Friday, March 27, 2009

Picking up where I left off

Hardanger progress

Continuing with my "design as I go" practice piece, I needed to work myself away from the center. Somehow.

I thought centering the next section above the on-point square - keeping the 3rd stitches in line and 4 threads above - would allow for the corners to meet back up at the edge. They're off by at least 2 threads.

I'm telling myself it was mathematically impossible and not my counting. Since all 4 corners did it.
Design flaw?

I managed to give myself way more eyelets to do before I could cut & needle weave again. Since the book says eyelets must be done first or the cut threads will be ripped from their moorings, eyelets it is. MERCY!

I'm just itching to start something with some color but so far I've stuck to this so that it gets done. And then I can move on to one of my new books.
Or maybe I'll try this needlecase in DMC Perle Cotton 5 4190 Ocean Coral.

Yes. An impulse buy while birthday shopping for Steph.
Along with this Clover turntable hoop discounted from $36 to $8 at Joanne's. It's even marked down to $15 here - so it was either overpriced in the first place or just plain sucks.

For $8 I'm going to find out for myself.
As soon as I finish the rest of these eyelets so I can get to the fun part of this hardanger project. (And before round 2 of Sock Madness!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sock Madness 3

We interrupt ...everything!

Yes. I took time out starting Thursday morning for some Mad Knitting.
If it's basketball playoff time, it must also be time for Sock Madness 3.

Since I participated in 1 & 2 it was hard letting go. The words "I don't think I'll play this year" were spoken aloud, with at least 1 witness. But in the end I decided to try the 1st pair, with a promise not to overdo it. I don't want to be a Pattern Collector - someone who ONLY signs up for the free patterns. That's not fair to all the sock designers or the 2 hosts.

I made it through round 1...
Finished Sunday morning. It had an interesting new cast on that I might try again. ("Twisted German" :) Luckily there was a YouTube video to get us through that.

The After Thought Heels were a little too much like someone thought up a way to put THUMBS on a pair of socks. They had us put a big hole in the bottom of the socks (on purpose!) for trying on purposes during knitting.
And then knit the heels last, with the idea you could replace the heel when they get a hole in them.

We don't like thumbs much around here!!

There's no 'trying on' in Sock Madness!
You knit them EXACTLY like the pattern says.
Not one stitch less! (More is your own call.)

The design was inspired by a quilt block called Drunkard's Path.
Probably won't be printing a fresh copy so I can knit this one again but it's a cute gift idea for quilt friends who might get a kick out of it. Definitely never doing heels like that again!

I don't know how long I'll last this year as my elbow and wrist ache when I do anything with my right arm for very long. I need to LOVE the 2nd pattern if I'm even going to cast on for the next round.

I've taken a break from knitting. These are the only 2 pair I've knit in the last 6 months. Knitting only while "waiting" takes a long time to get a pair of socks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Take a deep breath

Remember to exhale!

My first Hardanger Woven Picots :)
Not sure if I did them right - but they don't suck.

How dainty stitches are on 30 count fabric!

Took me all afternoon to do these few.
The hardest part was getting the courage up to make the 1st knotted loop.

How committed would I be if it failed?
Would it be a mess to untangle if things went very badly?
A great gasping breath escaped after about the 3rd pair and I realized I had been holding my breath for way too long!

Next to cut the middle threads away and weave it back together. Remember to breathe...

I bought new stork scissors and some better tweezers for removing the drawn and cut threads.
Dear family:

2 of the new books I ordered arrived.
Can't wait to explore them; they both look full of inspiration and brimming with the details of new stitches just waiting to be tried.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Still Puzzled

How I spent Friday

I made another puzzle piece :)

Here is the blog with some other examples.

I needle tatted the basket with a smaller weight thread last year, so it wasn't big enough for a postcard. It got dropped into the sewing box for someday.

I dug it out and put it to use. It's been so long since I did one of these that I'll have to relearn how to make them before I try another for swapping.
Basket Pattern (Designer: It's me!)

I need to make a "view finder" shaped puzzle template so I can center things better. It's hard to judge where the middle will actually end up with my current method: Just guess...more or less.

I added some petals, leaves and beads at the base to offset the basket handle being too close to the top and too much empty space below. Sara took a look at it and said it looked like petals had started dropping off.
So I guess my disguise worked :)

On Saturday I basted newly purchased 30 count Hardanger fabric and set to work on a new block. I'm winging it as usual, with thoughts of making it into a Stitch Exploration fabric book page.

This is about 4 hours of work.
Free chart I started with. Looking forward to cutwork & needleweaving sections. Where I go next is still up in the air.
It's going to take a while to make a "book" at this rate.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Did I mention I bought a light?

And it came with a magnifying glass?
PRICELESS. Seriously recommend it!!

I've been experimenting with more puzzle pieces. It suddenly occurred to me my pieces could be like little band samplers of every technique I've ever tried with fabric postcards or fabric ATCs. I don't have to reinvent the wheel for ideas! I've already had a couple of good ones and it's okay if use them again. A needle tatted basket of flowers soon :)

I tried the Hardanger doodle puzzle piece on top first. No basting. Just outlined the puzzle shape roughly a quarter inch away and started in one corner and away I went. It's a little random - but I was practicing!
There's a tan fabric layered behind to highlight the cut work and I added some beads as quilting when I was done because it seemed like it needed something more.

Mostly I wanted to see if this type of fabric could be buttonhole stitched without fraying all over the place. I used fusible web, plus stitched the outline very close before cutting the puzzle shape. (I should not have used a pencil as I can see some marks that I thought would never show. Oops!)

I also tried experimenting with the tabs on the bottom one. To see if I could make it fit, I custom cut the top tab down to size.

I was afraid the stitch work on the bottom piece was too close to the edge, but when I locked them in place the open space from the top piece made it less noticeable I think. It's a 2nd try.
(This time it's square... for what it's worth :)

I mistakenly used 3 strands of floss and didn't realize it until I went to separate the other 4 in half. There were only 3? Damn! I ran out with an inch of edge work left. I hope I have some more. Somewhere. It was late so I haven't gone looking yet.
Wish "organized" was trait I could say I've passed on to the girls.

While I still need lots of practice and need to study the stitch how-to's more closely, Hardanger stitches are coming so much more intuitively. I blogged about it at the time, so I'm surprised it was so long ago that I first tried.
2006. Really?

I shouldn't have held out so long without a light!
Instead of flinging it away in frustration because I can't see, I want to try more.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Curious Frog

How it came to this

For some reason lines from the opening of the Lord of the Rings keeps going through my mind:
"What news of the outside world? Tell me everything ... Everything? ...far too eager and curious for a hobbit.
Most unnatural."

I may not have even known the terms Needle Weaving or Drawn Thread until 2 weeks ago. But I'm an eager hobbit... tell me everything!

I've gone to 2 libraries and carried home 1/2 dozen books (just now requested another offered suggestion through the lending library program), purchased a couple online that still haven't arrived...grr!... and dug out all the books I've collected on Stumpwork, embroidery, CQ, Hardanger & more.

All to satisfy a current mood to teach myself.
To stitch something.
I've been working on this 2nd experiment in stitching.
My thought bubbles along the way:
I want it to be bigger than the last piece so that there's room in the center for surface embroidery.
I want it to be square so I can try the Zig Zag hem tutorial - needs an even number of threads.
Baste A LOT because I can't count.
Okay that was too much. Didn't need half of it except as markers in counting to ten.
Tried following the diagonal flow of the last piece but it turned out too Laverne ...Letter L!
Fill in some more to disguise the L.
Now is it too much?
Maybe I liked rectangle better.
Next time.
Sort of reminds me of ivy growing on the side of a building.
There's too much empty space to fill.
Try some Hardanger...make a window!
Now it makes me think of kitchen windows & garden walls...
Add more knots.
Now beads.
Too much?
Should I have left more empty space?
Should I snip OFF some of it?
Too late...filling it in.
Adding more.
And more.
Last night: "I'm stopping now... maybe it will look different in the morning."
When I got up this morning: "Something's not right."
And then I saw the frog charm in the bottom of my stitching container.
Purchased a long time ago and waiting for a place to go.
I dropped the curious frog down onto the piece - peeking into the garden window.
I knew what I wanted to do.
Maybe it would be okay to Add MORE knots & wheels to balance the window.

A line from something Stephani once wrote ends: "that's how you learn" has been repeating in my head as well. I'd been considering my next blog entry and thought I might go with the title I taught myself.

I'm nothing if not determined. If I see something I want to do, I try to figure out how. Whether the "teacher" comes from books, from internet tutorials, patterns with complete and detailed instructions or a simple image that I feel compelled to explore.

Explore. Yes that's what we can do. And access to internet is a seriously valuable tool. Just as we can pick and choose what to use. What to consider. What to discard. What stitches to put together and which "rules"to break.

One comment from a site I visit currently spoke about mixing stitch techniques. She asks: Is there a point when you do so much that it all gets fused in your mind, and you use any technique that seems appropriate, or should you keep each style of work separate?

In my head it was a description of what must be going wrong with my latest effort. What I woke up to this morning seemed "just not right" and I wasn't sure if it needed more, less or something not all. I was still looking at it when I read her comment. I didn't know if I would be brave enough to blog about it, if in the end I hated it absolutely :)

Still not sure about it but I tried something different...
I went exploring like the curious frog!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Does this look SQUARE to you?

Because I (still) can't count.

Here's the progress made on my 1st effort using a combination of Drawn Thread, Needle Weaving and Surface Embroidery.
I think I'm calling it finished.

Kind of small so it may have too much going on?

Cutting was not so scary as I remember it from the Hardanger project.
Fun even! Although I am going to need some sharper scissors.

But what seemed a huge expanse of open cut threads before attempting to follow Mary Corbet's tutorial for Hem Stitching, turned out to be a scrawny little patch for Surface Embroidery! Will need to go bigger and braver with next attempt.

And learn to count.
I would have sworn this would be square - until I realized it wasn't!!
There were 20 pairs of "threads" one way and only 15 the other.

So I wrapped the drawn threads with randomly symmetrical Needle Weaving. Or at least what I suppose is Needle Weaving.
I wish I had gone a shade lighter in color.

Next time...
(when I go bigger & braver ;)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fine lines & slippery slopes

No turning back...

A few weeks ago I admitted defeat and bought a Daylight tabletop lamp.
I swore I didn't actually need the magnifying glass that came with it but it would be there for someday. If someone ever did need it.

On Sunday I peeled the protective sheets from the magnifying glass and tried it out. Okay. Maybe I do "need" the magnifier.

I tried Hardanger a year or two ago and declared it the hardest needlework method of all time. Mostly because I couldn't see the damn threads.
I did several heart shaped practice projects before finally getting one to come out "right" enough. Then moved to other things.

I am trying again . . . but now with better lighting.
Inspired by this picture I felt compelled to give counting threads another try.

I've ordered 2 books including the one mentioned at Maggie's Textiles.
Until they arrive I'm (* sort of) going by Mary Corbet's tutorials found on her blog, Needle 'n Thread.

I was supposed to wrap 4 threads (except for 2 on each end). I did 2 all the way across. All the way around.

I meant to do that!
Not buying it? Didn't think so :) I stopped reading directions too soon and just started sewing.

If there was a report card
Follows Directions marked: Needs Work