Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Silk threads and St Pete

So the frogs have been banished and I've finished part 3 of St Petersburg!

I really loved stitching this part, despite the frogs, it's such a contrast from the dense stitching of the first two parts. And I love the backstitched gates.

I find it interesting while I'm stitching to compare the silks and the DMCs and the varigated/solid colours. On only one of the four sides in part 3 have I used varigated colours in stitching the vegetation. And it happens that on that side I particularly like the way the vegetation looks with just that little bit more variation in colour.

The is probably the first design where I've used varigated threads to any significant extent and up to now, I was slightly sceptical of their value. Now I'm starting to change my mind a bit. I like those variagted threads where there is significant colour change across the length of the thread. I still can't entirely get the point of threads where the colour variation is so subtle, you can hardly see the difference.

I've also been thinking about silk threads - what is the point in using silk thread? What does it add to your stitching? I'm still a long way from being a convert on this one and at this point, I really prefer DMCs. I know the sheen of silk is supposed to be more than cotton. But, after a piece is finished and framed, I'm not convinced that anybody will be able to tell the difference. I'm fairly certain that, even when I've stitched a piece using silks and cottons, I won't be able to see any difference. I know that some stitchers prefer the feel of silk for stitching, and I know that for designers, using silks can create a much greater palette of colours. But I'm not convinced of the value in this.

Sometimes too, it seems to me like there's a kind of snobbery in stitching - silk is "better" than cotton and linen is "better" than evenweave as evenweave is "better" than aida. I'm not convinced I like linen - give me evenweave any day!

Anyway, the important thing is for all stitchers to enjoy their stitching, whatever the materials they're using. And don't be afraid to mix and match or substitute fabric and fibres to meet your preference.

Anyway, having finished St Pete, I didn't particularly want to pick up anything big, so I've gone back to my Starflake from Patricia Ann Designs. I started this around my birthday in February but didn't get any further than the beginnings of the central motif. I've made good progress since Sunday, but it's slow work. I'd hoped I would get it finished by the end of this week, but it looks like that isn't going to happen. It's all eyelets and smyrna crosses which, although I love them, stitch up soooo slowly! And then I came downstairs this morning and on a quick look, noticed that a group of eyelets I stitched last night aren't centred within the motif! Aarghhh! And then there's that other group of lumpy eyelets from yesterday and I'm also tempted to frog .......

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Gift

One of my son's teachers is leaving at the end of the week, and I thought I'd let you see what I made her as a leaving/end of year gift.

It's a Mill Hill Buttoned and Beaded kit called Ladybug Dance, stitched on perforated paper using DMC threads, Mill Hill beads and a bee button.

I hadn't done anything before using the beads in this way, neither had I tried stitching on perforated paper (more like perforated card), so I'd just wanted to have a go. My stitching experience was nothing special, it's really a simple design. The beads just add an extra dimension and more vivid colour (I really do like the colour of those red beads). However, once I'd finished my first two ladybirds, I started to get rather bored with it - slightly unfortunate, as I've another two similar designs to do for my son's other teachers!

I've just finished it into a card using 3 colours of cardboard and I'm very pleased with how it looks. Actually, I think it looks much nicer that I thought it would! I can't think how else to finish something on perforated paper - any suggestions?

Overall, though, I'd much rather work on my Chatelaines any day! Currently I'm having to frog a significant part of my St Petersburg part 3. I've no idea what I did - perhaps I accidentally rotated the chart or something, but I've muddled up some of the colours . At least I'm still on track to have this part completed before the next arrives.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fabulous French stash!

French language at least - I think one of the designers is Canadian, the other may be Belgian!

I've been drooling over the Calendula charts for ages as well as a lot of the Craft Corner stuff.

My next task with this stash is to attempt a translation, armed with my O grade French, and Google/Babelfish to translate online. If I get really stuck, I can always ask my DH.

There are a lot of gorgeous French designs out there and a browse aroundsome of the French sites can really get me drooling! Some of the French/French language designers also produce some gorgeous freebies.

I currently have Maryse's Petite Maisons de Campagne kitted up and ready to go, I just have to find the time to start. And I'm a regular visitor to Bé Courtadet's blog where there's always something exciting going on.

Then there is Isabelle Vautier who is another designer whose work I really admire.

Many French bloggers also take part in SALs for these designs. See

Les Grilles de Maryse
Les folies d'Aurélie
Le Cirque

Or if I feel bored at work, I browse around one or two of the French ONS. Have a look at De Fil en Idees, Bricol'Art or Univers Broderie.

It can be a real eye-opener!

This week, I've also been tagged by Itching to Stitch to says 8 things about myself. Here’s how it goes:
1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves
2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules
3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here are 8 random facts about me -

1. I have a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering but have never worked as a Chemical Engineer.
2. Most of my career I've worked in higher education.
3. I've climbed 8 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet) and would like to complete all 280 odd.
4. My DS thinks he's English, despite being hald Scottish and half Algerian. At least at 6 years, there's plenty of time to indoctrinate him!
5. I taught myself to stitch.
6. There are no other stitchers in my family, and none of them takes the slightest interest in my stitching.
7. I used to colour my hair until the stuff made my head come out in horrible itchy spots and my hair fall out. Needless to say, I don't do it any more but my scalp has never recovered. At least, as it's allergy related, the hair grows back and nobody would ever know.
8. I don't like being away from home over night and really hate staying in hotels.

I've seen this on many blogs over the past couple of weeks, so most people have probably done it. If you haven't and would like to have a go, consider yourself well and truly tagged!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A sense of achievement


I feel quite a sense of achievement! I’ve finally caught up on all the stitching on my huswif. AND this includes the stitching on the alphabet bands which I omitted and had to invent something to fill. I’m really pleased with the end result.

The bands I added came from a combination of browsing on the internet and flicking through a couple of books, the Proper Stitch by Darlene O'Steen and the Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. I just picked out a few stitches or designs/ideas I liked and had a go.

Band C - should have held the first part of the alphabet. I've stitched instead some Celtic knotwork, the design for which I found somethere on the web and adapted to fit this band. It's stitched with the Hazelnut thread.

Band G - second part of the alphabet. This is a Rice Stitch variation from the Proper Stitch which I've stitched in a combination of French Artichoke and Light French Artichoke. In between each diamond, there are a couple of smaller rice stitches in Burnished Gold.

Band J - This one I'm really pleased with - I love the Interlaced Herringbone! And I'm so chuffed that I finally got it right this time, thanks to Darlene O'Steen's instructions. The herringbone is stitched in French Artichoke with the interlacing in Light French Artichoke.

Band L - this is a lattice stitch stitched on a diagonal with the long stitches of the lattice in French Artichoke and tie-down crosses mainly in Verdigris with some also in French Artichoke.

Band P - this one is a bit of a mixture as I changed my plans for this band at the last minute. There are three rows of Smyrna Crosses with the bottom 'normal' diagonal cross stitched in Verdigris and the upper upright crosses stitched in Burnished Gold. Below that is a row of hearts in French Artichoke and/or Light French Artichoke stitched using different techniques, the inspiration for which came from a Drawn Thread freebie, Heart Throb.

I may still add a few beads to my custom bands, but for now, the end result looks like this!

You may notice that I also changed the colours used in one or two places as I went through a phase of hating the colour of the Hazelnut thread.

I've heard that some stitchers have been running out of thread on this design. I've come fairly close to it myself, mainly with the Burnished Gold and the French Artichoke. I would have liked to use the Verdigris more. The only frustrating point is that I broke my gold needle!

Now I just have to add the fasteners for the huswif, and then I'm ready for the final part next month.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A sampler of sorts

I love speciality stitches! They are often an important factor in what draws me to a design or designer’s work. I love the way they add texture to a piece, the way the light reveals different parts of the stitch or highlights the thread in different ways.

It's one of the things I really like about Carol Tinson's designs.

Rhodes diamonds in Carol's huswif.

The range of embroidery stitches to try is immense and to date, I’ve been rather limited in my experience. I’ve come across Sharon Boggon’s classes at Joggles, particularly her “Develop a Personal Library of Stitches” and I’ve drooled over the idea of taking her “Encrusted Crazy Quilting” class, but I’ve never got there, whether through lack of confidence, laziness, or lack of time. I also regularly read up on her “Take a Stitch Tuesday” challenge which gives a fantastic introduction to many stitches and how you can use them.

Last weekend I set out to explore some stitches with a piece of linen, some perle cotton, and a little stranded cotton.

This is the end result and I had a lot of fun! It is still a work in progress, and will probably continue to be so until I fill the entire fabric.

Some of the stitches I've come across before - the Rhodes diamond, spider's web rose (woven wheel), chain and blanket stitch. Many of them are also completely new to me - the interlaced herringbone, lattice, Queen stitch.

I know many of the stitches are a bit irregularly shaped or lopsided - the point of the exercise was to learn about how the stitches are constructed, not to get them perfect.

The Interlaced Herringbone was a bit tricky. I still haven't got the underlying herringbone quite right. But I do love the effect of it, particularly when I've used such contrasting colours.

The Queen stitch I'm a bit disappointed with, it just doesn't grab me at all.

I'm also working speciality stitches into Nova which is mainly stitched in Scotch, Mosaic and Tent stitch. Some of the blocks are simple tent stitch in one colour representing quiet areas of the design. There are roughly one or two of these blocks in each row. Now, I want to keep those areas relatively quiet and will minimise the introduction of new thread colours, but what I am going to do is, in something like one block per row, use a speciality stitch for one of these blocks. In this way, I'll also learn new stitches and techniques.

For the first row, I've used Rice Stitch, mainly because at the time I wanted to use a stitch I was already familiar with, but to use it on a larger scale.

Next row, Norwich stitch, I can't wait to give it a go!