be a good idea for the chain stitch - something for me to remember in the future.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Snail on Temazapam!

More belated TAST - Herringbone, or to be more precise, double back, has occupied my last two days stitching.  When all is revealed it is obvious I am a slow stitcher - but this slow?

All my stitching time yesterday - maybe three hours, at least, were spent on these two puny efforts.

The previous day was slightly more productive - there were square and circle double back.  These are definitely keepers for the future but I just can't see me taking time to stitch  and restitch  the square on the diagonal which occupied more than the lion's share of yesterday's time.

*** I forgot to mention that there is a square doily in Danish Pulled Thread Embroidery that has 81*! of these squares in the centre - what is my trouble?****

These are worked diagonally and are fairly intuitive - the instructions in Fangel are very explicit and easy to follow, in any case.

I really love this double back pulled work and will keep playing despite yesterday's problems. There are some ideas percolating on the back burner for future use.

Magnifiers for all occasions!

I now own a magnifier that you wear on your head rather like a miner's lamp - a birthday present to help increase the space between the holes in the linen.  My dermatologist uses  similar eyewear to remove extraneous bits from my legs so the idea is good.

This is the latest addition to my collection - there is a lens with a lamp downstairs as well as a separate lens that I use with a daylight lamp upstairs.  This new device will be perfect to carry  for meetings as it is fairly light and portable.

So a case is wanted and the right piece of weaving is maturing in the cupboard - some Turned Taquete that I had produced in 2005 (was it really that long ago?). Also some pale green lawn that I had made in a marbling class way back in the 90's - almost vintage! - good lining.  Well this quick job took me quite a few hours but I am really happy with the result

Sunday Post

It would appear  that it takes me until Sunday to write a blog post -I  had even worked my psychedelic chevron by Tuesday evening and the other piece of chevron was finished by Thursday morning but life got in the way - a habit it seems to have.

Anyway, here it is - the Anchor #8 that I couldn't resist buying seemed perfect for the exercise.


I love this stitch as well as Half Chevron. I made a number of samples when I did Sharon's PLOS class in 2007 and also used it for a biscornu .  This exercise was a refresher - while I love chevron my use for it has been limited so now how I could include it in my work. Maybe add a diagonal version

Could anyone resist this 'stained glass' ball of thread? Its only drawback for me is that the sections of colour are very small and difficult to deal with.  Maybe chevron is the answer - but single or double ?

This had all been nice and uncomplicated - even my eyes were happy with the Aida spacing - what would be the effect on linen as a background .  My only use for Aida seems to be biscornu.

Don't you love the contrast between the two? I did think of using a dark thread but that was not the effect I was chasing.

This perle is #12 while the Anchor variegated was #8 and the fabric is 32 count linen.

I am not sure whether I might find a use for this or not.  However this week's TAST was fun.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Week 5 TAST  2012 - and I was fighting a nasty chest infection (much better now, thank goodness) when Sharon Boggon announced that herringbone was the stitch on Tuesday. I breathed a sigh of relief - during Sharon's PLOS class in 2007 I tried a number of variations on herringbone stitch, followed by this biscornu and needlecase . (Also the flowers are double fly stitch with a french knot)

The border is tied herringbone.

What could I do this time?  Barbara Snook has suggested herringbone to replace hemstitching on the inside of a drawn thread hem - would this be sufficiently secure?  Not stitching I spent some time thinking about it and decided it probably could - yes it makes a good finish - in fact I might use it for Runner 2, especially if I use linen.

 Not a brilliant photo. However definitely another for my Hems and Edges folder. A variegated perle # 8 was the thread used.  I normally use #12 for hemstitching (which I did on the hem side)

This is another linen doodle cloth .  I also tried shadow work  - probably not something I would try often.  However the final exercise so far was triangle stitch in the middle.  Moyra McNeill  has a section on double back stitch pulled thread stitches and this is one of my favourites. It gives a quite delicate effect.  I wish I had had more time to dip further in the intricacies of herringbone but I will stop there .

A Final Insertion Exercise.

Well definitely the last insertion stitching on the agenda .  This has been a fun exercise but I have run out of options that fit in with TAST for the moment. 

This one is Plaited Insertion - each stitch is not cretan but enough of them  are  for me to include it in my TAST.  Mary Thomas says to leave at least 3/4 inch between the hems and use a firm thick thread.  I did leave the 3/4 " but am not sure what would happen if I unpicked the tacking - a really floppy join, I imagine.  The insertions are all still on the A4 paper to make it easier to store together in a folder. (My folder Hems and Edges has grown nicely in the last couple of weeks.) 

The thread is a painted cotton weaving yarn and somewhere between a#8 and #5 perle cotton in size. Aida was the fabric.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On a Roll!

Well, this is almost the end of my insertion investigation - I have one more buttonhole and one more cretan to try and then I am ready for whatever comes on Tuesday.As I said in a previous post this has been fun and I hope whatever the enw stitch is it will offer just as much joy.

My cretan explorations to date

Cretan Insertion or Open Cretan Insertion

Knotted Cretan Insertion

Twisted Cretan insertion

Half Cretan Insertion

 This was the order in which I tried the various techniques.  Amazingly the twisted was the most difficult in which to maintain the right tension.
I also had some trouble in keeping the distance from the edge even - however it is not impossible for me

When the experts differ!

Anyone out there help me?  I have done what I thought was some Open Cretan Insertion but then Betty Barnden calls it Herringbone Insertion    What do you think?  Definitely the cretan stitch and is herringbone all that different?

I hemmed some linen scraps for the trial and have used DMC Perle #8 - it is a variegated thread - not at all obvious in this photo.

Laced Knotted Buttonhole

Another interesting buttonhole insertion and definitely one I will use again. Yes, the end of the week is fast approaching and I haven't even stitched the basic cretan stitch for TAST for this week but that is on the agenda for today.  These TASTers are not the only handwork I try to get through each day
However I am building up quite a nice collection of ideas.

Well, I used my fancy spacer for this one but it might have been easier to have done the buttonhole stitches on each edge before attaching to the paper - next time! 

 The stitch is well illustrated in Effie Mitrofanis' book on  Casalguidi but the original inspiration came from Barbara Snook. Her Embroidery Stitches is worth a look if you can find one.(Second hand shops as well as the internet  have produced some real treasures). 

I used Finca Perle #8 for both threads - and the option to use a different coloured thread and, possibly, a different thickness thread for the lacing is available.

Knotted buttonhole was a new version for me. Knowing the correct tension was difficult in the beginning. However I really enjoyed this one.

  I have one more buttonhole insertion that to try and then comes Cretan. I am  sure that a week between stitches is not enough but is it just a case of  "How long is a piece of string?"

Friday, January 27, 2012

I think Buttonhole Stitch has got me in!

Previously buttonhole stitch was a stitch that I could take or leave (and mostly leave)- all of a sudden there just seem to be so many interesting versions to try.

 The latest  -  Italian Buttonhole Insertion

#12 Finca perle cotton and two scraps of lugano were all I needed tosample this one. The spacing is 1/4 of an inch.  The specially designed "insertion papers" help and hinder the stitching.  Hopefully I will manage to do without eventually.

 I love this insertion stitch but then I think any insertion is magical.  I have a pair of satin pyjamas from my mother's trousseau , circa 1936, with the lovliest peter pan collar with its rouleau edge applied with faggoting, I think.  Amazing handwork!

Yes I know that  this week's stitch is Cretan and I do intend to try it.  However there is another buttonhole version to try first.  Only one?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pulled Thread - more Buttonhole also.

I mentioned yesterday  that I am doing a series of runners.  The first one, a Christmas gift  for myself, was, strictly speaking, not a runner but a table centre.  The only stitch used was foursided .  This piece was really a test to decide whether or not I would like to make something bigger using the 4 sided stitch hem.   Probably not!

The centre is approximately 20 inches square.  The first 3 rows of the hem are through double thickness  - this took me forever and, at times tried my patience.  Nonetheless I am pleased that I persevered as I love the result.  The design evolved as it went along - not very complicated but I do like the minimalist look for my table linen.  The single fabric thickness stitches were wonderful to stitch after the hem.  I like to do the hem first, if at all possible.  This can cause problems but usually ensures the speedy completion of a piece of stitching - especially where there are mitred corners to be negotiated. 

 The table is of Queensland maple and was made by my father more than 50 years ago and has been recently refinished .

Yesterday I tried two new  pulled thread stitches - Diagonal Buttonhole, from Mary Thomas' book as well as Up and Down Buttonhole, as suggested by Edith John. 

The Diagonal Buttonhole was very successful however I reached the point of diminishing returns with the Up and Down Buttonhole after struggling some time  Perhaps a smaller count (I used my doodle cloth - 26 count Permin linen) might have helped..  There are so many wonderful pulled thread stitches so I am not sure I need the ones I find too difficult. 

The great thing about TAST is  trying versions of stitches that  might otherwise be ignored.   Knowing what I don't want to stitch again is .as important as recognising the ones that will be useful.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Closed Feather edging

My feather stitch offering for the week is closed feather used in a drawn thread hem.  This came from one of my much quoted authors, Edith John.  I am so pleased that I found this as I have started a series of table runners and love the idea of using different edges.  I would use the ecru for an edge but did  a little in dark pink in order for it to be more obvious.  Antique hemstitching  joins the hem to the piece.

My doodle cloth certainly gets more interesting and I have some pulled thread I want to try.

Earlier this week I also added a little more to my free wheeling buttonhole. This is probably as far as I shall go but I can see the possibilities should I decide to use something similar in the future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Great Two Days

This week the Embroiderers' Guild had a children's class with a beautiful Cat Sampler as the project. This class was part of  our ten year old granddaughters' Christmas gift. 

Here are the results of  two days work - hot off the hoops, as you can see,

  Ella's and Sophie's

  I was very impressed with the end results - a beautifully executed pair of cats.        

TJust a postscript - the lovely even stitches could be part of Sharon's TAST challenge.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seduced by colour!

Do you ever buy thread because the colours call you?  I am a sucker for jewel colours hence the ball of Anchor  perle #8.  Not a good idea!  I like to use variegated thread occasionally but this is the most variegated of variegated.

Anyway that is an introduction to my TAST exercise on buttonhole. First I want to show my Fly Stitch efforts for week 1.

More variegated thread - sometimes one just has to use it - actually I really like it for the spiral.
Then I tried fly stitch as a pulled thread and was  unhappy with what I got  - so we won't count that.

Moving onto Week 2 and Buttonhole Stitch - I have used this stitch in many applications.

I tried Up and Down Buttonhole - it always seems an odd name for a stitch that looks as though it is in one direction only. I have been roaming through my collection of Edith Johns' books and she suggested using buttonhole as an edging - firstly Up and Down

Here it is sitting on a bag using Italian buttonhole insertion in 2010.

Then I tried Edith's 3 sided stitch edge with buttonhole in the loops - definitely needs more practice

Now for the fun bit - Edith's Experimental Embroidery has some wonderful buttonhole haloes.  Some time ago I tried my multicoloured thread

And here is the start of my current effort

I have done a little more to it but no photos.  Also I enjoyed trying  Mary Thomas' Drawn Buttonhole
however they are for another post.